29 April 2013

Chat with Hugh Jackman on Twitter

Fans of Hugh Jackman get the opportunity to ask about the highly anticipated film The Wolverine from the man himself. The fun starts on Thursday, May 2nd at 12:00 pm ET when you can see Hugh answer your questions via video!

Check out the Twitter pages for Hugh Jackman and The Wolverine here.

28 April 2013

Review: Sins of the Father (Place Beyond the Pines)

It is said that the path to hell is paved with good intentions. In this tale of fathers and sons, hell just may be the best they can hope for.

Luke (Ryan Gosling) lives his life completely uninhibited as a stunt rider in a traveling carnival. Luke being introduced by his profession is an important note, his trade is not a spectator sport for its grace, people watch Luke because each time he steps into that cage, he could die.

This evening in Schenectady is like any other, that is, until he sees Romina (Eva Mendes). The two had a brief, but passionate fling and he hasn't seen her since. He wants to reach out, though it's too little, too late. Luke drops Romina off, yet something keeps him from leaving town. He comes back the next day to find a son he never knew about. The moment he found out he was a father, Luke quits the road.

Money is hard to come by for an out-of-work carnie, he is taken in by an auto mechanic (Ben Mendehlson). Robin has only seen talent like Luke's maybe a handful of times, he rides like lightning. Robin has robbed four banks before, and he stopped before he got caught. He offers his system to Luke, if he wants to provide for his new family, he can do it quickly.

Robbing banks comes with its own set of circumstances. Luke isn't just riding in a steel cage anymore, the ride is not choreographed, and those men waiting for him will put him in prison. Men like Officer Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).

There is a speed at which movement is impossible to comprehend and the eye is just frantically throwing pieces together. Some would complain that everything is a blur, but the visceral thrill from taking everything at the speed Luke sees is unmatched in white-knuckle intensity. Sean Bobbitt captures these chase scenes beautifully.

Place Beyond the Pines shifts narrative focus several times over the course of the film. Once finished with Luke's story, Derek Cianfrance places Avery under his scope. Avery starts out as a beat cop, but with his family pedigree (his father is a former Supreme Court Justice), that won't be the case for long. If he is to do so, he must navigate the waters of his department, waters filled with sharks like Lt. DeLuca (if there is a face that suggests a lack of morality more than Ray Liotta's, I haven't seen it).

Are some just predetermined to be successes or fuck-ups? Jason (Dane Dehaan) never knew his father, but the paths he and A.J. Cross (Emory Cohen) are about to cross will irrevocably change both families.

Cianfrance could have coasted off the success of Blue Valentine, but with Place Beyond the Pines, he delivers a much more ambitious picture. Instead of capturing the love built and lost between a husband and wife, Cianfrance sweeps the camera over a city and generations of men who enforce the law, men who break it, and those for whom that line is grey.

It's not an indictment, but a well-acted display of whether or not our lives are determined by fate, or our own choices.


26 April 2013

'Silver Linings Playbook' Alternate Ending

Sure this ending may not end on the kiss and swell of Elfman's score, but the low-key happenings and humor of this ending strikes me as a good match too.

Courtesy: MTV

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #26

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 18 for 25. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"Queens is not New York."

25 April 2013

Mother's Day Giveaway

Mom's are the best and Mother's Day is the day where we finally thank them for all that they do. It's certainly not enough, but spending some time watching one of her favorite films is the perfect way to catch up. To celebrate Mother's Day, Warner Bros. and Partnershub are giving away a copy of A Star is Born (1976) or Cabaret (1972) on blu-ray.

To win one of the films, play guess-the-scene in the app above and leave your score below. The deadline for the contest is May 12th, so leave your scores in the comment section below (with your email if possible).

22 April 2013

Review: No

Over the course of history, some dictators have found themselves made into the antagonists in many a film. Some dictators just fade away into the ether after they are ousted. Augusto Pinochet is one of those men whose evils have gone relatively undocumented. Pinochet was a terrible man, he ranks right up there with Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini as one of history's greatest monsters.

In 1988, military dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum to decide whether he remain permanently in power. Opposition leaders, sensing an opportunity to give the people their freedom again, handpick a hotshot advertising executive, in the form of René Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal), to head their campaign against the dictator.

Really, the plot for No could loosely be summed up as re-imagining the plot of Argo with the staff of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce leading the charge.

Getting an ad campaign off the ground will not be easy. Resources are limited and Pinochet's men keep René's team under constant scrutiny. Eventually, Saavedra and his team conceive of bold advertisements in hopes of winning the election and their freedom from oppression. The spots are not what you would think of at first: mimes, dancing, rainbows, and the message is capped by telling countrymen “Chile, happiness is coming!”

René doesn't take the campaign because of personal political beliefs, he does it for the challenge. The rebellion is better captured by his father or Veronica (Antonia Zegers), an activist with eyes toward a democratic future. Not just her future, but the future of her son with René as well.

At times, René's apathy is a little off-putting. Bernal's portrayal of the man could not be confused with a politically correct icon of a movie about rebellion. One imagines that if he were not being paid for these ads, he may not have done them at all. His inaction is at its worst during a scene where René stands by when Veronica, the mother of his son, is viciously beaten by police officers.

René recoiling from the violence is less a question of his cowardice and a larger symbol of the systemic fear throughout Chile. With a wave of Pinochet's hand, you could disappear forever.

Pablo Larrain captures the conflict with U-matic cameras to give an authentic feel for the time period, but don't confuse this with documentary realism. Larrain takes liberties with the material, but none that feel blatantly false. What Larrain creates in doing so is picture that sells.

21 April 2013

Marc Webb Tweets Electro Pre-Blueface

Marc Webb tweeted the first official look at Jamie Foxx in Amazing Spider-man 2 today. Some folks complained about the Avatar look of the other pictures, but it beats the comb-over seen here.
Judging from the background, it looks like Foxx's character has an obsession for the friendly neighborhood web-slinger. A dangerous obsession.

20 April 2013

Review: Oblivion

Not much can be said about Oblivion without spoiling the experience for audiences, too much has been shown already by trailers and television spots. If the premise intrigues you, stop reading, and just go see it in theatres. This review will gladly wait for you.

The year is 2077. Following a war with extra-terrestrials, the Earth is left a shell of its former self. Humans won the war, but only after resorting to nuclear weapons. Monuments like the Statue of Liberty are shattered, half of the land is still radiated and remnants of the alien army litter the land.

Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are Earth's last two inhabitants. The two are assigned the responsibility of overseeing security while T.E.T. takes the last of the water from Earth. T.E.T. holds the rest of the survivors awaiting the trip to their next settlement on Titan, if all holds well, Jack and Victoria will join them in two weeks.

Jack is an inquisitive man, he takes a lot of risks and incurs plenty of reminders from Victoria that they only have two weeks left before they join the other survivors on Titan. Jack's dreams bother him, images that he knows he couldn't have experienced plague him constantly and he wonders if these dreams are more than merely an active subconscious.

Their supervisor on T.E.T. greets them every day with a mission statement "are you an effective team?" that poses more as a veiled threat than an actual question. Still, Jack and Victoria monitor drone activity and make sure everything T.E.T. asks for is accomplished, even when the drones almost kill Jack (take from that what you will).

However, Jack's inquisitive nature may cost him more than a few bruises when he comes across the aftermath of a shuttle crash-landing in one of his sectors.

Oblivion, on the surface, may seems like a mash-up of other elements used elsewhere in more famous films, but it provides a solid sci-fi effort for adults in a time period where there are not many. To boot, it will easily serve as a conversation starter on a very divisive issue right now.

Tom Cruise, it was said, is fading as a movie star. His last few films haven't raked in massive amounts of box office dollars, but the authenticity and earnestness that made him famous is still there. Cruise lends to Jack a sense of importance to the many scenes that could have suffered from green screen fatigue. Say whatever you want about the man, but he is a professional first and foremost.

Joseph Kosinski, in just two films, has created a unique vision of Earth assisted by gorgeous special effects. The Earth Jack and Victoria see is not the one we are used to, but it could be very easily pass for come whatever may in sixty or so years. Hopefully, an Earth we can avoid.

19 April 2013

'Thor: The Dark World' Poster

USA Today debuted a one-sheet for the upcoming Thor sequel in preparation for the trailer being launched next week. It doesn't reveal much, but it looks great.

Thor: The Dark World hits theatres November 8th.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #25

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 17 for 24. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

16 April 2013

Neon-Lit 'Only God Forgives Poster'

"Time to meet the devil," I'm not sure if they could have picked anything more ominous sounding. This motion picture will shoot you in the face? Expect violence, expect style and expect a bloodied Ryan Gosling. Only God Forgives hits theatres July 19th.

New Clip from 'Pain and Gain'

So when all else fails when you pretend to be a police officer, just say you do security for a Christian rock band. Sixty percent of the time it works every time, well, if you're Dwayne Johnson.

15 April 2013

Oldboy Teaser Poster

Collider was at CinemaCon in Las Vegas again this year. One of the previously unseen displays they captured was of Spike Lee's upcoming remake of Oldboy. No faces, floating heads, or even words for this one-sheet, just a very ominous twenty scratched out.

"You Are Not Alone"

One of the big draws for Warner Bros. upcoming Man of Steel was Michael Shannon getting into full-on villain mode for a summer blockbister. Bow before Zod, indeed.

13 April 2013

Review: Simon Says (Trance)

Danny Boyle, fresh off of two straight best picture selections, is returning to the nitty-gritty genre roots he made his name on with Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. Boyle is leaving the Oscar pedigree behind him this time and reveling in the extreme behavior, seedy characters, violence and everything else you could imagine in a crime thriller. What is intriguing about Trance is that this particular tale focuses on the art world rather than junkies or zombies.

Simon (James McAvoy) is an unassuming auctioneer who finds himself mixed up with the Frank (Vincent Cassel) and his sordid associates. Frank has devised a seemingly fool-proof plan to steal a Goya's "Witches in the Air". For the heist to succeed, Simon just needs to keep in mind four words "don't be a hero."

Of course, the plan doesn't hold up.

McAvoy, like fellow Scot Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting, decides to cut out the middle man and enrich himself. A blow to the head stops that charade dead in its tracks once Simon awakens in a hospital and he can't remember where the painting is. Torturing him isn't coaxing out any answers and time is of the essence, so Frank hires Dr. Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to assist in finding the Goya painting in Simon's subconscious.

Like looking through a kaleidoscope, clues are constantly tumbling and rearranging depending on the scene. Not to be outdone, the three leads shift between the spectrum of morality just as quickly. They evolve constantly as the search for the painting leads into some very dark recesses, flipping certain noir cliches on their head in the process.

Noir often lends itself to trappings that ultimately weaken the film containing them, but screenwriters John Hodge and Joe Ahearne manage to avoid those pratfalls in writing such strong characters such as Simon, Frank and Elizabeth. As stylish as Boyle's composing is, McAvoy, Dawson and Cassel are the real draw of Trance.

Danny Boyle and frequent collaborator Anthony Dod Mantle are no strangers to stylized cinematography, but Boyle and Mantle have outdone themselves. Filming portions of the film through glass, and playing with angles, Mantle puts the audience in a constant state of bewilderment. Deciphering which events are real and others only suggested keeps a constant tension running throughout Trance.

Cinema blends illusion better than most mediums, limiting the scope of narrative to one character's point of view and keeping the audience guessing all the while. Yet, for all the guessing, few films have kept me in the dark as long and as well as Trance did. Danny Boyle has crafted a fine mind-bender.

***1/2 out of ****

12 April 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #24

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 16 for 23. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"I have a competition in me. I want no one else to succeed."

11 April 2013

New Suit for Captain America

Courtesy of CBM comes the new suit design for Chris Evans in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The wings are gone and with Cap's chest obscured, it's hard to see if the star is gone as well. Given how many changes Iron Man's armor has gone through, it's quite possible that the rest of Marvel's heroes will be undergoing suit upgrades for each film. Well, except Hulk, he's stuck with cargo shorts.

10 April 2013

Revisit the Classics at Cinemark

One of the best experiences I've ever had in a theatre was watching The Godfather on the silverscreen, to the delight of many cinephiles, Cinemark will be replaying four solid films from icons like Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott through May.

Cinemark is also pleased to announce that the next set of “Classic Series” films will feature four diverse and groundbreaking films. All Classics will show at 2pm and 7pm on the following days:

April 24 - Raging Bull (1980)
May 1 - The Graduate (1967)
May 8 - Alien (1979)
May 15 - Blazing Saddles (1974)

For tickets go to Cinemark.com

09 April 2013

'Elysium' Trailer

The trailer for Neil Blomkamp's awaited follow-up to District 9 is here. Elysium stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley. The film debuts August 9th.

08 April 2013

First Look at 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

Disney released the first official image from the upcoming Captain America sequel. Along with the photo was a synopsis of the story:

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” will pick-up where “Marvel’s The Avengers” left off, as Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and teams up with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, to battle a powerful yet shadowy enemy in present-day Washington, D.C."

Captain America The Winter Soldier will hit theatres April 4, 2014.

07 April 2013

Muses and Maestros: Thurman and Tarantino

Part of a continuing series about the most talented pairings of filmmakers today. On deck, Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino.

The players: Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman
The works: Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2

Uma Thurman has only appeared in three pictures with Quentin Tarantino, but when the two have worked together they craft quite unique characters. Mia Wallace, at first glance, seems like a trophy wife hanging on the arm of top gangster, but when Vincent (John Travolta) takes her out, she is surprisingly cerebral. Conversation regarding a rumored foot rub catches her off-guard and she reprimands Vincent and Jules for being more gossipy than a "sewing circle". Yet, those scenes all pale in comparison to the events that lead up to the infamous adrenaline shot. This is where Thurman truly shines.

Right up there in terms of popularity to Mrs. Wallace is, of course, The Bride. one of cinema's most famous heroines and for good reason. Thurman underwent an exhaustive physical regiment in order to play The Bride and the training paid off onscreen (particularly this sequence Ben analyzed). Few initially thought that Thurman would be able to hold her own against actors familiar with the kung fu genre, but doubters were silenced when the film debuted.

Best film: Thurman and Tarantino's first collaboration is the high mark that both will always be remembered for, and for that reason Pulp Fiction takes the cake.

05 April 2013

'Trance' Swag

Fox Searchlight was kind enough to send more swag my way to promote the release of Danny Boyle's Trance. A flash-drive emboldened with the film's title came with a one-sheet, conversations with director Danny Boyle at SXSW Festival as well as script notes.

Trance opens in limited theatres today. I'm not lucky enough to live in an area where it's playing right now, but this is one of my most anticipated films of 2013.

Bryan Singer Reveals Look at 'Future Past' Character

My first guess is that this is less a character redesign for Beast and more a peek into what the X-men of the dystopian future will look like. Looking forward to see what else Singer does with the characters from the X:Men First Class cast.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #23

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 16 for 22. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"That's funny, that plane's dustin' crops where there ain't no crops."

04 April 2013

Review: Evil Dead

Some catering to fans of Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead franchise was expected when it was announced that there would be a fresh start to the franchise two years ago. Cult classics only succeed with a passionate fan-base and Fede Alvarez's update of five kids going to the woods was met with a great deal of hesitance, but the dread of a soulless cash-in disappeared once Bruce Campbell and Raimi backed the project.

Even with this reboot though a great deal of the enjoyment to be had is dependent upon knowing the turns of where the original 1984 film goes. Misdirection and a subversion of audience expectations is more than half the fun of Alvarez's film.

Going cold turkey is never easy, so Mia (Jane Levy) and her four closest friends go away for the weekend to a secluded cabin in the woods for her to detox. Left with little to do, the five come across the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) and accidentally release the demons therein. Deadites abound, the group of five are picked off one at a time.

Placing Mia's heroin addiction center stage makes it a little easier to stomach that when all hell breaks loose, no one simply just says "screw it" and leaves.

Two major standouts spring out from the acting branch: Jane Levy and Lou Taylor Pucci. Levy puts in her time as the emotional wreck before she eagerly dives into playing a Deadite. Playing a vaguely hippie-ish teacher, Pucci isn't replacing Ash, but he is easily just as put-upon as Bruce Campbell was. And like Campbell, he too gets some of the best lines.

While Jane Levy and Lou Taylor Pucci are very game for the source material, the other three performances feel like they thought they were walking onto the set of a Michael Bay produced remake of The Evil Dead, not Sam Raimi's.

Evil Dead will leave fans wanting for nothing when it comes to props and makeup. Every corn-syrup drenched scene screams practicality, replacing computer generated foolery with hand-crafted scares. Very rarely is gore done well enough to be appreciated, yet the technical prowess here should be applauded.

Fede Alvarez, whether by choice, or not, recreates several shots from the thirty year old predecessor (demon speeding through the woods cam) and he is quite competent at composing scenes. Still, giving him a chance to create more scares of his own would have been appreciated. By referring back to the original in so many ways, Evil Dead is defined more by what it is than what it isn't.

Rest in Peace: Roger Ebert

Today we find ourselves saying goodbye to a legend to the world of film. Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel guided film criticism to the mainstream and, in doing so, created the atmosphere that allows film bloggers to exist. There are few people on this Earth that loved film as much as he (writing 300 reviews a year right to the very end) and he will be greatly missed.

I leave you with my favorite quote from Ebert:

"The insight of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is that, at the end of the day, our memories are all we really have, and when they're gone, we're gone."

You will never be forgotten.

03 April 2013

Marvel: Phase Two

Superhero Hype released a veritable grab bag of goodness today. The video includes unseen footage from Iron Man 3, a peek at Thor: The Dark World, concept art from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, discussions with the directors of their new films, Joss Whedon teasing the Avengers sequel and the test footage from Edgar Wright's Ant-man. Awesome, right?

02 April 2013

'12 Years a Slave' Debuts in December

Fox Searchlight announces that Steve McQueen's follow-up to Hunger and Shame will debut as a limited platform release on December 27th, 2013 and will increase theatres into the new year.

"Twelve Years a Slave is based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom.  In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.  Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity.  In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life."

2012 saw a great deal of filmmakers tackle slavery, most famously Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, but McQueen's more nuanced approach to the subject has promise and the excellent cast headlined by Ejiofor, Fassbender and Pitt can only add to the intrigue. Mark this as one to watch for.