28 June 2013

Review: White House Down

White House Down has the misfortune of coming out three months after the other presidential hijacking movie starring Gerard Butler locked down its opening weekend. Striking the iron the second time usually doesn’t end well, but with Channing Tatum starring and the hit-maker Roland Emmerich behind the camera, it bodes well for the picture.

Whereas Olympus Has Fallen took itself way too seriously, White House Down is well aware of the camp inherent in a mass conspiracy of this scale against the most powerful leader in the free world. Placing Die Hard inside of the Oval Office doesn’t do well when the tone is so dour. You need to have some fun with the premise and that is exactly what White House Down does.

27 June 2013

Twelve Years a Slave Moves Up

Fox Searchlight has moved up the release date of director Steve McQueen’s (HungerShame) next drama Twelve Years a Slave from December 27th to October 18th.  The move was prompted by very positive feedback from test screenings, and the film, starring Chiwetel EjioforMichael FassbenderBenedict Cumberbatch and Brad Pitt will receive a limited release in October, a launching pad for Oscar season.

Twelve Years a Slave hits theatres October 18th

24 June 2013

2013 Thus Far

We're past the sixth month mark at the movies and the pictures that have lingered in my mind longest aren't the summer blockbusters (though I quite liked Man of Steel), but the releases from March, which isn't known for quality. Trance, The Place Beyond the Pines and Mud currently reside at the top of my list, although there are several pictures unseen still that should figure prominently in that list (Only God Forgives, Before Midnight) that will be available to me soon.

As it stands here are my favorites of 2013 thus far (in no particular order):

The Place Beyond the Pines
Man of Steel
Star Trek Into Darkness
The Great Gatsby

Missed the Cut: Oblivion, Mama, Side Effects, Iron Man 3.

Notable films not seen: Much Ado About Nothing, Stoker, Before Midnight, To the Wonder.

The Best of Heath Ledger

Before the star's untimely death in 2008, Heath Ledger was well on his way to two Oscar nominations. One for his quietly haunting turn in Brokeback Mountain and the other for his unseen portrayal of The Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. His star was burning bright and like so many before him, his time came too early. Now we look back at some of his best performance.

Brokeback Mountain
The scene above says it all really. Like the ending of Brokeback Mountain which is revealed only through a single object, Ennis is only revealed through a series of gestures. Ennis is a man strangled by how he thinks he should be. He should be the provider of a family, he should be happily married to a nice girl, he should be happy with what he has. But he isn’t and the tragedy of Ennis Del Mar is the only happiness he had is rejected by the world.

A Knight's Tale
Pop history was never this much fun. An underdog from the get-go, William Thatcher is a serf who was dutiful in service until his knight died. Faced with the prospect of eating leather boots he decides to impersonate a knight and ends up jousting against the cartoonishly evil Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell). A medieval rock opera that leaves you tapping your toes. 

Read the rest over at GotchaMovies!

23 June 2013

They're Gonna Need A Bigger Bot

Designer Matt Ferguson delivered this fan-made beauty for the Blurppy Poster Posse Project and, luckily, they do have the giant bots to take out the very hungry looking monster underneath the boat.

“Jaws is seen by many to be the original summer blockbuster movie. To me Pacific Rim looks like it could be the ultimate summer blockbuster. The fact that the Kaiju in Pacific Rim come from under the ocean to attack made it a no-brainer for me to pay homage to one of my favorite all time movie posters!”

Pacific Rim hits theatres July 12th

18 June 2013

Jack the Giant Slayer Giveaway

Warner Bros. and PartnersHub are teaming up to give one lucky reader will receive a blu-ray prize pack to celebrate the release of Jack the Giant Slayer.
Want to win? Post your results from the How Brave Are You? quiz into the Comments section and leave your email address so I can contact the winner. All entries must be in before June 29th and the winner will be notified June 30th.

17 June 2013

First Trailer for Wolf of Wall Street


The first trailer for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street debuted this morning and it looks like Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have another hit on their hands. Along with Mr. Dicaprio, the film stars Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey and Jean Dujardin.

The Wolf of Wall Street opens on November 13th

15 June 2013

Review: Man of Steel

On a planet nearing its end, plagued by military coups and an oncoming apocalypse, a father (Russell Crowe) makes a choice to give his race a second chance and sends Earth his only son. Despite the pleas from most to ignore the origins of a man whose tale is known by all, a lot of the character is lost in only having him walk out of the phone booth in red, yellow and blue. Clark Kent could literally go anywhere and do anything, why would he devote his life to helping others? Especially when he is expected to protect those who treat him as an outcast.

The previous exploits of Superman have been covered many times by many people, more successfully by Richard Donner and Christopher Reeves than by Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh. With Superman Returns lukewarm reception in 2005, the kabosh was put on the character only to watch Batman's meteoric rise under the steady gaze of Christopher Nolan. It seems no small coincidence that Warner Bros. tasked Nolan with producing their most iconic character: the Man of Steel.

Superman is a tough sell for a postmodern audience: Too many superheroes now aren't quite fully-functional human beings, their development arrested by narcissism, rage, or curses. With all of these heroes around, the concept of a superbeing doing good just for the sake of others seems a little out-of-touch now. David Goyer sought to set Superman in a more realistic, post 9/11 world, and he succeeds in doing so in tinkering with the origins of the character (actual conflicts rather than conveniently placed Kryptonite).

Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner as Jor-El and Pa Kent bring big doses of gravitas to their respective characters and ground what could be considered silly concerns in a very real way. In a world where a child with Clark's gifts could wind up in a government research facility, he has to be hidden in plain sight. When General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his exiled fellow Kryptonians arrive on Earth, Clark is freed from the hiding and all that anger built up inside him finally has a purpose. He finally has a outlet for the years of frustration. The release is a cathartic one and how couldn't not be when not living up to your true potential causes so much suffering?

In a spectacular sequence of some of the most visually compelling combat ever filmed, most of Metropolis is destroyed and we're subjected to ten minutes of two ridiculously powered beings fighting for the survival of their own.

Henry Cavill is an unknown to most, but the silver lining in that allows him to be Superman. The earnestness of that boy raised in a small town in Kansas blended with the man with the weight of the world on his shoulders is exactly what Superman should be. Cavill gets to play with the character as a well-intentioned loner who defines himself along the way.

The men aren't the only ones given decent material in this Superman either, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is fortunate enough this go around to actually get something to do with her time onscreen. Her back and forth with Cavill is organic and a far cry from the constant rescuing that ends up onscreen too often.

It is interesting to see Zack Snyder, the man who deconstructed the superhero genre with Watchmen, given the reins to bring Superman back to the public eye. There is none of the cynicism from that film and for that I am grateful. Snyder has evolved with each film he has made, but the visual composition of several Man of Steel set-pieces is something that must be seen on IMAX.

The wonder has finally been brought back to the man faster than a speeding bullet and he will have his time in the sun.

14 June 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #33

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 23 for 31.

This week is a little different though, this quote is used in TWO films, let's see if you can name both of them.

“We’re coming to get you Barbara.”

09 June 2013

First Poster for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin's last adventure was a little bloated, so hopefully Jackson's next effort will be tighter. Still the promise of a very large, very gold dragon voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch should be enough to convince moviegoers to buy a ticket.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug opens December 13.

07 June 2013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot #32

The game where I throw out one of cinema's more obscure quotes and you try to guess it. Readers are currently 23 for 31. Let's see if you can name the film this quote is from:

"Harriet. Harry-ette. Hard-hearted harbinger of haggis. Beautiful, bemuse-ed, bellicose butcher. Un-trust... ing. Un-know... ing. Un-love... ed? "He wants you back," he screamed into the night air like a fireman going to a window that has no fire... except the passion of his heart. I am lonely. It's really hard. This poem... sucks.

05 June 2013

A Peek at Heath Ledger's Joker Diary

Special features about Heath Ledger's creation of his interpretation of the Joker have been lacking. Beyond a few interviews, such as the sitdown Christopher Nolan attended at the Film Society of Lincoln Center last year, there just isn't a depth of material. All that could be gathered from Ledger's process was when Nolan opened up about Ledger and his performance moreso than he did during the promtional rounds for The Dark Knight:

"...we would film hair and makeup tests and try different looks, and in that, he'd start to move, and we'd have these rubber knives and he'd choose what weapon and explore the movement of the character. We weren't recording sound, so he felt quite able to start talking and showing some of what he was going to do. And in that way he sort of sneaked up on the character."

Courtesy of Reddit and The Film Stage, there is now new footage of a diary Ledger kept during production of The Dark Knight.

Inside the Joker diary features panels from older Batman comics (The Killing Joke), the monologue from the hospital scene with Aaron Eckhart, pictures of Malcolm McDowell as Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange and other clippings of black and white photos of clowns.

Below are a few quotes from Ledger's father, Kim, who spoke briefly about the diary itself:

"This is the Joker’s diary. In order to inhabit his character, he locked himself up in a hotel room for weeks. He would do that. He liked to dive into his characters, but this time he really took it up a notch."

"The hospital scene is interesting because when he was a kid, his sister Kate liked to dress him up as a nurse. He was really funny like that. He also was in the movie. This is a make-up test which was done eight months before. Before the end of the shooting he wrote ‘bye bye’ on the back of the page. It was hard to see this."

A chilling last image to leave us with, but ultimately, I feel thankful for another chance to see the depth and appreciation Heath Ledger had for his art.

04 June 2013

Joaquin Phoenix Rocks the Mutton Chops

Shooting has already started on Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice and The Daily Mail has photos of Mr. Phoenix in character. The pictures from the Los Angeles set offer a first look at Phoenix, as pot-smoking P.I. Doc Sportello, rocking mutton chops, cowboy boots and a Panama hat.

Part of me wonders if this is what Freddie Quells would like look during the Sixties. Hmm...

03 June 2013

Giveaway for 'Copperhead'

COPPERHEAD, the new Civil War-era movie from Ron Maxwell, director of the epics Gettysburg and Gods and Generals.

Inspired by actual events, it's the story of Abner Beech (Billy Campbell), a dairy farmer in the North who faces the wrath of his neighbors for opposing the war. A peace-loving but stubborn dairy farmer in upstate New York, Beech detests slavery, but opposes the war for the sake of the “union.” Abner is neither a Yankee nor a Rebel. He is a Copperhead.

Included in the giveaway is a Copperhead poster signed by director Ron Maxwell and a copy of Harold Frederic's book The Copperhead, which inspired the movie. To win, all you have to do is post the highest score trivia score in your comment below (also a way of contacting you). The contest ends June 14th and the winner will be notified on the 15th.

I have received related merchandise in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.