Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Adult Swim to Broadcast "Kekkaishi" Anime


VIZ MEDIA LICENSES KEKKAISHI ANIME SERIES TO ADULT SWIM

Life Is a Wild Adventure For A Teenager Balancing Girls, Junior High School And Nighttime Demon Slaying

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry's most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has licensed 52 episodes of the popular Shonen Sunday KEKKAISHI anime series to Adult Swim for domestic broadcast. KEKKAISHI will begin airing on May 29th.

KEKKAISHI is based on the hit manga series by Yellow Tanabe (also published in North America by VIZ Media). A story of mystical forces powerful in the region known as Karasumori. For over 400 years, it has been the duty of a clan of “kekkaishi”—barrier masters—to guard this land and exterminate the supernatural creatures that are drawn to it night after night.

Yoshimori Sumimura is a junior high school student at Karasumori Academy, which is built upon the Karasumori grounds. By night, Yoshimori follows the tradition passed down through generations and fulfills his destiny as the twenty-second “kekkaishi” of the Sumimura clan. But by day, Yoshimori's got other demons to contend with, like an obsession with cake making and a seriously crotchety grandfather! Yoshimori's pretty neighbor, childhood friend and rival, Tokine Yukimura, is also a “kekkaishi,” but their families are caught up in a feud over who is the true practitioner of the art. Protecting ordinary people from the ever-present danger of the Karasumori grounds, Yoshimori will continue to grow stronger as he battles the forces of evil again tonight!

“Kekkaishi spotlights compelling cool characters, in an intense yet fun-filled supernatural action adventure saga. It possesses all of the hallmarks of great anime!” says William Germain, Director, Programming & Music Sales, VIZ Media. We are very excited to add KEKKAISHI to the Adult Swim anime lineup for U.S. fans to enjoy.”

For more information on KEKKAISHI please visit www.ShonenSunday.com.

About Adult Swim
Adult Swim (AdultSwim.com), launched in 2001, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s network offering original and acquired animated and live-action series for young adults. Airing nightly from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. (ET, PT), Adult Swim shares channel space with Cartoon Network, home to the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for youth and families, and is seen in 97 million U.S. homes. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, CA, VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), is one of the most comprehensive and innovative companies in the field of manga (graphic novel) publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content. Owned by three of Japan’s largest creators and licensors of manga and animation, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media is a leader in the publishing and distribution of Japanese manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa and is a global ex-Asia licensor of Japanese manga and animation. The company offers an integrated product line including the popular monthly manga anthology SHONEN JUMP magazine, graphic novels, and DVDs, and develops, markets, licenses, and distributes animated entertainment for audiences and consumers of all ages. Contact VIZ Media at 295 Bay Street, San Francisco, CA 94133; and website at www.VIZ.com.

Shrek Character Posters: Shrek


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Final "InuYasha" Episode at VIZ Anime


INUYASHA THE FINAL ACT REACHES THE ULTIMATE SERIES FINALE ON VIZAnime.com

VIZ Media invites fans to catch the last episode of INUYASHA THE FINAL ACT airing on VIZAnime.com. The finale to the long-running animated adventure saga will be broadcast on the new video-streaming site shortly after it airs in Japan. Find out in the exciting conclusion to one of the greatest anime series of all time in the installment titled “Toward Tomorrow”!

INUYASHA THE FINAL ACT is based on a massively popular manga (also published by VIZ Media, rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) by famed creator Rumiko Takahashi, who won the prestigious Shogakukan Manga Award for the series in 2002. Many of Takahashi’s titles have been adapted into other media such as anime, live-action TV series, and film. The INUYASHA anime series has run for 193 episodes in total and has also spawned several feature films.

Pulled back in time to Japan's ancient past, Japanese high school girl Kagome finds her destiny linked to a dog-like half-demon named Inuyasha, who remembers Kagome's previous incarnation as the woman who killed him - and to the Shikon Jewel, or "Jewel of Four Souls," which can fulfill the greatest dreams of any man or monster. Now Kagome and Inuyasha must work together to search for the scattered shards of the jewel before everyone's nightmares are given the power they need to come true.

Takahashi’s manga, as well as the other formats her work has been adapted into, have continued to delight generations of fans around the world. Distinguished by her wonderfully endearing characters, Takahashi’s work adeptly incorporates a wide variety of elements such as comedy, romance, fantasy, and martial arts. Rumiko Takahashi is an artist who truly represents the very best from the world of manga. Please visit the official North American web site for all Rumiko Takahashi-related news and information located at www.TheRumicWorld.com.

VIZAnime.com is a brand new, free-to-use interactive web destination that is the permanent home to some of the company’s best-loved animated series VIZ Anime is accessible at: www.VIZAnime.com.

Ralph Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings" Remastered DVD Arrives Soon


"The Lord Of The Rings Remastered Deluxe Edition" is coming April 6, 2010 from Warner Home Video. This original animated classic from acclaimed director Ralph Bakshi and Academy Award Winning producer Saul Zaentz has been remastered with pristine New Dolby 5.1 audio and picture quality and will be distributed as a single disc DVD and Blu-ray combo which features a Blu-ray, DVD and bonus digital copy. The film will also be available for Digital Download. This film is rated PG.

One of the great visionary animation directors of the modern era, Bakshi went to artistic extremes to meticulously bring the legendary world of J.R.R. Tolkien to animated life – adding yet another stunning title to the director’s canon of ground-breaking films. Bakshi’s animation accomplishments include Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic, American Pop, Wizards and Cool World.

All the magical adventure of the fantasy classic comes to life in Bakshi’s brilliantly animated tale of the enchanted land of Middle-earth – and the brave band of hobbits, heroes and wizards who set out to protect it. When a dangerous and powerful gold ring falls into his hands, a courageous hobbit named Frodo embarks on an epic adventure. Along with the mighty wizard Gandalf and some daring elves, he defends his homeland from the Dark Power who would destroy it. Set in a mystical age of magic, monsters and unlikely heroes on incredible journeys, The Lord of the Rings will cast its spell over the entire family!

The deluxe edition also features a never-before-seen, 30-minute in-depth interview with legendary director Ralph Bakshi entitled "Forging Through The Darkness: The Ralph Bakshi Vision for The Lord Of The Rings." This special feature explores his concept for creating an illustrated film, his pioneering rotoscoping process, and inspirations for his visual storytelling.

VIZ Cinema Offers Unique Films for April


VIZ CINEMA CELEBRATES SPRING WITH A COLORFUL SCHEDULE OF DELICIOUS EVENTS AND UNIQUE FILM SCREENINGS FOR APRIL

Theatre Welcomes Director Yuri Nomura For The Premiere Of Eatrip, Screens New Films Sakuran And Gravity’s Clowns, Announces A Special Gundam Movie Marathon And Much More!

April welcomes Spring, and VIZ Cinema, the nation’s only movie theatre dedicated to Japanese film, celebrates the season of the sakura (cherry blossom) with a colorful – and tasty – schedule of films and fun events.

Don’t miss a very rare personal appearance by Director Yuri Nomura for the U.S. premiere of her acclaimed documentary film about gastronomy, Eatrip. Known widely in Japan as a chef, author and teacher, and also for her Food Creative Team, “Eatrip,” that takes ‘eating’ to the next level. Eatrip created a buzz in film festivals worldwide and now comes to San Francisco!

Nomura will attend the U.S. premiere of Eatrip at VIZ Cinema on April 10th as part of the 43rd annual Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown. Tickets are available to attend a unique dinner and discussion with the Nomura, hosted in association with Sylvan Mishima Brackett, owner of PEKO-PEKO and the former creative director at the world-renowned restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, CA. VIP tickets are $50.00 and include dinner and reception (April 10th, 7:00pm) and are now available for purchase online.

Other new films opening in April include Sakuran, Gravity’s Clowns and a special Gundam Forever Movie Marathon! Science fiction fans can also look forward to the next installment of TokyoScope: The Wild and Crazy World of Japanese Cult Films Vol. 2, which this month focuses on MECHA MANIA: Four Decades of Slam-Bang Sci-Fi Robot Anime, and a special screening of K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces to celebrate the release of the film on DVD by VIZ Pictures on April 20th. Preview trailers and screening times for all films are available at: http://www.vizcinema.com.

Sakuran, March 26th – April 8th
Cinema starlet Anna Tsuchiya, who first thrilled audiences as the brash and spunky biker in Kamikaze Girls, returns with similar on-screen swagger but melts this time with sensuality in Sakuran. The film is based on a popular manga comic about the life of a girl with an unfortunate childhood and brought up to become a Yoshiwara courtesan during Tokyo’s Edo era. The film is alight with bright and colorful sizzle and a unique soundtrack by pop diva Sheena Ringo. This film contains nudity. Parental guidance is recommended.

Tokyo Scope: The Wild and Crazy World of Japanese Cult Films
Vol.2 MECHA MANIA: Four Decades of Slam-Bang Sci-Fi Robot Anime, Friday, April 9th 7:00pmJoin Patrick Macias, Editor-in-Chief of OTAKU USA, as he hosts the second lecture in his ongoing series about Japanese cinema. This time it’s all about ‘mecha’ (robots and machines). Macias gives insights into the long and storied world of mecha anime from its inception in the 60’s with Tetsujin 28, and on through the 80s with Gundam and the dawn of a new generation of films such as Gurren Lagann. Tickets are $8:00. No further discounts will apply.

Gundam Movie Marathon, Saturday, April 10th – One Day Only!
Mobile Suit Gundam Movie I, 11:00am
Mobile Suit Gundam Movie II: Soldiers of Sorrow, 1:35pm
Mobile Suit Gundam Movie III: Encounters in Space, 4:05pm

VIZ Cinema’s Weeknight Anime People makes a special weekend stop with an afternoon of Gundam! In the year 0079 of the Universal Century, the Earth Federation and its space colonies are engaged in an apocalyptic war. The rebellious Duchy of Zeon, using humanoid fighting machines called Mobile Suits, has all but vanquished the Federation. Now the Federation’s last hope is the prototype Mobile Suit, Gundam. When a twist of fate makes young civilian Amuro Ray the sole-pilot of Gundam, Amuro’s own battle begins – a struggle not only for the Federation’s survival, but for his own. General ticket price: $10:00; Combo tickets are $25:00. No further discounts will apply.

Eatrip, April 10th – April 15th
Eatrip explores the interpersonal relationships that food nurtures. This documentary includes interviews with actor Tadanobu Asano, singer UA, tea master Sen Souoku, and many others. It takes you on a journey throughout Japan to look at how life can be led optimally through the daily ritual of eating. To eat is indeed to live. Life is just an “eating trip” (Eatrip). Director Yuri Nomura will attend the U.S. premiere of Eatrip at VIZ Cinema on April 10th.

Gravity’s Clowns, April 16th – April 29th
Based on the emotionally haunting suspense thriller, A Pierrot, by Kotaro Isaka, Gravity’s Clowns follows brothers Izumi and Haru, who both hold bitter memories from the past. When a serial arsonist begins leaving mysterious graffiti by burn sites, they become obsessively drawn to solving the dangerous case on their own. As they uncover the facts, their own dark family secrets are unraveled.

K-20: The Fiend with Twenty Faces, Thursday, April 20th, 7:00pm
Celebrate the release of K-20 on DVD by VIZ Pictures with this special one-night-only screening. It is 1949 in Japan, in a world where World War II never happened and the nobility system is still in place. Heikichi, a circus acrobat, is deceived by “The Fiend (Kaijin) with Twenty Faces”, a.k.a. K-20, and is set up to take the fall for the phantom thief. Now, Heikichi must wage war against K-20. The character K-20 is originally from the bestseller mystery novel series by Rampo Edogawa. Stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Takako Matsu, and Toru Nakamura. Tickets to attend movie-only are: $10; or to attend the film and take home the brand new DVD, a K-20 poster, and more for only $25.00.

VIZ Cinema is the nation’s only movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX®-certified sound system.

NEW PEOPLE offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan and is the creative vision of the J-Pop Center Project and VIZ Pictures, a distributor and producer of Japanese live action film. Located at 1746 Post Street, the 20,000 square foot structure features a striking 3-floor transparent glass façade that frames a fun and exotic new environment to engage the imagination into the 21st Century. A dedicated web site is also now available at: www.NewPeopleWorld.com.

Original Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland is not Exactly Classic


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 169 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Alice in Wonderland (1951) – animation
Running time: 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes)
DIRECTORS: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske
WRITERS: Winston Hibler, Ted Sears, Bill Peet, Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Milt Banta, William Cottrell, Dick Kelsey, Joe Grant, Dick Heumer, Del Connell, Tom Oreb, and John Walbridge with Aldous Huxley (based upon the book by Lewis Carroll)
PRODUCER: Walt Disney
EDITOR: Lloyd Richardson
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/COMEDY/FAMILY/FANTASY/MUSICAL

Starring: (voice) Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn, Sterling Holloway, Jerry Colonna, Verna Felton, J. Pat O’Malley, Bill Thompson, Heather Angel, Joseph Kearns, and James MacDonald

Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland is animated feature film adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s world-renowned children’s novels, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1872). The film takes elements from both books, but especially the more popular Alice. Thankfully, the film manages to be something on its own as its screenplay could never capture subtle satire, allusion, symbolism or the mysterious meanings behind Carroll’s remarkable work.

The adaptation is rather simple, Alice (Kathryn Beaumont) follows the White Rabbit (Bill Thompson) down a deep, dark hole in a tree and ends up in Wonderland. She has many encounters with the land’s strange inhabitants, including a tumultuous run in with the violent-tempered Queen of Hearts (Verna Felton), before the inhabitants of Wonderland chase her out of their domain.

Although Alice in Wonderland would stand head and shoulders above most other feature-length animated films, when compared to the Disney greats, this film isn’t one of them. It’s actually quite dry for most of its running time. What makes the film so memorable is the animation that is drawn to resemble the work of book illustrator John Tenniel, whose drawings for the Alice novels would become the definitive visual interpretation of Carroll’s characters. The Disney animation artists do a worthy job turning Tenniel’s precise delineation into the line work necessary for animation.

The second really memorable element of the film is the superb voice acting. Each and every actor deserves notice, from the starring roles to the small bits. I especially liked Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter, Jerry Colonna as the March Hare and, of course, Kathryn Beaumont as Alice.
The film’s 14 songs are the most thus far for a Disney animated film. They are good, though not great, except for the one that has most stayed in the public’s pop culture conscience, “I’m Late,” written by Bob Hilliard and Sammy Fain.

6 of 10
B

NOTES:
1952 Academy Awards: 1 nomination for “Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture” (Oliver Wallace)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: How to Train Your Dragon


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 18 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – animated
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
MPAA – PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language
DIRECTOR: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
WRITERS: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, Adam F. Goldberg, and Peter Tolan (based upon the book by Cressida Cowell
PRODUCER: Bonnie Arnold
EDITOR: Maryann Brandon
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Kathy Altieri
ART DIRECTOR: Pierre-Olivier Vincent

ANIMATION/FANTASY/ACTION/ADVENTURE
Starring: (voice) Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kristen Wiig

The latest computer-animated (or 3D animation) film from DreamWorks Animation, How to Train Your Dragon, really does reach new heights. This story about a boy and his dragon will take the viewer soaring across the sky through cloud banks and far into the atmosphere. The audience will follow the two as they streak across the ocean and over, around, and through islands and outcroppings. For over a century, cinema has shown us humans riding into the sky on winged horses, magic carpets, giant birds, etc., but never has movie flight felt so thrilling as it does here on the back on a young dragon.

How to Train Your Dragon is set on the island of Berk, a Viking settlement where the Vikings have been fighting dragons since the settlers arrived on Berk. The story’s hero is a Viking teenager named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the son of Viking chieftain, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler). Hiccup’s smarts and offbeat sense of humor don’t sit too well with his tribe or his father because fighting dragons is their way of life – not humor.

The beanpole-thin Hiccup is not strong, nor is he built like other Vikings, but still he is included in Dragon Training with the other Viking teens. Hiccup sees this as his chance to prove he has what it takes to be a fighter. When he encounters an injured dragon, one of the dreaded breed know as the Night Fury, Hiccup’s world is flipped upside down. He eventually befriends the dragon, whom he names “Toothless,” and helps the creature when he discovers that half of Toothless’ tail wing has been ripped off, grounding him. What started out as Hiccup’s one shot to prove himself as a Viking dragon slayer turns into an opportunity to set a new course for the future of Hiccup’s entire tribe.

There is a lot about How to Train Your Dragon that can be praised, but the film does have its problems. Most of the characters are dull, flat, and uninteresting. Even Hiccup’s father, Stoick, large and fearsome as he is, really doesn’t generated dramatic heat, and Gerard Butler’s voice performance doesn’t make the character better. The character, Gobber, who acts as comic relief and is voiced by late-night talk show host, Craig Ferguson, is tepid. The story isn’t bad, but it is slight; there isn’t the dramatic weight here that one would get from a Pixar movie. In fact, the first quarter hour or so of this film presaged a cinematic bomb. Then, Hiccup and Toothless kick things off.

What makes How to Train Your Dragon fantastic is its star duo. The depth, back story, conflict, and motivation missing from the other characters are abundant in Hiccup. His need to be accepted by his tribe, especially his father, versus his penchant for investigating and challenging the consensus, the status quo, and conventional thinking is the dramatic backbone of this film.

Hiccup’s dragon buddy, Toothless, is simply a great animated character. He doesn’t speak, but his personality and character come through the expressiveness of his face and the vivid nature of his body in motion. In an animated film – 2D or 3D, the art of animation is indeed the illusion of life, as seen in the animated character. Gabe Hordos, the supervising animator of Toothless, and his staff have executed a grand magical spell in bringing Toothless to life.

How to Train Your Dragon shows the audience the evolution of a boy from outcast teen to acknowledged hero. The film offers an impish, playful cartoon creature possessing the best human qualities. Together boy and dragon take us on a journey of self-discovery and maturity, and How to Train Your Dragon will take the audience on an aerial adventure that sometimes rivals the high-flying action of James Cameron’s Avatar. That is more than enough to make up for this film’s faults.

8 of 10
A

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dragonslayer a Cult Classic Deserving of More Love


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 70 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Dragonslayer (1981)
Running time: 108 minutes (1 hour, 48 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Matthew Robbins
WRITERS: Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins
PRODUCER: Hal Barwood
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Derek Vanlint
EDITOR: Tony Lawson
Academy Award nominee

FANTASY/DRAMA/ADVENTURE/THRILLER

Starring: Peter MacNicol, Caitlin Clarke, Ralph Richardson, John Hallam, Peter Eyre, Albert Salmi, Sydney Bromely, Chloe Salaman, Emrys James, Roger Kemp, and Ian McDiarmid

To appease Vermithrax Pejorative, an old dragon prone to rampages, Casiodorus Rex (Peter Eyre), the ruler of a small kingdom, sacrifices virgins twice a year during the solstice (winter and fall, I think) to the dragon. A young woman masquerading as a man leads a contingent to visit the sorcerer, Urlich (Ralph Richardson), and ask him to slay the dragon, but Urlich is killed during a test of courage. Urlich’s apprentice, Galen (Peter MacNicol), boldly decides to take his master’s place and slay Vermithrax. The dragon, however, is known to wreaked havoc and much destruction on the human settlements immediately after the numerous unsuccessful attempts to slay him. The film begs three questions: does Galen have what it takes to be a dragon slayer? Can the novice be a wizard and unleash the magic necessary to kill a monster? And did he truly understand his master’s final instructions to him?

Dragonslayer remains an exceptional fantasy film over two decades after its release. The Paramount Pictures/Walt Disney co-production obviously lacks the computer effects that make the monsters and supernatural creatures of today’s films so convincingly real. However, some of the best creature builders and special effects minds of the time worked on the film, and the result is a mechanical dragon that is as scary today as it was in 1981. This is truly a monster and a monster movie that stands out from the pack.

While the acting is wobbly, everything else about Dragonslayer is great. From the locations in Scotland and Wales to the natural lighting used to photograph this film, the technical aspects give a ring of truth to this fantastic film. Co-writer/director Matthew Robbins directs the film at a nice pace that overcomes the shortcomings in the actors’ performance and a script that seems to wander and lacks real dramatic conflict between the characters. There is a lot of potential in this story for conflict that is underplayed or underdeveloped. One thing that the script does do well is emphasize how Christianity slowly encroached on the old pagan ways and belief in magic. There is a strong feeling of authenticity in this film’s depiction of the old ways giving in to the new, and that the light of Christianity has come to dispel the darkness of evil and the black arts. Dragonslayer isn’t high fantasy like The Lord of the Rings, but this is high quality “reality-based” fantasy that hits the spot.

7 of 10
A-

NOTES:
1982 Academy Awards: 2 nominations – “Best Effects, Visual Effects” (Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, Ken Ralston, and Brian Johnson) and “Best Score” (Alex North)

May 20, 2005

Sherlock Holmes Coming Home

Arriving on DVD is Sherlock Holmes

I reviewed this film for the Comic Book Bin (the Bin's iPhone app). I think Robert Downey, Jr. was excellent as Holmes and Jude Law matched him as Dr. Watson. This was a great time at the movies.



Saturday, March 27, 2010

Zombieland Like No Other


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 17 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Zombieland (2009)
Running time: 88 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
MPAA – R for horror violence/gore and language
DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer
WRITERS: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
PRODUCER: Gavin Polone
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Bonvillain (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Alan Baumgarten

HORROR/COMEDY

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, and Bill Murray

It is common wisdom that horror comedies do not do well at the box office, but last year’s late summer horror comedy, Zombieland, was a hit. Things seemed to come together for this peculiar zombie flick that mixes the zombie apocalypse genre both with gleeful destruction and with silver-tongued clowning.


The United States of America is no more. The world is no more. All there is left is Zombieland. Columbus (Jessie Eisenberg) is an easily spooked guy and, in general, a big wuss, but he has managed to stay alive using his book of rules. He joins forces with a wild man named Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a gun-toting, zombie-slaying badass whose primary goal is to find the last Twinkie on earth. Together, they fight for survival in a world virtually taken over by freakish zombies.

Columbus and Tallahassee eventually meet two others survivors, Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who have a unique way surviving the zombie mayhem. These young ladies are traveling west to a supposedly-safe, abandoned amusement park, Pacific Playland. As they join forces, these four people will have to determine which is worse: trusting each other or succumbing to the undead hordes.

Zombieland does work as a zombie movie simply because the zombies are convincingly dangerous and frightful. The film even has that air of doom, desperation, and forlorn resignation that permeates most zombie movies. Although it is clearly a descendant George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, while also borrowing the fast zombies from 28 Days Later, Zombieland is most closely aligned with the 2004 zombie horror comedy, Shaun of the Dead.

As a comedy, Zombieland is not particularly sarcastic, snarky, or even edgy. It is, however, witty and has a wry sense of humor. The film feels so strange because the humor is absolutely at odds with the terror of the zombie death lurking around every corner. The comedy seems most dry and droll when the cast is killing zombies, and there is nothing like deadpan humor in the face of bile- and blood-drooling monsters.

The performances are good, with Jesse Eisenberg pitch perfect as the hapless, virginal everyman, Columbus. Woody Harrelson is brilliant, and the proof of his exceptional talents is that he brings the same skill and dedication to this zombie movie that he does to his more serious (if you will) dramatic work. Director Ruben Fleischer, a veteran of late-night television and reality shows (Rob & Big, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”), creates the right tone for practically every scene, seeming to know when the movie should be comic, gross, scary, poignant, or just odd. Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have created a concept, story, and characters that give the impression of being brand spanking new, while managing to make their influences practically not obvious.

Zombieland is a fine zombie movie. It is a distinctive horror comedy with inimitable style. I don’t know why it works, but I love this strange new film feast made from old genre ingredients.

7 of 10

A-

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Shaun of the Dead" a Great Zombie Movie


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 248 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux on Patreon

Shaun of the Dead (2004)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: UK
Running time: 99 minutes (1 hour, 39 minutes)
MPAA – R for zombie violence/gore and language
DIRECTOR: Edgar Wright
WRITERS: Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright
PRODUCER: Nira Park
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David M. Dunlap
EDITOR: Chris Dickens
COMEDY/HORROR/THRILLER

Starring: Simon Pegg, Kate Ashfield, Nick Frost, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Nicola Cunningham, Penelope Wilton, Peter Serafinowicz, Jessica Stevenson, and Bill Nighy

Shaun’s (Simon Pegg) life is moribund, and he’d rather spend time with his best friend, Ed (Nick Frost), much to his girlfriend Liz’s (Kate Ashfield) chagrin. Tired of his lack of motivation and lameness in the romance department, Liz dumps Shaun. Shaun’s desperate to win back Liz and to reconcile his relationship with his mother Barbara (Penelope Wilton), so he’s initially ignorant of the fact that the recently dead have suddenly returned to life. However, when his community seems to fall apart, Shaun not only tries to win back his girlfriend, he also tries to save his pals from the dead who have come back to eat the living.
Shaun of the Dead is one of the best zombie movies I’ve ever seen, and it’s also a damn fine comedy. That might be difficult for some people to reconcile, but Shaun of the Dead is exceptionally hilarious, and it’s certainly a goose-flesh raising horror thriller. Anyone who likes zombie movies will surely like this, and it’s hard not to be stunned by how funny this movie is considering its subject matter. Imagine something akin to a Monty Python zombie movie.
Co-writer Edgar Wright’s directorial effort is a superb melding of dark comedy and convincing horror thrills, and his script, co-written by star Simon Pegg, breathlessly and shamelessly borrows from a host of genre films, mostly horror, in particular the gold standards of zombie films, Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978). The script and resultant film are brilliant renditions of those two horror classics, but with move overt comedy. Shaun of the Dead is film heaven for the smart horror movie fan.
9 of 10
A+


Box Office Blockbuster "Avatar" Gets DVD Release Dates

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Announces AVATAR Blu-Ray Disc and DVD Global Release Dates

Much-Anticipated Blu-ray and DVD Launch of James Cameron’s History-Making Epic Begins April 22 - Coinciding with the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment today announced that it will launch director James Cameron’s history-making motion picture AVATAR on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on Thursday, April 22.

AVATAR on Blu-ray presents the ultimate high definition experience for home viewing audiences. Fans around the world will soon be able to discover every detail and relive every moment of James Cameron’s AVATAR in the comfort of their own home. Blu-ray is recognized for presenting optimal picture and sound, and now AVATAR’s masterful cinematography, art direction and visual effects will lend itself to awe-inspiring clarity when you become absorbed in the extraordinary all-encompassing experience in the living room.

Since its global theatrical release last December, AVATAR has continued to make motion picture history. Written by James Cameron and produced with his long-time collaborator Jon Landau, AVATAR stars Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi and Laz Alonso.

Oscar® and Golden Globe® winning epic is the highest grossing film of all time, taking in over $2.6 billion in worldwide box office. Director James Cameron takes audiences to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization. AVATAR delivers a fully immersive cinematic experience of a new kind, where the revolutionary technology invented to make the film disappears into the emotion of the characters and the epic nature of the story.

AVATAR will be available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD everywhere in the United States and Canada on Earth Day, April 22. Please see below for additional release dates around the world:

FRANCE – April 21
BELGIUM – April 21
NETHERLANDS – April 21
SPAIN – April 21
CHINA – April 22
BRAZIL – April 22
RUSSIA – April 22
NORTH AMERICA – April 22
GERMANY – April 23
JAPAN – April 23
SWITZERLAND – April 23
MEXICO – April 23
UK – April 26
DENMARK – April 27
NORWAY – April 28
SWEDEN – April 28
NEW ZEALAND – April 28
AUSTRALIA – April 29
FINLAND – April 30
ITALY – May 6

About Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
A recognized global industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC (TCFHE) is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming on DVD, Blu-ray Disc (BD) and Digital Copy as well as acquisitions and original productions. The company also releases all products around the globe for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets -- from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce - throughout the world. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC is a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kip Williams to Direct Paranormal Activity Sequel

At the Paranormal Activity website, Oren Peli, the creator of Paranormal Activity, announced the new director for Paranormal Activity 2. It's Kip Williams, whose best known film to date may be The Door in the Floor, a 2004 film starring recent Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger.

DVD Review: Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo







TRASH IN MY EYE No. 16 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo (2010) - Video
DIRECTOR: Spike Brandt
WRITERS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, and Misty Lee; from a story by Alan Burnett (based upon the characters created by (Joseph Barbera and William Hanna)
EDITOR: Jhoanne Reyes

ANIMATION/ADVENTURE/COMEDY/MYSTERY

Starring: (voices) Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey DeLisle, Mindy Cohn, Dave Attell, Danica McKellar, Dee Bradley Baker, Olivia Hack, Diane Delano, John Di Maggio, Brian Posehn, James Patrick Stewart, Crystal Scales, and Jeffrey Tambor

Beginning in 1998 with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Warner Bros. started releasing direct-to-video animated movies based on the Scooby-Doo Saturday morning cartoon series. There has been at least one per year (except for 2005, when there were two). The latest film, Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo, is the 14th in the series.

Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Daphne Blake (Grey DeLisle), Velma Dinkley (Mindy Cohn), Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard) and, of course, Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker) are the Mystery Inc. gang. After wrapping up their latest mystery, Velma gets a call from her mother asking her to check on her younger sister Madelyn (Danica McKellar). The gang heads Whirlen Merlin Magic Academy, where Madelyn has been studying stage magic. The school is run by acclaimed magician, Whirlen Merlin (James Patrick Stewart), who was a child prodigy at magic, with the help of his older brother, Marlon Merlin (Brian Posehn), a special effects whiz.

Whirlen Merlin Magic Academy is being terrorized by a giant griffin, which has been scaring all the students away. Smelling trouble and suspecting a conspiracy, the gang decides to investigate. Is the griffin the ghostly servant of the man who built the castle that now houses the academy? Or is the entire situation a plot to force Whirlen Merlin to sell the school? Suspects include Whirlen’s assistant, Crystal (Crystal Scales), housekeeper Alma Rumblebums (Diane Delano), Amos the Groundskeeper (John Di Maggio), and ice cream mogul, Calvin Curdles (Jeffrey Tambor), who wants to turn the castle into an ice cream parlor. The gang must deal with a banshee, a lion, and a spooky castle, but Shaggy has to deal with Madelyn, who has fallen in love with him.

Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo has a back-to-the-basics approach and theme that will endear it to longtime Scooby-Doo fans. The main characters are back to wearing their original 1969 outfits. The animation here is quite good, featuring excellent character movement and action; it is almost as good as what viewers will find in direct-to-DVD Disney animated features. The art direction is superb and the backgrounds are rich in detail and decoration, creating the perfect sets, environment, and atmosphere for this movie.

The storytelling is equally good. Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo offers an engaging, fun mystery that also harks back to the early years of the series. Scooby and company are back in form, and the supporting/guest characters are just about as good as the main players. The voice acting is good, but not great. Right now, I’m not quite buying Matthew Lillard as the voice of the animated Shaggy Rogers, although Lillard played Shaggy (well) in both live-action Scooby-Doo movies.

One of best things about this new movie is the giant griffin, a killer villain, the kind of cartoon monster that has traditionally made Scooby-Doo cartoons memorable. No Scooby-Doo fan, young or old, should miss Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo, and it is an excellent choice for introducing people to the world of Mystery Inc.

8 of 10
A

The Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo has three extras. Two are just commercials for other Scooby-Doo DVDs. One is a short feature about creating homemade puppets.


Buy Scooby Doo: Abracadabra-Doo





Pop Culture Website Launches iPhone App

The Comic Book Bin is a pop culture website that focuses on comic books and related media, but also covers games, toys, books, film, etc. I also write for them. They recently launched an iPhone App which allows readers to use the site. Here, is the press release announcing the app:

App Crusader Captures Technology Gap

Coolstreak Cartoons launches iPhone app

(March 25, 2010- Calgary, Canada) Coolstreak Cartoons Inc. announced today the launch of their comic book industry utility app available now on the iPhone called ComicBookBin. Coolstreak, a Flash animation studio, has run their comic book press site for years, www.comicbookbin.com and their interest in the industry has been growing behind the scenes. This new iPhone app advances the technology that affects a comic book fan’s lifestyle. Finding your nearest comic book shop is easy and can be done through the multilingual comic book store locator. Articles, news, reviews and interviews can be found by searching through the 10,000 items that the Comic Book Bin has been producing since 2002. A comic book conventions listing is also available. Numerous digital comic-related advancements have been made over the past few years but few have bridged the technology gap to update the lifestyle of the comic book fan.

The application can be downloaded at the iTunes store at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/comicbookbin/id360213878?mt=8.

“I love this industry,” explained Hervé St-Louis President of Coolstreak Cartoons. “The current market is tough. We don’t want parts of the comic book market to be left behind. This is our way of providing a bit of outreach to both consumers as well as retailers. There is no charge to participate in our basic locator service or convention listing. If we don’t have your information listed, please contact us at support@comicbookbin.com.”

The iPhone app has a low price point of $0.99 cents to make it easy to afford. Unlike other comic book apps, ComicBookBin works outside of the United States with all features available for comic book fans all around the globe. To learn more about ComicBookBin, visit www.comicbookbin.com/iphone.html.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Vampire Knight Gets American Voice Actors for North American Debut


VIZ MEDIA ASSEMBLES A CAST OF VETERAN VOICE ACTORS TO BRING VAMPIRE KNIGHT ANIMATED SERIES TO LIFE FOR NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced the cast for the upcoming North American debut of VAMPIRE KNIGHT, the gothic-romance animated series based on the bestselling manga (graphic novel) by Matsuri Hino.
VAMPIRE KNIGHT takes audiences to Cross Academy, which is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy's dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!

VIZ Media sought out a cast of talented voice actors and the recording expertise of Bang Zoom! Entertainment to bring this series to life. Yuki Cross, the adoptive daughter of the headmaster of Cross Academy, is played by Mela Lee. Veteran anime voice actor Vic Mignogna plays Zero Kiryu, a student who is a year older than Yuki Cross and comes from a family of vampire hunters. Finally, Kaname Kuran is portrayed by Ethan Murray. In the series, Kuran is a pure blooded vampire and the current Head of the Kuran Clan. He once saved Yuki from an attack by another vampire when she was seven years old and also serves as the president of the Night Class and the dorm leader. Kuran is both feared and respected by the other Night Class students.
“VAMPIRE KNIGHT is an important series that demanded skilled actors who could portray these complex characters without sacrificing any of the intensity and emotional drama each one exudes,” says William Germain, Director, Programming & Music Sales, VIZ Media. “We also know there are a lot of fans of the manga that have been waiting for this series so we wanted to bring in some very talented people who we know will take VAMPIRE KNIGHT to a whole new level. Look for more news coming soon about the North American debut!”
VAMPIRE KNIGHT (rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens) is based on the best selling manga series created by Matsuri Hino, who burst onto the manga scene with her debut title, When This Dream Is Over, in LaLa DX magazine. With the success of subsequent series such as CAPTIVE HEARTS and MERU PURI (both published domestically by VIZ Media), Hino has established herself as a major force in the world of shojo manga. VAMPIRE KNIGHT is currently serialized in LaLa magazine. On January 17, 2010, the latest volume of VAMPIRE KNIGHT, Volume 9 ranked Number 1 on the New York Times Manga Bestseller list. Currently VAMPIRE KNIGHT has two volumes in the top ten.
Ethan Murray Bio
Ethan Murray has been a voiceover performer since 1994. Mr. Murray was spotted in a stage production and was asked to voice monsters in Saban's Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and has been thriving in the world of voiceover ever since. Over the past sixteen years Mr. Murray has been involved in hundreds of projects. Most notably: Arc the Lad, Gankutsuou, Blade the Immortal, Tenjo Tenge, and Rurouni Kenshin.

Mela Lee Bio
Mela Lee has brought life to over 20 characters in the past seven years (Fate Stay Night, Rozen Maiden, When They Cry, and Blade of the Immortal). Lee’s fans have come to expect heartfelt performances hallmarked by depth and dimension. With the much-anticipated release of VAMPIRE KNIGHT, Lee adds Yuki Cross to her cache of classic characters.

Vic Mignogna Bio
Vic has been acting for stage and screen since he was 8 years old. But he started his career in anime about ten years ago as Vega in Streetfighter II. Since then Vic has been in more than a hundred and fifty shows and video games, known for such roles as Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist, Tamaki Suou in Ouran High School Host Club, Fai in Tsubasa Chronicle, Dark in DN Angel, Kurz in Full Metal Panic, Broly in Dragonball Z, Kougaijji in Saiyuki, Ikkaku in BLEACH, Yukito in Air, Takanaga in Wallflower, Tatsu in Peacemaker, Luciano in Code Geass, Virgil Walsh in Trinity Blood, Hikaru in Macross, and many more. He is currently back in the role of Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, playing Death Scythe in Soul Eater, as well as characters in NARUTO and several others. Vic has also voiced roles in a large number of video games including Soul Calibur, Disgaea, Persona III, Project Sylpheed, DBZ, Bleach, FMA, and more. But even longer than his voice acting, Vic has been a professional music composer / singer / producer who has written and produced hundreds of songs for TV, radio and CD. He sings the themes for shows like One Piece & DBGT, and has produced several CDs of his own original music. And finally, in addition to anime and music, Vic has a degree in film and works regularly writing, producing and directing video and film productions. Vic has voiced characters in more than 100 anime series and video games.
Bang Zoom! Entertainment, Inc.
Situated in the heart of Burbank, California, Bang Zoom! Entertainment, Inc. is a leading and award winning full service audio post production studio working in the fields of feature films, television, video games, and anime. Founded in 1993, Bang Zoom! Entertainment is committed to delivering the most comprehensive level of audio and creative production expertise imaginable, along with developing a range of independent projects that contribute to the promotion of innovative cultural awareness internationally. More information about Bang Zoom! Entertainment and its services can be found at www.bangzoomentertainment.com.

Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson Among Actresses Cast in Upcoming Tyler Perry Film

Last year, we learned that Tyler Perry was set to direct a film version of the Tony-nominated Ntozake Shange play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. While Beyonce and Oprah were rumored to be cast in the film, they ultimately were not. Earlier this week, during press for his upcoming film, Why Did I Get Married, Too?, Perry announced the cast for the film: Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Jurnee Smollett, Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, Loretta Devine, and Macy Gray.

The play only has seven main women (the seven colors of the rainbow). There are nine actresses announced as stars and there is yet no word on who will play what and which of the actresses will be the main ladies.

Shange's play is a collection of 20 poems, into a feature length film.

Michael Bay Sends "Transformers 3" Update to Fans


Transformers 3 Update From Michael Bay 03/22/2010 06:40 AM

Hey, it's been a long time since I've posted. Just been a little busy.

Transformers 3 has been going very well. We are going to shoot in LA, Chicago, Washington DC, Florida, Texas, Africa, Moscow, and China. On the talent front, we just locked in Frances McDormand and John Malkovich. Both amazing actors I've always wanted to work with. We also just got Ken Jeong, he is the super funny actor stuck in the trunk from “Hangover” and the Doctor from “Knocked Up.”

We start shooting pre-shoots in about one month.

I also was at a Ferrari charity event this week raising money for a hospital being built by Ferrari in Haiti. I announced that night the newest Autobot to join Transformers: the Ferrari 458 Italia.
I also want to thank everyone on this site that donated to the Make -A-Wish charity. We raised $20,000 which I will personally be matching. This is a great charity where they make wishes come true for kids who are very ill. We have had many Kids from Make-A-Wish visit us on our Transformers sets and this time we will be posting video of they're visits on Transformers 3.

Michael Bay
[END]

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Warner Bros. Announces Big Sherlock Holmes Box Office News

Sherlock Holmes Surpasses $500 Million at Worldwide Box Office

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the legendary detective and Jude Law as his formidable ally Watson, has crossed the $500 million mark globally. The film, which began its worldwide rollout on Christmas day, earned $207.9 million in the United States, and is poised to cross $300 million internationally before week’s end (currently at $298.2 million), bringing its current global cumulative gross to $506.1 million.

The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President, International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures

“We’re thrilled that Sherlock Holmes has performed so spectacularly in territories around the world following its strong U.S. showing,” Kwan-Rubinek said. “These incredible results are a testament to the vision of Guy Ritchie, as well as the tremendous filmmakers and cast, led by Robert and Jude. It also speaks to the world’s continuing fascination with these indelible characters.”

Fellman added, “It’s amazing to reach this benchmark. The filmmakers, cast and crew put so much care into creating a film worthy of the name, and I think audiences have shown they succeeded across the board.”

In a dynamic new portrayal of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous characters, Sherlock Holmes sends Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson on their latest challenge. Revealing fighting skills as lethal as his legendary intellect, Holmes will battle as never before to bring down a new nemesis and unravel a deadly plot that could destroy the country.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Silver Pictures Production, in association with Wigram Productions, a Guy Ritchie Film, Sherlock Holmes. Ritchie directed the film from a screenplay by Michael Robert Johnson and Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg, screen story by Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson. Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey and Dan Lin produced the film, with Michael Tadross and Bruce Berman serving as executive producers and Steve Clark-Hall co-producing. “Sherlock Holmes” stars Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Kelly Reilly and Eddie Marsan. The film opened nationwide on Christmas Day, and is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

-------------------

Charlie's Angels 3?! With Rihanna?!

According to this entry at BET.com's "What the Flick" blog (written by Clay Cane), actress/producer Drew Barrymore is working on a third installment of the Charlie's Angels film franchise, and apparently, singer Rihanna is being considered for a role as an Angel.

Happy Anniversary, Michael Moore

Seven years ago, Michael Moore walked on stage to receive his Oscar statuette for "Best Documentary."  He invited his fellow nominees on stage and Moore made the following speech:

"I've invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us and we would like to ... they are here in solidarity with me because we like non-fiction. We like non-fiction, as we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fiction of duct tape or fiction of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr Bush. Shame on you, Mr Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much."

And the boo birds came out!  The Guardian (UK)'s Megan Carpentier talks about that incident and compares it to Kathryn Bigelow's recent acceptance speech at the Oscars.

Review: Academy Award Winning Documentary "Bowling for Columbine"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 171 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Running time: 120 minutes (2 hours)
MPAA – R for some violent images and language
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Michael Moore
PRODUCERS: Charles Bishop, Jim Czarnecki, Michael Donovan, Kathleen Glynn, and Michael Moore
EDITOR: Kurt Engfehr
Academy Award winner

DOCUMENTARY/COMMENTARY

Starring: Michael Moore, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson, Matt Clark, and Dick Clark

After passing over his Roger and Me in 1989, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) handed out its Oscar for “Best Documentary, Features” to filmmaker Michael Moore for his 2002 feature Bowling for Columbine. The Writers Guild of America also awarded Moore “Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen,” one of many American and international awards the film won.

In the film, Moore explores the roots of American’s predilection for gun violence. He also takes a look at the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado where two students killed 13 people with guns and an incident in his hometown where a six year-old boy killed a six year-old girl with a handgun he found at his uncle’s home. Moore also examines American’s culture of fear and bigotry; he especially focuses on the bigotry against young, black men that marks them as violent predators. Moore also goes after powerful, elite political and corporate interests that directly make money by fanning a culture of bigotry, fear, and violence.

Bowling for Columbine is exacting in the detail to which it pursues its topics, although Moore seems as stumped as anyone to provide answers. It is as if he’s pointing at the symptoms or results of our culture, but can’t find out why things are as they are. It’s a fair and mostly balanced look because Moore gives people a chance to speak. Some, in particular, Charlton Heston (then president of the National Rifle Association or N.R.A.) seem simultaneously proud and embarrassed of their very vocal support of guns and tacit support of gun violence.

The film is often very funny. Its issues are perplexing – especially the examination of Canada, a country with a lot of guns, but very few gun deaths. BFC is also quite heartbreaking and dramatic; the segments on Columbine and the murder of the schoolgirl in Michigan are heartbreaking. Moore knows just how to push buttons when he reveals that the mother of the small boy who shot the girl works two very low paying jobs because of Michigan’s “welfare for work program.” Even with the two jobs, she couldn’t pay her rent and was evicted from her home. She moved in with her brother, and that’s where the child found the weapon.

The film is a little over the top at times. The Heston interview doesn’t go well, and in the segment, Moore seems to be picking on this elder statesman of acting, who was later revealed to be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Oh, God must not like ugly.

Some may find BRC unbalanced, and though that makes it almost as much commentary as documentary, the film is important. Someone had to document the horrors of this violent, bigoted, and greedy leader of the free world in a form that would force its way into pop culture and into the popular conscience. This excellent film only makes people mad because it is both real and truth revealing.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2003 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Documentary, Features” (Michael Moore and Michael Donovan)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Revels in Character Drama

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 15 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux


Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Running time: 153 minutes (2 hours, 33 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality
DIRECTOR: David Yates
WRITER: Steve Kloves (based upon the novel by J.K. Rowling)
PRODUCERS: David Barron and David Heyman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bruno Delbonnel (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Mark Day
Academy Award nominee

FANTASY/DRAMA/MYSTERY

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Gambon, Jim Broadbent, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Bonnie Wright, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Felton, Elarica Gallacher, and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin

The sixth installment of the Harry Potter film franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, finds the dark lord, Voldemort increasing his attacks on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds. As he begins his sixth year, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) believes that Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was, so he searches the school for hidden enemies. Harry focuses his investigation on his rival, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), who does seem to be creeping around the castle a lot. Meanwhile, in the halls of Hogwarts, love is in the air

However, Hogwarts’ headmaster, Professor Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), is more focused on preparing Harry for the coming final battle with Voldemort that he knows is fast approaching. Together, Dumbledore and Harry work to discover the truth behind Voldemort’s powers. Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), a well-connected wizard who previously taught at Hogwarts, as the new potions instructor. Slughorn holds information that could be crucial in the battle with Voldemort, because Slughorn was a mentor to 11-year-old Tom Riddle (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin), the student who would become the dark lord.

Meanwhile, some of the students are feeling the rage of teenage hormones. Harry finds himself increasingly drawn to Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), the sister of his best friend Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), but another student, Dean Thomas (Alfie Enoch), is also vying for Ginny’s attention. The spunky Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave) has marked Ron for amorous conquest, which makes Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), who has strong feelings for Ron, simmer with jealousy (although Hermione is determined not to show her feelings). Remaining aloof from the romance, Draco looks to make his own dark mark, one that may lead to tragedy.

The way it begins, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince looks like it is going to be a long slog through a muddled movie full of mumbling characters and awkward scenes, but the film turns out to be a delight. At times, this movie seems entirely divorced from the magical reality created by J.K. Rowling, author the Harry Potter series of books from which this film series is adapted (as if you didn’t know…). However, the focus of Half-Blood Prince is on character drama. This is the first time in the series that the story really stops to consider the costs (personal and professional) of the state of civil war in the wizarding world.

Playing Draco Malfoy, actor Tom Felton portrays the costs of that war and the toll it a takes on the youth of the wizarding role, in his best performance to date. Michael Gambon, playing Dumbledore as a fierce Christ-like warrior marching inevitably towards his doom, also turns in a good performance. The always-good Jim Broadbent balances the bon vivant façade behind which Horace Slughorn hides his guilt with a sense of quiet desperation.

The rest of the cast, especially the star trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson are more earnest than good, but they sell their parts well. They’re also the best they’ve been at depicting the puppy love at which they’ve only teased in the earlier films. Somehow, this story of love and war comes together, until, by the end, you wish Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince wouldn’t end.

7 of 10
B+

NOTES:
2010 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Achievement in Cinematography” (Bruno Delbonnel)


2010 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Production Design” (Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan) and “Best Special Visual Effects” (John Richardson, Tim Burke, Tim Alexander, and Nicolas Aithadi)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Trailer for DreamWorks Animation's "Megamind" Arrives

First trailer for DreamWorks Animation's "Megamind:"

Del Toro Gives "The Hobbit" a New Look

That's what this article from the Associated Press via Yahoo Movies will tell you.  The article features quotes from art designer Richard Taylor, a long time Peter Jackson collaborator...

but that he was unclear when shooting on the New Line Cinema production will start in New Zealand.

Hmm.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review: Artificial Intelligence: AI

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 (of 2001) by Leroy Douresseaux


Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
aka A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
Running time: 146 minutes (2 hours, 26 minutes)
Rating: MPAA – PG-13 for some sexual content and violent images
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
WRITERS: Steven Spielberg; from a screen story by Ian Watson (based upon the short story by “Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brian W. Aldiss)
PRODUCERS: Steve Spielberg, Bonnie Curtis, and Kathleen Kennedy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Janusz Kaminski (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Michael Kahn
COMPOSER: John Williams
Academy Award nominee

SCI-FI with elements of adventure and drama

Starring: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O’Connor, Brendan Gleeson, Sam Robards, William Hurt, Jake Thomas, and the voices of Jack Angel, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Ben Kingsley, and Chris Rock

In the future, humans have become technologically (if not morally) advanced enough to build humanly realistic robots called mechas to serve humanity. The most advanced is a robot called David (Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense), who can be programmed to have feelings of love for a human, a gift (or curse) no other robot has; he is, in a sense, an artificial kid. David moves in with Monica (Frances O’Connor) and Henry Swinton (Sam Robards), a couple whose own child, Martin (Jake Thomas) is in cryo-stasis, stricken with an incurable disease. After Martin is cured and comes home, Henry becomes angry that Monica still has strong feelings for David and wants David returned to his creators. Monica abandons David in the forest rather than return him to his creators for fear that they will destroy him.

David, who once heard Monica read Pinocchio to Martin, goes on a quest to find the Blue Fairy (voice of Meryl Streep) who made Pinocchio into a real boy, hoping that she will do the same for him. Joining him on his quest are Teddy (voice of Jack Angel), a supertoy that once belonged to Martin (and acts as a kind of Jiminy Cricket to David’s Pinocchio) and Gigolo Joe (Jude Law), a love mecha designed to provide romantic and erotic pleasures to women.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, A. I. Artificial Intelligence was a project that director Stanley Kubrick had planned helm, but turned to Spielberg feeling that he could better served the potentially effects laden film. Some film aficionados still consider Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg’s early works to be his best films. Those movies were filled with a sense of wonder, awe, magic, terror, curiosity – basic emotions and feelings. Other people considered these films too manipulative and too sentimental. What the latter misunderstood was those films’ powerful visual storytelling; here, films worked the way they should. What we saw on the screen was supposed to move us, and the films certainly did. Alas, Spielberg grew up and started making serious grown up, big boy films that would be worthy of Oscar’s attention.

A. I. is a return of Spielberg the magician/storyteller, and the film’s screenplay is the first one written Spielberg has written without a collaborator since Close Encounters. He infuses A. I. with a sense of magic and wonder, but the film is about David’s determination to be a real boy. To that end, however, the film becomes a bit muddled as it nears the conclusion of that quest. At one point, David’s journey comes to an abrupt halt, and, in light of this, his determination seems pathetic, pitiable, and futile. On one hand, David obviously cannot be a “real boy,” in the sense of being an organic being. On the other hand, the issue is not the artificiality, but is whether are not his feelings for Monica are genuine. Upon that question does the movie hinge.

The performances are excellent. Osment has a natural gift to bring a character to life that is as rich and as uncanny as, say, that of Emily Watson. His hugely expressive eyes are, indeed, the windows to his soul. Unlike so many child actors, Osment can act rather than pretend; he literally takes on the identity of a fictional character. One has to see his work to truly believe how good he is. Jude Law is wonderful, charming, and has an air of danger about him as the confident mecha/dildo Gigolo Joe. Law transforms Joe into the perfect companion and very wise guide for David (although Teddy does his thing also), and Law seems perfectly at ease in his role next to Osment. Ms. O’Connor is the other gem in this film; she makes the evolution of Monica’s feelings for David natural and convincing, and she turns up the heat to make the scene of their parting quite tragic indeed.

The effects in A. I. are so prevalent, but like those in Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, they are natural and unobtrusive, integral to the feel of the film and it’s story. The playful colorful lights that fill the forest and the night sky reminds one of scenes from E.T. Frankly, the visual effects are beautiful; it’s just fun to see them.

Artificial Intelligence seems to reach a near perfect state, but then the film is marred by moments of forced sentiment. Some of the story in the film’s last half hour is cold and dry. Actually, the film is nearly ruined until its closing images sweetly dissolve. Don’t let that deter; it is still a special film. You can ignore most of the end. What you take from A. I.’s extraordinary first three quarters is magical: fine acting, engaging story, and a director who is still an accomplished magician who sometimes messes up when he lets his show linger on too long.

7 of 10
A-

NOTES:
2002 Academy Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Effects, Visual Effects” (Dennis Muren, Scott Farrar, Stan Winston, and Michael Lantieri) and “Best Music, Original Score” (John Williams)


2002 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Achievement in Special Visual Effects” (Dennis Muren, Scott Farrar, and Michael Lantieri)


2002 Golden Globe Awards: 3 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Steven Spielberg), “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (John Williams), and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Jude Law)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hugh Jackman in Upcoming Lee Daniels Film; British Actor Cast as MLK

Over at AOL's Black Voices' BV on Movies, Wilson Morales has new information on director Lee Daniels' upcoming film, Selma.  British actor David Oyelowo has been cast as Martin Luther King.  Various sources are reporting that Hugh Jackman will also have a role in the film.

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Few Memories of Fess Parker, but I Still Thought He was Cool

Fess Parker, the actor best known for his lead role in the first television miniseries, Davy Crockett, died Thursday, March 18, 2010.  Produced by Walt Disney, Davy Crockett was a huge hit with kids and unleashed a merchandising bonanza, especially replicas of the popular coonskin cap Parker wore as Crockett.  The actor also starred in the Disney film, Old Yeller.  Parker would eventually retire to run a winery and resort.  Parker was 85.

I only recently discovered Parker because a local channel that is part of RTV, the Retro Television Network, has been airing episodes of Parker's NBC series, Daniel Boone (1964-1970).  I have to admit that the strapping Parker has been making quite an impression on me as the firm, but fair and larger-than-life frontiersman, Daniel Boone.  Rest in peace, Mr. Parker.  I hardly knew you, and I won't miss you... thanks to the magic of reruns.

Disney President and CEO Robert Iger on the Passing of Fess Parker

Statement by Robert A. Iger, President and CEO, The Walt Disney Company, on the Passing of Fess Parker

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Robert A. Iger, President and CEO, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), issued the following statement:

“Like many kids growing up in the 50’s, Davy Crockett was my first hero, and I had the coonskin cap to prove it. Fess Parker’s unforgettable, exciting and admirable performance as this American icon has remained with me all these years, as it has for his millions of fans around the world. Fess is truly a Disney Legend, as is the heroic character he portrayed, and while he will certainly be missed, he will never be forgotten.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Lost Boys, Eternally Youthful and Forever a Winner

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 142 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Lost Boys (1987)
Opening date: July 31, 1987
Running time: 97 minutes
MPAA – R
DIRECTOR: Joel Schumacher
WRITERS: Janice Fischer & James Jeremias and Jeffrey Boam, story by Janice Fischer & James Jeremias
PRODUCER: Harvey Bernhard
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Chapman
EDITOR: Robert Brown

HORROR/COMEDY

Starring: Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Jami Gertz, Corey Feldman, Edward Herrmann, Bernard Hughes, Kiefer Sutherland, and Dianne Wiest, Jamison Newlander, Brooke McCarter, Billy Wirth, Alex (Alexander) Winter, and Chance Michael Corbitt

“Sleep all day. Party all night. It’s fun to be a vampire.” was the tagline to The Lost Boys, a Joel Schumacher film that heavily re-imagines J.M. Barrie’s classic play and novel, Peter Pan. The film was a minor hit back when it was released in 1987, but the film has become even more popular (even a kind of cult hit) through its release on home video and later DVD, and its numerous appearances on various cable TV channels. The Lost Boys also cleverly tweaks and twists some classic vampire myths, folklore, and legends – including some that were invented by Hollywood.

Financial troubles force recent divorcee Lucy Emerson (Dianne Wiest) and her two teenage sons, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam Emerson (Corey Haim), to move to Santa Carla, CA (actually filmed in Santa Cruz, CA) to live with her father (Bernard Hughes). At first, her younger son, Sam laughs off the rumors of vampires in Santa Carla that he hears from the two brothers, Edgar (Corey Feldman) and Alan Frog, (Jamison Newlander) who run their parents comic book shop on the Santa Carla Boardwalk. However, when Michael starts acting strange (stays out all night, sleeps all day, and tries to attack Sam) and showing classic signs of vampirism, Sam joins forces with the Frog Brothers to find and destroy the head vampire, which she free Michael of the vampire’s curse. Meanwhile, Michael has fallen for a half-vampire teenager named Star (Jami Gertz) and promises to help her and half-vampire boy, Laddie Thompson (Chance Michael Corbitt), for whom she cares. He’s also fallen in with a quartet of brash, teen vampires led by the charismatic David (Kiefer Sutherland).

I’ve seen The Lost Boys so many times, and I’m such a big fan that I don’t know if I can fairly review it for a viewer who hasn’t seen it. Heck, I’d recommend it to anybody. What do I like about it? Hmmm, where to start? It’s a fun, comic horror film, and puts a hip, cool spin on vampires – as they relate to Hollywood productions. It was not quite an MTV-type movie, but it did tap into the early to mid-80’s youth, cultural zeitgeist, if only to get some nice establishing shots of Santa Carla’s youth. Tapping into the style of young people in the mid-80’s also resulted in some flashy costumes of The Lost Boys’ teen characters. Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, and Jamison Newlander looked as if they’d step off the set of a Lionel Richie video (for either of the songs “All Night Long” or “Dancing on the Ceiling”). Jami Gertz and the Lost Boys (even the little half-vampire boy, Laddie) have mounds of big hair to go with the puffy shirts, faux Pirates of Penzance costumes, and Amadeus-vomit-leather ensembles. Somehow, it all looks and feels right – especially the handsome and alluring Kiefer Sutherland who plays a kind of teen rebel/pied piper vampire. He’s the real Peter Pan in this Lost Boys set.

As far as the filmmaking goes: Thomas Newman’s score is a smooth, crisp, and tight suite of music to suggest creepiness. The rewrites that director Joel Schumacher demanded of the original script (and likely done by Jeffrey Boam) turned the story into a tight little thriller with a slight fairy tale feel to it. Once upon a time, two boys and their mother moved to a town of vampires… and everybody was hip, cool, and now.

8 of 10
A

Ice Cube's ESPN Film to Screen at Tribeca Film Festival.

The New York Times is reporting that actor/director Ice Cube's entry in ESPN Films' "30 for 30 series," entitled "Straight Outta L.A.," will be screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.  It will be the opening movie at the Tribeca/ESPN Film Festival on April 23rd.

"Straight Outta L.A." chronicles the NFL's Oakland Raiders' controversial 1982 move to Los Angeles and back to Oakland again in 1995.