Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Daze of Love in (500) Days of Summer

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 59 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Running time: 95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual material and dialogue
WRITERS: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
PRODUCERS: Mason Novick, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mark Waters, and Steven J. Wolfe
CINEMATOGRAHER: Eric Steelberg (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Alan Edward Bell
Golden Globe nominee


Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Patricia Belcher, Rachel Boston, Minka Kelly, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Richard McGonagle (narrator)

(500) Days of Summer is an uncommon romance. It is certainly sweet, whimsical, and charming, but not in a syrupy way. (500) Days of Summer isn’t a “chick flick.” It’s the kind of unique love story that crosses age and gender lines0 to capture imaginations and maybe even hearts.

The film focuses on Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a trained architect who works as a writer at a Los Angeles greeting card company. He is also a young man who believes in that one-of-a-kind love – the soul mate – that person destined to be his one and only. So when this hopeless romantic meets his boss’ new assistant, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), the fuse is lit and it’s Day 1 of Summer. Tom is so certain that he has found the woman with whom he will spend the rest of his life.

Problem is, Summer doesn’t believe in destiny – not at all, which doesn’t stop Tom from going after this lovely, witty, intelligent woman. Still, Tom and Summer begin to date, although she tells him that she does not believe in true love and does not want a boyfriend. When Summer suddenly dumps him, around Day 290, Tom begins to sift through the days they spent together, looking for clues as to what went wrong as he heads towards Day 500 and a revelation.

(500) Days of Summer uses a nonlinear narrative to tell the story, jumping backward and forward over the 500-day span of Tom and Summer’s relationship. I don’t know if that really does anything for the film. It feels more like a gimmick than a storytelling structure that would actually benefit the story. In fact, moving about in time so much causes the middle of this film to dry up to the point of being catastrophically dull.

What sets (500) Days of Summer apart from standard movie love stories is the role reversal. This time it is the male character, Tom, who is clingy and smitten and believes in true love, a role usually assigned to the female character. Summer is more like the guy character found in the typical romantic comedy (or rom-com). She’s doesn’t buy into destiny and the boyfriend-girlfriend dating game. Summer just wants to have fun with no strings attached and no commitment – a trait usually applied to shallow male characters.

I think that having the guy character be so lovelorn and infatuated is a novel idea, but having that character performed by a talented actor like Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes him more than just a novelty. Gordon-Levitt gives Tom richness and depth so that he is more than just charming and sweet. A love-struck fool, he is determined to grapple with the issues of love and romance in a way that will not always give him a satisfactory outcome.

Sadly, Summer is not as well developed as Tom, and the character is more of a supporting player. Luckily Zooey Deschanel is pitch perfect in her usual deadpan way, and her brooding turn as Summer makes the character more than the shallow creature that the screenplay seems to think Summer she should be. Deschanel has a way of surprising us in the way she makes Summer’s emotional displays, her smiles and frowns, seem unexpected and… well, delightfully surprising.

I cannot really call (500) Days of Summer a romantic comedy because, for one thing, it is even more a drama than it is a comedy. Secondly, because Tom’s relationship with Summer is also an arc in which Tom learns a lot, (500) Days of Summer is like a coming-of-age story. Its unique spin on love-at-first-sight is presented in a way that will appeal even to audiences who avoid romantic comedies and love stories. Any way you look at it, (500) Days of Summer may just leave a smile on your face.

7 of 10

2010 Golden Globes: 2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

VIZ Cinema to Screen Hiroshima Doc


Academy Award Winning Director Steven Okazaki Captures Emotional Stories Of Extraordinary Resilience

Film Premiere To Present A Special Q & A Session With Survivors And The Friends Of Hibakusha Organization

VIZ Cinema, the nation’s only movie theatre dedicated to Japanese film, is proud to present a screening on August 6th and 7th of Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki’s White Light / Black Rain, a moving documentary about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought about the end of World War II.

Tickets are now available to attend a special Premiere Event for White Light / Black Rain on Friday, August 6th at 7:00pm that will also include a Q&A session with several survivors and the Friends of Hibakusha, a San Francisco organization dedicated to supporting U.S. citizens and Japanese-American survivors of radiation exposure from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A portion of ticket sales will be donated directly to the Friends of Hibakusha.

Tickets for the event are $15.00 and are now available for purchase online at the NEW PEOPLE / VIZ Cinema web site at: General admission tickets for the screening on Saturday, August 7th (no reception or Q&A) are $10.00. No discounts apply.

After 60 years, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, continue to inspire argument, denial and myth. White Light / Black Rain provides a detailed examination of the bombings and the aftermath and features interviews with fourteen atomic bomb survivors (known as hibakusha), many who have never spoken publicly before, as well as four Americans intimately involved in the bombings. While Japan would go on to emerge as a leading global economic power in the wake of World War II, the country’s psyche would remain forever altered by these terrible events. Through a succession of riveting personal accounts, the film reveals the unimaginable destructive power of atomic weapons, the inconceivable suffering, and extraordinary human resilience of the survivors.

Trailers, screening times and more information available at:

Director/filmmaker and third generation Japanese American Steven Okazaki has explored the Japanese American experience extensively through a variety of acclaimed documentaries. He has received a Peabody Award and been nominated for four Academy Awards and won an Oscar in 1991 for his documentary Days of Waiting: The Life & Art of Estelle Ishigo. He also was a co-recipient of the 2008 "Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking" Primetime Emmy Award for White Light / Black Rain. Okazaki is based in San Francisco, CA.

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:

Review: "Eternal Sunshine" is a Spotless Delight

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 196 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Running time: 108 minutes (1 hour, 48 minutes)
MPAA – R for language, some drug and sexual content
DIRECTOR: Michael Gondry
WRITERS: Charlie Kaufman; based upon a story by Charlie Kaufman, Michael Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth
PRODUCERS: Anthony Bregman and Steve Golin
EDITOR: Valdìs Óskarsdóttir
Academy Award winner

DRAMA/ROMANCE/SCI-FI with elements of comedy

Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, and Tom Wilkinson

Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) has just had a really bad break up with his girlfriend, Clementine Kruczynski (Kate Winslet), but there is still more bad news. Clementine has undergone a psychiatrist’s (Tom Wilkinson) experimental procedure in which all her memories of Joel were removed. Joel is frustrated by the fact that he still loves Clementine deeply, although she often irritates him greatly, so he undergoes the same procedure to erase his memories of her. The film then moves into Joel’s mind as the setting, and the procedure works backwards in time, removing the most recent memories first. So we see a memory, watch as it fades or is destroyed, and Joel’s mind moves backwards to the next oldest memory before that one is likewise scragged. Midway through the process, Joel decides realizes how much he still loves Clementine and doesn’t want to lose his memories of her. He begins to move parts of his time with her into places of his memory where she doesn’t belong, like his childhood. That only alters his other memories, and as his mind travels farther back in time, he wonders if he’ll retain any memories of Clementine when he awakens in the morning and the procedure has finished.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is another brilliant screenplay from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, author of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. As usual, his scripts are directed by excellent filmmakers; in this instance, the director is Michael Gondry, known for his work directing music videos for Björk and The Chemical Brothers. Gondry expertly directs the inspired madness of Kaufman’s script. The film, for all its surreal moments and shifts both in “real time” and dream time,” makes sense. Gondry also weaves out of this a poignant and genuinely heartfelt romantic drama.

The performances in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind range from great to pretty good. This is Jim Carrey’s best work and one of the few times he completely looses the clown and turns his creative energy and his longing for acceptance into a fierce, dramatic performance worthy of standing with the best “serious” actors. Kate Winslet is good…of course, and she does a better working class or ordinary American woman than most American actresses her age. The supporting roles are great with Kirsten Dunst making the most of a small part, but Tom Wilkinson is either a bit too aloof or too distant, or maybe the script didn’t give him enough.

At times, the film seems like a nightmare from the mind of the late, great sci-fi author and writer of speculative and mind-bending fiction, Philip K. Dick. In fact, Eternal Sunshine has a better PKD flavor than the films allegedly adapted from Dick’s books and short fiction. All things aside, this is excellent cinema. The time shifts and surrealism in Charlie Kaufman’s screenplays are practical and move the narrative similar to the way Quentin Tarantino does with his films. As of the closing days of September 2004, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the best film of the year.

10 of 10

2005 Academy Awards: 1 win “Best Writing, Original Screenplay” (Charlie Kaufman-screenplay/story, Michel Gondry-story, and Pierre Bismuth-story); 1 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Kate Winslet)

2005 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Best Editing” (Valdís Óskarsdóttir) and “Best Screenplay – Original” (Charlie Kaufman); 4 nominations: “Best Film” (Steve Golin and Anthony Bregman), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Jim Carrey), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Kate Winslet), and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Michel Gondry)

2005 Golden Globes: 4 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy,” “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Jim Carrey), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Kate Winslet), “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (Charlie Kaufman)


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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Twilight's Edi Gathegi Cast in "X-Men: First Class"

From AOL Black Voices' "BV on Movies" blog:  Kenyan-born actor Edi Gathegi who played the vampire Laurent in Twilight and Twilight Saga: New Moon has signed on to "X-Men: First Class," the upcoming X-Men movie that looks back at the early days of the X-Men.  The 31-year old Gathegi will reportedly play Armando Munoz, the mutant also known as "Darwin."

The film is being directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr, Alice Eve as Emma Frost, Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy, also known as Beast, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Caleb Landry Jones as Banshee, Lucas Till as Havok, and Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw.  20th Century Fox will release the film on June 3, 2011.

Remembering Harvey Pekar

One of my favorite comic book people, comic book writer and one-time publisher Harvey Pekar, died July 12th. Pekar’s best known work is American Splendor, a series of autobiographical comic books that Pekar began publishing in 1976. Dark Horse Comics published American Splendor beginning in 1993 with issue 17. DC Comics, under its Vertigo imprint, published the last 8 issues. There were 39 American Splendor comic book issues published over a 32 year period.

Considered an underground comic book, American Splendor was mostly autobiographical, and Pekar used the comic book to chronicle his everyday life, including his job as a file clerk at a Veteran’s Administration hospital and his relationships with coworkers and patients. Pekar wrote the stories, but could not draw, so, over the years, a number of comic book artists drew the stories. The most famous is legendary Underground Comics artist, Robert Crumb (or R. Crumb), a long time friend of Pekar’s. Among the other American Splendor artists were Gary Dumm, Gregory Budgett, David Collier, and Frank Stack (Our Cancer Year).

Some will remember Pekar for a number of appearances that he made on the old Late Night with David Letterman show in the late 1980s. American Splendor was also adapted into a 2003 Academy Award-nominated film of the same name. Actor Paul Giamatti portrayed Pekar, but Pekar also appeared in the film as himself.

I first discovered Pekar in the mid-1980s, only a couple of years after discovering that there was such a thing as a comic book shop. I still have a weathered copy of the first American Splendor book collection, American Splendor: The Life and Times of Harvey Pekar, which Doubleday published in 1986 under its “Dolphin” imprint.

Harvey Lawrence Pekar was born on October 8, 1939 to Polish immigrant parents. Apparently, Pekar lived his entire life in Cleveland, OH, except for his time in the U.S. Navy. Pekar was 70 years old. Rest in peace.

Pekar's death is noted in this blog entry at that also talks about his life and work.

There are Wikipedia entries for Pekar and American Splendor.

Smith Magazine has The Pekar Project.

My review of American Splendor is here.

American Splendor Remains a Truly Unique Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 61 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

American Splendor (2003)
Running time: 101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – R for language
DIRECTORS: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini
WRITERS: Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (based upon the comic book series American Splendor by Harvey Pekar and Our Cancer Year by Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Terry Stacey (director of photography)
EDITOR: Robert Pulcini
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA with elements of animation, comedy, and documentary

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Hope Lange, Judah Friedlander, James Urbaniak, Madylin Sweeten, Earl Billings, Maggie Moore, Robert J. Williams, and James McCaffrey with Harvey Pekar, Joyce Brabner, Toby Radloff, and Danielle Batone

American Splendor is a film based upon the comic book of the same name, and the comic is about its author, Harvey Pekar’s, everyday humdrum life – his sufferings, the annoyances, and just getting by while winning a few skirmishes in the war called existence. See where this is going? Splendor is pretty downbeat, but one can’t help but wonder if Harvey wants to miserable. Though the film isn’t plot-centered, it’s a series of short tales with eccentric characters as the glue that holds the movie.

Splendor is a fairly interesting movie, but it’s certainly nothing I fell in love with. And despite being a 2003 critical darling, I don’t think it’s one of “the year’s best films.” Paul Giamatti does a fairly decent impersonation of Pekar, but it’s not a standout performance. I figure that he could have done this acting job in his sleep. Although I’m fairly familiar with Pekar’s work and have seen the man on TV several times, I don’t know much about his wife Joyce Brabner, though I’ve seen pictures of her. I must say that Hope Lange who plays Ms. Brabner is wishful thinking in casting because Ms. Lange turns the rather ordinary Ms. Brabner into an attractive, intriguing, and quirky matinee beauty.

The movie’s technique is a combination of film drama, documentary (where the audience gets to see the real Pekar, Brabner, and some of their associates), and animation. Several times in the film, comic book-like drawings and actual comic book art act as backdrops to the main story. It’s neat (though not original), and frankly they should have done it more. That would have made the film stand out. As it is, American Splendor is an odd oddball, not really artsy and more like something peculiar made palatable for mainstream tastes. The film is more interesting than entertaining – more than mildly interesting and above average, but well short of attaining the excellence it should have.

7 of 10

2004 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay” (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini)
2004 Golden Globes: 1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Hope Davis)


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ben Affleck's "The Town" to Debut at Toronto International Film Festival

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ “The Town” to Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival

Directed by and Starring Ben Affleck, the Film Will Have Gala Presentation

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) announced today that Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ crime drama “The Town” will premiere at this year’s 35th annual festival. The Gala Presentation, which marks the North American debut of the film, will take place on Saturday, September 11, 2010.

Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, “The Town” opens in North America on September 17, 2010.

There are over 300 bank robberies in Boston every year. And most of the professionals live in a one-square-mile neighborhood called Charlestown. One of them is Doug MacCray (Ben Affleck), but he is not cut from the same cloth as his fellow thieves. Unlike them, Doug had a chance at success, a chance to escape following in his father’s criminal footsteps. Instead, he became the leader of a crew of ruthless bank robbers, who pride themselves on taking what they want and getting out clean. The only family Doug has are his partners in crime, especially Jem (Jeremy Renner), who, despite his dangerous, hair-trigger temper, is the closest thing Doug ever had to a brother.

However, everything changed on the gang’s last job when Jem briefly took a hostage: bank manager Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). When they discover she lives in Charlestown, Jem gets nervous and wants to check out what she might have seen. Knowing what Jem is capable of, Doug takes charge. He seeks out Claire, who has no idea that their encounter is not by chance or that this charming stranger is one of the men who terrorized her only days before. As his relationship with Claire deepens into a passionate romance, Doug wants out of this life and the town. But with the Feds, led by Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm), closing in and Jem questioning his loyalty, Doug realizes that getting out will not be easy and, worse, may put Claire in the line of fire. Any choices he once had have boiled down to one: betray his friends or lose the woman he loves.

Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck (“Good Will Hunting,” “Gone Baby Gone”) directed and stars in “The Town,” a dramatic thriller about robbers and cops, friendship and betrayal, love and hope, and escaping a past that has no future.

The film also stars Rebecca Hall (“Vicky Christina Barcelona”), Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), Oscar® nominee Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker”), Blake Lively (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” TV’s “Gossip Girl”), Titus Welliver (“Gone Baby Gone”), Oscar® nominee Pete Postlethwaite (“In the Name of the Father,” “Inception”), and Academy Award® winner Chris Cooper (“Adaptation”).

“The Town” is produced by Academy Award® winner Graham King (“The Departed”) and Basil Iwanyk (“Clash of the Titans”) from a screenplay by Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard, based on the novel Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan. The executive producers are Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, William Fay and David Crockett, and Chay Carter served as co-producer.

The behind-the-scenes creative team was led by Oscar®-winning director of photography Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood”), production designer Sharon Seymour (“Gone Baby Gone”), Oscar®-nominated editor Dylan Tichenor (“There Will Be Blood”), and costume designer Susan Matheson (“The Kingdom”). The music is composed by Harry Gregson-Williams and David Buckley, who previously collaborated on Affleck’s “Gone Baby Gone.”

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Legendary Pictures, a GK Films Production, a Thunder Road Film Production, “The Town.” The film has been rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.

Review: "Oldboy" is an Incredible Movie from South Korea

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 214 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Oldboy (2003)
Running time: 120 minutes (2 hours)
MPAA – R for strong violence including scenes of torture, sexuality, and pervasive language
DIRECTOR: Chan-wook Park
WRITERS: Chan-wook Park, Jo-yun Hwang, Chun-hyeong Lim, and Joon-hyung Lim; from a story by Garon Tsuchiya (based upon the comic book by Nobuaki Minegishi)
PRODUCER: Seung-yong Lim
EDITOR: Sang-Beom Kim

MYSTERY/DRAMA/THRILLER with elements of action

Starring: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Dae-han Ji, Dal-su Oh, Byeong-ok Kim, Seung-Shin Lee, and Jin-seo Yun

Oh Dae-su (Min-sik Choi) was imprisoned, drugged, and tortured for 15 years, before his captor(s) mysteriously released him. Dae-su has no idea how or why it happened, and he doesn’t know whom he should hold accountable for his suffering. Seeking revenge on his captor(s), Dae-su gets help from a kindly waitress, Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang), and an old friend, No Joo-hwan (Dae-han Ji). Dae-su also comes upon a valuable clue when a suave young businessman, Lee Woo-jin (Ji-tae Yu), starts butting into Dae-su’s life. Who is Woo-jin? Did he play a part in Dae-su’s imprisonment? And how does Dae-su’s past tie into everything? Dae-su only has five days to discover all the answers.

Showing the influence of both Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch, director Chan-wook Park created in his film, Oldboy, a story of revenge that is Shakespearean in its scope and has the flavor of pure, L.A. hardboiled noir, even though the story takes place in South Korea. Although the performances are excellent, in particularly the trio of Min-ski Choi, Hye-jeong Kang, and Ja-tae Yu who are all superb, Oldboy is an exercise in plot over character. Slick and brutally violent, it recalls Martin Scorcese’s Mean Streets with a splash of the Wachowski’s Brothers and Quentin Tarantino pulp crime work.

Park welcomes the viewer to engage his own mind in untangling this labyrinth of an insane and monumentally petty revenge. In that, Oldboy is the ultimate revenge flick, proving that more often than we’d like to believe, the object of a revenge plot really doesn’t know why his tormentor hates him. The victim may not even remember his alleged offense. Movie lovers with nimble minds and appetites for cinematic brilliance will like this complex and brutal mystery. Once again, a filmmaker from the Far East shows us that eye candy need not be just entertainment filler. It can also be a work of movie art.

9 of 10

Tuesday, October 17, 2006



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VIZ Cinema Does War, Peace, and Revenge in August


The Japanese American Experience In World War II Is Explored In Poignant Documentaries; Action Fans Can Sample Akira Kurosawa Samurai Classics And Gritty Tales Of Betrayal And Vengeance From Korean Director Park Chan-Wook

VIZ Cinema, the nation’s only movie theatre dedicated to Japanese film, opens August with a theme of “The Winding Road to Peace” in a month that marks the 55th Anniversary of both the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of World War II.

Throughout August, VIZ Cinema will be a place to ponder humanity’s path from conflict to reconciliation. From films like White Light/Black Rain, which presents a unblinking look at the first time nuclear weapons were used in war from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki, to 442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignity, a heartfelt new documentary that traces the battle that patriotic Japanese Americans faced both at home and abroad in World War II to become one of the most decorated infantry units of the entire war. The Japanese experience in World War II is also explored in films by Kon Ichikawa and Nagisa Oshima including, The Burmese Harp, Fires on the Plain, and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, which stars David Bowie and Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Also not to be missed will be Samurai Saga Vol. 2, a special series presenting some of famed director Akira Kurosawa’s best known samurai films, including Seven Samurai, Rashamon and The Hidden Fortress. August also kicks off with four action packed films from South Korean director Park Chan-Wook, who first gained international attention with his gritty vengeance yarn, Oldboy, which will be among the titles screened at VIZ Cinema this month.

Advance tickets, screening times and more details are available at:

Park Chan-Wook Special
Witness the unforgettable imagery and kinetic action of the award-winning “Vengeance Trilogy” with truly stunning colors presented in High Definition! One of the most acclaimed and popular filmmakers in his native South Korea, Park Chan-Wook’s films are noted for their immaculate framing and often brutal subject matter. General Admission Tickets: $10:00; No discounts apply.

Thirst, July 30th One Day Only!
(Directed by Park Chan-Wook, 2009, 133 minute, Digital, Korean with English Subtitles)

A beloved and devoted priest from a small town volunteers for a medical experiment which fails and turns him into a vampire. Physical and psychological changes eventually lead to his affair with the wife of his childhood friend who is repressed and tired of her mundane life. As the one-time priest falls deeper into despair and depravity and things turn for the worse, he struggles to maintain what’s left of his humanity. R-rated with Explicit content.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, July 31st – August 2nd and also August 5th
(Directed by Park Chan-Wook, 2002, 129 minute, Digital, Korean with English Subtitles)

The first film of Park’s “Vengeance Trilogy,” unable to afford proper care for his sister dying from kidney failure, Ryu turns to the black market to sell his own organs only to end up cheated of his life savings. His girlfriend urges Ryu to kidnap the daughter of wealthy industrialist who recently laid him off. He agrees, but unforeseen tragedies turn an innocent con into a merciless quest for revenge as the men are thrust into a desperate spiral of destruction. R-rated for Explicit content.

Oldboy, July 31st – August 4th
(Directed by Park Chan-Wook, 2003, 120 minute, Digital, Korean with English Subtitles)

Winner of the 2004 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix, the second of the “Vengeance Trilogy” unfolds the life of Oh Dae-su, an ordinary Seoul businessman with a wife and little daughter, who is abducted and locked up in a strange, private prison. No one will tell him why he’s there or who his jailer is and his fury steadily builds to a single-minded focus of revenge. Suddenly, 15 years later, he is unexpectedly freed and given only 5 days to discover the mysterious enemy who had him imprisoned. Oldboy is based on a Japanese manga series by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi. R-rated for Explicit content.

Lady Vengeance, July 31st – August 5th
(Directed by Park Chan-Wook, 2005, 112 minute, Digital, Korean with English Subtitles)

In the final chapter of the “Vengeance trilogy,” after being blackmailed and wrongly imprisoned for 13 years, a beautiful woman is finally set free. Now her brutally elaborate plan for vengeance against the true criminal can begin to unfold R-rated for Explicit content.

White Light/Black Rain, August 6th – 7th
"Compelling and compassionate… a stirring and heart-wrenching statement of the horrible powers that mankind holds in its fist." - The Hollywood Reporter

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki presents an unblinking look at the first time nuclear weapons were used in war. After 60 years, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945, continue to inspire argument, denial and myth. Featuring interviews with fourteen atomic bomb survivors (known as hibakusha), many who have never spoken publicly before, and four Americans intimately involved in the bombings, White Light/Black Rain provides a detailed examination of the bombings and their aftermath.

Part of ticket sales will be directly donated to the Friends of Hibakusha in Japantown.

The U.S. does not currently offer any free medical treatment programs for atomic bomb-affected individuals.

A special S.F. Theatrical Premiere Event with reception and Q&A with the Friends of Hibakusha takes place on August 6th. General admission tickets are $15.00.

Saturday, August 7th General Admission $10:00; No discounts apply.

Winding Road to Peace: Three War Films by Kon Ichikawa & Nagisa Oshima

The Burmese Harp, August 7th – 10th and also August 12th
Directed by Kon Ichikawa, 1956, 116min, Digital, Japanese with English Subtitles)

An Imperial Japanese Army regiment surrenders to British forces in Burma at the close of World War II and finds harmony through song. A private, thought to be dead, disguises himself as a Buddhist monk and stumbles upon spiritual enlightenment. Magnificently shot in hushed black and white, Kon Ichikawa’s The Burmese Harp is an eloquent meditation on beauty coexisting with death and remains one of Japanese cinema’s most overwhelming antiwar statements, both tender and brutal in its grappling with Japan’s wartime legacy.

Fires on the Plain, August 7th – 11th
(Directed by Kon Ichikawa, 1959, 104min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

An agonizing portrait of desperate Japanese soldiers stranded in a strange land during World War II, Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain is a compelling descent into psychological and physical oblivion. Denied hospital treatment for tuberculosis and cast off into the unknown, Private Tamura treks across an unfamiliar Philippine landscape, encountering an increasingly debased cross section of Imperial Army soldiers, who eventually give in to the most terrifying craving of all – cannibalism. Grisly yet poetic, Fires on the Plain is one of the most powerful works from one of Japanese cinema’s most versatile filmmakers.

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, August 7th – 8th and also August 11th – 12th
(Directed by Nagisa Oshima, 1983, 123min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

In this captivating, exhilaratingly skewed World War II drama from Nagisa Oshima, David Bowie regally embodies a high-ranking British officer interned by the Japanese as a POW. Music star Ryuichi Sakamoto (who also composed this film’s hypnotic score) plays the camp commander, who becomes obsessed with the mysterious blond major, while Tom Conti is British lieutenant colonel Mr. Lawrence, who tries to bridge the emotional and language divides between his captors and fellow prisoners. Also featuring actor-director Takeshi Kitano in his first dramatic role, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence is a multilayered, brutal, at times erotic tale of culture clash that was one of director Oshima’s greatest successes.

Bay Area Filmmakers Series Vol. 2: Junichi Suzuki War Documentaries
As part of the second installment of VIZ Cinema’s Bay Area Filmmakers Series, the theatre presents director Junichi Suzuki’s documentaries highlighting the Japanese American experience during World War II. Early Bird Ticket Special: Advance Online Tickets $10.00 (Prior to August 13th); After August 13th General Admission will be $13.00; No further discounts apply

442: Live with Honor, Die with Dignity, August 13th – 19th
(Directed by Junichi Suzuki, 2010, 100min, HD, English Language)

The 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II was composed of Japanese Americans who initially were looked at as a problem because of their race, but were later admired because of their heroism on the battlefields of Europe. They had to fight for not only enemy abroad but also prejudice at home. This is the story of 442nd and their veterans now and then.

Toyo’s Camera, August 13th – 19th
(Directed by Junichi Suzuki, 2008, 100min, HD, English Language)

Filmmaker Junichi Suzuki directs this documentary portrait of photographer Toyo Miyatake, a Japanese-American who smuggled his camera into an internment camp during World War II and captured images that showed the plight of his people.

Kurosawa On Sword Battles - Samurai Saga Volume 2
VIZ Cinema continues a celebration marking the centennial birth of Japan’s most beloved film director – Akira Kurosawa – with SAMURAI SAGA Vol. 2, marking nearly 50 years of big screen samurai action and drama. General Admission Tickets: $10:00; No discounts apply.

Seven Samurai, August 20th – 22nd
(Directed by Akira Kurosawa, 1954, 207min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

One of the most beloved films of all time, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai tells the story of a sixteenth-century village whose desperate inhabitants hire the eponymous warriors to protect them from invading bandits. This three-hour ride, featuring legendary actors Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, seamlessly weaves philosophy, entertainment, delicate human emotions and relentless action into a rich, evocative, and unforgettable tale of courage and hope.

Rashamon, August 21st – 25th
(Directed by Akira Kurosawa, 1950, 88min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

Brimming with action while incisively examining the nature of truth, Rashomon is perhaps the finest film ever to investigate the philosophy of justice. Through an ingenious use of camera and flashbacks, Kurosawa reveals the complexities of human nature as four people recount different versions of the story of a man’s murder and the rape of his wife. Toshiro Mifune gives another commanding performance in the eloquent masterwork that revolutionized film language and introduced Japanese cinema to the world.

Yojimbo, August 23rd – August 28th and also August 31st
(Directed by Akira Kurosawa, 1961, 110min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

The incomparable Toshiro Mifune stars in Akira Kurosawa’s visually stunning and darkly comic Yojimbo. To rid a terror-stricken village of corruption, wily masterless samurai Sanjuro turns a range war between two evil clans to his own advantage. Remade twice, by Sergio Leone and Walter Hill, this exhilarating genre-twister remains one of the most influential and entertaining films of all time.

Sanjuro, August 25th – August 30th
(Directed by Akira Kurosawa, 1962, 96min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

Toshiro Mifune swaggers and snarls to brilliant comic effect in Akira Kurosawa’s tightly paced, beautifully composed drama. In this companion piece to Yojimbo, jaded samurai Sanjuro helps an idealistic group of young warriors weed out their clan’s betrayer, and in the process turns their image of a “proper” samurai on its ear. Less brazen in tone than its predecessor but equally entertaining, this classic character’s return is a masterpiece in its own right.

Throne of Blood, August 28h – September 2nd
(Directed by Akira Kurosawa, 1957, 109min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

One of the most celebrated screen adaptations of Shakespeare into film, Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood reimagines Macbeth in feudal Japan. Starring Kurosawa’s longtime collaborator Toshiro Mifune and the legendary Isuzu Yamada as his ruthless wife, the film tells of a valiant warrior’s savage rise to power and his ignominious fall. With Throne of Blood, Kurosawa fused one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies with the formal elements of Japanese Noh theater to make a Macbeth that is all his own – a classic tale of ambition and duplicity set against a ghostly landscape of fog and inescapable doom.

The Hidden Fortress, August 28h – September 2nd
(Directed by Akira Kurosawa, 1958, 139min, 35mm, Japanese with English Subtitles)

A general and a princess must dodge enemy clans while smuggling the royal treasure out of hostile territory with two bumbling, conniving peasants at their sides; it’s a spirited adventure that only Akira Kurosawa could create. Acknowledged as a primary influence on George Lucas’sStar Wars, The Hidden Fortress delivers Kurosawa’s inimitably deft blend of wry humor, breathtaking action and humanist compassion on an epic scale. The Criterion Collection is proud to present this landmark motion picture in a stunning, newly restored Tohoscope edition.

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:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Not Enough of "the crazies" in "The Crazies"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 58 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Crazies (2010)
Running time: 101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – R for bloody violence and language
DIRECTOR: Breck Eisner
WRITERS: Scott Kosar and Ray Wright (based upon the 1973 film by George A. Romero)
PRODUCERS: Michael Aguilar, Rob Cowan, and Dean Georgaris
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Maxime Alexandre (director of photography)
EDITOR: Billy Fox
COMPOSER: Mark Isham


Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, and Danielle Panabaker

Released this past February, The Crazies is a remake of a 1973 film by famed horror movie director, George A. Romero (Dawn of the Dead). Romero’s film was both a thriller and also a satire of military and governmental bureaucracies. The Crazies 2010 is a standard horror movie thriller with the proper horror movie mood. However, the film doesn’t focus on a single, solid adversary or villain, someone or something that would be a steady menacing presence against the heroes.

The story takes place in fictional Ogden Marsh, a picture-perfect, rural American, small town of happy, law-abiding citizens who are farmers and small business owners. Late one afternoon, Pierce County Sheriff David Dutten (Timothy Olyphant) and his deputy, Russell Clank (Joe Anderson), are enjoying a local high school baseball game when one of those happy citizens shows up on the baseball field with a loaded shotgun. David is forced to kill him. Not long afterwards, another man sets his house on fire, burning to death his wife and young son in the process.

David suspects that something is turning the citizens of Ogden Marsh into depraved, blood-thirsty killers who can and will use any instrument to brutally murder their neighbors. The nonsensical violence is escalating and Ogden Marsh is falling apart when a mysterious military force storms into town. As heavily armed soldiers wearing gas masks round up the people of Ogden Marsh, David and Russell gather David’s wife, Judy Dutten (Radha Mitchell), and a young woman named Becca Darling (Danielle Panabaker). The quartet is trying to escape certain death, either caused by the military or at the hands of “the crazies,” the people infected by the mysterious virus, “Trixie.”

The Crazies is a perfectly competent film, but it wants to be two films – a horror movie and an action thriller. The original movie was also like two films – a military drama and an escape movie. The Crazies 2010 is an escape movie focusing on Sheriff Dutton and his three companions as they try to avoid the military (primarily). It is also a kind of zombie movie (secondary) with the crazies as the zombie-like killers. The problem is that the film never gives us enough of either the military or the crazies, with the crazies being the better of the two.

There are some chilling moments involving the military (which is largely faceless), especially early on when the soldiers roundup the citizens. The truly frightening moments, however, are with the crazies, who are like the infected in 28 Days Later, except the crazies aren’t mindless. They’re homicidal and so damn scary, and when they show up, the film delivers some brilliant moments of screen horror. It is fine that this new film is faithful to the 1973 one, but this film does not do what the advertisements for it promised – give us a movie about a small band of survivors fighting to escape the crazies.

And the characters aren’t that interesting. They’re largely stock characters, and the script really doesn’t give any depth even to the ones with potential – David, Judy, Russell, and Becca. The Crazies has the right mood and scary sequences, but as a horror movie, it largely misses the potential of its best assets – the crazies.

5 of 10

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Monday, July 26, 2010

Family Guy "Return of the Jedi" Parody Due for Christmas

Feel the Farce as “Family Guy” Skewers Star Wars™ with Its Third Uncensored Satire on Blu-ray and DVD December 21

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Return to the Grffins’ version of that galaxy far, far away as their freakin’ sweet saga continues with “Family Guy: It’s A Trap!” - arriving exclusively on Blu-ray and DVD December 21 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. In the third installment of the hilarious Star Wars satire - following 2005’s Family Guy: Blue Harvest and last year’s Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side - the Griffins reprise their intergalactic roles in an outrageous retelling of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi.

Fans received an early peak of the epic farce at San Diego Comic-Con as Seth MacFarlane previewed 10 minutes of “Family Guy: It’s A Trap!” during the “Family Guy” panel Saturday at 11:00 AM in Ballroom 20. Additionally, San Diego Comic-Con attendees were able to pre-order the Blu-ray and DVD at Fox booth #4313, and pick up past titles in the “Family Guy” Star Wars Saga.

In this spectacular and offensively uproarious final chapter, Luke Skywalker (Chris) and Princess Leia (Lois) must travel to Tatooine to free Han Solo (Peter) by infiltrating the wretched stronghold of Jabba the Hutt (Joe), the galaxy’s most loathsome and dreadful gangster. Once reunited, the Rebels team up with a tribe of Ewoks to combat the Imperial forces on the forest moon of Endor. Meanwhile the Emperor (Carter Pewterschmidt) and Darth Vader (Stewie) conspire to turn Luke to the dark side, and young Skywalker is determined to rekindle the spirit of the Jedi within his father. The Galactic Civil War has never been more outrageous, as the Rebel forces gather to attack the seemingly defenseless and incomplete second Death Star in the battle that will determine the fate of the galaxy. Adding to the fun, “Family Guy: It’s A Trap!” is loaded with hysterical cameo voice spots - including Patrick Stewart and Michael Dorn reprising their roles from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” Adam West (“Batman”), Carrie Fisher (Star Wars Trilogy) and conservative talk radio juggernaut Rush Limbaugh as the voice of the large carnivorous reptomammal, the Rancor.

“The fan base for “Family Guy” and Star Wars, both enthusiastic, have embraced the first two hilarious spoofs,” said Mike Dunn, President, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “Bringing the distinctive storylines together for the trilogy of parodies has been enormously successful and lends itself to create unique home entertainment releases.”

As an added bonus, “Family Guy: It’s A Trap!” will also be available in Blu-ray and DVD triple-packs featuring all the “Family Guy” Star Wars spoofs…the perfect gift for the holiday season.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company. Representing 75 years of innovative and award-winning filmmaking from Twentieth Century Fox, TCFHE is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming, acquisitions and original productions on DVD, Blu-ray Disc Digital Copy, Video On Demand and Digital Download. The company also releases all products globally 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.

STAR WARS™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.

Review: George Romero's "The Crazies" Mocks Bureaucracy

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 57 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Crazies (1973)
Running time: 103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
WRITERS: Paul McCollough and George A. Romero
CINEMATOGRAPHER: S. William Hinzman (director of photography)


Starring: Lane Carroll, W.G. McMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, Lynn Lowry, Richard Liberty, Richard France, Harry Spillman, and Will Disney

The Crazies is a 1973 satirical drama and military thriller from director George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead). The film, which has some elements from the horror genre, takes place in a small Pennsylvania town. There, the military is trying to contain an outbreak of a manmade virus that causes death or permanent insanity in those it infects.

The Crazies has two major storylines. One focuses on how politicians and the military try to contain the outbreak, and the other focuses on the civilians who try to stay alive during the chaos, in particular a quartet led by two former serviceman. The action takes place in and around the small town of Evans City, Pennsylvania. Apparently, a few weeks before the story begins, an army plane crash-landed in the hills near the town. The plane was carrying a biological weapon – a top-secret virus codenamed Trixie.

Heavily-armed U.S. troops (clad in white NBC suits) arrive in Evans City and declare martial law. In an attempt to contain Trixie and see which citizens are infected, the military begins to gather the citizens in a central location, but as the military sets up a quarantine perimeter outside of town to stop the virus from spreading, chaos ensues. Two Vietnam veterans who are now firemen, former Green Beret, David (W.G. McMillan), and infantryman, Clank (Harold Wayne Jones), hatch a plan to leave town. With them are David’s pregnant girlfriend, a nurse named Judy (Lane Carroll); Kathie Fulton (Lynn Lowry), a teenager; and her father, Artie (Richard Liberty). Their escape attempt may be too late for some, as the madness caused by Trixie begins to set in.

Many viewers probably consider The Crazies to be a horror movie, especially because it is directed by George Romero. Much of the film, however, is a pointed satire of military and political bureaucracies, focusing on the intractability of the decision and policy makers and also the general disorganization of institutions that are supposed to be quite organized. This satire is certainly interesting, but it slows the narrative, sometimes to a crawl. Still, Romero’s sly wit and blunt commentary occasionally give birth to some good scenes (like the standoff between the military and the local law).

The best parts of the film involve the quintet trying to escape the madness. These five people exemplify the character traits, personalities, and actions that are typical of characters in Romero films that are trapped in some kind of doomsday scenario. The actors’ good performances bring freshness to these familiar Romero types. W.G. McMillan as David and Lane Carroll as Judy have excellent screen chemistry and seem like a real couple. The Crazies reflected the chaotic times in which it first appeared, but McMillan and Carroll are still the heart of this film. Their characters’ trials and tribulations add drama to this film and make it seem like more than just pointed satire.

6 of 10

Monday, July 26, 2010


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Detroit Metal City Live Action Movie Coming to America


Inventive Comedy Is Based On A Popular Manga Series That Has Taken North America By Storm

VIZ Pictures, an affiliate of VIZ Media, LLC that focuses on Japanese live-action film distribution, has announced that it has licensed from Toho Company, Ltd the North American theatrical and DVD distribution rights to the heavy metal live-action comedy, Detroit Metal City. The DVD is scheduled for release later in the fall of this year.

Detroit Metal City takes the zany rock antics inspired by films like Spinal Tap to hilarious new extremes in this film directed by Toshio Lee and based on the popular manga comic created by Kiminori Wakasugi. It features notable appearances by Gene Simmons from the legendary band, KISS, and Marty Friedman of Megadeth, and stars Kenichi Matsuyama, one of the most adored actors in Japan today and known widely for his role as 'L' in the Death Note films (also available from VIZ Pictures).

“We’re extremely excited to announce the license for Detroit Metal City and know it will strike a chord with rock and metal fans as well as followers of the acclaimed manga series,” says Seiji Horibuchi, President and CEO of VIZ Pictures. “Prepare to have your mortal soul devoured by the demonic Johannes Krauser II, front man for Detroit Metal City, the most outrageous death metal band on the Japanese indie rock scene!”

In the film, Soichi Negishi (played by Kenichi Matsuyama) is a sweet and shy young man who dreams of becoming a trendy singer songwriter. But for some reason, he is forced into joining the devil worshiping death metal band “Detroit Metal City” (DMC). In full stage make-up and costume, he transforms into Johannes Krauser II the vulgar-mouthed lead vocalist of the band. But he must keep this a secret from his crush, Yuri Aikawa, who despises death metal. What would she think if she found out? But against Negishi’s will, DMC rises to stardom. Things get even more complicated when the legendary king of death metal, Jack ill Dark (played by Gene Simmons), challenges DMC to a duel in the film’s climatic finale. What will be the fate of innocent Negishi as he climbs to the top of the death metal world?

First appearing in the pages of Japan’s Young Animal manga magazine, Detroit Metal City quickly became a national sensation. The series has sold more than 4.5 million copies in Japan and is also published in North America by VIZ Media (rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences).

For more information on Detroit Metal City or other VIZ Pictures titles, please visit

About VIZ Pictures, Inc.:
Based in San Francisco, California, VIZ Pictures, Inc. licenses and distributes selective Japanese live-action films and DVDs, with focus on Japanese "kawaii (cute) and cool" pop culture. VIZ Pictures strives to offer the most entertaining motion pictures straight from the "Kingdom of Pop" for audiences of all ages, especially the manga and anime generation, in North America. Some titles include DEATH NOTE, 20TH CENTURY BOYS, and TRAIN MAN: DENSHA OTOKO. VIZ Pictures is also the producer of NEW PEOPLE, a part of the J-Pop Center Project, a unique entertainment destination bringing Japanese pop culture through film, art, fashion, and retail products. For more information please visit or © 2009 VIZ Pictures, Inc.

Green Zone Juggles Politics and Action

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 56 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Green Zone (2010)
Running time: 115 minutes (1 hour, 55 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence and language
DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
WRITER: Brian Helgeland (based on the book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran)
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Greengrass, and Lloyd Levin
EDITOR: Christopher Rouse


Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan, Khalid Abdalla, Jason Isaacs, and Yigal Naor

Director Paul Greengrass and actor/movie star Matt Damon came together to produce two of the three Jason Bourne movies (The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum). They reunited for the film Green Zone, which is not a Jason Bourne movie or anything like that. Green Zone is a movie set at the beginning of the Iraq War. Green Zone is part military action movie, but it also has something to say about the reasons for the Iraq War.

The story focuses on Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) and begins early in the U.S.-led occupation of Baghdad in the spring of 2003. Miller leads a team of U.S. Army inspectors searching for weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) believed to be stockpiled in and around Baghdad. After investigating a series of sites and finding nothing, Miller begins to suspect that the intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction is faulty, at best.

Miller’s military superiors and other high-ranking officials dismiss his theories about flawed intelligence, and he comes into conflict with U.S. Defense Intelligence Agent Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) who seems to be guiding much of the American occupation of Iraq. After meeting, Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), a Middle East-based CIA officer, Miller stumbles upon an elaborate cover-up of the reasons behind the Iraq War. Now, Miller must navigate the intersecting agendas spun by competing operatives, as he hunts for answers that may clear Iraq’s fallen regime of war crimes or even stop an insurgency from being born.

Green Zone is a politically engaged film. Using Matt Damon’s Roy Miller as a vehicle, Paul Greengrass and screen writer Brian Helgeland addresses Greengrass’ contentions about the decision to invade Iraq (the country’s alleged possession of WMDs) and subsequent decisions made during the U.S.-led Coalition occupation (in particularly the decision to disband the Iraqi army).

Greengrass’ problems with the Iraq War have also been the subject of many television and theatrical films (both fiction and non-fiction). Making these arguments about Iraq within the framework of a military action thriller actually can result in a movie with an identity crisis, which is the case with Green Zone. Greengrass attempts to make his points about the war, unveiling them during the course of Roy Miller’s investigation, which involves talking to and shooting at people.

The first 55 minutes of the movie mostly sets up the story, and it follows Miller as he gradually makes a series of startling discoveries about the run-up to the Iraq War. This is more dry and dull than interesting. The first half of the film is so slow and awkward that it is almost a disaster. Honestly, Greengrass’ contentions about the Iraq War are only interesting in the context of the movie’s second half. That’s the action/thriller half which has Roy Miller trying to find Iraqi General Mohammed Al-Rawi (Yigal Naor) before a Special Forces unit does. This second half will remind audiences of those breathless action scenes Greengrass and Damon pulled off in their two Jason Bourne movies.

It is cool that a Hollywood movie would confront the controversies of the Iraq War, but the best thing about Green Zone is the tense pacing and smartly constructed action sequences. Unfortunately, the politics are, at best, distracting and, at worst, debilitating to the movie.

5 of 10

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Friday, July 23, 2010

Dark Horse and TNT Team Up on DreamWork's "Falling Skies"



TNT is teaming up with publisher Dark Horse Comics to create a comic book and webcomic prequel to FALLING SKIES, the eagerly anticipated new series starring Noah Wyle (ER, TNT’s The Librarian movies) and produced by DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg. The comic book and webcomic are slated to be unveiled at New York Comic Con in October. FALLING SKIES, which is set to premiere on TNT in summer 2011, is a gripping drama that envisions a world where aliens have invaded, and the fate of humanity lies in the hands of a few survivors.

During New York Comic Con (Oct. 8-10), TNT and Dark Horse will distribute an exclusive, special-edition 12-14 page comic book that tells the harrowing backstory of the alien invasion. Beginning Nov. 1, fans will be able to download an extended webcomic version through, and iTunes, with new installments posted every two weeks.

“The FALLING SKIES comic book and webcomic provide a great way for TNT to ramp up excitement for FALLING SKIES, while also providing a thrilling backstory to the series’ intriguing premise and characters,” said Tricia Melton, senior vice president of entertainment marketing for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “We look forward to working with Dark Horse Comics as we begin the FALLING SKIES invasion.”

In addition to the comic book and webcomic, Dark Horse is collaborating with TNT on the FALLING SKIES presence at this month’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. The event will include appearances and autograph sessions with series stars Wyle and Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation), along with co-executive producer and writer Mark Verheiden (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica). On Friday, July 23, from 2-3 p.m. (PT), the three will appear at Dark Horse’s Comic-Con International booth, where they will sign exclusive FALLING SKIES posters. Then from 4:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m. (PT), Wyle, Bloodgood and Verheiden will participate in a Q&A panel session in Room 6A.

In FALLING SKIES, Wyle stars as a former college professor who becomes the leader of a group of soldiers and civilians struggling against an occupying alien force. Bloodgood co-stars as Anne Glass, a therapist who works with the surviving children to help them cope with the traumatic situation. The series also stars Drew Roy (Lincoln Heights) as Hal and Maxim Knight (Brothers & Sisters) as Matt, Tom’s two sons; and Seychelle Gabriel (Weeds) as Lourdes, an orphaned teenager who helps run the group’s commissary. Will Patton (Armageddon, TNT’s Into the West) plays a fierce leader of the resistance.

FALLING SKIES is executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank and screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat, who earned an Oscar® nomination for his screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, wrote the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg. Verheiden and Greg Beeman (Heroes, Smallville) are co-executive producers. The pilot was directed by Carl Franklin (One False Move, Out of Time).

About Dark Horse Comics
Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. The company is known for the progressive and creator friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists. In addition to publishing comics from top talent like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, Gerard Way, Will Eisner, and bestselling prose author, Janet Evanovich, Dark Horse has developed such successful characters as The Mask, Timecop, and SpyBoy. Additionally, their highly successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan, Mass Effect, Tim Burton, Serenity and Domo. Today, Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent comic-book publisher in the United States and is recognized as both an innovator in the cause of creator rights and the comics industry's leading publisher of licensed material.

About TNT
TNT, one of cable’s top-rated networks, is television’s destination for drama. Seen in 99.6 million households, the network is home to such original series as The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick; Leverage, starring Timothy Hutton; and Dark Blue, starring Dylan McDermott; Rizzoli & Isles, starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander; Memphis Beat, with Jason Lee; Men of a Certain Age, with Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula; and Southland, from Emmy®-winning producer John Wells (ER). TNT also presents such powerful dramas as Bones, Supernatural, Las Vegas, Law & Order, CSI: NY, Cold Case and Numb3rs; broadcast premiere movies; compelling primetime specials, such as the Screen Actors Guild Awards®; and championship sports coverage, including NASCAR and the NBA. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament will appear on TNT beginning in 2011. TNT is available in high-definition.

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.

"United 93" Excellent Docudrama and Thriller

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 257 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

United 93 (2006)
Running time: 111 minutes (1 hour, 51 minutes)
MPAA – R for language, and some intense sequences of terror and violence
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner, Lloyd Levin, and Paul Greengrass
EDITOR: Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse, and Richard Pearson
Academy Award nominee


Starring: Opal Alladin, David Alan Basche, Christian Clemenson, Gary Commock, Cheyenne Jackson, Corey Johnson, JJ Johnson, and Khalid Abdalla, Lewis Alsamari, Omar Berdouni, and Jamie Harding

Directed by Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday, The Bourne Supremacy), United 93 is a fictional account of the incidents aboard United Airlines Flight 93, the fourth hijacked plane on September 11, 2001, the day of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil. This docu-drama follows the boarding of a Boeing 757 – United Flight 93 – for an ordinary flight to San Francisco. Then, it moves back and forth from flight control centers in Boston, Cleveland, and New York and the Herndon Command Centers back to 93 as the 9/11 attacks begin. The second half of the film finds the crew and passengers of United 93 realizing with dawning horror that America is under attack and that their flight, which has been hijacked by four men, is part of that attack. Some of the passengers and crew resolve to fight in a desperate attempt to take back control of the plane.

Quality action thrillers reward their viewers with exhilarating highs and even the occasional wallop to the old midsection. United 93 (2006 New York Film Critics Circle Award for “Best Picture”) does just that. This film, however, is really more than just an action movie; it is a memorial to the real events of 9/11. That it also manages to be a harrowing, heartbreaking, and ultimately masterful bit of filmmaking is a triple bonus.

Still, as director Paul Greengrass (2006 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards winner for “Best Director”) has admitted, no one really knows what happened aboard United 93 from the time it left Boston until it crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Phone calls from the passengers and crew are all that the public and storytellers have to piece together a probable timeline of the events. For the best storytellers, that is just enough material to tell a story that captures the popular imagination the way real history does.

This lean, mean fighting machine of movie can be harsh at times, but Greengrass makes us care no matter how desperate the situation is for the passengers and crew. Too bad, the first 50 minutes of this story is so antiseptic. Greengrass switches back and forth from United flight 93 to several command centers as various officials, bureaucrats, and authority types try to figure out what’s going on the day passengers planes were used to terrorize America. He’s clinical and occasionally bland in his attempt to nail down the technical details and reproduce history via digital photography. Why then is the first half so dull? It’s like watching an ordinary TV documentary on the Discovery or History Channels. It’s downright anal the way Greengrass creates verisimilitude in the first half, and his fidelity to what alleged facts he has about the real United 93 is admirable, although that all makes for a great dullness.

It’s in the second half of the film when Greengrass has to deal with speculation, myth, and a lack of facts that United 93 flirts with being a truly great film. As harsh as it is at times, United 93 makes us care about the characters, the place, and the situation no matter how painful it might be to watch. It’s as if we’re there with the characters and rooting for them – maybe, even begging that they survive. No one knows what happened when hijackers took over United Airlines Flight 93, but Paul Greengrass makes a darn good yarn out of speculation. United 93 is the art of making film myth out of history just as Oliver Stone did 15 years earlier with JFK.

8 of 10

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

2007 Academy Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Achievement in Directing” (Paul Greengrass) and “Best Achievement in Editing” (Clare Douglas, Richard Pearson, and Christopher Rouse)

2007 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Best Editing” (Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse, and Richard Pearson) and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Paul Greengrass); 4 nominations: “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Tim Bevan, Lloyd Levin, and Paul Greengrass), “Best Cinematography” (Barry Ackroyd), “Best Screenplay – Original” (Paul Greengrass), and “Best Sound” (Chris Munro, Mike Prestwood Smith, Doug Cooper, Oliver Tarney, and Eddy Joseph)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sam Raimi Adapting "Earp" Comic Book to Film


Radical Publishing is proud to announce that director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, Evil Dead) has signed on to produce and direct the film adaptation of EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS, based on Radical Publishing’s miniseries created by Matt Cirulnick and David Manpearl and written by Matt Cirulnick and M. Zachary Sherman. EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS will be produced by Mandeville Films partners David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman for DreamWorks with Matt Cirulnick attached to write the screenplay. Radical’s President and Publisher, Barry Levine, and Raimi’s partner at Star Road Entertainment, Josh Donen, will also produce with Radical Studios’ Executive Vice President Jesse Berger, Cirulnick and Manpearl signed on as Executive Producers.

In a world where the American economy has all but collapsed to the levels of the Great Depression, infamous bandits roam the country and the law is as corrupt as the criminals its sworn to stop. Yet one lawman remains a steadfast moral compass for the people: WYATT EARP. Earp has collared more most-wanted men than anyone in history – but after a violent assignment claims the life of his brother, Wyatt sets out to forge a simple life in the only boomtown left: Las Vegas. With gorgeous women and free-flowing money on endless tap, Sin City attracts more people than a modern gold rush. Though Earp no longer wears a U.S. Marshall’s badge, his past is about to catch up to him. With nearly everything to lose, Earp will have to beat the odds stacked against him in order to bring old-fashioned justice to Sin City.

“This is amazing news going into San Diego Comic-Con,” states Levine. “Both Cirulnick and Manpearl have created an exciting setting of Las Vegas in the near future to reinvent the Wyatt Earp legend that will excite fans around the world.”

EARP: SAINTS FOR SINNERS #0 is currently available to purchase for the premiere price of $1.00. A deluxe-sized issue #1 will go on sale in late 2010. Keep checking for updates.

Cirulnick will unveil artwork and story details at Radical's creators panel at Comic-Con on Thursday, July 22nd at 2:00 P.M. in room 32AB.

Radical Publishing will also be having a special EARP signing at San Diego Comic-Con booth #3725 on Thursday, July 22nd starting at 5:00 P.M.

Fans are encouraged to visit the Radical Publishing website to check out special webisodes and for more information.

About Radical Publishing
Radical Publishing is founded by Barry Levine (producer for Hercules, Caliber, Freedom Formula, Shrapnel, Abattoir, Oblivion, The Last Days of American Crime, Legends, Damaged, Earp: Saints for Sinners and executive producer for the in-development Rex Mundi movie for Warner Bros., written by Jim Uhls and starring Johnny Depp) and entrepreneur Jesse Berger (executive producer for Hercules, Caliber, Freedom Formula, Shrapnel, Abattoir, Oblivion, The Last Days of American Crime, Legends, Damaged and Earp: Saints for Sinners).

For their quality and excellence in 2008, Radical Publishing was granted the Gem Award for “Best New Publisher of the Year” from Diamond Comic Distributors. Radical brings the best writing, storytelling, and fully painted cover and interior art to the global comic book market, from prominent international talents such as Yoshitaka Amano, Keith Arem, Rain Beredo, Marc Bernardin, John Bolton, Darren Lynn Bousman, Ron L. Brinkerhoff, Bing Cansino, Matt Cirulnick, Tomm Coker, Clayton Crain, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Flint Dille, Marko Djurdjevic, Ian Edginton, Warren Ellis, James Farr, Adam Freeman, E. Max Frye, Antoine Fuqua, Justin Gray, Paul Gulacy, David Hine, Taka Ichise, Joseph Kosinski, Clint Langley, Adam Lawson, David Lapham, Richard Lee, Rob Levin, David Liss, Alex Maleev, Leonardo Manco, David Manpearl, Stephan Martinière, Francesco "Matt" Mattina, Peter Milligan, Steve Moore, Arvid Nelson, Wayne Nichols, Steve Niles, Jimmy Palmiotti, Nick Percival, Troy Peteri, Vincent Proce, Steve Pugh, Patrick Reilly, Rick Remender, Terry Rossio, Luis Royo, Nick Sagan, Kirsi Salonen, Sam Sarkar, Stjepan Sejic, M. Zachary Sherman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Wesley Snipes, Jim Steranko, Arthur Suydam, Patrick Tatopoulos, J.P. Targete, Greg Tocchini, Andree Wallin, Rich Wilkes, Dave Wilkins, Concept Art House, Haberlin Studios, Meduzarts Digital Environment Studio, Weta Workshop, Zombie Studios, and many more.

Currently, Radical Publishing has production deals with Spyglass Entertainment and Peter Berg’s Film 44 for Hercules, with Johnny Depp's Infinitum Nihil for Caliber, New Regency and Bryan Singer’s Bad Hat Harry Productions for Freedom Formula, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment for Legends as well as Dreamworks, Sam Raimi’s Star Road Entertainment and Mandeville Films for Earp: Saints for Sinners. .

Review: "The Bourne Ultimaturm" is Ultimate

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 114 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Running time: 111 minutes (1 hour, 51 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action
DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
WRITERS: Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns, and George Nolfi; from a screen story by Tony Gilroy (based upon the novel by Robert Ludlum)
PRODUCERS: Frank Marshall and Paul Sandberg
EDITOR: Christopher Rouse
Academy Award winner


Starring: Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn, Paddy Considine, Edgar Ramirez, Albert Finney, Joan Allen, Chris Cooper, and Corey Johnson

In The Bourne Identity, he fought to answer the question, “Who am I?” In The Bourne Supremacy, he wanted to know, “Who killed my girlfriend,” and he killed for what was done to him. In The Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) remembers everything, and his journey takes him from Europe and North Africa to a trip home to New York City where all the answers will be found.

After he got his revenge for the killing of Marie, Bourne planned to disappear and forget the life that was stolen from him, but a front-page story in a London newspaper speculates about his existence. Bourne sets up a meeting with Simon Ross (Paddy Considine), the journalist who wrote the story, but that meeting makes Bourne a target again. The journalist does give him a lead on two top-secret black operations or black-ops programs, Treadstone and its successor Blackbriar, which may hold the key to Bourne’s past. Bourne’s reemergence also gets him marked for death by Noah Vosen (David Strathairn), the head of a new covert wing of the CIA and the director of Blackbriar. Bourne gains the trust of conflicted agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) and CIA operative/internal investigator and spy hunter Pamela Landy (Joan Allen), and with their help, he will have his day of reckoning.

Like his previous effort in the Jason Bourne series, The Bourne Supremacy, Oscar-nominated director Paul Greengrass (United 93) delivers mind blowing action, whiplash-paced fighting, and thoughtful plotting. Greengrass does this picture with equal parts humor and brutality, and makes it is as smart as it is stylish.

Matt Damon is Jason Bourne, and he leaves no doubt that it would be nearly impossible for anyone to take his place. His acting chops and screen charisma combined with his physical training for the role invents Bourne as a supernatural covert operative who can kick any ass, go anywhere, break into the most secure locations, and be invisible in a crowd.

The supporting cast may not be A-list actors in terms of star power, but they are A+ list in terms of screen acting. Added to Damon’s work here, they put The Bourne Ultimatum over the top. It’s not just a great espionage thriller; it’s the best thriller of the year and a great film. Whether you’re a Bourne fan, or just a friend, mother, father, etc. going along with a fan, you’ll go home impressed and happy.

9 of 10

Sunday, August 12, 2007

2008 Academy Awards: 3 wins: “Best Achievement in Editing” (Christopher Rouse), “Best Achievement in Sound” (Scott Millan, David Parker, and Kirk Francis), and “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Karen M. Baker and Per Hallberg)

2008 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Best Editing” (Christopher Rouse) and “Best Sound” (Kirk Francis, Scott Millan, David Parker, Karen M. Baker, and Per Hallberg); 4 nominations: “Best British Film” (Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley, Paul Sandberg, Paul Greengrass, Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns, and George Nolfi), “Best Cinematography” (Oliver Wood), “Best Director” (Paul Greengrass), and “Best Special Visual Effects” (Peter Chiang, Charlie Noble, Mattias Lindahl, and Joss Williams)


New Line Begins Production on "Horrible Bosses"

“Horrible Bosses” Shooting in Los Angeles with an All-Star Cast

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography is underway on New Line Cinema’s comedy “Horrible Bosses,” starring Jason Bateman (“Couples Retreat”), Charlie Day (TV’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” upcoming “Going the Distance”), Jason Sudeikis (TV’s “Saturday Night Live,” upcoming “Going the Distance”), Jennifer Aniston (“He’s Just Not That Into You”), Colin Farrell (“Crazy Heart”), Academy Award® winner Jamie Foxx (“Ray”), two-time Academy Award® winner Kevin Spacey (“American Beauty,” “The Usual Suspects”), Julie Bowen (TV’s “Modern Family”) and veteran actor Donald Sutherland. The production is filming in Los Angeles, under the direction of Seth Gordon.

For Nick, Kurt and Dale, the only thing that would make the daily grind more tolerable would be to grind their intolerable bosses into dust. Quitting is not an option, so, with the benefit of a few-too-many drinks and some dubious advice from a hustling ex-con, the three friends devise a convoluted and seemingly foolproof plan to rid themselves of their respective employers…permanently. There’s only one problem: even the best laid plans are only as foolproof as the brains behind them.

Bateman, Sudeikis and Day play the three hapless workers, while Spacey, Farrell and Aniston are their unbearable bosses. Foxx appears as the con, whose street cred is priced on a sliding scale.

Seth Gordon (“Four Christmases,” “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”) directs “Horrible Bosses” from an original screenplay by Michael Markowitz, with revisions by Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley. Brett Ratner and Jay Stern are producing the film, with Richard Brener, Michael Disco, Sam Brown and Diana Pokorny serving as executive producers. John Cheng, John Rickard and Mary Rohlich are co-producers.

Slated for a Summer 2011 release, New Line Cinema’s “Horrible Bosses,” a Rat Entertainment Production, will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

About New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema continues to be one of the most successful independent film companies. For more than 40 years, its mission has been to produce innovative, popular, profitable entertainment in the best creative environment. A pioneer in franchise filmmaking, New Line produced the Oscar-winning “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, which is a landmark in the history of film franchises. New Line Cinema is a division of Warner Bros.