Saturday, March 31, 2012

Adam Sandler Dominates 2012 Razzie Award Nominations

The Golden Raspberry Award or, as it is best known, the Razzie Award, is basically the opposite of the Academy Awards (the Oscars). This award honors the worst achievements in film in a calendar year, as determined by the paid membership of the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation.

The 32nd Annual Razzie Awards will be announced Sunday, April 1, 2012, which is, of course, April Fools’ Day.  The big news is that Adam Sandler has more than doubled Eddie Murphy's old record of most nominations accrued by an individual in a single year.  As an actor, a writer, and/or a producer on three films released in 2011 (Jack and Jill, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, and Just Go with It), Sandler earned 11 nominations.

The 32nd Annual Razzie Awards nominations (for 2011):

WORST PICTURE
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (Columbia Pictures / Happy Madison Productions)
Jack & Jill (Columbia Pictures / Happy Madison Productions)
New Year's Eve (Warner Bros. / New Line Cinema)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Paramount Pictures / Hasbro)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (Summit Entertainment)

WORST ACTOR
Russell Brand, Arthur
Nicolas Cage, Drive Angry 3-D, Season of the Witch and Trespass
Taylor Lautner, Abduction and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Adam Sandler, Jack & Jill and Just Go With It
Nick Swardson, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star

WORST ACTRESS
Martin Lawrence, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin: The Undefeated
Sarah Jessica Parker, I Don't Know How She Does It and New Year's Eve
Adam Sandler, Jack & Jill
Kristen Stewart, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Patrick Dempsey, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
James Franco, Your Highness
Ken Jeong, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, The Hangover Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Zookeeper
Al Pacino, Jack & Jill
Nick Swardson, Jack & Jill and Just Go With It

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Katie Holmes, Jack & Jill
Brandon T. Jackson, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
Nicole Kidman, Just Go With It
David Spade, Jack & Jill
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Transformers: Dark of the Moon

WORST SCREEN ENSEMBLE
Cast of Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
Cast of Jack & Jill
Cast of New Year's Eve
Cast of Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Cast of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

WORST DIRECTOR
Michael Bay, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Tom Brady, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
Bill Condon, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Dennis Dugan, Jack & Jill and Just Go With It
Garry Marshall, New Year's Eve

WORST PREQUEL, REMAKE, RIP-OFF OR SEQUEL
Arthur
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star 
(ripoff of Boogie Nights and A Star Is Born)
The Hangover Part 2 
(both a sequel and a remake)
Jack & Jill (remake/ripoff of Ed Woods' Glen or Glenda)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

WORST SCREEN COUPLE
Nicolas Cage and Anyone Sharing the Screen With Him in any of his three 2011 movies
Shia LeBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Adam Sandler and either Jennifer Aniston or Brooklyn Decker, Just Go With It
Adam Sandler and either Katie Holmes, Al Pacino or Adam Sandler, Jack & Jill
Kristen Stewart and either Taylor Lautner or Robert Pattinson, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1

WORST SCREENPLAY
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (written by Adam Sandler, Allen Covert and Nick Swardson)
Jack & Jill (screenplay by Steve Koren & Adam Sandler, story by Ben Zook)
New Year's Eve (written by Katherine Fugate)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (written by Ehren Kruger)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg)

"MirrorMask" a Trip to Wonderland and Oz

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 47 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


MirrorMask (2005)
Running time: 101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some mild thematic elements and scary images
DIRECTOR: Dave McKean
WRITERS: Neil Gaiman; from a story by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
PRODUCER: Simon Moorhead
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tony Shearn
EDITOR: Nicholas Gaster

FANTASY

Starring: Stephanie Leonidas, Jason Barry, Gina McKee, Rob Brydon, Dora Bryan, Robert Llewellyn, and Andy Hamilton

The subject of this movie review is MirrorMask, a 2005 fantasy film from Jim Henson Productions. The film, which has animated elements, is the story of a girl who gets trapped in a fantasy world.

Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) is a 15-year old girl who works unhappily in her mother (Gina McKee) and father’s (Rob Brydon) circus as a juggler, and she loves to draw strange creatures and lands. Helena has covered the walls of her bedroom with her drawings and illustrations. When her mother, Joanne, falls ill, Helena blames herself because she had, in a fit of pique, told her mother that she’d wished her mother dead if that’s what it would take for her to escape the circus.

Driven by sadness and worry over her mother’s health, Helena falls into a troubled sleep that finds her transported to the Dark Lands, a civilization equaled ruled by light and darkness. When the Light Queen (Gina McKee) looses her charm, the MirrorMask, to the Princess daughter (Stephanie Leonidas) of the Dark Queen (McKee), the kingdom, which is filled with bizarre giants, Monkeybirds, and a variety of dangerous sphinxes, was plunged into gloomy shadows. Helena, with the aid of a masked companion named Valentine (Jason Barry) takes it upon herself to find the MirrorMask and the Princess in order to restore the Dark Lands’ rightful balance.

MirrorMask is a low budget, live action/animation, fantasy film from the Jim Henson Company It was born from the minds of two of the biggest names in American and British comics books, artist/illustrator/photographer, Dave McKean, and comic book writer/best-selling novelist, Neil Gaiman. McKean has worked on such acclaimed comics books and graphic novels as Batman: Arkham Asylum (which he painted) and Cages (which he wrote and drew). Neil Gaiman is known as the writer/co-creator of DC Comic’s Sandman series that was published from the late 80’s to the early 90’s and won a World Fantasy Award. He’s written several novels and short stories, two of his biggest book successes being American Gods (the winner science fiction’s most prestigious prize, the Hugo Award for best novel) and the recent hit, Anansi Boys. McKean and Gaiman have collaborated several times, two of the best known being Signal to Noise, a graphic novel, and Mr. Punch, a picture book.

McKean designed the film’s outstanding and imaginative visual appearance and directed it, as well as creating the story with Gaiman, who wrote the screenplay. Although MirrorMask has a visual vocabulary, which can dazzle the mind, as well as the eye, the film is highly derivative in its conception. Visually the film looks like Dave McKean’s comix and illustrations with a nod to Tim Burton and Salvador Dali. It’s also very much like the film version of The Wizard of Oz with the same aggressive visual invention, but without Oz’s simple, yet effective script.

MirrorMask can scorch the eye with its glittery mixture of live action and animation, but the story, an allegory about denying who you are and mother/daughter relationships is chump change. I’d give the visuals anywhere from an 8 to a 10, but if I gave the script and storytelling a 4, I would be generous. MirrorMask’s dream world façade seems to be imagination and weirdness for the sake of weirdness, and it’s Freudian, pop-psychology is laughable. The acting, a combination of amateur video and mid-level stage professionalism only serves to show the script’s shortcomings. Gaiman’s screenplay has taken a short story and turned it into a movie that is about 41 minutes too long. The tale needs more supporting characters, and the villainess is a baddie only by de facto menace. And Stephanie Leonidas doesn’t look like a 15-year old girl, just a moody 20-something. Iain Bellamy’s jazz inflected score often manages to establish mood and setting when the Gaiman’s writing or the actors can’t.

However, I can’t discount the talent and vision that created a movie that looks so darn inventive. The creatures, the blend of animation and live action, the backdrops, and settings, the low budget computer animation that so perfectly fits this picture book-like movie, and the Dark Land’s curious denizens make me want to watch this movie repeatedly. Sometimes, McKean makes the film hard to see. There are too many shadows, too many scenes draped in blackness, and scenes that look as if they were shot through a drinking glass. But when you can see the action, you will be dazzled. Think of MirrorMask as the best-looking and most fanciful straight-to-video flick (it did have a short theatrical run) made to this point in cinematic history, and then get ready for something trippy and nice.

6 of 10
B

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Cartoon Network Celebrates 20 Years; Announces "Beware the Batman"


Cartoon Network Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Ratings Growth and a New Generation of Content for a New Generation of Kids

The #1 Network with Boys 6-11 Announces Slate of New and Returning Series

CartoonNetwork.com Ranks as #1 Domain in Kids Category

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, along with double-digit growth and its #1 status with boys 6-11 on all of television, Cartoon Network announced today several new and returning series to its programming line-up.

Having its best first quarter with kids in prime in five years (up 28% vs. 2011) and showing the most gains compared to the competition in the kids space, the network’s afternoon Upfront presentation held at New York’s Roseland Ballroom paid tribute to the past and present with a full orchestra playing classic Cartoon Network television theme songs and live performances from the creative talent behind the hit animated comedy series Adventure Time and Regular Show.

Announcements included a new sketch comedy show from entertainer Nick Cannon; the world premiere of DreamWorks Dragons: The Series, based on the critically-acclaimed feature film, How to Train Your Dragon; an original series based on Web sensation, Annoying Orange; a brand new animated series from the global franchise powerhouse, Ben 10: Omniverse; and a new CG-animated series from Warner Bros. Animation, Beware The Batman. Also, on the heels of the hugely successful Ninjago launch in 2011—currently the #1 show across 1st Quarter 2012 with all boys—a new partnership with LEGO for a second series was announced by the network as it continues to build on its slate of diverse content.

“We are executing a brand vision and content strategy that is fueling tremendous results for Cartoon Network,” said Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer, Turner Broadcasting’s Animation, Young Adults and Kids Media (AYAKM). “Today, with a re-invented and thriving prime time, along with overall double-digit growth in total day, we are building the kind of momentum that is making this a great 20th anniversary.”

Ranking #1 in early evening prime time (7-9 p.m.) among boys 6-11 throughout 1st Quarter this year, Cartoon Network also announced new upcoming seasons of its original hit animated comedy series Adventure Time, Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball, MAD and The Looney Tunes Show. A 2nd season pick-up for the live-action comedy series Level Up, which debuted as the most watched live-action series in the network’s history, and a 5th season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, also was announced.

Combined with top-performing acquisitions and specials, these programming anchors not only fueled 2011’s prime time performance as Cartoon Network’s most-watched in five years, they also set the stage for a record breaking first quarter in 2012. New seasons for more than a dozen additional series also will premiere across the 2012-13 programming timeframe.

“For 20 years, Cartoon Network has cultivated truly original voices from a diverse array of artists and producers, making us the great alternative to everything else out there,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer for Cartoon Network. “Cartoon Network Studios has grown to become the most supportive and creative environment for a new generation of creators.”

Cartoon Network also announced its ongoing commitment to its shorts program with ten original 7-minute shorts to be produced this year with a wholly dedicated production unit at Cartoon Network Studios. With production already underway on many of these projects, this continuing investment in diverse and unique talent has resulted in many of the network’s hit animated series.

Additionally, the network revealed that a third Cartoon Network Hall of Game Awards special has been slated for early 2013. The second annual telecast (Feb. 20, 2012), hosted by Shaquille O’Neal, ranked as the #1 program of the day among all boy demos, and out-performed the inaugural Hall of Game special by double and triple-digits—between 64% and 103%—across all kid and boy demos. Online voting for the celebrity sports awards also nearly tripled in participation, from 37 million votes in 2011 to more than 100 million votes in 2012.

“Cartoon Network enters into the upfront season with strong momentum and a programming foundation that is resonating with our audience, as well as advertisers,” said John O’Hara, executive vice president and general sales manager, Cartoon Network. “The ad sales team is committed to developing ideas that extend the reach of an advertiser’s message and connects their brands across multiple screens with an engaged audience. As brands look to deliver measurable return on their investment, we believe it’s a good time to reassess plans and for advertisers to strategically increase their media budgets with Cartoon Network.”

Building off of the success of CartoonNetwork.com ranking as the #1 domain in the kids category among kids 6-11*, the network announced that its next big foray into on-line gaming would be the global roll-out of Formula Cartoon, a huge on-line racing game which will let players race against their friends or favorite Cartoon Network characters.

* Source: Data from comScore Media Metrix run on domain level for Unique Visitors age 6-11 in the Media – Entertainment – Kids category for the February 2012 reporting period

Further details of Cartoon Network’s programming announcements include the following:

CARTOON NETWORK NEW SERIES

•Nick Cannon Sketch Comedy Series: The series is a live-action, half-hour, sketch comedy show rooted in raw mischief, high energy and slapstick humor. You’ll never know what will happen next! Some of the silliest kids you know will make up this wild comedy troupe led by teen stars Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time), Brandon Soo Hoo (Enders Game, Tropic Thunder), Shameik Moore (Joyful Noise), Shauna Case (American Horror Story) and Chanelle Peloso (Level Up). Nick Cannon will bring the funny as creator and executive producer along with executive producers Michael Goldman and Scott Tomlinson. The series is being produced by Cartoon Network Studios in association with NCredible Entertainment.

•Annoying Orange: Boasting more than 1 billion YouTube online views to date, Annoying Orange is the Web sensation transformed into a new television series that follows Orange and his buddies as they go on a wide range of adventures that take them from the fruit stand to parts unknown and everything in between. The television series was developed and will be produced by The Collective. Dane Boedigheimer co-created the television series with Tom Sheppard (Emmy Award-winning writer for Pinky and the Brain). Conrad Vernon (director of Madagascar 3 and Monsters vs. Aliens) will serve as executive producer for the series along with Gary Binkow and Dan Weinstein of The Collective. The series will premiere on Cartoon Network this summer.

•DreamWorks Dragons: The Series: Picking up where the critically-acclaimed feature film, How to Train Your Dragon, left off, this weekly animated series follows the continuing adventures of Hiccup and his dragon Toothless on the island of Berk, along with the band of dragon trainers, all of whom now have dragons of their own!

Through their training, the kids are finding out the cool things dragons can do. Not only will they learn more about their dragons, they’ll also discover new ones and battle against enemies as they explore worlds they never dreamed existed. In addition, the talented cast from the feature film—Jay Baruchel (Hiccup), America Ferrera (Astrid), Christopher Mitz-Plasse (Fishlegs) and T.J. Miller (Tuffnut)—will lend their voices to the series, which is produced by DreamWorks Animation and premieres this fall.

•New LEGO Project: Following the instant ratings success of the CG-animated Ninjago, LEGO and Cartoon Network plan to expand their partnership with an all-new series from LEGO for 2013.

•Ben 10: Omniverse: In the brand-new animated series, Ben 10: Omniverse, Ben will have a new character design that pays homage to his past, and he’ll have a whole new batch of aliens to battle. Beating the bad guys is just part of the superhero gig. With a little help from his new, by-the-book rookie partner, Ben explores the quirkier side of things in the alien underground and discovers enemies from his past looking for a re-match, all while a mysterious hunter is hot on his trail! With 10 new aliens at his disposal and a brand new lease on life, Ben 10 is back and more fun than ever! Matt Youngberg is supervising producer for the series, which will premiere on Cartoon Network this fall.

Ben 10 is Cartoon Network’s most successful original global franchise. Since the premiere of the original Ben 10 series, created by Man of Action Studios, in 2006, the franchise has spawned four animated series, one animated movie, two live-action movies, a CG movie, a feature film currently in development, a widely-popular consumer products line and has captured the imaginations of viewers on a worldwide scale.

•Beware the Batman: A cool, new take on the classic Dark Knight franchise, Beware the Batman incorporates Batman’s core characters with a rogues gallery of new villains not previously seen in animated form. Along with backup from ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordstress Katana, the Dark Knight faces the twisted machinations of Gotham City’s criminal underworld led by the likes of Anarky, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad and Magpie. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, this action-packed detective thriller deftly redefines what we have come to know as a “Batman show.” Featuring cutting-edge CGI visuals to match the intricate twists and turns of the narrative, Batman steps out of the shadows and into the spotlight for an entirely new generation of fans. With WBA’s Sam Register executive producing, and Batman Beyond’s Glen Murakami and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated’s Mitch Watson producing, Beware the Batman, based on characters from DC Comics, is coming soon to Cartoon Network!

•Total Drama: Revenge of the Island: It’s back to the island where Total Drama began with an all-new cast! Since the series’ host Chris took the show worldwide, Camp Wawanakwa has been abandoned and turned into a toxic nuclear waste dump—the perfect place for new and painful, cringe-inducing challenges! Fighting for the million dollar prize are thirteen wild new players. Total Drama: Revenge of the Island is produced by Fresh TV and will premiere on Cartoon Network this summer.

SPECIALS AND MOVIES

•Cartoon Network Hall of Game Awards: Hall of Game is Cartoon Network’s signature venture into the broadcast awards arena, created and produced in association with IMG Media, the production arm of global sports, entertainment and media company, IMG. This high-energy, multi-platform experience lets viewers decide who’s got game, by honoring their favorite sports stars and sports moments of the year. From the red carpet, to the never-before-seen stunts and surprises on stage, this unconventional celebration in 2013 will be led by a celebrity host and feature icons from television, film, music and sports, as kids experience an evening of humor and fun at the most raucous and biggest sports awards show ever presented on television.

RETURNING SERIES

•Adventure Time

•Regular Show

•MAD

•The Amazing World of Gumball

•The Looney Tunes Show

•Ninjago

•Level Up

•Star Wars: The Clone Wars

•Young Justice

•Johnny Test

•Pokémon

•Green Lantern: The Animated Series

•Almost Naked Animals

•Casper's Scare School

•Hero 108

•Scaredy Squirrel

•Sidekick

Cartoon Network (CartoonNetwork.com), currently seen in 99 million U.S. homes and 168 countries around the world, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s ad-supported cable service now available in HD offering the best in original, acquired and classic entertainment for youth and families.

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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

2011 Version of "The Three Musketeers" is Silly Sci-Fi

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 26 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Three Musketeers (2011)
Running time: 110 minutes (1 hour, 50 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of adventure action violence
DIRECTOR: Paul W.S. Anderson
WRITER: Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies (based upon the novel by Alexandre Dumas père)
PRODUCERS: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, and Robert Kulzer
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Glen MacPherson
EDITOR: Alexander Berner
COMPOSER: Paul Haslinger

HISTORICAL/ACTION with elements of adventure, comedy and drama

Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz, Logan Lerman, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Mads Mikkelson, Freddie Fox, Juno Temple, Gabriella Wilde, Carsten Norgaard, and James Corden

The subject of this review is The Three Musketeers, a 3D action/adventure film from director Paul W.S. Anderson, perhaps best known for his work on the Resident Evil film franchise. Like all the other Musketeer films, this 2011 version is based upon Alexandre Dumas père’s 1844 novel, The Three Musketeers, but this new movie re-imagines and reworks the story by adding in science fiction and fantasy elements.

The 2011 film is much like the 1993 Walt Disney version (with Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland). Both are rollicking action films that are light and fluffy fare, although neither film is well-acted. Like the 1993 movie, the 2011 movie is fast, loose, and fun.

The Three Musketeers 2011 opens in Venice, Italy at the beginning of the 17th Century. The Three Musketeers: Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans), and Athos’ longtime lover, Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich), go treasure hunting. However, the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom) arrives to spoil the fun. One year later, the disgraced Musketeers are in a funk when they meet the spunky young d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) who arrives in Paris with dreams of becoming one of the Musketeers, the King of France’s personal guards.

Soon, d’Artagnan is part of the Musketeers rivalry with Count Richelieu (Christoph Waltz), the chief advisor to King Louis XIII of France (Freddie Fox). In fact, Richelieu has hatched a plot against Queen Anne (Juno Temple), part of a larger plot against France. Queen Anne’s lady-in-waiting, Constance Bonacieux (Gabriella Wilde), implores d’Artagnan to help the young Queen, and soon the Three Musketeers plus one are fighting over land, over sea, and in the sky to save France.

The script for this version of The Three Musketeers has some good ideas, but Paul W.S. Anderson’s direction often fails the film. Quite a bit of the movie has an awkward feel, and some elements, from the actors to the technical aspects, move like big, clumsy animals. Anderson clearly wants to make a film that is sly, clever, and sarcastic, but sometimes it comes across as ill at ease and flat.

The acting is also awkward, as if the performers are either having trouble speaking the dialogue or are trying to be intentionally too clever or too glib. That also sometimes falls flat. However, there is a swashbuckling fun that is inherent in the Musketeers films that lifts any Musketeers film above its faults. So I am not bewildered that I enjoyed The Three Musketeers 2011, and that I even wish for a sequel, which is not likely to happen.

5 of 10
B-

Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Warner Bros.' "Seventh Son" Starts Production in Canada.

Production Begins on “Seventh Son” for Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures

Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes Lead the International Cast

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography is underway on Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ fantasy action adventure “Seventh Son.” Shooting began on March 19, under the direction of award-winning filmmaker Sergei Bodrov, director of the Oscar®-nominated foreign language films “Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan” and “Prisoner of the Mountains.” “Seventh Son” stars Academy Award® winner Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart,” “Iron Man”), Oscar® nominee Julianne Moore (“Far From Heaven,” “The Hours”), and Ben Barnes (“The Chronicles of Narnia” films).

In a time long past, an evil is about to be unleashed that will reignite the war between the forces of the supernatural and humankind once more. Master Gregory (Jeff Bridges) is a knight who had imprisoned the malevolently powerful witch, Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore), centuries ago. But now she has escaped and is seeking vengeance. Summoning her followers of every incarnation, Mother Malkin is preparing to unleash her terrible wrath on an unsuspecting world. Only one thing stands in her way: Master Gregory.

In a deadly reunion, Gregory comes face to face with the evil he always feared would someday return. Now he has only until the next full moon to do what usually takes years: train his new apprentice, Tom Ward (Ben Barnes) to fight a dark magic unlike any other. Man’s only hope lies in the seventh son of a seventh son.

The film’s international cast also includes Alicia Vikander (“The Crown Jewels”), Antje Traue (“Pandorum,” upcoming “Man of Steel”), Olivia Williams (“Hanna”) and Kit Harington (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”).

Bodrov is directing the film from a screenplay by Matt Greenberg, Charles Leavitt and Steve Knight, based on the book The Spook’s Apprentice by Joseph Delaney. “Seventh Son” is being produced by Basil Iwanyk (“The Town,” “Clash of the Titans” upcoming “Wrath of the Titans”), Thomas Tull (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight” upcoming “The Dark Knight Rises”) and Lionel Wigram (“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” the “Harry Potter” films). The executive producers are Jon Jashni, Brent O’Connor and Alysia Cotter, with Jillian Zaks and Erica Lee serving as co-producers.

The behind-the-scenes team collaborating with Bodrov includes director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel (“Drive”); three-time Oscar®-winning production designer Dante Ferretti (“Hugo,” “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Aviator”); Oscar®-nominated editor Paul Rubell (“Collateral,” “The Insider”); Oscar®-nominated costume designer Jacqueline West (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Social Network”), and Oscar®-winning visual effects supervisor John Dykstra (“Spider-Man,” “Spider-Man 2”).

“Seventh Son” will be filmed entirely on location in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, “Seventh Son” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

"The Muppets" is Muppet-ational

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 25 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Muppets (2011)
Running time: 103 minutes (l hour, 43 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some mild rude humor
DIRECTOR: James Bobin
WRITERS: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
PRODUCERS: David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don Burgess
EDITOR: James Thomas
COMPOSER: Christophe Beck
Academy Award winner

FANTASY/COMEDY/FAMILY/MUSICAL

Starring: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, and Jack Black and The Muppets: (voices) Peter Linz, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, Tyler Bunch, and Alice Dinnean with Emily Blunt, Whoopi Goldberg, and Zach Galifianakis

The Muppets is a 2011 live-action, musical comedy and fantasy film from Walt Disney Pictures. This Oscar-winning film stars The Muppets, the puppet characters created by the late Jim Henson, specifically the characters that appeared on the television series, “The Muppets” (1976-81). This film finds The Muppets reuniting to save their old theatre from a crooked oil tycoon.

Walter (voice of Peter Linz) is a man born as a Muppet. He lives in Smalltown (presumably a small town in the American Midwest) with his brother, Gary (Jason Segel). Gary has planned a vacation to Los Angeles with his girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams), for their tenth anniversary, and he invites Walter along, so that he can tour the Muppet Studios.

Once in L.A., the trio finds the studio lot abandoned and Muppet Theatre decrepit. Walter happens to overhear Tex Richman (Chris Cooper), a greedy oil tycoon, plotting to seize control of Muppet Theatre, which he also plans to destroy. Walter, Gary, and Mary travel to the mansion of Kermit the Frog (Steve Whitmore), and convince him to reunite The Muppets. Kermit wants to put on a telethon to raise the ten million dollars needed to save Muppet Theatre, but The Muppets have not performed together in years and are scattered around the country. Even if Kermit reunites his friends, no television network thinks that The Muppets are still popular or relevant enough to give them the television time they will need to raise so much money.

With the release of The Muppets last year, I got a chance to rediscover my love for these characters. I watched the first television series, The Muppet Show, during its original run and later, in syndication for several years. I must say that I’m pleased with this new movie, which was critically well-received and performed well at the box office. For the most part, these are still The Muppets that I knew and loved and still love.

The new songs are better than I thought they would be. The beguiling, Elton John-esque “Man or Muppet” (written by Bret McKenzie) won a best original song Oscar, but I prefer two other McKenzie-penned songs. “Life’s a Happy Song” and “Me Party” (co-written by Paul Roemen) are the kind of catchy tunes that can stand on their own as lively jingles outside The Muppets (or even be used in another movie).

Early in the film, I found the characters played by Jason Segel and Amy Adams intolerable and intrusive. I was only a little more tolerant of nouveau-faux Muppet, Walter. As Segel’s Gary and Adams’ Mary recede more into the background and take their place as supporting characters, they grew on me… a little. Besides, I find it hard not to like Amy Adams. Truthfully, Gary, Mary, and Walter seem like minor gateway characters that create the contrivances which in turn bring The Muppets back into the picture. By the end of the movie, I liked that the new characters were part of the film.

Of course, the best thing in The Muppets are The Muppets. Whenever they’re singing and dancing and squabbling and trying to keep their stuff together, The Muppets have their mojo, and their mojo is back. By the end of The Muppets, I was sad because I wanted the movie to be longer.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2012 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song” (Bret McKenzie for the song "Man or Muppet")

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fans Invited to Be Part of Katy Perry

PARAMOUNT’S INSURGE PICTURES AND TWITTER INVITE KATY PERRY’S FANS TO BE A PART OF THE UPCOMING 3D FEATURE FILM KATY PERRY: PART OF ME

In A First of its Kind Partnership, Katy Perry’s Millions of Twitter Fans Have an Opportunity to be Integrated into the Movie, Releasing this Summer

Paramount’s Insurge Pictures and Twitter announced today they have partnered to give Katy Perry’s fans on Twitter an exclusive opportunity to be a part of her upcoming feature film, KATY PERRY: PART OF ME, releasing this summer.

Over the next several months, Twitter and Paramount will jointly offer unprecedented access to one of the world’s most famous pop stars by offering multiple opportunities for Katy’s millions of Twitter fans to play a role in helping to shape the final film. From helping to choose which songs Katy will sing, to weighing in on her always exciting wardrobe options, this first-of-its kind interactive experience will set a new precedent for engaging movie going audiences on Twitter.

Fans can visit www.Twitter.com/KatyPerry to get involved. They can also follow Katy on Twitter to see exclusive behind-the-scenes content of the movie, which will provide fans a first-ever big-screen look at the international superstar’s life both on and off-stage.

"Kate Perry: Part of Me" is a really fun and engaging movie that celebrates every aspect of Katy’s life including her relationship with fans,” said Amy Powell, President of Insurge Pictures. “What better way to kick start the filmmaking process than by inviting her millions of fans on Twitter into her world.”

“Millions of Katy’s most passionate fans use Twitter every day to hear directly from her and get a unique glimpse into the life of one of music’s biggest stars,” said Dick Costolo, Twitter CEO. “With this new approach to filmmaking, Paramount is taking the connections forged on Twitter one step further by empowering people to take part in the movie.”

Fans can use the hashtag #KP3D to connect with each other and share on Twitter.

For more information, go to http://www.katyperrypartofme.com/, http://www.katyperry.com/ or follow Katy Perry on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/KatyPerry.


About Paramount Pictures Corporation
Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. The company's labels include Paramount Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Digital Entertainment, Paramount Famous Productions, Paramount Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., Paramount Studio Group and Paramount Television & Digital Distribution.

Casablanca: Still the Greatest 70 Years Later

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 143 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux


Casablanca (1942) – B&W
– wide release in 1943 –
Running time: 103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Michael Curtiz
WRITERS: Julius J. Epstein & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch (based upon a play Every Body Comes to Rick’s by Murray Burnett and Joan Allison)
PRODUCER: Hal B. Wallis
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Arthur Edeson
EDITOR: Owen Marks
Academy Award winner

FILM-NOIR/DRAMA/ROMANCE with elements of thriller

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Conrad Veidt, Dooley Wilson, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, S.Z. Sakall, Madeleine LeBeau, Leonid Kinskey, and Corinna Mura

The subject of this movie review is the 1942 American romantic drama film, Casablanca. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, the film was apparently considered, at the time of its production, to be just another Hollywood movie.

Casablanca: some consider it to be the best American film ever made; the winner of the Oscar for “Best Picture” at the 1944 Academy Awards certainly has a place in my holy trinity. Directed by Michael Curtiz, who won the directing Oscar for helming this film, Casablanca is a beloved and popular movie, cherished by film fans, movie historians, and film critics throughout America – then and now.

In the story: Casablanca (a city in Morocco, a country in northwest Africa), circa 1941, is easy to enter, but much harder to leave – especially for people trying to escape the Nazi infestation of Europe. Living a life of exile in Casablanca is American Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns and operates Rick’s Café Américain. He’s a cynical man who sticks his neck out for no one, but his ex-lover Isla Lund (Ingrid Bergman) tests that rigid cynicism when she arrives in Casablanca with her husband, both on the run from Nazi persecutors.

Isla’s husband, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), is on the top of the Nazi’s most wanted list. Victor and Isla came to Casablanca seeking the transit papers/official documents that would get them safe passage to Lisbon, Portugal, from where they could leave for America. From the USA, Victor could continue his work in support of the various European undergrounds fighting the Nazi’s. However, the papers have come into Rick’s possession, and his bitterness at Isla for suddenly and mysteriously leaving him some years ago after a whirlwind Paris love affair. So when Isla offers herself to Rick in exchange for Victor’s safe transport out of the country, the bitter and angry Rick must decide what’s important – his happiness, revenge, or the countless lives that hang in the balance and depend of Victor Laszlo’s safe passage.

What can I say that hasn’t been said. Casablanca was the right movie at the right time. It’s the consummate Hollywood production – superbly acted and directed, and filmed with beautiful production values, including art direction, set decoration, cinematography, and editing. The film’s popularity at the time has much to do with America’s involvement in World War II. The Allies invaded Casablanca in real life on November 8, 1942, and Warner Bros. premiered Casablanca in New York about three and half weeks later. By the time, of the film’s wide release in 1943, the real life city was still in the news, and the film captured the sense that the good guys (represented by Rick, Isla, and Victor) were at war with the bad guys (the Nazi’s, best represented in the film by Major Strasser, played by Conrad Veidt), mirroring American’s situation. The semi-tragic romantic triangle of Rick, Isla, and Victor, the intense drama, the fictional Casablanca’s atmosphere of intrigue and danger all came touched audiences and continues to.

The miracle, considering that Casablanca began filming without a completed script and went through the usual casting difficulties, is not really that the film was popular then (it was, after all, topical), but is instead that the film remains a favorite and outshines most of the great films made after its release nearly 63 years ago.

10 of 10

NOTES:
1944 Academy Awards: 3 wins: “Best Director” (Michael Curtiz), “Best Picture” (Warner Bros.), and “Best Writing, Screenplay” (Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch); 5 nominations: “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (Humphrey Bogart), “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Claude Rains), “Best Cinematography, Black-and-White” (Arthur Edeson), “Best Film Editing” (Owen Marks), “Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture” (Max Steiner)

1989 National Film Preservation Board, USA: National Film Registry

Friday, September 9, 2005


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sting Download Comes With Purchase of "The Hunger Games" Soundtrack

Sting Performs “Deep in the Meadow (Lullaby)” for “the Hunger Games”: Songs from District 12 and Beyond

Available as a Free Download Beginning Tuesday, March 27

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The chart-topping companion album to the Lionsgate® film, The Hunger Games, "THE HUNGER GAMES": SONGS FROM DISTRICT 12 AND BEYOND, will unlock a free download of "Deep in the Meadow (Lullaby)" performed by world-renowned musician Sting beginning March 27, 2012. The track can also be purchased as a single from major digital retailers.

"Lullaby" remains a centerpiece of THE HUNGER GAMES. In the story, the protagonist Katniss [Jennifer Lawrence] learns the song from her father who sang it to her as a child. Passing down the tradition, Katniss sings it to her little sister Primrose, as well as to fellow Tribute Rue, to calm their fears.

16-time Grammy Award winner Sting delivers a powerful and poetic rendition of “Lullaby,” produced by acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer T-Bone Burnett. The pair last collaborated on 2003’s “You Will Be My Ain’ True Love” for the film, Cold Mountain. The song was subsequently nominated for an Academy Award, a Grammy Award and a Golden Globe.

Upon purchasing the album, fans can go to www.thehungergamesmovie.com/lullaby in order to get the track as a free download.

As one of the world’s most respected performers, Sting recently celebrated his 25th anniversary as a solo artist with the release of the definitive box set collection 25 Years as well as The Best Of 25 Years. The free iPad app, STING 25, also serves as a commemoration of this milestone. He is currently on the celebrated Back to Bass world tour, and will soon embark on a tour throughout North America and Europe this summer.

Download "Deep in the Meadow (Lullaby)" by Sting on Tuesday March 27th.


About THE HUNGER GAMES
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.

Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place to enter the games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy when she’s pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

THE HUNGER GAMES is directed by Gary Ross, with a screenplay by Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel, the first in a trilogy published by Scholastic that has over 26 million copies in print in the United States alone, has developed a massive global following. It has spent more than 180 consecutive weeks/more than three consecutive years to date on The New York Times bestseller list since its publication in September 2008, and has also appeared consistently on USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

Lionsgate will release THE HUNGER GAMES on March 23, 2012.

To experience The Hunger Games online, please visit:
Official Website: http://www.thehungergamesmovie.com/
Official Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/thehungergamesmovie
Official Twitter Page: http://twitter.com/thehungergames
Capitol Couture: http://www.capitolcouture.com/

About Universal Republic Records
A division of Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, Universal Republic is home to an all-star roster of multi-platinum, award-winning legends and superstar artists such as 3 Doors Down, Amy Winehouse, Black Sabbath, Colbie Caillat, Eddie Vedder, Enrique Iglesias, Florence + the Machine, Godsmack, Owl City, The Rolling Stones, The Voice (NBC-TV), Gotye, Of Monsters & Men, Mayer Hawthorne, among many others.

It is comprised of innovative imprints and digital business ventures including Republic Nashville (The Band Perry), Cash Money (Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj), Indie Pop (Dev, The Cataracs), Lava Records (Jessie J, Black Veil Brides), SRC (Akon, Melanie Fiona), Aware Records (Mat Kearney), Brushfire (Jack Johnson, G. Love), Tuff Gong (Damian Marley, Stephen Marley), Downtown (Miike Snow), among others.

ABOUT LIONSGATE
Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, family entertainment, digital distribution. new channel platforms and international distribution and sales. The Company has built a strong television presence in production of prime time cable and broadcast network series, distribution and syndication of programming and an array of channel assets. Lionsgate currently has 15 shows on more than 10 networks spanning its prime time production, distribution and syndication businesses, including such critically-acclaimed hits as the multiple Emmy Award-winning "Mad Men", "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie" along with the Golden Globe-winning drama "Boss" and the syndication successes "Tyler Perry's House Of Payne", its spinoff "Meet The Browns", "The Wendy Williams Show" "Are We There Yet?" and the upcoming "Anger Management."

Its feature film business has been fueled by such recent successes as THE LINCOLN LAWYER, TYLER PERRY'S MADEA'S BIG HAPPY FAMILY, THE EXPENDABLES, MARGIN CALL, THE LAST EXORCISM and the critically-acclaimed PRECIOUS, which won two Academy Awards®. With the January 2012 acquisition of Summit Entertainment, the Company now has the two leading young adult franchises – the blockbuster TWILIGHT SAGA, which has grossed more than $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office, and the HUNGER GAMES franchise, whose first film will be released on March 23. Recent Summit hits include RED, LETTERS TO JULIET, KNOWING, the STEP UP franchise and the Academy Award winning Best Picture THE HURT LOCKER.

Lionsgate's home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 13,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.


Happy B'day, Nathan Fillion: Slither

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 224 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


Slither (2006)
Running time: 96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence and gore and language
WRITER/DIRECTOR: James Gunn
PRODUCERS: Paul Brooks and Eric Newman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gregory Middleton, CSC (director of photography)
EDITOR: John Axelrad

HORROR/COMEDY

Starring: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Tania Saulnier, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, Don Thompson, Brenda Gutierrez, Jenna Fischer, and Lorena Gale

Screenwriter James Gunn has a diverse filmography of horror screenwriting credits, including Tromeo & Juliet (for famed B-movie studio, Troma Entertainment) and the 2002 TV-to-film, Scooby-Doo. In March of 2004, he became the first screenwriter in cinema history to write the back-to-back #1 movies at the weekend box office – for the “re-imagined” Dawn of the Dead (March 19) and Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (March 26). He takes his talent at cartoon scares, comic horror, and zombie movies and blends them into his debut as a writer/director, a creepy horror/comedy, Slither, that’s pure B-movie entertainment and that pulls no punches when it comes to gross out fun.

In the north woods town of Wheelsy, the redneck locals are preparing for deer hunting season, but something from the deep dark of outer space has crashed in the woods outside of town, and it’s ready to hunt in Wheelsy. When Grant Grant (Michael Rooker), one of the town’s richest citizens, starts acting strangely, his young wife, Starla (Elizabeth Banks), thinks that his behavior is something worse than what Grant says it is – a minor illness. When pets and livestock start turning up mutilated, Sheriff Bill Pardy (Nathan Fillion) and his deputies peg Grant as their prime suspect, but they’re all about to find out that Grant is now a blood-thirsty monster. Soon Bill and Starla (former childhood sweethearts) are battling scores of giant slugs. A teenaged girl, Kylie Strutemyer (Tania Saulnier), also discovers that her parents are acting like… zombies.

Gunn’s film is a retro horror flick, recalling the films of John Carpenter and David Cronenberg – most notably two 50’s era B-movies that each director remade into 80’s horror classics, Carpenter’s The Thing and Cronenberg’s The Fly. Like those two films, Slither features lots of blood and guts, with huge servings of slime and goo, and Slither is also an action film. There’s not much in here in the way of teenagers hiding from vengeful ghosts or lonely women dodging knife-wielding psychopaths. People are running, screaming, and sometimes shooting, but they’re fighting for their lives against monsters that see them as meat for food or warm flesh for breeding stock.

Gunn also paints his film with broad strokes of camp humor, but it’s not so humorous that we can’t take anyone of it seriously. Slither has plenty of belly laughs, but so much of this flick is creepy – even some scenes that don’t involve monsters. There’s something rotten and backwards in Wheelsy. The citizens are unabashedly backwoods and, if they aren’t inbred, they act and look it. Perhaps, this is Gunn’s gentle ode to that classic scary movie setting – horror in a lonely, isolated small town.

Anyway, Slither is just a darn good horror movie – something for the viewer who likes some laughs with his gore. The cast is clearly in the spirit of things. Also, in an age when so many monsters are created in computers, half of Slither’s special effects are practical special effects and prosthetics with CGI used only when necessary. So, the crowd that loved The Evil Dead movies and found laughter in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (any of them) will find joy in this delightful flick that doesn’t deserve to disappear into horror movie oblivion.

7 of 10
B+

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 Empire Awards Honors "Harry Potter" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"

AN OUTSTANDING YEAR FOR BRITISH FILM

GARY OLDMAN WINS BEST ACTOR AWARD AS TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY DOMINATES

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2 SCOOPS BEST FILM AND BEST DIRECTOR

THE INBETWEENERS WINS BEST COMEDY

Stars of the film world gathered on Sunday 25th March to celebrate the Jameson Empire Awards 2012 and to witness what has been an outstanding success for British film and British acting talent.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy dominated the awards, winning Best Thriller, Best British Film and Best Actor for Gary Oldman; closely followed by Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 which was awarded Best Director for David Yates and Best Film. The night also saw Kenneth Branagh’s Thor win Best Sci-Fi, Ben Palmer’s The Inbetweeners win Best Comedy and Ben Wheatley’s Kill List win Best Horror.

Further to Gary Oldman’s deserving win, British actors continued to lead the awards with Olivia Colman winning Best Actress for her role in Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur; Michael Fassbender won the Empire Hero award; and two of Britain’s rising stars won Best Newcomer - Tom Hiddleston for Thor and Felicity Jones for Like Crazy.

Tim Burton was honoured with the Empire Legend award. Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn shook off competition from Hugo, Harry Potter, Transformers and Thor to win The Art of 3D awardand Ron Howard was honoured with the Empire Inspiration award.

This year aspiring film makers from around the world flooded the popular amateur filmmaking award Done In 60 Seconds with their entries and the finalists include fantastic one-minute reprisals of films such as War Horse, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and The King’s Speech. However, there can only be one winner, and the judging panel, which included award-winning British actor and comedian, Chris O’Dowd, presenter Alex Zane, film director Gareth Edwards and Empire Editor Mark Dinning awarded the prize to Indira Suleimenova for Black Swan.

The Jameson Empire Awards are held after the industry voted events and are one of the only film awards to be voted for entirely by the public. Held at Grosvenor House Hotel and hosted for the first time by Lauren Laverne and Empire’s Chris Hewitt, stars in attendance included Gary Oldman, Danny De Vito, Agyness Deyn, Berenice Marlohe, James McAvoy, Tom Hiddleston, Harry Hill and Michael Fassbender.

Mark Dinning, Empire’s Editor, said: “British movies have ruled the world in the past year, and we are delighted to see them rule the roost here tonight, too. The readers of Empire are the smartest academy out there and this year they have picked the very best winners from a terrific 12 months. With the Olympics and Euro 2012 just around the corner, our homegrown movie heroes have tonight kicked off a year we hope is packed with British triumph.”

Empire magazine, published by Bauer London Lifestyle Ltd, Empire is the World's biggest movie magazine and remains the biggest film magazine brand in the UK, outselling its nearest competitor by two to one. Launched in 1989, Empire has now grown to a total circulation of 167,056 (ABC Jul-Dec 11) with a worldwide readership of over 1 million. Empire online has 22 million page impressions per month and 2.2 million unique users. 2011 was a stand-out year for Empire, as it successfully launched its own fully-interactive iPad edition and a film event, Big Screen, at the O2.

Jameson Whiskey: Jameson Irish Whiskey is the world’s No.1 selling Irish whiskey and is amongst the elite of the fastest growing international spirit brands in the world. The success of this Irish brand is down to its great quality and smooth taste, coupled with a fantastic heritage, established in 1780 by the legendary John Jameson. It has the quality credentials which allow it to be consumed straight, but is versatile and is equally great when mixed.

The Jameson Empire Awards 2012 Winners List:

Best Film presented by Sky Movies
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Best British Film
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best Director
David Yates - Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Jameson Best Actor
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best Actress
Olivia Colman -Tyrannosaur

Best Male Newcomer
Tom Hiddleston

Best Female Newcomer
Felicity Jones

The Art Of 3D presented by RealD
The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn

Best Comedy
The Inbetweeners Movie

Best Thriller
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best Horror
Kill List

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Thor

Empire Hero
Michael Fassbender

Empire Legend
Tim Burton

Empire Inspiration
Ron Howard

Done In 60 Seconds (to amateur filmmakers)
Indira Suleimenova for Black Swan

Happy B'day, Keira Knightley: Pride & Prejudice

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 103 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


Pride & Prejudice (2005)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: France/UK
Running time: 128 minutes (2 hours, 8 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some mild thematic elements
DIRECTOR: Joe Wright
WRITER: Deborah Moggach (from the novel by Jane Austen)
PRODUCERS: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Paul Webster
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roman Osin (director of photography)
EDITOR: Paul Tothill
Academy Award nominee

ROMANCE/COMEDY/DRAMA

Starring: Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, Jena Malone, Talulah Riley, Carey Mulligan, Brenda Blethyn, Simon Woods, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Hollander, and Donald Sutherland, Kelly Reilly, Tamzin Merchant, and Judi Dench

The subject of this movie review is Pride & Prejudice, a 2005 British romance film. This French-British production is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, which was first published in 1813. The 2005 movie was the second time the book had been adapted as a feature film, while there have been numerous television adaptations, including a few in non-English speaking countries.

Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) has five daughters: the radiantly beautiful Jane (Rosamund Pike, who is, of course, radiantly beautiful), the spirited Elizabeth or Lizzie (Keira Knightley), the feuding Mary (Talulah Riley) and Kitty (Carey Mulligan), and Lydia (Jena Malone), and the girls are well aware of their mother’s fixation on finding them husbands and securing their futures financially. Thus, begins a story of love, misunderstandings and class divisions in England in the 18th century.

The excitement and drama begins when a wealthy bachelor, Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods), takes up residence in a mansion near the Bennets’ home. Serene and beautiful, Jane catches the eye of Mr. Bingley. Meanwhile, Lizzie catches the eye of her distant cousin, Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander), who, as the nearest male relative, will inherit the Bennets’ home upon the death of Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland). Lizzie refuses his offer of marriage, with support of her father who dotes on her, but angers her mother.

Mr. Bingley has an even wealthier friend, the snobbish Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen). There is something between Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, but their many spirited and often quarrelsome encounters are not an encouragement for union. When Mr. Bingley abruptly leaves for London, Lizzie blames Mr. Darcy for contributing to what seemed like a likely marriage between Jane and Bingley. However, a crisis with the youngest daughter Lydia opens Lizzie’s eyes to what Mr. Darcy is really like. The fuss and confusion leaves no one unchanged, and forces each person to examine personal beliefs, but will it bring Mr. Bingley and Jane and Lizzie and Mr. Darcy together?

Working Title Films’ (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Love Actually) production of Pride & Prejudice is the first theatrical film version of Jane Austen’s classic 1813 novel in 65 years (since a 1940 film starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier). Director Joe Wright presents Austen’s novel of first impressions and the issues surrounding courtship and marriage among the landed gentry as a comic romance that satires the politics and procedures of engagements while still tugging at our heartstrings. If the film bears more than a striking resemblance to Ang Lee’s 1995 Jane Austen adaptation, Sense and Sensibility, it’s because Emma Thompson, who wrote and starred in that film, reportedly did extensive rewriting of Deborah Moggach’s screenplay for this film.

However, Sense and Sensibility was a somber drama with comic touches, while Pride and Prejudice is thoroughly romantic and comic. There are moments of serious contemplation and ugly class confrontation, but for the most part there’s comedy in the romantic goings-on. Dario Marianelli’s score, highlighted by lush and swirling piano melodies, capture both the mood of sweeping romance and sly comedy. The production values (costume, art direction, photography) juxtaposes the different environments: middle class and upper class, impeccably clean mansions and dusty middle class farmhouses with startling frankness that makes the audience understand how wide the division between classes was. It makes it easier to laugh at how Lizzie keeps missing the obvious about Mr. Darcy and at how Mr. Darcy seems so befuddled and clumsy for all that he shows arrogance and conceit on the surface. We can both laugh at and deeply appreciate Mrs. Bennet’s desperation in obtaining financial security for her daughters in the form of husbands who, if not well-to-do, have solid professions.

The performances are remarkable in that they fit a comedy so very well, although they would seem too light and flimsy were this straight drama. If Keira Knightley initially came across as wrong for the part in a Jane Austen adaptation, she proves that wrong. Her high-spirited, tomboyish persona and droll comic wit (which isn’t obvious unless you really pay attention to her in other movies) bring Lizzie to life as a fully realized, three-dimensional, rich character. Knightley understands the tone director Joe Wright set for his adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, and she meets it in this winning romance.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
2006 Academy Awards: 4 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Keira Knightley), “Best Achievement in Art Direction” (Sarah Greenwood-art director and Katie Spencer-set decorator), “Best Achievement in Costume Design” (Jacqueline Durran), and “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score” (Dario Marianelli)

2006 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Carl Foreman Award for the Most Promising Newcomer” (Joe Wright-director); 5 nominations: “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Paul Webster, Joe Wright, and Deborah Moggach), “Best Costume Design” (Jacqueline Durran), “Best Make Up/Hair” (Fae Hammond), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Brenda Blethyn), and “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (Deborah Moggach)

2006 Golden Globes: 2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical” (Keira Knightley)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jennifer Lawrence Feeds "The Hunger Games"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 24 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Hunger Games (2012)
Running time: 142 minutes (2 hours, 22 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens
DIRECTOR: Gary Ross
WRITERS: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray (based upon the novel by Suzanne Collins)
PRODUCERS: Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tom Stern (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Stephen Mirrione and Juliette Welfling
COMPOSERS: T-Bone Burnett and James Newton Howard

SCI-FI/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Willow Shields, Liam Hemsworth, Toby Jones, Dayo Okeniyi, Alexander Ludwig, and Amandla Stenberg

The subject of this movie review is The Hunger Games, a 2012 dystopian science fiction film. Directed by Gary Ross, the film is based upon Suzanne Collins’ 2008 novel, The Hunger Games, which is the first novel in The Hunger Games trilogy. The film is set in a future in which teenagers fight to death on live television, and the story follows a 16-year-old young woman who volunteers to participate. Of note: Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh served as a second unit director on this movie.

The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, and what was once North America is now the nation of Panem. Panem is composed of 12 districts and The Capitol, which rules over the districts. Every year, The Capitol takes one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts to become contestants or tributes in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment and part intimidation of the 12 districts, these games are broadcast throughout Panem, and the 24 participants must fight to the death until only one of them remains alive – the victor.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a 16-year-old teen living in the impoverished District 12. During the raffle to choose the district’s tributes, Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place as a girl tribute in the 74th Hunger Games. Along with District 12’s boy tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss travels to the decadent Capitol for the fight of her life.

I can say without reservation that The Hunger Games captures the sense of the life and death struggle of Katniss and her competitors. This is a science fiction film that is driven by character and intimate man vs. man confrontation – from sudden romance and friendship to cold-bloodied murder and assorted calculated cruelties. Not having the narrative space the novel has, the script efficiently depicts both the devastating poverty of District 12 and the detached self-indulgence and shameless plentitude of The Capitol.

However, Jennifer Lawrence is everything for this movie. Whatever problems this film may have, Lawrence’s skill-set as an actor delivers a performance that glosses over narrative and cinematic glitches. Pardon my lack of articulation, but homegirl is real. Here realness is why Lawrence comes across as genuine as a backwoods girl who fights to feed and house her younger siblings while the very hillbilly drug marketplace that killed her father is coming for her. In the series of scenes in The Hunger Games that takes Katniss from the moments before the battlefield to the start of the 74th Hunger Game, Lawrence sells Katniss’ nervousness. Her fear is palatable, and Lawrence uses her performance to transport us to the battlefield with Katniss.

There are other good performances. Of course, Stanley Tucci is good, but his goodness is breathtaking as the scary host with the most, Caesar Flickerman. Lenny Kravitz gives such a good turn as Katniss’ mentor, Cinna, that he leaves you wanting more. Still, Jennifer Lawrence is the show. She is to The Hunger Games what Robert De Niro is to Raging Bull, the star actor that makes a regular film into something special.

8 of 10
A

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 Empire Award Nominations

The Empire Awards are named for Empire, Britain's best-selling film magazine. The Empire Awards are voted for entirely by the British film-going public.

The 2012 Jameson Empire Awards will be presented on Sunday, March 25, 2012.

Complete list of nominations for the 2012 Jameson Empire Awards:

Best Film Presented by Sky Movies
Drive
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows — Part 2
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best British Film
Attack The Block
The Inbetweeners Movie
Submarine
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Tyrannosaur

Best Director
Tomas Alfredson (Tinker Tailor Solider Spy)
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)
Steven Spielberg (War Horse)
Rupert Wyatt (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes)
David Yates (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows — Part 2)

Jameson Best Actor
Daniel Craig (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Ryan Gosling (Drive)
Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows — Part 2)
Andy Serkis (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes)

Best Actress Presented by Citroën
Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur)
Rooney Mara (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
Carey Mulligan (Drive)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn)

Best Male Newcomer
John Boyega (Attack The Block)
Asa Butterfield (Hugo)
Sam Claflin (Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
Tom Hiddleston (Thor)
Jeremy Irvine (War Horse)
Craig Roberts (Submarine)

Best Female Newcomer
Celine Buckens (War Horse)
Elle Fanning (Super 8)
Laura Haddock (The Inbetweeners Movie)
Felicity Jones (Like Crazy)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Bonnie Wright (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows — Part 2)

Best Comedy
Attack The Block
Bridesmaids
Crazy Stupid Love
The Inbetweeners Movie
Midnight In Paris

Best Horror
Attack The Block
Insidious
Kill List
Paranormal Activity 3
Troll Hunter

Best Thriller Presented by Café de Paris
Drive
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Hanna
Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Captain America: The First Avenger
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Super 8
Thor
X-Men: First Class

The Art Of 3D Presented by RealD
The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows — Part 2
Hugo
Thor
Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

"The Hangover III" Announced for May 2013

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Are Ready for Another “Hangover”

Director Todd Phillips will reunite with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis for Part III of the blockbuster comedy franchise, to open on May 24, 2013

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures are reteaming with Todd Phillips for “The Hangover Part III,” the third installment in the record-breaking comedy franchise, which is slated for release on May 24, 2013. The announcement was made today by Jeff Robinov, President Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

“The Hangover Part III” will star Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, who will reprise the roles of Phil, Stu and Alan, collectively known to moviegoers as “the Wolfpack.” In the previous two films, the three friends’ attempts to plan a celebration have resulted in disaster for them, but led to a combined billion-dollar success at the worldwide box office.

In making the announcement, Robinov stated, “We are extremely pleased to have Todd Phillips and the guys back together again for another ‘Hangover,’ and we look forward to collaborating with them on another great movie.”

Phillips said, “I’m so excited to embark on another ‘Hangover’ film with Bradley, Ed and Zach. We’re going to surprise a lot of people with the final chapter we have planned. It will be a fitting conclusion to our three-part opera of mayhem, despair and bad decisions.”

Phillips is writing the screenplay with Craig Mazin, who also collaborated with him on the screenplay for “The Hangover Part II.” Phillips is again producing the film under his Green Hat Films banner, together with Dan Goldberg. Thomas Tull and Scott Budnick will serve as executive producers.

Production on the film is projected to begin in September 2012.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures, “The Hangover Part III” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy B'day, Akira Kurosawa: Rashomon

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 60 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux


Rashômon (1950) – Black and white
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Japan
Running time: 88 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
Not rated by the MPAA
EDITOR/DIRECTOR: Akira Kurosawa
WRITERS: Shinobu Hashimota and Akira Kurosawa (based upon stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa)
PRODUCER: Minoru Jingo
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kazuo Miyagawa
EDITOR: Fumio Hayasaka
Academy Award winner

DRAMA/MYSTERY/CRIME with elements of a thriller

Starring: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki, Kichijiro Ueda, Fumiko Honma, Daisuke Katô

Rashômon is a 1950 Japanese crime drama from director Akira Kurosawa. In 1952, the film won an Honorary Academy Award as the best foreign language film released in the United States in 1951. The film is based on two stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa and is the story of a murder told from differing points of view.

The fact that Akira Kurosawa’s Rashômon is considered by critics to be one of the best films ever made and that it is also one of the most influential films every made should be enough of a recommendation. However, I’m well aware of how put off many people are by “serious film” or movies that critics hail as masterpieces. Rashômon is simply a good movie, and virtually anyone who likes crime dramas or mysteries will love this philosophical and psychological thriller.

An incident involving the murder of a husband and the rape of the wife in the forest is reported to local authorities, but what really happened? The horrible incident is told from the point of view of four witnesses: the alleged murderer/rapist, the wife, the murdered husband (the husband’s spirit speaks through his wife as a medium, nonetheless), and someone who watched part of what happened from a hidden vantage point. Who is telling the truth, and, in this case, just what is truth?

One of the many wonderful things about this film, like all the great stories, is that it spins a good yarn while simultaneously examining the state of man. Why are people selfish? Why do they lie? And are all humans basically selfish creatures who (when it comes down to it) really serve their own individual interests? The film is a fine mystery/crime drama with some amazing twists and turns (the husband’s tortured spirit telling his side of the tale is unforgettable) that will keep the viewer riveted, but that it also makes you think about us, about humanity, pushes it over the top. Except that Rashômon seems a bit too slow from the top, it nears perfection in the art of cinema and in making good use of the medium.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
1952 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Honorary Award” (Japan) – Voted by the Board of Governors as the most outstanding foreign language film released in the United States during 1951.

1953 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White” (Takashi Matsuyama and H. Motsumoto)

1953 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Film from any Source” (Japan)

Second Robert Downey Jr. "Sherlock Holmes" Surpasses First in Cash Made

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” Bests Its Predecessor, Nabbing Global Tally of $529 Million and Counting

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” has hit the $529 million benchmark in global box office, with an estimated $186.7 million on the domestic side and $342.3 million internationally, surpassing its predecessor’s worldwide gross of $524.4 million. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan-Rubinek, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

The film has drawn large opening crowds and repeat business since its late December debut, continuing its momentum as it rolled out internationally. In the U.S., “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” opened at #1 and spent six weeks in the U.S. top ten. Internationally, it was the #1 film for three straight weeks (January 8 - January 23).

“Our successful box office continues to prove the appeal of Sherlock Holmes, especially in the hands of guy Ritchie and his amazing cast, led by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law,” Fellman said. “The film had outstanding results throughout the holidays and continued to gain traction well into 2012.”

“Rolling out this film internationally has been tremendously exciting, as the film has clearly resonated with audiences around the globe,” Kwan-Rubinek added. “The first ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was such a tremendous success overseas, and to surpass that number in these same markets is truly a remarkable achievement. We congratulate the filmmakers and cast, as well as our international teams, on these excellent results.”

“‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ gave moviegoers another opportunity to experience Guy Ritchie’s fun and inventive take on the legendary detective,” said Sue Kroll, the Studio's President, Worldwide Marketing. “The movie is a great adventure—complete with action, humor and great characters. Congratulations to the filmmakers and cast, who were truly our partners in bringing Sherlock Holmes back to an enthusiastic worldwide audience.”

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Jude Law returns as his friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.”

Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room…until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large—Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris)—and not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Holmes’ investigation into Moriarty’s plot becomes more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London to France, Germany and finally Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead, and moving perilously close to completing his sinister plan. If he succeeds, it will not only bring him immense wealth and power but alter the course of history.

Filmmaker Guy Ritchie returned to direct “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” the follow-up to the smash hit “Sherlock Holmes.” The sequel reunited producers Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey and Dan Lin. Bruce Berman and Steve Clark-Hall served as executive producers. The film also stars Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly, and Rachel McAdams. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” was written by Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were created by the late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and appear in stories and novels by him.

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: A Game of Shadows.” The film is being distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

http://www.sherlockholmes2.com/

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Pleasantville" Pleasingly Pleasant

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 156 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux on Patreon


Pleasantville (1998)
Running time: 124 minutes (2 hours, 4 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some thematic elements emphasizing sexuality, and for language
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Gary Ross
PRODUCERS: Robert J. Degus, Jon Kilik, Gary Ross, and Steven Soderbergh
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Lindley
EDITOR: William Goldenberg
COMPOSER: Randy Newman
Academy Award nominee

COMEDY/DRAMA/FANTASY

Starring: Tobey Maguire, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Daniels, Jane Kaczmarek, Don Knotts, Paul Walker, and J.T. Walsh

The subject of this movie review is Pleasantville, a 1998 comedy-drama and fantasy film from writer/director Gary Ross, who would go on to write and direct the Oscar-nominated, Seabiscuit (2003). Pleasantville stars Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as a brother and sister transported into their television set where they find themselves in the world of a 1950s black and white situation comedy.

It’s premise, especially the device that initiates the premise, is something straight out of pulp science fiction or pulp comics (in particular, EC comics), but Pleasantville ends up being a film poignant and delightful and thought provoking and entertaining. The film begins in the 1990’s with a brother and sister pair. David Wagner (Tobey Maguire), single, lonely, and unhappy, escapes his melancholy reality by watching the nostalgic 1950’s era soap opera, “Pleasantville.” After his TV breaks, a very strange repairman (Don Knott) gives him an equally strange remote control, but his sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon), who is David’s exact opposite (happy and more far more sexually active than her brother), argues with David over watching the TV. During their struggle for the peculiar remote control, it transports the pair into the television to Pleasantville.

Suddenly, David and Jennifer are Bud and Mary-Sue Parker, and they find themselves completely assimilated into the new world. They are now black and white instead of color, and they have new 50’s era clothes. They also have new and different parents Betty (Joan Allen) and George Parker (William H. Macy), more pleasant than the old models. While David decides to blend in with this new world, Jennifer is sexually aggressive with the sexually naïve teenage boys of this “Leave it to Beaver” like world. David/Bud and Jennifer/Mary-Sue’s antics begin to change the world, and one thing leads to another and suddenly there is a vivid, red rose in this black and white world. Soon, the denizens of Pleasantville start to break rules and to break with long held traditions and before long, life is growing ever more colorful in Pleasantville. But not everyone is happy, including Bud and Mary-Sue’s Pleasantville dad and the town council, and they plan to do something about it.

There is so much to like about this movie, especially the wonderful cast. Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon perfectly portray the squabbling pair of siblings, playing them at just the right pitch to make this movie work. However, it is the adult or older actors that sell Pleasantville’s ideas and messages. The themes of conformity, rebellion, marital discord, infidelity, betrayal, loyalty, and mob violence and group-think come to life in the stand out performances of William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels and the late J.T. Walsh. It’s fun to watch Ms. Witherspoon’s antics, and Maguire has that young everyman quality that draws audiences into living vicariously through him, but the older actors shape and structure the elements that define this film.

Many Oscar® watchers had pegged this film as an early favorite to receive some big nominations, but it only earned three Academy Award nominations in the so-called technical categories. I get the feeling that many people were put off by the film. The very things that make it so intriguing – from its ideas to its concept start to fall apart about midway through the film. Slowly, but surely, the structure becomes shaky the longer the film runs. At 124 minutes (2 hours and 4 minutes) this film seems about 20 minutes too long. The last third of the film seems especially too preachy, too obvious, and heavy-handed.

Still, director/screenwriter Gary Ross created an enduring and charming gem; though flawed, it harks back to simply notions and an idealized simpler time in a fictional golden age. But the film does seem to ask, was that time really idealized and just how much is actually fiction about the good old days.

7 of 10
B+

NOTES:
1999 Academy Awards: 3 nominations: “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” (Jeannine Claudia Oppewall and Jay Hart), “Best Costume Design” (Judianna Makovsky), and “Best Music, Original Dramatic Score” (Randy Newman)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Hugo" Captures the Magic of Movies

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 23 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Hugo (2011)
Running time: 126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes)
MPAA – PG for mild thematic material, some action/peril and smoking
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
WRITER: John Logan (based on Brian Selznick’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret)
PRODUCERS: Johnny Depp, Tim Headington, Graham King, and Martin Scorsese
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Richardson
EDITOR: Thelma Schoonmaker
COMPOSER: Howard Shore
Academy Award winner

HISTORICAL/DRAMA/FAMILY with elements of fantasy

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Helen McCrory, Michael Stuhlbarg, Frances de la Tour, Richard Griffiths, and Jude Law

Hugo is a 2011 Oscar-winning historical drama and 3D adventure film directed by Martin Scorsese. The film is based upon The Invention of Hugo Cabret, a 2007 historical fiction novel by Brian Selznick. The film is about a boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station and how he meets Georges Méliès, the real-life French film pioneer.

It is 1931, and 12-year-old Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) takes care of the clocks at the Gare Montparnasse railway station in Paris. He lives in the walls of the station with his uncle, Claude Cabret (Ray Winstone), an alcoholic watchmaker who is responsible for maintaining the clocks at the station and who teaches the craft to Hugo. After his uncle disappears, Hugo fends for himself, stealing food and maintaining the clocks. Hugo has also taken on a project of his late father (Jude Law), repairing a broken automaton, a mechanical man that is supposed to write after he is wound.

To repair the automaton, Hugo steals mechanical parts from an elderly toy store owner. One day, the owner, Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley), catches Hugo and takes the boy’s notebook, which has notes and drawings for fixing the automaton. To get his notebook back, Hugo begins working for Méliès and also befriends the old man’s goddaughter, Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz). The children’s friendship and curiosity lead to a shocking revelation that might restore the spirit of a forgotten artist.

I guess that I should not be surprised that Martin Scorsese could pull off a film like Hugo – what is basically a family movie. I know that not all Scorsese’s films involve mobsters and violence, for instance, The Last Temptation of Christ and The Aviator, but his films are generally edgy adult dramas. With Hugo, however, Scorsese drives this film not only with a child’s sense of wonder and curiosity, but also with a child’s grit and determination to do what they believe is the right thing.

Scorsese’s films are successful because he gets great performances from his actors, and these performances are sometimes what make his films special (Robert De Niro in Raging Bull), or memorable (Joe Pesci in Goodfellas), or legendary (De Niro in Taxi Driver). In Hugo, the actors are so upfront emotionally that their intentions are clear to the audience. This makes the characters honest and vulnerable, in a childlike way that makes them endearing. That is why Chloë Grace Moretz’s Isabelle comes across as refreshing and intriguing rather than just being the girl character intruding in a boy’s tale.

While Ben Kingsley’s name is listed first in the credits, Asa Butterfield is the film’s star and Hugo Cabret is the lead character. Unlike some child actors who pretend more than they act, Butterfield plays Hugo with a veteran movie actor’s chops. He makes Hugo whole and believable, so much so that I lied to myself that Hugo was real boy.

Speaking of Ben Kingsley: after decades of great performances, I should not be surprised at how good he is as Georges Méliès, but I am. Kingsley is shockingly intense, even in the scenes that are relatively quiet and low key. In the scene in which Méliès tells the story of his past, Kingsley’s voice takes on a life of its own and magically transports us to Georges Méliès’ golden age.

And Hugo is magical. It is a trip into our dreams, in which the past comes to life. Most of all, Hugo reminds us of why movies are so special.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
2012 Academy Awards: 5 wins: “Best Achievement in Art Direction” (Francesca Lo Schiavo-set decorator and Dante Ferretti-production designer), “Best Achievement in Cinematography” (Robert Richardson), “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty), “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” (Tom Fleischman and John Midgley), and “Best Achievement in Visual Effects” (Robert Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann, Alex Henning); 6 nominations: “Best Achievement in Costume Design” (Sandy Powell), “Best Achievement in Directing” (Martin Scorsese), “Best Achievement in Film Editing” (Thelma Schoonmaker), “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score” (Howard Shore), “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Graham King and Martin Scorsese), “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay” (John Logan)

2012 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Best Production Design” (Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo) and “Best Sound” (Tom Fleischman, Philip Stockton, John Midgley, and Eugene Gearty); 7 nominations: “Best Cinematography” (Robert Richardson), “Best Costume Design” (Sandy Powell), “Best Director” (Martin Scorsese), “Best Editing” (Thelma Schoonmaker), “Best Make Up & Hair” (Morag Ross and Jan Archibald), “Best Original Music” (Howard Shore), “Best Special Visual Effects” (Alex Henning, Robert Legato, Ben Grossmann, and Joss Williams)

2012 Golden Globes: 1 win: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Martin Scorsese); 2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture – Drama” and “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (Howard Shore)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012