Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Cronenberg Plays it a Little Safe in "A Dangerous Method"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 31 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

A Dangerous Method (2011)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada (with Germany, Switzerland, UK)
Running time: 99 minutes (1 hour, 39 minutes)
MPAA – R for sexual content and brief language
DIRECTOR: David Cronenberg
WRITER: Christopher Hampton (based upon his play, The Talking Cure, and also on the book, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, by John Kerr)
PRODUCER: Jeremy Thomas
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Suschitzky (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Ronald Sanders
COMPOSER: Howard Shore
Golden Globe nominee


Starring: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Cassel, and Sarah Gordon

A Dangerous Method is a 2011 Canadian historical drama from director David Cronenberg. This film’s screenplay is by Christopher Hampton and is based on his play, The Talking Cure.

Another source for A Dangerous Method is the book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein, which was also the basis for Hampton’s play. The film is a fictional account of the real-life turbulent relationships between Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology; Sigmund Freud, the founder of the discipline of psychoanalysis; and Sabina Spielrein, who was a patient of Jung before she later became a physician and one of the first female psychoanalysts.

The film opens in the first decade of the 1900s. Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley), a young woman suffering from hysteria, arrives at the Burghölzli Clinic, the preeminent psychiatric hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. The young Swiss doctor, Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), begins to treat Sabina using word association and dream interpretation as part of his approach to psychoanalysis, a radical new science devised by Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen).

Jung and Freud begin to correspond, and Freud adopts Jung as his heir apparent and also as his Aryan (or non-Jewish) ally against the European medical establishment, which is anti-Semitic. Jung finds in Sabina a kindred spirit, and soon they begin a sexual relationship. However, Jung and Freud’s relationship begins to fray, and Jung’s relationship with Sabina becomes more complicated than Jung anticipated.

A Dangerous Method’s movie poster may suggest that the film is about a love triangle. The film is really about Jung’s relationship with two people, with more of the focus on the Jung-Spielrein relationship. As Jung and Spielrein, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley, respectively, give strong performances by conveying the passion between the two people who must often remain restrained and repressed as a matter of societal conventions. Neither actor comes across as delivering the typical too-aloof performance that actors sometimes give when appearing in costume or historical dramas. Knightley plays Sabina as coiled and imprisoned, waiting to explode to the freedom that will allow her to be herself. Fassbender makes Jung fervent with the desire to investigate and explore that cannot be put out by the coolness of discovery. Viggo Mortensen gives the kind of tart and showy performance that can make a supporting actor a scene stealer, and he does indeed steal every scene in which he appears. Honestly, I never imagined Freud to be as Mortensen depicts him – cool and sexy.

Director David Cronenberg is known for the coolness and aloofness evident in even his most daring, unusual, and controversial films. Sometimes, there is a clinical attitude in his movies that restrains the narrative, its ideas and characters. A Dangerous Method would seem to be the perfect film in which Cronenberg would be correctly detached, even distant; however, the relationships explored in this film dare the storyteller to be objective, though I will give Cronenberg and his primary actors credit for giving this film a humorous undercurrent, especially in the first half. A Dangerous Method is a very good film, but, although it is about doctors and science, the emotions, sensations, and passions needed to be given more freedom than they are here. A Dangerous Method is a tad dangerously distant.

7 of 10

2012 Golden Globes: 1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Viggo Mortensen)

Friday, April 27, 2012


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Review: Women Make Almodavor's "VOLVER" Spin (Happy B'day, Penelope Cruz)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 63 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Volver (2006)
Running time: 121 minutes (2 hour, 1 minutes)
MPAA – R for sexual content and language
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Pedro Almodóvar
PRODUCER: Esther García
CINEMATOGRAPHER: José Luis Alcaine (director of photography)
EDITOR: José Salcedo
2007 Academy Award nominee

DRAMA with elements of comedy and fantasy

Starring: Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo, and Chus Lampreave

In his new film, Volver, two-time Academy Award winner Pedro Almodóvar (All About my Mother, Talk to Her) gives us three generations of women living in a world where the living and dead coexist. In this film, it is natural for the people of the La Mancha region of Spain, with its ever-present east wind, to practice a culture of death in which the deceased remain present in the lives of their living relatives. Also, José Luis Alcaine’s cinematograph for Volver is easily among the year’s best.

Abuela Irene (Carmen Maura), who died in a fire four years ago, is apparently revisiting her hometown in La Mancha. Irene wants to resolve the problems she didn’t or couldn’t during her lifetime, especially her relationship with her estranged daughter Raimunda (Penélope Cruz), who has her own problems. Raimunda has to surreptitiously bury her husband, Paco (Antonio de la Torre), after their daughter, Paula (Yohana Cobo who plays her part with such naturalness), kills him when he tries to rape his own daughter. After appearing first to her sister, the elderly Aunt Paula (Chus Lampreave), Irene also visits her daughter Sole (Lola Dueñas), who makes a living as an illegal, home-based hairdresser. Meanwhile, fellow villager, Agustina (Blanca Portillo), is seeking out Irene for help with her own family issues.

If there are men who were born to make movies, Pedro Almodóvar is undoubtedly one of them. That’s evident in his beautiful films filled with vibrant colors, narratives, and people; in fact, José Luis Alcaine’s vivid cinematograph for Volver is easily among the year’s best.

Almodóvar also understands women. Here, in Volver (which mean “coming back”) his female characters make it through life by lying when necessary – either to protect themselves or the feelings of their loved ones. These women also survive the troubles of life because they have persistent vitality and a treasure trove of goodness in them. That’s how Almodóvar makes you root for them. These are good, simple, plain folks who, if possible, won’t let their complex interior selves bring harm to their loved ones, but they’re still capable of making bold moves to enrich their lives.

To play such funny, spontaneous, and intrepid women, Almodóvar guides a cast capable of deep, genuine emotion and of playing characters that sometimes take the hilarious path out of trouble. You’ll never look at Penélope Cruz the same way again after seeing her in this movie. Her Raimunda is a painterly performance, full of subtle color and audacious, but gentle strokes. Cruz is layered and flavored like a buffet of earthy dishes, and I was sad whenever her Raimunda left the screen.

The same can be said for the rest of cast: from Blanca Portillo as the troubled, gentle soul, Agustina to Carmen Maura as Irene, back-from-the-dead and looking to heal wounds and bandage hurts. Almodóvar’s Volver is why I like foreign cinema. It doesn’t mind telling stories that are as rich and as complex as literary fiction. But Almodóvar does the telling in a purely visual style that makes one appreciate storytelling shown on the screen.

9 of 10

2007 Academy Awards: 1 nomination for “Best performance by an actress in a leading role” (Penélope Cruz)

2007 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Actress in a Leading Role” (Penélope Cruz) and “Best Film not in the English Language” (Agustín Almodóvar and Pedro Almodóvar)

2007 Golden Globes, USA: 2 nominations: “Best Foreign Language Film” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Penélope Cruz)

2007 Image Awards: 2 nominations: “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” (Penélope Cruz) and “Outstanding Independent or Foreign Film”

2006 Cannes Film Festival: 2 wins: “Best Actress” (Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo, and Chus Lampreave to the female ensemble cast) and “Best Screenplay” (Pedro Almodóvar); 1 nomination: “Palme d'Or” (Pedro Almodóvar)

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: "Flushed Away" was the Best Animated Film of 2006

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 234 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Flushed Away (2006)
Running time: 90 minutes; MPAA – PG for crude humor and some language
DIRECTORS: David Bowers and Sam Fell
WRITERS: Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, Chris Lloyd and Joe Keenan, and Will Davies; from a story by Sam Fell, Peter Lord and Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais
PRODUCERS: Peter Lord, David Sproxton, and Cecil Kramer
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brad Blackbourn and Frank Passingham
EDITOR: John Venzon and Eric Dapkewicz
BAFTA nominee


Starring: (voices) Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy, Shane Richie, and Jean Reno

The computer-animated feature film, Flushed Away, is the star child of two of the most successful animation studios of the last decade: DreamWorks Animation (Shrek) and Aardman Features (Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit). DreamWorks creates state-of-the-art computer animation. Aardman films are usually done with stop-motion animation, and their characters and sets are made of Plasticene (modeling clay) – called “claymation.” Now, the two studios have created a film with a story and characters that are as inventive as the technical and artistic process that created it.

The story begins in London – specifically the Kensington Gardens house where Roddy St. James (Hugh Jackman) lives the pampered life of a pet mouse. Roddy gets an unwanted guest in the form of a rowdy sewer rat named Sid (Shane Richie), after he comes spewing out of the sink. Roddy tries to get rid of Sid by tricking him into taking a whirlpool bath in the toilet, but Sid pushes Roddy in and Roddy gets flushed away.

After a rough trip, Roddy discovers a metropolis in the sewers beneath London, made by industrious rodents out of discarded items. Roddy meets the spunky and resourceful Rita (Kate Winslet), captain of her own boat, the Jammy Dodger. Rita, however, is in the middle of a long-running feud with a local crime lord, the villainous Toad (Ian McKellen, superb as a villain prone to fits of melodrama and theatrics). Toad despises all rodents and has hatched a diabolical plot to destroy all of them during halftime of the World Cup. Roddy and Rita are determined to stop him, but to do that, they have to battle Toad’s henchrats Spike (Andy Serkis) and Whitey (Bill Nighy), as well as Toad’s cousin, Le Frog (Jean Reno), every step of the way.

There are animated films in which the composition in terms of what the viewer sees on screen is prettier – Pixar productions come to mind, but when it comes to pure comedy, I would be hard pressed to find a more successful 3D animated film than Flushed Away. Visually, Flushed Away is true to the signature style of Aardman, as seen in the Wallace and Gromit films and in Chicken Run, but I would be remiss in this review if I emphasized the technical side. Flushed Away is a funny film, a superb achievement in comedy as good as live action.

The strong screenwriting emphasizes wacky, scatological humor and funny characters. The humor isn’t too crude for children; actually, it’s the kind of humor that frequently shows up in children’s entertainment: jokes and sight gags about bodily functions, taking a blow to the loins, and other light innuendo. This is a broad kind of humor, seemingly lowbrow but familiar to all regardless of age. Simply brilliant, the comedy writing is wry yet boisterous and both subtle and blunt. A blend of parody and slapstick, Flushed Away satirizes melodramatic, Hollywood action thrillers, and it still has time to be part romantic comedy.

It’s not as if any one group of people should get credit for Flushed Away being such a fine flick. However, if the voice performers weren’t so good, the excellent work of the directors, writers, animators, and computer guys would have been… flushed away. The vocal performances take this film to the next two levels by bringing the characters to life in such a way that they become more than just kiddie cartoons. Truthfully, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, and Ian McKellan, and Jean Reno are international movie stars and superb actors, and their supporting cast – Andy Serkis, Bill Nighy, and Shane Richie – are fine character actors. Indeed, Serkis’ comically inept little brute, Spike, and Nighy’s Zen heavy, Whitey, are so funny and well done that the duo deserves its own flick. In the end, the actors give us the same great work they would in a live action movie, and that is the main reason why Flushed Away may be the year’s best animated feature film.

9 of 10

Sunday, November 12, 2006

2007 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film” (David Bowers and Sam Fell)


"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" Screened at CinemaCon

Warner Bros. Pictures Unveils Never-Before-Seen Footage of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Showcasing Stunning High-Frame-Rate Results

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures screened approximately 10 minutes of never-before-seen footage from New Line Cinema and MGM’s upcoming epic “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which showcased the filmmaking innovation of 48 frames-per-second (fps), doubling the typical frame rate of 24 fps. The footage was part of the studio’s presentation at CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).

The film, slated for worldwide release beginning December 14, 2012, is the first major motion picture to be made using this state-of-the-art high-frame-rate technology.

The footage was introduced via a taped greeting from director Peter Jackson, who gave a bit of history as to how 24 fps became the industry standard and why today’s technology allows for higher frame rates. He also explained that 48 fps is actually closer to the way the human eye views the world. Jackson offered, “As a filmmaker, I always want to create a strong sense of reality, to allow the audience to lose themselves in whatever the cinematic story is that I’m presenting. Shooting and projecting at 48 fps gives you the illusion that a hole has been cut in the wall of the cinema, and you’re watching the story unfold with a heightened sense of reality. It’s terrific for 3D; I’ve looked at the 48 fps dailies for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ in 3D for over a year now, and with the reduction in strobing and flicker, it is a much more gentle experience on your eyes. 48 fps is not just limited to 3D. A film shot in 48 fps looks fantastic when projected in 2D, and converts well to 24 fps as well.”

Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. Pictures President, Domestic Distribution, stated, “24 fps has been the standard in our industry for the last 80 years, so this is an exciting breakthrough. It’s no surprise that Peter Jackson, with his commitment to innovation, is the first director to utilize 48 fps on a grand scale. It’s equally gratifying to me to see the exhibition community embrace this advancement.”

Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, Warner Bros. Pictures President, International Distribution, added, “We’re thrilled to be arm-in-arm with Peter Jackson and the exhibition community in exploring the possibilities of high-frame-rate filmmaking. The powerful combination of enduring storytelling and spectacular visuals will offer an exciting new movie-going experience to audiences around the world.”

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first of two films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey and Martin Freeman stars in the central role of Bilbo Baggins. The ensemble cast also includes (in alphabetical order) Richard Armitage, John Bell, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Ian Holm, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Evangeline Lilly, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, Mike Mizrahi, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Mikael Persbrandt, Andy Serkis, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott, Jeffrey Thomas, Aidan Turner, Hugo Weaving and Elijah Wood.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is directed by Peter Jackson from a screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro and Jackson. Jackson is also producing the film, together with Fran Walsh and Carolynne Cunningham. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Ken Kamins, Toby Emmerich and Zane Weiner, with Boyens serving as co-producer.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is a production of New Line Cinema and MGM, with New Line managing production. Warner Bros Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories, as well as all international television licensing being handled by MGM. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will be released on December 14, 2012, and the second film, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” opens on December 13, 2013. Both films will be released in 3D and 2D in select theatres and IMAX.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Transporter: Best Chuck Norris Movie Ever

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 229 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Transporter (2002)
Running time: 92 minutes (1 hour, 32 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violent sequences and some sensuality
DIRECTORS: Louis Leterrier with Corey Yuen
WRITERS: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
PRODUCERS: Steve Chasman and Luc Besson
EDITOR: Nicolas Trembasiewicz

ACTION/THRILLER/CRIME with elements of martial arts and drama

Starring: Jason Statham, Qi Shu, Matt Schulze, François Berléand, and Ric Young

The subject of this movie review is The Transporter, a 2002 French action film from writer/producer Luc Besson. The film is the first in a series starring Jason Statham as a driver-for-hire who will deliver anything, anywhere with no questions asked.

Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is a “transporter,” a man who makes deliveries in his 7-series BMW, moving either people or packages from one place to another, no questions asked. A serious of unfortunate events begins for Frank when he opens a “package” and discovers that it contains human cargo: a young Asian woman, bound and gagged. He falls for the young woman named Lai (Qi Shu) and decides to help her after she throws some lovin’ on him, but it sends him against a seemingly endless number of men who want to kill him.

The Transporter is the kind of big, splashy, American-style action movie that French filmmaker Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) loves to make, either as writer, producer, and/or director. The Transporter is big, dumb, highly entertaining and lots of fun, based entirely on the lead Jason Statham’s tough guy persona and also on several high-octane, chop-socky-on-steroids-fight sequences. After watching about half of it, I realized that The Transporter is the best Bruce Lee movie made since Lee’s untimely demise. Since the star Statham is white, that would make this the best Chuck Norris movie ever, since Norris was a clunky white version of Bruce Lee. So if you like Norris and lots of man-to-man fisticuffs, The Transporter is a hot one.

7 of 10

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

LEGO 3D Animated Feature Film Set for February 2014

LEGO® Film Set for Theatrical Debut February 28, 2014

Warner Bros. Pictures Brings the LEGO Brand to the Big Screen for the First Time in an Original 3D Animated Feature

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The first-ever full length, theatrical LEGO® movie will open nationwide on February 28, 2014, it was announced today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Currently in production, the 3D computer animated adventure will be directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller from their original screenplay, story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, based on LEGO Construction Toys. It will incorporate some of the LEGO world’s most popular figures while introducing several new characters, inviting fans who have enjoyed the brand’s innovative toys and hugely popular video games for generations to experience their visually unique LEGO world as never seen before.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller previously teamed on the hit “21 Jump Street” and the 2009 animated comedy adventure “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

The film will be produced by Dan Lin (“Sherlock Holmes,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”) and Roy Lee (“The Departed,” “How to Train Your Dragon”).

LEGO, its logo, brick & knob configuration and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2012 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.

Review: "Down with Love" With is a Showcase for Costume Design (Happy B'day, Renee Zellweger)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 39 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Down with Love (2003)
Running time: 101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual humor and dialogue
DIRECTOR: Peyton Reed
WRITERS: Eve Ahlert and Dennis Drake
PRODUCERS: Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks
EDITOR: Larry Bock


Starring: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Sarah Paulson, David Hyde Pierce, Rachel Dratch, Jack Plotnick, Tony Randall, and Jeri Ryan

The subject of this movie review is Down with Love, a 2003 romantic comedy. Directed by Peyton Reed, it is a pastiche of early 1960s sex comedies.

The Renée Zellweger-Ewan McGregor comedy, Down with Love, was apparently an attempt to recreate the Doris Day-Rock Hudson film Pillow Talk in both appearance and mood. Down with Love also tries to capture the time period of similar comedies from the 1950’s and 1960’s, like the 1964 Natalie Wood movie, Sex and the Single Girl, from which Down with Love borrows the plot device of a heroine writing a best selling book. The film does want to be something from the past, but it is more retro than accurate. The anachronisms may be deliberate, but that makes the film a strange hybrid of being both historical fiction and a naïve nostalgic revival. It’s so peculiar that the best I can do is say that I found it mildly entertaining and pleasant with its wall to wall tongue-in-cheek humor, but I can’t say any reader of this review will like it, although the film clearly had admirers including several print, television, and online reviewers.

Barbara Novak (Ms. Zellweger) writes a best-selling book, Down with Love, that leads a lot of women to start looking at love, relationships, and sex the way men do. Barbara earns the ire of dashing playboy journalist, Catcher Block (McGregor). A womanizer who is described as a “man’s man, ladies’ man, man about town,” Block targets Barbara for a takedown. He adopts the guise of an innocent Southern gentleman and astronaut and courts Barbara in an attempt to make her do just what her book says women should not do, fall in love with a man, but will Catcher fall in love with Barbara?

Down with Love is coy and filled with sexual innuendo. The innuendo is good for some laughs, but the coyness ultimately hurts the film. In the final analysis the films seems to encourage marriage, while also suggesting that a woman assume some feminist position of power. Chase a man, then run away from the man when you realize that you’ve mistakenly fallen in love with him. Make him beg to respect you, play hard to get, then give in – I don’t know what’s going on here. However, Down with Love certainly looks like the few romantic comedies from the 1950’s and 60’s I’ve seen. The art direction resulted in some truly beautiful sets and the cinematography is both of a fine quality and convincingly looks like the time period it attempts to mimic.

Ms. Zellweger and McGregor are charming, but are more or less on automatic, relying on star power, their good looks and reputations rather than on acting chops. The actual standout performer in Down with Love is the costume designer Daniel Orlandi and his crew. Every costume (from head to toe) was custom made for each character. So I’ll recommend this film for fans of the lead performers and romantic/comedies, especially of those from the 1950’s and 60’s.

5 of 10


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jackie Robinson Movie, "42" Begins Shooting in May; Stars Harrison Ford

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Put “42” on Deck for April 12, 2013

Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman star in the Jackie Robinson story under the direction of Brian Helgeland

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures are teaming up with director Brian Helgeland for “42,” the story of baseball great Jackie Robinson. Slated for release on April 12, 2013, the film will open in time to commemorate the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson Day—April 15, the date of his first game as a Brooklyn Dodger—and on the heels of the opening of the 2013 Major League Baseball season. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President, Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

“42” will star Academy Award® nominee Harrison Ford (“What Lies Beneath,” “Air Force One,” “Witness”) as the innovative Dodger’s general manager Branch Rickey, the MLB executive who first signed Robinson to the minors and then helped to bring him up to the show, and Chadwick Boseman (“The Express”) as Robinson, the heroic African American who was the first man to break the color line in the big leagues. The film also stars Nicole Beharie (“Shame”) as Rachel Isum, who would become Robinson’s wife, as well as Christopher Meloni (upcoming “Man of Steel”) and T.R. Knight (TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”).

“42” is set to start production on May 14 in Birmingham, Alabama, with additional locations to include Macon and Atlanta, Georgia, and Chattanooga Tennessee, where the production will mount much of the film’s baseball action at Engel Stadium, double for Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field.

Academy Award® winner Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) will direct from his own screenplay. Thomas Tull will produce, with Dick Cook, Jon Jashni, and Jason Clark executive producing. Oscar® nominee Don Burgess (“Forrest Gump”) is the director of photography, Richard Hoover (HBO’s “Temple Grandin”) is production designer, and Caroline Harris (“A Knight’s Tale”) is the costume designer.

Review: "The Honeymooners" is Sweet and Charming (Happy B'day, Cedric the Entertainer)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 93 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Honeymooners (2005)
Running time: 90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some innuendo and rude humor
DIRECTOR: John Schultz
WRITERS: Danny Jacobson and David Sheffield & Barry W. Blaustein and Don Rhymer (based on characters from the CBS television series)
PRODUCERS: David T. Friendly, Marc Turtletaub, Eric C. Rhone, and Julie Durk
EDITOR: John Pace


Starring: Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, Gabrielle Union, Regina Hall, Eric Stoltz, John Leguizamo, Jon Polito, Carol Woods, Ajay Naidu, and Alice Drummond

The subject of this movie review is The Honeymooners. This 2005 family comedy takes the classic television series, The Honeymooners, and transforms the characters into African-Americans, while also setting the story in the 21st Century.

Ralph Kramden (Cedric the Entertainer) is a dreamer. By day, he is a New York city bus driver. During his off-hours, he is an inventor, an entrepreneur, and an innovator who is always one get-rich-quick scheme away from instant wealth, and he has a closet full of failed products to prove it. Most of the time, Ralph’s best friend and upstairs neighbor, Ed Norton (Mike Epps), is along for the ride. Ralph’s wife, Alice (Gabrielle Union), has been putting up with it for years, but now she has had enough. Alice has her sights on a practical dream, the American dream; she and Ed’s wife, Trixie (Regina Hall), want to buy a duplex fixer-upper house that the two couples could share and build into their dream home. However, Ralph’s latest half-baked project turns out to be really half-baked, and he spent his and Alice’s savings on it. Now, he needs Ed’s help on another big money plan if he’s going to replenish their savings before Alice leaves him.

Other than the character names, a few domestic and job facts, and the title, the film The Honeymooners bares little resemblance to the CBS television series of the 1950’s that many consider classic TV and an important program in television history. The four lead characters that were white in the original are now black, which should set some tongues to wagging. All that doesn’t, in the end, matter when it comes to the issue at hand, and that’s the current film. Is The Honeymooners a good film, and how good is it?

The Honeymooners, like a lot of Hollywood film product for so many years now, is cursed with a limp script and an unimaginative director. The concept: Ralph’s latest get-rich-quick plan backfires and not only costs him money, but might cost him his marriage, was a stable of the original TV program. Apparently that concept worked great for a half-hour TV show (about 22 minutes of actual show and the rest commercials), but stretched to a 90 minute feature-length film, it doesn’t fly… or at least not long enough. The director moves The Honeymooners at a plodding pace, almost as if he were following the recipe to make bland-tasting baked goods. The script contains not a sparkle of wit or imagination, and the romance and love between husband and wife are woefully hollow notes.

The weak film structure forces the burden to entertain the audience upon the backs of the cast. Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps are up to the challenge; in fact, they add a lot of their own construction work to this shell of a film and make it worth seeing. A lot of the humor in Cedric’s comedic style comes from his expressive face and watching how he reacts in certain situations and to particular incidents. Epps is the perfect sidekick, a combination clown and straight man, he can do the silly stuff, or he can be the guy who balances the hijinks of the class clown. Sadly, the talented Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall (who adds meat to the comic routine she used in the Scary Movie franchise) have to fight for what little screen time they have. The limp script spends so much time anally fixated on Ralph’s next-great idea that it ignores half of what made the Ralph Kramden/Ed Norton act work – the wives.

John Leguizamo also does an edgy and hilarious turn as a jack-of-all-scams dog trainer that should remind a lot of people not only how funny this fine comedian is, but what a good actor he is. Cedric, Epps, and Leguizamo make a dynamic comic trio. Ultimately, the cast is funny enough and surprisingly charming enough on the strength of performances to make The Honeymooners worth watching, even though it’s not worth a trip to the theatre.

5 of 10


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: Yes, "Pink Flamingos" is Culturally Significant (Happy B'day, John Waters)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 154 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

John Water’s Pink Flamingos (1972)
Running time: 93 minutes (1 hour, 33 minutes)
MPAA – NC-17 for a wide range of perversions in explicit detail (re-rating for 1997 re-release)


Starring: Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Danny Mills, Edith Massey, Channing Wilroy, Cookie Mueller, Paul Swift, Susan Walsh, and Linda Olgierson

Pink Flamingos is a 1972 black comedy and exploitation film from director John Waters. Controversial upon its initial release, because of its depiction of perverse acts, Pink Flamingos went on to become a cult film because of its notoriety. The film follows a notorious female criminal and underground figure who resists attempts to both humiliate her and to steal her tabloid reputation.

Divine (Divine) lives on the outskirts of Baltimore in a trailer with her degenerate son, Crackers (Danny Mills), her dim-bulb mother, Edie (Edith Massey), and her “traveling companion,” Cotton (Mary Vivian Pearce). She lives under the pseudonym Babs Johnson, and in local outsider community and to its news press is known as the “Filthiest Person Alive.” However, local couple, Connie (Mink Stole) and Raymond Marble (David Lochary), also vies for that title. The vile Marble clan launches an unbridled assault on Babs Johnson’s reputation and on her home. But Babs and her family fight back in a small war that breaks just about every taboo in the book: incest, drug trafficking, bestiality, castration, murder, cannibalism, etc.

It seems impossible that (regardless of what other films he has directed in the past or may direct in the future) John Waters will be best remembered for any film other than Pink Flamingos. Cheaply made with a cast of amateur actors and locals from the Baltimore area (from where Waters originates), this is the kind of film that would normally merit a review of “no stars” or a grade of “F,” simply because it isn’t like a “normal” film (at least not one from Hollywood). However, Pink Flamingos may be the ultimate low budget trash movie, the ultimate camp experience, and a supreme ode to bad taste. Fun, vile, and also disgusting to the point that many people might turn off the TV early in the film (or walk out the theatre), Pink Flamingos is an object – a piece of art by someone who wants to put his thumb in the eye of American values. It doesn’t matter if its working class, middle class, church-going, God-fearing, or baseball-mom-and-apple pie American values, John Water made Pink Flamingos an assault on decency.

New Line Cinema, the film company that distributed the movie in 1972, released a trailer for Pink Flamingos that did not include scenes from the film, so in that vein, I won’t give away more about the movie. I will say that no serious fan of movies can go without seeing it.

8 of 10

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


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Kevin Hart Shameless in Shameless "Soul Plane"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 85 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Soul Plane (2004)
Running time: 86 minutes (1 hour, 26 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong sexual content, language and some drug use
DIRECTOR: Jessy Terrero
WRITERS: Bo Zenga and Chuck Wilson
PRODUCERS: David Scott Rubin and Jessy Terrero
EDITOR: Michael R. Miller
COMPOSERS: Christopher Lennertz and RZA


Starring: Tom Arnold, Kevin Hart, Method Man, Snoop Dogg, K.D. Aubert, Godfrey, Brian Hooks, D.L. Hughley, Arielle Kebbel, Mo’Nique, Ryan Pinkston, Missi Pyle, Sofia Vergara, Gary Anthony Williams, Karl Malone, Li’l John, and John Witherspoon

The subject of this movie review is Soul Plane, a 2004 jiggaboo comedy. Kevin Hart stars as a young man who starts his own Black-centric airline, and the story focuses on the maiden voyage of the sole plane in his non-existent fleet.

That white writers (usually from upper middle class backgrounds) wrote sketch comedy making fun of black culture used to piss me off. Why the hell couldn’t Hollywood just hire black writers, I rhetorically asked, to write about blacks since white film and TV executives felt that only whites could write about whites. Well, if the best that black writers and filmmakers can do is Soul Plane, never let a nigga touch another sheet of paper.

When Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart) wins a $100 million settlement for negligence from an airline, he decides to start his own airline: NWA. Lest you confuse yourself, this NWA is not that N.W.A.; for the sake of this movie the acronym stands for “Nashawn Wade Airline.” In flight meals can be anything from Cristal and filet mignon to Colt .45 and Popeye’s fried chicken. The airline’s one plane is purple and rolls on dubs, and the stewardesses are big booty ho’s in Daisy Dukes. When his cousin (badly played by rapper Method Man) hires an ex-con (Snoop Dogg) to fly the plane, you know there’s going to be trouble and hilarity ensues.

Soul Plane is a poorly made collection of stereotypes, blaxtiploitation, riffs on hip hop culture, deplorable acting, and feeble musical tracks. Except for a few moments, the film is painfully unfunny. In fact, 9.5 of every ten minutes of this film is not funny, although the few good scenes are both shocking, painfully embarrassing, and outrageously hilarious – kind of like Scary Movie 3, but with way fewer yucks. Frankly, it’s more saddening than bad.

The cast is either extraordinarily untalented or just misused. Kevin Hart is a Sambo version of Chris Tucker, and his performance is like a frantic and desperate crackhead trying to be funny. Mo’Nique isn’t in the movie enough, and Tom Arnold (practically the lone salvation of this film) may have his name at the front of the credits, but this is (quite unfortunately) not his film.

1 of 10

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Animated "Wonder Woman" Thunders

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 30 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Wonder Woman (2009) – straight-to-video
Running minutes: 74 minutes (1 hour, 14 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence throughout and some suggestive material
DIRECTOR: Lauren Montgomery
WRITERS: Michael Jelenic; from a story by Michael Jelenic and Gail Simone (based on characters created by William M. Marston)
PRODUCER: Bruce W. Timm
EDITOR: Rob Desales
COMPOSER: Christopher Drake
ANIMATION STUDIO: Moi Animation Studio


Starring: (voices) Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, Virginia Madsen, Vicki Lewis, Marg Helgenberger, Oliver Platt, and Skye Arens

Wonder Woman is a 2009 direct-to-video superhero animated film from Warner Bros. Animation. Starring DC Comics character, Wonder Woman, this is also the fourth feature in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. The movie pits the most famous comic book super-heroine, Wonder Woman, against Ares, and is loosely based upon the stories by acclaimed comic book writer/artist, George Perez.

Wonder Woman begins during an epic battle between the proud and fierce race of warrior women, the Amazons, and the forces of Ares (Alfred Molina), the Greek god of war. After Amazon Queen Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) defeats Ares, the gods force a peace. The Amazons are granted an island, Themyscira, where they can be eternally youthful and isolated from men, but Ares will also be imprisoned on the island.

Over a 1000 years later, United States Air Force pilot, Colonel Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion) crashes on Themyscira. Modern man’s trespass of the island also leads to events that enable the imprisoned Ares to escape with the help of an Amazon who betrays her sisters. Princess Diana (Keri Russell), daughter of Hippolyta, wins the right to return Trevor to his world and to also recapture Ares. However, Ares plans to not only regain his former powers, but also to bring total war to Earth. Will Princess Diana triumph and become Wonder Woman?

First, I must say that I am surprised at the amount of violence in Wonder Woman, and I’m not just talking about standard science fiction and fantasy violence. Although it is not explicitly depicted, murder and killing are prominent in the film from beginning to end. That doesn’t offend me, but does surprise me, and I thought that I should mention it.

Anyway, this is a terrific movie, and although I have many films to go in the series, I think this is the best of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies I’ve seen. The animation is good, but even better is the action. Wonder Woman’s action set pieces are like having the Lord of the Rings films and the 2007 hit, 300, turned into animation for our viewing pleasure, and it’s pleasurable, indeed. The writing is solid, especially the character development, which emphasizes the relationship between Diana and Steve and also allows both characters to go on a journey of growth.

The voice acting is good; you know that voice acting is good when you see the animated character and voice actor as one. I know that not all DC Universe Animated Original Movies are going to be as good as Wonder Woman. How could they since Wonder Woman is so good.

9 of 10

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Review: "Ghost Protocol" the Best "Mission: Impossible" Since First M:I Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 29 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Running time: 133 minutes (2 hours, 13 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for scenes of intense action and violence
WRITERS: Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec (based upon the television series created by Bruce Geller)
PRODUCERS: Tom Cruise, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Elswit (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Paul Hirsch
COMPOSER: Michael Giacchino


Starring: Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Michael Nyqvist, Vladimir Mashkov, Samuli Edelmann, Ivan Shvedoff, Anil Kapoor, Léa Seydoux, Josh Holloway, Pavel Kriz, Miraj Grbic, and Ilia Volok, with Ving Rhames, Michelle Monaghan, and Tom Wilkinson

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a 2011 action thriller and espionage film directed by Brad Bird and starring Tom Cruise. It is the fourth film in the Mission: Impossible film franchise, which is based on the U.S. television series, Mission: Impossible, created by Bruce Geller and aired on CBS from 1966 to 1973 (and revived on ABC from 1988-90).

Ghost Protocol finds the Impossible Mission Force (IMF) accused of a terrorist act and its agents forced to go rogue to clear the organization’s name. Stylish, humorous, and fast-paced, Ghost Protocol is the best Mission: Impossible movie since the 1996 original.

Super spy/secret agent and IMF team leader, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is locked in a Moscow prison. IMF sends agents from another team, Jane Carter (Paula Patton) and Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), to extract him. Hunt is then assigned to lead Carter and Dunn on a mission to infiltrate the Moscow Kremlin archives in order to learn the identity of Cobalt, a terrorist determined to start worldwide nuclear war. When the Kremlin is bombed, however, IMF is blamed, and the Russians call the attack an undeclared act of war.

The President of the United States activates “Ghost Protocol,” which effectively disavows IMF and disbands it. The IMF Secretary (Tom Wilkinson) allows Hunt and his team to escape government custody so that they can track down Cobalt. The Secretary’s chief analyst, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), who doesn’t seem to fit with the team, joins the mission. Without the vast resources of IMF, Ethan Hunt and his team are on their own as they try to stop Cobalt and restore IMF.

Simply put, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a terrific thriller. The filmmakers filled it with giant, action set pieces, which grabbed my attention and turned me into a pliant zombie. Despite the fact that many of these action scenes are just plain ludicrous, they are entertaining and thrilling. I used the rewind button to watch some of them a few more times. Perhaps, this movie thrives on the magic of Brad Bird, the Oscar-winning genius behind such Pixar Animation classics as The Incredibles and Ratatouille. Ghost Protocol certainly isn’t anywhere near reality, but Bird will not only make you suspend disbelief, but also hang it high just so that you can really enjoy this flick without thinking about all the ways it doesn’t make sense.

The cast is good, and Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner’s characters have more to do than the supporting characters in the earlier Mission: Impossible films. Still, as ever, this is a Tom Cruise movie, so the big scenes, especially the fantastical action set pieces focus on Cruise’s Ethan Hunt. Cruise’s Mission: Impossible movies are not like the TV series, which was an ensemble espionage drama. If you find Ethan Hunt as annoying as other characters Cruise has played, you may not like this or like it as much as I do.

But I can’t complain. For 15 years, Cruise has delivered the crackerjack action movie that I expected each time I sat down to watch a Mission: Impossible installment. Cruise’s high-wire act over the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai is just one of the improbable parts that make Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol a thrilling thriller.

8 of 10

Thursday, April 19, 2012


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Televsion Pioneer Dick Clark Dies at 82

Dick Clark, who was best known for hosting the long-running, classical musical variety show, "American Bandstand" and "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," died yesterday, Wednesday, April 18, 2012, in Los Angeles, reportedly after suffering a massive heart attack.  He was 82 years old.  This IMDb news item has the details about Clark's life (such as that he had one older brother who was killed during World War II).

My mother was a huge fan of Bandstand when she was a teenager.  Before her family had a TV set at home, she would go to her cousin's house to watch.  She told me that she would be stomping through the living room, as she danced to the music.  As I child, I made a point to watch the show every Saturday morning.  I remember seeing Prince, who made his television debut on Bandstand.

Thanks for the memories and rest in peace, Mr. Clark.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" Gets Soundtrack Release on May 8th

Danny Elfman’s Dark Shadows Original Score to Be Released May 8

Film Marks 14th Collaboration Between Composer Danny Elfman And Director Tim Burton

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--WaterTower Music will release Dark Shadows – Original Score digitally and in stores on May 8, 2012. The album features original music by Grammy Award-winning and four-time Oscar®-nominated composer Danny Elfman, which is featured in director Tim Burton’s new gothic comedy Dark Shadows.

For more than 25 years, Burton and Elfman have collaborated on some of the cinema’s most beloved and recognizable films and soundtracks, including Big Fish, for which Elfman received an Oscar® nomination; Beetlejuice; Batman; Edward Scissorhands; Sleepy Hollow; Corpse Bride; and, more recently, Alice in Wonderland.

“Tim had some specific ideas about the music on Dark Shadows,” says Elfman. “I knew that the bigger dramatic scenes would be played in a rather grand theatrical manner, but the real treat was tapping into the retro pallet Tim had imagined. He wanted something that payed homage to both the original TV series and other '70s horror genres as well. For that we kept it minimal, eerie, and atmospheric with only electronics and a few solo instruments carrying the melodies.”

Elfman has also received Oscar® nominations for his scores for Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black, and Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting and Milk. Movie audiences worldwide have also heard Danny Elfman’s unique sound and style in some 80 film scores, including Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man; Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible; Martin Brest’s Midnight Run; Jon Amiel’s Sommersby; the Hughes Brothers’ Dead Presidents; Rob Marshall’s Academy® Award-winning Chicago; and Shawn Levy’s Real Steel.

In the year 1750, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet—or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin and the dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets.

Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, presents an Infinitum Nihil/GK Films/Zanuck Company production, a Tim Burton Film Dark Shadows in theaters and IMAX on May 11, 2012. “Dark Shadows” stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote and Gully McGrath.

The Dark Shadows -- Original Score on WaterTower Music will be available digitally and in stores on May 8, 2012; and on the same date, WaterTower Music will also be releasing the Dark Shadows –Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, containing eleven songs from the film.

Film Critic Wesley Morris Wins Pulitzer Prize

Boston Globe's Wesley Morris Wins Pulitzer for Criticism

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his expansive and energetic work covering the world of film.

Morris’ work spans from the humorous to the serious, with reviews of films such as “Scream 4” and “The Help,” complemented by an appreciation of Apple CEO Steve Jobs and director Sidney Lumet, along with an essay on how a movie about car thieves, “The Fast and the Furious,” became a progressive force in American cinema. He artfully shares his movie experiences with readers in a unique and powerful way.

Of today's prize, Globe editor Martin Baron said, “Wesley’s writing can be playful, and it can be explosive. Always, there’s a boiling energy, informed by seemingly boundless knowledge. In one review after the next he helps us see the world in ways that might not come naturally. All of us at the Globe are immensely proud that Wesley has received our profession’s highest honor.”

This award marks the Globe's twenty-second (22) Pulitzer. In recent years, the Pulitzer Prizes awarded to the Globe include the Criticism Award, given to art critic Sebastian Smee in 2011 for his vibrant writing about art, and in 2005 the Explanatory Reporting Award, given to science reporter Gareth Cook for his coverage of the issues surrounding stem cell research, and the Public Service Award in 2003, for the Globe Spotlight Team's investigative reporting on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

The Globe has now won the Criticism category three (3) times in the last five (5) years. In addition to Smee and Morris, Mark Feeney won in the Criticism category in 2008 for his photography reviews.

Speaking today from The Boston Globe about his Pulitzer, Morris described his work. “Movies are visual, aural, they involve people, and life, and ideas and art, they are so elastic. They can hold anything, withstand everything, and make you feel anything. Other arts can do that, but movies are the only ones that can incorporate other media into cinema.”

Wesley Morris, a native of Philadelphia, is a film critic at the Boston Globe. Prior to that, he wrote film reviews and essays for the San Francisco Examiner, and later the San Francisco Chronicle. He is also a contributor to the ESPN-owned national sports website Grantland. Morris is a graduate of Yale University.

“This recognition for Wesley underscores the remarkable work our journalists are doing every day in our community,” said Christopher M. Mayer, publisher of The Boston Globe. “Wesley's distinctive voice and astute observations have been engaging Globe readers for years. His winning a Pulitzer Prize is a terrific honor that is a testament to the quality of his work.”

The award was one of thirteen (13) Pulitzers in journalism announced today. The New York Times was awarded a Pulitzer for Explanatory Reporting and International Reporting.

About The Boston Globe
The Boston Globe is wholly owned by the New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), a leading, global multimedia news and information company with 2011 revenues of $2.3 billion, that includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe,,,, and related properties. The Company's core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: "Sunset Boulevard" is a Hollywood Classic (Happy B'day, William Holden)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 80 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Sunset Blvd. (1950) – Black & White
Running time: 110 minutes (1 hour, 50 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Billy Wilder
WRITERS: Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman, Jr., and Billy Wilder
PRODUCER: Charles Brackett
EDITOR: Arthur Schmidt
COMPOSER: Franz Waxman
Academy Award winner


Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim, Nancy Olson, Fred Clark, Lloyd Gough, Jack Webb, and Cecil B. DeMille

The subject of this movie review is Sunset Boulevard, the 1950 Film-Noir from director Billy Wilder. The film follows an unsuccessful screenwriter drawn into the fantasy world of a faded silent movie star who dreams of a big screen comeback. Sunset Boulevard, named for the boulevard that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, California, is widely accepted as one of the greatest films of American cinema.

Joe Gillis (William Holden) was a struggling, journeyman screenwriter in late 1940’s Hollywood. Recently deceased, he begins to narrate the final months of his life. He only has a few films to his credit – B-movies, and he’s a few months behind on both his rent and car payment; in fact, two repo men are tracking him to take his car. Chance takes him into the driveway of a humongous old mansion (an actual mansion once owned by Jean Paul Getty) built at the height of the silent film era.

There, he meets the owner, faded silent film star, Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson). After a bit of a rocky start to their relationship, Norma hires Joe to help edit a long script she has penned for what she firmly believes will be her comeback film, a movie directed by her old collaborator, director Cecil B. DeMille (playing himself). As the work progresses, however, Norma draws ever so closer to Joe and becomes more dependent on him for support during this trying (for her) time, but her neediness and passionate obsession engulfs him in its fiery throes.

Sunset Blvd. or Sunset Boulevard is famed writer/director Billy Wilder’s ode to the decadence of old, old, Hollywood – the silent film era, and it is am unblinking look at the people on the periphery of Hollywood filmmaking – journeyman (or hack) writers, assistant directors, script readers, and other second and third string behind-the-camera people and studio foot soldiers. Not many individual elements of this film can be called great, with the exception of Holden’s narration, his screen performance, and the film’s art direction and set decoration. The screenplay also daringly tackled the less glamorous side of filmmaking from various angles, and that was groundbreaking.

The magic in Sunset Blvd. is how everything comes together. William Holden’s narration combined with John Seitz’s sultry black and white photography create a film-noir edge that is riveting and engages the audience like a championship wrestler. Billy Wilder’s patient direction seems to slowly gather up all the ingredients, allowing them to blend into a haunting tale of obsession and the ravenous hunger to regain what was lost.

Gloria Swanson’s performance strikes the right note, for the most part, but the performance often seems like it’s too much, annoying even. The truth of the matter is that Ms. Swanson is all surface, and she never gets to the bottom or to the meat of the character; there is no real history or reason why behind her. Gloria Swanson becomes more hysterical as the film advances toward the conclusion; Norman Desmond becomes more pathetic than sympathetic, and that hurts the storytelling. As good as the film is and as good as things come together progressively, about three-quarters of the last hour are redundant.

William Holden’s Joe Gillis, on the other hand, is a great character. Holden creates a man who has no pretensions and has accepted the idea that he’s a hack. He can deal with being a failure without falling apart or feeling like a failure. He’s an extraordinary ordinary Joe. While it’s true that Gillis and Desmond know they need each other, but are either too caught up in himself (or herself) or are blind except for his or her own need, Gillis is a reasonable voice to tell this peculiar story. There is something that keeps me coming back to this near perfect gem, and I think it is Holden. He embodies the thing this film is trying to be (about unrequited want), and his achievement is what we call movie magic.

9 of 10

1951 Academy Awards: 3 wins: “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White” (Hans Dreier, John Meehan, Sam Comer, and Ray Moyer), “Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture” (Franz Waxman), and “Best Writing, Story and Screenplay” (Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D.M. Marshman Jr.); 8 nominations: “Best Picture” ((Paramount), “Best Director” (Billy Wilder), “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (William Holden), “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Erich von Stroheim), “Best Actress in a Leading Role” (Gloria Swanson), “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” (Nancy Olson), “Best Cinematography, Black-and-White” (John F. Seitz), and “Best Film Editing” (Arthur P. Schmidt and Doane Harrison)

1951 Golden Globes: 4 wins: “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Motion Picture Actress – Drama” (Gloria Swanson), “Best Motion Picture Director” (Billy Wilder), and “Best Motion Picture Score” (Franz Waxman); 3 nominations: “Best Cinematography - Black and White” (John F. Seitz), “Best Screenplay” (Charles Brackett, D.M. Marshman Jr., and Billy Wilder), and “Best Supporting Actor” (Erich von Stroheim)

1989 National Film Preservation Board, USA: “National Film Registry”

May 23, 2005


Monday, April 16, 2012

"Iron Man 3" Goes to China

Marvel’s IRON MAN 3 to Be Co-Produced in China

The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment to Bring Super Hero to China

SHANGHAI & BEIJING & LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Walt Disney Company China, Marvel Studios and DMG Entertainment today announced the intention to co-produce IRON MAN 3 in China. Under the arrangement, DMG Entertainment will make an investment in the production of IRON MAN 3, manage the Chinese co-production process, and jointly produce the film in China. The Chinese portion of IRON MAN 3’s production will run through DMG Entertainment in coordination with Marvel Studios’ production and creative teams. DMG will also distribute IRON MAN 3 in China in collaboration with The Walt Disney Company China.

IRON MAN 3 will be the third movie in the billion-dollar plus franchise from Marvel and stars a returning cast including Robert Downey Jr. (as billionaire inventor Tony Stark) Gwyneth Paltrow (as Pepper Potts) and Don Cheadle (as James “Rhodey” Rhodes). IRON MAN 3 is produced by Kevin Feige and executive produced by Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Louis D'Esposito, Charles Newirth, Victoria Alonso, Stephen Broussard and Dan Mintz. The film is being directed by Shane Black who is working on the script with Drew Pearce. The film releases in the United States on May 3, 2013, and is being distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in all territories worldwide other than in China (which is being distributed by DMG Entertainment) and Germany/Austria (which is being distributed by the Tele München Group).

“The popularity of the Marvel franchise globally creates a huge opportunity to deliver fans yet another action packed film,” said Stanley Cheung, Managing Director, The Walt Disney Company, Greater China. “The co-production of IRON MAN 3 in China is testimony to the importance of this audience to Disney and the local industry capability to deliver a blockbuster title,” he added.

“We look forward to working alongside DMG to bring IRON MAN to the Chinese marketplace in a significant way. We are confident that Marvel’s stories will continue to be enjoyed by Chinese audiences, and adding a local flavor, and working with our new local partner, will enhance the appeal and relevance of our characters in China’s fast-growing film marketplace,” said Rob Steffens, General Manager of Operations and Finance for Marvel Studios.

“Our collaboration with Disney and Marvel marks a milestone in the global entertainment landscape, as this signifies the first multi-billion dollar franchise to be produced between Hollywood and China,” said Dan Mintz, CEO of DMG Entertainment. “The IRON MAN franchise has been a major success worldwide, and we look forward to pushing the series to new heights with IRON MAN 3. The movie will further build upon its compelling storyline, and feature the hottest A-list stars, and spectacular action, which will resonate well both globally and in China, the second largest box office market in the world.”

The first installment of IRON MAN lifted off with high-speed, high-flying action when jet-setting industrialist Tony Stark survives an unexpected attack and escapes by building a high-tech robotic suit of armor. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man. Straight from the pages of the legendary comic book, Iron Man is a hero who is built—not born—to be unlike any other and made US$581 million at the global box office when released in 2008. Based on Marvel's iconic Super Hero, IRON MAN 2 continued the story of the 2008 summer box office blockbuster IRON MAN, and made US$624 million at the global box office when released in 2010. Now, IRON MAN 3 continues the story with a new chapter that will deliver more heart-pounding action than ever before. Marvel Studios’ IRON MAN 3 will find Tony Stark with his back against the wall, facing his most fearsome foes yet.

Shooting is expected to commence in May in the United States and begin location filming in China in late summer 2012.

About The Walt Disney Company in China
The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified international family entertainment enterprise with five business segments and is a Dow 30 company with revenues of $41 billion in its most recently reported fiscal year. Disney's first animation screened in China in the 1930s and today our long association continues with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with over 1000 employees. The Company has a broad range of businesses including publishing, broadcast, mobile, web, retail and its English language program, Disney English, which launched in 2008. Nearly 24 hours of Disney television programming is now available in China every week, reaching 300-360 million people each month. In September 2005, Disney opened its doors to its first theme park in China, Hong Kong Disneyland and in 2011 announced ground breaking for the Shanghai Disneyland Resort, a joint venture with Shanghai Shendi Group.

About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit Super Hero(es) is a co-owned registered trademark.

About DMG Entertainment
Founded in China in 1993, DMG owns and operates a premier entertainment company (DMG Entertainment), and an award-winning communications agency (DMG Media), possessing nearly 20 years of experience. DMG Entertainment is a leader in China’s film market through the production of a diverse portfolio of commercially driven films, including 2009’s The Founding of a Republic, 2010’s Go Lala Go!, and 2011’s Beginning of the Great Revival, as well as through the distribution of Hollywood titles such as Twilight, Knowing, Killers, Resident Evil: Afterlife, RED, The Eagle, and Priest. DMG Entertainment has also produced Hollywood/China films including Looper set for release in 2012. DMG Media has provided strategic and creative campaigns for international brands looking to connect with Chinese consumers through DMG’s all-encompassing platform.

"The Invincible Iron Man" Kind of Clunky

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 41 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Invincible Iron Man (2007) – DVD
Running time: 83 minutes (1 hour, 23 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for action violence and some sensuality
DIRECTORS: Patrick Archibald and Jay Oliva with Frank D. Paur (supervising director)
WRITER: Greg Johnson; from a screen story by Avi Arad, Craig Kyle, and Greg Johnson
PRODUCER: Frank D. Paur
EDITOR: George Rizkallah


Starring: (voices) Marc Worden, Gwendoline Yeo, Rodney Saulsberry, Elisa Gabrielli, John McCook, James Sie, and Fred Tatasciore

The Invincible Iron Man is a 2007 straight-to-DVD animated film starring Marvel Comics’ superhero, Iron Man. It is the third movie in the Marvel Animated Features line. This was a series of eight animated feature films produced by MLG Productions, a joint venture between Marvel Entertainment and Lionsgate. The Invincible Iron Man is a retelling of Iron Man’s origin story.

Billionaire industrialist, inventor, and playboy Tony Stark (Marc Worden) unearths an ancient Chinese ruin and digs up more than he bargained for when he awakens the Mandarin (Fred Tatasciore), an evil entity buried for centuries in the ruined palace. The Chinese government also blames Stark for providing weapons to the Jade Dragons, a terrorist group bent on keeping the ruins beneath the earth and the Mandarin from rising again. A Jade Dragon, Li Mei (Gwendoline Yeo), is sympathetic towards Tony.

Meanwhile, Tony’s father, Howard Stark (John McCook), has taken steps to remove his son from the family business. Finding himself buried in trouble, Stark turns to his employees and friends, Rhodey (Rodney Saulsberry) and Pepper Potts (Elisa Gabrielli). However, it is his high-tech suit of armor that gives Stark the power to fight the Mandarin’s minions, the monstrous Elementals. With that suit, Iron Man is born.

The Invincible Iron Man is the third direct-to-DVD film from Marvel Entertainment and film company Lionsgate featuring characters from Marvel’s extensive library of comic book characters. Iron Man isn’t as good as the two earlier Ultimate Avengers films, which featured Iron Man as an Avenger. The animation in Iron Man is average at best, although the background art is quite beautiful. The animators used computer rendering to create the three suits of armor Iron Man actually wears in the film, and also to create the Elementals that IM battles and several moving vehicles.

The acting is so-so, with only Gwendoline Yeo as Li Mei distinguishing herself. The writing is pretty bad. In fact, there are several lapses in logic that exist merely to justify or to create certain conflicts. What saves this movie is its action-packed second half, which is one long run of fight scenes that prove that animation is the best medium for adapting comic books to motion pictures.

5 of 10

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"The Descendants" Ascends to the Top

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 28 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Descendants (2011)
Running time: 115 minutes (1 hour, 55 minutes)
MPAA – R for language including some sexual references
DIRECTOR: Alexander Payne
WRITERS: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash (based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings)
PRODUCERS: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phedon Papamichael
EDITOR: Kevin Tent
Academy Award winner


Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Beau Bridges, Matt Corboy, Robert Forster, Barbara L. Southern, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, and Scott Michael Morgan

The subject of this movie review is The Descendants, a 2011 family drama from director Alexander Payne. The film is set in Hawaii and is based upon the 2007 novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. The film, which is set in Hawaii, focuses on a man who tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident. By the time you read this review, dear reader, you will have heard that The Descendants is one of the best films of 2011. That’s for damn true.

Matthew “Matt” King (George Clooney) is a man with a lot on his mind. The Honolulu-based lawyer is the sole trustee of a family trust that controls 25,000 acres of untouched land on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i. At this time, King and his relatives must decide to whom they will sell the land, which has been in the family for 150 years and which they must sell because of a rule against perpetuities.

What else is on Matt’s mind? Recently, his wife, Elizabeth Thorson King (Patricia Hastie), was in a boating accident, and now she is in a coma. As he prepares to comply with his wife’s living will, Matt must deal with his taciturn father-in-law, Scott Thorson (Robert Forster). Most difficult is reconnecting with his two daughters, to whom he is not close. Alexandra “Alex” King (Shailene Woodley), at 17-years-old, seems to specialize in self-destructive behavior. Ten-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) shocks everyone with her brazenly inappropriate behavior. If that weren’t enough, Elizabeth had a lover, local real estate stud, Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard).

Director Alexander Payne, and his co-writers, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, won Oscar statuettes for The Descendants’ screenplay, but this film was certainly worthy of winning more Oscars back on February 26, 2012 during the 84th Academy Awards. It’s on my shortlist of films that can arguably be said to be the top one of 2011. I am not the biggest fan of Payne’s critically acclaimed films, Sideways (2004) and About Schmidt (2002), both of which featured dark humor, as they took a satirical view of Middle American life. Although I think both movies are good, I found significant things about them to be contrived, with characters that were more annoying (which I hate) than they were unlikable (which I can accept).

The Descendants is unfailingly human, especially compared to all the contrived dramas and fantastical special effects-laden films being released. Everything this film says about marriage, family discord, and friendship just feels so authentic, but Payne doesn’t turn this film dark and morbid. He handles this potent family drama with poignancy and splashes of humor that make the heartfelt substantive rather than manipulative.

The Descendants is a testament to the amazing things filmmakers and casts can do when they come together to tell a great story about characters with whom the audience members not only identify, but also recognize in the core of their souls. In fact, Payne gets great performances from his cast, and I can see why many thought Shailene Woodley as “Alex” should have received an Oscar nomination as best supporting actress. Truthfully, everyone in this cast deserves some kind of notice; each person makes his character seem real in the context of this larger circle of family and friends.

Yes, The Descendants is one of the year’s very best movies. It is the kind of drama that is hard to forget.

9 of 10

2012 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay” (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash); 4 nominations: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, and Jim Taylor), “Best Achievement in Directing” (Alexander Payne), “Best Achievement in Film Editing” (Kevin Tent), and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (George Clooney)

2012 BAFTA Awards: 3 nominations: “Best Film” (Alexander Payne, Jim Burke, and Jim Taylor), “Best Adapted Screenplay” (Jim Rash, Alexander Payne, and Nat Faxon), “Best Leading Actor” (George Clooney)

2012 Golden Globes: 2 wins: “Best Motion Picture – Drama” and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (George Clooney); 3 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Alexander Payne), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Shailene Woodley), and “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, and Alexander Payne)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"March of the Penguins" a Quality Family Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 148 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

La Marche de l’empereur (2005)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: France; Language: French

March of the Penguins (2005 ) – U.S. release
Running time: 84 minutes (1 hour, 24 minutes)
MPAA – G for General Audiences
DIRECTOR: Luc Jacquet
WRITER: Michel Fessler and Luc Jacquet, from a story by Luc Jacquet; Jordan Roberts (narration for American version)
PRODUCERS: Yves Darondeau, Christophe Lioud, and Emmanuel Priou
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Laurent Chalet and Jérôme Maison
EDITOR: Sabine Emilani
Academy Award winner


Starring: Morgan Freeman (narrator, U.S. version)

The subject of this movie review is La Marche de l’empereur, a 2005 nature documentary film from France. It was released in the United States as March of the Penguins, where it was a box office success and later won the Oscar for best documentary film.

In the Antarctic, the emperor penguins make an annual trek in order to return to their breeding grounds for mating season. Leaving their home, the ocean, in which they spend only a short time considering the time they devote to breeding, the emperor penguins must overcome daunting obstacles, and their trek calls to the mind of the viewer many of human experiences: birth and death, courtship and mating, comedy and drama, elation and heartbreak, and just fighting for survival. Morgan Freeman narrates the American version of La Marche de l’empereur, entitled March of the Penguins, one of the most popular documentaries in American box office history.

Viewers who like nature documentaries may like March of the Penguins. I don’t find it anymore compelling than the numerous episodes of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” (1963-88) that I watched on TV when I was a child. The one thing that makes it stand out from what’s available on PBS, the Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, etc., is the amazing cinematography (all those lovingly long shots of the cold, foreboding Antarctic icescape) and Alex Wurman’s haunting and captivating score done for the U.S. version (the original French film has a pop music score). Morgan Freeman’s voice makes for an irritating narration, but I didn’t like his short prologue and short epilogue for Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds either. Mostly, March of the Penguins is a mildly fascinating, but quality TV show masquerading as a film, so try it on home video and DVD.

6 of 10

Saturday, September 17, 2005

2006 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Documentary, Features” (Luc Jacquet and Yves Darondeau)

2006 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Cinematography” (Laurent Chalet and Jérôme Maison) and “Best Editing” (Sabine Emiliani)

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Stuck on You" Not a Typical Farrelly Brothers Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 76 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Stuck on You (2003)
Running time: 118 minutes (1 hour, 58 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, and some language
DIRECTOR: The Farrelly Brothers
WRITERS: Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly; from a story by Charles B. Wessler, Bennett Yellin, and the Farrelly Brothers
PRODUCERS: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Bradley Thomas, and Charles B. Wessler
EDITORS: Christopher Greenbury and Dave Terman
COMPOSER: Charlie Gartner

COMEDY with elements of drama

Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Eva Mendes, Cher, Seymour Cassel, Griffin Dunne, Wen Yann Shih, Jackie Flynn, Terence Bernie Hines, with Frankie Muniz, Jesse Ventura, and Meryl Streep

The subject of this review is Stuck on You, the 2003 comedy from brotherly filmmaking duo, Bobby and Peter Farrelly. The film follows the adventures of conjoined twin brothers who want to become professional actors.

In the Farrelly Bros.’ film, Stuck on You, Bob Tenor (Matt Damon) and his brother Walt (Greg Kinnear) are conjoined twins (also known as Siamese twins) living in Martha’s Vineyard and working at Bob restaurant, Quickie Burger. When Walt decides to pursue his acting career, Bob, of course, has to move to L.A. with Walt. The twins find fame and fortune when Cher (playing herself) picks the boys to be “co-stars” in a new TV show she’s obliged to do, hoping that the presence of the conjoined siblings will get the show cancelled. Of course, it doesn’t work, and the brothers become the program’s true stars. When Bob loses her girlfriend, however, the brothers may just have to do the thing that’s been in the back of their minds for most of their lives – have a difficult and dangerous surgery that will separate them. And even then, can they stand being apart from each other?

Farrelly films are known for the sibling directors including such shocking elements as characters with handicaps, physical deformities, retardation, and anything that makes a person really stand out in a crowd. Some of their characters are also astoundingly dumb, naïve, and stupid. Farrelly films succeed because their characters oddities make us uncomfortable, no matter how PC or charitable we may pretend to be. Within the context of the film, all the characters may act as if nothing is peculiar, but we know better, and this strangeness often leads to belly laughs.

In this Stuck on You, the Farrelly’s have toned things down considerable. Odd and odd-looking character prevail, but it all seems somewhat mundane, as if odd really isn’t odd. It’s part of the everyday fabric of the outside world. The citizens of Bob and Walt’s hometown certainly don’t act as if anything is “wrong” with the brothers; indeed, even the folks in la-la land don’t act all that freaked out by conjoined twins.

What makes Stuck on You work and that’s different from other Farrelly Bros. films is the poignancy; there is a realness to the story that goes beyond the usual craziness of Farrelly world. Damon and Kinnear are very good actors, and they sell us on the close-knit relationship between the brothers. Both are good-looking men and have charming personalities, so the audience is likely endeared to them. The closer the actors make us feel towards the characters, the more likely we’re going to laugh at the crazy things that happen to them and root for them to overcome obstacles.

Ultimately, it’s Damon and Kinnear who really sell this film as a heart-warming comedy and make it worth watching. That’s important because, Stuck on You is the antithesis of Farrelly classics like Kingpins and There’s Something About Mary. For all the laughs, the film is, indeed, quite dramatic, and while that drags at the film a few times, there are many heart-warming moments to go along with the belly laughs.

7 of 10