Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Happy B'day, Mel Blanc: The Night of the Living Duck



TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Night of the Living Duck (1988)
Running time: 7 minutes
WRITERS/DIRECTORS: Greg Ford and Terry Lennon
PRODUCER: Steven S. Greene

SHORT/ANIMATION/COMEDY/FAMILY with elements of horror

Starring: (voice) Mel Blanc and Mel Tormé

The Night of the Living Duck is a 1988 animated short film starring Daffy Duck. It also appears as the opening sequence of Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters.

The Night of the Living Duck (a Merrie Melodies) was the second theatrical animated short produced by Warner Bros. after a 20-year dry spell, and it also appeared theatrically with the film Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey. It was also the last Warner Bros. cartoon short to feature the voice of Mel Blanc.

Daffy Duck (Mel Blanc) is reading a monster comic book that ends in a cliffhanger. While rifling through his bookcase for the next issue, an ugly, decorative stone idol falls from the shelf and conks him on the head. Daffy, of course, falls into a dream in which he is a lounge singer at a nightclub for monsters. The club patrons include such classic Universal Monsters as Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, as well as other film maniacs such as Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Godzilla. When Daffy finds that the customers aren’t happy with his act, he sprays his throat with Eau de Torme and entertains his audience with a rendition of “Monsters Lead Such Interesting Lives” in a voice that sounds just like Mel Tormé’s!

Like its predecessor, The Duxorcist, The Night of the Living Duck is actually quite entertaining. In terms of story, it isn’t as good as the best Looney Tunes or Merrie Melodies, but it would make the B-list. The animation, however, is only as good as the least of Warner’s theatrical shorts, but the truth is that the art of classic hand drawn animated shorts is lost. Still, The Night of the Living Duck has its moments. While Mel Blanc’s voice was worn down by the time he worked on this short, Mel Tormé’s turn as Daffy Duck’s singing voice is priceless and is the element that keeps this cartoon from being run-of-the-mill.

7 of 10
B+

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adepero Oduye is Spectacular in Dee Rees' "Pariah"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 44 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Pariah (2011)
Running time: 86 minutes (1 hour, 26 minutes)
MPAA – R for sexual content and language
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Dee Rees
PRODUCER: Nekisa Cooper
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bradford Young
EDITOR: Mako Kamitsuna

DRAMA

Starring: Adepero Oduye, Pernell Walker, Kim Wayans, Charles Parnell, Sahra Mellesse, and Aasha Davis

Pariah is a 2011 independent film from director Dee Rees. This contemporary drama is a coming of age story about a Brooklyn teen discovering her sexual identity, while negotiating her way through the very different worlds of the lesbian club scene and of her conservative family. Filmmaker Spike Lee is one of the film’s executive producers.

The film centers on Alike Freeman (Adepero Oduye), a 17-year-old African-American teenager who lives in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. She lives with her family: her religious mother, Audrey (Kim Wayans); her policeman father, Arthur (Charles Parnell); and her younger sister, Sharonda (Sahra Mellesse).

Alike is gradually embracing her identity as a lesbian, with her openly gay friend, Laura (Pernell Walker), as her guide and support. At home, however, her parents’ marriage has reached a breaking point, and the tension grows whenever her parents discuss her development as a person. When she begins to socialize with Bina (Aasha Davis), a young woman who attends her high school, Alike starts to feel better about her identity, but her family and her social life only grow more complicated.

The easy way out of this review is to say that Pariah is an amazing film, because, y’all, it surely is. I cannot think of a film that deals with the black gay teen experience as well as Pariah does, and if there is one, all the better. The comic actress, Kim Wayans, as other members of the Wayans clan have done, takes a moment to show the range and scope of her talent with a dramatic turn as Alike’s mother, Audrey, that is rich in pathos.

If this movie is a revelation (and it is), then, it is all the more a surprise because Adepero Oduye as Alike Freeman is an illumination casting much needed light on the corporate product landscape that is the American film industry. As Alike blossoms, as a young adult and as a young artist, Adepero grows onscreen before our eyes. The joy we see in Alike as she becomes more confident and assured in the choices that she makes, the more Adepero seizes command of this film.

Adepero has a winning, Tom Cruise-like smile. Dee Rees has made a winning film that will make you smile like Tom Cruise. This film promises a lot in terms of Rees talent. If by chance she doesn’t live up to it that will be understandable. Pariah is a fine film and will certainly be a hard act to follow.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
2012 Black Reel Awards: 1 win: “Best Breakthrough Performance” (Adepero Oduye); 8 nominations: “Best Actress” (Adepero Oduye), “Best Breakthrough Performance” (Kim Wayans), “Best Director” (Dee Rees), “Best Ensemble” (Kim Wayans, Adepero Oduye, Charles Parnell, Sahra Mellesse, Aasha Davis, Pernell Walker), “Best Film” (Nekisa Cooper), “Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted” (Dee Rees), “Outstanding Supporting Actress” (Kim Wayans), and “Outstanding Supporting Actress” (Pernell Walker)

2012 Image Awards: 1 win: “Outstanding Independent Motion Picture;” 6 nominations: "Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture" (Adepero Oduye), “Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture-Theatrical or Television” (Dee Rees), “Outstanding Motion Picture,” “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture” (Charles Parnell), “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Kim Wayans), and “Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture-Theatrical or Television” (Dee Rees)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Michael Haneke Wins Palme d'Or for "Amour" at 2012 Cannes

The 65th annual Cannes Film Festival was held from May 16 to May 27, 2012. Below is a list of winners of “In Competition,” which means the films competing for the festival’s top prize, the Palme d'Or.

Un Certain Regard” is the part of Cannes that runs parallel to the competition for the Palme d’Or. The “Grand Prix” is the second most prestigious prize given at Cannes, after the Palme d’Or.

With his win for Amour, Michael Haneke became the second director to win the Palme d’Or for consecutive films. Haneke previously won the Palme d’Or for his last film, The White Ribbon, in 2009. Bille August was the first to achieve this feat. No director has won the Palme d’Or more than twice.

2012/65th Cannes Film Festival winners:

FEATURE FILMS

Palme d’Or
AMOUR (Love) by Michael Haneke

Grand Prix
REALITY by Matteo Garrone

Award for Best Director
Carlos Reygadas for POST TENEBRAS LUX

Jury Prize
THE ANGELS’ SHARE by Ken Loach

Award for Best Actor
Mads Mikkelsen in JAGTEN (The Hunt) by Thomas VINTERBERG

Award for Best Actress
Cristina Flutur & Cosmina Stratan in DUPÃ DEALURI (Beyond The Hills) by Cristian MUNGIU

Award for Best Screenplay
Cristian Mungiu for pour DUPÃ DEALURI (Beyond The Hills)

Palme d’Or (Short Film)
SESSIZ-BE DENG (Silent) by L. Rezan Yesilbas

Camera d’Or (for a directorial debut)
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD by Benh Zeitlin presented in Un Certain Regard Selection

PRIZE OF UN CERTAIN REGARD
DESPUÉS DE LUCIA by Michel Franco

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
LE GRAND SOIR by Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern

UN CERTAIN REGARD AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS
Suzanne Clément for her performance in LAURENCE ANYWAYS directed by Xavier Dolan

UN CERTAIN REGARD AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS
Emilie Dequenne for her performance in À PERDRE LA RAISON directed by Joachim Lafosse

SPECIAL DISTINCTION OF THE JURY
DJECA by Aida Begic (Children of Sarajevo)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Will Smith Carries Pleasant "Men in Black 3"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 43 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Men in Black 3 (2012)
Running time: 103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
WRITER: Etan Cohen (based upon the comic book by Lowell Cunningham)
PRODUCERS: Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bill Pope
EDITORS: Wayne Wahrman and Don Zimmerman
COMPOSER: Danny Elfman

SCI-FI/FANTASY/COMEDY/ACTION

Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mike Colter, Nicole Scherzinger, Michael Chernus, Bill Hader, Rick Baker, and Alice Eve

Men in Black 3 is a 2012 3D science fiction comedy. It is also the second sequel to the 1997 film, Men in Black. The Men in Black film series is based upon the comic book, The Men in Black, created by Lowell Cunningham. Steven Spielberg is one of the film’s executive producers, a title he held for the first two films. In this new film, the Men in Black agency (MiB) must use time travel to stop an alien from changing history.

Men in Black 3 kicks off with the alien criminal, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), making a daring prison break. Boris has a past with MiB Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), and he hatches a plot to both remove K and to make an alien invasion of Earth possible. K’s partner, Agent J (Will Smith), travels back in time to 1969, where he meets a young Agent K (Josh Brolin). Together, they race to stop Boris and to save themselves, MiB, and Earth.

The most accurate thing that I can say about Men in Black 3 is that it is pleasantly entertaining. Honestly, I really didn’t expect more than that. The story is sentimental, and seeks to make the connection between Agents J and K a more personal and deeper relationship than it was in the previous films. That’s nice, but the screenplay inadvertently creates loose ends that it ties up; thus, it essentially makes another film starring these characters unnecessary or at least forces a possible fourth film to approach J and K from a different point of view (hopefully, the latter).

There are a number of cameos (Will Arnett, Tim Burton, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, etc.) in this film that are nice, if you can catch them. Jemaine Clement is marvelous as Boris. Josh Brolin’s turn as the 29-year-old Agent K is both funny and poignant (and saves the time travel segment of this story). Conversely, Tommy Lee Jones looks like a tired, old man; never has the age difference between Will Smith and Jones been more pronounced than in this third MiB movie.

As is usual with these Men in Black movies, Will Smith dominates. Men in Black 3 needs his charm and boundless energy. I strenuously disagree with the reviews that describe this as the best Men in Black movie, because the first is still the best. Like Men in Black II, this third film has enough oddball sci-fi elements and twists to keep the entire thing Men in Black kosher. Men in Black 3 won’t make you believe that a fourth film is necessary, but I’ll take more, as long as Will Smith comes back.

6 of 10
B

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"Green Lantern: First Flight" Struggles on the Runway

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 42 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Green Lantern: First Flight (2009) – straight-to-video
Running minutes: 77 minutes (1 hour, 17 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence
DIRECTOR: Lauren Montgomery
WRITER: Alan Burnett
PRODUCER: Bruce W. Timm
EDITOR: Rob Desales
COMPOSER: Robert Kral
ANIMATION STUDIO: Telecom Animation Film Co., Ltd.

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/SCI-FI/ACTION with elements of drama

Starring: (voices) Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer, Michael Madsen, John Larroquette, Kurtwood Smith, Larry Drake, William Schallert, Malachi Throne, Olivia d’Abo, Richard Green, Juliet Landau, David L. Lander, and Richard McGonagle

Green Lantern: First Flight is a 2009 direct-to-video superhero animated film from Warner Bros. Animation. Starring DC Comics character, Green Lantern, this is also the fifth feature in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. The film is adapted from the DC Comics’ Green Lantern mythology.

Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) is the ace test pilot at Ferris Aircraft, but when the dying alien, Abin Sur (Richard McGonagle), summons him, Hal’s life changes. Hal becomes a Green Lantern and a member of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force whose power comes from green rings powered by the great Green Lantern battery. Jordan is whisked off to Oa, the home of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the creators of the Green Lantern Corps and the Green Lantern battery.

The Guardians place Hal under the supervision of a respected senior officer, Sinestro (Victor Garber), who is searching for Abin Sur’s murderer, Kanjar Ro (Kurtwood Smith), an alien criminal. Ro has come to possess the yellow element, the one substance that can defeat the great Green Lantern battery. But Hal Jordan finds himself caught in a great conspiracy that threatens the very existence of the Green Lantern Corps.

One positive thing that I can say about Green Lantern: First Flight is that the animation is good. The character movement here is smooth, almost liquid, and the character design is inventive and imaginative, as good as that found in animated films with bigger budgets. The problem with Green Lantern: First Flight is that the lead character, Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, is a mostly flat character. Hal Jordan disappears early in the movie, and the story focuses on his alter-ego, Green Lantern. However, there is little development of Green Lantern’s character; he’s mostly a cog in an action movie. In fact, Sinestro, the antagonist, is far more interesting, and the film spends more time developing Sinestro’s personality, conflicts, and motivations than it does Jordan’s.

The script takes for granted that Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern is the hero, so there isn’t much of an arc of development of Jordan as a novice who learns his craft on the way to his ultimate triumph. The film portrays Jordan as a champion from the beginning, so his ultimate victory doesn’t feel as rewarding as it would if he actually had to really struggle to become the big dog – the hero.

Green Lantern: First Flight offers some impressive action movie set pieces, and the second half is non-stop action that is surprisingly riveting. The first half is awkward, at a time when the script should spend developing the lead character and doesn’t. I think Green Lantern: First Flight is like the 2011 Green Lantern live action movie. Both focus on fanboy tropes instead of both revealing the arc and discovering the heart of a hero.

5 of 10
B-

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Men in Black 3" Arrives in Theatres and IMAX May 25th

Columbia Pictures' Men In Black 3 Blasts Into IMAX® Theatres Friday

LOS ANGELES, May 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- IMAX Corporation (NYSE: IMAX; TSX: IMX), and Columbia Pictures today announced that the action comedy Men in Black 3 will be released in the immersive IMAX® format in 474 theatres worldwide beginning Friday, May 25, simultaneous with the film's North American wide release. Domestically, the film will be released in 278 theatres and in 196 theatres internationally. Additional playdates will be added as pending bookings are confirmed. Men in Black 3 is the first in the franchise to be released in IMAX.

The IMAX release of Men in Black 3 will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of An IMAX 3D Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images coupled with IMAX's customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

About Men in Black 3
In Men in Black 3, Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back... in time. J has seen some inexplicable things in his 15 years with the Men in Black, but nothing, not even aliens, perplexes him as much as his wry, reticent partner. But when K's life and the fate of the planet are put at stake, Agent J will have to travel back in time to put things right. J discovers that there are secrets to the universe that K never told him - secrets that will reveal themselves as he teams up with the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) to save his partner, the agency and the future of humankind. Barry Sonnenfeld directs the film. The film's screenplay is written by Etan Cohen, based on the Malibu Comic by Lowell Cunningham. Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald produce, and Steven Spielberg and G. Mac Brown are the executive producers.

http://www.meninblack.com/

Men in Black 3 has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content.

First "Men in Black" Still Fresh and Original

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 19 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Men in Black (1997)
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for language and sci-fi violence
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
WRITER: Ed Solomon, from a screenstory by Ed Solomon (based upon a comic book by Lowell Cunningham)
PRODUCERS: Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don Peterman (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Jim Miller
COMPOSER: Danny Elfman
Academy Award winner

SCI-FI/FANTASY/COMEDY/ACTION

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rip Torn, and Tony Shalhoub

The subject of this movie review is Men in Black, the 1997 science fiction comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. Starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, it focuses on a secret organization that monitors and polices the alien population that secretly lives on Earth. Steven Spielberg is the executive producer of Men in Black, which is based on the comic book created by Lowell Cunningham) as his production company, Amblin Entertainment, is one of the studios that produced the film.

I don’t watch many movies twice; I watch even fewer thrice. Movies that earn multiple viewings really have to entertain me, and much to my surprise, Men in Black is one of those movies. It is certainly one of the few examples of science fiction and comedy blended to make a great film. From the opening strains of Danny Elfman’s score over the credits, I realized that I was in for something special, something that combined some of my favorite forms of entertainment: B movies, EC Comics, weird and pseudo science fiction, alien conspiracies, monsters, wry comedy and black humor.

In the world of this movie, a secret organization, the Men in Black (who identify themselves to civilians as INS agents) monitor and regulate the presence of alien visitors and other world immigrants on earth. When his partner “retires,” Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) recruits a new partner, James Edwards (Will Smith), a brash young cop who showed excellent skill and much courage in the pursuit of an alien. After Edwards agrees to join, he must give up his identity; MiB literally erases everything that proved Edwards existed, and Edwards becomes Agent J.

Their first mission together is to find a dangerous alien “bug,” Edgar (Vincent D’ Onofrio) who seeks to possess a mysterious universe that is hidden somewhere in Manhattan, and, to keep him from getting it, a powerful race of aliens is ready to destroy the earth.

Director Barry Sonnenfeld was the perfect, though not the first, choice for this film. A former cinematographer (Raising Arizona, Misery), Sonnenfeld’s films always look gorgeous, and here he is abetted by MiB’s director of photography Don Peterman, who worked with Sonnenfeld on Addams Family Values and Get Shorty. Peterman captures the look and feel of low budget sci-fi film from the 1940’s and 50’s and the sparse look of such cult classics and The Brother from Another Planet and Buckaroo Banzai, while giving film a glossy, pretty look. Between director and photographer, they manage to make the film look like it belongs in the genres to which it aspires; this makes for a convincing and atmospheric film that feels right. At times, it is a sci-fi adventure, a detective story, a monster movie, and a horror film, but it never looks like an expensive, over produced Hollywood film, which it is.

The performances are excellent. Jones as Agent K is the consummate old veteran, and Linda Fiorentino as the morgue minder Dr. Laurel Weaver brings a wry and cynical sense of humor to the film. However, the actor who carries this film and sells it both as a wacky sci-fi film and as a funny movie is Will Smith.

Prejudiced science fiction and comic book fans often given short shrift to African American actors in genre films. The adventurous pasts and mysterious futures of sci-fi are often bereft of people of color, especially people of brown and darker hues. For years, racist fans blamed Richard Pryor for the poor quality of Superman III, when he was actually the film’s saving grace. In fact, when rumors placed Eddie Murphy in Star Trek IV, fans went into paroxysms of fear because black comedians can only ruin sci-fi films. “Look at Pryor in Superman III,” they cried through their white hoods. Of course, Star Trek films managed to suck eggs all on their own without a Negro jokester in sight.

Smith makes Men in Black. He’s our point of view. His reactions to his strange new environment sell the fantastical aspects of MiB as being actually both fantastic and weird. He’s the every man, albeit sexier and more personable than most, through which we follow the story. Despite the position of the actors’ names on the marquee, he’s the star and the lead. If you haven’t seen this wonderful and funny film, do so immediately.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
1998 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Makeup” (Rick Baker and David LeRoy Anderson); 2 nominations: “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” (Bo Welch-art director and Cheryl Carasik-set decorator), and “Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score” (Danny Elfman)

1998 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Special Effects” (Eric Brevig, Rick Baker, Rob Coleman, and Peter Chesney)

1998 Golden Globes, USA: 1 nomination: “Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical”

Review: Men in Black II

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Men in Black II (2002)
Running time: 88 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and some provocative humor
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
WRITER: Robert Gordon and Barry Fanaro, from a story by Robert Gordon (based upon the comic book by Lowell Cunningham)
PRODUCERS: Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Greg Gardiner (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Richard Pearson and Steven Weisberg
COMPOSER: Danny Elfman

SCI-FI/FANTASY/COMEDY/ACTION

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Rip Torn, Lara Flynn Boyle, Johnny Knoxville, Rosario Dawson, Tony Shalhoub, and Patrick Warburton

The subject of this movie review is Men in Black II, the 2002 science fiction comedy that is a sequel to the 1997 film, Men in Black. Both movies are based upon the comic book, Men in Black, created by Lowell Cunningham. As he was with the first film, Steven Spielberg is also the executive producer.

It was a long time in coming, and some thought it would be too expensive to make because of star salaries and production company profit participation, but Men in Black II finally arrived. Although not as fresh as the first film, MiBII is somewhat close to the original in that it is still imaginative and wacky, and Will Smith is still very funny.

When Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle), a villain from MiB’s past threatens the planet, Agent J (Will Smith) has to convince former agent and his mentor Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) to return to the agency. Complicating matters is the fact that Agent K is having a difficult time regaining his memory of his time as an MiB agent, and his memory is crucial to defeating Serleena. Meanwhile, Agent J has fallen for Laura Vasquez (Rosario Dawson), an attractive witness to a murder committed by Serleena.

One of the many things that I like about the original film was the cool opening scene, an homage to classic sci-fi B-movies. This film does something similar, but with a nod to those loopy, paranormal, conspiracy theory documentaries. The actors are all game, and with the help of some interesting cameos (including one by Michael Jackson) and some nice small roles, the film, for the most part, manages to keep us interested in what’s going to show up next on the screen. It’s a way of playing it safe, and keeping matters close to what audiences remember from the first film. Director Barry Sonnenfeld and his writers bring back all the atmospherics of the first, but add some sentimental and romantic elements. The romance actually works in a way of tying together the pasts of Agents J and K and also tightens the bond between the characters.

What this film does lack that the first one had is the intensity of the danger imposed by a rogue alien. While I found Serleena to be a viable threat as a villain, I thought that she lacked the kick of the Bug from the first film. The agents also spend a lot of time going from one location to another and each one just happens to be either the home of another alien or a secret storage bin for MiB paraphernalia and weaponry. I know that the filmmakers want to play up the idea that you never know what’s behind the façade, but each trip to another building just slows the film. The film never really kicks into high gear until its final fifteen minutes.

Still, it’s funny, and Will Smith carries the show, even through some dry moments. After the second time around, we can see that MiB is really the story of Agent J’s adventures in the organization and that Smith is very likely crucial to the success of any more Men in Black sequels. Although Men in Black II plays it rather safe, it is a pretty entertaining successor to an exceptional movie.

6 of 10
B

NOTES:
2003 Razzie Awards: 1 nomination: “Worst Supporting Actress” (Lara Flynn Boyle)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Antonio Banderas Stomps the Yard in "Puss in Boots"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 41 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Puss in Boots (2011)
Running time: 90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor
DIRECTOR: Chris Miller
WRITERS: Tom Wheeler; from a story by Will Davies and Brian Lynch (based upon the character created by Charles Perrault)
PRODUCERS: Joe M. Aguilar and Latifa Ouaou
EDITOR: Eric Dapkewicz
COMPOSER: Henry Jackman
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/FANTASY/ADVENTURE/COMEDY with elements of a Western

Starring: (voice) Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Constance Marie, and Guillermo del Toro

I don’t think DreamWorks Animation gets enough credit. They aren’t a weak sister to Pixar Animation Studios. In fact, in 2011, Pixar unleashed the god-awful Cars 2, but DreamWorks more than surpassed that with two excellent films, Kung Fu Panda 2 and the subject of this movie review…

Puss in Boots is a 2011 computer-animated adventure comedy film from DreamWorks Animation. The film stars Antonio Banderas, giving voice to the outlaw cat, Puss in Boots, the character that first appeared in Shrek 2 (2004). Puss in Boots the movie is both a spin-off of and prequel to the Shrek film franchise.

The story details the origins of Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and tells how he became an outlaw. He was an orphaned kitten who finds a home at an orphanage run by the kind Imelda (Constance Marie) in the town of San Ricardo. While attempting to steal magic beans (from “Jack and the Beanstalk), Puss is reunited with his long-estranged childhood friend, the talking egg Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Puss is drawn to Humpty’s ally, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), a street-savvy Tuxedo cat.

The trio hatches a plan to steal the beans from the current owners, the outlaw couple, Jack (Billy Bob Thorton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris). The task, however, proves more difficult than Puss imagined, as he must survive a strange world and also a plot against his loved ones.

Part Zorro and part Valentino, Puss in Boots is a charming rogue, the kind of character that can drive a swashbuckling adventure film to success. Puss in Boots the movie is part Raiders of the Lost Ark with the style of a spaghetti Western plus the cracked fairy tale approach that defined the Shrek movies.

Puss in Boots isn’t groundbreaking, nor is it as technically dazzling as other DreamWorks Animations films, such as the Kung Fu Panda films and Megamind. Puss in Boots does, however, have enough bubbly charm and effervescence to share with less fortunate films.

Those less fortunate films would be movies that don’t have Antonio Banderas, an actor born to be loved by the camera, or, in the case of voice acting in an animated film, an actor with a bejeweled voice. Together with the artists that animated the Puss in Boots character, Banderas turned on the wit and magnetism, so that Puss in Boots virtually has no faults – as long as Puss in Boots is the center of attention. I appreciate the people involved with this movie, because I plan on watching Puss in Boots many more times.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2012 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” (Chris Miller)

2012 Golden Globes, USA: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

George Lucas' "Red Tails" Now on Blu-ray and DVD

FROM EXECUTIVE PRODUCER GEORGE LUCAS COMES THE INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF THE MEN WHOSE BRAVERY MADE THEM HEROES AND WHOSE ACTIONS MADE HISTORY

RED TAILS

Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. Lead an All-Star Cast In The High-Octane Action-Adventure Coming to Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download Just in Time for Memorial Day on May 22

Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment present the remarkable story of an inspirational group of men whose legendary bravery was cemented in the sky in RED TAILS, soaring onto Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital Download May 22. Set for release just prior to Memorial Day, RED TAILS stars Academy Award® Winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire) and Academy Award Nominee Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow) leading a powerful ensemble cast in this high-flying epic inspired by the real-life adventures of the first African-American combat unit to serve in World War II.

Italy, 1944. As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky... even as they battle discrimination on the ground. Featuring jaw-dropping aerial action and thrilling special effects, RED TAILS is a breathtaking tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history.

Directed by Anthony Hemingway, RED TAILS features an extraordinary cast which includes David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), Nate Parker (The Secret Life of Bees), Elijah Kelly (Hairspray), Tristan Wilds (“90210”), Method Man (“The Wire”), Ne-Yo (Stomp The Yard), Michael B. Jordon (Chronicle), Leslie Odom, Jr. (“Smash”), Marcus T. Paulk (Take the Lead), Kevin Philips (Pride), Andre Royo (“The Wire”), Daniela Ruah (“NCIS: Los Angeles”), Gerald McRaney (“Major Dad”), Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”). The film was produced by Rick McCallum and Charles Floyd Johnson and written by John Ridley and Aaron McGruder.

The RED TAILS Blu-ray™ is loaded with special features including the documentary Double Victory along with profiles of the filmmakers and behind-the-scenes featurettes. The Blu-ray™ and DVD will be available for an average retail price of $25.00 and $20.00 respectively. Prebook is April 25.

RED TAILS Blu-ray Combo Pack Special Features
Double Victory: The Tuskegee Airmen at War
George Lucas: Executive Producer
Anthony Hemingway: Director
Terence Blanchard: Composer
The Cast of Red Tails
Movie Magic
THX Media Director


About Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC (TCFHE) is a recognized global industry leader and a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, a News Corporation company. Representing 75 years of innovative and award-winning filmmaking from Twentieth Century Fox, TCFHE is the worldwide marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming, acquisitions and original productions on DVD, Blu-ray Disc Digital Copy, Video On Demand and Digital Download. The company also releases all products globally for MGM Home Entertainment. Each year TCFHE introduces hundreds of new and newly enhanced products, which it services to retail outlets from mass merchants and warehouse clubs to specialty stores and e-commerce throughout the world.

http://www.redtails2012.com/

Follow Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on Twitter @FoxHomeEnt

RED TAILS Blu-ray
Street Date: May 22, 2012
Screen Format: 16:9 (2.40:1)
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English / French / Spanish
U.S. Rating: PG-13
Total Run Time: 3 hours, 52 minutes (including bonus material)
Closed Captioned: Yes

RED TAILS DVD
Street Date: May 22, 2012
Screen Format: 16:9 (2.40:1)
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English / French / Spanish
U.S. Rating: PG-13
Total Run Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes (including bonus material)
Closed Captioned: Yes


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

"Chernobyl Diaries" Opens Midnight May 24 2012

More Than 1,300 Theaters across North America to Open “Chernobyl Diaries” at Midnight on Thursday, May 24

New film from producer/co-writer Oren Peli, who terrified audiences with his groundbreaking thriller, “Paranormal Activity,” takes audiences on an “extreme” tour inside the quarantined area near Chernobyl

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures starts Memorial Day weekend early by opening the new film “Chernobyl Diaries” at midnight on Thursday, May 24th in over 1,300 theaters in 184 U.S. and Canadian markets. Die-hard Oren Peli fans who want to be the first to take an “extreme” tour of the forbidden area surrounding the infamous Chernobyl reactor can kick-off the holiday weekend by seeing the movie at the stroke of midnight on Thursday.

“Chernobyl Diaries” is an original story from Peli, who first terrified audiences with his groundbreaking thriller, “Paranormal Activity.” The film follows a group of six young vacationers who, looking to go off the beaten path, hire an “extreme” tour guide. Ignoring warnings, he takes them into the city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, but a deserted town since the disaster more than 25 years ago.

After a brief exploration of the abandoned city, however, the group soon finds themselves stranded, only to discover that they are not alone…

Brad Parker makes his feature film directorial debut with “Chernobyl Diaries.” The screenplay was written by Oren Peli and Carey Van Dyke & Shane Van Dyke, based on a story by Peli. Peli also produces, with Brian Witten. Richard Sharkey, Rob Cowan, Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson, Allison Silver, Milan Popelka and Alison Cohen serve as executive producers.

The film’s cast includes Devin Kelley, Jonathan Sadowski, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Jesse McCartney, Nathan Phillips and Dimitri Diatchenko.

Alcon Entertainment, FilmNation Entertainment and Oren Peli/Brian Witten Pictures present, an Oren Peli/Brian Witten Pictures production, “Chernobyl Diaries.” The film opens on May 25, 2012 and will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

The film has been rated R for violence, some bloody images and pervasive language.

http://www.chernobyldiaries.com/

Monday, May 21, 2012

"The Iron Lady" is Rusty and Crusty

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 40 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Iron Lady (2011)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.K. with France
Running time: 105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some violent images and brief nudity
DIRECTOR: Phyllida Lloyd
WRITER: Abi Morgan
PRODUCER: Damian Jones
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Elliot Davis (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Justine Wright
COMPOSER: Thomas Newman
Academy Award winner

DRAMA/HISTORICAL/BIOPIC

Starring: Meryl Streep, Jim Broadbent, Olivia Colman, Susan Browne, Alexandra Roach, Henry Lloyd, Anthony Head, and Nicholas Farrell

The Iron Lady is a 2011 British drama starring Meryl Streep. The film dramatizes pivotal moments in the life of Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Thatcher was also the longest serving Prime Minister of the 20th century.

The film opens in late 2008 and finds former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep), struggling with dementia. Over the course of a few days, Thatcher looks back on the defining moments of her personal and professional life, while she also reminisces with her late husband, Denis Thatcher (Jim Broadbent). Meanwhile, her daughter, Carol (Olivia Colman), worries about her mother’s seeming inability to distinguish between the past and the present and also to let go of Denis’ possessions. Carol doesn’t know that her mother’s hallucinations involve conversations with her dead husband.

The Iron Lady won two Oscars, including a best actress win by Meryl Streep for her portrayal of Thatcher. Streep is good, but this movie is a disaster. It’s like some kind of Kabuki puppet theatre version of a British movie. Frankly, the movie is so stiff and weird, and for that reason alone, I think someone else should have won the best actress Oscar (Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs or Viola Davis for The Help). As for the best makeup Oscar: if making actors look like prune-faced goblins is Oscar-worthy, then, this film’s makeup guys, Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, should also get a genius grant.

I was not a fan of Thatcher growing up, but I remember her tremendous stature in the world, especially in Europe and in the United States. Thus, this movie is too small for such a monumental figure, although there are a few moments when Streep brings out Thatcher’s unbending will in way that aroused me and even made me hetero for a few moments (Hee hee).

However, The Iron Lady is ultimately a poor highlight reel about a powerful woman who broke down barriers. This isn’t really a movie about Margaret Thatcher; it’s a movie about an old lady with dementia. Even a non-fan of Thatcher, like myself, thinks she deserves better.

3 of 10
D+

NOTES:
2012 Academy Awards: 2 wins: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Meryl Streep) and “Best Achievement in Makeup” (Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland)

2012 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Best Leading Actress” (Meryl Streep) and “Best Make Up & Hair” (Mark Coulier, Marese Langan, and J. Roy Helland); 2 nominations: “Best Original Screenplay” (Abi Morgan) and “Best Supporting Actor” (Jim Broadbent)

2012 Golden Globes, USA: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Meryl Streep)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Close, McTeer Do the Damn Thing in "Albert Nobbs"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 39 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Albert Nobbs (2011)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Ireland, U.K.
Running time: 113 minutes (1 hour, 53 minutes)
MPAA – R for some sexuality, brief nudity and language
DIRECTOR: Rodrigo García
WRITERS: Glenn Close, John Banville, and Gabriella Prekop; from a story by István Szabó (based upon the novella, “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs” by George Moore)
PRODUCERS: Glenn Close, Bonnie Curtis, Julie Lynn, and Alan Moloney
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael McDonough (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Steven Weisberg
COMPOSER: Brian Byrne
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA/HISTORICAL

Starring: Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Pauline Collins, Brenda Fricker, Mark Williams, Phyllida Law, Bronagh Gallagher, and Brendan Gleeson

Albert Nobbs is a 2011 Irish period drama from director Rodrigo Garcia (Mother and Child). The film is based upon the 1918 short story “The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs” by the late Irish novelist, George Augustus Moore. The film stars Glenn Close as a woman who poses as a man in order to work at a motel in late 19th century Ireland,

Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) was born a female in London. He has been posing as a man for 30 years in order to survive the harsh environment of the impoverished working class in the late 19th century. Albert works as a waiter in Morrison’s Hotel in Dublin, Ireland, and is known for his extreme dedication to his job. However, Albert begins to reconsider how he has lived when he meets Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), a strapping painter who is doing some work at the hotel.

With its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender themes, Albert Nobbs is certainly one of the most intoxicating period dramas that I have ever seen. Even when I enjoy a period or costume drama, I often forget about them not long after watching them (like The King’s Speech), but I can’t stop thinking about Albert Nobbs. I think that this is because Albert Nobbs has a screenplay which is determined to keep the audience guessing about the actions and motivations of the characters, and this is true from the main characters down to the supporting characters with small speaking roles. The movie engages the viewer in a guessing game of why and how. Why does she do that? How does she do it? How does she get away with it?

Albert Nobbs is marked by excellent performances and two great performances: Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs and Janet McTeer as Hubert Page. Close creates a compelling character in Nobbs by making the character’s fear that he will be caught a character itself. It is almost as if there are two characters: one is a waiter, and the other is a man whose secret-keeping is his life. As for McTeer, I don’t know if I have the words to describe her performance, which is a work of high art. I’ll just call it mega-awesome and leave it at that.

Albert Nobbs is a bit slow, but only a bit. I find that sometimes director Rodrigo García allows things to get too aloof and stiff, but he extracts passion and conflict from the kind of characters that like to keep things hidden and to act detached. However, the performances by Close and McTeer burn brightly enough to draw our attention to this unique film that depicts the diversity of relationships between women.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2012 Academy Awards: 3 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Glenn Close), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Janet McTeer), and “Best Achievement in Makeup” (Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnson, and Matthew W. Mungle)

2012 Golden Globes, USA: 3 nominations: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Glenn Close), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Janet McTeer), and “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Brian Byrne-music and Glenn Close-lyrics for the song "Lay Your Head Down")

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Warner Bros. Gives "Gangster Squad" a September 7th Release Date

“Gangster Squad” to Hit Theaters on September 7

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures announced today that the release date for “Gangster Squad” is September 7, 2012. The announcement was made by Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. Pictures President, Domestic Distribution.

Directed by Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”), “Gangster Squad” stars Oscar® nominees Josh Brolin (“Milk,” “True Grit”) and Ryan Gosling (“Half Nelson,” “Blue Valentine”), and Academy Award® winner Sean Penn (“Milk,” “Mystic River”), as well as Oscar® nominee Nick Nolte (“Warrior,” “Affliction”), Emma Stone (“The Help”), Anthony Mackie (upcoming “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”), Giovanni Ribisi (“Avatar”) and Michael Peña (“Tower Heist”).

THE STORY: Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and—if he has his way—every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop…except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart.

Shot entirely in and around Los Angeles, including in many of the actual locations featured in the story, “Gangster Squad” is a colorful retelling of events surrounding the LAPD’s efforts to take back their nascent city from one of the most dangerous mafia bosses of all time. The screenplay is by Will Beall (TV’s “Castle”), based on the book Gangster Squad by Paul Lieberman. The film is produced by Dan Lin (“Sherlock Holmes”), Kevin McCormick (“The Lucky One”) and Michael Tadross (“Arthur”). The executive producers are Ruben Fleischer, Paul Lieberman and Bruce Berman.

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, a Lin Pictures/Kevin McCormick production, “Gangster Squad.” The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

http://gangstersquad.warnerbros.com/

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" Shockingly Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 38 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Running time: 105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence
DIRECTOR: Rupert Wyatt
WRITERS: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (based upon the novel, La planète des singes, by Pierre Boulle)
PRODUCER: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Lesnie (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Conrad Buff and Mark Goldblatt
COMPOSER: Patrick Doyle

SCI-FI/ACTION/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, David Oyelowo, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris, and David Hewlett

Apparently, 20th Century Fox is going to produce a new Planet of the Apes film series. The first film, Planet of the Apes, appeared in 1968 and was based upon the 1963 French science fiction novel, La planète des singes, by Pierre Boulle. The 1968 film spawned four sequels, beginning with Beneath the Planet of the Apes in 1970 and ending with Battle for the Planet of the Apes in 1973. Tim Burton directed a remake of the original film that was released in 2001, and although that film was successful, no sequels were made from it.

Instead, 20th Century Fox decided to reboot the franchise. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a 2011 science fiction drama film, is reportedly intended to act as the origin story for a new series. Rise of the Planet of the Apes focuses on a hyper-intelligent chimpanzee who leads his fellow apes on a revolutionary path that introduces them to freedom and to intelligence that they have never known.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is set in modern-day San Francisco, which is also the location of biotechnology company, Gen-Sys. There, Dr. William “Will” Rodman (James Franco) is working on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which is personal to him because his father, Charles Rodman (John Lithgow), has the disease. Will is testing his new gene therapy, ALZ-112, on chimpanzees, which seems to make them smarter.

One of them, a female, gives birth to a male chimp; to keep the baby from being destroyed, Will takes him home, where his father, who lives with him, names the baby, Caesar. Caesar’s intelligence grows by leaps and bounds, which eventually gets him into trouble. As Caesar (Andy Serkis) watches how the world treats him and his fellow apes, he plots a revolution that threatens the status quo.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a monkey movie! Seriously, this film is about the apes. The human characters sometimes come across as place holders for the apes, while the story takes a brief detour in human territory before going back to the characters it really loves – the apes. That is not to say that the human characters are not interesting, or that the actors do not give good performances. As usual, James Franco seems effortlessly good, and Freida Pinto is excellent as Will girlfriend and the film’s moral center and voice of warning, Caroline Aranha. David Oyelowo surprisingly steals scenes as Will’s greedy boss, Steven Jacobs. Also, I was surprised with how powerful John Lithgow is in the small role of Will’s father, Charles. You can’t help but feel sorry for Charles because Lithgow’s depiction of him suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease has an uncanny ring of authenticity.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of the great slave rebellion movies, and that is because of the film’s visual effects, which creates credible oppressed characters. CGI characters: characters created, rendered, and animated using computer software, often don’t hold up to intense scrutiny. The longer you look at them, the less they seem authentic and the more phony they look. The CGI apes here don’t have that problem because there aren’t a lot of times in this movie when I thought that the apes looked counterfeit or just plain fake (although there are a few).

Here, the apes are created using performance capture, which involves filming actors in special suits and then, taking that performance and building the CGI character on or over the performance. The technology of performance capture has evolved to the point that in Rise of the Planet of the Apes the apes show a wide range of emotions. The depth of character has delicacy rather than the gaudiness seemingly inherent in CGI characters in many live-action movies.

To that end, Andy Serkis, who provides the performance capture performance for Caesar, is overdue for some kind of special Oscar trophy. Caesar carries the movie as if he were a flesh and blood, acclaimed, veteran actor. He has that “It,” the x-factor that stars have. I happily followed Caesar through trials and tribulations and fought with him in the epic battle that girds the last act. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a fantastic film because its star is an ape with star appeal. You’ll laugh and cry with Caesar; you’ll cheer him on.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
2012 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Achievement in Visual Effects” (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, and Daniel Barrett)

2012 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Special Visual Effects” (Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, and R. Christopher White)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Adult Swim Announces New Series for 2012-13 Season

Adult Swim Announces Largest Programming Schedule Ever for 2012-13

Basic Cable’s #1 Network In Total Day With Adults 18-34 and 18-49 Offers Up 9 New Series/Specials, 8 Pilots and 10 Returning Series

Childrens Hospital Spin-off Newsreaders and Animated Harold & Kumar Make The List

Fan Favorite Toonami Returns to Saturday Nights

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Adult Swim, basic cable’s #1 network with young adults for seven consecutive years, sets out to “control” the night by announcing a slate of new and returning programming at its annual Upfront presentation in New York City. Hours before their annual event featuring a scheduled performance by Grammy Award-winning rap artist T.I., the network announced the largest programming commitment in Adult Swim’s history, which includes new and returning series, pilots and specials.

After having its most-watched broadcast season-to-date in its history with adults 18-34, Adult Swim has ordered second seasons of new hit shows China, IL and Loiter Squad. The top-rated series Childrens Hospital returns with a spin-off in tow and an animated pilot based on the Harold & Kumar films is in development. Additionally, in response to overwhelming fan enthusiasm and devotion, the beloved anime programming block Toonami will make its return Saturday, May 26.

New original series and specials:

•NEWSREADERS – Newsreaders is a satire of the network television newsmagazine genre, from the creative team behind Adult Swim’s highly successful comedy Childrens Hospital. Based upon the “Newsreaders” episodes of Childrens Hospital which aired during seasons two and three, Newsreaders will explore the vital issues that actually don’t affect us every day, from hard-hitting investigations to harder-hitting heartwarming profiles. Created by Childrens Hospital executive producers Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the upcoming films Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and Butter), Jonathan Stern (The Ten; NTSF:SD:SUV::) and David Wain (Wanderlust, Wet Hot American Summer, Superjail!, upcoming films They Came Together and Dr. Dan), with Jim Margolis (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) serving as showrunner, Newsreaders will deliver unparalleled award-eligible reporting every week. The series is produced by Abominable Pictures and Warner Bros. Television Group’s Studio 2.0.

•THE ERIC ANDRE SHOW – The series premieres on Sunday, May 20, at 12:30 a.m. (ET/PT) The Eric Andre Show may be the most manic and unorthodox late night talk show ever made. The show’s traditional talk show format quickly devolves into chaos as its inept and bipolar host Eric Andre, along with his apathetic co-host Hannibal Buress (30 Rock, SNL), subvert all late night conventions. Taking place on a dingy public-access TV channel within an alternate reality, The Eric Andre Show creates its own distorted pop culture universe by conducting interviews with an unpredictable mix of actual celebrities, “fake” celebrities and extreme real-life weirdos. These interviews are broken up with deranged man-on-the-street segments, surreal flashes of inexplicable studio chaos, talk show desk-pieces and the general deconstruction of late night's most beloved tropes in every quarter-hour episode. The Eric Andre Show is produced by Abso Lutely and executive produced by Eric Andre, Andrew Barchilon, Kitao Sakurai, Daniel Weidenfeld (China, IL), and Dave Kneebone (Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!).

BLACK DYNAMITE – Premiering in July and based on 2009’s critically-acclaimed feature film, Black Dynamite, the animated series, further chronicles the exploits of the central character, Black Dynamite, and his crew. Under the direction of head writer Carl Jones (The Boondocks), the series features the voice talent of Michael Jai White (For Better or Worse, The Dark Knight, Why Did I Get Married?), Tommy Davidson (In Living Color, Bamboozled), Kym Whitley (The Cleveland Show, Brian McKnight Show) and Byron Minns (Mongo Wrestling Alliance), all of whom starred in the feature film. Black Dynamite, the animated series, is being produced by Ars Nova. Jon Steingart, Carl Jones, and Jillian Apfelbaum are executive producers. Brian Ash is co-executive producer. Scott Sanders, Michael Jai White and Byron Minns are producers. Monica Jones is associate producer. Lesean Thomas is creative producer/supervising director. Original music by Adrian Younge. Black Dynamite is being animated by Titmouse, Inc.

•TOONAMI – Beginning Saturday, May 26, Adult Swim brings back Toonami, the network’s popular block of anime programming. Airing weekly from midnight to 6 a.m. (ET/PT), in addition to the return of previous series featured in Toonami, Adult Swim is also developing new original anime programming for fans.

•HOT PACKAGE – Premiering this fall on Adult Swim, Hot Package is a live-action fictional Canadian entertainment news program in vein of "Entertainment Tonight," "EXTRA," or "E! News.” Hot Package is created by and stars Derrick Beckles (TV Carnage), produced by Abominable Pictures, with Jon Stern and Derrick Beckles as executive producers.

•UNTITLED HELL PROJECT – This new live-action series from Adult Swim is a workplace comedy about Gary, an associate demon, as he competes on the corporate ladder of the underworld. A Williams Street production, the show is created and directed by Dave Willis (Squidbillies, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and Casper Kelly (Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1, Squidbillies, Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law).

ROBOT CHICKEN DC COMICS SPECIAL – Coming this fall, the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special brings you the awesomeness of the DC Comics universe of characters as only Robot Chicken can, with amazing guest stars and the stop-motion sketch comedy you've come to love after five seasons of the popular Adult Swim series. The special features many Robot Chicken favorites including the Robot Chicken Nerd, the Humping Robot, Composite Santa, and the Mad Scientist who will be joined by characters of the DC Comics universe to poke fun at those with the most impressive powers and the lesser ones who can't really be called superheroes. The all-star cast includes Seth Green as Batman, Robin and the put-upon Aquaman, Paul Reubens as The Riddler, Neil Patrick Harris as Two-Face, Alfred Molina as Lex Luthor, Nathan Fillion as the Green Lantern, Megan Fox as Lois Lane, Breckin Meyer as Superman, plus Abe Benrubi, Alex Borstein, Clare Grant, Tara Strong, Matt Senreich, Tom Root, Zeb Wells, and Kevin Shinick as the narrator. The Robot Chicken DC Comics Special is executive produced by Stoopid Monkey's Seth Green and Matthew Senreich and their Stoopid Buddy Stoodios partners, Buddy Systems' John Harvatine IV and Eric Towner along with DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, and Warner Bros. Animation's Executive Vice President and Creative Affairs, Sam Register.

•VENTURE BROTHERS HALLOWEEN SPECIAL – This October on Adult Swim, the Venture Family fills your Halloween goody bag with fun-sized Truth. Created and directed by Jackson Publick and written by Publick and Doc Hammer, both of whom also provide voices for the special, the Venture Brothers Halloween Special is being animated by Titmouse, Inc.

•BEFOREL OREL – A Moral Orel special that sheds light on the origin of Orel’s religious nature and the birth of his brother, Shapey. Beforel Orel is created by Dino Stamatopoulos (Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole and Mr. Show).

Pilots:

•Untitled Animated Harold & Kumar Project (In Development) - An animated version of the eponymous blockbuster stoner comedy series. Produced by Lionsgate.

•Rick & Morty – A genius inventor grandfather and his less than genius grandson, and the journeys in life they share. From Dan Harmon (Community, Channel 101) and Justin Roiland. (30-minute animated)

•Colonel Wallace (Working Title) – An eccentric southern fried chicken magnate and his adventures with his family. Created by Greg Cohen (Conan O’Brien, King of the Hill, TV Funhouse). (15-minute animated)

•Coffin Dodgers – A group of misfit grumps get into fraternity-style trouble at a cozy suburban retirement home. From Dave Silverstein and Matt Jeser (Drawn Together). (30-minute animated)

•Green Bench: The American Day Dream – A group of friends have pooled their money to buy a large office space for their business. The only problem is they haven’t quite figured out what that business is. In the meantime, it’s an awesome headquarters where their petty, self-centered, and mischievous minds can wander. From the internet sketch comedy sensation Green Bench and produced by Dakota Pictures. (30-minute live-action)

•Freestyle Love Supreme – These I.T. guys work on their freestyle rapping at the office, much to the annoyance of their co-workers. Starring Lin-Manuel Miranda (In The Heights). From Ars Nova (Black Dynamite). (30-minute live-action)

•King Star King – King Star King is a modern day he-man who’s half-warrior, half-idiot. From artist JJ Villard (Monsters Vs. Aliens) and Eric Kaplan (Big Bang Theory). (15-minute animated)

•Rolling With Dad – A brilliant, but disabled man deals with his much less intelligent family. From Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies; Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter; Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows; The Hard Times of RJ Berger) and David Katzenberg (The Hard Times of RJ Berger). (30-minute animated)

Ridiculous and Absurd Infomercials (That Sell You Nothing):

•NTSF:SD:SUV::Home Security System – The state of the art home security system has arrived. Protect your home from every type of terrorist invasion. Through the installation of electrified moats, attack leopards, gun turrets, and even a mini detention center, NTSF:SD:SUV::HSS is the only type of security to make sure that your mailman is who he says he is and your next store neighbor is as friendly as they seem. Never have a surprise guest again. Be prepared for the worst with the best security money can buy. Produced by Abominable Pictures.

•You’re Whole - Michael Ian Black introduces viewers to the best, most economical system for taking your life to the next level now available on 27 DVDs. Produced by Abominable Pictures.

•Swords, Knives, Very Sharp Objects and Cutlery (Working Title) – A typical knife/sword infomercial and call-in show goes horribly wrong for host Dragon Shumway when the studio is suddenly attacked by bad guys and our host finally gets to realize the full potential of his weaponry by unleashing each one on his enemies. Created by and starring Rob Huebel and produced by Abominable Pictures.

Adult Swim Announces Return of "The Boondocks" and Others for 2012-13

Returning series:

•AQUA SOMETHING YOU KNOW WHATEVER – What happens when three wisecracking roommates go from chasing tail to the diaper pail? You'll find out, when Frylock, Meatwad, and Master Shake try their hands—and hearts—at raising a baby. But smelly diapers aren't the only thing changing this season—Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 has been put to bed for a long nap and replaced by Aqua Something You Know Whatever, the show where Meatwad and the gang can get down to some serious parenting. This season, the Aqua Somethings find an ancient treasure map and follow it all the way to Argentina, where they're shocked to discover an orphaned baby on the 'x' that marks the spot. Outraged, Master Shake begins to throw the child off a steep embankment but one look into the baby's eyes, and the only thing getting thrown off a steep embankment is Shake's heart. Introducing Pepe the Pepper, the newest member of the Aqua Something You Know Whatever family—and boy is he a handful! Find out what happens when three not-so-eligible bachelors catch a case of baby fever, and the only cure is snuggle time. The only nipples these guys will be touching are gonna have a bottle on the other end. Aqua Something You Know Whatever premieres in June on Adult Swim. Aqua Something You Know Whatever is created by Dave Willis (Squidbillies) and Matt Maiellaro (12 oz. Mouse).

•THE BOONDOCKS – Since the debut of the first season in 2005, The Boondocks has been one of Adult Swim’s most popular and critically acclaimed series. The Peabody Award-winning animated series is based on Aaron McGruder’s comic strip by the same name. Produced by Rebel Base in association with Sony Pictures Television, The Boondocks returns with a new season on Adult Swim.

•CHILDRENS HOSPITAL – This August, Childrens Hospital returns for its fourth season and continues to live up to its reputation as the greatest hospital drama in the history of recorded media. Applauded for its tight stories and medical accuracy, this season reaches new heights: an airborne virus threatens to destroy the hospital and perhaps society, a search for the mysterious PA announcer Sal Viscuso reveals an undercurrent of evil powering the hospital, the origins of Chief's handicaps are revealed, a beloved regular character dies a couple of times, and Sy gets a dog! Also, from across the pond, we bring you the British version of Childrens Hospital (subtitled). Finally, 30% more story and character development! For free! The show’s creative team is led by Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) and fellow executive producers/writers Jonathan Stern (The Ten; NTSF:SD:SUV::) and David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer, Wanderlust, Superjail!). Childrens Hospital is produced by Abominable Pictures and Warner Bros. Television Group’s Studio 2.0, and distributed by Warner Bros. Television.

•CHINA, IL – Renewed for a second season, China, IL is about the worst school in America, where the teachers are crazy and the students just want to learn. In this second season of new half-hour episodes, we'll continue to follow the Professor Brothers, Frank & Steve Smith, as well as their TA Pony Merks & their man-child friend Babycakes, along with a host of other teachers, students and townies. Some examples of stories we'll see this season are Baby Cakes's Joe McCarthy-esque witch hunt for actual wizards and witches, Frank & Ronald Reagan's quest for Thomas Jefferson's legendary Crystal Castle, and a god who descends down on China, IL, turning it into a surfer town. China, IL was created by Brad Neely and is executive produced by Neely and Daniel Weidenfeld.

•THE HEART, SHE HOLLER – Renewed for a second season, The Heart, She Holler is a live-action soap opera about folk who ain’t never used soap or seen an opera. It’s a satire on the emotional Hee-Hawification of America, set in a town so inbred, the folks have become almost supernaturally wrong. The series is produced by PFFR, and stars Patton Oswalt, Kristen Schaal and Heather Lawless.

•LOITER SQUAD – Renewed for a second season after a top-rated premiere this March, Loiter Squad will continue to wreck havoc on Adult Swim. Loiter Squad is a 15 minute live-action show that features sketches, man on the street segments, pranks and music from Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. The cast, featuring the Los Angeles collective of rappers, artists, and skateboarders, channel their multi-faceted creative talents in this off-the-wall showcase. Loiter Squad is produced by Dickhouse Entertainment—the Hollywood production partnership of Johnny Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine and Spike Jonze who have been the creative power behind hits including Jackass, Nitro Circus, Rob & Big, Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory, Wild Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, The Birth of Big Air and Wildboyz. Jeff Tremaine, Shanna Zablow, Dimitry Elyashkevich, and Lance Bangs from Dickhouse Entertainment are executive producers.

•NTSF:SD:SUV::— This August on Adult Swim, terrorism is back and better than ever. Join Special Agent Trent Hauser and his elite counter-terrorist unit, NTSF:SD:SUV:: (National Terrorist Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle) for a second season of passionate yelling, pregnant pauses, and even more civilian casualties than last season! There will be Time Traveling, Robot Murders, Food Stealing Swedes, Talking Dogs, a Killer Santa Claus and a wedding. Terrorists—you've been warned—again! NTSF:SD:SUV:: is created by Paul Scheer and stars Scheer, Rebecca Romijn, Rob Riggle, Kate Mulgrew, Brandon Johnson, June Diane Raphael, Martin Starr and Peter Sarafinowicz as the first sentient robot on television. NTSF:SD:SUV:: is produced by Abominable Pictures, Inc. Paul Scheer (The League, Human Giant), Jonathan Stern (The Ten; Childrens Hospital) and Curtis Gwinn (Fat Guy Stuck in Internet) are executive producers.

•ROBOT CHICKEN— Premiering its sixth season this fall on Adult Swim, Robot Chicken uses stop-motion animation to bring pop-culture parodies to life in a modern take on the variety/sketch show format. The Emmy Award®-winning series began airing in February 2005 and remains among the top-rated original series on Adult Swim. Robot Chicken is created and executive produced by Stoopid Monkey Productions' Seth Green and Matthew Senreich and their Stoopid Buddy Stoodios partners, Buddy Systems' John Harvatine IV and Eric Towner, also serve as executive producers. Green and Senreich also write, voice and with Zeb Wells, direct the multiple Annie Award-winning series. Robot Chicken head writers/co-executive producers Douglas Goldstein and Tom Root are joined by season six writers Matthew Beans, Rachel Bloom, Mike Fasolo, Jessica Gao, Breckin Meyer, Jason Reich, Mehar Sethi, Tom Sheppard, Erik Weiner and Wells. For season six, Robot Chicken welcomes Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Chalke, Kat Dennings, Sam Elliott, Ben Foster, Whoopi Goldberg, Lucas Grabeel, Megan Hilty, Gillian Jacobs, Zachary Levi, J.B. Smoove, Liev Schreiber, Jon Stewart, Patrick Stewart, Stanly Tucci, Olivia Wilde, and Alex Winter.

•SQUIDBILLIES – Premiering its sixth season this July, Adult Swim welcomes you back to the North Georgia Mountains, birthplace of hell raising and inhalant huffing. At the epicenter of this rural paradise is Dougal County, home to crippling gambling addictions, murderous corporations, sexual deviants, and the authentic southern mountain squid. Early Cuyler continues his reign as America’s favorite cephalopod in season six of Squidbillies, filled with love, murder, sobriety, and the secrets of the Catfish Kingdom. This time around Rusty tackles fatherhood, Early defends his reputation as the town’s biggest badass, Granny helps the Sheriff solve a series of butt thefts, Lil embraces the boring life of sobriety, and the Sheriff finds love east of the Iron Curtain. Come watch the Cuylers chase the southern dream of a rewarding job in the food service industry, all while using violence and alcohol to tackle life's toughest problems. It's good clean family fun, if your family is in the 18-35 demographic! Squidbillies is written and produced by Dave Willis (Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and Jim Fortier (Space Ghost Coast to Coast, The Brak Show).

•SUPERJAIL! – This fall on Adult Swim, Superjail! slams back in general population for a third season of destruction. Triple the insanity. Triple the crazy. Triple the pain of being kicked in the guts really hard. Superjail! is produced at Titmouse Studios in N.Y. Series creators and executive producers Christy Karacas (Cartoon Sushi, Robotomy) and Stephen Warbrick (Beavis and Butthead, Celebrity Deathmatch) have teamed up again to take this over-the-top animated series to the next level.

Returning acquisitions:
•AMERICAN DAD
•BLEACH
•CLEVELAND SHOW
•FAMILY GUY
•FULL METAL ALCHEMIST: BROTHERHOOD
•KING OF THE HILL

Adult Swim (AdultSwim.com), launched in 2001, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s network offering original and acquired animated and live-action series for young adults. Airing nightly from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. (ET/PT), Adult Swim is basic cable’s #1 network with persons 18-34 and 18-49, and is seen in 99 million U.S. homes.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, creates and programs branded news, entertainment, animation and young adult media environments on television and other platforms for consumers around the world.

Donna Summer Has Died at the Age of 63

Back in the day, I loved, loved, loved me some Donna Summer.  I'm still a fan.  The Wrap has confirmed that she died sometime this morning (Thursday, May 17, 2012).  Her family released the following statement:

"While we grieve her passing, we are at peace celebrating her extraordinary life and her continued legacy," the statement reads. "Words truly can't express how much we appreciate your prayers and love for our family at this sensitive time."

I will miss the five-time Grammy winner, still known as the "Queen of Disco."  Rest in peace, Donna Summer

Happy Birthday, Albert

Or Happy Birthday, Al, as I've pretty much always called you since we first met 28-freaking-years-ago this coming August.  I can't remember your age, but it's really more a state of mind, innit?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Music of the Vampire" an Average Scooby-Doo Toon

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 37 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire (2012) – Video
Running time: 78 minutes (1 hour, 18 minutes)
DIRECTORS: David Block
WRITER: Tom Sheppard
PRODUCERS: Spike Brandt and Tom Cervone
EDITOR: Kyle Stafford
COMPOSER: Andy Sturmer
ANIMATION STUDIO: Digital Emation Inc.

ANIMATION/ACTION/COMEDY/MYSTERY/MUSICAL

Starring: (voices) Frank Welker, Matthew Lillard, Grey DeLisle, Mindy Cohn, Jim Cummings, Jeff Bennett, Mindy Sterling, Christian Campbell, Rob Paulsen, Jim Wise, Julianne Buescher, Obba Babatunde, and Robert Townsend

Beginning in 1998 with Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island, Warner Bros. has released direct-to-video animated movies based on the Scooby-Doo cartoon franchise. Except for a few years when two movies have been released, there has been at least one movie a year. Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire is the 17th movie in this direct-to-video series. It is also the second musical in the series, following Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King (2008).

After battling a giant cockroach monster, the Mystery Inc. gang: Shaggy Rogers (Matthew Lillard), Fred Jones (Frank Welker), Daphne Blake (Grey DeLisle), Velma Dinkley (Mindy Cohn), and, of course, Scooby-Doo (Frank Welker), are in need of a vacation – a monster-free vacation. They hop in the Mystery Machine and end up in bayou country (Louisiana?) where they eventually come to Petit Chaure Sourie Ville, which means “Little Bat Town.”

They have been invited to the small town by Vincent Van Helsing (Jeff Bennett), a direct descendant of the famed vampire hunter, Abraham Van Helsing. Vincent has a museum and a parcel of land that he leases to a traveling vampire-themed festival owned by the unscrupulous Lita Rutland (Mindy Sterling). Part of this traveling show is Fangenschanz, a cheesy version of Cirque du Soleil with actors dressed as vampires. During a performance, the Fangenschanz troop apparently awakens a centuries-old vampire, Lord Valdronya (Jeff Bennett). Now, that he is awake, Valdronya wants a bride, and Daphne is the bride he wants.

For the past few years, I’ve been looking forward to each new Scooby-Doo direct-to-DVD movie. However, I didn’t have high hopes for Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire, especially after learning that it was a musical. The eight songs (two of which are reprised) aren’t bad, but they aren’t exceptionally good, either. I have seen some good Scooby-Doo movies; this isn’t one of the particularly good one, although it does have some nice moments. My niece, who was visiting recently, watched it numerous times during this just-passed Mother’s Day weekend. I don’t like Music of the Vampire as much as she apparently does, but she is currently in an I-love-everything-Scooby-Doo phase.

What else can I say? I am guessing that children that like Scooby-Doo will like Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire. Adults who are down with the Doo may not like this, or, like me, they will try to find things in Scooby-Doo! Music of the Vampire to like.

5 of 10
C+

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Scooby-Doo" the Movie is Kinda Doo-Doo

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 55 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Scooby-Doo (2002)
Running time: 88 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some rude humor, language and some scary action
DIRECTOR: Raja Gosnell
WRITERS: James Gunn; from a story Craig Titley and James Gunn (based upon the characters created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera)
PRODUCERS: Charles Roven and Richard Suckle
CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Eggby (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Kent Beyda
COMPOSER: David Newman

COMEDY/FAMILY/FANTASY/MYSTERY with elements of action

Starring: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, Linda Cardellini, Rowan Atkinson, Isla Fisher, Miguel A Nunez, Jr., Neil Fanning (voice), Scott Innes (voice), J.P. Manoux (voice)

Why does there need to be a feature-length, live action, movie based on the long running “Scooby-Doo” animated series? There are a number of reasons. It’s an exploitable “intellectual” property owned by a giant corporation. It’s a recognizable property and brand name, and frankly, only in recent years has the property owner begun to maximize the licensing potential of this property. Also, most movies from the larger film studios are notoriously expensive; “new” ideas are risky, but remakes and adaptations of stories from other media are the way film studios go when they want to play it safe. To many people, however, both young and old (after all, the Scooby-Doo cartoon concept is over 30 years old), this isn’t a property; it’s Scooby-Doo, man, so a lot of moviegoers were eagerly awaiting the 2002 “live” action debut of Scooby-Doo. And I place live in quotation marks because our favorite cartoon dog is one of many things in this film that isn’t exactly live.

As Scooby-Doo begins, the gang of Mystery Inc. disband due to internal strife. Fred “Freddie” Jones (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) is full of himself and believes that he is the group. Daphne Blake (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is tired of her teammates viewing her as a weak link, and Velma Dinkley (Linda Cardellini) wants credit for her intellectual contributions to the group. As the unhappy trio departs, Norville “Shaggy” Rogers (Matthew Lillard) and Scooby (a CGI character) inherit the Mystery Machine, that van that has carried the kids across continents to solve mysteries, and retire to live their lives eating rude junk food.

The gang inadvertently reunites when the owner of Spooky Island, Emile Mondavarious (Rowan Atkinson) invites the former teammates separately by invitation to his island to solve the mystery behind the strange behavior of his resort island’s guests. What they find test their individual skills and forces them back together, but can they solve a mystery that might involve their past?

Scooby-Doo alternates between several phases. Sometimes, it’s really dumb, while other times it’s too lame to be dumb. It’s bad, ridiculous, and doesn’t make sense, which is odd because the creators behind the original cartoon series often went to great lengths to give plausible explanations for their often surreal, bizarre, and implausible stories. Yet, there were times when I really found some of the material to be funny. I can’t kid myself. This movie is for children, and not necessarily dumb children. It’s for children and for adults who love Scooby-Doo and are thrilled by the idea of a Scooby movie. Audiences can look forward to this kind of movie now thanks to the ability to render the strangest looking characters and give them complex movements with the aid of computer software. At one time, a Scooby-Doo movie would have meant an actor playing Scooby in an awful looking costume that wouldn’t fool anyone in believing he was Scooby. Now, computers can create an animated Scooby that looks more real and has more range of motion than the original character that was created using traditional cel animation.

Audiences are consumers, and consumers are suckers for the familiar brand names. While we might see Scooby as a beloved character, he’s a product. No studio is going to risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales on a film through theatrical release, home video, television, and merchandising just to make a smart and witty movie. The Scooby cartoons were never smart and witty, anyway. Except for an occasional odd, short film from an inventive animator for the Cartoon Network during the 1990’s, the filmography of Scooby has been one of simpleminded entertainment for kids. And I have to admit that I watched lots of Scooby for over two decades.

Director Raja Gosnell, a former film editor, is a perfect choice to direct this. His knowledge of how film works allows him to create a functional film out of what amounts to a poor script. The story actually has something that’s vaguely neat and interesting – an idea here or there that might work. However, the writers seem mostly to be hacks that specialize in B movies. They’re used to doing atrocious work that is “not supposed to be taken seriously.” So I don’t know if the studio wanted this to stay dumb, or that this was dumb by either the writers’ choice or ability. Either way, they couldn’t seem to hold onto what inspiration they had, and I wonder if these guys even know how to aim it when they’re in front of a urinal.

The casting of this movie is mostly wrong. Matthew Lillard seems born to play Shaggy, and Linda Cardellini is tolerable as Velma; after a while, they all sort of grow on you like fungus, and you accept them. I have to admit that despite my reservations, I grew to like the computer generated Scooby. I thought of it as Scooby the same way I would a cel-animated Doo. I really didn’t like that the film introduced adult “personality” traits to the characters: lust, envy, insecurity, hate, revenge, anger, etc.

This film is mostly trash, something light and fluffy, a curiosity piece, in a manner of speaking, so see it for Scooby and Shaggy if for no other reason. There are some really sweet moments that I can’t reveal without spoiling the film, and the sets and costumes were really nice.

5 of 10
C+

NOTES:
2003 Razzie Awards: 2 nominations: “Most Flatulent Teen-Targeted Movie” (Warner Bros.) and “Worst Supporting Actor” (Freddie Prinze, Jr.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez to Star in "Getaway"

(Selena Gomez and Ethan Hawke in a photograph from Dark Castle Entertainment and After Dark Films' upcoming feature, Getaway.  Photo by Simon Varsano.)

Filming is Underway on “Getaway”

Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight star in the thriller from Dark Castle Entertainment and After Dark Films

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography has begun on Dark Castle Entertainment and After Dark Films’ high-octane action thriller “Getaway.”

The film stars Academy Award® nominee Ethan Hawke (“Training Day”), actress and international music sensation Selena Gomez (“Wizards of Waverly Place”), and Academy Award® winner Jon Voight (“Coming Home,” the “National Treasure” films).

Courtney Solomon (“An American Haunting”) and Yaron Levy (director of photography on “Transit”) are teaming to direct “Getaway.” Solomon is also producing the film, together with Moshe Diamant and Chris Milburn. The executive producers are Joel Silver, Alan Zeman and Steve Richards. The screenplay is by Gregg Maxwell Parker and Sean Finegan, with the latter also serving as co-producer.

Ethan Hawke plays Brent Magna, a burned out race car driver who is thrust into a do-or-die mission behind the wheel when his wife is kidnapped. With Brent’s only ally a young hacker (Selena Gomez), his one hope of saving his wife is to follow the orders of the mysterious voice (Jon Voight) who’s watching his every move through cameras mounted on the car Brent’s driving.

The behind-the-scenes team includes production designer Nate Jones, editor Ryan Dufrene, and costume designer Irene Kotcheva.

“Getaway” began shooting on location in Sofia, Bulgaria. Future filming will take place in the United States.

The film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lean "Haywire" is Hard and Mean

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 36 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Haywire (2011)
U.S. release – January 2012
Running time: 93 minutes (1 hour, 33 minutes)
MPAA – R for some violence
EDITOR/CINEMATOGRAPHER/DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
WRITER: Lem Dobbs
PRODUCER: Gregory Jacobs
COMPOSER: David Holmes

ACTION/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Angarano, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Michael Fassbender, Matthieu Kassovitze, Anthony Brandon Wong, and Bill Paxton

Haywire is a 2011 action movie and espionage thriller from director Steven Soderbergh. Released in the United States earlier this year, Haywire focuses on a female secret operative who must go rogue in order to stay alive.

Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) works for a private firm employed by the American government to perform covert operations. Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) is the firm’s director and, until recently, he was Mallory’s boyfriend. He sends Mallory and a team to Barcelona, Spain to rescue Jiang (Anthony Brandon Wong), a Chinese national being held hostage. After the mission, things go haywire. Mallory goes on the run with Scott (Michael Angarano), a young man she meets at a restaurant. Aaron (Channing Tatum), a member of her team, is pursuing her. Now, she must outwit her pursuers on both sides of the Atlantic if she is going to outlast them and discover who betrayed her.

Although he didn’t write the script, Haywire is a definitely a Steven Soderbergh movie, as he not only directed it, but also photographed it (under the name Peter Andrews) and edited it (under the name Mary Ann Bernard). The film is fast and spare, unlike the extravagant norm of many Hollywood spy and espionage thrillers and action movies. Haywire skewers closer to reality, from the gritty hand to hand combat to Gina Carano’s body and facial features. Mallory Kane looks like a woman who has really served in the military and is trained to do security and covert ops work.

However, there is much about this movie that is flat. There is too much impersonal dialogue and delivery between the characters, and the few scenes of intimacy and personal relationships come across as phony. Much of the cast is underutilized. There isn’t enough of the fantastic Michael Fassbender, and Bill Paxton as John Kane, Mallory’s father, looks as if he is chomping at the bit to do more in this movie.

Still, Haywire is a nice anecdote to the overcooked action, post-human cinema tech, and computer-generated effects that dominate most of the action thrillers now splashed across American movie theatre screens. I like the rough-and-ready Mallory Kane that actress Gina Carano creates. I want more of her, especially if Soderbergh would direct a hypothetical sequel. Haywire is a lean, mean, fighting machine, a breath of fresh air in Hollywood kick-ass cinema.

6 of 10
B

Thursday, May 10, 2012