Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" Will Now Be 3 Films Instead of Two

Peter Jackson’s Long-Awaited Filmed Adaptation of The Hobbit to be a Trilogy

New Line Cinema, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Warner Bros. Pictures Announce Third Film in The Hobbit Trilogy

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Peter Jackson will make a third film in his upcoming adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, it was jointly announced today by Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officers, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Jackson, the Academy Award®-winning filmmaker behind the blockbuster “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, recently wrapped principal photography on what he originally planned to be a two-film adaptation of The Hobbit, which is set in Middle-earth 60 years before The Lord of the Rings.

Jackson stated, “Upon recently viewing a cut of the first film, and a chunk of the second, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and I were very pleased with the way the story was coming together. We recognized that the richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, gave rise to a simple question: do we tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as filmmakers and fans was an unreserved ‘yes.’ We know the strength of our cast and of the characters they have brought to life. We know creatively how compelling and engaging the story can be and—lastly, and most importantly—we know how much of the tale of Bilbo Baggins, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur would remain untold if we did not fully realize this complex and wonderful adventure. I’m delighted that New Line, MGM and Warner Bros. are equally enthusiastic about bringing fans this expansive tale across three films.”

Emmerich stated, “We completely support Peter and his vision for bringing this grand adventure to the screen over the course of three films. Peter, Fran and Philippa’s reverence for the material and understanding of these characters ensure an exciting and expanded journey that is bound to please fans around the world.”

“With the abundance of rich material, we fully endorse the decision to further develop what Peter, Fran and Philippa have already begun. We are confident that, with the great care the filmmakers have taken to faithfully bring this journey to the screen, the film will be welcomed by the legions of fans across the globe,” said Barber and Birnbaum.

Robinov added, “Peter, Fran and Philippa have lived in this world and understand more than anyone its tremendous breadth and scope, and the relationships that bind it together. We strongly support their vision to bring this great work fully to life.”

The first film in the trilogy, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” will be released December 14, 2012, with the second film releasing on December 13, 2013, and the third film slated for summer 2014. All three films will be released in 3D and 2D in select theatres and IMAX.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes three films based on The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The trilogy of films are set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

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

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

Under Jackson’s direction, all three movies are being shot in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Additional filming, as with principal photography, is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and its successive installments are productions 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.


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

About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. is actively engaged in the worldwide production and distribution of motion pictures, television programming, home video, interactive media, music, and licensed merchandise. The company owns one of the world’s largest library of modern films, comprising approximately 4,000 titles. Operating units include Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc., United Artists Films Inc., MGM Television Entertainment Inc., MGM Networks Inc., MGM Distribution Co., MGM International Television Distribution Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Home Entertainment LLC, and MGM Music. In addition, MGM has ownership interests in domestic and international TV channels reaching over 130 countries. For more information, visit http://www.mgm.com/.

"Blade Anime" and "Wolverine Anime" Now in Stores

BLADE ANIME & WOLVERINE ANIME Strike DVD July 31st

Each Two-Disc Set Includes 12 Episodes and All-New Featurettes!

Catch some of Marvel’s most dangerous Super Heroes when Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Marvel Animation release BLADE ANIME and WOLVERINE ANIME on DVD July 31st. The two-disc sets will include all 12 episodes from each series, with epic battles and action-packed storylines, as well as six all-new featurettes. The series are guided by The New York Times best-selling author Warren Ellis (Iron Man: Extremis, Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis), and produced by Madhouse for Marvel Television and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (SPEJ). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the distributor.

BLADE ANIME features the voice of Harold Perrineau (TV’s “Lost,” Matrix trilogy) as Eric Brooks, otherwise known as Blade. The three new featurettes on this two-disc set include The Marvel Anime Universe: Blade Re-Awakened, which explores the process that went into developing this new take on the vampire-hunter. Other featurettes also include Blade: The Vampire-Slayer, comparing Marvel’s Blade with traditional vampire stories, and Special Talk Session: Marvel Anime's Blade and Wolverine, an interview with series creators.

WOLVERINE ANIME stars Milo Ventimiglia (TV’s “Heroes,” TV’s “Gilmore Girls”) voicing the title character of Wolverine. The three new featurettes on this two-discset include The Marvel Anime Universe: Wolverine Reborn, providing insights into the process for creating the series. The Ferocious Anti-Hero: Wolverine Defined exploresthe hero’s character, and Wolverine Meets X-Men contains an interview with the creators of the Marvel anime Wolverine and X-Men.

BLADE ANIME SYNOPSIS: Eric Brooks – known as Blade - seeks revenge on Deacon Frost, the vampire who killed his mother while she was still pregnant with him. With all the powers of a vampire and none of their weaknesses, Blade's quest leads him throughout Southeast Asia in search of Frost. In the Golden Triangle, he discovers a vampire plot that threatens to take down the whole world.

WOLVERINE ANIME SYNOPSIS: The love of Logan’s life, Mariko Yashida, is taken back to Japan by her father Shingen, a notorious crime lord. Once in Japan, she is forcibly betrothed to Kurohagi, a cruel criminal associate of her father, to solidify their business interests. Logan is determined to get her back, yet is plunged into a tangled web of corruption and violence at every turn. But with the help of young assassin Yukio, he just might manage to claw his way through the criminal underworld to confront Shingen and save Mariko.


Happy B'day, Wesley Snipes: Drop Zone

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 63 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Drop Zone (1994)
Running time: 101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence and language
DIRECTOR: John Badham
WRITERS: Peter Barsocchini and John Bishop, from a story by Tony Griffin, Guy Manos, and Peter Barsocchini
PRODUCERS: D.J. Caruso, Lauren Lloyd, and Wallis Nicita
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roy H. Wagner (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Frank Morriss
COMPOSER: Hans Zimmer

ACTION/CRIME/THRILLER

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Gary Busey, Yancy Butler, Michael Jeter, Corin Nemec, Kyle Secor, Luca Bercovici, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Grace Zabriskie, Rex Linn, Robert LaSardo, Sam Hennings, Claire Stansfield, Mickey Jones, and Andy Romano

The subject of this movie review is Drop Zone, a 1994 action movie and crime thriller from director John Badham. This film was apparently initially conceived as a Steven Seagal project. Drop Zone stars Wesley Snipes as a U.S. Marshal tracking a team of skydiving crooks led by a former DEA agent.

A thoroughly underrated Wesley Snipes film (and there are several) is Drop Zone. At the time the film was first released, it was expected to be a huge hit, yet it didn’t gross $30 million at the North American box office. However, I think that any viewer who can identify with the character Snipes portrays will find that this movie really resonates for him.

Snipes is Pete Nessip, a U.S. Marshall, who is transferring a prisoner (Michael Jeter) to a safe house with his brother Terry (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) who is also a Marshall. A group of skyjackers stage an impossible prison break on a 747, kill Terry, and kidnaps the prisoner, Earl Leedy (Jeter). There is, however, more to this. Led by Ty Moncrief (Gary Busey), a former Drug Enforcement Agency agent, the skyjackers are actually a band of skydiving crooks that specialize in landing on the roofs of law enforcement buildings and hacking into law enforcement computer systems. They sell the information they get to drug lords. Nessip convinces Jessie Crossman (Yancy Butler), a roguish but loveable skydiving instructor, to help him track down the criminals.

Drop Zone is decidedly low-fi and is more like Snipes earlier hit, Passenger 57, or the Keanu Reaves classic Point Break. It’s a police procedural and crime thriller with some great action scenes. The skydiving stunt work and photography is breathtaking and, in fact, rocks. The acting is good, though a little stiff and over the top, but Snipes, Busey, and Ms. Butler carry the film quite well, especially Busey who does his usual good work as a crazy guy. Kyle Secor is also quite entertaining as the skydiving loony, Swoop, playing excellent comic relief. I give this film a hardy recommendation as a sure fire video rental or as a Saturday home matinee.

7 of 10
B+

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy B'day, Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Terminator

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 3 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Terminator (1984)
Running time: 107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
MPAA – R
DIRECTOR: James Cameron
WRITERS: Gale Ann Hurd and James Cameron, with William Wisher
PRODUCER: Gale Anne Hurd
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adam Greenberg (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Mark Goldblatt
COMPOSER: Brad Fiedel

SCI-FI/FANTASY/ACTION/THRILLER

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, and Bill Paxton

The subject of this movie review is The Terminator, a 1984 science fiction and action film from director James Cameron. Essentially an independent film, The Terminator was not expected to be a success. Not only was the film a commercial and critical hit, but it also spawned three sequels, a television series, and other spin-offs, including several comic book series. Of note, author Harlan Ellison received a screen credit on later releases of the film to acknowledge his work as a source for the film.

In the future, an artificial intelligence named Skynet, a kind of super computer, rules the planet and wages a total war on the small bands of human who survived Skynet’s initial genocidal campaign against mankind. When the human resistance reaches a point that it has defeated Skynet, it sends the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back in time to kill the Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the woman who would one day give birth to John Connor, the leader of the successful human resistance. One of John Connor’s most trusted fighters, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) volunteers to follow the Terminator into the past to save Sarah, the woman Reese has secretly loved since the day he first saw an aged photo of her.

Directed by James Cameron, The Terminator was one of the last low budget science fiction movies to have a measurable impact on filmmaking. Short on funds, Cameron relied on story and well executed action sequences to keep the viewer on the edge of his seat. It is a far cry from the bloated SFX extravagances that Cameron would go on to shoot.

Cameron reveals just enough of the bleak, burnt out future to simultaneously whet our appetites and to then leave us begging for more. He aims the camera close in to the actors and uses quick cut editing to heighten the sense of drama and tension. Layers of shots from several angles strengthen the dramatic impact of the story; you simply can’t ignore this film. It is a simple story – a man has to save the woman he loves from a relentless killer. However, Cameron uses his directorial prowess to up the ante when it comes to the chase; the pursuit is one long, unrelenting, bloody hunt.

In one scene in particular, the Terminator arises like a broken phoenix from its funeral pyre, still alive and still following its program. Before the magic of computer generated imagery (CGI), this scene had to be shot in stop motion glory. An evil leer made of silver metal teeth spread across its face, the machine marches on to terminate its target. These few moments of filmmaking reveal the savvy of mind that can create his vision despites restraints of budget or technology. Cameron was good a long time before CGI.

The Terminator was a career defining and career changing moment for Schwarzenegger. The machine he portrays isn’t simply a cold efficient killer. It’s part specter and part machine – magic and science. His portrayal combines the coldest sci-fi villain with the scariest horror movie monster – Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey meets Michael Myers from Halloween. As he storms through Los Angeles looking for his target, he examines his environment with the cool detachment of scientific device and stalks Kyle and Sarah with the hell born determination of masked slasher.

Biehn and Ms. Hamilton are very good in their parts. Reese is the consummate soldier, a sinewy runt, his body marked with gross scars. He has the single-minded determination to follow his commander’s orders and to successfully conclude his mission even at the cost of his life. Ms. Hamilton’s Sarah Connor is a dumped on young woman, whose comeliness hides behind a façade of homeliness and humility. The real woman in her waits the day when she can emerge fully formed and ready to throw off her waitress’s apron and kick butt.

Largely forgotten in the age of computer-enhanced movies, The Terminator remains as visceral, as funny, as exciting, and as poignant today as it was then. By no means perfect, it was more entertaining movie magic than thoughtful movie making. However, one cannot deny how effectively this movie delivers the thrills. Think of it as a B-movie made by an intelligent filmmaker steeped in the slums of maligned genres like horror, science fiction, fantasy, and comic books. This is the groundbreaking work of art that came from that ghetto.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2008 National Film Preservation Board, USA: “National Film Registry”

Remembering Ingmar Bergman: Cries and Whispers

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 78 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Cries and Whispers (1972)
Viskningar och rop – original title
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Sweden
Running time: 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
MPAA – R
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Ingmar Bergman
PRODUCER: Lars-Owe Carlberg
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sven Nykvist
EDITOR: Siv Lundgren
Academy Award winner

DRAMA

Starring: Harriet Andersson, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullman, Inga Gill (voice), Anders Ek, Erland Josephson, Henning Moritzen, and Georg Arlin

The subject of this movie review is Cries and Whispers (Viskningar och rop), a 1972 drama written and directed by legendary Swedish filmmaker, the late Ingmar Bergman (1918-2007). The film follows two sisters who watch over the deathbed of a third sister and all the complicated history between the three women. At the time, Cries and Whispers was only the fourth foreign-language film to be nominated in the “best picture” category at the Academy Awards.

Ingmar Bergman is one of the world’s most renowned film directors, and his 1972 film Cries and Whispers influenced much of filmmaker Woody (Annie Hall) Allen’s work. This is the first Bergman film that I’ve ever seen and, as the film’s tagline says, it, for me, was a haunting and shattering experience.

Two sister, Marie (Liv Ullman) and Karin (Ingrid Thulin), take care of their terminally ill sister, Agnes (Harriet Andersson), all under the watchful gaze of Agnes’s loyal servant Anna (Kari Sylwan), in Agnes’s Swedish manor, circa 1900. The sisters’ relationship, like the relationship of real people, is complicated, and Agnes’s looming death forces them to confront each other, as well as forcing Marie and Karin to relive painful moments with their husbands from the recent past.

Cries and Whispers starts off quiet slowly; in fact, it takes much patience on the part of the viewer to stick with this film. However, about a third of the way into the movie, you can catch its deliberately languid rhythm. Bergman gives every scene such astonishing individual attention that his film becomes a composition of pictorial frames. Each frame is like a separate painting that when viewed with the aid of light and speed becomes a complex and engrossing story. Director of Photography Sven Nykvist (who won an Oscar for his work here) washes the film in vivid, dark colors, especially red, so that the movie looks like one continuous oil painting.

Of the many things that I got from this film was Bergman’s fidelity to the visual purity of film. His dialogue, which is sparse, is efficient and rich in telling the story. However, so much of the film story is dependent upon what the viewer sees on the screen, be it in the facial expressions and gestures of the actors or the lavish and colorful settings. From actors, to props, to settings, each one creates a mood conveyed through sight that communicates to the viewer. Bergman, like the great painters, is telling a story with his canvas, and his entire painting doesn’t just contribute to the story, it is the story, from the frozen expression on a character’s face to the overwhelming crimson that covers the manor’s walls. It’s a visual feast that harkens back to silent films, before sound corrupted the purely visual sensations of cinema.

As much as Bergman’s prowess is on display in the story and composition of the film, the acting is superb, first rate, and award winning work. They’re all good, and each actor tells his or her part of the story, using the human body as an artistic tool. My favorite is Kari Sylwan as the maid Anna. She is the film’s moral center, the loyal servant who steadies Agnes in her suffering, her sickness being the catalyst for this tale. Hers is a quite and bravura performance, one of the best supporting roles that I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch.

Anyone who seriously loves cinema as an art and as a visual artistic experience has to see Bergman, and this, though not his most famous work, is a good example of what a film artist can do in the medium. I won’t provide spoilers of the story, but there are many scenes that could shatter the nerves and unsettle the viewer.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
1974 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Cinematography” (Sven Nykvist); 4 nominations: “Best Costume Design” (Marik Vos-Lundh), “Best Director” (Ingmar Bergman), “Best Picture” (Ingmar Bergman), “Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Factual Material or Material Not Previously Published or Produced” (Ingmar Bergman)

1974 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Actress” (Ingrid Thulin) and “Best Cinematography” (Sven Nykvist)

1973 Golden Globes, USA: 1 nomination: “Best Foreign-Language Foreign Film” (Sweden)

1973 Cannes Film Festival: 1 win: “Technical Grand Prize” (Ingmar Bergman)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Daniel Radcliffe Has the Right Stuff for "The Woman in Black"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 62 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Woman in Black (2012)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.K. with Canada and Sweden
Running time: 95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing images
DIRECTOR: James Watkins
WRITER: Jane Goldman (based on the novel by Susan Hill)
PRODUCERS: Richard Jackson, Simon Oakes, and Brian Oliver
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tim Maurice-Jones (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Jon Harris
COMPOSER: Marco Beltrami

HORROR/MYSTERY/THRILLER

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer, Misha Handley, Jessica Raine, Sophie Stuckey, and Liz White

The Woman in Black is a 2012 British horror and mystery thriller starring Daniel Radcliffe. The film is loosely based on the 1983 novel, The Woman in Black, written by Susan Hill. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe, who is famous for playing the title role in the Harry Potter films. Radcliffe plays a young lawyer who travels to a remote village where he discovers a vengeful ghost terrorizing the locals.

The Woman in Black’s film story is set in the Edwardian era (1901-1910). Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a young attorney living in London. Kipps is also a young widower with a four-year-old son, Joseph (Misha Handley). A senior partner at the firm for which Kipps works is displeased with Arthur’s performance. Arthur gets an assignment that can save his career (for the time being). He must travel to the remote coastal village of Crythin Gifford, where he must gather the paperwork to sell Eel Marsh House, the home of a recently deceased client.

After a long journey by train, Arthur arrives at Crythin Gifford and finds the villagers acting coldly towards him. Samuel Daily (Ciarán Hinds), a wealthy local, and his wife, Elizabeth (Janet McTeer), are the only locals who welcome him. Arthur comes to understand that the people do not want him to go to Eel Marsh House, which is abandoned, but he must go to the home in order to search for important paperwork. When he finally settles in at the old house, Arthur learns that he is not alone when he sees the Woman in Black. Who is she and what does she want? Why does her mere appearance so frighten the villagers?

The Woman in Black is a classic ghost story that relies on setting and atmosphere more so than violence and action. It is a mystery because Arthur Kipps is trying to solve several mysteries that revolve around the Woman in Black and the villagers. It is a thriller because the story seems to always have a sound like a creak or a thud or some kind of wraith-like apparition ready to push in front of the camera and into your field of vision. It is a pure horror movie because it is simply chilling. I had goose bumps. My blood frequently ran cold. An intense tingly feeling ran through my upper arms, shoulders, upper back, neck, and head so many times that I often wondered if I was having a medical emergency.

The Woman in Black will keep you either on the edge of your seat or pressed into the back of your seat or both. Daniel Radcliffe gives a good performance, one that is tailored for this gothic-styled ghost story. Radcliffe will make it hard for you to think about Potter while watching this exceptionally scary movie. The Woman in Black will make you forget about anything else when she is around.

8 of 10
A

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Best Thing about "Ted" is Ted

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 61 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Ted (2012)
Running time: 106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
MPAA – R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
DIRECTOR: Seth MacFarlane
WRITERS: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild; from a story by Seth MacFarlane
PRODUCERS: Jason Clark, John Jacobs, Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber, and Wellesley Wild
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Barrett
EDITOR: Jeff Freeman
COMPOSER: Walter Murphy

FANTASY/COMEDY/ROMANCE

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth McFarlane (voice), Joel McHale, Giovanni Ribisi, Patrick Warburton, Matt Walsh, Jessica Barth, Aedin Mincks, Bretton Manley, and Patrick Stewart (narrator) with Norah Jones, Sam J. Jones, Tom Skerritt, Ralph Garman, Alex Borstein, and Ryan Reynolds

The subject of this movie review is Ted, a 2012 comedy and fantasy film directed by Seth McFarlane, the creator of the long-running animated television series, “Family Guy” (FOX). The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and McFarlane, who gives voice to a teddy bear created using motion-capture CGI.

Ted opens in 1985 in the city of Boston where we meet a lonely boy named John Bennett who receives a teddy bear for Christmas. John names the toy “Ted,” and makes a wish that Ted could come to life. John wakes up to find Ted walking and talking.

The story later moves to 2012 where we find an adult John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voice of Seth McFarlane) still living together, watching bad movies and smoking pot. John has a dead-end job, but is dating a pretty, level-headed office worker named Lori Collins (Mila Kunis). After four years of dating, Lori wants John to grow up and leave childish things behind, and that includes Ted. But breaking up is hard to do and John and Lori’s relationship is put to the test, and Ted is endangered.

The best thing about Ted is Ted, and this trash-talking, vulgar teddy bear is a delightful gift that keeps on giving delights. Motion capture CGI (or animation or whatever) has given us one of the few motion capture characters with genuine personality since Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Wahlberg and Kunis are good, but the romance of John and Lori could not sustain an entire romantic comedy on its own. Wahlberg and Kunis’ characters are at their best when they form a threesome with Ted. Wahlberg has played the tough guy in so many crime and action thrillers that it is easy to forget how good he is at playing comedy with that solidly straight face of his. Kunis is expressive as an actress who trades understated for passion instead. She makes Lori’s frustration with John’s behavior and with her boss Rex’s harassment come through loud and clear.

Ted allows Seth McFarlane, as director, co-writer, co-producer, and co-star, to let loose in ways he cannot with “Family Guy,” and McFarlane and his cohorts get away with a lot on that network television series. In Ted, McFarlane and company tweak the sacred and the profane, as well as the mundane. It is also refreshing to see a mainstream comedy take on some good old-fashioned ethnic humor. Ted is not one of those comedies that fail to deliver. It’s very funny, and that’s enough.

7 of 10
B+

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

"The Break-Up" Puts Starch in the Romantic Comedy

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 241 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Break-Up (2006)
Running time: 107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual content, some nudity, and language
DIRECTOR: Peyton Reed
WRITERS: Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender; from a story by Vince Vaughn and Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender
PRODUCERS: Scott Stuber and Vince Vaughn
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Edwards
EDITOR: David Rosenbloom and Dan Lebental

DRAMA/COMEDY with elements of romance

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Vincent D’Onofrio, Cole Hauser, Joey Lauren Adams, Peter Billingsley, John Michael Higgins, Ann-Margaret, Judy Davis, Justin Long, and Jacqueline Williams

When celebrity couples make a film, it can be a financial disaster (Gigli starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez) or a box office smash (Mr. & Mrs. Smith starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston are a celebrity couple (although they are coy about it), and their film, The Break-Up, was a box office hit in spite of receiving mostly mediocre and poor reviews. But I liked it a lot.

Once upon a time, Gary Grobowski (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke Meyers (Jennifer Aniston) were deeply in love, but like all couples, the daily grind and same old routine started to drive them crazy. One evening, after a long an exhausting day, Gary and Brooke have an argument and somehow it becomes the break-up. The problem is they live together, and neither wants to give up their plum condo. An all-out war and a test of wills begins with each one turning to his or her friends and family for advice. Gary and Brooke are each determined to be the “last man standing,” but, even as things get nastier, will either one like where this feud is going when there are still strong feelings of love.

Vince Vaughn is charming and charismatic, and no matter how many times he plays a sarcastic slacker, it never gets tired. Jennifer Aniston, gorgeous with a tight body and rocking ass, is quiet good in romantic roles. She seems to excel at playing the girlfriend or object of affection, and she does it well enough to suggest that someone should try her in a dramatic role. The Break-Up is her test drive because it is more drama than it is romance or comedy.

Vaughn and Aniston make The Break-Up both spicy and edgy, and it’s absolute delicious fun to watch this take-no-prisoners disintegration of a once thriving relationship. The comedy is dark, and the script maybe goes too far for some viewers in the way the writers are almost anal about showing as many embarrassing scenes and ugly confrontations between Gary and Brooke. As he did in Down with Love, director Peyton Reed is proving to be adept at making offbeat romances.

There are some nice supporting characters, nicely performed by a clever cast of character actors and actors who make a living playing the friend. As good as Jon Favreau, John Michael Higgins, Judy Davis, and Justin long are, they’re really just filler – the kind of comic relief buddies that are all too common in Hollywood relationship flicks. The real treat is Vaughn and Aniston, and The Break-Up is certainly an example of how good it sometimes can be when celebrity couples work together.

7 of 10
A-

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happy B'day, Helen Mirren: Shadowboxer

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 253 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux


Shadowboxer (2005)
Opening date: July 21, 2006
Running time: 94 minutes (1 hour, 34 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong graphic violence and sexuality, nudity, language, and some drug use
DIRECTOR: Lee Daniels
WRITER: William Lipz
PRODUCERS: Lisa Cortes, Lee Daniels, Damon Dash, Brook Lenfest, and Dave Robinson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: M. David Mullen
EDITOR: William Chang and Brian A. Kates

CRIME/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: Cuba Gooding, Jr., Helen Mirren, Stephen Dorff, Vanessa Ferlito, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Macy Gray, Cullen Flynn Clancy, Tomy Dunster, and Mo’Nique

The subject of this movie review is Shadowboxer, a 2005 crime thriller directed by Lee Daniels. After the film’s theatrical release in the summer of 2006, two of its stars would go on to win Academy Awards, Helen Mirren and Mo’Nique, and one had already won an Oscar, Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Clayton (Stephen Dorff), a nasty crime lord, hires the assassin Rose (Helen Mirren) and her stepson/partner/longtime lover, Mikey (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), to kill his wife, Vickie (Vanessa Ferlito), whom he believes is cheating on him. However, during the hit, Rose, suffering from cancer and on her last job, discovers that Vickie is pregnant and hesitates. Vickie immediately goes into labor and delivers a son. Rose takes mother and newborn and flees with Mikey to a new life in a pastoral suburb. Soon, the baby is seven-year old Anthony (Cullen Flynn Clancy), and the past is about to catch up with this unconventional family.

Shadowboxer is an audacious, unconventional thriller. Director Lee Daniels and writer William Lipz create a crime thriller than can masquerade as a family melodrama. This flick, however, has an awkward pace. Sometimes it is slow, and other times it is a meditative tale that shadowboxes with being philosophical – philosophy that it delivers either through imagery or dialogue. (Mikey religiously practices shadow boxing.) Shadowboxer’s overarching plot is a crime thriller tale full of cold, ruthless murderers, thugs, criminals, and assorted lowlifes, but it often comes across as low budget thriller with most of the actors merely posing rather than acting. The bad guys and badasses come across as stock characters, or maybe the direction they received for their performances was too artsy.

Shadowboxer doesn’t have any great or even really good performances, but this strange off-kilter flick spends the second half builds into a story of an unconventional family coming to grips with itself. The fact that the family members can be a workable nuclear family (even though this merger wasn’t meant to be) only makes seeing things work out that much more desirable. Rooting for this desperate, but loving family makes Shadowboxer’s narrative, pacing, and structural problems all less important.

6 of 10
B

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Batman: Under the Red Hood" is Very Red

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 60 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010) – straight-to-video
Running minutes: 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violent content and some drug references
DIRECTOR: Brandon Vietti
WRITER: Judd Winick
PRODUCERS: Bobbie Page and Bruce Timm
EDITOR: Margaret Hou
COMPOSER: Christopher Drake
ANIMATION STUDIO: Answer Studio

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

Starring: (voices) Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John Di Maggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams, Carlos Alazraqui, Gary Cole, Kelly Hu, Phil LaMarr, Jim Piddock, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Alexander Martella

Batman: Under the Red Hood is a 2010 direct-to-video superhero animated film from Warner Bros. Animation. Starring DC Comics avenger of the night, Batman, this is also the eighth feature in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line.

The film is adapted from two storylines that appeared in Batman comic book titles published by DC Comics. The first is “A Death in the Family,” which was published in Batman #426-429 (1988-89). The second is “Under the Hood,” which was published in Batman #635-641, 645-650, Batman Annual #25 (2005-2006) and was written by Batman: Under the Red Hood screenwriter, Judd Winick.

Batman: Under the Red Hood begins when tragedy strikes Batman (Bruce Greenwood) and Jason Todd (Alexander Martella), the second young man to be Robin, during a mission to stop The Joker (John Di Maggio). Five years later, a new masked vigilante is using The Joker’s old alias, Red Hood (Jensen Ackles) and is wreaking havoc in Gotham City’s organized crime community.

Batman with his original Robin by his side, now called Nightwing (Neil Patrick Harris), try to put a stop to Red Hood, but find him to be more than a match for both of them. Crime boss, Black Mask (Wade Williams) is determined to get rid of the Red Hood, even if it means making a most dangerous choice. For the villain whom Black Mask hires to assassinate Red Hood will set in motion a game of death.

Batman: Under the Red Hood is dark and edgy, first of all because it is one of the most violent (if not the most violent) of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. The film is also surprisingly morbid with its scenes that depict the death of a young person, multiple corpses, the theft of a corpse, exhumation, a funky resurrection scene, mass shootings, brutal beatings, etc. This is a dark, dark, Dark Knight indeed.

The Joker is practically a supporting character with relatively few scenes (although his presence hangs over the entire narrative). This version of the character is well written and also superbly voice acted by John Di Maggio, who gives the kind of turn that adds a rude and dark humor to The Joker’s edginess. Neil Patrick Harris is an odd touch as Nightwing, but his performance gives this film some needed warmth. Jensen Ackles, best known as “Dean Winchester” in the television series, “Supernatural,” brings some righteous rage and energy to this movie. That is the opposite of Bruce Greenwood as Batman, whose voice stands out only in a few scenes. Also, either Wade Williams is the reason that Black Mask is a joke or the character is simply inappropriately and unintentionally comical.

The animation is high quality, which shows in the action scenes. The art direction is good, but there have been better visualizations of Batman’s world, especially Gotham City, in other animated features. Still, Batman: Under the Red Hood is a good film, but there is something about it that keeps me from fully embracing it. Could it be the whole “death in the family” thing or the film’s emphasis on violence that is bothering me? Maybe.

7 of 10
A-

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

"Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" is Twice the Fun

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 59 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010) – straight-to-video
Running minutes: 75 minutes (1 hour, 15 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for action violence
DIRECTOR: Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery
WRITER: Dwayne McDuffie
PRODUCERS: Bobbie Page with Bruce Timm
EDITOR: Margaret Hou
COMPOSERS: James L. Venable with Christopher Drake
ANIMATION STUDIO: Moi Animation Studio

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

Starring: (voices) William Baldwin, Mark Harmon, Chris Noth, Gina Torres, James Woods, Jonathan Adams, Brian Bloom, Bruce Davison, Josh Keaton, Vanessa Marshall, Nolan North, Freddi Rogers, James Patrick Stuart, and Cedric Yarbrough

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is a 2010 direct-to-video superhero animated film from Warner Bros. Animation. Starring DC Comics’ ultimate superhero team, the Justice League, this is also the seventh feature in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line.

The film’s premise borrows from two DC Comics stories, “Crisis on Earth-Three” (Justice League of America #29-30, 1964) and the 2000 graphic novel, JLA: Earth 2, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths follows the Justice League as the team helps a good version of the arch-villain Lex Luthor from a parallel Earth where evil versions of the Justice League dominate the planet.

While rebuilding the Watchtower, their headquarters that orbits the Earth, the Justice League: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Flash are surprised to learn that supervillain Lex Luthor insists on having a meeting with the team. But wait! Isn’t Luthor in prison? This Lex Luthor (Chris Noth) hails from an alternate universe where evil counterparts of the Justice League rule over earth.

On Luthor’s Earth, Superman is Ultraman, Batman is Owlman, Wonder Woman is Superwoman, Green Lantern is Power Ring, and Flash is Johnny Quick. They form the Crime Syndicate. Now, the Justice League must help Luthor free his Earth from the Syndicate’s tyranny, but a certain Syndicate member is hoping to set a more diabolical plan in motion.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Why do I like it? Of all the straight-to-DVD superhero films I’ve watched, this one offers the most bang for the buck that is my viewing pleasure in terms of fights. Superheroes and supervillains fight, and Crisis on Two Earths doesn’t deny the viewer, as we see every combination of battle possible. It seems as if every member of the Justice League gets a shot at every member of the Crime Syndicate and vice versa – from battles of entire squads to skirmishes of smaller groupings of characters.

This story is also surprisingly dark – from Owlman’s (James Woods) fanatical cynicism and narcissism to Batman’s (William Baldwin) cold-blooded and calculated decision making. The characters also make blunt assessments about each other, as Rose Wilson (Freddi Rogers) does of her father, President Slade Wilson (Bruce Davison). Also, the frank nature of the relationship between Owlman and Superwoman (Gina Torres) is not glossed over for the sake of younger viewers.

The voice-over performances by the voice cast bring to life the excellent character writing from television animation writer/producer, the late Dwayne McDuffie. The direction by Sam Liu and Lauren Montgomery is marvelous, especially in the framing of the action and fight scenes. Moi Animation Studio, the studio that produces the actual animation, does itself proud. This is a pretty movie that captures the color and energy of classic, four-color, superhero comic books. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths – Encore! Encore!

8 of 10
A

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cinemark Releases Statement on Aurora, Colorado Shooting

On July 20, 2012, a mass shooting occurred during a midnight screening of the film, The Dark Knight Rises, at a movie theater, the Century 16, which is located in the Town Center at Aurora shopping mall in Aurora, Colorado. The attack occurred in Theater 9 when a gunman, dressed in protective clothing, set off smoke or gas canisters. He then shot into the audience with multiple firearms, killing 12 people and injuring 58. Police arrested 24-year-old James Eagan Holmes, the lone suspect in the case, outside the cinema minutes after the shooting.

Cinemark Deeply Saddened by Aurora Theatre Shooting

PLANO, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK): Cinemark is deeply saddened about this tragic incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community. We are grateful for the quick and professional reaction of all local law enforcement and emergency responders.

Cinemark is working closely with the Aurora Police Department and local law enforcement.

Regal Entertainment Group Releases Statement on Shooting in Aurora, Colorado

Regal is Profoundly Saddened by Tragedy

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--We are profoundly saddened by the tragedy that occurred at a Denver area theatre and are concerned for the victims and their families. The security and safety of our guests and staff is always our number one priority. As is our custom, we will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our security needs as necessary. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

AMC Theatres' Releases Statement on Shooting in Aurora, Colorado

Updated: AMC Theatres Statement Regarding the Tragedy in Aurora, Colorado

KANSAS CITY, Mo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The following is a statement by AMC Theatres:

AMC Theatres is deeply saddened by the Aurora tragedy. Movie going is part of our social fabric and this senseless act shakes us to our core. We’re reinforcing our security procedures with our theatre teams, which we cannot discuss in detail for obvious, safety reasons. Local law enforcement agencies, our landlords and their and our local security teams are stepping up nationwide to ensure we provide the safest environment possible for our guests. We couldn’t be more grateful for their collective support.

At this time, our show schedules circuit-wide will not change. We will not allow any guests into our theatres in costumes that make other guests feel uncomfortable and we will not permit face-covering masks or fake weapons inside our buildings. If guests wish to exchange or refund any tickets, we will honor our existing policy and do as our guests wish. We are taking necessary precautions to ensure our guests who wish to enjoy a movie this weekend can do so with as much peace of mind as possible in these circumstances.


About AMC Theatres
AMC Theatres delivers distinctive and affordable movie-going experiences in 346 theatres with 5,034 screens across the United States and Canada. The company operates 24 of the 50 highest grossing theatres in the country, including the top three. AMC has propelled industry innovation and continues today by delivering premium sight and sound, enhanced food and beverage and diverse content. http://www.amctheatres.com/.

Happy B'day, Willem Dafoe: The Loveless

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 68 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Loveless (1982)
Theatrical release: Jan. 1984 (USA)
Running time: 82 minutes (1 hour, 22 minutes)
MPAA – R
WRITERS/DIRECTORS: Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery
PRODUCERS: A. Kitman Ho and Grafton Nunes
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Doyle Smith
EDITOR: Nancy Kanter
COMPOSER: Robert Gordon

DRAMA

Starring: Willem Dafoe, Robert Gordon, Marin Kanter, J. Don Ferguson, Tina L’Hotsky, Lawrence Matarese, Danny Rosen, Phillip Kimbrough, Ken Call, and Elizabeth Gans

The subject of this movie review is The Loveless, a 1982 outlaw biker drama. The film is notable for being the actor Willem Dafoe’s debut as a lead and for also being the first feature film by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker). According to the Internet Movie Database, The Loveless appeared in film festivals in 1982 and was released theatrically in the United States and Sweden in 1984.

Leather-clad biker, Vance (Willem Dafoe), leads a group of fellow leather-clad bikers who make a pit stop in a backwater Georgia town en route to a stock car race in Daytona, Florida. While waiting for one of their bikes to be repaired, the gang takes a measure of the town and finds it woefully wanting. On the other side of this equation, some of the townsfolk, from a distance, grudgingly admire the bikers’ freedom. There are also a few troublemakers, and one of them, Tarver (J. Don Ferguson), looks to bring this story to an explosive conclusion.

The Loveless was Willem Dafoe’s film debut, and it was also the first feature film directed by Kathryn Bigelow (who actually co-wrote and co-directed this with Monty Montgomery). Bigelow would go onto to direct such films as Near Dark, Point Break, and Strange Days (in addition to being married to James Cameron for two years). The Loveless is a stylish ode to the Marlon Brando film, The Wild One. It’s violent, a little randy, and its mood perfectly captures the essence of an isolated Deep South hamlet stuck in the past, suspicious of strangers and all things different. Incest, bigotry, prejudice, and murder, The Loveless delves into Southern Gothic while worshiping the post-World War II era biker in a languid, sensuous fashion.

The film’s pace and acting style recalls pre-method acting Hollywood films. The performances are very affected in that stage acting manner of movies of old Hollywood. Dafoe gives one his sexiest performances. Dangerous, young, and reeking of raw sex, he wouldn’t appear like this again until 2002’s Spider-Man. The Loveless isn’t great, but its raw, almost amateurish atmosphere and execution is mesmerizing.

5 of 10
B-

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Saturday, July 21, 2012

"The Dark Knight Rises," But the Movie is Bloated

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 58 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Running time: 164 minutes (2 hours, 44 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language
DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
WRITERS: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan; from a story by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan (based upon the characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger)
PRODUCERS: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, and Emma Thomas
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wally Pfister (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Lee Smith
COMPOSER: Hans Zimmer

SUPERHERO/ACTION/DRAMA

Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Matthew Modine, Cillian Murphy, Ben Mendelsohn, Burn Gorman, Tom Conti, and Liam Neeson

The subject of this movie review is The Dark Knight Rises, a film directed by Christopher Nolan. It is a sequel to The Dark Knight and is also the third film in Nolan’s “The Dark Knight trilogy,” which began with 2005’s Batman Begins. The Dark Knight Rises is a highly-anticipated film, and I have been anxious to see it for some time.

Now, that I’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises, I must admit that I did not like it. In fact, not long into the movie, I was bored with it and, three times I considered walking out of the theatre. The Dark Knight Rises has some interesting ideas, characters, and subplots, but they don’t really come together to form a complete movies. The story elements feel like they are building up to something big; the film is like a constant upsurge of anticipation that never delivers. Too often, scenes ultimately deliver an anti-climax.

The Dark Knight Rises opens eight years after the events that closed The Dark Knight, which saw Batman (Christian Bale) vanishing into the night after he made it seem as if he (Batman) had killed District Attorney Harvey Dent. By assuming the blame for Dent’s demise, Batman sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) both hoped was the greater good. In a sense, that worked. As the film begins, organized crime in Gotham City is dead.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has given up being Batman and lives in seclusion, but his meeting with Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), a cunning cat burglar gets him interested in what is currently happening in the city. Meanwhile, a masked terrorist called Bane (Tom Hardy) has come to Gotham to tear the city down in the name of revolution. Bane’s acts of destruction and terror drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile, but Batman may be no match for Bane

Although the film runs at nearly 2¾ hours, The Dark Knight Rises did not seem too long to me. It did seem bloated. The film does have some good action set pieces, but they combine to form a movie that is too damned loud and obnoxious. Talk about full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Speaking of loud: Hans Zimmer’s score is comically overdone, even farcical. Every time something momentous is about to be said or done, Zimmer unleashes ear-drum pounding brass and Ragnorok synth. The music makes the movie seem either pretentious or a joke.

The new characters are interesting, but they’re equally pompous and hollow. Anne Hathaway has a great moment as Selina Kyle when the character first meets Bruce Wayne that is deliciously cool. After that, the character comes across as tacked-on. Nolan is too coy about her; is she villainess or anti-hero? Please, make up your mind, Mr. Director. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake is a good character lost in the excesses of this movie. Tom Hardy’s Bane is scary, but his frightfulness is mitigated by this story’s murky intentions. Utterly underutilized are two supporting characters: Bruce Wayne’s business rival, John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn), and his assistant, Stryver (Burn Gorman). The actors give this film’s best performances, and the characters are this movie’s dynamic duo. I was sad when they “left” the story.

All of The Dark Knight Rises’ characters, settings, sub-plots, and action don’t lead from point A to point B – beginning, middle, and end. They come together as one huge rambling wreck that eventually crashes, which we can call the end of the movie. The story is a good idea, but the screenplay is overkill. This is Christopher Nolan’s worst major film to date. If I did not know better, I would think that Joel Schumacher had directed The Dark Knight Rises, but this movie’s self-importance reminds me that this is a Chris Nolan flick.

4 of 10
C

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012

About this Movie: The Dark Knight Rises

WARNER BROS. PICTURES Presents
In Association with Legendary Pictures
A Syncopy Films Production
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
WRITERS: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan; from a story by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan (based upon the characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger)
PRODUCERS: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, and Emma Thomas
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wally Pfister (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Lee Smith
COMPOSER: Hans Zimmer

OPENING DATE: Friday, July 20, 2012
RUN TIME: 164 minutes
RATING: MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language

Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman

Synopsis:
Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' "The Dark Knight Rises" is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act.

But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.

Leading an all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale ("The Fighter") again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. "The Dark Knight Rises" also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose"), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake.

Returning to the main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine ("The Cider House Rules") plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman ("Million Dollar Baby") reprises the role of Lucius Fox.

The screenplay is written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. The film is produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously teamed on "Batman Begins" and the record-breaking blockbuster "The Dark Knight." The executive producers are Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull, with Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. The film is based upon characters created by Bob Kane and published by DC Comics.

Behind the scenes, "The Dark Knight Rises" reunites the director with several of his longtime collaborators, all of whom worked together on "The Dark Knight." The creative team includes director of photography Wally Pfister, who won an Oscar® for his work on Nolan's "Inception"; production designers Nathan Crowley and Kevin Kavanaugh; editor Lee Smith; and Oscar®-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming ("Topsy-Turvy"). In addition, Paul Franklin and Chris Corbould, who both won Oscars® for the effects in "Inception," supervised the visual and special effects, respectively. The music is composed by Oscar® winner Hans Zimmer ("The Lion King").

In helming the film, Christopher Nolan utilized IMAX® cameras even more extensively than he did on "The Dark Knight," which had marked the first time ever that a major feature film was even partially shot with the large-format cameras.

"The Dark Knight Rises" will be presented on 70-millimeter film in 102 IMAX 15/70mm locations worldwide. Christopher Nolan stated, "Having shot almost half the picture with large-format IMAX film cameras, it is very important to me that we show 'The Dark Knight Rises' in the IMAX film format wherever possible. Audiences everywhere should be assured that every presentation of the film will be of the highest standard—having benefited from the clarity and depth IMAX cameras offer. However, these 102 screens will showcase the original IMAX film photography in its optimum form, and I hope anyone who has an opportunity to experience the film in these theatres will seek it out."

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Legendary Pictures, a Syncopy Production, a Film by Christopher Nolan, "The Dark Knight Rises." Opening in theatres and IMAX, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

http://www.thedarkknightrises.com/

"The Dark Knight" Rose Above All Other Batman Movies

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 32 (of 2008) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Dark Knight (2008)
Running time: 152 minutes (2 hours, 32 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace
DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
WRITERS: Jonathan Noland and Christopher Nolan; from a story by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan (based upon the characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger)
PRODUCERS: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, and Emma Thomas
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wally Pfister (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Lee Smith
Academy Award winner

SUPERHERO/FANTASY/ACTION and CRIME/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Gabriela Curren, Nestor Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Colin McFarlane, Joshua Harto, and Michael Jai White

Director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, the sequel to his 2005 film, Batman Begins, is indeed as good as practically everyone who has seen it says. The Dark Knight is both loud and complex, sometimes as scary as it is over the top, but the heart of the movie isn’t loud explosions and violent confrontations. For all the attention paid to this film’s villain, The Joker as portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, Nolan uses The Dark Knight to examine the heart, soul, and guts (constitution) of a hero, in particularly both the character Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne.

The steadfast Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the heroic District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) join Batman’s (Christian Bale) plot to destroy organized crime in Gotham City for good. The three are highly effective, as they track Gotham organized crime’s cash, the hundreds of millions of dollars that criminals hide in Gotham banks. They’ll follow the money even when it means Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and his partner Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) must undertake a secret mission to Hong Kong.

However, their success is short lived, when The Joker (Heath Ledger), a rising criminal mastermind, inserts himself into the situation. The Joker practically bullies Gotham’s crime lords into hiring him to kill Batman. The Joker’s antics throw Gotham into anarchy, and his acts of terrorism force the Dark Knight and everyone one around him ever closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante.

So many things stand out as being exceptional about The Dark Knight. The story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, who wrote Batman Begins together, is quite fine, but the script by Nolan and his brother Jonathan Nolan is the cream on top. For one thing, it takes four of Batman Begins’ excellent supporting characters, Jim Gordon, Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred (Michael Caine), and Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, but previously played by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins). Not only does the script emphasize their connections to Batman, but all four of the characters also genuinely contribute to the action, ideas, and philosophies of the larger narrative. When four fine actors (with Caine and Freeman being Oscar-winning legends) get this kind of character writing, they can work wonder – as they do here.

As for the much-talked about performance of the late Heath Ledger as The Joker, it is the real deal. Topping Jack Nicholson’s turn as the clown prince of crime in the 1989 Batman seemed impossible, but Ledger simply took the character someplace even darker. Ledger’s Joker isn’t just a criminal; he’s an anarchist, a terrorist, and a madman. He eschews society’s morals, rules, and excepted standards of behavior. To hell with society; he just wants to see the world burn. That kind of personality and behavior will always be the makings for a memorable villain, but Ledger takes that material and turns it into a Joker the he sears into the audience’s memory.

For all the fireworks of Heath Ledger’s performance, The Dark Knight is, in the hands of Chris Nolan and actor Christian Bale as Batman, about Batman’s battle for his own soul. Together, Nolan and Bale test the limits of endurance of a superhero. Batman’s bravery isn’t in question, but his honesty, integrity, morals, and honor are. Will he go to the “dark side,” so to speak, and thusly, himself become a villain in order to fight villains (Joker and his crime lord cohorts)? Is he a warrior sworn to uphold values of courage and honor or is he just like weaker mortals – people who are all too ready to drop their civilized ways and become monsters the moment something really terrifies them?

Like Batman’s conundrum, The Dark Knight is ominously complicated, but it is so damn entertaining and intelligent and thought provoking and better than most summer blockbusters and superhero movies could hope to be. The Dark Knight is by no means perfect; sometimes, it goes over the top trying to make its points. Sometimes, it’s way too loud and maybe just a bit too pretentious and heavy with its own self-importance. But it’s still so damn good.

9 of 10
A+

Sunday, August 03, 2008

NOTES:
2009 Academy Awards: 2 wins: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Heath Ledger – Posthumously won with the award accepted by his father, mother and sister) and “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Richard King); 6 nominations: “Best Achievement in Art Direction” (Nathan Crowley-art director and Peter Lando-set decorator), “Best Achievement in Cinematography” (Wally Pfister), “Best Achievement in Film Editing” (Lee Smith), “Best Achievement in Makeup” (John Caglione Jr. and Conor O'Sullivan), “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” (Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick), “Best Achievement in Visual Effects” (Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Timothy Webber and Paul J. Franklin)


2009 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Best Supporting Actor” (Heath Ledger –Posthumously); 8 nominations: “Best Cinematography” (Wally Pfister), “Best Costume Design” (Lindy Hemming), “Best Editing” (Lee Smith), “Best Make Up & Hair” (Peter Robb-King), “Best Music” (Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard), “Best Production Design” (Nathan Crowley and Peter Lando), “Best Sound” (Lora Hirschberg, Richard King, Ed Novick, and Gary Rizzo), “Best Special Visual Effects” (Chris Corbould, Nick Davis, Paul J. Franklin, and Tim Webber)


2009 Golden Globes, USA: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Heath Ledger – Awarded posthumously with the award accepted by Christopher Nolan on Heath Ledger's behalf)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

About "The Dark Knight Rises" - The Cast

About the Cast if The Dark Knight Rises

CHRISTIAN BALE (Bruce Wayne/Batman) was born in Wales and grew up in England and the USA. He made his film debut in Steven Spielberg's World War II epic "Empire of the Sun."

His film work to date also includes "Henry V," "The Portrait of a Lady," "The Secret Agent," "Metroland," "Velvet Goldmine," "All the Little Animals," "American Psycho," "Laurel Canyon," "The Machinist," "Batman Begins," "The New World," "The Prestige," "Harsh Times," "Rescue Dawn," "3:10 to Yuma," "I'm Not There," "The Dark Knight," "Public Enemies," "The Fighter," and "The Flowers of War."

Audiences will next see him in Terrence Malick's "Knight of Cups," and he recently completed filming "Out of the Furnace."

MICHAEL CAINE (Alfred), a two-time Academy Award® winner, has appeared in more than 100 films in a career spanning over half a century. He first played the role of Bruce Wayne's loyal butler, Alfred, in the 2005 hit, "Batman Begins," which also marked his first collaboration with director Christopher Nolan. He returned to the part in the 2008 blockbuster "The Dark Knight." "The Dark Knight Rises" marks Caine's fifth collaboration with Nolan. He has also acted under Nolan's direction in "The Prestige," for which he won a London Film Critics' Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor, and 2010's most talked-about film, "Inception."

Caine's upcoming films include Louis Leterrier's thriller "Now You See Me," with Morgan Freeman, and "Mr. Morgan's Last Love," based on the novel La Douceur Assassine by Françoise Dorner, in which he plays the title role under the direction of Sandra Nettelbeck.

Caine won his first Oscar®, for Best Supporting Actor, for his work in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters," for which he also received Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations. He took home his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar® for his role in Lasse Hallström's "The Cider House Rules," also winning a Screen Actors Guild Award® and earning Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations.

He has garnered four more Oscar® nominations for Best Actor, the first coming in 1966 for the title role in "Alfie," for which he also received a Golden Globe nomination and a New York Film Critics Award. He earned his second Oscar® nod, in addition to a Golden Globe nomination and an Evening Standard Award, for the part of Milo Tindle in 1972's "Sleuth," opposite Laurence Olivier. His role in "Educating Rita" brought him his third Oscar® nomination, as well as Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards. He gained his latest Oscar®, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for his work in 2002's "The Quiet American," for which he also won a London Film Critics' Circle Award. In addition, Caine won Golden Globe and London Film Critics' Circle Awards and received a BAFTA Award nomination, all for Best Supporting Actor, for "Little Voice."

Caine was born Maurice Micklewhite in South London in 1933 and developed an interest in acting at an early age. Upon his discharge from the Queen's Royal Regiment and Royal Fusiliers in 1953, he began pursuing his career. Taking his stage name from the title "The Caine Mutiny," he toured Britain in a variety of plays and began appearing in British films and television shows.

In 1964, Caine landed his first major film role as Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead in "Zulu." The following year, he starred in the hit thriller "The Ipcress File," earning his first of 37 BAFTA Award nominations for his portrayal of secret agent Harry Palmer. However, it was his Oscar®-nominated performance in the seminal '60s film "Alfie" that catapulted Caine to international stardom. He went on to star in eleven more films during the late '60s, including "The Ipcress File" sequels, "Funeral in Berlin" and "Billion Dollar Brain"; "Gambit," earning a Golden Globe nomination; "Hurry Sundown"; "Woman Times Seven"; "Deadfall"; "The Magus"; "The Italian Job"; and "Battle of Britain."

Over the next two decades, Caine had diverse roles in more than 40 films, including Robert Aldrich's "Too Late the Hero"; "X, Y and Zee," opposite Elizabeth Taylor; John Huston's "The Man Who Would Be King"; "Harry and Walter Go to New York"; Richard Attenborough's "A Bridge Too Far"; the Neil Simon comedy "California Suite"; Brian De Palma's "Dressed to Kill"; John Huston's "Victory"; Sidney Lumet's "Deathtrap"; Stanley Donen's "Blame It on Rio"; John Frankenheimer's "The Holcroft Covenant"; Neil Jordan's "Mona Lisa"; and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.

Continuing to work almost non-stop, Caine has since starred in such films as "Blood and Wine," "Quills," "Miss Congeniality," "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "The Weather Man," "Children of Men," and "Harry Brown," in the title role. His most recent films include "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," and he also lent his voice to the animated features "Cars 2" and "Gnomeo & Juliet."

Apart from his work onscreen, Caine wrote an autobiography entitled What's It All About?, as well as Acting on Film, a book based on a series of lectures he gave on BBC Television. His latest memoir, The Elephant to Hollywood, was published in 2010 by Henry Holt and Co. in the United States.

In the 1992 Queen's Birthday Honours, Caine was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (C.B.E.). Eight years later, he received his knighthood.

GARY OLDMAN (Commissioner Gordon) has been a legendary presence on the screen for more than 25 years and is known to millions worldwide for his embodiment of some of cinema's most iconic characters. In addition to Commissioner Jim Gordon, he has portrayed such wide-ranging and unforgettable roles as Harry Potter's beloved godfather, Sirius Black; Dracula; Beethoven; Lee Harvey Oswald; Sid Vicious; and John le Carré's ultimate spy, George Smiley, in an Oscar®-nominated performance.

Oldman is one of the highest-grossing actors at the global box office, having appeared in a number of the most successful films of all time, including the top-grossing Harry Potter franchise. He originated the part of Sirius Black in 2004's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," and reprised his role in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," and the record breaking finale, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2."

He first played Jim Gordon in Christopher Nolan's 2005 hit "Batman Begins." Oldman returned to the role of Batman's crime-fighting ally in 2008's billion dollar blockbuster "The Dark Knight."

In 2011, Oldman portrayed master spy George Smiley in the film version of John le Carré's "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." In addition to an Oscar® nomination, Oldman's performance was recognized with a BAFTA Award nomination, a British Independent Film Award nomination, and an Empire Award, all for Best Actor.

He has repeatedly been honored for his work on the screen, including the 2011 Empire Icon Award, bestowed for a lifetime of outstanding achievements; the Gotham Awards' Career Tribute Award; and the International Star of the Year Award at the Palm Springs Film Festival.

Oldman began his acting career on the stage in 1979, and for the next few years he worked exclusively in the theatre. From 1985 through 1989, he performed at London's Royal Court. His earliest onscreen work includes the BBC films "Meantime," for director Mike Leigh, and "The Firm," directed by the late Alan Clarke.

He followed with such features as "Sid & Nancy"; "Prick Up Your Ears," directed by Stephen Frears; Tom Stoppard's "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead"; "State of Grace"; "JFK," for director Oliver Stone; and the title role in "Bram Stoker's Dracula," directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Among Oldman's many other credits are "True Romance," directed by Tony Scott; "Romeo is Bleeding"; the Luc Besson-directed films "The Professional" and "The Fifth Element"; "Immortal Beloved"; "Murder in the First"; "The Scarlett Letter," directed by Roland Joffé; "Lost in Space"; Wolfgang Petersen's "Air Force One," as the terrorist who hijacked the plane of the President, played by Harrison Ford; and "The Book of Eli."

In 1995, with manager/producing partner Douglas Urbanski, he formed a production company, which subsequently produced the highly acclaimed "Nil by Mouth," marking Oldman's directing and writing debut. The film was selected to open the main competition for the 1997 50th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, where Kathy Burke won Best Actress and Oldman was nominated for a Palme d'Or. Among the film's other honors, Oldman won the prestigious Channel 4 Director's Prize at the Edinburgh Film Festival; an Empire Award; a BAFTA Award, shared with Urbanski, for Best Film; and a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay.

In 2000, Oldman starred in the political drama "The Contender," which he and Urbanski also produced. The film, which also starred Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Christian Slater and Sam Elliott, received a number of award recognitions, including two Oscar® nominations.

ANNE HATHAWAY (Selina Kyle) was honored with an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress for her performance in Jonathan Demme's critically acclaimed drama "Rachel Getting Married." For her work in the film, Hathaway also earned Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Award and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® nominations, and also won the National Board of Review, Chicago Film Critics Association, and Critics' Choice Awards for Best Actress. She more recently received another Golden Globe nomination, for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, for her role in Edward Zwick's "Love and Other Drugs," opposite Jake Gyllenhaal.

Later this year, Hathaway stars as Fantine in Tom Hooper's much-anticipated feature film adaptation of the beloved musical "Les Misérables," opening in December.

Hathaway made an auspicious feature film debut with a starring role in Garry Marshall's 2001 hit comedy "The Princess Diaries," and reprised her role in "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement." Her early film credits also include Douglas McGrath's screen rendition of Charles Dickens' "Nicholas Nickleby" and the title role in "Ella Enchanted."

In 2005, Hathaway co-starred with Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Ang Lee's groundbreaking drama "Brokeback Mountain," and was nominated with her castmates for a SAG Award® nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast. The following year, she received widespread acclaim for her performance in the smash hit "The Devil Wears Prada," opposite Meryl Streep.

Hathaway has also starred in such diverse films as Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"; "Valentine's Day," which reunited her with Garry Marshall; Gary Winick's "Bride Wars"; Rodrigo Garcia's "Passengers"; Peter Segal's "Get Smart"; the Jane Austen biopic "Becoming Jane"; "Havoc"; and "The Other Side of Heaven." In addition, she lent her voice to the animated hit features "Rio" and "Hoodwinked!," and, in 2010, won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for the role of Princess Penelope on an episode of "The Simpsons."

Hathaway's theatre credits include Shakespeare in the Park's 2009 production of "Twelfth Night"; Lincoln Center's Encores! presentation of "Carnival," for which she won a 2002 Clarence Derwent Award; Andrew Lloyd Webber's workshop of "Woman in White"; and "Forever Your Child." She also participated in the 2005 celebration gala for Stephen Sondheim's 75th birthday.

In January 2005, Hathaway traveled to Cambodia on behalf of the documentary "A Moment in the World," organized by Angelina Jolie. The project placed approximately 25 participants in various locations on a specific day, each instructed to videotape their surroundings at the same specific moment in time.

Born in New York, Hathaway studied acting at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey and at the award-winning Barrow Group in New York City, where she was the first and only teen ever admitted to their intensive acting program. In 2005, she was honored for her achievements by the Barrow Group. She also studied in the musical theatre program with the Collaborative Arts Project, CAP 21, affiliated with NYU. An accomplished dancer, she studied at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Additionally, she performed in two concerts at Carnegie Hall as a member of the All-Eastern US High School Honors Chorus. She began her professional career on television on the series "Get Real."

TOM HARDY (Bane) is currently in production on George Miller's new post-apocalyptic actioner, in which he takes on the role of Mad Max, opposite Charlize Theron. He will next be seen in the crime drama "Lawless," which premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Hardy previously collaborated with director Christopher Nolan in the thought-provoking 2010 thriller "Inception," alongside an international cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio. He recently also starred in the boxing drama "Warrior," with Nick Nolte and Joel Edgerton, and the thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," with Gary Oldman.

Hailing from Great Britain, Hardy began his screen career when he was plucked straight from London's Drama Centre for a role in HBO's award-winning World War II miniseries "Band of Brothers," executive produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. He made his feature film debut in Ridley Scott's war drama "Black Hawk Down," followed by the sci-fi adventure "Star Trek: Nemesis."

In 2008, Hardy delivered a powerhouse performance in the title role of the drama "Bronson," for which he won a British Independent Film Award, and earned nominations for a London Film Critics' Circle Award and an Evening Standard Film Award, all in the category of Best Actor.

On television, Hardy received a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actor for his performance in the HBO movie "Stuart: A Life Backwards." He also portrayed Heathcliff in the 2009 ITV production of "Wuthering Heights." His work on the small screen also includes the telefilms "Oliver Twist," "A for Andromeda," "Sweeney Todd," "Gideon's Daughter," and "Colditz," as well as the BBC miniseries "The Virgin Queen."

Hardy has also starred in numerous plays in London's West End, including "Blood" and "In Arabia We'd All Be Kings," winning the Outstanding Newcomer Award at the 2003 Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his work in both productions. For the latter play, he was also nominated for a 2004 Olivier Award. In 2005, Hardy starred in the London premiere of Brett C. Leonard's "Roger and Vanessa." His later stage work includes Rufus Norris' adaptation of "Festen," at the Almeida; "The Modernists," at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre; "The Man of Mode," for the National Theatre; and the 2010 world premiere of Leonard's "The Long Red Road," directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.

MARION COTILLARD (Miranda Tate) won a Best Actress Academy Award® for her performance in "La Vie en Rose," making her the first actress to earn an Oscar® for a performance in the French language. For her captivating portrayal of legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf in that film, Cotillard also won a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe and a César Award, and received Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® and Critics' Choice Award nominations.

"The Dark Knight Rises" marks the second collaboration for Cotillard and Christopher Nolan. She previously worked under Nolan's direction in the 2010 hit thriller "Inception," opposite Leonardo DiCaprio.

This fall, Cotillard will be seen in Guillaume Canet's comedy/drama "Little White Lies;" and the drama "Rust & Bone," which screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Recently, Cotillard completed production on the as-yet-untitled drama, directed by James Gray and also starring Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner; as well as the crime drama "Blood Ties," which reunited her with director Guillaume Canet.

Cotillard first gained attention for her work in the successful French "Taxi" film series, written by Luc Besson, for which she received a César Award nomination. She was introduced to American moviegoers with her role in Tim Burton's 2003 fantasy drama "Big Fish," and also starred that year in Yann Samuell's "Love Me If You Dare." Cotillard won her first César Award, for Best Supporting Actress, for her performance in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "A Very Long Engagement." She went on to star in a number of French films, as well as Ridley Scott's "A Good Year."

In 2009, Cotillard starred in Michael Mann's "Public Enemies" and Rob Marshall's screen adaptation of the hit musical "Nine." For her role in the latter, she received Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award nominations, in addition to sharing in a SAG Award® nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast. Her additional film credits include Steven Soderbergh's thriller "Contagion," as well as Woody Allen's acclaimed romantic comedy "Midnight in Paris," for which she shared in a SAG Award® nomination for Outstanding Motion Picture Cast with Owen Wilson, Kathy Bates, and Rachel McAdams.

In 2010, Cotillard was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, for her contribution to the enrichment of French culture. Born in Paris, she studied drama at Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique in Orléans.

JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT (John Blake) is one of today's busiest actors and has also been showcasing his talents behind the camera. Following "The Dark Knight Rises," he stars in three more films due out this year: the thriller "Premium Rush," for writer/director David Koepp; Rian Johnson's sci-fi thriller "Looper," which he stars in with Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis and also executive produced; and the Steven Spielberg-directed biopic "Lincoln," playing Robert Todd Lincoln. In addition, Gordon-Levitt is currently making his feature film directorial debut on the comedy "Don Jon's Addiction," which he also wrote and stars in with Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore.

Gordon-Levitt recently earned his second Golden Globe nomination in the category of Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical for his performance in the comedy/drama "50/50," in which he starred with Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick and Bryce Dallas Howard. He previously garnered Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations for his work in the award-winning sleeper hit "(500) Days of Summer," opposite Zooey Deschanel.

In 2010, Gordon-Levitt starred in Christopher Nolan's hit thriller "Inception," joining an international all-star cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page and Tom Hardy. He also played the title role in the independent drama "Hesher," which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

His broad range of film credits also include the global action hit "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra," for director Stephen Sommers; Spike Lee's World War II drama "Miracle at St. Anna"; Kimberly Peirce's controversial drama "Stop-Loss"; and the crime drama "The Lookout," which marked Scott Frank's directorial debut. In addition, Gordon-Levitt has received widespread praise for his performances in such independent features as John Madden's "Killshot"; Lee Daniels' "Shadowboxer"; Rian Johnson's award-winning debut film, "Brick"; "Mysterious Skin," for writer/director Gregg Araki; and "Manic," with Don Cheadle.

Early in his career, Gordon-Levitt won a Young Artist Award for his first major role, in Robert Redford's drama "A River Runs Through It." He went on to co-star in "Angels in the Outfield," "The Juror," "Halloween H20" and "10 Things I Hate About You."

Gordon-Levitt is also well known to television audiences for his starring role on NBC's award-winning comedy series "3rd Rock from the Sun." During his six seasons on the show, he won two YoungStar Awards and also shared in three Screen Actors Guild Award® nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series Cast. Following the series, Gordon-Levitt took a short break from acting to attend Columbia University.

Gordon-Levitt founded and directs an open collaborative production company called hitRECord.org comprised of an online community of thousands of artists from all over the world. Through the site, more than 40,000 participants have had the opportunity to team together to create short films, music, art or stories. The company has presented evenings of short film and live entertainment at the Sundance and South by Southwest Film Festivals; toured some of the country's top colleges; published Tiny Book of Tiny Stories (released by Harper Collins in December 2011); and last fall released a DVD/book/CD called RECollection Volume 1.

A budding writer/director in the more traditional sense, as well, Gordon-Levitt adapted the Elmore Leonard story "Sparks" into a 24-minute short film. Marking his directorial debut, the short screened at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

MORGAN FREEMAN (Lucius Fox) won an Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Clint Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby," for which he also won a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award® and received a Golden Globe nomination. In 2009, he reunited with Eastwood to star in the director's true-life drama "Invictus," on which Freeman also served as an executive producer under his Revelations Entertainment banner. For his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in the film, Freeman garnered Oscar®, Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award nominations, and won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor.

Freeman has been honored with three additional Oscar® nominations, the first for his chilling performance in the 1987 drama "Street Smart," which also brought him Los Angeles Film Critics, New York Film Critics, and National Society of Film Critics Awards, and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor, as well as his first Golden Globe Award nomination. He earned his second Oscar® nomination and won Golden Globe and National Board of Review Awards for Best Actor for the 1989 film "Driving Miss Daisy," in which he recreated his award-winning off-Broadway role. He gained his third Oscar® nod, as well as Golden Globe and SAG Award® nominations, for his performance in Frank Darabont's 1994 drama "The Shawshank Redemption." Among his many other accolades, Freeman was named a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2008, and, in 2011, was honored with the 39th AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globe Awards.

In "The Dark Knight Rises," Freeman reprises the role he played in Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight." Freeman has several films upcoming, including the thriller "Now You See Me," under the direction of Louis Leterrier, and the science fiction actioner "Oblivion," in which he stars with Tom Cruise.

Freeman's long list of film credits also includes "Dolphin Tale"; "RED"; Rob Reiner's "The Bucket List," opposite Jack Nicholson; Robert Benton's "Feast of Love"; Ben Affleck's "Gone Baby Gone"; Lasse Hallström's "An Unfinished Life"; the Jet Li actioner "Unleashed"; the comedy "Bruce Almighty" and its sequel, "Evan Almighty"; "The Sum of All Fears"; "Along Came a Spider"; "Nurse Betty"; "Deep Impact"; Steven Spielberg's "Amistad"; "Kiss the Girls"; David Fincher's "Se7en"; "Glory"; "Lean on Me"; "Harry & Son," directed by and starring Paul Newman; and "Brubaker." He also lent his distinctive voice to such projects as Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" and the Oscar®-winning documentary "March of the Penguins."

In 1993, Freeman made his directorial debut on "Bopha!" and soon after formed Revelations Entertainment. Other Revelations productions include "Levity," "Under Suspicion," "Mutiny," "Along Came a Spider," "Feast of Love," "10 Items or Less" and "Maiden Heist."

The Memphis-born actor began his career on the stages of New York in the early 1960s, following a stint as a mechanic in the Air Force. A decade later, he became a nationally known television personality when he created the popular character Easy Reader on the acclaimed children's show "The Electric Company."

Throughout the 1970s, he continued his work on stage, winning Drama Desk and Clarence Derwent Awards and receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance in "The Mighty Gents" in 1978. In 1980, he won two Obie Awards, for his portrayal of Shakespearean anti-hero Coriolanus at the New York Shakespeare Festival and for his work in "Mother Courage and Her Children." Freeman won another Obie in 1984 for his performance as The Messenger in the acclaimed Brooklyn Academy of Music production of Lee Breuer's "The Gospel at Colonus" and, in 1985, won the Drama-Logue Award for the same role. In 1987, Freeman created the role of Hoke Coleburn in Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Driving Miss Daisy," which brought him his fourth Obie Award. In 1990, Freeman starred as Petruchio in the New York Shakespeare Festival's "The Taming of the Shrew," opposite Tracey Ullman. Returning to the Broadway stage in 2008, Freeman starred with Frances McDormand and Peter Gallagher in Clifford Odett's drama "The Country Girl," directed by Mike Nichols.