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Friday, August 31, 2012
DreamWorks Studios Has New Partner, Mister Smith
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--DreamWorks Studios has signed an agency deal with Mister Smith Entertainment, it was announced today by Jeff Small, President and COO at DreamWorks Studios, and David Garrett, CEO at Mister Smith Entertainment. The London-based Mister Smith Entertainment will handle the licensing and servicing of DreamWorks Studios product in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the deal covers all media.
The Walt Disney Company will continue to manage distribution of DreamWorks’ films in the United States and other territories not covered by Mister Smith Entertainment. DreamWorks’ partner, Reliance, retains distribution of the films in India. The first group of films covered under the deal with Mister Smith includes the untitled Ken Scott project, which begins principal photography in October, and “Need for Speed,” which begins shooting early next year. As previously announced, foreign distribution on upcoming DreamWorks releases “Lincoln” and “Robopocalypse” will be handled by 20th Century Fox, who is also a co-financier on both of those projects.
Said DreamWorks Studios President and COO Jeff Small, “David has a proven track record, and his years of experience in building Summit International will help us in this next step of growing our business. This partnership allows us to best capitalize on the expanding global marketplace and generate foreign sales as a revenue source. We appreciate Disney’s continued support of our company and our ongoing partnership.”
Said Mister Smith Entertainment’s CEO David Garrett, “I am incredibly excited to be working with Stacey, Steven, Jeff and the DreamWorks team. I could not hope to be working with a more exceptionally talented and delightful group of people, and I hope that we will find a way of creating new and exciting synergies together, in the ever-changing international landscape. DreamWorks also have a very compelling, original and diverse slate of pictures in development, which is wonderfully refreshing. We also hugely look forward to working with the Disney team, who have been so supportive of DreamWorks' new strategy.”
About DreamWorks Studios
DreamWorks Studios is a motion picture company formed in 2009 and led by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider in partnership with The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. The company’s recent releases include “Real Steel,” starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Shawn Levy, Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” based on Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning book and was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, and “The Help,” which resonated with audiences around the country and earned over $200 million at the box office and received four Academy Award nominations with Octavia Spencer winning one for Best Supporting Actress. Its upcoming releases include Spielberg’s “Lincoln” starring Daniel Day-Lewis.
DreamWorks Studios can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DreamWorksStudios and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dw_studios.
About Mister Smith Entertainment
Led by CEO David Garrett, Mister Smith Entertainment is involved in the financing, co-financing and licensing of high-quality mainstream feature films and filmmaker driven movies for the global market. The company is a joint venture between Garrett and Constantin Film. Mister Smith Entertainment's current film slate includes Constantin Film’s THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES, the first film in the highly anticipated action fantasy franchise based on Cassandra Clare’s #1 best-selling book series, currently shooting in Toronto, and scheduled for release in August 2013 through Screen Gems; and the compelling true story 3,096 DAYS based on the autobiography of Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl who was held captive for over 8 years and whose escape made headlines around the world. The film is due for release in early 2013.
Review: "Rush Hour" is Decent Entertainment (Happy B'day, Chris Tucker)
TRASH IN MY EYE No. 112 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux
Rush Hour (1998)
Running time: 97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of action/violence, shootings, and for language
DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner
WRITERS: Jim Kouf and Ross LaManna; from a story by Ross LaManna
PRODUCERS: Roger Birnbaum, Jonathan Glickman, and Artur Sarkissian
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adam Greenberg
EDITOR: Mark Helfrich
COMPOSER: Lalo Schifrin
Starring: Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Tzi Ma, Tom Wilkinson, Ken Leung, Julia Hsu, Elizabeth Pena, Philip Baker Hall, Rex Linn, Mark Rolston, and Chris Penn
The subject of this movie review is Rush Hour, a 1998 action comedy film from director Brett Ratner. The film stars Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker and was the first in a franchise of three films (thus far).
In the action/comedy, Rush Hour, the Fastest Hands in the East meet the Biggest Mouth in the West when two detectives from different worlds come together. They quickly discover that they don’t like each other, but are forced to work together to save the life of a little girl.
Hong Kong Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) comes to the United States to assist in the investigation of a kidnapped girl. The girl, Soo Young (Julia Hsu), and her father, Consul Han (Tzi Ma), the head of Hong Kong’s U.S. consulate, are close friends of Lee. However, the FBI doesn’t want Lee to participate in the investigation. Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) of the LAPD also wants to get in on the investigation, but the FBI only wants him around to be escort Lee and keep him away from the investigation. Neither Lee nor Carter is willing to be relegated to the sidelines, and they begin their own mission to rescue the Soo Young. However, they’re up against the mysterious Hong Kong crime lord Juntao and his vicious henchman, Sang (Ken Leung), so Lee and Carter are getting all they can handle and more.
Rush Hour succeeds because of the chemistry between the two leads. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker seem like a natural fit. Perhaps, one of the reasons the pairing works is because each actor has several scenes alone, which allows each actor to do the things that audiences expect of him – martial arts from Chan and brash, edgy, streetwise comedy from Tucker. In that way, when they are together, we can enjoy them instead of pining for what we expect from them as solo performers.
The film is written and directed as if it were a cheap knockoff of Beverly Hills Cop and Lethal Weapon. Without Chan and Tucker, Rush Hour would have been little better than a direct-to-video action movie, but with them, it is a highly entertaining action/comedy.
6 of 10
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2012
"A Separation" is a Unique Family Drama
A Separation (2011)
Jodaeiye Nader az Simin – Iranian title
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Iran; Language: Persian
Running time: 123 minutes (2 hours, 3 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for mature thematic material
WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: Asghar Farhadi
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mahmoud Kalari
EDITOR: Hayedeh Safiyari
COMPOSER: Sattar Oraki
Academy Award winner
Starring: Peyman Moadi, Leila Hatami, Sarina Farhadi, Sareh Bayat, Shahab Hosseini, Kimia Hosseini, Ali-Asghar Shahbazi, Shirin Yazdanbakhsh, and Babak Karimi
The subject of this movie review is A Separation, a 2011 Iranian drama from filmmaker, Asghar Farhadi. The film, originally titled Jodaeiye Nader az Simin, won the Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film” in 2012. A Separation focuses on an Iranian middleclass couple who separate and the resulting troubles from that separation.
As the film opens, Nader Lavasani (Peyman Moadi) and his wife, Simin (Leila Hatami), are seeking a divorce after 14 years of marriage. Simin wants to leave Iran in order to improve the life of their 11-year-old daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi). Nader does not want to leave because he wants to care for his father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi), who has Alzheimer's disease and whose situation is deteriorating. Now, Termeh must choose the parent with which she will live. When Nader hires a lower class woman to care for his father, it sets off a series of events that makes things worse.
A Separation is a potent family drama, and writer-director Asghar Farhadi manages to unveil a train wreck without resorting to the kind of hysterics some American films about divorce use. A Separation is so atypical of divorce films that it is less about feuding spouses and more about the dynamics of family life. Farhadi’s depiction of inter-family relationships is so blunt and honest that it sometimes seems alien and contrived. I frequently found myself saying that certain incidences in the film could not happen, but I think this was simply because I have devoured so many contrived Hollywood family dramas that anything that is different seems to be phony. Farhadi is simply honest about the lengths to which people will go to lie to members of their immediate family and other close relatives out of pride or because they are being stubborn.
Good performances abound, though I wish the film gave more focus to Leila Hatami as Nader’s wife, Simin. The story treats Simin as a supporting character, but she is just as important to A Separation as Nader, although her screen time suggests otherwise. Ms. Hatami, however, makes the most of her time and forces Simin to the forefront. A Separation is one of the year’s best modern (non-genre) dramas and people looking for something good, but different will find a gem in this.
8 of 10
2012 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Foreign Language Film of the Year” (Iran) and 1 nomination: “Best Writing, Original Screenplay” (Asghar Farhadi)
2012 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Film Not in the English Language” Asghar Farhadi)
2012 Golden Globes, USA: 1 win: “Best Foreign Language Film” (Iran)
2012 Image Awards: 1 nomination: “Outstanding Foreign Motion Picture”
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Morgan Freeman Among Voice Cast Added to LEGO 3D Movie
BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pratt and Morgan Freeman will lend their vocal talents to the LEGO® world, starring as characters in the upcoming original 3D animated LEGO feature, currently in production, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures.
The film, the first-ever full length theatrical LEGO movie, follows Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. He is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.
Chris Pratt (“Moneyball”) stars as Emmet. Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) and Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games,” Emmy nominee for “30 Rock”), will star as two of Emmet’s fellow travelers: Vitruvius, an old mystic; and tough-as-nails Lucy, who mistakes Emmet for the savior of the world and guides him on his quest. She also calls upon the mysterious Batman, a LEGO® minifigure voiced by Will Arnett (Emmy nominee, “30 Rock”), with whom she shares a history.
The 3D computer animated adventure will open nationwide on February 28, 2014.
Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (“21 Jump Street,” Golden Globe nominee “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) are directing from their original screenplay, story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, based on LEGO construction toys. The film will incorporate some of the most popular LEGO figures while introducing several new characters, inviting fans who have enjoyed the brand’s innovative toys and hugely popular video games for generations to experience their visually unique LEGO world as never seen before.
The film will be produced by Dan Lin (“Sherlock Holmes,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”) and Roy Lee (“The Departed,” “How to Train Your Dragon”). It will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.
LEGO, its logo, brick & knob configuration and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2012 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.
Announcing Gulfstream, a New Film Production and Financing Company
Gulfstream Sets Up Shop at Warner Bros. to Develop and Co-Finance Tentpole Films
BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. has signed an exclusive first-look deal with Mike Karz and Bill Bindley’s new film production and financing company, Gulfstream Pictures. The company gets its start with an initial multi-million-dollar development fund from Korea-based 3D stereoscopic leader Redrover Ltd. and a consortium of U.S. private equity funds.
Under the two-year pact, Gulfstream will be based on Warners' Burbank lot and will co-finance development with Warners with the option of co-financing the films, which will be distributed worldwide by Warners. Gulfstream is currently meeting with additional investors to complete the formation of a $200 million film fund, of which Redrover and the U.S. private equity funds are lead investors. Gulfstream plans to produce and co-finance two films per year.
Gulfstream’s first film is “The Nut Job,” a $45-million animated feature directed by Peter Lepeniotis for Redrover and Toonbox Entertainment, a top Toronto animation studio, which becomes a sister company to Gulfstream.
“Mike and Bill have been valued members of the Warner family for a long time,” said Greg Silverman, President of Production for Warner Bros. Pictures. “We're excited to extend our relationship to include Gulfstream and eagerly anticipate making more great movies together.”
Hoe-jin Ha, Redrover's CEO, said: “This opportunity is a historic step for the Korean film industry. We are very excited to set up this fund, supported by Warner Bros., and we look forward to co-financing many films through this partnership with Gulfstream.”
This new deal follows producer Karz’s long-standing relationship with the studio, where he produced such hits as “New Year’s Eve” and “Valentine’s Day,” the latter of which set box-office records, including the top-grossing romantic comedy weekend of all time and the top-grossing Presidents’ Day Weekend opening. Karz’s most recent film for Warners, “Thunderstruck,” starring the NBA’s Kevin Durant, is in theaters now.
Bindley and Karz are currently producing two films for Warners: “West Texas United,” a comedy with Russell Brand attached to star, and “Say Uncle,” a family comedy, with Bindley attached to direct. Bindley directed the Jim Caviezel-starrer “Madison,” a Sundance Film Festival favorite, distributed by MGM Pictures.
About Redrover Ltd.
Redrover Ltd. is a global leader in the 3D stereoscopic industry, founded in 2000 with the participation of college professors and researchers. Since then, Redrover Ltd., a publicly held company, has obtained patents from 30 countries, including Korea, and established a global network in major trading countries, including the U.S., Canada, China, and Japan. In 2008 Redrover began producing 3D stereoscopic animation movies and television series with its North American studio Toonbox Entertainment, and will continue producing two to four Korean films each year, beginning this fall with its first film.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
"Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith" Get the 3D Treatment
Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith to be Theatrically Released in 3D back-to-back in September and October, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox have announced the official release dates for the 3D theatrical launch of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Attendees at the closing ceremony for Star Wars Celebration VI, the franchise’s massive fan event, learned that the epic movies that chronicle the rise of the Galactic Empire will be released back-to-back, with Episode II hitting theaters on September 20, 2013 and Episode III arriving soon after on October 11, 2013.
With its deeply detailed worlds and engulfing action, Star Wars is perfectly suited for the immersive 3D theatrical experience. Episode II and III deliver such captivating locales as the gleaming clone hatcheries of rain-swept Kamino, and the fiery lava planet of Mustafar as well as spectacular action sequences like Yoda’s unforgettable debut as a lightsaber duelist, the explosive space and ground battles of the Clone Wars, and the dramatic showdown between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
Supervised by Industrial Light & Magic, the meticulous 3D conversion was undertaken by Prime Focus, the global visual entertainment services company. With their proprietary View-D™ process, Prime Focus transformed Episode II and III into 3D with the utmost respect for the source material, and with a keen eye for both technological consideration and artistic intentions.
Lucasfilm, STAR WARS™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. TM & © Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.
About Fox Filmed Entertainment
One of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, Fox Filmed Entertainment produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of FFE: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox Animation and Fox International Productions. Twentieth Century Fox International is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a segment of Fox Entertainment Group.
Review: "The Maltese Falcon" is an All-Time Great (Remembering John Huston)
The Maltese Falcon (1941) – Black & White
Running time: 101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
DIRECTOR: John Huston
WRITER: John Huston (based upon the novel by Dashiell Hammett)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Arthur Edeson
EDITOR: Thomas Richards
PRODUCER: Hal B. Wallis (executive producer)
Academy Award nominee
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane, Lee Patrick, Sydney Greenstreet, Ward Bond, Jerome Cowan, and Elisha Cook, Jr.
The subject of this movie review is The Maltese Falcon, a 1941 film noir detective film. It is based upon Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel of the same name and was the film debut of actor, Sydney Greenstreet, who earned a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for his performance. The Maltese Falcon was also John Huston’s directorial debut and went on to earn a best picture Oscar nomination.
Before the word “thug” entered the popular lexicon via Hip-Hop culture, there were men we could have called “thugs.” If we go by popular rapper Nas’s definition, a thug is “a man who answers to no one.” That describes one of my favorite characters of the golden age of Hollywood, “Bogie,” a popular nickname for that famous actor Humphrey Bogart, to a tee. Bogie was a thug, and he gave the ladies and not-so-lady-like his thug lovin;’ he answered to no man and even used cops to further his own agenda. And in no film is that more evident than in the beautiful and fantastic The Maltese Falcon, one of the great detective dramas and one of the films that created the template for film noir.
After someone kills his associate Miles Archer (Jerome Cowan) during a seemingly routine assignment, Samuel “Sam” Spade (Bogart) reasons, “When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it.” He’s not “all talk,” and is certainly going to do something about the murder of his partner. Along the way of finding the killer, Spade becomes involved in a desperate quest to find and to possess “The Black Bird,” the Maltese Falcon, a legendary treasure so prized that it tangles Spade with some of the most devious and eccentric characters he’s ever faced.
There’s the damsel in distress Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor) who first catches Archer’s eye and later Spade’s. Close on her heels is the shifty and effete Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) who always finds himself on the wrong side of slap or a punch even when he has the gun. Finally, there’s “The Fat Man,” Kasper Gutman (Sydney Greenstreet) and his tag-along gunman (or “gunsel” as Spade slyly calls him), Wilmer Cook (Elisha Cook, Jr.). Gutman is the main mover and shaker in the scheme to get the Falcon, the man with the most dough and who is a gourmand when it comes to the finer things.
The performances are heightened to a fever pitch, and the actors play their characters with a theatrical flair. Even the dialogue crackles with energy, bite and wit, but it’s all for a good purpose. It adds style and even color to the black and white film. Most of the players fairly drip with deceit and duplicity, but the mack daddy, the playa, is Bogart’s Sam Spade. A crouching tiger and a hidden dragon, he’s always on top even when it seems as if he’s just got the bad end of things. With the ladies, especially Ms. Astor’s Brigid, he’s tough but romantic. He’s world weary, but savvy, and he has an unbreakable code of honor when it comes to his profession as a detective. It’s what drives him through the maze of weird foes and police traps to find his partner’s murderer.
Spade would define the kind of characters Bogart would play for the rest of his career, but even in this highly stylized performance, we can see a man with superior talent and ability to act in front of a movie camera. Both Bogart and his character Spade are intriguing and exciting; let this performance go down as one of the great ones.
The Maltese Falcon was the debut of legendary director and filmmaker John Huston. Although he would continue to do fine and challenging work, Huston caught lightning in a bottle with Falcon. He gave life to a genre of film and a style of filmmaking that continues to influence all of popular culture to this day. It’s a great work, and if you like movies, you should have seen it already.
10 of 10
1942 Academy Awards: 3 nominations: “Best Picture” (Warner Bros.), “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Sydney Greenstreet), and “Best Writing, Screenplay” (John Huston)
1989 National Film Preservation Board, USA: National Film Registry
Sunday, August 26, 2012
"Street Fight" is a Heavy Weight Political Documentary
Street Fight (2005)
Running time: 82 minutes (1 hour, 22 minutes)
(Not rated by the MPAA)
PRODUCER/WRITER/DIRECTOR: Marshall Curry
EDITOR/CINEMATOGRAPHER: Marshall Curry
Academy Award nominee
Starring: Cory Booker and Sharpe James
The subject of this movie review is Street Fight, a 2005 documentary film from director Marshall Curry. The film received a best documentary film Oscar nomination and was also aired on the PBS series, P.O.V.
In 2002, documentary filmmaker Marshall Curry followed Cory Booker, a candidate for Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, taking viewers behind the scenes in what turned out to be a cutthroat 2002 mayoral race. Booker, a Newark city councilman, was an Ivy League upstart who’d only won a single political race prior to his 2002 mayoral campaign – that of the city council seat he held at the time.
The incumbent Sharpe James was a four-term, old-timer who represented the old-fashioned political machine’s way of running a political campaign and managing a government. That old political machine will try to win by any means necessary. James was the undisputed king of New Jersey politics, and some called him a “king maker.” James was also not above using down-and-dirty tactics to win, and he was not above bringing forth race and skin color as divisive issues he could use to defeat his opponents.
Booker and James are both African-Americans, but Booker has a lighter skin complexion than James. James, who at the time of the film had been in politics for 32 years, was one of the politicians that enjoyed the first fruits of the hard fought Civil Rights battles. Booker, on the other hand, represented the new generation of black leaders born after the Civil Right movement. These young African-Americans want to bring new ideas to government, and race (skin color, ethnicity) is less of a factor in how they run their campaigns, manage government, and operate in the public arena. Just being one of the father’s of Civil Rights or being a first generation beneficiary of the movement doesn’t make one untouchable or above criticism from these young black leaders.
Such an attitude rankled supporters of Sharpe who saw Sharpe and his career as the epitome of the struggle for civil rights and what the movement wanted to achieve. So Booker, who wasn’t born in Newark (whereas James was) was seen as an outsider. James encouraged that sentiment and went so far as to suggest that Booker wasn’t black or, as a light-skinned Negro, not black enough. James also liked to accuse Booker of being Jewish (he’s not) and a lackey of right wing, white Republicans. Booker often struck back by pointing out Newark’s problems and how the city had languished under James’ stewardship.
Raising hard questions about American politics, race and racial identity, and democracy, Street Fight earned a 2006 Academy Award nomination (“Best Documentary, Features”) for its story of a bare-knuckles political race. Marshall Curry’s brilliant follows it all, letting his camera record something uniquely American and rarely shown to the country at large – an inner city political campaign in which two black candidates go after each other for blood. The film’s one flaw is that Curry deliberately avoided covering the issues and focused on the “street fight.” Curry has said in interviews that in the battle, in which both men went into the neighborhoods of Newark canvassing for votes and feting voters, he saw the true story. It’s debatable if issues such as poverty, gang violence, municipal construction, etc. weren’t as important.
Still, anyone who likes politics and documentaries will find that Street Fight is a gourmet meal and a lavish dessert in one.
9 of 10
Thursday, October 26, 2006
2006 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Documentary, Features” (Marshall Curry)
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Review: "Vincent" is Short, But Long on Delights (Happy B'day, Tim Burton)
(A screen capture from Vincent, copyright Walt Disney Productions).
TRASH IN MY EYE No. 23 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux
Vincent (1982) – animated and B&W
Running time: 6 minutes
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Tim Burton
PRODUCER: Rick Heinrichs
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Victor Abdalov
ANIMATOR: Stephen Chiodo
COMPOSER: Ken Hilton
SHORT/ANIMATION/FANTASY with elements of comedy and horror
Starring: Vincent Price (narrator)
Vincent is a black and white, stop-motion animation film short from director Tim Burton and Walt Disney Productions. The short film is essentially Burton’s directorial debut – basically his first professional film. Vincent is included on both the Special Edition and Collector’s Edition DVDs of Nightmare Before Christmas.
Narrated by Vincent Price, the film tells the story of Vincent Malloy, a seven year-old boy fascinated (or obsessed) with Vincent Price. He constantly daydreams, imagining horrific events he wishes would occur in his life: having a dead wife that calls to him from her grave, boiling his aunt in wax, and turning his dog into a zombie, among other things. Soon, his imagination gets the best of him, and he looses himself in his macabre daydreams, and it annoys his Mother that he doesn’t know where reality begins and the horror ends.
Next to La Jatee, this is best short film I’ve ever seen. Both brilliant and biographic, it hints at many of the visual elements and themes that Burton would use in his most personal and signature films: Beetlejuice, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride, in particular. Filmed in a shadowy black and white photography, the film’s design (by Burton) is as imaginative and as vivid as most color animated films; in fact, he uses black and white as the color of the film. Price’s narration is a subtle mixture of Dr. Seuss, Edgar Allen Poe, and oral folk storytelling. Not only does Vincent Malloy resemble Tim Burton, but also the film is obviously a quasi-biography and film essay on Burton’s own passion for Vincent Price, for the macabre, and for Gothic-inspired cartoons and illustrations.
10 of 10
Monday, January 30, 2006
Friday, August 24, 2012
SnagFilms Snags Distribution Rights to Several Acclaimed Documentaries
SnagFilms Also Acquires Six Acclaimed Titles: “Harlan County USA”, “American Dream,” “Waco: The Rules of Engagement,” “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg,” “Fuel” and “Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg”
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--SnagFilms announced today the acquisition of domestic distribution rights to the two most honored documentaries of 2012: The House I Live In, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and Beware of Mr. Baker, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the South by Southwest Film Festival.
The House I Live In, directed by Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight, Reagan), tells the stories of individuals at all levels of America’s war on drugs. From the dealer to the narcotics officer, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America’s criminal justice system, revealing the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy.
Beware of Mr. Baker, directed by Jay Bulger, is an intimate look at legendary drummer Ginger Baker, best known for his work with Eric Clapton in Cream and Blind Faith. Considered by many to be the world’s best drummer, this controversial and unforgettable musician reflects back on his life along with interviews with Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Steve Winwood, Charlie Watts, Max Weinberg and many more.
Digital distribution is expected to cover key pay platforms and eventual ad-supported release on snagfilms.com. Richard Abramowitz’s Abramorama will handle theatrical releasing for both films.
“We’ve heard a lot about Dream Teams recently,” said Rick Allen, SnagFilms CEO. “But the year’s top two documentary winners, plus six time-honored titles, constitute the Doc Dream Team. We are honored to be bringing them to wide audiences.”
The House I Live In was directed and written by Eugene Jarecki and produced by Jarecki and Melinda Shopsin. Executive Producers are Danny Glover, Nick Fraser, John Legend, Russell Simmons, Joslyn Barnes and Sally Jo Fifer. www.thehouseilivein.org
Beware of Mr. Baker was directed and written by Jay Bulger and produced by Andrew Karsch, Fisher Stevens and Erik Gordon, executive producer Julie Goldman. http://bewareofmrbaker.com/
In addition to these two award-winning titles, SnagFilms has also acquired a slate of six acclaimed films, including Academy Award-winners Harlan County USA and American Dream; the Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award-winner Waco: The Rules of Engagement; Peabody and Critics Choice Award winner The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg; Sundance Film Festival Audience Award winner Fuel and the critically-acclaimed Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg. SnagFilms’ digital rights are exclusive for certain pay, SVOD and ad-supported platforms to commence in the coming months.
These announcements come on the heels of a string of major 2012 acquisitions by the new media platform and distributor, which have seen it add films with over 200 major awards or nominations to its library of over 3300 films. The company has increasingly taken premiering films, including the upcoming theatrical and digital release of Decoding Deepak, Gotham Chopra’s new film about his father Deepak Chopra, and The Black Tulip from filmmaker Sonia Nassery Cole, plus the upcoming digital premieres of Faces in the Mirror from musician Boyd Tinsley and We Made This Movie from “The Late Show with David Letterman” executive producer Rob Burnett.
More information about these titles:
Academy Award-winner Harlan County USA – included in the National Film Registry by the National Film Preservation Board; named as a Top Ten Film by the National Board of Review; and honored by the LA Film Critics Association. Barbara Kopple’s classic documentary details the bitter and often violent struggle between coal miners and management in Appalachian Kentucky, with a close focus on the women who actively organized and spearheaded efforts to keep the cause alive with their strength and courage.
Academy Award-winner American Dream – another classic documentary from filmmaker Barbara Kopple, recounts the months long strike of a Minnesota Hormel factory and captures working men and women making tough choices about survival during a time of economic crisis in the American Midwest. It screened at the Sundance Film Festival where it was awarded the Documentary Audience Award, the Documentary Grand Jury Prize, and the Documentary Filmmaker Trophy, the only non-fiction film to win all three distinctions.
The Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning Waco: The Rules of Engagement – from director William Gazecki, the controversial documentary about the stand-off between an unorthodox Christian group - the Branch Davidians, under the leadership of the young, charismatic David Koresh - and the FBI and ATF in Waco, Texas.
The Peabody Award-winning, Emmy-nominated and multiple critics’ award-winner The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg – from filmmaker Aviva Kempner, the story of Baseball Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg, the first major Jewish baseball star in the Major League.
Sundance Film Festival Audience Award-winner Fuel -- from director Josh Tickell, a man with a plan and a Veggie Van, who is takes on big industry, big government and America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Cine Golden Eagle Award-winner, Women’s Film Critic Circle Award-winner and New York Times Critics Pick Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg -- the humorous and eye-opening story of television pioneer Gertrude Berg, also from filmmaker Aviva Kempner.
SnagFilms features free, sponsor-supported, on demand viewing of more than 3,300 award-winning, fiction and non-fiction titles from some of the greatest names in film. SnagFilms’ curated collection is viewed on its own site and a digital network of more than 110,000 affiliated sites and webpages worldwide, including partners such as Comcast's Xfinity, Hulu, the Starbucks Digital Network, IMDb, hundreds of non-profits, special interest sites and blogs — and via its applications for tablets, including Apple’s iPad (AirPlay-enabled), Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Blackberry Playbook and other Android-based tablets; Android smartphones; OTT platforms Roku, Boxee and Western Digital; connected TVs and blu-ray players from Sony, Panasonic, LG and Vizio, and soon to launch on connected TVs and blu-ray players from Samsung. SnagFilms’ titles have been featured on more than 3.5 billion pageviews across its network.
SnagFilms also offers selected titles via pay video on demand with Comcast, iN Demand (including Time Warner Cable, Cox and Bright House Networks), Verizon's FiOS and DIRECTV, as well as on iTunes, Hulu Plus, Amazon, VUDU, Xbox Live, Google Play, YouTube Movies, and will soon be launching on DISH Network and Samsung Media Hub. SnagFilms was named one of the fastest growing technology companies in Washington, DC area. Gizmodo has named SnagFilms as a “Best iPad App,” OVGuide has twice named SnagFilms a Top Site, and MovieMaker Magazine named SnagFilms to its annual list of “50 Best Websites for Moviemakers.” The SnagFilms family also includes Indiewire, for more than 15 years the web’s top source of news, reviews and information about independent film – and winner of the 2012 Webby Award as the top film and movie site.
Review: "Half Baked" is All Good (Happy B'day, Dave Chappelle)
Half Baked (1998)
Running time: 83 minutes (1 hour, 23 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive drug content, language, nudity, and sexual material
DIRECTOR: Tamra Davis
WRITERS: Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan
PRODUCER: Robert Simonds
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Steven Bernstein
EDITOR: Don Zimmerman, A.C.E.
Starring: Dave Chappelle, Jim Breuer, Harland Williams, Guillermo Diaz, Rachel True. Laura Silverman, and Clarence Williams III, Tommy Chong, Rick Demas, Snoop Dogg, Jon Stewart, Stephen Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Willie Nelson, Jason Blicker, Dave Nichols with (uncredited) Janeane Garofalo, Bob Saget, and Steven Wright
Before Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan created the popular “Chappelle’s Show” for the Comedy Central cable network in 2003, the duo collaborated on the script for the hilarious pro-marijuana comedy, Half Baked. Although it appeared a good four years before the Chappelle Show likely began production, the film was an introduction to some of the kind of humor that Dave and Neal would feature on the show.
Dave is Thurgood Jenkins, a pot smoker since he was 15-years old. He lives with his three friends Scarface (Guillermo Díaz), Brian (Jim Breuer), and Kenny Davis (Harland Williams), with whom he was introduced to weed, in a ratty apartment in which the boys spend their non-working hours puffin.’ However, when Kenny is arrested for (accidentally) killing a police officer (a diabetic horse he overstuffed with junk food), the trio has to find a way to raise Kenny’s enormous bail so that the can get out of prison before someone invades the sanctity of his virgin butthole, i.e. save him from the trauma of homosexual rape.
Thurgood comes across a scheme to sell high-quality cannabis he steals from a pharmaceutical research lab, and he, Scarface, and Brian do quite well in their little enterprise. However, they earn the ire of Samson Simpson (Clarence Williams III), a drug dealer who wants a cut of their take. Thurgood must also keep his bud-selling enterprise a secret from his new girl friend, Mary Jane Potman (Rachel True), a young woman who hates drug dealers because her father was one and is currently in prison. Can Thurgood keep his new sweetie off the trail of smoke, and can he and his buddies save Kenny’s ass?
Half Baked is simply flat out funny. I liked everyone in the sometimes droll and often vulgar laid back comedy. In fact, Chappelle actually does not steal the show from his cast, especially the hilarious and talented trio of Díaz, Breuer, and Williams. Clarence Williams also shines in a very small part, one of the few times his versatile comedy skit talent comes to life on screen.
Half Baked also features several amusing cameos, but even without them, this movie is… dope and doped up. The film deserves its “R” rating, as it’s actually a “hard” R because of the frequent drug references and a prison shower scene featuring several fully nude men and the threat of prison rape. Still, that should not dissuade mature audiences looking for grown up juvenile comedy, and it might actually attract some folks.
8 of 10
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
"One Piece" Anime Sails into Neon Alley Fall 2012
VIZ MEDIA BRINGS THE HIGH SEAS ANIME PIRATE ADVENTURE ONE PIECE TO NEON ALLEY THIS FALL
ONE PIECE Licensor Toei Animation Will Be Content Partner For New Console-Based 24-Hour Anime Channel Launching On PS3 And Playstation Network
VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, continues the digital anime convergence as it announces that Toei Animation, with FUNimation® Entertainment acting as the agent, has licensed the celebrated pirate anime action/adventure series, ONE PIECE, for broadcast on Neon Alley, the new 24-hour anime channel VIZ Media launching this Fall exclusively to the Playstation Network and the PS3 game console. Episodes to air on Neon Alley will be presented uncut and with dubbed English dialogue.
Neon Alley, featuring the world’s best anime titles all dubbed and uncut in English and presented in HD (when available), is the first platform designed to be studio agnostic, with a diverse array of titles from other leading anime producers and distributors. Programming will include weekly exclusive premieres of hit titles fans love, alongside a mix of new, cutting edge titles they didn’t know they were missing. Neon Alley will be a subscription-based service, subsidized with limited commercial advertising to keep the launch price to consumers at a low $6.99 per month.
“We’re excited to partner with Toei and FUNimation to bring the smash hit ONE PIECE to fans across North America on Neon Alley,” says Brian Ige, Vice President, Animation. “Fans should stay tuned for the Neon Alley launch date and programming details, and prepare to set sail with Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hat pirates this Fall!”
ONE PIECE is based on a massively popular manga (graphic novel) series created by Eiichiro Oda, that is also published in North America by VIZ Media (rated ‘T’ for Teens). In the venerable anime adventure, Monkey D. Luffy refuses to let anyone or anything stand in the way of his quest to become king of all pirates. With a course charted for the treacherous waters of the Grand Line, this is one captain who'll never drop anchor until he's claimed the greatest treasure on Earth – the Legendary One Piece!
For more information on Neon Alley, please visit www.NeonAlley.com.
For more information on Toei Animation, please visit: www.Toei-Anime.co.jp
For more information on FUNimation, please visit: www.funimation.com
For more information on VIZ Media, please visit www.VIZ.com.
About Toei Animation Inc.
TOEI ANIMATION has been distributing its popular Japanese Animation films and derivative character licensing through local partners all over American regions for over 13 years. TOEI ANIMATION INCORPORATED (TAI) established in Los Angeles in March 2004, looks forward to spreading the world-renowned Japanese animation studio’s extensive library and pursuing co-production projects in North and Latin America and other English-speaking territories worldwide. The main business operations of TAI include film licensing in all media and emerging platforms, merchandise licensing and co-productions with local establishments. Visit www.toei-anim.co.jp/english/index.html.
About FUNimation® Entertainment
FUNimation® Entertainment is the leading anime company in North America. FUNimation has a proven formula for launching and advancing brands. They manage a full spectrum of rights for most of their brands including broadcasting, licensing, production, internet, and home video sales and distribution. For more information about FUNimation Entertainment and its brands, visit www.funimation.com.
About VIZ Media, LLC
Headquartered in San Francisco, California, VIZ Media distributes, markets and licenses the best anime and manga titles direct from Japan. Owned by three of Japan's largest manga and animation companies, Shueisha Inc., Shogakukan Inc., and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions, Co., Ltd., VIZ Media has the most extensive library of anime and manga for English speaking audiences in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. With its popular digital manga anthology WEEKLY SHONEN JUMP ALPHA and blockbuster properties like NARUTO, BLEACH and INUYASHA, VIZ Media offers cutting-edge action, romance and family friendly properties for anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages. VIZ Media properties are available as graphic novels, DVDs, animated television series, feature films, downloadable and streaming video and a variety of consumer products. Learn more about VIZ Media, anime and manga at www.VIZ.com.
"Dredd 3D" Has New YouTube Trailer
Dredd The Movie in 3D from LionsGate Films arrives in theaters this fall, and the studio just released a new trailer/video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvVWZkvUfwo or http://youtu.be/OvVWZkvUfwo
Filmed in 3D with stunning slow-motion photography sequences, the film returns the celebrated character to the dark, visceral incarnation from John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra's revered comic strip. Dredd 3D was written by 28 Days Later's Alex Garland and directed by Pete Travis, starring: Karl Urban (Star Trek) and Olivia Thirlby (Juno). This futuristic neo-noir action film sneak screened at Comic-Con this year where it was a big hit and was well received by critics. Dredd 3D will release in theaters on September 21, 2012.
DREDD 3D - The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega City One - a vast, violent metropolis where criminals rule the chaotic streets. The only force of order lies with the urban cops called "Judges" who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner. Known and feared throughout the city, Dredd is the ultimate Judge, challenged with ridding the city of its latest scourge - a dangerous drug epidemic that has users of "Slo-Mo" experiencing reality at a fraction of its normal speed.
During a routine day on the job, Dredd is assigned to train and evaluate Cassandra Anderson, a rookie with powerful psychic abilities thanks to a genetic mutation. A heinous crime calls them to a neighborhood where fellow Judges rarely dare to venture - a 200 story vertical slum controlled by prostitute turned drug lord Ma-Ma and her ruthless clan. When they capture one of the clan's inner circle, Ma-Ma overtakes the compound's control center and wages a dirty, vicious war against the Judges that proves she will stop at nothing to protect her empire. With the body count climbing and no way out, Dredd and Anderson must confront the odds and engage in the relentless battle for their survival.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
"Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" Raises a Little Hell
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)
Running time: 95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language
WRITERS: Scott M. Gimple & Seth Hoffman and David S. Goyer; from a story by David S. Goyer (based upon the Marvel Comics character)
PRODUCERS: Ashok Amritraj, Ari Arad, Avi Arad, Michael De Luca, and Steven Paul
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Brandon Trost
EDITOR: Brian Berdan
COMPOSER: David Sardy
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitmorth, Fergus Riordan, Anthony Head, and Christopher Lambert
The subject of this movie review is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, a 2012 superhero, action, and horror movie from directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, who jointly work under the moniker, Neveldine/Taylor. Ghost Rider is a Marvel Comics character that was created by writers Roy Thomas and Mark Friedrich and artist Mike Ploog and that first appeared in the comics magazine, Marvel Spotlight #5 (1972).
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is a sequel to the 2007 film, Ghost Rider, and, as in the first film, Oscar-winning actor, Nicolas Cage, plays the title roll. Spirit of Vengeance, which finds Ghost Rider trying to protect a child from the devil, is much better than the first film, although it is by no means great.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens in a monastery in Eastern Europe. There, the monk, Benedict (Anthony Head), and his brothers are hiding a mother, Nadya (Violante Placido), and her son, Danny (Fergus Riordan). Apparently, the Devil Mephisto wants Danny in order to complete some kind of ritual.
A French priest named Moreau (Idris Elba) decides to take matters into his own hands after Mephisto’s forces attack the monastery. Moreau seeks out Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), who is also the Ghost Rider, the fiery spirit of vengeance whose head is a flaming skull. Blaze sold his soul to Mephisto, who is currently going by the name, Roarke (Ciaran Hinds), which is why the Ghost Rider is inside him. After Ghost Rider proves to be too much of problem for him, Roarke turns one of his stooges into Blackout (Johnny Whitmorth), a supernatural creature that can take on the Rider.
One thing I can say about the directing team, Neveldine/Taylor, is that the duo has style, and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance has got style. The film is visually snazzy, spunky, and even cool. The action scenes are quite good, and the computer effects (CGI) don’t look phony and are an improvement over the CGI in the first film.
The story is different, seeming unique although it mines familiar territory – the hero trying to save a vulnerable woman or child from being possessed by the Devil. That’s probably because Spirit of Vengeance is not like other movies based on comic book superheroes, and of course, Ghost Rider isn’t like other superheroes. The script has some good ideas, which is not surprising considering that one of Spirit of Vengeance’s screenwriters is David S. Goyer, who has written horror movies and movies based on comic books, including the Blade franchise, which combines both.
The problems with Spirit of Vengeance are the characters and the acting. There is no character development, nor are the characters really interesting. There are some novel and interesting things about them, but that does not translate into wholly interesting characters. The acting is bad. Sometimes, I cannot tell if Nicolas Cage is hamming for the cameras or is simply phoning in a performance. Idris Elba tries, but even his honest effort cannot save Moreau from seeming unintentionally comical or not funny when the character is supposed to be comical.
Still, I find Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance to be much better than the first film. The action and the visual effects pop enough to make me actually want more of this.
6 of 10
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Legendary Phyllis Diller Dies at 95
Phyllis Diller is credited with opening stand-up comedy for women, and she appeared as a contestant on several game shows. Negromancer sends our condolences to the Diller family. R.I.P., Ms. Diller.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" Opens Fantastic Fest in One Month
(Image from upcoming Disney feature, Frankenweenie.)
Fantastic Fest Presents The World Premiere Of "Frankenweenie"
Tim Burton's Highly Anticipated Return To Animation Will Open The 2012 Festival
Fantastic Fest is excited to announce Walt Disney Pictures' Frankenweenie will have its world premiere on September 20 as the opening night film for the 2012 festival, happening September 20-27 in Austin, Texas at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar.
"Tim Burton stands as a titan of modern genre cinema. To world premiere the feature adaptation of his early beloved short is a huge honor for me personally and for the festival in general," said Fantastic Fest Co-founder & Creative Director Tim League.
From creative genius Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, The Nightmare Before Christmas) comes Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life--with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor's fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new "leash on life" can be monstrous.
A stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie was filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D. The talented voice cast includes: Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Winona Ryder.
Presented by Disney, Frankenweenie is directed by Tim Burton, produced by Tim Burton and Allison Abbate, from a screenplay by John August, based on an original idea by Tim Burton. Frankenweenie releases in U.S. theaters on October 5, 2012.
For further information on Frankenweenie go to http://disney.com/frankenweenie/.
Director Tony Scott Dead at 68 - A Bits and Bites Extra
Producer and director Tony Scott is dead at the age of 68. He died Sunday, August 19, 2012 of an apparent suicide in Los Angeles. Entertainment Weekly's website has more details. Tony Scott was born in 1944 in North Shields, North Tyneside, England (United Kingdom). His older brother is the Oscar-nominated director, Ridley Scott.
Scott's first feature film was the vampire movie, The Hunger (1983). Scott would go on to direct such films as Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop II, True Romance, and Crimson Tide, movies which marked him as one of the greatest action movie directors in the history of Hollywood filmmaking. Beginning with Crimson Tide in 1995, Scott would direct a total of five films starring Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, including the recent Unstoppable (2010).
Negromancer sends our condolences to Tony Scott's family and friends. R.I.P., Mr. Scott.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Review: Marx Bros. "At the Circus" is Still a Wonderful Circus (Remembering Groucho Marx)
At the Circus (1939) – Black & White
Running time: 87 minutes (1 hour, 27 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Edward Buzzell
WRITERS: Irving Breecher
PRODUCER: Mervyn LeRoy
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Leonard m. Smith (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: William H. Terhune
Starring: Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx (The Marx Bros.), Kenny Baker, Florence Rice, Eve Arden, Margaret Dumont, James Burke, Nat Pendleton, Barnett Parker, and Fritz Feld
The subject of this movie review is At the Circus, which is also known as The Marx Brothers at the Circus. This 1939 Marx Brothers comedy finds the brothers trying to save a small circus from bankruptcy.
In 1939 the writer/director team of Irving Breecher and Edward Buzzell made two films starring the Marx Brothers, Go West and the comedy/musical At the Circus. By the time of At the Circus, the brothers’ act was already down to the familiar trio of Groucho, Chico, and Harpo, and At the Circus displays a full range of the brothers’ talents as singers, musicians, actors, and comedians.
Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker) owns a small circus, but he owes his sleazy partner, John Carter (James Burke), $10,000. When Carter calls in the loan, Wilson gets the money much to Carter’s chagrin, so Carter has the circus strongman (Nat Pendleton) and a midget (Barnett Parker) attack Wilson and steal the money. Two carnies (circus employees), Antonio Pirelli (Chico Marx) and Punchy (Harpo Marx), decide to help their boss Jeff, whom they admire, recover the dough. They call in a disingenuous lawyer, J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho Marx), to lead the investigation into the disappearance of the money. But when the money proves difficult to recover, Loophole cooks up a hair-brained scheme to get the dough from Jeff’s wealthy aunt, Mrs. Susan Dukesbury (Margaret Dumont), from whom Jeff is estranged.
While this isn’t the Marx Brothers’ best film, it is a very entertaining and funny comedy with some sparkling musical numbers. The best musical bit features Harpo with a crowd of African-American co-performers that finishes with Harpo on harp while the black folks stand around and grin, gawk, and stare wide-eyed. Groucho, however, shines in this film; he’s at his wittiest and most sarcastic. He carries the film with rapid fire, smart aleck conversation, and while it’s hard to pick his best moment in this film, it could be his innuendo-filled duel with Eva Arden’s Peerless Pauline. Excellent production values top off this breezy comedy, which I heartily recommend.
I remember this as the first Marx Brothers movie I ever saw. I loved At the Circus the first time I saw it, and it still has a special place in my heart. So consider that when reading my review.
7 of 10
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Review: Norton is the Star in "PRIMAL FEAR" (Happy B'day, Edward Norton)
TRASH IN MY EYE No. 06 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux
Primal Fear (1996)
Running time: 129 minutes (2 hours, 9 minutes)
MPAA – R for brief grisly violence, pervasive strong language and a sex scene
DIRECTOR: Gregory Hoblit
WRITERS: Steve Shagan and Ann Biderman (based upon the novel by William Diehl)
PRODUCER: Gary Lucchesi
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Chapman (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: David Rosenbloom
COMPOSER: James Newton Howard
Academy Award nominee
Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Edward Norton, John Mahoney, Frances McDormand, Alfre Woodard, Terry O’Quinn, Andre Braugher, Steven Bauer, Joe Spano, Stanley Anderson, Maura Tierney, and Jon Seda
The subject of this movie review is Primal Fear, a 1996 courtroom drama and legal thriller starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. The film is based on William Diehl’s 1993 novel, Primal Fear. This movie was also actor Edward Norton’s feature film debut, for which he earned a best supporting actor Oscar nomination.
I’ll begin with a minor spoiler warning, so skip to the second paragraph if you don’t want to know how the movie ends. I was thoroughly and completely happy that the murderer beats the system in the end; he was my hero throughout the movie. I enjoyed that he trumped the skuzzy and dishonest State’s Attorney John Shaughnessy (John Mahoney of TV’s “Fraiser”), who uses murder, intimidation, and lies to get his way like so many dirty people in district attorney and state’s attorney’s offices. Hooray to chaos! Damn the corrupt system! Now, on to the movie.
Richard Gere has spent the better part of three decades shining his lovely face in numerous films, although his skills as a thespian are usually in question, there is no doubt that he is a good movie star. He has an obvious, almost forced, charm, but he is also a charming rogue. He doesn’t bury himself in method acting; he simply plays the character as himself. It can be argued that no actress of similar skill and of similar shaky box office pedigree would continue to get choice projects, but then there’s Madonna.
In Primal Fear, Gere is the arrogant defense attorney Martin “Marty” Vail, and he just taken on the case of Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton) who has been arrested for the savagely murdering a popular bishop (Stanley Anderson). State’s Attorney Shaughnessy wants the death penalty, and he sends one of Marty’s former girlfriends and co-workers, Janet Venable (Laura Linney) to prosecute the case. Yes, Marty also has a history with the Shaughnessy, who was his boss not so long ago.
Gere is himself, and I can’t see any indication that this performance would standout amongst any others unless they were really bad. Laura Linney can certainly play the tough “cookie,” who roles with punches, taking anything life or ex-lovers have to throw her way. It’s always good to see the under utilized Alfre Woodard (as Judge Miriam Shoat) and John Mahoney is fun in practically anything.
Good performances by most of the cast aside, the scene stealing, showstopper is Edward Norton in this, his first film role. The fact of the matter is that Primal Fear is average potboiler without him. He so embodies his roles (he has more than one part, sort of) that you can’t help but be drawn into him. No matter what happens, you’re rooting for the boyish and obviously innocent and naïve country kid who was taken in and abused by the mean old city. He uses his entire body to become his character: gestures, facial expressions, hair, the way her wears his clothes, etc.
Director Gregory Hoblit, a director of episodic television, was lucky to have him. Norton transforms Hoblit’s film from a minor studio legal thriller that would have wound up in home video hell into something worth recommending to friends over and over again.
6 of 10
1997 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Edward Norton)
1997 BAFTA Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Edward Norton)
1997 Golden Globes, USA: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Edward Norton)
Friday, August 17, 2012
Production Begins on New Scary Movie, "Hidden," from Warner Bros.
Alexander Skarsgård and Andrea Riseborough Star in Thriller
BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography is underway in Vancouver on Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Hidden,” starring Alexander Skarsgård (TV’s “True Blood”) and Andrea Riseborough (“Shadow Dancer”).
Ray (Skarsgård), Claire (Riseborough) and their seven-year-old daughter, Zoe, are an average American family in Kingsville, North Carolina—except they have existed in a bomb shelter since escaping a day of devastation that changed everything.
For 301 days, they have transformed their cement prison into a home, holding on to memories of the past and hope for a normal life someday. And for 301 days, the family has eluded what looms above the surface—the heavy breathing and booming footsteps that punctuate the night, threatening their fragile existence.
All the while, the family has managed to stay hidden. Until now. Now their safe haven has been breached…and something is coming for them.
Brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, who wrote the original script, make their feature film directorial debut on “Hidden.” The film also stars Emily Alyn Lind (“J. Edgar”) as daughter Zoe.
Roy Lee (“The Departed”), Oscar® nominee Mason Novick (“Juno”) and Lawrence Grey (“Hope Springs”) are producing. The executive producers are John Middleton, Sebastian Aloi, Jim Rowe and Katterli Frauenfelder. Michelle Knudsen is serving as co-producer.
The behind-the-scenes team includes director of photography Tom Townend (“Attack the Block”), Academy Award®-nominated production designer Jim Bissell (“Good Night, and Good Luck”), editor Jeffrey Werner (“The Kids Are All Right”), and Oscar®-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha”). The music is by Jeff Grace (“Meek’s Cutoff”).
“Hidden” will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
"Monster House" is an Animated Horror Movie
Monster House (2005)
Running time: 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
MPAA – PG for scary images and sequences, thematic elements, some crude humor, and brief language
DIRECTOR: Gil Kenan
WRITERS: Dan Harmon & Rob Schrab and Pamela Pettler; from a story by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab
PRODUCERS: Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Paul C. Babin and Xavier Pérez Grobet
EDITORS: Fabienne Rawley and Adam Scott
Academy Award nominee
Starring: (voices) Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner, Spencer Locke, Steve Buscemi, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, Jason Lee, Kevin James, Nick Cannon, Jon Heder, and Kathleen Turner
The new computer-animated film, Monster House, isn’t just a kid’s film, and even if it were, it’s not just any kid’s movie. Monster House is a genuine horror movie, but one made for family viewing (perhaps a little too intense for younger than 8 or 9), and its roller-coaster, action movie ending makes the movie a bit more than standard computer animated fare. Free of all those sometimes annoying pop culture references that beset so many other computer animated films, Monster House is just a good solid ghost story told in a way that will scare the kids and has enough fright to engage older minds.
He’s on the verge of puberty, but when his parents head away for the weekend, DJ (Mitchel Musso) still gets a babysitter. To make matters worse, that very afternoon, DJ had a run-in with Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi), the neighbor who lives across the street in the rundown old house. During their confrontation, Nebbercracker seemingly dies, but that’s not the end of the story. Nebbercracker’s death apparently brings the old house to life as some kind of monster. The front door grows spiky teeth out of boards, and the rug in the front hall becomes a monstrous tongue that darts outside and snatches unsuspecting visitors. Anyone who steps foot on the lawn is monster house food.
The house seems to have a special hate for DJ, so he calls for the assistance of his best friend, the chubby prankster, Chowder (Sam Lerner). It’s not long before the boys add the final piece to their heroic trio when they save the life of Jenny (Spencer Locke), a beautiful young girl about the age of DJ and Chowder, who unwittingly stops by the monster house to sell school candy. It seems, however, that no adults will believe them that the house across from DJ’s is a living, breathing, scary monster. It’s up to them to save the neighborhood, but will it cost them their own lives.
Executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, two Oscar-winning directors and sometime partners, Monster House is shot in motion-capture animation, the process Zemeckis used for his 2004 film, The Polar Express. In motion-capture, the performances of the live actors are filmed; then, the live action photography is used as a model for the motion-capture computer animation. Monster House, however, looks more like such 3-D animation films as Madagascar or The Incredibles than it looks like The Polar Express.
That said – I like the animation in this movie. Both the characters in their design and in the way they move look like something from one of Tim Burton’s stop-motion animated films (Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride). The film doesn’t look flat, and the characters almost seem like puppets on a set. This unique look makes Monster House stand out from the rest of the jam-packed computer-animation crowd (and 2005 is heavy with 3-D animation).
In terms of story, Monster House looks and feels like something Spielberg or Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) might have done two decades ago. The story’s setting is vaguely anachronistic, partially situated in the 1980’s, but with some touches that have only recently come into existence. The story has the distinct flavor of Spielberg’s mid-80’s anthology series, “Amazing Stories,” and even a little bit of “Tales from the Crypt, the late HBO series of which Zemeckis was one of the executive producers. Most of the audience will recognize the familiar plot – the neighborhood ghost story or the monster in the house down the street.
Monster House is just a well done film. From the wonderfully vivid colors to the fast-paced scares and thrills, it engages all ages. The lead characters: DJ, Chowder, and Jenny and the young voice actors who play them are appealing with winning comic personalities – giving a human touch to this computer-produced film. Even the supporting voice performances are good (Nick Cannon gives a surprisingly nimble and funny turn as a daffy rookie cop.). That’s why Monster House captured my attention and imagination and gave me thrills and chills the whole way through. Monster House does have a few lapses, but anyone willing to give it a chance just might find a good time. It’s one of those magical summer treasures that the kid in all of us loves to find in our favorite theatre.
7 of 10
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
2007 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” (Gil Kenan)
2007 Golden Globes, USA: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Film”
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Review: Rooney Mara is All Woman in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
TRASH IN MY EYE No. 68 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
Running time: 158 minutes (2 hours, 38 minutes)
MPAA - R for brutal violent content including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, and language
DIRECTOR: David Fincher
WRITER: Steven Zaillian (based upon the novel, Man som hatar kvinnor, by Stieg Larsson)
PRODUCERS: Cean Chaffin, Scott Rudin, Soren Staermose, and Ole Sondberg
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeff Cronenweth
EDITORS: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
COMPOSERS: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Academy Award winner
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright, Yorick van Wageningen, Joely Richardson, Geraldine James, Goran Visnjic, Donald Sumpter, Ulf Friberg, Julian Sands, and David Dencik
The subject of this movie review is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a 2011 American thriller and murder mystery from director David Fincher. The film is based upon the late author Stieg Larsson's 2005 novel, Man som hatar kvinnor (translates to "Men who hate women"). The novel is best known by the title used for its English-language release, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was previously adapted into a 2009 Swedish film.
The film opens with Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), the co-owner of Millennium magazine, losing a libel case. He doesn't know that a brilliant, but troubled computer hacker and researcher named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) has just compiled an extensive background check on him for Swedish business magnate Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer). Vanger wants Blomkvist to solve the apparent murder of his niece, Harriet Vanger, 40 years ago. There is a common thread that eventually brings Mikael and Lisbeth together, when she becomes his assistant. Are their talents enough to solve what seems to be a series of murders of young women over a 20-year period, including the time when Harriet disappeared?
I saw the American film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo about two weeks after I saw the 2009 Swedish version, so I could not help but compare the two. I prefer the Swedish film, and I have to admit that there were things in the Swedish version that were not in the American version, and I missed them. I think the American film pales a little in comparison to it. Why?
The American film's casting is inferior. Daniel Craig is too rough and craggy-looking to play the introspective Mikael Blomkvist, and Christopher Plummer, fine actor that he is, seems out of place as Henrik Vanger. That the overrated, anorexic-like Ellen Page was once considered as the choice to play Lisbeth Salander makes me realize that I'm luck the filmmakers got one bit of casting dead right. That is casting Rooney Mara as Lisbeth.
The premise of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is simply great. The subplots are also exciting and appealing, and the words to describe how good the characters are fail me. Give David Fincher this kind of material and he'll give us an exceptional movie, which he does in spite of my complaints. Still, everything turns on Lisbeth Salander.
That is why I give a lot of the credit for this movie's quality to Rooney Mara's performance as Lisbeth. Following Noomi Rapace's mesmerizing turn in the Swedish version is not a job for the squeamish or the overrated. Mara's Lisbeth has a spry sense of humor and sparkling wit. She is both feral and vulnerable, and she seems chaste while also being capable of being quite the seductress. Her intelligence and willingness to get physical with opponents makes Lisbeth often seem like a superhero.
Fincher makes Mara the focus of the story, and sometimes his attention to details about Lisbeth seems lurid. However, the script has holes and some of the other actors aren't up to snuff, so Fincher rightly builds the success of this film on Rooney Mara1s solid foundation. In Mara, the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a dragon of an actress, indeed.
7 of 10
2012 Academy Awards: 1 win: "Best Achievement in Film Editing" (Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter); 4 nominations: "Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role" (Rooney Mara), "Best Achievement in Cinematography" (Jeff Cronenweth), "Best Achievement in Sound Editing" (Ren Klyce), and "Best Achievement in Sound Mixing" (David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, and Bo Persson)
2012 BAFTA Awards: 2 nominations: "Best Cinematography" (Jeff Cronenweth) and "Best Original Music" (Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor)
2012 Golden Globes, USA: 2 nominations: "Best Original Score - Motion Picture" (Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor) and "Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama" (Rooney Mara)
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Noomi Rapace a Dragon in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
Män som hatar kvinnor (original title)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Sweden with Denmark, Germany, and Norway
Running time: 152 minutes (2 hours, 32 minutes)
MPAA – R for disturbing violent content including rape, grisly images, sexual material, nudity and language
DIRECTOR: Niels Arden Oplev
WRITERS: Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg (based on the novel by Stieg Larsson)
PRODUCER: Søren Stærmose
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Kress (photographer)
EDITOR: Anne Østerud
COMPOSER: Jacob Groth
Starring: Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre, Sven-Bertil Taube, Peter Haber, Peter Andersson, Marika Lagercrantz, Ingvar Hirdwall, and Bjorn Granath
Män som hatar kvinnor is a 2009 Swedish drama and mystery thriller. The title literally means “Men who hate women.” This film is based on the 2005 novel, Män som hatar kvinnor, written by the late author and journalist, Stieg Larsson. In English-language markets, the novel and its Swedish film adaptation are known as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The film focuses on a disgraced journalist and a young female hacker who try to discover the circumstances behind the disappearance of an apparently murdered young woman.
The film opens in December 2002. Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), publisher of Millennium magazine, loses a libel case, which gets him a huge fine and a three-month prison sentence. Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace), a young computer hacker who works as a surveillance agent, has been watching Blomkvist and researching his activities. Lisbeth delivers a comprehensive report on him to Dirch Frode (Ingvar Hirdwall). Frode convinces Blomkvist to meet his client, 82-year-old Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube).
Vanger hires Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of Harriet Vanger, his niece who disappeared in 1966 and is believed to be dead. Vanger believes that Harriet was likely harmed by one of his family members, who are all part of the Vanger Group. Blomkvist’s investigation is going nowhere when Lisbeth intervenes and agrees to help him with the case. As they dig deeper into the Vangers, Blomkvist and Lisbeth discover dark family secrets that go back decades.
I rented a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo from Netflix. I intended to watch the first half-hour of the film and then stop and watch the rest of it at a later time. Those plans were crashed. I could not stop watching this tremendously gripping thriller. Everything works. The direction is tight, and that results in a tautly-paced film in which the characters’ lives are always perilously close to going over the edge.
The screenplay is well-written, but the writers are enamored with Lisbeth, while too much about Blomkvist is left out. As the film progresses, Blomkvist becomes just an investigator – the P.I., the classic whodunit detective, the gumshoe, etc. The script even relegates the Vanger Family to the background and sidelines of the story, although the resolution is firmly nestled in the family’s extra-dark past and present.
However, it is easy to see why the script is in love with Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. She lights up the story, and Noomi Rapace’s luminous performance brings Lisbeth to brilliant life. As Lisbeth, Rapace radiates unusual beauty, raw sexual power, exceptional strength, uncommon intelligence, and fierce independence. She’s a goddess!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a great mystery thriller, but its center is a dazzling character named Lisbeth Salander. She makes a great mystery thriller even greater.
9 of 10
2011 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: “Best Film not in the English Language;” 2 nominations: “Best Leading Actress” (Noomi Rapace) and “Best Screenplay-Adapted” (Rasmus Heisterberg and Nikolaj Arcel)
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Wal-Mart Turns "The Hunger Games" DVD Release into a Party
Retailer celebrates The Hunger Games at midnight on August 18 in more than 2,000 stores
BENTONVILLE, Ark., Aug. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Hunger Games fans, today the odds are ever in your favor. Whether you are from District 1 or District 12, beginning at 11 p.m. on Friday, August 17, Walmart stores nationwide will host more than 2,000 parties featuring special giveaways, movie trivia and much more - all in honor of The Hunger Games. In addition to the midnight parties, Walmart will host exclusive, special guest appearances by actors from the film in the following cities: Marietta, GA, Dallas, TX, Miami, FL, Phoenix, AZ and Santa Clarita, CA.
Fans who purchase the DVD at midnight will receive a special pack of collectible The Hunger Games trading cards. A select number of random packs will include an autographed card from one of the cast members including Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson. Never-before-seen interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of leading cast members will also be accessible for fans on Walmart's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/walmart.
"Together with Lionsgate Entertainment, we are providing Hunger Games fans with a unique and fun way to celebrate and purchase one of the most anticipated DVD releases of the year," said Seong Ohm, senior vice president and general manager of entertainment for Walmart U.S. "When it comes to entertainment, whether it's through our broad selection of new releases or licensed merchandise, customers can rely on Walmart to carry the items they want at a price they can afford."
Customers who prefer to pre-order The Hunger Games 2-disc Blu-ray or DVD online at Walmart.com prior to the movie's release on August 18 will have a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to attend The Hunger Games: Catching Fire premiere or other exclusive prizes.
Walmart will also have an exclusive The Hunger Games 2-disc Blu-ray or DVD movie gift set that includes a mockingjay pendant and digital UltraViolet copy. Offering an UltraViolet copy with a new release is a first for Lionsgate Entertainment, and will enable customers to upload their purchased movies to an online digital library, such as Walmart's industry-leading video streaming service, VUDU. Once rights are confirmed, customers can watch The Hunger Games anytime, anywhere from most Internet-connected devices, including televisions, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles and more.
"We are delighted to partner with Walmart on our biggest home entertainment release ever as the motion picture event of the year becomes the home entertainment event of the year," said Ron Schwartz, executive vice president and general manager of home entertainment for Lionsgate. "The Hunger Games is the perfect title to become Lionsgate's first Ultraviolet release as we continue to expand the choices available to our consumers."
Live Twitter Party:
Walmart and Jen Sbranti of Hostess with the Mostess will pay tribute to The Hunger Games by hosting a live Twitter party for fans on Thursday, August 16 beginning at 4:00pm ET. Participants can follow @Walmart and use the hashtag #DistrictParty to join the conversation and get tips and ideas about hosting their own The Hunger Games themed viewing party to celebrate the DVD release.
The list of stores that will hold the midnight events can be found at: http://instoresnow.walmart.com/Event-Detail.aspx?txtEventID=1017. Additional information on The Hunger Games merchandise and promotions at Walmart can be found at: www.walmart.com/hungergames.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at over 10,000 retail units under 69 different banners in 27 countries. With fiscal year 2012 sales of $444 billion, Walmart employs 2.2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://walmartstores.com, and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/walmart and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.
Review: "Species" is Kooky and Entertaining (Happy B'day, Natasha Henstridge)
TRASH IN MY EYE No. 10 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux
Running time: 108 minutes (1 hour, 48 minutes)
MPAA – R for sci-fi violence, strong sexuality and some language
DIRECTOR: Roger Donaldson
WRITER: Dennis Feldman
PRODUCERS: Dennis Feldman and Frank Mancuso Jr.
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrzej Bartkowiak (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Conrad Buff
COMPOSER: Christopher Young
DRAMA/SCI-FI/THRILLER with elements of action and horror
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina, Forest Whitaker, Marg Helgenberger, Natasha Henstridge, and Michelle Williams
The subject of this movie review is Species, a 1995 science fiction and horror film from director Roger Donaldson. The film follows a group of scientists who are trying to track down an alien killer that looks like a human female. The alien’s creature form (which is a bipedal being with tentacles on her shoulders and back) was created by Swiss artist, H.R. Giger, who also created the creature in the original, 1979 Alien film.
In 1979, the scientist at S.E.T.I., (the giant radio telescope that searches outer space for signals from intelligent extraterrestrial life) sends out a message that includes a map of human DNA. They get the message back with instructions on how to modify DNA. Human scientists use that information to create a genetically modified human child named Sil (Michelle Williams). Sil later escapes when the scientists decide to abort the project by killing her, and due to her incredible rate of growth, she morphs into a sexy, adult blonde bombshell. The head scientist, Xavier Finch (Ben Kingsley), leads a team of experts in their respective fields that tracks Sil to Los Angeles as she seeks a human male with whom she will mate.
When this film was first released, the film’s production company tried to sell Species as some kind of creature flick featuring a sexy monster who could arouse a man as easily as she could kill him. Species is actually a very entertaining movie that is as much a dramatic thriller as it is a sci-fi horror flick. The eroticism is mostly non-existent, other than the fact that the actress playing the “creature,” Natasha Henstridge is a very beautiful woman with the an athletic build and the kind of long legs that turn men on like a light switch.
The cast is made up of a group of fine character actors, including a personal favorite, the incomparable Ben Kingsley (Ghandi), who makes any role he plays something special. Although Marg Helgenberger seems slightly out of place with all these male players, she holds her own with the always-delightful Michael Madsen, the oddly charming Forest Whitaker, and the chameleonic Alfred Molina.
Director Roger Donaldson (Cocktail) does a fine job assembling his cast and getting them to make a passable sci-fi concept into a really good thriller that maintains its quality even through some bad CGI at the end.
6 of 10