Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 24 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux


Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013) – straight-to-video
Running minutes: 76 minutes (1 hour, 16 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of action violence and some suggestive content
DIRECTOR: Jay Oliva
WRITER: Bob Goodman (based on the characters created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and the comic book by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson)
EDITOR: Christopher D. Lozinski
COMPOSER: Christopher Drake
ANIMATION STUDIO: Moi Animation Studios

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/ACTION

Starring: (voices) Peter Weller, Ariel Winer, Michael Emerson, David Selby, Mark Valley, Maria Canals-Barrera, Michael Jackson, Robin Atkins Downes, Carlos Alazraqui, Dee Bradley Baker, Paget Brewster, Grey DeLisle, Michael McKean, Frank Welker, Greg Eagles, Gary Anthony Williams, Jim Meskimen, and Conan O’Brien

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is a 2013 direct-to-video, superhero animated film from Warner Bros. Animation. It is the follow-up to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1. Starring Batman, one of DC Comics’ most famous superheroes, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is also the 15th feature in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. Once again, Bruce W. Timm is an executive producer on the film.

This two-part movie is an adaptation of the four-volume, comic book miniseries, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which was written and drawn by Frank Miller, with inks by Klaus Janson and colors by Lynn Varley. First published in early 1986, the series tells the story of a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne, coming out of retirement to once again fight crime as Batman. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 pits Batman against his greatest nemesis, the Joker, and his greatest rival/friend, Superman.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 opens in Arkham Asylum, where the Joker (Michael Emerson) has taken notice of the return of Batman (Peter Weller). After years in a catatonic state, the Joker begins to plot his next crime wave, but feigns regret for his crimes to his attending physician, Dr. Bartholomew Wolper (Michael McKean). Wolper helps the Joker get a guest appearance on “The Dave Endochrine Show” for some banter with host, Dave Endochrine (Conan O’Brien).

Meanwhile, the President of the United States (Jim Meskimen) asks Superman (Mark Valley) to put an end to Batman’s vigilantism, one way or another. Framing this request, the United States and the Soviet Union escalate hostilities over each nation’s claim to the small South American island of Corto Maltese.

As I wrote in my review of The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, I was excited to hear that Warner Bros. Animation was adapting the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns comic book as one of their direct-to-DVD animated films. However, I also felt trepidation about the project, wondering would the filmmakers mess this up, one of my all-time favorite comic books, by delivering an inferior product? The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 turned out to be quite good, and The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is actually even better.

In the first film, the filmmakers seemed to focus on making the animation and production design duplicate the graphic design and visual style of particular scenes or panels from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight comic book, the source material for this two-part movie.

In this second film, the emphasis is on the plot, which the filmmakers execute through fast-moving, often violent action scenes: fights, chases, military clashes, aerial battles, gun battles, riots, street-fighting, etc. In that regard, the animation, especially the character animation, serves this film well. Most of the fisticuffs and duels are a ballet of non-stop, nearly seamless motion that drags the viewer into the fray. Mostly, this is dude versus dude, and the animation does not fail the fights.

I found the voice acting to be surprisingly good, especially because I thought the voice performances in Part 1 to be mostly bad. Michael Emerson does some kind of weird, alternating soft voice/gruff voice thing that makes the Joker just a little more menacing. Peter Weller’s Batman, this time around, is much better, and Mark Valley gives Superman the depth he did not have in Frank Miller’s comic book. Also, Jim Meskimen does a great Ronald Reagan riff as the President.

There is an undercurrent of humor throughout this film, which makes me look at Frank Miller’s comic book a bit differently. The sly satire and effusive humor makes this film more than just an adaptation of a famous comic book. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 is a great Batman movie – better than The Dark Knight Rises.

8 of 10
A

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Scorsese Developing "Gangs of New York" TV Series

Miramax and Martin Scorsese Join to Develop Television Series Based on Successful Scorsese Film “Gangs of New York”

LOS ANGELES & SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Global film and television studio Miramax and Academy Award®-winning director Martin Scorsese announced today that they are developing a television series based on the film “Gangs of New York.” The original film released in 2002 by Miramax and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis focused on early confrontations between rival gangs in New York in the mid to late 1800’s. The series will draw from the multitude of events surrounding organized gangs at the turn of the century and shortly thereafter in America, not only in New York, but in other cities such as Chicago and New Orleans and the birth of organized crime in America.

“This time and era of America’s history and heritage is rich with characters and stories that we could not fully explore in a two hour film. A television series allows us the time and creative freedom to bring this colorful world, and all the implications it had and still does on our society, to life. I am excited to partner with Miramax in telling these stories,” stated Martin Scorsese.

“No one better exemplifies what the new Miramax is and will be better than Martin Scorsese. His dedication to quality and the art of storytelling continues to excite everyone that works with him and watches his films and television programs. We could not think of a better partner for this project than the creator of the wonderful film on which it is based,” stated Richard Nanula, chairman of Miramax and a principal at Colony Capital.


About Miramax
Miramax is a leading worldwide film and television studio with a library of more than 700 motion pictures. The Miramax library holds some of the world’s most original and acclaimed independent films including Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, The English Patient, Kill Bill Volume I and II, Life is Beautiful, Reservoir Dogs, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Cinema Paradiso and My Left Foot – as well as scores of commercially successful films such as The Aviator, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bad Santa, Chicago, There Will Be Blood, and the Scream, Hellraiser, Scary Movie and Spy Kids franchises. Collectively, the Miramax library has received 284 Academy Award® nominations and 68 Oscars®, including four Best Picture awards.

Miramax is headquartered in Santa Monica, California with a sales office in London. For more information, please visit www.miramax.com, “like” the company on Facebook and follow Miramax on Twitter @Miramax.

Review: "Cradle 2 the Grave" Not Completely Lifeless

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 28 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)
Running time: 101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence, language and some sexual content
DIRECTOR: Andrzej Bartkowiak
WRITERS: John O’Brien and Channing Gibson; from a story by John O’Brien
PRODUCER: Joel Silver
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daryn Okada
EDITOR: Derek G. Brechin
COMPOSERS: Damon “Grease” Blackman and John Frizzell

ACTION/CRIME/DRAMA

Starring: Jet Li, DMX, Anthony Anderson, Kelly Hu, Tom Arnold, Mark Dacascos, Gabrielle Union, Daniel Dae Kim, and Chi McBride (uncredited)

The subject of this movie review is Cradle 2 the Grave, a 2003 action film. Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, the film stars legendary action star, Jet Li, and rapper DMX.

Producer Joel Silver brings us another martial artist/rap star “buddy” movie in the tradition of his hit, Exit Wounds. This time Exit Wounds star DMX joins legendary Far East action star Jet Li in Cradle to the Grave. After I watching this movie, I couldn’t figure out the reason for the title, but the name sounds rough and tough, just what you want in your “chop socky-hip hop” movie. No doubt that this is trash, but fun trash, especially if you’re feeling really tolerant; not as good as Exit Wounds, but almost worth the price of admission if you like Li and/or DMX. And I had been waiting for this for a long time.

Fait (DMX) leads a crew of high-tech urban thieves who stumble onto a bag of mysterious black jewels during their heist of a diamond exchange. The diamonds’ owner, the vicious and murderous Ling (Mark Decascos), kidnaps Fait’s daughter and holds her as ransom for the jewels’ return. Fait gets a monkey wrench in his works when another crew steals the diamonds from one of Fait’s bumbling associates (Tom Arnold). Fait and his crew forge an alliance with a Taiwanese intelligence officer, Su (Jet Li), to rescue his child and retrieve the precious black diamonds, which hold a deadly and powerful secret.

Director Andrzej Bartkowiak’s film is clunky and disjointed, but Bartkowiak (who has directed three of Li’s American films) knows that he only has to string together a few “character moments” between scenes with the only important elements of the film: DMX’s grimace and Li’s extended martial arts free-for-alls. Li actually has an extended battle at an underground fight arena that at times defies the imagination and at other times is so wacky that it earns a load of belly laughs. Because the writers gave DMX’s character a child, we actually get a few smiles from the normally scowling star during precious scenes of him “parenting.”

The supporting cast mostly serves as relief from the grim story. Most of the time, Cradle 2 the Grave is a pretty raw cartoon, and it plays rough with its characters. However, Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson, co-stars in Exit Wounds, return to add much needed comic relief. In fact, Arnold never seems so comfortable in a film role as he does when he’s rollin’ with the homeys. I think he’s added life to his career legs the way John Lithgow did in the early 1990’s by taking a few villainous roles.

I won’t lie to you. This isn’t a good movie, but it can be very entertaining most of the time. You just have to outlast some “dramatic” moments to get to the action, suspense, and thrills. Sometimes, I became very impatient waiting out a few dull minutes just to get to the bloodshed; honestly, there’s no other reason to see this junk other than for the junk: car chases, titillation, shootouts, corrupt cops, thugs, explosions, and Jet Li’s electric hands and feet.

So when’s the next Silver Pictures’ rap-fu joint coming out? DMX and Jackie Chan, perhaps?

4 of 10
C

Friday, March 29, 2013

VIZ Media Announces "Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan" on DVD

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT OF THE HIT SUPERNATUAL ANIME ACTION SERIES NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN ON DVD AND BLU-RAY

When Night Falls, The King Of The Yokai Rises Up In This Thrilling Action Series About A Middle School Student With A Secret Life

San Francisco, CA, March 28, 2013 – VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, gives anime fans a new dose of supernatural anime action as it announces the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN on April 2nd.

The fantasy adventure series about a young man who is part human and part supernatural demon is rated TV-14 and will carry a DVD MSRP of $44.82 U.S. / $43.24 CAN and a Blu-ray MSRP of $54.97 U.S. / $66.15 CAN. The new 2-disc set features Episodes 1-13 presented with original Japanese (with English subtitles) and English dubbed dialogue options. DVD bonus features include production art and the official U.S. trailer. The Blu-ray edition features a color production art gallery, clean opening and the official U.S. trailer.

Rikuo Nura is an average middle school student by day and yokai (a supernatural demon) by night. He’s not just any yokai – he is the grandson of Nurarihyon, the Supreme Commander of the Nura clan! Rikuo wants to live a normal life. However, his grandfather wants him to succeed as the rightful heir. When an inter-clan conflict threatens the stability within their organization, Rikuo must decide whether he will live his life as a human or accept his yokai heritage.

“Anime fans everywhere are going to love the action-packed storyline of NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN, which incorporates elements from Japanese mythology and updates them into a kinetic new supernatural adventure,” says Charlene Ingram, Sr. Marketing Manager, Animation. “The talented cast of top U.S. voice actors, including Kyle Hebert, Grant George, Mela Lee, and Darrel Guilbeau in the lead role of Rikuo Nura, really brings the action to life. Fans won’t want to miss the entire first season of this riveting anime series!”

The NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN anime series (English-dubbed) is also featured on Neon Alley, VIZ Media’s 24/7 anime channel available for the PlayStation®Network and the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) system, and now also for the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live®.

NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is based on the bestselling NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN manga series created by Hiroshi Shiibashi (rated ‘T’ for Teens; also published by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump imprint). Hiroshi Shiibashi debuted in Japan in Business Jump magazine with the series, Aratama. NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is his breakout hit.

More information on NURA: RISE OF THE YOKAI CLAN is available at http://www.viz.com/anime/dvd/nura-rise-of-the-yokai-clan-video.


Review: "Biker Boyz" a Disappointment

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 15 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Biker Boyz (2003)
Running time: 110 minutes (1 hours, 50 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language
DIRECTOR: Reggie Rock Blythewood
WRITERS: Craig Fernandez and Reggie Rock Blythewood (based upon a magazine article by Michael Gougis)
PRODUCERS: Stephanie Allain, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Erwin Stoff
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Greg Gardiner
EDITORS: Caroline Ross and Terilyn A. Shropshire
COMPOSER: Camara Kambon

ACTION/DRAMA with elements of crime

Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Derek Luke, Orlando Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Lisa Bonet, Larenz Tate, Kid Rock, Rick Gonzalez, Meagan Good, Salli Richardson, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Dante Basco, Dion Basco, Tyson Beckford, Kadeem Hardison, and (uncredited) Eriq La Salle

The subject of this movie review is Biker Boyz, a 2003 drama and action movie. The film focuses on underground motor cycle drag racers and was released by DreamWorks Studios.

Biker Boyz probably exists because of the surprising and enormous success of The Fast and the Furious. Heck, the television program, “Fastlane,” probably exists because of Furious, as well as the fact that a popular movie video and film director proposed it.

First, I’ll mention what’s good about the movie. Director Reggie Rock Blythewood uses a lot of really interesting, unique, and visually jarring camera angles and shots. To watch the opening credits is an invigorating experience; it was so cool that I expected even greater things later in the film. Blythewood uses still photography and quick-cut editing to raise the level of excitement and tension in the film, and on many occasions it works…for awhile.

Laurence Fishburne is Smoke, the "King of Cali," a legendary motorcycle racer in California. The Kid (Derek Luke), a former member in training of Smoke’s gang, The Black Knights, wants Smoke’s mythical crown, his racing helmet. Smoke would have to surrender it if he ever lost a face, and he hasn’t in over 25 races. However, bike racing, among the mostly African American bike clubs is hierarchical, a governing board has to vote to let Kid play; he has to earn the right to tackle Smoke. Kid forms a club of his own, The Biker Boyz, and sets about throwing his weight around to get his way. But does the older Smoke, whom Kid views as an enemy, have something to teach the brash, young biker?

Just this last line tells you that what could have been a good racing movie turns into a mush fest. That’s just the tip of the bad. The story of the young up-and-comer challenging a revered leader is familiar, and, when done correctly, can make for an entertaining story. However, as good as Blythewood is with camera work and quick cuts, his sense of storytelling is abominable. Things develop so slowly that the film actually seems to grow longer as it progresses. The problems stem from the relationships between the characters. Every time the film stops to give two characters a chance to connect with each other, the film literally grinds to a halt; you can almost hear the film’s gears crunching and dragging. It becomes deliriously dull, and I mean that it gets so dull that it made me delirious. I was going to walk out, but to be fair, I wanted to see the entire film so that I could properly review it for you, dear reader. Never say that I don’t care for you.

Late in the film, Kid and his mother, Anita (Vanessa Bell Calloway), meet to make up, and the movie stops cold. I was ready for her to just make her apologies and get the heck out of Kid’s apartment so that he could go race. Ms. Calloway’s character had potential, but like all the others, she’s wasted by Blythewood’s inability to tell a story through his characters. As long as he can do tricks with his camera, he’s fine, but the moment people stop to relate to one another, Blythewood is struck dumb.

Biker Boyz has lots of supporting characters, and the actors playing them (Kid Rock, Orlando Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Lisa Bonet, Tyson Beckford) might interest moviegoers. But they would be shocked how listless and dull their favorites are in this surprisingly poor film.

2 of 10
D

Happy Birthday, Phil

I forgot the birthday of an old schoolmate and pal who was actually born a few days after me.  So (belated) Happy Birthday, Phil (the first of many Phil's I'd come to know).

Kurt Russell to Appear at Screening of "Escape from New York"

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY ANNOUNCES FRIDAY NIGHT LINE-UP FOR “CAPETOWN FILM FESTIVAL

SPONSORED BY TNT’s FALLING SKIES AT THE EGYPTIAN THEATRE

Film Legend Kurt Russell to Make Rare Appearance for May 3rd Q&A and Exclusive Screening of Escape from New York

Six Day Festival to Run April 30th – May 5th in Los Angeles

Entertainment Weekly today announced the coveted Friday night slot for the recently announced EW CapeTown Film Festival (CapeTown ) in Los Angeles. The inaugural film festival, in conjunction with American Cinematheque and sponsored by TNT’s Falling Skies, will bring a new print of John Carpenter’s 1981 futuristic sci-fi cult classic, Escape from New York, back to the big screen. In a rare on-stage appearance, Kurt Russell will join fans for a 40-minute Q&A with Entertainment Weekly senior writer Geoff Boucher to discuss his role as the gritty, one-eyed Snake Plissken; a role that helped change the course of his career. It also began a feature film partnership between Russell and Carpenter that lead to additional classic genre feature films that included The Thing (1982), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), and Escape from L.A. (1996).

Escape from New York will be one of the six days of programming and will be accompanied by a special free big-screen preview presentation of the season three premiere of Falling Skies, the TNT sci-fi series that stars Noah Wyle and Moon Bloodgood and traces the post-invasion struggles of humanity to fight against the invaders -- and to fight against extinction. The Friday night program of the Falling Skies preview and Escape from New York screening will begin at 7 p.m with a brief intermission in between the two.

The EW CapeTown Festival will run from Tuesday, April 30th through Sunday, May 5th at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA. The film fest will offer sci-fi, super-hero, and fantasy fans the opportunity to see their favorites on the big screen, and hear from the visionaries and biggest stars from the genre who have brought them to life.

The complete festival line-up with dates, times and ticket sales information will be announced on April 4th and tickets will go on sale April 8th.


About Entertainment Weekly and EW.com
Entertainment Weekly, with a combined print and digital audience of over 17 million loyal, engaged fans, helps readers have fun. It is your all-access pass to Hollywood’s most creative minds and most fascinating stars. The print weekly was introduced by Time Inc. in 1990 and is America’s leading consumer magazine in the entertainment category, with a guaranteed circulation rate base of nearly 1.8 million. It is a winner of four National Magazine Awards (two for General Excellence, one for Design and one for Special Interest) and was named one of min’s 25 Most Notable Magazine Launches of the Last 25 Years. Entertainment Weekly is the first to know about the best (and worst) in entertainment, and with sharp insight and a trusted voice, EW keeps readers plugged into pop culture. This is where buzz begins.

Each day, EW.com publishes myriad of online-only articles, blog posts, videos, and photo galleries – plus a complete archive of Entertainment Weekly magazine. Over the last year EW.com has received more than a half dozen industry awards including the 2012 Min Editorial and Design Award for our feature writing and a 2012 Folio Gold Eddie award for Best Online News coverage. In July 2012, the site set new records with 130MM pageviews. As of Dec 2011, Entertainment Weekly is also available on the iPad®, NOOK Color™, HP Touchpad, Kindle Fire and select Android™ devices.

On social media, join the Entertainment Weekly community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

About American Cinematheque
Established in 1981, the American Cinematheque is a 501 C 3 non-profit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms. At the Egyptian Theatre, the Cinematheque presents daily film and video programming which ranges from the classics of American and international cinema to new independent films and digital work. Exhibition of rare works, special and rare prints, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are a Cinematheque tradition that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences. The American Cinematheque renovated and reopened (on Dec. 4, 1998) the historic 1922 Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. This includes a state-of-the-art 616-seat theatre housed within Sid Grauman's first grand movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. The exotic courtyard is fully restored to its 1922 grandeur. The Egyptian was the home of the very first Hollywood movie premiere in 1922. In January 2005 the American Cinematheque expanded its programming to the 1940 Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.

www.americancinematheque.com


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Easy Money" Finds the Mean Streets of Stockholm

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 23 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux


Easy Money (2012)
Snabba Cash (2010) – original title
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Sweden; Language: Swedish and others
Running time: 125 minutes (2 hour, 5 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence, pervasive language, drug content and some sexuality
DIRECTOR: Daniel Espinosa
WRITERS: Maria Karlsson with Hassan Loo Sattarvandi, Fredrik Wikström, and Daniel Espinosa (based on the novel by Jens Lapidus)
PRODUCER: Fredrik Wikström
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Aril Wretblad
EDITOR: Theis Schmidt
COMPOSER: Jon Ekstrand

CRIME/DRAMA/THRILLER

Starring: Joel Kinnaman, Matias Padin Varela, Dragomir Mrsic, Lisa Henni, Mahmut Suvakci, Jones Danko, Lea Stojanov, Dejan Cukic, Annika Ryberg Whittembury, Fares Fares, and Maxim Kovalevski

Snabba Cash is a 2010 Swedish crime thriller from director Daniel Espinosa. In 2012, it was released in the United States as Easy Money. The film is based on Snabba cash, a 2006 novel by Jens Lapidus, a Swedish author and criminal defense attorney. The film follows a poor college student who becomes involved with drug dealers in order to maintain his double life.

Johan “JW” Westlund (Joel Kinnaman) is a promising student at the Stockholm School of Economics, but he leads a double life. JW is a poor man pretending to be a rich man in the upper class areas of Stockholm. He illegally drives a taxi and does odd jobs for shady businessman, Abdulkarim (Mahmut Suvakci), in order to earn the money that helps him keep up the façade of his pretend lifestyle. After he meets wealthy heiress, Sophie (Lisa Henni), JW believes that he needs more money and is lured into Abdulkarim’s world of drug dealing and violence.

Jorge Salinas (Matias Padin Varela) is a fugitive from prison, on the run from both the police and Serbian mobsters. Jorge hopes to broker a massive drug deal with Abdulkarim that will allow him to leave a life of crime forever. Mrado (Dragomir Mrsic) is a hit man and errand boy for Radovan (Dejan Cukic), a Yugoslavian mafia boss based in Sweden. Radovan sends Mrado on a hunt for Jorge, but Mrado’s efforts are complicated by the unexpected arrival of his 8-year-old daughter, Lovisa (Lea Stojanov). JW’s life becomes entangled with Jorge and Mrado in a dramatic struggle for life and death.

The press material for Easy Money’s DVD release declares “Martin Scorsese’s Presents ‘Easy Money’.” I can see why Scorsese might admire Easy Money. Director Francis Ford Coppola created the epic film series, The Godfather, which detailed the drama of American mafia royalty. However, Scorsese’s epic crime dramas, like Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995), center on the mob’s middle-management and assorted street-level types, like capos, local bosses, hit men, enforcers, and armed robbers. In his bid to win the heart of a rich girl and enter the world of the well-to-do, JW follows the easy money breadcrumb trail to a Goodfellas-like life. This is a darker side of the lower-class, one that can be unfamiliar, even to one of JW’s working-class roots.

Like Scorsese’s crime films, Easy Money is a tale of complicated, messy relationships between men who are criminals. Some of these relationships are born out of long held associations; others come about when men unite because of necessity. That’s what makes this movie so brutally real – the character drama that focuses on the bonds of men, bonds that are convincingly authentic to the viewer.

Director Daniel Espinosa wowed people with his 2012 Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds international thriller, Safe House, by unveiling the complexities of both Washington and Ryan’s characters. In Easy Money, Espinosa has a lead character in JW, but he turns his film into something like an ensemble character drama with JW as an axis. Thus, Espinosa gets strong, leading man-type performances from the rest of the cast, especially Matias Padin Varela as Jorge and Dragomir Mrsic as Mrado, in addition to the intense turn from Joel Kinnaman, who does his fiercest hawk-like face for the camera.

One glaring weakness of Easy Money is the relationship between JW and Sophie, which doesn’t make sense. Where are the scenes that convince us that Sophie would be so crazy-in-love with JW? Yeah, it’s cool that Sophie is ultimately a down-ass chick, but it’s difficult to see in the film where, when, or why that happened.

Easy Money is not an art house foreign film. It plays like the best of the big boys of American crime films. This isn’t a slick tale about cool anti-heroes and murderous hoods, like The Fast and the Furious. Easy Money follows in the footsteps of Scorsese and even Quentin Tarantino. The language barrier can’t stop the easy-to-like and hard-to-resist Easy Money from entertaining crime film fans the world over.

8 of 10
A

Monday, March 25, 2013


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New "World War Z" Poster


Release Date: JUNE 2013


OFFICIAL SITE: WWW.WORLDWARZMOVIE.COM

https://twitter.com/WorldWarZMovie

https://www.facebook.com/WorldWarZMovie?fref=ts

The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop a pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.

Up-and-Comers Headline "Lotus Eaters"


LOTUS EATERS

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED By Alexandra McGuinness

STARRING: Antonia Campbell-Hughes, Johnny Flynn, and Benn Northover

SYNOPSIS:
LOTUS EATERS features a cast of young up-and-comers lead by Antonia Campbell-Hughes, a former fashion model; Johnny Flynn, lead singer of the popular English folk-rock band Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit and Benn Northover, who appeared in a number of acclaimed films including Kidnapped Abroad and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.

The film, the directorial debut of Alexandra McGuinness, follows a group of young Londoners as they struggle to find meaning in their lives while masking their discontent with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll. The story centers on ex-model and aspiring actress Alice (Antonia Campbell-Hughes) as she struggles with her relationship with Charlie (Johnny Flynn), her drug-addicted ex-boyfriend. The fashionable group of friends epitomizes a new modern “lost generation” reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway and his cohorts

Running Time: 78 minutes

Sundance London Adds Matthew McConaughey Movie to Schedule

SUNDANCE LONDON ADDS THREE FEATURE FILMS

Tickets now on sale at www.sundance-london.com

Sundance Institute and The O2 announced today that three feature films have been added to the programme for the second Sundance London film and music festival, 25-28 April at The O2. They are: A.C.O.D. (Director: Stuart Zicherman, Screenwriters: Ben Karlin, Stuart Zicherman), Mud (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Nichols) and Metro Manila (Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers). Tickets for all Sundance London films and panels, including those announced on March 11, are now on sale at www.sundance-london.com.

Sundance Institute, which annually presents the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A., selected the film and panel programming. Including the three films announced today, Sundance London will present 21 feature films and nine short films across four sections, including a new UK Spotlight. Of the 30 films in the festival, 26 films will make their international, European or UK premieres at Sundance London. Ten are by female filmmakers and six are by first-time feature filmmakers. The films collectively received 12 awards, including two Audience Awards, when they premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, “With the addition of these three films, Sundance London will present an even more well rounded programme of independent films that represents the work we show at our Festival in Utah. In addition, each offers audiences a unique experience to interact with the artists behind exciting, challenging and entertaining work.”

For more information visit www.sundance-london.com or follow @SundancefestUK on Twitter.

FEATURE FILM PROGRAMME — The international and UK premieres of American independent narrative and documentary films that premiered in January at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, U.S.A.

A.C.O.D. (Director: Stuart Zicherman, Screenwriters: Ben Karlin, Stuart Zicherman) — Carter is a well-adjusted Adult Child of Divorce. So he thinks. When he discovers he was part of a divorce study as a child, it wreaks havoc on his family and forces him to face his chaotic past. Cast: Adam Scott, Richard Jenkins, Catherine O'Hara, Amy Poehler, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clark Duke. (Narrative) International Premiere

Mud (Director and screenwriter: Jeff Nichols) — Two teenage boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the bounty hunters on his trail and reunite him with his true love. Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon. (Narrative) UK Premiere

UK SPOTLIGHT — Drawing on the Sundance Film Festival’s rich legacy of premiering outstanding films produced in the UK – including An Education, Four Weddings and a Funeral, In Bruges, In the Loop, Kinky Boots, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels – this new showcase presents a selection of UK films that premiered in Park City, Utah.

Metro Manila (Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers) — Seeking a better life, Oscar and his family move from the poverty-stricken rice fields to the big city of Manila, where they fall victim to various inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Cast: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega. Winner of the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. (Narrative) International Premiere

Academy Announces Date for 2014 Oscar Ceremony

THE ACADEMY SELECTS 2014 AND 2015 SHOW DATES

KEY DATES ANNOUNCED FOR THE OSCARS®

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the ABC Television Network today announced the dates for the 86th and 87th Oscar® presentations. The 86th and 87th Academy Awards® will air live on ABC on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, and February 22, 2015, respectively.

Key dates for the Awards season are:

Saturday, November 16, 2013: The Governors Awards

Monday, December 2, 2013: Official Screen Credits due

Friday, December 27, 2013: Nominations voting begins

Wednesday, January 8, 2014: Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT

Thursday, January 16, 2014: Oscar nominations announced

Monday, February 10, 2014: Nominees Luncheon

Friday, February 14, 2014: Final voting begins

Saturday, February 15, 2014: Scientific and Technical Awards

Tuesday, February 25, 2014: Final voting ends 5 p.m. PT

Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014: 86th Academy Awards

Oscar Sunday, February 22, 2015: 87th Academy Awards

The 86th and 87th Academy Awards ceremonies will be held at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Disney XD Welcomes "Max Steel" March 25 2013

Action-Packed Animated Series Max Steel™ Premieres Monday, March 25, at 4PM (ET/PT)

TV’s Newest Turbo-Charged Superhero Debuts With 26-Episode Series on Disney XD

EL SEGUNDO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) brings its latest action hero property to boys across the country with Max Steel™, a new CGI animated TV series premiering on Monday, March 25 at 4 p.m. (ET/PT) on Disney XD. The Max Steel animated series follows the life and times of a teenage boy named Maxwell McGrath™ and his out-of-this-world alien companion, Steel, as they overcome trials and tribulations, demonstrating teamwork and perseverance along the way.

“It’s the perfect time to introduce kids to a modern day tech superhero they can relate to,” said Matt Petersen, vice president of North America boys marketing, Mattel. "Max Steel is an exciting CGI-animated series that focuses on humor, friendship and teamwork with a positive message that empowers kids to unlock their greatest potential.”

Get to Know Max Steel:
The Max Steel CGI animated TV series revolves around the story of 16 year-old student Maxwell McGrath, and his alien friend Steel. Both are faced with the challenge of conquering their super strengths and powers — Max learning to manage his Turbo energy and Steel possessing alien intellect. When they ultralink together, Steel helps Max unlock a power so great they can take on the universe. As Max balances his double life of normal teenager by day, and world-saver by night, he learns the value of trust, and right versus wrong — enlisting the help of close friends along the way. Viewers of the animated TV series will witness laughter and friendship as Max and Steel discover the importance of their collaboration in their action-packed adventures.

The TV series is the cornerstone of an entire multi-platform action-adventure entertainment franchise from Mattel and is co-produced by FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment — a worldwide leader in the family entertainment business. Max Steel also has a dynamic web destination, featuring interactive gameplay, videos and character engagement.

Max Steel fans are being introduced to the series through a cinematic trailer in a breakthrough mix of live action and animation directed by acclaimed director, Stephen Sommers (The Mummy). The groundbreaking trailer has already begun airing on Disney Channel and Disney XD.

Following its Latin America, Canada and now U.S. TV debut, the Max Steel animated TV series will roll out in more than 100 territories globally in major markets including, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Hong Kong, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Turkey.


About Max Steel
Developed by Mattel, Inc., Max Steel is an immersive franchise that brings a positive and relatable superhero to kids, supported by a captivating storyline and compelling multi-platform content for today’s tech-forward kid. Featuring an animated superhero series, Max Steel draws upon turbo-charged teamwork, laughter and friendship to help kids overcome life’s obstacles — from the everyday, to the out-of-this-world. With worldwide distribution partners, the franchise launches include content and a robust portfolio spanning toys, digital platforms and consumer products. For more information, visit www.maxsteel.com.

About FremantleMedia
FremantleMedia is one of the leading creators, producers and distributors of television entertainment brands in the world. FremantleMedia is part of RTL Group, the leading European entertainment network, which is in turn 92 percent owned by the international media company Bertelsmann. FremantleMedia is responsible for many of the world’s highest rated prime time entertainment, drama, serial drama, factual entertainment and kids & family programming, with market leading capabilities that extend from content creation to licensing, digital and branded entertainment, gaming and home entertainment. The FremantleMedia Group (which includes FremantleMedia North America, UFA, FremantleMedia UK, FremantleMedia Australia, Ludia, @radical.media and Original Productions, among others) has one of the most comprehensive global networks with operations in 22 countries, creating over 9,200 hours of programming a year, rolling out more than 60 formats and managing over 300 individual titles. The company also distributes more than 20,000 hours of content in over 150 countries. FremantleMedia has some of the world’s most sought after and long running formats in its catalogue, and globally produces such programmes as: Idols (co-produced with 19 Productions in the US), Hole In The Wall, Got Talent (co-produced with Syco in the UK and the US), The X Factor (co-produced with Syco in the UK and the US), Take Me Out, Family Feud, The Price is Right, Farmer Wants A Wife, Gute Zeiten Schlechte Zeiten, and Neighbours. www.fremantlemedia.com

About FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment
FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment was founded in 2009 and has quickly become a worldwide leader in the family entertainment business. With 15 titles in production in collaboration with top producers on four continents, FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment is already one of the most prolific independent producers and distributors of content in the sector today. Its growing portfolio of content spans across four key genres: preschool, kids comedy, action/adventure and tween/teen fare. FremantleMedia Kids & Family Entertainment is bringing to networks around the world innovative and exciting shows for television and new media platforms that feature live-action, 2D animation, CGI, stop-motion, puppetry and real-time animation with programming targeting demographics ranging in scope from preschool through high school.

*Max Steel emerging as No. 1 Boys Brand in Latin America (Nielsen 2011)

Your Short Film Could Be in "The Lego Movie"

Online Video Contest Offers LEGO® Fans Worldwide a Chance to Place Their Own Work in the Upcoming 3D Animated Feature, “THE LEGO MOVIE”

Entries are Eligible for a Score of Prizes, and One Grand Prize Winner’s Creation Could Be Included in the 2014 Release

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Beginning March 25, LEGO® fans registered worldwide on http://rebrick.com will have a one-of-a-kind, hands-on opportunity to take part in the growing excitement for “THE LEGO MOVIE” by creating a 15-30 second video clip based on its story, in the LEGO ReBrick Movie Competition. The winning video could be featured in the film, the first-ever, full-length theatrical LEGO adventure, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, opening February 7, 2014.

The fan-produced clips will relate to an exciting scene in the film, in which the citizens of the LEGO universe rally to prevent an unspeakable disaster. They do this by quickly disassembling the elements of their environments, brick by brick, and rebuilding them into fantastic and fun hybrid vehicles and tools—the stranger and more innovative, the better, like rocket/dragons or butterfly/speedboats—to take part in an epic battle.

Using only LEGO bricks and non-licensed LEGO minifigures, contestants will select a character and set their action sequence in one of their favorite LEGO worlds, such as LEGO City, Space, Pirates, Western, Vikings, Dino, Castle, and others. After building and recording their LEGO designs, they will upload the video to YouTube, and bookmark it on the rebrick.com Building Challenge page, where it will be open for voting from the entire ReBrick membership. The 25 videos earning the most “Likes” will ultimately be reviewed for creativity, originality, theme and suitability for the film by a panel of judges, including Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, writers/directors of “THE LEGO MOVIE.”

The Grand Prize winner will receive a trip for two to Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, for a VIP Tour; a meeting with the directors, to participate in a LEGO build; an exclusive LEGO film camera designed and built by the official LEGO model shop; plus souvenir items from the movie’s set, signed by the designers. His or her winning entry may also be edited into the film’s big battle sequence. Second and third place winners will also be honored, as well as winners of bi-weekly prizes selected during the challenge’s six-week run, for a range of additional prizes, including tickets to the Studio’s tour, “THE LEGO MOVIE” merchandise, a $200 gift card for the Studio’s online store, and a feature spot on The Official LEGO Channel on YouTube.

All entrants must be at least 16 years old and be registered on the LEGO fansite http://rebrick.com. Submissions will be accepted from March 25, 2013, at 9:00 A.M., until May 6, 2013, at 8:59 A.M., EDT. Videos must be between 15-30 seconds and be captured using a camera that is at least 3.2 megapixels, and framed to fit within a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Submissions must contain only LEGO elements and figures with no customized parts, must follow the ReBrick House Rules, and must be suitable for children.

Local regulations and complete prizing information can be found on the Contest Rules page at http://rebrick.it/Contest, with additional guidelines, examples and updates available at microsite http://rebrick.it/LEGOMovie.

Winners will be announced on May 20, 2013.

“THE LEGO MOVIE” opens in theaters February 7, 2014. The 3D computer animated adventure tells the story of 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.

“THE LEGO MOVIE” stars Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Morgan Freeman as the voices of the animated characters. The film is directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (“21 Jump Street,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”) from their original screenplay, and story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, based on LEGO construction toys. It will incorporate some of the LEGO world’s most popular figures while introducing several new characters, inviting fans who have enjoyed the brand’s innovative toys and hugely popular video games for generations to experience their visually unique LEGO world as never seen before.

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

LEGO, its logo, brick & knob configuration and the Minifigure are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2013 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Michael Moore, Anniversaries, and Old Movie Reviews

by Leroy Douresseaux

Today is the 10th anniversary of the 75th Academy Awards, which occurred on a Sunday night on March 23, 2002. Steve Martin hosted the Oscar ceremony for the second time. Chicago won “Best Picture,” one of its six wins (after receiving a leading 13 nominations). This was also the night that a hip hop song won the best song Oscar for the first time (“Lose Yourself” performed by Eminem and written by Eminem, Jeff Bass, and Luis Resto).

Probably the most memorable event was the acceptance speech by Michael Moore, who won the Oscar for “Best Documentary Feature” with Michael Donovan for the film, Bowling for Columbine. Moore invited his fellow nominees on stage and spoke about the then-recently started Iraq War:

"We live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results, that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fiction of duct tape or fiction of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush! Shame on you! And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up! Thank you very much!"

I still love that acceptance speech, and it’s one of my favorites. Anyway, I’m still doing some house cleaning. As you noticed, I posted reviews for Lilo & Stitch and The Wild Thornberrys Movie. They were the last two reviews of films nominated for the 75th Academy Awards that were posted on the original site, but had not been moved to the new Negromancer. Welcome.

By the way, Moore is holding a nationwide series of house parties tonight, in which people will get together and watch Bowling for Columbine. For more information, go here.

Review: "Lilo and Stitch" a Delightful Surprise

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Lilo & Stitch (2002)
Running time: 85 minutes (1 hour, 25 minutes)
MPAA – PG for mild sci-fi action
DIRECTORS: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
WRITERS: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders; from an idea by Chris Sanders
PRODUCER: Clark Spencer
EDITORS: Darren T. Holmes and Michael Kelly
COMPOSER: Alan Silvestri
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/COMEDY/FAMILY/SCI-FI/ACTION

Starring: (voice) Daveigh Chase, Chris Sanders, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Kevin McDonald, Ving Rhames, Zoe Caldwell, and Jason Scott Lee

The subject of this movie review is Lilo & Stitch, a 2002 animated science fiction and family film from Walt Disney Feature Animation. This hand-drawn (or 2D) animated film is the 42nd film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.

With the release of Mulan in 1998, Walt Disney’s animated films soared to new heights of artistry, and the craft of their storytelling also greatly improved. With that film, not only were Disney films glorious eye candy, their stories were also quite moving, dealing with such universal themes as loss, redemption, acceptance, and triumph.

In Lilo & Stitch, we leave behind the China of Mulan, the virgin jungle of Tarzan, and the sensational underground world of Atlantis, The Lost Empire to travel the interstellar space ways and lush landscapes of Hawaii. It’s a fantastic ride of eye-popping visuals that capture the imagination and create the perfect backdrop to tell this story of two loners and outcasts who find companionship in one another.

Genetic Experiment 626 (voice of Chris Sanders) is the most dangerous weapon in the galaxy, created by Dr. Jumba (voice of David Ogden Stiers) for the sole purpose of destroying civilizations. Marked for destruction by the United Galactic Federation, 626 makes his escape to earth. After a series of mishaps on this planet, 626 lands at a dog pound where a friendless little girl named Lilo (voice of Daveigh Chase) adopts him as a pet and names him Stitch. After their parents died, Lilo’s sister Nani (voice of Tia Carrere) took on the task of rearing her sister. She isn’t having much success, and Stitch’s arrival has complicated matters. Mr. Cobra Bubbles (voice of Ving Rhames), a strict social worker who cuts an imposing figure, also applies serious pressure on Nani to do a better job taking care of her small sister or risk losing her. With his creator on the trail to capture him and pressure on her sister to take better care of her, Stitch and Lilo have to bridge the gap of worlds and become the only friends each other has.

Like most Disney animated films, the fact that Lilo and Stitch is entertaining is a given. What makes it stand out is the story’s touching drama and the animation’s colorful bounty. Co-writers/co-directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders created a story with much dramatic impact. I really felt Lilo’s loneliness and her desire to fit in with other children and Nani’s desperation to hold what was left of her family together. DeBlois and Sanders really work the audience because they didn’t make it easy for the characters to obtain their hearts’ desires, so we have to really pull for them. Nani keeps dropping the ball, and Lilo is a handful to rear, to say nothing of the fact that Stitch is not much of a pet and is hard to train. Each character’s needs keep getting in the way of what other characters need. All this struggle makes the pay off at the end all the more rewarding.

As for the animation – what more can I say about Disney’s work? The sci-fi element of this film is quite strong, and several scenes takes place in sci-fi settings, many of which feature complicated chase sequences involving masses of star ships. Computers provide the animation for the tech stuff, but the computer animation looks, for the most part, like traditional cel animation.

Lilo and Stitch is also a throwback in the use of the watercolor backgrounds. Combined with the character animation, Lilo looks as if it were made at the height of the golden age of animation. The blend of traditional and modern was so seamless that it amazed me. With Atlantis, it was clear that Disney animators can create battle and chase sequences that rival those in the best live action movies, and the chase at the end of Lilo affirms that.

Lilo & Stitch will certainly please the target audience for which Disney aims it, but I think everyone likes Disney animated features when they give them a chance. Lilo doesn’t have smart aleck gags to keep adults awake while they suffer through this film for the sake of a children. In fact, what adult would suffer from watching this film? It’s one of those movies with a story that reaches out to everyone. And it’s filled with Elvis Presley songs. Who can resist that?

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2003 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature” (Chris Sanders)


Review: "The Wild Thornberrys Movie" More Than a Spin-Off

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 22 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux


The Wild Thornberrys Movie (2002)
Running time: 85 minutes (1 hour, 25 minutes)
MPAA - PG for some adventure peril
DIRECTORS: Cathy Malkasian and Jeff McGrath
WRITER: Kate Boutilier (based upon the characters created by Arlene Klasky, Gabor Csupo, Steve Pepoon, David Silverman, and Stephen Sustarsic)
PRODUCERS: Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo
EDITOR: John Bryant
COMPOSERS: Randy Kerber, Drew Neumann, and Paul Simon
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/FANTASY/ADVENTURE/FAMILY

Starring: (voices) Lacy Chabert, Tom Kane, Cree Summer, Tim Curry, Lynn Redgrave, Jodi Carlisle, Danielle Harris, Flea, Crystal Scales, Kimberly Brooks, Alfre Woodard, Brock Peters, Marisa Tomei, and Rupert Everett

The subject of this movie review is The Wild Thornberrys Movie, a 2002 animated feature film. This hand-drawn (or 2D) animated movie is based on the long-running Nickelodeon animated TV series of the same title, The Wild Thornberrys.

The film's winning story finds The Thornberry clan on safari doing what they usually do. Nigel (Tim Curry), the father, hosts a nature show, and Marianne (Jodi Carlisle), the mother, films it. Elder daughter, Debbi (Danielle Harris), is annoyed to be in Africa instead of back in civilization. Adopted wild boy, Donnie (Flea), is doing his wild boy thing.

Eliza (Lacey Chabert), ostensibly the lead character, explores nature with Darwin (Tom Kane), her chimpanzee best friend. You see, Lacey rescued a tribal shaman and he bestowed upon her the magical gift of being able to talk to animals. When a poacher snatches a cheetah cub, Eliza and Darwin launch a daring rescue mission that takes them from Africa to England and back to Africa, where Eliza discovers that the poaching of the cub was just the beginning of a larger conspiracy to massacre thousands of elephants for their tusks.

That many people looked at this film upon its release in 2002 as merely a film spin-off of a TV show is a shame. The Wild Thornberrys Movie is simply a great animated feature film, especially when compared to 9 out of 10 American-produced animated films released since 2002. Producers Klasky-Csupo, the two directors, the screenwriter, and the creative staff envisioned a mini-epic that spans two continents and takes the viewers through a multitude of environments.

The thrilling action starts in sprawling grassland of Africa and heads to a boarding school in the English countryside. The sprawl of central London leads to a subway ride, which becomes a plane ride. Then, a train ride back to the plains of Africa leads deep into the jungle and finally into a hidden valley for the showdown. It's a breathtaking action adventure that recalls Raiders of the Lost Ark and the older films that inspired Raiders.

The voice acting is good top to bottom (although Chabert, Kane, and Harris are personal favorites), and the soundtrack is a tasty gumbo of world music and cross-cultural jams. The inventive character design captures both the fun and imagination of cartoons. The animation (by Korean studio Sunwoo Entertainment) moves in a smooth, brisk manner, and the digital color emphasizes earth tones and golden hues that are pitch perfect with this film's story and message. The Wild Thornberrys Movie, a treat for young and the young at heart, is both a pastoral and a call to get in touch with the wild.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
2003 Academy Awards: 1 nomination for "Best Music, Original Song" ("Father and Daughter" by Paul Simon)

Friday, March 22, 2013


Friday, March 22, 2013

Review: "End of Watch" a Blast to Watch

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux


End of Watch (2012)
Running time: 109 minutes (1 hour, 49 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references, and some drug use
WRITER/DIRECTOR: David Ayer
PRODUCERS: David Ayer, Matt Jackson, John Lesher, and Nigel Sinclair
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Roman Vasyanov (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Dody Dorn
COMPOSER: David Sardy

CRIME/DRAMA/ACTION

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Natalie Martinez, Anna Kendrick, David Harbour, Frank Grillo, America Ferrera, Jamie FitzSimons, Cle Sloan, Cody Horn, and Yahira “Flakiss” Garcia, and Maurice Compte

End of Watch is a 2012 thriller and cop movie from writer/director, David Ayer. End of Watch looks like a documentary, but is entirely fictional. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as two young Los Angeles police officers who run into criminal activity that is bigger than they can handle.

Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) are close friends and partners in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). They are assigned to Newton, an area in South Central Los Angeles that is one of the toughest divisions in the LAPD. Both young officers, who are in their late 20s, have active personal lives. Brian meets and falls in love with Janet (Anna Kendrick), and Mike and his wife, Gabby (Natalie Martinez), are expecting a child.

Investigating gang activity in Newton, Brian and Mike uncover something so big that it also involves federal authorities. The actions of the young policemen draw the attention of the Curbside Gang, a vicious Latino street gang, and other criminal forces that are bigger than Brian and Mike realize.

Writer/director David Ayers is known for writing such police and crime films as The Fast and the Furious (2001), Training Day (2001), and Dark Blue (2004). Shot documentary-style, End of Watch is gritty and immediate, while films like The Fast and the Furious and Training Day are stylish, neo-Noir crime movies. In fact, End of Watch is at its best when it’s being gritty and in the middle of some kind of police action. Car chases, foot chases, shoot-outs, domicile entries, traffic stops, and stakeouts: they are riveting and nerve-wracking. Ayer’s collaborators give him some of the best cinematography and film editing of 2012.

When it focuses on the daily grind of police life or the ordinary moments of civilian life, End of Watch grinds to a halt. It’s as if the hum-drum of life is much less interesting to the filmmakers. It’s not that I have to have constant titillation; the movie simply loses its way when it’s not doing the exciting cop stuff.

The cast gives its all, however, even when they’re not chasing perps and popping caps. While Jake Gyllenhaal gives a good performance, of the two lead actors, Michael Peña gives the better performance. He earned a “Best Supporting Male” nomination at the 2013 Film Independent Spirit Awards (which was won by Matthew McConaughey for Magic Mike). Gyllenhaal tries so hard, but he looks like he’s acting. Peña is subtle, effortless, and natural, so that Mike Zavala seems like both a real person and a genuine police officer.

In the movie, a few of the male characters talk about the allure they believe Captain Reese (played by Jamie FitzSimons) has. I have to admit that I also think that Captain Reese/Jamie FitzSimons does have some strange magnetism.

End of Watch is probably the movie that the 1988 film, Colors, wanted to be. As cop movies go, End of Watch is quite good.

7 of 10
B+

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: "Dark Blue" Dark Indeed

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 22 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux


Dark Blue (2003)
Running time: 118 minutes (1 hour, 58 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence, language and brief sexuality
DIRECTOR: Ron Shelton
WRITERS: David Ayer; from a story James Ellroy
PRODUCERS: David Blocker, Caldecot Chubb, Sean Daniel, and James Jacks
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Peterson
EDITORS: Patrick Flannery and Paul Seydor
COMPOSER: Terence Blanchard

CRIME/DRAMA with elements of action and thriller

Starring: Kurt Russell, Scott Speedman, Michael Michele, Brendan Gleeson, Ving Rhames, Kurupt, Lolita Davidovich, Dash Mihok, Master P, and Khandi Alexander

The subject of this movie review is Dark Blue, a 2002 crime drama from director Ron Shelton (Bull Durham) and writer David Ayer and based on an original story by James Ellroy. The film was released to theatres in February 2003.

Describing Ron Shelton’s Dark Blue is not an easy task. Even if I only dealt with the surface issues, I’d still have a hard time defining the film. What I can say is that it is brutal and unflinching in its display of violence, corruption, and human frailty. Shelton, who usually writes his own screenplays, has a devil of script in this one with which to work. James Ellroy, the mack daddy of American crime fiction and the novelist of L.A. Confidential, wrote the story and David Ayer, the writer of Training Day and The Fast and the Furious, wrote the script; thus, the pedigree of the story is one of immense power and frank honesty when dealing with the Los Angeles on a street level and in its darkest corners.

Set in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) on the eve of the 1992 riots after the “Rodney King Beating Trial” verdict, the film focuses on a hardnosed cop with a penchant for shooting suspects, Sgt. Eldon Perry, Jr. (Kurt Russell) and his youthful partner Bobby Keough (Scott Speedman), whom Perry is training to follow in his tough footsteps. Perry is sometimes a kind of hit man and troubleshooter for his boss Jack Van Meter (Brendan Gleeson), who is also Bobby’s uncle. Van Meter’s web of deceit has drawn the attention of an ambitious deputy chief (Ving Rhames), who closes in on the corruption as the city awaits the verdict of King trial.

Dark Blue isn’t just about police corruption although that seems to be its central focus. The film has so much going on around the central character Perry that it’s hard to zero in on any particular issue. It’s about how people get drawn into the darker side of the law and remain there despite their misgivings. It’s about the ends justifying the means and about doing whatever you want to do or believe you have to do regardless of the cost to others.

More than anything, Dark Blue reveals how a select group of men treat the LAPD like their own personal boy’s club where they can live the most selfish and hedonistic lifestyle they want to live and the public pays the their club dues. Dark Blue makes it quite plain and matter of fact that quite a few cops look the other way when it comes to corruption and that some “officers of the law” are as bad or worse then the criminals they supposedly fight. Even the good guys are tainted. In fact, after seeing this, I have my doubts that bad cops actually only make up a very small percentage of police departments. Corruption is the cancer, but material gain is the alluring scent that draws them to the sickness. Of course, a lot of policemen look the other way because they know how easy it is to cross the line.

It takes a good cast to carry off a film like this, one that deals with difficult and angry subject matter in such a frank manner. Kurt Russell continues to affirm his status as a great male star in the tradition of the great tough guys, and he can act. I could read the drama in his face and see the character’s turmoil and conflict; Russell didn’t have to say a word. He only had to act. Scott Speedman plays the youthful and slowly corrupted Bobby with a charm that engages us to him especially when he’s trying to be a bad boy. Ving Rhames and Brendan Gleeson are fine character actors; they always bring something of themselves, their own personal style, to their characters, which gives those characters flavor.

Dark Blue may be an L.A. story, but its elements and themes are universal. The same issues that plagued the men and the bureaucracy of law enforcement in 1992 before the riots still bother them today. It’s good that Ellroy, Ayers, and Shelton can turn this disease into a big messy film full of ugliness, making us confront the mean streets and the even meaner men who play on it.

Dark Blue isn’t slick entertainment, and it does drag at times. Like Michael Mann’s Heat, it takes its time building up steam before it blows up in our faces. Good. Some things about “the law” need to gut punch America if the country’s going to pay attention. Shelton builds the tension slowly, but the audience needs the set up to get the payoff. If the ending seems confused, it’s the only appropriate one for a movie so deeply involved in the drama of life. I like having an important movie be this rough, crime drama (heck, I just like a good crime drama) that craps on the gloss of Hollywood. The art of drama doesn’t have to be pretty.

7 of 10
B+

NOTES:
2004 Black Reel Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Supporting Actor” (Ving Rhames) and “Best Supporting Actress” (Michael Michele)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"Return of the Jedi" Returns for New Film Festival

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY ANNOUNCES THE “CAPETOWN FILM FESTIVAL” SPONSORED BY TNT’s FALLING SKIES AT THE EGYPTIAN THEATRE IN HOLLYWOOD, CA

Sci-Fi, Superhero, and Fantasy Screenings with Q&A Panels and Special Guests

Six-Day Festival to Run April 30th – May 5

(NEW YORK, NY) - March 20, 2013 - Entertainment Weekly today announced that they will launch the Entertainment Weekly CapeTown Film Festival (CapeTown ) in conjunction with American Cinematheque and sponsored by TNT’s Falling Skies. The festival will run from Tuesday, April 30th through Sunday, May 5th at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA. The EW CapeTown Film Festival will offer sci-fi, super-hero, and fantasy fans the opportunity to see their favorites on the big screen, and hear from the visionaries and biggest stars from the genre who have brought them to life.

The EW CapeTown Film Festival will make its super-heroic debut with a six-day event featuring fan favorite films, including some that will be returning to the big screen for the first time in many years, alongside rare live Q&A panels with their filmmakers – and a surprise or two. Panels will be hosted by Entertainment Weekly senior writers Geoff Boucher, Jeff Jensen and others. A highlight of the festival will be a very special “May the Fourth Be with You” screening of Return of the Jedi on Saturday, May 4th. The screening celebrates the film’s 30th anniversary and will be one of the few times since 1997 that moviegoers can experience it on the big screen. “We’re thrilled to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi with a screening at the Egyptian - the very same theatre where it premiered in May, 1983,” said Bill Gannon, Managing Editor, EW.com.

Earlier this year, EW.com launched CapeTown (ew.com/capetown), a new digital destination devoted to the intersection of Hollywood and "Comic-Con culture" -- the surging scene that encompasses super-hero, sci-fi, fantasy and horror that stretches across film, television, gaming, comics and novels. "Fantasy, sci-fi and super-heroes have transformed nearly every entertainment medium the past few years. EW's CapeTown Festival celebrates these fantastic genres and gives our audience front-row access to the entertainers creating modern mythology," said Jess Cagle, Editor of Entertainment Weekly.

The complete festival line-up and ticket sales information will be released soon.


About Entertainment Weekly and EW.com
Entertainment Weekly, with a combined print and digital audience of over 17 million loyal, engaged fans, helps readers have fun. It is your all-access pass to Hollywood’s most creative minds and most fascinating stars. The print weekly was introduced by Time Inc. in 1990 and is America’s leading consumer magazine in the entertainment category, with a guaranteed circulation rate base of nearly 1.8 million. It is a winner of four National Magazine Awards (two for General Excellence, one for Design and one for Special Interest) and was named one of min’s 25 Most Notable Magazine Launches of the Last 25 Years. Entertainment Weekly is the first to know about the best (and worst) in entertainment, and with sharp insight and a trusted voice, EW keeps readers plugged into pop culture. This is where buzz begins.

Each day, EW.com publishes a myriad of online-only articles, blog posts, videos, and photo galleries – plus a complete archive of Entertainment Weekly magazine. Over the last year EW.com has received more than a half dozen industry awards including the 2012 Min Editorial and Design Award for our feature writing and a 2012 Folio Gold Eddie award for Best Online News coverage. In July 2012, the site set new records with 130MM pageviews. As of Dec 2011, Entertainment Weekly is also available on the iPad®, NOOK Color™, HP Touchpad, Kindle Fire and select Android™ devices.

On social media, join the Entertainment Weekly community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

About American Cinematheque
Established in 1981, the American Cinematheque is a 501 C 3 non-profit viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all of its forms. At the Egyptian Theatre, the Cinematheque presents daily film and video programming which ranges from the classics of American and international cinema to new independent films and digital work. Exhibition of rare works, special and rare prints, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are a Cinematheque tradition that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences. The American Cinematheque renovated and reopened (on Dec. 4, 1998) the historic 1922 Hollywood Egyptian Theatre. This includes a state-of-the-art 616-seat theatre housed within Sid Grauman's first grand movie palace on Hollywood Boulevard. The exotic courtyard is fully restored to its 1922 grandeur. The Egyptian was the home of the very first Hollywood movie premiere in 1922. In January 2005 the American Cinematheque expanded its programming to the 1940 Aero Theatre on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.

www.americancinematheque.com

Selma Blair Guests on "Out There" on IFC

Tune in on Friday (March 22, 2013) for a new episode of “Out There” at 10/9c:

About the show:
Out There chronicles the misadventures of socially awkward Chad, his little brother Jay (Kate Micucci) and his best friend, Chris (Justin Roiland). Living in the small town of Holford, the boys wander its surreal, bleak landscape waiting out their last few years of adolescence. Along the way, viewers meet Chad’s conservative parents, Wayne (John DiMaggio) and Rose (Megan Mullally), as well as Chris’ single mother, Joanie (Pamela Adlon) and her disastrous boyfriend, Terry (Fred Armisen). They also meet the object of Chad’s affection, Sharla (Linda Cardellini).

Awesome clips:
Coming this Friday, Selma Blair makes a guest star appearance on OUT THERE as the eccentric new girl at school. Check it out here: http://www.ifc.com/shows/out-there/blog/2013/03/out-there-paired-up-with-destiny

On last Friday's episode of OUT THERE, when Wayne agrees to let Chad pull the car out of the driveway, obviously Chad is going to do it perfectly on the very first try and then will execute a perfect three-point turn, merge on to the highway and drive off into the sunset as a fully licensed driver. Or so he seems to think, because driving is really easy and doesn’t involve any practice other than watching your mom or dad do it for 15 or 16 years.

Check out the clip here: http://www.ifc.com/out-there/videos/out-there-chad-behind-the-wheel

Ryan Quincy discusses his inspiration for the episode “Frosty King" - see how it correlates with the clip of Chad Behind the Wheel!: http://www.ifc.com/out-there/videos/out-there-ryan-behind-the-wheel

Find out more about the show by perusing the Holford High Yearbook:
http://www.ifc.com/holford-yearbook/

Here's what the critics are saying about Out There:

"Not since Freaks and Geeks has adolescent humiliation been handled so warmly." - Entertainment Weekly

"Ryan Quincy's coming-of-age cartoon series charms" - Los Angeles Times

"...finding the humor in growing pains..." - Animation Magazine

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Review: "Rise of the Guardians" Rises with Jack Frost

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux


Rise of the Guardians (2012)
Running time: 97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA – PG for thematic elements and some mildly scary action
DIRECTOR: Peter Ramsey
WRITER: David Lindsay-Abaire (based on the book The Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce)
PRODUCERS: Nancy Bernstein and Christina Steinberg
EDITOR: Joyce Arrastia
COMPOSER: Alexandre Desplat
Golden Globe nominee

ANIMATION/FANTASY/ACTION/COMEDY/FAMILY

Starring: (voice) Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher, Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Khamani Griffin, Kamil McFadden, and Georgie Grieve

Rise of the Guardians is a 2012 3D computer-animated, fantasy film from DreamWorks Animation. The film is based on The Guardians of Childhood books series by William Joyce and is also inspired by Joyce’s animated short film, The Man in the Moon. Joyce and Guillermo del Toro are among the film’s executive producers. Rise of the Guardians is also the first big-budget, computer-animated (CG-animated) film to be directed by an African-American, Peter Ramsey.

Rise of the Guardians is apparently set 300 years after the book series. The movie focuses on a newcomer caught in a battle between immortals that protect the innocence of children and an evil spirit that launches an assault on Earth.

Tooth Fairy or Tooth (Isla Fisher) is the mythical tooth collector and Guardian of Memories. E. Aster Bunnymund or Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) is the fabled keeper of Easter eggs and Guardian of Hope. Sandy or Sandman (who does not speak) is the Guardian of Dreams and the oldest of the Guardians. Nicholas St. North or Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin) is the Guardian of Wonder and the leader of the Guardians. The Guardians watch over the children of the world and keep them safe; the Guardians also bring wonder, hope, and dreams.

Pitch Black (Jude Law) is The Boogeyman, the essence of fear known as the Nightmare King. Pitch announces to the Guardians that he is going to destroy children’s faith in them as an act of revenge because children no longer believe in him. The Man in the Moon tells the Guardians to induct a new member, Jack Frost (Chris Pine), in time for their struggle with Pitch Black. Jack declines the offer, as he has spent centuries in isolation because children do not believe in him. However, as Pitch’s threat looms, Jack finds himself dragged into the conflict and forced to find himself and his place.

Rise of the Guardians reminds me of DreamWorks Animation’s 2010 surprise CG-animated hit, How to Train Your Dragon. Dragon had two great characters, the Viking teenager, Hiccup, and his partner, the Night Fury dragon, “Toothless.” When Dragon focuses on Hiccup and Toothless, the film soars, but everything else about the movie, from characters to plot, is inconsistent in quality.

Rise of the Guardians is similar in that aspect. Jack Frost is a truly spectacular animated character. The rest of the film, from characters to action, ranges from good to mediocre to tolerable. Pitch Black, the villain, is merely a jumped-up stage villain full of typical grudges and complaints, and Jude Law’s voice performance does little to lift the character. And what the hell was Alec Baldwin doing as Santa Claus? This film’s concept, plot, and screenplay are an exercise in ups-and-downs and hits and misses. Attempts to give the story heart and meaning sometimes seem contrived, and when the story does have depth, it occasionally comes across as sugary or even fake.

On the other hand, Jack Frost is a treasure. This is his movie and his story – the journey of a hero, and Jack’s internal dilemmas and outward struggles ring with authenticity. He is the star, and the other Guardians are his supporting cast. Chris Pine delivers his finest performance as actor… in a voiceover role, but he brings Jack Frost to life with verve and depth. Pine left me wanting more.

Director Peter Ramsey does a good job of making the action in Rise of the Guardians rise above the defects in plot and narrative. Rise of the Guardians moves like an action movie, but it is imbued with something classic Walt Disney animated films, like Cinderella and Snow White, have. That is the sense of a fantasy movie that is really like a fairy tale, filled with magic and enchantment. CG-animated films don’t really have that sense of the supernatural because, as art created largely by computers, they feel more like technological marvels, but Rise of the Guardians has that old animation magic.

It is both this sense of magic and the magical Jack Frost that help Rise of the Guardians rise high above its shortcomings.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2013 Golden Globes, USA: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Film”

2013 Black Reel Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Director” (Peter Ramsey)

2013 Image Awards: 1 nomination: “Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture-Theatrical or Television” (Peter Ramsey)

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Warner Bros. Starts Production on "Godzilla"

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Announce Cast and Start of Production for “Godzilla”

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures announced today the final principal cast for the upcoming tent pole “Godzilla.” Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, and Juliette Binoche are starring in the film, with David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston.

The companies also announced that principal photography began today on location in Vancouver.

Gareth Edwards is directing the film from a screenplay by Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont and Dave Callaham. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are producing with Mary Parent and Brian Rogers. Alex Garcia and Patricia Whitcher are serving as executive producers alongside Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, “Godzilla” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, except in Japan, where it will be distributed by Toho Co., Ltd. Legendary Pictures is a division of Legendary Entertainment.

Slated to open on May 16, 2014, the film is expected to be presented in 3D.

Restored "Lawrence of Arabia" Returns to Cinemark Theatres

Academy Award Winning ‘LAWRENCE OF ARABIA’ Returns to Screens for Cinemark’s Classic Films Series

Fully Restored, Hollywood Classic to Play at Select Cinemark XD Auditoriums and Other Locations on Wednesday, March 20th

PLANO, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: CNK), one of the world’s largest motion picture exhibitors, is pleased to announce that the 1962 Academy Award Winner for Best Motion Picture, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, will play at Cinemark’s Classics Series in over 120 Cinemark theatres across the country. Ranked # 7 on the 2007 American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time, the film is scheduled to play on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, with two separate show times, 2pm and 7pm.

“Lawrence of Arabia is the quintessential big screen epic,” states James Meredith, Head of Marketing & Communications for Cinemark. “It’s adventurous, award-winning, and features memorable directing and acting performances. It will look spectacular in our Cinemark XD auditoriums at participating locations!”

Consistently rated as one of the finest films from director David Lean, this classic featured an indelible performance from Peter O’Toole as the lead character, T. E. Lawrence, as well as those from Sir Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif, and Anthony Quinn. In addition to winning the Best Picture Oscar, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA was also awarded Best Director honors for Lean, Best Original Score for Maurice Jarre, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound and Best Art and Set Decoration. It was nominated in three other categories including Best Actor for O’Toole and Best Supporting Actor for Sharif.

Cinemark takes pride in creating the best entertainment experience in the industry. In order to make movie-going as easy and enjoyable as possible, Cinemark focuses on offering more choices to their customers. For example, “Print at Home” ticketing available at www.cinemark.com makes it easy for patrons to purchase tickets in advance from the comfort of their home or office. Customers can bypass lines at the box office and go directly to a kiosk in the theatre lobby. Also, guests can download and purchase tickets through Cinemark’s mobile applications that are available for iPhone and Android phones. Finally, to stay connected, customers can sign up online to receive free, weekly showtime e-mailers that contain online coupons for discounts at the concession stand and other weekly special offers.

A full list of participating Cinemark Classic Series locations, advance ticket purchases and show time information can be found at www.cinemark.com.


About Cinemark Holdings, Inc.
Cinemark is a leading domestic and international motion picture exhibitor, operating 465 theatres with 5,240 screens in 39 U.S. states, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and 10 other Latin American countries as of December 31, 2012. For more information go to www.cinemark.com.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review: Halle Berry Needs the Call in "Perfect Stranger"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 120 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux


Perfect Stranger (2007)
Running time: 109 minutes (1 hour, 49 minutes)
MPAA – R for sexual content, nudity, some disturbing violent images and language
DIRECTOR: James Foley
WRITERS: Todd Komarnicki; from a story by Jon Bokenkamp
PRODUCER: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas
CINEMATROGRAPHER: Anastas N. Michos (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Christopher Tellefsen
COMPOSER: Antonio Pinto

DRAMA/MYSTERY/THRILLER

Starring: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Portnow, Gary Dourdan, Florencia Lozano, Daniella Van Graas, and Nicki Aycox

The subject of this movie review is Perfect Stranger, a 2007 psychological thriller from director James Foley. The film star Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, respectively, as an undercover journalist and a shady businessman in a cat-and-mouse game.

Playing the role of the abused woman of African-American descent has served Halle Berry quite well. In 2002, Berry won an Oscar for playing just such a character in the film, Monster’s Ball. She portrays another put upon woman or sufferin’ sistah type in the film, Perfect Stranger, with Bruce Willis playing the apparent central bully. But this time, Berry’s loyal audience is the victim of a truly bad movie.

After her friend, Grace Clayton (Nicki Aycox) is found murdered, investigative reporter Rowena “Ro” Price (Halle Berry) is determined to find the murderer. She believes that Grace’s death is connected to a powerful advertising executive, Harrison Hill (Bruce Willis), who seduces women in the online dating world of chat rooms, although he is married. Rowena infiltrates Hill’s advertising agency, H2A, as a temp worker named Katherine Pogue, and she also secretly teases him online under the moniker, Veronica. With the help of newspaper colleague and friend, Miles Haley (Giovanni Ribisi), Rowena pries into all facets of Hill’s life. The closer she gets to the truth, the more Ro learns how far people will go to protect it, and she finds herself struggling to protect her own secrets.

Perfect Stranger is vile, vulgar, cheap, and tawdry in the way the director and writers portray sexual relationships and in the coarse manner in which characters speak to each other. What makes this film really bad, however, isn’t the sex, nudity, crude language, explicit violence or even the woefully bad acting. It’s that Perfect Stranger is a poorly conceived mystery thriller. Perhaps, the writers knew how the story would end, and they were clear about who the victims would be and when they would be victimized. Beyond that, this narrative is full of holes.

Even viewers who normally find both obvious and none-too-subtle clues flying over their heads (that includes me), will find themselves scratching their heads at how easily and early this story disintegrates. The central murder doesn’t make sense when one considers that the killer is supposed to be so clever. The subsequent police investigation would certainly break up this film’s story within the first half hour. Sure, we’re supposed to suspend disbelief in the movie theatre, but what about verisimilitude? Since Perfect Stranger is set in a world like ours, it should also work logically in the real world.

Without Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, who both gave poor, poor performances, Perfect Strangers would have been a direct-to-DVD film… that not many people would rent. Only my love for Berry prohibits me from giving this an “F.”

1 of 10
D-

Friday, August 24, 2007