Friday, November 29, 2013

"The Wolf of Wall Street" Posters Released




Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio).   From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s.  Excess success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Money.  Power.  Women.  Drugs.  Temptations were for the taking and the threat of authority was irrelevant.  For Jordan and his wolf pack, modesty was quickly deemed overrated and more was never enough.

Visit the official site and make your own The Wolf Of Wall Street GIFS: http://TheWolfofWallStreet.com

In theaters December 25th

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWolfOfWallStreet
Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheWolfofWallSt

View one of the trailers here.


Comic That Inspired New Chris Evans' Flick "Snowpiercer" Coming to America

TITAN COMICS RELEASES SNOWPIERCER – THE GRAPHIC NOVEL THAT INSPIRED THE NEW CHRIS EVANS FILM!

Translated from the highly acclaimed French classic, soon to be a major motion picture starring Captain America star Chris Evans!

Titan Comics is proud to announce a world-first English translation of the acclaimed French comic, in a pair of graphic novels hitting stores in early 2014 ahead of the US release of the film! Volume 1: The Escape is released January 29, 2014, with Volume 2: The Explorers following February 25, 2014

Coursing through an eternal winter, on an icy track wrapped around the frozen planet Earth, there travels Snowpiercer, a train one thousand and one carriages long. From fearsome engine to final car, all surviving human life is here: a complete hierarchy of the society we lost…

The elite, as ever, travel in luxury at the front of the train – but for those in the rear coaches, life is squalid, miserable and short.

Proloff is a refugee from the tail, determined never to go back. In his journey forward through the train, he hopes to reach the mythical engine and, perhaps, find some hope for the future…

The thrilling original graphic novels have been adapted into an astounding new film directed by Joon-ho Bong (The Host), starring Chris Evans (Captain America), Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World), Tilda Swinton (The Chronicles of Narnia, We Need To Talk About Kevin), Jamie Bell (Billy Elliott, The Adventures of Tintin), Ed Harris (A History of Violence, The Abyss, Apollo 13) and John Hurt (Hellboy, V For Vendetta, Alien, Doctor Who), and distributed in the U.S. by The Weinstein Company, and due for release in Q1 2014

Check out the trailer here.

Written by the late Jacques Lob, winner of the Grand Prix de la ville d'Angoulême, and Benjamin Legrand, the author of numerous thriller novels, screenplays, and comic scripts, Snowpiercer is illustrated by Jean-Marc Rochette, who has worked across a variety of projects and genres, from science fiction comics to children’s cartoons – including adaptations of Voltaire’s Candide and Homer’s Odyssey.

Retailers can order Snowpiercer vol. 1: The Escape from November PREVIEWS (order code: NOV131240). Snowpiercer vol. 2: The Explorers will be available to order from December PREVIEWS.

To keep up-to-date with news about Snowpiercer join Titan Comics on Facebook or follow @comicstitan on Twitter.

For more information about Titan Comics, visit www.titan-comics.com

About Snowpiercer Vol.1 The Escape
From fearsome engine to final car, all surviving human life is here: a complete hierarchy of the society we lost.

The elite, as ever, travel in luxury at the front of the train – but for those in the rear coaches, life is squalid, miserable and short.

Proloff is a refugee from the tail, determined never to go back. In his journey forward through the train, he hopes to reach the mythical engine and, perhaps, find some hope for the future…

Translated from the highly acclaimed French classic, soon to be a major motion picture starring megastar Chris Evans.

Jacques Lob/Benjamin Legrand/Jean-Marc Rochette
Details: HC, 8x11, 112pgs, B/W, $19.99/£14.99
Released: January 29, 2014
Diamond PREVIEWS order code: NOV131240

About Snowpiercer Vol.2 The Explorers
A second train also travels through the snow on the same track, its inhabitants living in constant fear of crashing into the first Snowpiercer.

And from this second train, a small group of scavenging explorers emerges, risking their lives in the deadly cold...

Benjamin Legrand/Jean-Marc Rochette
Details: HC, 8x11, 144 pgs, B/W, $24.99/£19.99
Released: February 25, 2014

About Titan Comics
Titan Comics, a new venture from publishing giant, Titan, offers the best in original creator-owned comics alongside new and classic graphic novels.

Launching in July 2013, Titan Comics has already captured the imaginations of readers, reviewers and retailers with its strong focus on quality, creativity and diversity of genre!

Each new release will also be available on the iPhone, iPad, Web, Android and Kindle Fire.

To keep up-to-date with news on all these new series and future releases from Titan Comics, visit www.titan-comics.com

Connect with Titan Comics:
www.facebook.com/comicstitan
www.twitter.com/comicstitan



Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Pokemon: Genesect" Arrives on DVD and Manga on December 3 2013

VIZ MEDIA ANNOUNCES THE RELEASE OF POKéMON THE MOVIE: GENESECT AND THE LEGEND AWAKENED DVD AND MANGA EDITIONS

The Mysterious Genesect Pokémon Return After 300 Million Years And Trouble Brews After They Attract The Attention Of The Legendary Mewtwo In The Latest Pokémon Feature Film Adventure

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, gives POKÉMON fans something brand new in time for the holidays as it announces the release of the DVD and manga editions of POKÉMOn THE MOVIE: GENESECT AND THE LEGEND AWAKENED on December 3rd.

The single-disc DVD release of the feature film is rated ‘TV-Y7’ and will carry an MSRP of $19.97 U.S. / $24.98 CAN. While supplies last, copies of the DVD will include a POKÉMON trading card as a special bonus for collectors. The manga adaptation of POKÉMOn THE MOVIE: GENESECT AND THE LEGEND AWAKENED will be published by VIZ Media’s Perfect Square imprint, rated ‘A’ for All Ages, and will carry an MSRP of $9.99 U.S. / $12.99 CAN.  

When big trouble threatens the big city, it’s up to Ash, Pikachu, and their friends to stop it! A vast Pokémon habitat amid the hustle and bustle of the big city seems like the perfect new home for a group of five Genesect. The arrival of these Mythical Pokémon quickly becomes a problem, though: their nest threatens the city’s power supply, and they keep attacking anyone who approaches it. On top of that, they’ve attracted the attention of the legendary Pokémon Mewtwo, who sympathizes with them because its own origins also involve human tampering. Their leader, a red Genesect, doesn’t trust Mewtwo, and their confrontation quickly rages out of control! Can Ash and friends stop these two powerful Pokémon before they destroy the city?

“When a group of mythical and powerful Genesect Pokémon suddenly reappear in the world and threatens the city, it will be up to Ash and Pikachu to save the day!” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Manager, Animation Marketing. “GENESECT AND THE LEGEND AWAKENED is the latest film in the legendary POKÉMON movie storyline, and fans will want to be sure to join the fun with Ash, Pikachu and other favorite characters in these fun new DVD and manga editions that will be available to fans in time for the holidays!”

POKÉMON is one of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time with over 241 million video games sold worldwide in addition to extraordinary publishing and merchandise sales. The next generation of Pokémon video games, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, launched worldwide in October exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS system. VIZ Media distributes a wide array of POKÉMON animated titles and also is the exclusive North American publisher of POKÉMON manga.

For more information on VIZ Media’s POKÉMON manga and anime collections, please visit www.VIZ.com/Pokemon/.

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 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.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Matt Damon on "The Future of Water Sustainability"

The Future of Water Sustainability

By Matt Damon, Gary White, Reader Supported News

24 November 13

Multinational companies have historically taken water availability for granted. But this is changing. A 2013 World Economic Forum report named water scarcity as one of the top global risks facing companies in the 21st century. So far, 93 multinational corporations have committed to the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, a public-private partnership to advance water sustainability -- an exponential increase from the original six signatories in 2007. As more business leaders recognise pressures related to water availability on their supply chains and profits, they are growing more aware of the impact of irresponsible water use on "intangible" business value such as reputation, brand and customer relations.

In 2014 the world will see even more companies increase water-related investments. This is not only for immediate business purposes, but because water sustains life and is intimately connected to all aspects of economic development. Business leaders understand this and will increase their focus on their own use of water as well as on water and sanitation access in the communities where they operate. In the year ahead cross-sector collaboration will also grow as the economic value of water climbs steeply.

Traditional charity models are becoming outmoded. What began as investments in digging wells have evolved into far more dynamic, market-oriented approaches like targeted grants intended to optimise social returns per philanthropic dollar.

The PepsiCo Foundation has pledged $35m to water programs in developing countries (including $12.1m to Water.org). Most of this has gone to Water.org's WaterCredit model, a microfinance initiative which links access to finance with access to water and sanitation. The Caterpillar Foundation is investing $11.3m in this market-based approach over the next five years. The IKEA Foundation has stepped in with a $5m grant and companies such as Levi Strauss & Co, and organizations like the Swiss Re Foundation, the Mastercard Foundation and Bank of America Foundation have also joined the effort. Their thinking and action have evolved because they recognize that straight charity is extremely limited as a means to long-term impact.

In 2014 we will see more companies follow this lead, gaining greater influence by focusing on market-based solutions and metrics. They will deploy their philanthropic and corporate-social-responsibility resources in a way that leverages market forces. Firms will focus not just on the number of people reached with services but also on the philanthropic cost per person reached -- and strive to push that lower, as commercial capital does more of the heavy lifting through approaches like microfinance.

Expanding options for corporate and individual investors to provide debt financing at concessionary rates is a potentially high-impact model that should be further explored. Committed social-impact investors could catalyse lower-end borrower interest rates so more people could afford small loans to secure water and sanitation services. This type of "double-bottom-line" investing (ie, producing social as well as financial returns) will expand beyond venture philanthropists and find its way into portfolios supported by companies in water services and beyond.

Where there's a well, there's a way

These are just a few illustrations of innovative financial solutions to meeting the need for safe water and sanitation. In 2014 businesses will partner with global non-governmental organizations, assessing water risk, scarcity and opportunity. And high-profile declarations such as the CEO Water Mandate will report on their commitments in six areas: direct operations, supply chain and watershed management, collective action, public policy, community engagement and transparency.

Leading examples of this approach include the investment by Merck and the PepsiCo Foundation in the Safe Water Network, an effort to bring technology and consumer-marketing campaigns to the rural poor in India; Bayer's work to improve wastewater treatment; SAB Miller's collaboration with the Water Futures Partnership, to ensure sustainable water resources in multiple countries; and Unilever's alliance with Oxfam, Population Services International, Save the Children and the World Food Programme, which ranges from providing technology for safe drinking water to efforts to change behavior.

Water plays a central role in all aspects of life, from energy to food security, health and education. That is what makes it so complex to tackle. As water scarcity becomes all too real, collaboration will become essential. Although governments need to lead and commit themselves to infrastructure expansion and affordable service, in 2014 it will be corporate financial innovation and smart philanthropy that help to bring safe water and sanitation to some of the billions in need.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

WWE and Blumhouse Productions Partner on New Scary Movie

WWE® Studios and Blumhouse Productions Form Partnership for the Thriller “INCARNATE”

STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--WWE Studios (NYSE:WWE) and Blumhouse Productions announced today a partnership on INCARNATE, the micro-budget thriller from Blumhouse directed by Brad Peyton (JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND), scripted by Ronnie Christensen (DARK TIDE) and starring Aaron Eckhart. WWE Superstar® Mark Henry has been cast in a cameo role, and WWE Studios will leverage its extensive multi-platform reach for the film.

Jason Blum (Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge and Sinister franchises) is producing the film for Blumhouse which is co-financing the production with IM Global. Michael Luisi, WWE Studios President, is Executive Producing alongside Couper Samuelson, Michael Seitzman, Trevor Engelson, Stuart Ford and Charles Layton. Universal Pictures will distribute the film in the U.S. and Blumhouse International is overseeing foreign rights.

INCARNATE stars Aaron Eckhart as an unconventional exorcist who taps into the subconscious of a nine-year old boy played by David Mazouz who is possessed by a powerful, ancient demon. The film is currently shooting.

"WWE Studios is thrilled to partner again with Blumhouse on INCARNATE," said Michael Luisi, President of WWE Studios.

Jason Blum said: "WWE has a tremendous brand and we are excited to work with them on INCARNATE."

Bradley Buchanan, SVP of Business Affairs, negotiated the deal on behalf of WWE Studios

ABOUT BLUMHOUSE PRODUCTIONS
Blumhouse Productions, founded by Jason Blum, is a multi-media production company that has pioneered a new model of studio filmmaking- producing high-quality micro-budget films for wide release. Since its launch, Blumhouse has produced more than 30 feature films including the highly profitable Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious and Sinister franchises. Blumhouse's The Purge, its first production under its first-look deal with Universal Pictures, opened to more than $34 million on its opening weekend of June 7, with a budget of just $3 million. Insidious: Chapter Two from FilmDistrict, grossed $41.05 million on its opening weekend of September 13th with just a $5m budget. Blumhouse's upcoming micro-budget wide releases include Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones for Paramount and Jessabelle for Lionsgate. In addition, Blumhouse is working on both scripted and non-scripted projects in television. Blumhouse executive produced Stranded for SyFy and The River for ABC, and is also working on projects with HBO and MTV.

About WWE Studios
WWE Studios produces a diverse slate of feature films for theatrical and direct to home release through distribution partnerships with global entertainment companies. The WWE’s film division led by President, Michael Luisi, is headquartered in Santa Monica, CA and continues to create content for audiences of all ages. Most recent films produced by the studio include The Call with Halle Berry and WWE Superstar David Otunga®, Dead Man Down with Colin Farrell and WWE Superstar Wade Barrett®, The Marine 3: Homefront with WWE Superstar The Miz® in the third follow-up in the explosive Marine adventures,12 Rounds 2: Reloaded, the second installment in the action franchise, starring WWE Superstar Randy Orton®, and No One Lives, which was co-produced with Pathé Films and released theatrically by Anchor Bay Films after debuting at Midnight Madness at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, starring Luke Evans and WWE Superstar Brodus Clay™. Upcoming films for WWE Studios include Christmas Bounty, an action comedy starring WWE Superstar The Miz and Francia Raisa, premiering on ABC Family November 26, 2013 and releasing on Blu-Ray/DVD on December 3, 2013 by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment; Scooby Doo WrestleMania Mystery which pairs WWE Superstars with Scooby and the gang releasing direct to home March 25, 2014 by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment; Leprechaun: Origins directed by Zach Lipovsky starring WWE Superstar Hornswoggle® will be distributed by Lionsgate in August 2014; See No Evil 2 starring WWE Superstar Kane® directed by the Soska Sisters will also be distributed by Lionsgate in October 2014; The Fall Guy starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson releasing in 2015, and The Flintstones another Warner Brothers Animation feature releasing in early 2015 by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment which joins Fred, Barney and the whole Bedrock gang with stone age versions of WWE Superstars and Divas.

About WWE
WWE, a publicly traded company (NYSE: WWE), is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. WWE is committed to family-friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay-per-view, digital media and publishing platforms. WWE programming is broadcast in more than 150 countries and 30 languages and reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Istanbul and Tokyo. Additional information on WWE (NYSE: WWE) can be found at wwe.com and corporate.wwe.com. For information on our global activities, go to http://www.wwe.com/worldwide/.

Trademarks: All WWE programming, talent names, images, likenesses, slogans, wrestling moves, trademarks, logos and copyrights are the exclusive property of WWE and its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are the property of their respective owners.

Forward-Looking Statements: This press release contains forward-looking statements pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which are subject to various risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, risks relating to maintaining and renewing key agreements, including television and pay-per-view programming distribution agreements; the need for continually developing creative and entertaining programming; the continued importance of key performers and the services of Vincent McMahon; the conditions of the markets in which we compete and acceptance of the Company's brands, media and merchandise within those markets; our exposure to bad debt risk; uncertainties relating to regulatory and litigation matters; risks resulting from the highly competitive nature of our markets; uncertainties associated with international markets; the importance of protecting our intellectual property and complying with the intellectual property rights of others; risks associated with producing and travelling to and from our large live events, both domestically and internationally; the risk of accidents or injuries during our physically demanding events; risks relating to our film business; risks relating to increasing content production for distribution on various platforms, including the potential creation of a WWE Network; risks relating to our computer systems and online operations; risks relating to the large number of shares of common stock controlled by members of the McMahon family and the possibility of the sale of their stock by the McMahons or the perception of the possibility of such sales; the relatively small public float of our stock; and other risks and factors set forth from time to time in Company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Actual results could differ materially from those currently expected or anticipated. In addition, our dividend is dependent on a number of factors, including, among other things, our liquidity and historical and projected cash flow, strategic plan (including alternative uses of capital), our financial results and condition, contractual and legal restrictions on the payment of dividends, general economic and competitive conditions and such other factors as our Board of Directors may consider relevant.


Remembering Max Schreck: "Nosferatu"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 91 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) – B&W – Silent
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:  German
Running time: 88 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  F.W. Murnau
WRITER:  Henrik Galen
PRODUCERS:  Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Fritz Arno Wagner with Günther Krampf

HORROR with elements of fantasy

Starring:  Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wanganheim, Greta Schröder, Georg H. Schnell, Ruth Landshoff, John Gottowt, Gustav Botz, Max Nemetz, and Wolfgang Heinz

The subject of this movie review is Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens, a 1922 German Expressionist horror film directed by F.W. Murnau and starring Max Schreck.  Best known simply as Nosferatu, the film is an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel, Dracula, as the filmmakers were apparently unable to obtain film rights to the book.  We are lucky that Nosferatu even still exists, as a lawsuit by the heirs to Stoker’s estate resulted in a court order to destroy all copies of the film, although one print managed to survive.

In the film Nosferatu, a young real estate agent unknowingly brokers a deal with Count Orlock who is also the vampire, “Nosferatu,” who is now pursuing the young man’s wife.  Nosferatu is one of my favorite films, but I cannot remember what version of the film I saw some nine years ago that ended up being the subject of the original version of my review, which was written shortly after I saw the film.

At the behest of his demented boss, Knock (Alexander Granach), Hutter (Gustav von Wanganheim), a young real estate agent travels to Transylvania to finalize a purchase of property by a reclusive count.  When Hutter meets the count, Graf Orlock (Max Schreck), he discovers that Orlock is the vampire Nosferatu.  Soon, Orlock is speeding on a doomed ship towards Hutters’ hometown, where Orlock plans to dine of Hutter’s virginal fiancée, Ellen (Greta Schröder).

Nosferatu is the first vampire film, and screenwriter Henrik Galen freely adapted it (without permission) from Bram Stoker’s seminal vampire novel, Dracula.  The script has nice atmosphere, but is quite thin in the last act.  A silent film with only intermittent placards of written dialogue, Nosferatu has a dreamlike quality, and that isn’t just because of the lack of sound, except for orchestrated music (played in theatres by live orchestras back in the days before sound film recordings), but because of the way the director and photographers composed the film.

The cinematography of Günther Krampf and Fritz Arno Wagner is a continuous spool of war between light and shadow.  Shadowy textures flicker over the sparse and sumptuous decorations, sets, and costumes, all designed by Albin Grau.  Murnau presents Nosferatu as a faerie creature hopping, dancing, and racing across the landscape and through time like a thing not really there, a personification of death both ethereal and real.

I will lavish the most praise upon Max Schreck for his awesome performance as the title character.  His Nosferatu is a stiff, yet pliable thing, a relentless creature, nimble for all that he may seem rigid.  It’s is truly the personification of a corpse as a deadly walking thing.

9 of 10
A+

Updated:  Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy B'day, Christina Applegate: "The Sweetest Thing"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 39 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Sweetest Thing (2002)
Running time:  88 minutes (1 hour, 28 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong sexual content and language
DIRECTOR:  Roger Kumble
WRITER:  Nancy M. Pimental
PRODUCER:  Cathy Konrad
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Anthony B. Richmond
EDITORS:  Wendy Greene Bricmont and David Rennie
COMPOSER:  Edward Shearmur

COMEDY/ROMANCE

Starring:  Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Selma Blair, Jason Bateman, Thomas Jane, James Mangold, and Parker Posey

The subject of this movie review is The Sweetest Thing, a 2002 romantic comedy and chick flick.  The film stars Cameron Diaz as a woman forced to pursue Mr. Right, after missing an opportunity the first time she meets him.  I have to say that this is one those movie that I enjoyed watching so much that it made me “feel good,” so it is a true feel good movie.

Some of her critics and embittered fellow professionals have accused Cameron Diaz of getting by on her looks.  She is a very talented actress, but I’d be lying if denied that one of the reasons I like to watch her movies because of her dazzling beauty and super fine ass.

She unleashes her talent and gorgeous body in director Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions) and writer Nancy Pimental’s The Sweetest Thing.  Mistakenly sold has a romantic comedy, it is actually raunchy comedic romp through a fantastic vision of the millennial dating scene.  The Sweetest Thing is more in the vein of There’s Something About Mary than say Autumn in New York, and it’s easily one of the funniest movies I’ve seen since Mary.  Some of the credit has to go to Kumble’s sense of timing, important for someone who directs comedy, especially something as farcical as this, and especially Ms. Pimental, who was a series writer for television’s “South Park,” of which The Sweetest Thing shares a sense of over-the-top, gross out comedy.

Cameron Diaz plays the lead character, Christina Walker, simultaneously with bold confidence and sexual power juxtaposed with a painful lack of confidence and romantic confusion.  By doing this, Ms. Diaz makes Walker human; without that she’d merely be a raunchy boob worthy of a few belly laughs.  She can pull it off because she’s so beautiful and likeable.  The cold truth of the matter is that, while art depicts any number of topics, ideas, and subjects, it often executes that depiction in an idealized form.  Artist paint good looking people; even the ugly subjects are stylized ugly.  Pretty people look good on the big screen, and, frankly, many of us would simply think of Christina Walker as a trailer trash ‘ho if she wasn’t played by someone as attractive as Ms. Diaz.  Her looks make us give a pass to some of the unsavory aspects of Christina’s character.

Sadly, the script doesn’t do justice to Christina’s sidekicks:  divorce lawyer Courtney Rockcliffe (Christina Applegate) and the recently dumped Jane Burns (Selma Blair, Legally Blonde).  Courtney starts off with such promise.  She’s a funny partner in crime, but, by the end of the film, she’s reduced to being in scenes merely to feel sorry for her friend.  The breakup of Jane’s romance is the element that begins the film’s story.  Ms. Pimental ignores Jane’s plight and turns her into pincushion for crude sex scenes – hilarious, but still crude.

Reservations aside, The Sweetest Thing is just too funny not to see.  It would take a lot of laughs to make me ignore the fact that the filmmakers throw the story and characterization out the window in favor of raw humor, and, by Jove, the movie has that many laughs and more.

7 of 10
A-

Updated:  Monday, November 25, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for syndication rights and fees.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

10 Vie for 2013 "Live Action Short" Oscar Nominations

10 Live Action Shorts Advance in 2013 Oscar® Race

BEVERLY HILLS, CA —The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 live action short films will advance in the voting process for the 86th Academy Awards®.  One hundred twenty pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:

“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me),” Esteban Crespo, director (Producciones Africanauan)

“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything),” Xavier Legrand, director, and Alexandre Gavras, producer (KG Productions)

“Dva (Two),” Mickey Nedimovic, director, and Henner Besuch, director of photography (Filoufilm Dani Barsch)

“Helium,” Anders Walter, director, and Kim Magnusson, producer (M & M Productions)

“Kush,” Shubhashish Bhutiani, director (Red Carpet Moving Pictures)

“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?),” Selma Vilhunen, director, and Kirsikka Saari, screenwriter (Tuffi Films)

“Record/Play,” Jesse Atlas, director, and Thom Fennessey, executive producer (Collaboration Factory)

“Throat Song,” Miranda de Pencier, director (Northwood Productions)

“Tiger Boy,” Gabriele Mainetti, director (Goon Films)

“The Voorman Problem,” Mark Gill, director, and Baldwin Li, producer (Honlodge Productions)

The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting at screenings held in Los Angeles.  

Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will now select three to five nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist.  Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in December.

The 86th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2013 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® and televised live on the ABC Television Network.  The presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review: "Monsters University" a Satisfying Second Helping

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 79 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Monsters University (2013)
Running time:  104 minutes (1 hour, 44 minutes)
MPAA – G
DIRECTORS:  Dan Scanlon
WRITERS:  Robert Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Dan Scanlon; from a story by Robert Baird, Daniel Gerson, and Dan Scanlon
PRODUCER:  Kori Rae
EDITORS:  Greg Snyder
COMPOSER:  Randy Newman

ANIMATION/FANTASY/COMEDY/FAMILY

Starring:  (voices) Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, Helen Mirren, Peter Sohn, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes, Dave Foley, Charlie Day, Alfred Molina, Tyler Labine, Nathan Fillion, Aubrey Plaza, Julia Sweeney, Bonnie Hunt, and John Ratzenberger

Monsters University is a 2013 computer-animated comedy and fantasy film from Pixar Animation Studios.  Theatrically presented in 3D, Monsters University is Pixar’s fourteenth full-length feature film, and it is also the first prequel to one of the studio’s films.  Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, it is a prequel to the 2001 animated film, Monsters, Inc.

Monsters University focuses on the stars of the original film, Mike and Sulley.  The movie looks at the early days of their relationship during their time in college, telling the story of how they went from rivals to friends.  Although it is not quite as good as the original, Monsters University is a warm and fuzzy and sweet and sentimental film that offers a return of one of the great comedy duos of animated films, Mike (ostensibly this movie’s lead character) and Sulley.

Monsters University introduces Michael “Mike” Wazowski (Billy Crystal), a young monster who dreams of being a “scarer,” a monster who enters the human world at night to scare children.  He enrolls at Monsters University, believing that is the best place to learn to be a great scarer.  Mike meets a large, blue furry monster named James P. “Sulley” Sullivan (John Goodman), a privileged student from a family of renowned scarers.  The two immediately dislike each other.

Sulley joins the school’s premiere fraternity, Roar Omega Roar (ROR).  Mike has to settle for Oozma Kappa (OK), a fraternity of geeks and outcasts.  An incident between Mike and Sulley puts the two on the fast track to trouble.  Mike decides that the Scare Games, a competition between Monsters University’s select fraternities and sororities, can save his and Sulley’s college careers.  First, the two rivals will have to learn to trust each other and their new Oozma Kappa friends.

Pixar is known for animated films that offer superb character drama, but Monsters University is simply a comedy with endearing characters.  I call Monsters University Pixar’s DreamWorks Animation movie.  Like many DreamWorks animated features, Monsters University is a broad comedy with several clever set pieces and sequences in which the heroes must deal with seemingly impossible-to-overcome obstacles.  Also like DreamWorks animation, Monsters University lacks the emotional resonance of Pixar’s best films, although this movie’s director and writers try.  Similar to Pixar’s Brave, Monsters University also has a weak first half-hour.

The two best things about Monsters University are the delightful supporting characters that are members of Oozma Kappa and the Scare Games.  I found those supporting players to be endearing, and the film gives just enough of them to make you feel that you didn’t get enough.  The Scare Games are exciting and have a great ending, which a subsequent plot twist kinda ruins.

When Monsters Inc. first appeared in 2001, it was novel, maybe even groundbreaking in a way.  All Monsters University can be is a welcome return of old friends, and that’s good enough.

7 of 10
B+

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



Review: "The Monster Squad" Still a Treat


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 122 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Monster Squad (1987)
Running time: 82 minutes (1 hour, 22 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13
DIRECTOR:  Fred Dekker
WRITERS:  Shane Black and Fred Dekker
PRODUCER:  Jonathan A. Zimbert
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Bradford May
EDITOR:  James Mitchell
COMPOSER:  Bruce Broughton

HORROR/COMEDY

Starring:  Andre Gower, Robby Kiger, Stephen Macht, Tom Noonan, Brent Chalem, Ryan Lambert, Ashley Bank, Michael Faustino, Mary Ellen Trainor, Duncan Regehr, Leonardo Cimino, Lisa Fuller, Jonathan Gries, Jason Hervey, Carl Thibault, Michael Reid MacKay, Stan Shaw, and Jack Gwillim

The subject of this review is The Monster Squad, a 1987 comic horror film directed by Fred Dekker and written by Shane Black and Dekker.  In the movie, re-imagined versions of classic movie monsters invade a small town in a bid to control the world, but they face a bad of savvy kids determined to stop them.

The 1987 cult-favorite flick, the comic horror film, The Monster Squad, has recently found new life 20 years after being largely overlooked upon its initial theatrical release.  While it remains basically a horror flick for children (appropriate even in these politically correct times), the film is, at time, genuinely scary.  The villains of The Monster Squad are also an homage to the monsters of classic Universal Studios black and white monster movies.

Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and Gill Man descend upon a small town in search of a diabolically powerful amulet that could give Dracula (Duncan Regehr) dominion over the world.  The only thing that could stop the amulet’s power is an incantation in a diary belonging to Dracula’s arch-nemesis, Van Helsing (Jack Gwillim).   However, the book has fallen into the hands of 12-year-old Sean Crenshaw (Andre Gower).

Sean and the rest of his young friends idolize classic monster movies, and call themselves The Monster Squad.  With the help of his gang of monster-obsessed misfits, Sean tries to stop Dracula’s nefarious plans.  Can the Monster Squad:  Sean, Patrick (Robby Kiger), Fat Kid/Horace (Brent Chalem), Rudy (Ryan Lambert), Eugene (Michael Faustino), and Sean’s little sister, Phoebe (Ashley Bank), save the day?  With Sean’s dad, policeman Del Crenshaw (Stephen Macht) and Scary German Guy (Michael Cimino) helping, they just might, and it’s worth watching this movie to find out.

Co-writers Shane Black and Fred Dekker, who also directs this film, seem to take the view that one can place children (in this case pre-teens and early teens) in a horror scenario – one as scary as the horror movies they might watch.  Although a juvenile cast means that Black and Dekker wouldn’t make a bloody, slasher film, to make a horror flick, they would still have to present their youthful characters in situations in which they face actual peril or severe bodily harm or even death.  After all, a scary movie for kids is still a scary movie.

The Monster Squad isn’t even a great horror film, or even a very good movie.  For one thing, the narrative occasionally takes great leaps, leaving out crucial scenes.  Perhaps, the producers forced cuts to reduce the film’s runtime, and the loss of scenes occasionally caused lapses in logic within the narrative.  Still, while it may not be a great movie, it’s a memorable B-movie.  The Monster Squad is just fun to watch, warts and all.

6 of 10
B

Monday, September 03, 2007

Updated:  Saturday, November 23, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



Friday, November 22, 2013

Pixar to Be Honored by International 3D Society

Pixar Animation Studios to Receive Sir Charles Wheatstone Award from International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society January 28th, 2014

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society will present Pixar Animation Studios with the 2014 Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for creative excellence, it was announced in Hollywood. The award will be presented at the Society's 5th Annual Creative Arts Awards at a black tie ceremony held at Warner Bros. Studios on January 28th, 2014.

“The Society’s core mission is to educate the global creative community and recognize outstanding creative achievement by our industry’s leaders,” said Tom Cosgrove, CEO of 3net Studios and Co-Chairman of the Society. “John Lasseter and the Pixar team are at the very pinnacle of brilliant storytelling and flawless technical achievement, and most worthy of our highest honor,” he added.

“What an amazing honor to be recognized with this year's Wheatstone Award,” said John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. “In our films, story is the most important ingredient and 3D is an incredible tool to help tell those stories; it builds emotion, lands a joke and expands a world. 3D truly helps us make our films great, and to receive this award from the International 3D Society is awesome in every dimension of the word.”

The Society’s Creative Arts Awards annually bestow its gold Lumiere™ statuette to 3D movies, television programs, 4K technology and other content as selected by the Society’s voting membership.

“This year’s ‘Monsters University’ is but the most recent example of Pixar’s spectacular work,” said Society Awards Chairman Buzz Hays, Founder and CEO of the True Image Company. “Pixar has been our most honored studio, having received 4 previous Lumiere™ awards. The Sir Charles Wheatstone Award is our opportunity to recognize Mr. Lasseter and the entire Pixar organization for their entire body of work and their support of 3D storytelling.”

“Sir Charles Wheatstone is credited by history as the inventor of modern-day 3D. Although he lived and worked in the 19th century, his legacy of educating professionals about 3D remains an important function of the Society today,” said Society President Jim Chabin. “In honoring Pixar Animation Studios, we have an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the incredible contributions this creative team has made to filmmaking, and to storytelling, in 3D,” he added.

Pixar’s ‘Brave’ was honored by the Society as 2012’s “Best Animated 3D Feature.” Other honors include “Best 3D Short Film” awards for ‘Partly Cloudy’ (2010), ‘Day and Night’ (2011) and ‘La Luna’ (2012).

About The International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society:
The International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society is a community of content creators and professionals whose mission is to develop the arts and technologies of 3D, advanced imaging and its innovators. With over 60 companies and 800 professional members in 20 countries, the Society is open to individuals and organizations active in moving 3D and advanced imaging to an exciting new era of creative achievement and consumer support. For more information please visit: www.International3DSociety.com.



Happy Birthday, Jeffrey

Happy Birthday, Jeffrey.  Thanks for keeping it real.


Review: "Death of a President" Riveting, Troubling

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 62 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Death of a President (2006)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:  UK
Running time:  97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA – R for brief violent images
DIRECTOR:  Gabriel Range
WRITERS:  Simon Finch and Gabriel Range
PRODUCERS:  Simon Finch, Gabriel Range, and Ed Guiney
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Graham Smith
EDITOR:  Brand Thumim
COMPOSER:  Richard Harvey

DRAMA/MYSTERY/THRILLER

Starring:  Hend Ayoub, Brian Bolland, Becky Ann Baker, Robert Mangiardi, Jay Patterson, Jay Whittaker, M. Neko Parham, Chavez Ravine, and Malik Bader

In his mock documentary (also known as a “mockumentary”), Death of a President, director Gabriel Range presents a scenario in which U.S. President George W. Bush is assassinated in October of 2007.  Death of the President pretends to be an investigative documentary that examines the key players and events surrounding the killing of President Bush, several years after the as-yet-unsolved murder occurred.

Death of a President follows the events leading up to the assassination and its aftermath, and the film also features a bevy of talking heads, which includes the people around the president, murder suspects, and their families.  In his hypothetical film, Range focuses on the fallout that follows Bush’s murder – specifically the media’s reaction, the rush to convict a Muslim as the assassin, and the machinations of newly installed President Cheney to grab more presidential powers.

Since its appearance at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, Death of a President has been highly controversial, and the producers had a difficult time finding a company to distribute the film to U.S. theatres.  Ultimately, Newmarket Films, which handled Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, distributed the film in the U.S.

I like this movie, although I did find the scenes in which President Bush was shot and the ones occurring at the hospital where he later died to be in poor taste.  Like him or not, he is (as of this writing) a sitting U.S. President, and to portray his death in so brutal and perhaps cavalier fashion is to traffic in mean-spiritedness and carelessness.

On the other hand, what takes place before the assassination and after is riveting stuff.  In the scenes leading up to the shooting, director Gabriel Range creates a riveting thriller that quietly races to its damnable turning point.  After Bush’s death, Range and his co-writer Simon Finch display a knowledge of the American mass media, of law enforcement (in particularly the FBI) and how they work and react to big events that is surprising considering they are not Americans.  Their spin on how Vice-President Dick Cheney would react if he became President after an assassination is dead-on (and maybe a little obvious considering Cheney’s actions as Vice-President).  Who doesn’t think Cheney would move to consolidate more power for himself with a Congress and a country reeling from shock, reluctant to challenge him, and desperate for leadership in such a time of crisis.

Range apparently specializes in these kinds of dramatizations of probable future events, such as his TV film, The Day Britain Stopped (which I’ve never seen).  He’s so-so at presenting interviews with the fictional talking heads involved in the events of Death of a President.  Some of the interviewees don’t come across as authentic, so the film sometimes feels phony.  Still, Range has created an engaging, unforgettable “what if,” and he smartly realizes what is most frightening about a U.S. president being assassinated.  Such an event could very well mean the definite beginning of the certain end of this grand experiment called the United States of America.

7 of 10
B+

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NOTES:
2007 BAFTA TV Awards:  1 nomination:  “Best Visual Effects”

2007 International Emmy Awards:  1 win: “TV Movie/Mini-Series” (UK)

Updated:  Sunday, November 10, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: "The Manchurian Candidate" Eternally Fantastic, Chilling

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 16 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – B&W
Running time:  126 minutes (2 hours, 6 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  John Frankenheimer
WRITER:  George Axelrod (based upon the novel by Richard Condon)
PRODUCERS:  George Axelrod and John Frankenheimer
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Lionel Lindon (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Ferris Webster
COMPOSER:  David Amram
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA/THRILLER with elements of war

Starring:  Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, James Gregory, Leslie Parrish, John McGiver, and Khigh Dhiegh

The subject of this movie review is The Manchurian Candidate, a 1962 suspense thriller and drama film from producer-director John Frankenheimer and producer-writer George Axelrod.  The movie is based on the book, The Manchurian Candidate, a political thriller from author Richard Condon that was first published in 1959.  The movie focuses on a former Korean War prisoner of war (POW) who believes that Communists brainwashed a fellow prisoner into becoming a political assassin.

Some film critics and a larger movie audience rediscovered The Manchurian Candidate in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, and since then, so much about the film’s themes and both its political and social relevance have been beaten into the ground.  As far as its quality as a film goes, it is a fine example of the beauty of black and white film and a excellent example of how film can deal with issues of memory and identity in so many novel and inventive ways.  I do want to make it clear that I recommend this film because of its wonderful cast and because it is a fantastic suspense thriller that has an intriguing mystery story.

Major Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra) comes to believe that Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), a member of his former platoon during the Korean Conflict who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, has been brainwashed by enemies of the United States.  Shaw is the stepson of the red-baiting, media-manipulator, Senator John Iselin (James Gregory), and the son of the too-ambitious-for-husband Mrs. Iselin (Angela Landsbury).  Because of the political confusion around Shaw, Bennett is unable to figure out exactly who the operators are, but he has ideas that he must play across a chessboard of shifting landscapes to discover who controls Shaw.

Directed by John Frankenheimer from a screenplay by George Axelrod, The Manchurian Candidate may, in certain political climates, seem quite relevant, but the power of its images will always remain strong.  From the opening scene of Shaw rousting his men out of a Korean brothel to the taunt cat and mouse games of psychological manipulation, the film is a haunting dream in which everything is what it seems and is even more than we might imagine.

I’ve always been fascinated by the scenes of the American soldiers being brainwashed and observed by a cabal of communists.  In one sense, the soldiers realize that they are in a large room where military type personnel are observing them, but another part of their minds registers that they are all guests at a flower club social.  In fact, while the white soldiers believe that the club members are mostly old white ladies, the lone black soldier sees the same club’s membership as haughty, well-dressed black women.

For most of the film, the only character that the audience can rely on is Shaw; we know he’s been brainwashed, and later we discover that the communists trained him to be an assassin.  The identities and motives of the other characters shift and are blurry.  Sinatra’s Bennett goes from a haunted veteran with memory problems in one half of the film to spy smasher in the next, but it’s a fine performance.  He makes us trust Bennett because we eventually have to lean on him, as he becomes the only stable element in the film.

The Manchurian Candidate is blessed with fine performances.  Although Shaw is a bit stiff throughout, he sells the film’s early brainwashing scenes, and he again becomes a strong presence at the end of the film.  Angela Landsbury gives one of the great supporting performances ever, and she does it in a quiet, subtle manner.  Her character might seem bold and obvious, but when I think about, I realize what a crafty snake she was and how she hid her serpentine ways.  In fact, there is a scene where Shaw first meets his future wife (Leslie Parrish) in which something happens that is virtually a metaphor for what Mrs. Iselin is and what her goals are.

Frankenheimer created what many consider to be a masterpiece, and it is indeed very good, as well as being visually, a gorgeous film.  I’ve always loved the dreamlike quality of black and white films.  Without the aid of color, a good director, like Frankenheimer, had to be accurate and quite efficient in shooting his film.  It was important that what was on the screen be able to move the story forward without the benefit of color as an identifying element.

When I think of how The Manchurian Candidate’s relevance resonates with audiences even to the present day, I also think of how this wonderful fantasy reveals so much about the mystery behind the face of a person.  I think of how people are often less than what I think they are, and how often they are more than what they seem.  The Manchurian Candidate is like a strange dream told in color, but we are only able to see it in black and white.  It reveals a truism about life:  reality is everything it seems, more or less.

9 of 10
A+

NOTES:
1963 Academy Awards, USA:  2 nominations: “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” (Angela Lansbury) and “Best Film Editing” (Ferris Webster)

1963 Golden Globes, USA:  1 win: “Best Supporting Actress” (Angela Lansbury); 1 nomination: “Best Motion Picture Director” (John Frankenheimer)

1963 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Film from any Source” (USA)

1994 National Film Preservation Board, USA:  National Film Registry

Updated:  Sunday, November 10, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



Review: "The Manchurian Candidate" Remake a Missed Oppurtunity

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 166 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
Running time: 130 minutes (2 hours, 10 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence and some language
DIRECTOR:  Jonathan Demme
WRITERS:  Daniel Pyne and Dean Georgaris (based upon the film screenplay by George Axelrod and based upon a novel by Richard Condon)
PRODUCERS:  Tina Sinatra, Scott Rudin, Jonathan Demme, and Ilona Herzberg
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tak Fujimoto, ASC
EDITORS:  Carol Littleton, A.C.E. and Craig McKay, A.C.E.
COMPOSER:  Rachel Portman
BAFTA Award nominee

DRAMA/THRILLER with elements of mystery and science fiction

Starring:  Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Liev Schreiber, Jon Voight, Kimberly Elise, Jeffrey Wright, Ted Levine, Anthony Mackie, Bruno Ganz, Simon McBurney, Al Franken, and Miguel Ferrer

The subject of this movie review is The Manchurian Candidate, a 2004 thriller and drama film from director Jonathan Demme.  The film is an adaptation of the 1959 novel, The Manchurian Candidate, from author Richard Condon.  It is also a re-imagining of director John Frankenheimer’s 1962 film adaptation of the book.  In the 2004 film, a war veteran begins to believe that during the Gulf War, soldiers in his U.S. Army unit were kidnapped and brainwashed for sinister purposes.

If you’re going to remake a great movie, you should try to make the new movie also be a great film, or at the very least try to make it a…very good film.  The Manchurian Candidate, Jonathan Demme's (The Silence of the Lambs) update of the Frank Sinatra classic of the same title, which was directed by John Frankenheimer, is neither great nor very good.  It’s the worst thing one could get from the esteemed filmmakers involved in the project, all of whom have glowing resumes.  The new The Manchurian Candidate is a flat out average film that’s barely worth an exciting trip to the video store.

In the original 1962 film, the Manchurian Candidate was a sleeper agent/assassin trained by the Red Chinese.  In the new film, the sleeper agent is Raymond Prentiss Shaw (Liev Schreiber).  Raymond Shaw is the subject of a mind control project by Manchurian Global, a huge conglomerate with its hands in everything from providing services to the military to funding political campaigns and owning politicians.  With the help of their political cronies and Raymond’s mother, Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw (Meryl Streep), Raymond, a young Congressman from New York, is made the Vice-Presidential nominee on the opposition (likely the Democrats, but not directly named) party’s ticket in the upcoming presidential race.

Raymond had once been Sergeant Raymond Shaw back in 1991 during Operation Desert Shield just before it became Operation Desert Storm.  He answered to U.S. Army Major Bennett Marco (Denzel Washington).  Washington, Shaw, and the rest of their platoon were ambushed in Iraq, but all they remember about the incident is that Shaw single-handedly saved the lives of the entire platoon (except for two men who were killed during the attack) after Major Marco had been knocked unconscious.

However, Ben Marco runs into another platoon buddy, Corporal Al Melvin (Jeffrey Wright), after a Boy Scout assembly where Marco recounts Shaw’s heroism.  Melvin is disheveled, and he tells Marco a fantastic tale of strange dreams he’s been having about their platoon being kidnapped and experimented on after they were ambushed.  Melvin’s story contradicts the official version of what happened in Kuwait, the one that made Shaw a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.  Although, Marco is uncomfortable with Melvin’s tale, he knows there is a ring of truth to it because he also has never been comfortable with the official version of the ambush and their rescue.  He thinks someone was inside his head after his platoon was ambushed, and he wonders if the same thing happened to Shaw.  Marco must find out, and he’s running out because the nation just may be voting for a man whose mind is controlled by sinister forces.

It’s supposedly not always fair to compare the new version of something to the old, but it happens anyway.  Nearly everything that made the classic black and white The Manchurian Candidate an unusually creepy and unique suspense thriller is present in the 2004 version, but the filmmakers have taken the characters, plot, and settings (Korea becomes the Persian Gulf in the new film) and made a flat thriller, in which the thrills only occasionally register.  The surprises are mild, and while the changes made for the new film seem like novel ideas, the filmmakers don’t get much heat from them.

I blame everybody.  Denzel Washington’s performance is either phoned in or overwrought, but it’s his worst in a long time.  Meryl Streep tries to get traction from her evil character, but it’s a performance wasted on an all-too-phony character; besides, Ms. Streep just can’t replace Angela Landsbury’s mega evil mom from the original.  I place the most blame on director Jonathan Demme.  Back in the 1980’s, his novel spin on pedestrian film stories and his quirky characters were stunningly refreshing.  He hit the big time with the hugely entertaining and very well done The Silence of the Lambs, but since then, he has become a big time Hollywood player making mediocre films.  He continues that trend with The Manchurian Candidate.

Early Internet rumor mongering about The Manchurian Candidate described this film as a hot political potato that took sharp swipes at President Hand Puppet and his administration, swipes that would draw blood like Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 did, but no such luck.  You wouldn’t miss much if you waited for this to appear on TV – basic cable TV.

4 of 10
C

NOTE:
2005 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Meryl Streep)

2005 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Meryl Streep)

2005 Black Reel Awards:  2 nominations:  “Best Supporting Actor” (Jeffrey Wright) and “Best Supporting Actress” (Kimberly Elise)

Updated:  Sunday, November 10, 2013


The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Advanced Tickets for "The Hobbit" Part 2 on Sale Tomorrow

Advance Tickets for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” Go on Sale in the U.S. on Thursday, November 21, at 9:00 AM Eastern Time

Midnight showings set for Thursday, December 12

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Moviegoers who are eagerly anticipating the December 13 release of the epic fantasy adventure “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” will be able to secure their seats nearly a month in advance when tickets go on sale, online and in theaters in the U.S., on Thursday, November 21 at 9:00 AM ET. Fans will have the opportunity to see the movie first at midnight on Thursday, December 12.

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), is the highly anticipated second film in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Midnight showings for the first film in the Trilogy, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” took in $13 million in the U.S. The film ultimately went on to gross over a billion dollars worldwide.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, director of “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, comes “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. The film also stars Mikael Persbrandt, Sylvester McCoy, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Graham McTavish, Adam Brown, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Ryan Gage, John Bell, Manu Bennett and Lawrence Makoare.

The screenplay for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro, based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. Jackson also produced the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Philippa Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

The creative behind-the-scenes team is led by director of photography Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah, editor Jabez Olssen and composer Howard Shore. The costumes are designed by Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey and Richard Taylor. Taylor is also overseeing the design and production of armor, weapons, creatures and special makeup, which are once again being made by the award-winning Weta Workshop. Weta Digital is taking on the visual effects for the film, led by senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri. The hair and makeup designer is Peter Swords King. The conceptual designers are John Howe and Alan Lee. The visual effects supervisor is Eric Saindon, with David Clayton & Eric Reynolds serving as animation supervisors.

Under Jackson’s direction, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” was shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second and will be released in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D) in select theaters, other 2D and 3D formats, and IMAX®. Production took place at Jackson’s own facilities in Miramar, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand. Post production took place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Present a Wingnut Films Production, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” The film is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television distribution being handled by MGM.

www.thehobbit.com



Producers Guild to Honor James Bond Producers

PGA Honors Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli with 2014 Davie O. Selznick Achievement Award

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced that Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions will receive the 2014 David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures. The award will be presented to Wilson and Broccoli at the 25th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday, January 19th at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.

"We’re honored to be associated with the legendary David O. Selznick and delighted to be receiving this award along with its previous recipients,” said Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

The Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award recognizes a producer’s outstanding body of work in motion pictures. The honor has a rich and distinguished history with past recipients including such legendary producers as Stanley Kramer, Saul Zaentz, Clint Eastwood, Billy Wilder, Brian Grazer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Roger Corman, Laura Ziskin, Kathleen Kennedy & Frank Marshall, Steven Spielberg and last year’s recipients Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner.

"Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli are the driving force behind one of the most cherished franchises in the history of film,” said PGA Awards Co-Chairs Lori McCreary (INVICTUS, "Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman”) and Michael De Luca (CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, MONEYBALL, THE SOCIAL NETWORK).  "Thanks to the consistency and steadfastness of their creative vision, generations of moviegoers have been able to share the adventures of one of our iconic heroes. We look forward to their continuing to bring thrilling exploits and cinematic masterpieces to audiences worldwide, and we are delighted to honor them with this year’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award.”

About EON Productions Limited
EON Productions Limited, owned and controlled by the Broccoli/Wilson family, is the UK based production company which produces the James Bond films.  Led by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, they have produced some of the most successful Bond films ever including CASINO ROYALE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE and SKYFALL.   Wilson, Broccoli and EON have also co-produced and co-financed several successful theatrical productions that have played in London’s West End and on Broadway, including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "A Steady Rain", "Chariots of Fire", and the multiple Tony winning musical "Once". Wilson, Broccoli and EON are also involved in several independent film projects including executive producing A SILENT STORM starring Damian Lewis and Andrea Riseborough, directed by Corinna Villari-McFarlane.



Spielberg and Katzenberg Drop Big Dollars for Academy Museum

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces major gifts from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg

Katzenberg and Spielberg donate $10 million each to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences received separate $10 million gifts from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. In recognition of these gifts, the two main galleries on the lobby floor of the Academy Museum will be named for Katzenberg and Spielberg – The Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Gallery and The Spielberg Family Gallery.

“Steven and Jeffrey share a passion for moviemaking and philanthropy,” said Academy Museum Campaign Chair Bob Iger. “With these incredibly generous gifts, they are combining the two, moving us closer to our goal of building a museum to preserve the history of motion pictures and inspire the next generation of filmmakers.” The Academy launched the Museum’s $300 million capital campaign in 2012 and has already secured more than half of the campaign’s goal in commitments. The campaign is co-chaired by Annette Bening and Tom Hanks.

“I am so pleased to join with Jeffrey to help build this museum to celebrate, educate, and preserve the arts and sciences of motion pictures,” said Spielberg. “Having our family name on the lobby floor is a deeply personal way to say how much motion pictures and the Academy have meant to all our lives.”

“Both Steven and I recognize that film’s global impact deserves a museum that reflects its unequaled heritage and serves as a beacon for the future of what we love,” added Katzenberg. “Marilyn and I appreciate this opportunity to be part of such a significant project.”

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs commented, “Steven and Jeffrey have elevated the art of filmmaking to new heights and have created some of the most beloved films of all time. They continue to be champions of our industry. Having them join us as we build the Academy Museum is an incredible honor. We are so grateful for their support and partnership.”

The lobby of the Academy Museum will be a lively open space that will invite the public to engage in the life of the Museum. The Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Gallery and The Spielberg Family Gallery will be the only gallery spaces on the lobby level and will showcase exhibitions that will explore the past, present, and future of moviemaking.

“We are building the world’s premier movie museum, and I cannot imagine doing this without the support of two of our industry’s most inspiring leaders,” said Academy CEO Dawn Hudson. “Their gifts will create the first galleries our visitors experience when entering the Museum.”

Designed by architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali, the Academy Museum will be located next to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in the historic Wilshire May Company building. Slated to open in early 2017, the Academy Museum will contain nearly 300,000 square feet of state-of-the-art galleries, exhibition spaces, theaters, screening rooms, education centers, and special event spaces.



"Experience Nirvana" in Seattle on December 7, 2013

Experience Nirvana with Bruce Pavitt on December 7 at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery

The Seattle music scene in 1989 was on the precipice of altering the course of global pop culture. Ironically, the punk music of the Pacific Northwest was having difficulty gaining traction beyond a small but enthusiastic regional following. While critically acclaimed, the embryonic movement was in imminent danger of a premature demise. In an effort to draw international attention to their fledgling label, Sub Pop sent their three marquee acts to Europe. The rest, as they say, is history.

Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989 is Bruce Pavitt’s account of this pivotal period of contemporary culture. As the visionary founder of Sub Pop – first as a hand crafted zine, then a series of cassettes, music columns, and radio broadcasts – Pavitt was in a peculiar position to chronicle the tour that cemented grunge as the soundtrack of a generation. Through journal entries and candid photographs, Pavitt follows Nirvana, TAD, and Mudhoney at a momentous stage of a movement that almost didn’t happen.

Pavitt will appear at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Saturday, December 7 from 6:00 to 8:00 to give a brief reading from this fascinating account and sign copies of the hardcover book. A selection of photographs from the triumphant tour will be on display with sales proceeds to benefit the Vera Project. Photographer Charles Peterson will guest DJ and several prominent musicians of the era will attend.

Listing information:
Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989
Reading and book signing with author Bruce Pavitt
Saturday, December 7, 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
1201 S. Vale Street in Georgetown, 206.658.0110



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review: "Pacific Rim" a Big Fanboy Experience

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 78 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

Pacific Rim (2013)
Running time:  131 minutes (2 hours, 11 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief language
DIRECTOR:  Guillermo del Toro
WRITERS:  Travis Beacham and Guillermo del Toro; from a story by Travis Beacham
PRODUCERS: Guillermo del Toro, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, and Thomas Tull
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Guillermo Navarro (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Peter Amundson and John Gilroy
COMPOSER:  Ramin Djawadi

SCI-FI/FANTASY/ACTION

Starring:  Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Rob Kazinsky, Clifton Collins, Jr., Ron Perlman, Mana Ashida, Santiago Segura, Diego Klattenhoff, and Ellen McLain (voice)

Pacific Rim is a 2013 science fiction-action film from director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth).  The film is set in a near-future where humankind fights monstrous creatures that emerge from the sea with gigantic humanoid war machines.  A former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive one of these war machines as part of a desperate plan to save the world from an apocalypse.

Pacific Rim is set in a world in which, beginning in 2013, colossal monstrous beasts, called “Kaijus,” emerged from “the Breach” a chasm on the floor of the Pacific Ocean that opens to an inter-dimensional portal.  These Kaijus began attacking human cities, especially along the Pacific Rim.  To combat them, the Pacific Rim nations built equally colossal, robotic, humanoid war machines called “Jaegers” (think Transformers in human-like mode).  The Jaeger program is initially successful, but many are destroyed as the Kaijus grow more powerful and the frequency of their attacks increased.

By 2025, the United Nations and world governments have discontinued the Jaeger program.  However, Jaeger program commander, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba), has taken the four remaining Jaegers that he has, and has devised a last-ditch plan to end the war against the Kaijus by planting a thermonuclear bomb in their portal, the Breach.  Pentecost recruits former Jaeger pilot, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam), to pilot a revamped version of his old Jaeger, Gypsy Danger.  But resistance from some of his fellow pilots and his friendship with Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a Jaeger pilot wannabe, may complicate an already complicated mission.

First, I must say that I think that “Pacific Rim” is a bad title.  I don’t know what else they could have titled this movie, but that title is vague in regards to the larger story of the movie.  Anyway, I think of Pacific Rim as the ultimate fanboy movie.  If you like big science fiction and fantasy films with big special effects and that are almost entirely created by CGI (computer-generated imagery), Pacific Rim might be for you.  If you like giant robots (also called “mecha”) fighting giant monsters in what looks like a cross between mixed-martial arts and WWE-styled professional wrestling, this movie is for you.  If you like seeing disaster and destruction on an epic scale, with cities literally smashed to bits, Pacific Rim is for you.

I like Pacific Rim, but it is a little too long.  The movie runs for 131 minutes; I’d had enough after 100 minutes.  Although I am a fan of some of the cast, I also wish that the cast had more charisma.  Idris Elba is always a great film presence, as he is here.  Ron Perlman adds flair and something like an exotic spice to every movie in which he appears, and he does so in this film as Hannibal Chau.  I love seeing Charlie Day (as Dr. Newton Geiszler) because of his deft comic touch.  However, at least to me, the rest of the cast lacks the personality and charisma to carry a big genre movie like Pacific Rim.  I don’t know what people see in Charlie Hunnam.  He might be good for TV, where he stars in the cable television series, “Sons of Anarchy,” but his presence is undersized for the massive Pacific Rim.

I can overcome my reservations because I’m happy to have a Guillermo del Toro movie, the first in five years.  Pacific Rim proves that he can do big effects-laden movies, although this film lacks the level of imagination in del Toro’s previous efforts.  It is precisely his imagination, however, that makes a weird, monster movie concept like Pacific Rim work.  So the fanboy in me does like this movie, especially because of its director, which is a very fanboy thing.

7 of 10
B+

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.



Missing You, Dear Sister 2013

I have not forgotten, even 22 years later.  I won't forget.

Can you peek down from up there and spy on J.J. Abrams for me?  Send any hot tips about Star Wars to me via my dreams.

And your old pal Mickey turned 85 yesterday.


Monday, November 18, 2013

"Gravity" Now Past $500 Million in Worldwide Box Office

Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Gravity” Soars over $500 Million Worldwide

Alfonso Cuarón’s acclaimed worldwide hit, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, continues to break box office records. 

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Reaching another astronomical milestone, Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Gravity” crossed $500 million at the worldwide box office on Saturday, November 16, 2013. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón, “Gravity” has earned an astounding $240.6 million domestically and $274.3 million internationally, for an estimated worldwide total to date of $515 million, and still climbing. From the start, the film has enjoyed record-breaking domestic and international openings, most recently in the UK. It is now the highest-grossing movie ever (worldwide) for its Oscar®-winning stars, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.

Box office results for IMAX® are also very strong, with an estimated $47.1 million domestically, and $24.2 million in 42 overseas markets, for a global total to date of $71.3 million.

In addition, 3D continues to be the format of choice for the vast majority of moviegoers who want to experience the story in the most immersive way possible. The 3D sales represent 81% of the box office domestically and have grown to 80% internationally.

The half-billion mark comes as “Gravity” prepares for two more major openings: in China on November 19, followed by Japan on December 13.

In making the announcement, Fellman said, “This is an outstanding achievement for Alfonso, Sandy and George, and the film’s extraordinary team of innovative artists. We congratulate all of those who brought to life a film that is not only creatively groundbreaking but also beloved by both critics and audiences worldwide.”

Kwan Vandenberg stated, “We are delighted that moviegoers everywhere have embraced 'Gravity' and made it into a global, cinematic event. With anticipation really high for the China and Japan openings, we are expecting even stronger international returns in the coming weeks.”

Academy Award® winners Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) and George Clooney (“Syriana”) star in “Gravity,” a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm of deep space. The film was directed by Oscar® nominee Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of Men”).

Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in command. But on a seemingly routine mission, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth…and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left.

But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.

“Gravity” was written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, and produced by Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman (the “Harry Potter” films). Chris deFaria, Nikki Penny and Stephen Jones served as executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes team includes multiple Oscar®-nominated director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki (“Children of Men,” “The New World”); production designer Andy Nicholson (art director “Alice in Wonderland”); editors Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger (VFX editor “Children of Men”); and costume designer Jany Temime (the “Harry Potter” films). The visual effects were handled by Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor Tim Webber (“The Dark Knight”). The music was composed by Steven Price (“Attack the Block”).

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents an Esperanto Filmoj/Heyday Films Production, an Alfonso Cuarón Film, “Gravity.” The film is being released in 3D and 2D and IMAX®, and is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company. This film has been rated PG-13 for intense perilous sequences, some disturbing images and brief strong language.

gravitymovie.com


Review: "Undercover Brother" Timeless and Funny

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 110 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Undercover Brother (2002)
Running time:  86 minutes (1 hour, 26 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for language, sexual humor, drug content and campy violence
DIRECTOR:  Malcolm D. Lee
WRITERS:  John Ridley and Malcolm McCullers, from a story by John Ridley (based upon the Internet series by John Ridley)
PRODUCERS:  Brian Grazer, Michael Jenkinson, and Damon Lee
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Tom Priestley Jr.
EDITOR:  William Kerr
COMPOSER:  Stanley Clarke

COMEDY/ACTION

Starring:  Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan, Denise Richards, Aunjanue Ellis, Dave Chappelle, Chi McBride, Gary Anthony Williams, Neil Patrick Harris, Billy Dee Williams, Robert Trumbull, J.D. Hall (voice), William Taylor

The subject of this movie review is Undercover Brother, a 2002 comedy and action film from director Malcolm D. Lee.  The movie is based on an original Internet animated series created by screenwriter John Ridley.  The movie spoofs 1970s blaxploitation films and also James Bond movies via the character “Undercover Brother.”  Undercover Brother the movie focuses on a group of secret agents trying to stop “The Man” from derailing an African-American candidate’s presidential campaign.

As a comedy, Undercover Brother, a broad parody of black exploitation films and 70’s Afro-American pop culture, focuses on its characters rather than its simple storyline and straightforward, but thin plot.  A light plot is a treacherous path for a film; especially in light of how uneven previous blaxtiploitation parodies were, focusing almost entirely on skewering preconceptions rather than telling a story.

This includes Hollywood Shuffle and I’m Gonna Git you Sucka.  Both films rapidly ran out of steam, and Shuffle, which also skewered stereotypes of black people in mainstream Hollywood films, struggled with being both a comedy and social satire.  Sucka tried to be both a parody and a conventional action movie (or it certainly seemed that way) and often failed on both counts.

Undercover Brother doesn’t have any of those problems because it’s a straight yuck fest.  Any social commentary on the relationships between the skin colors is either simply coincidental or so slyly and quickly interjected that the audience will either miss it or ignore it.  Director Malcolm D. Lee (Spike Lee’s cousin and the director of The Best Man) carefully navigates the dangerous straits that are parodies.  He keeps things moving, and with a script that makes almost every word an integral part of a joke, he doesn’t have to deal with nuisances like character development.  I do have to give the film credit because the jokes are little sharper than they appear.  It’s like the mainstream gets to join the mostly black cast for the laughs, but it’s as if the creators aren’t letting them in on the entire joke because “they” might be the punch line.

In the plot, a lone black agent, Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin), joins B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., an organization engaged in a secret war against The Man (voice of J.D. Hall), an evil figure who wants to reverse the influence of African-Americans on white American culture.  The Man also wants to derail the candidacy of a promising black presidential hopeful (Billy Dee Williams) by controlling his mind.  Undercover Brother must also face off against The Man’s main henchman, Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan).  Crazed and struggling with own attraction to hip-hop culture, Mr. Feather unleashes the one weapon sure to bring a brother down, an attractive white woman in the form of White She Devil (Denise Richards).

Well, I laughed a lot, and I think that anyone who likes black exploitation films, 70’s black cinema, and movies that poke fun at such will like Brother.  The acting is good enough, although Chris Kattan and Dave Chappelle struggle with over the top characters whose routines are too long and often wear out their welcome.  Denise Richards, an underrated actress because people focus on her stunningly good looks and super fine body, is underutilized in the film.  White She Devil’s successful quest to conquer Brother is funny, the best parody and only true satire in the film, but once her part is over, she is reduced to window dressing.  It’s a shame because the dynamic between Brother, White She Devil and the savvy Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis), who is not big on the idea of a black man sleeping with a white woman, is the film’s best subplot.

My reservations aside, I want to see this movie again because what it does well it does oh-so-damn well.  The filmmakers are incredibly inspired and when they’re on in this film, I laughed as hard as I’ve ever done watching any movie.  Comedy is tricky, so I can only give kudos to this solid effort.  And, hey, I have to give props for the film’s large cast of African-Americans.

7 of 10
B+

NOTES:
2003 Black Reel Awards:  6 nominations:  “Theatrical - Best Actress” (Aunjanue Ellis), “Theatrical - Best Director” (Malcolm D. Lee), “Theatrical - Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted)” (John Ridley), “Best Film Soundtrack,” “Best Film Poster,” and “Best Song” (Snoop Dogg-performer, Bootsy Collins-performer and song writer, George S. Clinton-song writer, Jerome Brailey-song writer, and Fred Wesley-performer for the song “Undercova Brother (We Got the Funk”)

Updated:  Monday, November 18, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.