Monday, March 31, 2014

"The LEGO Movie" Builds Past $400 Million in Worldwide Box Office

“The LEGO® Movie” Box Office Still Stacking up, Past $400 Million and Counting

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--“The LEGO Movie” continues to build a following with audiences in the U.S. and around the globe, surpassing the $400 million mark in worldwide grosses and remaining a box office draw. The announcement was made today by Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

To date, the film has earned $248.3 million domestically and $152.2 internationally, for a worldwide total of $400.5 million.

Following its record-breaking February 7th North American opening, “The LEGO Movie,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and LEGO System A/S, was a huge hit with audiences and critics across the country and captured the top spot at the box office for three consecutive weeks. It also proved a crowd-pleaser internationally, entertaining moviegoers throughout Asia, Latin America and Europe, with an especially dominant UK showing that ranked number one at the box office for three consecutive weeks and has so far taken in $52.5 million.

Continuing its global expansion, “The LEGO Movie” is set to debut in additional territories in the coming weeks, including Australia on April 3rd and Germany on April 10th.

Fellman stated, “‘The LEGO Movie’ opened big and has maintained an impressive hold on the market, attracting new fans as well as repeat business from positive word of mouth. This latest milestone is a fitting testament to all the talented and dedicated people who put so much of themselves into this extraordinary film, and we congratulate them on their well-earned success.”

Said Kwan Vandenberg, “‘The LEGO Movie’ has been a strong competitor in the international arena, proving the appeal of unique, funny and creative storytelling across generations and cultures. We are confident it will continue to perform robustly in our overseas markets, including those yet to open, as people around the world discover it for themselves.”

“The LEGO Movie” tells an original 3D computer animated story about 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.

Directed by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, “The LEGO Movie” stars Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Charlie Day, with Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman. Lord & Miller also wrote the screenplay, from a story by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, based on LEGO construction toys. “The LEGO Movie” is produced by Dan Lin and Roy Lee. Executive producers are Jill Wilfert, Matthew Ashton, Kathleen Fleming, Allison Abbate, Zareh Nalbandian, Jon Burton, Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Seanne Winslow, Matt Skiena and Bruce Berman; and co-producer is John Powers Middleton. The filmmaking team includes cinematographer Pablo Plaisted, production designer Grant Freckelton, editors David Burrows and Chris McKay, and composer Mark Mothersbaugh. Chris McKay also serves as animation co-director.

“The LEGO Movie” is a Warner Bros Pictures Presentation, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, in association with LEGO System A/S, a Vertigo Entertainment/Lin Pictures Production. It will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

This film is rated PG for “mild action and rude humor.”


LEGO, the LEGO logo, the minifigure and the brick and knob configuration are trademarks of The LEGO Group. ©2014 The LEGO Group. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Oscar Nominee Review: "American Hustle"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 15 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

American Hustle (2013)
Running time:  138 minutes (2 hours, 18 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive language, some sexual content and brief violence
DIRECTOR:  David O. Russell
WRITERS:  David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer
PRODUCERS:  Megan Ellison, Jonathan Gordon, Charles Roven, and Richard Suckle
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Linus Sandgren (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, and Crispin Struthers
COMPOSER:  Danny Elfman
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Shea Whigham, Louis C.K., Paul Herman, Jack Huston, Alessandro Nivola, and Michael Peña with Robert De Niro (no screen credit)

American Hustle is a 2013 historical comedic drama from director David O. Russell.  The film focuses on a con man and his seductive partner, both forced to work for an eccentric FBI agent, who forces them to help expose political corruption.

Like Russell’s previous film, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle has two distinctions.  It received Oscar nominations in the “Big Five” categories:  best picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay (original or adapted – original in this case).  American Hustle also received Oscar nominations in all four acting categories, and before Silver Linings Playbook, no film had received nominations in all four acting categories since 1981.  And like Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle is a damn good movie.  It is an outstanding American film about the American hustle to get what you want, by hook or by crook, the way Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas was and still is a great film about America.

American Hustle opens in 1978 and introduces Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), a successful conman.  While attending a friend’s party, Irving meets Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), a woman whose beauty and intelligence attracts him, and he falls hard for her.  Surprisingly, Sydney is excited about becoming Irving’s partner in his con jobs, and she takes on the identity of Lady Edith Greensly to assist Irving in tricking prospective marks/victims in their schemes.

They eventually attract the unwanted attention of a wild and odd FBI agent, Richard “Richie” DiMaso (Bradley Cooper).  Richie forces Irving and Sydney into helping him in a sting operation to expose corruption among several members of Congress in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Irving does not trust Richie, especially because the G-Man flirts with Sydney.  Irving’s young wife, Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), isn’t too crazy about any of what they are doing and plots to play a part in a dangerous game of backstabbers, crooked politicians, and mobsters.

American Hustle is a fictional version of the Abscam (or ABSCAM) scandal of the late 1970s and early 1980s.  Abscam was a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sting operation in which the Bureau was aided by a convicted con-man in videotaping politicians.  These politicians were offered bribes by a fake Middle Eastern sheik in return for various political favors, which some accepted.  The investigation ultimately led to several people being convicted, including members of Congress and elected officials in both New Jersey and Philadelphia.

And you don’t need to know that to enjoy American Hustle.  I barely remember Abscam, and I probably wouldn’t, if not for the name (a codename which combined the words “Arab” and “scam”).  It is no scam that co-writer and director David O. Russell has once again delivered a film with an ensemble cast that is just plain good.  I won’t go into the details, except to say that the five main stars:  Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence are every bit as good as you have probably heard and certainly deserve the awards, nominations, and accolades they received.  It’s true.  Jennifer Lawrence is not a fluke; she’s the real deal.

Audiences that like good acting and like to see superb actors come together to love and hate, to support and challenge, and plays scenes together will want to hustle up a way to see American Hustle – immediately.  Spoiler alert:  Robert De Niro makes a cameo in American Hustle as the mobster, Victor Tellegio, but he does not receive a screen credit.  Of course, De Niro is good.  He exudes such murderous intentions as Tellegio that I almost ran away from my television set the first time he appeared on screen.

As I also said of Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle is a great movie, and I want to see it again.

9 of 10

2013 Academy Awards, USA:  10 nominations: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Christian Bale), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” (Amy Adams), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Bradley Cooper), “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role” (Jennifer Lawrence), “Best Achievement in Costume Design” (Michael Wilkinson), “Best Achievement in Directing” (David O. Russell), “Best Achievement in Film Editing” (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers, and Alan Baumgarten), “Best Achievement in Production Design” (Judy Becker-production design and Heather Loeffler-set decoration)” and “Best Writing, Original Screenplay” (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell)

2013 BAFTA Awards:  3 wins: “Best Original Screenplay” (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell), “Best Supporting Actress” (Jennifer Lawrence), and “Best Make Up/Hair” (Evelyne Noraz and Lori McCoy-Bell); 7 nominations: “Best Film” (Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon), “Best Leading Actor” (Christian Bale), “Best Leading Actress” (Amy Adams), “Best Supporting Actor” (Bradley Cooper), “Best Production Design” (Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler), “Best Costume Design” (Michael Wilkinson), and “David Lean Award for Direction” (David O. Russell)

2013 Golden Globes, USA:  3 wins: “Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical,” “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical” (Amy Adams), and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Jennifer Lawrence); 4 nominations: “Golden Globe  Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Christian Bale), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Bradley Cooper), and “Best Director - Motion Picture” (David O. Russell), and “Best Screenplay - Motion Picture” (Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

New VIZ Media Books Reveals "The Art of The Wind Rises"


New Hardcover Release Presents The Captivating Artwork And Evolution Of Famed Director Hayao Miyazaki’s Acclaimed Film That Celebrates The Wonder Of Flight

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, invites animation fans to savor the stunning artwork of The Wind Rises, Hayao Miyazaki’s widely acclaimed fictional biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, the designer of Japan’s Zero fighter plane, with the release of THE ART OF THE WIND RISES on April 8th, 2014. The brand new hardcover edition from the Studio Ghibli imprint will carry an MSRP of $34.99 U.S. / $39.99 CAN.

The Wind Rises is Miyazaki’s cinematic love letter to the power of flight and the imagination, an examination of the rise of Japan’s military might in the years leading up to the Second World War, and a call for worldwide peace and harmony in the face of destruction. The film has won numerous awards including Best Animated Film from The National Board of Review and The New York Film Critics Circle as well as Best Animated Feature from The Toronto Film Critics Association and The San Francisco Film Critics Circle, among others. THE ART OF THE WIND RISES captures the art of the film, from conception to production, and features in-depth interviews with the filmmakers.

“The Wind Rises is an epic story set during an important era in Japan’s history, and we very excited to complement Miyazaki’s landmark film with the release of this wonderfully illustrated new hardcover art book,” says Masumi Washington, Senior Editorial Director. “THE ART OF WIND RISES captures the evolution of the designs and characters that brought this captivating story to life. Join us to celebrate the work of one of the world’s most visionary animation directors with this new release from our Studio Ghibli imprint.”

THE ART OF THE WIND RISES is the newest title in VIZ Media’s acclaimed collection of full-color, hardcover Art Books based on Studio Ghibli films. Fans can also enjoy THE ART OF SPIRITED AWAY, THE ART OF HOWL’s MOVING CASTLE, THE ART OF MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, THE ART OF NAUSICAÄ, THE ART OF PORCO ROSSO and more. VIZ Media also publishes two notable biographical memoirs of Hayao Miyazaki that feature an insightful collection of essays, interviews, memoirs, and illustrations from legendary animation director – STARTING POINT: 1979-1996, which charts Miyazaki’s early days, and TURNING POINT: 1997-2008, which examines the critical stage in the director’s career when his animated films such as Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo began to garner a significant international audience.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of Japan's most beloved animation directors. His first feature, The Castle of Cagliostro, was released in 1979. His film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, based on his own manga (published domestically by VIZ Media, Rated ‘T’), was released in 1984. In 1985 Miyazaki cofounded Studio Ghibli, through which he directed the box-office smashes Princess Mononoke (1997) and Spirited Away (2001), which won the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film in 2003. Howl's Moving Castle (2004) received the Osella Award for technical achievement at the 2004 Venice International Film Festival. In 2005 VIFF awarded Miyazaki the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement. His other acclaimed films include My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Ponyo. Miyazaki's essays, interviews, and memoirs have been collected in Starting Point: 1979-1996 and Turning Point: 1997-2008. His final film, The Wind Rises, was nominated for both a Golden Globe and Academy Award®.

For more information on Hayao Miyazaki titles published by VIZ Media, please visit:

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.

Review: "The Tin Drum" is a Masterpiece (Remembering Maurice Jarre)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 118 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Die Blechtrommel (1979)
The Tin Drum (1980) – U.S. release
Running time:  142 minutes (2 hours, 22 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Volker Schlöndorff
WRITERS:  Jean-Claude Carrière, Franz Seitz, and Volker Schlöndorff, with Günter Grass providing additional dialogue (based upon the novel by Günter Grass)
PRODUCER:  Franz Seitz
EDITOR:  Suzanne Baron
COMPOSER:  Maurice Jarre
Academy Award winner


Starring:  David Bennent, Mario Adorf, Angela Winkler, Katharina Thalbach, Daniel Olbrychski, Tina Engel, Berta Drews, Roland Teubner, Tadeusz Kunikowki, and Heinz Bennent

The subject of this movie review is The Tin Drum (original title: Die Blechtrommel), a 1979 West German drama and black comedy from director Volker Schlöndorff.  The film is an adaptation of the 1959 novel, The Tin Drum, written by author, Günter Grass, which is the first book in Grass’ Danzig Trilogy.  The Tin Drum the movie follows a most unusual boy who, on his third birthday, decides not to grow up.

The 1979 West German film Die Blechtrommel won the 1980 Academy Award for “Best Foreign Language Film.”  It is the story of Oskar Matzerath (David Bennent), a young boy in 1930’s Danzig, Germany who decides to stop growing at the age of three.  Oskar carries a small tin drum around his neck that he beats often, much to the chagrin of the adults, and Oskar has the unique physical gift of being able to scream at such a high pitch that he can break glass.

Although Oskar’s body stops growing, mentally and psychologically he keeps aging, and as he grows he witnesses the rise of Nazism and the beginning and the end of World War II.  With everything going on around him, however, Oskar’s world revolves around pleasing himself.  Despite Oskar’s self-centeredness, the film also examines the chaotic and tumultuous lives of the adults around him, especially his mother, Agnes (Angela Winkler), and his mothers two lovers, a German shopkeeper named Alfred (Mario Adorf) and Jan Bronski (Daniel Olbrychski), a handsome Polish man who works at a Polish post office in Danzig, either of whom could be Oskar’s biological father.

Many consider The Tin Drum to be one of the great films to come out of West Germany in the last quarter century.  The film, however, isn’t one of those beautiful and genteel foreign films or one of those French films shot to mimic the immediacy of realism.  The Tin Drum is an unflinching and dense psychological examination of people caught in complicated relationships who also have to navigate the narrow straights of their own interior lives.  It’s also a sweeping cinematic observation of Nazi Germany that unfurls its ideas simultaneously through symbolism and blunt literalism.  Like some glossy, Hollywood eye candy flick, The Tin Drum doesn’t allow the audience to look away; it’s like watching a miraculous apparition unfurl before one’s eyes or like watching a mesmerizing accident.

The focus of the story is, of course, Oskar, who is mostly not likeable.  In fact, there’s something menacing or even evil about him.  He seeks to shut himself off from the world or at least totally funnel existence through his wants, but what’s most fascinating is watching Oskar’s life grow (his personality doesn’t change) with the rise of Nazism.

This is powerful stuff, the kind of thing that stands out amidst all the pedestrian films.  The Tin Drum has had a somewhat controversial existence in the United States because there is both full and partial nudity of children, which some people saw as kiddie porn.  The film is not pornography or pornographic; this film is art.  The nudity and frank sex (including a sex scene between children) is actually handled quite carefully and with imagination by director Volker Schlöndorff, as he handles everything in his masterpiece.

9 of 10

Updated:  Saturday, March 29, 2014

1980 Academy Awards, USA:  1 win: “Best Foreign Language Film” (West Germany)

1979 Cannes Film Festival:  1 win: “Palme d’Or” (Volker Schlöndorff – tied with Apocalypse Now1979)

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Friday, March 28, 2014

New "Transformers: Age of Extinction" Poster; Plus Wahlberg on Nickelodeon

Remember to tune-in to the Kids' Choice Awards tomorrow Saturday, March 29th @ 8pm/7pm on Nickelodeon for Transformers: Age of Extinction star and host Mark Whalberg.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is in theaters 06.27.14

Official site:
Watch the Teaser Trailer:
Official Facebook:
Official Twitter:

Review: "Rush Hour 3" Serves the Franchise Well

TRASH IN MY EYE, No. 3 (of 2008) by Leroy Douresseaux

Rush Hour 3 (2007)
Running time:  91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of action violence, sexual content, nudity, and language
DIRECTOR:  Brett Ratner
WRITER:  Jeff Nathanson (based on the characters created by Ross LaManna)
PRODUCERS:  Roger Birnbaum, Andrew Z. Davis, Jonathan Glickman, Arthur M. Sarkissian, and Jay Stern
EDITORS:  Mark Helfrich, Billy Weber, and Don Zimmerman
COMPOSER:  Lalo Schifrin


Starring:  Jackie Chan, Chris Tucker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Youki Kudoh, Max von Sydow, Yvan Attal, Noémie Lenoir, Jingchu Zhang, Tzi Ma, and Roman Polanski

The subject of this movie review is Rush Hour 3, a 2007 action movie and crime comedy from director Brett Ratner.  It is the third film in the Rush Hour movie franchise.  In Rush Hour 3, Lee and Carter head to Paris, after an attempted assassination on an ambassador, to protect a French woman with knowledge about the Triads’ secret leaders.

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker return for the long-awaited third installment of their wildly popular comic action film franchise, Rush Hour.  While Rush Hour 3 is funny and action-packed, the stars and director seem to be trying too hard.

After his dear friend, Ambassador Han (Tzi Ma), is shot, Hong Kong Police Chief Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) finds himself guarding Han’s daughter, Soo Yung (Jingchu Zhang), from the Triads who want Han and the information he has on them destroyed.  There is, however, another complication when Lee discovers that Kenji (Hiroyuki Sanada), someone from his past who is greatly important to him, suddenly appears and is associated with the Triads.

LAPD Detective James Carter (Chris Tucker) leaves the doghouse of traffic detail to help his old friend, Lee.  Soon, the duo is in Paris looking for two elusive women, the sexy Geneviéve (Noémie Lenoir) and the mysterious “Shy Shen,” who may hold the secrets that the Triads guard so jealously.  But in Paris, Lee and Carter are out of their element and always in trouble and/or danger.

Rush Hour 3 has its moments – in fact, plenty of them, but there seem to be an equal number of times in which the pratfalls, explosions, gunfire, banter, sex, etc. seem forced.  The sad thing is that neither director Brett Ratner nor his two stars need to be so over the top.  With two strong comic actors – Lee being the great physical comedian and Tucker personifying the fast-talking streetwise comic – the Rush Hour franchise has the perfect opposites-attract pair.  It’s not that hard to build an action comedy around them with only the thinnest scenario.

Instead, Chris Tucker’s witty banter often turns to babbling, and Jackie Chan’s fighting and gymnastic scenes usually make him look like a tired windup toy or a beat-up action figure caught in a wind tunnel.  It is okay to refry the same old shtick; Ratner and writer Jeff Nathanson just overcooked it and let some of the fun get scorched.  Still, seeing Chan and Tucker back together is good, and the movie is not exactly bad.  In fact, Rush Hour 3 is good enough to make a fourth film worth the wait.

5 of 10

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Updated:  Friday, March 28, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Oscar Nominee Review: "Captain Phillips"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 14 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Captain Phillips (2013)
Running time:  134 minutes (2 hours, 14 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use
DIRECTOR:  Paul Greengrass
WRITER:  Billy Ray (A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty)
PRODUCERS:  Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, and Scott Rudin
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Barry Ackroyd (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Christopher Rouse
COMPOSER:  Henry Jackman
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, David Warshofsky, Corey Johnson, Chris Mulkey, and Issak Farah Samatar

Captain Phillips is a 2013 thriller and drama from director Paul Greengrass.  The film is an adaptation of A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty.  The movie dramatizes the 2009 hijacking of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.  Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey is one of the film’s executive producers.

The film begins with Captain Richard “Rich” Phillips (Tom Hanks) taking command of the MV Maersk Alabama.  This unarmed container ship is scheduled to sail from the Port of Salalah (in the city of Salalah, Oman) through the Gulf of Aden to Mombasa, Kenya.  After an alert concerning pirate activity around the Horn of Africa, Captain Phillips orders strict security precautions on the vessel and carries out practice drills.  In fact, during those drills, two skiffs containing Somali pirates chase the Alabama.

One group of pirates is eventually successful and actually boards and takes control of the Alabama.  The skiff’s captain, Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi), and his cohorts:  Adan Bilal (Barkhad Abdirahman), Walid Elmi (Mahat M. Ali), and Nour Najee (Faysal Ahmed), plan to ransom the ship and its crew for millions of dollars.  Captain Phillips has called for help, but can he stall the pirates before they start killing his crew?

Audiences can practically always count on director Paul Greengrass to deliver a riveting film and an edge-of-your-seat thriller with each of his movies.  Greengrass’ films aren’t the average run-of-the-mill action thrillers; they’re smart and filled with strong characters facing real-world dilemmas.  Captain Phillips is Greengrass’ best film since his Jason Bourne movies.  Greengrass gets a championship effort from his editor Christopher Rouse, who delivers a film that gets better and better, more engaging, more entrancing with each minute.

Although, Tom Hanks is the star and Rich Phillips is the title character and focus, in some way, Captain Phillips is also about Abduwali Muse.  First-time actor, Barkhad Abdi, delivers a superb performance.  Abdi’s acting is especially impressive as the film only focuses on Muse’s personality in the context of what comes out of his actions.  Since Muse does not get to show himself as a fully-developed human, Abdi has to sell him as a three-dimensional villain who only reveals his intentions (getting a ransom), and little beyond that.  I can see why Abdi earned such acclaim and an Oscar nomination to go with a BAFTA win as best supporting actor.

This is pretty much the same with Captain Phillips.  His motivation, conflicts, and dilemmas are seen only in the context of him being a captain of a ship and also a captain of a ship that is under duress.  Tom Hanks is known for playing characters that are totally or mostly open to the audience.  As Phillips, Hanks erects a wall that makes it only easy to feel sympathy, pity, and fear for Phillips.  However, Hanks is so good that he still manages to deliver some fantastic acting – something that is more performance art than it is performance of a character.

All of Captain Phillips is good, but the last forty minutes are a doozy.  The rescue operation makes a very good film a truly exceptional film.  I wish more thrillers were like Captain Phillips.

9 of 10

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

2014 Academy Awards, USA:  6 nominations: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Barkhad Abdi), “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay” (Billy Ray), “Best Achievement in Film Editing” (Christopher Rouse), “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Oliver Tarney), and “Best Achievement in Sound Mixing” (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, and Chris Munro)

2014 Golden Globes, USA:  4 nominations: “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Tom Hanks), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Barkhad Abdi), and “Best Director - Motion Picture” (Paul Greengrass)

2014 BAFTA Awards:  1 win: “Best Supporting Actor” (Barkhad Abdi); 8 nominations: “Best Film” (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca), “David Lean Award for Direction” (Paul Greengrass), “Best Leading Actor” (Tom Hanks), “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (Henry Jackman), “Best Adapted Screenplay” (Billy Ray), “Best Cinematography” (Barry Ackroyd), “Best Editing” (Christopher Rouse), “Best Sound” (Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro, and Oliver Tarney)

2014 Black Reel Awards:  2 wins: “Outstanding Supporting Actor, Motion Picture” (Barkhad Abdi) and “Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male” (Barkhad Abdi)

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" Debuts a Trailer

Watch the official teaser trailer for HERCULES starring Dwayne Johnson:

Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ film HERCULES, starring Dwayne Johnson, bows on July 25th.  Based on Radical Comics’ Hercules by Steve Moore, this ensemble-action film is a revisionist take on the classic myth, HERCULES. The epic action film also stars Golden Globe Winner Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan and Academy Award®-nominee John Hurt.

In theaters July 25th

Official Website:
Official Twitter:
Official Facebook:

Bruce Campbell Emcees Horror Fest in March 2015

Wizard World Chicago Presents: Bruce Campbell's Horror Fest March 6-8, 2015

'The Evil Dead,' 'Army of Darkness' Star To Emcee Full Three-Day Event Celebrating Everything Horror; Many Other Genre Stars, Directors, Writers To Attend; New Content To Be Available On Wizard World's Cinedigm Channel

ROSEMONT, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--It will be a Wizard World show like fans have never seen when the one and only Bruce Campbell emcees an entire weekend of horror at Wizard World Chicago Presents: Bruce Campbell's Horror Fest, March 6-8, 2015, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. The Army of Darkness and The Evil Dead star puts on what many fans agree is the best programming panel at most Wizard World shows; now fans can get even more of one of the best pure entertainers on the circuit, signing, posing for photos and moderating multiple panels all weekend long.

With the focus on horror, fans can expect to see some of their favorite genre stars, directors and writers from great television shows, movies, graphic novels and comics. It's a celebration of all things horror, and Bruce will be inviting some of the many superstars he’s worked with over the years. Special guest announcements to follow as they are secured.

The full three-day event, produced by Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD), which conducts pop culture conventions and Comic Cons across the country, including Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (August 21-24, 2014; August 20-23, 2015), will also feature nighttime events like concerts, costume contests, movie screenings and more. It's all horror all the time, with the Wizard World touch.

Additionally, content from Wizard World Chicago Presents: Bruce Campbell's Horror Fest will be available as part of the recently announced Wizard World channel with Cinedigm (NASDAQ: CIDM), the largest distributor of non-theatrical content in the U.S., upon its launch.

“We are thrilled to add a second Chicago event at a venue where we have achieved much success over the years,” says John Macaluso, Wizard World CEO. “And teaming up with the great Bruce Campbell to put on the ultimate horror event really gives the fans a reason to come out to the Donald E. Stephens Center twice a year!”

“This is really a dream come true for me,” says Campbell. “I have always wanted to be part of a great organization and run a top-notch horror convention that sees my vision of what it could be. The fans have supported me all these years, so I look forward to giving back and providing a unique experience.”

About Wizard World:
Wizard World (OTCBB: WIZD) produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate graphic novels, comic books, movies, TV shows, gaming, technology, toys and social networking. The events often feature celebrities from movies and TV, artists and writers, and events such as premieres, gaming tournaments, panels, and costume contests.

The full event schedule can be found at

Wizard World 2014 Schedule:

January 24-26 – Wizard World Portland Comic Con
February 7-9 – Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con
March 7-9 – Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con
March 28-30 – Wizard World Louisville Comic Con
April 4-6 – Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con
May 2-4 – Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con
May 30-June 1 – Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con
June 19-22 – Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con
August 1-3 – Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con
August 21-24 – Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
September 12-14 – Wizard World Richmond Comic Con
September 26-28 – Wizard World Nashville Comic Con
October 2-4 – Wizard World Austin Comic Con
October 31-November 2 – Wizard World Ohio Comic Con
November 7-9 – Wizard World Tulsa Comic Con
November 21-23 – Wizard World Reno Comic Con
Wizard World's 2015 Schedule To Be Announced Shortly

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Hustle" and "Wolf" Lead 2014 MTV Movie Award Nominations - Complete List

by Amos Semien

The MTV Movie Awards began in 1992.  I cared as much then as I do now, and that’s very little.  I have probably watched less than half an hour combined of all the award telecasts, although I might watch more this year.

The nominations for the 2014 MTV Movie Awards were revealed on Thursday, March 6, 2014.  The nominations feature a mix of the year’s biggest blockbusters (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and We’re the Millers) and the movie award season favorites (12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club).  American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street lead the nomination with eight apiece.

Fans can vote by going to the website:

The 2014 MTV Movie Awards will be held on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.  The ceremony will be hosted by Conan O'Brien.

The 2013 MTV Movie Awards complete list of nominees:

• "12 Years a Slave"
• "American Hustle"
• "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
• "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
• "The Wolf of Wall Street"

• Amy Adams — "American Hustle"
• Jennifer Aniston — "We're the Millers"
• Sandra Bullock — "Gravity"
• Jennifer Lawrence — "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
• Lupita Nyong'o — "12 Years a Slave"

• Bradley Cooper — "American Hustle"
• Leonardo DiCaprio — "The Wolf of Wall Street"
• Chiwetel Ejiofor — "12 Years a Slave"
• Josh Hutcherson — "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
• Matthew McConaughey — "Dallas Buyers Club"

• Liam James — "The Way Way Back"
• Michael B. Jordan — "Fruitvale Station"
• Will Poulter— "We're the Millers"
• Margot Robbie — "The Wolf of Wall Street"
• Miles Teller — "The Spectacular Now"

• Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams — "American Hustle"
• Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson — "Don Jon"
• James Franco, Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens — "Spring Breakers"
• Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller — "The Spectacular Now"
• Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston and Will Poulter — "We're the Millers"

• "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" — Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Steve Carell vs. James Marsden vs. Sacha Baron Cohen vs. Kanye West vs. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler vs. Jim Carrey and Marion Cotillard vs. Will Smith vs. Liam Neeson and John C. Reilly vs. Greg Kinnear
• "Identity Thief" — Jason Bateman vs. Melissa McCarthy
• "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" — Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly vs. Orcs
• "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" — Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Sam Claflin vs. Mutant Monkeys
• "This is the End" — Jonah Hill vs. James Franco and Seth Rogen

• Kevin Hart — "Ride Along"
• Jonah Hill — "The Wolf of Wall Street"
• Johnny Knoxville — "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa"
• Melissa McCarthy — "The Heat"
• Jason Sudeikis — "We're the Millers"

• Rose Byrne — "Insidious: Chapter 2"
• Jessica Chastain — "Mama"
• Vera Farmiga — "The Conjuring"
• Ethan Hawke — "The Purge"
• Brad Pitt — "World War Z"

• Amy Adams and Christian Bale — "American Hustle"
• Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto — "Dallas Buyers Club"
• Vin Diesel and Paul Walker — "Fast & Furious 6"
• Ice Cube and Kevin Hart — "Ride Along"
• Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio — "The Wolf of Wall Street"

• Jennifer Aniston — "We're the Millers"
• Sam Claflin — "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
• Leonardo DiCaprio — "The Wolf of Wall Street"
• Zac Efron — "That Awkward Moment"
• Chris Hemsworth — "Thor: The Dark World"

• The RV Crash — "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"
• The Beauty Pageant — "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa"
• Car Sex — "The Counselor"
• The Lude Scene — "The Wolf of Wall Street"
• Danny's New Pet — "This is the End"

• Barkhad Abdi — "Captain Phillips"
• Benedict Cumberbatch — "Star Trek into Darkness"
• Michael Fassbender — "12 Years a Slave"
• Mila Kunis — "Oz The Great and Powerful"
• Donald Sutherland — "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

• Christian Bale — "American Hustle"
• Elizabeth Banks — "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
• Orlando Bloom — "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
• Jared Leto — "Dallas Buyers Club"
• Matthew McConaughey — "Dallas Buyers Club"

• Backstreet Boys, Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen and Craig Robinson Peform in Heaven — "This is the End"
• Jennifer Lawrence Sings "Live & Let Die' — "American Hustle"
• Leonardo DiCaprio Pops and Locks — "The Wolf of Wall Street"
• Melissa McCarthy Sings "Barracuda" — "Identity Thief"
• Will Poulter Sing "Waterfalls" — "We're the Millers"

• Robert De Niro — "American Hustle"
• Amy Poehler and Tina Fey — "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"
• Kanye West — "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues"
• Joan Rivers — "Iron Man 3"
• Rihanna — "This is the End"

• Henry Cavill as Clark Kent — "Man of Steel"
• Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man — "Iron Man 3"
• Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins — "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug"
• Chris Hemsworth as Thor — "Thor: The Dark World"
• Channing Tatum as John Cale — "White House Down"


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Review: "Seven Samurai" is One of the Best Films Ever (Happy B'day, Akira Kurosawa)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 81 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Shichinin no samurai (1954) – B&W
Seven Samurai (1954) – USA title
Running time:  206 minutes (3 hours, 26 minutes) - USA restored version
DIRECTOR/EDITOR:  Akira Kurosawa
WRITERS:  Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni, and Akira Kurosawa
PRODUCER:  Sojiro Motoki
COMPOSER:  Fumio Hayasaka
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Takashi Shimura, Toshirô Mifune, Yoshio Inaba, Seiji  Miyaguchi, Minoru Chiaki, Daisuke Katô, Isao Kimura, Keiko Tsushima, Kamatari Fujiwara, Yoshio Kosugi, Bokuzen Hidari, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Yukiko Shimazaki, and Kokuten Kodo

The subject of this movie review is Seven Samurai (original Japanese title: Shichinin no samurai), a 1954 samurai drama and period adventure film from director Akira Kurosawa.  Set during Japan’s Sengoku period (warring states period), the film focuses on a poor village, the bandits that attack the village, and the seven unemployed samurai that the villagers recruit to help defend themselves.

Not only do I consider Seven Samurai to be one of the ten best films every made, but I also love it as one of my all-time favorite movies.  I was surprised to learn that the film is believed to have contributed structural narrative innovations to film storytelling or was among the first to use those innovations.  That’s great, but I don’t need that information on innovations to know that Kurosawa’s film overwhelms me.

Late 16th century, Japan:  a small farming village finds itself annually besieged by bandits, who usually arrive just after harvest so that they can steal the villagers’ crops.  Tired of being beaten into starvation, a small group of farmers leaves the village and heads for a town in hopes of convincing a large number of samurai to defend their village from the encroaching bandits.  The farmers happen upon a scene wherein a master samurai, Kambei (Takashi Shimura), disguises himself as a monk in order to save a child kidnapped by a madman.

Impressed by his bravery, the villagers convince Kambei to help their village, although the only payment that the farmers can offer the samurai is enough rice to eat.  Kambei and the farmers make the same offer to a number of samurai, many of whom are greatly insulted by the offer.  However, six others eventually accept, including a scruffy ronin (Toshirô Mifune) and a novice samurai.  The seven samurai and the farmers return to the village, where together they build the rest of the villagers into a militia, while the bandits lurk in the nearby forest.  Eventually, the bandits’ raids on the village begin, and it culminates in an epic, bloody battle pitting the samurai and villagers against the bandits.

Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai is one of the ultimate auteur films, coming from a director, who like Stanley Kubrick, is an ultimate auteur.  It’s hard to believe that there is anything on the screen that Kurosawa didn’t want, and everything is so carefully considered:  the composition of scenes, the cinematographer, the execution of the action, the editing, the lighting, etc.  The film filled my senses, controlled my emotions, and had my mind on overdrive as I tried to figure out the next move, the next scene, or the narrative flow.  I have found very few films to so move me with such power, exhilaration, fear, anticipation, and Seven Samurai even has a few laughs.

If you’re looking for flying, super powered samurai, this isn’t it.  If you want an epic film about honor, sacrifice, and duty set in a romantic past, Seven Samurai is it.  This is easily one of the ten best motion pictures ever made.

10 of 10

1957 Academy Awards:  2 nominations:  “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White (Takashi Matsuyama) and “Best Costume Design, Black-and-White” (Kôhei Ezaki)

1956 BAFTA Awards:  3 nominations:  “Best Film from any Source (Japan), “Best Foreign Actor” (Toshirô Mifune of Japan), and “Best Foreign Actor” (Takashi Shimura from Japan)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Updated:  Sunday, March 23, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: Reese Witherspoon is the Heart of "Legally Blonde" (Happy B'day, Reese Witherspoon)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 115 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Legally Blonde (2001)
Running time:  96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for language and sexual references
DIRECTOR:  Robert Luketic
WRITERS:  Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith (based upon the novel by Amanda Brown)
PRODUCERS:  Ric Kidney and Marc Platt
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Anthony B. Richmond (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Anita Brandt Burgoyne and Garth Craven
COMPOSER:  Rolfe Kent
Golden Globe nominee

COMEDY with elements of romance

Starring:  Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber, Jennifer Coolidge, Holland Taylor, Ali Larter, Bruce Thomas, and Raquel Welch

The subject of this movie review is Legally Blonde, a 2001 comedy starring Reese Witherspoon.  The film is based on the 2001 novel, Legally Blonde, from author Amanda Brown.  The film focuses on a blonde sorority queen who follows her ex-boyfriend to law school after he dumps her and discovers that she has more legal savvy than she or anyone ever imagined.

Legally Blonde is trash.  Let’s get that straight, so we don’t fool ourselves.  Another fish out of water story with the stereotypical dumb blonde, sorority/fraternity cardboard cutouts, Ivy League elitists, lecherous bosses etc.  It does have one redeeming element – the incomparable and very talented Reese Witherspoon.

Ms. Witherspoon is Elle Wood, a blonde sorority queen, fully prepared to receive an engagement ring from her boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis), when he suddenly dumps her, pleading that he needs someone smarter than her – someone who would better fit his law career and political ambitions.  Elle decides to follow Warner to Harvard Law School in order to win him back.  Of course, Harvard admits her so that we can even have a movie, although, in reality, they would have ignored her.  But one can understand that Reese/Elle’s charm and bubbly personality not mention her knockout body, would win over even the most conservative and pickiest college admissions officers.

Ms. Witherspoon is a talented actress, and, not only is she likeable, she is outright engaging and has an aura of pure friendliness.  Her movies are a win-win situation for the audience.  Legally Blonde is unadulterated B-movie material that she elevates to uproarious comedy.  Being funny isn’t enough.  The audience has to like her, and she has to sell them on her personality because the movie is all about her.  She does the job winningly.  Notice how I can’t stop gushing.

What else is there to say?  Sometimes, the star is the movie, and the star is so good that she can make a diamond out of a handful of coal dust.  Even when the movie stumbles, Ms. Witherspoon is still a delight to watch.

6 of 10

2002 Golden Globe (USA):  2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical” (Reese Witherspoon)

Updated:  Saturday, March 22, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Review: "Legally Blonde 2" is Officially Bad

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 116 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)
Running time:  95 minutes (1 hour, 35 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some sex-related humor
DIRECTOR:  Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
WRITERS:  Kate Kondell; from a story by Eve Ahlert, Dennis Drake, and Kate Kondell (based upon characters created by Amanda Brown)
PRODUCERS:  David Nicksay and Marc Platt
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Elliot Davis (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Peter Teschner
COMPOSER:  Rolfe Kent


Starring:  Reese Witherspoon, Sally Field, Regina King, Jennifer Coolidge, Bruce McGill, Dana Ivey, Bob Newhart, Luke Wilson, J Barton, and Alanna Ubach

The subject of this movie review is Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, a 2003 comedy starring Reese Witherspoon.  The film is a sequel to the 2001 film, Legally Blonde, which also starred Witherspoon.  In the sequel, Elle Woods heads to Washington D.C. in order to join a congresswoman’s staff and to try and get a bill that bans animal testing passed into law.

If the summer of 2003 tells Hollywood film studios anything it is that sequels don’t always succeed commercially or artistically.  Of course, studio bosses have known that for a while, but to them making sequels seems like a safe bet.  A sequel is a known property with brand awareness, and with the ridiculous cost of making and marketing a movie rising to absurd heights monthly, they go for the safe bet.

Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde will more than likely make a profit for MGM, even with the kind of tricky accounting the film studios usually invoke to claim that their films are flops so they don’t have to honor profit sharing agreements with actors and producers.  Artistically, it’s not even worth talking about, as an examination of subject matter, theme, and characters is an utter waste of time.

As for it’s entertainment value (you know, the simple judgment of whether you like it), Legally Blonde 2 has none.  I’m quite sure that somewhere there are people who really like this, and I did laugh a sort of painful, dry, desperate-to-find-something-to-justify-the-cost-of-my-ticket laugh a few times.  However, I left the theatre ashamed, praying that no one would ask me what movie I’d just left.  I don’t know what would have been worse, having some nappy-headed homeboy call me a faggot for seeing it or having one of the theatre’s employees laugh at me behind my back because they knew.  Lord, they knew how bad it was.  And they never told me.

There’s a plot, or something like a plot, but right now I only feeling like telling you that this film is just plain awful.  Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) goes to Washington D.C. to work for her friend Rep. Victoria Rudd (Sally Field) so that Elle can fight for a law that outlaws cosmetic companies from testing their products on animals.  Apparently, it’s okay for Reese and her studio compatriots to test poisonous cinema products on us.  Regina King plays the most pathetic traitorous Negro since Billy Dee played Lando in The Empire Strikes Back, but at least she was better than the rest of the supporting cast, whom the film reduced to playing naked paper dolls.  Sally Field, her face shockingly showing such age and wear, looked as if she wanted to cry every time she had to be in front of the camera.  I feel you, sista girl.

1 of 10

Updated:  Saturday, March 22, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: "Labyrinth" Gets Better with Age

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 118 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Labyrinth (1986)
Running time:  101 minutes (1 hour, 41 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Jim Henson
WRITERS:  Terry Jones; from a story by Dennis Lee and Jim Henson
PRODUCERS:  Eric Rattray
EDITOR:  John Grover
COMPOSER:  Trevor Jones
SONGS:  David Bowie
BAFTA Awards nominee

FANTASY/FAMILY with elements of adventure

Starring:  Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Toby Froud, Shari Weiser (Hoggle costume)/Brian Henson (Hoggle voice), Rob Mills (Ludo costume)/Ron Mueck (Ludo voice), David Goelz (voice), David Shaughnessey, Frank Oz (voice), Danny John-Jules, Shelley Thompson, Christopher Malcolm, and Kevin Clash

The subject of this movie review is Labyrinth, a 1986 British-American fantasy film directed by the late Jim Henson.  The film was written by Terry Jones from a story by Henson and Dennis Lee, although various writers contributed without receiving screen credit, including George Lucas (who was also an executive producer of the film), Elaine May, and Laura Philips.  In the film, a teen girl wishes her baby brother away and is then forced to travel through the Goblin King’s Labyrinth in order to save the infant.

Four years after the groundbreaking film, The Dark Crystal, appeared in theatres, Labyrinth was released early in the summer of 1986.  It was the last film directed by famed puppeteer and creator of “The Muppets,” the late Jim Henson’s (1936-1990).  Met with a cool reception at the box office, Labyrinth has gone on to find a large audience on home video, where children who were born long after the film first played in theatres can watch and enjoy it.

Tired of babysitting on yet another weekend night, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), a teenager with an active imagination who loves to envision herself in fantasy worlds, calls on the goblins from her favorite book, Labyrinth, to take her baby stepbrother, Toby (Toby Froud) away.  What she doesn’t know is that goblins do exist in another world, and they hear her plea.  They take Toby, and Sarah finds herself face to face with Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie) in her home.  He tries to dissuade her from following him back to his world, but she realizes that she must rescue her brother.

Following Jareth, she discovers that the Labyrinth itself guards Goblin City, in the middle of which sits Jareth’s castle.  Sarah must navigate the twisted maze of deception, full of strange, kooky, and menacing characters if she is to save Toby before the end of 13 hours or he will become a permanent resident of Goblin City.  To save Toby and outwit Jareth, Sarah befriends some of the goblins to aid her on her quest.  Can Sarah and her friends save Toby in time?

Labyrinth doesn’t have The Dark Crystal’s production values, but the creature costumes, makeup, and effects are very good.  In fact, the Goblins (designed by Brian Froud, the father of Toby Froud) are some of the most vividly imaginative creatures to populate a fantasy film.  The performances are good, not great; David Bowie sings the songs he composed for the film, and the tunes have the feel of most music and songs composed for fantasy films of the 1980’s, which is to say they work well enough for the film, even if they’d sound funky on the radio.

The film seems to meander quite often; the filmmakers obviously have the kind of ideas that would fit an epic film, but not enough of them.  Thus, Labyrinth at times feels like a wandering film; the filmmakers are just biding time until the stage the final confrontation between Sarah and Jareth, but to get a full-length film, they had to stretch the middle.  In fact, Labyrinth, because of the quality of its filmmaking, would today be a TV movie.  Still, this is fun to watch just to see the Jim Henson Company’s fabulous puppetry in action – always a good enough reason to watch any Jim Henson production.

6 of 10

1987 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Special Visual Effects” (Roy Field, Brian Froud, George Gibbs, and Tony Dunsterville)

Updated:  Friday, March 21, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.


You can buy LABYRINTH on Blu-ray at AMAZON.

Amazon wants me to inform you that the affiliate link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the affiliate link below AND buy something(s).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: "Escape Plan" Almost Old-Timey

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 13 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Escape Plan (2013)
Running time:  115 minutes (1 hour, 55 minutes)
MPAA – R for violence and language throughout
DIRECTOR:  Mikael Håfström
WRITERS:  Miles Chapman and Jason Keller; from a story by Miles Chapman
PRODUCERS:  Robbie Brenner, Mark Canton, Remington Chase, Randall Emmett, and Kevin King-Templeton
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Brendan Galvin (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Elliot Greenberg
COMPOSER:  Alex Heffes


Starring:  Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Faran Tahir, Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Matt Gerald, Caitriona Balfe, Alec Rayme, and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson

Escape Plan is a 2013 action movie from director Mikael Håfström.  The film stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tale about a structural-security engineer incarcerated in the world’s most secret and secure prison and the escape plan he concocts with a fellow inmate.

Escape Plan opens in Bendwater Federal Penitentiary and introduces Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone).  Breslin seems to be prisoner, but actually, he specializes in breaking out of maximum security prisons in order to test their reliability.  With his partner, Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio), Breslin owns the Los Angeles-based, independent security company, B&C Security, where Breslin studies, researches, and writes about prisons.

Breslin and Clark’s latest client is CIA Agent Jessica Mayer (Caitriona Balfe).  Mayer offers Breslin double his free to break out of the International Detainee Unit, a top-secret prison where the world’s most dangerous criminals and terrorists are held, in order to see if it is really escape-proof.  Breslin takes the identity of a Spanish terrorist named “Anthony Portos,” and prepares to be taken into custody.

The plan goes awry, and Breslin awakens in a glass cell located in a complex full of glass cells.  Warden Willard Hobbes (Jim Caviezel) seems delighted to have “Portos” in his prison.  Fellow inmate, Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), seems too eager to get to know him.  Now, Breslin must use all his skills to escape, but this prison seems designed to foil his every move.

If you have to see an action movie, Escape Plan will do.  The first half of the film is a nearly unwatchable bore, but the second half of the film is entertaining.  The plot is stretched past the point of credulity in order for the resolution to make sense.

Escape Plan is a pale imitation of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1980s mindless flicks.  From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, Escape Plan would have been considered a cutting edge techno-thriller; now it’s a shame to see two such venerable stars in such a movie.  Actually, it would make sense for this to be a modern Steven Seagal or even a Jean-Claude Van Damme straight-to-DVD movie.  I must note that Schwarzenegger still looks good, but Stallone’s face is a post-op, plastic surgery wreck.

On the other hand, these two old action movie dogs can still deliver some of what we expect of them.  Escape Plan gives plenty of Stallone brawling, and, in the movie’s last act, we get Schwarzenegger in a classic pose as he fires an automatic weapon, in a way that references him in The Terminator franchise.  I did not ask much of this movie, and thanks to a clunky, listless first half, I almost did get what little I expected.  I will say this:  Escape Plan actually could have been better, so I would like to see Stallone and Schwarzenegger team-up again.

4 of 10

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart "Get Hard"

Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart Headline New Comedy “Get Hard”

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart join forces on the feature comedy “Get Hard,” which began filming on location in New Orleans Monday, March 17, for director Etan Cohen.

When millionaire hedge fund manager James King (Ferrell) is nailed for fraud and bound for a stretch in San Quentin, the judge gives him 30 days to get his affairs in order. Desperate, he turns to Darnell Lewis (Hart) to prep him for a life behind bars. But despite James’ one-percenter assumptions, Darnell is a hard-working small business owner who has never received a parking ticket, let alone been to prison. Together, the two men do whatever it takes for James to ‘get hard’ and, in the process, discover how wrong they were about a lot of things – including each other.

The film also stars Craig T. Nelson, Alison Brie, and rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris.

Cohen marks his feature directorial debut with “Get Hard,” following a successful writing career, with credits including “Tropic Thunder.”

“Get Hard” is written by Jay Martel & Ian Roberts and Etan Cohen, with a story by Adam McKay and Jay Martel & Ian Roberts. It will be produced by Adam McKay, Will Ferrell, and Chris Henchy, with Kevin Messick and Ravi Mehta serving as executive producers.

The creative filmmaking team includes director of photography Tim Suhrstedt (“Little Miss Sunshine”); production designer Maher Ahmad (“The Hangover Part III”); editor Michael Sale (“We’re the Millers”); and costume designer Shay Cunliffe (“The Bourne Legacy”).

“Get Hard” is scheduled to open nationwide on Friday, March 27, 2015.

A Warner Bros. Pictures presentation of a Gary Sanchez Production, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: "The White Countess" Does Not Quite Capture Old Merchant Ivory Magic (Remembering Natasha Richardson)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 131 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

The White Countess (2005)
Running time:  136 minutes (2 hours, 16 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some violent images and thematic elements
DIRECTOR:  James Ivory
WRITER:  Kazuo Ishiguro
PRODUCER:  Ismail Merchant
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Christopher Doyle (director of photography)
EDITOR:  John David Allen
COMPOSER:  Richard Robbins

DRAMA/HISTORICAL with elements of romance

Starring:  Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave, Hiroyuki Sanada, Lynn Redgrave, Allan Corduner, Da Ying, and Madeleine Daly

The subject of this movie review is The White Countess, a 2005 period drama from director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant for their Merchant Ivory Productions.  This is the last film produced by Merchant, who died during production of the film.  Written by Kazuo Ishiguro, The White Countess is set in 1930s Shanghai and focuses on a blind American diplomat and a young Russian trying to support members of her dead husband’s aristocratic family.

A traumatic political event took the lives of both his wife and son, and a second one killed his daughter and blinded him.  Now, 40-something, disenchanted, ex-U.S. diplomat Todd Jackson (Ralph Fiennes) lives a lonely life amid the political turmoil of 1930’s Shanghai, and dreams of owning a gentleman’s club – the kind that he can still see in his mind and quite unlike the hotels and clubs in which he currently languishes.

However, his life changes when he crosses paths with Countess Sofia Belinskya (Natasha Richardson), a widowed Russian countess living in impoverished exile with her in-laws and her daughter.  Where once she lived the life of nobility, now, she accepts sordid jobs to support her family.  When fortune strikes and gives Jackson the means to open his bar, he names it The White Countess, and convinces Sofia to accept a job as the club’s hostess.  But will he have the strength to admit his love before a coming Japanese invasion of Shanghai separates them forever?

The team of director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant are known to the film world as Merchant Ivory Productions and have produced such Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated films as A Room with a View, Howard’s End, and Remains of the Day.  The Indian born Merchant (who also directed films) died in May of 2005, and The White Countess was his final collaboration with James Ivory.  The film is quiet and lacks the grandeur of the better-known Merchant Ivory Production like Howard’s End.  It’s very low key, and dialogue moves the narrative.  It’s almost as if The White Countess is more a historical epic made for television than it is a work for the cinema.

Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson give strange, quiet performances.  Fiennes is as usual quite good, and Richardson is mysterious and detached.  One would think that the two couldn’t have any chemistry, but their facial expressions and subtle physical movements give their characters and their relationship a deeply evocative tone.  They essentially define this slow moving, but classy period piece, as all the other actors seem to follow their tranquil acting.

In fact, there are a number of fine supporting performances including a rare appearance in the same film by famous acting sisters, Vanessa Redgrave and Lynn Redgrave (real life mother and aunt respectively of Natasha Richardson), in small but well-done roles.  Hiroyuki Sanada gives an excellent turn as the mysterious Mr. Matsuda, who establishes the film’s exotic, but politically volatile setting, 1930’s Shanghai.  The White Countess may seem overly serene at times, but the impeccable cast makes it a good choice for fans of fine acting and Merchant Ivory films.

6 of 10

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Updated:  Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Marvel-Netflix Deal a Landmark for New York and NYC


NYC To Serve As Principal Filming Location For Four Series Epic and One Mini-Series, Representing The Biggest Production Commitment in NYS History

Productions Will Result in Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Investments and Lead to Creation of At Least 3,000 Industry Jobs

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, The Walt Disney Company, Marvel and Netflix Inc. today announced that Marvel’s landmark live-action television series, which will bring Marvel’s ‘flawed heroes of Hell’s Kitchen’ characters to Netflix, the world’s leading Internet TV network, will principally film in New York State. Produced by Marvel Television, in association with ABC Studios, this groundbreaking series is Marvel’s most ambitious foray yet into live-action television storytelling and represents the largest film or television production project commitment in New York State history.

Filming is set to begin in the Summer 2014 and will create at least three thousand jobs in New York State including up to 400 full time jobs. The project will include nearly 60 one-hour episodes focused on the 4 Defenders characters: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.

“New York is where the entertainment industry started, and this unprecedented commitment from Disney and Marvel is further evidence that we’re bringing it back bigger and better than ever before,” said Governor Cuomo. “And when the entertainment industry thrives, it fuels dozens of other industries and businesses. The competition for these projects is fierce and Disney could have chosen to film these shows anywhere, but they knew that shooting in New York means getting to work with the best in world.  These shows bring New York’s superheroes home where they belong – along with hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in new business.”

“Since 2008 Disney has directly contributed almost half a billion dollars to New York’s economy through television and film production, along with approximately 9,000 jobs for New Yorkers,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “The Governor’s policies make this great state a more affordable and attractive location, opening the door for even greater economic investment and job creation for New Yorkers. Our Marvel series for Netflix will inject millions directly into the local economy and create hundreds of new jobs.”

“We thank the Governor and the great state of New York for helping us create the ultimate backdrop to this epic series. Setting our production in New York City truly underscores the authenticity and excitement we plan to bring to The Defenders and their ‘flawed heroes of Hell’s Kitchen’ stories,” said Alan Fine, President, Marvel Entertainment.

Last November, Disney and Netflix announced an unprecedented deal for Marvel TV to bring multiple original series of live-action adventures of four of Marvel's most popular characters exclusively to the world's leading Internet TV Network beginning in 2015. This pioneering agreement calls for Marvel to develop four serialized programs totaling 52 one-hour episodes culminating in a four to eight episode mini-series programming event. Led by a series focused on "Daredevil," followed by "Jessica Jones," "Iron Fist" and "Luke Cage," the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking viewers deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell's Kitchen, New York. Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, thirteen episodes series and a mini-series event in which the Marvel characters from the first four series team up as "The Defenders," much like “The Avengers.”

This new original TV deal follows last year's landmark movie distribution deal through which, beginning with 2016 theatrically released feature films, Netflix will be the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run, live-action and animated movies from the Walt Disney Studios, including titles from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Disneynature and Lucasfilm.

"The Defenders are classic New York characters; smart, resourceful and tough enough to always stand up for what's right," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer. "We're delighted they're coming to life on their home turf thanks to Governor Cuomo and his team."

When Governor Cuomo took office in 2011, he made the attraction of the film and television production and post-production industries, and jobs and the economic impact they bring with them, a key part of his overall strategy to grow New York State’s economy. Since that time, he has signed into law several important changes to both programs to make New York more competitive in this global marketplace, and the results have been significant. Both programs enjoyed record-breaking years in 2013, bringing billions of dollars in new spending and thousands of jobs into the Empire State. The stability provided by multiyear funding has particularly encouraged the development of television series production work, like the new Marvel series, as well as long term investments in infrastructure, all of which creates thousands of jobs directly and indirectly related to the actual productions themselves.

During calendar year 2013, applications for 183 film productions were submitted that included 124 films, 33 television programs and 26 pilots. These projects will:

•Generate a direct spend of $2.11 billion in NYS;

•Collect a projected $477 million in credits; and

•Hire an estimated 128,165 actors and crew for the 183 projects submitted.

John Ford, President, International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 52 said, “The men and women of the IATSE look forward to participating in this ground breaking endeavor. Thanks to the vision of Governor Cuomo and the Legislature, the long term funding of the production incentives gives employers the comfort they need to invest in these new avenues of entertainment, which will provide thousands of new jobs with good wages and benefits.”

Thomas J. O'Donnell, President Teamsters Local 817 said, “Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 is thrilled that Marvel's newest television series will be filmed in New York. This long-term commitment is an incredible accomplishment that will bring not just jobs, but also stability to our members work and family lives.”

Review: Kurt Russell is the Soul of "Soldier" (Happy B'day, Kurt Russell)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 7 (of 2001) by Leroy Douresseaux

Soldier (1998)
Running time:  99 minutes (1 hour, 39 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence and brief language
DIRECTOR:  Paul Anderson
WRITER:  David Webb Peoples
PRODUCER:  Jerry Weintraub
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  David Tattersall (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Martin Hunter
COMPOSER:  Joel McNeely

SCI-FI/ACTION with elements of a thriller

Starring:  Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaacs, Connie Nielsen, Sean Pertwee, Jared Thorne, Taylor Thorne, Mark Bringleson, and Gary Busey

The subject of this movie review is Soldier, a 1998 science fiction and action film from director Paul W.S. Anderson.  The film focuses on a discarded soldier who defends crash survivors on a waste disposal planet from the genetically-engineered soldiers ordered to eliminate them.

At the beginning of director Paul Anderson and writer David Webb Peoples’s sci-fi action film, Soldier, the military industrial complex chooses it soldiers from the cradle, from where they are taken and turned into barely human killing machines.  The best of the lot is Todd 3465 (Kurt Russell).  Todd 3465 or Sergeant Todd is an efficient, effective soldier who does nothing but follow orders to the letter.  [This is funny now, but at the time of this film’s release, I thought that Russell seemed to be one of a relatively small number of Hollywood actors who could convincingly play a heterosexual man a/k/a “a real man.”)

After one of his genetically engineered replacements defeats him and leaves him for dead, the military dumps Todd’s body on a remote planetoid, Arcadia 234.  There, Todd encounters a peaceful community of castaways who teach him about a life without the destruction of war.  Later, Todd’s super-soldier replacements arrive on the planet for military exercises.  Now, Todd must take up the colonists’ defense, after the soldiers are ordered to kill the settlers.

While Peoples’s script hints at multiple layers and subtexts, Anderson’s direction is too busy to bother with stories and ideas.  Peoples, the writer of Blade Runner and Unforgiven, is an excellent screenwriter, but his vision is often supplanted by the director’s goals.  Ridley Scott unleashed a visual feast with Blade Runner, while delivering Peoples’s ideas through pictures rather than spoken words.  Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven was a kind of apology to his gunfighter pictures, but he managed to deliver his sermon by mostly keeping Peoples’s work intact.

Anderson (Mortal Kombat and Event Horizon), at the precipice of being a hack or a halfway decent director-for-hire, looses Peoples in a series of standard action film clichés and direction-by-numbers staging.  Still, Peoples basic story is so strong that it shines through even the bad shots like those that have Russell standing in the foreground while explosions in the background tear the world apart.  Russell, however, doesn’t get the directorial shaft like his co-stars do.

Caine 607 (Jason Scott Lee, Dragon: the Bruce Lee Story), Todd’s genetically engineered opposite, is ripe for metaphoric play as Todd’s counterpart.  His screen time barely registers; our only solace for how good the Todd/Caine dynamic might have been is their end battle.  Sandra (Connie Nielsen, Gladiator), a beautiful colonist who draws Todd’s stares, is lost in the haze of soft lens shots.  She is certainly beautiful, and Anderson never lets us forget that.  He traps Sandra in a snow globe; he softly lights every close-up of her and turns her into a porcelain doll.  She seems like a good character, but this is an action movie and we can’t be bothered with girls’ stories.

What really carries the movie is the mostly silently relationship between Todd and Sandra’s small son, Nathan (Jared Thorne).  Todd rarely speaks, and when he does, it’s mostly “yes’s” and “sir’s.”  It was the way he was both reared and trained, an unquestioning soldier who silently went about his brutal duty.  Nathan cannot speak because of a serpent’s bite.  His placid face is silent, and the only thing one can read from his piercing gaze is need.  Nathan needs Todd to protect him, and Todd needs Nathan to help him to gain some measure of being a human.  Todd can learn to defend Nathan both as a soldier and as a father, while Nathan can learn to defend himself, yet remain a peaceful human.

Russell is boyish as Todd, and he never lets Todd lose the boy that learned to be a killing machine; watching Russell’s stone face is also like watching the boy Todd through the shadows that linger on Todd’s face.  Russell’s cinematic presence speaks loud volumes of his character; the story is in him, and the audience must ever watch him to learn it.  Russell built his body solidly and strongly, eschewing the artificiality of bodybuilding.  It gives him an earthy ruggedness that hints at a man of base origins.  His facial expressions mirror the youthfulness of Nathan’s face and makes them counterparts.  Nathan is Todd, a blank slate ready to mold as Todd was, and perhaps it is Todd who will mold him, but not with the brutality with which the military molded him.

There is much to the Todd/Nathan relationship, as there is to this entire movie.  However, Anderson, like the serpent that stole Nathan’s speech and like the military machines strangled Todd’s voice, silences this movie with a heavy handiness that reveals someone determined bring a product to the market and not a story to the audience.

It is a testament to Russell’s star presence and acting ability that this movie is still worth watching.

6 of 10

Updated:  Monday, March 17, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.