Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Oscar-nominated Actor Bob Hoskins Dies at 71

The actor Bob Hoskins has died of pneumonia at the age of 71.  Hoskins died in a hospital on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, and his agent made the announcement of his passing today (Wednesday, April 30, 2014).

Born Robert William Hoskins, Jr. on October 26, 1942, Bob Hoskins began his acting career on stage in 1969.  He began appear in film and on television in 1972.  Go to Screen Daily and Wikipedia for more about Hoskins passing and his career, respectively.

Hoskins is one of my favorite actors.  I first heard of him when he earned an Oscar nomination for his role in the 1986 film, Mona Lisa.  However, it was his role in 1988's Oscar-winning Who Framed Roger Rabbit that made me a fan of his.  I also admired his work in Heart Condition (1990) and Hook (1991), to name a few.  I send my condolences to Hoskins' family and friends.  Rest in Peace, Mr. Hoskins.

Review: Supporting Actresses Shine on "Beerfest" (Happy B'day, Cloris Leachman)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Beerfest (2006)
Running time:  110 minutes (1 hour, 50 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity, and substance abuse
DIRECTOR:  Jay Chandrasekhar
WRITERS:  Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske)
PRODUCERS:  Bill Gerber and Richard Perello
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Frank G. DeMarco (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Lee Haxall
COMPOSER:  Nathan Barr


Starring:  Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Will Forte, Ralf Moeller, Nat Faxon, Gunter Schlierkamp, and Mo’Nique with Jurgen Prochnow and Cloris Leachman

The subject of this movie review is Beerfest, a 2006 comedy directed by Jay Chandrasekhar.  The film stars the comedy troupe, Broken Lizard, of which Chandrasekhar is a member.  Beerfest focuses on two brothers who discover a secret, underground beer-drinking tournament in Germany.

When German-American brothers, Todd (Erik Stolhanske) and Jan Wolfhouse (Paul Soter), travel to Germany to spread their grandfather Johan’s ashes at Oktoberfest, they stumble upon a secret, centuries old underground beer drinking competition called “Beerfest.”  They also discover long lost German relatives, the von Wolfhausens, who hold an old grudge against their American relatives over a lost beer recipe.  Led by the family patriarch, Baron von Wolfhausen (Jurgen Prochnow), the von Wolfhausens humiliate Todd and Jan, and sneer at their chances of ever winning Beerfest, this Olympics of beer drinking.  The rude Germans even sneer at Todd and Jan’s grandmother, Great Gam Gam (Cloris Leachman).

Todd and Jan return to American and prepare for another Beerfest showdown the following year.  The brothers recruit three friends to join their team:  the one-man bear-drinking machine, Phil Krundel aka “Landfill” (Kevin Heffernan); the nerdy lab tech, Charlie Finklestein aka “Fink” (Steve Lemme); and Barry Badrinath (Jay Chandrasekhar), a talented skills player who has fallen to street-level prostitution.   The quintet’s year of training, however, is marred by tragedy and hardships, and the five beer-chugging friends begin to doubt they’ll ever win Beerfest.

Beerfest is the fourth feature film from the five-man sketch comedy troupe, Broken Lizard, which is comprised of Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, and Jay Chandrasekhar.  Chandrasekhar directs the Broken Lizard films (including Super Troopers and Club Dread), and also directed the 2005 The Dukes of Hazzard film.  With Chandrasekhar at the helm, Beerfest looks like the other Broken Lizard films.  There are scenes in Beerfest that are as funny as anything in Super Troopers (what I consider to be their best feature).  However, whereas Super Trooper was smooth, Beerfest is uneven, though not as uneven as Club Dread.

Beerfest is truly a ribald comedy, and in some ways it reminds me of the bawdiest Mel Brooks movies.  Still, there’s lots of Beerfest that amounts to little more than simple, immature, juvenile humor.  Luckily, the film is blessed with a great supporting cast.  Jurgen Prochnow is fine as the spicy menace, Baron von Wolfhausen, and Mo’Nique throws herself fully into the role of the duplicitous and randy Cherry; her sex scene with Chandrasekhar is priceless.  Cloris Leachman’s turn as Todd and Jan’s Great Gam Gam, is a testament to her skill as both a comedienne and an actress, and lovers of comedy must and should not miss her performance.

Beerfest isn’t great, but it has great moments of laugh-out-loud and laugh-till-you-cry comedy, and tolerating the missteps is worth such hilarity.

5 of 10

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Updated:  Wednesday, April 30, 2014

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

2014 Cannes Film Festival Jury Announced

On Monday (April 28, 2014), the 2014 Cannes Film Festival (Festival de Cannes 2014) announced the names of jury members for the 2014 edition of the festival.  Jane Campion, who previously won the festival’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or (the Golden Palm), is jury president.

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival runs from Wednesday, May 14, 2014 to Sunday, May 25, 2014, with the closing ceremony and awards handed out Saturday, May 24, 2014.

2014 Cannes Film Festival: THE JURY

Jane CAMPION – President
(Director, Screenwriter, Producer – New Zealand)

Carole BOUQUET (Actress – France)

Sofia COPPOLA (Director, Screenwriter, Producer – United States)

Leila HATAMI (Actress – Iran)

JEON Do-yeon (Actress – South Korea)

Willem DAFOE (Actor – United States)

Gael GARCIA BERNAL (Actor, Director, Producer – Mexico)

JIA Zhangke (Director, Screenwriter, Producer – China)

Nicolas Winding REFN (Director, Screenwriter, Producer – Denmark)

Jury Member biographies are provided courtesy of the festival:

Carole Bouquet, Actress (France)
After her film debut in 1977 with Luis Buñuel in That Obscure Object of Desire, Bouquet alternated between arthouse and blockbuster productions. A Bond Girl in 1981 in For Your Eyes Only, she worked with Bertrand Blier on Buffet Froid (1979) and Too Beautiful For You (1989) for which she won the César for Best Actress. She appeared in Le jour des idiots by Werner Schroeter, Michel Blanc’s Dead Tired and Embrassez qui vous voudrez, Lucie Aubrac by Claude Berri, L’Enfer by Danis Tanovic, Nordeste by Juan Diego Solanas (Festival de Cannes 2005) and Unforgivable by André Téchiné.

Sofia Coppola, Director and screenwriter (United States)
Coppola’s first feature film, The Virgin Suicides (1999) was selected for the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, where it met with international critical acclaim. Four years later, after several Oscar nominations for Lost in Translation, including Best Director, she walked off with the Best Screenplay award. Her third film, Marie-Antoinette was selected in Competition at Cannes in 2006. After picking up a Golden Lion in Venice for Somewhere (2010), Sofia Coppola opened Un Certain Regard with her last film The Bling Ring at the Festival de Cannes in 2013.

Leila Hatami, Actress (Iran)
Born in Tehran into a family of filmmakers, she started out acting in films directed by her father, Ali Hatami, before starring in Dariush Mehrjui’s Leila (1998) which brought her to national attention. It was Asghar Farhadi who established her on the world stage with A Separation (Golden Bear at the 2011 Berlin Festival). She picked up the Best Actress award in Karlovy Vary for her role in Ali Mosaffa’s Last Step in 2012.

Jeon Do-yeon, Actress (South Korea)
The first Korean actress to receive the Best Actress award at the Festival de Cannes for her role in Secret Sunshine by Lee Chang-dong (2007), Jeon Do-yeon started out as a television actress before turning exclusively to cinema. Her major films include I Wish I Had a Wife by Ryoo Seung, My Mother, The Mermaid by Park Jin-pyo and The Housemaid by Im Sang-soo, presented at Cannes in 2010. A massive celebrity in her country, she has just finished shooting Memories of the Sword by Park Heung-sik.

Willem Dafoe, Actor (United States)
Twice nominated for an Oscar, for Oliver Stone’s Platoon and Shadow of the Vampire, Dafoe has appeared in 80 films including Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson, Light Sleeper by Paul Schrader, The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorsese, Antichrist by Lars von Trier and The English Patient by Anthony Minghella. He will soon be appearing in A Most Wanted Man by Anton Corbijn and Pasolini by Abel Ferrara. A co-founder of the Wooster Group – an experimental theatre collective – he is currently on tour with Bob Wilson’s play The Old Woman.

Gael García Bernal, Actor, director and producer (Mexico)
Bernal first came to public attention in Iñárritu’s Amorres Perros, soon followed by Y Tu Mamá También by Alfonso Cuarón. He then featured in films directed by some of the greats of international cinema, such as The Motorcycle Diaries by Walter Salles, Pedro Almodóvar’s Bad Education, The Science of Sleep by Michel Gondry, Babel by Gonzalez Iñárritu, and The Limits of Control by Jim Jarmusch. In 2005, he founded his Canana production company with Diego Luna and in 2010, after a few short films, directed his first feature film, Deficit, selected at La Semaine de la Critique at Cannes.

Nicolas Winding Refn, Director, screenwriter and producer (Denmark)
His first film, Pusher (1996), written and directed at the age of 24, immediately became a cult movie and he shot to fame throughout the world. He then directed Bleeder (1999), Fear X (2003), Pusher II & III (2004 & 2005), Bronson (2008) and Valhalla Rising (2009), all characteristic of the style that came to be dubbed "Refn-esque". In 2011, Drive was presented at the Festival de Cannes and won the Best Direction prize, awarded by the Jury presided by Robert De Niro. His last film, Only God Forgives, featured in Competition at Cannes in 2013.

Jia Zhangke, Director, screenwriter and producer (China)
After first studying art Jia Zhangke, born in 1970, attended the Beijing Film Academy in the 1990s. After the success of his first film, Xao Wu (1998), he directed Platform (Zhantai, 2000) and Unknown Pleasures (Ren xiao yao, 2002) selected for Venice and Cannes respectively. Still Life picked up the Golden Lion in Venice in 2006. He also presented 24 City at the Festival de Cannes, in Competition in 2008 and I Wish I Knew for Un Certain Regard in 2010. Last year, A Touch of Sin garnered the Best Screenplay prize awarded by the Jury presided by Steven Spielberg.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Review: "My Beautiful Laundrette" Tackles Social Issues (Happy B'day, Daniel Day Lewis)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 16 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:  United Kingdom
Running time:  97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Stephen Frears
WRITER:  Hanif Kureishi
PRODUCERS:  Tim Bevan and Sarah Radclyffe
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Oliver Stapleton
EDITOR:  Mick Audsley
COMPOSER:  Ludus Tonalis
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA/ROMANCE with elements of comedy

Starring:  Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth, Daniel Day-Lewis, Gordon Warnecke, Derrick Blanche, Rita Wolf, Souad Faress, Richard Graham, Shirley Ann Field, Dudley Thomas, Winston Graham, and Garry Cooper

The subject of this movie review is My Beautiful Laundrette, a 1985 British comedy-drama directed by Stephen Frears and written by Hanif Kureishi.  The movie, which was originally intended for television, was one of the first films released by Working Title Films.  My Beautiful Laundrette focuses on an ambitious Asian Briton and his white male lover as they strive to find success with a glamorous launderette (Laundromat).

In My Beautiful Laundrette, director Stephen Frears (The Hit) and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi don’t tackle issues, so much as they present a story that involves the entanglement amongst class, economics, family, politics, race, and sex.  My Beautiful Laundrette subtly presents the issues, but presents them nonetheless.  Because the issues of the film tie everyone together, every character is a legitimate player, and the viewer has to always pay attention to all the characters.  That’s heady stuff in a world where the most popular and publicized pictures are glossy films with lots of throwaway appendages.

Omar (Gordon Warnecke) is an ambitious young Asian Briton of Pakistani decent who convinces his uncle to let him manage his uncle’s laundrette.  He convinces Johnny (Daniel Day Lewis, The Bounty), an old school chum and his gay lover, to join him.  They convert the dilapidated business into a colorful and glamorous establishment as they strive for success amidst familial and social politics – Omar’s mostly immigrant family and Johnny’s racist thug friends.

Warnecke and Lewis are excellent as the young businessman who leaps at every opportunity and the disaffected youth at odds with the world respectively.  In this early role, Lewis smolders, as he would so often in the future, showing the audience that there is more, much more, beneath the surface of his character, unseen and real – the window to the character’s soul.  However, the best part belongs to an actor seldom seen in film since My Beautiful Laundrette, Derrick Branche as Omar’s cousin Salim.  Every bit as racist as Johnny’s buddies and as ambitious as any of his relatives, he is the ruthless and blunt looking glass of this story.

My Beautiful Laundrette takes a while to get going, but its documentary approach to storytelling in which the characters are like real people and not actors acting like people is worth the wait.  Much of the love and romance is tepid, probably because the filmmakers wished to convey how difficult love can be amongst people straddling the borders between warring social groups.  Perhaps, the film could have been a bit more emotional, but maybe the filmmakers wanted to play down the passion of love in favor of presenting a broader picture of the societal pressures weighing upon the characters.  The viewer can decide for himself, especially if he likes films that focus on the common everyman.

7 of 10

1987 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen” (Hanif Kureishi)

1986 BAFTA Awards:  2 nominations: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Saeed Jaffrey) and “Best Screenplay – Original” (Hanif Kureishi)

Updated:  Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Warner Bros.' "Peter Pan" Begins Production Today

Production Set to Begin on Warner Bros. Pictures’ Live-Action Peter Pan Feature Film

Production rounds out cast with addition of Amanda Seyfried and others in key roles

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography will begin April 28 on Warner Bros. Pictures’ live-action Peter Pan feature from director Joe Wright (“Atonement,” “Pride & Prejudice”).

Offering a new take on the origin of the classic characters created by J.M. Barrie, the film follows the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny—to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.

The film stars Oscar® nominee Hugh Jackman (“Les Misérables”) as Blackbeard; Garrett Hedlund (“Inside Llewyn Davis”) as Hook; Oscar® nominee Rooney Mara (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) as Tiger Lily; Adeel Akhtar (“The Dictator”) as Smee; and newcomer Levi Miller as Peter.

Amanda Seyfried (“Les Misérables”) rounds out the cast as Mary, alongside Jack Charles (“Mystery Road”) as The Chief/Tiger Lily’s father; Taejoo Na (“The Kick”) as Kwahu; Nonso Anozie (“Son of God,” “Atonement”) as Bishop; Kathy Burke (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”) as Mother Barnabas; Kurt Egyiawan (“Skyfall”) as Murray; Lewis MacDougall (UK TV’s “In the Name of the Children”) as Nibs; and newcomer Leni Zieglmeier as Wendy Darling.

Wright is directing the as-yet-untitled Peter Pan adventure from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs. Greg Berlanti, Paul Webster and Sarah Schechter are producing, with Tim Lewis serving as executive producer.

Filming will take place at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden. The film is set for a worldwide release on July 17, 2015.

Sony Sets "Goosebumps" Movie for March 2016


Principal photography has commenced on Goosebumps, starring Jack Black. Rob Letterman directs the film from a screenplay by Darren Lemke and Mike White and a story by Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski and Darren Lemke, based on the Goosebumps book series published by Scholastic and written by R. L. Stine. The producers are Neal H. Moritz and Deborah Forte. Executive producers are Bill Bannerman and Tania Landau. The film will be released on March 23, 2016.

Also starring in Goosebumps are Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Ryan Lee, and Ken Marino.

In Goosebumps, upset about moving from a big city to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door. But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah has a mysterious dad who is revealed to be R. L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series. It turns out that there is a reason why Stine is so strange… he is a prisoner of his own imagination – the monsters that his books made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books. When Zach unintentionally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts and they begin to terrorize the town, it’s suddenly up to Stine, Zach, and Hannah to get all of them back in the books where they belong.

The production films in and around Conyers, Madison, and Atlanta, Georgia, notably in the counties of Morgan, Rockdale, Cobb, and DeKalb.

Scholastic has sold over 350 million Goosebumps books worldwide in 32 languages since the series introduction in 1992, earning critical acclaim and dominating global best seller lists. R.L. Stine has been recognized as one of the bestselling children’s authors in history.

The production’s creative team also includes director of photography Javier Aguirresarobe, production designer Sean Haworth, editor Jim May, and costume designer Judianna Makovsky.

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; a global channel network; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of entertainment in more than 142 countries. For additional information, go to

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Grumble #2 Indiegogo Campaign Begins Week 4

Please, take a look:

Review: "When the Sky Falls" Means Well (Happy B'ay, Kevin McNally)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 73 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

When the Sky Falls (2000)
Running time:  107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
MPAA – R for brutal violence, strong language, drug content and some sexuality
DIRECTOR:  John Mackenzie
WRITERS:  Ronan Gallagher, Colum McCann, and Michael Sheridan; with additional dialogue by Guy Andrews
PRODUCERS:  Nigel Warren Green and Michael Wearing
EDITOR:  Graham Walker
COMPOSER:  Pol Brennan


Starring:  Joan Allen, Patrick Bergin, Liam Cunningham, Kevin McNally, Jimmy Smallhourne, Gerard Mannix Flynn, Jason Barry, Pete Postlethwaite, Des McAleer, Owen Roe, Gavin Kelty, and Ruaidhrí Conroy

The subject of this movie review is When the Sky Falls, a 2000 crime drama directed by the late John Mackenzie.  The film is a fictional account of a real-life Irish investigative reporter’s battle with a Dublin drug lord.  This film stars one of my favorite actors, Joan Allen, and Kevin McNally, an actor of whom I became a fan after his roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean films.  When the Sky Falls did not receive a theatrical release in the United States, although it is partly a U.S. production.

When the Sky Falls, a fact-based drama, focuses on Sinead Hamilton (Joan Allen), a reporter who invades the drug underworld of Dublin, IrelandMackey (Patrick Bergin), the police officer who helps her, is mostly ineffectual because bureaucracy and lack of resources tie his hands.  Her husband, Tom (Kevin McNally), doesn’t particularly care about her work, but he supports her.

Sinead consorts with Mickey O’Fagan (Jimmy Smallhourne), minor thug who just might lead her to the big fish, Dave Hackett (Gerard Flynn), a brutal drug boss.  Add the Irish Republican Army to the danger mix, and you have a lone woman as a crusading reporter headed for doom.

The film is based upon the story of real life Dublin reporter Veronica Guerin with Sinead Hamilton as the fictional version of her, and for all the drama of the last year of Ms. Guerin’s short life, When the Sky Falls is rather tepid.  Although the film is less than two hours long, it drifts from one genre to another.

At moments, it’s a fairly intense crime thriller about a woman going after greedy men who would see the whole of Dublin addicted to heroin so that they could be fabulously wealthy.  At other times, it’s a clunky and clumsy crime drama about cops willing to go to any extreme to nail a criminal; that is whenever Patrick Bergin’s Mackey takes over the story.  It’s also a lame, movie of the week melodrama about a crusading reporter whenever Sinead Hamilton visits the offices of the newspaper for which she writes.

Anyone of the three storylines could have made a good film at a running time of one hundred and six minutes.  As it is, the subplots and storylines crowd the movie, and the filmmakers don’t do any of them justice.  The cast is mostly good, but seem to run on simmer and slow burn, lest they really let loose and chew up the scenery.  Dog forbid this movie should be as passionate as its real life subject matter.  I like Joan Allen, but this is one of her weaker performances – decent, but the kind of low wattage thing we can get from a TV movie.  When the Sky Falls is a fairly good film, but if you don’t see it, you won’t be missing anything important.

5 of 10

Updated:  Sunday, April 27, 2014

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

Sony Pictures Classics Sets "Foxcatcher" For November 14 2014


Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they will release Bennett Miller's FOXCATCHER in the United States on November 14. The film will premiere in the In Competition Section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Directed by Bennett Miller (MONEYBALL, CAPOTE), FOXCATCHER tells the gripping, true story of Olympic Wrestling Champion brothers Mark Schultz (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Ruffalo) and their relationship with the eccentric John du Pont (Carell), heir to the du Pont Chemical fortune that led to murder.

The film is produced by Megan Ellison under her company Annapurna Pictures, as well as, Miller, Jon Kilik, and Anthony Bregman. Miller’s prestigious cast includes Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, and Anthony Michael Hall. The film was written by E. Max Frye (SOMETHING WILD, AMOS & ANDREW) and Dan Futterman (CAPOTE), the Cinematographer is Greig Fraser (ZERO DARK THIRTY), and the Production Designer is Jess Gonchor (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, MONEYBALL, TRUE GRIT, CAPOTE).

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard serve as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics—an autonomous division of Sony Pictures Entertainment they founded with Marcie Bloom in January 1992, which distributes, produces, and acquires independent films from around the world.

Barker and Bernard have released prestigious films that have won 32 Academy Awards® (28 of those at Sony Pictures Classics) and have garnered 140 Academy Award® nominations (114 at Sony Pictures Classics) including Best Picture nominations for AMOUR, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, AN EDUCATION, CAPOTE, HOWARDS END, and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON.

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; a global channel network; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of entertainment in more than 142 countries. For additional information, go to

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Review: "Barnyard" Surprises (Happy B'day, Kevin James)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 199 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Barnyard (2006)
Running time:  84 minutes (1 hour, 24 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some mild peril and rude humor
WRITER/DIRECTOR:  Steve Oedekerk
PRODUCERS:  Pam Marsden, Steve Oedekerk, and Paul Marshal
EDITORS:  Billy Weber and Paul Calder
COMPOSER:  John Debney


Starring:  (voices) Kevin James, Courteney Cox, Sam Elliot, Danny Glover, Wanda Sykes, Andie MacDowell, David Koechner, Jeff Garcia, Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, Tino Insana, Laraine Newman, John DiMaggio, and Fred Tatasciore

The subject of this movie review is Barnyard, a 2006 computer-animated comedy and family film from writer-director Steve Oedekerk and Paramount Pictures.  The film is also known as Barnyard: The Original Party Animals, and yielded a spin-off animated television series, Back to the Barnyard, in 2007.  Barnyard, which features a group of anthropomorphic animals, focuses on a carefree cow that resists the call that he be the animal in charge of a barnyard.

In a barnyard of walking and talking animals, Otis the Cow (Kevin James) is the party animal.  Otis and his friends: Pip (Jeff Garcia) the mouse, Freddy (Cam Clarke) the ferret, Peck (Rob Paulsen) the rooster, and Pig (Tino Insana) the pig are world-class pranksters out for a laugh.  Otis’ father, Ben (Sam Elliot), however, wants his son to be like him – the cow who makes sure the barnyard runs on all cylinders and the cow who protects the barnyard’s denizens from their common enemy, a pack of coyotes led by the malevolent and conniving Dag (David Koechner).

Otis, who is in a state of perpetual arrested development, is not interested, but when Ben is no longer able to lead and protect, the responsibility falls on Otis.  It’s not an easy fit, and he struggles with the tension between a sense of duty and an urge to run away.  There is, however, a pretty girl cow, Daisy (Courtney Cox) and the crafty Miles the Mule (Danny Glover) who just may give Otis the impetus to take the mantle of leadership.  He’ll need the encouragement because Dag is plotting to make a major attack on the barnyard.

With its August 4 release date, Paramount Pictures/Nickelodeon Movies’ computer animated feature, Barnyard: The Original Party Animals was the eighth computer animated feature film to debut in U.S. theatres.  Barnyard is a story about taking responsibility and honoring obligations – a staple of computer animated family fare, but other than that, Barnyard looks different from the rest of its cartoon brethren.

As far as plot and character, Barnyard is mediocre and mildly entertaining.  The animation, however, is quite good.  The characters have a rubbery texture, so they look more like cartoon characters than computer rendered characters.  The story’s setting and environments personify 3-D animation.  Watching this film, it becomes evident that it is indeed taking place in a world of space and depth rather than in the traditional “flat” world of hand drawn animation.  It’s not that any of this looks real; it just doesn’t look flat, so the action looks like actual action.  When characters move, it looks like the figures are really moving.

Barnyard is a pretty and colorful animated feature, which makes up for the average narrative and voice acting.  Only Sam Elliot as Ben, Danny Glover as Miles, and Wanda Sykes as Bessie the Cow give voice performances that come across with any richness.  This is a typical children’s animated feature, filled as it is with funny animal supporting characters that spout line after line of silliness.  Barnyard’s simple story and childish and raucous humor explains why it has long legs at the box office.  It’s actually a family movie that the family can enjoy together.  Barnyard: The Original Party Animals is unashamedly for children.  Still, there are enough risqué gags, bathroom humor, and innuendo to keep teenagers interested and adults chuckling.

5 of 10

Monday, September 18, 2006

Updated:  Saturday, April 26, 2014

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

Iconic Barbie Doll Headed to the Big Screen in a Live-Action Comedy


Live-Action Comedy Set to Begin Production End of Year Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Next Global Franchise to be Produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and written by Jenny Bicks

Sony Pictures Entertainment, Mattel and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation today announced a partnership on a live-action comedy featuring the beloved and dynamic icon Barbie. The studio sees this as its next big, global franchise and plans to go into production by the end of the year. Written by Jenny Bicks and produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, the film will be executive produced by Parkes+MacDonald’s president Marc Resteghini alongside Julia Pistor, who will executive produce for Mattel’s Playground Productions.

From princess to president, mermaid to movie star, Barbie® has done it all – through her more than 150 careers, she has gained valuable experiences and shown her fans that anything is possible for a modern woman. In her live-action big screen debut, Barbie will inhabit many of these roles, utilizing her personal and professional skills to inspire change in the lives of everyone around her. This comedic and contemporary film marks the second collaboration between Sony Pictures and Mattel, which are currently developing a film adaptation of Masters of the Universe, based on Mattel’s popular action figures.

Commenting on the announcement, Hannah Minghella, Columbia Pictures’ president of Production, said "We’ve always thought that the Barbie story had great potential, but a universe of possibilities opened up when Jenny, Walter and Laurie brought us their unexpected, clever, and truly funny concept. It captures everything that has made Barbie a classic for generation after generation while also standing on its own, establishing Barbie as a truly original screen character. We’re confident that Barbie will delight audiences, no matter where her adventures take her."

Parkes and MacDonald added, "While it's an overused word, Barbie truly is a legend, a cultural symbol whose career choices have been as unlimited as her wardrobe. She is about empowerment, but never at the expense of fun. Our hope is to capture all of these aspects of Barbie in a modern take of the character that can appeal to moviegoers of all ages."

"Barbie has entertained children and inspired their imagination and creativity for more than 50 years. Now is the right time in Barbie’s celebrated history for her to star in a live-action, contemporary comedy that brings her playful personality to life for generations of fans," said Tim Kilpin, EVP Global Brands, Mattel.

The deal was brokered by CAA on behalf of Mattel and Parkes+MacDonald, by UTA on behalf of Jenny Bicks and by Michael Marshall for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

JENNY BICKS most recently served as a writer and executive producer of the Showtime series "The Big C." She was also a writer/executive producer of the series "Men in Trees" and writer/co-executive producer of "Sex and the City." She most recently co-wrote Rio 2 and also wrote the feature film What a Girl Wants.

WALTER F. PARKES and LAURIE MacDONALD are the husband and wife team who hold the unique distinction of having helped to create DreamWorks, the first new studio in five decades, as well as being two of the most active producers working today. Films produced or executive-produced by Parkes & MacDonald include Gladiator, Amistad, Men In Black I & II, Minority Report, The Mask of Zorro, Catch Me If You Can, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Terminal, Road to Perdition, The Ring, The Kite Runner, and Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, among many others. In total, films produced or executive-produced by Parkes and MacDonald have earned in excess of $6 billion in worldwide box office. They most recently produced Men in Black 3 and Flight.

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; a global channel network; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of entertainment in more than 142 countries. For additional information, go to

The Mattel family of companies (Nasdaq: MAT) is the worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of toys and family products. Mattel’s portfolio of best-selling brands includes Barbie®, the most popular fashion doll ever produced, Hot Wheels®, Monster High®, American Girl®, Thomas & Friends® and Fisher-Price® brands, including Little People® and Power Wheels®, as well as a wide array of entertainment-inspired toy lines. In 2013, Mattel was named one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies" by Ethisphere Magazine and is also ranked No. 2 on Corporate Responsibility Magazine's "100 Best Corporate Citizens" list. With worldwide headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., Mattel’s companies employ nearly 30,000 people in 40 countries and territories and sell products in more than 150 nations. At Mattel, we are Creating the Future of Play. Visit us at,, or

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Hobbit "There and Back Again" is Now "The Battle of the Five Armies"

Final Film in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” Trilogy to Be Titled “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and New Line Cinema jointly announced today that the much-anticipated final film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy adaptation of the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, has now been titled “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” The film, previously titled “The Hobbit: There and Back Again,” will be released worldwide December 17, 2014, with select international territories releasing on December 10, 2014.

    “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”

Peter Jackson stated, “Our journey to make ‘The Hobbit’ Trilogy has been in some ways like Bilbo’s own, with hidden paths revealing their secrets to us as we’ve gone along. ‘There and Back Again’ felt like the right name for the second of a two-film telling of the quest to reclaim Erebor, when Bilbo’s arrival there, and departure, were both contained within the second film. But with three movies, it suddenly felt misplaced — after all, Bilbo has already arrived ‘there’ in the ‘The Desolation of Smaug.’ When we did the premiere trip late last year, I had a quiet conversation with the studio about the idea of revisiting the title. We decided to keep an open mind until a cut of the film was ready to look at. We reached that point last week, and after viewing the movie, we all agreed there is now one title that feels completely appropriate. And so: ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ it is.”

“The Hobbit” Trilogy tells a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson and his team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephen Fry, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom. The film also stars, in alphabetical order, John Bell, Manu Bennett, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Billy Connolly, Ryan Gage, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Lawrence Makoare, Sylvester McCoy, Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, Mikael Persbrandt, and Aidan Turner.

The screenplay for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” 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 Richard Taylor, Bob Buck and Ann Maskrey. Taylor is also overseeing the design and production of armour, weapons, creatures and special makeup, which are once again being made by the award-winning Weta Workshop. Oscar®-winning visual effects studio Weta Digital is again handling 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. Eric Saindon is the visual effects supervisor, with David Clayton serving as animation supervisor.

Under Jackson’s direction, “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” 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 Battle of the Five Armies.” As with the first two films in the Trilogy, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” the final 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.

Review: "Ivanhoe" is a Family-Safe Adventure (Remembering George Sanders)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 110 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Ivanhoe (1952)
Running time:  106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Richard Thorpe
WRITERS:  Noel Langley and Marguerite Roberts, from an adaptation by Æneas McKenzie (based on the novel by Sir Walter Scott)
PRODUCER:  Pandro S. Berman
EDITOR:  Frank Clarke
COMPOSER:  Miklos Rozsa
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Emlyn Williams, Robert Douglas, Finlay Currie, Felix Aylmer, Francis De Wolff, Norman Wooland, Basil Sydney, Harold Warrender, Sebastian Cabot, and Guy Rolfe

The subject of this movie review is Ivanhoe, a 1952 historical drama and romantic film from director Richard Thorpe.  The film is an adaptation of the novel, Ivanhoe, written by Sir Walter Scott and first published in 1819 (or 1820).  Ivanhoe the film is set in 12th century England and follows a knight who seeks to free the captive King Richard and to restore him to the English throne.

Three writers adapted the novel for the 1952 film, although one of them, Marguerite Roberts, originally did not receive screen credit for her contributions to the screenplay.  After the House on Un-American Activities Committee blacklisted Roberts, MGM apparently received permission from the Screen Writers Guild not to give Robert’s a screen credit in the film, as was her due.

In the film Ivanhoe, medieval chivalry comes to life in wonderful Technicolor.  Returning to England from the Crusades via Europe, Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor) discovers that Richard the Lionhearted (Norman Wooland) is a captive of an Austrian noble.  He hurries back to England only to learn that Richard’s brother Prince John (Guy Rolfe) has assumed the throne as if his brother is dead, and Prince John has no intention of paying the huge ransom the Austrian demands for Richard release.  Ivanhoe returns to his father Sir Cedric (Finlay Currie), a Saxon Lord, who disowned Ivanhoe for joining the Norman Richard in the Crusades.

Spurned again by his father, Ivanhoe seeks help from Isaac of York (Felix Aylmer), the leader of the Jewish people in England, who rallies his people to raise the ransom for Richard.  Meanwhile, Isaac’s daughter Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor) falls for Ivanhoe, but Rebecca also has a Norman suitor in John’s ally, Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert (George Sanders).  Eventually, John pits Ivanhoe against Sir Bois-Guilbert in a duel to save Rebecca from being burned at the stake as a witch.

Based upon Sir Walter’s Scott’s novel of the same title, Ivanhoe is a tale of courtly love and Saxon honor.  If you liked The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn, you’ll probably like this film, although it isn’t as good as Robin Hood.  It’s an old fashioned romantic adventure with British accents, kooky swordplay, colorful and outlandish theatrical costumes, and an appearance by Locksley (Harold Warrender), otherwise known as Robin Hood.  It’s fun, though too often stiff and dull, but there’s an audience for this.  It received three Oscar® nominations, including one for “Best Picture” and one for its beautiful and soaring romantic score.  People who like films set in “Merry Ole England” will very likely enjoy Ivanhoe, and truthfully, it’s a family safe adventure film for young boys.

5 of 10

1953: Academy Awards, USA:  3 nominations: “Best Picture” (Pandro S. Berman), “Best Cinematography, Color” (Freddie Young), and “Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture” (Miklós Rózsa)

1953 Golden Globes, USA:  2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture Score” (Miklós Rózsa) and “Best Film Promoting International Understanding”

Updates:  Friday, April 25, 2014

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

Key Oscar Dates for the 2014-15 Movie Awards Season Revealed

Academy Announces Key Dates For The Oscars®

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

Key dates for the Awards season are: 

Saturday, November 8, 2014
The Governors Awards

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Official Screen Credits and music submissions due

Monday, December 29, 2014
Nominations voting begins 8 a.m. PT

Thursday, January 8, 2015
Nominations voting ends 5 p.m. PT

Thursday, January 15, 2015
Oscar nominations announced

Monday, February 2, 2015
Oscar Nominees Luncheon

Friday, February 6, 2015
Final voting begins 8 a.m. PT

Saturday, February 7, 2015
Scientific and Technical Awards

Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Final voting ends 5 p.m. PT

Oscar Sunday, February 22, 2015
87th Academy Awards begins 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT

The Oscars will be held at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network.  The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Terminator" Reboot Begins Principal Photography - Opens July 1, 2015


HOLLYWOOD, CA (April 23, 2014) – Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions announced today that principal photography is officially underway on the “TERMINATOR” reboot, directed by Alan Taylor (“THOR: THE DARK WORLD,” “Game of Thrones”). The film is shooting in New Orleans.

The new film is written by Laeta Kalogridis (“AVATAR,” “SHUTTER ISLAND”) and Patrick Lussier (“DRIVE ANGRY”). David Ellison and Dana Goldberg (“WORLD WAR Z,” “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS”) of Skydance Productions are producing. Executive producers are Skydance’s Paul Schwake (“WORLD WAR Z,” “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS”), Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison (“AMERICAN HUSTLE,” “HER”), Kalogridis and Lussier.

“TERMINATOR” stars Arnold Schwarzenegger (“THE EXPENDABLES 1 & 2,” “TERMINATOR 1, 2 & 3”), Jason Clarke (“THE GREAT GATSBY,” “ZERO DARK THIRTY”), Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”), Jai Courtney (“DIVERGENT,” “JACK REACHER”), J.K. Simmons (“MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN,” “UP IN THE AIR”), Dayo Okeniyi (“THE HUNGER GAMES,” “THE SPECTACULAR NOW”), and Byung Hun Lee (“RED 2,” “G.I. JOE: RETALIATION”).

The “TERMINATOR” franchise launched in 1984 with Schwarzenegger as the title character and spanned three subsequent films, which have earned more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

Paramount will distribute the film worldwide on July 1, 2015.

About Paramount Pictures Corporation
Paramount Pictures Corporation (PPC), a global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment, is a unit of Viacom (NASDAQ: VIAB, VIA), a leading content company with prominent and respected film, television and digital entertainment brands. Paramount controls a collection of some of the most powerful brands in filmed entertainment, including Paramount Pictures, Paramount Animation, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Insurge Pictures, MTV Films, and Nickelodeon Movies. PPC operations also include Paramount Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures International, Paramount Licensing Inc., and Paramount Studio Group.

About Skydance Productions
Skydance Productions creates and produces elevated event-level commercial entertainment.   Skydance’s recent releases include JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT, from director Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Pine, WORLD WAR Z, starring Brad Pitt and directed by Marc Forster; J.J. Abrams' STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS, starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, and G.I. JOE: RETALIATION, starring Bruce Willis, Channing Tatum and Dwayne Johnson.  Skydance projects currently in development include the reboot of the TERMINATOR franchise, to be released on July 1, 2015, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5 with Christopher McQuarrie directing and a disaster film on a global scale titled GEOSTORM written by Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot with Devlin also directing.  Skydance’s previous projects include the award-winning Coen Brothers film TRUE GRIT, starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon; MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL, starring Tom Cruise and Jeremy Renner and Christopher McQuarrie’s JACK REACHER, starring Tom Cruise.  Skydance’s new television division recently started production on its first series, Manhattan, to WGN America.  From writer Sam Shaw and director Tommy Schlamme, this 13-episode drama is set against the backdrop of the clandestine mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico and follows the brilliant but flawed scientists and their families as they attempt to co-exist in a world where secrets and lies infiltrate every aspect of their lives.

Remembering Clyde Geronomi: "Lady and the Tramp"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 62 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Lady and the Tramp (1955) – animation
Running time:  76 minutes (1 hour 16 minutes)
DIRECTORS:  Clyde Geronomi, Wilfred Jackson, and Hamilton Luske
WRITERS:  Erdman Penner, Joe Rinaldi, Ralph Wright, and Don DaGradi (based upon the story Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog by Ward Greene)
PRODUCERS:  Walt Disney with Erdman Penner
EDITOR:  Don Halliday
COMPOSER:  Oliver Wallace
BAFTA Award nominee


Starring:  (voices) Peggy Lee, Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Bill Baucom, Stan Freberg, Verna Felton, and Lee Millar

Lady and the Tramp is a 1955 animated romantic film from Walt Disney Pictures.  It was the 15th full-length animated feature film from Disney.  The film is based in part on "Happy Dan, the Whistling Dog" by Ward Greene, a short story originally published in Cosmopolitan Magazine.  The film centers on the growing romantic relationship between two dogs, a female American Cocker Spaniel, who is from an upper middle-class family, and a male mutt who is a stray.

Because of drama and turmoil in her owners’ home, Lady (Barbara Luddy), a pampered and sheltered cocker spaniel, wanders away from the safety of her neighborhood and meets Tramp (Larry Roberts), a jolly, freedom-loving, and streetwise mutt with a heart of gold.  They share romantic adventures that occasionally imperil their safety while they move towards an inevitable union.  Memorable songs (written by Sonny Burke and Peggy Lee) and memorable characters including the twin Pekingese cats, Si and Am (Peggy Lee), highlight this classic, Disney’s fifteenth animated feature.

Lady and the Tramp remains Walt Disney’s signature romantic animated film; although romance often plays a part in their full-length animated films; this is the Disney animated love story.  It exemplifies two particular elements that really stand out in a Disney animated features – the art of beauty and technical skills.  The character animation is beautifully drawn making even characters meant to be ugly or villainous quite gorgeous and handsome eye candy.  The background art, backdrops, and sets are also elegant, even stunning.  The technical virtuosity on display is simply dazzling; this is text book work on animating animals.  Characters move with such grace and precision that the film looks, on one hand, like museum quality high art, and, on the other hand, has such striking realism in terms of movement and rhythm.

Lady and the Tramp is probably best known for its romantic heart.  A melodic score, charming and adorable songs, and the star-crossed pair of Lady and the Tramp make this an animated film that captures the romantic in the hearts of young and old viewers.  That’s why this film is so memorable and also well-remembered by adults who first saw it as a child – a true Disney classic.

9 of 10

Sunday, April 2, 2006

1956 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Animated Film” (USA)

Updated:  Thursday, April 24, 2014

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: Visually Splendid "The Merchant of Venice" is Soft on Story (Happy B'day, Shakespeare)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 93 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Merchant of Venice (2004)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.K., Italy, Luxembourg
Running time:  131 minutes (2 hours, 11 minutes)
MPAA – R for some nudity
DIRECTOR:  Michael Radford
WRITER:  Michael Radford (based upon the play by William Shakespeare)
PRODUCERS:  Cary Brokaw, Michael Lionello Cowan, Barry Navidi, Jason Piette,
EDITOR:  Lucia Zucchetti
COMPOSER:  Jocelyn Pook
BAFTA Awards nominee

DRAMA with elements of romance

Starring:  Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes, Lynn Collins, Zuleikha Robinson, Kris Marshall, Charlie Cox, Heather Goldenhersh, and David Harewood

The subject of this movie review is The Merchant of Venice, a 2004 romantic drama from writer-director Michael Radford.  The film is based upon the comedy play, The Merchant of Venice, written by William Shakespeare around 1596.  Radford’s film adaptation is apparently the first full-length, theatrical, sound film version of The Merchant of Venice.  The Merchant of Venice the film is set in 16th century Venice and finds a merchant having to pay a gruesome price after he must default on a large loan he borrowed from a Jewish moneylender for a friend.

William Shakespeare is once again brought to the screen, this time in The Merchant of Venice, another film adaptation of his play about passion, justice, and anti-Semitism.  Set in late 16th century Venice, the story finds Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes) lacking money to woo an heiress, Portia of Belmont (Lynn Collins), because his lavish lifestyle has left him deeply in debt.  So he turns to his merchant friend, Antonio (Jeremy Irons), for the money.  Antonio, however, has his cash tied up in ships and overseas trade, so he secures a loan of 3,000 ducats from Shylock (Al Pacino), a Jew.

In Venice, Jews cannot own property, and they are forced to live in a “geto” (a walled-off section of the city), having only limited access to the city.  Antonio has publicly abused Shylock and other Jews for the practice of usury – money lending.  Spiteful and bitter, Shylock is glad to have Antonio in his debt.  In order to secure the money he wants to give Bassanio, Antonio promises that if he defaults on the loan, he’ll pay Shylock with a pound of flesh – literally.

Bassanio leaves with his friend Gratanio (Kris Marshall) to woo his love, but finds that Portia and her lady-in-waiting, Nerissa (Heather Goldenhersh), have been entertaining other suitors.  Like them, Bassanio must engage in a game of chance (blindly choosing which of three caskets holds the prize that earns Portia’s hand).  However, Jessica (Zuleikha Robinson), Shylock’s daughter, elopes with Bassanio’s friend, Lorenzo (Charlie Cox), and takes a large amount of her father’s personal wealth with her.  Wounded to his very soul, Shylock focuses on Antonio’s debt to him, and when Antonio does default on the loan, Shylock demands his pound of flesh.

I’ve never seen a previous film version of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (such as the 1973 version starring Laurence Olivier), and I’m only familiar with the text in passing, having never read the entire work.  Thus, I can only judge this film on its contents or merits.  Michael Radford’s version is a somber narrative with occasional explosions of passionate arguments about prejudice, bigotry, and discriminations, and only a few moments of genuinely harmonious scenes of romantic love.  Despite a diverse range of elegant and sumptuous costumes (for which costume designer Sammy Sheldon earned a 2005 BAFTA Award nomination), evocative sets, and stunning locales set on sunny isles (Venice, Italy), Radford’s film is marred by mumbled dialogue, dour characters, and an air of mean-spiritedness that permeates even the most pleasant moments.

The performances are adequate for transforming Shakespeare to the screen, but only Pacino gives a memorable performance as the righteous and wronged Shylock.  If you, dear reader, need to cheat for an English lit class, Cliff Notes would be better than this.  The film merits as a visual treat, but limps as a narrative.

5 of 10

Saturday, May 06, 2006

2005 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Costume Design” (Sammy Sheldon)

Updated:  Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Elizabeth Martel Grumbles for Indiegogo

Liz Martel donated to my Grumble campaign.  Please, join Liz in bringing Grumble #2 to life.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Review: Disney's "Frozen" is Pixar Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

Frozen (2013)
Running time:  102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some action and mild rude humor
DIRECTORS:  Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
WRITERS:  Jennifer Lee; from a story by Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, and Shane Morris (based on the story “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen)
PRODUCER:  Peter Del Vecho
EDITOR:  Jeff Draheim
COMPOSER:  Christophe Beck
SONGS:  Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Academy Award winner


Starring:  (voices) Kristin Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciaran Hinds, Chris Williams, Stephen J. Anderson, Eva Bell, Spencer Lacey Ganus, Tyree Brown, and June Christopher

Frozen is a 2013 computer-animated musical, comedy, and fantasy film directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee.  Produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, Frozen was released theatrically in 3D.  Frozen is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “The Snow Queen,” which was first published in 1844.  Frozen focuses on a young woman trying to break the curse of eternal winter, a curse started by the Snow Queen, who is her sister.

In the kingdom of Arendelle, the King and Queen have two daughters.  The older sister, Elsa, has the magical ability to create ice and snow.  The younger daughter, Anna, accidentally becomes a victim of her older sister’s power, causing a rift between the two formerly close siblings.  Years later, Elsa (Idina Menzel), is about to be crowned Queen of Arendelle.  Anna (Kristin Bell) is excited about her sister’s coronation, which will open the castle to the outside world for the first time in years.  At the coronation, a dispute between the sisters leads to Elsa loosing control of her now immense powers.  She inadvertently puts Arendelle in a deep freeze, before running away.

Anna is determined to find Elsa, now known as the “Snow Queen,” and to reconcile their relationship.  She befriends Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), a mountain man, and his reindeer, Sven, who decide to help her find the reclusive Elsa.  They are eventually joined by Olaf (Josh Gad), a joyous snowman.  Their journey is epic, but if Anna cannot reach Elsa, Arendelle will be cursed to suffer an eternal winter.

Frozen is one of the truly great animated films from Walt Disney Pictures.  It is the first computer-animated film from Walt Disney Animation Studios that is artistically and technically equal to the best computer-animated films from Pixar Animation Studios (now a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company).  In fact, Pixar’s John Lasseter was an executive producer on and a guiding hand behind Frozen.  Everything fantastic, wonderful, magical, joyous, and poignant that people expect of the best Disney and Pixar films is more than plentiful in Frozen, one of the finest films of 2013.

The voice cast, top to bottom, is excellent.  Honestly, every voice performance seems to be superb.  Kristin Bell and Idina Menzel give bravura performances individually and together; they have the kind of screen chemistry of which many casts can only dream of having.  Of course, Menzel is a standout singing Frozen’s signature song, the Oscar-winning “Let It Go.”  Josh Gad is scene-stealing gold as the comic-relief snowman, Olaf.  I have to admit that I’d like to see Olaf again.

Frozen’s song and musical score also make it the best Disney animated musical film since The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.  Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s songs for Frozen recall both the Broadway-styled numbers in Beauty and the Beast and the comic fantasy tunes of Aladdin.

Once upon a time, Walt Disney’s animated films were called “instant classics;” Frozen is an instant classic.  Also, the resolution of Elsa and Anna’s relationship separates Frozen from Disney’s other female-centric animated features.  For me, Frozen is now a personal favorite that I plan to watch repeatedly.

10 of 10

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Academy Awards, USA:  2 wins: “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, and Peter Del Vecho) and “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for the song “Let It Go”)

2014 Golden Globes, USA:  1 win: “Best Animated Feature Film” and 1 nomination: “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for the song, “Let It Go”)

2014 BAFTA Awards:  1 win: “Best Animated Film” (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee)

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dark Horse Comics Announces "The Art of The Venture Bros."



As rumored at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, Dark Horse Books proudly announces it will publish The Art of The Venture Bros.!

This massive coffee table book includes original artwork, character designs, storyboards, painted backgrounds, and props from every episode of The Venture Bros. to date, with accompanying commentary on the development of the series from co-creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer.

Check out the earliest sketches of all your favorite Venture Bros. characters and the genesis of the ideas that became some of the show’s funniest episodes.

To top it off, comedian Patton Oswalt pens a very special foreword!

The Art of The Venture Bros. is on sale October 22! Preorder your copy today at Amazon.

"Berserk: The Advent" Anime On DVD and Blu-ray


Lone Mercenary Guts Returns To The Band Of The Hawk For A Final Quest In The Exciting Climax To The Epic Medieval Anime Action Feature Film Trilogy

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest distributor and licensor of anime and manga in North America, offers the action-packed, bloody conclusion to the BERSERK anime feature film trilogy as it announces the release of BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC III - THE ADVENT on DVD and Blu-ray, available now.

The new release is rated ‘M’ for Mature Audiences and will carry a DVD MSRP of $19.98 U.S. / $24.98 CAN and a Blu-ray MSRP of $24.98 U.S. / $27.50 CAN. The DVD edition features Japanese and English 5.1 audio with both subbed and subtitled dialogue options. The Blu-ray version features crisp 1080p HD resolution along with Japanese and English DTS-HD audio and subbed and subtitled dialogue options.

DVD bonus features include a production art gallery, theatrical trailers, original Japanese TV spots and the ending theme, “breakthrough.” The Blu-ray edition also includes all DVD features with additional content, including a special highlight reel for the U.S. theatrical premiere of BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC II – THE BATTLE FOR DOLDREY, outtakes from THE ADVENT and THE EGG OF THE KING, and an interview with Eiko Tanaka, President of Studio 4ºC, which produced the entire BERSERK anime trilogy.

In BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC III - THE ADVENT, the horrifying conclusion to the Golden Age unfolds in a magnificently violent nightmare, signifying the birth of a new era. It’s been a year since Griffith’s imprisonment by the Kingdom of Midland. Once praised as the saviors of the Midland, the Band of the Hawk has been on the run and is on the brink of breaking apart. Much to everyone’s surprise, Guts returns to the Hawks, and the search for Griffith begins!

“The drama and on-screen action reaches a feverish climax in the stunning finale to the BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC trilogy,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Manager, Animation Marketing. “Audiences will not want to miss even a second of this stirring adventure, depicted in a lush blend of traditional and CGI animation, as the events set in motion in the previous two movies come to a head! Anime and action fans everywhere are going to delight in the violent but satisfying conclusion to the acclaimed trilogy.”


The BERSERK manga series, by Kentarou Miura, debuted in Japan in 1989 and quickly drew a devoted following, going on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. The series, still ongoing in Japan, has been published in North America and the UK, as well as in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Latin America. The BERSERK manga has also inspired a popular anime television series and has spawned a variety of related video games, collectable figures and toys, and music soundtracks, as well as the current BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC film trilogy.

For more information on the BERSERK: THE GOLDEN AGE ARC film trilogy, please visit the official Facebook page at:

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.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Grumble Digital Comics Indiegogo Campaign Update April 19, 2014

John Ira Thomas of Candle Light Press has contributed:

Amy Berg's "Deliver Us from Evil" is Powerful and Pointed

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 90 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Deliver Us from Evil (2006)
Running time:  103 minutes (1 hour, 43 minutes)
MPAA – (Not rated)
PRODUCERS:  Amy Berg, Matthew Cooke, Frank Donner, and Hermas Lassalle
CINEMATOGRAPHERS:  Jacob Kusk and Jens Schlosser
EDITOR:  Matthew Cooke
COMPOSERS:  Joseph Arthur and Mick Harvey
2007 Academy Award nominee

DOCUMENTARY – Religion and Crime

Starring:  Oliver O’Grady, Thomas Doyle, Jane Degroot, Case Degroot, Anne Jyono, Bob Jyono, Marie Jyono, and Nancy Sloan

Deliver Us from Evil is a 2006 Oscar-nominated documentary film from writer-director, Amy Berg.  The film focuses on a Catholic priest whom the Catholic Church relocated to various parishes around the United States for the better part of two decades in order to cover up his rape of dozens of children.

Berg has recently gained notoriety because of a documentary film upon which she is currently working.  The unnamed film reportedly contains sex abuse allegations made against director Bryan Singer.  Singer is best known for his work on 20th Century Fox’s X-Men film franchise and for the Oscar-winning film, The Usual Suspects.

From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, Catholic priest, Father Oliver O’Grady moved about Northern California molesting and raping countless children.  With her unsettling documentary, Deliver Us from Evil, director Amy Berg exposes the corruption inside the Catholic Church that allowed O’Grady to abuse children (and sometimes their parents).  Berg conducts a series of disturbing interviews with the pedophile priest that seek to provide a window for the viewer into the mind of this deeply troubled man, and Berg also mixes that with his victims’ stories.

Deliver Us from Evil attempts to construct a portrait of O’Grady as a spiritual leader who moved from church parish to church parish and gained the trust of various congregations, only to later betray so many of them by abusing their children.  Berg thoroughly investigates O’Grady’s past as a priest and speaks with many of his victims and parishioners, as well as participants involved in O’Grady’s legal cases.  Later in the film, she broadens her approach to take a look at clergy abuse of children in Boston, and she interviews people who believe that the problem of abuse is international and may have begun as early as the fourth century.  Experts on theology and law speak to the doctrinal, legal, and theological issues that establish an environment for abuse.

Although the film seems to lose focus the last 20 minutes or so, Deliver Us from Evil is as mesmerizing as any great film thriller or as riveting and frightening as any great horror movie, and it exposes evil that is widespread and even more destructive.

8 of 10

2007 Academy Awards:  1 nomination for “Best Documentary, Features” (Amy Berg and Frank Donner)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Updated:  Saturday, April 19, 2014

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

VIZ Media's Neon Alley Has "Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet" Anime Series


Catch The Entire Subtitled 13-Episode Series FOR FREE On Neon Alley Online Anime Streaming Platform!

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), the largest publisher, distributor and licensor of manga and anime in North America, brings the intergalactic action drama – GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET – to its new Neon Alley FREE online streaming anime platform.

The lushly animated 13-episode adventure was created by the famed animation studio Production I.G. and is available today in its entirety at For $7.99 a month, U.S. fans can also access GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET on mobile and digital devices through the subscription-based Hulu Plus Video-On-Demand service. The premiere of a dubbed version will follow later in the year.

In the distant future, Ledo, a young soldier from space wakes up and finds himself marooned on an ocean planet. Growing up in space, and knowing nothing but battle, he is a stranger in a strange land, full of odd customs and a foreign language, but he’s not alone. Starting a new journey on this verdurous planet, Ledo must find a way to survive and reconcile the fact that he may never be able to return home!

“GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET is a gorgeous story charting young pilot Ledo’s journey of self discovery as he visits a strange and nature-filled planet ‘Earth’ for the very first time,” says Charlene Ingram, Senior Manager, Animation Marketing. “The evocative adventure delivers a substantial plot, intriguing characters and beautifully rendered animation created by Japan’s most famous anime studios. With the flexibility of the free Neon Alley streaming platform, fans can dive in and marathon the entire series at their leisure!”

Neon Alley delivers the hottest in subbed and dubbed digital anime series, simulcast world premieres, exclusive on-demand access, and a massive legacy catalog of new as well as classic favorites (in HD when available). is a premier on-demand, online destination for streaming anime content in the U.S. The service is available for FREE online and also anytime, anywhere across a wide array of different devices, including PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Roku, Chromecast, and a variety of other mobile devices through the subscription-based Hulu Plus Video-On-Demand service. Additional details on Hulu Plus-enabled devices can be found at

Additional information on Neon Alley is available at:

For more information on anime titles from 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.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: "High Fidelity" is Endearing, Refreshing (Happy B'day, Nick Hornby)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 68 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

High Fidelity (2000)
Running time:  113 minutes (1 hour, 53 minutes)
MPAA – R for language and some sexuality
DIRECTOR:  Stephen Frears
WRITERS:  D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack, and Scott Rosenberg (based upon the book by Nick Hornby)
PRODUCERS:  Tim Bevan and Rudd Simmons
EDITOR:  Mick Audsley
COMPOSER:  Howard Shore
BAFTA Award nominee


Starring: John Cusack, Iben Hejejle, Todd Louiso, Jack Black, Lisa Bonet, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joan Cusack, Tim Robbins, Shannon Stillo, Joelle Carter, Lili Taylor, Alex Desert, and Bruce Springsteen

The subject of this movie review is High Fidelity, a 2000 comedy, drama, and romance from director Stephen Frears.  The film is based on the 1995 novel, High Fidelity, from author Nick Hornby.  High Fidelity focuses on a record store owner, who is a compulsive list maker, as he recounts his top five breakups, including the one that just occurred.

After seeing Identity, I decided to go back and see some John Cusack movies that I hadn’t seen.  I can call them “John Cusack movies” in the sense that Cusack’s personality pretty much dominates almost any film in which he stars.  He’s presence is simply quite dynamic and magnetic.  When he first came on the scene, many predicted that he’d be a huge star, and for some reason, his star isn’t as big as it should be.  However, few actors of his generation have a combination of tremendous acting talent and the sense about him that the camera loves.  Some have one or the other, but having both is rare.

In High Fidelity, John is Rob Gordon, owner of Championship Vinyl, a record store the specializes in collectible LP’s, emphasizing vinyl over compact disc, although the store does have a selection of hip and cool cd’s.  As the movie begins, his current girlfriend, Laura Lydon (Iben Hejejle) is leaving him.  So Rob, the film’s very dominate character and a compulsive list maker recounts his top five breakups, all the while trying to regain Laura’s companionship.

The film is based on a novel by Nick Hornby (the film About a Boy is also from one of his novels) and co-written by four writers including Cusack.  Although the film has a director with a pedigree, Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters), and a Hollywood hotshot as one of its screenwriters Scott Rosenberg (Con Air), this is John Cusack’s show.  In the beginning, the character Rob is a little hard to take.  It’s easy to see why he’d have problems with women, although Rob seems to think that his problems stem from his girlfriends.  Cusack builds Rob Gordon slowly, layer upon layer, before our eyes.  Rob talks a lot, and quite a bit of him is a mystery, but Cusack brings us in really close.  He totally breaks the mythical fourth wall between fictional character/performer and viewer, and though Rob remains something of an enigma, we learn enough about him to love him and to root for him.

There are quite a few interesting characters in the film that we don’t see more of because this is Rob’s show.  They might strengthen the story, but the storytelling is still excellent solely because of Cusack’s Rob.  Laura remains as elusive as Rob is, so we might need her version of High Fidelity to get her side of the relationship.

The film is funny, touching, and in its own quirky way, very romantic.  The supporting performances give Cusack’s Rob room to do his thing and give us enough to make Rob’s environment beyond his musings interesting.  High Fidelity could have been a disaster because in many ways, Rob ain’t going anywhere.  He doesn’t have any plans, and he is unsatisfied with his life, but not enough to do something – to act, so we could have brushed him off as a loser.  I didn’t because I want to hear every word he has to say.  Kudos to Cusack for making Rob so endearing and this film so refreshing.

7 of 10

2001 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical” (John Cusack)

2001 BAFTA Awards:  1 nominations:  “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack, and Scott Rosenberg)

2001 Black Reel Awards:  1 nomination: “Theatrical - Best Supporting Actress” (Lisa Bonet)

Updated:  Thursday, April 17, 2014

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