Showing posts with label Ian McKellen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ian McKellen. Show all posts

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from June 26th to 30th, 2022 - Update #18

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:


NETFLIX - From DeadlineCameron Diaz retired from acting in 2018, but now she is coming out of retirement to star with Jamie Foxx in the Netflix action-comedy, "Back in Action."

JAMES BOND - From Deadline:  "James Bond" producer Barbara Broccoli has revealed that it will be “at least two years“ before the next 007 movie begins filming and that the task of finding an actor to replace Daniel Craig hasn’t begun “because it’s a reinvention of Bond.”

SCANDAL - From Deadline:  The Grammy-winning recording artist, R. Kelly, was sentenced at a Brooklyn, NYC federal court to 30 years on nine counts of sex trafficking and racketeering.

CELEBRITY - From ScreenGeek:  "Jurassic World" star Chris Pratt says that some online commentary about him has made him cry.

CHADWICK BOSEMAN - From RadarOnline:  "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman died without a will.  His widow, Simone Ledward Boseman, has asked that the late actor's estate be divided evenly betweeen her and Boseman's parents.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  An array of British acting talent will appear in the period thriller, "The Critic," including Ian McKellen, Gemma Arterton, and Mark Strong, to name a few.

TELEVISION - From DeadlineAlex Wagner will take over Rachel Maddow's coveted 9 p.m. spot on MSNBC beginning Aug. 16th.  "The Rachel Maddow Show" is currently only appearing on Monday nights.  The name for Wagner's show is to be determined.

CELEBRITY - From Variety:  Controversial Oscar-nominee Alec Baldwin will interview controversial multiple Oscar winner Woody Allen.  The interview will appear on Instagram live Tues., June 28th at 10:30 a.m. EST.

BOX OFFICE - From Variety:  As the final numbers role in, "Elvis" is the winner of the 6/24 to 6/26/2022 weekend box office with a take of 31.1 million dollars over 29.6 million dollars for "Top Gun: Maverick."

From BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 6/24 to 6/26/2022 weekend box office is thus far a tie, according to early estimates.  New film, Elvis, and former champ, "Top Gun: Maverick," have both grossed 30.5 million dollars.

From TheWrap:  "Top Gun: Maverick" has become the first Tom Cruise movie to surpass the billion dollar mark at the worldwide box office office.

From Variety: The box office is back, and movie theaters are feeling confident.

AWARDS - From Deadline: The winners of at the BET Awards 2022 were announced last night, Sun., June 26th.  "Silk Sonic" (Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak) let all winners.

POLITICS - From YahooHuffPost:  Actor and international movie star, Samuel L. Jackson, rips Supreme Coon ... I mean ... Court Justice Clarence Thomas over his hypocrisy on Roe v. Wade and interracial marriage.

EMMYS - From Deadline:  The winners at the 2022 / 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were announced Fri., June 24th, streaming on Paramount+.  ABC's "General Hospital" won "Outstanding Daytime Drama."

From DeadlineMishael Morgan becomes the first Black woman to win win "Outstand Lead Actress" at the Daytime Emmys by winning  "Outstanding Lead Performance in a Daytime Drama, Actress" at the 49th Daytime Emmy Awards (Fri., June 24th) for her role as "Amanda Sinclair" on "The Young and the Restless."

MOVIES - From BBC:   "'Full Metal Jacket' and Kubrick: The Ultimate Anti-War Films" - a look the anti-war themes in the films of the late director, Stanley Kubrick.


ROE V. WADE - From NPR:  The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has overturned "Roe v. Wade."  It's gone, boo.

From TheRoot:  During a re-election really with Donald Trump, Congresswoman Mary Miller said that the overturning of "Roe v. Wade" a "historic victory for white life." [Sometimes, they tell you who they are - Leroy]

From GoogleDocs:  "Roe v. Wade": What you can do.

From RSNNewYorker:  We're not going back to the time before Roe. We're going somewhere worse.

From RSNVanityFair:  Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer's wrote a withering dissent to the court's conservative majority. Their conclusion: this opinion is "the curtailment of women's rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens."

From Truthout:  Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass) led a group of 20 Black Congresswomen who urged President Biden to to take urgent action to protect abortion rights.

From GuardianUK:  "'Fewer Rights Than Their Grandmothers': Read Three Justices' Searing Abortion Dissent"


From YahooAP:  An 18-year-old gunman slaughtered 19 children and two teachers on Tues., May 24th, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.  All 21 victims were in the same 4th grade classroom at Robb Elementary.

From TheDailyBeast:  Texas's top law enforcement official, Department of Public Safety Director Steve McGraw, has said that the school shooter in Uvalde, Texas could have been taken down in three minutes.

From TheDailyBeast:  Police officers responding to last month’s mass shooting at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school never even tried to open the door to the classroom where young children were trapped with the gunman, according to a new report. 

From Jacobin:  "The Uvalde Massacre has exposed the lies that once justified police militarization" by Branko Marcetic

From Truthout:  We don’t need more evidence that police can’t be trusted.

From Truthout:   44 percent of GOP voters view mass shootings as part of living in “Free Society”

From ABCNews:  Arnulfo Reyes, a teacher who survived the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, calls the local police "cowards" because of slow response to an active shooter at his school, Robb Elementary.  All of 11 students in his class were killed.

From DallasNews:  Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, one of the two teachers killed at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, has died of a heart attack two days after the murder of his wife.  They had been married for 24 years and had been high school sweethearts.

From Axios:  Texas gubernatorial candidate, Beto O'Rourke, interrupted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's gaslighting press conference on the Uvalde elementary school mass shooting.

From USAToday:  Beto O'Rourke's outburst at Gov. Greg Abbott's Uvalde news conference shows the spine Democrats need.

From BostonGlobe:  Steve Kerr, head coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors, asks "When are we going to do something?"

From NBCNews:  A Robb Elementary teacher describes "the longest 35 minutes of my life" and the terror she now feels.

From NBCNews:  The Uvalde school district had an extensive safety plan, but 19 children were killed at Robb Elementary anyway.  Even security plans that appear to be up to the latest research-based standards may have gaps and fall short of preventing the worst-case scenario, experts said.

From MSN:  Angeli Rose Gomez, the mother who was handcuffed outside Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, was able to get inside the school and rescue her two children.

From YahooNews:   Daniel Defense, the maker of the rifles used by the Uvalde massacre killer, has used "incendiary ads" in the past, including one in which a toddler holds one of its rifles.

From TheIntercept:  The police aren't obligated to protect anyone NOT in their custody, as the Supreme Court has ruled twice.

From RollingStone:  Right wing lies about the Second Amendment and why they tell them are killing America's childrne.

From Vice:  The law enforcement personnel in Texas that arrived at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas on Tues., May 24th did the opposite of what their own training documentary videos show.

From Vox:  Uvalde police keep changing their story.

From TheDailyBeast:  The families in Uvalde, Texas who lost loved one in the Robb Elementary massacre say that the cops there are "Nothing more than cowards" and that they need to pay for doing nothing while a gunman rampaged through the school last Tues, May 24th.

From TheNewYorker:  Thoughts and prayers, Uvalde, Texas. This is the America that Republicans and the right wing have being thinking about and praying for all these decades.

From ABC:  Sources say that Uvalde police and school district no longer cooperating with Texas probe of shooting of the May 24th massacre of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.

From GuardianUK:  Canada plans to freeze all handgun ownership.

From RSNWashPost:  Is it time to show the true horror of mass shooting - in pictures?

From MSN:  Angeli Gomez, the Uvalde mother who rescued her two children from the Robb Elementary shooting massacre, says that a police officer threatened to arrest her if she did not stop telling her story.

From RSNTheAtlantic:  The Uvalde police chose dishonor. Where was there courage?

From RSNWashPost:  Brenda Bell:  I hid from the Texas Tower sniper (Charles Joseph Whitman) in 1966. His successors have found us all.

From RSNTheIntercept:  "AR-15s Were Made to Explode Human Bodies. In Uvalde, the Bodies Belonged to Children" by Murtaza Hussain

From RSNNPR:  The tragic history of police responding too late to active shooters.

From VICE:  There is likely bodycam footage of the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, but the public may never see it.


From ABCNews:  A 18-year-old white MAN shot 13 people, killing 10 at a Buffalo, New York Tops Friendly Markets supermarket on Saturday, May 14, 2021.

From RSNAP:  The white male suspect in the Buffalo Tops Supermarket shooting, Payton Gendron, was charged with federal hate crimes on Wed., June 15th and could face the death penalty if convicted.

From Truthout:  The racist attack in Buffalo at the Tops Friendly supermarket was crafted to terrorize us.  We can fight back, and here’s how we fight back.

From WGRZ:  Who are the victims of the Buffalo Tops Friendly Markets grocery store shooting. This comes from local station WGRZ Channel 2 and includes video and some victim photos.

From BuffaloNews:  One of the 10 Black murder victims of the Buffalo massacre was Katherine "Kat" Massey.  She was a leader in her community and civil rights activist and advocate for education.

From NewYorkPost:  One of the 10 Black murder victims of the Buffalo massacre was Andre Mackniel. He was at TOPS Supermaket to pick up a birthday cake for his son.

From Truthout:  The racist attack in Buffalo, NY at the Tops supermarket was crafted to terrorize us, so here is how we fight back.

From CNN:  What is known about the 18-year-old MAN, Payton Gendron.

From NPR:  198 mass shooting this year ... so far.

From Truthout:  White supremacist massacre of 10 people in Buffalo, NY shows that the “Alt-Right” ideology leads to murder.

From RollingStone:  Buffalo rampage killing is "Straight Up Racially Motivated Hate Crime."

From InformedComment:  Rene Binet, the originator the "great replacement" was a French Nazi, and he saw all American as "Negroes," an "impure mestizo 'race'."

From WashPost:  Only 22 people saw the live-stream of a white terrorist kill Black shoppers at the Buffalo Tops Friendly Markets supermarket, but millions have seen it since...

From GuardianUK:  Buffalo Tops Friendly Markets shooter may have been motivated by "eco-fascism," a focus on overpopulation and environmental degradation.

From RSN:  "What Lessons Have We Learned From the Buffalo Shooting?" by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

From Truthout:  “Innocent” White People Are Also Complicit in the Anti-Black Murders in Buffalo by George Yancy.

From Truthout:  "Black Lives Matter" cofounder discovered that Alicia Garza has learned that her name is mentioned in the Buffalo Tops supermarket killer's manifesto.

From GuardianUK:   Cornell West says, "Trump isn't out there with a gun, but he's enabled this war against Black people.

From Slate:  From the Tulsa Race Massacre to the Buffalo Tops Friendly Markets shootings: the legacy of anti-Black violence.

From Truthout:  After mass shootings, Republicans shield white supremacists from scrutiny

From MSN:  Angeli Gomez, the Uvalde mom who rescued her children from the school shooting at Robb Elementary, says that local police have threatened to have her arrested if she does not stop telling her story.


From TheDailyBeast:  Russian soldiers allegedly raped and killed a 1-year-old Ukrainian boy and have reportedly raped or sexually abused children as young as 9 months old.


From NPR:  31 members of the white nationalist Patriot Front arrested near a "Pride Month" event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  They are believed to have been planning to riot held at a local before moving on to rioting downtown.  They were not the only haters trying to sour the "Pride in the Park" event, which included families with children.

From SpokesmanReview:  The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office released the names and photos of all 31 "Patriot Front" members who are suspects in a planned riot at the "Pride Month" event in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Friday, November 15, 2019

WaterTower Music Announces "The Good Liar" Soundtrack

The Good Liar Soundtrack Available on WaterTower Music

Two-time Academy Award Nominated Composer Carter Burwell Provides New Music for Director Condon’s Suspense Thriller Starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--WaterTower Music is excited to announce today’s digital release of the soundtrack to The Good Liar, a thriller from New Line Cinema about the secrets people keep and the lies they live. The film stars legendary actors Helen Mirren (Oscar winner, The Queen) and Ian McKellen (two-time Oscar nominee, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Gods and Monsters), together on the big screen for the first time. Directed by Bill Condon and based on the widely acclaimed novel by Nicholas Searle, The Good Liar hits theaters nationwide Friday, November 15, 2019. The music from the film is composed by Emmy Award winning and two-time Oscar nominated composer Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carol).

Condon, who won an Oscar as screenwriter of Gods and Monsters, glowingly discussed his frequent creative collaborator and what the composer brings to the music of The Good Liar. “Carter is a master of bringing out emotions that may exist under the surface and, if you go back and know what you’re looking for, he has a wonderful way of dropping little musical clues throughout. The scoring is the final element that ties all the pieces together.”

Burwell further elaborated on the film and its music. “The Good Liar opens with a classic overture, during which the main characters and their musical themes are introduced. The characters meet and we see that, like most people, they are not completely honest with each other. But five minutes into the film you know the level of deceit is much more serious than that.”

“As is obvious from its title,” the composer continued, “The Good Liar is about untruth, so early on I asked Bill how much lying the music should do. He felt the most important role for the score was to keep drawing us in, weaving its own web to tangle us enjoyably in the misdeeds we’re watching. Not so much lying to the audience as making them co-conspirators.”

Carter Burwell has composed the music for more than 90 feature films, including Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Rob Roy, Fargo, The Spanish Prisoner, Gods and Monsters, Velvet Goldmine, Three Kings, Being John Malkovich, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (BAFTA Award nominee for Film Music), Before Night Falls, A Knight’s Tale, The Rookie, Adaptation., Intolerable Cruelty, No Country for Old Men, In Bruges, Burn After Reading, Twilight, Where the Wild Things Are (Golden Globe nominee for Best Original Score), A Serious Man, The Blind Side, The Kids Are All Right, True Grit, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Parts 1 & 2, Mr. Holmes, Legend, Anomalisa, Hail, Caesar!, The Founder and Goodbye Christopher Robin.

Burwell wrote the music for 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell and written and directed by Martin McDonagh. He received an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award nomination and won the British Independent Film Award for Best Music for his work on the film. His other recent films include Wonderstruck, which premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and was Burwell’s fourth collaboration with director Todd Haynes; and the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a six-part Western anthology film for Netflix which marked their 17th project together and premiered in November 2018. His original score for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs was named to the 2019 Oscar shortlist. He also wrote the music for the animated feature Missing Link directed by Chris Butler. Among his recent credits, Burwell wrote the music for The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup and Steve Carell.

Burwell wrote the music for the drama Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and directed by Todd Haynes, which premiered in Cannes and was released in theatres in November 2015. He received his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Score for Carol, as well as nominations for a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award. He won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Award for Best Music Score for Carol and Anomalisa. Burwell previously worked with Haynes on Velvet Goldmine and the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet, for which he was nominated for two Emmy Awards and won for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score).

His theater work includes the chamber opera The Celestial Alphabet Event and the Mabou Mines productions of Mother and Lucia’s Chapters of Coming Forth by Day.

In 2005 he developed a concert work for text and music titled Theater of the New Ear, presented in New York, London and Los Angeles. The text, by Joel and Ethan Coen and Charlie Kaufman, was performed by a dozen actors, including Meryl Streep, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hope Davis, Peter Dinklage and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The music was performed by the eight-member Parabola Ensemble, conducted by Burwell.

Burwell’s dance compositions include the pieces The Return of Lot’s Wife, choreographed by Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig, and RABL, choreographed by Patrice Regnier. He has performed around the world with his own ensembles as well as others, such as The Harmonic Choir. His writing includes the essay "Music at Six: Scoring the News Then and Now," published in the inaugural issue of Esopus magazine in 2003 and reprinted in Harper's Magazine in 2004, and the essay “No Country for Old Music” in the 2013 Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics. Burwell has taught and lectured at The Sundance Institute, New York University, Columbia University, and Harvard University. His website is

Consummate con man Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), worth millions. And Roy means to take it all. From their very first meeting, Roy begins plying Betty with his tried and true manipulations, and Betty, who seems quite taken with him, is soon going along for the ride. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes—revealing more insidious deceptions that will take them both through a minefield of danger, intrigue and betrayal.

Helen Mirren and McKellen star together on screen for the first time, in this smart and suspenseful thriller from New Line Cinema about the secrets people keep and the lies they live. The Good Liar was directed by Bill Condon, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Gods and Monsters, from a screenplay by Jeffrey Hatcher (Mr. Holmes), based on the widely acclaimed novel by Nicholas Searle. The main cast also includes Russell Tovey (The History Boys, Quantico) and Jim Carter (Downton Abbey).

The film was produced by Greg Yolen and Bill Condon. Richard Brener, Andrea Johnston, Aaron L. Gilbert, Jason Cloth, Anjay Nagpal, Jack Morrissey and Nick O’Hagan served as executive producers. The creative filmmaking team included director of photography Tobias Schliessler, production designer John Stevenson, editor Virginia Katz, and costume designer Keith Madden. The music was composed by Carter Burwell.

New Line Cinema presents, in association with BRON Creative, a 1000 Eyes Production, a Bill Condon Film, The Good Liar. It is being distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from December 17th to 23rd, 2017 - Update #31

Support Leroy on Patreon.

BLM - From Lobelog:  Free Ahed Tamimi!  She hurt the IDF's masculinity.

MOVIES - From TheVillageVoice:  "Searching for Daniel Day-Lewis."

MOVIES - From Variety:  Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown" will be 20 years old Christmas Day.

STAR TREK - From Deadline:  Paramount has set Mark L. Smith to write the screenplay for the announced R-rated Star Trek movie that Quentin Tarantino says he wants to direct and J.J. Abrams will produce.

SPORTS - From BET:  Former Major League Baseball player, Darryl Strawberry, admitted to having sex in the team clubhouse during games.

POLITICS - From teleSUR:  Oxfam describes the situation in Yemen as an "apocalypse," after 1000 days of a U.S. backed military campaign by Saudi Arabia.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  The board of directors of The Weinstein Company will meet today to consider bids to buy the company, in the wake of the co-founder Harvey Weinstein facing multiple accusations of sexual abuse, harassment, and misconduct.

MOVIES - From GQ:  "The Dark Optimism of Paul Thomas Anderson."

MOVIES - From RollingStone:  Cher makes her grand entry in the "Mamma Mia" sequel.

MOVIES - From THR:  Josh Gad joins Disney's "Artemis Fowl" film.

MOVIES - From TheWrap:  Nick Castle who played Michael Myers in John Carpenter's 1978 "Halloween" is returning to play the character again in next year's David Gordon Green directed reboot.

MOVIES - From TheWrap:  Bradley Cooper's "A Star is Born" remake, in which he stars with Lady Gaga, has been moved from a Summer 2018 release date to October 2018.

MOVIES - From YahooEntertainment:  Yahoo's "50 Best Movies of 2017."  Their pick for best is "Lady Bird."

From YahooEntertainment:  Yahoo's "10 Worse Movies of 2017."  "Baywatch" is the winner/loser.

SPORTS - From YahooEntertainment:  NBA legend, former L.A. Laker, Kobe Bryant, talks about his animated short film, "Dear Basketball," directed by Disney legend, Glen Keane.

BLM - From YahooLifestyle:  George Zimmerman, who killed an African-American child named Trayvon Martin, has threatened to kill Jay-Z who is produced a six-part docuseries about Trayvon Martin, "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story."

COMICS - From THR:  Elvis Presley will battle aliens!  "Bubba Ho-Tep," the Joe R. Lansdale novella that became a 2002 cult film (from director Don Coscarelli), will get a prequel comic book from IDW Publishing in 2018.

MOVIES - From BoxOfficeMojo:  There will be a whole lotta movies released on Christmas Day 2017.

MOVIES - From TheHollywoodReporter:  Paramount Pictures announces release dates for GI Joe, Micronauts, and Dungeons & Dragons films.

ANIMATION - From ShadowandAct:  Adam Reid's animated sci-fi comedy, "Barry and Joe: The Animated Series," gets some backing from late-night talk show host, Conan O'Brien.

TELEVISION - From ShadowandAct:  HBO has picked up two new shows from Issa Rae, the creator of the acclaimed HBO series, "Insecure."

SCANDAL - From Deadline:  BBC preps a feature-length, definitive documentary about the "Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal."

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 12/15 to 12/17/2017 weekend box office is "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" with an estimated take of $220 million.

From Deadline:  "I, Tonya" leads specialty box office for the second weekend.

From Variety:  "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" hits $230 million in international box office.

From YahooEntertainment:  Bob and Harvey Weinstein apparently blacklisted Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino from films in which they were involved, including "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "Bad Santa."

STREAMING - From IndieWireTV:  Ian McKellen wants to play Gandalf in Amazon's upcoming "Lord of the Rings" TV series. McKellen says he is not to old because Gandalf is over 7000 years old.


From TheWrap:  Sports broadcaster, Dick Enberg, has died at the age of 82, Thursday, December 21, 2017.  Over his nearly 60-year career, Enberg worked for CBS, NBC, and ESPN covering eight Super Bowls, multiple World Series, and the Wimbledon tennis tournament.  He is also famous for his catchphrase, "Oh, my!"

From Variety:  Film production designer, Therese DePrez, has died at the age of 52, Tuesday, December 19, 2017.  DePrez is best known for her work on Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan," but over her long career, she had worked on such films as Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam" and John Cameron Mitchell's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

From Deadline:  The actress Hiep Thi Le has died at the age of 46, Tuesday, December 19, 2017.   She was best known for playing the role of real-life Le Ly Hayslip in Oliver Stone's 1994, "Heaven and Earth."  Le was also a celebrated restaurateur and chef.

From THR:  The actress Heather North has died at the age of 71, Thursday, November 30, 2017.  Although she appeared in numerous films and TV shows ("The Monkees," "My Three Sons"), North is best known as the voice of "Daphne Blake," on various "Scooby-Doo" animated TV series, beginning with the second season of the first Scooby-Doo series, "Scooby-Doo Where Are You!"

From BleedingCoolBob Givens, the man who created the official design for Bugs Bunny, has died at the age of 99, Thursday, December 14, 2017.  Given was asked to redesign the "too cute" Bugs, and Given's iconic look first appeared in the animated short film, "A Wild Hare."  Given, once an employee of Walt Disney, participated in the notorious 1941 strike at Disney.  [Thank you and rest in peace, Mr. Givens. - Leroy]

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from August 21st to 27th, 2016 - Update #40

Support Leroy on Patreon.

SPORTS - From YahooSports:  San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick causes discomfort by not standing for the National Anthem in protest.

CULTURE - From AmericanHeraldTribune:  American exceptionalism means we can sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia to kill civilians in Yemen.

CRIME - From NBCNews:  Rodney Earl Sanders charged with the the death of two 68-year-old nuns in Mississippi.

OBIT - From TheWrap:  The actor Marvin Kaplan has died at the age of 89, Thursday, August 25, 2016.  Kaplan was best known for his role on the sitcom, "Alice," as the phone lineman Harry Beesmeyer.  He was also noted for his voice work on the animated series, "Top Cat."

MOVIES - From Variety:  Sam Mendes is in early talks to direct a live-action film based on Roald Dahl's book, James and the Giant Peach.  20 years ago, Disney released a version of "James and the Giant Peach" that mixed live-action and stop-motion animation.

COMICS-FILM:  From THR:  The screenwriters of the hit film, "The Fault in Our Stars," are working on the script for "New Mutants," Fox's adaptation of one of the X-Men spinoff comic books.  The lineup of characters has also been announced.

From CBR:  Josh Boone, the director of "The Fault in Our Stars," is slated to direct "New Mutants."  He co-wrote the early drafts of the script with Knate Lee, and credited the original creative team of the "New Mutants," Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod.

COMICS-FILM - From YahooNews:  Joe and Anthony Russo are telling tales of "Captain America: Civil War" for its DVD release.

COMICS - From BleedingCool:  See pages from an unpublished comic book adaptation of "Peter Pan."

TELEVISION - From BleedingCool:  Seth McFarlane and Jon Favreau unite for a sci-fi comedy that just sounds like crap.

MOVIES - From BleedingCool:  Jeremy Renner is joining the voice cast "Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad."

TELEVISION - From BleedingCool:  Chris O'Dowd and Ray Romano will be the lead in Epix's "Get Shorty" series, based on the book and movie.

POLITICS - From RollingStone:  Curt Schilling is the next Donald Trump says Matt Taibbi.  I think losing his fortune is what is driving him crazy.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Helen Mirren in talks to join Disney's "The Nutcracker" film.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  Sarah Paulson in talks to join the all-female "Ocean's Eight."

MOVIES - From Variety:  Denzel Washington is interested in starring in "Inner City," a legal drama from Dan Gilroy, the mastermind behind 2014's "Nightcrawler."

MOVIES - From TheWrap:  Victor Miller, the writer of the original "Friday the 13th," is seeking to reclaim rights to the movie, which has lead to a lawsuit.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Beloved French film, "The Intouchables" (2011), is being remade with Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart.  Neil Burger is set to direct.

MOVIES - From YahooNews:  Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the highest-paid actor.

MOVIES - From YahooMovies:  The fallout from a summer full of movie flops.

COMICS-FILM - From Variety:  Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment announced a new comic book movie, "Dark Universe," also known as "Justice League Dark."  Doug Liman has been announced as the director.

COMICS-FILM - From THR:  Marvel Studios has a short-list of three female directors to helm its "Captain Marvel" movie, which is not due until March 2019.

MUSIC - From YahooMusic:  Prince's "Paisley Park" to open to public tours in October 2016.

TELEVISION - From Variety:  Amazon and Warner Bros. is developing a TV version of Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning film, "The Departed," which was based on a Hong Kong film, "Infernal Affairs."

TELEVISION - From Variety:  The actor Steven Hill has died at the age of 94 on Tuesday, August 23, 2016.  Hill was best known as New York City District Attorney Adam Schiff on "Law & Order" during the series first decade.  Schiff was also played "Dan Briggs," the first leader of the Impossible Missions Force during the first season of "Mission: Impossible."  [Actor Peter Graves' Jim Phelps replaced Hill's Briggs as the leader for the series second season.]

MOVIES - From YahooMovies:  Jennifer Lawrence is the world's  highest paid actress.

BOX OFFICE - From YahooMovies:  Box office flop, "Ben-Hur," a remake of an Oscar-winning 1959 film, may lose up to $100 million dollars.

MOVIES - From TheTrackingBoard:  If you want more original films and fewer remakes and sequels, buy tickets to original films.

COMICS - From Mashable:  The new African-American female Iron Man will be called "Iron Heart."

MOVIES - From FlickeringMyth:  John Boyega gives a small update on "Pacific Rim 2."

FILM - From Variety:  10 actors to watch.

CULTURE - From HitFix:  Napster founder, Sean Parker, offered Ian McKellen $1.5 million to marry him and his bride, but McKellen had to dress as "Gandalf" from the Lord of the Rings.  McKellen declined.

COMICS-FILM - From ScreenRant:  Doctor Strange may appear in "Thor: Ragnarok."

SPORTS - From YahooFinance:  Kobe Bryant has set up a $100 million dollar venture capital fund with tech entrepreneur and investor, Jeff Stibel.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 8/19 to 8/21/2016 weekend box office is "Suicide Squad" with an estimated take of $20.7 million.

From Deadline:  "The Secret Life of Pets" #1 at international box office.

PRINCE - From YahooNews:  An official in the investigation of the death of Prince says that synthetic drugs were found at his estate and those pills fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin.

MOVIES - From TheDailyBeast:  Comedy god/legend Mel Brooks talks about his films, including the controversial and fantastic "Blazing Saddles."

CRIME - From ChicagoSunTimes:  Chicago cops throw the bodycam microphones on a roof.


From YouTube:  A special clip wishing "Happy Birthday" to Katherine Johnson, one of the women whose story is told in the movie, "Hidden Years," due January 13, 2017.

From YouTube:  The first trailer for the film, "Rings," which may be a reboot of or sequel to "The Ring" horror movie franchise.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review: "Mr. Holmes" Shows that Ian McKellan is as Sharp as Ever

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 4 (of 2016) by Leroy Douresseaux

[A version of this review originally appeared in Patreon.]

Mr. Holmes (2015)
Running time:  104 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes)
DIRECTOR:  Bill Condon
WRITER:  Jeffrey Hatcher (based on the novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, by Mitch Cullin)
PRODUCERS:  Iain Canning, Anne Carey, and Emile Sherman
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Tobias A. Schliessler
EDITOR:  Virginia Katz
COMPOSER:  Carter Burwell

DRAMA with elements of a mystery

Starring:  Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hattie Morahan, Patrick Kennedy, Frances de la Tour, Roger Allam, and John Sessions

Mr. Holmes is a 2015 British-American drama from director Bill Condon and writer Jeffrey Hatcher.  The film is based on the 2005 novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, from author Mitch Cullin.  Mr. Holmes the movie focuses on an aged and retired Sherlock Holmes, who struggles with early dementia as he tries to remember his final case, which haunts him.

Mr. Holmes opens in 1947.  The long-retired Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) returns from abroad and travels to Headley House, his farmhouse in Sussex.  He shares his home with Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney), his housekeeper and a war widow, and Roger (Milo Parker), her young son.  Holmes is suffering from early dementia or “senility.”  His trip abroad was to Japan, specifically Hiroshima, where he hoped to find the prickly ash plant, as he believes a “jelly” made from the plant can act as an elixir and help his failing memory.

Holmes is trying to recall his last case, which occurred over 30 years prior.  A suspicious husband, Thomas Kelmot (Patrick Kennedy), had asked Holmes to investigate his wife, Ann (Hattie Morahan).  Something happened, leaving the case unfinished and causing Holmes to retire.  Unhappy with his ex-partner, Dr. John Watson's account of the case, Holmes hopes to write his own account.  However, he has trouble recalling the details, but young Roger's curiosity drives the legendary detective to close a troubled chapter in his famed career.

Sherlock Holmes first appeared in the 1887 detective novel, A Study in Scarlet, which was written by British author, Arthur Conan Doyle.  Just over a decade later, the Holmes character began appearing in films, and after a little more than a century, Holmes has appeared in over 200 films (according to the British newspaper, The Telegraph).

Although I am a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I would be surprised if I have seen even 30 of those films.  I am certainly happy to have experienced Mr. Holmes.  It is one of the best Sherlock Holmes films that I have ever seen, primarily because of Ian McKellen's tenderly-wrought and alluring turn as Holmes.

As the 93-year-old Holmes, McKellen fashions a vulnerable man, who doggedly fights a losing battle with his health.  Still, he maintains his dignity and learns to change and to acknowledge his errors and misjudgments, both in the past and in the present.  As the Holmes seen in this film's flashbacks, who is in his late 50s or early 60s (which is somewhat unclear), McKellen presents a Holmes who is clearly a man of some age, but who is also clearly still a detective in full.  It is a testament to McKellen's skills and talent as a thespian that he can make two versions of “old-man Holmes” that are distinct from one another and are of different states of mind and intellect.

Laura Linney is potent and fiery as Mrs. Munro, although the script mostly keeps her restrained, even silently suffering.  Once again, a consummate actor takes what is given to her and makes it more than an actor of lesser skills could.  Young Milo Parker steals the movie as the brash Roger, who is on the cusp of young manhood and whose curiosity is a torch that brings light to what could have been a dark and moody film.

I recommend Mr. Holmes without reservations to fans of Sherlock Holmes movies and to fans of director Bill Condon.  He seems always to deliver interesting films that grab the audience with their unique way of being film narratives.  I think that there must simply be at least a few film award nominations in its future because Mr. Holmes does Sherlock Holmes so differently and so delightfully.

8 of 10

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: "The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies" is a Fantastic Ending to a Joyous Trilogy

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux (support on Patreon)

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies (2014)
Running time: 144 minutes (2 hours, 24 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
DIRECTOR: Peter Jackson
WRITERS: Frances Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro (from the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien)
PRODUCERS: Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Carolynne Cunningham, and Zane Weiner
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Lesnie (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Jabez Olssen
COMPOSER: Howard Shore
Academy Award nominee

FANTASY/ACTION/ADVENTURE with elements of drama

Starring:  Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Luke Evans, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Christopher Lee, Ian Holm, Sylvester McCoy, Ryan Gage, John Bell, Peggy Nesbitt, Mary Nesbitt, and Benedict Cumberbatch (also voice)

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies is a 2014 fantasy-adventure film from director Peter Jackson.  The film is the third of three movies which are based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 novel, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (better known by its abbreviated title, The Hobbit).  Set sixty years before The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit is the story of a curious Hobbit who joins a company of 13 Dwarves on a mission to reclaim their homeland from a powerful dragon.  The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies centers on the struggle to control the Lonely Mountain.

As The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies begins, Smaug (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch), the dragon that ruled over the Lonely Mountain, attacks the human settlement, Lake-town.  Now, only Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans), who is practically an outcast among his fellow humans, knows how to stop the dragon, but can he actually do it?

The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), has helped the Company of Dwarves, at last, reclaim their homeland, Erebor.  Having rid themselves of Smaug, the Dwarves settle into their ancestral home.  However, their would-be king, Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), decides that he wants to keep the vast, uncountable treasure in Erebor for himself.  He seals off Erebor, even as the human survivors of Lake-town seek refuge in the nearby ruins of Dale.

Bilbo soon finds himself caught between different groups that want a share of the treasure of Erebor.  Bard, now the spokesman and ostensible leader of the humans, wants the share of the treasure Thorin promised to the humans if they helped him; now, Thorin refuses to honor that promise.  Meanwhile, the Wood-elves and their arrogant king, Thranduil (Lee Pace), have arrived in Dale, seeking the white diamonds that belong to the Elves.  While Dwarves, Elves, and humans squabble, the blood-thirsty Azog the Defiler and a war party of Orcs marches toward the Lonely Mountain like a rising tide of darkness, prepared to conquer and to kill.

When I heard that Tolkien's The Hobbit would be adapted into two films by Peter Jackson, the guiding force behind the Lord of the Rings films, I was quite pleased.  I have loved The Hobbit since I first saw the 1977 animated television film adaptation, and I have read Tolkien's original novel at least three or four times.  I was ambivalent when I heard that the two-film adaptation would become a three-film adaptation.  After seeing the second film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, I was suddenly quite interested in the third film again.

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies did not disappoint me.  I do think that the word, “war,” is spoken too many times in this movie (for my taste).  Other than that, I love The Battle of Five Armies unconditionally.  The Hobbit reminds me of a grand adventure that a boy or a young man has with this friends.  Soon, the adventure is over, and he must say goodbye to his friends – some for only a short time, some for a long time, and others forever.

The filmmakers retained the sense of friendship throughout the trilogy.  The undertaking of an adventure that becomes a coming-of-age adventure also permeates The Hobbit film trilogy.  However, The Battle of Five Armies most personifies themes of friendship and obligation, and the sense of a bond between companions is strong in this movie, making it poignant as well as thrilling.

In the end, I thank Peter Jackson for his efforts.  I find it hard to think critically about this film individually or The Hobbit trilogy as a whole.  I felt The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies in my heart, and yes, I teared up quite a bit, especially during the goodbyes.  I wish there were another adventure to come, but I can always revisit this one.

9 of 10

Monday, May 18, 2015

2015 Academy Awards, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Brent Burge and Jason Canovas)

2015 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Special Visual Effects” (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, and R. Christopher White)

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.


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Friday, June 3, 2011

Review: Matthew Vaughn Makes Magic Out of "Stardust"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 130 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Stardust (2007)
Running time: 128 minutes (2 hours, 8 minutes)
MPAA РPG-13 for fantasy violence and some risqu̩ humor
DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn
WRITERS: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn (based upon the novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess)
PRODUCERS: Matthew Vaughn, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Dreyer, and Neil Gaiman
EDITOR: Jon Harris


Starring: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro and Ian McKellen (voice), Kate Magowan, Melanie Hill, Mark Strong, Henry Cavill, Ben Barnes, and Dexter Fletcher

Matthew Vaughn, the acclaimed director of Layer Cake, adds one more eclectic film to his young filmography, the late Summer 2007 film, Stardust, an adaptation of the novel written by Neil Gaiman (American Gods) and illustrated by Charles Vess. Although Stardust proved to be excellent late summer, counter-programming to the normal empty big budget fare that crowds movie theatres during the warm months, it failed to catch on with American audiences. That’s sad, really.

Young Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox) lives in the sleepy English village of Wall, which is named for the cobblestone wall that has for eons kept the villagers safe from the supernatural parallel universe that lies just on the other side of the wall – the fantastical realm of Stormhold. One evening, Tristan makes a promise to the prettiest girl in the village, Victoria (Sienna Miller), whose heart he hopes to win, when the two spy a star falling from the sky and landing on the other side of the wall. Tristan pledges to Victoria that he will bring back the star for her hand in marriage.

Crossing the forbidden wall, Tristan makes his way to the star’s crash site only to discover that the star is different from what he expected. It is a spirited young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes), injured by her tumble from the heavenly firmament. However, before he can get Yvaine back to his home, Tristan must protect her from the chilling witch, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), who wants to murder Yvaine and use the star’s heart to achieve eternal youth and beauty. With the help of an eccentric pirate, Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro), Tristan and Yvaine evade the clutches of Lamia and anyone who wants to harm her, but in his adventure through Stormhold, Tristan may finally discover the secrets of his own past.

There are no elements in Stardust that can be described as “great,” except for Michelle Pfeiffer’s truly inspired performance as Lamia, but when all the components are brought together, they make a film that is an exceptional screen fantasy. Matthew Vaughn brings together all the elements: odd components from the original story and peculiar screenplay adaptation; the eccentric performances, and the knotty, but imaginative production work of his creative crew (cinematography, production design, score, etc.), all of which create a convincing fantasy world. It’s a world that the more audiences buy into the setting; the more they are willing to vicariously experience Tristan and Yvaine’s adventure.

As for the performances, the aforementioned Ms. Pfeiffer really stands out as Lamia. Her performance is one of those charming displays of acting that critics describe as delicious, and if that’s the case, Pfeiffer prepares a feast. She’s wicked with an extra dose of wickedness, but her evil is so luminous and Pfeiffer looks so good that Lamia is like a beautiful poison thing.

The rest of the cast is good. Claire Danes and Charlie Cox don’t exactly burn up the screen as the star-crossed pair, but they work in the context of the film. It’s much the same with Robert De Niro’s performance. De Niro’s Captain Shakespeare works best when paired with Dexter Fletcher’s Skinny Pirate. It’s all a matter of the right ingredients coming together at the right time in the right place. Perhaps, that’s the best way to explain why Stardust works – it’s all about chemistry.

7 of 10

Friday, October 12, 2007


Friday, February 26, 2010

Review: "X-Men: The Last Stand" is a Mixed Bag of Good and Bad

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 115 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Running time: 105 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of action violence, some sexual content, and language
DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner
WRITERS: Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn
PRODUCERS: Avi Arad, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Ralph Winter
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dante Spinotti (with Philippe Rousselot)
EDITORS: Mark Goldblatt, Mark Helfrich, and Julia Wong


Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, Kelsey Grammar, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones, Patrick Stewart, Ben Foster, Dania Ramirez, Michael Murphy, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ellen Page, Josef Sommer, Bill Duke, and Daniel Cudmore

Warren Worthington III (Ben Foster) is a mutant; a pair of large, white angelic wings grows out of his back. His father, Warren Worthington II (Michael Murphy), through his pharmaceutical company, has created a “cure” for mutancy, one that will suppress the gene that makes them unique, take away their powers and make them normal humans. Worthington wants to use it on his son...

Meanwhile, the X-Men are in a state of flux. Ororo Munroe/Storm (Halle Berry) is now the X-Men’s leader, while Scott Summers/Cyclops (James Marsden) mourns the loss of the love of his life, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), who was apparently killed in X2: X-Men United. Now, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), founder of the X-Men and a school for mutants on his palatial estate, wants Storm to take leadership of the X-Men. Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) finds himself caught in the middle, counseling Storm, the Professor, and a teen mutant love triangle: Rogue (Anna Paquin), Bobby Drake/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), and Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page). With all that drama, they find the issue of Worthington’s cure brought to their doorstep when an old colleague, the blue-furred Dr. Hank McCoy/Beast (Kelsey Grammar), visits to inform the X-Men of the cure’s existence.

A “cure” for mutancy threatens not only the status quo, but also threatens to alter history. For the first time, mutants have a choice. They can retain the thing that makes them unique and gives them their powers, although that also isolates them, alienates them from normal humanity, and marks them as targets for humans afraid of mutants. Or they can take the cure, give up their powers, and become humans. Magneto (Ian McKellen), the mutant mastermind and powerful adversary of the X-Men, believes that taking the cure won’t always be voluntary, and that one day mutants will be in internment camps where the government will force them to take the cure. Magneto gathers a mutant army, a brotherhood of mutants, including X-Men turncoat Pyro (Aaron Stanford) and such new faces as Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) and Callisto (Dania Ramirez), to wage war against humanity and any mutants that stand in his way. However, a powerful new ally, one even more powerful than Magneto, joins the brotherhood – a mutant with power to trigger the war to end all wars. Known as Phoenix, this mutant’s arrival also causes deep turmoil within the X-Men.

X-Men: The Last Stand is a very well made film. Brett Ratner (the Rush Hour franchise) directed a movie that doesn’t have many dry or dull moments. This is a graphic film in terms of violence, but it is also visceral and purposefully driven. Ratner visually captures the script’s rough interplay of ideas about bigotry, conformity, self-defense, and zealotry. It’s all about an “eye for an eye” and “get you before you get me.” The film also has especially high production values. In terms of cinematography, this is the best looking film in the X-Men franchise. It has a gritty futuristic look when necessary, but can also come across as a lifelike, moody drama and character piece when needed. The sets, costumes, and art direction are as good as those in any superhero film (except for maybe the Spider-Man films).

The acting is good, quite good in fact. The script and director allow Hugh Jackman to show a more dramatic and human side of Wolverine, he’s more a character than he is the cool, killing machine (as he was in the second X-Men film, X2), and Jackman, a fine actor, is more than up to the task of being a somber, stern, and sober actor. Halle Berry, who’d long demanded more screen time and more meat in her role as Storm, gets it here. Her Storm makes an effective leader, and though some of Storm’s dialogue sounds clumsy coming out of her mouth, Berry takes on her larger part with brazen confidence. Ian McKellen is masterful as Magneto; his words carry the force of a born leader, a king, and a master strategist. Proud and bold, he has his eyes on the prize, and he doesn’t waver even when his troops falter. The younger cast members, new mutants like Ashmore, Paquin, Stanford, and others add freshness to this dire third film.

However, for all that this flick is so well made, X-Men: The Last Stand is too dark and downbeat, and (considering that children are a big part of its intended audience) a bit too spicy with language and one almost-love-scene. Some of the action sequences are overdone, over the top, and some seem embarrassingly desperate, such as the one at the Golden Gate Bridge. The surprise new character seems like a fifth wheel/third leg – overdone, unnecessary, and maybe even misused and underutilized. At the end of the day, X-Men: The Last Stand just manages to outdo its gloom and doom with good acting and some surprisingly adroit wit and many clever asides. It’s sad to see this trilogy put forth such a dark final(?) piece, but this mosaic does have enough shiny pieces that I can at least give it a “B” with reservations.

6 of 10

Saturday, May 27, 2006



Review: "X2: X-Men United" is Still the Best X-Men Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 65 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

X2: X-Men United (2003)
Running time: 133 minutes (2 hours, 13 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action/violence, some sexuality, and brief language
DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer
WRITERS: Michael Dougherty, Daniel P. Harris, and David Hayter; from a story by Zak Penn, David Hayter, and Bryan Singer
PRODUCERS: Lauren Shuler-Donner and Ralph Winter
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Newton Thomas Sigel (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: John Ottman with Elliot Graham


Starring: Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Bruce Davison, Anna Paquin, Kelly Hu, Shawn Ashmore, and Aaron Stanford

Once upon a time, a good sequel to a successful film was a big deal. Then, came a time that when a sequel surpassed the original, movie fans really had to take notice. X2: X-Men United, the sequel to the 2000 film X-Men, blows its predecessor away. I’m not kidding. Once it was difficult for me to name five great films based upon superhero comics; hell, I would need to add movies based on any comic character just to come up with five decent films based on that genre. Now with Blade II and this film, I’m in hog heaven; they’re signs that maybe good things can come from superhero movies. Let’s be honest: The Matrix is a comic book movie without actually being a comic book first.

In the new film, a mutant new on the scene, named Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner (Alan Cumming) makes an attempt on the life of the President of the United States (Cotter Smith). A military scientist, General William Stryker (Brian Cox) uses that attack to spur the President McKenna into giving Stryker permission to initiate an attack on the X-Men. Stryker uses drugs to force the secrets of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and his School for Gifted Youngsters out of Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto (Ian McKellan). While the professor and Scott Summers/Cyclops are off to visit Magneto and Dr. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) and Ororo Munroe/Storm (Halle Berry) are off to find Nightcrawler, Stryker and an assault force attack the school where Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is babysitting the students. Now divided, the X-Men must reunite and also find themselves with old foes Magneto and Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) as allies in their war against Stryker. And the merry mutants must also discover the whereabouts of their professor before the evil Stryker uses him to unleash Armageddon on mutantkind.

X-Men director Bryan Singer returns for the sequel, but X2 is so much different from the first. It’s more fun, and there is lots more action. It’s an edge-of-your-seat, rollicking slugfest from beginning to end, filled with suspense and sci-fi thrills. The film is gorgeous. The sets, props, and special effects are tight. The costumes look good, seeming almost as natural civilian clothing; in fact the X-Men spend a lot of time in regular clothes, so they really do seem like regular guys (albeit with special powers) who are being harassed by dangerous jerks. Almost everyone in this film, from good guy to bad, is cool, beautiful, and stylish – always looking hip while in character. Even the hairdos are hittin.’

Best of all is the story. In the first movie, the story had a few glitches, some starts and stops, but this time, the screenplay is a lean, mean fighting machine. Every character, both large and small, plays his part to the hilt. Everybody counts, not like in the first film where many smaller parts seemed painfully extraneous. Every actor makes a point to make his moments on the screen count, and that gives the film a striking verisimilitude.

Dude! The writers unleash Wolverine. He kicks lots of butt, and Hugh Jackman seems to be having a ball doing it. He really gets to use those claws, and the bad guys get a taste of hot, adamantium (the metal from which Wolverine’s claws are made) rage. Nightcrawler is a very good character, and I expected a disaster when I first saw early photos of the character. Stryker and his killer companion Yuriko Oyama (Kelly Hu) are very good bad guys; they made me care, made me hope really badly, that they’d get theirs in the end.

Words won’t do this justice. This is a comic book fanboy’s dream: a great X-Men movie – pure action, great adventure, thrilling suspense, and sci-fi as awe-inspiring as you’d find in some of the best science fiction films. If you liked the first one, you’ll really like this one. If you only had a passing interest in the original, that’s all the more reason to see the sequel. X2: X-Men United could be the pinnacle of superhero films. I know I’ll be harping on its super goodness for a long time. It’s not totally dumb, the story throws the viewer a few tidbits to think about. But, really, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

8 of 10


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Review: First" X-Men" Film is Surprisingly Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 64 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

X-Men (2000)
Running time: 104 minutes (1 hour, 44 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer
WRITERS: David Hayter, from a story by Tom DeSanto and Bryan Singer
PRODUCERS: Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Newton Thomas Sigel (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Steven Rosenblum, Kevin Stitt, and John Wright


Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Tyler Mane, Ray Park, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and Bruce Davison

Rogue (Anna Paquin, The Piano) is a young mutant, born with a genetic gift/curse that gives her special powers and abilities that normal humans don’t have. Her gift/curse is the ability to absorb the memories of another person, and in the case of another mutant, absorb that mutant’s power merely by touching her bare skin against his skin. If she isn’t careful and touches a person for too long, she could send him into catatonic shock, which she does to the first boy she kisses. On the run in Canada, she meets Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), himself a mutant. He grudgingly takes her under his wing. After an evil mutant named Sabertooth (Tyler Mane) attacks them, the X-Men: Cyclops (James Marsden), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), and Storm (Halle Berry) rescue the duo and take them to their secluded School for Gifted Youngsters where Wolverine and Rogue meet the school’s headmaster Professor Charles Xavier or Professor X.

Prof. X and his X-Men are at odds with Magneto (Ian McKellen) and his so-called evil mutants who want to subjugate mankind, whereas the X-Men work to show humanity that normal humans and mutants can live together in harmony. However, Magneto is after one of the new mutants to use that mutant’s power in a hideous scheme to destroy humanity. Meanwhile, malcontent humans hound Xavier and his students as they fight to protect humans, both from their own racial hate and from Magneto and the gang.

X-Men isn’t a great movie, but it’s very good. I, like many comic book fans, expected so little that when we got only a little more, was ecstatic. For years, film projects based, like X-Men, on other Marvel Comics properties were disasters, and the rumors weren’t promising much more for the X-movie. It’s a decent sci-fi, action film with some good fight sequences, a few good characters, and a fairly decent pace. It does drag at times, but for the most part, the writers and the director manage to keep our interest in the concept piqued.

The costumes, inspired by the leather/vinyl of The Matrix (which inspires much of this film), and the sets are excellent. The color palette leans toward blacks, shadowy and cool grays, and lots of brown; it’s a dreary and downbeat world in which the mutants live.

The casting is good, although, as a long time X-geek, I don’t agree with all the choices to play my favorite mutants. I usually like Halle Berry, but she is wrong as Storm, and James Marsden and Famke Janssen don’t cut it as Scott “Cyclops” Summers and Jean Grey either, but despite these reservations, the film is good.

I do wish the filmmakers had given credit to the comic book creators whose work provided the characters and story for this movie: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Len Wein, Dave Cockrum, Chris Claremont, and John Byrne, but comic book publishers have a history of avoiding even the smallest act of acknowledgement of the men who’ve created these brilliant four color inventions.

Oh, well. X-Men is still a good film. A decent action, a credible science fiction film, and a very good adaptation of a comic book that anyone who ever read The X-Men or any comic book for that matter might like.

6 of 10