Showing posts with label James McAvoy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James McAvoy. Show all posts

Friday, January 26, 2024

Review: "THE BOOK OF CLARENCE" - Black is Beautiful and So is Enlightenment

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 3 of 2024 (No. 1947) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Book of Clarence (2024)
Running time:  129 minutes (2 hours, 9 minutes)
MPA – PG-13 for strong violence, drug use, strong language, some suggestive material, and smoking
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Jeymes Samuel
PRODUCERS:  Shawn Carter (Jay-Z), James Lassiter, Tendo Nagenda, and Jeymes Samuel
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Rob Hardy (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Tom Eagles
COMPOSER:  Jeymes Samuel

COMEDY/DRAMA/RELIGION

Starring:  LaKeith Stanfield, Omar Sy, Anna Diop, RJ Cyler, David Oyelowo, Michael Ward, Alfre Woodard, Teyana Taylor, Caleb McLaughlin, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Eric Kofi Abrefa, Chase Dillon,  Babs Olusanmokun, Benedict Cumberbatch, James McAvoy, and Nicholas Pinnock

The Book of Clarence is a 2024 comedy-drama and religious film written and directed by Jeymes Samuel.  The film focuses on a wayward man who decides to capitalize on the rise of Jesus by also declaring himself to be “the Messiah.”

The Book of Clarence opens in Lower Jerusalem, the home of the “Gypsies,” in the year 33 A.D, and it introduces a young man named Clarence (LaKeith Stanfield).  He is down-on-his-luck and is drifting in life.  He spends time selling weed with his close friend and sidekick, Elijah (RJ Cyler).  Their latest scheme is a chariot race against Mary Magdalene (Teyana Taylor), which goes disastrously bad.  In turn, that puts Clarence and Elijah deep in debt to a local crime boss, Jedediah the Terrible (Eric Kofi Abrefa), who threatens their lives if he isn't paid in 30 days.

Meanwhile, Clarence's twin brother, Thomas (LaKeith Stanfield), is one of the 12 Apostles that follow Jesus of Nazareth (Nicholas Pinnock).  After failing to make inroads with his brother's associates, Clarence decides to capitalize on Jesus and the rise of messianic figures by declaring himself “the Messiah.”  Clarence does not believe in the existence of God, but he finds success by preaching “knowledge over belief.”  Soon, Clarence has a large number of followers, and they are making him wealthy.  But then, something happens...

The Book of Clarence is not as partisan as Mel Gibson's 2004 masterpiece, The Passion of the Christ, nor is it Black-centric and anti-racist in the way director Jean-Claude La Marre's The Color of the Cross (2006) is.  In The Book of Clarence, Jesus is a Black man, but the narrative isn't really about Jesus being black.  The people of Jerusalem are black, but that just seems to be the way it is supposed to be – nothing special or deliberate.  Also, I don't think the film ever refers to them as Jews or Hebrews (as far as I can remember).

The Book of Clarence's plot and themes, which are soft and muddled in the film's middle act, seem to converge on the notion of enlightenment, not the movement “Enlightenment, but as a state of knowledge and understanding.  Clarence, who pushes knowledge over belief, gets the lesson that knowledge without understand is empty, the equivalent of “faith without good works is dead.”  The Book of Clarence unveils these messages and ideas, not with seriousness, but with sly wit and also with subtle digs at oppression, racism, and imperialism – for good measure.

That aside, the thing that most impresses me about The Book of Clarence is that writer-director Jeymes Samuel presents a film in which Black people are so very beautiful and alluring in all their varying dark and brown shades, all the textures and styles of their hair, and all the shapes, contours, and statures of their bodies.  Yet in spite of its allusions to white oppression, as all the Roman characters are white, The Book of Clarence treats having an all-Black cast play the characters in a story set in the time of Jesus as an utterly normal thing.  It's about time; British, Irish, and American actors have been frontin' in Biblical films as if that is an entirely normal thing.  [Even if Jesus was Caucasian, he wasn't white...]

Jeymes Samuel fills his film with outstanding performances, especially LaKeith Stanfield's powerful, eccentric, turn as Clarence.  It is too late in his career to discover Stanfield as a revelation; we been knew he was good.  He makes Clarence's awkward, bumbling, stumbling journey to enlightenment seem like a real, tangible thing.  I feel Clarence's evolution in my head and in my imagination.

Also, David Oyelowo knocks the film on its ass as the back-handing John the Baptist, much the way Alfre Woodard upends notions of Jesus Christ's mother, Mary, as “Mother Mary” later in the film.  Teyana Taylor throws her beauty at us as Mary Magdalene, and Anna Diop digs out the awkward layers of Varinia, Clarence's love-interest.  And RJ Cyler gives a best supporting actor type performance as Clarence's best friend and partner, Elijah.

The Book of Clarence isn't perfect.  Its plot staggers and lurches at times as it moves towards its explosive final act, which is filled with breath-taking miracles and shocking plot twists.  The film apparently was originally scheduled for a  theatrical release in September 2023, but ultimately made its only 2023 appearance via its world premiere at the 67th London Film Festival.  So as fate... or God would have it, The Book of Clarence is the best film of 2024 – thus far.

8 of 10
A
★★★★ out of 4 stars

Friday, January 26, 2024


The text is copyright © 2024 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site or blog for syndication rights and fees.

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Review: "Dark Phoenix" is a Failed X-Men Resurrection

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 33 of 2021 (No. 1771) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Dark Phoenix (2019)
Running time:  114 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gun play, disturbing images, and brief strong language
DIRECTOR:  Simon Kinberg
WRITERS:  Simon Kinberg (based on Marvel Comics characters)
PRODUCERS:  Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Todd Hallowell
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Mauro Fiore
EDITORS:  Lee Smith
COMPOSER:  Hans Zimmer

SUPERHERO/SCI-FI/ACTION/DRAMA

Starring:  James McAvoy, Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Summer Fontana, Scott Shepherd, Ato Essandoh, and Jessica Chastain

Dark Phoenix is a 2019 superhero movie from writer-director Simon Kinberg.  It is 20th Century Fox’s twelfth film based on Marvel Comics’ X-Men comic book franchise.  This movie is also a sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).  In Dark Phoenix (also known as X-Men: Dark Phoenix), one of the X-Men begins to develop incredible powers that will force the rest of the X-Men to decide if this one mutant's life is worth more than all of humanity.

Dark Phoenix opens in 1975 and introduces eight-year-old Jean Grey (Summer Fontana) and depicts the automobile accident that changes her life and brings Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) into her life.  Then, the story moves to 1992 and to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.  There, Xavier has turned the X-Men into what some describe as a team of superheroes that steps in to protect and help mankind when no one else can.

The latest emergency involves a distress signal from a recently launched space shuttle, which has been critically damaged by a solar flare-like energy.  Xavier sends his strike team, “the X-Men”:  Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Ororo Munroe/Storm (Alexandra Shipp) to rescue the astronauts aboard the space shuttle.  Raven goes along on the mission, but she is furious that Xavier puts his students in danger for the rest of humanity, which she still regards with suspicion.

The X-Men arrive in their jet, the Blackbird, to find the situation rapidly deteriorating and the strange energy mass approaching the shuttle.  While saving the astronauts, Jean is struck by the energy and absorbs it into her body.  This apparently helps her to miraculously survive the blast of the shuttle explosion.  The X-Men and Xavier's other students start calling Jean “Phoenix” because of her miraculously survival.

However, the result of absorbing that energy causes Jean's psychic powers to be greatly amplified.  In turn, that causes her emotional state to begin to deteriorate, leading to tragedy.  Soon, the X-Men are hunting Jean Grey, and so are the X-Men's adversary/rival, Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and also the U.S. militaryVuk, the leader of a shape-shifting alien race known as the D'Bari, is also searching for Jean, specifically for the power Jean harbors inside her.  Can Xavier and the X-Men save Phoenix, or will their act of salvation doom humanity?

Both film adaptations of the classic X-Men comic book story arc, “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand and 2019's Dark Phoenix, fail to approach the riveting melodrama and enthralling soap opera that readers found and continue to find in Marvel Comics's The X-Men #129-138 (publication cover dates:  January to October 1980).  The writers of both films alter the core original story – to the movies' detriment.

Writer-director Simon Kinberg apparently directed some of 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past and much or most of 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, although Bryan Singer is credited as the director of both films.  I consider both films to be disappointments, one more than the other.  True to form, Simon Kinberg delivers in Dark Phoenix a film that is mostly a dud.

The storytelling feels contrived, and the screenwriting offers laughable concepts, especially the entire D'Bari alien subplot; that's just some stupid shit.  Dark Phoenix is one of two final films in 20th Century Fox's X-Men film franchise (the other being the long-delayed The New Mutants, which was finally released in 2020).  I say that Dark Phoenix is deeply disappointing, but honestly, I did not expect much of it, from the moment I first heard that it was going into production.  In fact, this film is a devolution from the franchise's peak, which was released 16 years prior to Dark Phoenix, the fantastic X2: X-Men United (2003).

Even the acting is bad.  Playing Vuk the alien is the lowest low point of Jessica Chastain's career, which includes two Academy Award nominations.  James McAvoy as Xavier, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, and Michael Fassbender as Erik are overwrought, and when they are trying to have serious conversations, they deliver hackneyed and derivative dialogue and unoriginal speeches.  Maybe their bad acting is a result of uninspired script writing.  However, I did find that Tye Sheridan as Scott, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt, and Alexandra Shipp as Ororo made the most of their scenes, especially Sheridan.  If his Scott Summers/Cyclops were the center of Dark Phoenix, the film would be much better.  Because of him, I am giving this film a higher grade than I planned to do.

Dark Phoenix just doesn't work, and it rarely connected with me.  I don't think that it will connect with audiences the way some of the best and most popular X-Men films did.  Oh, well – let's hope that Marvel Studios does better with its planned X-Men films...

4 of 10
C

Thursday, March 25, 2020


The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint or syndication rights and fees.

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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Academy Announces Second Round of Presenters for 91st Oscars

ROUND TWO: STARS LINE UP TO TAKE THE OSCAR STAGE

Javier Bardem, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Emilia Clarke, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephan James, Keegan-Michael Key, KiKi Layne, James McAvoy, Melissa McCarthy, Jason Momoa and Sarah Paulson

A second wave of stars is headed for the Oscars® stage on Sunday, February 24, 2019. Academy Awards® producer Donna Gigliotti and co-producer and director Glenn Weiss announced thirteen more Hollywood luminaries to celebrate the year in movies. The Oscars airs live on the ABC Television Network, and will be broadcast in more than 225 countries and territories.

“The array of talent anchoring the show this year has brought some of the most indelible moments in recent cinematic memory to audiences around the world,” said Gigliotti and Weiss. “They join together to reconnect us with the nominees, their tremendous movies, and outstanding performances.”

Previously announced Oscars presenters include:

Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Tina Fey, Allison Janney, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lopez, Frances McDormand, Gary Oldman, Amy Poehler, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Charlize Theron, Tessa Thompson and Constance Wu.

The 91st Oscars® will be held at the Dolby Theatre® at Hollywood & Highland Center®  in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 8:00 p.m. EST/5:00 p.m. PT.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

Review: "Spilt" is Shyamalan's Best Film in at Least a Decade

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 5 (of 2018) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Split (2016 / 2017)
Running time:  117 minutes (1 hour, 57 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for disturbing thematic content and behavior, violence and some language
WRITER/DIRECTOR:  M. Night Shyamalan
PRODUCERS: Marc Bienstock, Jason Blum, and M. Night Shyamalan
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Michael Gioulakis (D.o.P)
EDITOR:  Luke Ciarrocchi
COMPOSER:  West Dylan Thordson

HORROR/THRILLER

Starring:  James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula, Izzie Coffey, Brad William Henke, Sebastian Arcelus, and Rosemary Howard (with Bruce Willis)

Split is a 2016 horror-thriller from writer-director M. Night Shyamalan.  The film is a standalone sequel to Shyamalan's 2000 film, Unbreakable.  The film received a film festival release in 2016, but was released to theaters in January 2017.  Split focuses on three kidnapped girls who desperately search for a way to escape their captor, a man diagnosed with 23 distinct personalities.

As Split opens, Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), a seemingly emotionally withdrawn teenager, is hanging out with her classmates, Claire Benoit (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula).  The three teens are kidnapped by a mysterious man who has DID – dissociative identity disorder (also and formerly known as “multiple personality disorder”).  The girls' abductor, “Dennis” (James McAvoy), is one of several personalities, as many as 23 according to Dennis' psychologist, Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley).

The girls are imprisoned in an underground bunker and held in a cell.  Casey tries to befriend a young boy personality named “Hedwig.”  From him, Casey learns that time is running out, as “The Beast” (a 24th personality) is coming, and the teens are to be sacrificed to him.

Although Split has been out in the public for almost a year and a half, a little more including its film festival release, I still want to be careful about spoilers in this review.  I can say that James McAvoy gives a dramatic tour de force performance in multiple roles.

Honestly, I have thought of him as a good actor since I first saw him in two Academy Award-winning film, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) and The Last King of Scotland (2006).  It is this performance, however, in which McAvoy reveals that he has the techniques and skills of a top-form actor and the qualities of a movie star.  Goodness gracious!  The camera made love to this dude, and I could not get enough of him.  McAvoy took each personality that director M. Night Shyamalan revealed and gave us a unique and alluring individual.

Speaking of Shyamalan, he proves with this film that he has always been a exceptional filmmaker, even when he was making mediocre films (The Last Airbender) and box office bombs (The Lady in the Water – which I love, by the way).  I have thoroughly enjoyed his movies (Unbreakable, Signs, and The Village) even when I hate the “twists” and “shock reveals” in the last acts of those films.  Split is good, beginning to end.  Shyamalan has unleashed his inner Hitchcock to create a film that is difficult to ignore once you start watching its astonishing twists and turns.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke.  I think that she is as much the star of this film as James McAvoy is.  In a way, she embodies the heroic journey, and she spins the familiar teen female victim of horror movies and thrillers and turns her into a stalwart figure, the unbreakable, unsinkable heroine.

Obviously, I love Split.  I wish I had seen it in a movie theater, and I am not reluctant to recommend it to fans of thrillers.  It is not just a good movie; it is also one of the best films of 2017.

9 of 10
A+

Thursday, April 26, 2018


The text is copyright © 2018 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

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Friday, July 6, 2018

"It Chapter Two" Begins Filming in Canada

Evil Resurfaces in Derry as Cameras Roll on New Line Cinema’s “IT CHAPTER TWO”

Director Andy Muschietti Reunites the Losers Club—Young and Adult—in a Return to Derry

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography has begun on New Line Cinema’s “IT CHAPTER TWO,” director Andy Muschietti’s follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimed and massive worldwide box office hit “IT,” which grossed over $700 million globally. Both redefining and transcending the genre, “IT” became part of the cultural zeitgeist as well as the highest-grossing horror film of all time.

Because every 27 years evil revisits the town of Derry, Maine, “IT CHAPTER TWO” brings the characters—who’ve long since gone their separate ways—back together as adults, nearly three decades after the events of the first film. Bill Skarsgård returns in the seminal role of Pennywise. James McAvoy (“Split,” upcoming “Glass”) stars as Bill, Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Mama”) as Beverly, Bill Hader (HBO’s “Barry,” “The Skeleton Twins”) as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa (TV’s “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments”) as Mike, Jay Ryan (TV’s “Mary Kills People”) as Ben, James Ransone (HBO’s “The Wire”) as Eddie, and Andy Bean (“Allegiant,” Starz’ “Power”) as Stanley.

Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Lieberher as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, and Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie.

Muschietti directs from a screenplay by Gary Dauberman (“IT,” “Annabelle: Creation”) based on the novel by Stephen King. Barbara Muschietti, Dan Lin and Roy Lee are producing the film. Marty Ewing, Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg are the executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Checco Varese (“The 33”), Oscar-winning production designer Paul D. Austerberry (“The Shape of Water”), editor Jason Ballantine (“IT,” “Mad Max: Fury Road”), and Oscar-nominated costume designer Luis Sequeira (“The Shape of Water,” “Mama”).

Production will take place in Toronto, Canada.

Set to open in theaters September 6, 2019, “IT CHAPTER TWO” is a New Line Cinema production. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Review: "X-Men: Apocalypse" is Garbage

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 13 (of 2017) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)
Running time:  144 minutes (2 hours, 24 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, brief strong language and some suggestive images
DIRECTOR:  Bryan Singer
WRITERS:  Simon Kinberg; from a story by Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, and Dan Harris
PRODUCERS:  Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Bryan Singer
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Newton Thomas Sigel
EDITORS:  Michael Louis Hill and John Ottman
COMPOSER:  John Ottman

SUPERHERO/SCI-FI/ACTION/DRAMA

Starring:  James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Oscar Isaac, Rose Byrne, Evan Peters, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Lucas Till, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Ben Hardy, Alexandra Shipp, Lana Condor, Olivia Munn, Josh Helman, and Stan Lee with Hugh Jackman

X-Men: Apocalypse is a 2016 superhero movie from director Bryan Singer.  It is 20th Century Fox’s eighth film based on Marvel Comics’ X-Men comic book franchise.  This new movie is a sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past.  In X-Men Apocalypse, the world's first mutant, a world-destroyer, reemerges and begins a plan for human extinction that the X-Men must stop.

X-Men: Apocalypse opens in Ancient Egypt, 3600BC and introduces En Sabah Nur/Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac), the ruler of that land and a supremely powerful mutant believed to be the very first of his kind.  He is betrayed by some of his worshipers and is buried alive for centuries.  Apocalypse arises in 1983 and is upset to discover what he considers “false gods” to have arisen in his absence.  He gathers “four horsemen” and Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) is one of the quartet.  Apocalypse begins to unleash an extinction level plan to clean the Earth of everything and everyone, so that only the strong survive.

Meanwhile, Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) continues to build his educational institute in Westchester County, New York.  He is also adding new students, when a former friend, Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), returns to warn him of Magneto's new activities.  When they learn the extent of Apocalypse's threat, the X-Men are forced to come together to save the world.

Some believe that Superman: The Movie, originally released in 1978, is the beginning of the modern superhero film.  Other believe that the current age of superhero movies was spearheaded by Tim Burton's 1989 film, Batman.  [Those are good choices, but I believe the current superhero movie rage was born of the surprise (even shocking) success of the 1998 film, Blade.  Its success spurred Fox into producing X-Men (2000), which was a hit and which really pushed superhero movie production into overdrive.]

I am starting to believe that the most influential film in the current onslaught of superhero movies is 2012's Marvel's The Avengers.  Why?  The Avengers' immediate and massive success at the box office was practically unprecedented.  It's opening weekend dollar gross set what was at the time a record for North American box office.  It's worldwide box office exceeded a billion dollars, and while that was not the first time a superhero movie crossed the billion-dollar mark (which 2008's The Dark Knight did first), I don't think anyone, not Disney, Marvel, box office watchers, or movie fans, expected The Avengers to be so successful in terms of box office – not before its release.

Such surprising success breeds copycats.  Superhero movies that are big, even massive, and filled with destruction followed The Avengers.  See Warner Bros. The Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2015).  In fact, the latter is Warner Bros. desperate attempt to make an Avengers-like movie featuring characters from DC Comics, which is, like Warner Bros., part of Time Warner.

To me, X-Men: Days of Future Past was trapped between being 2011's X-Men: First Class and Marvel's The Avengers.  X-Men: Apocalypse reeks of the desperation to be like The Avengers.  20th Century Fox owns the film rights to Marvel Comics X-Men franchise, and as Fox makes one mediocre and/or financial failure X-Men movie after another, they cannot help but look at Marvel Studios' unprecedented success with the Marvel Comics characters to which it still has film rights.  Hell, Fox isn't the only Hollywood studio that wants to be like Marvel.

But the X-Men are not the Avengers.  The Avengers are a gathering of loosely connected superheroes who come together to defend Earth – or avenge it.  The X-Men can be superheroes, but their story has largely been about a racial minority, known as “Mutants,” that bands together for protection.  Their acts of heroism are essentially a defense of the race or species.  It is as if the X-Men's heroic actions declare that they can peacefully coexist on this planet with humans, which gives them reason to want to defend it.

X-Men: Apocalypse is just a big action movie.  Familiar X-Men themes:  fear, racism, bigotry, tribalism, unity, extended families, familial and friendship bonds, etc. are just window dressing for big special effects driven and created set pieces.  X-Men: Apocalypse does not take from the wheelhouse of the best X-Men films (such as the first two films in the franchise); instead, it steals from Marvel's The Avengers and even Michael Bay's Transformers movies.

You know what, dear reader?  I've taken enough of your time.  I hate this movie.

3 of 10
D+

Friday, December 16, 2016


The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint or syndication rights and fees.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: "X-Men: Days of Future Past" - Why So Serious?

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 28 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Running time:  131 minutes (2 hours, 11 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi violence and action, some suggestive material, nudity and language
DIRECTOR:  Bryan Singer
WRITERS:  Simon Kinberg; from a story by Jane Goldman, Simon Kinberg, and Matthew Vaughn 
PRODUCERS:  Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Bryan Singer
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Newton Thomas Sigel
EDITOR/COMPOSER:  John Ottman

SUPERHERO/SCI-FI/ACTION/DRAMA

Starring:  Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter Dinklage, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Omar Sy, Daniel Cudmore, Bingbing Fan, Adan Canto, Booboo Stewart, Evan Peters, Josh Helman, and Anna Paquin

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a 2014 superhero movie from director Bryan Singer.  It is 20th Century Fox’s seventh film based Marvel Comics’ X-Men comic book franchise.  This new movie is a sequel to 2011’s X-Men: First Class and a kind of sequel to 2006’s X-Men: The Last StandX-Men: Days of Future Past finds the X-Men of the future sending one of their own into past in a desperate effort to change history and to prevent the destruction of the world for both humans and mutants.

The film opens (apparently) sometime in the third decade of the 21st century.  By this time, mutant-hunting machines called Sentinels have wiped out nearly all mutants and also the humans that supported them.  The last of the X-Men are about to make a desperate bid to change their apocalyptic future.  Charles Xavier/Professor X (Patrick Stewart) concocts a plan that sends the mind of Logan/The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back into the past and into the body of his younger self in the year 1973.

In 1973, Logan must contact the younger Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and convince him that they must stop Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from committing an assassination that will lead to the creation of the Sentinels.  However, Wolverine finds that the younger Charles is a mess.  Xavier wants no part of his future self’s plan, especially when he discovers that he must cooperate with Erik Lensherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), his dear friend-turned-bitter enemy.

Released in 2011, X-Men: First Class was a combination prequel to the original film, X-Men (2000), and a partial reboot of the franchise.  First Class was sparkly, fun, energetic, and even a bit sexy.  X-Men: Days of Future Past is ponderous and takes both its subject matter and its plot way too seriously.  I liked the film, but I only really enjoyed certain moments and a few characters.

Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as Mystique, making the character’s emotions, mission, and anger seem real.  Nicholas Hoult is poignant as Hank McCoy/Beast; so much of his performance is restrained.  Hoult makes the most of subtle facial expressions, and his expressive eyes convey Beast in a way that gives him weight and depth.

What this film lacks is gravitas.  Days of Future Past pretends to be important serious because it metaphorically or symbolically deals with serious and important real world issues.  However, the movie is tedious instead of being weighty in any meaningful a way.  It is as if this film has so much to cover that it almost ends up sinking under the burden of its moralizing via multiple points of view, characters, and competing timelines.

In fact, after seeing Days of Future Past, I realized that Wolverine is not particularly consequential to the plot, or at least the screenplay does not make him seem so.  For what the character does, just about any other X-Men could have made that trip into the past.  [In The X-Men comic book story, “Days of the Future Past,” upon which this movie is based, Kitty Pryde travels into the past – the year 1983.]  I read a review of this movie in which the writer said that this was a movie about Mystique and Wolverine.  In a way, this movie is indeed most about what Mystique wants, and the movie would be better off if it stayed with Mystique longer than it actually does.

Although I like it, X-Men: Days of Future Past is my least favorite X-Men movie.  I found the future Sentinels particularly scary and chilling, and Evan Peters as Quicksilver is a blast.  Of all the X-Men movies, it has the best production values and the best special effects.  It is, however, full of sound and fury, and even in the universe of X-Men movies, it does not signify much of anything.

5 of 10
B-

Saturday, May 31, 2014


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



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"12 Years a Slave" Named "Film of the Year" by London Critics' Circle

by Amos Semien

The London Film Critics’ Circle is part of a larger organization, The Critics’ Circle, which makes an annual award for Services to the Arts.  This circle is comprised of the five sections:  dance, drama, film, music, and visual arts.

The Critics’ Circle Film Section held its annual awards on Sunday night, February 2, 2014 at the May Fair Hotel.  The 34th London Critics’ Circle Film Awards featured sponsorship by The May Fair, Beluga, Novikov, Cameo, Audi, Innerplace and Publicity Media.

The big winner at the ceremony was 12 Years a Slave, which won awards for “Film of the Year,” “Actor of the Year” (Chiwetel Ejiofor), and “Supporting Actress of the Year” (Lupita Nyong'o).  The film's director, Steve McQueenc was on hand to collect the awards.

The Selfish Giant won two awards, “British Film of the Year” and “Young British Performer of the Year” (Conner Chapman).  Actor John Hurt introduced Gary Oldman who was presented with the Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film.

Full list of winners 2014 / 34th London Critics’ Circle Film Awards (for the year in film 2013):

Film of the Year: 12 Years a Slave

Foreign-language Film of the Year: Blue Is the Warmest Colour

Documentary of the Year: The Act of Killing

British Film of the Year: The Selfish Giant

Director of the Year: Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity

Screenwriter of the Year: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen - Inside Llewyn Davis

Actor of the Year: Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave

Actress of the Year: Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine

Supporting Actor of the Year: Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips

Supporting Actress of the Year: Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave

British Actor of the Year: James McAvoy - Filth / Trance / Welcome to the Punch

British Actress of the Year: Judi Dench - Philomena

Young British Performer of the Year: Conner Chapman - The Selfish Giant

Breakthrough British Filmmaker: Jon S Baird - Filth

Technical Achievement Award: Gravity - Tim Webber, special effects

Dilys Powell Award for Excellence in Film: Gary Oldman


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http://www.criticscircle.org.uk/

Monday, December 9, 2013

"Metro Manila" Tops 2013 British Independent Film Awards


by Amos Semien

The British-Filipino film, Metro Manila, was named "Best British Independent Film" by the British Independent Film Awards.  The crime drama won three awards, including "Best Director" for Sean Ellis.  Metro Manila follows a man who moves his family from the rural Philippines to Manila and finds peril in his new life and job.

The British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) were created in 1998.  This film award celebrates merit and achievement in independently funded British filmmaking, honors new film talent, and promotes British films and filmmaking to a wider public.  The awards are currently sponsored by Moët & Chandon Champagne.

The winners of the 2013 edition of the BIFA were announced at the 16th Moët British Independent Film Awards ceremony on Sunday, December 8, 2013 held at the Old Billingsgate in London and hosted by BIFA-winning actor, James Nesbitt.

The 16th Annual Moët British Independent Film Awards winners:

BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM (Sponsored by Moët & Chandon):
Metro Manila

BEST DIRECTOR (Sponsored by AllCity & Intermission):
Sean Ellis – Metro Manila

THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR] - Sponsored by 3 Mills Studios:
Paul Wright – For Those in Peril

BEST SCREENPLAY:
Steven Knight – Locke

BEST ACTRESS (Sponsored by M.A.C Cosmetics):
Lindsay Duncan – Le Week-end

BEST ACTOR (Sponsored by BBC Films):
James McAvoy – Filth

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Imogen Poots – The Look Of Love

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Sponsored by Sanderson & St Martins Lane):
Ben Mendelsohn – Starred Up

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER (Sponsored by Studiocanal):
Chloe Pirrie – Shell

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION (Sponsored by Company3):
Metro Manila

BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT (Sponsored by LightBrigade Media):
Amy Hubbard – Casting – The Selfish Giant

BEST DOCUMENTARY:
Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer

BEST BRITISH SHORT (Supported by BFI NET.WORK):
Z1

BEST INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM:
Blue is the Warmest Colour

THE RAINDANCE AWARD (Sponsored by Wentworth Media and Arts):
The Machine

THE RICHARD HARRIS AWARD (for outstanding contribution by an actor to British Film):
Julie Walters

THE VARIETY AWARD:
Paul Greengrass

THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE:
Sixteen Films & Friends (AKA Team Loach)

http://www.bifa.org.uk/

END


Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 British Independent Film Award Nominations Are Announced

Prison drama "Starred Up" leads with 8 nominations.

by Amos Semien

[I must admit that I am unfamiliar with all of those nominees - editor's note]

The British Independent Film Awards were created in 1998.  This film award celebrates merit and achievement in independently funded British filmmaking, honors new film talent, and promotes British films and filmmaking to a wider public.  The awards are currently sponsored by Moët & Chandon Champagne.

The winners will be announced at the 16th awards ceremony on Sunday, December 8, 2013 at the impressive Old Billingsgate in London.

The 16th Annual Moët British Independent Film Awards nominations:

BEST BRITISH INDEPENDENT FILM
Metro Manila
Philomena
The Selfish Giant
Starred Up
Le Week-end

BEST DIRECTOR
Jon S Baird – Filth
Clio Barnard – The Selfish Giant
Sean Ellis – Metro Manila
Jonathan Glazer – Under the Skin
David Mackenzie – Starred Up

THE DOUGLAS HICKOX AWARD [BEST DEBUT DIRECTOR]
Charlie Cattrall – Titus
Tina Gharavi – I Am Nasrine
Jeremy Lovering – In Fear
Omid Nooshin – Last Passenger
Paul Wright – For Those in Peril

BEST SCREENPLAY
Jonathan Asser – Starred Up
Clio Barnard – The Selfish Giant
Steven Knight – Locke
Hanif Kureishi – Le Week-end
Jeff Pope, Steve Coogan – Philomena

BEST ACTRESS
Judi Dench – Philomena
Lindsay Duncan – Le Week-end
Scarlett Johansson – Under the Skin
Felicity Jones – The Invisible Woman
Saoirse Ronan – How I Live Now

BEST ACTOR
Jim Broadbent – Le Week-end
Steve Coogan – Philomena
Tom Hardy – Locke
Jack O'Connell – Starred Up
James McAvoy – Filth

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Siobhan Finneran – The Selfish Giant
Shirley Henderson – Filth
Imogen Poots – The Look Of Love
Kristin Scott Thomas – The Invisible Woman
Mia Wasikowska – The Double

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
John Arcilla – Metro Manila
Rupert Friend – Starred Up
Jeff Goldblum – Le Week-end
Eddie Marsan – Filth
Ben Mendelsohn – Starred Up

MOST PROMISING NEWCOMER
Harley Bird – How I Live Now
Conner Chapman / Shaun Thomas – The Selfish Giant
Caity Lotz – The Machine
Jake Macapagal – Metro Manila
Chloe Pirrie – Shell

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION
Sponsored by Company3
A Field in England
Filth
Metro Manila
The Selfish Giant
Starred Up

BEST TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT
Shaheen Baig – Casting – Starred Up
Johnnie Burn – Sound Design – Under the Skin
Amy Hubbard – Casting – The Selfish Giant
Mica Levi – Music – Under the Skin
Justine Wright – Editing – Locke

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer
The Great Hip Hop Hoax
The Moo Man
The Spirit of '45
The Stone Roses: Made of Stone

BEST BRITISH SHORT
L'Assenza
Dr Easy
Dylan's Room
Jonah
Z1

BEST INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM
Blue is the Warmest Colour
Blue Jasmine
Frances Ha
The Great Beauty
Wadjda

THE RAINDANCE AWARD
Everyone’s Going to Die
The Machine
The Patrol
Sleeping Dogs
Titus


http://www.bifa.org.uk/

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review: Forest Whitaker is Magnificent in "The Last King of Scotland" (Happy B'day, Forest Whitaker)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 260 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Last King of Scotland (2006)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: UK
Running time: 121 minutes (2 hours, 1 minute)
MPAA – R for some strong violence and gruesome images, sexual content, and language
DIRECTOR: Kevin MacDonald
WRITERS: Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock (based upon the novel by Giles Foden)
PRODUCERS: Andrea Calderwood, Lisa Bryer, and Charles Steel
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony Dod Mantle, DFF, BSC
EDITOR: Justine Wright
Academy Award winner

DRAMA/HISTORICAL/THRILLER

Starring: Forest Whitaker, James McAvoy, Kerry Washington, Simon McBurney, and Gillian Anderson, Adam Kotz, David Oyelowo, and Abby Mukiibi

Instead of going into medical practice with his father, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy) heads to Uganda to work at the mission clinic run by a Dr. Merrit (Adam Kotz) and his wife, Sarah (Gillian Anderson). Garrigan has a chance encounter with the newly self-appointed president of Uganda, Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), who is impressed with Garrigan’s brazen attitude in a moment of crisis. Amin handpicks Garrigan to be his personal physician, and although Garrigan is at first reluctant to take the position, he eventually does and becomes fascinated with Amin. However, before long, Garrigan begins to see just how savage and unstable Amin is, and Garrigan realizes that he’s been complicit in some of Amin’s barbarity. Garrigan is knee deep in trouble, even having an affair with Kay Amin (Kerry Washington), one of Amin’s wives, and he may not be able to get out of the country alive.

Idi Amin, president, dictator, and tyrant of Uganda (1971-79) remains a reviled figure even after his 2003 death while in exile in Saudi Arabia. Director Kevin MacDonald’s The Last King of Scotland is a film dramatization of Amin as seen through the eyes of his personal physician, a young Scotsman.

Forest Whitaker, a thoroughly underrated and under-appreciated actor (at least to general movie audiences) gives the performance of a career in creating a film version of Amin. Think of Whitaker’s breathtaking performance as an actor creating a human monster. From the moment Whitaker’s Amin first appears on screen, as he climbs on an improvised stage to speak to a large crowd of fellow Ugandans, the fearsome power of the actor’s creation radiates from the screen, throbbing with the unpredictable power of a wild storm. Whitaker’s turn as Amin literally transforms The Last King of Scotland into a horror flick. Still for all Amin’s viciousness, Whitaker reveals a complex character, making this as much a study of human nature as it is an indictment of the real Amin.

MacDonald deserves credit on two fronts: for allowing Whitaker to show his up-to-now largely untapped talent and for keeping this movie from being strictly about Whitaker’s Amin. Just as director Ron Howard took Russell Crowe’s great performance and transformed A Beautiful Mind into a compelling and riveting film, so has MacDonald taken Whitaker’s generous performance and made The Last King of Scotland into the kind of thriller than crawls into your belly and then sits on your chest. Of course, a skilled creative staff ably abets MacDonald, especially his costume designer and production designer who both meld earthy, indigenous costumes and sets and ill-placed Western attire together. Cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle also saturates both rural and urban Uganda in colors that complement the nation’s fertile land.

The usual forgotten person in all the praise for The Last King of Scotland is James McAvoy as Nicholas Garrigan (a fictional character). McAvoy, who played Mr. Tumnus the Faun in The Chronicles of Narnia in 2005, makes Garrigan Amin’s scratching post, and through McAvoy’s superb co-lead role (it’s not really a supporting part), Whitaker gets to strut his stuff. Garrigan mirrors Uganda’s initial excitement and then eventual dread of Amin. McAvoy holds The Last King of Scotland together so Whitaker can give his great performance and MacDonald can make a scary, political thriller about the disintegration of a country that leaves the viewer on edge. That’s worth something.

8 of 10
A

Friday, January 26, 2007

NOTES:
2007 Academy Awards: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Forest Whitaker)

2007 BAFTA Awards: 3 wins: “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” (Andrea Calderwood, Lisa Bryer, Charles Steel, Kevin Macdonald, Peter Morgan, and Jeremy Brock), and “Best Actor in a Leading Role” (Forest Whitaker), and “Best Screenplay – Adapted” (Peter Morgan and Jeremy Brock); 2 nominations: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (James McAvoy) and “Best Film” (Andrea Calderwood, Lisa Bryer, and Charles Steel)

2007 Golden Globes: 1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” (Forest Whitaker)

2007 Black Reel Awards: 1 win “Best Actor” (Forest Whitaker); 1 nomination: “Best Supporting Actress” (Kerry Washington)

2007 Image Awards: 1 win: “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” (Forest Whitaker); 1 nomination: “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Kerry Washington)

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review: "X-Men: First Class" is at the Top of the Class

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 46 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

X-Men: First Class (2011)
Running time: 132 minutes (2 hours, 12 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some sexual content including brief partial nudity and language
DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn
WRITERS: Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz and Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn; from a story by Sheldon Turner and Bryan Singer
PRODUCERS: Gregory Goodman, Simon Kinberg, and Lauren Shuler Donner, and Bryan Singer
CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Mathieson (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Eddie Hamilton and Lee Smith
COMPOSER: Henry Jackman

SUPERHERO/SCI-FI/ACTION/DRAMA

Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Kevin Bacon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Lawrence, January Jones, Nicholas Hoult, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Till, Zoe Kravitz, Edi Gathegi, Oliver Platt, Alex Gonzalez, and Jason Flemyng

X-Men: First Class is a superhero movie and the fifth movie in the X-Men film franchise, following X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). X-Men: First Class is a combination prequel to the first film and partial reboot of the franchise, but whatever is it, First Class currently stands as the best film in the X-Men series.

Most of First Class is set in 1962. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) are the men who would take the names Professor X and Magneto, respectively. Both are young men and also mutants discovering the extent of their powers, as they embark on their respective missions in life. A telepath with mind control powers, Xavier has recently received his doctorate from Oxford University, and he wants to find more mutants like himself who have special powers. He has lived with one of them, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), since he was a child.

Meanwhile, Lensherr, who is a Holocaust survivor and mutant that can manipulate magnetism, hunts and kills Nazi and German war criminals. One of his targets is Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), a mutant with tremendous powers. Now, a scientist and leader of a mysterious group known as the Hellfire Club, Shaw has launched a plot to start a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

After Lensherr makes a failed attempt on Shaw’s life, Xavier brings Lensherr into the CIA’s “Division X” facility. There, Xavier and Lensherr recruit young mutants they will train to stop Shaw, but both men see the world differently. As they race to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known, a rift grows between Xavier and Lensherr, one that threatens everything and maybe every human on the planet.

X-Men: First Class is everything good about the franchise: the mutant vs. mutant conflict, man vs. mutant conflict, the struggle against prejudice and bigotry, the action and intrigue, and the themes of family and brotherhood. But in this film, it is all presented in a more audacious and confident manner. There are a lot of things happening in this movie, and the story presents most of it awfully quickly. Director Matthew Vaughn guides it all with such brisk, efficient storytelling that makes most of it clear, clever, and engaging.

First Class is also a summer movie with something to say. With its Cold War setting, Cuban Missile Crisis sub-plot, and allusions to the Civil Rights movement, this movie places the plight of the mutants within a real world context. The film remains, however, cool and intense, even being sometimes playful about its dead serious elements. First Class’ last act does turn a little too much towards action movie mayhem and away from the emotional motivations, but in the end, this X-Men movie plays for keeps. These mutants want to do the right thing, but what is the right thing, the film asks? And what do you do when the people you are trying to protect and save want to kill you?

All the performances here have a youthful energy, and James McAvoy as Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Lensherr have great chemistry together. Fassbender is Oscar-nomination worthy as Lensherr/Magneto. X-Men: First Class is not just good; it is also one of the best superhero movies ever and, so far, the year’s best film.

9 of 10
A+

Saturday, June 04, 2011

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Review: Cute "Gnomeo & Juliet" Charms All Ages

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 44 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Gnomeo & Juliet (2011)
Running time: 84 min (1 hour, 24 minutes)
MPAA – G
DIRECTOR: Kelly Asbury
WRITERS: Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, Mark Burton, Emily Cook, Kathy Greenberg, Steve Hamilton Shaw, and Kelly Asbury; from a story by Rob Sprackling, John R. Smith, Andy Riley, Kevin Cecil, and Steve Hamilton Shaw and from an original screenplay by Rob Sprackling and John R. Smith (based upon the play by William Shakespeare)
PRODUCERS: Baker Bloodworth, David Furnish, and Steve Hamilton Shaw
EDITOR: Catherine Apple
COMPOSERS: Chris Bacon and James Newton Howard
SONGS: Elton John and Bernie Taupin

ANIMATION/COMEDY/ACTION/ROMANCE

Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine, Matt Lucas, Jim Cummings, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters, Richard Wilson, and Hulk Hogan

Gnomeo & Juliet is a computer-animated film released earlier this year. A family film, it retells William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet using garden gnomes that walk and talk. Recordings of Elton John songs like “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” and “Your Song,” are the soundtrack to this classic love story with a twist.

Mrs. Montague (Julie Walters), with her blue house, and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson), with his red house, are next door neighbors and enemies. When they leave their homes, the objects in their backyard come to life. The Montague backyard is filled with blue garden gnomes, while the Capulet backyard has red garden gnomes, and like their masters, the blue and red garden gnomes are mortal enemies. They are constantly fighting or engaging in dangerous games like lawnmower races. The blues are led by Lady Blueberry (Maggie Smith) and the reds by Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine).

The garden gnome feud takes a complicated turn when Gnomeo (James McAvoy), son of Lady Blueberry, and Juliet (Emily Blunt), daughter of Redbrick, meet and begin a romance. When a lawnmower race goes horribly awry, Gnomeo is on the run and Juliet is confined to a fountain. Will their love prevail or will Gnomeo and Juliet come to the same tragic end as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?

There is not much to say about Gnomeo & Juliet. It’s cute, often heartwarming, and surprisingly (at least to me) fun to watch. A movie doesn’t really have to be good to be entertaining, and while Gnomeo & Juliet isn’t by any means great, it has a few moments that you might find just delightful to watch. Exceptional animated films have great supporting characters, but this one doesn’t, although there are good ones that the film underutilizes (like Nanette the garden frog and Shroom the silent mushroom).

The Elton John songs, some of which are turned into instrumental melodies or interludes, are a mixed bag. The duets, with Lady Gaga on “Hello, Hello” and with Nelly Furtado on “Crocodile Rock,” are disappointing, especially the Gaga joint, which sounds like a symphony of warring cats. The film, however, makes good use of the classic songs.

That aside, Gnomeo & Juliet will delight its intended audience – children, but many adults are in for a surprise. They will find this wacky take on Romeo and Juliet sometimes witty and often charming.

6 of 10
B

Saturday, May 28, 2011

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Monday, May 23, 2011

"Gnomeo and Juliet" Arrives on Disney DVD and Blu-ray May 24th

This coming summer to the U.S., don’t miss the chance to bring home GNOMEO & JULIET - the hilarious twist on William Shakespeare’s legendary tale Romeo & Juliet as you’ve never seen it before, perfect for the whole family. Enter the secret world of garden gnomes and meet two adorable gnomes from completely different worlds who fight the odds to be together. From a director of Shrek 2, and featuring fun, all-new music by Sir Elton John, the out-of-the-ordinary animated comedy GNOMEO & JULIET releases on Blu-ray™, Blu-ray 3D™, DVD, Movie Download and On-Demand – May 24, 2011.

Uniquely packaged with families’ top of mind, GNOMEO & JULIET will be made available for purchase by Walt Disney Studios as either a 3-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray 3D + DVD with Digital Copy), a 2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 2D + DVD) and/or a 1-Disc DVD. Disney Blu-ray Combo Packs provide families with an enhanced entertainment experience – with the value and flexibility to enjoy your favorite movies on a variety of platforms of choice.

And for those who enjoy to learn more about the making of the film, GNOMEO & JULIET discs come enclosed with never-before-seen bonus features including “Elton Builds A Garden,” “Frog talk with Ashley Jensen,”, “Crocodile Rock Music Video featuring Elton John and Nelly Furtado.” And for those who purchase the Blu-ray Disc, it includes hours of extra exclusive bonus features including alternate endings, deleted scenes and more.

GNOMEO & JULIET is brought to life by the extraordinary voices of Golden Globe nominee James McAvoy (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) as Gnomeo; Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) as Juliet; Academy Award winner Michael Caine (Inception) as Lord Redbrick; Jason Statham (The Trasnsporter franchise) as Tybalt; Ashley Jensen (TV’s Ugly Betty) as Nanette; Patrick Stewart (X-Men franchise) as William Shakespeare; Ozzy Osbourne (TV’s The Osbournes) as Fawn and Maggie Smith (Harry Potter franchise) as Lady Blueberry.

Bonus Features:
DVD & Movie Download:
• Elton Builds a Garden
• Frog Talk with Ashley Jensen
• “Crocodile Rock” Music Video, featuring Elton John and Nelly Furtado

Blu-ray:
• DVD Bonus plus:
• 2 Alternate Endings with Filmmaker Introductions
• Deleted & Alternate Scenes with Filmmaker Introductions, including: 1 Alternate Opening, 1 Alternate Scene and 6 Deleted Scenes
• The Fawn of Darkness, featuring Ozzy Osbourne

Film Synopsis:
From a director of Shrek 2 comes your chance to step into the secret world of garden gnomes — Gnomeo & Juliet. Perfect for the whole family, this fresh and funny makeover of one of the world’s most timeless stories features music from Sir Elton John, and the voice talents of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy and Sir Michael Caine. Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo and Juliet must overcome as many obstacles as their namesakes. But with flamboyant pink flamingos and epic lawnmower races, can this young couple find lasting happiness? Complete with hilarious never-before-seen bonus features, Gnomeo & Juliet is an out-of-the-ordinary animated comedy your entire family will love. We just gnome it!


Gnomeo and Juliet (Three-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy)


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"X-Men: First Class" Trailer on Facebook; EW Has Photo Exclusive

Entertainment Weekly likes to share its breaking news and exclusives:

EW.COM PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: 'X-Men: First Class' trailer targets Facebook fanbase tomorrow

Mutants can control minds, burn through walls, control the weather — and now, they can “friend.”

The trailer for the superhero reboot X-Men: First Class goes up tomorrow, with Fox is releasing it in on Facebook as part of an effort to build a social networking community around the film, opening June 3. The fan page can be found at Facebook.com/XMenMovies, and it’s already 1.6 million wannabe-mutants strong.

The trailer will offer fans a first look at the younger years of Professor X and his team of superpowered pupils. The movie, directed by Kick-Ass filmmaker Matthew Vaughn, stars James McAvoy (Atonement) and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) in the Professor X and Magneto roles, respectively. Mad Men‘s January Jones co-stars as Emma Frost, the ultra-sexy Marvel Comics telepath known for her revealing white outfits and diamond-skin armor.

There are many questions surrounding the movie, and a big one can be asked about this mysterious new photo from Fox, released exclusively to EW.

Full story and exclusive photo on EW.com: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2011/02/09/x-men-first-class-trailer/

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: "Wanted" is Trash Cinema, Thank God!

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 30 (of 2008) by Leroy Douresseaux

Wanted (2008)
Running time: 108 minutes (1 hour, 48 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, and some sexuality
DIRECTOR: Timur Bekmambetov
WRITERS: Michael Brandt & Derek Haas and Chris Morgan; from a story by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (based upon the comic book series, Wanted, by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones)
PRODUCERS: Jim Lemley, Jason Netter, Marc E. Platt, and Iain Smith
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mitchell Amundsen
EDITOR: David Brenner and Dallas Puett
COMPOSER: Danny Elfman
Academy Awards nominee

ACTION/FANTASY/THRILLER

Starring: James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, Terence Stamp, Thomas Kretschmann, Common, Kristen Hager, Marc Warren, and Chris Pratt

Once upon a time, the summer movie season meant trashy R-rated movies – big budget affairs full of foul-mouthed villains and heroes. Special effects weren’t used to create dinosaurs, talking dragons, or fairy tale lands populated by fairy creatures. Special effects were used to create loud car chases and blood spurting from gunshot wounds. Everything from Lethal Weapon and Die Hard to The Long Kiss Goodnight and Bad Boys II offered hard-R violence.

This sadistic nonsense is just what director Timur Bekmambetov offers in his new movie, Wanted. Anyone who has seen the Russian-Kazakh Bekmambetov’s films, Night Watch and Day Watch, which are hugely popular in Russia, knows that the director loves slow motion camera work and special effects that play with film speed. Just seeing the commercials for any of his films, including Wanted, will give the viewer a good idea of the kind of bracing, heart-stopping thrills Bekmambetov’s flicks offer. He makes junk action movies, but does it with the skill of an artist. Wanted is everything that is politically incorrect about a summer movie: implausible gun fights, explosions, automobile-crunching car chases, bullet-riddled bodies and exploding craniums, with a side of bare ass.

In Wanted, 25-year-old Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is a disaffected, cube-dwelling drone account, and he’s probably the world’s biggest nobody. His girlfriend cheats on him with his best friend. Wes wiles away the days, dying in his slow, clock-punching rut until he met a gun-toting, action-oriented woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie). Fox recruits Wes into The Fraternity, a centuries-old, secret society of assassins led by the enigmatic Sloan (Morgan Freeman).

The Fraternity shows Wes how to awaken his dormant powers, which grant him heightened senses and super human abilities. As Fox teaches him how to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, Wes learns that members of The Fraternity live by an ancient, unbreakable code: carry out the death orders given by fate itself – assassinating people who are destined to bring death and chaos to large numbers of human. Wesley learns that his father, who abandoned Wes when he was 7 days old, was a member of The Fraternity. Now, Wes has a chance to kill Cross (Thomas Kretschmann), the man who murdered his father and who betrayed The Fraternity. But who is Cross, and what secrets does he hold for Wesley and The Fraternity?

Wanted is based upon the superhero comic book series, Wanted by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, although the film version drops much of the comic book, especially the superhero elements. Wanted the movie retains the imaginative, weird fantasy spirit of superhero comics, but makes it trashy and vulgar like the films and fake commercials in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse. It’s not being unfair to call Wanted trashy and bad because it is. Even in the context of a world where super-powered assassins exist, Wanted is inconsistent in its own mythology and lacks internal logic.

The acting is plain bad, and neither Morgan Freeman nor Angelina Jolie attempt to make any pretense that they’re interested in this movie. Except for a few inspired moments, both of these Oscar-winning actors seem to be phoning in their performances, and the rest of the cast play characters that are poorly developed or have too small a part to make any difference (like Common’s Gunsmith character). I still fail to see why there is such buzz about James McAvoy (Atonement, The Last King of Scotland) being the next big thing. He’s actually horrible miscast in this film – he can play hapless, but can’t pull off the badass type that’s required for most of this film. Still, McAvoy is a good enough actor, and at least he works hard enough to out perform everyone else in Wanted.

Ultimately, what makes Wanted so much fun to watch is the work of director Timur Bekmambetov. His ingenuity in inventing new and myriad ways to attack and defend and ambush and annihilate is simply awesome. Some may find the relentless violence exhausting or be sickened by the glamorization of murder as a fun, sexy pastime. But Wanted is badass and filled with original visual thrills; the elaborate passenger train sequence alone is worth the price of a ticket. I expect summer movies – the good, the bad, and the trash – to thrill me, and Wanted did, plain and simple.

7 of 10
B+

NOTES:
2009 Academy Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Achievement in Sound” (Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño, and Petr Forejt) and “Best Achievement in Sound Editing” (Wylie Stateman)

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