Showing posts with label Jonah Hill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jonah Hill. Show all posts

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from November 14th to 20th, 2021- Update #21

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

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:

ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE NEWS:

MOVIES - From THR:  Father/producer Ivan Reitman and son/director Jason Reitman discuss "Ghostbusters: Afterlife."

From Negromancer:   My review of "Ghostbusters: Afterlife."

TELEVISION - From Deadline:   ABC's holiday special, "A Very Boy Band Holiday," will feature members from several famous boy bands, including "New Edition," "*NSYNC," "NKOTB" (New Kids on the Block), and "Boys II Men," to name a few.  This special will air Mon., Dec. 6th, 2021.

MOVIES - From Variety:  “Oppenheimer,” director Christopher Nolan's $100 million-budgeted historical drama about physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the atomic bomb, could be considered one of an endangered species - prestige dramas with budgets that big.

SCANDAL - From Deadline:   "Bohemian Rhapsody" (2018) screenwriter Anthony McCarten has filed a breach of contract suit against Graham King and his GK Films for money owed on the Oscar-winning film about Queen and its iconic singer Freddie Mercury.  The film grossed 911 million dollars worldwide, but Fox says the film is still not profitable and is 51 million dollars "in the red" (debt).

MOVIES - From DeadlineMartin Scorsese is set to direct and produce a biographical film about the legendary rock band, "The Grateful Dead."  Oscar-nominee Jonah Hill will play the band's front man, the late Jerry Garcia.

NETFLIX - From CNET:  Netflix launched a website Tuesday (Nov. 16th) where it posts charts of its most popular shows and movies, updated every week and ranked by the total number of hours that subscribers spent watching them. 

STAR TREK - From Deadline:  "Star Trek: Discovery" has left Netflix and now will be exclusive to Paramount+.

MOVIES - From THR:  The film studio Miramax is suing director Quentin Tarantino over plans to release non-fungible tokens (NFTs) based on his 1994 film, "Pulp Fiction."

STREAMING - From THR:   The "Harry Potter" franchise trio: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson and director Chris Columbus are among those appearing in a 20th anniversary HBO Max retrospective of the first film in the series, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

TELEVISION - From THRTV Pilots 2021: The Complete Guide: Keep track of all the broadcast pilots that are in contention for the 2021-22 season at ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and The CW.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 11/12 to 11/14/2021 weekend box office is Marvel Studios' "Eternals" with an estimated take of 27.5 million dollars.

From Negromancer:   My review of Marvel Studios' "Eternals."

MOVIES - From THRMel Gibson is set to direct "Lethal Weapon 5," which will likely be the final installment in the franchise which began in 1987 with "Lethal Weapon" starring Gibson and Danny Glover.

STREAMING/PARAMOUNT+ - From Variety:  Paramount Plus has released a teaser trailer for its "Halo" live-action TV series, which is due in 2022.

STREAMING/HULU - From THR:  The next film in the "Predator" film franchise is a prequel entitled "Prey."  Set 300 years in the past, it pits Comanche Nation warrior, a young woman named "Naru," against an alien Predator warrior.  It is expected to stream on Hulu Summer 2022.

BOOKS/MOVIES - From THR:  Over the summer HarperCollins released Quentin Tarantino's paperback novelization of his Oscar-winning film, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."  On Nov. 9th, the deluxe hardcover edition debuted and it has lots of extras.

MOVIES - From Deadline:  MGM has won the bidding war for a pitch about an buddy-action movie starring Jason Momoa ("Aquaman") and Dave Bautista ("Guardians of the Galaxy" series; "Dune")

OBITS:

From Deadline:  Veteran character actor, Art LaFleur, has died at the age of 78, Wednesday, November 17, 2021.  LaFleur appeared in many television series and in at least 20 TV movies.  LaFleur is best known for playing "Babe Ruth" in the coming-of-age sports movie, "The Sandlot" (1993) and for his appearances in two other baseball-themed movies, "Field of Dreams" (1989) and "Mr. Baseball" (1992)

From Deadline:  American jazz musician, composer, and lyricist, Dave Frishberg, has died at the age of 88, Wednesday, November 17, 2021.  His songs have been recorded by Rosemary Clooney, Shirley Horn, and Mel Torme, to name a few.  He also wrote the song, "I'm Just a Bill" for ABC's "Schoohouse Rock!" series.

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"RUST" ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING DEATH:

From Deadline:  This link will take you to Deadline's Halyna Hutchins page, which articles related to everything about her shooting death on the set of the Western film, "Rust."

From Deadline:  Actor Daniel Baldwin defends his brother, Alec Baldwin, in the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film, "Rust."  "Someone loaded that gun improperly," Daniel says.

From Deadline:  The newest lawsuit involving the tragic shooting on the set of the Western film, "Rust," has been filed by the film's script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell, against Alec Baldwin, the producers, the production company, armorer Hanna Gutierrez Reed, and others.

From DeadlineSerge Svetnoy, the gaffer on "Rust," has filed a lawsuit against several parties related to the film, including the production, the financiers, star Alec Baldwin, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and first Assistant Director David Halls.

From THR:   In the wake of the tragic accidental shooting on the set of his film, "Rust," Alec Baldwin on Monday took to social media to urge Hollywood to employ a police officer on every film and TV set that uses guns.

From THR:   The budget for "Rust" - Alec Baldwin was set to earn $150,000 as lead actor and $100,000 as producer, while $7,913 was earmarked for armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and $17,500 was set aside for the rental of weapons and $5,000 for rounds.

From Deadline:  Attorneys for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the set of the film, "Rust," said that they’re looking into whether a live bullet was placed in a box of dummy rounds with the intent of  “sabotaging the set.”

From THR:   Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the film, "Rust," released a statement through her lawyers.  She says she had “no idea where the live rounds came from” that were recovered by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's during the investigation of the accidental on-set shooting death of Halyna Hutchins.

From Jacobin:  An opinion piece says that cinematographer Halyna Hutchins' death on the set of the film, "Rust," was not a freak accident, but was about Alec Baldwin and his fellow producers' cost-cutting decisions.  Baldwin accidentally fired the gun that killed Hutchins.

From Deadline:   Two of executive producers on "Rust," Allen Cheney and Emily Salveson, disavow responsibility for the film's troubled production.

From THR:   Iconic "Ghostbusters" actor Ernie Hudson is reeling from the news of the death of Halyna Hutchins, like the rest of Hollywood. Hudson also appeared in the film, "The Crow," the film in which its star, Brandon Lee, was killed because of an on-set accidental shooting.  He also agrees with the call to ban real guns from movie sets.

From THR:  The Sheriff of Sante Fe County says that his office has recovered three guns and 500 rounds of ammunition from the set of the movie "Rust" where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed.

From Deadline:  Regarding criminal charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film "Rust," District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweis, "all options are on the table - no one has been ruled out."

From THR:  Does Hollywood Need Guns? Will new regulations lead to an overreactions to a tragedy.

From Deadline:   "Rust" producers have opened an internal investigation into the fatal shooting on the set of the Western film.  They have hired outside lawyers to conduct interviews with the film's production crew.

From Deadline:  "Rust's" AD (assistant director), Dave Halls, has come under scrutiny in the wake of the on-set shooting death of the film's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.

From Deadline:  The affidavit of Sante Fe Sheriff's Department Detective Joel Cano has been made public. It can be read at "Deadline."  The affidavit was for a search warrant from the property were the Western, "Rust," was being filmed.

From THR:  The production company behind "Rust" has shut the film down until the police investigation into the fatal, on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins is through.  The Sante Fe County Sheriff's Office has also revealed a timeline of the shooting.

From Deadline:  The Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department confirmed Thursday night that Alec Baldwin “discharged” a prop gun on the New Mexico set of the movie, "Rust."  As a result, one crew member, director of photography Halyna Hutchins, was killed and director Joel Souza was injured and remains in a local hospital - his condition unknown.

From THR:  "Rust" director, Joel Souza, who was wounded in the accidental on-set shooting, says that he is "gutted" by the death of his cinematographer on the film, Halyna Hutchins.

From Deadline:  The fatal shooting on the set of "Rust" may have been "recorded" according to detective for Santa Fe Sheriff's Department.

From Deadline:  The production company behind the film, "Rust," will launch an internal safety review after the fatal accident that killed Halyna Hutchins; possible prior gun incidents; and a camera crew walkout.

From CNN:   Crew member yelled "cold gun" as he handed Alec Baldwin prop weapon, court document shows.

From Variety:  Actor Alec Baldwin releases statement on the death of Halyna Hutchins: "There are no words to convey my shock and sadness."

From Variety:  The prop gun that killed “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza on during an on-set accident on Thursday contained a “live single round,” according to an email sent by IATSE Local 44 to its membership.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from March 27th to 31st, 2016 - Update #24

Support Leroy on Patreon.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Disney is developing a live-action film based on Snow White's sister, "Rose Red."

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POLITICS - From YahooPolitics:  Matt Bai asks, "Are we getting the leaders we deserve?"  I'm scared to answer that question.

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MOVIES - From TheTrackingBoard:  Is Hollywood on the brink of a civil war over Sean Parker's "Screening Room."

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MOVIES - From EcoWatch:  Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio speaks on saving the Leuser Ecosystem.

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MOVIES - From Variety:  Jonah Hill preps his directorial debut.

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MOVIES - From Variety:  Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart are in talks to star in a remake of the 2011 French film, "The Intouchables."

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MOVIES - From TheTrackingBoard:  Oscar Isaac is reunited with director Alex Garland for the film, "Annihilation."  Garland directed Isaac in "Ex Machina."

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MOVIES - From Variety:  Oscar-winning screenwriter, Sofia Coppola, to write and direct a remake of "The Beguiled," a 1971 drama that starred Clint Eastwood.

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TELEVISION - From Mashable:  Leonardo DiCaprio texted Jennifer Lopez during the latest "Carpool Karaoke," with James Corden.

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SPORTS - From WashPost:  The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of a secret video scandal that is connected to Iggy Azalea.

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COMICS - From CinemaBlend:  Fans start petition to remove Zack Snyder from the Warner Bros. DC Comics films - a waste of time for sure.

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MUSIC - From TMZ:  Elton John sued for sexual harrassment, and it sound ridiculous.

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OBITS - From Variety:  The actress Patty Duke has died at the age of 69; Tuesday, March 29, 2016.  Duke won a supporting actress Oscar for playing "Helen Keller" in "The Miracle Worker."   She also starred in the 1960s sitcom, "The Patty Duke Show."

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MOVIES - From IndieWire:  Woody Allen's new film, "Cafe Society" to open the 69th Cannes Film Festival.

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COMICS - From ScreenDaily: Disney to screen "Captain America: Civil War" on April 13 at Cinemacon in Las Vegas.

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OBITS - From TVLine:  The actor James Noble has died at the age of 94, Monday, March 28, 2016.  Noble was best known for playing the role of "Governor Eugene Gatling" on the ABC television series, "Benson" (1979 to 1986).

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POLITICS - From RSN:  Obama failed on his clemency promises.

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BOX OFFICE - From Variety:  With the actual numbers in for the 3/25 to 3/27/2016 box office weekend, "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" wins with a haul of $166.1 million.

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TELEVISION - From Variety:  Viacome is "re-imagining" MTV.

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MOVIES - From Variety:  Jason Blum of "Paranormal Activity" and "The Purge" talks the future of horror films.

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TELEVISION - From TVLine:  Norman Reedus teases about "The Walking Dead" Season 6 finale.

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TELEVISION - From SlashFilm:  "Thunderbirds Are Go" goes to WonderCon.

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BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  Early estimates place "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" as the winner of the Easter 2016 weekend box office.

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COMICS - From SlashFilm:  James Wan, director of "The Conjuring" films, talks about directing Warner's "Aquaman" film.

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COMICS - From CBR:  DC Entertainment reveals creator line-ups for its "Rebirth" relaunch.

COMICS - From CBR:  DC Entertainment launches talent development workshops for new writers and artists.

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COMICS - From CinemaBlend:  Tyrese Gibson believes that he has made headway with Warner Bros. in convincing them that he is there new Green Lantern.




Friday, April 3, 2015

Negromancer News Bits and Bites for April 1st to 4th, 2015 - Updated #6


NEWS:

From THR:  "The Muppet Show," which ran from 1976 to 1981 could be revived by ABC.

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From YahooCelebrity:  Chris Rock documents his experience with racial profiling and driving-while-black (DWB).

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From SlashFilmClint Eastwood's name has come up in connection with the Leonardo DiCaprio-Jonah Hill "Richard Jewel" project.


COMICS: Books and Films:

From CBR:  First photos from "Deadpool" film.

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From ComicBookMovie:  A supposed look at Wolverine's costume in "X-Men: Age of Apocalypse."

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From CinemaBlend:  First trailer for "Batman Vs. Superman" to debut with Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15, 2015).

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From CinemaBlend: Brit actor, Ben Hardy, could be "Angel" in X-Men: Apocalypse.


STAR WARS:

From ScreenRant: New rumors about the villains in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


TRAILERS AND PREVIEWS:

From YouTube:  Second "Poltergeist" trailer is up.

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From YouTube:  New trailer for Melissa McCarthy comedy, Spy.


REVIEWS:

From VillageVoice:  Stephanie Zacharek reviews "Furious 7."

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From VillageVoice:  Alan Scherstuhl reviews The Who documentary, "Lambert & Stamp."




Thursday, March 19, 2015

Todd Phillips Begins Shooting "Arms & the Dudes" with Jonah Hill and Miles Teller

Shooting Begins on “Arms & the Dudes”

Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star under the direction of Todd Phillips

BURBANK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Principal photography is underway on Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Arms & the Dudes,” starring Oscar nominee Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Moneyball”) and Miles Teller (“Whiplash”). “The Hangover” trilogy director and Oscar nominee Todd Phillips (“Borat” screenplay) is directing the film.

Based on a true story, “Arms & the Dudes” follows two friends in their early 20s (Hill and Teller) living in Miami during the Iraq War who exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on U.S. Military contracts. Starting small, they begin raking in big money and are living the high life. But the pair gets in over their heads when they land a $300 million deal to arm the Afghan Military—a deal that puts them in business with some very shady people, not the least of which turns out to be the U.S. Government.

Phillips directs from a screenplay he co-wrote with Jason Smilovic (“Lucky Number Slevin”), and Stephen C. Chin (“Another Day in Paradise”), based on the Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson. Todd Phillips and Bradley Cooper, under the banner of their 22nd & Green Productions, and Mark Gordon, under the banner of The Mark Gordon Company, are producing the film. The executive producers are David Siegel and Bryan Zuriff.

Filming began on location in Romania, and shooting is also being accomplished in Las Vegas, Southern California, Miami, and in Morocco.

“Arms & the Dudes” reunites Phillips with several of his collaborators from “The Hangover” trilogy, including director of photography Lawrence Sher, production designer Bill Brzeski and editor Jeff Groth. Joining the team is costume designer Michael Kaplan (“Star Trek,” “Star Trek: Into Darkness”).

The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment company.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" Leads 2014 MTV Movie Award Winners (Complete List)

by Amos Semien

The nominations for the 2014 MTV Movie Awards were revealed on Thursday, March 6, 2014. The 2014 MTV Movie Awards ceremony was held on Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.  The ceremony was hosted by Conan O'Brien.

The 2013 MTV Movie Awards winners:

MOVIE OF THE YEAR
• "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE
• Jennifer Lawrence — "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

BEST MALE PERFORMANCE
• Josh Hutcherson — "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
• Will Poulter— "We're the Millers"

BEST KISS
• Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston and Will Poulter — "We're the Millers"

BEST FIGHT
• "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" — Orlando Bloom and Evangeline Lilly vs. Orcs

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE
• Jonah Hill — "The Wolf of Wall Street"

BEST SCARED-AS-S**T PERFORMANCE
• Brad Pitt — "World War Z"

BEST ON-SCREEN DUO
• Vin Diesel and Paul Walker — "Fast & Furious 6"

BEST SHIRTLESS PERFORMANCE
• Zac Efron — "That Awkward Moment"

#WTF MOMENT
• The Lude Scene — "The Wolf of Wall Street"

BEST VILLAIN
• Mila Kunis — "Oz The Great and Powerful"

BEST ON-SCREEN TRANSFORMATION
• Jared Leto — "Dallas Buyers Club"

BEST MUSICAL MOMENT
• Backstreet Boys, Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen and Craig Robinson Peform in Heaven — "This is the End"

BEST CAMEO PERFORMANCE
• Rihanna — "This is the End"

BEST HERO
• Henry Cavill as Clark Kent — "Man of Steel"

FAVORITE CHARACTER:
Tris from the film "Divergent" and performed by Shailene Woodley

MTV GENERATION AWARD:
Mark Wahlberg

MTV TRAILBLAZER AWARD:
Channing Tatum

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oscar Nominee Review: "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a Howler

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 18 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Running time:  180 minutes (3 hours)
MPAA – R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
WRITER: Terence Winter (based on the book by Jordan Belfort)
PRODUCERS: Riza Aziz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, and Martin Scorsese
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rodrigo Prieto (D.o.P)
EDITOR: Thelma Schoonmaker
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA/COMEDY/BIOFILM

Starring:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Shea Whigham, P.J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Brian Sacca, Henry Zebrowski, Ethan Suplee, Bo Dietl, and Johnnie Mae

The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 drama, bio-film, and black comedy from director Martin Scorsese and writer Terence Winter.  The film stars actor Leonardo DiCaprio and is the fifth collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio.

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort (the 2007 book, The Wolf of Wall Street).  The Wolf of Wall Street the film dramatizes the true story of Belfort:  how he rose to become a wealthy stockbroker, how he lived the high-life, and how he fell into the clutches of the FBI.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) breaks the fourth wall of the movie screen and narrates The Wolf of Wall Street.  He gives a tour of his incredible financial wealth, which includes a lavish house on Long Island’s Gold Coast and his trophy wife, Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie).  He then goes back to the beginning of his career in a low-level job at an established Wall Street firm.  Although he soon moves into a job as a real stock broker, the firm soon goes bankrupt.

Belfort then tells us of his less glamorous job selling penny stocks.  However, his aggressive pitching style makes him a huge success in penny stocks.  Eventually, Belfort opens his own brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont, Inc., and hires his low-rent pals to be his first employees.  His controversial style earns him the moniker, the “Wolf of Wall Street.”  Belfort makes more money than he can spend, and he leads a decadent lifestyle of sex-filled, drug-fueled parties.  However, all that money and his reputation earn Belfort the attention of the FBI and an ambitious agent, Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler), who begins investigating Belfort and Stratton Oakmont.

The Wolf of Wall Street is a box office success and earned many accolades, including five Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe award win for Leonardo DiCaprio.  Still, the film is controversial, mostly for its moral ambiguity, sexual content, the presence of drugs, and/or its vulgarity, among many complaints.

I don’t see the film as morally ambiguous.  The filmmakers are clear in the storytelling and the depiction of the characters and their actions that Jordan Belfort and his cohorts are crooks and scam artists, and they are certainly depraved and lecherous.  Belfort may be a sociopath, and he is at least self-centered and narcissistic.  Wall Street did not make him the way he is; it is simply the perfect place for Belfort to be what he is.

Director Martin Scorsese, writer Terence Winter, and lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio offer a black comedy that is timeless in its focus.  They hold the mirror up to us and make it clear that people never change and they never learn.  People chase money and some money chasers prey on other money chasers.  They are the predators that clean up and rake in the dough every time.  As this kind of predator – this wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio gives a performance that deserves to be described as a tour de force.

Some predators live it up on their ill-gotten gains.  The Wolf of Wall Street shows us the ribaldry and depravity of those who live it up to the extreme.  And this film is a blast because of that.  If you stop yourself from thinking about the real-life Jordan Belfort’s victims, you might find this film dynamic and irreverent.  Scorsese isn’t glorifying Belfort’s excessive lifestyle.  Instead, the director offers a great character study of a larger-than-life American archetype; this is a randy version of that archetype.  This version simply spends more time with his pants down and blow up his nose than most.

You can hate both the player and the game, but it is hard to hate The Wolf of Wall Street, at least it is for me.  This fifth Marty and Leo film makes me eager for the sixth.

9 of 10
A+

Friday, April 04, 2014


NOTES:
2014 Academy Awards, USA:  5 nominations: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Joey McFarland, and Martin Scorsese), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role” (Leonardo DiCaprio), “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” (Jonah Hill), “Best Achievement in Directing” (Martin Scorsese), “Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay” (Terence Winter)

2014 Golden Globes, USA:  1 win: “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” (Leonardo DiCaprio); 1 nomination: “Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical)”

2014 BAFTA Awards:  4 nominations: “Best Adapted Screenplay” (Terence Winter), “Best Leading Actor” (Leonardo DiCaprio), “Best Editing” (Thelma Schoonmaker), and “David Lean Award for Direction” (Martin Scorsese)

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



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Jared Leto Wins 2014 "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar

Performance by an actor in a supporting role:

Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” WINNER

Nominees:
Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"12 Years a Slave," "Blue Jasmine" Lead Costume Designer Guild Awards

by Amos Semien

The winners of the 16th Costume Designers Guild Awards were announced Saturday, February 22, 2014.  The winners of the seven competitive awards were revealed at the awards gala held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and hosted by actor Joshua Malina, known for his roles in “The West Wing” and “Scandal.”

The Guild handed out competitive awards for costume design excellence in seven categories for in film, television and commercial work.  Four honorary awards also were presented at the Awards Gala.

This year, the Guild honored five-time Academy Award nominee Amy Adams with the LACOSTE Spotlight Award, which was presented to her by Jeremy Renner, her co-star in the film American Hustle.

The Distinguished Collaborator Award was presented to acclaimed writer, producer and director, Judd Apatow by Bill Hader and Jonah Hill in recognition of his support of Costume Design and creative partnerships with Costume Designers.

Actors Debra Winger and CiarĂ¡n Hinds presented Emmy Award-winning Costume Designer April Ferry with this year’s Honorary Career Achievement Award for her outstanding work in film and television.

2014 / 16th Costume Designers Guild Award Winners (for the year 2013) – Complete List:

EXCELLENCE IN CONTEMPORARY FILM
Blue Jasmine – Suzy Benzinger

EXCELLENCE IN PERIOD FILM
12 Years a Slave – Patricia Norris

EXCELLENCE IN FANTASY FILM
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Trish Summerville

OUTSTANDING CONTEMPORARY TELEVISION SERIES
"House of Cards" – Tom Broecker

OUTSTANDING PERIOD/FANTASY TELEVISION SERIES
"Downton Abbey" – Caroline McCall

OUTSTANDING MADE FOR TV MOVIE OR MINI SERIES
Behind the Candelabra – Ellen Mirojnick

EXCELLENCE IN COMMERCIAL COSTUME DESIGN
Call of Duty: Ghosts Masked Warriors – Nancy Steiner

http://costumedesignersguild.com/

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Gravity," "Game of Thrones" Among 2014 Art Directors Guild Winners

The Art Directors Guild (ADG) announced winners of its 18th Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards, Presented by Kohler (sponsor), on Saturday, February 8, 2014.  The winners were announced in ten categories of film, television, commercials and music videos during the black-tie ceremony in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.

According to an ADG press release, the 2014 ADG Awards ceremony (for the year in film and television 2013) took place before an audience of more than 800, including guild members, industry executives and press. ADG Council Chair John Shaffner presided over the awards ceremony with comedian Owen Benjamin serving as host.

Martin Scorsese received the Guild’s prestigious Cinematic Imagery Award, which was presented to him by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, the stars of Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street (currently nominated for five Academy Awards®).

Production Designer Rick Carter was recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.  The award was presented by Kohler, which created a special award for the occasion, and ADG President Mimi Gramatky and Production Designer Robert Stromberg participated in the presentation to Carter.

Robert Clatworthy, Harper Goff, and J. Michael Riva were the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees.

ADG awards recognition always goes to the Production Designer, Art Director, Assistant Art Director and their team for each nominated and winning project.

2014 / 18th Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards (for the year in film and television 2013):  A complete list of winners follows:

WINNERS FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRODUCTION DESIGN FOR A FEATURE FILM IN 2013:

Period Film: THE GREAT GATSBY
Production Designer: Catherine Martin

Fantasy Film: GRAVITY
Production Designer: Andy Nicholson

Contemporary Film: HER
Production Designer: K.K. Barrett

WINNERS FOR EXCELLENCE IN PRODUCTION DESIGN IN TELEVISION FOR 2013:

One-Hour Single Camera Television Series: GAME OF THRONES
Production Designer: Gemma Jackson - Episode: Valar Dohaeris

Television Movie or Mini-Series: BEHIND THE CANDELABRA
Production Designer: Howard Cummings

Half-Hour Single Camera Television Series: VEEP
Production Designer: Jim Gloster - Episode: Helsinki

Short Format, Live Action Series: BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME
Production Designer: Brian Kane - Episode: Pilot

Multi-Camera, Variety, or Unscripted Series: PORTLANDIA
Production Designer: Tyler B. Robinson - Episode: Missionaries

Awards, Music, or Game Shows: THE 67th ANNUAL TONY AWARDS
Production Designer: Steve Bass

Commercial, PSA, Promo, and Music Video: CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS
Production Designer: Todd Cherniawsky - Episode: Epic Night Out

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ADG Awards Sponsors: Presenting and Lifetime Achievement: KOHLER; Title Sponsor:Paramount Pictures; Platinum: LBI Entertainment, Steven Spielberg; Gold: Fox Studios Productions, ICM Partners, NBC/Universal Operations Group, United Talent Agency; Silver: Astek Wallcovering, The Bridgeman Art Library Ltd., Fox Searchlight, The Skouras Agency, Warner Bros. Studio Facilities, Walt Disney Pictures, The Weinstein Company, WME Agency; Media: The Hollywood Reporter, SHOOTMagazine/SHOOTonline, and Variety. ADG Awards are open only to productions, when made within the U.S., by producers signatory to the IATSE agreement. Foreign entries are acceptable without restrictions.

About the Art Directors Guild:
The Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800) represents nearly 2,000 members who work throughout the United States, Canada and the rest of the world in film, television and theater as Production Designers, Art Directors, and Assistant Art Directors; Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists; Illustrators and Matte Artists; and Set Designers and Model Makers.

Established in 1937, ADG’s ongoing activities include a Film Society; an annual Awards Banquet, a creative/technology community (5D: The Future of Immersive Design) and Membership Directory; a bimonthly craft magazine (Perspective); and extensive technology-training programs, creative workshops and craft and art exhibitions.

The Guild’s Online Directory/Website Resource is at www.adg.org.
Twitter: @ADG800, #ADGawards

About Kohler:
Founded in 1873 and headquartered in Kohler, Wisconsin, Kohler Co. is one of America’s oldest and largest privately held companies comprised of more than 30,000 associates. With more than 50 manufacturing locations worldwide, Kohler is a global leader in the manufacture of kitchen and bath products; engines and power systems; premier furniture, cabinetry and tile; and owner/operator of two of the world’s finest five-star hospitality and golf resort destinations in Kohler, and St. Andrews, Scotland.

Kohler Website: http://www.us.kohler.com/us
Kohler Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kohler
Kohler Twitter: @Kohler, #OnlyKohler

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Friday, November 29, 2013

"The Wolf of Wall Street" Posters Released




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

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

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

In theaters December 25th

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

View one of the trailers here.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Fun Never Ends in "This Is the End"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 66 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

This Is the End (2013)
Running time:  107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
MPAA – R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence
DIRECTORS:  Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
WRITERS:  Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; from a screen story by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (based on the short film, Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, by Jason Stone)
PRODUCERS:  James Weaver and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Brandon Trost
EDITOR:  Zene Baker
COMPOSER:  Henry Jackman

COMEDY/FANTASY

Starring:  James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Paul Rudd, and Channing Tatum with Jason Segel

This Is the End is a 2013 apocalyptic comedy film from writer-directors, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.  This black comedy features a number of Hollywood comic actors and celebrities playing fictional versions of themselves.  The movie centers on actor James Franco’s house where a small band of survivors are forced to live together after a disaster that could be the end of the world.

This Is the End begins with Jay Baruchel arriving in Los Angeles to visit his old friend and fellow actor, Seth Rogen.  Seth convinces Jay to go with him to a housewarming party hosted by actor James Franco.  Jay is reluctant because he does not like Seth’s L.A. friends, especially actor Jonah Hill.  During the party, a catastrophic earthquake occurs, and L.A. falls to fire and chaos.  Jay, Seth, James, Jonah, and Craig Robinson survive the destruction, but they are not alone.  They slowly learn that the largest earthquake in California history may be more than just a natural disaster.

In his review of This Is the End for Maclean’s, critic Brian D. Johnson basically said that there could be worse ways to experience the apocalypse than with stoned celebrities (go here or http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/06/07/was-armageddon-always-this-complicated/ for the full review).  Other than spending it with my family, there is no better way to go through the end of the world than with fun, fictional versions of Seth Rogen and his friends.  Also, much of the middle of the film works like a comedy stage play that allows each member of the ensemble to fashion a character that engages the audience.

I like many of the films in which most members of the main and supporting cast have appeared.  For the most part, I also like their public personas.  They are all really funny in this film, and James Franco’s sardonic humor (which was too understated to work during his gig hosting the Oscars) shines.  Once again, Craig Robinson finds a way to turn a supporting comedy part into a co-leading role on the sheer strength of his underrated talent as a light comic actor.  Danny McBride steals the show; if any actor deserves an Academy Award nomination as a supporting actor this year because of a comedic performance, it is McBride in This Is the End.

This Is the End was made for me.  I liked what the actors did in this movie, and I liked how they were willing to savage their public personas and work in films.  This Is the End of the review but not of my love for this movie, which will go on...

8 of 10
A

Saturday, October 05, 2013


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



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"21 Jump Street" Good from Jump Street

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 77 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


21 Jump Street (2012)
Running time: 109 minutes (1 hour, 49 minutes)
MPAA – R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, teen drinking and some violence
DIRECTORS: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
WRITERS: Michael Bacall; from a story by Michael Bacall and Jonah Hill (based on the television series created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell)
PRODUCER: Neal H. Moritz
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Peterson (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Joel Negron
COMPOSER: Mark Mothersbaugh

COMEDY/CRIME

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, DeRay Davis, Dax Flame, Ellie Kemper, Chris Parnell, Holly Robinson Peete, Caroline Aaron, and Joe Chrest with Peter DeLuise and Johnny Depp

Right up front, I must say that I like Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. I haven’t seen all the movies in which each actor has appeared, but I try to see as many as I can. I don’t plan on watching two of Tatum’s biggest hits, Dear John or The Vow, unless someone pays me. No one is going to pay me to see either movie.

21 Jump Street is a crime comedy starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The film is based on 21 Jump Street, the television series created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell and which aired from 1987 to 1991 on FOX and in first-run syndication (in the series’ final season). The movie follows two underachieving cops who go undercover at a high school in order to break up a drug ring.

Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) were high school classmates, but Morton the geek and Greg the cool kid weren’t friends. They became friends after they entered the police academy, where they made up for each other’s weaknesses. After graduating from the academy, they are assigned to park patrol, where they screw up so badly, they’re almost kicked off the police force.

Their last chance is a recently revived police department specialty division, 21 Jump Street, which uses youthful looking police officers to infiltrate high schools. The division head, the profanity-spewing Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), sends Morton and Greg to Sagan High. There, they must find the dealers of a new synthetic drug, H.F.S., but their ultimate goal is to find out the identity of the suppliers behind the dealers. While trying to fit in and not look like narcs, Morton and Greg learn that much has changed since their own high school days a decade ago.

21 Jump Street turned out to be much funnier than I thought it would be, and I thought that it might be a guilty pleasure or, at least, mildly amusing. There is nothing guilty about this pleasure. First, I think that it is a sarcastic send up of action comedies, especially of the buddy-cop variety, and it’s quite good at that. It is smart and dead-on about generational shifts in culture, especially concerning attitudes on identity, sexuality, and technology. Mostly, the movie seems to be about friendships: how they develop, what keeps people together, what can cause strife, etc. The dynamic of friendship between two young men, one that seems to have the potential to last a long time, plays out between the film’s jokes about demanding bosses, eccentric teachers, socially-conscious students, and a group of geeks who really want the new guy to like them.

I think 21 Jump Street works so well as a cop comedy because the relationship between Morton and Greg, with all its odds and ends, seems genuine in the context of a fictional union created for a movie. This movie is worth watching because of Morton and Greg and the way that Hill and Tatum, respectively, portray them. I liked the two enough to be very happy when I learned that a sequel to this movie is in the works.

I don’t want to make 21 Jump Street sound like a “bromance.” There is some ridiculous and crazy shit that happens in this movie, and almost all of it is very funny. It’s never over the top, even in the way Rob Riggle’s character, Mr. Walters, tries to save a special body part near the end of the film.

7 of 10
A-

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Christopher Plummer Wins Best Supporting Actor Oscar

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

WINNER - Christopher Plummer for Beginners

Nominees:
Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill for Moneyball
Nick Nolte for Warrior
Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Academy Award Nominations: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Nominees:

Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn (2011)

Jonah Hill for Moneyball (2011)

Nick Nolte for Warrior (2011)

Christopher Plummer for Beginners (2010)

Max von Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Moneyball" is Money

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 2 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux


Moneyball (2011)
Running time: 133 minutes (2 hours, 13 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some strong language
DIRECTOR: Bennett Miller
WRITERS: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin; from a story by Stan Chervin (based upon Michael Lewis’s book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game")
PRODUCERS: Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, and Brad Pitt
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wally Pfister (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Christopher Tellefsen
COMPOSER: Mychael Danna

DRAMA/SPORTS/BIOPIC

Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, Stephen Bishop, Brent Jennings, Ken Medlock, Nick Searcy, Glenn Morshower, Reed Thompson, and Kerris Dorsey

Moneyball is a 2011 sports drama and biographical film starring Brad Pitt. The film is a fictionalized version of events in the 2002 season of the Major League Baseball team, the Oakland Athletics (A’s). Moneyball follows the real-life A’s general manager (GM), Billy Beane, as he uses computer-generated analysis to field (or put together) a competitive and winning baseball team. The Moneyball movie is based on Michael Lewis’ 2003 book of the same name, and Oscar-winner Scott Rudin is also one of the film’s executive producers.

Oakland Athletics’ general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is upset that his team lost to the New York Yankees during the 2001 playoffs. The end of the 2001 season also means that several of the A’s star players are leaving to sign with other teams for much more money than the A’s are willing to or have the ability to pay. As GM, Beane is constrained by the lowest payroll in baseball, so he needs to find another competitive advantage. Beane meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess a baseball player’s value and about how to put a team together. But this new approach is controversial, and as the A’s lose, the pressure mounts on Beane.

Acclaimed film and television writer, Aaron Sorkin wrote the third version of Moneyball’s screenplay. Sorkin also wrote The Social Network, for which he won an Academy Award. Like The Social Network, Moneyball is a film about someone who introduces something radical and controversial to an institution, in this case baseball, which everyone insists cannot be changed. Another thing Moneyball has in common with The Social Network is that Moneyball is also about a guy who goes out and makes something and does it as well as or better than other men that have many more resources than he has.

Director Bennett Miller (Capote) makes this story work as a film by focusing on Beane, and to a lesser extent Brand. Millers puts Beane’s struggles and the A’s ups and downs side by side. Separately, Beane and the A’s are compelling, but together, their story is exhilarating.

As Billy Beane, Brad Pitt gives one his more unusual performances. To sell this story, Pitt, as the lead character, does not rely on his star power or handsome looks. Indeed, whenever his “muscle-ly” arms make an appearance, they seem out of place. Pitt’s performance is subtle, quiet, and graceful. When Pitt needs to be intense, he is intense, so much so that I could feel it coming off the screen; however, Pitt delivers this intensity in an entirely non-intense way. I believed that Pitt was Billy Beane.

Of all the biographical sports dramas I’ve seen, Moneyball is like no other. This is a baseball movie for baseball people, but this is also a good movie for good movie people.

8 of 10
A

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: "Superbad" is a Top High School Comedy (Happy B'day, Michael Cera)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 121 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Superbad (2007)
Running time: 114 minutes (1 hour, 54 minutes)
MPAA – R for pervasive crude and sexual content, strong language, drinking, some drug use, and a fantasy/comic violent image – all involving teens
DIRECTOR: Greg Mottola
WRITERS: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
PRODUCERS: Judd Apatow and Shauna Robertson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Russ T. Alsobrook
EDITOR: William Kerr

COMEDY

Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Kevin Corrigan, Joe Lo Truglio, Martha MacIsaac, Emma Stone, Aviva, and Erica Vittina Phillips

Sex, drugs, and booze may not necessarily make you happy, but they can make for an incredibly funny movie… in the right hands.

When he isn’t writing and directing hit films like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, Judd Apatow finds time to produce hits like Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby or the new film, Superbad. It’s the uproarious cautionary tale/coming-of-age story about two socially inept childhood pals. They are about to graduate from high school and go their own way when one panic-driven night reaffirms their super-close friendship.

Seth (Jonah Hill) and Evan (Michael Cera) are two codependent high school seniors. No, Seth and Evan have a ridiculously dependent relationship, but now, they’ll be forced to separate because they’ve both been accepted to different colleges. It seems as if the quiet, sweet, and smart Evan managed to get into Dartmouth, while volatile, foul-mouthed Seth didn’t. Combine this duo with their friend, the arrogant nerd, Fogell (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), who also got into Dartmouth, and they form an unholy, horny trinity.

It’s three week before they graduate, and they want to hook up with girls before they go off to different colleges. Thanks to a fake I.D. card that Fogell has obtained, Seth promises Jules (Emma Stone), a girl he lusts after, that he can buy some alcohol for a party she is throwing. Evan makes the same promise to Becca (Martha MacIsaac), the girl he’s always secretly loved. However, after a calamitous night of trying to score booze for the party that involves a convenience store hold up, two crazy cops, and another thoroughly adult party, Seth and Evan find overcoming separation anxiety is a bigger obstacle than getting girls and alcohol.

Before Superbad reaches the ten-minute mark, it already has more coarse and crude language than most mainstream comedies or many R-rated comedies for that matter have in their entire runtime. In spite of the raunchy language and racy subject matter, Superbad rings with honesty. Many viewers will find that to some extent it resembles their own high school lives, especially if they were born after the 1950’s. Writers Seth Rogen (who also stars in the film) and Evan Goldberg are smart enough not to divide the school into jocks and losers. In real high school, even the nerds and geeks know the beautiful people, at least in passing. It’s not as if a “loser” can never get to say “Hi” to the popular people and athletes.

In Seth and Evan, Rogen and Goldberg have created genuine high school kids and genuine high school pals. From the moment the two first appear on screen together, there is a moment of recognition in the viewers who are really paying attention. Seth and Evan’s adventures may be over the top and even dangerous, but we can laugh. In their raunchy verbal jousting, we recognize that the two say what they do because they don’t know crap about sex. We’ve all been there. If we’ve never spoken the vileness that they do, we feel the truth in their friendship and the pain in their coming separation as they enter adulthood.

Now, the overall plot and the thin story don’t amount to much, but that isn’t important. The fine cast of comic actors hits the right notes, and that is what’s important. Superbad feels like the real thing – one the very best high school comedies ever. Superbad is supergood.

7 of 10
A-

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: "Megamind" More Than Mindless Superhero Action


TRASH IN MY EYE No. 19 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Megamind (2010)
Running time: 96 minutes (1 hour, 36 minutes)
MPAA – PG for action and some language
DIRECTOR: Tom McGrath
WRITERS: Alan Schoolcraft and Brent Simons
PRODUCERS: Lara Breay and Denise Nolan Cascino
EDITOR: Michael Andrews
COMPOSERS: Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer

ANIMATION/SUPERHERO/COMEDY/ACTION with elements of romance

Starring: Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Brad Pitt, J.K. Simmons, Ben Stiller, Justin Long, Bill Hader, and Amy Poehler

It is not a rousing tale of a superhero family-that-plays-together like The Incredibles. It lacks the heartwarming, cuddliness of Despicable Me. Still, Megamind, a 2010 computer-animated movie from DreamWorks Animation, is a top notch superhero movie. It takes a different path, turning the ups-and-downs of friendship, dating, relationships, and career into a movie that mixes action comedy, romantic comedy, and superheroes.

Megamind (Will Ferrell) is a super-intelligent, blue-skinned alien who was sent here as a baby by his parents before their world was destroyed. Metro Man (Brad Pitt) also came to earth as a baby. Megamind grew up to be a supervillain, and Metro Man became a superhero and the defender of Metro City. Megamind and Metro Man have fought each other for years, and Metro Man always wins.

Then, one day, Megamind actually kills Metro Man. Metro City becomes Megamind’s playground, but he soon finds his life boring and pointless with a superhero to fight. Megamind creates a new superhero he names Titan (Jonah Hill), but instead of using his powers for good (and for fighting Megamind), Titan turns bad. Meanwhile, Megamind falls in love with Roxanne Ritchi (Tina Fey), a reporter he used to kidnap to irritate Metro Man. Now, Megamind and Roxanne have to save the city.

Not only is the animation sleek, gracefully, and colorful in Megamind, but it is also spectacular. As befitting a good superhero movie, there are big action set pieces, and the explosions, fights, and mass destruction look nearly as awesome as anything found in a Transformers movie. From a technical point of view, this film should have gotten an Academy Award nomination for animated feature film and at least sound editing.

Perhaps, what held this movie back from greater acclaim is that quite a bit of Megamind seems recycled from other films, even if those similarities were unintentional. It seems like the odd man out, especially because before Megamind debuted, movie audiences had already seen a 3D animated film about a supervillain, the aforementioned Despicable Me. While Despicable Me is a heartwarming tale of a reluctant surrogate father and three cute little girls, Megamind is actually an adult-leaning film about mid-life crisis and relationship disappointments.

Megamind rises above any faults because of its voice cast. They tackle the various comic tones of the screenplay with wit and, occasionally, with style and substance. I think Will Ferrell is a brilliant comic actor with impeccable timing. Truthfully, Megamind would be pedestrian filler material, but Ferrell’s voice performance offers so many textures and layers that add richness to Megamind the character.

Tina Fey’s sparkling, witty turn creates a winning Lois Lane-like star reporter in Roxanne Ritchi. Brad Pitt proves, as he did in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003), that voice-acting for animated characters is not his thing. Jonah Hill is surprisingly good as the spurned nerd-turned-villain, and J.K. Simmons is pitch perfect as the Warden of Metro City Prison.

The advertising campaign for Megamind failed the film because it emphasized the fantastic action scenes, special effects, inventive mechanical creatures and devices, while ignoring the heart of the story. Megamind is about the search to be accepted, to belong, and to be loved. It is a Woody Allen-like take on the superhero movie, and is, in fact, much better than Allen’s recent relationship comedies.

8 of 10
A

Thursday, March 03, 2011
 
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: The Dragon in "How to Train Your Dragon" Makes the Film Soar

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 18 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux
 
How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – animated
Running time: 98 minutes (1 hour, 38 minutes)
MPAA – PG for sequences of intense action and some scary images, and brief mild language
DIRECTOR: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders
WRITERS: Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders, Adam F. Goldberg, and Peter Tolan (based upon the book by Cressida Cowell
PRODUCER: Bonnie Arnold
EDITOR: Maryann Brandon
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Kathy Altieri
ART DIRECTOR: Pierre-Olivier Vincent
 
ANIMATION/FANTASY/ACTION/ADVENTURE
 
Starring: (voice) Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Kristen Wiig 
 
The latest computer-animated (or 3D animation) film from DreamWorks Animation, How to Train Your Dragon, really does reach new heights. This story about a boy and his dragon will take the viewer soaring across the sky through cloud banks and far into the atmosphere. The audience will follow the two as they streak across the ocean and over, around, and through islands and outcroppings. For over a century, cinema has shown us humans riding into the sky on winged horses, magic carpets, giant birds, etc., but never has movie flight felt so thrilling as it does here on the back on a young dragon. 
 
How to Train Your Dragon is set on the island of Berk, a Viking settlement where the Vikings have been fighting dragons since the settlers arrived on Berk. The story’s hero is a Viking teenager named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the son of Viking chieftain, Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler). Hiccup’s smarts and offbeat sense of humor don’t sit too well with his tribe or his father because fighting dragons is their way of life – not humor. 
 
The beanpole-thin Hiccup is not strong, nor is he built like other Vikings, but still he is included in Dragon Training with the other Viking teens. Hiccup sees this as his chance to prove he has what it takes to be a fighter. When he encounters an injured dragon, one of the dreaded breed know as the Night Fury, Hiccup’s world is flipped upside down. He eventually befriends the dragon, whom he names “Toothless,” and helps the creature when he discovers that half of Toothless’ tail wing has been ripped off, grounding him. What started out as Hiccup’s one shot to prove himself as a Viking dragon slayer turns into an opportunity to set a new course for the future of Hiccup’s entire tribe. 
 
There is a lot about How to Train Your Dragon that can be praised, but the film does have its problems. Most of the characters are dull, flat, and uninteresting. Even Hiccup’s father, Stoick, large and fearsome as he is, really doesn’t generated dramatic heat, and Gerard Butler’s voice performance doesn’t make the character better. The character, Gobber, who acts as comic relief and is voiced by late-night talk show host, Craig Ferguson, is tepid. The story isn’t bad, but it is slight; there isn’t the dramatic weight here that one would get from a Pixar movie. In fact, the first quarter hour or so of this film presaged a cinematic bomb. Then, Hiccup and Toothless kick things off. 
 
What makes How to Train Your Dragon fantastic is its star duo. The depth, back story, conflict, and motivation missing from the other characters are abundant in Hiccup. His need to be accepted by his tribe, especially his father, versus his penchant for investigating and challenging the consensus, the status quo, and conventional thinking is the dramatic backbone of this film. Hiccup’s dragon buddy, Toothless, is simply a great animated character. He doesn’t speak, but his personality and character come through the expressiveness of his face and the vivid nature of his body in motion. In an animated film – 2D or 3D, the art of animation is indeed the illusion of life, as seen in the animated character. Gabe Hordos, the supervising animator of Toothless, and his staff have executed a grand magical spell in bringing Toothless to life. 
 
How to Train Your Dragon shows the audience the evolution of a boy from outcast teen to acknowledged hero. The film offers an impish, playful cartoon creature possessing the best human qualities. Together boy and dragon take us on a journey of self-discovery and maturity, and How to Train Your Dragon will take the audience on an aerial adventure that sometimes rivals the high-flying action of James Cameron’s Avatar. That is more than enough to make up for this film’s faults. 
 
8 of 10
 
Monday, March 29, 2010
 
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Invention of Lying Tells the Truth

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 9 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Invention of Lying (2009)
Running time: 99 minutes
MPAA – PG-13 for language including some sexual material and a drug reference
WRITERS/DIRECTORS: Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson
PRODUCERS: Ricky Gervais, Dan Lin, Lynda Obst, and Oly Obst
CINEMATOGRAHER: Tim Suhrstedt (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Chris Gill

COMEDY/ROMANCE

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K. Jeffrey Tambor, Fionnula Flanagan, Rob Lowe, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and Tina Fey

Last fall, Ricky Gervais made his directorial debut with the film, The Invention of Lying, co-directed with Matthew Robinson. The film is about a man who discovers lying in a world where everyone tells the truth – even the brutal truth. Those who saw the trailers (commercials) for this film may not realize that advertising for The Invention of Lying leaves out one important fact.

The Invention of Lying is not about lying; it is about religion.

The film takes place in an alternate reality where lying and even the concept of the lie do not even exist. People are always telling the truth, and everyone: politicians, advertisers, the man and woman on the street, neighbors, coworkers, employers, and even the person you’re dating speaks the truth and nothing but the truth. Such honesty does not come with a thought of the consequences. Seeing this, even in a movie, is pretty shocking. For instance, it is never cool to hear a coworker just flatly state how much she hates you and is glad to hear that you will be fired. Such blunt truth is the norm in this world.

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is a down-on-his-luck loser. A failed screenwriter, Mark knows that he is about to be fired, and so do all his coworkers and colleagues. Mark also goes out on an arranged date with a perky young woman named Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner), who is brutally honest about her feelings for him. She thinks Mark is nice, but she doesn’t want to have children with a fat man who has a stubby nose.

When his life totally falls apart, Mark reaches the point of desperation when he suddenly says something that simply is not, and thus, he gives birth to the lie. Mark invents the ability to say things that are not true, and, as the only person in the world who can lie, he uses lying to make himself rich. When one of his lies spreads, the entire world starts to hang on Mark’s every word, even his beloved Anna.

Lying isn’t the only thing Mark Bellison’s world is missing. People have no concept of heaven, faith, or God. When Mark creates “the man in the sky,” people believe him because they don’t know he is lying, nor would they even understand the concept of lying. Ultimately, Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson use The Invention of Lying to make a few suggestions to the viewer. First, people should do the things that make them happy and not go along with the status quo if it makes them miserable. Also, a person shouldn’t wait to be told what to do, nor should others, even a divine other, make decisions for him.

The Invention of Lying is a great idea, even a wicked idea, but as the film goes on, Gervais and Robinson favor romance over the sharp social criticism about truth and about religion. This is a love story set in a parable and satire, and while the filmmakers handle both well, The Invention of Lying does lack a tangible antagonist. Much of the dramatic conflict is internal – Mark Bellison’s good side versus his selfish, greedy, petty nature. The script never really takes advantage of conflict outside of the lead character: Mark versus his job, society, and his rivals.

Still, this film is surprisingly radical, and the filmmakers mine much of the premise’s richness. Ricky Gervais is, as always, a brilliant, funny man, with a great sense of humor when it comes to poking fun at people and society. Jennifer Garner is surprisingly spry, (although she is a good comic actress), and her performance is pitch perfect for this story. I can forgive The Invention of Lying for its eventual transformation into a conventional romantic comedy, because for most of its hour and a half of story, this movie’s wit is startling. In a landscape of safe, conventional movies, that is worth a lot.

7 of 10
B+

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

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