Showing posts with label Woody Harrelson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Woody Harrelson. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Review: Entertaining "TRIANGLE OF SADNESS" is Not as Clever or as Sharp As it Thinks It Is

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 21 of 2023 (No. 1910) by Leroy Douresseaux

Triangle of Sadness (2022)
Running time:  147 minutes (2 hour, 27 minutes)
MPA – R for language and some sexual content
PRODUCERS:  Philippe Bober and Erik Hemmendorff
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Fredrik Wenzel (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Mikel Cee Karlsson and Rubin Östlund
Academy Award nominee


Starring:  Harris Dickinson, Charlbi Dean, Vicki Berlin, Dolly De Leon, Zlatko Buric, Sunnyi Melles, Iris Berben, Amanda Walker, Oliver Ford Davies, Ralph Schicha, Henrik Dorsin, Jean-Christophe Folly, Alicia Eriksson, and Woody Harrelson

Triangle of Sadness is a 2022 satirical film and black comedy from writer-director Ruben Östlund.  It is the Swedish Östlund's first English-language film, and it is an international co-production between four nations:  Sweden, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.  The film follows a celebrity couple, who are both fashion models, as they join a doomed luxury cruse for the super-rich.

Triangle of Sadness introduces Carl (Harris Dickinson) and Yaya (Charlbi Dean).  Yaya is a successful fashion model, and Carl is male model, who is not as successful as Yaya.  Yaya expects Carl to pay for their meals, although she makes more money than him, and her ambition is to be a trophy wife.  Yaya is an “influencer,” and she is in a relationship with Carl for the social media engagement it earns them.

Carl and Yaya are invited on a luxury cruise aboard a super-yacht in exchange for its social media promotion.  Among the wealthy guests are the Russian oligarch, Dimitry (Zlatko Buric), and his wife, Vera (Sunnyi Melles), and Jarmo (Henrik Dorsin), a lonely tech millionaire who flirts with Yaya.  Paula (Vicki Berlin), the tightly wound head of the ship's staff, demands that the staff obey the guests' every request, even the absurd ones.  The ship's Captain (Woody Harrelson) will not leave his room and seems to be drunk all the time.  The captain's neglect of his duties, Paula's insistence on placating the super-wealthy guests, and the guests crazy demands culminate in a single disastrous evening.

Eventually, a small group of the yacht's guests, including Carl and Yaya, find themselves on what seems to be a deserted island.  Now, the balance of power has shifted from the wealthy and powerful to a rather skillful cleaning woman, Abigail (Dolly De Leon).  Will the guests adjust to this new status, and how well will they adjust?

There are some fun, outrageous, and outrageously funny material, moments, and scenes in Triangle of Sadness.  The film critiques and mocks the obscenely wealthy, but I think that its strongest points are made when it takes swipes at how some people get rich and famous.  Some are wealthy because they sell things that are destructive to humanity (things used in war), and some are rich and famous … for being rich and famous.  Some people's wealth does not make their lives better, such as the lonely Jarmo.  Some, like the Russian, Dimitry, merely happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right stuff to sell.

For all his film's political commentary and moral lessons, writer-director Ruben Östlund seems to be a tad too mannered.  It's as if he doesn't know that while his film is edgy, he seems to be dulling the sharp edges that would really go after his social and political targets.  Is Östlund saying that the super-rich and famous are obscene and that they need to be brought down to the level of ordinary people in order to regain their humanity?  By the end of the film, it seems that way.

I would recommend Triangle of Sadness (which takes its title from a modeling term used in the film) to fans of foreign movies.  Most movie fans can get a similar message, more or less, from the classic Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd film, Trading Places (1983).  I like Triangle of Sadness because it is a genuinely good film, but it feels like Ruben Östlund left the hardness of its allegories and metaphors on the cutting room floor.

7 of 10
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

2023 Academy Awards, USA:  3 nominations: “Best Motion Picture of the Year” (Erik Hemmendorff and Philippe Bober), “Best Original Screenplay” (Ruben Östlund), and “Best Achievement in Directing” (Ruben Östlund)

2023 BAFTA Awards:  3 nominations: “Best Supporting Actress” (Dolly De Leon), “Best Casting” (Pauline Hansson), and “Best Screenplay-Original” (Ruben Östlund)

2023 Golden Globes, USA:  2 nominations: “Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy” and “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture” (Dolly De Leon) 

2022 Cannes Film Festival:  2 wins: “Palme d'Or” (Ruben Östlund) and “CST Artist-Technician Prize” (Andreas Franck, Bent Holm, Jacob Ilgner, and Jonas Rudels)

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Review: Entertaining "VENOM: Let There Be Carnage" Offers Some Crazy Love

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 59 of 2021 (No. 1797) by Leroy Douresseaux

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)
Running time:  97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references
DIRECTOR:  Andy Serkis
WRITERS:  Kelly Marcel; from a story by Kelly Marcel and Tom Hardy (based on the Marvel Comics)
PRODUCERS:  Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, Matt Tolmach, Tom Hardy, Kelly Marcel, and Hutch Parker
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Robert Richardson (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Maryann Brandon and Stan Salfas
COMPOSER:  Marco Beltrami


Starring:  Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, Peggy Lu, Little Simz, Jack Bandeira, Olumide Olorunfemi, and Woody Harrelson

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a 2021 superhero fantasy-action film directed by Andy Serkis.  The film is based on the Marvel Comics super-villain/anti-hero characters, Eddie Brock/Venom, to which several comic book writers, artists, and editors contributed in the creation, most especially artist Todd McFarlane and writer David Michelinie.  This film is a direct sequel to the 2018 film, Venom, and it is also the second film in “Sony's Spider-Man Universe” series.  In Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Eddie Brock and Venom face a new symbiote, a violent monster more powerful than Venom.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage opens in “St. Estes Home for Unwanted Children,” circa 1996.  There, young Cletus Kasady (Jack Bandeira) watches helplessly as his love, young Frances Barrison (Olumide Olorunfemi), is taken away.  She will be placed at the “Ravencroft Institute,” where she will be experimented upon because of her special power, her ability to emit a sonic scream.

In the present day, police Detective Patrick Mulligan (Stephen Graham) contacts Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who is attempting to revive his journalism career.  Mulligan asks Brock to speak to Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson), now a serial killer who sits on death row and awaits execution.  Kasady refuses to talk to anyone other than Brock.  Kasady invites Brock to attend his execution, but Brock uses the visit to benefit himself.  Kasady sees Brock's actions as betrayal.

Meanwhile, Brock and the symbiote, Venom, have hit a wall in their relationship.  Each believes that the other does not really appreciate what he brings to the relationship.  Plus, Brock's ex-fiancée, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), tells him that she is now engaged to Dr. Dan Lewis (Reid Scott).  This news and his cantankerous relationship with Venom lead Brock into being careless when he visits Kasady a second time, which leads to the creation of a monstrous new symbiote named “Carnage.”  Meanwhile, the adult Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris) is still imprisoned and, in her new identity as “Shriek, she still pines for her man, Cletus.

From what information I have gathered, the general consensus seems to be that the sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, is better than the first film, Venom.  As entertaining as I found the sequel, I think the original is the better film.  Yes, Venom: Let There Be Carnage has a lot going for it.  Its main cast:  Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, and Woody Harrelson have all received Academy Award nominations for their acting – Williams and Harrelson more than once.

Yes, the sequel's special effects are excellent.  It is quite an achievement to create multiple scenes featuring not one but two shape-shifting, morphing CGI characters.  Venom and Carnage transmute at the same speed and frequency with which the late actor and comic legend, Robin Williams, blabbed and babbled – every chance he got.

Yes, I will give Venom: Let There Be Carnage credit for attempting to be something more than just a superhero film.  [Venom considers himself a hero.]  The film offers themes related to romance, fractured relationships, troubled friendships, jealousy, unrequited love, and love triangles.  In fact, I have to credit Tom Hardy for sharing so much of what is essentially his film with another actor.  Much of this film is about the story of Woody Harrelson's character, Cletus Kasady.

However, the first film seemed more sure of its plots and story points.  As eye-popping as Carnage is in this sequel, I think the original film's human/symbiote villains, Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed) and Riot, were … deliciously evil.  Carnage is needlessly homicidal, and the character takes away from the subtle notes that Woody Harrelson tries to play as Cletus Kasady.

So, in the end, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is entertaining and often funny.  The supporting characters get to play, even fifth wheel Dr. Dan, and I'm always happy to see Naomi Harris, who makes the most of her time as Shriek.  But Venom: Let There Be Carnage feels like a placeholder.  It is as if Sony Pictures offered this sequel in order to satisfy demand while it takes time to develop a really good follow-up to the original Venom, instead of this merely good one.

6 of 10

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

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


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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Review: First "VENOM" is Surprisingly Entertaining and Unexpectedly Good

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 57 of 2021 (No. 1795) by Leroy Douresseaux

Venom (2018)
Running time:  112 minutes (1 hour, 52 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for language
DIRECTOR:  Ruben Fleischer
WRITERS:  Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel; from a screen story by Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg (based on the Marvel Comics)
PRODUCERS:  Avi Arad, Amy Pascal, and Matt Tolmach
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Matthew Libatique (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Alan Baumgarten and Maryann Brandon
COMPOSER:  Ludwig Göransson


Starring:  Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Melora Walters, Peggy Lu, Ron Cephas Jones, Stan Lee, and Woody Harrelson

Venom is a 2018 superhero fantasy-action film directed by Ruben Fleischer.  The film is based on the Marvel Comics super-villain/anti-hero characters, Eddie Brock/Venom, to which several comic book writers, artists, and editors contributed in the creation of, most especially artist Todd McFarlane and writer David Michelinie.  It is also the first film in the “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters” series.  In Venom the film, a troubled television reporter gains superpowers after bonding with an alien entity that is part of an invasion force.

As Venom opens, a space exploration probe belonging to the bio-engineering corporation, Life Foundation, discovers a comet covered in strange lifeforms.  The probe returns to Earth with four samples of these lifeforms, but one escapes.  Later, Life Foundation CEO, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), has realized that these lifeforms are “symbiotes,” and that they cannot survive without human hosts.  However, soon after the symbiotes bond with humans, the humans' bodies start to reject the aliens.  Drake is obsessed with finding the perfect human hosts for these symbiotes, even if his experiments lead to the deaths of many humans.

Six months later, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a failed television reporter and former star of “The Brock Report.”  He previously had a run-in with Drake, but fate has given him the opportunity to infiltrate the Life Foundation.  That is how Eddie has an unfortunate encounter with a symbiote that calls itself “Venom.”  Eddie struggles to adapt to what he calls the “parasite” inside his body and is shocked to learn that there are millions more like Venom out in space.  But Eddie will need Venom's help to stay alive when Drake and Life Foundation discover his strange union and come after him to retrieve their property – the symbiote Venom.

Except for his early comic book appearances, I have never been a fan of Venom, but I am a fan of Venom the movie.  He is one of those characters whose potential reveals itself in the movement that television and film offers.  The visual-effects crew of Venom does excellent work in creating Venom as a fascinating and alluring CGI character; noisy, chaotic, obnoxious, inconsistent, and aggressive work for this character.  In fact, there are many inconsistencies in what is supposed to be the nature of human-symbiote relationship, especially in what are the rules of Eddie Brock and Venom's merger, but I found this movie to be too much fun for me to pay attention to logic.

Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake make the most of two characters that are not that well developed, and the characters make a good adversarial pair.  Even acclaimed actress and multiple Oscar nominee, Michelle Williams, manages to make Eddie's ex, Anne Weying, seem like something more than an obligatory female character.  But still, the gold in Venom is the special effect that is Venom the character.  I like Venom enough to watch a sequel...

7 of 10

Monday, July 5, 2021

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


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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Review: "Solo: A Star Wars Story" is Pure Classic Era

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 7 (of 2018) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
Running time:  135 minutes (2 hours, 15 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
DIRECTOR:  Ron Howard
WRITERS:  Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan; based on the characters created by George Lucas)
PRODUCERS:  Simon Emanuel (p.g.a.) and Kathleen Kennedy (p.g.a.)
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Bradford Young (D.o.P.)
EDITOR:  Pietro Scalia
COMPOSER:  John Powell (and adaptation)


Starring:  Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Clint Howard, Erin Kellyman, Anthony Daniels, and Warwick Davis and the voices of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jon Favreau, and Linda Hunt

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a 2018 science fiction and fantasy film from director Ron Howard.  It is the tenth live-action film in the Star Wars film franchise, and it is the second anthology or “stand-alone” film (meaning that it is not part of the “Skywalkers saga”), following 2016's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  The film focuses on a younger version of classic Star Wars character, Han Solo, and tells the story of how he got his start as a space pirate and smuggler.

Solo: A Star Wars Story opens on the shipbuilding world of Corellia.  There we meet a young "scrumrat" and aspiring pilot named Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and his lover, Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), who both long to escape the clutches of the local criminal gangs and to leave the planet for new lives.  However, only Han manages to escape, and he joins the Imperial Navy of the Galactic Empire as a flight cadet.

Three years later, Han is serving as an infantryman during a battle on the planet Mimban.  There, he encounters a gang of criminals posing as Imperial officers, led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson).  Han and his new friend, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), a Wookie with whom he just became acquainted, bribe their way onto Beckett's crew.  Han and Chewbacca's first heist with Beckett, however, leads him into dangerous places.  Han meets a murderous crime lord, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany); discovers a smooth-talking and rising young smuggler, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover); enters a new heist that could make or break his future; and reunites with a figure from his past.

Much about Solo: A Star Wars Story feels contrived and shoved in, as if the filmmakers and storytellers are trying to reveal the origins of everything Star Wars fans know about the Han Solo.  From his name to his personality, very little if anything is not covered.  Still, one can make an argument that much about the original Star Wars (1977) is contrived.

What is important is that Solo: A Star Wars Story feels like classic era Star Wars films (1977 to 1983).  Like the other anthology film, Rogue One, Solo: A Star Wars Story is infused with the spirit of adventure of the original films.  Solo is partly a Western, like the original Stars Wars.  Solo is a far-flung space opera and interstellar fantasy like the original trilogy.  Part of the reason that Solo feels so classic Star Wars is that one of the film's two screenwriters, Lawrence Kasdan, wrote two of the original trilogy films, and his son, Jonathan, is the co-screenwriter here.  Solo director Ron Howard should have directed a Star Wars film a long time ago, as far as I am concerned.  He has previously worked with Star Wars creator, George Lucas, on the fantasy film, Willow (1988).  So Howard was fated for a Star Wars film, and I am glad it is Solo.

As for the characters, Alden Ehrenreich is good as young Han Solo.  Ehrenreich tries to capture the spirit of the performance of the original Han Solo actor, Harrison Ford, but Ehrenreich plays young Han, not as a fully grown man, but as someone still evolving.  Donald Glover is excellent, superb, and great as young Lando Calrissian (who was originally played by Billy Dee Williams).  Solo is not a big enough movie for two personalities like young Han and young Lando, so Lando needs his own movie.  And new Chewbacca actor, Joonas Suotama, is good, but it is hard to mess up playing Chewbacca.

If this review makes it seem that I am much more pleased with Solo: A Star Wars Story than I am about the most recent other Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I unequivocally am.  Solo is a real movie all on its own – beginning, middle, and end.  While it may not add much to the fictional mythology of the Star Wars franchise, Solo: A Star Wars Story gets it right by looking, feeling, and acting like classic Star Wars.

8 of 10

Friday, May 25, 2018

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


Sunday, March 4, 2018

2018 Oscars "Best Supporting Actor" - Sam Rockwell

Actor in a Supporting Role:

Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri - WINNER

Willem Dafoe - The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson - Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins - The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer - All the Money in the World


Thursday, December 28, 2017

General Organa's General Star Wars Link-O-Rama 2017 - Update #111

Posted by Leroy Doureseaux - on Patreon.

SOLO - From BleedingCool:  There is a rumor that Disney is prepared for its young Han Solo movie, "Solo: A Star Wars Story," to bomb.

CARRIE FISHER - From ComicBook:  Billie Lourd shares a touching tribute to her mother, Carrie Fisher, who died a year ago today. #CarrieOnForever

A NEW HOPE - From YahooEntertainment:  There has been a death in the Star Wars family.  Alfie Curtis played the Mos Eisley cantina thug who threatens Luke Skywalker and promptly gets his hand lopped off by Obi-Wan Kenobi.  He died Tuesday, December 26, 2017 at the age of 87.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK - From io9:  Here is an article about what fans thought about Episode V.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK - From THR:  James Earl Jones did not believe that Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father.

RETURN OF THE JEDI - From THR:  See a touching farewell scene between Luke Skywalker and Han Solo that was cut from the film.

WEIRD - From Nerdist:  There are indeed Star Wars sex toys.

FRANCHISE - From BleedingCool:  Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy would like to see Taika Waititi ("Thor: Ragnarok") director a Star Wars film.

COMICS - From Crunchyroll:  Yen Press has the first manga license in years and will publish the "Star Wars: Lost Stars" manga in May 2018.

CELEBRITY - From YahooGMA:  Mark Hamill surprises "Star Wars" fans at a Disneyland ride.

NEW TRILOGY - From THR:  Rian Johnson, the director of "The Last Jedi," create a new Star Wars trilogy set in an until now unexplored corner of the galaxy.  Johnson will write and direct at least the first film.

STREAMING - From THR:  A live-action Star Wars TV will help launch Disney's streaming service in 2019.  Neither the service nor the series have a title yet.

FRANCHISE - From ScreenRant:  Lucasfilm is planning the next decade of Star Wars films.

HAN/LEIA - From RollingStone:  Harrison Ford did finally speak a little on Carrie Fisher's claim of their affair during filming of the first Star Wars film.

THE FORCE AWAKENS - From RollingStone:  Mark Hamill was afraid to come back to Star Wars, but credits Harrison Ford for changing his mind.

OBIT - From THR:  Film costume designer, John Mollo, has died at the age of 86, Wednesday, October 25, 2017.  He won a Academy Award for designing the costumes for "Star Wars."  He shared a second Oscar for his work on "Gandhi."

BOOKS - From WeGotThisCovered:  New "Star Wars" novel, ""The Legends of Luke Skywalker," links Luke with the "Battle of Jakku."

THE FORCE AWAKENS - From BleedingCool:  Acclaimed director David Fincher says he turned down directing "The Force Awakens" because he was afraid of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.

EPISODE IX - From CinemaBlend:  Star Wars 9 may tie into the prequel trilogy.

SOLO - From YahooEntertainment:  Ron Howard announces that the young Han Solo movie will is entitled, "Solo: A Star Wars Story."

EPISODE IX - From ScreenRant:  John Boyega expresses happiness that J.J. Abrams is returning to direct Star Wars 9.

EPISODE IX - From YahooEntertainment:  Domhnall Gleason (General Hux) is glad that J.J. Abrams is back to direct Episode 9.

SOLO - From BleedingCool:  Paul Bettany has wrapped up filming his part in "young Han Solo" movie.

EPISODE IX - From Variety:  The release date for "Star Wars Episode 9" has moved from May 24, 2019 to December 20, 2019.

EPISODE IX - From THR:  J.J. Abrams is the new director of Star Wars 9.  He will co-write the film with Chris Terrio, an Oscar-winning screenwriter for "Argo."

EPISODE IX - From  Lucasfilm boss, Kathleen Kennedy, sack Colin Trevorrow as director of Episode 9 because he was unbearable and difficult.

EPISODE IX - From TheWrap:  "The Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson says that he is not directing "Star Wars Episode 9," in the wake of announced director Colin Treverrow's firing... at least for now.

EPISODE IX - From YahooEntertainment:  Colin Trevorrow supposedly chased off Star Wars 9 because he was "difficult."

SOLO - From ScreenRant:  For the "young Han Solo" film, Han Solo will have a new version of the Millennium Falcon.

EPISODE IX - From Deadline:  Not that Colin Trevorrow is no longer directing IX, could VIII's director, Rian Johnson, become IX's new director.

EPISODE IX - From Deadline:  Colin Trevorrow out as director of Star Wars Episode 9.

SOLO - From Variety:  Ron Howard announce that Paul Bettany has joined the "young Han Solo" movie.  Bettany previously worked with Howard on "A Beautiful Mind (2001)."

HAN SOLO - From Vulture:  Ron Howard shared a photo of Donald Glover with his Lando Calrissian mustache.

HAN SOLO - From TheWrap:  Because he was not available for reshoots, Michael K. Williams' character had to be cut from the "young Han Solo" film.

FILMS - From Variety:  Disney in early development of a stand-alone Obi-Wan Kenobi film, with Stephen Daldry ("Billy Elliot") in early talks to direct.

GEORGE LUCAS - From YahooNews:  George Lucas still offers advice on the new films.

HAN SOLO - From ScreenRant: Ron Howard shares a new set photo from "young Han Solo" movie.

A NEW HOPE - From YahooNews:  George Lucas says that Princess Leia received her Ph.D. at age 19.

HAN SOLO - From CBR:  Ron Howard hints that his brother, actor Clint Howard, will have a part in the "young  Han Solo" movie.

EPISODE IX/9 - From THR:  Star Wars Episode 9 is getting a new writer, Jack Thorne, who will work on the script written by Colin Trevorrow and his writing partner, Derek Connolly.

HAN SOLO - From YahooNews:  Emilia Clarke, whose role in the young Han Solo movie remains a mystery, teases the new Chewbacca.

DARTH VADER - From CinemaBlend:  Spencer Wilding, who currently wears the Darth Vader costume, is apparently currently filming another Star Wars film.

HAN SOLO - From YahooTV:  Warwick Davis will appear in the "young Han Solo" film, according to a tweet from director Ron Howard.

HAN SOLO - From ShadowandAct:  Ron Howard reveals glimpse of Donald Glover at young Lando.

HAN SOLO - From USAToday:  No one from the "young Han Solo" movie was at D23 Expo 2017.  Should we be worried about this film?

HAN SOLO - From Mashable:  Ron Howard teases Lando Calrissian's costumes.

HAN SOLO - From CinemaBlend:  Woody Harrelson thinks the "young Han Solo" movie is in good hands with Ron Howard directing.

HAN SOLO - From TMZ:  A set photo from the "young Han Solo" movie reveals a scene with Woody Harrelson.

From FlickeringMyth:  Will the "young Han Solo" debacle with its original directors teach Disney not to tread on Star Wars sacred ground?

CARRIE FISHER - From YahooMovies:  Carrie Fisher's only child, her daughter Billie Lourd, will inherit her late mother's estate.

ANIMATION - From USAToday:  Rey turns in animated shorts, "Star Wars: "Forces of Destiny."

CULTURE - From YahooMovies:  An R2-D2 droid that was using in several Star Wars movies was sold at auction for $2.76 million.

HAN SOLO - From WeGotThisCovered:  Disney CEO Bob Iger is confident that Han Solo movie will be alright.  Yes, because Ron Howard is directing it.

HAN SOLO - From Mashable:  With every new Han Solo revelation, Phil Lord and Chris Miller look like the problems and got themselves fired.

HAN SOLO - From Gizmodo:  Lucasfilm was so concerned about Alden Ehrenreich's performance as Han Solo that they hired an acting coach for him.

HAN SOLO - From THR:  In an exclusive breaking story, "The Hollywood Reporter" is reporting that Oscar-winning filmmaker, Ron Howard, will take over as director of the "young Han Solo" movie after the original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were fired.

HAN SOLO - From THR:  Golden boys, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, have quit as the directors of the "Young Han Solo" movie over creative differences.

From THR:  Why were Lord and Miller fired?  It seems the comedic tone they used in making the film clashed with what Lucasfilm and the "Han Solo" movie screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan, wanted.

From TheUKIndependent:  Maybe, the firing of Lord and Miller indicates that Disney and Lucasfilm are afraid of the future for Star Wars.

VIDEO GAMES - From YahooNews:  The upcoming video game, "Star Wars Battlefront 2" will give the "first official on-screen look" at the years between "Return of the Jedi" and "The Force Awakens."

CARRIE FISHER - From USMagazine:  Los Angeles County coroner's office says Fisher dies of combination of factors, including sleep apnea.

COMICS - From BusinessInsider:  Marvel Comics will tell the story of Captain Phasma in a new four-issue comic book series.

EPISODE 9 - From YahooNews:  Director Colin Trevorrow wants Star Wars Episode 9 to be kid-friendly...

RUMOR - From CNET:  Could director Edgar Wright ("Baby Drive," "Shaun of the Dead") be involved with Star Wars.

FRANCHISE - From NME:  The identity of the third stand alone anthology film will be revealed in June.  The first film was "Rogue One" and the second will be a "Young Han Solo" film due May 2018.

CARRIE FISHER:  From SideshowToys:  A look at Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia - then and now - on the 40th anniversary of the theatrical debut of Star Wars (May 25th 1977).

CARRIE FISHER - From Vulture:  Princess Leia would have been center stage in Episode 9.

DISNEY - From MiceChat:  The blog has updates on "Temporary Star Wars Land."

A NEW HOPE - From ComicBook:  To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original theatrical release of the original Star Wars films, New Zealand Mint will release a commemorative silver coin.

CULTURE - From YahooMovies:  Kid wears Darth Vader costume to school on "Star Wars Celebration Day" (May 4th - as in May the Fourth/Force Be With You) and causes a panic, started by a "concerned parent."

CULTURE - From CNNHealth:  There is a hospital tech in Tennessee whose real name is "Darth Vader."

STAR WARS REBELS - From ScreenRant:  The Disney XD animated series, "Star Wars Rebels" is heading into its fourth and final season.  It may also tie into the recent live-action, "Rogue One."

CARRIE FISHER:  From THR:  George Lucas and Billie Lourd, daughter of Carrie Fisher, offer tributes to the late actress and Star Wars icon.

From YouTube:  A Tribute to Carrie Fisher video.

From YouTube:  Carrie Fisher tribute at Star Wars Celebration 2017.

From YahooMovies:  A touching photo of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Billie Lourd (Carrie's daughter) - "It was almost as if we were cuddling our princess again."

From YahooMovies:  Lucasfilm boss says no Carrie in Episode IX.

A NEW HOPE - From Movieweb:  A big 40th anniversary announcement is coming tomorrow morning, Tues., April 11th, on "Good Morning America."

EPISODE IX - From NYDailyNews:  Carrie Fisher will appear in Star Wars Episode 9 (due for 2019), according to her brother, Todd Fisher.

HAN SOLO SPINOFF - From Variety:  "Sing Street" breakout star Ian Kenny joins "Young Han Solo" film.

FRANCHISE - From YahooMovies:   Disney CEO Bob Iger talks (vaguely) about the future of the franchise, including "The Last Jedi" and the "Han Solo" spinoff.

FRANCHISE - From CinemaBlend:  Future Star Wars films will move away from legacy characters and story elements.

A NEW HOPE - From Deadline:  This may be the very first photographic image of Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

COMIC BOOKS - From YahooNews:  Marvel Comics is launching a new "Darth Vader" comic book series, which will be set immediately after the events depicted in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith."

HAN SOLO - From Variety:  Michael K. Williams in final talks to join "Young Han Solo" film.

ORIGINAL TRILOGY - From SlashFilm:  The original cuts of the original Star Wars films may get a re-release or release for the 40th anniversary of the original theatrical release of Stars Wars, which is this year.

THEME PARKS - From FlickeringMyth:  Disney announces "Star Wars Land."

THE FORCE AWAKENS - From YahooNews:  Fans freak out over database saying that there is a connection between Kylo Ren and Rey.

HAN SOLO SPINOFF - From Variety:  Thandie Newton in talks to join the "Young Han Solo" spinoff movie.

HAN SOLO SPINOFF - From Variety:  Pheobe Waller-Bridge, hot off the Amazon series, "Fleabag," is being considered for a role in the Han Solo spinoff movie (which would be set before the event depicted in "Star Wars: A New Hope."  Reportedly, the role would be CGI-driven.

HAN SOLO SPINOFF - From THR:  Billy Dee Williams, the original Lando Calrissian, had lunch with Donald Glover, who will play the character in the "Young Han Solo" movie.

A NEW HOPE - From Forbes:  20 years ago, "Star Wars: Special Edition" arrived.

OBIT - From Variety: Sound engineer Richard Portman has died at the age of 82, Saturday, February 28, 2017.  He won an Oscar for his work on "The Deer Hunter."  He mixed the sound on "Star Wars."

EPISODES 8 AND 9- From CinemaBlend:  Should Lucasfilm reconsider its decision about a CGI Leia for Episode 9.

RETURN OF THE JEDI - From YahooMovies:  Mark Hamill reunited with the lightsaber prop he used in "Return of the Jedi."

HAN SOLO SPINOFF - From Deadline:  Donald Glover wants to live up to the expectations of playing Lando.

THE FORCE AWAKENS - From YahooNews:  Chewbacca yanks off an arm in deleted scene.

HAN SOLO SPINOFF - From StarWars:  It's official.  Woody Harrelson has signed on for the "Young Han Solo" movie due late 2018.

HAN SOLO SPINOFF - From Variety:  Oscar-nominated actor, Woody Harrelson, is being considered to play the mentor of the title character in the "Young Han Solo" movie.  Alden Ehrenreich has been cast as young Han Solo.

FRANCHISE - From Wired:  You won't live to see the final Star Wars movie.

ROGUE ONE - From Deadline:  "Rogue One" at $775 million in worldwide box office.

ROGUE ONE - From Deadline:  "Rogue One" is now the second highest grossing film at the domestic box office of 2016, behind "Finding Dory."


From THR:  Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, were celebrated at a jubilant memorial.

From YahooNews:  Carrie Fisher wanted Harrison Ford to sing at her Oscars' tribute.

From YahooCelebrity:  Dan Akroyd speaks about Carrie Fisher, whom he once considered marrying.

From YahooCelebrity:  Debbie Reynolds was buried with some of her daughter Carrie's ashes.

From YahooCelebrity:  Carrie Fisher's urn is a giant Prozac pill.

From YahooMovies:  There is a fan petition to make Princess Leia a "Disney Princess."

From YahooNews:  Disney could receive a $50 million dollar insurance payoff because of Carrie Fisher's death.

From YahooNews:  Mark Hamill talks about the first time he met Carrie Fisher.

From YahooNews:  Billie Lourd, the only child of actress Carrie Fisher, breaks her silence about the deaths of her mother and her grandmother, Debbie Reynolds.

From BleedingCool:  Carrie Fisher dies at the age of 60, Tuesday morning, December 27, 2016.  Carrie was, of course, best known as Princess/General Organa in the "Star Wars" film franchise.

From THR:  Debbie Reynolds, the mother of Carrie Fisher, has died at the age of 84, Wednesday, December 28, 2016, one day after the death of her daughter.

From YahooNews:  Carrie Fisher's autopsy was completed Friday morning, December 30, 2016 and her body was released to her family.

From ET:  Carrie and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, will be buried together at Forest Lawn Memorial Park after a joint funeral.

From BleedingCool:  "Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds" is a documentary about the Star Wars daughter and her Hollywood legend mother.  It's release date has been moved up to January 2017 on HBO.

From People:  "I want to be with Carrie" were Debbie Reynold's last words according to her son, Todd Fisher.

From YahooStyle:  Why she really hated the gold metal bikini in "Return of the Jedi."

From YahooNews:  Debbie Reynolds speaks about the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher - our Princess Leia.

From Variety:  Fisher reportedly finished her work on Star Wars Episode 8 before she died.

From TheWrap:  Posted a little over an hour ago, Debbie Fisher, mother of Carrie Fisher, who suffered a heart attack about a day and a half ago, says that Carrie is in "stable condition."

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from December 10th to 16th, 2017- Update #22

Support Leroy on Patreon.

SCANDAL - From RSN:  Salma Hayek talks about how both Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump retaliated against her.

TELEVISION - From TheWrap:  ABC's "Roseanne" revival/reboot to debut March 2018 with an hour-long episode.

BUSINESS - From Variety:  Disney to buy 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 all-stock merger.

From BleedingCool:  More on the Disney-Fox deal.

From TheWrap:  Hollywood celebrities have fun with Marvel-Fox merger.

From BleedingCool:  Disney CEO Bob Iger is not against an R-rated Marvel movie, as Fox has done.

MOVIES - From YahooHuffPost:  Even Will Smith is commenting on dopey Roy Moore's election loss in Alabama on Tuesday, Dec. 12th.

MUSIC - From YahooMusic:  Supremely rare vinyl copies of Prince's "Black Album" have been find.

MOVIES - From THR:  Hotter-than-hot Tiffany Haddish and John Cho join Ike Barinholtz in the satirical thriller, "The Oath."

MOVIE-TV-AWARDS - From Variety:  A full list of 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.

TELEVISION - From Variety:  PBS suspends late-night talk show host, Tavis Smiley over sexual misconduct allegations.  [Sigh. - Leroy]

MOVIES - From Variety:  Jennifer Lawrence joins the film, "Burial Rites," from director Luca Guadagnino, who is out off his film "Call Me By Your Name."

COMICS-FILM - From THR:  Woody Harrelson joins Tom Hardy in Spider-Man spinoff film, "Venom."

TELEVISION - From ShadowandAct:  Michael Che and Colin Jost have been named co-head writers for venerable variety show, "Saturday Night Live."  Che is the first person of color to hold that title on the show.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Jim Broadbent to join Robert Downey, Jr. in "Voyage of Doctor Doolittle."

COMICS-STREAMING - From TheWrap:  Marvel-Netflix's "The Punisher" gets a second season.

MOVIES - From Variety:  Guillermo del Toro has set up at Fox Searchlight to write and direct a remake of 20th Century Fox's 1947 Tyrone Power flick, "Nightmare Alley."

CULTURE - From HuffPost:  " Inside The Voucher Schools That Teach L. Ron Hubbard, But Say They’re Not Scientologist"

MOVIES - From ThePlaylist:  Seth Rogen to play Walter Cronkite in David Gordon Green's film, "Newsflash."

MOVIES - From Collider:  Steven Caple, Jr. will direct "Creed 2" instead of Sylvester Stallone.  Stallone will return for the sequel along with stars Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson.

MOVIE AWARDS - From TheWrap:  The 2018 Golden Globe nominations are in...

COMICS-FILM - From BleedingCool:  Even if the Disney-Fox merger happens, it may be too late for us to see Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine in a Marvel Studios movie.

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 12/8 to 12/10/2017 weekend box office is Pixar's "Coco" with an estimated take of $18.6 million.

From Variety:  "Coco"wins weekend box office while "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" waits in the wings for next weekend.

MOVIES AWARDS - From Variety:  "God's Own Country" wins big at 2017 British Independent Film Awards.

POLITICS - From RSN:  Late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, speaks on Alabama U.S. Senate candidate, Roy Moore, and his "Christian values."


From USAToday:  The first trailer for the animated film, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," featuring the Miles Morales Spider-Man, once known as the "Ultimate Spider-Man."


From ESPN:  Tommy Nobis, NFL and college football great, has died at the age of 74, Thursday, December 14, 2017.  Playing for the University of Texas Longhorns, Nobis appeared on the covers of "Sports Illustrated" and "Life."  He was the first player drafted by the then expansion NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons, in the 1966 NFL draft.  After professional football, Nobis co-founded the Tommy Nobis Center to help people with disabilities gets job training.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Jennifer Lawrence Burns in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 51 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Running time: 146 minutes (2 hours, 26 minutes)
Rating: MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language
DIRECTOR: Francis Lawrence
WRITERS: Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn (based upon the novel by Suzanne Collins)
PRODUCERS: Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik
EDITOR: Alan Edward Bell
COMPOSER: James Newton Howard
Golden Globe nominee


Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seyour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Paul Malcomson, Lynn Cohen, Jena Malone, and Toby Jones

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a 2013 dystopian science fiction film directed by Francis Lawrence, and it is also a direct sequel to the 2012 film, The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire is based upon Suzanne Collins’ 2009 novel, Catching Fire, the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy.  In Catching Fire the movie, Katniss Everdeen becomes a target of the Capitol after her victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion.

The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, and what was once North America is now the nation of Panem.  Panem is composed of 12 districts and The Capitol, which rules over the districts. Every year, The Capitol takes one boy and one girl (called “tributes”) from each of the 12 districts to become contestants in The Hunger Games.  Part entertainment and part intimidation of the 12 districts, these games are broadcast throughout Panem, and the 24 participants must fight to the death until only one of them remains alive – the victor.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opens a few months after the first film.  Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) were the winners of the 74th Hunger Games.  Now, the young victors have returned to their home, the impoverished District 12, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is waiting for Katniss.  Snow is upset that the outcome of the most recent Games has sparked rebellion in the districts of Panem, with Katniss' actions in the Games being the inspiration for rebellion in the districts.

Katniss (“The Girl on Fire”) and Peeta (“The Baker's Boy”) are going on a victory tour through the districts.  During this tour, Snow wants Katniss to sell the untrue idea that her actions in the Games were out of genuine love for Peeta and were not an act of defiance against the Capitol.  This scheme doesn't exactly work out.  So Snow calls for the 75th Hunger Games to be special.  These Games will be a “Quarter Quell,” and the tributes will be selected from previous victors.  Katniss and Peeta suddenly find themselves in the Games again, and this time, the target on Katniss' back comes from players inside and outside of the Games.

Catching Fire is the middle book in Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games trilogy, although the third book, Mockingjay, is being adapted as two film.  However, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire doesn't suffer the fate of some middle films in a trilogy.  Sometimes, the middle film can come across as filler material, or it can be packed with too many characters that are not important or too many subplots that won't be resolved until the third film.  An example of that is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, which was a collection of pointless action scenes that didn't really serve much of a purpose beyond titillating young males and selling lots of tickets.

Catching Fire the movie is intense and gripping, almost every scene is important, not just to what came before or what will come after, but also to the story being told now.  When I reviewed the first film two-and-a-half years ago, I wrote that I could say without reservation that The Hunger Games captures the sense of the life and death struggle of Katniss and her competitors.  I can say the same for Catching Fire.  Like its predecessor, this movie is driven by character drama and by intimate man vs. man confrontations/encounters that freely range from sudden romance and friendship to cold-bloodied murder and assorted calculated cruelties.

I will say that I think this film offers more characters than the story can present in full-measure, not revealing how rich and how important they are.  However, almost every character does enough to be interesting or intriguing, and there are many excellent performances.  Donald Sutherland is even better and more menacing as President Snow than he was in the first film.  Woody Harrelson manages to further develop Haymitch Abernathy, surprisingly showing that there is much more to the character than one might think.  Josh Hutcherson makes Peeta Mellark the dashing young hero and co-lead that he could not be in the first film, even if that was the intention.  And I'm always happy to see Jeffrey Wright, although I wish his character, Beetee Latier, had more meat on the bone i.e. substance.

Still, as was true in The Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence is everything to Catching Fire. Whatever problems this film may have, Lawrence’s skill-set as an actor delivers a performance that glosses over narrative and cinematic glitches.  She is a true movie star, and her radiant presence bleeds across the screen, leaving me awash in the essence of Katniss.  Pardon my lack of articulation, but Jennifer is the real deal.

In the first film, we watched a young woman, Katniss, who was a poor nobody, struggle to survive and ultimately to triumph, becoming a star and a legend.  Catching Fire depicts Katniss' struggle to accept her fate.  The adventure is calling the hero, and she has to be dragged towards her destiny.  This kind of story is an archetype, and when told correctly, it can be mesmerizing.  So, as she did before, Jennifer Lawrence makes The Hunger Games: Catching Fire more than it ought to be.

8 of 10

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, and Will Champion for the song “Atlas”)

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

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Review: "A Scanner Darkly" is Amazing (Happy B'day, Keanu Reeves)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 166 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

A Scanner Darkly (2006)
Running time: 100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – R for drug and sexual content, language, and a brief violent image
DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater
WRITER: Richard Linklater (based upon the novel by Philip K. Dick)
PRODUCERS: Tommy Pallotta, Jonah Smith, Erwin Stoff, Anne Walker-McBay, and Palmer West
EDITOR: Sandra Adair
COMPOSER: Graham Reynolds


Starring: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey, Jr., Woody Harrelson, Rory Cochrane, Winona Ryder, Chamblee Ferguson, and Angela Rawna

The subject of this movie review is A Scanner Darkly, a 2006 science fiction thriller and animated film from director Richard Linklater. The film is based on the 1977 Philip K. Dick novel of the same title, and George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh are among its executive producers.

In a future world (“7 years from now” the movie tells us) where drug addiction is rampant, law enforcement will do anything to catch dealers and their suppliers – even turn one of their own into an addict. Fred (Keanu Reeves) is an undercover agent who spies on (or “scans”) a drug addict and dealer named Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves). Through this assignment Fred becomes hooked on Substance D, a hallucinogenic drug that is as destructive as meth is in our own times. However, this tale has a twist on reality for us. Fred is also Bob. Fred finds his sanity splintered as he deals with his duplicitous law enforcement superiors, and, as Bob, with the two addicts who are his housemates: the shaggy dopester, Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson), and the conniving James Barris (Robert Downey, Jr.). Barris turns stool pigeon and joins Fred and his superiors in a complicated scheme to catch Bob and tear down Bob’s drug operation. Meanwhile, Bob has fallen in love with another addict, Donna Hawthorne (Winona Ryder), but there may be more to her than meets the eye.

Richard Linklater’s trippy sci-fi film, A Scanner Darkly, is an animated film, but not the kind we usually think of (Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., etc.). For this movie, Linklater shot live-action footage of his cast and the sets. Animators then took that footage and painstakingly drew and painted over it – a process known as “interpolated rotoscoping” or simply “rotoscoping.” There was some rotoscoping in early Disney animated features, possibly Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (the animators animated Snow White by drawing her over footage of a live actress). Linklater used this process in his 2001 experimental film, Waking Life. Here, it’s like watching a film in which the characters, objects, places, and settings are all shifting liquids – living paint-by-numbers pastels.

As for the quality of the rotoscoping in A Scanner Darkly on the performances, the cast largely looks like themselves, and the audience will certainly recognize the bigger names here: Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey, Jr., and Woody Harrelson. Only Winona Ryder seems less like herself, at least until the end, and that may have been a deliberate choice on the part of Linklater. The technique serves the actors quiet well. They seem lively and free to be someone other than their famous selves, even Reeves who can be a bit stiff. It’s the kind of freedom that comes from wearing a masking, and in a sense, knowing that film recording of your performance will be painted over is like acting with a mask.

As for the narrative, A Scanner Darkly is trippy, but Linklater has captured the paranoia and schizophrenia of Dick’s work on screen like no one has ever done before. That’s saying a lot considering that Dick’s short stories have become films such as Total Recall, Minority Report, and Paycheck, and one of his novels became the film, Blade Runner. Published in 1977, Dick’s novel is a sci-fi allegorical recount of his drug experiences going back to the 1960’s, and it’s one of his most beloved works. I’m happy that Linklater was able to make his own film while retaining so much of PKD’s lunacy.

Here, it’s fun to wonder who is really who and if what’s going on is “real” or just drug-induced fantasies or simply paranoia. Linklater adds a counter-culture, post-millennium vibe all his own. The narrative gets a bit soft and slow in the middle and at the beginning of the last act, but otherwise Linklater’s experiment reaches for perfection. This is like watching his classic mid-90’s flick, Dazed and Confused with a David Lynch remix and backbeats from Requiem for a Dream. Occasionally maddening, sometimes confusing, rarely stupefying, A Scanner Darkly is an experimentalist art film that succeeds on the very path the filmmaker set for it.

9 of 10

Friday, August 4, 2006


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: Jennifer Lawrence Feeds "The Hunger Games"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 24 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Hunger Games (2012)
Running time: 142 minutes (2 hours, 22 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens
WRITERS: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray (based upon the novel by Suzanne Collins)
PRODUCERS: Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik
EDITORS: Stephen Mirrione and Juliette Welfling
COMPOSERS: T-Bone Burnett and James Newton Howard


Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Willow Shields, Liam Hemsworth, Toby Jones, Dayo Okeniyi, Alexander Ludwig, and Amandla Stenberg

The subject of this movie review is The Hunger Games, a 2012 dystopian science fiction film. Directed by Gary Ross, the film is based upon Suzanne Collins’ 2008 novel, The Hunger Games, which is the first novel in The Hunger Games trilogy. The film is set in a future in which teenagers fight to death on live television, and the story follows a 16-year-old young woman who volunteers to participate. Of note: Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh served as a second unit director on this movie.

The Hunger Games takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, and what was once North America is now the nation of Panem. Panem is composed of 12 districts and The Capitol, which rules over the districts. Every year, The Capitol takes one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts to become contestants or tributes in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment and part intimidation of the 12 districts, these games are broadcast throughout Panem, and the 24 participants must fight to the death until only one of them remains alive – the victor.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a 16-year-old teen living in the impoverished District 12. During the raffle to choose the district’s tributes, Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place as a girl tribute in the 74th Hunger Games. Along with District 12’s boy tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss travels to the decadent Capitol for the fight of her life.

I can say without reservation that The Hunger Games captures the sense of the life and death struggle of Katniss and her competitors. This is a science fiction film that is driven by character and intimate man vs. man confrontation – from sudden romance and friendship to cold-bloodied murder and assorted calculated cruelties. Not having the narrative space the novel has, the script efficiently depicts both the devastating poverty of District 12 and the detached self-indulgence and shameless plentitude of The Capitol.

However, Jennifer Lawrence is everything for this movie. Whatever problems this film may have, Lawrence’s skill-set as an actor delivers a performance that glosses over narrative and cinematic glitches. Pardon my lack of articulation, but homegirl is real. Here realness is why Lawrence comes across as genuine as a backwoods girl who fights to feed and house her younger siblings while the very hillbilly drug marketplace that killed her father is coming for her. In the series of scenes in The Hunger Games that takes Katniss from the moments before the battlefield to the start of the 74th Hunger Game, Lawrence sells Katniss’ nervousness. Her fear is palatable, and Lawrence uses her performance to transport us to the battlefield with Katniss.

There are other good performances. Of course, Stanley Tucci is good, but his goodness is breathtaking as the scary host with the most, Caesar Flickerman. Lenny Kravitz gives such a good turn as Katniss’ mentor, Cinna, that he leaves you wanting more. Still, Jennifer Lawrence is the show. She is to The Hunger Games what Robert De Niro is to Raging Bull, the star actor that makes a regular film into something special.

8 of 10

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Thursday, February 2, 2012

African-American Film Critics Association Picks "The Tree of Life"

The African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) is a group of African-American film critics that give various awards for excellence in film at the end of each year. The association was founded in 2003 by Gil L. Robertson IV and Shawn Edwards.

2011 African-American Film Critics Association Awards:

Best Picture: 1. The Tree of Life

2. Drive
3. Pariah
4. Rampart
5. Shame
6. Moneyball
7. The Descendants
8. A Better Life
9. My Week With Marylin
10. The Help

Best Director: Steve McQueen (Shame)

Best Actor: Woody Harrleson (Rampart)

Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks (Drive)

Best Actress: Viola Davis (The Help)

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Best Screenplay: Ava DuVernay (I Will Follow)

Best Breakthrough Performance: Adepero Oduye (Pariah)

Best Independent Film: Pariah

Best song: Jason Reeves & Lenka Kripac, writers, “The Show” from “Moneyball.”

Best foreign film: Alrick Brown, “Kinyarwanda.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: "Anger Management" Overdoes It (Happy B'day, Adam Sandler)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 50 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Anger Management (2003)
Running time: 106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude sexual content and language
DIRECTOR: Peter Segal
WRITER: David Dorfman
PRODUCERS: Barry Bernardi and Jack Giarraputo
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Donald M. McAlpine (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Jeff Gourson

COMEDY with elements of drama

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler, Marisa Tomei, Luis Guzman, John Turturro with Woody Harrelson, Lynne Thigpen, John C. Reilly, and Heather Graham

First of, let me say that Anger Management is extremely funny and all the characters are very well played, from the stars to the smaller roles. I’m still surprised that this movie was able to keep its hilarious energy so long. Actually, it doesn’t naturally run out of steam. All at once, the filmmakers decide to screw up the ending.

Dave Buznick (Adam Sandler) is a under appreciated, low level secretary who is wrongly sentenced to an anger management program, after a ridiculous incident on an airplane. He has the luck of one-eyed, one-legged dog, so he only gets into more trouble after he enters the program. His counselor, Dr. Buddy Rydell (Jack Nicholson), decides to move into Dave’s apartment so that he gave give his patient 24-hour intensive therapy. The problem is Rydell, in Dave’s eyes, is more crazy and angrier than he could ever be. However, he’s forced to live with Rydell’s unorthodox and bizarre behavior, causing Dave to slowly go insane, which is the very last thing he needs because another alleged outburst of extreme rage and the judge (Lynne Thigpen) would sentence Dave to a year in state prison.

Sandler and Nicholson make an excellent comedy team, and they have such amazing, yet surprising chemistry. Jack does what he does best; he’s the wicked, little devil and conniving imp at the seat of the controls – the conductor, the master manipulator, Rasputin.

Sandler tempers the sullen and explosive character traits that he gives most of his others characters to play Dave Buznick, who is a put upon guy simmering quietly beneath his clothes and ready to have one good explosion. He makes Dave very sympathetic. The audience can feel the stings of the wrongs done to Dave and can root for him to win. I know that I certainly wanted him to just really get angry and let his tormentors have it. This is an understated performance that’s just obvious enough to work. However, Sandler does experience the occasional lapse; he plays such a second banana to Nicholson’s antics that he falls into moments when he isn’t even acting. It’s like he’s just serving up volleys for Nicholson to jump on, and he’s just an emcee. Still, Sandler and Nicholson worked together like a veteran comedy team.

There’s not much to the story, and a plot is nonexistent. Really, the writing and directing only exist to serve as staging for the two main players to exercise their shtick. It’s much the same with the supporting cast, but they make the most of their onscreen time, especially Luiz Guzman and John Turturro. Sadly, Marisa Tomei is less than a cipher, and her talent is wasted; pretty much any actress of modest attractiveness could have played her part.

Now to the end – it’s mostly a New York Yankees, New York City, NYC folk heroes love fest, and it kills this movie. In fact, the resolution of the story and the ridiculous explanation for Dr. Rydell’s behavior almost kills the story and certainly retards Nicholson’s very entertaining character and performance. There are certainly several other endings that would have made perfect sense in the context of Rydell’s antics and Buznick’s predicament. Instead, the filmmakers tie everything up in a most awful and sappy finale that truly deserves to be called a “Hollywood Ending.” Worst of all is a cameo by Rudolph “Rudy” W. Giuliani, former mayor of NYC. He is someone I wish would have been in the Twin Towers the day they fell and not made it out alive.

Girl, did I say that? Anyway, Anger Management is still very funny, at least up to the end, and worth seeing.

6 of 10


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Review: "Semi-Pro" is an Uneven Comedy (Happy B'day, Will Ferrell)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 11 (of 2008) by Leroy Douresseaux

Semi-Pro (2008)
Running time: 90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – R for language and some sexual content
DIRECTOR: Kent Alterman
WRITER: Scot Armstrong
PRODUCER: Jimmy Miller
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Shane Hurlbut (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Debra Neil-Fisher


Starring: Will Ferrell, Woody Harrelson, André Benjamin, Maura Tierney, Andrew Daly, Andy Richter, David Koechner, Rob Corddry, Matt Walsh, Jackie Earle Haley, DeRay Davis, Josh Braaten, Jay Phillips, Peter Cornell, and Patti LaBelle

When a comic actor hits his stride as a box office star and has a string of huge successes, he has also reached a place where everything he does afterwards will be judged by this peak. It seems as if Eddie Murphy is forever being judged by his legendary time on “Saturday Night Live,” and by his trio of early 80’s hit films: 48 Hrs., Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop. Fans and critics still think Murphy should go back to being what they think he was back then.

Will Ferrell, also the owner of a legendary SNL run, became an A-list hit-making comedy monster with a co-starring role in Old School, before having something for which most actors would sell their souls – a family hit (and a Christmas one at that) with Elf. But after a string of hit movies, will Semi-Pro be looked upon as a misfire?

It shouldn’t. Semi-Pro is quite funny, and is rich in Ferrell’s brand of tomfoolery, which will appeal to Ferrell’s fans. Semi-Pro just feels like something that could have been much better.

Set in Flint, Michigan in 1976, Semi-Pro follows the wacky exploits of Jackie Moon (Will Ferrell), who became a one-hit wonder with his groovy disco song, “Love Me Sexy.” Moon used the profits from his chart-topping success to achieve his dream of owning a basketball team. However, his Flint Michigan Tropics are the worst team in the ABA (American Basketball Association), and the league is about to fold and merge its four best teams with the NBA (National Basketball Association). The Tropics are not one of those four teams.

Now, Jackie is desperate to do what seems impossible for his lovable losers – win. He brings in Monix (Woody Harrelson), a former NBA champion to be the team’s new point guard, but Monix’s knees are practically ruined. Moon’s star player, Clarence “Coffee” Black (André Benjamin), has all-star talent, but is so self-centered that he’s stalled his career. Although he has an endless supply of wacky promotional ideas, Jackie is running out of cash, and even when they start to win, Moon and the Tropics may have already run out of time.

Like his Ron Burgundy in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Chazz Michael Michaels in Blades of Glory, Will Ferrell’s Jackie Moon is a success in his chosen field, but that is surpassed by his arrogance, conceit, and inanity, which makes for a lovable comic character. For all the laughs Ferrell’s Moon gives Semi-Pro, the film is best when it lets the other guys get in on the fun.

Watching this motley crew of sub-par basketball players, sad addicts, crazy announcers, and assorted oddballs gas and sass each other is a good time at the movies. The characters are untidy, but like the film, they feel familiar. They’re not at the top of the heap, but they aren’t necessarily losers; they’re semi-regular guys just trying to get their piece. Each character brings something good to Semi-Pro in the way he or she walks, talks, and looks, but the film spends too much time on Ferrell making goofy faces, as funny as that might be.

Semi-Pro sits somewhere between sports melodrama and parody. Ferrell sells the parody, but if only the filmmakers had allowed the supporting cast to build the melodrama. Then, Semi-Pro would be the kind of memorable comedy/drama that great sports films like Bull Durham and The Longest Yard (1974) are, and not just another funny Will Ferrell movie.

6 of 10

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Monday, May 9, 2011

Review: "Seven Pounds" is Too Damn Dark (Happy B'day, Rosario Dawson)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 1 (of 2009) by Leroy Douresseaux

Seven Pounds (2008)
Running time: 123 minutes (2 hours, 3 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for thematic material, some disturbing content, and a scene of sensuality
DIRECTOR: Gabriele Muccino
WRITER: Grant Nieporte
PRODUCERS: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, James Lassiter, Will Smith, and Steve Tisch
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Philippe Le Sourd (D.o.P.)
EDITOR: Hughes Winborne
NAACP Image Award winner


Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson, Michael Ealy, Barry Pepper, Elpidia Carrillo, and Joe Nunez

I don’t know how many readers of this review will remember Beloved. This 1998 film was Oprah Winfrey’s big screen adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1987 novel of the same name (which won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction). Beloved, directed by Oscar-winner Jonathan Demme, was a technically well-made film, but was almost unwatchable because it was so depressing, heartrending, and morbid. The plot, characters, and setting were so gloomy that when I saw it, it seemed as if a pall had been cast over the theatre. There is a point when a movie is so sad that it can’t be entertaining.

Seven Pounds is a reunion of actor Will Smith and director Gabriele Muccino, who together made 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness. Happyness was well made with good performances, and while the film featured Will Smith’s character undergoing so many hardships, he was ultimately triumphant, and the film was hugely entertaining. Seven Pounds is well, with good performances, but is so damn dark that watching it is really like having to sit and experience something irritating and painful for two hours.

The film focuses on Ben Thomas (Will Smith), a mysterious IRS agent with a somewhat arrogant air who loves to surprise clients with unexpected visits. He also goes out of his way to help people in need. Why would an IRS agent do that, and why is it so obvious that he’s hiding something? After he meets, Emily Posa (Rosario Dawson), an ailing young woman with a fatal heart condition, Ben begins to fall in love with Emily, and that causes him to struggle with completing his shadowy mission of redemption.

It’s safe to assume that Seven Pounds, a weighty, dramatic, star vehicle, is Will Smith’s attempt to make another run at getting Oscar recognition. As such, Smith probably would have better served his ambitions if Seven Pounds was less dour, sour, and gloomy and was instead more upbeat. Movie reviews and Sony Pictures, the studio behind Seven Pounds, have gone to great lengths not to give away too much about Seven Pounds’ plot, but honestly, most viewers will figure out Ben Thomas’ scheme and why he’s scheming 10 minutes (20 tops) into the film. So, I’m not giving anything away by saying that if Thomas’ efforts at redemption are so noble, then, he should be at least a little more lighthearted about the goal he has freely set for himself.

In a way Seven Pounds is too obtuse and too European. I say that because Seven Pounds’ director Gabriele Muccino comes out of a tradition of European cinema in which film narratives gladly go into the dark places of the human condition. There are characters in some European films that have excellent intentions, but their methods for doing something noble for other characters are jaw-dropping and even scandalous (see the wonderful, heartrending Danish film, After the Wedding, which is similar in passing to Seven Pounds).

Regarding Ben Thomas’ absolutely shocking plan, much of the audience for American films will be put off by someone like him, who so fits the saying “wears his emotions on his sleeves.” One can certainly question Thomas’ real agenda and intentions. Does he seek redemption, or is he just a guilty coward, or is he just a self-appointed martyr? In such a character, we would prefer a grim but determined, grieving but genial fella with a smile that can brighten our days even while we can see the sadness in his eyes – the kind of character played by Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, or Tom Hanks.

Instead, we get a Will Smith, practically wearing rags and his face covered with ash. Smith, an underrated actor who gives a good performance here, shows an impressive range of emotions in Seven Pounds – most of them of the sadder, negative variety. Seven Pounds is a good movie, but in the end, its darkness makes it too heavy to be entertaining or a great film.

6 of 10

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009 Black Reel Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Director” (Gabriele Muccino) and “Best Film”

2009 Image Awards: 2 wins: “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” (Will Smith) and “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” (Rosario Dawson); 1 nomination: “Outstanding Motion Picture