Friday, September 28, 2007

Daemons 101

The Golden Compass

This may be more than you want to know about making movies with lots of CGI. 'The Golden Compass' preview


Taken on my way to and from work today.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

American Gangster

American Gangster

Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe are on a roll. Here's a preview.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Infamous Email

Remember Josh 'Shai' Steinberger? He's that William Morris assistant who wrote The Email. Claude Brodesser-Akner interviews Steinberger on The Business on KCRW in Santa Monica. Part I, Part II

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assissination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert FordBrad Pitt may cut a menacing silhouette but it's Casey Affleck's performance which arrests your attention. Playing Bob Ford, a youngest brother struggling with self-esteem and identity issues, Affleck's eyes are so locked on their subject you're relieved he is not looking at you, his smile is charming and predatory in equal measure, and his manner...well, that's just otherworldly.

This movie's box office prospects aren't overwhelming, but all the talk will be about Affleck, and he should be a strong contender for Best Supporting. This one is unusual for a western, not so much for the psychological complexity of its characters, but for the depth and directness, almost pureness, of their portrayal.

Between what will probably be limited but very high-profile awards buzz and the nature of the story and performances, this picture (I don't want to type that title again) should do very good DVD business.

Production Diary

Wes Anderson on set of The Darjeeling Limited

Here's two new entries from the production diary of 'The Darjeeling Limited'.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Knocked Up 2-Disc Unrated Special Edition DVD

Available tomorrow. Meanwhile, here's the redband trailer...funny as hell.

PS I Love You

Admit it. You like this trailer. Hi def

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth

It's easy to accept Cate Blanchett as Queen of England. Whereas another actor would seem simply dressed-up, and uncomfortable, Blanchett is regal without effort while maintaining a believable humanity; she portrays a character who is every inch a queen yet still a woman with all her attendant foibles.

(Well, on second thought, Blanchett doesn't portray as much as she inhabits -- let's be fair).

Cate Blanchett on set

'Elizabeth' is one of my favorite movies -- a layered story with the ring of truth elegantly captured by an unobtrusive and technically accomplished director. The principal players return for 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age' and, if I had to hazard a guess, this movie will have greater scope and depth, and will move with more energy.

Here is an extended preview.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Training For Movies

Here's a bit of fun from the making of 'The Kingdom', courtesy IGN.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Home Invasion Suspense Thriller

First a remake of 'Funny Games', now this entry in the budding Home Invasion Imprisonment Torture Suspense Thriller sub-genre. 'The Strangers', however, is 'inspired by true events', while 'Funny Games' is inspired by pure imagination. I wonder which is better. I hope this genre does a fast fade -- it's just torture-porn transplanted from the dungeon to your own living room. That being said, I'll get a copy of 'Funny Games', and both movies will probably find an audience -- but it will be about which opens first, as interest in this niche genre will fade fast.

One can't help but wonder what venue for torture-porn will be chosen after the home invasion thing has run its course. Let's see...there's cruise ships, golf courses, night clubs -- anyplace will do as long as you have a supply of victims...I suppose. Rock concerts, bowling alleys, burger joints, et al. They'll figure something out. Just don't pick movie theaters. If people get it into their minds that going to the movies has become a frightening thing because of something they saw in a movie, well, that won't be good for the movie industry.

Southland Tales

Southland Tales

This will either be a huge hit or a flop -- there's no middle ground for this movie. Even if 'Southland Tales' does bad at the box office you can expect nice returns on DVD.

Nice Concept, Nice Poster, But...

I'm Not There

Love Cate Blanchett as Dylan, really like the new poster, but I don't think this one has a hook. The Weinstein's will have a lot riding on a Best Supporting nomination for Blanchett.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Zemeckis' Vision


Trailer #2 for 'Beowulf' is up, and this one gives us a much better idea of director Robert Zemeckis' vision for this movie than the first trailer. His camera, of course, is never still but never looks busy. The performance-capture is more natural-looking than Zemeckis' previous attempts -- 'The Polar Express' had a pasty 2-D feel, and 'Monster House' (while better) covered the range from cartoony in some scenes to eerily realistic (even bizarre) in others.


From the look of 'Beowulf' one gets the feeling Zemeckis is in his element and would prefer not to work in conventional live-action film again. (In fact, his next project is an animated version of 'A Christmas Carol'). Unlike 'The Polar Express' and 'Monster House', 'Beowulf' could be considered a live-action movie which happens to have been shot using an alternate technology in order to support an effects-driven plot, but which is filmic in all other traditional respects -- it has parts which call for the physical talents of good actors (i.e., they can't be drawn or conjured up in a computer [at least, not as convincingly]), and dialogue which is not on-the-nose or 'animation-esque', as well as subtle and non-verbal acting (quite a feat for a performance-capture piece, which, before this, relied on obvious acting and artificial over-expression).

The first trailer really didn't do it for me, but this one has me sold. Zemeckis is going for story here, not product, and yet it would seem he has found the best of both worlds...the beautiful acting found in the best movies, captured (intact) and transplanted into a world where anything can happen. His results are convincing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Roger Ebert On Juno

The story of how the screenplay for 'Juno' came to be, and the movie's popularity, is a breath of fresh air. Here's Roger Ebert's write-up from TIFF.

Diablo Cody, The Pussy Ranch, And Juno Trailer

'Juno' is one of the freshest-looking trailers I've seen in a long time. Story is of a 16 year old girl who gets pregnant and decides to give up the baby for adoption -- following her relationship with the adoptive parents during the pregnancy.

'Juno' is written by Diablo Cody, a former advertising copy editor turned stripper turned journalist turned novelist and screenwriter. Here is Diablo's (new) blog, The Pussy Ranch. Here is an interview with Diablo and Jason Reitman from Telluride. Movie is scheduled for a December 14th release.

Gandalf As Lear

Ian McKellen as Lear with Sylvester McCoy as his Fool

Ian McKellen is spending a year away from movies to dedicate himself to the classics, including King Lear and The Seagull. All Things Considered story (7:49) along with video of Act 1 Scene 5 of Lear, and, Act III of The Seagull.

Penn And Vedder Into The Wild

Sean Penn and Eddie VedderTime has an interview with Sean Penn and Eddie Vedder, who collaborated on 'Into the Wild'. Penn adapted the book, written by John Krakauer, and directed, and Vedder wrote songs for the movie. Story is about Chris McCandless, a young guy who left behind a normal life to wander around the Alaskan tundra for a few months before starving to death.

These guys are refreshingly direct. When asked what made him pick up the book, Penn says, 'The cover grabbed me--the bus, the image of the bus with the title Into the Wild on it. I've made a lot of decisions in my life that you could call judging a book by its cover. And I've become a real advocate of it. So I took the book home, and I read it cover to cover twice, and I went to sleep in the wee hours and immediately got up in the morning, and I saw in essence the movie that you saw last night.' Of working with a live bear he says, 'You say, "Good boy," all day long. Or the trainer does. And he gives him a lot of chocolate whipped cream.'

I really liked that cover too -- it just speaks to me. People are loving the movie -- can't wait to see it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Jodie Foster

'...I have to say I'm so proud of this's a very sophisticated movie with a lot to talk about and yet it's in an unsophisticated genre...' -- Jodie Foster on All Things Considered about 'The Brave One'. This is good listening.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

King Of California

I've always liked Michael Douglas but haven't bought him in his favored genre, the pseudo-action movie, for a while -- not after 'Falling Down' -- (although he was perfect as the calculating killer in 'A Perfect Murder', that rests comfortably and confidently in the suspense genre).

Starting with 'The Game' and continuing with 'Don't Say a Word' and 'The Sentinel', Douglas' thrillers have been variations on a theme -- the intellectual man of action finds himself painted into a corner and must use his wits to out maneuver his opponents. (He played exactly the same role in 'Traffic' but this, obviously, is a different type of movie). Unfortunately, Douglas' recent action movies have run out of places to go about halfway through and have turned to dubious plot twists in an effort to hold the audience's interest through the second half of Act II. I think, especially with the mechanical Sentinel, Douglas has risked alienating his stalwart fans.

'King of California' is a fresh-looking character-driven comedy co-starring Evan Rachel Wood, and (I hope) marks a turning point in Douglas' career -- he looks as good as he ever has and I'm looking forward to seeing this picture. Here's another version of the trailer (which I like even better).

Brave One Profile And Review

The Brave One

Manohla Dargis has a nice rundown of Jodie Foster's work, and a clip with slide show and audio review of 'The Brave One'.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

AVP: Requiem

Have you seen the trailer? Oh, yeah -- it's a red band trailer so if you're under 17 don't bother. (Don't. You're clicking it. Don't click it -- you have to be an adult to view a red band trailer. Stop, you're breaking federal law). Okay, fine. Click it see if I care.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

2 Clips

Shoot 'Em Up' opens 9/7. Here's the
red band trailer/rock video.

Resident Evil: Extinction

And here's an exclusive clip from 'Resident Evil: Extinction' (in case you were wondering what tone to expect).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Brave One Featurette

The Brave One

It just gets better and better. Jodie Foster has a very fine movie in 'The Brave One'. Here is an exclusive featurette.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Pong: The Movie


I was as surprised as anyone when I heard that a movie version of the video game Joust is being planned. Just how will anyone conjure up a plot for this? Who knows.

Pong video game

I was really amazed, though, when I heard that a movie version of the original video game, Pong, is in the works. I loved this game and was pretty good at it. The game seemed wonderous to us back then and made us giddy to be on the cutting edge of technological advancement. Every kid wanted to be among the first to own this game, and those families that did not have it were shunned. If the movie recaptures the childhood thrill of playing this game I'm sure it will be a hit. There's certainly a built-in audience for 'Pong: The Movie'. The plot, it seems, revolves around a secret Pong tournament for the world's best video gamers in which the losers die. That's going to be good.

In the upcoming sci-fi thriller 'Asteroids' the crew of the spaceship 'Triangle' must shoot at giant asteroids. When one is hit it breaks up into smaller asteroids (which are much harder to hit), thus putting the crew at greater risk. I've read an early draft of the script and I can tell you this picture will have you on the edge of your seat. Stay tuned.

In a quest for the Oscar, a small artfilm prodco has a neo-noir thriller in the works called 'Kitchen Sink'. As you can see from the above still, movie will be in black and white. That's quite risky if you ask me -- people are so skittish about seeing black and white movies. Plot details are sketchy, but it seems this will be a murder mystery that takes place in one location, the kitchen, and (rumor has it) is to be shot in one take.

Holding my breath...

Monday, September 03, 2007


Evan Almighty

When adjusted for inflation just how good was box office business in 2007? It was a four billion dollar take but that's due to increases in ticket cost -- attendance was down.

NYT reporter Brooks Barnes gives us an excellent rundown on this summer's business and the implications for the writers unions negotiations -- click the audio interview on the same page.

It looks to me like, more clearly than ever, there are two issues: 1) movie theater attendance continues to decline, and 2) DVD rentals/sales (as well as other ancillary income) is becoming not only more important but of primary importance. Theatrical releases have become advertisements for the DVD.

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