Monday, November 30, 2009

Iron Man 2 Poster!

The first official poster for Iron Man 2 has finally hit. I'll be straight up, I've never been a fan of the Iron Man comics, but the first Iron Man movie was an awesome action movie experience. While I don't think it was the best superhero movie ever made (it was a touch shy of the first two Spider-man films, Batman Begins and TDK, and the first two X-Men movies), it was still worth seeing.

Well, this first poster for Iron Man 2 presents the first look at Iron Man's bud War Machine, whose boots are filled by Tony Stark's friend Rhodey, played in the first film by Terrence Howard, but replaced in this one by an actor I enjoy more, Don Cheadle. Returning for the second go around are director Jon Favreau, Robert Downey, Jr., Gwenyth Paltrow, and Samuel L. Jackson, along with newcomers to the franchise Scarlett Johanssen, Sam Rockwell, and Mickey Rourke. While I'm not filled with as much fanboy anticipation as most across the internet are for this film, I still wanna see it when it hits theaters next summer.

The Classics: Rear Window

Boredom can do funny things to a person. What if you were confined to your home for weeks on end? You'd probably start cracking up, invading others privacy, spying on the people outside your windows just to get a small taste of the outside world.

Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window tells the story of photographer L.B. Jefferies, who is confined to a wheelchair within his apartment for eight weeks. During those eight weeks the man takes up the hobby of watching his neighbors through his window, and eventually he witnesses what he believes to be a murder.

The film was directed by the Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitch gave this film the proper amounts of comedy, romance, and suspense to keep the audience enthralled, but a large component in his achieving this came through the magnificent script.

Hitchcock was known for always pressuring his writers into writing what he deemed a perfect script. Hitchcock was a perfectionist, and to him the script was paramount; it was what decided whether the film would fail or succeed. The script for Rear Window features tight, witty dialogue that never falls flat, and it flows at a pace that only a classic such as this can achieve. Of course, the film would be nothing without its cast, Jimmy Stewart alongside the beautiful Grace Kelly, both are stellar actors and deliver pitch perfect performances, as well as the rest of this small, yet flawless cast.

It is rare for there to be a film that is so timeless; this film is just as entertaining today as when it was released in the fifties. No matter how much people try to re-emulate the film for a modern age, they always fall by the wayside.

Rear Window is a true classic through and through, and it is easily worth seeing.

I give Rear Window an A+!

(P.S. This is the Unicellular Review's 200th post! Go ahead and celebrate!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Muppets Bohemian Rhapsody, 'Nuff Said

Who isn't a fan of the Muppets? The Muppets are icons. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzy the Bear, they're all just so lovable it's hard not to find them funny and entertaining.

While we're all waiting for the new Muppet movie currently in development being written by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), I found something to tide us Muppet fans over. The Muppets do Bohemian Rhapsody. It's hilarious and will knock your socks off.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Which Will Prevail?

As we're nearing the end of the year, there are really only about four or five films left with some question marks about them. Sherlock Holmes is tracking exceedingly well, and I have no doubts that it will wind up being the biggest film of the holiday season. I really have no reservations about Sherlock Holmes, I wanna see it, I think it looks like a good time at the movies. Alas, while I think Sherlock Holmes will be a fun popcorn adventure, this is after all awards season, so what about the big awards hopefuls that have still yet to be released in any capacity.

The first up will be Clint Eastwood's Invictus and Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, in which reviews for both are slowly trickling out into the canals of the internet.

From early word, it sounds as if The Lovely Bones will wind up being one of those love-hate films. The varying reviews already posted range from a trainwreck, to a stunning masterpiece, to a film that is often good but shy of a magnum opus. While Invictus is getting the usual love from Eastwood's supporter's, many are claiming that it isn't the director's best work, and some are even calling his latest a touch sentimental; even still, it has been receiving solid reviews thus far. What does this mean for both films?

Well, Invictus seems to be playing well toward the critics, while it may not be a home run for Eastwood, it should find itself in the Oscar hunt at year's end. As for The Lovely Bones, I've kind of gathered that if you're a fan of the book you will most likely be disappointed, but the bottom line is for some people it will be the masterpiece they were hoping for, and for others it will not be worth consideration, thus I think The Lovely Bones is kind of out of the Oscar race unless some more critics board the express.

Then there is Avatar, the big science fiction epic from James Cameron. For the film's budget, it is not tracking very well, being outsourced by Sherlock Holmes in the numbers, but Avatar is still being touted as a big awards hopeful. Early word from a rumored screening of the film has labeled the film as brilliant and a definite gamechanger for the industry, whether or not this will translate to critic approval and big box office, I don't know, but Avatar seems to be still in the game.

Finally, there is Nine, the glitzy musical based off Frederico Fellini's 8 1/2. Early reports cite that the film is fun and engaging, a definite throwback to the glamor-filled musicals of the Golden Age, but the word is that the film lacks an emotional punch, but of course I haven't seen many big screen musicals ever truly affect me so I don't mind it. The film is still being chatted up as a solid award's contender, all thanks to its style over substance motra that will most likely please the Academy and audiences.

I'm very interested to see which of these December releases will come out on top and manage to be king. Which will wow the critics and win their approval? Nine? Or Invictus? Or perhaps, will Up in the Air continue to be the unchallenged champion of the critics when it is released on Christmas Day after the almost unanimous love heaped upon the film on the festival circuit a few months back? As well, who will win the box office, Sherlock Holmes or Avatar? Time will tell, but as for now I'm excited to see how this final month of 2009 will unfold.

The Making of Avatar

It seems like every ounce of movie news recently has been about Avatar, which hits theaters December 18th. I'm still a touch skeptical about it, but alas I'm afraid nothing will really be answered for me on this one till I finally settle down in a theater and watch it.

The film has supposedly been made with this groundbreaking 3-D motion capture technology, but up till now I had seen nothing that had really blown my socks off, but perhaps this is one of those packages that has to be experienced in its entirety in order for it to be appreciated?

Regardless I found this ten minute clip about the making of Avatar online, and while I'm still not 100% sold on the CGI work, I was impressed by the camera and motion capture technology utilized to bring this film to life. Check it out:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Old School Fridays: Psycho

It's Black Friday, so why not choose something a touch befitting for this edition of Old School Fridays! I'm keeping up the trend of Hitchcock classics with the original theatrical trailer for Psycho. Check it out:

I love how this trailer is hosted by the Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. Hitch was at top of his game with Psycho, it was kind of one of those films that just suited him perfectly. This trailer, while a touch on the lengthy side, really sets up the movie well, and if I saw it back in the '60s I'd probably go see it. Of course, nowadays audiences would want the trailer to make this look like a gory-slasher flick rather than a psychological thriller.

And that does it for this Friday. Tune in next week for another exciting edition of Old School Fridays!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

To many, Thanksgiving is a mish-mash of many different things. Football, turkey, family, togetherness. While all of those things are common tropes of Thanksgiving, probably the most seminal element of Thanksgiving for me is the classic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I've been watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City on TV every Thanksgiving for nearly my entire life. It is that thing that when I see it, I know its Thanksgiving and that Christmas is just around the corner. For me seeing this parade on TV really symbolizes the start of the Holiday season, kind of how the New Year's Eve Ceremony in Times Square marks the end.

When I was little, I always found the parade super exciting. They always had floats and balloons to some of my favorite cartoon characters, and my mom was always sitting there scoping out the high school bands and where they were from, it was just as a whole a family event to me that was fun and entertaining to watch. Now, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is more of a hallmark of the season to me than it is entertainment, but I still watch it in all its cheesiness because this is the only time of the year that you can get away with being cheesy, so why not relish in it?

From the Unicellular Review to you, Happy Thanksgiving!

HIdden Gems: Memento

Can you trust yourself? You're always so confident in whatever you said or did that you never question it. Perhaps you forgot? Maybe an accident, or could it have been on purpose? You confused? Well, if you like that, then you'd probably like Chris Nolan's Memento.

Memento is easily one of the most confusing films of all-time, it racks your brain for days on end after you first see it. It kind of flirts with you the entire time, leading you on and then doing a complete 180, like a seductive vixen who's really an evil Hydra from Greek mythology. But in the end, after you have some time to process it, you realize just how thoughtful, and overall satisfying the experience of Memento is, that you wanna see it again.

Memento is the story of insurance investigator Leonard who was hit in the head by the man who killed his wife. Leonard no longer has the ability to form new memories, resorting to taking photos and tattooing himself in order to remember important information as he searches for his wife's killer. The main question is who can he trust? Can he trust himself? If he can't remember, then anyone is a suspect.

Writer and director Chris Nolan really takes an in depth look at memories. The film plays in two separate narratives, one in color going backwards, and the other in black-and-white going forwards. At the end, the two narratives collide, resulting in a twist that I don't think anyone could see coming. Nolan expertly makes you question your own thoughts, your own memories, to the point to where you don't trust yourself at the end of the day, but I think that was Nolan's goal with the film. Of course, it's as thought provoking as it is entertaining.

The film is a superbly crafted revenge thriller, featuring clever writing, smart direction, and magnificent acting. The cinematography and score are fascinating to behold and really add to the film noir elements of the story.

What Nolan did here was create this mystery where literally anything could happen and it wouldn't be too farfetched. Why? Because when you're telling a story backwards, about a character who can't remember anything past the last ten or twenty minutes, you can pull just about anything, which makes Memento all the more fun when you watch it.

Memento is a thrilling ride from beginning to end, one that takes a few viewings before you can fully appreciate it in all its brilliance, but once you can, I believe you will champion the film as much as I do.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Is Avatar All Talk?

One of the hot items for about the past year amongst countless film publications is James Cameron's upcoming sci-fi epic, Avatar. The film has been talked up as this revolutionary piece of cinema, combining photo-realistic 3-D motion capture with live action and CGI to create a world in which does not exist to men. Many have been claiming that Avatar will be the film that finally makes 3-D a staple in the market place, claiming that the change Avatar will bring to the industry will be similar to the advents of sound and color way back in the day. Not only all of this, Avatar has been rumored to be the most expensive film ever produced. My big question is, is Avatar all just a bunch of talk, or is it for real going to be this groundbreaking piece of cinema?

Personally, I've never been real impressed with motion capture. While the new method of motion capture that Avatar has utilized is a major improvement in terms of relaying the actor's performance, when the CGI body is implemented next to that of a real human's, it just looks fake. I mean, from all I've seen, the movie looks fun and exciting, and I kind of continue to bat back-and-forth on it. Sometimes I just wanna see the adventure unfold, other times I'm just a touch disappointed because the film was so well hyped before any footage was seen. As well, I just really think 3-D is still a far way away from being the staple of the film industry.

Even still, Avatar is shrouded in mystery. Not much is known about the story, even after countless trailers, which might be why I'm not as enamored as I'd like to be at this point. All I've seen is countless shots of action sequences, nothing that relays the potential heart inherent in the story. Perhaps once I finally see it and get the full sum of everything, I wont care about all the CGI. Hey, with Peter Jackson's King Kong, I was so enamored by the heart and the mystery he laced the story with, I completely forgot that almost 80% of it was CG. Perhaps the same will happen with Avatar.

My main concern with this film though, is did it wait too long to try and get into the public's eye? For this film to truly be revolutionary, it has to be successful, and if it was as expensive as many of the reports have been, then that wont be an easy task. At the current moment, Avatar is still only on the radars of a few, majority of the general moviegoing public have no clue what it is, and we're less than a month away.

Avatar's day is fast approaching, let's hope it delivers when it comes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Homage: Brink!

Way back when the Disney Channel actually had some credentials and wasn't a Hannah Montana pop-fest, there were some awesome original movies produced. From Zennon to Smart House, the Disney Channel had style, but no other movie had as big of an impact on me as the epic roller skating bash that was Brink!.

Brink!, the story of soulskater Andy "Brink" Brinker, played by Erik von Detten. Back in the third grade when this film premiered, I thought that this was as dramatic as a movie could get. When Brink betrays his team and joins Team X-Blades, it was so sad, but of course everyone all kisses and makes up for the epic finale where Brink and his teammates on Team Pup-and-Suds take Team X-Blades head on, culminating in the climactic race between Brink and rival Val.

This movie was so impactful upon me at that age. After I saw it, I wanted to be a top class roller skater, just like Brink. I practiced hours upon hours outside in my driveway, even occasionally taking it to the streets to try and hone my soulskating skills. Ultimately though, my dreams came crashing down literally one night when I went down a big hill, tripped, and fell. I skidded down, flat on my backside. The pavement ripped open my pants, chewed its way through my underwear, and let's just say that the pavement left its mark. It was definitely one of the more painful experiences of my life, aside from the time one of my brothers hit me in the head with a rock, but that's a different story for a different time.

The last time I saw Brink!, it was a few years ago, and I was so in awe as to how much the film itself has aged, and how much I've aged and matured since the film came out. The movie is still steeped in its late '90s So-Cal culture, and I've kind of grown out of this type of cheesy sports movie. Even still, Brink! holds very fond memories for me. While I no longer want to be a world class skater, I still have those memories of a time when innocence reigned.

TV Review: Curb Your Enthusiasm - Season 7

Larry David's HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, is one of the last things that us Seinfeld fans can still hold onto, but alas after seven seasons the show seems to finally be showing its age.

The seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm was really a hodge-podge of mediocre to okay episodes filled with many uncomfortable moments and the occasional moments of high hilarity channeling the show's best from seasons past.

The story this season all revolved around Larry agreeing to put on a Seinfeld reunion show in a ploy to win back Cheryl, because he offered her a role in the new show. As well, Larry managed to get rid of the Black family of last season, but Leon stayed behind and remained at Larry's, leading to some of the funnier moments of the season.

As a whole, while it was exciting to see the Seinfeld gang back together again, I just was expecting more from this season. I really felt like the moments between Jerry and Larry were filled with a great many of missed opportunities, after all it is these guys that essentially were Seinfeld, but I guess lightning striking twice is a true rarity. Also, this season just kind of went way over-the-top. While Curb has always been known for some of its bizarre, yet funny storylines in the past, this season they just took it way farther than it probably needed to go, resulting in a great many moments that were more uncomfortable than funny.

Even still, the season had some stand out moments that reminded me as to why I continue to watch the show, like when Larry tried to break up with Loretta or when he killed the black swan on the country club or the time when Larry and Jerry didn't want to scoot over at the dinner to let Richard Lewis sit down. But the show just lacked many of the key elements that made it hilarious in the past. There was little to no Ted Danson this season, Jeff and Susie were used in a very limited capacity, and Richard Lewis was only in one or two episodes total. Looking back at this season, it was just a season of a bunch of missed opportunities.

I give Curb Your Enthusiasm - Season 7 a C-!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Smallville - Season 9: Part 2

(This is the second part of my three-part chronicle of the ninth, and potentially, final season of Smallville).

I'm a Smallville nut, I've grown up watching this show. In a way I find it that seminal show of my teenage years, it's seen me from 6th Grade all the way to my Sophomore year in college, and it's still going strong.

It's currently in its ninth season, and I've been watching it week-after-week, still enthralled by this reimagining as to how Clark Kent becomes Superman. While the show is very different than it was way back in 2001 when it started, it has managed to mature with its characters and become a show that is still worth watching, even after all these years.

Now, I'm gonna start this off by saying this isn't a review of this season, that wont come till the third part of this series next May, what this is, is my impressions of the first half of the season thus far.

Overall, I've been impressed with what the Smallville staff has come up with so far this year. The previous three seasons were pretty lackluster in my opinion, while they had their great individual episodes, as a whole they seemed to have lost the charm that made Smallville, Smallville. This season they decided to kind of forge their own path. The seeds they planted last season have begun to develop and bloom into this season, it actually feels like the show has a legitimate direction that the writers are wanting to take it in, which was one of the major struggles with previous seasons.

So far this season we've seen the arrival of the Kandorians, led by the future General Zod. Clark got to meet his biological father, Jor-El, in the flesh. Clark has now assumed the identity of the Blur, and is wearing a costume that bears the famous S-Shield of legend. Chloe has assumed the role of Watchtower for the JLA. Oliver re-embraced the Green Arrow and took on his sidekick, Speedy, this time in the form of a teen girl. And Lois and Clark have finally become a romantic couple. Whew! All that in just nine episodes.

I was really impressed as to how the Smallville writers incorporated Jor-El and the Kandorians into the story. The episode where we saw how the Kandorians came to be in the orb that transferred them to Earth, was one of the finer episodes of the past 3 or 4 seasons, not to mention the most recent episode, where we finally got to learn what happened to Lois when she jetted one year into the future at the end of last season. In all actuality, the plan that Zod executed in the future reality that Lois traveled to, actually made sense from a comic book standpoint.

The Kandorians had no powers under the yellow sun of Earth. In the future, they built a solar tower, harnessed the sun's rays, shot them back into space at satellites and morphed them, transforming the yellow sun to that of the red sun of Krypton, granting Zod and his followers powers, and stripping Clark of his. In the future Lois went to, Zod ruled Earth and planned to create a new Krypton on Earth. Luckily, Lois managed to return to the past in order to warn the rest of the potential fate of their beloved planet Earth. And in Clark's attempts to avoid Zod's plan, he finally revealed himself as Kal-El to Zod, and it looks as if, from the closing moments of the most recent episode, that they have forged an alliance of some sort.

Other cool moments included the story of Metallo, the Wonder Twins finding their way to Metropolis and unknowingly causing trouble for the Blur, and the hilarious romance that has escalated between Lois and Clark.

As a whole, this first half of season nine was very solid, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait for the show's return, next January.

What's It Take to be Successful?

Each and every time a new movie comes out that manages to deny expectations and break records at the box office, I often wonder what makes these movies so special?

This past weekend, the latest Twilight film, New Moon, raked in over $140 million, making it the third highest grossing opening weekend of all-time. I was personally astounded by this number. I knew that Twilight was popular, and I knew that this film would be one of the biggest of the year, but never in my wildest dreams would I of imagined it doing this kind of business. That is nearly the total amount that the first film made in and of itself. Whether or not the film will have the legs to push it past $300 million and beyond, has yet to be seen (as a side note, it doesn't bode well for the film that 1/2 of its opening weekend came from Friday, which is never a good sign), but it's safe to say that it is well on its way to being in the top 5 highest grossing films at year's end.

Today, I've decided to try and answer the question that I proposed earlier. What makes these record breaking box office hits so much more special than any other film? In short, what does it take for a film to be successful?

One of the first answers typically would be, the film itself has to be good, but then you look at stuff like Twilight and Transformers, both panned by critics, and are raking in the cash like no other film this year has done. So what is it then? Hype.

The days of word of mouth and people listening to film critics are over, what makes or break a film is hype, the repeated pumping up of a film before its release. You see it all the time with big blockbusters, and to a lesser extent on small independents picked up at stuff like Toronto and Sundance (case-and-point, Slumdog Millionaire).

Studios start rolling out the marketing machine on their big films sometimes two years before the film even hits theaters. They try to milk the audience for all their worth, heighten their anticipation, and get it on everyone's radar so that when it finally comes out, everyone will say, "I wanna see that." This is how the film industry works, and it only helps matters when the film in question is already based upon some other property, whether it be a highly popular book, comic book, video game, or action figure line. This is the main reason as to why stuff like Twilight often is so large. Other times, it's the sequel factor.

We live in a time where the first film in a franchise isn't what matters, it's the sequel. Back in the day when sequels were a no-no, you pulled out all the stops on the first film, cause you didn't know whether or not you'd get another go at it. Nowadays, filmmakers actually hold back on the first film in order to have stuff in the well for a second outing. This mentality has spurred many of the big sequels in this past decade, from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight. The first film gets a following through mediocre box office, solid DVD sales, and excellent viewing on stuff like HBO, then when its inevitable sequel hits theaters, it is a juggernaut at the box office. But then, there are those rare anomalies that are in a league all to their own as to why films are successful.

Often at times a film comes along that is just so special, it can't be missed. These films many times don't have any previous following (i.e. books or comic books) and ultimately fly under people's radar until stuff like trailers and what not start surfacing. These types of rarities are films like the original Star Wars from 1977 and Titanic. These are the films, that on paper, sound like terrific ideas that will make money, but no one truly knew that they'd do what they did. These films are typically the trifecta, loved by audiences, adored by critics, and smash hits at the box office, often so much so that they topple box office records in the process. To put it simple, films like these can only be classified as movie magic, there's no other way to put it. If everyone knew the secret as to how to repeat these anomalies, everyone would be doing it, but alas it's like trying to capture lightning in a bottle.

Majority of movies released, even Twilight, are just your average run of the mill blockbusters at the box office. Now, this doesn't mean that they still can't be good, it just means they aren't one of those rare anomalies. Personally, I don't think there has been an anomaly at the box office since Titanic twelve years ago. As we venture forth into another decade, will that change? I don't know. Perhaps I can make the next anomaly. I'm just pleading to anyone with money who will listen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Trailer Rush: Percy Jackson and the Olympians-The Lightning Thief

I know I sometimes rant about all the other studios trying to jump on the Harry Potter train with trying to adapt pretty much every children's fantasy book ever created, hoping it will become the next Harry Potter, but this time I legitimately think it's trying to be its own thing while appealing to a similar audience.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, is the first in a popular series of children's books about a teenager, Percy Jackson, who discovers that he is the half-blood son of the Greek god, Poseidon. The film is directed by Chris Columbus, check it out:

I actually want to see this. I was a fan of Chris Columbus's work on the first two Harry Potter films, and this has a similar vibe, just with a hip, superhero swagger to it. As a fan of stuff like Harry Potter and the X-Men, I really think this film has potential.

While I have not read any of the books in this series, after seeing this trailer I have rushed out and bought the book to see whether or not my initial reaction from this trailer isn't dumbfounded. As for now I'm excited for this one as its February release looms nearer.

The Cat Piano

I'm a fan of all types of films. Animation has always had a soft spot for me. I'm always entranced whenever I see a daring animated film that does not try to play to kids, but rather to adults and the filmmaker's own artistic desires.

I'm not gonna lie, whenever it comes time for the Oscars, I usually don't get to see all of the nominees for the Best Animated Short category, but this year I've been lucky enough to at least find one of them, The Cat Piano from Australia. It's a fascinating animated film that is poetic in all its film noir-beauty. It's considered the frontrunner in this category, and after seeing it I can see why. Take a look:

Friday, November 20, 2009

What's the Deal with Vampires?

You know, I enjoy mythological tales about vampires as much as the rest, but there can be such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Okay, in case you haven't guessed, I'm talking about Twilight. It's just been reported that the latest Twilight movie, New Moon, has broken the record to become the highest grossing midnight showing of all-time with $26 million, surpassing both Harry Potter and The Dark Knight. It really astounds me that this film is bringing in these kinds of numbers, and it makes me wonder what to expect in the long term for this film series at the box office.

I could easily see this being a very profitable franchise, and if it brought in these types of numbers in just one night, it could easily become one of the highest grossing films of the year. I can see it having Titanic-syndrome, every teenage girl is gonna see it over and over again, each time dragging along a different friend who hasn't seen it yet.

Now I will preface this by saying I have never read any of the Twilight books, nor have I seen the first film in its entirety, because from the little I have seen, I knew I wouldn't like the rest of it. While I am often frustrated when someone makes comparisons between Twilight and Harry Potter, I typically try to brush them off. Hey, even when I think about the fact that the vampires in Twilight walk around in the daylight, I simply have to accept it and move on. My biggest question is what's making stories about vampires the big thing right now to where Twilight is breaking records?

At the current moment there are two hit TV shows about vampires, The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. As well, aside from Twilight, there is at least a handful of movies about vampires currently in production at all of the major studios in Hollywood. Hey, even foreign language films are getting into the fray with stuff like Nightwatch and Let the Right One In. What was the thing that triggered this current wave of vampire phenomenon, and which films or TV shows about vampires should you watch?

I don't know what triggered this current vampire obsession other than its time on the pop culture cycle finally came. Personally, I'm still a fan of the original Dracula films from Universal Studios during the Golden Age of Hollywood, but I look at this current resurgence of vampire obsession, and very little of it has anything in common with Dracula or any of the other classic stories about vampires told over the centuries. In a way I guess vampires are the next wave of phenomena, much how superheros were for about the last eight or nine years. I'm just wondering how many more stories about vampires can be told before the well dries up? Of course, for every vampire story like Twilight, there is one that is wholly-original like Let the Right One In.

Old School Fridays: Rear Window

Another Friday, a new edition of Old School Fridays has arrived! This week we're taking a look at the theatrical trailer for my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film of all-time, Rear Window (which Disturbia essentially ripped off). Check it out:

I love this trailer. It's so over the top and cheesy, introducing us to the world of the film, and then having Jimmy Stewart break the fourth wall and talk directly to the camera. Trailers like this aren't made anymore, and I find it kind of sad. The trailer did everything that most trailers nowadays do, it just did it in a very unique way. It told us who the stars were, who directed it, what the director has done other than this film, and it introduces us to the world and the main plotline of the film. It intrigues you enough to where you want to see what happens. Plus, I love it when the last caption says, "See it! If your nerves can stand it after Psycho!"

That does it for this Friday. Tune in next week for another exciting edition of Old School Fridays!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Blockbusters and the Oscars

Since the mid-'70s, every summer Hollywood unloads another big budget film full of technical wizardry and amusement park thrills upon the moviegoing public. Every few years or so there is always one or two of these so-called blockbusters that rise above the rest and are hailed both by audiences and critics alike, leading people in the industry to believe that these films that were originally just seen as cheap thrill rides, to now be contenders for the Academy Awards.

Blockbusters and the Academy have a long running history. From the very first blockbuster, Jaws, to my favorite film of all-time Star Wars, blockbusters have time-and-time again found themselves in the midst of all the pretentious Oscar fare in which Hollywood pumps out each year at the same insane rate that they do with these more commercial pieces of filmmaking. Even still, it took till 2003 for a blockbuster to finally win the top prize, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and that was the third and final film in that franchise.

Many out there still have this stigma about blockbusters being thrown around amongst the more "artistic" fare produced. But this year, with the Best Picture race being expanded from five to ten nominees, many believe that this will only increase the chances of another blockbuster to someday walk away with the top prize. Personally, I'd love to see that happen once more.

As a filmgoer I like all kinds of films, whether they be small, intimate pieces of filmmaking, or big, loud action extravaganzas, it doesn't matter to me, as long as the film itself is good. Many are looking at this year and all of the big blockbusters, wondering if this could be the year. Personally I doubt it, but there are still a few blockbusters from this year that I wouldn't count out of the Oscar race.

After seeing Star Trek again, I definitely believe that this film has what it takes to impress the Academy, it was chock full of emotion, was extremely well crafted, and was an enjoyable experience as well. Another film getting much Oscar buzz is District 9, the film about prejudice against aliens. The film was seen as an allegory against racism, and it took critics and audiences by storm. The other film is Avatar, which has yet to be released, but is being talked up big time due to its groundbreaking CGI-work and 3-D effects. Ultimately Avatar still has yet to be seen, but it is a strong frontrunner at the current moment. If Avatar happens to fail to deliver I would not be surprised to possibly see the latest Harry Potter film, The Half-Blood Prince thrown into the Best Picture mix as well.

Ultimately I am more excited for this Oscar season than any previous year, simply because the Oscar race itself seems to be more spread out over the film spectrum than we've probably ever seen it before, for that reason alone I am pulling for any off these four blockbusters in which I've mentioned.

Cillian Murphy and Danny Boyle, Together Again?

It's being rumored that Cillian Murphy is at the top of a shortlist to play mountaineer Aaron Ralston in Danny Boyle's upcoming film, 127 Hours.

We reported a few weeks back that this film about the true story of mountain climber Aaron Ralston, whose arm got pinned beneath a boulder and he had to amputate it with a dull knife, would be Boyle's next film. It had long been rumored that Ryan Gosling was up for the lead, but now it seems Cillian Murphy is being thrown into the mix.

This is after all a logical option. Boyle and Murphy have already collaborated twice before, on 28 Days Later and Sunshine, both of which are two of Murphy's finer performances of his young career.

Personally I would find Murphy far better suited for this role than Gosling. Murphy has proven that he can do these types of films where it's simply him against the forces of nature and he has knocked them out of the park infusing the roles with a grit and a sense of reality which I don't believe any other actor could bring to this role.

As of now this is just a rumor, but a substantial one at that. Let's just say it has a very good chance of being true.

The Return of Khan?

It seems everyone in the film industry has a bit of Star Trek fever. The latest Trek film hit store shelves on Blu-Ray and DVD Tuesday. I've already bought my copy and watched it, and I thought that the end result still hadn't lost its magic. With so many in Hollywood and across the internet eager to see where this new series of Trek films will go, rumors are quickly flying about for the inevitable sequel.

From what has been said by J.J. Abrams and producer Damon Lindelof, the script is in fact being written. Whether there is already a couple of drafts or it's simply in the outline phase, I'm not sure, but that is good news to hear. Even still, no word has been released as to what the sequel will actually be about and whether any other classic Star Trek characters will find themselves into this alternate universe. One of the more talked about potential returns is that of Khan, the infamous foe of Captain Kirk from Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan.

The role made famous by Ricardo Montalban is one of those all-time great movie villains, and many fans want his return to the franchise. When asked about a potential return of Khan, Abrams and co. have been very coy, but the latest rumor is that Nestor Carbonell from LOST is up for the role of Khan.

Now many are taking this out of context that Khan will be in the next film and that Carbonell is playing him, but this is simply a rumor, either fabricated by a fan, or a suggestion from one of the filmmakers as to who they'd like to see play Khan if he was included in the sequel. While Carbonell would make a very fine Khan indeed, this does not mean that he is in the next Trek adventure, and I personally don't want a reprise of Khan.

They went through all this trouble with the first Star Trek film to create this parallel universe and prove that this isn't your father's Star Trek. They've done that, and I think they'll be backpedaling if they decide to rehash old storylines and characters from the series and the previous films. Now if they can find an original and unique way to include Khan and make it be completely different than before, I'm all for it, but as for now I am against this suggestion.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Brutal Honesty

Have you ever seen a movie with a group of people and had the complete opposite opinion of everyone else you saw it with? Like, say you didn't like the movie, but everyone else you saw it with did. What do you do in this situation? Do you lie?

I often hate being found in situations such as these. In all honesty I want every movie I see to be an exemplary piece of filmmaking, but as we all know that isn't always the case. Of course it can also be the opposite from time-to-time, you'll love the movie but the other people you saw it with don't. It's a complex situation, trying to get people to see your way as to why you thought this particular thing about this movie.

Ultimately there is no clear answer to this situation. Currently I'm practicing brutal honesty, don't cut any movie slack. If there is something bugging me about a movie, I cut some points off of its overall score. I find this the only way to truly accentuate my thoughts on movies rather than just agreeing with the rest of the movie going public.

To me it doesn't help me when someone simply says something was good or bad, I want to know why it was good and bad, thus it would help me to know whether or not I want to see the movie and whether the negatives or positives of it would bother me. Of course, if everyone practiced brutal honesty, then it might get ugly.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trailer Rush: Crazy Heart

Jeff Bridges is one of those actors out there deserving of an Oscar. Nominated four times and still has never won, that has to be really frustrating. Well, perhaps with his new film, Crazy Heart, Bridges has that chance.

Crazy Heart is the story of washed up country singer Bad Blake, now experiencing rough times in his career. Can he find redemption? He might find the answer to that question through journalist Jean Craddock, who uncovers the true Bad Blake that no one else knows. Take a look:

It kind of reminds me a bit of The Wrestler, just more uplifting. Perhaps this is why Fox Searchlight, the distributor behind The Wrestler picked this one up for distribution. Jeff Bridges looks to be in top form here as Bad Blake, he is definitely in the race for Best Actor, of course after seeing this trailer I believe the film itself has a shot.

Whether come next March Crazy Heart is nominated for Best Picture or not, this one looks to be a perfect showcase of Bridge's acting abilities. Look for this one as it hits theaters in limited release, December 16th.

Intergalactic Warfare

Back in the '80s and early '90s there was a subsidiary of Marvel Comics called Epic. Epic is no longer around today, but one of the more popular comic book titles from Epic Comics was Alien Legion.

The story followed the members of the military unit Force Nomad, a unit in which takes in aliens to fight for the Earth military, similar to the French Foreign Legion. Well, it's recently been revealed that a movie is currently in development with mega-producer Jerry Buckheimer and Disney.

The script is being written by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt (3:10 to Yuma and Wanted). It's been reported that they're currently in the third draft, and it seems to be moving along very well. While there is no director attached to the project, it is being talked about as one of the next big franchises.

I'm actually not that familiar with Alien Legion. The concept sounds very intriguing, a kind of cross between something like Star Trek and Halo perhaps. I'd probably pay money to see it, I just am not sure how many people will show up at the theaters for a comic book movie in which most people have no knowledge of the property upon which it's based. I might be wrong. Hey, I thought the same thing before Iron Man and look how that turned out.

At the current moment there is no release date for Alien Legion, but it is one film that I am sure to keep my eye on. Just keep away Michael Bay and I should be satisfied with this one.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trailer Rush: Leaves of Grass

A film about marijuana. That pretty much sums up the new film Leaves of Grass, of course it's got more to it than just that. The film stars Edward Norton in two roles, now before you go calling all Eddie Murphy on him, he's just pulling the classic playing two identical twin brothers, one a straight-laced business type, the other a pot-smoking redneck who's gotten in way over his head and needs his brother to pose as him to try and get out of it. Take a look:

Edward Norton as a redneck, Richard Dreyfuss throwing around cuss words, Keri Russell in a film about pot, and to cap it all off, Sigourney Weaver. What an odd cast for what looks to be an odd movie. First off, Norton rarely does comedy, he's typically a straight up dramatic actor, but I do find it fun to watch him here playing things to comedic effect. As a matter of fact, all of the cast members look as if they had a blast making this one. As for now I'm still a little on the fence about this one, but I will say it is at least on my radar.

The Ten Best Things About Star Wars

I'm a Star Wars nut. The original Star Wars trilogy is the perfect example of how movies should be, from the cinematography to the direction to the writing. While I'm not as big of a fan of the prequels, I still enjoy them and consider them worthy additions to the Star Wars saga. Today I've decided to just geek out a bit and revel in the galaxy far, far away and list the ten things about Star Wars that essentially separate it from any other film franchise in movie history. Let's get going.

10. Podracing - Whether you're a fan of the prequels or not, there is no denying that the podracing sequence in Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace is one of the more awesome action sequences in the entire series of films. Plus, Sebulba was a pretty cool alien no matter how you spin it.

9. Darth Maul - One of those fine movie villains. He barely utters two lines of dialogue, but his iconic look, along with his acrobatic moves and double-bladed lightsaber makes him one of the greatest Sith Lords of all-time. If only he had survived throughout all the prequels instead of old Count Dooku.

8. Yoda - The little green dude who made backwards talk a staple in pop culture. Yoda is the most powerful Jedi I think to ever exist. You can say Vader is the Chosen One as much as you like, but I'd like to of seen Vader take on Yoda in his prime when Yoda wasn't nearly an entire millenia old.

7. The Death Star Trench Run - Probably the most epic movie climax in movie history. Every single time I watch it I get filled with raw excitement, much like when I was a little kid watching this movie. Luke maneuvering down the trench, trusting in the force and destroying the Death Star, not to mention some last minute heroics from Han Solo in the Millenium Falcon.

6. Darth Vader - The big bad dude makes the list himself. Vader is the greatest screen villain of all-time, no debate about it. Darth Vader is the template for how a movie villain should be. He's evil, sympathetic, but also powerful with a rueful temper. His complex tragic story is the core of the Star Wars saga.

5. C-3PO and R2-D2 - When it comes to comedic movie sidekicks, these droids are the ones you're looking for (awful pun, I know). Threepio and Artoo are two of the finer movie characters ever created in my opinion, and one of them never even talks. Threepio and his constant worrying and logistical failures, and Artoo with his way too adventurous spirit, they're the model of friendship.

4. The Empire Strikes Back - This film as a whole is one of the best things ever about this franchise. This is the film where Star Wars went from being a simple adventure story to being the labyrinthine mythological story that we know it to be today. The romance between Han and Leia. Luke's training with Yoda. Vader and Luke's showdown. Han being frozen in carbonite. My favorite movie of all-time, hands down.

3. Lightsaber Duels - There are just too many to name one, so I'll just lump them all in together. From the very first duel on the Death Star between Old Ben and Vader, to the climactic showdown between Obi-Wan and Anakin on Mustafar, lightsaber duels have been a huge part of the Star Wars saga. It is safe to say that the image of a lightsaber is probably the most iconic thing about this franchise. While there are many duels in the films, my personal favorite is the battle at the end of Empire Strikes Back.

2. The Force - The mystical power that surrounds us all manages to make the list in and of itself. The force is what separates this series of films from just about any other sci-fi or fantasy film ever made. The struggle between light and dark. The force has very often been seen as an allegory for religion, believing in something in which you can't tangibly see and the power in which it imbues within oneself.

1. Han Solo - The Corellian smuggler himself tops the list. Harrison Ford made this character what he is today. The cock-sure swagger, the cynicism, the heroics, Han is the true definition of a swashbuckling hero that you just can't help but love.

And that does it Star Wars fanatics. What do ya'll think?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Real Head Scratcher

Franchise seems to be the key word in Hollywood right now. They've mined everything from comic books, to action figures, to video games, what's next? Why not board games!

Seriously, is it just me or are studios getting obsessed with making money off licensed properties? It was just reported a week or so ago that the classic board game Risk was going to be getting the big screen treatment, as well it is already confirmed that a film version of Monopoly is on the way with director Ridley Scott (Gladiator) eying it as his next project, and with rumors of a Battleship movie in progress, this doesn't seem to be a trend that will go away anytime soon.

At least with comic books or video games, even with certain toy lines, there is a story to go along with it, but with most board games, there is not. You know how depressing a LIFE film would most likely be? Or what about Monopoly, or Risk? And Battleship? If you wanna make a movie about naval combat, then find some cool historical battle and start from there, don't try and slap a brand name on it to sell more tickets. I mean, what are they gonna transform into a film next, checkers?

The only film based upon a board game ever made that was worth any of its salt was the film Clue from the '80s, but there and again Clue is an exception. The game actually has a very good story that accompanies it, thus it was ripe for a big screen adaptation, where as it's the complete opposite with most other board game properties.

Maybe I'm just being the ultimate cynic. Perhaps these films based upon board games will be good. I'm not sure, but as for now I'm just left scratching my head.

(500) Days and the Academy?

I've been fairly satisfied with many of the films I've seen this year. One of the finest was the indie-hit (500) Days of Summer. It was a romantic comedy told with a hip swagger that appealed more so to the guys in the audience than the women.

Up till now any Oscar talk for this film has been merely for Best Original Screenplay, but I was thinking, with the recent failure of Amelia, could that be what (500) Days needs to get into the Best Picture race?

Both (500) Days of Summer and Amelia were released by Fox Searchlight. After Amelia was panned by critics and failed to make it at the box office, Fox Searchlight's biggest Oscar contender was out for the count, thus opening up the race for one of their other films to get the Oscar push instead of Amelia. Out of all the other films Fox Searchlight has released this year, the one that has the best shot with the Oscars is (500) Days of Summer. It actually makes sense as well. It is one of the more successful indie releases of the year, and it was well-received by critics (in particular Roger Ebert gave it four stars), so why not this film for Best Picture?

Fox Searchlight has a good track record with the Oscars, from Little Miss Sunshine to last year's winner, Slumdog Millionaire. Now with 10 nominees and Amelia out of the picture, (500) Days of Summer might have a shot at Best Picture glory.

Even if this doesn't pan out, the film is still one of the frontrunners for Best Original Screenplay, so it is very likely for it to still get a nomination there, and possibly even a win. Of course this is all speculation, I have no clue what Fox Searchlight plans to do in terms of the Oscars, this is just my own two cents.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

To Boldy Go to DVD!

One of my favorite films of the year thus far was J.J. Abram's Star Trek. I've never been the biggest Star Trek fan before this film, I always preferred Star Wars, but after seeing this latest Trek film I've become a believer. I saw it two times in theaters, both times I was simply blown away. The film was action-packed, at times channeling the best of the adventure movie genre from both Indiana Jones and, dare I say it, the original Star Wars films themselves. A sequel is already confirmed and should be in theaters sometime within the next 2-3 years.

Well, the film will be hitting store shelves on DVD and Blu-Ray this Tuesday. I already plan on buying the two-disc special edition DVD come this week and I am so excited to see this film again. Of course I'm also a bit of a nut when it comes to DVDs. I love the special features discs. As a filmmaker, I enjoy watching how the movie was made, how it was pieced together, hear stories about the production. Is it a waste of time? Yes, but I find it highly entertaining.

The two-disc edition will feature what looks to be solid featurettes detailing various aspects of the production, as well the set will include the standard director's commentary on the film along with deleted scenes and a gag reel. It sounds like it will be a purchase well worth your money. To heighten anticipation for the release, I've found this clip from the DVD's special features online to tide us all over. Live long, and prosper.

The Next Film Revolution, Just Around the Corner?

I was following up on a fellow filmmaker's blog this morning and I found a post where he was talking about the current state of the film industry. It was all spawned from an article in Variety talking on the recent news about the potential sale of MGM Studios.

In this current economic crisis, every facet of the feature film industry has been hit hard, even the studios. I mean, movies cost millions upon millions of dollars to make, and there is no guarantee that a film will be successful upon its release, thus this fuels the studios current mentality regarding the franchise. Studios want to take prekissed properties, like Harry Potter and Spider-man, franchises that already have a following, and transform them into films. By doing this, the studios are guaranteed to have some money in the bank. But who is hit the hardest by this current mentality?

The independent film industry is suffering due to the current economic crisis. Bottom line, no one really has the money to invest in these films anymore. If you're lucky enough to secure financing to get one made, there is no guarantee that even if you get into Sundance, Cannes, or Toronto that any Acquisition Executives will buy your film because the small independent film studios, like Miramax, Fox Searchlight, and The Weinstein Company are experiencing the same difficulties of the corporations who own them.

Now this isn't to say that no more independent films are being picked up for distribution, it's just now the studios are having to be more selective. For example, if at Sundance next year there are 15 really fantastic indie gems, more than likely only about 5-7 of those will be picked up for distribution where as in years past it might have been as high a number as 12 or 14 of those films. Does this mean there is no more hope for independent filmmakers? No. It just means that you have to have a five times better product than everyone else to get your foot in the door.

It's obvious that the film industry needs a shot in the arm to carry it forward into the next decade and beyond, but what is that something? A revolution? Some might say that the advent of 3-D is that so-called revolution, and it might be. I still feel we have to wait and see for James Cameron's Avatar before I pass any judgments on this supposed wave of the future, but it is a promising solution. 3-D tickets cost five dollars more than regular 2-D films, already, cha-ching! Of course they cost more to make, so do the math; as well, what will happen if 3-D becomes a staple, what then? No longer will audiences be enticed to see gimicky 3-D movies, they will want substance.

Revolution cannot come into affect without talent. Look at the '70s, probably the most revolutionary decade of film so far, where countless young filmmakers emerged with their ideas from the French New Wave and completely took the world of cinema by storm and saved it from extinction. I believe we're on the brink of another revolution such as this. The studio game is slowly collapsing once more. And what it's going to take is for young filmmakers, like ourselves, to stop waiting around for that perfect opportunity that may never come and make films. It's up to us as the next generation to spur this revolution with our abstract ideas and massive ambition.

This is my challenge for any other fellow filmmakers out there reading this: Let's try and spur this revolution, let's revitalize the film industry, take it by the horns and show that originality and concept aren't dead. The '70s was the most revolutionary decade of film thus far, as we venture forth into a new decade, let us young filmmakers see if we can do better.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Trailer Rush: Date Night

The new film Date Night kind of sounds like a horrible slasher flick, but instead it's actually a comedy starring Steve Carell and Tina Fey. The film directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) is about a married couple with kids who finally get to go out on a date one night without their children and the evening turns into a case of Hitchockian-mistaken identity.

It looks like a silly romp that will be pretty fun to watch. Whether or not the film will be remembered at the end of next year as one of the finer films of 2010, I'm not sure, but it does have what at least looks to be a slew of good cameo performances. Mark Whalberg and James Franco just to name a few.

I'll probably put my money down to go see this. Both Carell and Fey have been funny in the past, my only problem is this trailer shows them simply doing their usual shtick, which we have been accustomed to already for a few years. Still, I think anything that these two do right now will be pure gold at the box office, so regardless as to whether it's actually funny or not doesn't matter. It's Steve Carell and Tina Fey married, so you know it has to be funny. Right? (Sorry for that last bit of sarcasm there, I actually like both Carell and Fey, I just get annoyed by their fans typically).

Old School Fridays: Star Wars Episode VI - Revenge of the Jedi

It can't be Friday already!?! Time for another edition of Old School Fridays! This Friday we're looking at the original teaser trailer for the final Star Wars film, Revenge of the Jedi. Or is it Return of the Jedi? Regardless, check it out:

Return of the Jedi was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi, but only a few weeks before the film opened, George Lucas decided to change the title, claiming that Jedis don't take revenge, thus this is how the film is now known as Return of the Jedi. This trailer was from the time before that title change, which is why it's so special to us Star Wars fans. Of course this trailer must have also been before they decided to make Luke's new lightsaber green for the movie, cause in this trailer it's blue. This trailer is a little rough around the edges, and is extremely nostalgic, reminding one of the old movie serials in which Star Wars was based upon. Even still, as a Star Wars geek, this one is too good to pass up.

That does it for this Friday. Tune in next week for another edition of Old School Fridays!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Most Deserving Oscar Winners of All-Time

There has been a lot of Oscar talk recently, so I guess it's kinda stuck on my mind right now. I was thinking about how many times people talk more about the films that didn't win or got snubbed a nomination, rather than the films and the performances that actually did win. I came up with this wonderful idea to try and list the most deserving Oscar winners of all-time in every one of the more significant categories. It's an ambitious attempt to sift through the 81 year history of the Academy Awards and try to define the perfect Oscar list, but I think I was able to do it. Look at how it turned out and see what you think:

Best Picture - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
I know I probably just ticked off many with this one. Out of the 81 year history of the Oscars, so many classics, I went with one of the more recent winners, but I truly believe that this is one of the more ambitious films ever produced. As well, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was one of those rare cases of a film becoming an instant classic. This is still considered to this day one of the Academy's more daring decisions in the past, being the only time that a fantasy film has ever walked away with the top honors, but if you go back and watch this film, it holds up way better than any other Best Picture winners.
(Nominees: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Godfather, Casablanca, The Apartment, and Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Actor - Marlon Brando, The Godfather (1972)
Even though Brando declined this award, when that envelope was opened back in '72 his name was on it, so he won it even though he never accepted it. Brando's performance in The Godfather is easily one of the more iconic of all-time, easily one of the more imitated, as well, if you go and watch Brando's other performances, you will realize just how fantastic of a transformation this was.
(Nominees: Marlon Brando, The Godfather; Robert Deniro, Raging Bull; Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man; Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood; and Tom Hanks, Philadelphia)

Best Actress - Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind (1939)
When I think of a powerhouse female performance, this is it. Leigh knocked it out of the park here as Scarlett O'Hara. No other actress has ever delivered a performance that is so moving, so powerful. Her performance anchored this film and is what makes it remain one of the finer films of all-time.
(Nominees: Meryl Streep, Sophie's Choice; Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind; Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs; Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday; and Diane Keaton, Annie Hall)

Best Director - Martin Scorsese, The Departed (2006)
Scorsese should have won this one way back in the '70s, but alas it is befitting that the film he finally did win for is my personal favorite from his entire filmography. Scorsese was at the top of his game with The Departed, he never seemed to miss a note at all here, playing the audience perfectly.
(Nominees: Martin Scorsese, The Departed; Steven Spielberg, Schindler's List; Frank Capra, It Happened One Night; Billy Wilder, The Apartment; and Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II)

Best Original Screenplay - Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry, and Charlie Kauffman for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Hands down one of the more unique films ever made and it all started from this wonderful script. The script uses highly visual language and is kinetic, much like the film itself. It is one of those occasions where the script is literally the blueprint for the story, dialogue, shots, everything.
(Nominees: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Apartment, The Usual Suspects, Citizen Kane, and Annie Hall)

Best Adapted Screenplay - Philip G. Epstein, Julius J. Epstein, and Howard Koch from the play, "Everybody Comes to Rick's," by Murray Burnett and Joan Allison for Casablanca (1942)
Often considered the finest screenplay ever written, Casablanca is a master class in writing dialogue, some of the best dialogue ever written for the screen was in this movie. Casablanca would have been nothing without this script, just your typical by the numbers Hollywood production from the time, but luckily the right people came in and managed to write one of the more memorable films of all-time.
(Nominees: Casablanca, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Godfather Part II, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Animated Feature - Spirited Away (2002)
There is really no point in debating this one. This was the easiest one to pick. Japanese storyteller Hayao Miyazaki crafted what many believe to be his masterpiece with Spirited Away, which is saying a lot. It's a wonderful story of courage told through the eyes of a ten-year old brat in this odd fantasy world where just about anything is possible. It's highly original and deeply moving, definitely one of the Academy's better decisions of all-time.
(Nominees: Spirited Away, The Incredibles, Ratatouille)

Best Supporting Actor - Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects (1995)
Kevin Spacey jumped on the scene with The Usual Suspects. His performance is what makes or breaks the film. He went to great lengths to perfectly nail the skittish personality of Verbal Kint, and it is because of his marvelous portrayal the twist at the end of the film is never seen coming. It's safe to say that he is the hinge of the mystery.
(Nominees: Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects; Robert DeNiro, The Godfather Part II; Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter; Sean Connery, The Untouchables; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight)

Best Supporting Actress - Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
You can't do a list of the Academy's best without giving Meryl the recognition she deserves. Her role in Kramer vs. Kramer is one of her many fine performances within her career and was the performance that really got her on everyone's radar.
(Nominees: Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer; Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront; Cate Blanchett, The Aviator; Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity; and Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love)

Best Foreign Language Film - Japan, Rashomon (1951)
One of director Akira Kurosawa's earlier works. This was the film that made Kurosawa an international sensation. It's simple premise of a crime being retold via multiple points of views has been replicated many times, but never to the same effect as it was here. This is one of those fine pieces of cinema, regardless of where you're from.
(Nominees: Japan, Rashomon; Italy, The Bicycle Thief; Italy, Frederico Fellini's 8 1/2; Taiwan, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Japan, Departures)

Well, that does it. What do you think?

Trailer Rush: Extraordinary Measures

Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser have teamed together for the new film, Extraordinary Measures. The stars of Indiana Jones and The Mummy will be joining forces in a drama film. Not quite the way I would have expected to see these two in a film together, but it might work. The film Extraordinary Measures is based on the true story about a father who finances a scientist to try and find a cure for the rare disease in which plague his children.

I actually want to see this. First of all it has Mr. Ford in it, but secondly it actually looks like a good film. I always think of Brendan Fraser still as George of the Jungle, but this is a good reminder that he is actually a good actor. And Harrison Ford, one of those actors I feel is greatly undervalued for his various performances over the years, nominated for only one Oscar for Witness and not The Fugitive nor Raising Henry. With this film being released in January, that pretty much quells any awards hopes that it might have, but regardless it should be an enjoyable time at the movies to see Mr. Ford in action again in a movie that actually has some promise.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Smallville: The Moive, Sort Of

Smallville, the television series that chronicles the story of how Clark Kent becomes Superman is now in its ninth season. In nine seasons the show has seen many characters included from the DC universe, from Lois Lane to Jimmy Olson, to the Green Arrow, even the Justice League (minus Batman and Wonder Woman) made an appearance. This January the Justice Society will be finding their way to Smallville, written by ace comic book writer Geoff Johns.

At first the appearance of the Justice Society was simply to be a two-part episode, but now Entertainment Weekly reports that the CW is in fact going to make it a two-hour TV movie rather than two individual episodes. Not only that, but the CW is reportedly boosting Smallville's budget for this two episode event in order to do the Justice Society justice (no pun intended).

I find this all to be exciting news. Smallville's budget has depleted greatly in the past few years, mainly because other than Smallville, Gossip Girl, and Supernatural, most of the other CW shows are poorly rated, thus every show has had a drop in its budget. The WB never had financial woes, but alas those days are over.

Even still, it is refreshing to hear that we will most likely be getting a fair amount of action, hey, we might even see Clark get in a full on fight for the first time since probably season 7. As for this being a two-hour movie rather than two individual episodes, I don't really care, I'm more excited for the budget raise than anything else, of course I do like the idea of watching a two-parter in one sitting, instead of reaching the cliffhanger at the end of the first part and having to wait a whole other week to see what happens next.

Keep your eyes on Smallvile as next January approaches so you wont miss it.

Trailer Rush: Clash of the Titans

I'll be honest, I have never seen the original Clash of the Titans, so I cannot really have an opinion on this current remake. The teaser trailer for the remake hit the internet this morning. Check out the battle between man and the gods in this trailer:

The trailer gave very little as to what the film is really about, but it does showcase some of the fine creature effects and awesome-looking fight scenes that the film will have to offer. The film has an all-star cast, with Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades. That right there is enough to warrant any moviegoer to go see this one, but it's also directed by Louis Letterier, who directed The Incredible Hulk and The Transporter movies, so he knows how to do action.

Overall, I wanna see this. I just hope the actual film itself has a little more to it than this trailer did.