Monday, March 30, 2009


NBC and Directv have worked out a deal to bring back Friday Night Lights for another two seasons, with 13 episodes per year.

Yes, those are tears of joy running down my face.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I Love You, Man is the first laugh out loud movie I have seen this year. Often hysterical and always enjoyable, it's a very entertaining comedy.

Duplicity is a movie for people who like to engage their brain while sitting in a movie theater. The script is pretty ingenious and the dialogue is really strong. Clive Owen is the coolest of cats and Julia Roberts was extremely sexy.

Full reviews to come for both, but in short, I really liked both of these flicks.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I Love You, Man on Saturday night.

Duplicity on Sunday afternoon.

Also, just got In the Electric Mist with Tommy Lee Jones from Netflix. I'll get to that over the weekend at some point as well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009



Interviews with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett
Audio commentary featuring Academy Award-nominated director David Fincher
Never-before-seen footage revealing the innovative techniques behind the Academy Award–winning visual effects and makeup
Step-by-step examination of the motion-capture process aging Brad Pitt
In-depth exploration of David Fincher’s creative process on the set
Interview with acclaimed composer Alexandre Desplat about the score
Featurettes on the film’s storyboards, costumes, and Academy Award–winning art direction
Stills galleries, including costume design and candid behind-the-scenes production photos
Optional French- and Spanish-dubbed soundtracks
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, and optional French and Spanish subtitles
PLUS: An essay by film critic Kent Jones

Pretty fuckin' spiffy, no?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Just saw this at

Very cool looking. Sam Mendes' latest hits theaters this summer.


Isabel Coixet's somberly themed yet gorgeously photographed drama Elegy (***) is a thoughtful (if sometimes boring), occasionally darkly humorous May-December romance between two very different people (Ben Kingsley and Penelope Cruz) who were never likely to find happiness. Cruz, who is partially or fully naked throughout much of the film, gives her richest and best English language performance yet, and Kingsley, as always, exudes class and distinction (Dennis Hopper also turns in a juicy supporting performance). Coixet's film, working from a smooth but slightly meandering screenplay by Nicholas Meyer, goes for the tear ducts towards its conclusion, and even if I wasn't blown away by the movie, it's certainly worth renting if you're in the mood for a serious, slightly depressing, artsy-fartsy type night of entertainment.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I hope this movie turns out to be as surreal as I think it might be.


My buddy out in Hell-A got a chance to attend a test screening of Michael Mann's Public Enemies, which hits theaters on July 1st. Here are the choice nuggets from the review he sent me:

"Michael Mann goes retro Heat with Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies. Depp once again conquers the screen with another great performance in his acting arsenal as the legendary bank robber trying to make a buck the dangerous way with a special FBI task force on his be clear, this is a movie about John Dillinger. Those wondering why Johnny Depp's name is much bigger than co-star Christian Bale's on the poster: this is Depp's film, not Bale's. His FBI agent Melvin Purvis is a surprisingly small role that shows up in chunks, then vanishes for vast amounts of screen time. Same goes for Cotillard...those familiar with director Mann's far superior Heat will recognize several parallels within the story. There is the main good guy FBI agent (Bale) taking on the main bad guy bank robber (Depp) in a sort of cat and mouse chase across the midwest...under mounds of makeup and a thick accent, Crudup seems to be having as much fun in his role as J. Edgar Hoover as Depp. If only he had more screen time...action fanatics needn't be worried as Mann is no stranger to staging action sequences. They are detailed, well-shot and loud. There is no shortage in the budget for how many rounds a Tommy Gun can fire. There aren't many visible gunshot wounds, but a few to the gut and a handful to some heads will satisfy those needing a little red juice on their plate...then there is the cinematography. Dante Spinotti reteams with Mann to provide some striking images, but this film is more controlled than what Mann has been putting out lately. If you're looking for Miami Vice or Collateral style angles or shots, you best look elsewhere. Cinematography is detailed and defined, with some great hand held sequences but once again resembles something closer to Heat, not too surprising since he shot that too...this was a work print and after seeing the film it will easily take another viewing or two to fully absorb all the different characters. Some people will be confused as to who everyone is, but in defense there are a lot of characters. Detail to every scene is top notch and the detail in the phone operator rooms is especially impressive. Mann purists should be extremely happy. Reviews will most likely be mixed. Box Office should be respectable for the 80 million budgeted film...I found it tremendously entertaining."

Sounds awesome to me.

Friday, March 20, 2009


My buddy out in Hell-A saw Michael Mann's upcoming gangster epic Public Enemies last night at a test screening. I had this text message in my inbox this morning:
"Undecided on film. Rated very good."
Not sure what that means. Did he like the film but not love it? Was he part of a larger focus group after the screening who gave the film an overall "very good" rating, but he himself is not sure how he felt overall? I am very curious, because my friend is as big of a Michael Mann fan as I am. We've loved all of his films. So...what's with the indecisiveness? Hopefully I'll have more to add to this post in a few hours. Time delays can be a bitch...


Again, no trips to the theater this weekend. But not because I don't want too -- I'll be doing a bit of travelling and friend visiting.

I've got Elegy from Netflix which I'll watch Sunday night.

Next weekend will be a double feature of Duplicity and I Love You, Man. Will be waiting for DVD on Knowing.

I still need to see Watchmen again as well...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker gets released this summer. I have read nothing but fantastic early praise for this Iraq war thriller over the last few months. And I love this Italian poster. Bigelow's Strange Days is still one of the best (and one of my personal favorite) sci-fi movies of all time, and Point Break is still giddy, action-movie idiocy (an unnecessary sequel is being shot right now without Bigelow's involvement; Jan De Bont is helming). Bigelow's last major action film, K-19: The Widowmaker, was a better movie than people gave it credit for being, and despite the fact that it went bust at the box office, it was yet another reminder of her gifts as an action director. I really can't wait to see The Hurt Locker.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


This film can't get here soon enough.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


A ridiculous, self-reflexive black comedy with a zesty performance (what else is new?) from Sam Rockwell, Choke isn't as polished or as assured as Fight Club, the other Chuck Palahniuk novel to be adapted for the big screen. It's all very raunchy, very deranged, very absurd, often times very funny, but a little sloppy around the edges, probably due to the fact that first-time director Clark Gregg is a better actor than he is a helmer. Still, fans of dysfunctional humor will enjoy this half-smart, half-insane little flick that packs in enough sexual and societal deviance for three movies of its type.

Friday, March 13, 2009


If I see anything in the theater this weekend it'll be Watchmen, for the second time. I will definitely be checking it out again, it's just a matter of when.

Choke ships from Netflix today. Very much looking forward.

I must also confess that even while I won't see it in the theaters, this weekend's kid-flick sci-fi adventue Race to Witch Mountain does look like some good, clean, spirited fun. I'll check it out on Netflix down the road. Also, the new remake of The Last House on the Left looks very nasty but it also looks well made; maybe a Netflix for that in a few months.

Next weekend brings a trio of potentially solid late winter selections: I Love You, Man; Duplicity; and Knowing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Matteo Garrone's Gomorra is a masterpiece. Simply put. As a piece of filmmaking, it's flawless. As a piece of storytelling, it's impeccable. Now, is it an "entertaining" mafia saga along the lines of Goodfellas or Casino or The Godfather? Not really. Gomorra is a punishing and unflinching look at real organized crime in Naples, Italy. Based on a bestselling and highly controversial true-crime novel which ended up requiring the author (and members of the eventual film production) to go into witness protection, Gomorra is kind of like the Italian version of City of God, in that it takes you on a hellish journey to a very violent corner of the earth and rubs your face in viciousness and unremorseful killing. And that, really, is the essence of Gomorra -- killing. Death, as it is in all gangster tales, hangs over this film like the Grim Reaper himself. There is no hope for anyone in this film. You expect any one character to get bumped off at any moment while watching the film; the phrase "always looking over your shoulder" is a sad reality for everyone in Gomorra. The film effortlessly weaves five separate storylines together. Two young punks who love reciting dialogue from Brian De Palma's bloody classic Scarface are anxious to become real-time mafooches, and are blissfully unaware of the real dangers that they face. An illegal garment maker who has learned his trade through various crime circles starts trading his knowledge to the Chinese in exchange for cash; you can imagine how pissed the Italians will be with this. Two youngsters are drafted into a life crime after doing petty jobs for the higher-ups. You get a look at the organization's money-man, who becomes increasingly conflicted with his job as the film progresses. And finally, there is the toxic-waste disposal element to the narrative, which is equally as troubling as any of the other segments. The documentary film style is reminiscent to that of The Battle of Algiers; Garrone plops you down into the scummy crime-filled environment and forces you to see everything at ground level. There is immediacy to the violence in Gomorra, a bracing level of coldness on display from the various killers which is pretty startling. It's all part of the business; killing just comes with the territory. And even though almost all of the characters are unlikable people, you watch with a growing sense of dread as it becomes all but certain that everyone will end up meeting their maker before the end credits start to roll. This isn't an easy or commercial gangster movie like the films I've referenced above. Instead, it's a brutal look at a real-world scenario that's going on right now -- and has been going on for years -- right under our noses. Like City of God, Gomorra takes you to hell and back. And while not anywhere near as hyper-stylized like City of God, there is a feeling of force and visceral impact in Gomorra that forces the viewer to take notice. This is a bold and uncompromising film, and the best one from 2009 that I've seen yet.

I've Loved You So Long (****) is so interesting because of how mesmerizing it is while actually being about something so very small and subtle. This is a phenomenal directorial debut for teacher-turned-filmmaker Philippe Claudel, reminiscent in its confidence of craft and storytelling to that of Courtney Hunt's Frozen River. Both of these movies feature powerhouse female performances at their center, and both tell relatively small and intimate stories of emotional survival pitched against despairing odds. Kirstin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein burn up the screen in I've Loved You So Long. Never succumbing to histrionics or overacting, Thomas and Zylberstein create an intense on-screen connection that feels real and honest. Thomas is Juliette, a woman who has just been released into the care of her sister, Lea (Zylberstein), after serving 15 years in prison for the murder of her six-year old son. That's it -- that's the only plot description that I will divulge. This film doesn't do the things you think it will. Which is why it becomes as quietly devastating as it does. Claudel doesn’t poke and pry and take the easy way out with the challenging story that he has created. Instead, over the course of a tight two hours, he takes his time, allowing all of his actors to form a close knit feeling of intimacy, and then letting the emotional fireworks explode in the final few minutes. Never maudlin and rarely overtly sentimental, this is a powerful piece of filmmaking and storytelling. Thomas is extraordinary in an extremely introverted fashion, which calls for her to act more with her eyes and facial expressions that it does with her words. And equally impressive is Zylberstein, who has arguably a more layered character to pull off. Separated from her sister when she was a teenager because of the crime, she's a woman who is just learning how to involve her older sister in her life. Years of pain and confusion come simmering to the surface, and it's because of Zylberstein's ease and poise as an actress that we're never smacked in the head with cheap emotional grandstanding. This is an excellent film.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Lots of great films from 2008 hit DVD today. Milk, Happy-Go-Lucky, Rachel Getting Married, Synecdoche, NY, and Let the Right One In all drop. Happy, Rachel, Synecdoche, and Let the Right One In all made my top 10 from last year, with Let the Right One In being my favorite from the group. It's easily the best vampire movie I've ever seen. But it's not really a vampire movie. I can't wait to revisit Synecdoche, NY, which was one of the trippiest movies in recent memory. Reliving the rich and acute family dramatics on display in Rachel Getting Married should be rewarding. And watching Sally Hawkins' radiant performance in Happy-Go-Lucky will be something to cherish over and over again.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Watchmen is as bold, risk-taking, and ambitious as a major studio event movie is going to get. Or at least that I can remember. Without the runaway success that 300 became, director Zack Snyder was never going to be allowed to make a $150 million hard-R comic book movie. Over the last 20 years, a diverse group of filmmakers including Joel Silver, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Paul Greengrass, and many others have all tried -- and failed -- to bring Alan Moore's wildly revered graphic novel to the big screen. Warner Brothers president Alan Horn deserves a serious shout-out -- this project could have been turned into a watered down version of its incredibly nihilistic source material and it wasn't. Having not fully read the graphic novel (I've skimmed it, thumbed through it, read the various outlines and reviews), I went into my IMAX screening, first and foremost, hoping for a powerful visual experience. And I got that. The fact that the story was so dense, layered, and intricate has caused me to fully realize that not until a second viewing will I be able to form a proper "review" or summation of my overall thoughts and feelings. My first impressions are that I was stunned by the overall sense of design and visual sophistication of the film. Snyder blew me away with 300, a film that was as visceral as it gets, and set out to do one thing: kick serious ass. And that it did. Big time. Snyder seems to love the ability to literally turn a graphic novel into a living, breathing piece of moving celluloid. I am not sure if I agree with the Warners marketing team labeling him as "a visionary director" quite yet, as his resume consists of one re-make and two adaptations. And as amazingly conceived as his work has been thus far, he's yet to create something truly original. I'm fine with filmmakers like Ridley Scott or Steven Spielberg receiving the "visionary" treatment, but I think Snyder needs a few more films under his belt to grab that status. But with Watchmen, he's taken the supposedly "unfilmable" graphic novel and has made it -- at least to my eye -- into one of the most uncompromising, demanding, and insanely brutal genre films ever made. There's so much to sift through -- the alternate political timeline, the subversion of the superhero genre, the blending of film noir with science fiction. Watchmen feels like an amalgam of 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Bladerunner, Dark City, Sin City, The Dark Knight, and the works of Raymond Chandler. It's a very heady brew, trippy and surreal at times, ironically campy in a few instances, always nasty, very kinky, and extremely interesting to watch. This is a one of a kind film, and even though it's not perfect, this is the sort of movie that people should really make an effort to experience on the big screen.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Watchmen was very cool.  It's a lot to process on first glance.  But I had a lot of fun with it.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Watchmen in IMAX on Sunday afternoon.

Just got I've Loved You So Long from Netflix.


All of the movies written and directed by James Gray look, feel, and sound alike. And while his latest film, Two Lovers (****), which happens to be his richest and best yet, doesn't revolve around the sordid world of cops, crime, Russian-NY gangsters, and bloody shoot-outs (Little Odessa, The Yards, and We Own the Night are his other efforts), it's no less of an accomplishment. Gray is a 70's filmmaker at heart. His color palette consists of burnished browns, jet blacks, and gun-metal greys. His characters are ambiguous, morally conflicted, and quiet. Themes of family, loyalty, and violence run through all of his narratives, which jump from melodrama to genuine feeling with a peculiar grace. And this is what makes Two Lovers so excellent -- it has a timeless quality, its characters seem real without ever falling into cliché, and Gray's refusal to play anything safe imbues the film with a level of unpredictability that makes for great entertainment. And while Two Lovers may finally be too dour, possibly too portentous for some, the crafty decisions made by Gray and his co-scenarist Ric Menello should not go unnoticed, though they probably will, considering the ridiculously limited theatrical release that the film has received. I ended up watching the film via HD On Demand as it wasn't released in my home state.
The film is essentially a love story, but one shot through with heartache and dysfunction. Leonard Kraditor (the phenomenal Joaquin Phoenix) is depressed, miserable, and more than likely bi-polar. Still reeling from being dumped by his fiancée, he's moved back in with his loving parents (played wonderfully by Isabella Rossellini and Moni Moshonov). They're a family of Jews from the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, and Gray gets all of the familial minutiae just right. Leonard's parents want nothing but the best for their boy and are deeply concerned about his well-being. Fearing that he might be regressing back to his addict-days, they arrange a date for Leonard with the charming Sandra Cohen (an extremely natural and appealing Vinessa Shaw), who happens to be the daughter of a business associate of Leonard's father. If sparks were to fly between the two of them, it might make the merging of Leonard's parent's dry-cleaning business with Sandra's parent's business run even smoother. But a monkey wrench is thrown into potential domestic bliss when Leonard meets the sexy and emotionally wounded Michelle, played with damaged-goods panache by Gwyneth Paltrow, in one of her best performances. It's the classic situation: seemingly good-hearted Jewish boy needs to pick between the sensible Jewish woman who is loved by his parents, or the blond shiksa goddess who Leonard craves in a seriously carnal way. Relationships are struck up with both of the women by Leonard, and as he twists and turns his way between the two of them, the audience twists and turns in their seat because of the realistically awkward situations that the characters find themselves in. Who will Leonard end up with? How will his parents react? And will Leonard ever be able to shake off the demons of his past?

Two Lovers is the sort of adult-minded movie that people complain never gets made any more. Well, movies like this do exist; the problem is that distributors don't have any faith in them. Unless a movie features talking dogs, caped crusaders, or horny high-school kids, the studios mostly seem afraid to release thought provoking dramas (unless Clint Eastwood's name is attached). The performances from Phoenix, Shaw, and Paltrow register as career highs for all of them. Leonard isn't necessarily a likable guy, and many of the decisions that he makes seem foolish or unwise, but when you look at the story from a slight remove, you realize that the decisions that he makes are probably the ones that would be made in the real world. Phoenix has a way with introverted, damaged souls, and it's clear that working with Gray for the third time has expanded their generous actor/director relationship even further. You like Leonard even though you probably shouldn’t. At least I did. Paltrow, who brought spunk and cutie-pie charm to last summer's Iron Man, shines in a way that she rarely has on the big screen in Two Lovers -- she's hot, she's trouble, and she knows it. And Shaw exudes an effortless charm and a natural quality that so few major actresses’ posses. I hope that her terrific but unshowy work in this film leads to bigger parts down the road. And as always with Gray, the film has a stylish but unfussy visual style. Long takes are employed, static cameras are set in place, and the actors are given all the room they need to carefully etch their layered characters. Films like Two Lovers are rare in that, typically, with a romantic drama, the audience has easy sentiment spoon-fed to them. Not here. Gray makes you work for a potential happy ending, and even when that ending comes, you can bet that there will be shades of uncertainty attached to it. Two Lovers may be small in scale, but it's huge in heart and feeling.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I love it when movie screens go crash-and-boom for four months during the summer movie going season. There are more than just these below on the docket for this summer, but my goal with this preview is to highlight the movies that I am most excited to check out (hence the lack of rom-coms and kid-pic mentions). Anyways, here’s a peek at my most anticipated flicks.


The summer movie season officially kicks off on May 1st with franchise spin-off X-Men Origins: Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman as the titular character. Directed by Gavin Hood (Rendition), the film has a sturdy cast (Danny Houston, Liev Schreiber, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch) and the trailer is looking pretty sweet. I was a big fan of the first two X-Men features; the third installment not as much. I hope that Hood is able to bring a bit of dark edginess to this film, as the character of Wolverine definitely qualifies as “dark” and “edgy”.

On May 8th, the J.J. Abrams directed Star Trek reboot hits theaters. I am not a trekkie by any stretch but the trailer for this new outing looks incredible, at least visually. I am a big sci-fi fan in general and I have been pleased with Abrams’ recent cinematic output (Mission: Impossible 3, Cloverfield). This should be a lot of fun.

May 15th brings the release of the new Sascha Baron Cohen comedy Bruno, which hopes do for gay Austrian fashion designers what Borat did for awkward Kazakh journalists. Ha-ha. But seriously, even without having seen any footage, this is easily one of my most anticipated films for the summer. Also on May 15th, Ron Howard’s DaVinci Code prequel Angels & Demons hits theaters. I barely remember the first one, so I am not too excited for this one. We’ll see…maybe a matinee…

For the Memorial Day weekend, we’ll have Terminator: Salvation hitting theaters on 5/22. Surprisingly, the recently released full trailer kicks all sorts of ass. I have detested director McG’s resume thus far (the two Charlie’s Angels movies, We Are Marshall) but something tells me that this film will be his big coming-out. We’ll see. Having Christian Bale as the lead gives me some hope and confidence about the overall quality of the script – Bale wouldn’t phone one in at this point in his career, would he?

On May 29th, the Pixar juggernaut rolls along with their latest creation, Up, a film I know very little about other than that it involves a little old man and his house being lifted off the ground by lots of balloons. Oh, and it’s in 3-D. The most recent Pixar tale, Wall*E, was a landmark movie. If Up is only half-as-good as Wall*E than we’ll all be in for a treat. Also of note on May 29th is director Sam Raimi’s return to horror, Drag Me to Hell. I am not a big horror fan, but I do love me some Raimi, so this’ll be one horror thriller I make an effort to see on the big screen.


On June 5th, we get a little film in the midst of all of the explosions: Away We Go, a new comedy from director Sam Mendes (Revolutionary Road, American Beauty), who is taking his first stab at an out-right laugher. Starring Jon Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as a married couple expecting their first child, the film is apparently all about the process of finding a house in America to call your own. I don’t know much about the film, but at this point, anything coming from Mendes seems to be worthy of your time. I still think his adaptation of Jarhead was one of the most incisive Iraq war movies made yet. Also on June 5th is the Will Ferrell-Danny McBride sci-fi comedy Land of the Lost, which looks like, well, lots of berserk fun. I love McBride, so he could be starring in a movie version of The Phone Book and I’d be there opening day. Also, a small tidbit, but the cinematographer on Land of the Lost is the amazing Dion Beebe, who shot the shit out of both Collateral and Miami Vice for Michael Mann. The film should at least look amazing…

The big-gun release for June 12th is Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 123, his remake of Alvin Sargent’s 1970’s actioner about a subway worker (Denzel Washington) who has to contend with a nasty hijacker (John Travolta). Let's look at some of the films on Tony Scott's resume: Top Gun. Enemy of the State. Man on Fire. Domino. True Romance. This guy just doesn't fuck around. This is easily one of my most anticipated films of the summer. Scott is one of my movie-Gods, so I couldn’t be happier to see his latest get a choice summer release date. Add in the fact that the film will be rated R and I’m even more excited.

On June 19th, the horrendous looking Year One hits theaters. On paper, it’s got a funny premise: a caveman comedy about the invention of mankind with Jack Black, Michael Cera, and tons of familiar faces, written by a team of The Office scribes, and directed by comedy veteran Harold Ramis. Then why does the film’s trailer look so abysmal? I really hope the gears start changing on this movie, because I want to want to see it.

But make way for June 26th, because it’s on this day that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen blasts its way onto movie screens across the globe. This mega-budgeted sequel from shock-and-awe action maestro Michael Bay is my pick for “biggest grossing movie of the summer” status, and it’s also one of the top two films of the season for me personally. I flat-out loved the first Transformers movie; it wasn’t rocket-scientist shit, but for what it wanted to be, it was exactly that – incredibly entertaining. Bay has been talking a lot of shit the last few weeks about how massive his new film will be in scope – I can only imagine. But judging from the film's recently released trailer, I'd say that Bay is really upping the ante. I expect the CGI bar that Bay set with the first installment to be utterly destroyed with this new film. I cannot wait.


The 4th of July holiday weekend typically involves Will Smith, aliens, or superheroes. Not this year. Instead, the big movie for the holiday weekend is decidedly adult in tone – Public Enemies, from master filmmaker Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral, The Insider, Ali, Miami Vice). This is my #1 film for the entire summer movie season (Transformers takes a back seat to this one). With an R-rating, a cast which includes Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, and a slew of great supporting actors, and extremely appealing subject matter (John Dillinger’s crime spree through 1930’s Chicago), Public Enemies could be that rare summer blockbuster (like Gladiator) that finds both critical acclaim and audience acceptance, making this an early Oscar contender. Should be a sensational film. Mann working again with his Heat and The Insider cinematographer Dante Spinotti is yet another reason to be pumped for this new film.

On July 19th, Woody Allen’s latest tale of dysfunction, Whatever Works, hits theaters. I have really been digging Allen’s latest work (Melinda & Melinda, Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona were all aces), but the pairing of Allen behind the camera with the super-neurotic Larry David in the lead role should be a match made in nebbish heaven. My only issue: the involvement of Evan Rachel Wood, an actress who I cannot stand. Fine, she was very good in her brief scenes in The Wrestler, but everything about that film was phenomenal, so all she had to do was not suck. Whatever Works is some sort of May-December romance involving David and Wood, so this should be an appropriately weird little flick.

The Hurt Locker, from director kinetic filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days, Point Break), made a huge splash at various film festivals late last year, and finally hits theaters on July 24th. If you’ve seen the live-wire trailer, you know what it’s about: a team of bomb disposal soldiers in Iraq who are tasked with defusing (or detonating) all of the IED’s that line the roadways and city streets. The film looks powerful and explosive, and while not necessarily a winking-at-you demolition derby like the ones that Bay has become known for, The Hurt Locker could be a serious stand-out amongst all of the other, more juvenile offerings. Also on July 24th, there’s a relatively good sounding (and looking) rom-com called The Ugly Truth coming out, which stars Katherine Heigel and Gerard Butler. Hey, if I gotta see one chick-flick this summer as penance for taking my soon-to-be-wife to see boy-toy-movies like Transformers 2, this one at least looks funny. And risqué. The R-rating helps a lot. But have you seen the trailer? It actually looks cute and funny. And it’s got a nice, clever poster. It could be a fun change of pace.

Then, on July 31st, one day after my birthday, comes the latest Judd Apatow directed laugher, Funny People, which stars Apatow regulars Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann, along with newcomers Adam Sandler and Eric Bana. The film, judging from its trailer, seems to be more serious than previous Apatow fare, which could be a good thing. Or a bad thing. I believe the film revolves around the professional stand-up comedy circuit, and I’d wager a guess that it’ll be R-rated like all of Apatow’s other movies. On paper, it’s got lots going for it, but I need to see a bit more. The trailer was interesting because it wasn’t necessarily laugh-out-loud the way the trailers have been for Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, and The 40 Year Old Virgin. But, it’d be silly to bet against Apatow at this point.


The biggest question mark of the summer movie season belongs to the big August 7th title, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Now, I am of two minds with this film. On one hand, you’ve got the real potential for a fun, goofy action flick with all sorts of great opportunity for wanton destruction and mayhem. But on the other hand, you’ve got the involvement of craptastic director Stephen Sommers, who was responsible for The Mummy (a solid movie, fine), The Mummy Returns (pretty cheesy), and Van Helsing (amazingly cheesy). The cast is jam-packed: Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Christopher Eccelston. That Super Bowl trailer was decent – the film will at least look nice and it should deliver some decent thrills. But something tells me that this film will go wrong at exactly the same place that the similarly themed Transformers movies have gone so right: overall execution. Sommers a’int Bay. So we’ll see what develops…

Then, to close out the summer, is Quentin Tarantino’s latest romp, Inglorious Basterds, which hits theaters on August 21st. I am a Tarantino disciple from way back. He’s only let me down once (see Death Proof) but I consider him to be one of the most original and eclectic voices in American cinema. True, he borrows a lot from the various masters that he so obviously worships, but you just know that when the lights are dimming in the theater and the latest Tarantino is splashed over the screen, you’re in for something daring, crazy, and at the very least, viscerally exciting. Inglorious Basterds is some sort of Nazi-hunting, WWII spaghetti Western, with lots of graphic violence, irreverent humor, and Brad Pitt sporting a sleazy moustache and an even sleazier Southern drawl. The film sounds and looks like more fun that a barrel of monkeys.

So, there you have it – an in depth look at some of the titles that I’m most interested in over the summer movie season. I’m sure I’ve missed some titles – if you can think of any major movies left off the list, please let me know. And if I was forced to rank the titles in order of personal anticipation, here’s what it would look like:

Public Enemies
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
The Taking of Pelham 123
The Hurt Locker
Terminator: Salvation
Inglorious Basterds
Star Trek
Whatever Works
Land of the Lost
Away We Go
Funny People
Drag Me To Hell
GI Joe
The Ugly Truth
Angels and Demons
Year One



Excuse me, as I'm still trying to re-attach my face.

Per scooper Beaks over at :

"Visual f/x legend Douglas Trumbull is working on THE TREE OF LIFE. In what capacity? Is he assisting Mike Fink on the dinosaur footage? I don't know just yet. But he has been seen knocking around Austin with Malick's crew, and I can confirm that he has been shooting footage of some sort fairly recently. Personally, I hope he's involved with the NASA-shot sequences that will allegedly be included in the IMAX movie. And when I say "IMAX movie", I mean a whole second movie. That's right, we'll be getting two new Malick movies in the next year or so: the first is THE TREE OF LIFE (which one source tells me is "massive"); the other will be an "IMAX-only" feature depicting the birth and death of the universe. It's important to note that these films are not narratively connected; to the best of my knowledge, they're thematically complementary pieces. Hopefully, I'll be able to elaborate on this by the end of the week (though I'd kinda like to stay a little vague on the details if only to preserve the air of mystery that's surrounding this production). But Douglas Trumbull, the visual f/x pioneer who collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on 2001 and Steven Spielberg on CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, will be receiving his first feature credit since Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER directing BRAINSTORM. On a Terrence Malick film. It doesn't get any cooler than that, folks!"

The mind races when thinking about all of these possibilities...

Monday, March 2, 2009


Greg Kinnear is an unsurprising stand-out in Flash of Genius (***), a well done but dry biopic about the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper only to have his creation stolen by Ford Motors. Kinnear always has a way of charming himself into the audience's good graces, and here, he's alternatively worried and neurotic, while affable and inspirational. But the film is too by-the-numbers to create any vivid, lasting impression, which is possibly due to the fact that the made-for-TV-feel arrives as a result of a rookie director at the helm (Marc Abraham, the prolific producer of Children of Men, The Family Man, and Dawn of the Dead).

Barry Levinon's amusing but inconsequential Hollywood satire What Just Happened (***) is worth watching if you're a fan of industy in-jokes, stars playing themselves (with the above pictured Bruce Willis doing just that in a hilariously self-effacing cameo), and a group of know-it-all filmmakers poking fun at the business they all obviously love so much. It's nowhere near as good as Levinson's other, infinitely superior black comedy Wag the Dog, which can probably be chalked up to the fact that Wag the Dog was written by David Mamet, while What Just Happened has been curiously re-shaped by original novelist Art Linson into a shambling screenplay. Robert DeNiro is great as the stressed out producer juggling his work and his three ex-wives, and if you are counting down the days (like me) until Entourage returns, What Just Happened should satisfyingly fill that gap.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Gomorrah is a masterpiece.

Flash of Genius was solid but a tad dry.


I just saw this blurb over at :

"We're just starting work on a project for Terrence Malick, animating dinosaurs, the film is The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. It'll be showing in IMAX -- so the dinosaurs will actually be life size -- and the shots of the creatures will be long and lingering." -- from an Empire magazine interview with VFX artist Mike Fink that some sources claim to have read but which can't be located by the mag's search engine.

Holy shit balls.