Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Fantasy JLA Casting Game

I saw this on a couple sites post-SDCC -

People have been choosing who they would like to make up the cast of a hypothetical Justice League of America film. A year or so ago, such a film was in the works with George Miller (MAD MAX) set to direct, but (thankfully) it never went in to production. I say thankfully because a bunch of heart-throbs and teeny-boppers had been cast as the titular supergroup. Now, with THE AVENGERS coming together nicely and DC planning a route similar to Marvel's for its future films, interest in a JLA film is mounting. I'll take a stab at the casting process and I'd like to hear what other people think as well.

The players:

Batman - I see this film not happening for a few years and by that time I'd expect Christian Bale to have moved on from Batman and not being interested in a JLA film, so the casting is open - Australian actor Joel Edgerton would have my vote. I'm not sure how well he'd fair as Bruce Wayne, but Batman stays mostly in character when with the JLA,so I don't think that would be a problem. He's big, he's brooding, he's got a square jaw and he can act.

Green Lantern - Ryan Reynolds

Flash - John Hamm - A lot of people think of the Flash as a young, cocky individual. I think of him more as the boyscout Barry Allen. I just read "Blackest Night" and I really like the way he was portrayed. He was more of a take-charge kind of leader and something made me think of Hamm.

Wonder Woman - This is an almost impossible role to cast. Most popular actresses are very petite, much too petite for Diana Prince. The actress needs to be both beautiful and amazonian. I think BSG's Tricia Helfer could pull it off well or previously rumored Morena Baccarin.

Superman - Brandon Routh - Superman is one of the most difficult characters to cast. The person has to be just right. For all its faults, SUPERMAN RETURNS got this very right. Routh is a spectacular Superman/Clark Kent, but since the WB and DC are moving on from RETURNS, there is literally no chance of Routh returning. The iconic character returns to his own film, tentatively titles THE MAN OF STEEL in late 2012, so I imagine we will hear some casting news on this in the next year.

Aquaman - Alexander Skarsgard - I think it was this guy's birthright to play Thor, but that opportunity has passed. He's got a swimmers form and a quiet intensity, so I think Arthur Curry would also be a good fit for him.

The Atom - Guy Pearce - I can see Pearce fitting into this role nicely. He's a great actor with an intelligent appearance. I just saw a picture of him LA CONFIDENTIAL and I was sold on this idea. Palmer would likely be a more minor character and that's something that Pearce has been excelling at lately.

Green Arrow - Brad Pitt - This was suggested in one of the articles I read and I liked it a lot. Pitt has been mentioned in regards to other comic book characters over the years, ranging from Spider-Man to Thor. If I could pick the perfect comic character for Pitt to play it would have to be Oliver Queen. The blond, liberal playboy character is practically tailor made for the actor. Unfortunately, he's starting to get a little old, so perhaps it's not meant to be. Also, I'm not sure that he'd be all that interested in playing this relatively minor hero. A backup choice for me would have to be Charlie Hunnam.

Martian Manhunter - Michael C. Hall - For some reason I hear a lot of black actors being brought up in relation to this role. I don't see any reason why Manhunter would have to be black. Is it something to do with his voice? I don't know. I see Hall in this role because of his stoic, icy monotone moments in "Dexter". I think he could capture this potentially interesting character quite well. I also see him fitting into the role of Manhunter's human counterpart J'onn J'onzz.

Hawkman - Karl Urban - This guy just looks like Hawkman. Hawkman is also kind of a jerk and Urban definitely has the ability to capture that. He often alternates between heroes and villains in the roles he chooses and I'm sure there's some sort of happy medium with this character. For now, Urban is slated to take on the role of another graphic novel icon - Judge Dredd.

A Little Extra Nerd News

I just thought I'd share a little extra nerd news with everyone even though the week isn't over.

Check out the first trailer for Zach Snyder's SUCKERPUNCH, opening March 2011:

What I was mildly surprised with upon first viewing this trailer was the effects. I'm so used to CG stuff looking like crap, but these actually look pretty good. This seems to be a mostly greenscreen movie done in the same vein as 300. I can't make out any particular style that is being utilized from the trailer as there is a whole lot going on, but I'm optimistic that it will be satisfactory. I can honestly say that I haven't disliked a Snyder film yet, so I hope he keeps the streak going (first I'll have to get through THE LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS (or whatever they're calling it now) this fall. I like that he's taking on something with a more blatant fantasy element as 300 and GUARDIANS both seem to dabble in those waters. I'll wait to see a more fleshed-out trailer before I get too excited, but this early footage is impressive.

Nick Cave (yes, that Nick Cave) is reportedly rewriting the script for the reboot of THE CROW:

This is a reboot I'm firmly behind. THE CROW as a franchise is pretty lame now that it's littered with low-rent straight-to-dvd installments, but the original is still pretty great. It's pretty dated, but Brandon Lee is still great in his final performance. However, it's that dated-ness that has me interested in a more current, and from what I hear less-stylized, version. I wasn't sure how far along this film was or if it was truly getting made, but this news gives me an idea and boosts my level of interest ten-fold. Cave possesses a genius-level ability to craft a gritty yarn. He's been doing it through his music for decades and he's just started to put that talent towards films. A few years ago, he wrote an Australian western called THE PROPOSITION. It received high critical praise and is easily one of my favorite movies. A little-known fact about that film is that Cave wrote it over a two-week period, which is practically unheard of for such a quality screenplay. I bet he can work some magic with this CROW story and really start the series off right. Maybe he'll lend some of his music or compositions to the score as well, which would really class the thing up.

DRAGON TATTOO remake casting rumors:

Daniel Craig was announced for the male lead of this film earlier this week, though he's been rumored for some time. He's actually a pretty good choice for the scrappy reporter character. Now everyone has turned their attention to the casting of the female lead, Lisbeth Salander, a disturbed-yet-genius hacker type. Casting a popular english-speaking actress for the role will be a challenge because a majority of them possess a softness that is difficult to shake. Many names have cropped up and almost every one is terrible. Young star of the moment, Carey Mulligan, has been mentioned, but she's way too soft and young-looking to take on the fierce role. Natalie Portman has also been mentioned, she is also too soft, yet too old for the role. Recently, I've heard a lot of clamoring for Ellen Page and Kristen Stewart. Again, Page is much too soft for this role, she just doesn't have that edge that an actress would need for this role. Don't even get me started on Stewart. This girl has faux-attitude and a faux-edge that some people accept as genuine. She can't even be in public without shaking like a leaf or being a spaz, she's weak and her so-called attitude is just teenage angst, which is just lame and not something that describes the Salander character. She doesn't possess the strength or confidence for Lisbeth, she didn't even have enough for Joan Jett.

Frankly, I think it's a bit dumb that they're remaking this film. There's some hope because Fincher has a talent for these murder-mystery tales (see ZODIAC or SEVEN), but I just don't know what approach they'll take in Americanizing it. The plot is heavily grounded in post-WWII Swedish history, I don't know what they'd change that to for the remake. This film is also part of a trilogy, which has since been continued in a television show and I really can't imagine the remakes getting past the first film, yet they keep talking about how it's going to be a trilogy as well. In Hollywood, trilogies are reserved for big franchises, DRAGON TATTOO lacks that universal appeal. Sure, it's good, but it's not a global phenomenon. I don't think they'll be able to justify remaking the whole series. The films were a big deal for Sweden and Scandinavia because, well, they don't have a whole lot else going on in their film industry. I'm not saying the films will flop, but I don't think they'll pull in anything remarkable, especially considering they are likely to all be rated "R". I guess only time will tell though.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Today marks the 30th Anniversary of CADDYSHACK's release. I love CADDYSHACK. It's easily one of my favorite films and quite possibly my favorite comedy of all time. There's just so much to love about it. The Bill Murray stuff is great, that goes without saying, but the stuff that makes this film for me are a lot of little things.

My favorite character is Judge Smails. Ted Knight is just awesome in this film. He's the quintessential curmudgeonly comedy villain. His interactions with his nephew Spaulding still make me laugh every time.

Funny note: The actor who played Spaulding never acted again in anything else. I wonder what happened to him. Personally, I believe that's kind of an awesome career, playing Spaulding and retiring, chances are he never would have had as good a role again.

Back to Smails: Knight truly owns that role and provides so many more hilarious scenes.

There's also the scene where he has Danny come to his office and he tells him: "I've sentenced boys younger than you to the gas chamber, didn't want to do it, but I felt I owed it to them".

Apart from Smails there's a lot of other great moments. Dangerfield is pretty spectacular throughout, delivering one of my favorite lines in cinema history "Hey everybody, we're all gonna get laid!" to much applause. Chevy Chase is also in top form here as is Brain Doyle-Murray.

There are the few things I choose to ignore like Noonan's peculiar Irish girlfriend and the fairly lame gopher (which actually sets up some good stuff from Murray), but on the overall this movie is just solid.

The New York Times review of the film called it "Immediately forgettable", I beg to differ.

Comic Con Leftovers

Here are a few remaining CC videos -

A better quality version of the "Walking Dead" trailer (still not great quality):

GREEN LANTERN Panel Highlights:

Trailer for MONSTERS:

Here's a trailer for a film with some positive early reviews and buzz -

Looks neat, apparently it was film on a very small budget.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Comic Con News and Previews

Comic Con is a magical time of year when all the nerdiest things are put on display for all the nerdiest people. It's here that we get breaking news on and footage of the most popular titles in television and film. The convention is still going, but lets take a look at all the best tidbits thus far.

New TRON: LEGACY trailer -

I'm really excited for this movie. I'm not a huge fan of TRON, it was interesting, but now it's just a bit dated and frankly a little boring. David Warner and the MCP are pretty cool and young Jeff Bridges is also pretty great, but I never would have been clamoring for a sequel. I'm sure glad they're doing it now though. This has the potential to be a far superior and interesting film. The glimpses of youthful Bridges in this trailer are truly astounding and the fact that he's a villain is even better. The effects from the original film are often mocked, but the ones for LEGACY look very cool, I might actually see this in 3D.

- Disney carried on their panel after LEGACY to offer up a PIRATES 4 teaser -

I'll wait for more on this film, but this was a nice thing of Disney to do.

BUT that wasn't all -

Guillermo del Toro made an appearance to announce his next project: THE HAUNTED MANSION based on the popular Disney attraction. First I'll say that Del Toro never confirmed that he would be directing, only that he was producing and writing the film, but that directing might be in the cards. I'm a little disappointed by this because there are so many other projects I'd like to see him work on, but he seems very excited about it. If he ends up at the helm, I bet the film will be pretty good. Apparently, he made several jokes at the expense of Eddie Murphy's HM film from a few years back and promised that it would be better and focus on the Hatbox Ghost character. I'm interested to see where this goes and what Del Toro decides to do.

Next on the Agenda is AMC's panel for "The Walking Dead" series premiering in October -

Here's a bootleg trailer for the show (I'm guessing an official version will be released shortly)

I watched highlights of the panel and they were very exciting. Frank Darabont (THE GREEN MILE, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) seems heavily invested in the program as does the graphic novel's creator Robert Kirkman. I've been saying that a zombie apocalypse show should be done for years because of the vast serial narrative potential of the television medium. Basing this series off the excellent graphic novels only sweetens the deal.

"Dexter" season 5 trailer and promo (Wow) -

Both of these previews give me chills. I never really cared for Rita and her death opens up so many interesting creative avenues for the show, but I feel so bad for Dexter. I really have no clue what's going to happen in season 5, but I can only assume that it's going to be big. It'll take a lot to top season 4 and John Lithgow, but I have a strong feeling that this season will do just that. The continuation of the series is made even more special by the fact that Michael C. Hall has fully recovered from the cancer that threatened his career and his life. Really looking forward to this.

Next years' GREEN LANTERN film had its own panel -

I couldn't glean a whole lot of info from the reports, but I do know that there was some exciting footage previewed. Hopefully a teaser will get released in the near future. It seems that DC is really pushing this as a new beginning for them. I know they're working on other Justice League features, so maybe they will work towards putting some sort of JL film together like Marvel is doing with the AVENGERS. DC has been so unsuccessful with their filmmaking efforts, so I hope they are able to turn things around and now that they're actually mining properties that people actually want to see, I'm counting on it.

Speaking of Marvel -

They had a lot going on thus far at Comic-Con:
- A teaser for THOR was unveiled.
- A brief preview for CAPTAIN AMERICA was also shown.
- Mark Ruffalo was officially announced as the new Bruce Banner/The Hulk. This has been rumored for a couple weeks now, ever since it was announced that Edward Norton would not be asked back to reprise the role (due to not being a team player). I really liked Norton in the role, but I can understand Marvel being very protective of this enormous undertaking and not wanting to take any chances on a difficult movie star. Ruffalo is a fine replacement, I can see him excelling in this role. I'm just glad to know that the character will make it into the film.
- Joss Whedon was officially announced as director of THE AVENGERS, but everyone already knew that.
- Jeremy Renner was announced as THE AVENGERS' Hawkeye. This has also been considered fact for a little while now, but confirmation is nice. I consider this pretty spectacular casting.
- Perhaps my favorite bit of news out of all this: Marvel has now taken back control of it's "Punisher" property. The Punisher is a Marvel character of course, but they didn't have the rights to use him in their films. Just like how Sony owns Spider-Man and Fox owns The X-Men. None of the Punisher films have been very good or up to the character's potential. I'm really excited to hear that Marvel plans on utilizing the skull-clad vigilante in the near future.

If I can think of anything else, I will add it, but that's all for now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

2010 Half-Year Report Card














More to Come Soon:


Though I'm just a mere filmgoer and was in-no-way involved in the making of INCEPTION, I still felt like I had a lot riding on its success. Films are a part of who I am as a person, they structure me creatively and even socially. Defining the types of films I like and the ones I hate is important because it is a reflection of something within me. I go through a relatively time-consuming mental process on a daily basis where I flesh out my reasons for liking certain films and subsequently their actors, writers and directors. I have a hard time picking favorites. I see so many great films every year and so many new talents emerge that it's damn near impossible. I have a favorite film - JAWS - and I don't think that will ever change. This stability is comforting and defines me more than my various whims and preferences for certain things.

It wasn't long ago that I decided on Christopher Nolan as my favorite director. Previous to Nolan, Scorcese was my favorite director, but SHUTTER ISLAND's mediocrity changed that. It was a little crushing for me to have to give up on something I'd held as a personal truth, but it didn't take long for me to find his replacement. MEMENTO, THE PRESTIGE and THE DARK KNIGHT are some of my favorite films and it's rare for one director to be on that list with such frequency. This may seem a little like fair-weather fandom, but I still love certain directors even when they make bad films, I just like dominant champions. If a director can repeatedly make films that I love without faltering, they're the man. I've been excited about INCEPTION all year, hoping that this would be the film to garner Nolan the recognition he deserves. If I didn't find it satisfactory, I'd be crushed, and my "favorite director" category would be cast into purgatory once more. Nolan did not disappoint. What he did do is reaffirm my belief that he is indeed the greatest filmmaker currently working.

INCEPTION is ambitious in a way most films, and certainly the summer blockbuster sort, are not. It tackles not only ideas about dreams, but also about perception, reality and their role in who and what we are. The science of dream-espionage is not overly explained or tapped in to, it just exists, it's the world of the film (perhaps the future, it's never said outright), a world where this science fiction imagining exists. This might cause some confusion in viewers waiting for some expository lead-in to the action, but they just have to be patient. It took me a few minutes to get my bearings, but once you're there, it's an exciting ride full of great possibilities.

Setting the film up with a heist storyline gives it a little more foundation. Without it, you might float away and end up in narrative limbo. Nolan knows where to ground his film full of wild possibilities so that it still reads like films we are all familiar with. The heist concerns the titular "Inception", which essentially involves planting an idea in someone's dream and having them believe that it's their own. Commissioned by a rival company, Cobb's (DiCaprio) group must plant a seed of doubt in a young heir (Murphy), so that he'll dissolve his company and curtail a potential monopoly. In doing this, they not only change the path his life is taking, but also the way he thought about himself and the life he wants to make. There's a heart and a mind to this heist narrative. It doesn't just involve monetary gain and some mark, it instead has its roots in the very things that make us human.

Cobb's personal story is also heavily entwined in all the other elements of the film. He mourns his wife (Cotillard) and she continues to show up in the dreamscape to sabotage their various missions. She is a crippling manifestation of his guilt, which is dangerously corporeal when dreaming. I initially didn't think this was an entirely important part of the picture, but as you close in on the ending, it proves inseparable from everything else. This is the emotional backbone of the film.

Keeping everything straight while writing INCEPTION must have been very difficult for Nolan. Often the action jumps from dream to dream and back to reality, all the while taking into account various time discrepancies that supposedly go along with the shared dreaming process. It's an interesting tweak on the classic idea of cross-cutting action sequences and results in some of the more interesting visuals in the film. Most notable of these is the anti-gravity sequences with Joseph Gordon-Levitt fighting his way to and collecting his unconscious partners. The lack of gravity is the result of the fact that the group is actually in free-fall over a bridge in the preceding dream level (yeah, I guess you'd need to see it).

In fact, all of the visuals in this film are elegantly captured and so are the performances. It wouldn't surprise me at all if some of them earned recognition at next year's Academy Awards. They tend to swoon over DiCaprio despite him not being a great actor, so this strong performance could land him another nomination. Supporting work by Gordon-Levitt, Watanabe, Hardy and Cotillard are all deserving of consideration, especially since those categories can tend to be weak and hard to fill.

Speaking of Oscars, there has been a fair amount of discussion already about whether INCEPTION will get this nomination or that. This likely stems from the widespread belief that THE DARK KNIGHT was snubbed for a Best Picture nom (something I agree with). I'd have a hard time believing this doesn't grace that category this time around. I'd also expect Nolan's writing and directing to be acknowledged, but who knows what the rest of the year will hold. Much attention has been paid to the fact that this has been a weak year (especially summer) for films. We're already past the half way point and INCEPTION is the best film I've seen this year. It's actually the only film I've seen that I felt deserved an "A" grade.

This review is a bit all over the place for a reason. I don't really know what to focus on. It's such an intricate and amazing film that I can't possibly cover everything and explain it eloquently in writing. It needs to be seen, probably more than once and then discussed. In it I believe there's an instant classic, a film that will be remembered decades from now as we remember the great science fiction films of years past. Thank you Mr. Nolan.

Friday, July 16, 2010

CYRUS Review

CYRUS feels like a small film, which isn't at all a bad thing. The characters don't do anything particularly audacious, nothing too wild or twisting occurs, even central conflicts and misunderstandings are subdued. We've all seen films and television episodes that have utilized a similar story about a troublesome child getting in the way of his/her parent's new relationship (even "Full House" did it), but they all end up going overboard. The title character, wonderfully acted by Jonah Hill, is obviously messed up and the fact that this gets mentioned is great because behaving so bizarrely isn't justifiable otherwise. Yet, despite his defects he never does anything too ridiculous. His actions are subtle, more calculated and certainly more than enough to get a reaction out of John C. Reilly, who is also great in the film. Reilly also doesn't play into the typical role of the suitor in this type of story. Even though he, as an actor, seems almost predisposed to playing a bumbling sort of character, he never goes there. He's sensitive to his girlfriend's (Marisa Tomei) feelings, but he's not stupid and he doesn't put up with Cyrus' games for very long. This shift in characters towards being more realistic and human is refreshing and breathes meaning into this tired, cliche plot. The film focuses more on the characters' relationships and the tension between Hill and Reilly than any specific actions or gags. That this was done so successfully is the mark of good writing and skillful directors. Also, the presentation of the parallel and similar lives of both men was very well done without being overstated.

The only issue I have with the film is slight: I would like a little more information on Tomei's character. We see the film from Reilly's perspective, but she's almost as important a character. I'm not asking for a lot of exposition, just a little more maybe.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

PREDATORS Review *Spoilers*

I want to start off by saying that PREDATORS is actually an alright movie, especially when compared to the AVP films, but man is it a disappointment.
Let me count the ways:

The film starts off strong with all the central characters plummeting towards earth (a pretty cool idea in my book). During the first act of the film we are introduced to all of the main players and made to play the waiting game. The predators are out there, we all know it, but they're taking their time making it to the screen. This would be all well and good if the film possessed the level of tension of the original PREDATOR, but it is starkly lacking. This is huge problem that persists throughout the film. I'm never really scared or on the edge of my seat. Never do we get that "oh no" moment like when Arnold's group found that guy skinned alive.

Which leads me to my next issue: I'm not what you'd call a glutton for gore by any means, but this film seems a little tame, especially for being rated R. Sure, that enabled the utterance of a few "fucks" and allowed for one unfortunate fellow to have his spinal cord ripped out, but the rest of the film seemed oddly PG-13. I mean, you've gone as far as to earn an R rating, why not run with it? PREDATOR and even ALIENS, relics by some standards, contain violence that is much harder to stomach.

Another annoying deviation is the revelation that there's some sort of feud amongst the Predator race. When Fishburne's character is introduced, so is this little tidbit, which I didn't find at all necessary. The feud has little narrative value except as a bridge to something that doesn't even end up happening. The villains of this film are bigger badder Predators than we've ever seen and one 'classic' Predator takes on the reluctant ally role. The super-Predators I can accept, but relegating the original to this lame fate is almost a little sad. I was excited for this film because I thought it would be the return of the Predator as the bad guy. I don't like when they team up with humans (as they sorta did in the AVP films). This idea was just unnecessary for this film.

Speaking of unnecessary: There were too many characters taking up too much screen time. Films are capable of character development with large casts (like PREDATOR or ALIENS), but that's only because there's a certain amount of focus on the main characters with only glimpses of development offered to the supplementary roles. The personalities here are too large and always competing for attention when the Brody, Braga and Grace characters could have probably used more.

Also, I've been catching some flack about spoiling Topher Grace's true nature to people I've talked to about the film, but I didn't know it was going to be a surprise. When Robert Rodriguez first cast Grace he revealed that he was going to be a serial killer, which I thought sounded awesome. I would have preferred if the film had just gotten that out in the open at the beginning. His performance is pretty good, but it never hits its stride because he's acting like such a wimp for most of the film. Having this revelation as some sort of surprise doesn't gain anything for anyone, it only stifles the character's creative potential (it's pretty darn obvious anyway).

The ending of the film leaves a lot to be desired as well. Nothing is resolved. There's an opening for another sequel, but it would probably just be the same movie unless they went really big with it. I feel like there were numerous occasions where the writers wrote themselves into a hole and came up with clumsy conclusions. But like I said at the beginning of this review - this film isn't all bad. It's shot well, the locations are great, the effects are satisfying, many of the performances are strong despite having little to work with in terms of the script. Fishburne's role is particularly enjoyable because it deviates from what I'd normally expect in one of his typical portrayals. PREDATORS is light years ahead of either AVP film, but it just didn't live up to the billing: PREDATORS is to PREDATOR what ALIENS is to ALIEN. The ALIEN films are so close in quality when PREDATOR still stands tall over all its successors.

One last note/warning: For anyone expecting that awesome scene from the trailer where Brody gets targeted by a dozen or so shoulder cannons to actually be in the film, you're in for a disappointment (it's just one target). I know it's creative marketing and a very smart tactic, but its also a bit underhanded. I went into the film thinking that the cast would run afoul of a whole battalion of Predators. I subsequently wondered "how are they going to get out of that?", which made me more interested in the film. I can't help but think that a film where this did happen would be a lot cooler.


Trailer Time

It's trailer time again. These things tend to come in waves and today was an especially big wave. Lots of good stuff though.


It may seem very strange, but a huge selling point for me on this film is that Ben Affleck is directing. GONE BABY GONE exposed the fact that maybe he has a little more to offer behind the camera than in front of it. This time around he's doing both, but I feel like that might turn out okay. I like stories about bank robbers, especially when they're done well (see HEAT or even POINT BREAK). There seems to be a very personal/secretive element to the story that could give this film an extra boost. Affleck's character falls for a former hostage who doesn't know who he truly is - that sounds like gold in my book. Boston also seems to provide a great setting for intense narratives. Rounding out my reasons why this film might be awesome are the supporting cast in Jeremy Renner, Chris Cooper and Jon Hamm. THE TOWN gets a wide release on September 17.


First off - the use of this 'quiet' version of the song "Creep" in this trailer is perfect. There's starting to be quite a bit of buzz behind this film. Fincher is usually a very solid director and the studio is very positive about the way the film is coming together. This is a story I'm only moderately familiar with, so I'm excited to see how everything pans out. Even though his popularity has been steadily rising, I feel like this will be a really big role for Jesse Eisenberg. This one gets released on October 1.


This film divided critics at Cannes, but I'm very optimistic. Inarritu is one of the most talented directors working today, but I'd become tired of his interconnected-story narrative template. BIUTIFUL is supposed to be a straight single-story narrative and with Bardem in the driver's seat, I expect, at the very least, a great character study. A U.S. release date has not been set, but I know it's been picked up by a distributor, so look for it before the end of the year.


Ginsberg is a figure I'm only tangentially familiar with because of his connection with other subjects I've researched, so I'm hoping HOWL will be something of a learning experience. However, the film is supposed to more directly concern the titular work "Howl" and the obscenity trial that followed its release, which might be better considering the pitfalls of your standard biographical film. I'm mostly interested in this film because of Franco and his potential for giving fantastic performances. HOWL also has a September release, but I wonder how wide of a release that will be.


A fake trailer for this film was released on Cinco De Mayo and it got a lot of people's attention. This preview isn't bad either, but it's getting less press. This time around I get a slightly different sense of the film, like it's less of an exploitation film than one might imagine, but I'm probably wrong considering who's in the director's chair. I'm still looking forward to this. Go Danny Trejo. Yet another September release, MACHETE hits theaters on the 3rd.


This one got my attention by bringing to the screen one of my ultimate nightmares: being stuck in an elevator. The claustrophobia element alone is enough to have me scared, not to mention the fact some sort of evil force has a hand in it. The cast is full of nobody specials, but that can often be a blessing. The production values also look pretty slick. I guess M. Night Shyamalan had a hand in the writing process, which would usually cause me to avoid this like the plague, but at least he isn't directing and he didn't author the final screenplay either. Admittedly, this might be more of a DVD rental (especially since it comes out on the same day as THE TOWN), but the concept is interesting enough to warrant mention.


I was (and am) a big supporter of Todd Phillips' last effort THE HANGOVER, so I'm pretty excited for DUE DATE. Robert Downey Jr. playing the straight man to Zach Galifianakis seems like solid comedy. My only question/concern is how will Galifianakis' character differ from the one he played in THE HANGOVER besides him being the owner of a french bulldog? I guess if the answer to that were "not at all" I wouldn't really mind all that much, I just don't want to hear people whining about it. DUE DATE hits theaters the first weekend in November.


NOWHERE BOY was nominated for a BAFTA last year, which, albeit not a guarantee of its quality, means that it's probably pretty decent. And that's all I'm after. If this film does anything but a disservice to the memory of John Lennon, then I'll be happy. We all know how this story ends, but an examination of the legend as a young man could still yield a happy ending because it will likely conclude with the beginning of his immensely successful career. Lennon will always be mourned, but it might be a nice change of pace to celebrate his amazing life. *Yes, that's Aaron Johnson, AKA Kickass, taking on the lead role.

I've been just as negative about this year in film as anyone, but just because we don't get the blockbuster summer we all crave doesn't mean that 2010 is doomed to failure. This fall might just render it a great year for film, we'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What To Watch This Summer While TV is Dead: "Fringe"

Hot off the heels of my Emmy rant, I'd like to recommend another season of television for those lacking something to watch this summer: "Fringe". The show has already gone through two seasons, but I've only finished the first (and am anxiously awaiting the second on DVD). Without gushing too much, "Fringe" is just the greatest. I didn't know what to expect when I first turned the show on and I was completely blown away. I was a tad concerned that it would be really campy and lame, but those fears were quickly put to rest. Almost every review of the show has compared it to "The X-Files" and they're all right. This is the new "X-Files", only, in my opinion, better.

"Fringe" is for those "X-Files" fans who loved the arc-episodes. Fans will often wax-nostalgic for the "Monster of the Week" episodes of "The X-Files" like they were actually good. I wanted those disjointed tales about monsters and vampires and werewolves to be good too, but they just weren't as thrilling or expertly crafted as the ones about alien conspiracies. "Fringe" has episodes that are similar to the "Monster" episodes, but the beauty is that they all tie in to the greater conspiracy plot, which concerns super-science and alternate dimensions (which is way cooler than aliens if you ask me). Also add in the terrorist and Homeland Security angle that the show has and you have something pretty special.

The key players in "Fringe" are also a winning component. Anna Torv, who plays the lead Olivia Dunham, is actually kind of annoying because she's always sneering or squinting, but the character is interesting (the Aussie actress is a lot more charismatic out-of-character). Joshua Jackson, of "Dawson's Creek" fame, makes a quiet comeback with his performance as Peter Bishop. Something makes me think that he actually modeled his performance after George Clooney, which might not sound appealing, but it comes out well. The true star of the show is John Noble, who portrays the delusional, but brilliant scientist Walter Bishop. His performance is equal parts comical, maniacal and heartbreaking. There's a lot of levels to all the characters and I believe (and hope) that the first season is just scratching the surface.

Another enticing tidbit about the show is that it was created (and often written by) creative dynamos J.J. Abrams, Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. They often claim that the show is based off of real fringe-science, but there's obviously a very tenuous grasp with reality in many of the episodes. The science really doesn't make any sense a lot of the time, but I love the show because it's fun, not because it's factual.

C'MON Emmy's!

I guess I'm not really a television authority, but I try. I just took a gander at the recently announced Emmy Nominations and it's pretty hard to stomach. Where's the love for "Parks and Recreation"? Seriously. With the exception of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia", "Parks" is the best comedy currently on television. I know that might sound like a bold statement considering the show only just wrapped up its second season, but it's the truth dag gummit.

Despite my high praise for the show, I can understand why it might not be nominated in the Best Comedy category considering it's relatively new and just picking up steam, but I still think it deserves the nomination. "The Office" got a nomination and it's just running on fumes and nowhere near the quality of "Parks", which is probably now at the same comedic level that "The Office" was at in its prime.

What bothers me so much is the lack of appreciation for the supporting actors on the show, who really make it work. Amy Poehler garnered the show's only significant nomination with her Best Actress nod (and I'll be rooting for her), but she will likely be passed over. Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson) deserves a Best Supporting Actor nomination if anyone ever has. Swanson is easily my favorite part of the show and a large part of what made the second season so superior to the first (which wasn't bad at all). Everything from his mustache to his voice to his striding gait is pitch perfect. Rising comedian Aziz Ansari should also have been considered for his role as the obnoxious and hopeless Tom Haverford. Even Chris Pratt (Andy Dwyer) could also have made the cut. If NPH is still getting noms for playing Barney Stinson, then any of these three could have made the list. Also, in the Supporting Actress category, Aubrey Plaza might have been considered, especially if Kristen Wiig deserves one for being annoying on SNL. I have faith that some of these talented actors will get nominations in the future, especially if the show continues to improve in the third season, but still the fact that none of them were recognized is pretty annoying.

Frankly, I think the Emmy's are generally pretty lame. Certain shows become powerhouses and then stay in her good graces forevermore. Like I mentioned before, "The Office" still gets nominations despite noticeable deterioration. From everything I've heard, "Mad Men" is in a downward slump too, yet it's nomination is a formality. The same damn actors are nominated every damn year despite the fact that more exciting and talented actors are starting to arise. "Damages", which airs on FX, gets a lot of attention, but "Sunny" and "Sons of Anarchy" are ignored. Just because "Sunny" is pretty offensive, doesn't mean it's not the funniest show on television. It's not even an acquired taste for younger viewers, everybody likes it. "Sons" might not be Best Drama material, but Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal both could be recognized for their performances. I just don't get why some shows get nominated and others don't.

A few other notes: I'll be rooting for Larry David in the Best Actor category because he truly deserves it, otherwise I wouldn't mind Alec Baldwin in the least. In the Best Drama Actor category, I expect Michael C. Hall will pick up the win for "Dexter", which he's outstanding in. He won the Golden Globe for his performance earlier this year, so I see no reason why the Emmy's would disagree. I'll also be rooting for "Dexter" in the Best Drama Series category, though I suspect that something like "Breaking Bad" or "Mad Men" will win, maybe even "True Blood". "Dexter" really upped its game in the fourth season, so I think it still has a slight chance.

Also, what the hell is "Glee" and why do people like it so much? I get that it's the popular new show, but geez, isn't this aimed at teenagers? What's all the hubbub about? I can't imagine this show having a whole lot of longevity. Remember how hot "Desperate Housewives" and "Gray's Anatomy" were? I predict a similar fate for this show.

LET ME IN - No Thanks

A trailer for the American remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN was released recently. Now titled LET ME IN, the story has been uprooted from Sweden to Denver and appears to be taking on a slightly different tone. I'll post both films' trailers for comparison.

Now, I can't really judge the film completely before I see it, but I'm pretty pessimistic. I've stated many times before that I believe in the power of remakes improve or at least interestingly alter an idea. I'm not against American remakes of foreign films if America as a setting or culture brings something new to the table, but I just don't see that happening with LET ME IN. Colorado only seems like a watered-down Sweden and an obvious locale for the remake. I feel like the people who got the ball rolling on this project saw an excellent film and wanted to present it to an American audience without the horrible, box-office damaging hindrance of subtitles. (*I just want to put it out there that if you can't stand subtitles then you're probably a tool and you're only hurting yourself*).

I know I'm just going off of what the trailer had to offer, but this remake seems too rock and roll, a kind of scary thriller. The original was a somber picture with a rather touching relationship at the heart of it. Something like it probably wouldn't play well in the states, so LET ME IN has to amp the action and thrills up a bit, which is a shame because I the end result will likely be pretty lame.

I just don't think America has a whole lot to offer the vampire myth. Scandinavian culture is so much closer to the world of magic and superstition. It is something that is close to their hearts and their history. In America, the myths of our immigrant ancestors are only close to our wallets. Our vampire-legacy will be defined by the sparkly daywalkers from TWILIGHT and all their magazine covers.

I will say two positive things about the film:
1. I like the use of Morse code in the advertising. (it says "Help Me" at the end of the trailer)
2. I just heard that Michael Giacchino will be composing the score. He recently won an Oscar for his work on UP. He also did excellent work with STAR TREK and on TV's "Fringe".

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Nerd News

There wasn't a whole lot of exciting news this week, just a bunch of casting stuff and things I already knew:

Peter Jackson most likely to direct THE HOBBIT -

This is something I already knew. There have been a ton of reports about potential replacements for Guillermo del Toro since he's left the project (ranging from Sam Raimi to Brett Ratner), but nothing stuck. All along, even though he seemed reluctant, I assumed Peter Jackson would opt to step back into the director's chair. I really enjoyed the LOTR films, but I would have liked a fresh take on Middle-Earth in Del Toro, but If I can't have that, I will settle for Jackson, someone who likely won't screw it up.

The SPIDER-MAN reboot gets its Peter Parker -

It's official, Andrew Garfield will play the web-slinging superhero in the reboot of the franchise. This casting process has gone on for a while now, with a new frontrunner appearing every week. I, for one, am glad it's finally over because I guess I don't really care all that much. Garfield appeared in Gilliam's DR. PARNASSUS and will next be featured in Fincher's THE SOCIAL NETWORK. He's a bit older than some of the previous contenders, which should mean that they can't go too young with the Parker character, which is good because then they can't be planning on making the teen drama that some reports have suggested.

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS casting rumors -

Amber Heard (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, THE INFORMERS) might play a young Mystique. I'm not sure why this character would be necessary, but I guess Magneto is supposed to start building his Brotherhood in this film. I think she'd do a fine job though.

Alice Eve (SHE OUT OF MY LEAGUE) might be up for the role of Emma Frost aka The White Queen. I don't know much about the character except that she has an enormous amount of telepathic energy, is at one time a foe and then later a friend to the X-Men, and also that the character was voted one of the "Hottest Comic Book Characters" by a bunch of nerds.

Andy Serkis will play Caesar the ape in RISE OF THE APES -

I like this. I will continue to trash this movie until I inevitably see it, but each bit of casting news brings a little more light to the project. Serkis is a talented and unique actor who can also do some great CG work (see Gollum). He'll be re-teaming with WETA for this, so I expect his performance will be wonderfully captured.

The cast list for this film now includes: James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto and maybe Don Cheadle.

Timothy Olyphant might take on the role of Snake Plissken -

The remake of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK is now a certainty with Breck Eisner at the helm, so people are just going to have to get used to the idea of there being a new Snake Plissken. Timothy Olyphant, who also starred in Eisner's THE CRAZIES seems likely for the job. I like this a lot actually, certainly more than the Gerard Butler rumors from years ago.