Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meet Bane - Batman's Next Antagonist

It was announced last week that Anne Hathaway would be playing Selina Kyle (Catwoman) in the upcoming 3rd (and likely final) installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman series. Secondary to that in most reports was the announcement that already-cast Tom Hardy would be portraying Batman's foe - Bane. I was pleased to hear this, but didn't think too much on the matter until seeing Bane in an episode of "Young Justice" this weekend. It got me thinking who is Bane? and how is Nolan likely to use him?

Here's a little rundown of who Bane is:

- He's got a great backstory: Essentially, his father was a revolutionary in the fictional corrupt nation of Santa Prisca. When his father escaped persecution by the government, the 8-year-old Bane was handed the intended life sentence. So Bane lives most of his life in a prison with a bunch of horrible criminals. All the while he gets in really good shape and educates himself in a number of disciplines. He is then made a test subject for something called "venom", which endows him with even greater physical attributes, but makes him a slave to the drug.

- Some say he possesses a genius intellect and a photographic memory, so much so, in fact, that he was able to deduce Batman's true identity within one year of arriving in Gotham.

- Immediately upon arriving in Gotham, Bane breaks down walls at Arkham Asylum, allowing a whole mess of villains to escape.

- He's "The Man Who Broke The Bat". In the series "Knightfall" (in which Bane was introduced), he shows up at the Batcave and breaks Batman's back.

How can Nolan use him? Very easily.

Bane is the perfect foe for Batman at this point. Many reports were saying Riddler and after Nolan debunked those, rumors turned to Hugo Strange. The Strange news came about as a response to hearing that the next film would would be partly influenced by a graphic novel called "Prey", which features Strange as a consultant for a Gotham PD task force charged with taking down Batman.

I still think that THE DARK KNIGHT RISES will follow a similar storyline (since it follows the end of THE DARK KNIGHT so perfectly), but I'm guessing they've just substituted Bane for Strange, who is a bit less esoteric and bit riper for Nolan's more realistic approach. Since Batman is now on the run, people are going to be after him. Bane could still maintain his backstory, but take on more of a mercenary role in hunting Batman. He might even do a few things he did in "Knightfall", like break people out of Arkham to draw Batman's attention. And since this is supposed to be the end of Nolan's Batman series, it's possible that Bane just might break Batman's back (though I'd doubt it)

At times, Bane can be a pretty ridiculous character, from his cartoon characterizations to his sad appearance in BATMAN AND ROBIN. But making him more grounded is actually quite simple and only requires the removal or toning down of a few things. 1. He doesn't have to freakishly large, just noticeably bigger than Batman. 2. It's not really necessary for him to be on "venom" with tubes and stuff attached to his neck. He could very well just be on roids or something, or perhaps nothing at all. Bane could just be physically stronger than Batman. And 3. Bane actually has a pretty cool mask, but he probably doesn't need it for the film.

Another interesting aspect about Bane is that he's not insane and out of control like most of Batman's villains, namely THE DARK KNIGHT's Joker. He'll be a different kind of villain for Batman, matching wits and brawn instead of inflicting senseless chaos.

As far as casting goes, Tom Hardy pretty much fits the bill for Bane. Last seen in INCEPTION, Hardy's a talented, charismatic actor on the rise, who has already had some experience playing villains (STAR TREK: NEMESIS and BRONSON). In the latter film, he also showed off his ability to bulk up for a part, putting on 40-something pounds by doing 2500 push-ups a day. Here's a clip from the film of him getting violent.

Even though Hardy is British and Bane is typically portrayed as being Central American (or something like that), Bane's father is revealed at one point to be a villain known as the Snake King, a Brit, so it wouldn't be too far fetched for Hardy's Bane to be part-english.

Filming on THE DARK KNIGHT RISES begins in May and the film will be released in July of 2012. That means we might be seeing a teaser of some sort withing the next 8 months. I'm certainly interested to see how things turn out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Commentary

Best Motion Picture of the Year
127 Hours (2010): Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, John Smithson
Black Swan (2010): Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin
The Fighter (2010): David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray
The King's Speech (2010): Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
The Social Network (2010): Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ceán Chaffin
Toy Story 3 (2010): Darla K. Anderson
True Grit (2010): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Winter's Bone (2010): Anne Rosellini, Alix Madigan

*Schmoo's Notes: I'm always going to find something to complain about in almost any category, but I can honestly say that I'm, on the overall, satisfied with the Best Picture field of movies. These are pretty much the films I expected to be nominated. Sure, I think there were much better films than TRUE GRIT and THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (and I still haven't seen TOY STORY 3), but neither of those were bad movies. There were no joke nominees like THE BLIND SIDE this year and for that I'm glad. I'm very pleased to see WINTER'S BONE getting the respect it deserves as it was truly a phenomenal film.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem for Biutiful (2010)
Jeff Bridges for True Grit (2010)
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)
Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010)
James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)

Schmoo's notes: Having not seen BLUE VALENTINE, I can't say for certain that Ryan Gosling got snubbed (though I will likely see it this weekend), but all reviews indicate that he should have gotten a nomination. The Oscar people are obviously very high on the Coens and TRUE GRIT for it to have received so many nominations, but I still feel like Bridges was phoning in his Rooster Cogburn and shouldn't even come near Best Actor this year. Very pleased with the other noms though.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone (2010)
Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)

Schmoo's notes: Not bad. This was actually a pretty tough category to fill this year, but it looks like they did alright.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone (2010)
Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech (2010)

Schmoo's notes: A very competitive category this year. All these are good choices. Though Bale will undoubtedly win (and rightly so), I'm so glad to see Hawkes recognized for his amazing performance as Teardrop in WINTER'S BONE. Other great supporting actors this year: Ben Mendelson (ANIMAL KINGDOM), Armie Hammer/Andrew Garfield (THE SOCIAL NETWORK), Vincent Cassel (BLACK SWAN), Barry Pepper (TRUE GRIT) and Rhys Ifans (GREENBERG).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010)
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech (2010)
Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (2010)
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)

Schmoo's notes: Another competitive category. All are good choices, though I feel Steinfeld's impression of Kim Darby really should not have made the cut. Personally, I would have included Mila Kunis (Black Swan) over her. Very pleased to see Weaver come through and grab ANIMAL KINGDOM's (sadly) only nomination.

Best Achievement in Directing
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit (2010)
David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)
Tom Hooper for The King's Speech (2010)
David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)

Schmoo's notes: The Coens are getting a gimme here based on universal adoration of them in the film community, even though TRUE GRIT is their weakest in years. O. Russell did a good job with THE FIGHTER, but I think others were more deserving, including Debra Granik (WINTER'S BONE)and newcomer David Michod (ANIMAL KINGDOM). Nolan's Best Director nomination still eludes him, better luck next time.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Another Year (2010): Mike Leigh
The Fighter (2010): Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech (2010): David Seidler

Schmoo's notes: How does BLACK SWAN not make this category? There are all pretty "meh" nominations here. ANIMAL KINGDOM was beautifully written and belongs here as well. ANOTHER YEAR gets a nom likley over Academy guilt about not nominating elsewhere (not meant as a dig at ANOTHER YEAR, just a likely scenario)

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 (2010): Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
True Grit (2010): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone (2010): Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

Schmoo's notes: This seems about right.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
The Illusionist (2010): Sylvain Chomet
Toy Story 3 (2010): Lee Unkrich

Schmoo's notes: This category is a joke. Lots of people are calling for it to be cut. TOY STORY 3 made the Best Picture category, is there any doubt that it won't win here. Same thing happened with UP last year. Also, I know that this year wasn't as great for animation as last year, but you could still fill out the category if you're going to insist on including it. I didn't see TANGLED, but it got good reviews and even appeared on Tarantino's Top-Ten of 2010 list, why not give them a nod?

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Biutiful (2010): Alejandro González Iñárritu(Mexico)
Dogtooth (2009): Giorgos Lanthimos(Greece)
In a Better World (2010): Susanne Bier(Denmark)
Incendies (2010): Denis Villeneuve(Canada)
Outside the Law (2010): Rachid Bouchareb(Algeria)

Schmoo's notes: Actually haven't seen a single one of these, though I'll catch DOGTOOTH on Instant Queue shortly and Biutiful in theaters next month. I wish these films were made more available before Oscar night.

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Black Swan (2010): Matthew Libatique
Inception (2010): Wally Pfister
The King's Speech (2010): Danny Cohen
The Social Network (2010): Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit (2010): Roger Deakins

Schmoo's notes: This is fine. Cinematography was one of the things TRUE GRIT did have going for it, though I think WINTER'S BONE is more deserving.

Best Achievement in Editing
127 Hours (2010): Jon Harris
Black Swan (2010): Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter (2010): Pamela Martin
The King's Speech (2010): Tariq Anwar
The Social Network (2010): Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall

Schmoo's notes: THE KING'S SPEECH, really? The film was fantastic, but I can't say I was blown away by the editing. INCEPTION, HARRY POTTER 7, HOWL and even THE TOWN were better choices. The rest are pretty good.

Best Achievement in Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Stuart Craig
Inception (2010): Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat
The King's Speech (2010): Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
True Grit (2010): Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

Schmoo's notes: Even though I hated ALICE IN WONDERLAND, I get its inclusion here.

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Colleen Atwood
I Am Love (2009): Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech (2010): Jenny Beavan
The Tempest (2010/II): Sandy Powell
True Grit (2010): Mary Zophres

Schmoo's notes: Fine. WOLFMAN and HARRY POTTER could have been involved though.

Best Achievement in Makeup
Barney's Version (2010): Adrien Morot
The Way Back (2010): Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman (2010): Rick Baker, Dave Elsey

Schmoo's notes: Baker likely to take home award here, which is nice. Still, this is another category that they should just fill out. Did no other films use makeup in 2010? What about BLACK SWAN? What about SPLICE?

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): John Powell
Inception (2010): Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech (2010): Alexandre Desplat
The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Schmoo's notes: Good choices, I suppose, though some of the best scores were disqualified for one reason or another. I still think Clint Mansell' s BLACK SWAN score was enough his own to merit a nomination, so was Carter Burwell's TRUE GRIT soundtrack. Also, how does TRON LEGACY not make the cut? That was probably one of the best/most popular scores in years.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman, Rollo Armstrong, Dido("If I Rise")
Country Strong (2010): Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges("Coming Home")
Tangled (2010): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater("I See the Light")
Toy Story 3 (2010): Randy Newman("We Belong Together")

Schmoo's notes: Can't say as though I remember any of these. Randy Newman singin' about what he sees will probably win.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Inception (2010): Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
The King's Speech (2010): Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley
Salt (2010): Jeffrey J. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell
The Social Network (2010): Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland

Schmoo's notes: It's when we get down to these more technical awards that we start to see what a farce some of the Academy's nominations can be. Last year, THE HURT LOCKER cleaned house, winning a ton of awards that it really had no right winning, simply on the merit of being the year's hot movie. Admittedly, I don't pay THAT much attention to "sound mixing", but I can tell you that I found nothing particularly remarkable about THE SOCIAL NETWORK or THE KING SPEECH's sound. Just because they are the two top prospects this year for best Pic, doesn't mean they automatically deserve these spots. More appropriate choices might be: SCOTT PILGRIM, HARRY POTTER 7, THE FIGHTER, IRON MAN 2, TRON LEGACY or even BLACK SWAN.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Inception (2010): Richard King
Toy Story 3 (2010): Tom Myers, Michael Silvers
TRON: Legacy (2010): Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Addison Teague
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey
Unstoppable (2010): Mark P. Stoeckinger

Schmoo's notes: This is a more appropriate field of films for this type of category than the previous category.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Tim Burke, John Richardson
Hereafter (2010): Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, Joe Farrell
Inception (2010): Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin
Iron Man 2 (2010): Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick

Schmoo's notes: This might be the most ridiculous category of all this year. How does TRON LEGACY not make this list? It had some of the most advanced, stunning effects ever on film. HEREAFTER makes the cut though? I didn't see the film, but what for? Some tsunami/flood effects? ALICE IN WONDERLAND should be cut as well. I didn't see it in 3D, so maybe I'm missing something, but the effects in it looked cheap, especially the rabbit hole sequences. TRON, SCOTT PILGRIM, WOLFMAN and SPLICE are all better choices.

Best Documentary, Features
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): Banksy, Jaimie D'Cruz
GasLand (2010): Josh Fox, Trish Adlesic
Inside Job (2010): Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs
Restrepo (2010): Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Waste Land (2010): Lucy Walker, Angus Aynsley

Schmoo's notes: Haven't seen a lot of these, but EXIT and RESTREPO were good, especially EXIT.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


David O. Russell's THE FIGHTER covers the turbulent career of "Irish" Micky Ward and the tribulations of his half-brother and trainer, Dick Ecklund. Boxing, as a sport, is ripe for dramatic adaptations. It's bloody, brutal and most who make it to the professional level have dedicated their whole lives to it. Glory in the ring can be the highest of highs, but the lows can be a deep, depressing valley due to the pressure on the individual. The end result often enough has a lot more to do with realized potential and opportunities than it does a win-loss record. This film does a good job of displaying this inherent drama with the highs more prominently featured in Wahlberg's Ward and the lows in Bale's Ecklund.

As far as tone, THE FIGHTER falls somewhere between ROCKY and RAGING BULL, but manages to stake out some territory of its own and stake claim to a spot amongst the better sports dramas of our time. The film is as dramatic as you'd expect a boxing film to be, but it isn't the solitary journey either of those films present. We have the realization of potential against the odds rising from rock-bottom like the original ROCKY. There's also the fall from grace/squandering talent angle that you see in RAGING BULL. The former is the story of Micky and the latter is Dickie, but their tales are less epic, less fabled approaches. What O. Russell is able to infuse into these stories is a bit of the strangeness and comedy you're likely to find in daily life.

The supporting characters, including Ward's management and family (which is often one in the same), have big accents, big hair and big attitudes that may very well be an accurate depiction of the people of Lowell, Mass. One of his sisters, Beaver Ward, is even played by Conan O'Brien's sister, Kate. It's sort of a fun game trying to peg which one she is immediately, but you'll know her when you see her. Dickie's story of drug abuse and criminal activity often interchanges comedy with drama because he's just so squirrely and pathetic. On more than one occasion, Bale is shown jumping from the window of a crackhouse and into a pile of trash to elude his Mother, which is done in a light-hearted fashion. When she does catch him, however, there follows one of the most disturbing and well-done scenes of the year in which Bale breaks into the BeeGees' "I Started a Joke" (which might just be one of the saddest songs ever).

Wahlberg's ward is atypical as well. His scenes in the film often enough fall under the category of boxing-movie cliches. There are training and fight montages and scenes the fighter being down on his luck, but it's never terribly stilted. His attitude and scenes are more rock and roll than inspirational. In place of Rocky's "Gonna Fly Now" is Whitesnake and Aerosmith. This makes the film more fun and prevents it from becoming dull when the action treads the line of hackneyed.

The fight scenes themselves are, as I alluded to above, adrenaline-fueled. In their presentation and execution, they are very much like real boxing exhibitions. The technique appears sound and the blows look hard. The true accounts don't require a lot of embellishment because Micky's actual fights are pretty spectacular. In the end, the championship fight is where Micky and Dickie's paths to redemption come to a head. Ecklund, no longer living in the past, is in his brother's corner and using his voice inserts himself into the fight. With Ward's victory comes absolution for both.

The performances in the film were all pretty solid. Melissa Leo gives a hell of a turn as Ward's delusional mother and manager while Wahlberg and Amy Adams (playing Micky's girlfriend) efforts are commendable. However, the entire cast is blown away by Christian Bale's performance (for which he just won a Golden Globe). A few years ago, Bale was on his way to cementing himself as, perhaps, the greatest actor of his generation. But a nasty viral audio file and a couple critical flops lowered his stock a little. With THE FIGHTER, he again makes a case for the above title. Everything about his performance comes across as method. If you told me that he never broke character during production, I'd have to believe you. He doesn't appear to be acting; all traces of Christian Bale the performer are gone. He transformed himself for this performance and his presence in this film alone ensures it a spot amongst the year's best.


Monday, January 17, 2011

25 Most Anticipated Films of 2011 Pt. 3

21. HUGO CABRET - Martin Scorsese - 12/9/11

The Hubbub: It's a family-friendly, holiday season movie directed by Martin Scorsese, which is peculiar, but interesting.

Word of Caution: Small chance, but SHUTTER ISLAND could be the beginning of declining quality in Scorsese's films.

22. SHERLOCK HOLMES 2 (not official title) - Guy Ritchie - 12/16/11

The Hubbub: The first film was pretty darn fun, but all indications point to the sequel surpassing it. SHERLOCK HOLMES was merely a lead in to this film, where the titular detective will go head-to-head with his greatest and most formidable nemesis, Dr. Moriarty, to be played by the excellent Jared Harris (of "Mad Men" and "Fringe" fame).

Word of Caution: The introduction of new characters including Sherlock's brother, and a gypsy sharpshooter named Sim could throw off the Holmes/Watson dynamic that Law/Downey Jr. cultivated. Also, Sim is being played by Noomi Rapace, who is decent enough, but is currently being vastly over-hyped.

23. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO - David Fincher - 12/21/11

The Hubbub: Fincher is a shoe-in to win Best Director and Best Picture at the Oscar's this year and DRAGON TATTOO will be his follow-up to that. The film also returns to familiar themes that Fincher has explored successfully in ZODIAC and SEVEN.

Word of Caution: Scandinavia isn't the United States. Just because a film was a phenom over there doesn't mean it will do the same kind of business over here. The original film, starring the above-mentioned Rapace, contains some glaring flaws that are often ignored by critics. Let's just hope Fincher can make the improvements where they're needed. Frankly, if it weren't for his involvement, this film would have never made the list.


The Hubbub: Will feature some top-notch animation and a talented cast. Also, directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Moffat ("Doctor Who") and Edgar Wright (SHAUN OF THE DEAD).

Word of Caution: Isn't Tintin a French cartoon? Sure, I like it, but will it be accessible to a mass audience?

25. A DANGEROUS METHOD - David Cronenberg - TBA

The Hubbub: Cronenberg has been on a role lately with A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and EASTERN PROMISES. This film about the intense relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung features Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender respectively, as well as Vincent Cassel and Keira Knightley.

Word of Caution: Don't really have one. I guess Cronenberg's short run of mainstream success could come to an end, but I doubt it.

Winter is Coming...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Golden Globe Predictions

I will preface this by saying that these are merely my predictions for who will take each category tonight. These are not endorsements for any film, show or individual, nor are they indications of who I think "should" win in any category. For that, you'll have to wait until March and the 2nd annual Golden Schmoos.

Best Picture Drama:

Best Picture Musical or Comedy:

Best Actor Drama:
Colin Firth (80%)

Best Actress Drama:
Natalie Portman (80%)

Best Actor Music or Comedy:
Paul Giamatti (50%)

Best Actress Music or Comedy:
Annette Bening (70%)

Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale (95%)

Best Supporting Actress:
Melissa Leo (65%)

David Fincher (80%)

Best Screenplay:

Best Song:
Diane Warren - You Haven't Seen the Last of Me (30%)

Best Original Score:

Best Animated Feature:

Best Foreign Film:

Best Television Series Drama:
"Boardwalk Empire" (90%)

Best Series Comedy:
"Modern Family" (50%)

Best Mini-Series:
"Carlos" (60%)

Best Actor Mini-Series:
Al Pacino (80%)

Best Actress Mini-Series:
Claire Danes (90%)

Best Actor Television Comedy:
Jim Parsons (50%)

Best Actress Television Comedy:
Laura Linney (70%)

Best Actor Television Drama:
Steve Buscemi (90%)

Best Actress Television Drama:
Julianna Margulies (30%)

Best Supporting Actor Television:
Chris Colfer (30%)

Best Supporting Actress Television:
Kelly Macdonald (50%)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

25 Most Anticipated Films of 2011 Pt. 2

11. SUPER 8 - June 10 - J.J. Abrams

The Hubbub: This film had an attention-grabbing teaser before it even went into production. With JJ Abrams at the helm, Spielberg producing and the promise of an old-school monster-movie feel a la JAWS, SUPER 8 might just steal Summer.

Word of Caution: Though I don't really mind, the film's cast lacks the star power of your standard high-profile summer fare.

12. GREEN LANTERN - June 17 - Martin Campbell

The Hubbub: ...It's a live-action Green Lantern movie and the beginning of what could be a string of DC Superhero films.

Word of Caution: To me, the current state of the CGI (as shown in the trailer) is lower than one should expect out of such CG-dependent film.

13. Harry Potter 7 pt 2 - July 15 - David Yates

The Hubbub: As of now, this is the final Harry Potter movie ever, which is a big deal for the industry and especially Warner Brothers. It's also the second half of THE DEATHLY HALLOWS installment, the first of which was maybe the best film in the series.

Word of Caution: These films are fairly hot-and-cold. There's still a high likelihood that this one will fall flat, especially considering the book on which it's based did just that.


*First trailer may debut during Super-Bowl

The Hubbub: Captain America is one of the most popular super-heroes ever and there's never been a good movie made about him. CAPTAIN AMERICA will also be a lead-in for next year's AVENGERS.

Word of Caution: The director is Joe Johnston...whose last three films were JURASSIC PARK 3, HILDALGO and THE WOLFMAN.

15. COWBOYS AND ALIENS - July 29 - Jon Favreau

The Hubbub: Favreau's first non-IRON MAN film since 2005. The movie also boasts an impressive cast including Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine and Olivia Wilde and was written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Damon Lindelof of STAR TREK, "Fringe" and "Lost" fame.

Word of Caution: May be biting off more than it can properly chew.

16. DRIVE - September 16 - Nicolas Winding Refn

The Hubbub: Exciting cast, including Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston, and Albert Brooks. Also Refn's first Hollywood release (I think).

Word of Caution: I don't know, Refn is pretty weird sometimes, I guess.

17. MONEYBALL - September 23 - Bennett Miller

The Hubbub: Based on the non-fiction book by Michael Lewis about when the Oakland A's general manager utilized a computer-analysis system to draft their players. Starring Brad Pitt and helmed by Bennett Miller (CAPOTE).

Word of Caution: It's still a movie about baseball.

18. TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY - September - Tomas Alfredson

The Hubbub: Based on the popular John le Carre novel. Yet another impressive ensemble featuring Mark Strong, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy. Also Alfredson's follow-up to LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.

Word of Caution: English language debuts don't always go so well (see: THE TOURIST).

19. THE THING - October 14 - Matthijs van Heijningen Jr

The Hubbub: Kind of interesting in that it's not exactly a remake and more of a prequel. Ron Moore (of "Battlestar" fame) also has a writing credit on the film.

Word of Caution: Since it's a prequel, it has the potential to ret-con the original film and therefore cheapen it.

20. THE MUPPETS - November 23 - James Bobin

The Hubbub: They're not quite mops and they're not quite puppets, but everyone loves them. Starting to fill out with quite an impressive cast including Zach Galifianakis as Hobo Joe and Chris Cooper as Tex Richman (who I can only assume will be the villain). Can you imagine a showdown between him and the curmudgeonly eagle?

Word of Caution: With the ever-expanding cast inevitably will come numerous annoying actors.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

25 Most Anticipated Films of 2011 Pt. 1

2010's crop of films really didn't blow me away. Sure, there were some gems, but there was a lack of the kind of blockbusters I look forward to all year long. 2008 had THE DARK KNIGHT, 2009 had STAR TREK, I guess 2010 had INCEPTION, which was great for sure, but not the same.

This list likely won't include a lot of next year's award winners as those don't usually pass under my radar until the year's major festivals commence. This list will likely include a few crummy films (2010's featured THE WOLFMAN), but they're movies I'm jazzed about at the moment. Currently, 2011 is poised to be a pretty big year.

1. DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK - February - Troy Nixey

The Hubbub (+): Guillermo del Toro worked on the screenplay and produced the film. This is similar to his involvement in THE ORPHANAGE a few years back and that worked out pretty well.

Word of Caution (-): This is a horror-remake being released in February, which isn't typically a good sign. However, it worked for THE CRAZIES.

Official Website

2. BATTLE: LOS ANGELES - March 11 - Jonathan Liebesman

Hubbub: Some slick trailers show this film's promise. It's probably not going to be worse than SKYLINE at least.

Word of Caution: Liebesman isn't exactly a proven director with titles like DARKNESS FALLS and the TEXAS CHAINSAW prequel under his belt.

3. Red State - March - Kevin Smith

Hubbub: This film looks radically different than anything Smith has ever attempted. The subject matter seems interesting and the trailer catches your attention.

Word of Caution: This film will follow ZACH AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO and COP OUT in Smith's filmography and instead of giving his career a shot in the arm, might turn out to be a nail in the coffin.

4. SOURCE CODE - April 1 - Duncan Jones

The Hubbub: This is the follow-up to the Jones' critically-acclaimed debut feature, MOON. It's also an opening night feature at this year's SXSW.

Word of Caution: There has been some whispers about the film's quality not being that high. Its less-than-ideal wide-release date doesn't do a lot to negate that claim. The film also stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who is likable and talented enough, but hasn't been able to attach himself to a successful project since 2007's ZODIAC.

5. YOUR HIGHNESS - April 8 - David Gordon Green

The Hubbub: Talented cast including James Franco, Danny McBride and Natalie Portman. Lofty promises of high-adventure film from all involved.

Word of Caution: Trailers have been okay, but seem to forecast a long string of low-brow gags.

6. Hanna - April 8 - Joe Wright

The Hubbub: Rad trailer.

Word of Caution: The child-super-assassin angle could go wrong in so many ways.

7. PIRATES 4: ON STRANGER TIDES - May 20 - Rob Marshall

The Hubbub: A new director, a slew of new talent and more room in the limelight for Johnny Depp now that he's the sole focus of the film.

Word of Caution: Fresh start or no, a series this far in might have already lost steam a film or two ago.

Official Site

8. THE HANGOVER 2 - May 26 - Todd Phillips

The Hubbub: Lots of buzz already stemming from cameos, plot details,and shooting locations. The follow-up to one of the most successful comedies in recent memory.

Word of Caution: It might be hard to replicate the circumstances that made the first film as good as it was in any natural-seeming way.

9. THE TREE OF LIFE - May 27 - Terrence Malick

The Hubbub: Details are scarce, but it's Malick and that's enough. Getting a Cannes premiere.

Word of Caution: None.

10. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS - June 3 - Matthew Vaughn

The Hubbub: The idea of a 60's-set superhero pic is pretty darn interesting. This film also marks the return of Bryan Singer to the series (Director of X-MEN and X2) as producer and writer.

Word of Caution: Could just as easily follow the trend of decreasing quality in the films of the X-Men Franchise.

To be continued shortly...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Follow Me

Hello, reader. If you frequent my blog and enjoy what you see, why not become an official follower of "Schmoo at the Movies". I keep hearing that people are reading my reviews and whatnot, which is awesome, but I always feel like I'm just rambling to myself when I'm writing.

There's a link to become a follower in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. I don't think it's a very difficult or time consuming process; you can follow through Twitter, Google, Yahoo and other outlets. If it is a pain in the ass, then don't worry about it, but I can't imagine it being.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who checks out the site and I hope you keep reading.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011


THE KING'S SPEECH received a lot of early buzz for Colin Firth's performance as King George VI, but it's been gaining a lot more momentum lately as a possible Best Picture contender. Both are absolutely valid. In his latest effort, Tom Hooper has created something that is at once beautifully acted, cleverly written and stunningly filmed. THE KING'S SPEECH is at the top of the heap in what is gearing up to be a fairly competitive awards season.

My pick for 2009's Best Performance was Colin Firth for his work in A SINGLE MAN. He fell short to Jeff Bridges at all the major awards ceremonies, but he was widely considered first-runner up. That, coupled with the fact that his turn as the stutter-inflicted royal is almost as good as that performance, makes him a pretty good bet for this year's top accolades. Firth's take on King George's stutter is solid and frustrating to behold; he is soft-spoken, yet strong and at times quite fierce. An talented ensemble cast accompanies Firth including Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall and the always-excellent Geoffrey Rush.

Hooper paints an atmospheric picture of the years preceding WWII and instead of relying on straight-forward filmmaking for this rather straight-forward story, he implements fog-filled locations and unconventional angles and shots to create something that is visually rich. Never once does the film feel dull or slow as a movie about speech therapy might. Hooper helps us see the bigger picture. King George doesn't need to overcome his speech impediment simply for the sake of self-improvement and increased confidence; in the age of radio with news reels on the rise, his presence as Britain's figurehead is important to the course of history. Firth's final speech (of the title) is chill inducing as it must have been for those listening on as the words were originally spoken.



The end of the year has truly bombarded avid filmgoers with a bevy of Oscar-caliber films. This has come as quite a treat considering the first 75% of the year wasn't exactly worth writing home about. I had almost forgotten that I'd dubbed 2010 as the year of disappointments; that is, until I saw TRUE GRIT.

Being a huge fan of the 1969 film, the Coens, Jeff Bridges and composer Carter Burwell, I expected this film to be a slam dunk. In hindsight, I know my initial expectations were flawed. There was never any substitute for Wayne's Rooster Cogburn, not even someone as talented as Bridges. And without a good Rooster, the film doesn't have a solid foundation. A loophole around this would have been for the Coens to make something distinct from the original film in which comparisons to The Duke might not have been so relevant, but the end product of this remake was just that. No one can call this a reimagining, it's a straight, almost scene-for-scene remake of the Henry Hathaway original. Reports preceding the film and its present defenders claim that the Coens drew more inspiration from the Portis novel than the preceding film, but I don't buy that. The film offers us little new in the way of interpretation or content.

As I alluded to before, remaking TRUE GRIT in such a manner would not have been a problem if it weren't for Bridges performance. His version of the character is the only thing that differs greatly from the original. Bridges' Cogburn is mumbling and soft; his approachability and crazy-grandpa appeal kills a lot of the film's drama and stifles the full potential of his and Maddie's relationship. Hailee Steinfeld mimics the inflection of Kim Darby very closely, Matt Damon shows shades of Glen Campbell's smug confidence and Barry Pepper eerily recalls the work of a young Robert Duvall; Bridges is the only thing that's off.

I'm not saying the film is all bad or anything even close to that. TRUE GRIT is okay. There are some stunning visuals and some very good performances, even Josh Brolin puts on a good showing in his limited screen time. Burwell's score is impressive and unfortunately has been dropped from Oscar contention due to being derived from 19th century hymns and therefore deemed insufficiently original. It's just that so much about what makes TRUE GRIT True Grit is John Wayne. That film is so much about the hard persona he cultivated in his illustrious career. His tenderness and vulnerability as Rooster Cogburn is made that much more potent when considering the type of man Wayne was and the characters he often portrayed. His frantic ride to save Maddie Ross holds so much more weight and power than does Bridges'. Portis wrote a classic novel, I appreciate that, but it never would have been adapted in 2010 if it weren't for John Wayne putting on an acting clinic in the original film.

So, in summation: TRUE GRIT is too close to the original to have a vastly different Cogburn. Such a thing might have worked if this film had strayed further from its predecessor, but that's not the road the Coens took.

B- (Not a bad grade despite my rant above, but certainly worse than I had hoped for)

RIP Pete Postlethwaite

Yesterday, the entertainment world lost a considerable talent in Pete Postlethwaite. The British-born actor received an Oscar nomination in 1994 for his portrayal of Giuseppe Conlon in THE NAME OF THE FATHER and went on to work with some of the biggest directors in Hollywood. He did two movies with Steven Spielberg, who reportedly called Postlethwaite "the best actor in the world". I'd have to concur that he's certainly up there.

I didn't even know he was sick. He's never been the most healthy looking of actors, so this news came as a very unpleasant surprise. Postlethwaite has been cropping up in all sorts of things this year including CLASH OF THE TITANS for which his "someone's going to have to take a stand speech" was prominently featured in the trailers and ended up being one of the film's only redeeming qualities. He also appeared in Christopher Nolan's INCEPTION as Cillian Murphey's ailing father and in THE TOWN as an ultra-intimidating gangster/florist.

Though maybe not the most respectable title on his filmography, I will always remember my introduction to the actor through his performance in THE LOST WORLD as big-game hunter Roland Tembo. As a child and huge fan of JURASSIC PARK, I was somewhat let down by the follow-up, but I was very much so drawn to the intense and interesting character Postlethwaite had cultivated.

The actor's final performance will be as Karl in the upcoming Nick Hamm film KILLING BONO, set to be released some time this year. It's sad to imagine how many great performances were still ahead of Postlethwaite; his loss was entirely too soon.