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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

YOUTube Pick of the Week: 2008 a Year in Review

Hey all,

Since it is the New Year, I would like to present Jibjab.com's newest animation - "2008 - A Year in Review"




Personally I prefer their video for 2007. Check out all the videos on JibJab.com


HAPPY NEW YEAR and SEE YOU IN 2009!

Review: BEDTIME STORIES



This movie easily places in my top 5 favorite Adam Sandler movies. Adam plays a nicer (less jerky of a guy than usual) guy, the rating helps keep the cursing down from more recent comedies, and the plot - though very predictable - is super delightful.

Basically Sandler is a guy named Skeeter who has lived in a hotel his whole life with his dad and sister. The hotel gets bought by a rich mogul and Skeeter is promised a position of power in the hotel one day. Unfortunately, he serves his entire life as the janitor of the hotel. The hotel changes hands to new management and this is when the story truly begins. Skeeter is places in charge of telling stories to his niece and nephew. He tells stories, and whatever the kids contribute to the story happens for real to Skeeter in the following day. So he gets his chance to become the new hotel manager, and uses the new storytime opportunity to weasel life enhancing story arcs from the little kids so his life can be better.

Everyone in the movie is great. Guy Pierce makes a great, more-or-less believable villain (teamed with Lucy Lawless), and Keri Russell is a good foil for a love interest. The story is cute and the bedtime stories that Sandler tells are full of good ol'e clean yet Sandler-esque humor. Russell Brand was a great surprise in the film (He's not in even one trailer), he's basically Skeeters friend that sleeps over and watches the kids every night, providing a very wavy opinion at every choice made in the story, in a hilarious way.

The film does a great job of lampooning the degree that schools and parents watch over what their kids eat nowadays, with Rice Crackers and Wheat Germ being all the kids have, and when it comes down to it, when the kids in the movie eat sugar, nothing bad happens, showing that sometimes people just need to lighten up and have a good time once in a while, knowing that little harm is going to come of a light unhealthy experience.

The only thing I did not like about the movie was the inclusion of an obnoxious CGI Guinea Pig named Bugsy (Cause he has HUGE eyes). He is there for a constantly absurd call back gag, and I have no idea why the kids insist on taking him everywhere they go. Other than that, the movie is well worth the trip to go see.
3 stars

Monday, December 29, 2008

Shane Ackers 9 -Original Short

Hello all,

Since the new movie 9 (scroll down for a couple of days to find the trailer) is based on a short, I have decided to post the original short for all to see, so everyone can better understand this movie trailer that blew my mind when Wilder posted it a few days ago.

So - without further ado - the original short by Shane Acker (God the sound design is incredible) 9:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Review: THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON


I wanted to write this review backwards, but I tried it and it looked terrible. Oh well.

Maybe I'm just a geek, or maybe I saw Back to the Future at too young of an age, but any movie that plays with the laws of time and space is ok in my book.

What Kind of Year Has it Been: Dan's Top 5 of 2008

Now, normally an end of year top 10 list would be in order, but honestly, a trip to the cinema these days seems less and less enticing.  Fond memories of seeing The Fellowship of the Ring for the first time, or sneaking into Kill Bill Part 1, or further back the re-release of the Star Wars Trilogy in theaters seem distant now.  Many films aim to do nothing but make enough barely amusing ads (in the case of a comedy) or stupidly grand ones (in the case of action) to get the butts in the seats, then distract you for two or so hours.  You leave the theater the same as you came in.  Time to get on with your night.

The following is a list of the few films I sought out to see this year, and each one of them leaves an impression that lasts for days, the mark of any great art, whether it be prose or paintings or the moving picture.  Here they are.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

9

Hello all, and merry Christmas.

I have just one little blurb for you today. I just saw the trailer for Shane Acker's new animated film, 9, and I nearly wet myself.

Maybe it's just me, but this looks like one of the most beautiful, original, and epic animated films in quite some time.

Check it out.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from The Movie Watch

Alongside the Christmas tree, Nativity Sets, Wreaths and Cookies, nothing defines the Christmas season more than the movies that are traditionally aired year after year on Television. Each year, November has at least a two or three Christmas movies with some being forgettable comedies like Surviving Christmas and others being future classics like Elf. With Christmas Eve being tonight and Christmas day following soon after (not to mention being a few days into Hanukkah for our Jewish readers) and slow news from the world of Hollywood there's no better time to list Chris Cookson's top ten Christmas flicks.

YouTube Pick of the Week

The good people at Picnicface have the pick this week.

The thing about Picnicface's sketch comedy that always puts a smile on my face is their subtleties. The way they correspond with each other and seemingly improv their lines is really great.

Without further ado, 'Fanmail From the Future'!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: MILK


My name is Mark Donica and I want to recruit you.

I want to recruit you to see this film. As a Californian, this movie hits close to home. As a human being, this movie will pull at your heartstrings.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Review: THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX



I have not seen an animated film like this in a long time.

Watching Despereaux is like watching an old fairy tale animated movie classic. There is a hero that is not yet a hero who goes on a quest becoming the hero he was always meant to be along the way. While this story has been told in almost every animated movie, Despereaux is different. They don't go for the jokes, pop culture gags, and fart humor. They tell a story and if a joke happens to come out of it then all the better. Finally, this gives an animated movie a full story, one we haven't heard or seen in a while.

Despereaux is the tale of a mouse with large ears who isn't afraid of anything. He lives in the Kingdom of Dor, which has always loved Soup and Rats (?). One day though, a rat ruined the soup, causing the death of the queen - and leading to both being banned from the kingdom. Years later (apparently - cause nobody ever seems to age) tiny Despereaux is set with the task of bringing all of these things back with the intent of being accepted into his community in the process.

This is not done with out flaws.

You never catch the name of any character besides Despereaux, there are a few too many plots happening at the same time, and the ending just seems to happen coincidentally - not for any real reason or chain of events. It just wraps up to nicely. Also there is a terribly overbearing Narrator - voiced by Sigourney Weaver, who chimes in literally every five minutes with a new moral to say - but then taking it back later so the next moral will make sense. It gets annoying fast.

However, the art is astounding. The backgrounds are some of the highest quality I have ever seen, and while the character animation and models are nothing special, they do have a certain charming aesthetic to them. Especially the rats, the leader of which looks so much like Anton Ego from Ratatouille, it is absurd.

Overall I enjoyed the movie a lot, but it could have been better. It certainly is a film that the whole family can enjoy though, and hopefully other studios take a tip from the key points of what made Despereaux good, and don't just gawk about what is missing.
2 stars

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Review: VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA


Vicky Christina Barcelona is a movie that could only be set in Barcelona. And although it does not capture the physicality of the city, by giving us deep focus placement shots of Paseo de La Gracia, La Sagrada Familia or Parque Guell, it does capture the psyche behind the city. Do not let this misguide you the famous places are there, but Woody Allen weaves them into his story in such a way that they all happen naturally rather than being forced as must-see locations. It is not uncommon for Woody Allen to set his films in European cities, and here he demonstrates knowledge and insight about the culture that has allowed him to survive in the market. Mind that two of the main characters, Vicky and Christina, are actually Americans visiting Barcelona and we see most of the events through their eyes. It is not the true Barcelona but the fantasy Barcelona in which we fantasize about having an adventure in.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Can America Understand Japanese Source Material?



There is no denying that Japan has had many exports from our childhood and the childhood of others being recreated onto the big screen for another shot at glory. The last example of this was Speed Racer and an upcoming example is the live action adventure, Dragonball Evolution.

These aren't the only things coming as Astro Boy and Gatchaman are also slated for release, among other rumored projects. One of the biggest concerns after the release of Speed Racer and the release of the trailer for Dragonball Evolution is that the American filmmakers are trying to hard to make something magic and mystical as real with digital effects. Needless to say, the Dragonball series is loosely based on the Chinese Story of Journey to the West and changes it up by adding aliens and fireballs.

My point is that I hope American directors don't take the great stories that the Japanese have made that are major building blocks of our childhood and adapt them into the "American Style". The great thing about these stories is how off the wall and original they are. By removing the style in which they are regularly presented, it becomes hokey and average. In the new Dragonball movie, they have removed the anthropomorphic animals to create a sense of realism. If you have an alien that comes from another planet to collect seven magical balls that grant any wish you want and the only way to fight him is by learning how to throw a stronger fireball, I think the idea of realism isn't that much of an issue anymore.
With Astro Boy, it is being animated by Imagi Animation Studios, who did the great TMNT, and thusly keeping it's overall visual style. The movie looks stunning and a teaser was being played with the earlier release of Bolt. The cast is rather stellar and is being led by Freddie Highmore, who is well known for his roles in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland, as Astro as well as Bill Nighy, Kristen Bell, Donald Sutherland, Nathan Lane, Scarlett Johanssen and many more. There haven't been any confirmations of who they are playing, but needless to say, Imagi is treating this fantastic future story with the respect it deserves.

As for Dragonball Evolution, it doesn't look too bad. I'm a big enough fan that I would love to give it a chance. I think you should too, but be open, as it's not going to fulfill any fans wildest desires. Let us look to the future of anime based films and hope that they are CGI or even hand drawn. In Japan, popular anime series' get feature films on a yearly basis. Thanks to the acceptance of anime in our society, those films are slowly being released in our theatres.

The future looks a little bright, let's hope that we're all just wearing sunglasses.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: YES MAN


Since I was about six years old, Jim Carrey has been, to me, the pure, physical manifestation of perfect, comedic acting. I grew up treasuring Liar Liar and the Ace Ventura series. Bruce Almighty proved he still had it in him, and, to this day, he has never let me down. I'm one of those fans who believes he even does a great job in his more dramatic roles like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Majestic. Even though I didn't particularly like The Number 23, I still thought he was great. Jim Carrey has truly never let me down. He's one of a kind. He's a master.

He's, in a word, majestic.

What We Like: Dan's Favorites

This is most certainly an incomplete list.  More to follow later.



Stranger Than Paradise (1984)



No film I have encountered so far matches the sweet simplicity of Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise, arguably his most focused and effective effort.  It has been said that it was Jarmusch's intent to create a foreign film about America, to see familiar institutions and social norms in the slightly skewed filter of the quirkily observant.  The film lavishes attention on awkward pauses, false starts, aimlessness, and hipster posturing in such a confident and curious manner that the smallest gesture or exchange or action wonderfully fills the screen that is usually occupied these days by a cornucopia of spectacular distractions.  And because of Jarmusch's ever-present sense of wry humor, unintentional nihilism has never been so funny.



Rushmore (1999)



A bombastic celebration of adolescence that charmingly coerced me into placing it in my favorite's list before the curtains closed on the film's final shot, no doubt the best of director Wes Anderson's trademark slow motion endings.  In this one moment slowed down, no less than a dozen or so characters are given more life and endearment than most other film personalities get in an entire two hour period.  Expressive stylization at its liveliest, Wes Anderson at his freshest, and Schwartzman and Bill Murray both at their best, hitting and underplaying each unconventional beat perfectly.  The film's heart, though, is Schwartzman's Max Fischer, the silver screen's most lovably wormy teenager.  His flagrant personality flaws and general inexperience with life are equally matched by his soaring, nerdy ambition and earnest, rehearsed confidence.



Before Sunrise/Before Sunset (1995/2004)



These two films are inseparable, one made in 1995, one made nine years later in 2004.  Together they portray the chance meetings of Jesse (Ethan Hawke), and Celine (Julie Delpy), characters so real they threaten to overtake their respective actors and film they inhabit to become two would-be soulmates whose lives we happen to have the privilege of joining for a few fleeting hours.  If When Harry Met Sally represents the Hollywood take on romantic connection through insightful conversations fraught with undertones and overtones, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset is like having one of those treasured experiences yourself.  Director Richard Linklater's style of structure also lends a certain magical quality to the films, the first takes place over the course of one night in Vienna, and the second takes place in real time (!) over the course of one afternoon in Paris, as the sun just starts to drop.  The lives they lead outside these encounters, which they frequently allude to, are wonderfully drawn but serve only as a distant reminder that their time together is both beautiful and tragic because of its transience.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If you thought Episode I was bad...

Then you have to see the Star Wars Holiday Special. Aired only once on CBS in 1978 this special has become a cult classic among Star Wars fans for its camp value and use of the original Star Wars cast. In short the plot follows Chewbacca on a quest to go home to celebrate Christmas...err...Life Day. In the typical "Star Wars fashion" all things go sour as Darth Vader has plans to ruin the festivities. Throughout the special you also get to see entire scenes performed in Wookiee, meet Chewbacca's son Lumpy, Carrie Fisher singing over the Star Wars theme and an oddly suggestive video from the Jefferson Starship.

The special is absolutely horrid with the sole action scene consisting of a Stormtrooper bending down to pick up a blaster and then falling off a ledge. The special is a must-see for Star Wars fans and a great endurance test for just about anyone. I've seen it three or four times now and I still can't watch the entire thing in a single sitting. Its impossible.

George Lucas wants every copy of the special burned and forgotten. He has publically said "The special from 1978 really didn't have much to do with us, you know. I can't remember what network it was on, but it was a thing that they did. We kind of let them do it. It was done by... I can't even remember who the group was, but they were variety TV guys. We let them use the characters and stuff and that probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but you learn from those experiences. I had a wonderful time on Young Indiana Jones. It was a great series. We did it for four years. I spent those four or five years actually working on it. That's really all I did during those years. It was really a great experience and I love television."

The special earned itself a special place in the Star Wars canon. The Star Wars Animated Adventure segment was the first time the character Boba Fett was introduced in the Star Wars mythos. This was also the first time we saw Chewbacca's home planet of Kashyyyk and this was later used as a model for Star Wars Episode III. Since the release the special has been spoofed by Robot Chicken, South Park and it even earned spot in the music video for Weird Al's White & Nerdy.

So if you haven't seen it already, cozy up against the fireplace and make a tray of Wookiee Ookies. Below is the Star Wars Holiday Special.

Review: BODY OF LIES


Last semester in IR class, that is international relations, we had a whole class dedicated to what CIA agents actually looked like. They are not handsome, suave people, with a good taste in women and drinks, who can handle any weapon by pure instinct; they are more like fat average guys behind a computer, revising and investigating all the data they can lay their hands on. Ridley Scott’s new action thriller is by no means an accurate representation of what the spy game of the real world is like; however it comes much closer than what any movie of its genre has ever been. Or, at least it convinced me that that is how the CIA and other intelligence agencies might actually work. I cannot say how it works, well because it is a spy game and like ninjas, you are not supposed to know they exist.

I do not want to spoil most of the plot, which is nicely filled with intricacies and neat twists. What you need to know is that Leonardo DiCaprio, plays Roger Ferris, a CIA operative who is trying to track down a terrorist in Amman, Jordan. Meanwhile safely back at home; Russell Crowe gives him instructions and orders through his hands-free phone. Crowe can keep an eye on DiCaprio because the CIA has satellites in space that work more or less like Google Earth to the nth power. Mark Strong plays the Jordanian General of Intelligence who trusts DiCaprio but dislikes the CIA. There is also a sweet love interest played by Iranian actress, Golshifteh Farahani.

Like most of Ridley Scotts movies, Body of Lies is superbly directed. Heavy use of close-ups gives us an intimate experience of the characters and we see their frustration in knowing how few they can trust. Like most modern spy thrillers, the camera seems to be shaky, not disgustingly shaky like in the Bourne movies, but shaky enough that it confuses the audience. Being a spy thriller, this is ok if you are not confused until the end - if you always know what's going on, then it is not much of a spy thriller. This is the fourth time Scott works with Crowe, and like always Crowe gives us a performance that makes us swear we are seeing the life and times of Russell Crowe (I mean that as a compliment). This time we do see the life and times of Russell Crowe, half of his scenes are amongst his family, taking the kids to soccer practice, living the good American life as his boy out there risks his life every second. DiCaprio has a tendency to overact, however this time it works. After seeing him in action in Blood Diamond , here we see him in territory that he seems familiar with and enjoys it. The true sweetness however comes from Strong’s character, Hani Salaam. Hani is one of those characters who you immediately like. He is so charismatic and dresses so well that you know there is dark side to him. Yet he seems to be the character with the highest sense of morality in the story. He reminds DiCaprio that in some parts of the world friendship and honesty can save your life.

What Ridley Scott attempted to tell in the film though is a bit unclear. Is this simply another spy thriller, or an attempt to criticize how the USA runs the world in a Big Brother kind of fashion? Russell Crowe’s über-Google Earth makes me want to say it’s the latter. It is scary how easily one can track you down if they wanted to, and how much we depend on technology and mass communication every day of our lives. I found it incredibly ingenious how Ridley Scott demonstrates that the hard thing about finding terrorists in the desert is that they live in almost a prehistoric fashion. If they don’t use a phone, how are you going to tap into their conversations? If they don’t store data in computers or write it down, how do you get information out if it?

If you are into spy thrillers, political thrillers, or into films about the world of today, Body of Lies is the film for you.
3 stars

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Love You, Man

Hey guys, no YouTube Pick of the Week today, but here's something better.

The first Trailer for I Love You, Man has appeared online, and it looks absolutely fantastic. Check it out.



I Love You, Man will be walking down the aisle March 20.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolves?

In today’s world, or at least in Hollywood, movies are made by large studios. These studios along with many other non-filmic companies form conglomerates called corporations. In a previous entry, About the Indie Film, I spoke about the difficulties in labeling a film as independent. The economic gears and systems of today’s world are so intrinsically complicated that the only way to survive is to conglomerate into a corporation. Is there anything wrong with this? Definitely not, if a good film has to sacrifice the honor of being called Indie for it to still exist I’ll call it a studio film just so I can see it. Plus without the money coming from corporations, we wouldn’t see Iron Man kick the shit out of the Iron Monger this past summer. (Although, I could have saved myself from watching the Hulk and Abomination make loud noises in the rooftops of New York). We would also not have a franchise like Batman, which has given us two continuities to choose from: Nolan’s physiological thrillers or the highly stylistic Burton/Schumacher pieces of the last decade. What about Wall-E? Without the Disney Empire there is no way we could enjoy animated films like Wall-E or Bolt. Nevertheless something has been lost. For every one new original piece we are getting a dozen rehashes of old stuff, and the value of a lot of previous originality has been lost.

Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and Wall-E; these are all great studio films, and they could have not been made unless a studio had done them. It is when a studio steps out of its territory when problems start arising. Several films come out every year that studios should not be releasing. This year was no exception. here are a few.

Anticipating the success of Juno, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist had to be produced. Both films offer an Indie feel to their audiences, and in the past only a small independent crew would have ever ventured into producing a film about teenage pregnancy or about “wild night” in the music scene of New Jersey. The problem here is that instead of being made by an underground group of people who probably suffered the hardships of both situations, such movies are being written by office desk writers who know little of either situation. Yes, a former prostitute wrote Juno; but street touch did not go past script level. Lots of money went into the production of both movies but they were marketed as independent films. Instead of getting the fruitful flavor of an Indie film we were expecting when we walked in we walked out with a bland taste of wanabe quirkiness. Nevertheless, both films were enjoyable up to a point, and who knows maybe in the future we will see a good product come out of this new Indie looking style. However there is one new style, corporations have created this year, which I could live without: the color saturated neuron-popping mesh that was Speed Racer

Speed Racer's plot, if you could find any, dealt around a family that wanted to keep a small home owned business a family home owned business. There used to be a time when films with such plots were created by small family owned business, and thus meant something. It was a small statement of , “stick it to the Man” but not anymore. Speed Racer was created for the sole reason to make money of nostalgic baby boomers to take themselves and their kids to see a rehash of an old and not very good cartoon. Corporations have begun to exploit and make profit from what once defined a product anti-corporate.

Similarly, our enjoyment of high-end art works has been blended down and spoon-fed to the masses. Call me an elitist, but it's true. A couple of decades back, an incredibly blood-filled musical was made, by who was then considered one of theater’s most avant-garde writers. I’m talking about "Sweeney Todd" by Steven Sondheim, based of an incredibly obscure novel/play of the same name. The musical was of course praised by art critics and was soon moved up into becoming something a little bit more commercial: a Broadway musical. Three decades later and the show is revived as a Hollywood Holiday movie by no other than Tim Burton. Is there a problem with this? Well the film was indeed a beautiful film but something on it felt terribly wrong. First of all it lacks the unique Timburtoness of other Burton films, and at the same time it lacks the obscurity of an intended only for theater buffs movie. It just lags in the middle quite not being anything. Like other things corporations have stolen from us, it lacks flavor.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Review: DEATH AT A FUNERAL


I know it's been around for quite some time, but here's a feature to get used to: not all of the movies we review are going to be new releases.

Not to say Frank Oz's Death at a Funeral is old. It was released in August 2007. It was incredibly hard to find in America since it is, though Oz directed it, a British film, and I had been trying to find a way to see it since that time. Luckily, I was able to snag a DVD copy of it, and the following 90 minutes were just bliss.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What We Like: Ezra's Favorites



Do you know what time it is? It's time to find out what sorts of movies I like!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Last Airbender: Cast Revealed! Is Zuko a No Go?


Slashfilm.com was the first to break the news that the main four characters of M. Night Shamalamadingdong's adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender were cast! That's about where the excitement stops.

Older fans of the series can easily tell on which civilizations the tribes were based. The Water Tribe has an Inuit influence, yet both the kids cast as Sokka and Katara aren't, one of them was even in Twilight. It did make me happy to see that they found Aang at an open call in Texas, but that was tampered at the casting choice of the antagonist, Prince Zuko. I am not saying that he is a bad actor, I rather enjoy his work, but Jesse McCartney does not seem to exude the, for lack of a better word, "dickness" of Zuko.

Was this the BEST picture to show Jesse's Zuko-ness?

For those of you that don't know, I'm a video game fanatic *coughshamelesspromotioncough*. My favorite RPG franchise is Kingdom Hearts, a co-production of Disney and Square-Enix. Jesse portrayed Roxas, a character linked to the main protagonist, Sora. This character is meant to provide the player with a new character to sympathize with and give more depth to the "Nobody" storyline. This character and storyline will be expanded upon more in the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, but my point is that for all of the roles in which he doesn't play himself, they are mostly characters that are on the side of good. So in the big picture, Zuko doesn't seem like a stretch, but in this first "book" of the series, Zuko is quite the evil guy.

I have hope for this movie, but I will not pass my next judgement until the announcement of Iroh is made. As a fanboy of this series, there is no reason for you to listen to me, but if you are unfamiliar with the Avatar series, I hope that these films can do the series justice.

For more info on this story, visit SlashFilm.com

Review: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL


All the pieces are there. The Day the Earth Stood Still could have soared into becoming a highly iconic remake of a highly iconic Sci-Fi film of the 50s. However it is a clear example of a big budget film that is afraid to step in the deep end of the pool. I am not saying it is a bad movie, in the contrary it is a highly enjoyable film, which I highly recommend if you are looking for good old fun. As a remake of a classic it is what War of the Worlds should have been and it does not even carry the name of Steven Spielberg in its credits; yet it underachieves enormously and thus it is reduced to merely an entertaining film with some social discourse rather than a film about social problems that also happens to be fun.

The plot is simple to follow and avoids complications. Aliens land on Earth. Klaatu, (Keanu Reaves) one of the aliens informs US Secretary of War (Kathy Bates) “It is not your planet”; referring to the fact that it belongs to all living things within it. Thus he plans to kill every human by using a giant automaton called GORT. That way humans wont pollute the oceans, tear down the forest or clog up the atmosphere in CO2. A military biologist, (Jennifer Connelly) must convince Klaatu that humans can change in order to save the race, and more importantly her late husband’s ex-wife’s child. (I almost expected her to break into Sadam Hussein’s song “[We] Can Change” from South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut, while attempting to do so). She is such a progressive woman that she even cares for a child that is totally not related to her in any way that’s understandable to the average nuclear family.

As far as the directing goes, well there is not much to it. It is your average Sci-Fi end of the world thriller and it offers nothing new. The same goes for the acting. We have seen Keanu in other completely non-expressive roles and I can say that here we see him at his best, which is not much. Jenifer Connelly plays the same progressive woman we saw in Blood Diamond with a hint of her lost love trauma we saw in Ang Lee’s Hulk where she also plays a military biologist. The photography offers some nice backlighting and ominous shadows where it is required to do so and the music creates suspense right where it has to. Thus it offers little that we had not seen before in countless other movies. Where does it achieve? Well surprisingly for a big high concept film like this one, its charm is in the writing and its intention.

The Day The Earth Stood Still adapts the 50s classic perfectly onto modern times. The 50s version was about not blowing up each other into smithereens with nukes. This one is about not consuming our planet out of recourses with our low mileage SUVs. Like the 50s version it maintains a naïve perspective on its dissertation of current affairs and intents mostly to entertain the masses and maybe touch a few in the audience. In this way it is a perfect adaptation of a classic. It even keeps the automaton’s ridiculous look and preposterous name for a killing machine.

So if you were too lazy to sit through Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, or you want simple harmless entertainment for one afternoon then this is the perfect movie for you. I highly recommend it though I wish Hollywood tried harder next time.
2 stars

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dragonball live-action movie continues to look awful

Following in the tradition of live-action cartoon adaptations, the new Dragonball movie (now with the not so subtle subtitle Dragonball: Evolutions) looks more akin to to a throwaway D-rate kung fu movie than it does a proper homage to the anime and manga series of the same name. Between numerous reshoots and rumors of cancellation long ago this trailer doesn't do much to tide away my already very low expectations for it. Understandably, Dragonball and its spin-off Dragonball Z are by no means high art this is looking about on par with your average video game movie. However, the film is being produced by Stephen Chow who directed and starred in the awesome Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle among others. Though I doubt he'll be able to save the film, much like how the Wachowski brothers failed to create a compelling Speed Racer film.

See the trailer after the jump...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

YouTube Pick of the Week

This week's pick is by none other than Mr. Dustin Hamlin. It's called "Leaves".




I think the reason I love this is the simplicity. So often now we are bombarded with over-the-top silliness and blasts of music, and YouTube is becoming a place where madness and chaos are valued. Those things can be ok, but it is refreshing to see the more simple things.

Why can't just one joke be an entire video? Well this one just puts a smile on my face, and I think that is the reason YouTube was invented.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mr. Underrated - Joe Johnston


His movies have been smash successes, but does anyone know his name? I have found that when I mention it, most people have no idea what I'm talking about.

Joe Johnston might just be one of the most underrated directors around. Not to say that every film he has done has been pure gold, but his name has been associated with lots of hits, without any of the credit attached.

He started out with one of my favorite childhood movies, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I remember growing up watching this movie over, and over, and over. As I remember it, it was a decently funny movie, with some awesome special effects, especially for 1989. Of course, I haven't seen the film in years, and my opinion of it could very well change if I saw it now. So for the sake of preserving Mr. Johnston's work, I think I'll wait.

He then went on to direct one my all-time-favorite films, The Rocketeer. It's the story of a young pilot who finds a german rocket pack, that, once he learns he can strap it to his back, becomes a jet pack. What a fantastic 90's movie it is. It's simple, stylized, and fun.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids is not the only childhood movie that Johnston has directed. He also handled the live action sequences of The Pagemaster. But unlike Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, this film still holds it's own today. The whole thing is very solid, and the opening sequences that Johnston were in charge of are very commanding.

So far we have a pretty solid lineup for Johnston. He went on to direct Jumanji, another great movie, October Sky, which everyone on Earth should be required to see, and Hidalgo, a fun, fast paced adventure. Of course, he did have his stinkers, like Jurassic Park III, but this is still a very strong resumé.

As for right now, Johnston has two projects coming up, that are sure to be big hits. You can look for his name on the upcoming remake of The Wolf Man (though personally I am surprised Stephen Sommers had not attached himself to that one) and The First Avenger: Captain America.

I am extremely excited for both of these, and I hope Joe Johnston continues to make his mark in film - and I also hope he starts to be associated with the films he makes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

EDITORIAL: Marvel's Movie Magic: Is Everyone On The Same Page?




Marvel comics is easily the most successful company that ever went from making comic books, to then producing movies about them. In the past few years alone we have seen amazing movies such as Spiderman 1&2, Iron Man, X-men 1&2, Blade 1&2, and The Punisher (among others).

But like any film 'series' they have also had their less popular films, Ghostrider, Hulk, X3, Spiderman 3, Daredevil, and Fantastic Four (among others).

But that seems to be a good track record. Now, here is my problem.

Marvel does not seem to treat film as different art from the art of comic books. This is their downfall, because the two forms of expression are very different. Here are the two comic book tenants, that I think should not apply to their film counterparts.

1. When an artist leaves... get a new artist! The character will change a bit, but everyone knows that it is the same guy.

When a characters artist changes in a comic book, people either like or dislike the new designs, but eventually they get over it and keep reading. The art may have changed, but the character is the same and it is good enough for the readers.

In a film though, if an actor leaves and is recast after making one popular film already as the character, people will have a lot more trouble accepting the new actor in the sequel.

In Iron Man, Terrance Howard played Jim Rhodes, Tony Starks best friend, with many hints that he will return as another hero in the sequel. Ironically, he won't. Well, Rhodes will, but Howard has been recast with Don Cheadle.

Edward Norton already said he will not be reprising his role as Bruce Banner in the upcoming avengers movie, making one wonder how they will recast a lead character with out everyone complaining about continuity.

Back in 2004, The Punisher was played by Thomas Jane, and now in the sequel, he is being played by Ray Stevenson. Once again, the lead actor quit and someone new came on.

Now, sure, if it was animated, nobody would care. Lots of people can do the same character voices, and pull of the character convincingly, but when it is a full actor who must bring his character to life, every actor will do it differently. I can guarantee that each of these new actors will not play the character in the same way as the first actor originated the role.

Bringing me to...

2. Don't make a film with a sequel in mind.


Why? Because unexpected stuff may happen! If any of these films were made to be standalone films, then there would not be an issue. If they just planned on making a Hulk movie, and then later the producer said "let's make a sequel", and the lead actor said 'I don't want to...' then they could just drop the film and move on to the next one... because face it... Marvel has tons of characters, and would probably love to make a film for each and every one.

But... if you really want to make a sequel... then you need to GUARANTEE that all the original actors (unless they are incapacitated) will be in it. How? By outlining how long you want the franchise to run and then getting all the actors to sign 'multiple film agreements' before starting the first film.

I like Marvel films, but I wish each one didn't have to be it's own trilogy. The first (and usually the second) ones are usually great, but by the third they just push the stuff way to far in a bad direction. I don't want Spiderman 4 after seeing Spiderman 3, as much as I loved the first two, and I don't want to see an avengers movie with half a cast from the prequel, and half 'all new replacements'.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

YouTube Pick of the Week

This week's pick looks something MIchel Gondry would have done.

It's pretty self explanatory why I picked this one; it's awesome.



I really love the style of the whole thing. The amount of time that must have been put into the making of this is staggering.

Definitely check this video out. And if you have played Space Invaders, this will be an even bigger treat for you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Guillermo del Toro's Animated Remake of The Witches Set to Terrify New Generation of Third Graders

The 1990 film version of the Roald Dahl book, "The Witches" featured some crafty mouse puppets from the Jim Henson company, a bald incarnation of Angelica Huston, an early Rowan Atkinson, and a fair amount of near child nudity towards the end. I remember a good amount of deep emotional scars from the film between seeing it once in third grade and again on a Saturday afternoon on the late UPN network.

The upcoming remake of the film will be shot entirely with stop-motion animation and will be directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy & Hellboy II) with Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) maintaining a producing role backstage. The project started back in 2006 when Cuarón and Del Toro discussed collaborating on a film adaption of a Roald Dahl book. Soon after Del Toro wrote up the screenplay for it.

There is no date set for this project, and with Guillermo del Toro's upcoming adaptation of "The Hobbit", it's hard to judge when we'll actually get to see anything from this movie. If Corpse Bride and Coraline are any indication, stop-motion animation has come a long way in recent years.


Above is the trailer for the original film. Though someone has also uploaded the entire film onto YouTube but there's a good chance that will be removed due to the obvious copyright violation.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Pixar Effect: IT WORKS!


The saga between Disney and Pixar has been settled as of late with the merger of the two companies. As a result, John Lasseter has been given the power of green lighting films from Roy Disney himself. This has led to a great increase in quality of Disney franchise as a whole. Not only did he eliminate the production of straight to DVD, but is a chief Imagineering executive.

In the theme parks, he is taking Disney's California Adventure park from a partial day experience to an all or even several day happening. The original Disneyland park is focusing less on budget and more on quality for the guests. It's showing, as Tomorrowland got a complete stylistic overhaul, the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through returning after seven years and, of course, the Finding Nemo Submarine.

As for films, the change is very noticeable. Meet the Robinsons was far enough into production to not qualify for any change, but Bolt, back then called American Dog, was substantially different in look and story. The original story was about a TV dog being stranded in Nevada with a one eyed cat and a radioactive rabbit that are trying to find new homes. Bolt was also a larger dog, more of a heroic looking collie like dog. As everyone saw from our review, Bolt is a fantastic movie. As an aside from me, it was reminiscent of the Disney movies of old and that makes me excited for future endeavors.

Pixar has definitely been the highlight of the Disney franchise in recent years, but now that they are working on the same level, let's hope the "Pixar Effect" has a longstanding results. Maybe Disney can enter it's second Renaissance.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

YouTube Pick of the Week

Hey guys. Sorry about the lateness.

This week's pick is actually directly related to YouTube.

For those of you who don't already know Bo Burnham's music, you should definitely check him out. He is a wordsmith for the ages, and I can foresee him joining the ranks of Al Yankovic and Kanye one day. You can also look for him in Judd Apatow's upcoming High School Musical Parody.

This is the song he performed at YouTube live, in San Francisco this past Saturday.




Be sure to check out his YouTube.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Review: FOUR CHRISTMASES


It says a lot for Vince Vaughn that he still made me laugh during the otherwise mind-numbing Four Christmases.

Yes children, this movie is perfectly stupid. But it is also the kind of stupid you expect - and I don't know whether that makes me happy or sad. It's already a dumb idea. Visiting four families on Christmas is not something that should be the plot of a movie. It's something that should be one comical act of a movie, amounting to something more. Thing is, this doesn't amount to anything more.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Review: SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK


Charlie Kaufman is hurt, for a number of reasons.  For one, something inside of him is fueling his overwhelmingly dreary yet whimsical and meekly hopeful screenplays.  For another, the reviews on his latest film are out, and they're a mixed bag.  The critics review and get read, Hollywood puts out and gets seen, people pay for tickets and popcorn, and somewhere in the whole mess of things, Kaufman, 50, stuck his neck out farther than any filmmaker in recent memory.  But to describe Synecdoche, New York as the brave new personal statement of Charlie Kaufman is a discredit to him, to the film, or to anyone reading this.  Because art looks outward, as well as inward.  The harshest criticism that reviewers level at the film take aim in its inherent self-reflexiveness and indulgent, illogical nature (so they say).  That is to say the writer of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is still using the tools that define him the most.  This film, Kaufman's directorial debut, however, is not interested in tinkering with formula, upsetting expectations, or otherwise proving to the world how clever Charlie Kaufman is.  It is one man's examination of life, sex, and death.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review: BOLT


Yes.

Yes is the answer.

Yes is the answer to the question, "Can Disney make Pixar-quality movies without the actual Pixar team?

Bolt is proof. I know there are people out there who will disagree with me. I know there are things about this film that are not Pixar-quality. But I honestly believe this was just as good as any film that could have come out of their animation studios. The story was strong enough, the voice acting was strong enough, and the animation was certainly strong enough. The directors, Chris Williams (The Emperor's New Groove), and Byron Howard have brought this movie to life, and it is pounding with greatness.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Upcoming Film: Coraline




Coming soon from director Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas, Monkeybone, and James and the Giant Peach) is an all new soon to be animated classic - Coraline. Coraline tells the story of a girl who has a terribly boring life and one day stumbles into an alternate reality where everything is perfect. But as we all know, nothing is as perfect as it seems.

Once again, Henry Selick's fantastic stop motion animation team comes together to show us a world full of imagination and excitement. I think it looks like a solid mix of "Being John Malchovich and Alice in Wonderland". Based on a book by Neil Gaiman (Stardust), and with a cast including Keith David, Dakota Fanning, and Terri Hatcher, this film looks to be fantastic. But don't take my word for it - Watch the trailer below!




Coraline will release limited on December 19, 2008, and worldwide on February 6, 2009.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

YouTube Pick of the Week

This is called "SnowBlood". It's a delightful and very bloody animation about an evil snowman chasing and killing a bunch of snowboarders for no reason other than just to do so.

"Why put something so morbid?", You might ask.

Well, while it is almost a 4 minute horror film, it is quite hilarious and the animation is simply fantastic. It is so high quality, including camera moves and character animation, that I am surprised that it is not studio produced. It is made by students who seem like they attend an animation school.

Enjoy it.

Editorial: The YouTube Generation's Effect on Film


Everybody wants to be a star, whether it be in music, movies or mastery of Guitar Hero, but until YouTube, there wasn't a place in the world for one's work to be universally praised or pushed to the ground. This new virtual playground of YouTube has many amateur filmmakers trying to get their faces known so they can be represented. It isn't as preposterous a claim as a comedian being found in a comedy club.

The majority of YouTube is stupid "comedy" and pirated things in terrible quality. However, there is a small amount of material that is very well produced and well scripted. As evidenced by our recent feature of the "YouTube Pick of the Week", there are certainly different varieties of well produced content.

Only recently have the studios taken it upon themselves to use YouTube to release certain things related to their products, but also given the users on the video site opportunities. One of the most subscribed users on YouTube, Ryan "nigahiga" Higa has been producing "How To" videos, sing alongs and rants with his friend Sean Fujioshi for over a year. Later this year, a film loosely based on their success titled Ryan and Sean's Not So Excellent Adventure is going to be given a limited release. This film will feature another YouTube star, Michael Buckley, host of the "What The Buck? Show" as the talent scout that finds them.


A group that knew that it wanted to be in the business, Derrick Comedy, has written, directed and produced their own feature called Mystery Team that has yet to get a release date. The movie is about the three main contributors of Derrick Comedy, Dominic, Donald and D.C., as a team of super-sleuths that started solving mysteries when they were seven. The problem is that they are still trying to solve mysteries in their senior year of high school. Hilarity ensues with familiar faces to fans of Derrick Comedy, including current Saturday Night Live cast member Bobby Moynihan who is featured in the video "Bro Rape" as well as a lot of the live performance that Derrick Comedy puts on in the New York City Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

There is plenty of talent out there and those who haven't "made it" are willing to put in that extra effort to make it great. It may not be for everyone, but the struggling artist definitely has a home on YouTube. Let's just hope that Hollywood takes more notice to this rising trend of internet film making so we can see more fresh talent and ideas.

Here is a preview for Mystery Team. Enjoy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Review: QUANTUM OF SOLACE


Ok, so I was wrong. Quantum of Solace is not "the best thing ever to happen to planet Earth". In fact, it was not even as good as Casino Royale.

However, this does not at all mean that it was not incredible. Marc Forster's newest installment of the James Bond series is exploding with greatness. There are only a few things that could have made this movie stronger. There are several forces at play that pound with power, sending the movie into a place where you can forgive its mistakes, and accept it as a truly great action movie.

So, let's start at the beginning. The opening music sequence is not the greatest. Yes, it's pretty cool, but the opening to Casino Royale is so awesome that it cannot quite be followed without a serious amount of work put in. Jack White and Alicia Keys perform the new song, "Another Way To Die" here and it rocks. It's no "You Know My Name", but the lyrics reflect the theme of the movie so well that you can forgive it.

Quantum of Solace takes place about an hour after the events of Casino Royale. James Bond (Daniel Craig) has Mr. White (Jesper Christiansen) in his car, and is driving back to meet M (Judy Dench) to interrogate him. The rest of the movie has to do with Mr. White's associate - Mr. Greene (Mathieu Amalric). It turns out Mr. Greene is involved in something very dangerous, and it is up to James Bond to stop it. Sound like every other Bond movie ever?

Here's the thing: it seems as though Greene is also linked to Vesper's death. Now not only is Bond motivated by his duty, he is motivated by revenge. While the idea for this plot is great on paper, the film fails to fully deliver the story, and that is where the real issue with this movie lies.

Greene's plan is never actually explained. It is clear that he is funding some evil military leaders and helping them with coups in exchange for large territories of land. A lot of them are in the Bolivian desert, where water can be found. However, it is never clear what Greene wants. Is he actually threatening the country of Bolivia with its own water? If the country is too poor to afford all this water for themselves, what kind of idiot must Greene be to hold it ransom? He says the word "Quantum" every now and then, but it still makes very little sense.

I have absolutely no idea why this movie is called Quantum of Solace. I did read Ian Fleming's short story, "Quantum of Solace", and I know that it centers on Bond at a very boring dinner party. As you may have guessed, this movie shares nothing in common except the name. Yes, it is a cool bunch of words, but it means nothing, and it has no relation to the story. Then again, maybe it does, but the story is so poorly explained that you cannot possibly catch on to it. Does Mr. Greene work for Mr. White? Or does Mr. White work for Mr. Greene? And where does Colonel Mustard come in? What about Professor Plum?

Why then, did I say this movie is so great? It's because everything else is extremely strong. The cinematography is some of the nicest I have ever seen. Roberto Schaefer did a great job here, especially with all the colors. Forster and Schaefer really teamed up to make this one of the most beautifully shot films I have seen in quite some time. I have a personal love of slowly panning track shots, and those were abundant here.

David Arnold, who has done the score for the last couple of Bond films shines again. While this score is not nearly as impressive as its predecessor, it still emanates likeability. It was nice to hear Vesper's theme chime in on the piano every now and then, almost providing an undertone to what Bond is thinking about.

And finally, the acting. Once again, Daniel Craig proves himself to be a Bond for the history books. Though I grew up looking at Sean Connery as the epitome of James Bond, Craig is slowly starting to change my mind. He just might be the best Bond in the franchise's history. He certainly plays the most complex one. He has that look, that permeating look, where, even though he is staring at you with those stern eyes, you know what he is thinking. Though little to no muscles actually move in his face, you can tell when he is trying not to laugh... and even trying not to cry. The other thing that must be said about Daniel Craig is that he is so damn manly, it is ridiculous. He pulls off some complicated, and visually stunning (not to mention brilliantly correographed) stunts. Walking out of the theater, Patrick joked, "he makes Leonidas look like a puppy".

Olga Kurylenko is fantastic as well. There is one thing that distinguishes her from all other Bond girls, but as much as I would like to, I cannot give that away. You will have to go and see it for yourselves. With her recent role in Max Payne, and now this, it seems like Kurylenko is rising up in the business, and deservedly. And last but not least, Dominic Greene might just be one of my favorite villains. I certainly like him more than Le Chiffre. He looks at you with these wide eyes, and you know that wheels in his brain are spinning fast, and that you are likely to be in trouble very soon.

In the end, the reason that this movie works is because it serves as a bridge between the hard, stone Bond of Casino Royale, and the other 20 movies that have been made. While at the beginning I kept thinking Bond was just turning into a dick, it slowly began to make sense - he is getting colder. The colder he gets, the easier it is to leave Vesper behind, and the more emotionally detached he becomes. His coldness coalesces perfectly with his immaturity, and the two ebb and flow beautifully throughout the movie.

He also drives about twelve cars throughout.

Go and see it. You will be disappointed in the story. Maybe even more than me. But it is worth it. It has something for everyone, and while it was no Casino Royale, it did a pretty good job keeping up with it.
3 stars

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

YouTube Pick of the Week

Hello the internet,

After hours of scouring the world wide intertube, I found a fine example of comedic filmmaking.

"Scenarios"




Nathan Fielder is the master of awkward comedy. I love how well acted this whole thing is. It reminds me of The Office. Everyone plays it so straight that you can't help but love every second. If you have a YouTube account, and you are not subscribed to Nathan Fielder yet, go ahead and do so. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Review: MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA


Before I jump into a delightfully short, yet detailed review, let me tell you - I did not see Madagascar. It didn't appeal to me back when it came out in the days before this blog's existence, and even now I probably won't go back and see it. But - I absolutely loved Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Spoilers May Occur - But Not Major Ones
Written by Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) and directed by Eric Darnell (Madagascar) and Tom McGrath (Madagascar), this film tells the story of Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller) growing up with his dad, Zuba (Bernie Mac). One day, Zuba turns his back and Alex is captured by poachers and sent to the New York Zoo. Then (the first movie) along with some of his friends, Alex left the zoo, went to Madagascar. Now, accidentally ending up in Africa, they need to figure out how to get back to New York as well as deal with family and personal issues along the way.

The visuals are great and stylized in a very delightful, and not distracting way, and the voice acting is pretty excellent. While the cast includes Chris Rock, Alec Baldwin, Ben Stiller, Jada-Pinkett Smith, and David Schwimmer, my favorite character in the film was Bernie Mac, who channeled a king as powerful as Mufasa was but with a heart that might seem even bigger. I was tremendously sad after watching the film when I came to the realization that that character will likely not be in the next installment.

This isn't a Lion King rip-off. Face it, it's pretty hard to make a movie about a pride of lions in Africa and escape similarities entirely. But DreamWorks pulls it off nicely.

The score is written by Hans Zimmer (surprise) and includes a few songs by will.i.am, who also voices the character of Moto Moto in the film. This brings me to another point. DreamWorks seems to have gotten over their ideas that an animated character needs to look like its real life counterpart. Bernie Mac doesn't sound like Bernie Mac, and will.i.am does not sound like you're watching an animated will.i.am. I have always liked the idea of actors creating voices for their characters, because it adds a lot to the film and makes each character even more authentic.

I loved the fact that you did not have to have prior knowledge of the first film to see this one. They explain the previous plot nicely in about 2 minutes and you are instantly caught up to where you should be, as any good sequel should do. All the characters are great, as is their development, and the visual gags are hilarious and simply amazing - especially since there are hardly any pop culture references (finally).

What I didn't like was the heavy inclusion of the old woman from the first movie. I thought that she was a terribly annoying and frustrating character. But every vine of gapes has a few bad ones on it, and it doesn't stop you from eating the rest of them with joy.

Remember when DreamWorks made great movies like The Prince of Egypt and Road to El Dorado? Well, Kung Fu Panda showed it and now Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa has confirmed it. Dreamworks is back on the great filmmaking track, and I have nothing but the highest hopes for their next film, Monsters vs. Aliens.
3 stars

Monday, November 10, 2008

Review: YOUTH IN REVOLT


Let me start off by stating my criteria for this review. I have NOT seen a movie with Michael Cera as the starring role. Also, I have NOT read the book Youth In Revolt. So needless to say I went into this film not expecting anything. After seeing the film and finding out things about the book, I want to tell those fans of the book that this is not a 100% faithful adaptation. There are many characters that are left out, as well as plot points. The story of Nick Twisp centers around one thing and one thing only, Sheeni Saunders.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Best Man For the Job


Yes, Paul Rudd was fantastic in Role Models but his days as a leading man have just begun.

Soon he and Jason Segel will star in I Love You, Man, a film that Rudd refers to as a "bromantic comedy". The film will be written and directed by John Hamburg (Along Came Polly, Meet the Parents), and produced by Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Road Trip). Since Hamburg wrote a couple of episodes of the cancelled TV show, Undeclared, it's nice to see him and Jason Segel collaborating again.

Paul Rudd plays a guy who is getting married and realizes one crucial thing: he has no friends. Because he has mostly been a friend to girls in his life, this creates a challenge when trying to find a "best man". The film centers on him searching for a best man, and ultimately meeting Sidney (Jason Segel), who becomes not only his best man, but his best friend.

The film also stars Jon Favreau, Jamie Pressly, Carla Gallo, Rashida Jones, Jo Lo Truglio, Thomas Lennon, and Andy Samberg.

Basically, this movie is gonna rock. When a trailer hits the internet, I'll post it.

I Love You, Man hits theaters January 16th.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

First trailer for Monsters vs. Aliens, Dreamworks' next film appears online


The next movie from Dreamworks is Monsters vs. Aliens, a movie where a huge alien comes down to earth and the US military establishes a team of monsters (and a really tall girl) to fight it. It is made in the style a 1950's B sci-fi movie, full of every visual and vocal gag that anyone could ever imagine. I personally think it looks hilarious... almost like an animated Leslie Neilsen movie.

Lately Dreamworks has been making some awesome films (Kung Fu Panda & Madagascar 2) so, here's hoping that the trend continues!




Monsters vs. Aliens hits theaters March 27th, 2009

Friday, November 7, 2008

First trailer for Up, Pixar's next film appears online

When WALL-E was released Pixar broke its tradition of including a teaser for the studio's next film alongside the previews and instead opted for giving Disney's Bolt the full spotlight. Now the first official teaser for the film has surfaced, while there was previously footage of a house with balloon's attached to it this is the first time we get a glimpse into the characters and the premise of the film. Much like the teaser for WALL-E, Pixar seems to be banking more on reminding audiences of the studio's ridiculously high reputation than fully focusing on the film itself.


You can download the trailer at Disney.com in these resolutions: 480p, 720p, 1080p.

Up will be directed by Pete Doctor who's directorial debut was Monster's Inc. and has directed the English localization of Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle. Up will hit theaters May 29th, 2009.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Interview: DAVID WAIN


Hello All!

If you are reading this, you probably have heard of David Wain, and if you haven't... well... you have now. David Wain is an actor/writer/director behind such films and shows as Stella, Wainy Days, Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, The State and now Role Models (Opening Friday).

I got the chance to interview Mr. Wain regarding Role Models and some other ventures, so without further ado... here it is!


MW: Where did the idea for Role Models come from? Were you ever in a similar situation to Danny and Wheeler?

DW: The main thing I relate to from Danny & Wheeler's situation is being suddenly forced, perhaps later in life than most others, to take an interest in a child's welfare over my own. For me it was because I had my first child this year. Role Models had been in development for years before I got involved, so I can't take credit for the idea!

MW: How much of the film's dialogue is improvised? Who were some of the actors that were consistently surprising?

DW: I'd say in the final cut, about 15-20% was improvised. The amount varied widely depending on the scene and the combination of actors and most of all on how good the script was! For example we were never quite happy with our script for a big dinner table scene between Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd, so we wrote up a few bullet points on a piece of paper and entirely improvised. All the actors were funny and surprising in different ways throughout. One memorable example was Joe Lo Truglio, whose character "Kuzzik" was barely written on the page, but he kept throwing in the funniest things and we just kept rolling.

MW: As a screenwriter you have worked with Ken Marino in the past. What was it like also working with Timothy Dowling and Paul Rudd on the screenplay?

DW: Paul Rudd I'd worked with creatively on The Ten, where he was one of the producers, and to a lesser extent on everything else we've done together (Diggers, Stella, Wet Hot, etc), so it was an easy transition to be also writing with him, for both me and Ken. We didn't actually work on the film at the same time as Timothy Dowling. He did many drafts of the script, and created the broad storyline of the film, but was no longer involved when I came on board.

MW: How drastically did the film change from the 1st draft of the script to the version of that we see on screen?

DW: Well the very first draft of the script (then titled "Big Brother") was a drama (not a comedy) about a man named Tom and a boy named Lewis. Aside from the existence of a mentoring program, I don't think anything from that draft is in the final movie - BUT full disclosure, I never read that first draft.

MW: Since you have worked with Paul Rudd in the past, was the part of Danny written for him or did you hold auditions?

DW: Paul and Seann were both on board long before me. But I know that Paul re-conceived his character from scratch in his initial draft, and then the three of us (Rudd/Wain/Marino) developed and further fleshed out the Danny character in our subsequent passes.

MW: What was it like working with Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Bobb'e J. Thompson who play the two kids in the film? How is it different working with young actors than older ones?

DW: Well the two of them are very different from each other. Chris was 18 years old at the time, out of high school, so not really a kid at all. Even though it was only his second movie, he was very professional, funny and great. Bobb'e is a unique comedic actor - regardless of his age. He's also been in so many things that he was very comfortable on our set and my job was kind of to watch him go! Sometimes I would forget, however, that he's also an eleven-year-old kid, and kids sometimes need more attention to swings in energy, mood, etc.

MW: I noticed you have a cameo role in the background as another role model. How did you decide to cameo in that role?

DW: Basically I just wanted to be in the movie, but I didn't want to give myself too big a part so I could mainly concentrate on writing & directing.

MW: What films and other media inspired you to become a writer/actor/director?

DW: I listened incessantly to Steve Martin as a kid. And I watched his specials and SNL appearances over and over. Also all the Woody Allen movies. Those were the biggies for me as a kid. Then in college I was really inspired by Robert Altman & Spike Lee.

MW: Are there any projects coming in the future from you that you can comment on?

DW: I do the main voice on Superjail every Sunday night on Adult Swim; going on tour with STELLA comedy troupe starting November 30th; producing a web show called Children's Hospital coming in December; working on a TV version of my web series Wainy Days - all the latest on that stuff is at davidwain.com. Then I'm working on scripts for the next movie but don't know yet when or what that will turn out to be.

MW: If you were ever to pick another genre of film to work with, what would it be?

DW: I'd like to make a dark(ish) relationship drama along the lines of Husbands and Wives or Sex, Lies & Videotape.

MW: Do you have any words of advice to share with young filmmakers who may want to pursue a career similar to yours?

DW: There's certainly no one route to getting started in this business. But I'd repeat some advice I heard Woody Allen give, paraphrasing - work your ass off, and stay true to your voice, and don't focus on the money. If you do the work, you have any talent, and you keep your eyes on the prize, the money will come sooner or later.

Go see Role Models tomorrow in theaters everywhere! Read our review for Role Models HERE!

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