Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 35

NEW IN THEATERS



  • Larry Crowne
  • Monte Carlo
  • The Perfect Host* / 50%
  • Terri* / 80%
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon / 62%
* = Limited Release

NEW IN STORES



  • Barney's Version / 80%
  • Beastly / 16%
  • Season of the Witch / 7%
  • Sucker Punch / 22%
  • The Warrior's Way / 32%


% from Rotten Tomatoes

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TRAILER ROUND-UP




I have managed to go 23 years without seeing the original and now we are getting a remade "Footloose." The 1984 version put Kevin Bacon on the map and showed the world a new way to dance. I wonder if this one will leave any such impressions. Personally, I was not interested at all until I learned Craig Brewer was in the director's chair. He's the man who taught audiences around the world that is it hard out there for a pimp in the gritty, but good, "Hustle & Flow." That and his follow-up film, "Black Snake Moan," dealt a lot with music. Tis fitting his third film will too, while adding a whole lot of dancing. That said, after seeing the trailer, I became uninterested again. Though, Dennis Quaid seems great like usual. "Footloose" probably ain't for me, but maybe for you. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this preview certainly falls in the category, "You've seen the trailer, it feels like you've seen the movie." Put your right foot in on October 14th.




I am not a fan of baseball, but I am a fan of Brad Pitt. The guy seems to become a better actor every year and yet he has always been great: capable of comedy and dependable for drama. In "Moneyball" Mr. Pitt plays Billy Beane (who the King of Pop almost wrote a song about), manager of the Oakland A's who tries a new tactic to lead his team to success. Phillip Seymore Hoffman, one of our greatest living actors, is utterly wasted in this trailer. Let's hope such is not the case for the film. You wouldn't think so, because director Bennett Miller ("Capote") certainly knows what Hoffman is capable of. Jonah Hill co-stars. And what the heck is Bobby Kotick doing in this movie? This one flies into theaters on September 23rd, will you be catching it?




Other than a few visceral moments and the names of our leads, "R" really doesn't tell us much. I like that. My thoughts were led to "Un Phrophete (A Prophet)," a phenomenal French film from 2009 that also takes place in a prison. Grisly reality ensued and looks to be found herein as well. I am intrigued and weary, perhaps the best way to approach provocative foreign films. This Denmark drama is currently in limited release.




The teasers for the upcoming "The Muppets" have been pretty good so far. The latest pokes fun at the new Green Lantern movie, though the Swedish joke at the end just misses. Also new is the first actual trailer with plenty of promising moments, althoug I am starting to get the impression that the bits with Jason Segal and Amy Adams (two fine actors) might bog things down a bit. We want the Muppets. Having said that, I do thoroughly enjoy the Chris Cooper role. See Kermit and the gang in theaters everywhere on November 23rd.




Toss of the Week: From director Kevin MacDonald, of whom I have yet to see a film (and he does both doc and scripted), comes "Life In A Day." My professors have taught me how documentaries are capable of exalting the everyday and giving a voice to the voiceless. Such wonderful qualities! It is films like this that make me appreciate the world I live in and its most-interesting occupants.

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ENLISTED




A good list will have you jumping up and down clapping with glee and/or venting with fury. Strong reactions are a measure of their success. Check out TIME's "The 25 Best All-TIME Animated Films" for some likely cheering and booing on your part. Only one film from Studio Ghibli? Quite a few of these just had me asking my screen, "Really?" I feel the need to revisit their top choice... Truth be told, I have never given that film an entire active viewing.


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CAST AWAY




Deadline reports that Quentin Tarantino has selected Jamie Foxx to star as the title character in "Django Unchained"! He will join Waltz, DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson in the exciting Western.




Deadline also reports that Clint Eastwood is approaching Leonardo DiCaprio with possibly staring in his remake of the musical, "A Star Is Born," in which he could potentially play opposite Beyonce. What a fascinating couple! However, I don't think I have ever heard Leo sing. Eastwood is currently directing Leo in the J. Edgar Hoover biopic. It seems like DiCaprio is everywhere these days! This could make at least five films he'll be in over the next two years.

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THE GOOD




Early Monday morning, Bleeding Cool posted a big story. In a recent interview Tom Hanks was asked whether or not Pixar was working on "Toy Story 4." Hanks responded, "I think there will be yeah. Yeah, yeah. They’re working on it now. There you go." I wonder if Pixar wanted the cat out of the bag this soon. It will be most curious to see how this story develops. Back last summer, in my review for "Toy Story 3," I addressed this very question for the "Toy Story" series: Will there be more? "With all these declarations, a question remains: will this be the final "Toy Story"? All I can say is... Pixar is smart. They'd be wise to let it be (taking a lesson from 'Seinfeld' NOT 'The Simpsons'). On the other hand, Pixar is certainly capable of producing another gem and I'd be lying if I said I didn't want any more toy stories. The concept they've engineered and this world they've created is limitless (yes, infinite and beyond). This concept and creation actually began the year I was born (in 1988) with the wonderful, Academy Award winning, animated short, 'Tin Toy.' Many of you may have seen it, the rest of you can see it here. Whatever the princes of Pixar decide to do, all I can say is... Pixar is smart."

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THE BAD




Over the weekend we witnessed a fall from grace. "Cars 2" became the first Pixar film to obtain a "rotten" status among critics on the review syndicate, Rotten Tomatoes. The score. In fact, before this day all Pixar films had received a 90% or above (see below), except for the first "Cars." But at least that was still deemed "fresh" at 72%. 

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OR THE COOL




To continue the Pixar theme of today's issue, allow me to share with you a neat feature. Rotten Tomatoes, always excellent at delivering timely articles, has posted "Total Recall: Pixar Movies," wherein they cover each of the acclaimed studios feature film release over the years beginning with the original "Toy Story" in 1995. What a track record! Even though I am bemoaning "Cars 2," a film I have yet to see, I still say you'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger Pixar fan than me. I am hopeful and thrilled for the "Monsters, Inc." prequel and their all-new film, "Brave."




Oh! About that... While this should technically belong above in the Trailer Round-Up section, I decided to save it for here. Check out the awesome teaser trailer for "Brave"! In less than a year it will be out!




If a picture is worth a thousand words, then by that logic a film must be worth millions! After all, every second of film is a least 24 pictures, called frames. Mekado Murphy of The New York Times has used many words to dissected a frame from the new "Transformers" movie, in theaters this week!


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Saturday, June 18, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 34

(Author's Note: The Film Tome Report was M.I.A last week. What was I up to? A large amount of my free time was spent on video game-related activities, chief among these, playing video games. It must have been all the excitement from E3 in the air, which was taking place just miles away within the confines of the Los Angeles Convention Center, undoubtedly the biggest week for video games of the year. For more on that, I will have to post on The Video Game Tome. This week it is coming to you quite late, but here nonetheless. Enjoy!)


NEW IN THEATERS


  • The Art of Getting By* / 20%
  • Buck* / 89%
  • The Green Lantern / 24%
  • Kidnapped* / 33%
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins / 43%
  • My Afternoons with Marguerite* / 85%
  • R* / 88%
* = Limited Release

NEW IN STORES


  • Battle: Los Angeles / 35%
  • Hall Pass / 34%
  • Kill the Irishmen / 60%
  • Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen / 48%
  • Red Riding Hood / 11%
% from Rotten Tomatoes

* * *

TRAILER ROUND-UP


The red band trailer for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" bursted onto the Interwebs last week. It looked quite shoddy, likely recorded on someone's phone in a theater. I knew it was only a manner of time until it officially became available and so it has (sans the red band). This is David Fincher's remake of the first entry in the popular Millennium series, Swedish films based on the crime thrillers by native author, Stieg Larsson. Here's hoping it is better than "Let Me In" was, a lesser remake we received last year of another Swedish thriller/drama, "Let the Right One In." Fincher is on roll right now with his last two films both nominated for Best Picture ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" followed by "The Social Network"). Some will surely hate this trailer. The film is dark, edgy, and considerably cold (maybe it is just that repeated shot of the snowy road, maybe not), but undeniably well-made. Set to a more morose cover of Led Zepplin's "The Immigrant Song" (brought to us by Trent Reznor who got an Oscar for his work on the bleak soundtrack for "The Social Network") this trailer certainly rocks and rolls! This dreary tale hits theaters on December 21st in what the trailer calls "The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas."


Belle gets married and pregnant in the trailer for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1." Finally, my favorite romantic comedy series is back! These films have it all: frequent laughs (growing intentionally), ridiculous romance, and over-the-top action. My favorite part of this trailer is when Jacob throws down the wedding invitation. Such fury in his performance! You'll never guess what he does next... And because the cool thing to do these days is split the final film of any series into two parts, we will get the beginning of the saga's end on November 18th. (In the series' defense, while they did split "Breaking Dawn" into two films, they did not give in to the overdone additional dimension. Scott Mendelson reports on this very matter in a recent blog post.)


There is a lot of clapping in "Beginning of the Great Revival," the follow-up film to 2009's "The Founding of a Republic." Like that one, this is a propagandist epic documenting the formation of the Chinese Communist Party. Is it any surprise that this film is funded by the China Film Group, a media branch of the Chinese Communist Party? (Thanks to horse_power_9000 for educating me on this topic.)  Other sources of mine have informed me that on the Chinese-equivalent of IMDb, all negative comments regarding "The Founding of a Republic" have been removed. Chinese film critic Mu Weier was especially outspoken of the first film and of the CCP in general, which led to his rumored arrest and disappearance. Such stories make me ceaselessly thankful for freedom of speech. We ought to embrace it. Now, allow me to briefly judge the film on its own merits. A practice we should all strive to do. The visuals, while hopelessly touched up with untold after effects, do look sheen. "Red Cliff" had a similar visual style which soon enough became very beautiful and absorbing in its own way. The trailer boasts "over 100 stars in our cast." Apparently, that is one aspect they are banking on. And you know what? It just might work! After learning Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Stephen Chow, John Woo, and Ziyi Zhang all appear herein. There seems to be so many stars in this film that they have to employ a three-way split-screen several times to show them all. Is it just me or do many of the performances seem over-the-top? Sometimes it is hard to tell with foreign films. In any case, it is an event and I am compelled to experience it. If anyone is interested, this film is currently stateside in limited release.


From producer and writer Guillermo del Toro, who recently presented one of the better horror films in recent memory, "The Orphanage," comes another charming movie to bring your young ones to, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." The whispering, which is sinister enough at the start, loses its scariness and when "the things that go bump in the night" are finally revealed, I was left charmed rather than chilled. They are more cute than they are scary! That's a serious problem. It's bound to happen when the horror in your film is a tactical team of pint-sized Gollums. It also doesn't help that these CGI-creatures draw far too much attention to themselves. The not-too-distant and overall disappointing "I Am Legend" taught us in its third act that a reliance on digital humanoid fiends can be distracting. The trailer excels in lighting and acting, two other elements that can make or break the deal for scary films. August 26th will hold the final verdict.


Errol Morris is a legend among documentarians and those who follow them. He has brought us such classics as "Gates of Heaven," "Vernon, Florida," and "The Thin Blue Line." This year he brings us "Tabloid," which is being sold as "an Errol Morris love story." This trailer takes us on a bizarre and wild journey, leaving us contemplating the phrase "fact is stranger than fiction" and wondering where what we just saw resides. Mormon missionaries sure do seem to making the pop culture rounds these days...

Time for the Trailer Round-Up Rewards:


The Head-Scratcher: Often times the trailers that take home this award look bewilderingly bad. This is not quite the case with "Sol." This indy sci-fi flick is so baffling that I was ultimately unable to decide if it looked good or bad. Certainly there are points for both claims: fascinating concept and setting vs. unseasoned performances. To me, it seems like hybrid of "Ender's Game" with "The Hunger Games." Yes, there is a game involved.


Toss of the Week: If Terrence Malick did a documentary, I am sure it would be the closest match to the likes of "General Orders No. 9." The freeform style and meditative quality instantly reminded me of "The Tree of Life." Films like this do not get made every day. Usually they are years in the making and usually they stay with us for much, much longer. As the description says, "it contemplates the signs of loss and change of the American South." It's art about life.

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ENLISTED


Total Film presents the "20 Drunkest Movie Drinkers." (Because they count up, which we should seldom, if ever, do. I have linked the final slide and recommend you work backwards, thus, counting down.) It is a great compilation, though I feel to highlight some others: They include "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," but what about Drinking adds immensely to the problems of Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day-Lewis in one of the single greatest performances of the ages) in "There Will Be Blood." Also, even though it is a crappy film, "Strange Brew" probably merits a place on the list. What do you think should have made the list?

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CAST AWAY


As read on JoBlo, Luke Evans will be playing Bard the Bowman in "The Hobbit" and Benedict Cumberbatch (one of the coolest names around) will be providing his voice for Smaug the Dragon (who is frequently called a "worm" in the book... maybe that is why he is so mad...).


According to The Hollywood Reporter, Leonardo DiCaprio is in talks to play a villain in Tarantino's upcoming Western, "Django Unchained," which I am ashamed to report I have not finished reading yet. Has Leo ever played a "bad guy" before? Not to my knowledge... No doubt he can pull it off, especially if he sports a mustache. It also seems that Will Smith may have passed up the chance to play the title role and and rumors are that Jamie Foxx and Idris Elba are the being approached.


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THE GOOD


(I am being hopeful by putting this under "The Good.") According to The Hollywood Reporter, Steven Spielberg and Mark Protosevich are in the early stages of development for "Jurassic Park 4"! I am probably one of the few that do not despise the sequels. Dinosaurs have fascinated me since my early years. In elementary school I wanted to be a paleontologist, though I probably could not have spelled it. If Spielberg does dinosaurs again, I am there! Protosevich is a screenwriter with a few feature credits to his name including "The Cell," "Posedian," and "I Am Legend." He also wrote the upcoming "Freakshow," which is to be his directorial debut. (And no, that is not an official image seen above.)

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THE BAD


Remember the awesome trailer for "Troll Hunter" I plugged a few weeks back? If not, check it out. Well, according to Deadline, there are already plans to remake the outlandish faux-documentary. Chris Columbus' production company, cleverly named 1492 Pictures, teamed up with CJ Entertainment and Media has scooped up the rights. I have put this under the bad because the ridiculously quick turnaround and remake tendencies of Hollywood shows a lack of originality and an unacceptance for the foreign. Saying audiences don't like to read subtitles is sad and pathetic. Sometimes we get superior remakes, but often times we don't. In any case, each film shall get judged on its own merits, but if the original it is based on is undoubtedly better, we should not be quiet about it! JoBlo adds their voice to the conversation.

* * *

AND THE WEIRD


Kathryn Bigelow (director of the timely sensational "The Hurt Locker") is set to deliver another film about the U.S. efforts in the Middle East. Her team has been developing "The Hunt for Osama Bin Laden" for a while, but with recent events as they are, they will now alter the film to be about Team 6 of the Navy Seals and their disposal of America's Most Wanted. The Hollywood Report shares more.

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OR THE COOL


Matt Atchity, over at Rotten Tomatoes, has posted a rather humorous riff on the law of Moses with a cinematic twist, the "Ten Commandments for Movie Audiences." Silly as the proceeding are, the "commandments" themselves are legitimate and noteworthy aspirations ("in a perfect world" type of expectations). Surely our trips to the cinema would be much better experiences if we all hearkened to these standards.


A co-worker of mine sent me a link for "The Best of Behind-the-Scenes" and I knew I had to share it on the Tome. If there is one thing I have learned from this it is that I must see "The Gate," whatever on Earth that is....

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