Sunday, December 25, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 56 (SPECIAL CHRISTMAS ISSUE)



NEW IN THEATERS


See the Christmas colors!
  • The Adventures of Tin Tin / 74%
  • Albert Nobbs* / 42%
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close / 52%
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / 85%
  • Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol / 93%
  • War Horse / 75%
  • We Bought a Zoo / 61%
* = limited release

NEW IN STORES


  • Colombiana / 28%
  • Dolphin Tale / 83%
  • Midnight in Paris / 93%
  • The Tempest / 30%
  • Warrior / 83%
CC = Criterion Collection
% from Rotten Tomatoes

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TRAILER ROUND-UP


(Author's Note: Folks, this just might be the biggest week in movie trailers... ever. Three huge trailer debuts hit the web since last I reported, including some other big titles. I will be covering them all, including some other recent ones I've yet to cover.)




The much anticipated trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises" hit the World Wide Web this Monday and it does not disappoint. Take the star-studded cast from the first films and add in Anne Hathaway (infamously cast as Catwoman), Tom Hardy (playing the villain, Bane), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the always lovely Marion Cotillard. Besides that big reason to be interested, Christopher Nolan and team have crafted one set piece after another for this final epic to all go down in. "The Dark Knight": was pretty spectacular and the late Heath Ledger's zeitgeist of a performance will never be forgotten. Will this measure up? For me it certainly seems to be a series of improving returns. I just hope Bane comes with subtitles. On July 20th, 2012 the dark knight rises.




"The Iron Lady" looks to be this year's "The King's Speech," without all the stuttering of course. The incomparable Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher, the UK's first (and thus far, only) female prime minister in this biopic set prior to the Falklands War. It is a slice of history and a look at a figure that I personally am not too familiar with. An education in those areas is only second to me wanting to see this because it looks quite good. This film snuck up on us (well, at least me) and is currently in theaters.



"In the Land of Blood and Honey" is directed by Angelina Jolie (yes, that Angelina Jolie) and is already a nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, though I know what host Ricky Gervais would likely say to that, some ploy for the Hollywood Foreign Press to hang out with Jolie and Pitt! We'll see what he really says... All that aside, this looks very good and very intense. For all its effective period-ness (depicting the Bosnian War) it does appear to be a very small film with a big enough budget. Also, it is undoubtedly a mature experience to sit through. The film is currently playing to mixed reviews.




"Wrath of the Titans" is a sequel to last year's "Clash of the Titans," which I was/am a big fan of. It is amazing what can happen when you go into a film with low expectations. Unfortunately, 3D likely ruined that film for a lot of people. I saw it in glorious 2D twice and liked it both times and feel it is superior than the awful original, which ought to be edited down to only the Harryhausen sequences... But damn that mechanical owl! Anyways, this sequel (so much for the "happy" ending presented in the first film, speaking of which, Io seems nowhere to be found in this one) looks to be a riot. Hades (Ralph Finnes) and Zeus (Liam Neeson) are at odds again and so a half-mortal/half-god, Perseus (Sam Worthington), has to solve their problems. This time around it is titans. There looks to be quite the starting line-up of leviathans here. It is "TrollHunter" with Perseus! The CGI-romp set to "Sweet Dreams" covered by Marilyn Manson lets us know this is going to be one helluva ride (quite literally as Perseus must venture into the underworld to save his father, Zeus). Let us also hope for another one liner like "Release the kracken!" from the first film. "Feel the wrath" on March 30th, 2012.




Sacha Baron Cohen, who you can currently see and love his latest character in "Hugo," brings us "The Dictator." The trailer tells us this from the makers of "Borat," which was a very funny film. For some reason they didn't mention "Bruno"... Cohen plays the title character who has oppressed a country and wants to do everything to ensure it stays that way. He visits America in the trailer (a la "Borat"). I laughed a few times, but groaned just as much. It is hard to like a comedy that goes over the top and tries too hard. There was another/filmmaker who made a movie of similar nature back in the day. It was less raunchy and more funny (judging from what I've seen of both of them). That fellow felt he could call his movie "great." Perhaps Cohen does not. Get your foreign friends together on May 11th.




There are some truths in cinema. One well known to me (and millions of others) is that Zhang Yimou and team make beautiful films. His latest, which is actually China's official selection for the upcoming 84th Academy Awards, "The Flowers of War" is no exception. Christian Bale plays an American in Nanjing during the infamous Japanese invasion who goes undercover as a priest and thus saves a gaggle of prostitutes in the process. Naturally, he falls in love with one of them. Stunning visuals (especially that shot in front of the church's stain glass window) are a selling point, but won't save this film on their own. The film is currently getting mixed reviews and some occurrences off the screen (more on that in The Bad below) aren't doing it any favors.



Ridley Scott, who has had a string of polarizing films lately, looks the re-capture the magic that put him on the map in the first place back in 1979 with "Alien." After you see the brief 1-minute trailer for "Prometheus" I think you will agree that he is well on his way to do that. This movie looks pretty remarkable. It is as if Scott has pushed his CGI artists to the limit creating these state-of-the-art effects. It was first said to be a prequel to "Alien" and then it seems they went away from that. Now we just know it is based in the same "universe," but won't have any Aliens. Some 30 years later Scott is capturing the atmosphere of a space thriller, which was the highlight of "Alien." Besides that, a cast with the likes of Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, and Guy Pearce a reason alone to be interested. June 8th, 2012 cannot come soon enough.

Time to put down that whiskey bottle, I reckon it's prime time for the Trailer Round-Up Awards:

The Head-Scratcher:




You might think you know what is going to happen in "The Cabin in the Woods" as the trailer begins, a group of friends pack into a car and go on a camping trip into the woods where they stay in cabin... but the unpredictable starts to turns things on their head. Title cards even taunt us by telling us we haven't an actual idea what this is all about. After the end of the trailer, I agree. Strangely enough (or maybe not), that really makes me want to see this. This comes to us from the writer of "Cloverfield," which I thought was brilliant from conception. While "The Cabin in the Woods" does not have near that viral power that movie did, it still can hook fans of thrillers. Joss Whedon attached as producer won't hurt there. Let's hope that it delivers as "a mind blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out." We will know on April 13th, 2012.

Lasso of the Week:




Sure, it was an exciting week for trailers, but is it any surprise which one is taking the top spot this week (or any week that it chose to surface). "The Hobbit" will be here in less than a year and is already looking bloody magnificent. Peter Jackson and team have recaptured the quirky charms of Middle Earths denizens and the epic scale of that mystical realm that made "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy among the most remarkable films ever produced. Yes, they could have shown us pretty much anything and myself (and a billion other fan boys and girls) would be instantly foaming in the mouth, but what they have shown us is pretty spectacular. "The Hobbit" is my very favorite book and so I adore seeing the pages finally being brought to live-action life. I will not dismiss the jovial animated musical that has been in my personal film library for years. The dwarves at Bag End all looks particularly well done. We are briefly introduced to the whole entourage of characters (and you thought the fellowship was big!), man, ain't that Thorin Oakenshiled one bad-A dwarf? I love the somber lullaby he begins and the other dwarves fall in. It is a song of Lonely Mountain, where there destination lies... It is going to be dangerous for Mr. Bilbo Baggins and company. I know. On December 14th, 2012, we all have an expected journey.

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ENLISTED





Proving that Cracked doesn't take a break, even during the holidays, "6 Horrifying Implications of Classic Christmas Movies."


IGN celebrates their favorite Christmas movies. They say their "top 15 list will shoot your eye out." You best get that.


And here is another batch of lists honoring the best (and worst) of the year:


Critic and legend Roger Ebert shares his "Top 20 Films of the Year."

Here is "Col Needham's Best of 2011," a top ten films of 2011 list from the CEO and founder of the number 1 movie website the world over, IMDb. Besides Needman's footprint on the timeline of film research, I found his list pretty unique. You?


Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter has shared his top ten, which only further makes me want to see Spielberg's adaptation of "War Horse."


Fellow blogger, Scott Mendleson has shared lists of the years most overrated and underrated. There is certainly a choice on one of those lists (or the other) to piss off every film buff.

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THE GOOD


As if the trailer wasn't a big enough Christmas present, the fifth production diary for "The Hobbit," which will be here in less than a year (the first part at least), has been posted on the film's Facebook page.Looks like the rafts got a modern update eh. Heh.

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THE BAD


Christian Bale gets into a scuffle with the Chinese government -- possibly costing the country an Oscar for

CNN asks "Has China ruined its Oscar chances with criticism of Bale?" As I mentioned above, Zhang Yimou's latest film, "The Flowers of War" is China's official selection for the Academy Awards, but when that film's Western star started stirring agitation in theorient the Chinese government commented on the star's actions. Read the article for more information. I like to think the Oscar goes to the best film, regardless of what happens off the screen, but I think we both know that is not always the case.


Baz Luhrmann Headshot - P 2011


Baz Luhrmann (director of "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!) probably wasn't smiling like this when he hit his head on set whilst filming "The Great Gatsby" with Leonardo DiCaprio. He had to get stitches and they called it a day and actually called it a year for the holidays. That film is due out a year from today along with Quentin Tarantino's new film, also with DiCaprio. The Hollywood Reporter reports.

 * * *

OR THE COOL


White Christmas


Film.com takes us through a century of Christmas movies.






letterhead_public_xmas.jpg


As a jolly Christmas gift Roger Ebert is sharing a free issue of "The Ebert Club Newsletter" on his blog. Plenty of stuff to check our there!


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

HUGO - REVIEW

Hugo
Released 11.23.2011


Directed by Martin Scorsese
Written by John Logan (Based on "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick)


"Hugo" shows a state-of-the-art mastery of the craft that it adores throughout. Powerful performances, stirring stories, and vexing visuals give it wings with which to fly. Simply put, Scorsese's "love letter to cinema" is one you must see in the cinema (in 3D no less).

"Hugo" should not have been a surprise for me, but it absolutely was. Months ago when the trailer was first revealed I sat confused and not all that interested, which is surprising as I am a pretty big fan of Mr. Scorsese's films. Then it was released and the endless praises were sung and it was revealed what the movie was actually about (again, I blame the misleading trailer). I went to see with high expectations, but still skeptical. Within minutes I was mesmerized by the effect of it all and by the end I was overcome with immense satisfaction. Let me try to explain...

Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is young boy who lives and works in a Paris train station (circa 1931). He is responsible for the myriad clocks in a place that seems to work, well, like clockwork. Steampunk fans will feel at home in the magical world that is still largely grounded in realism. Hugo has to dodge the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), who peddles a toy shop, both of whom seem more than willing to punish meddlesome little boys. You could say Hugo meddles. Things start to change when he meets a girl slightly older than he. She loves to read and loves adventures, on and off the page. She also happens to be the granddaughter of Papa Georges, who they learn was once a renowned filmmaker in the early days of cinema. Papa Georges seems to have lost his fire and a mysterious automaton left by Hugo's father ever calls to be figured out. The station is certainly full of meaningful mysteries and incomplete characters. The stage is set and waiting.

Everyone and their dog (yes, there are a few pooches involved) perform to exaction. Ben Kingsley, who was pretty great in Scorsese's last film, "Shutter Island," is downright mesmerizing here as Georges Melies, who anyone who knows their film history ought already revere. Scene by scene, as the rich layers of his character and back story are revealed, he becomes more complex and ultimately magical (which is exactly as it should be). Kingsley deserves supporting actor recognition throughout the award season. Rest assured he will here in The Film Tome for whatever it is worth. Asa Butterfield (who put himself on the map playing Bruno in "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas") is as amazing as child actor's go (they go pretty amazing these days). He does a lot of the heavy-lifting acting with just his eyes. Kid's a natural. Opposite him is Chloe Grace Moretz who must have been the best of her acting class. I admire Sacha Baron Cohen for taking this role. People who have never seen his other (more adult) performances will finally get a taste of his talent. He brings a lot of laughs here as an orphan-hunting, lovesick cripple (a regular Keystone Kop). Helen McCroy is also a delight. Like Kingsley she plays one of the Melies at different ages and does a beautiful job looking pretty and holding secrets.

When it is finally revealed what "Hugo" is really about you will be educated, entertained, and enamored. For me, the film had an inextinguishable effect. From the opening to the very last shot (a marvelous long take of a shot) and clear through the credit sequence I was clutched in womb of wonder surrounded by placenta of passion. It was almost as if I was on the verge of weeping throughout, not because I was emotionally unstable at the time, but because I inherently sensed the love of a filmmaker for this film and all films throughout. Yes, you will see some truly beautiful scenes of classic films and envisioned filmmaking, but the joy in this art can be felt all over. It is because of this feeling that I easily forgive a moment or two from the movie that may have irked me.

Now a brief word on the three dimensions you can currently see this movie in. For live-action films shot in 3D, "Hugo" stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them (i.e. "Avatar, if you can call that live-action, and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams"). It particularly suits this visual banquet of colors, swirling snow, billowing smoke, and all manner of prepped production design. I mentioned the final long take before. It is worth mentioning again. There are many more to be found. A fine cinematographer that I know expressed that this was the first time a great cinematographer got his hands on the 3D medium: Robert Richardson, who has proven exemplary in previous Scorsese films, the films this millennium of Quentin Tarantino, and early Oliver Stone films. It all looks terrific.Some scenes out of the station and in the streets of Paris will simply take your breath away if something else in the film hasn't already. One of the best gifts you could possibly give your family this holiday season is to take them to go see "Hugo" in 3D. For the first time that I know of you might need to figure out what to do with tears while wearing those lovely 3D glasses.

 ★★★ 

CONTENT: thematic material, some action, smoking

Sunday, December 18, 2011

THE FILM TOME REPORT: ISSUE 55


NEW IN THEATERS

  • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked / 13%
  • Carnage* / 69%
  • Cook Country* / 36%
  • Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel* / 89%
  • Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol / 95%
  • The Pill* / 67%
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows / 64%
  • Young Adult / 81%

* = limited release

NEW IN STORES

  • Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame / 83%
  • Fright Night / 75%
  • The Inbetweeners / 68%
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 / 82%
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes / 83%
CC = Criterion Collection
% from Rotten Tomatoes

* * *

TRAILER ROUND-UP


Having just seen "Puss in Boots," which largely surrounded the "Jack and the Beanstalk" fairy tale (read my glowing review here), I was somewhat surprised to see it again in the likes of "Jack the Giant Killer." We see nothing of the giant goose (and her golden eggs), but rather a lot of flying debris, no doubt hurled by the giants. This looks to be a highly fantastical retelling of David and Goliath. At its very best it could be a lot of fun (I don't know what else it could possible deliver). It comes to us from director Bryan Singer who we haven't seen anything from since the quite good "Valkyrie" in 2008. Yes, this is a bit of a change in subject matter, isn't it? Turns out there was another "Jack the Giant Killer" made in 1962 (and another 50 years before that?!). Dang, and three more before those two! Here's a fun Rifftrax trailer for it. It looks like an enjoyable experience, with or without snide commentary. Bring your magic beans on June 15th, 2012.


"Men in Black 3" has landed among us. Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) are back to put aliens in their place, for the naughty ones that place is off our planet. By the trailer's end I was like, "Meh." Then, in the last five seconds we get a bit of a surprise and I was like, "Hey!" It is good to see the Agents back again. I really like the first film, the second one has its moments, and this looks to be interesting (especially what the ending seems to be telling us about the rest of the movie).


From the gringos who brought you "Anchorman" comes "Casa de mi Padre." This teaser shows us that Armando Alvarez (played by a Spanish speaking Will Ferrell) is many things, including a rancher, a lover, and a vigilante. Thus, the film is sure to have plenty of scatological humor, raunchy comedy, and over-the-top violence. I am one of the few people I know who hasn't seen "Anchorman" and some of those other films because I'm not that big of a fan of these aforementioned matters. That said, "Casa de mi Padre" does look pretty funny. It's "Nacho Libre" dipped in hot sauce (for better or for worse). Another selling point is the involvement of one of Mexico's finest actors to bridge the gap to America, Gael Garcia Bernal. He has proven his acting chops (for drama and comedy alike) time and time again. On March 16th, 2012 you best bring your sombrero.


Out of all the films I was not expecting a sequel to, "Saints and Soldiers" would rank pretty high. Well, it seems this is only a sequel in name only, kind of like what Richard Dutcher did with "God's Army 2: States of Grace." "Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed," directed by Ryan Little, takes us back to WWII as we follow three American paratroopers who are first stranded, then join forces with a French resistance. There are some beautiful images herein and like "Saints and Soldiers" it is pretty impressive for the likes of an independent film. Not that I take stock in the bloody rating system, but I can't help wondering what the folks at the MPAA slap this one with (especially in light of the rating fiasco of the first film). Maybe I'll write a blog post about that sometime. I remember seeing the first "Saints and Soldiers" at a local film fest in Southern Utah before it was even presented to the MPAA, before a manner of seconds were cut from the film. I remember it being one of the finest indie films I had seen up to that point. Consider me on board for this one. Let us hope it is better than the likes of "Age of the Dragons," Little's last film (currently bearing a 3.3/10 rating on IMDb). "Coming soon" is all we're told.

* * *

ENLISTED


We're nearing the end of the year, which means we can expect plenty "Best Films of the Year" lists! (Of course, that also means we are subject to hearing some of the "Worst Films of the Year" lists and other more creative compilations.) Here's a few that have caught my eye thus far:

Total Film has their "50 Best Movies of 2011," which led me to ask myself, "Have I seen 50 movies of 2011?" I'm pretty sure the answer is no. Then again, if I counted as many 2010 films has they did, that's another question.

Total Film also has the "40 Best Death Scenes of 2011." Naturally, there are some spoilers to be found here.

In their "Top 8 Everything of 2011 (For Better and Worse)" Cracked was sure to include movies.

Flavorwire has a pretty unique list: "Top 10 Controversies of the Year." You may remember some of these issues rearing their be-loathed heads in previous pages of The Film Tome.

Look for more 2011 lists in the next issue!


* * *

THE GOOD



The nominations for the next Golden Globes are here! "The Artist" led the pack with some six nominations. Here is JoBlo's commentary of the some of the choices. What do you think of the selections?


The first trailer for "The Hobbit" is going to be shown before "The Adventures of Tin Tin," in theaters this coming Wednesday (December 21st)! We've been hearing rumors of this in recent days and it makes a lot of since, mainly because of Peter Jackson's involvement in both. That film is already one of my most anticipated and this news makes it so that it is going to be one of the first things I do (yet along "see") when I get back to the states. (Yes, I'm currently in China for the holidays and "Tin Tin" has already come and gone in these parts, though without the trailer for "The Hobbit.") JoBlo reports.

I usually do not take gratification in the failures or missteps of others, but I feel I need to with this one. I have waged a personal vendetta against the current state of American children's films, those boisterous pop-culture and mind-numbing affairs... The trailer for "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" pushed me so far as to write a rant post here on the blog two months ago wherein I depicted this third film in the series would get into single-digit territory on the Tomatometer. My prediction proved to be prophetic over the weekend when it dipped to 9%. The only way to put a stop to these sad cash-grab excuses for children's entertainment is to not support them. Well, this entry has only made half as much as the previous two in its opening weekends, thought I am beyond sure that has more to do with the box office slump we're currently in than my public outcries. Here's JoBlo's coverage of the weekend's box office.

* * *

AND THE WEIRD

Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais will be hosting the Golden Globes again for this year's rewards (the ceremony which of course won't be held until early next year, before the Oscars.) This isn't the newest story around, but I've yet to comment about it and because I feel strongly on the issue, I must. Did you happen to watch the Golden Globes last year? Maybe you saw some of the "wrath of Gervais" afterwards? I know I highlighted it here in The Film Tome. To put it simply, nobody was safe that night. Especially not the Hollywood Foreign Press who holds the awards show. And so I find it very strange indeed that they would invite him back, that he would accept, and that anybody will attend. Don't get me wrong, I thought it was a downright riot! I laughed and cringed along with the best of them. No doubt this will make the upcoming Golden Globes a must-watch just to say you were there when happened. I'm psyched! In fact, dare I say I am more excited for the Golden Globes than the Oscars now! The Hollywood Report has the full story. Also, here is a fun list of possible Hollywood targets for Gervais to lay his biting comedic scope on. Rest assured, everyone (and their dog) will get made fun of.


UP: Brett Ratner


So I haven't been the best at covering some of the bigger stories recently, especially this one (which was the number 1 controversy of this year in film according to Flavorwire, see that story above in "Enlisted"): the Academy Awards. Director Brett Ratner (who most recently gave us "Tower Heist") was slated to produce the show with Eddie Murphy (most recently seen in "Tower Heist," no coincidence there) to be the evening's host. However, after a promotional tour for said film where Ratner said things he surely should not have (and later apologized) he stepped down from the position and so did Mr. Murphy. If you really want to not that gritty details of the tale, The Hollywood Reporter has "Brett Ratner's 10 Offensive Quotes that Ended in Oscar Trouble." So who is going to produce the show? Brian Gazer and Don Mischer. Who? And who is going to host the show? Old favorite Billy Crystal



Vulture reports that "Starship Troopers," the somewhat beloved '90s B-movie is getting remade. Details forthcoming, but JoBlo added some commentary of their own to the story in which words of wisdom were read by me, "If it exists, it must be rebooted. That's the current mantra in Hollywood, and the reason we now have this bit of news."

 * * *

OR THE COOL





Yet another special edition of James Cameron's "Avatar" is going to be available on iTunes on December 20th, this one will have multiple viewing options at various stages of production (as pictured above), but it may be that you can not watch the entire film like that - not sure who would want to anyway. /Film has more details.

* * *

TV TOO




TMZ reports that the Clint Eastwood family is currently shooting a reality series about their goings-on for an upcoming show on E! The great actor/director himself is only going to make some cameo appearances though, hopefully to tell any kid who is not white to get off his lawn. This has spawned some clever writing... JoBlo asks, "Keeping Up with the Eastwoods?" (It is clever and true because this show comes from the producer of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians.") TMZ wrote, "Go ahead punk... make my reality show." It appears that is exactly what is happening.

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