Tuesday, November 30, 2004

National Board of Review Predictions

They aren't national. They're not really a board. And they don't review films. So why are they such a big deal? Well, they're the first out of the gate. The NBR is the first "ten best" list announced every year and a likely sign of what will be competing for Oscar glory come January. And they've been around since 1909. Now, the validity of the group has always caused a bit of controversy among insiders. Check out this story here for more on that. However, I would like to point out that among their top 10 list last year, 7 of those films made my top 10 list. 4 films matched in 2002 & 2001. I guess this invalid group is similar to little old invalid me. Eh. Whatever. Anywho, since this is a big deal to us award whores - and believe me the NBR are award whores since they exist primarily get celebs to come to their party - I've decided to make some predictions.

One of the thing the group is known to do is share the wealth. It is not likely that a film will sweep their list, as many films will get one notice, and rarely two. The NBR skews toward 3 main areas for its list: New York-based (mostly Miramax), large ensembles, and gay. Miramax's biggest contender almost always makes the list (Cold Mountain, Chicago, Gangs of New York, In the Bedroom.) A film with a large cast is a shoe-in (Mystic River, Ocean's Eleven.) Films dealing with gay subject matter or catering toward a gay audience always make the cut. (The Hours, Gods and Monsters, American Beauty, Moulin Rouge!)

My predictions for the National Board of Review.

1. Closer
2. The Aviator
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. Kinsey
5. The Motorcycle Diaries
6. Sideways
7. Finding Neverland
8. Collateral
9. The Phantom of the Opera
10. Spider-Man 2

Best Actor - Jeff Bridges - The Door In the Floor
Best Actress - Annette Bening - Being Julia
Supporting Actor - Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Supporting Actress - Natalie Portman - Closer & Garden State
Director - Martin Scorsese - The Aviator
Breakthrough Male - Jamie Foxx - Ray
Breakthrough Female - Rachel McAdams - Mean Girls & The Notebook

Check out the National Board of Review's website here.

New Movie: Friends With Money

Sidenote: rent Lovely and Amazing as well as Walking and Talking. Both live up to the title of the former. Isn't it awesome how many films Catherine Keener has coming out!

Catherine Keener, Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand and Joan Cusack are negotiating to become best friends for Lovely & Amazing helmer Nicole Holofcener in Friends With Money. The film revolves around four best friends and their relationships with one another and their husbands. Only one (Aniston) is not married.

Holofcener, who will write and direct the project, is joining with This Is That partners Anthony Bregman, Anne Carey and Ted Hope, who will produce. Bregman nd Hope were among the producers of Holofcener's last film Lovely & Amazing. This Is That is currently in discussions with Sony Pictures Classics to release the project.

It will also reteam her with her muse Keener, who was nominated for best female lead in Lovely at the 2003 Independent Spirit Awards. The Oscar-nominated actress also starred in Holofcener's feature debut, Walking and Talking, which garnered her another Spirit nomination for best female lead in 1997. Lovely & Amazing netted six Spirit Award nominations last year, the most of any 2002 release.

Between making the two features, Holofcener has directed a slew of notable TV shows, including Six Feet Under, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City and Cold Feet.

Nominated for an Oscar for her work in Being John Malkovich, Keener's other projects include the Truman Capote feature Capote, The Ballad of Jack and Rose and The Interpreter. She will go on to make The 40 Year-Old Virgin after completing Friends With Money.

2005 Independent Spirit Award Nominees

Go here for the full list.

atalina sandino lupita juan de gomez seniorita moreno celebrates her nomination

People's Choice Film Nominees...

AND THEY DON'T SUCK! Wow. Consider me impressed. I might even be inspired enough to vote. Keyword: might.

Favorite Movie
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fahrenheit 9/11
The Incredibles
Shrek 2
Spiderman 2

Favorite Movie Drama
The Bourne Supremacy
Finding Neverland
The Passion of the Christ

Favorite Movie Comedy
13 Going on 30
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Mean Girls
Shrek 2

Favorite Animated Movie
The Incredibles
The Polar Express
Shrek 2
SpongeBob SquarePants, The Movie
Team America: World Police

Favorite Sequel
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Kill Bill Vol. 2
Shrek 2
Spiderman 2

Favorite Animated Movie Star
Donkey in Shrek 2 (Eddie Murphy)
Elastigirl in The Incredibles (Holly Hunter)
Frozone in The Incredibles (Samuel L. Jackson)
Puss In Boots in Shrek 2 (Antonio Banderas)
Shrek in Shrek 2 (Michael Myers)

Favorite Villain Movie Star
Bill in Kill Bill Vol. 2 (David Carradine)
Doc Ock in Spiderman 2 (Alfred Molina)
Elle Driver in Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Daryl Hannah
The Fairy Godmother in Shrek 2 (Jennifer Saunders)
Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Gary Oldman)

Favorite On-Screen Chemistry
Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler (50 First Dates)
Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey (Eternal Sunshine)
Kate Winslet and Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland)
Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire (Spiderman 2)
Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson (Starsky and Hutch)

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Oscar Predictions (3 of 5)

Now almost all categories are listed. By the end of the month, we should know where everything will be.

Winners In BOLD.

Best Picture:
The Aviator - Closer - Finding Neverland - Kinsey - Sideways

Best Director:
Marc Forster - Finding Neverland
Michel Gondry - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Mike Nichols - Closer
Alexander Payne - Sideways
Martin Scorsese - The Aviator

Best Actor:
Javier Bardem - The Sea Inside
Johnny Depp - Finding Neverland
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Aviator
Jamie Foxx - Ray
Liam Neeson - Kinsey
(hey, all of these are biopics)

Best Actress:
Annette Bening - Being Julia
Tea Leoni - Spanglish
Catalina Sandeno Moreno - Maria Full of Grace
Imelda Staunton - Vera Drake
Kate Winslet - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Best Supporting Actor:
Alan Alda - The Aviator
Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Morgan Freeman - Million Dollar Baby
Clive Owen - Closer
Peter Sarsgaard - Kinsey

Best Supporting Actress:
Cate Blanchett - The Aviator
Cloris Leachman - Spanglish
Laura Linney - Kinsey
Virginia Madsen - Sideways
Natalie Portman - Closer

Best Original Screenplay:
The Aviator - Eternal Sunshine.. - Hotel Rawanda - Kinsey - Vera Drake

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Closer - Finding Neverland - The Motorcycle Diaries - Sideways - A Very Long Engagement

Best Cinematography:
The Aviator - Collateral - The Passion of the Christ - Ray - A Very Long Engagement

Best Editing:
The Aviator - Closer - Eternal Sunshine.. - Phantom of the Opera - A Very Long Engagement

Best Costume Design:
The Aviator - Finding Neverland - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - The Phantom of the Opera - Vanity Fair

Best Art Direction:
The Aviator - Finding Neverland - Lemony Snicket - Phantom of the Opera - Very Long Engagement

Best Sound:
The Aviator - The Bourne Supremacy - Phantom of the Opera - Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow - Spider-Man 2

Best Original Score:
The Aviator - Finding Neverland - Lemony Snicket - The Motorcycle Diaries - Spanglish

Best Original Song:
Alfie - Old Habits Die Hard
Meet the Fockers - Meet the Fockers
Phantom of the Opera - Learn to be Lonely
Polar Express - Believe
Shrek 2 - Accidentally In Love

Best Visual F/X:
The Day After Tomorrow - Sky Captain - Spider-Man 2

Best Makeup:
Lemony Snicket - Passion of the Christ - Phantom of the Opera

Best Sound Editing:
Bourne Supreamcy - Sky Captain - Spider-Man 2

Best Animated Feature:
The Incredibles - The Polar Express - Shrek 2

i'll be up there in a few months, you stupid ho!

Congratulations To My 7th Favorite Actress!

I love my life.

Julia Roberts gave birth to twins Hazel Patricia Moder and Phinnaeus Walter Moder Sunday. Everyone is said to be doing fine. What a great time for Julia! Closer opens Friday and Ocean's Twelve opens next week.

suck it, apple!

First Look: Charlize as Aeon Flux

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Empire Top 10 of 2004

Empire, a British magazine, has posted their top 10 films of 2004. Since the Brits can get some American movies later, their list includes several 2003 movies.

1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. Lost In Translation
3. Hero
4. Finding Neverland
5. Collateral
6. The Bourne Supremacy
7. The Station Agent
8. Kill Bill: Vol. 2
9. Shaun of the Dead
10. Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

New Trailer: The Interpreter

Nicole Kidman. Sean Penn. Catherine Keener. Political Thriller.

Watch here.

oh, naomi, you so crazy

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Box Office Predictions: Thanksgiving Weekend

#. Title - 3-day / 5-day / Total So Far / Projected Final Gross

1. National Treasure - $24m / $34.5m / $76m / $125m
2. SpongeBob SquarePants - $23m / $32m / $67m / $105m
3. The Incredibles - $22m / $31m / $213m / $270m
4. Christmas With the Kranks - $21m / $29.5m / $29.5m / $80m
5. Alexander - $20m / $29m / $29m / $55m
6. The Polar Express - $16m / $23.5m / $78m / $120m
7. Bridget Jones - $8m / $11m / $35m / $50m
8. Finding Neverland - $5.5m / $8m / $9.5m / $54m
9. After the Sunset - $3.5m / $5m / $25m / $32m
10. Ray - $3m / $4m / $64m / $70m

don't worry, red staters, they cut away when they kiss

Upcoming DVDs To Check Out

why, oh why, do you continue to mock me?

More calendars for ya:
Dec. 7 - The Bourne Supremacy
Dec. 7 - Gilmore Girls: Season 2
Dec. 7 - Maria Full of Grace
Dec. 14 - Collateral
Dec. 14 - The Door In the Floor
Dec. 14 - We Don't Live Here Anymore
Dec. 21 - De Lovely
Dec. 21 - The Manchurian Candidate (2004)
Dec. 21 - Shaun of the Dead
Dec. 21 - Stander
Dec. 21 - Two Brothers
Dec. 28 - Code 46
Dec. 28 - Garden State
Dec. 28 - Open Water
Jan. 4 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - 2 DISC
Jan. 11 - Leon: The Professional
Jan. 11 - The Village
Jan. 18 - Friday Night Lights
Jan. 25 - The Crying Game
Jan. 25 - Head In the Clouds
Jan. 25 - Monster - 2 DISC
Jan. 25 - October Sky
Feb. 1 - Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Feb. 1 - Vanity Fair
Feb. 8 - The Notebook
Feb. 15 - Donnie Darko - 2 DISC
Feb. 22 - Get Shorty

Awards Season Calendar

Nov. 30 - Independent Spirit Awards Nominations
Dec. 1 - National Board of Review
Dec. 13 - AFI Top 10 Films of the Year
Dec. 14 - New York Film Critics
Dec. 15 - Broadcast Film Critics of America Announce Nominations
Dec. 16 - Hollywood Foreign Press Announces Golden Globe Nominations
Dec. 18 - LA Film Critics
Jan. 5 - Producers Guild Announce Nominations
Jan. 6 - Directors Guild Announce Nominations
Jan. 9 - Broadcast Film Critics Awards Ceremony
Jan. 11 - Screen Actors Guild Announce Nominations
Jan. 11 - American Society of Cinematographers Announce Nominations
Jan. 13 - Writers Guilds of American Announce Nominations
Jan. 14 - American Cinema Editors Announce Nominations
Jan. 16 - Golden Globes Ceremony - 5:00PM in Hollywood
Jan. 17 - BAFTA Announce Nominations
Jan. 22 - Producers Guild Award Ceremony
Jan. 25 - OSCAR NOMNINATIONS ANNOUNCED - 5:30AM in Hollywood
Jan. 29 - DGA Award Ceremony
Feb. 5 - SAG Award Ceremony
Feb. 7 - Oscar Luncheon For Nominees
Feb. 12 - BAFTA Award Ceremony
Feb. 12 - Art Direrctors Guild Awards
Feb. 19 - WGA Award Ceremony
Feb. 19 - Cinema Audio Awards

Monday, November 22, 2004

Bewitched Teaser Poster...sort of.

Here is part of the teaser poster for Bewitched, due in theatres next summer.

The teaser trailer should be in theatres just in time for Christmas attached to Spanglish.

CORRECTION: While the teaser will surely be on Spanglish, it can be currently seen on many prints of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Expect it to also be on Christmas With the Kranks, so that will give you at least one reason to see that. In addition, the trailer to Nicole's other tentpole release, The Interpreter, will debut with many prints of Alexander. What a great time to be a NicKid kiddie! In conclusion, a tentpole is a release that will be big enough to keep the studio standing. It is NOT something in your pants.

Clarkson replaces Streep in 'King's Men'

Oscar nominated indie goddess Patricia Clarkson has been cast in a role in the upcoming All the King's Men. She steps in for Meryl Streep who bowed out for unknown reasons. Also, joining the cast are Anthony Hopkins and James Gandolfini. Mark Ruffalo, Jude Law, Sean Penn and Kate Winslet round out the cast. Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List) will write and direct.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

American Film Institute's Next List

...will be 100 Greatest Movie Lines.

To view the list of 400 Great Movie Lines that the list will be narrowed down from, go here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Alias Returns On....

January 5th @ 9PM for a 2-hour season premiere. (That's a Wednesday!)

The show originally aired Sunday nights 9-10 where Desperate Housewives is now seen. Housewives is now the 2nd most watched show on television earning over 20 million viewers each week, an almost 100% increase from the typical Alias episode. Wednesday night seemed a sure thing for the series considering Alias creator J.J. Abrams other series Lost is on during the 8-9 hour. That show is also a ratings hit for the network picking up numbers in the upper teens each week and placing just inside or just outside the top 10. Alias will return with a slightly revamped season which will be equal parts Sydney as a spy and Sydney as an all American girl. The third season was thick in plot and twists leaving behind most of the character development so strongly present in the first 2 seasons. The fourth season will deal with the repurcussions of Jack Bristow's secret which was revealed to Sydney at the end of season 3, whatever it may have been. Also, now that Lauren is dead (or is she?) Vaughn can work on hooking up with Sydney again. Mia Maestro joins the cast as Syd's half sister. Well, she might actually be her actual sister, we don't know yet. Expect more guest star appearances including Isabella Rosellini as Sydney's evil aunt and Angela Bassett as the new head of the CIA rotunda. The show will run non-stop new episodes from the January 5th start date to the series finale in late May. Don't miss a single minute, in other words. Hopefully, the move after Lost will allow for a bump in ratings. The first three seasons of Alias are available on DVD and are well worth the money.

To see a cool pic of the Season 4 cast lined up, go here. Where's Sark???

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Random Thoughts: Before Sunset, Bridget Jones, The Polar Express, Saw

Before Sunset - 10/10
This film is perfection. From start to finish, there's nothing that isn't absolute bliss. If you wanted Lost In Translation to be less melancholy, I highly suggest you rent both Before films. Reunited 9 years after the events of Before Sunrise, Jesse and Celine meet up at his small press interview of his book which chronicles the happenings of the first film. They walk. They talk. They do it all over again. I'm a person who can't stand to listen to people talk to each other in public places. You know when you're sitting at a restaraunt by yourself and listening to the babbling of people near you? I can't stand that. But I could listen to Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy (in a script they cowrote but mostly improvised with writer/director Richard Linklater) talk for hours. So, after the first film, did they meet up months later in Paris? Do they get together in this one? Will we have to wait till 2013 for another sequel? You'll get your answers. There are many surprises thrown at the audience and its all in the form of character and dialogue and not plot. Hawke is at his best here where he plays what he was meant to: a confused, slacker for life, young man. As for Delpy, WOW! What a luminous performance! I thought I'd never see her again after An American Werewolf in Paris. This is the 2nd best performance I've seen this year and I can only hope the Academy remembers her in January. Good luck not tearing up to her guitar waltz. The ending is ambiguios, yet expertly matches the beauty and simplicity of the rest of the film. Amidst a year of big budget yet amazing sequels, Before Sunset is in good company, but way ahead of the pack.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - 8/10
Renee Zellweger returns to the role that earned her the first of three Oscar nominations. Though, if you ask me, Bridget should have been her 3rd or 4th nomination behind Jerry Maguire, Nurse Betty and possibly One True Thing. Texan Zellweger is so perfectly cast in the role that all of Britain immediately forgave her for taking the part of one of their most beloved, very English characters. Yes, her boobs are better this time around as well. Bridget this time goes for more physical comedy which Miss Z can surprisingly do to perfection. The film goes for a more original concept than the typical rom-com by showing that a happy ending isn't exactly an easy thing to keep up. There's all sorts of complications when insecurity gets in the way. Several very funny bits most notably a hilarious skiing scene make this one funnier than the first but I wish there could have been more witty dialogue. I didn't exactly go into this one looking for a great movie, rather a fun time with a big screen gal everyone can relate to. It delivered perfectly.

The Polar Express - 7/10
This film could have been a masterpiece had the studio waited about 5 more years to release it. As it stands, the human animation is quite distracting. The Stepford children look stoned throughout the film. Was it really necessary to have Tom Hanks voice almost half a dozen characters? Despite all this, there is some gorgeous animation and several exhilerating action sequences that rivaled anything other special effects driven film released in the past several years. The story is timeless. Child loses the belief in Christmas which is brought back to life. Child smiles. People cry. Everyone goes home happy. The film's message works very well and its a perfect time to catch this one even if isn't the perfect film it could have been.

Saw - 4/10
I thought the whole Seven style went out the window in the late 90's. I guess I was wrong. This film is DISTURBING. Well, it thinks it is. Every inch of atmosphere, every overly stylish shot, every bit of gore, every tortured victim, every third rate performance: DISTURBING. Two men wake up in a mysterious room with a dead body between them. Are you disturbed yet? Well, you will be. Then, through flashbacks (some of which have flashbacks in them, don't ask!) we get to know the characters and how they came in contact with the serial killer who put them in this DISTURBING situation. We get to meet some of his previous victims and his DISTURBING methods of killing them. All of them are directed in a hyped-up manor, throwing heavy metal music in because, well, that's DISTURBING! The twist is pretty predictable if you have a brain and pay attention to details or plot holes in this film's case. DISTURBING as it may think itself is, scary it is not. Or original.

Braff and McAdams Take One 'Last Kiss'

Zach Braff and Rachel McAdams will star in The Last Kiss for Lakeshore Entertainment. The film will be directed by Tony Goldwyn (A Walk on the Moon) and the screenplay was written by Paul Haggis (the upcoming Clint Eastwood-directed Million Dollar Baby and Sandra Bullock headliner Crash.) Kiss is a romantic comic remake of the Italian film L'Ultimo Bacio. It focuses on a couple who live togehter and could be undone by questions of whether they are meant to be together. Filming will begin in April after Braff begins hiatus from Scrubs.

Both McAdams and Braff are having a breakthrough year. McAdams starred in back to back lauded sleeper hits Mean Girls and The Notebook while Braff wrote, directed and starred in the equally acclaimed indie Garden State.

(I chose a picture of Braff because there are limited amounts of pictures of Rachel McAdams that I haven't posted on my blog.)

Oscar Poster

Almost all studios try and release their posters about 3 months prior to a film's release. The Oscar poster should be no exception.

Box Office Predictions: Nov. 19 - 21

1. The Incredibles - $34m / $185m / $315m
2. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie - $26m / $26m / $92m
3. National Treasure - $25m / $25m / $80m
4. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - $17m / $28m / $75m
5. The Polar Express - $14.5m / $50m / $100m
6. After the Sunset - $6.5m / $20.5m / $34m
7. Ray - $5m / $60m / $75m
8. The Grudge - $4m / $105m / $112m
9. Saw - $3.5m / $51m / $56m
10. Seed of Chucky - $3.5m / $14m / $18m

Monday, November 15, 2004

Keener a Virgin Again

Maybe the Oscar nominated actress is still a virgin. She's married to Dermot Mulroney, so I doubt it. Anywho...

From the Hollywood Reporter:

"Catherine Keener will star opposite Steve Carell in Universal Pictures' "40 Year-Old Virgin." Judd Apatow is making his directorial debut on the feature and is producing through his Apatow Prods. banner. In the middle-age coming-of-age comedy, Keener will play Carell's love interest. Shauna Robertson also will serve as a producer on the film, which Apatow and Carell wrote. The film will go into production early next year in Los Angeles. Mary Parent, vice chairman of worldwide production, and Holly Bario, senior vp production, are the execs overseeing the project for the studio. The Gersh-repped Keener is shooting "Capote" with Philip Seymour Hoffman for United Artists. She next appears in the Nicole Kidman-Sean Penn starrer "The Interpreter" and "The Ballad of Jack and Rose," with Daniel Day-Lewis."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

DVD of the Month: Elf

The blockbusters of this past summer are now entering their home entertainment section of their lives where they will reside for all time slowly dying off. However, a movie from one year ago enters this phase, but will luckily be remembered every year in December. Elf is, indeed, a classic. If you haven't been introduced to the brilliance that is Will Ferrell, it is time to crawl out from under your rock. His man-boy schtick has never been put to better use here with his performance as Buddy. Buddy wandered into Santa's bag as a child and was taken to the North Pole where he grew up to become an elf. He decides to return to New York to discover the life he never had. There, he gets a job at a department store and brings a little Christmas cheer into everyone's life including a coworker named Jovie (Zooey Deschanel, as sexy as an actress can get in a PG-rated movie.) Deschanel gets her chance to sing twice in the film and someone needs to get this indie fave in a musical and fast. The fun for all ages film will appeal to everyone and will be available to own from New Line's Infinifilm DVD series.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

New Trailer: Jennifer Garner Is Elektra

Its actually called Elektra. But I had to throw Jennifer Garner in there somewhere. In fact, I like to throw Jennifer Garner whereever I damn well please. Her Alias costar and exboyfriend was featured in yesterday's trailer update, so now that you checked him out, you can check her out. Either the trailer or nude internet picks will do.

Elektra is due out in January - always a good sign- and is from director Rob Bowman (the really good X-Files: Fight the Future and the really bad Reign of Fire.) Look for special cameos by Colin Farrell as Bullseye and Ben Affleck as Daredevil.

Trailer here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

New Trailers: Monster In Law, In Good Company

Jane Fonda returns to the big screen in the comedy Monster In Law. Jennifer Lopez and Michael Vartan star in the comedy from the director of Legally Blonde.

Trailer here.

Originally titled Synergy, In Good Company is a dramedy from the director of About A Boy and starring Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace and Scarlett Johansson.

Trailer here.

isn't it funny how ugly everyone else who isn't us is?

Random Thoughts: Friday Night Lights, Home at the End of the World, Shall We Dance

Friday Night Lights - 8.5/10
A deeply moving, very intense, sometimes disturbing, but completely American story is brought to like in a gripping, matter of fact documentary style. You know me and know that I know almost nothing about football, so imagine my surprise when I was sucked into this completely new to me world. In Texas, football is life. The entire dream of a town is put in the hands of a group of young men so that they, unlike the residents in the town who drown in their own mediocrity, can actually get the hell out of there. Football is the only way. (Well, so they think. This is Bush country after all.) Women are secondary characters, support beams for the men. I suspect this is not the film's choice, but rather the way of life. Businesses close whenever games are. Football players get free meals from local restaraunts. There's enough reporters on the field during pre-season you'd suspect there was a film press conference occuring.
Billy Bob Thornton is their coach, who doesn't yell "God damn it!" every second, swear at the cheerleaders or flip over benches. In fact, he's rather restrained. He makes a salary of $60k a year, which as we learn is more than the principal of the school. Yet, he's like a local celebrity. His name is on the radio all the time. Everyone in town knows who he is. They don't just hope he's going to take the team all the way to victory, they tell him he is. No or else. In a great visual scene, he comes home after losing a game to find his wife sitting on their front porch surrounded by stolen real estate signs scattered all over their lawn. See how important this is?
In a Traffic-esque approach (though not completely, that would have allowed the film to fully cross from very good to greatness where the film occasionally resides,) director Peter Berg focuses on a few of the players jumping back and forth between the storylines. One's mother takes the game so seriously she has practically gone insane quizzing her son every morning before school. Another has offers from almost every school in the country because he is the star of the team. And he knows it. Yet another's own father was once a state champion who likes to get drunk after the games and make his son's life a living hell. Tim McGraw is quite the surprise thespian as the father. Derek Luke plays the egotistical player whose story turns tragic after an injury and the realization that any hope he had of escaping his life is now over. Lucas Black, who appeared 8 years ago opposite Thornton in Sling Blade and since in films like Cold Mountain and The X-Files: Fight the Future, is a breakthrough as the player who doesn't even seem to like football or be all that interested in its world yet uses it as the only means to make something of themselves. If he can sidestep his thick Southern accent, he has a chance to become a real actor.
Berg, leaving behind the stylized concept of Very Bad Things and the too-mainstream The Rundown, proves that every director should get a chance with a small story. Only once throughout the film does he rely on sports cliches to drive the story. There is a "big game" after all. Friday Night Lights is yet another film this year to blur the line between mainsteam and independent. He takes what could have been any sports movie and goes for the indie approach of character and realism, cramming as much dramatic intensity into a PG-13 film as you can imagine. The score, made up of the typical indie guitar riffs, adds another dimension.
Now, I must comment on the film's ending. Which is to say had the team won the game, I would have been very pissed off. Thankfully, they did not. The town realized the world did not end. At the end, the typical "what happened to.." is displayed over the main characters. Guess what! Most of them went to college yet still live in Texas. The film reveals that next year Thornton's character Coach Gaines finally got his team to win State. Most people would think that that would be the story to tell: where the team wins, everyone goes off on their happy way and Thornton goes back to being respected. I'm glad it wasn't.

A Home at the End of the World - 5/10
I'm glad the tagline for this movie is "Family Can Be Whatever You Want It To Be" because had that not been there, I would have had no clue what the point of this film was. At one point, it might have been to see Colin Farrell nude, but those scenes were supposedly cut due to test audiences being too distracted by the size. Right. Sounds like something made up by Farrell's camp. Farrell, Robin Wright Penn, Dallas Roberts and Sissy Spacek are all good, though entirely wasted in this story of two friends and occasional fuck buddies who move in with a free spirit (she's free spirited because her hair is wild, not much else) in early 1980's Manhattan. She eventually gets pregnant and the three set up their own quirkly little family somewhere else in New York in a home...at the end of the world. Or something. Well, it has a great title. Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, wrote the book from which this based on and the screenplay. That may have been a mistake. The story isn't strong enough and things just happen without any buildup and little payoff. The only satisfying aspects are the scenes where the characters are young, and in the context of the entire film, those probably should have been deleted. The cast might have been drawn in by the promise of The Hours, but nothing ever amounts and after its over the audience is left with an empty feeling..in a home..at the end of the world.

Shall We Dance - 5/10
A great soundtrack does not make a great movie. Mismarketed as a story about a man finding a passion to dance, the story is actually about the dance world and the eccentrics involved. The cast, which seems to be made up of what I will call "demographic stunt casting," all try and waltz and tango to their best, but it doesn't elevate the film. Not helping matters is that they seem to play the same song over and over again. Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon play Bored Married Couple until he discovers a passion for ballroom dancing without telling her. After setting his sights on a beautiful instructor (Jennifer Lopez, not used enough, yes I said NOT used ENOUGH) staring out the dancehall windows very God-like, he signs up. You would think there would be an interesting dynamic over whether he would cheat on Louise with Selena, but the film mentions it in a mili-second before moving on to the diverse cast. Yeah, the supporting players are all really, really annoying. But don't worry. They'll be oversentimentilized by the film's end. Singers Mya and Ja Rule appear for about 5 seconds just so their names can appear on the poster and can help sell an older person's film to a younger audience. I should mention that Sarandon, who we couldn't care less about, hires a private dick to keep tabs on her husband when he seemingly goes astray. This is easily the dumbest subplot I've seen in recent memory as its given way too much time. There is one perfect moment toward the film's end where Gere goes to win back Sarandon after she learns of his secret life. The song "The Book of Love" by Peter Gabriel which is not at all a dance song or anything to make you tap your feet is used and its a beautiful moment.

Box Office Predictions: Nov. 12 - 14

1. The Incredibles - $45m / $130m / $280m
2. The Polar Express - $30m / $40m / $130m
3. After the Sunset - $14m / $14m / $45m
4. Seed of Chucky - $12m / $12m / $30m
5. Ray - $9.5m / $52.5m / $90m
6. The Grudge - $7m / $98m / $112m
7. Saw - $6.5m / $45m / $55m
8. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason - $6m / $6m / $68m
9. Alfie - $4.5m / $12.5m / $19m
10. Shall We Dance - $4m / $48m / $54m

imagine what intellectual things these two are saying

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

First Look: Shopgirl

Written by and starring Steve Martin, this dramedy focuses on the relationship between an older man and a free spirited shop girl (Claire Danes) at a posh Beverly Hills botique. The film opens Fall 2005. Jason Schwartzman, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Frances Conroy costar.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Poster

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Short Random Thoughts

The Grudge - 5/10
The narrative style does not work. It takes away most of the suspense. However, the film has several effective scares and jolts. That noise still creeps me out. (Some of you know what I'm talking about.) Not at all a rip-off of The Ring like I originally thoguht. Sarah Michelle Gellar is pretty good in a very non-SMG performance.

I Heart Huckabees - 7/10
The cast is great. Not a weak spot among them. Naomi Watts in her bonnet saying "FUCKABEES" still makes me laugh non-stop. Runs a tad long, and I prefer David O'Russell's previous work more as they didn't get as over the top as this once does.

The Incredibles - 7/10
Solid fun from start to finish. Inspired satire works better than action sequences. Great voicework from Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson. Its no Finding Nemo, though. Not even close. It should've been tightened up a bit more as it feels about ten minutes too long.

Ray - 8/10
Jamie Foxx so fades away into Ray Charles there wasn't a second of screen time where I thought of anything else but Charles. Kerry Washington and Regina King are great as his women. Awesome cinematography as well. Plays a bit too much like standard biopic. I'm really sick of these types of movies having every 10 minutes representing three years in someone's life. Know what I mean? Nevertheless, very moving stuff. Dazzling musical sequences and powerhouse performance make it memorable.

Shaun of the Dead - 8/10
I love zombie movies. My favorite scene is this funhouse was the "hey, if we walk like zombies, will they notice we aren't zombies?" I've always thought of that when watching these films. Simon Pegg is great in one of the best comedic performances by an actor this year. The opening sight gags are histerical!

Surviving Christmas - 3/10
Ben Affleck stars in a bad movie. Seriously, give it up. Why did I see this?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Not so Cursed after all...

AICN's Quint has seen Cursed and posted his pretty positive review of the rough cut. His likes: the effects, Ricci, Shannon Elizabeth's death, the gore, the characters, the sets, the humor. Dislikes: The ending wasn't entirely finished and the effects were a little off, and part of the twist ending. Now, this film isn't scheduled to be released till Feb. 25 (and that's still a question mark) so Craven has enough time to cut it a bit more and go back for some last minute reshoots. Hopefully, someone at Dimension was checking the website and will pass it along. Sadly, no mention of Arrested Development babes Portia De Rossi and Judy Greer or their role sizes. Here's the review.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Box Office Prediction: Nov. 5 - 7

1. The Incredibles - $62m / $62m / $285m
2. Ray - $15m / $41.5m / $100m
3. Alfie - $14m / $14m / $55m
4. The Grudge - $10m / $87m / $115m
5. Saw - $9m / $34.5m / $50m
6. Shall We Dance - $4m / $40m / $50m
7. Shark Tale - $3.5m / $153m / $164m
8. Friday Night Lights - $2.5m / $57m / $61m
9. Ladder 49 - $1.5m / $69m / $72m
10. Sideways - $1.5m / $2.5m / $35m

the incredibles react to nicole kidman kissing a little boy

Monday, November 01, 2004

"Today I pulled a lever for democracy. Plus, I voted."

- Will and Grace

(Yes, I said that there would only be one political entry, but fuck you.)

Gotta love that election episode of Will and Grace. It pretty much describes how many people vote. Grace and Will both want to have their respective candidates over for small parties. Grace favors the Jewish woman candidate, Will the gay man candidate. When the opposing friends quiz each other on their candidates' positions, this is each of their responses:

Will: I don't know. I think he's a top.
Grace: She's a woman. She probably just lays there.

Funny stuff.

Anyway, happy election day. Be careful not to pull the wrong lever and switch your long distance carrier to Sprint. Just in case you're wondering, here's who I am voting for:

President - Spider-Man
Vice President - Nicole Kidman
Best Vice President in a Leading Role - Buster Bluth
U.S. Senator - Sidney Bristow
Attorney General - Bree Van De Kamp
Favorite PA Senate On-screen Duo - Tina Fey & Amy Poehler
Auditor General - Alf (I have to be careful not to add an "IE" cause that's a whole other person)
State Treasurer - Fox Mulder

Funny Bunnies

These are very funny. Starz was doing a Halloween Movie Marathon and having bunnies reenact The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Freddy Vs. Jason and Scream. I anxiously waited all weekend for the Scream one and it did not disappoint. I loved the fat Drew bunny and the Gale bunny saying "Guess I didn't forget the safety that time, you bastard!" Ah, I laughed till I cried. You can see the short films at this website sometime this month and check out the bunny rave picture here.