Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Horror Movie News: Dead 5 & Hills Have Eyes Remake

I still love horror movies despite all the cowboy lovin' going on now. Remember when horror movies used to push the limits of the R-rating instead of being hacked up or watered down PG-13 versions? Looks like we're gonna be getting some more blood and guts...


According to various sources, this will most likely be the next film in the Romero's Living Dead series. The film will pick up directly after the events of Land of the Dead with the crew of Dead Reckoning headed for Canada. Oh, that great liberal land. George Romero stated in an interview that many of the characters would return - including Simon Baker's. This would be the first character continuity of the series, as all of the other films have picked up with entirely new characters. Noted exception: Tom Savini's biker character became a zombie in Dawn of the Dead, then is seen as a zombie in Land of the Dead. Romero has plans to shoot the film in Australia, though nothing is official. He has two other projects to work on, both adaptations of Stephen King material.


I rather enjoyed Wes Craven's original. I thought Alexandre Aja's High Tension (or Switchblade Romance as it is called in the following article) was okay overall, but started out pretty damn great before losing most of its tension then spiralling into a cliched ending. Now, combine the two and I'm very interested. See, the seminal Eyes had a great concept that wasn't exactly as great as it could have been, so I'm all for this remake. If you were to combine what Aja did in the first act of High Tension with the entire original, it sounds like it could be one hell of a movie.

From EmpireOnline:
"If you thought that Wes Craven’s 1977 horror classic The Hills Have Eyes, in which a suburban family are terrorised in the desert by a family of inbred mutants, was too intense and disturbing, then prepare yourself for the forthcoming remake – because you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Says who? Well, Craven himself, who’s producing the new movie, directed this time by Switchblade Romance helmer, Alexandre Aja. At the moment, the new Hills – starring Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan and Ted Levine – is so intense and gory that the American ratings board, the MPAA, have given it the dreaded NC-17, aka commercial suicide.

“It’s a very strong picture and we’re trying to figure out what to do with that, without ruining it,” says a perplexed Craven, speaking to Empire yesterday. “We have to deliver an R rating. We looked at it last night in the screening room and before we started, we said to Alex ‘what do you think?’ And he said ‘this is a PG-13 now’. And one of our producers said ‘Alex, can we commit you to an insane asylum if this isn’t an R?’ and then he showed it to us and ohmigod, there’s no way you would get an R for that.”

If you’re wondering why, just bear in mind that the first film featured a gruelling sequence where the mutants attack the family in their trailer, and kill nearly everyone. That sequence remains in the 2006 version, but considerably amped up.

“It's intense. Very intense. The attack on the trailer in my film was horrible, but it was over fairly fast,” adds Craven. “This one goes on almost ten full minutes. It’s fairly faithful to the original, but Alex added other things that also make it worse, what’s happening to these people. It’s protracted. It’s a long, slow process rather than being a chaotic, relatively fast process. It’s just too much for people that have to rate it, by a mile.”

Craven confirmed that Aja is still cutting the movie, and with a March 10 release date (both here and in the States), there’s plenty of time to meet the MPAA’s strict demands. But don’t worry, gore fans – “We can put it all full strength on the DVD, though,” laughs Craven. “We’ll be able to do that.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Box Office Predictions: Dec. 2 - 4

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - $22m / $232m / $280m
2. Aeon Flux - $12m / $12m / $27m
3. Walk the Line - $11m / $69m / $96m
4. Yours, Mine & Ours - $8m / $34m / $52m
5. Chicken Little - $5m / $125m / $136m
6. Pride and Prejudice - $4.5m / $22.5m / $38m
7. Just Friends - $4m / $19m / $26m
8. Rent - $4m / $23m / $30m
9. Derailed - $2m / $32m / $35m
10. Zathura - $2m / $28m / $31m

we're not in north country anymore

Independent Spirit Awards Nominations!

Best Feature:
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night and Good Luck
The Squid and the Whale
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Best Director:
Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
George Clooney - Good Night and Good Luck
Gregg Araki - Mysterious Skin
Rodrigo Garcia - Nine Lives
Noah Baumbach - The Squid and the Whale

Best Supporting Female:
Amy Adams - Junebug
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Happy Endings
Allison Janey - Our Very Own
Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain
Robin Wright Penn - Nine Lives

Best Supporting Male:
Firdous Bamji - The War Within
Matt Dillon - Crash
Jesse Eisenberg - The Squid and the Whale
Barry Pepper - The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Jeffrey Wright - Broken Flowers

Best Female Lead:
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Dina Korzun - Fourty Shades of Blue
Laura Linney - The Squid and the Whale
S. Epatha Merkerson - Lackawanna Blues
Cyndi Williams - Room

Best Male Lead:
Jeff Daniels - The Squid and the Whale
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
David Strathairn - Good Night and Good Luck

To read the complete list, go here.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Countdown to BBM: "Every once in a while a film comes along...."

Later in the week I'll hopefully have a full gallery from the film's premiere. I believe it's Tuesday? Tuesday is also Anna Faris' 29th birthday. Happy early b-day to one of the funniest women in film today.

This next article is almost three months old, but speaks volume of the film's place in the cinematic lexicon.

Click on text to read the article on "the most important film to come out of America in years."

"Every once in a while a film comes along that changes our perceptions so much that cinema history thereafter has to arrange itself around it. Think of Thelma and Louise or Chungking Express, Blow-Up or Orlando - all big films that taught us to look and think and swagger differently. Brokeback Mountain is just such a film. Even for audiences educated by a decade of the New Queer Cinema phenomenon - from Mala Noche and Poison to High Art and Boys Don't Cry - it's a shift in scope and tenor so profound as to signal a new era."

I'm really loving the Thelma and Louise comparison. If Brokeback Mountain becomes a phenomenon, it would be one closer in tone to that film or The Crying Game. I'll explain this later in the week.

Obviously, the press interviews you'll be seeing over the next couple of weeks/months will be talking about the big issue of the film and how the actors approached it. Imagine Mary Hart and her scary face asking questions, Jay Leno cracking jokes, or the women of The View bickering on and on. This next review from Premiere magazine tells it like it is. Interviewers, insiders and industry peeps - listen up!

By Glenn Kenny

"Given that the so-called mainstream media is often criticized for shoving a putatively progressive social agenda down the throats of God-fearing, sodomy-deploring Americans, the media scrutiny of Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain has provided an interesting counter to the argument that we debauched corrupters of the norm are unduly relaxed about homosexuality. I don't normally feel bad for movie stars, but seeing Brokeback leads Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger bombarded with queries along the lines of "Ah-hur-hur, what was it like to kiss another guy, ah-hur-hur?" is a little dispiriting. I'm almost surprised nobody's asked, "Did you two touch each other's pee-pees?" But maybe I just haven't seen that particular Entertainment Tonight episode yet.

Director Ang Lee, screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana (adapting, greatly expanding on, a story by Annie Proulx), along with cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, composer Gustavo Santaolalla, an incredibly talented cast led by Ledger, Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, and Anne Hathaway...hell, everybody involved in Brokeback Mountain deserves credit for crafting a film strong enough to withstand all of the third-grade snickering that's attended it. Their actual achievement is far more substantial indeed. This story of a couple of cowboys who make an unexpectedly deep connection while working a lonesome job on the movie's titular peak is one of the few truly convincing movies about romantic love to come along in years. And make no mistake--although the movie starts off in the early '60s, and much is made of their insatiable hunger for each other as the two men separate, start families, and grapple over the years with their places in the straight world, this is not a social-issue tract. It's a movie about romantic love, the most Romantic kind of romantic love--the kind you can never grasp long enough to even be vaguely satisfied by.

Lee and company handle the particulars of the tale with the requisite meticulousness and exquisite taste that marks all the director's films. But as Lee showed in The Ice Storm, for him discretion does not equal evasion. There's no wiggle room as far as the situation Gyllenhaal's Jack Twist and Ledger's Ennis del Mar find themselves in--they are lovers, not two guys who got a little chilly on a long Rocky Mountain evening. I'd go so far as to say that this magnificent picture confronts its subject matter head-on, but I don't want to provide anybody with a laugh line."

November Oscar Predix

Next month it'll be clearer. Right?

Best Picture:
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night and Good Luck
Pride and Prejudice
Walk the Line

Best Director:
Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
George Clooney - Good Night and Good Luck
Steven Spielberg - Munich
Woody Allen - Match Point
David Cronenberg - A History of Violence

Best Actor:
Eric Bana - Munich
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line
David Strathairn - Good Night and Good Luck

Best Actress:
Joan Allen - The Upside of Anger
Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Keira Knightley - Pride and Prejudice
Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line

Best Supporting Actor:
Matt Dillon - Crash
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
Bob Hoskins - Mrs. Henderson Presents
Craig T. Nelson - The Family Stone
Geoffrey Rush - Munich

Best Supporting Actress:
Maria Bello - A History of Violence
Gong Li - Memoirs of a Geisha
Scarlett Johansson - Match Point
Diane Keaton - The Family Stone
Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain

Best Original Screenplay:
The Family Stone
Good Night and Good Luck
Match Point
The Squid & the Whale

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Brokeback Mountain
Pride and Prejudice
Walk the Line

Best Art Direction:
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Chronicles of Narnia
King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
The New World

Best Cinematography:
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night and Good Luck
Memoirs of a Geisha
The New World
Pride and Prejudice

Best Costume Design:
Memoirs of a Geisha
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride and Prejudice
Walk the Line

Best Editing:
Brokeback Mountain
Walk the Line

Best Original Score:
Brokeback Mountain
Cinderella Man
The New World
Pride and Prejudice

Best Original Song:
Brokeback Mountain
The Chronicles of Narnia
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
The Producers

Best Sound Mixing:
Batman Begins
King Kong
Star Wars: Episode 3
Walk the Line
War of the Worlds

Best Sound Editing:
King Kong
Star Wars: Episode 3
War of the Worlds

Best Visual Effects:
Star Wars: Episode 3
King Kong
Chronicles of Narnia

Best Makeup:
Chronicles of Narnia
Memoirs of a Geisha
The New World

Best Animated Feature:
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Wallace and Gromit

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Countdown to BBM: Full Site Now Up!

Kate Mara & Ledger, Gyllenhaal & 'stache

The full site to my most anticipated movie of the year is now open.


Ever wondered what Anne Hathaway would look like with Farrah hair? Anna Faris, too?

Michelle Williams as a pregnant 1970ish housewife?

Howabout Heath Ledger with almost gray hair? Jake Gyllenhaal with a mustache?

Go there and find out. I do have to say the men's makeup job is quite amazing. This is no Vanity Fair where 20 years goes by and no one ages. Or even A Beautiful Mind where the aging is far too exaggerated.

Click around and you'll find some of the first pics of the supporting cast as well as behind the scenes pics featuring the grand scenery. I'm curious about a feature that is coming soon to the site: Share your story. Hmm.

Meanwhile, Brokeback Mountain has made its first Top 10 list of the year: Empire's. It came in 7th, which is pretty amazing considering the film hasn't even opened yet in Great Britain and it was ranked higher than Million Dollar Baby and Hotel Rawanda.

hathaway, linda cardellini, faris

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Box Office Predictions: Thanksgiving Weekend


1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - $52m / $205m / $286m
2. Walk the Line - $18m / $54m / $100m
3. Rent - $14.5m / $21.5m / $44m
4. Yours, Mine & Ours - $14m / $19m / $45m
5. Chicken Little - $13m / $119m / $145m
6. Just Friends - $12m / $17m / $35m
7. Pride and Prejudice - $6.5m / $16m / $36m
8. Zathura - $4.5m / $27m / $37m
9. In the Mix - $4m / $6m / $12m
10. The Ice Harvest - $4m / $5.5m / $14m

Friday, November 18, 2005

Countdown to Brokeback Mountain!

Brokeback Mountain is set in the beautiful, wild landscape of Wyoming where cowboys live as they have done for generations. Hard, lonely lives in unforgiving country. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are two ranch hands - 'drop out country boys with no prospects, brought up to hard work and privation, both rough-mannered, tough spoken' - glad to have found each other's company where none had been expected. But companionship becomes something else on Brokeback Mountain, something not looked for, something deadly. In twenty years they grab just a few desperate meetings, grace only in the memory of 'that old, cold time on the mountain when they owned the world and nothing seemed wrong.'

My favorite synopsis, courtesy of HarperCollins, of the short story - and now film. So much better than 'the gay cowboy story.'

I'll be posting some more in-depth articles about the film, most of which will be from major publications covering the release of the revolutionary - and yes, controversial - film. Look for some original stuff as well. :-)

My review of the film version of the short story Brokeback Mountain will be available here December 5th.

In the meantime, here's some general info regarding the film.

If you wish to read the short story in its entire text, it is available here.

The website of Focus Features, the acclaimed studio releasing the movie, is here.

Brokeback Mountain's Official Webpage.

IMDB's Brokeback Mountain Page
Wrangling Wranglers - a page dedicated to slash fiction centered around Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal
White of the Moon - a message board dedicated to discussions centering around Brokeback Mountain
On the Mountain - a fanlisting for the short story


Short Story Brokeback Mountain written by Annie Proulx

Directed by
Ang Lee

Screenplay by
Larry McMurtry
Diana Ossana

Produced by
Diana Ossana
James Schamus

Cinematography by
Rodrigo Prieto

Original Score by
Gustavo Santaolalla

Editing by
Geraldine Peroni
Dylan Tichenor


Ennis Del Mar..............Heath Ledger
Jack Twist..............Jake Gyllenhaal
Alma Beers............Michelle Williams
Lureen Newsome............Anne Hathaway
Cassie Cartwright......Linda Cardellini
Lashawn Malone...............Anna Faris
Joe Aguirre.................Randy Quaid
Alma Del Mar, Jr..............Kate Mara
Randall Malone............David Harbour
Monroe...........Scott Michael Campbell

Brokeback Mountain opens in New York, Los Angeles and San Fransisco on December 9th.
It expands to more top markets on December 16th, and will gradually expand throughout additional areas in January and February.

Walk the Line: Now In Theatres

Superior to last year's Ray and on par with 1980's Coal Miner's Daughter, Walk the Line begins in the buildup to an electric performance at Folsom Prison, then flashes back decades earlier. Not once during the next hours does the film ever lose the energy the first scene provides, ultimately building like a great Cash tune. Having an intense on screen chemistry in breathtaking performances, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon bring Johnny Cash and the love of his life June Carter to vivid life. These aren't just the legends you see on screen. These are fully rounded characters instead of just bangup impressions - the area Ray most faltered in. Witherspoon, more so than Phoenix, could cut a country album and have it go all the way to number one in a moment's notice. The actress looks fabulous in the great costume design, among the best in a fairly dry costume film year. Phoenix is deeply moving in his best performance thus far. When you watch him on screen, you forget the trouble Phoenix had in his own life and how it could be very comparable to his character. River would be proud. The film is completely standard, a classic tune you've heard many times before. But that at all doesn't mean the lead actors and director James Mangold don't bring their own verve and talent to it. The concert scenes feel alive thanks to the film's topnotch tech credits, but retain an intimacy making the crowd second hand to stage performer. You'll definately want the soundtrack, too. Among the many small turns by the supporting cast, Waylon Payne - as Jerry Lee Lewis - is the standout. Ginnifer Goodwin as Vivian Cash is the movie's most notable flaw, more because of miscasting and a bit too cliched but forgettable role. Nevertheless, this is a Hollywood crowdpleaser and one of the year's best.

Walk the Line - 9/10

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Superman Returns Trailer!

Available here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Reese's Pieces

The lovely, soon to be Oscar nominated (at long last!) star of Walk the Line has over the last decade carved out one of the best resumes among young Hollywood. At the age of 29, Laura Jean Reese Witherspoon has had her own franchise, 2 children, a much speculated about Hollywood marriage, the distinction of having starred in a romantic comedy that holds the record for biggest opening weekend EVER, and her own production company: Type A Film, named after her personality type. So why the fuck don't you like her?


It's the blonde hair, isn't it? Does blonde instantly equal ditzy to you? You know she attended Stanford? You know she is the descendant of John Witherspoon, who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Perhaps the voice? Too chirpy?

The chin? Too prominent?

Of all the actresses working, I've noticed more hatred generated toward this bubbly, bright actress. I can understand not liking people like Nicole Kidman or Renee Zellweger, believe it or not. In fact, just about all my favorite actresses I've noticed people have issues with. However, the only one I can't fathom people not liking is Reese Witherspoon.

Yes, you need to come to the light. You need to fall head over heels in love with Reese, and this is how you're going to do it.

Go to video store or visit Netflix. I even enclosed the link to Netflix to give you a headstart. Once at these places, this is what you're going to get:

1.) Freeway

"..I'm pissed off and the world owes me."

In this comic-thriller, Reese Witherspoon plays her most deplorable character. But compared to the other characters/archetypes presented, she's the anti-hero. Vanessa Lutz is a juvenile delinquent looking to just get to grandmother's house and away from her social worker. Yes, this is a thoroughly modern retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood." On her way, she accepts a ride from the film's Wolf - Keifer Sutherland. Turns out the wolf in this has a thing for underaged girls. What follows is dark, twisted, disturbing and truly funny. If you find these kinds of things funny. For those who think Reese is just a staple of the modern rom-com, this is the film for you. I doubt you'd ever associate with the characters she plays in her blockbusters with this. Vanessa swears, kills, tempts and teases. Put it like this, if Reese played this type of role NOW, it'd be such a stunning change of pace that she'd sweep award season.

2.) Election

"None of this would have happened if Mr. McAllister hadn't meddled the way he did. He should have just accepted things as they are instead of trying to interfere with destiny. You see, you can't interfere with destiny. That's why it's destiny. And if you try to interfere, the same thing's going to happen anyway, and you'll just suffer."

In arguably one of the finest of modern day comedies and Alexander Payne's best film to date (you hear that Sideways lovers?), Witherspoon plays a character that I'd bet her detractors probably confuse her with: an extremely smart, very snooty over achiever with dedication and professionalism. Tracy Flick is dead set on winning the school's student council election. She'll do whatever it takes to get Class President on her college resume. Matthew Broderick's character - Jim McAllister - is out to stop her. Why? He has nothing better to do really. And she annoys him to no end. Neither Broderick nor Witherspoon made it to the Oscars for this film, but thankfully, Witherspoon picked up her first Golden Globe nomination. No matter how you look at Tracy - love her, hate her - Witherspoon doesn't hold anything back. She's completely Tracy, no apologies needed. She's annoying, but fully human. Relate to her no matter how hard you resist.

3.) Legally Blonde

"And last week I saw Cameron Diaz at Fred Segal, and I talked her out of buying this truly heinous angora sweater. Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed."

As if I wouldn't. Put Clueless and Erin Brockovich in a blender, and you've got the synopsis for Reese's very first blockbuster, a movie she opened all her own. Earning over $20m it's first weekend and going on to gross just under the magic $100m mark, this summer '01 sleeper was Reese's movie through and through. Yes, I love Jennifer Coolige, too. But it's Reese. Her second Golden Globe nod and first MTV Movie Award were for playing the loveable, cliche busting smart blonde Elle Woods. The movie, more so than many star vehicles, rests firmly on Reese's shoulders and she delivers the goods and then some. Blessed with impeccable comedic time, hilarious yet stylish wardrobe and a worldview of her very own, Elle is the blonde we all wish we knew. Selma Blair provides an icy brunette counterpart and you'll love Elle's retort to Selma's character's costume party prank. Be sure to skip the dismal sequel, a film that seemed to exploit the character far too much. It was as if Elle Woods exploded on the screen and all we saw was pink cotton candy.

There are numerous other benchmarks of the actress, even failures like Vanity Fair offer interesting portrayals. I have not seen her first film Man on the Moon, but I've heard wonderful things about it.

Bottom line: If you don't love her by now, you probably never will. So fuck off.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Box Office Predictions: Harry Potter Walks the Line

1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - $92m / $92m / $274m
2. Walk the Line - $22m / $22m / $115m
3. Chicken Little - $18m / $103m / $154m
4. Zathura - $8.5m / $24m / $50m
5. Derailed - $6.5m / $22m / $35m
6. Jarhead - $6m / $55.5m / $72m
7. Get Rich or Die Tryin' - $5.5m / $26m / $36m
8. Saw 2 - $4.5m / $80.5m / $92m
9. Legend of Zorro - $3m / $43.5m / $49m
10. Pride and Prejudice - $2.5m / $6.5m / $34m

Friday, November 11, 2005

'Halloween' Producer Akkad dies in Jordan

From the AP:

LOS ANGELES - Moustapha Akkad, the Syrian-born producer of the "Halloween" horror films, died Friday from wounds sustained in the triple hotel bombings, a hospital official said.

The 75-year-old Los Angeles resident died at 7:30 a.m. in a Jordanian hospital where he was being treated, according to surgeon Dr. Yousef Qisous.

"He had bleeding in the lungs, his ribs were fractured and he died of his wounds and a severe heart attack this morning," Qisous told The Associated Press.

Akkad's daughter, Rima Akkad Monla, 34, also died in one of Wednesday's three explosions, her mother Patricia Akkad, said Thursday.

A woman who answered the telephone at Moustapha Akkad's home early Friday said she was too upset to talk.

A telephone message left at Patricia Akkad's Los Angeles area home was not immediately returned. She left for Lebanon late Thursday.

Three suicide bombers hit the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman, Wednesday night and killed at least 59 people, including the three suicide bombers.

Officials suspect Iraqi involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by al-Qaida's Iraq branch.

Moustapha Akkad, best known for producing all eight films in the "Halloween" franchise, also produced and directed "The Message" (1977) and "Lion of the Desert" (1981). Both latter films starred Anthony Quinn.

"The Message," a movie about the prophet Mohammed, was declared sacrilegious by a group of black American Muslims, who took hostages in three Washington, D.C. locations when the movie opened in March 1977, demanding that it not be shown in the U.S.

Akkad said he was baffled by the reaction to the movie, which he said cost $17 million to make.

"I made the film to bring the story of Islam, the story of 700 million of people, to the West," Akkad told The Associated Press in 1977.

Akkad said he turned to the horror genre because it was hard to raise money for religious-themed movies, according to a 1998 New York Times report.

Akkad's daughter, Rima, grew up in Los Angeles an avid polo player who graduated from the University of Southern California in 1995 with a degree in international relations.

She pursued a master's degree in Middle East studies at the American University in Beirut, where she met her husband Ziad Monla, 35.

Her husband's family owns the Monla Hospital in Tripoli, Lebanon. The couple, married for six years, has two sons, ages 2 and 4.

"Rima is a totally American girl," Patricia Akkad, 64, said Thursday in a phone interview from her ex-husband's home in Los Angeles. "Here's an American who was over there and innocently killed for no reason."

She said her daughter loved living in Beirut.

"We all know the problems in the Middle East, and you never think it's going to touch you," she said.

Funeral services were scheduled for Friday in Tripoli.

"She was the light of everybody's life," Patricia Akkad said. "She put everybody else first."

_ Associated Press Writers Shafika Mattar in Amman, Jordan and Christina Almeida in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Sad Development For Arrested...

From Variety:

It's not looking good for Arrested Development or frosh laffer Kitchen Confidential. Fox has cut back its episode order on the critically-admired Arrested to just 13 segs, down from 22. Producers of Kitchen, meanwhile, have been told the show won't be getting a full-season pickup. More worrisome: Fox is pulling both shows from the schedule, effective immediately. Arrested returned from a month-long hiatus this week, while Kitchen was slated to return Monday. Instead of the two laffers, Fox will air repeats of drama Prison Break in the 8-9 p.m. Monday slot for the rest of the November sweeps. It's presumed Arrested and Kitchen will return to finish out the remainder of their runs in December. Come January, net has long planned to move House into the Monday slot. Fox wasn't commenting Thursday morning, and for now, nobody's using the word cancellation. But in the case of Arrested, the handwriting appears to be on the wall. While numbers for Arrested were underwhelming this week, it's worth noting that a number of returning laffers -- including Fox's Stacked -- aren't doing much better.

What's particularly sad about this is that Monday's hour long special sparked more laughter than what most shows have in their entire run. Culminating in a hilarious sight gag Godzilla parody, the episode managed to subvert headlines like star "nanny snogging" and the issues over church and state, as well as referencing Alias, The Hours, Love Actually and Pretty Woman. Plus, it had the lovely as a summer evening Charlize Theron as an MRF.

The planned return date for the series is now December 5th. Most likely, it probably won't make it to 2006, thus destroying TV's strongest ensemble and making NBC's Tuesday night lineup of My Name Is Earl and The Office the official comedy night of preference. Before blaming Fox, know that they have done almost everything they can for this show. The only thing left is for people to tune in. Tell everyone you know to watch it during its next airing.

Nevertheless, please sign this petition to help keep it on the air for a little bit more. At least them get a proper full season to wrap up the plotlines and give Emmy a reason to give themselves a good kick in the ass over that Raymond debacle. There may be a slight possibility that a cable network could pick it up, but even that might be a shot in the dark now. Here's hoping.

Top 10 Trailers of the Year

Yes, I love me some trailers. I'm happy to report that trailers seem to be not giving away as much anymore, but there is a slight surge in more trailers. For instance, it used to be there'd just be one trailer, maybe a teaser. Now, major summer tentpoles are releasing a teaser a year in advance, then several full trailers as the release date approaches. Even what may seem like a full trailer can be replaced a month or 2 before the release date with another full trailer.

What makes a great trailer? I think it's more about editing than anything else. It's 2.5 minutes of footage, but if it has a specific flow and energy to it, I think that's what makes it work. The footage it shows is also imperative. For a comedy, make sure the stuff is funny but there should be an apparent feel that there's more than just the best jokes being shown. An action film needs several WOW money shots. For an adult drama, play up prestige and make it look new, not cliched. Make sure your demographic is played to, but don't ignore the rest.

Ok, forget that. Just watch these:

Creating a chilling ambiance for a story that almost everyone knows, the trailer is also a strong acting showcase. (Sony Pictures Classics)

Excellent use of imagery - most notably Cash standing in the field, and instead of predictably using the title song, opts for "Ring of Fire." (20th Century Fox)

Looks powerful and compelling, certain to get people talking, and very moving. Did I mention it's barely longer than 2 minutes? Exactly. (DreamWorks/Universal)

Gotta love any trailer that makes fun of trailers. It puts the summer blockbuster in check. This trailer - originally intended only for the internet - was so popular it ended up in theatres anyways. (TouchStone)

How do you get people excited for a big issue movie? Make it timely. Make it thrilling. This trailer revs up the excitement in what is most likely a quiet movie. Deceptive, of course. (Warner Bros.)

Both trailers are excellent and really exciting, but the second one is better. It oozes cool. (Dimension Films)

A boring, standard movie that uses a great score and epic cinematography to give the derivitive film a Gladiator-like feel. (20th Century Fox)

Like #5, uses exciting music to play up the timely subject matter. Excellent use of music, from Aaron Neville to Kanye West. (Universal)

Know your demographic. This movie obviously don't play to everyone, so instead they opt for an independent type of humor and hip music to sell a Lost In Translation-esque film. (TouchStone)

If only every trailer was like this one. If only DreamWorks hadn't put out a second trailer that exposed the whole movie. While the movie may have been slightly cliched, it was pulled off well, and the trick to this trailer isn't what is shown, but what isn't. Trailers often are bait, and the movie itself is the switch. Go in thinking you're getting one thing when you're actually getting another. This trailer pulls off the bait for the most part but then throws in the switch. Think you're seeing a hip, new romcom. BAM. Nice switch. At first you feel like you're seeing a lot of the movie, but by the end, you realized you've seen nothing. It may have confused some people - is he a vampire? - but it sure got you interested in what exactly was going on. The best trailer of the year. (DreamWorks)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Box Office Predictions: Nov. 11 - 13

1. Chicken Little - $22m / $69m / $125m
2. Zathura - $20m / $20m / $62m
3. Get Rich or Die Tryin' - $13m / $21m / $45m
4. Jarhead - $12.5m / $47.5m / $80m
5. Saw 2 - $7.5m / $72m / $84m
6. Derailed - $7m / $7m / $20m
7. Legend of Zorro - $5.5m / $38m / $49m
8. Good Night and Good Luck - $3.5m / $15.5m / $35m
9. Prime - $3m / $17.5m / $24m
10. Dreamer - $3m / $28m / $35m
11. Pride and Prejudice - $2.5m / $2.5m / $38m
12. Shopgirl - $2m / $6m / $15m

..and yet vince vaughn is the costar she hooks up with???

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Top 10 Posters of the Year

10. An eye catching and irreverant poster. Definately the "double take" poster of the year. (20th Century Fox)

9. Sexy and dirty. Just like the movie, supposedly. (United Artists)

8. Brilliant tagline. Pays great homage to it's 50's/B-movie roots. (Warner Bros.)

7. Excellent use of darkness vs. vibrant color. (Touchstone)

6. A simple, yet powerful image. It has a familiar feel, but works well. (Sony Pictures Classic)

5. Certainly the most difficult film to market of the year: lush background scenery, and excellent opposing leads with opposite colored hats. (Focus)

4. Best use of color, so warm. The duel images exude the independence of the herione. Knightley looks her very best. (Focus)

3. Very reminiscent of 70's stuff for some odd reason. So simple, so effective. (DreamWorks)

2. Hilarious and eye catching. Comedic brilliance. Great tagline. (Universal)

1. Iconic, artistic image. The greatest piece of 27*40 I've seen in a long time. (20th Century Fox)

Walk the Line opens November 18th. Tomorrow, top trailers of the year!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Countdown to Walk The Line & Syriana: A look at Walk the Line's Oscar ads

Syriana doesn't have any yet.


Friday, November 04, 2005

New Trailers: King Kong & Munich

Venture out to see Jake Gyllenhaal this weekend in Jarhead and you'll most likely get to see both of these great trailers. Both look rather....well, for lack of a better word...WOW.

Naomi Watts goes damsel and plays with a big ape HERE.

Eric Bana shirtless and shattering historical events HERE.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Countdown To Walk the Line & Syriana...

...kicks off right now!

There are 3 remaining films from my most anticipated films of 2005 list. I'm doing these two at once and will officially begin the "Countdown to Brokeback Mountain" on November 19th. Hope you like the new banner. Can you name everyone on it? :-)

Also, on the sidebar, I'm putting my official ratings of the films I recently viewed, so you can keep up with that.

Why am I looking forward to Syriana and Walk the Line?

I've seen probably around 550 films released since the millenium began. A film that is in the top 10, if not the top 5, is Traffic. Soderbergh's brilliant exploration of the war on drugs was covered from all angles. It wasn't a morality film, nor a standard "shoot-em-up" drug film, rather a complete study of 3 varying sides of a subject you probably witness on the news every night. The film didn't judge and didn't try to cram a message down your throat. It explored. It entertained. It involved. Featuring a top notch ensemble with standout performances by Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Erika Christensen and, in his Oscar winning performance, Benecio Delo Toro, the film was adapted from the British miniseries Traffik by Stephen Gaghan. 5 years after the drug war unraveled in a very intimate manner in this epig saga, Gaghan similarly explores oil with Syriana. The timely trailer, released just as sky high gas prices were slightly leveling off, talked about gas costing $20 a gallon, supplies running out and 90% of what's left being in the Middle East. This uneasy topic may not have cash registers in theatre box offices ca-chinging, but it will provide another in depth, but fully human account of a hot button issue. Gaghan, previously directing Katie Holmes in the very underrated Abandon, directs his screenplay, a loose adaptation of the memoirs of Robert Baer, a CIA agent who spent years in the trenches. His onscreen incarnate is played by George Clooney, who gained almost 30lbs for the role. Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer and Amanda Peet round out the cast. The film is from a new production company under Warner Bros. called Participant. They've released two other acclaimed movies over the past month with equally compelling subject matter: North Country and Good Night and Good Luck.

Everyone loves Johnny Cash, right? He was a relatively late discovery for me. I bought my first Cash CD just over a year ago. I dug the hell out of the song "The Man Comes Around," but it was the cover of "Hurt" that really stuck with me. At my grandparents house one day, they had just been given a CD player. To go with it, they were given a Cash CD. It was a bunch of his classics rerecorded later in his career. I played "I Walk the Line" and "Ring of Fire" several times over. My grandfather asked if I liked Johnny Cash. Before I could reply, my grandmother said "Well, everyone likes Johnny Cash." She was right. I was first exposed to Joaquin Phoenix in the movie that features my favorite Nicole Kidman performance: To Die For. He was rail thin, with that classic early 90's daze that so many alterna-college set rocker wannabees had at the time. It wasn't until doing some research that I discovered he was River Phoenix's younger brother. Not more than 6 months after I saw To Die For, I saw Fear. Who could forget the scene where Marky Mark gropes that cute young blonde with the jutting chin on a roller coaster to The Sunday's cover of "Wild Horses"? Now, almost a decade later, these are two actors that I always enjoy seeing on screen. If it's Witherspoon talking about disturbing fashion trends in Legally Blonde or Phoenix drawing on fake sideburns in Inventing the Abbotts, they are the rarest of rare in Hollywood: movie stars who are great movie stars because they are great actors. Whenever actors I love are given roles that will make people stand up and take notice finally, it should be a film worth seeing. It just so happens that this film is a biopic about Johnny Cash and the love of his life, June Carter. Both actors were given the casting thumbs up by their real life characters before their deaths. What many didn't expect was that Reese and Joaquin would be performing the classic tunes by the Cash's using their own voices, as opposed to lip syncing to the classics - what Jamie Foxx did with last year's Ray. Johnny and June were the first two to see that they would make the perfect on-screen team. Now, after showings in Toronto and Telluride, critics and audiences have been equally impressed. It won't be too long before Oscar takes notice.

Syriana hits major cities November 23rd and theatres everywhere December 9th.

Walk the Line opens everywhere November 18th.

Box Office Predictions: Nov. 4 - 6

1. Chicken Little - $36m / $36m / $125m
2. Jarhead - $18m / $18m / $55m
3. Saw 2 $11.5m / $55.5m / $72m
4. The Legend of Zorro - $8.5m / $29m / $45m
5. Dreamer - $4m / $23m / $31m
6. Prime - $3.5m / $11.5m / $18m
7. Good Night and Good Luck - $3m / $11m / $35m
8. Wallace and Gromit - $2.5m / $53m / $59m
9. The Weather Man - $2.5m / $8m / $12.5m
10. North Country - $2m / $15.5 m / $20m