Thursday, January 31, 2008

Michel Gondry 'swedes' own film.

In Be Kind Rewind, Jack Black and Mos Def star as a pair of video store employees who must replace all their VHS tapes by creating 'sweded' (i.e., cheap) remakes. Anyone who has been reading this site for some time should be well aware of this movie. We've been running various trailers for some time, and the best parts have always been the clips from the sweeded remakes.

The films recieving the sweded treatment at the hands of Black and Def are some of my favorites including Driving Miss Daisy, Ghost Busters, and yes, Robocop. Well it looks like Rewind director Michelle Gondry didn't want to be percieved as one of those pranksters who can dish it out but not take it back, so he went and sweeded his own trailer.

Check it out:

If Mike could perfect that Flux Capacitor he's been working on, February 22 would be so right now already. In other news, Michel Gondry is the coolest filmmaker alive.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Charlie Chaplin Speaks

The following clip below features a great monologue from Charlie Chaplin, a man known primarily for his silence:

And in case you were wondering, the scene comes from The Great Dictator.

Speaking of games: Guess the Oscars, win a prize.

This isn't a contest sponsored by The Movie Show, but friend and local filmmaker Stephen Van Vuuren is running a his own little Oscar Pool on his film's website.

Over the last few years, Stephen has worked diligently on a computer-animated IMAX film entitled Outside In. Down in his basement no less. Anyone who understands the technical specs of IMAX knows this is a huge deal. To shoot a 60-minute nature film, it would cost $16 million due to the film stock and equipment costs, but Van Vuuren has mastered a way to make his film for a tiny fraction of that cost.

The Oscar Pool is a humble yet inventive fund-raising attempt, and I'll probably enter it myself once some of the political dust in Hollywood settles, giving me a greater edge of certainty. It kind of reminds me of the raffles my old peanut football league used to run back when I was a kid growing up in the mountains. They once ran a year-long raffle for a hand-sewn quilt featuring a fire-truck red wildcat (our school's mascot) at the very center. The only difference is that instead of a tacky quilt, Van Vuuren is giving away a $250 gift card to Best Buy for the person who gets the most categories right.

You can find out more about Van Vuuren's Oscar fundraiser by clicking here.

Gilliam to play Game of Death with Ledger's final film.

Last week, we had reported that Terry Gilliam ended production on his newest film, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus after lead actor Heath Ledger passed away. According to People, it looks like the show will go on.

Here's an excerpt:

Despite earlier reports that the director might shelve the $30 million production, Gilliam, whom [Co-Star Christopher] Plummer describes as "terribly saddened" by Ledger’s death is "trying to work out at this moment how to continue on. Fortunately, because the film deals with magic, there is a way, perhaps, of turning Heath into other people and then, using stills and I think they call it CGI…

"Terry was a very good friend [of Heath's]," adds Plummer. "He very wants to go on with the movie, and I can very much understand why. Because he wants to dedicate it to Heath, of course."

The write-up goes on to mention how rigorous the shooting schedule was on that film. You can read about it here.

The question remains, however, is should Gilliam finish his Imaginarium, will it be as lame as the 'final' Bruce Lee film, Game of Death? While Game inspired wardrobe choices of characters in both Kill Bill and Shaolin Soccer, it was a horrible movie. They had shot around 40 minutes worth of action scenes for Game of Death when Bruce Lee suddenly left during the middle of production to make Enter the Dragon, his U.S. debut. Lee had promised to shoot the rest of the movie but passed away due before he could. No strangers to exploitation, Golden Harvest plowed ahead and finished it without Lee, using every cheap trick in the process. You had a body double who wore large sunglasses and a Gilligan hat, spliced in clips from previous Bruce Lee films, and then cardboard cut-outs of Bruce Lee's face. No joke. The result was a tacky ending for the career of a screen icon.

I hope Gilliam knows what he's doing. No one will want him to repeat the same mistake.

Sony puling a rush-job on Quantam of Solace (a.k.a. Bond 22).

I pulled some distressing news from IMDB today. Seeing as how they have built up a lot of good will with the last James Bond film, Sony apparently plans to flush all of that down the toilet with a rush-job sequel.

Here's the report:
Five sound stages are currently being employed at Britain's Pinewood Studios to film the latest James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, with a cast and crew of more than 500, the Associated Press reported Monday. They are currently filming 10-12 hours a day, six days a week, in order to stay on a production schedule that will enable the film to be released on schedule on November 7, the wire service observed. "We have a crew that's all worked together, all know each other," producer Michael G. Wilson told A.P. "It's a good atmosphere."

If director Marc Forster somehow manages to pull even a semi-decent film out of this hat, then he must be an immortal with the powers for forty wizards. The only problem with this is that Forster directed The Kite Runner, so we know this isn't the case.

It's never a good thing when a studio has a release date before they even have a script. Especially if the release date in question is less than a year away. It didn't work for David Fincher's Alien 3, and I am pretty sure it's enough to keep a hero like James Bond down, too. Millions of people are going to see a James Bond film regardless of when it's going to come out. You might as well just give the filmmakers the time they need so that the end result will be a movie good enough to ensure the same number of people want to see the next one. But maybe the studios figure that since audiences gobbled up a decade's worth of mostly sub-par James Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan, that it won't matter in the end.

Son of Rambow trailer.

Just in time to wash out the stale taste last Friday's Rambo left in my mouth (you can hear more about that on Thursday's show), we've got this neat little trailer about a pair of kid Brits from the 80's who up and decide one day to remake Rambo: First Blood Part II.

But before you try to call this film Be Kind Rewind Jr., keep in mind that it went into production two years ago, and was released at Sundance in 2007. Check out the trailer below. It's really good despite borrowed soundtrack bits from Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket and the millions of other movies that have used David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel." I guess that's how 'indie' movies get sold these days.

Son of Rambow is set to be released on May 2.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Note to paparazzi: Tarantino will fight your ass.

Quentin Tarantino was in Park City, Utah this week serving as part of the grand jury for this year's Sundance Film Festival. Stopping in a nearby Starbucks for a hot caffinated beverage, he walks back outside and notices a guy holding a video camera is following him. The result is the following YouTube video below:

When Quentin said, "But if that was off, I would be whooping your ass up and down this street," I believed him. The Kill Bill director is no stranger to off-screen fisticuffs. In his insightful book Down and Dirty Pictures writer Peter Biskind recounts how Tarantino once beat the crap out of Natural Born Killers producer Don Murphy for talking smack about the director to several reporters. Tarantino had promised Murphy a beatdown, and when the two ran into each other at a Hollywood resturant, Murphy had the audacity to smirk and remind Tarantino of his vow, so sure enough Tarantino delivered. Harvey Weinstein had to pull his star director off of Murphy before Tarrantino got himself arrested. That story alone makes Biskind's novel worth buying, especially now that you can purchase used copies for pocket change online

Chris Nolan's final words on Heath Ledger (and mine).

Newsweek ran an excellent piece by Chris Nolan regarding the untimely death of Heath Ledger. Nolan directed Ledger in his final film, The Dark Knight and should have been one of the first people the press sought out when the horrible news broke -- not Jack Nicholson.

Here is an excerpt from Nolan's article. It includes a potential spoiler about how the Joker could be riding a skateboard in the upcoming film:

One night, as I'm standing on LaSalle Street in Chicago, trying to line up a shot for "The Dark Knight," a production assistant skateboards into my line of sight. Silently, I curse the moment that Heath first skated onto our set in full character makeup. I'd fretted about the reaction of Batman fans to a skateboarding Joker, but the actual result was a proliferation of skateboards among the younger crew members. If you'd asked those kids why they had chosen to bring their boards to work, they would have answered honestly that they didn't know. That's real charisma—as invisible and natural as gravity. That's what Heath had.

Heath was bursting with creativity. It was in his every gesture. He once told me that he liked to wait between jobs until he was creatively hungry. Until he needed it again. He brought that attitude to our set every day.

One time he and another actor were shooting a complex scene. We had two days to shoot it, and at the end of the first day, they'd really found something and Heath was worried that he might not have it if we stopped. He wanted to carry on and finish. It's tough to ask the crew to work late when we all know there's plenty of time to finish the next day. But everyone seemed to understand that Heath had something special and that we had to capture it before it disappeared. Months later, I learned that as Heath left the set that night, he quietly thanked each crew member for working late. Quietly. Not trying to make a point, just grateful for the chance to create that they'd given him.

You can read the rest of what Nolan said here.

Far be it for me to speculate on what may have caused Ledger's death. I'm not one of the NYPD detectives assigned to the case. However, the press has so far implicated suicide, drug use, depression, playing the Joker against Jack Nicholson's warnings, and yes, an Olsen twin.

But the one angle few reporters have mentioned yet - especially now that there's a chance Ledger could have died of natural causes - was exhaustion. Here was an actor who played the villain in a movie about a nocturnal super hero. That meant a lot of both day and nighttime shooting. It's almost certain that it wrecked Ledger's sleeping routine. Also, in Nolan's article, we read that Ledger had asked the crew to work late one evening, making it obvious that Ledger was never afraid to push himself beyond his limits.

When principal photography for The Dark Knight had wrapped, Ledger jumped immediately into his post-production duties so he could have those out of the way in order to play a lead role in Terry Gilliam's next film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Certainly, Ledger didn't 'need' to appear in the film as was his custom according to Nolan. He probably just took the role because he was good friends with Gilliam from their days working on The Brothers Grimm, and he knew the perpetually unlucky filmmaker would probably not be able to secure financing for his film otherwise.

So by doing a solid favor for a friend in need at a time when Ledger should have been recouperating from the hectic Batman shoot, the actor may have simply pushed his heart to the brink of failure. I've seen something similar happen to my own father. He worked non-stop when I was a kid, traveling up and down the highway. Then one day he collapsed on our couch and had to go to the hospital. He almost died. A few weeks later his hair turned completely white.

One of the virtues of the modern age is exhaustion. It's a sign of sacrifice and determination, but on the other side of the coin, it's also telling people who are unable to enjoy the things they have. What did Ledger have? A fortune, an Oscar nomination, the ability to star in any movie he would have liked, and more importantly, a daughter he loved dearly. Then again, if we were in Ledger's shoes, we might have agreed that he didn't have enough.

Perhaps no one can.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Guillermo Del Toro might have made the bad choice to direct The Hobbit.

In recent months, Pan's Labrynth director Guillermo Del Toro has been straddling the fence between helming the final installments of The Lord of the Rings series with The Hobbit, and the Harry Potter series with The Deathly Hallows. Now according to The Hollywood Reporter, it looks as if Del Toro might have decided to direct The Hobbit

If this is the case, I think Del Toro made the wrong choice.

Both project consist of two films being adapted from one book, but unlike The Hobbit, The Deathly Hallows actually needs two films to cover its massive text. The Hobbit is a thin tome that Peter Jackson says he plans to pad out into two films by taking scraps and short stories revolving around Tolkien's universe and filming them as parallels to the main story. Sure, it means we'll get origin stories for all of our favorite LOTR trilogy characters like Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, but I can't imagine the two films will be anything less than a complete and total mess. Even that last film Peter Jackson did almost fell apart because of all the stuff he added from the appendices.

On the other hand, The Deathly Hallows is a book that could desperately use the touch of Del Toro. It's a story loaded with sadness and murder, and Del Toro is the only filmmaker I know who has incorperated both of those things into stories about children without making me feel deeply depressed.

Perhaps Del Toro is planning to hand the final Harry Potter films off to his buddy Alfonso Cuaron, who directed The Prisoner of Azkaban, or Juan Antonio Bayona, who he produced in the amazing The Orphanage. If that's the case, I can live with it. But if Warner Brothers could pick anyone to direct this final film, it should be Del Toro. He's already said that he loves Harry Potter and would be glad to do it, so I'm not too sure why Warner hasn't signed him up already. Otherwise he's going to be drug down with the potentially massive waste of money known as The Hobbit prequels.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Heath Ledger Tribute [PODCAST!]

After a month-long hiatus, our podcasts are finally back on!

Here's a description:

Hosts Joe and Mike remember the life of actor Heath Ledger in this bitter-sweet episode of “The Movie Show.” Also, Craig D. Lindsey, film critic for the Raleigh News and Observer, calls in to share his reaction to the 2008 Oscar nominees.

Joe reviews Cloverfield, Mike reviews In the Name of the King, and a whole lot of people share their opinions of There Will Be Blood.

Other news stories include Oliver Stone’s planned bio-pic of George W. Bush, Ryan Gosling playing Jack Ryan, and Uwe Boll approaching the winter of his career (yay!).

This week’s Soundtrack Selections:
-“He Was a Friend of Mine” - Willie Nelson from Brokeback Mountain
-”Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” - Of Montreal from Cloverfield
-”Who Wants to Live Forever” - Queen from Highlander
-”Falling Slowly” - Glen Hansard from Once
-”Golden Years” - David Bowie from A Knight’s Tale

You cam check out the podcast by following this link or by subsribing via the purple icon on the top right corner of the page.

Toy Story 3 gets an added '-D.'

As cute and funny as they are to watch, a part of me has always found both Toy Story movies to be rather sad. Living in the mountains with no neighbors, my toys were my only friends on many a summer's day. So when I see these beautifully computer-animated films that personify children's playthings, and show them expressing sadness and regret for being abandoned or discarded, it makes me feel regret for all the action figures I lost to carelessness, apathy, and yes, firecracker experimentation. I loved many of my old toys, and my ability to just up and betray them one day makes me wonder if I am capable of doing the same thing to people.

I'm not too sure if that's what Pixar's John Lasseter in mind.

But anyway, it looks like Lasseter & Co. have big plans for their most popular franchise. They want to re-release the two original Toy Story films as well as the planned sequel in Disney Digital 3-D. Here's a quote from the press release:

Lasseter added, “The ‘Toy Story’ films and characters will always hold a very special place in our hearts and we’re so excited to be bringing this landmark film back for audiences to enjoy in a whole new way thanks to the latest in 3-D technology. I am sure that this is going to be nothing short of fantastic and people are going to be blown away by the experience. With ‘Toy Story 3’ shaping up to be another great adventure for Buzz, Woody and the gang from Andy’s room, we thought it would be great to let audiences experience the first two films all over again and in a brand new way. 3-D offers lots of great new possibilities for the art of animation and we will continue to use this new technology to tell our stories in the best possible way.”


We've reported before on the show that the only reason Pixar agreed to make Toy Story 3 was to put something on the table as part of their deal with Disney that gave them total control over the studio's animation department. The deal also gave the computer animation company the power to destroy the lame Toy Story sequel Disney had planned to make without Pixar's involvement. Unfortunately, this now means that Pixar actually has to make Toy Story 3 to fulfill their end of the agreement, and I'm not sure there's really anywhere for the franchise to go that wouldn't take Woody the cowboy and Buzz Lightyear into Shrek 3 territory. It would break my heart to see Pixar make a pointless Toy Story film, especially since they've come down on Disney's 2-D animation department hard for doing the same with their own classic films to cash in with straight-to-video releases.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

RE: Heath Ledger's death: "I told him so." - Jack Nicholson

In my post on Heath Ledger's death, I wrote: "Waiting in the wings is the actor's turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight, the film some people are invariably going to blame for killing Ledger should his death be linked to drugs or alcohol."

Well, sure enough, it happened.

From IMDB:

Jack Nicholson has hinted he warned tragic Heath Ledger against taking on the role of The Joker in the new Batman film. Ledger, 28 - who was declared dead at 3:30pm at his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday - publicly declared himself exhausted and sleep deprived in November following the grueling shoot for The Dark Knight. He also revealed in an interview with the New York Times he'd resorted to taking sleeping pills - an overdose of which is believed to be the cause of his death - in a desperate bid to catch up on rest. And Nicholson, who famously portrayed the menacing Joker in Tim Burton's 1989 movie Batman, implied to the waiting crowd outside plush London restaurant The Wolesley on Tuesday night he spoke to Ledger about his role in The Dark Knight - and warned him about the pitfalls of taking on such a demanding challenge. When asked by the London crowds for his reaction to Ledger's untimely demise, a defeated Nicholson simply replied, "I told him so." Batman Begins prequel The Dark Knight is due to be released in July.

It's ridiculous that the press would seek comment from Jack Nicholson on the death of Heath Ledger. It's not like they were ever close. I mean they never did a movie together. And Nicholson never mentored Ledger or anything like that.

At any rate, WB better get cracking on finding the best way to market The Dark Knight now that one of its stars are dead. From now until July 17th, the studio must figure out how to market the film in a way that will both honor Ledger's death but not make it the entire focus of the film. One false step, and the entire project could bare the stink of a tragic, untimely demise -- something that could turn moviegoers off when looking for popcorn entertainment next summer.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger (1979-2008)


Hollywood lost a great one today. Heath Ledger is dead. I found out via a text message from Mike while buying books for my after school program at Barnes & Noble.

Ledger was survived by actress Michelle Williams and their daughter Mathilda. Word has it Williams is currently in Sundance promoting Incendiary, a UK drama wherein she plays a woman whose husband gets killed. The irony of it all is almost sickening.

I couldn't believe it at first -- Heath had became such a valuable card in the deck of young actors working today. And he was one of the very few artists out there who proved my initial reactions of their work wasn't always correct. I didn't like 10 Things I Hate About You, and wrote Ledger off as a 'British pretty boy who acts like a tough guy rebel.' A young fan of his at the time even wrote my first piece of hate mail in order to defend the fledgling actor and point out that he is in fact Australian.

Thankfully, Ledger moved on to do greater things. He parlayed his career of playing pretty boys in light fluff into some challenging territory. My first clue of what Ledger would be capable of was his role as Billy Bob Thorton's son in Monster's Ball. Then he flirted with the potential to become the Val Kilmer of his time with Lords of Dogtown and knocked a grand slam in Brokeback Mountain. That role in particular was infused with deep sadness and anger. All the homophobes out there who crack jokes about that film would probably be silenced if they actually just watched it. That's how good he was in that film.

Waiting in the wings is the actor's turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight, the film some people are invariably going to blame for killing Ledger should his death be linked to drugs or alcohol. It took major cajones to play a role made iconic by Jack Nicholson, and gauging from what we saw in the trailer and IMAX short film, it looks as if he might have knocked his last film out of the park. I had said many times the look of the Joker in The Dark Knight reminded me of Brandon Lee's character in The Crow. Funny how that works out, right?

Obviously, this is going to affect several projects, including new films for both Terrance Malick and Terry Gilliam, but I won't go into details right now. It's simply not the time.

2008 Oscar Nominations!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiled some major surprises when they listed the nominees for this year's Academy Awards.

The biggest surprise for me was the omission of Persepolis from the Best Foreign Picture category. France had submitted the animated film for nomination over The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, leaving the country entirely shut out of an award they could have easily won.

Johnny Depp managed to duplicate his Golden Globe award for Sweeney Todd into a nomination, however, he stands no choice of winning. Hal Holbrook got a nod for the major Golden Globes snub, Into the Wild and Cate Blanchett scored a double nomination for I'm Not There for Best Supporting, and Elizabeth 2 for best actress.

Juno managed a nod for Best Picture, splitting the 'chick vote' with Atonement in an otherwise male-dominated category -- No Country for Old Men, Michael Clayton, and There Will Be Blood made up the other three nominees and none of them have female characters in non-supporting roles.

One thing that seemed strange to me was how the Best Adapted & Original Screenplay categories were the last ones to be mentioned. Was this an intentional slight due to the WGA strike?

Anyway, here are the nominees:

Best Actor

George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones - In The Valley Of Elah
Viggo Mortensen - Eastern Promises

Best Supporting Actor

Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem - No Country For Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook - Into The Wild
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie - Away From Her
Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose
Laura Linney - The Savages
Ellen Page - Juno

Best Supporting Actress

Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
Rudy Dee - American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

Best Animated Feature

Surf's Up

Art Direction

American Gangster
The Golden Compass
Sweeney Todd
There Will Be Blood


The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Costume Design

Across The Universe
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
La Vie En Rose
Sweeney Todd

Best Director

Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Jason Reitman - Juno
Tony Gilroy - Michael Clayton
Joel & Ethan Coen - No Country For Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood

Best Documentary Feature

No End In Sight
Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience
Taxi To The Dark Side

Best Documentary Short Subject

La Corona (The Crown)
Salim Baba
Sari's Mother

Best Editing

The Bourne Ultimatum
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Into The Wild
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Best Foreign Language Film

The Counterfeiters

Best Makeup

La Vie En Rose
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Best Music Original Score

The Kite Runner
Michael Clayton
3:10 To Yuma

Best Music - Original Song

August Rush

Best Picture

Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Best Animated Short Film

I Met The Walrus
Madame Tutli-Putli
Même Les Pigeons vont Au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven)
My Love (Moya Lyubov)
Peter & The Wolf

Best Live Action Short Film

At Night
Il Supplente (The Substitute)
Le Mozart Des Pickpokets
Tanghi Argentini
The Tonto Woman

Best Sound Editing

The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Best Sound Mixing

The Bourne Ultimatum
No Country For Old Men
3:10 To Yuma

Best Visual Effects

The Golden Compass
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Adapted Screenplay

Away From Her
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Original Screenplay

Lars and the Real Girl
Michael Clayton
The Savages

2008 Nevermore Film Festival line-up.


Ever since I attended my first Nevermore Gothic and Horror Film Festival at the Caroline Theatre in Durham (not GSO) back in 2000, I immediately fell in love. I mean here you have a group of people in Durham, NC of all places doing something so generous for horror movie fans that it's almost like a chunk of Austin, TX was magically transported to the Bull City.

Each year, these guys have somehow managed to net some major premiers and exclusive screenings. Some of the horror films they've played have never screened in the U.S. before, let alone the East Coast. Among the films I've seen at Nevermore include May - my favorite film of 2002, the Bruce Campbell 'Elvis vs. a Mummy' comedy Bubba Ho-Tep, and Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone.

Well, this year's Nevermore seems to boast its fair share of exciting premiers. Here's the list of films:

13 Hours in a Warehouse
(U.S. Festival Premier!)

(Southeastern Premier!)

(The sole 35mm print in the U.S., and greatest movie of all time according to Ricky Bobby.)
Paper Dolls (N.C. Premier!)

(N.C. Premier!)

Dario Argento's Tenebre
(Exclusive U.S. Screening of the most un-cut version available on 35mm!)

Paper Dolls
(N.C. Premier!)

I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait to see Shrooms! You can find out more about each of the feature films playing at Nevermore as well as the shorts and ticket ordering information by going here.

RE: The lack of podcasts.

I've gotten a few e-mails wondering when in the heck we are going to post a new podcast.

We were churning those badboys out on a weekly basis last year, but we've hit a major snack this year due to WUAG's Taylor move. All of the equipment we used to record our program has been packed up. Our sources say that equipment should be up and running this week. I'll keep you guys updated.

In the meantime, thanks for your patience.

Note: According to my sources, someone might have packed WUAG General Manager Jack Bonney (above) in a box as well.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Win an official t-shirt from The Movie Show!


Tune in to tonight's episode of "The Movie Show" and you will not only hear an advanced review of Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood along with several of the freshest 'real' movie news stories to date, and lots of great soundtrack tunes, but you'll also find out how you can win your very own Movie Show t-shirt. The shirt design (above), entitled "Film Takes Flight," was created by Greensboro-based silk screen maestro Caroline Clark. We won't actually be selling any of these t-shirts until this weekend, but we are giving away two (2) shirts, one per each hour of the program, along with a couple of bonus prizes.

So make sure to listen to our show on WUAG 103.1 FM from 7-9 p.m., or if you don't have a radio, you can listen to us online right here by clicking "Live Stream" at the top left corner of the page.

Should be an excellent show. Next week, we'll have the Oscar Nominees along with (potential) special guest host Glen Baity.

Mike & Me: In print and online.


Don't let this little dusting of white snow keep you from grabbing a copy of today's News and Record. Both Mike and I co-authored the cover story wherein we hit up the trio of theaters here in Greensboro, each with the word 'Grande' or 'Grand' in their names to shed light on the confusion, and rank them from least to greatest.

How did Greensboro wind up with three movie theaters named the Grand(e)? Even after all the research that Mike and I did, it's still a mystery. The Carousel Grande opened first. However, a rep for Consolidated Theatres says they called dibs on the name the Carousel ever opened.

Making the story itself was a lot of fun. We visit all of the theaters fairly often anyways, so it was really more of an issue of slowing down, paying attention to concession stands (something we usually bypass for health reasons, lest both of us wanted to gain 100 pounds in a year), and taking lots of notes. The only difficult part was deciding what to cut from our rough draft. Perhaps in a week or two, I will post a 'Director's Cut' so you can read the bonus 600 extra words or so that wound up on the floor.

We were photographed, too, which meant Mike had to smile - something he doesn't do very often, except when he's laughing at something wildly inappropriate. Then, in the same day, Mike and I had to head down to the News and Record offices to shoot a supplemental 'Popcorn Taste Test' video. You can view that here, but be warned, the bright studio lights made me want to squint my eyes. So in the fight to keep my eyelids opened, I'm making sort of a serious face the entire time. Michael McQueen directed the video, and did a great job of taking what few ideas we brought to the table and enhancing them through his own creativity and editing prowess.

Monday, January 14, 2008

So, The Orphanage came out in Greensboro this weekend

I just made a personal submission for Urban Dictionary. Check it:

"Dropping the Ball"
(1) The act of winning or having something good only to mess it up in the endgame.

(2) Warner/Picturehouse's release strategy for The Orphanage.


Got this e-mail from "Tilly" on Saturday:

"Hi Joe. I thought I'd check in with you. I'm back in NC. I saw that "The Orphanage" was playing at the Carmike 18...."


After reading this message, I thought, 'This can't be right!' I mean this is a really good movie - my favorite of the year. Why wasn't I able to find out when and where it was playing before my show on Thursday? Also, why aren't they playing it in any of the good theaters in town (i.e., The Carousel, The Grande or The Four Seasons Grand 18)? Well, I hit the Internet and sure enough, Tilly was right.

These are the showtimes:

11:30, 1:55, 4:25, 7:05, 9:35

I mean, what gives? The Orphanage is a well-made foreign film. Sure, it's also a frightening ghost story with a strangely heart-warming finale, but the types of audiences who would make The Orphanage a success like Pan's Labrynth aren't going to go anywhere near a Carmike. No wonder the movie opened wide at the number 16 spot at the box-office this weekend. If these smaller companies want to stay in the game, they need to know where the good theaters are.

Anyway, so now you know the film is out here in Greensboro and what times it is playing every day this week. You also have my promise that when you watch The Orphanage, you will see one of the most well-made horror films of the year.

Check out the ho-hum trailer:

Golden Globes winners.

"How appropriate that the first winner was Cate Blanchett from I'm Not There. Neither was anyone else."

-Robert Bianco, USA Today

So the Golden Globes winners were announced yesterday via press conference, sans announcers, trophies, winners, losers, or stars.

And while the fact that no one was able to make an acceptance speech should have been the most disappointing aspect of the awards, for me the biggest letdown would have to be that Ellen Page didn't win 'Best Performance by an Actress - Comedy or Musical' for Juno. She lost to Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose, a drama that was neither a comedy or a musical (in the strictest sense). The movie was a bio-pic, of singer Edith Piaf, but her singing was merely vocational. It never crashed the walls of her reality. To maintain the purity of the 'Comedy or Musical' sub-division of the Golden Globes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association needs to stop considering musician biopics as musicals.

The only thing the Globes ever had on the Oscars was the fact that they distinguished between 'serious' dramatic films and comedies or musicals, and gave the latter two genres a fighting chance at some gold. If they continue to allow 'Musical or Comedy' categories to get hijacked by undercover dramas like Ray, Walk the Line, and now La Vie en Rose, their sole remaining edge will be lost forever.

Another big surprise, though one I agree with, was Julian Schnabel's Best Director award for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Schnabel won out over expected winners the Coen Brothers for No Country for Old Men and Joe Wright for Atonement. Of all three of those films, The Diving Bell was indeed the best directed. If it hadn't been, the movie about a paraplegic with the ability to move only one eye would have been an absolute bore.

Here are the rest of the film winners:

American Gangster
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

(Note: I am quite sure this is how the Oscar is going to go, too, since the 'dude vote' is getting split so many different ways on arty, male-oriented thrillers and dramas.)

Julie Christie – Away from Her
Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Jodie Foster – The Brave One
Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley – Atonement
(Note: Duh! She's a ditto-lock for the Oscar.)

Daniel Day Lewis – There Will Be Blood
George Clooney – Michael Clayton
James McAvoy – Atonement
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington – American Gangster
(Note: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association might have voted for Daniel Day Lewis, but I still think the Academy will favor George Clooney for his constant industry support, as well as the fact that he doesn't go insane every time he gets a part.)

Sweeney Todd
Across the Universe
Charlie Wison's War

(Note: Looks like Sweeney Todd might have a genuine shot at an Academy Best Picture nomination. Oh, and what the heck is Across the Universe doing on a 'Best' anything list?)

Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose
Amy Adams - Enchanted
Nikki Blonsky - Hairspray
Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd
Ellen Page - Juno

Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling - Lars and the Real Girl
Tom Hanks - Charlie Wilson's War
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Savages
John Reilly - Wak Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
(Note: Depp's win was a major surprise. I'm guessing the HFPA didn't take singing skills into consideration. Still though, I don't think he will be nominated for Best Actor for the Oscars.)

Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Julia Roberts, Charlie Wilson's War
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
(Note: How did Cate Blanchett snatch her one millionth trophy over the superior Amy Ryan? I call shenanigans!)

Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
John Travolta, Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
(Note: The other big 'Duh!' and 'Oscar-ditto' of the evening.)

The Bee Movie
The Simpsons' Movie
(Note: Looks like they gave this award to the best film nominated in its category for a change. The nerve of these people.)

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
The Kite Runner
Lust, Caution
(Note: Dear France, When I said you should have nominated The Diving Bell over the animated Persepolis for the Best Foreign Picture Oscar, you should have listened. While your country's best film of the year won the Golden Globe, your little cartoon stands no chance at the Academy Awards.)

Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Tim Burton, Sweeney Todd
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Ridley Scott, American Gangster
Joe Wright, Atonement

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen - No Country for Old Men
Diablo Cody - Juno
Christopher Hampton - Atonement
Ronald Hardwood - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Aaron Sorkin - Charlie Wilson's War
(Note: I can live with this, though, Juno and Charlie Wilson both had better screenplays from beginning to end.

Dario Marianelli - Atonement
Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Vedder - Into the Wild
Clint Eastwood - Grace is Gone
Alberto Iglesias - The Kite Runner
Howard Shore - Eastern Promises
(Note: This is actually the only category wherin I would have actually considered voting for Atonement. The persistent type-writer discussion both saved and explained that movie for me.)

"Guaranteed" — Into the Wild (Music & Lyrics by: Eddie Vedder)
"Despedida" — Love in the Time of Cholera (Music by: Shakira, Antonio Pinto Lyrics by: Shakira)
"Grace Is Gone" — Grace is Gone (Music by: Clint Eastwood Lyrics by: Carole Bayer Sager)
"That’s How You Know" — Enchanted (Music & Lyrics by: Alan Menken)
"Walk Hard" — Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Music & Lyrics by: Marshall Crenshaw, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan)
(Note: In terms of nominations, the biggest film that got robbed this year was Into the Wild. The movie had some wonderful scenes and some of the best acting of the year. I am glad that it won this award. Also, if NBC had went head and broadcast the awards in spite of the picket line for both writers and actors, Eddie Vedder is probably one of the only celebrity nominees who could have shown up.)

Orson Scott Card on the WGA strike.

Local author and WGA member Orson Scott Card devoted part of his "Uncle Orson Reviews Everything" column last week to the Writers Strike.

Here's most of what he had to say (WARNING: It's a long read, but a really good one because of its honesty):

Just like publishers, the studios always try to maximize their profits by cutting out the writers. Even though everyone in Hollywood knows – and repeatedly says – that you can't do anything on a movie till you have a good script, they continue to treat writers as if they were cockroaches that somehow got into the fruit salad.

Writers have long suffered from the constant irritation of directors who did not write the script being given the proprietary credit: "A film by ..." Unless the director also gets the sole writing credit, this statement is always a lie – but the studios seem to believe the French nonsense that the director is the author of the film. The proof that this is never true is a list of all the very bad films made by "great" directors who thought they could make up for the deficiencies in a bad script.

But the writers aren't striking about the insult of the proprietary credit. We're striking over the deep injury of being cut out of our fair share of DVD and internet sales. The studios think that our share is nothing. Their attitude is, "You got paid the first time around, what's your beef?"

Yes, the writer got paid. Let's say he got $300,000 for writing the script. In 1994. Now the movie is making hundreds of thousands in DVD sales, and the writer hasn't sold a script since 1998. Why should the studio continue to make money from his work, while the writer gets nothing? Isn't it still his script, his story, the words and actions he thought up, that are making all that money?

Writers get a lot of money per script. But before you dismiss us as a bunch of overpaid babies, please remember that we never know where the next check is coming from. Sell a script for $300,000 – and the film might never get made. You might not sell another script for 10 years. Suddenly that wasn't quite as much money as it sounded like at first.

The problem comes back to copyright. The studios require writers to sign work-for-hire contracts, which means that even though the writer invented everything in the script, the studio becomes the legal "author" of the movie.

I think this situation is immoral – though I've signed those contracts because there's no other choice. It's especially galling because the studios are now fighting to make copyright perpetual, so they can keep making money from long-dead writers' work – while paying nothing for the privilege.

Studios create nothing. They just decide which scripts to make and pay for them. This is all well and good in a capitalist society – but the copyright law is not a corporate welfare plan, it's a device to encourage creativity. The studios don't have any creativity – the writers do. So the law should be shaped to encourage writers, not the studios that steal from them.


Bravo, Orson! If you click the test above, you'll find that he goes on to cover some things that the WGA is screwing up on their end, too.

I totally agree with Orson's concept of writer ownership. Sure, the studios should own the rights to the filmed product -- they are the ones who paid for the scripts to be produced, afterall. That said, writers deserve way more credit and control. They are the ones who make big-budgeted tent-pole films re-watchable, thus making them better financial investments by way of ensuring longevity in ancillary markets (i.e., DVD, direct downloads, etc.).

Sure, Spider-Man 3 made more money in theaters, but Spider-Man 2 sold way more DVD's. In fact, Spider-Man 2 did so good, that they made a second cut of the film, called Spider-Man 2.1, so they could sell it to people again. Sony can blame piracy all they want to, but the reason few people bought the Spider-Man 3 DVD is because, on the script level the movie sucked. It was a movie that was ruined by 'creative imput' by its many producers, all of whom blew up the budget to nearly $250 million on paychecks no doubt exponentially greater than what the writers made, and the end result is a movie most consumers never want to watch again. A total blight on the pop culture landscape, if you will.

Also, because writers have no ownership or control over their creations, they have no say whatsoever in terms of remakes and needless sequels. James Cameron whose first two Terminator films are among the top of the action genre, had no power to veto Terminator 3 from being made. The series and characters were the products of his imagination and hard work, but when it comes down to it, the man could not stop some jerk producer from spinning a third film, an entire planned sequel trilogy, and a TV show of all things out of the character and universe that by all natural rights should belong to him.

About the only filmmaker who doesn't have to put up with this treatment is George Lucas who owns the rights to all of his characters. Sure he might have used that power to oversaturate the marketplace with those horrible prequels and almost as bad TV programs, but at least he had the final say in regards to how his legacy would be forever tainted.

In actuality, the deal the WGA is trying to ratify with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers is fairly meagre. They even gave up their bid for an increase on DVD residuals (read: $0.08 per copy sold instead of the current $0.04) in order to gain a small amount of points on streaming and downloaded media either created from or by their work. If the Alliance were smart, they would take the deal before the WGA starts requesting the ownership and control of what should belong to them naturally.

Ebert's review of The Bucket List is dead on.

What makes this review even better is that like the protagonists in the film, Ebert himself was diagnosed with cancer in a fight that almost killed him.

Here's my favorite quote:

The movie, directed by Rob Reiner, was written by Justin Zackham, who must be very optimistic indeed if he doesn't know that there is nothing like a serious illness to bring you to the end of sitcom cliches. I've never had chemo, as Edward and Carter must endure, but I have had cancer, and believe me, during convalescence after surgery the last item on your bucket list is climbing a Himalaya. Your list is more likely to be topped by keeping down a full meal, having a triumphant bowel movement, keeping your energy up in the afternoon, letting your loved ones know you love them, and convincing the doc your reports of pain are real and not merely disguising your desire to become a drug addict. To be sure, the movie includes plenty of details about discomfort in the toilet, but they're put on hold once the trots are replaced by the globe-trotting.


At 65, the man may have spent nearly all of the last year in a medically-induced coma, but he's just as sharp as ever. If you want to read the rest of Ebert's review, simply click the text above. Great stuff.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Star Trek teaser.

Don't get your hopes up for a glimpse of the new cast, their uniforms or Spock. All that's in this bad boy is the ship:

JJ Abram's Mission Impossible was great, so I was real excited about this film until I realized it was written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the guys who wrote Transformers.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cloverfield monster revealed?

The concept design for the real monster from Cloverfield has apparently made its way into the internet. Now, we could all end up eating crow on this one, so take this story with a grain of salt. But supposedly, that mysterious monster is going to look like this.

Of course the design could be totally bogus. Then again, what some YouTube-er found on this video looks vaguely similar:

The Golden Globes postponed, no reduced, er wait a minute, canceled.

The story has changed so many times regarding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and NBC's plans for the Golden Globes, that I'm glad I waited until this morning to report anything on the site.

We had mentioned earlier that writers were planning to picket the event so long as it was telecast on NBC, and that the 70 or so actor nominees would not be crossing picket lines.

At first, NBC had announced the Golden Globes would be canceled. That was until the Hollywood Foreign Press Association protested, saying their awards must be announced before the Oscar. Considering that most people don't care too much about the year's Golden Globes winners after the Academy Awards, NBC agreed to press on.

The HFPA then decided to string together a reduced Golden Globes ceremony. I know NBC and the HFPA tried to use the phrase 'scaled back,' but let's face it, their plan sounded crappy. The Golden Globes ceremony would continue to take place, albeit untelevised. NBC would cover that ever so precious red carpet, play a clips show of previous ceremonies and winners, and then at 9 p.m. ET, they would hold a press conference to list all the winners, followed by Access Hollywood-styled coverage of after parties. The deal would have been great for 80% of the entertainment journalists in the country, many of whom would rather cover the red carpet and after parties instead of an awards show that supposedly recognizes artistic merit. Matter of fact, if they could figure out a way to get a bunch of celebrities to walk down a red carpet for literally no reason whatsoever, besides the fact that there would be a carpet, and yes, it would be red, the Golden Globes and Academy Awards would probably be extinct as far as TV was concerned.

As for me, it would have been a total bore. The only part I enjoy about an awards show are the winners and their acceptance speeches. Occasionally a good host will make the proceedings slightly bearable, but the Golden Globes didn't even have a host last year. Basically, each year's film awards are like a handful of precious diamonds some chump tossed into a dumpster filled with rotten produce (or celebrity gossip), used baby diapers (expensive dresses and tuxedos), compost (interpretive dances), used syringes (excessive film clip montages), and raw waste (after party coverage). So without the actual awards, I would have no reason to go near that dumpster, let alone reach my hands inside it.

So imagine how pleased I was to find out that the scaled-down, or as I prefer, crapped-up Golden Globes were canceled entirely. According to Variety, the WGA smelled something fishy. If NBC could interview celebs on the red carpet and then again at after parties without a trouble of covering an awards show, they would still get movie stars wearing expensive outfits on TV, hence the reason their cameras were even there in the first place. They had expressed their concerns with SAG, who ultimately agreed, and before you knew it, the actors again stated they weren't going to cross picket lines - even if that meant staying away from the red carpet and avoiding after parties. Soon, the Golden Globes ceremony was canceled completely, along with many of the planned after parties. The winners will simply be announced, and that is that.

And while I'm glad the writers scored a major win, part of me is sad I won't get to see Ellen Page and Diablo Cody scoop up their trophies. Cody will probably win the Oscar for best original screenplay as well, but Page's chances of winning over Julie Christie in their consolidated Best Actress race are slim to none.

Will the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers meet with the WGA and strike a deal before the Academy Awards get nixed, too? More importantly, will the Alliance stop being so gosh-darn dastardly and antagonistic on their own public website?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Guess I won't be watching the 65th Annual Golden Globes awards this week....

Those writers are at it again.

From IMDB:

Hollywood stars like Julia Roberts, Keira Knightley and Johnny Depp look set to boycott this Sunday's Golden Globes ceremony to show their support to striking writers. Actors represented by the Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) are in "unanimous agreement" not to ignore the plight of the Writers Guild of America union members, who are picketing over royalties. Announcing the union's decision on Friday, SAG president, Alan Rosenberg, said, "After considerable outreach to Golden Globe actor nominees and their representatives over the past several weeks, there appears to be unanimous agreement that these actors will not cross WGA (Writers' Guild of America) picket lines." In response to the boycott action, the WGA members thanked the SAG for its "solidarity and support." Other stars nominated for gongs at the prestigious ceremony include George Clooney, John Travolta, Denzel Washington, Cate Blanchett and Jodie Foster - all of whom are unlikely to appear at the awards show if the WGA members do not reach an agreement with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which organizes the Golden Globes, in time for next Sunday.


The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is supposed to announce sometime today whether or not they will have the awards, which are scheduled to air on NBC this Sunday. Considering that most people only watch the Golden Globes to see stars wear fancy dresses and tuxedos, something tells me NBC will probably broadcast a movie instead.

Trailer for new martial arts film features stunts gone wrong.

If you watch this trailer for Chocolate from Ong Bak director Prachya Pinkaew, be prepared to wince.

Those guys that fell off the roof looked like they will be lucky to ever walk again. Director Prachya Pinkaew is no stranger to putting stuntmen in harm's way. He directed the Tony Jaa films The Protector, where six people almost died, and Ong Bak, a production that dropped at least 20 actors from the top of a very tall tree and let them hit every branch on their way down. I almost feel guilty for enjoying some of these action scenes which are not so much 'stunts' as they are staged, tragic accidents.

As for the movie itself, it looks the heroine kicks way more butt in this than Juliette Binoche did in the original film by Lasse Hallström. (Wink.)

So David Lynch hates iPhones....

Apparently, the YouTube video below comes from the DVD version of Inland Empire, a movie Mike and I helped screen at the Carolina Theatre last winter.

Funny thing is, I didn't see Inland Empire on an iPhone. I watched it on one of the biggest movie screens in my county, and I'm still not sure 'I experienced' it....

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The final 2007 round-up.

I promise this will be the last 'Best of 2007'-related article you will see on this website, but I wanted to share the Top 10 lists of the other critics here in Greensboro.

What I like about Glen Baity from Yes!Weekly and Orson Scott Card from The Rhino Times is that both of them usually stray from the national critical consensus. A lot of professional critics from New York and LA tend to parrot each other's reviews, and part of the reason for this is that many of them watch their movies at the same time in the same auditoriums. So if one of them shares a point of pleasure or contention about a movie they've just watched while exiting the theater lobby, you'll usually see it appear in about five other reviews. The late Joel Siegel was pretty much able to torpedo Kevin Smith's Clerks 2 in this fashion, by turning his walkout into a major production for all the critics at his screening.

But because Glen and Orson don't live in New York and L.A., and movie studios almost never pay for critics' screenings here in Greensboro, they see most of their movies the way you and I do: After the release date with an auditorium filled with regular moviegoers. In a way, their approach prevents their criticisms from being tainted by outside opinions.

Also keep that in mind when you read their top 10 lists, that these guys didn't sell out like Mike and me. The movies on their lists were actually released in 2007. Mike and I, phonies that we are, got to watch a lot of screenings/screeners. So remember, one of the biggest reasons their lists are so different from ours is that they ultimately knew how to, "keep it real."

Glen Baity's Top 10:
1) No Country for Old Men
2) Juno
3) Once
4) Hot Fuzz
5) American Gangster
6) Superbad
7) In the Valley of Elah
8) Breach
9) Knocked Up
10) Live Free or Die Hard

Bottom 5:
1) I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
2) Balls of Fury
3) The Heartbreak Kid
4) Lions for Lambs
5) Good Luck Chuck

To find out why each film made Glen's lists, click here.

Orson Scott Card's Top 8
1) Dan in Real Life
2) Ratatouille
3) The Bourne Ultimatum
4) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
5) Enchanted
6) Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?
7) Surf's Up
8) Becoming Jane

Bottom 2
1) Shrek the Third
2) Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Because he was too busy writing novels, film scripts, and a funny book, Orson says he was too busy to find the time needed to see all the movies it would require to make a genuine top 10 or bottom 5 list this year. He also says he avoided any film involving the war like the plague.That said, there are other films he mentions as being either 'Noteworthy' or 'Well-meaning failures'. You can read Orson's entire list here

And while this Mark Burger is from Winston-Salem, I figured I would mention his picls as well.

Mark Burger's Top 10:
1) Zodiac
2) No Country for Old Men
3) Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
4) Michael Clayton
5) There Will Be Blood
6) Things We Lost in the Fire
7) Talk to Me
8) The Hoax
9) Operation Homecoming
10) Starting Out in the Evening

Bottom 10:
1) August Rush
2) Freedom Writers
3) Sydney White
4) Captivity
5) War
6. License to Wed
7) I Know Who Killed Me
8) Georgia Rule
9) Norbit
10) Resident Evil: Extinction

Writers Strike over! (for Tom Cruise)

As head of MGM's United Artists, producer Tom Cruise might have accomplished something no other studio executive has managed since last November: He struck a deal with the Writers Guild.

Sources told L.A. Times Cruise and United Artists co-executive Paula Wagner made an interim deal with WGA which would allow writers to work for their studio until a deal has be set between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

The deal could give Cruise & co. a decided advantage over other studios for a long time. Any hope that the Writers' Strike might end soon were dashed in December after talks came to an end between the two warring camps. The WGA feels its members should be entitled to a piece of the 'new media' sales, now that movies and TV shows are being sold online via iTunes, Netflix, and other potential vendors.

L.A. Times also cites that The Weinstein Company and Lionsgate could strike interim deals like United Artists' in the days ahead.


I've said this before on the radio program, but any major actor worth his or her salt should know their career would be nowhere without a good screenplay. I mean where would Tom Cruise be today if someone hadn't written, "I feel the need....THE NEED FOR SPEED!" or "Show me the money!"? Nowhere. It's obvious that Cruise realizes this. And if the writer's strike doesn't end anytime soon, it looks like United Artists could have pick of the litter, talent-wise for the duration of the strike.

If Cruise succeeds, this would be the perfect revenge for both Cruise and the WGA, both of whom were crapped on by Paramount's Sumner Redstone over the last three years.

Friday, January 04, 2008

GoTriad! cover story finally online.


If you haven't picked up a GoTriad yet, you can read my Oscar predictions article here.

Got a lot of e-mailed responses from readers who say they enjoyed the article. One of them came from "Scott Boyd," who wrote:

I enjoyed your article in "Go Triad" this morning, but I came across a statement that gave me pause. You wrote, "The movie ("The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") will most likely win Best Foreign Picture." Well, Mr. Scott, don't hold your breath. The truth is the film isn't even in consideration for the award. According to Academy rules, only one film can be submitted from each country. This year, that film is "Persepolis." Fortunately, the Academy doesn't require the country to dictate the film's eligibility in other categories.

I had actually forgotten that Persepolis was a French film. Would have helped if I had a chance to see it, however, it seems like a foolish move on France's part. Not only because Persepolis will almost certainly land a Best Animated Feature nomination on it's own merits, but The Diving Bell and the Butterfly would have given the country a win. Easily.

Also, Persepolis is probably a lock for Best Animated Feature. It's only real competition this year is Ratatouille, but Pixar always wins and I'm sure the Academy wouldn't mind pulling another Spirited Away by giving the gold to the Miyazaki of the bunch.

So yeah, I'm still holding my breath that Mathieu Almaric gets a nomination. Whether or not France gives a damn is beyond me. And with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly's absence in the Best Foreign Picture category, Spain's The Orphanage, my favorite film of the year, actually stands a chance of winning an award. Let's keep our fingers crossed, people.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Warner writes death of (Brandon Routh's) Superman

Brandon Routh will not play Superman in The Man of Steel according to Latino Review.

Guess Warner Bros. really was disappointed with Superman Returns. But then why shouldn't they be? It only grossed $391 million worldwide. That's chump change, considering the entire Superman franchise before Returns earned $316 million combined. Oh wait....

Enough sarcasm, though. This is a horrible move. Apparently Warner wants to replace Brandon Routh with the younger actor they've secretly cast to play Supes in the mo-cap JLA film. Rumor has it that Friday Night Lights star Scott Porter will sport the computer generated blue tights.

Here's a pic:


Dude certainly has the biceps for the role. But I thought the point of the animated JLA film was that it would run parallel to the live action Batman and Superman films that came out. That they've replaced Brandon Routh with the JLA Superman means they could potentially do the same with Christian Bale. I don't want to see a 'Batkid' and I sure as hell don't want to watch him grow up again. I want to see an experienced, well-honed Batman, kicking butt, solving crimes, and locking his rogues gallery away in Arkham Asylum. This almost makes me mad enough to stay away from this JLA business altogether.

As for Brandon Routh, now that he has joined the Tom Welling club for actors-who-don't-get-invited-to-star-in-Superman-sequels, I guess he can go back to soap operas. Too bad, because he was the least of everyone's complaints for Superman Returns. Even the biggest of haters would say he was 'decent.'

Mike's Top 10 (and another 90) of 2007

Widely touted as the year of the 'threequel', 2007 was a very interesting year for film. Ostensibly, the critical and commercial troubles of the larger franchise films meant to carry the industry in 2007 might indicate viewer dissatisfaction with the commodification of the supposedly artistic medium of film. We at The Movie Show were not-so-secretly thrilled when reports came in of disappointing secondary market sales on Spider-Man 3. "Hurrah," we exclaimed to ourselves in The Movie Cave, our Movie Show headquarters. "Finally, the people have spoken! No longer will they throw their hard-earned money at this sort of swill!"

However, this year also saw the commercial success of films such as Rush Hour 3, which was the epitome of the formulaic cash-grabbing franchise film,

Ocean's Thirteen, which was also extremely formulaic, though much more enjoyable,

and Transformers, which was not a sequel and which was enjoyable in a bombastic, lick a nine volt battery and throw rocks at windows kind of way, but was also based on a preexisting property and which was also pathologically stupid.

Apparently, the lesson learned is that moviegoers WILL eventually get bored with
something they have seen before...but it may take some time. This paints an interesting picture for the many 'fourquels' headed our way in the not-too-distant future.

Speaking of ranking the many movies I saw this year, I couldn't help but notice the dearth of Five-Star films in 2007. Even my favorite film of the year is one to which I don't feel comfortable giving more than Four-and-a-Half stars. Conversely, there was a disproportionate number of Three-Star films. I suppose 2007 will go down in my book as a year of great cinematic distractions. Great ways to waste a few hours on a lazy Sunday. Ultimately however, 2007 had very few reasons one might have absolutely NEEDED to go to a movie.

Here are ten reasons one might have NEEDED to go see a movie, the ten films I enjoyed the most this year:

1. Juno - When The Movie Show first reported last year that director Jason Reitman's followup to 2005's Thank You for Smoking would be Juno, I remember remarking that it seemed bizarre and slightly masochistic for the filmmaker to follow a movie which humanized a tobacco lobbyist with a comedy about teen pregnancy. However, half an hour into the film I was fully aware that I was watching something special and as I finished the film I immediately knew that Juno would be my favorite of the year. Not because the film is amazing, although it is, but because every element of the film, the script, the direction, the performances, each element compliments every other element of the film and the end product is a movie which fires on every cylinder. It is also interesting that the only criticism negative reviews of the film ever bring up concerns how unrealistic it is for a young woman to be clever or intelligent.

2. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Though supposedly plagued in postproduction with editing difficulties (Read: issues with executives being unsure how to sell the film to audiences), director Andrew Dominik has crafted a beautiful film exploring both the overwhelming desire for fame and the loneliness that fame creates. Anchored by two of the most spectacular performances this year, Brad Pitt's broken and hollow Jesse James, and Casey Affleck's callow Robert Ford, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford's nineteenth century take on the Sword of Damocles myth is required viewing for anyone in this society obsessed with stardom at any cost.

3. Michael Clayton - Sometimes you love a film immediately and other times you leave the theater feeling as though you have seen a decent film and you go about your business making dinner and paying bills and trimming your toenails and it wakes you up in the middle of the night and demands your attention. Michael Clayton woke me up in the middle of the night and forced me to recognize that I had not seen a decent film. I had seen a spectacular film. George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and first time feature director Tony Gilroy have created a film dealing with the price of a life spent privileging career concerns over personal and even moral concerns.

4. Superbad - I have long found it interesting how homoerotic the teen-sex comedy genre can be. These films so overtly concerned with heteronormativity always include scenes of young men standing around talking about the sexual activities they plan to engage in with various (absent) young women, but rather than engaging in these activites, the young men often spend the bulk of the film conversing with their friends in graphically erotic detail. That is, when they are not getting into naked shenanigans with these same friends. I had given up on the genre ever becoming self aware...until Superbad. All cultures have their own Rites of Passage and for American men the passage into adulthood is marked, more definitively than in any other way, by a young man's first sexual encounter. In a society which so completely rewards and encourages prolonged adolescence, it's no wonder that this passage into a world of adult responsibility is marked by reluctance and trepidation. Superbad concerns two boys both interested in and frightened by the next step of their development into men and the night they spend trying to hang onto their youth before taking that next step.

5. There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson, absent from the director's chair since 2002's phenomenal yet commercially unsuccessful Punch-Drunk Love has returned with the story of one man's search for oil and wealth. Built around a staggering performance by Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood is moody and tense and problematic. But it is also quite beautiful. Check this one out by yourself. The theater will more than likely be empty, but know that it's only because no one else could handle such a complicated film.

6. The Darjeeling Limited - Wes Anderson could film a jar of mayonnaise and it would probably make my top twenty. The Darjeeling Limited marks a transitional period in Anderson's career and while I don't feel that he is at his best - I feel he has sacrificed some things that have traditionally worked quite well for him in favor of trying out some new things that have not worked quite as well - even his worst is phenomenal. The Darjeeling Limited is a little film packed full of spectacular studies of characters in spectacular settings on a spectacular quest and is well worth your time.

7. Fay Grim - This sequel to 1997's Henry Fool, a film about a poet savant garbage man and the faux intellectual who discovers his talent, completely reworks the melodrama slash dark comedy of its predecessor into a melodrama slash thriller slash satire melange of a film that was criminally underwatched. Director Hal Hartley is film's best kept secret and you owe it to yourself to check out his movies.

8. Death Proof - Neither spoof nor ripoff, Death Proof is Quentin Terantino's love letter to 70's car films. Though lopsided, crude, and incongruous, the film perfectly captures the spirit of the genre it alludes to and offers a welcome respite from the heaviness of contemporary film.

9. Lars and the Real Girl - Who knew a film about a delusional man and his sex doll girlfriend might so perfectly display the fear some emotionally distressed individuals might experience when confronted with their desire to form romantic relationships? Though superficially absurd, director Craig Gillespie confronts viewers with the ultimate exaggeration of the tendency many people have of forming relationships with unchallenging persons. Rent this one with your pal who only dates nineteen year old girls.

10. No Country for Old Men - The critical darling of 2007 should need no explanations. Though frustrating, vastly overrated, and challengingly unconventional, the film is still quite good. Perfect for anyone who complains nonstop about the decline of civilization and morals and how wonderful everything was long ago.

Having involved ourselves with The Movie Show for a number of years now, and coming into contact with movie critics and professionals, Joe and I have secretly marveled at the fact that very few people involved in film actually watch movies. Certainly the critics watch the movies they write about and Academy members watch the movies they vote for, however if everyone involved in rating films is only watching the movies everyone else is talking about, how accurate can their top tens and various awards be? That troubling question, along with our natural interest in films of all kinds, is why we at The Movie Show watch as many films as we do. Though of course we don't watch every film, we do watch most of the major releases and so when we do our year-end top ten lists you can be sure that they aren't just the ten best of the twenty or so films we managed to view. To prove my point, I have assembled another ninety films I saw this year to finish out a Top 100 of 2007. I would challenge any professional or amateur critic to do the same.

Top 100 of 2007
1. Juno
2. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
3. Michael Clayton
4. Superbad
5. There Will Be Blood
6. Darjeeling Limited
7. Fay Grim
8. Death Proof
9. Lars and the Real Girl
10. No Country for Old Men
11. 3:10 to Yuma
12. Live Free or Die Hard
13. The King of Kong
14. Atonement
15. Margot at the Wedding
16. Knocked Up
17. Zodiac
18. Gone Baby Gone
19. Eagle vs. Shark
20. Hairspray
21. Stardust
22. Bourne Ultimatum
23. The Lives of Others
24. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
25. Smokin’ Aces
26. The Lookout
27. Hot Fuzz
28. The Ex
29. Hot Rod
30. Wristcutters: A Love Story
31. Transformers
32. Planet Terror
33. 300
34. 28 Weeks Later
35. Black Snake Moan
36. In the Valley of Elah
37. Eastern Promises
38. Into the Wild
39. Talk to Me
40. Next
41. Once
42. Rescue Dawn
43. The Brave One
44. The Feast of Love
45. The Namesake
46. Ratatouille
47. Alpha Dog
48. Vacancy
49. Ocean’s Thirteen
50. Nancy Drew
51. The Ten
52. Shooter
53. I Am Legend
54. Waitress
55. Becoming Jane
56. 30 Days of Night
57. Things We Lost in the Fire
58. The Kingdom
59. Breach
60. Reservation Road
61. The Hoax
62. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
63. The Simpsons Movie
64. The Golden Compass
65. The Good German
66. Cashback
67. Bug
68. Perfume
69. Paris Je T’Aime
70. Reign Over Me
71. I Think I Love My Wife
72. Miss Potter
73. Reno 911! Miami
74. In the Land of Women
75. Year of the Dog
76. Disturbia
77. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters
78. Hannibal Rising
79. TMNT
80. Blades of Glory
81. Fracture
82. Bridge to Terabithia
83. Evan Almighty
84. Sicko
85. Beowulf
86. Forgiving the Franklins
87. The Mist
88. Hostel Part II
89. The Last Mimzy
90. Ghost Rider
91. The Hitcher
92. The Nanny Diaries
93. 1408
94. The Number 23
95. Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer
96. The Curse of the Golden Flower
97. Spider-Man 3
98. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
99. Halloween
100. The Condemned

It gets pretty depressing near the end. Let the bickering begin!

Buy today's News and Record. NOW!

Ran to the closest newspaper machine this morning, something I always do whenever I have a story in GoTriad. Only when I made it to the machine today, I looked at the top of the front page and saw this:


I'm sure when a lot of people looked at today's front page this morning they said, 'Who the heck is Joe Scott!?!'

Anyway, so yeah. My Oscar picks are in today's issue of GoTriad. The article mentions the obvious choices for film, actor, actresses, director, and supporting, but then I also focus on dark horse picks as well.

I'll let you know whenever it becomes available online. There were a lot of pictures in the article, so we'll have to wait a little while before it goes up.