Monthly Archives: February 2011

Oscars 2011: Forget Who Should Win, This Is Who I Want To Win

With just a day left to go until the big show, I’d like to bet you’ve had enough Oscar predictions – especially considering quite a handful of the biggest honors are considered locks. Well, I offer you something a little different; not who I think will win, but who I think should win.

Best Picture: The King’s Speech
Every Best Picture nominee achieves some degree of filmmaking prowess, otherwise, they wouldn’t be nominated in the first place. Rather than pick apart the elements and compare the contenders by the writing, directing acting, etc., this category comes down to something far simpler, yet something tougher to achieve – poignancy. Which of these films moved me most? Toy Story 3 left me in tears, 127 Hours with a knot in my stomach and Inception with my head spinning, but it was The King’s Speech that was overwhelmingly rousing. This is such a special film for so many reasons and those reasons will likely be rewarded in the other categories, but in terms of the Best Picture Oscar alone, my fingers are crossed for The King Speech based on its incredible ability to connect my heartstrings to those of the characters in the film and tug on them all the way through.

I’ll Be Pissed If This Wins: Inception
Inception may be endlessly interesting and responsible for countless summertime debates, but an Oscar for Best Picture? Come on. On top of that, even after all the discussions, who can say they really understand the movie through and through? It was fun while it lasted, but Inception’s infinite twists and turns aren’t enough for the film to stand the test of time as well as its contenders.

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Review: Hall Pass

Have you ever laughed at a joke, thought about it again and get angry at yourself for laughing at something so cheap, demeaning or derogatory? If not, go check out Hall Pass. When you’re not cringing at the lack of originality and wasted talent, you’re giggling at cut-rate gags that have no chance of earning a laugh the second time around. The fact that you could only get a viewer to laugh by having a character sneeze and poop at the same time is nothing to brag about.

Rick and Fred (Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis) are happily married. Well, kind of. They love their wives, but just can’t help themselves when it comes to looking at or talking crudely about other women. Eventually the sneak peaks and dirty talk becomes too much for their wives, Maggie and Grace (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) respectively, and they decide to issue their men “hall passes.” For one week, Rick and Fred are marriage free. They can do (pun intended) whatever they’d like and it won’t matter.

Turns out, touching isn’t as easy as looking and even with their coveted hall passes, the boys have some trouble sealing the deal – or even initiating it for that matter. Meanwhile, Maggie and Grace are busy spending a relaxing weekend out in Cape Cod. Little do the guys know, their ladies aren’t just indulging in some girl time, but a college baseball team. The team coach warms up to Maggie, and Grace gets her hall pass on cougar-style with a young player.

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Review: Elektra Luxx

When you’re about to watch a sequel and you can barely remember what happened in the first film, you know you’re heading for trouble. Well, while there’s certainly trouble to be had in writer-director Sebastian Gutierrez’s Elektra Luxx, just like its predecessor, Women in Trouble, there’s something keeping you from completely dismissing this sloppy mess of a film – the characters.

First off, we’ve got our titular character (no pun intended), Elektra Luxx (Carla Gugino). She’s pregnant and retired from the porn industry, instead, opting to teach a class called “How To Act Like a Porn Star in Bed” at the local community center. One day, Cora (Marley Shelton), the flight attendant from Women in Trouble, comes barging in revealing she has a folder full of songs her late rock star baby daddy, Nick Chapel (Josh Brolin), wrote before his demise. Cora offers Elektra the songs, but under one condition; Elektra must seduce her husband so Cora doesn’t have to feel guilty about cheating on him with Nick. Sure enough, the plan goes awry and in the mess, Elektra finds out an awfully good-looking private detective (Timothy Olyphant) has been assigned to keep an eye on her.

Meanwhile, sex blogger Burt Rodriguez (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is back and continues to document Elektra’s exploits all while trying to keep his little sister, Olive (Amy Rosoff), from using his website to turn herself into the next Internet sensation. Bambi and Holly Rocket (Emmanuelle Chriqui and Adrianne Paliciki) are back as well and this time around, the girls are looking to take some time off and enjoy a vacation. Holly’s still holding onto those feelings for Bambi, so when Bambi opts to try to squeeze in a little work during their getaway, Holly uses her askew intellect to foil the night.

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Interview: Rubber Writer-Director Quentin Dupieux

In an industry obsessed with making movies about friends with benefits, alien invasions and haunted houses, who’s got the guts to make a movie about a tire with the power to make people’s heads explode? That man is Quentin Dupieux and while he is billed as Rubber’s director, writer, editor, composer and cinematographer, he much prefers the title, “stupid creator.”

Rubber is the story of Robert, an abandoned tire who magically comes to life, explores the land before discovering his ability to make things explode. After rolling into a nearby motel, he takes a liking not only to a pretty lady he meets along the way named Sheila (Roxane Mesquida), but also to blowing up people’s heads. Meanwhile, way out in the distance, a group of spectators are watching this “movie” about a tire on a killing spree.

Okay, it certainly sounds a bit strange, but it really does make quite a bit of sense when you watch Rubber in its entirety – or does it? While the film oozes with messages and implications about the filmmaking industry, Dupieux insists he just wrote to his liking. After just three weeks of writing, he loaded up his brand new Canon 5D and made his movie in the simplest, quickest and most functional manner possible, which is just the way he likes it. Read all about Dupieux’s experience bringing Robert to life in the interview below.

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Defending Bad Movies: The Adam Sandler Edition

What’s with Adam Sandler lately? We get the unfunny missed opportunity with‘Grown Ups’ last summer, and now ‘Just Go With It?’ What’s happening to the guy who used to deliver comedy after comedy that’d keep us either laughing or disgusted (in a good way) all the way through?

Actually, it looks like the majority of folks out there don’t even care much for some of Sandler’s previous work because despite his all-star status most of the films responsible for skyrocketing him to fame are, well, pretty rotten. Sandler didn’t manage to break into fresh territory on Rotten Tomatoes until 1998’s ‘The Wedding Singer,’ and even then it only earned him a 67%. From there, it was a nine-film gap until his next fresh ratings, ‘Punch-Drunk Love’ and ‘Stupidity’ followed by ‘Reign Over Me’ in 2007 and then ‘Funny People’ in 2009. Overall, of Sandler’s 34 rated films on Rotten Tomatoes, he’s earned just five fresh ratings. Otherwise, all his films are rotten, and some very rotten.

The curious thing is, for some, it’s natural to look back on some of these supposed rotten films fondly. In fact, as sick as it sounds, a handful of them were personal childhood favorites. Sandler’s style of humor is an acquired taste and if you weren’t feeling it when ‘Billy Madison’ hit in 1995, odds are the entire Adam Sandler movement was one entirely rotten experience. Just because these films aren’t for everyone doesn’t mean they’re not enjoyable to some, so here’s to the ones buried in thumbs down that still have a lasting positive impact.

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Interview: Battle: Los Angeles’ Neil Brown Jr.

Let’s say aliens really do attack Earth one day; who do you think will defend us? Tom Cruise? Probably not. Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith? Not happening. It’s the army and not the army Mars Attacks!-style. We’re talking dead serious real soldiers with intense weaponry setting off some massive explosions and, based on my chat with Neil Brown Jr., that’s who the unearthly visitors go head-to-head with in Battle: Los Angeles.

With quite a few credits to his name, including Fast & Furious and The Walking Dead, Brown Jr. certainly knows what he’s doing on set, but there seems to be something about Battle: LA that really hit home for him and his co-cast. Not only did the group have to attend an intense boot camp right before heading to set in Louisiana, but they remained close throughout shooting up to this very day. Having gone through this training together, the men felt and acted like real Marines and not only did that lead them to develop strong bonds with one another, but it brought an impeccable degree of authenticity to the film, too.

As big as Battle: LA is, that’s not the only highly anticipated project on Brown Jr.’s plate. After a stellar first season, The Walking Dead is back, but the question is, will the nursing home protector Guillermo be back as well? Brown Jr. may not have been able to offer any definitive answer, but he did guarantee the second season will blow you away regardless.

Check out everything Neil Brown Jr. had to say about Battle: Los AngelesThe Walking Dead and a potential next project in the interview below.

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Interview: Battle: Los Angeles’ Adetokumboh M’Cormack

When you think Battle: Los Angeles, odds are, you think of Aaron Eckhart. Well, Eckhart may play the leader of a platoon of soldiers going into battle against invading aliens, but it’s be worth your while to get to know some of the Staff Sergeant’s men.

Adetokumboh M’Cormack is Corpsman Jibril Adukwu, the group medic. Like his co-cast, M’Cormack had to go through boot camp training, but he had the added assignment of learning the ins and outs of being a Marine medic as well. The key to this role was being as in touch with the character as possible and in that sense, M’Cormack and the rest of the cast went above and beyond.

During our recent interview, M’Cormack shelled out tons of details from the entire process from working hard during training, to taking what he learned to set and even the friendships that remained after shooting wrapped. Based on our conversation, it seems as though Battle: Los Angeles might actually not be your run-of-the-mill alien invasion film, rather a wholly real-feeling experience and, if that is the case, we really have something special to look forward to. To hold you over until the battle begins on March 11th, check out what M’Cormack had to say about working on the film.

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Review: I Am Number Four

Movies about characters with super powers are inherently alluring. There’s something extremely fun about watching someone walk around knocking villains off the face of the earth. Oddly enough, what can kill the enjoyment of films like this isn’t shoddy effects or lack of reason, rather simply not believing in itself. If the characters aren’t entirely into the story, how can an audience be? I Am Number Four has just about every problem in the book, but it’s the major disconnect between director D.J. Caruso, his cast and the material that makes the film a downright waste of time.

Alex Pettyfer is David, or John, or Number Four. He’s actually one of nine teen aliens hiding on Earth since the destruction of their home planet, Lorien. Each has a guardian to protect them from the evil Mogadorians who are ruthlessly hunting them one-by-one. One, Two and Three have already been killed and John is next. In order to maintain his secrecy, he’s constantly relocating and changing his identity.

The problem is, in his newest town, Paradise, Ohio, John finds a reason to stay for good, Sarah Hart (Dianna Agron). John also finds a friend in the school geek, Sam (Callan McAufliffe), who’s got a deeper connection with John than just being school bully Mark’s (Jake Abel) favorite targets. As the Mogadorians draw near, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John’s guardian, urges him to pack up and leave yet again, but John insists he’s got something to stay and fight for, and fight he does.

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Interview: Gnomeo & Juliet Director Kelly Asbury

If you’re a fan of animated feature films, odds are, you’re familiar with the work of Kelly Asbury. Not only has he had a hand in a number of fantastic productions including The Nightmare Before Christmas and Kung Fu Panda, but both of the films he directed, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and Shrek 2, were nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. Now, Asbury is out and about promoting his third directorial effort, Gnomeo & Juliet.

We’ve seen quite a few modern versions of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, but one featuring garden gnomes? You’ve got it. In Asbury’s film it’s the blue gnomes vs. the red gnomes of the gardens of the feuding Mrs. Montague and Mr. Capulet, respectively. Of course, Juliet (voiced by Emily Blunt) of the red gnomes meets and falls for the blue gnome, Gnomeo (voiced by James McAvoy), and that doesn’t go over well with the other residents of the garden.

With the help of his trusted team of producers, storyboard artists, animators and more, Ashbury tackled one of the most iconic stories in literary history using the most unusual characters. Not only did he recruit a top-notch cast of voice talent to bring his gnomes to life, but an impressive roster of recording artists to make the music particularly effective, too. So how do all these elements come together to make one movie? Asbury filled us in on the entire process from formulating the basic idea to getting his actors into the sound both all the way up to this very week when Gnomeo & Juliet finally hits theaters after four years of work. Check it all out in the interview below.

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Review: The Eagle

Who better to star in a swords and sandals movie than Channing Tatum? He’s basically built for the role. However, just because he looks good in Roman soldier garb doesn’t mean he can act like one. In fact, after The Eagle, it’s impossible not to recognize the fact that Tatum might not be able to act at all. Then again, all the blame can’t fall on this film’s star. Not only is director Kevin Macdonald to blame for the incredible amount of missed opportunities, but so is writer Jeremy Brock for adapting Rosemary Sutcliff’s book into a screenplay that, to a point, permits the stars to have the emotional range of a block of wood.

Tatum is Marcus Aquila, the son of Flavius Aquila, the man who led Rome’s Ninth Legion into the tumultuous land of Caledonia only to lose 5,000 men, Rome’s beloved golden eagle and his own life. Twenty years later, in 140 AD, Marcus is determined to clear his family name and begins his attempt to do so by assuming the top post at a disorderly fort. When they’re attacked, Marcus selflessly risks his life for the safety of his men and for that he’s awarded a top military honor, but also receives an honorable discharge. He’s left severely crippled with no chance of achieving his goal.

It isn’t until Marcus spares the life of a slave, Esca (Jamie Bell), that he begins to heal and his hopes to restore his family’s name become a top priority yet again. Marcus’ Uncle Aquila (Donald Sutherland) purchases Esca and names him Marcus’ personal slave. Insisting he has no need for a servant, Marcus is resistant to Esca’s presence, but the two soon grow close to one another. When Marcus hears a rumor that the golden eagle has been spotted, their newfound friendship is really put to the test. Together, they ride into the brutal land of Caledonia to do the impossible and bring the golden eagle home to Rome.

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