Monthly Archives: September 2012

NYFF 2012 Review: Life Of Pi

Piscine lives with his brother and parents in Pondicherry, India. When he isn’t spending time with the animals at his family-owned zoo, an inquisitive Pi is off exploring different faiths of which he adopts three. When Pi makes an attempt at befriending the zoo’s tiger, Richard Parker, his father steps in to teach him a rather harsh lesson, one that rattles his beliefs and curiosity.

At 17, Pi’s parents decide it’s time to seek a better life so board a Japanese cargo ship with their animals and set sail for Canada. Along the way, the boat encounters a vicious storm, sinking the ship and leaving just one human survivor, Pi. But Pi is not alone. He shares his lifeboat with Richard Parker.

Talk about bringing Yann Martel’s book to life. The instant the opening credits kick in, you know you’re in for one of the most vivid experiences the movies can offer. Ang Lee’s use of 3D throughout the film isn’t distracting in the least, but during this opening montage, the animals really do pop off the screen and the fact that the images are so colorful and crisp makes the effect particularly impressive and striking.

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The Best – and Worst – Movie Promos of the Week

The seasonal costume stores are open, lawns are decorated and the candy corn is out. Halloween is right around the corner and that means more scary movies! Paranormal Activity 4 takes a huge step up in the promotions department with its brand-new trailer — and Sinister continues to deliver horrifyingly mesmerizing advertisements — but three other holiday-appropriate promos landed on top.

The Best Stuff

1. The American Scream PosterTalk about a prime piece of artwork for a horror lover. Forget the fact that the new poster for the documentary The American Scream is appropriately packed with every character you’d expect to see at a Halloween haunted house, but it’s also a work of art, one you could hang on your wall and come back to admire time and time again, with tons of details to enjoy. (More: Read our mini review and listen to an interview with the filmmakers from Fantastic Fest.)

2. Stoker Trailer: Nicole Kidman’s involvement almost scared us off, but the first trailer for Park Chan-wook’s Stoker is just too fascinating and enigmatic to pass up. That opening line is just so vicious and then the rest of the piece follows suit. It’s like a far darker and more twisted version of The Addams Family, something that looks to have horrifying and truly disturbing results.

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Review: Frankenweenie

I swear, the older I get, the more of a baby I become. “Frankenweenie” clocks in at 87 minutes; I cried for 70.

Victor (Charlie Tahan) lives in the quaint town of New Holland with his parents (Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short) and his best buddy, his dog Sparky. Victor may have to leave Sparky in the backyard while he’s off at school, but otherwise, they’re inseparable. Sadly, that means Victor is right by Sparky’s side when something terrible happens and no, I can’t even bear to write it.

However, after an inspiring science lesson from Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau) about lightning, Victor gets an idea. He builds a contraption in his attic, hoists Sparky up into a lightning storm and zap! Sparky’s alive! Victor and Sparky are happily back together again, but, shortly after, word gets around and reincarnated animals run amok.

Clearly Sparky bites it within the first few minutes of the movie, and while I was pretty busy wiping tears away for the rest of the film, I did manage to catch a stellar dose of incredible animation, charming characters, a heartwarming (and breaking) story and a pitch perfect score.

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Interview: Bringing Up Bobby Writer-Director-Producer Famke Janssen

It isn’t easy to write, direct and produce your first feature, even if you’ve got dozens of acting credits to your name like Famke Janssen. The desire to get behind the lens has always been there, it was just a matter of the stars aligning and in the case of “Bringing Up Bobby,” they did.

The film stars Milla Jovovich as Olive, a single mother from the Ukraine trying to raise her son, Bobby (Spencer List), in a conservative Oklahoma town. She’s got the best intentions, but her con artist ways don’t exactly set a good example for Bobby. When her charm wears off and the string of crimes catches up to her, Olive must decide what’s best for Bobby, even if it means giving up what she loves most.

Turns out, Ava Moore plus Jean Grey doesn’t equal directorial debut. Janssen had her work cut out for her and needed to take this step by step, turning a visit to Oklahoma into a script, developing a visual styling plan, recruiting her cast and much more. In honor of “Bringing Up Bobby’s” debut at the Beekman Theatre in New York City on September 28th, Janssen took a break from her “Taken 2” press run to sit down and talk about her experience behind the lens, an experience that looks as though it’ll lead to a sophomore directorial effort.

Check out everything Janssen had to say about “Bringing Up Bobby,” “Taken 2” and her upcoming Netflix show, “Hemlock Grove” in the video interview below. Would you rather skip around? Scroll down to find a time and topic breakdown of the interview just below the video player.

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Review: Looper

Yes, a good portion of the fun of a sci-fi movie is getting to go off to different worlds, see cool gadgets and experience the impossible, but there’s just so many times we can watch people fly, cars hover and characters time travel before the surreal loses appeal. However, toss a little authenticity, heart and sheer terror into the mix, and all of those genre basics get a new life courtesy of a wholly believable and enthralling story, just like in “Looper.”

The year is 2044, but the world exists well beyond that. Down the line, in 2074, it’s impossible for mobs to kill people and dispose of the bodies so they hire Loopers and have them take care of the dirty work back in 2044. The 2074 folks nab their target, zap them back to the past, and the Looper blows them away.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a successful Looper, living the good life in 2044. He wakes up, kills his target, collects his pay, heads out to the club with his Looper buddies, and does it all again the next day. Trouble is, someone in the future is messing with his routine and closing loops. Rather than receiving nameless targets, many Loopers are coming face to face with their future selves. The same rules apply and they’re expected to off their older selves, closing the loop, and then living out the time they’ve got left, 30 years. Sure enough, Joe’s time comes, but before he can do his duty, older Joe (Bruce Willis) bolts.

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Review: Pitch Perfect

You don’t have to be perfect to be a ton of fun.

It’s Beca’s (Anna Kendrick) first year at Barden University. She really wants to be out in Los Angeles pursuing her dream of becoming a music producer, but since her father’s a professor at Barden and that gets her a free ride, the degree comes first. In the meantime, she gets by by being antisocial, making new tracks on her computer and working at the school radio station. When Chloe (Brittany Snow) catches her singing in the shower, she corners her – literally – and insists Beca join the school’s all-girl a cappella group, The Bellas.

The Bellas are good, but they’ll never beat their campus rivals, The Treblemakers, singing Ace of Base songs and other tired tunes. Trouble is, the Bellas’ leader, Aubrey (Anna Camp), is all about tradition and, to her, tradition calls for scarves, updos and, well, repetition.

Yes, we’ve seen it all before, time and time again, in fact! But there’s something about “Pitch Perfect” that makes it stand out from the lot; it’s an absolute blast. Kay Cannon’s adaptation of the Mickey Rapkin book is absolutely ridden with college clichés and some painfully tacky dialogue, not to mention a totally predictable relationship and singing competition, but it’s also got more than enough charm to wipe the large majority of the problems away.

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The Best – and Worst – Movie Promos of the Week

Nice play, Beautiful Creatures, but your first trailer just isn’t enough to crack the top three movie promos of the week, let alone outdo some impressive runners-up – The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyFrankenweenieThe Master and Hitchcock.

The Best Stuff

1. Taken 2 Clip: The chase scene is exciting, but it’s this clip of Kim following in her father’s footsteps that proves Taken 2 could really have quite a bit to offer by building off of its predecessor. Bryan Mills is clearly still on his game and his not-so-helpless-anymore daughter is willing to do whatever it takes to return the favor and bring him home. This clip is smart, action-packed and, thanks to how well we know these characters from round one, it’s exhilarating to see them back in action.

2. Les Misérables Featurette: I’ve never seen Les Misérables, know only the barebones about the story, and am merely mildly interested in movie musicals, but boy does this featurette appeal to the curious filmmaker in me. The look of the footage alone has this wonderfully authentic and raw feel to it, which perfectly completes the honesty of having the cast sing live. If the method is this impactful in a featurette imagine the effect it’ll have on the full feature.

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