Archive for August, 2008


September Movie Releases



“Bangkok Dangerous” – One night in Bangkok and the world is Nicolas Cage’s oyster. Or maybe not. The Pang brothers remake their film about a hitman who falls for a local woman and has camaraderie with his errands boy. USA title: “Time to Kill.” Opens September 5, 2008


“Burn After Reading” – Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand work in a fitness club and stumble upon the memoirs of a CIA agent (John Malkovich). When they try to blackmail him, things get crazy. Opens September 12, 2008


“Phoebe in Wonderland” – Elle Fanning plays the titular character, a little girl who doesn’t want to deal with the rules of the grown-up world. Also stars Felicity Huffman and Bill Pullman. Opens September 12, 2008


“Righteous Kill” – Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino are two cops on the trail of a serial killer. Will there be one-liners involved? Opening September 12, 2008


“Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys” – Love, career, wealth, relationships, affairs… all between two families struggling to work together. Stars Jennifer Hudson, Kathy Bates, Cole Houser, Robin Givens, and Tyler Perry. Opens September 12, 2008.


“The Women” – Let me run down the cast list for ya: Meg Ryan, Annette Benning, Eva Mendes, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, Candice Bergen, Bette Midler, Cloris Leachman, Carrie Fisher… it’s endless. Opens September 12, 2008


“Battle in Seattle” – The 5 days in 1999 when demonstrators protested against the World Trade Organization. Stars Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, and Woody Harrelson. Opens September 19, 2008


“The Duchess” – Keira Knightley plays 18th aristocrat Georgiana Devonshire. Opens September 19, 2008


“Ghost Town” – “Office” and “Extras” creator Ricky Gervais is a jerk dentist who, after being dead for 7 minutes, is able to see ghosts. He’s imposed upon by Greg Kinnear to stop his former wife (Tea Leoni) from getting married to the wrong guy. Opens September 19, 2008


“Igor” – CG film with John Cusack voicing the main character; a lab assistant who dreams for more. Also features the voices of John Cleese, Eddie Izzard, and Jay Leno. Opens September 19, 2008


“Lakeview Terrace” – Samuel L. Jackson is an LAPD officer with a problem: his next-door neighbors are an interracial couple. Solution: force them out. Opens September 19, 2008


“My Best Friend’s Girl” – Dane Cook is hired by his best friend (Jason Biggs) to take an ex-girlfriend (Kate Hudson) out on a date in order to win her back. What?!?! Opens September 19, 2008


“Blindness” – A plague hits the Earth, causing everyone to go blind. Stars Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Danny Glover, and Sandra Oh. Opens September 26, 2008


“Choke” – Sam Rockwell is a re-enactor who sleeps with every woman that he can and elicits money from sympathetic people when he chokes on food in restaurants. Based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk (“Fight Club”). Opens September 26, 2008


“Eagle Eye” – Shia LeBeouf is a slacker who is being hunted down by a government agency who must team up with Michelle Monaghan to get some answers. Also stars Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thornton, and Michael Chiklis. Opens September 26, 2008


“The Lucky Ones” – Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, and Micael Pena are all U.S. soldiers who return from Iraq to find life has gone on without them. Opens September 26, 2008


“Miracle at St. Anna” – Spike Lee movie about 4 black American soldiers in Word War II who are trapped in a Tuscan village. Opens September 26, 2008


“Nights in Rodanthe” – Richard Gere is a work-obsessed doctor whose wife left him. Diane Lane is a mother whose husband cheated on her with her hest friend and now he wants to come back. James Franco is Gere’s estranged son. Opens September 26, 2008


Remake Radar: Red Dawn



Welcome to the August edition of Remake Radar, where we tackle Hollywood’s penchant for remaking previous films (for better or worse). This edition’s remake: Red Dawn.


“Red Dawn” (1984)


Stars: Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, and Jennifer Grey.


Director: John Milius


Story: In a world sitting on the brink of World War III, a group of high school teenagers defend their small, American hometown from Soviet and Cuban invaders. Using sticks, bows, arrows, and whatever else they can find, they’re battle cry is their mascot: “Wolverines!”


What do we know now? MGM is trading the Cold War-scare of the 80’s for the Post 9/11-scare 2000’s. Dan Bradley is set to direct, while Carl Ellsworth is set to write it.




Movie News and Views August 26, 2008 Trailer Edition



“Phoebe in Wonderland” – Elle Fanning plays the titular character, a little girl who doesn’t want to deal with the rules of the grown-up world. Also stars Felicity Huffman and Bill Pullman. Opens September 12, 2008. View the trailer at:


“Nights in Rodanthe” – Richard Gere is a work-obsessed doctor whose wife left him. Diane Lane is a mother whose husband cheated on her with her hest friend and now he wants to come back. James Franco is Gere’s estranged son. Opens September 26. 2008. View the trailer at:


 “An American Carol” – Kevin Farley (Chris’ brother) plays infamous unpatriotic filmmaker Michael Mallone (a shallow version of Michael Moore) who is contacted by three spirits of the past: General George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer), John F. Kennedy, and George Washington (Jon Voight). Also stars Trace Adkins, Dennis Hopper, and Bill O’Reilly. Opens October 3, 2008. View the trailer at:


“Appaloosa” – Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris are friends hired to police a small town. It’s a Western. Also stars Renee Zellweger. Opens October 3, 2008. View the trailer at:


 “Max Payne” – Mark Wahlberg plays the video game anti-hero: a maverick cop who is hunting down those responsible for killing his partner and family. Opens October 17, 2008. View the trailer at:


“The Secret Life of Bees” – Dakota Fanning is a 14-year-old girl on the run who lands at the beekeeping premises of the Boatwright sisters. Also stars Alicia Keyes and Queen Latifah. Opens October 17, 2008. View the trailer at:


“Frost/Nixon” – Based on the real life events of British talk show host David Frost interviewing ex-president Richard Nixon after his impeachment. Stars Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, and Oliver Platt. Opens December 25, 2008. View the trailer at:


“The Fast and the Furious 4” – Vin Diesel. Paul Walker. Michelle Rodriguez. Jordana Brewster. Fast cars. Fourth movie. Opens June 5, 2009. View the Vin Diesel-rific trailer at:


“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” – No summary; I’ve not bothered watching any of these movies. Opens July 17, 2009. View the trailer at:


“Good” – Viggo Mortensen is a professor in Germany during the German pride/uprising of the Nazi party. Coming soon! View the trailer at:


“The Imposters” – Based on the Bret Easton Ellis novel about a 1983 L.A. with rock stars, movie execs, a vampire… You know, the usual stuff. Stars Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Winona Ryder, Mickey Rourke, etc. Coming soon! View the trailer at:


“It’s Alive” – Remake of the Eighties movie about a couple who give birth to a child that kills when scared. Starring Bijou Phillips. Coming soon! View the trailer at:


“New York, I Love You” – An anthology of twelve short films, all shot in the Big Apple. Stars include Kevin Bacon, Orlando Bloom, Ethan Hawke, James Caan, Eli Wallach. John Hurt, Natalie Portman, etc. Directors include Brett Ratner and Scarlett Johansson. Coming soon! View the trailer at:


“Winged Creatures” – A group of survivors and how they survived a random restaurant shooting in LA. Stars Forest Whitaker, Kate Beckinsdale, Guy Pearce, Dakota Fanning, and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Coming soon! View the trailer at:


Movie News and Views August 22, 2008 Poster Edition



Here’s the rundown staring from mid-July:


         Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, and Samuel L. Jackson were working on a film called, “Soul Men,” about two backup singers who haven’t spoken to each other in 20 years, going on the road and doing a tribute to the deceased lead singer. While this is set for a Nov. 14 release, since Isaac Hayes and Bernie Mac passed away no further word has been said on the current condition of the project.

         Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper have officially quit “At the Movies.” Ebert doesn’t want to do it anymore, and Roper couldn’t negotiate a new contract. Their replacements are Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz.

         “Pass the Sugar” is a new documentary from director Gil Cates, Jr. on the 2005 World Series of Poker.

         M. Night Shamma-lamma-ding-dong plans on sitting in the producing chair, letting others film his ideas. Good luck with that one.

         Fresh from “Hancock,” director Peter Berg will direct a new “Hercules” movie for Universal.

         Not only is “Friday the 13th” being remade, but so is “Nightmare on Elm Street.” Current talks have pointed at Billy Bob Thornton to play Freddy Kreuger.

         Tim Burton is working on an “Alice in Wonderland” movie.

         MTV is planning on remaking “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

         “Hairspray” sequel slated for 2010.

         The new director for “RoboCop” will be Darren Aronofsky, whose films are “Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream,” and “The Fountain.”

         Leo DiCaprio is looking to make a “Twilight Zone” movie.

         Disney is planning on releasing “Tron 2,” and Jeff Bridges is involved.

         Tyrese Gibson in talks to bring “Thundercats” to the screen.

         Plans are in motion to adapt Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy.

         “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” Pretty much all I needed to know…

         Mike Myers, after the upset of “Love Guru,” is now working on “Austin Powers 4.”

         “Brooklyn’s Finest.” If you’ve not heard anything about this movie, let me bring you up to speed: a toll-booth worker went into the hospital. While recovering from surgery, he wrote a screenplay and entered it into a contest. It came in second place, but was sent to Warner Bros. Warner contacted the toll-booth worker and he got a much better reward than placing 2nd, he optioned the script! Now the movie, “Brooklyn’s Finest,” is in production with Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes, Ethan Hawke, and Don Cheadle.

         Alicia Keyes and Jack White are doing the theme to the new Bond film, “Quantum of Solace.”

         Kevin Smith’s new movie, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” was rated NC-17 but is now Rated R, thanks to an appeal.



The Car is the Star: History of the Car Chase

Tires squealing, producing white smoke as they tear down a concrete road. Hairpin turns and fishtailing. Breakneck speeding through oncoming traffic. The raw intensity and power of an engine as it shifts gears.


Ya gotta love the Car Chase Scene.


In this series of articles, we look back at the history of the car chase scene.


Part Two: The Seventies


It’s now the Seventies and the effect of “Bullitt” is reverberating through Hollywood. Youth culture and the anti-war movement helped to propel such films as “Easy Rider” and the Studios were looking toward muscle cars to bring the kids to the theatre.


The first to take the director’s chair and run with the assignment was a guy named Steven Spielberg. Taking a Richard Matheson story called, “Duel,” Spielberg created a made-for-TV movie about a traveling salesman (Dennis Weaver) who cut off the wrong trucker. The result being a “dinosaur” semi-truck constantly antagonizing Weaver on the road as he tries not to get killed driving his Plymouth Valiant. Ratings were so good the Studios released the movie in theatres.


Next came another great chase scene in cinema history: Gene Hackman in a hijacked car vs. an elevated subway train in 1971’s, “The French Connection.” “The French Connection” followed two cops, “Popeye” Doyle (Hackman) and Sonny Grosso (Roy Scheider) as they made one of the biggest drug scores in history: $25 million in smuggled heroin. As for the chase, the perp got onto the train. To stop him, Doyle hijacks a car and avoids hitting other cars, poles, a mother with a baby carriage, etc. and gets to the scene in time enough to stop the guy cold.


The same year a low-budget film had James Taylor and Dennis Wilson (of the Beach Boys) in their 1955 Chevy Coupe challenge a guy (Warren Oates) in a stock 1970 Pontiac GTO to a cross-country race. “Two Lane Blacktop” may have been a little “Easy Rider” in showing aimless characters going cross-country, but the film has its following.



1973 saw “The Seven-Ups.” Based on a story by Sonny Grasso pitched to Roy Scheider during the making of “The French Connection,” “The Seven-Ups” follows a unit within the New York City Police Department that, if they catch you, your sentence is seven years and up. Having the producers of “Bullitt” and “The French Connection,” the film having a car chase scene was a requirement. When the bad guys speed off in their Pontiac Grand Ville, Scheider follows them in a Pontiac Ventura Sprint Coupe. They drive on sidewalks, fishtail the cars, almost hit a group of kids in the street, and in the end Scheider almost gets beheaded by a semi-truck. Maybe not the most inspired of car chases, but one of the more intense ones.


Another entry into the genre is none other than “Vanishing Point.” Barry Newman stars as Kowalski, a former Vietnam Vet, police officer, and race car driver who makes a bet that he can make it from Denver to San Fran in 15 hours. Spiritually connected with him is “Super Soul” (Cleavon Little) a blind radio disc jockey in a small town who is “tuned” into what and where Kowalski is going as his Dodge R/T Challenger avoids cops and a pissed-off motorist. The chase in this movie IS the movie, with the cops setting up a roadblock that Kowalski is ever speeding toward. Of note Dean Jagger of “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” is in this. Also, the band Audioslave’s video for their song, “Show Me How To Live” incorporated footage from the film mixed with the band driving the same car through the same locations.


Peter Fonda and Deke Sommers play washed-up NASCAR drivers who rob a small town grocery and along the way pick up Susan George in 1974’s “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.” Larry (Fonda) and Mary (George) are pursued in their 1969 Dodge Challenger R/T by police officer Hanks (Eugene Daniels) in a 1972 Dodge Polara and Sheriff Franklin (Vic Morrow), who tracks them from a helicopter. While Larry does exclaim, “Ain’t nothin’ gonna stop us!” he should have watched out for the train.


The same year came low-budget filmmaker H.B. ‘Toby’ Halicki. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, then you should recognize his contribution: “Gone in 60 Seconds.” With a budget of $1.1 million he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in this tale of Mandarin Chase, a fraud investigator who steals cars on the side (only ones that are insured). This movie practically shows you how to steal a car, circa 1974. When Chase completes a deal to deliver 50 cars in two days, the chase is on as him and his team secure every car but “Eleanor,” a 1973 Ford Mac 1. The cops swooping in leads to a 40-minute car chase (longest in film history). Trivia: all the cars housed in the warehouse Chase walks around in were owned by Halicki. The film was remade in 2000 with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie.


“Death Race 2000.” For those who didn’t catch my “Remake Radar” article, it’s the future and in the Trans Continental Road Race, you earn points for roadkill. The older, the better. David Carradine (“Kung Fu”) plays government champion Frankenstein. His rival: Joe “Machine Gun” Viturbo (Sylvester Stallone). Directed by Roger Corman, this was a satiric look at the “car is the star” Seventies film fare. Currently remade (sort of) as “Death Race” with Jason Statham, Joan Allen, and Tyrese Gibson.


“The Gumball Rally” solidified the nation’s fixation with driving cross-country and comedy. Driving from New York to California, the illegal race featured such actors as Raul Julia and Gary Busey in a competition for speed and a gumball machine. This film would be seen again, but as “Cannonball Run.”





“Eastbound and down, loaded-up and truckin’ / we’re gonna do what they say can’t be done…” If there was a nickel for every time in my life I heard Jerry Reed sing the theme to “Smokey and the Bandit…” Anyways, for those who have never watched it (just a disclaimer) the story goes like this: an 18-wheeler of beer has to get from Texas to Georgia. The driver: Cledus “Snowball 1” Snow (Jerry Reed). Making sure it happens is The Bandit (Burt Reynolds). When Bandit picks up a runaway bride (Sally Fields) they invoke wrath of father-in-law-to-be Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason), aka “Smokey.” Fun, redneck comedy that rivaled “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters” for the box office of 1977. It also made it impossible not to spot a Trans Am in the South. Followed by two sequels. “We’re Eastbound, watchin’ Bandit run…”


A little late, one of the “Duel” imitators, as well as a precursor to  “Christine,” “The Car,” pops in at 1977. A possessed Lincoln Mark III takes on anyone who challenges it.


Stay tuned for the Eighties!


The Chase Is On: A Look at the History of the Car Chase Scene

Tires squealing, producing white smoke as they tear down a concrete road. Hairpin turns and fishtailing. Breakneck speeding through oncoming traffic. The raw intensity and power of an engine as it shifts gears.


Ya gotta love the Car Chase Scene.


In this series of articles, we look back at the history of the car chase scene.


Part One: The Sixties


Ask any guy who has ever watched, ever loved, the car chase scene in movies and he’ll throw out the title: “Bullitt.” While “Bullitt” can be considered the father of all car chase scenes in movies, we’re going to go back just a little further.


The car chase scene was an eventual evolution from chase scenes in movies. Chase scenes on foot (see: any “Keystone Cop” footage) the audience wanted something more, something that hadn’t been done yet. Hollywood was more than willing and gave us some of the best chase scenes.


How about the chariot race in “Ben Hur”? Watching Charlton Heston on the big screen racing a chariot for his life more than wowed audiences; it set a bar of expectations. Of all the directors to provide some of the greatest “chase scene” footage was Alfred Hitchcock in the film, “North By Northwest.” Cary Grant being followed by a crop duster is one of the most oft repeated scenes in cinema history.


But it would take a while before two and two would come together. I’ll take a moment and give a nod to what I believe was another influence on the “car chase” genre: “Grand Prix.” Directed by John Frankenheimer (a former stock car driver, among all things) “Grand Prix” was released in the mid-Sixties and although it wasn’t as renown as it later became, it did win Academy Awards for Editing and Sound. Any person who loves or enjoys car movies needs to watch this for a better appreciation of the genre. There’s not much of a plot or story to it; just 3 hours equating to a year on the Formula One racing circuit. Frankenheimer rushed to get this done because Steve McQueen was supposed to make a racing movie around the same time. Getting such actors as James Garner, Antonio Sabbato, Eva Marie Saint, and Toshira Mifune, “Grand Prix,” carved out its own spot in the car movie/racing movie genre.






Just a few years later (1968 to be exact) the father of the chase scene was born. “Bullitt” starred Steve McQueen as police detective Frank Bullitt, a man guarding a criminal witness who has a hunch that things aren’t right. This leads to a chase through the streets of San Francisco, driving a Ford Mustang Fastback GT and following the bad guys who were in a Dodge Charger. McQueen himself was a former stock car driver and forewent insurance stuff to do the chase, which had him driving at speeds up to 100 mph.












The next year the Brits came back with “The Italian Job.” Starring Michael Caine as Charlie Crooker, the film followed as he planned a heist of $4 billion in gold bullion. And how does one who executes this plan their getaway? By three mini-Cooper S’ painted red, white, and blue cutting through the streets of Turin.














Disney threw their hat into the ring and had their own “car chase” movies. “The Love Bug” starred Herbie, a Volkswagen Beetle who had a personality that was “protected” by its owners; in this case, Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett. Herbie achieved his dream of being a racecar and went on to three sequels, a made-for-TV movie, and “Herbie: Fully Loaded” starring Lindsay Lohan.














Watch that odometer, ’cause we’re about to kick it into the Seventies.


Movie Review: Tropic Thunder



Get on da choppah!


Starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Robert Downey, Jr., Steve Coogan, Nick Nolte, Matthew McConnaughey, and Tom Cruise. Directed by Ben Stiller


Before the movie even starts, we’re introduced to fake trailers for films the characters are advertising: Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) is an action movie star who has to save an Earth that has been cooled-over in “Scorcher VI: The Meltdown.” Jack Fortnoy (Jack Black) plays every character in a comedy about a family who lives together and farts together in “The Farties: Fart Two.” Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a monk having unholy carnal relations with fellow monk Tobey Maguire in “Satan’s Alley.”


The movie then starts with narration by Nick Nolte (who plays Four Leaf Tayback) who recounts a story about a group of ten guys who went into the jungles of Viet Nam: four of the men came back. Of those four, three wrote books. Of those three books, two were published. Of the two, one got a movie deal…


And so begins the story of the making of the most expensive war movie ever made.


After an opening that’s more than a whiff of “Apocalypse Now,” things go wrong. We’re slowly introduced to the characters: Tugg Speedman is an action movie star whose career is on the skids because of too many “Scorcher” movies, and “Simple Jack,” a box office bomb where he played a mentally handicapped guy who could talk with animals. Jack Fortnoy is a comedian whose renown for farting is only matched by his drug addictions (which includes sniffing glue). Kirk Lazarus is a 5-time Oscar-winning Australian actor who undergoes experimental pigmentation surgery to play the black Sergeant; he never breaks character “until the DVD commentary is finished.” Added to the mix is Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) a hip-hop artist who hocks his energy drink Booty Sweat as well as his protein bar, Bust-A-Nut. Last is Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel), the nerdy white guy who did something none of the others did: he actually read the book AND the screenplay.


When director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) is threatened by producer Les Grossman (Tom Cruise) who wants to shut down the production, he turns to the sage advice of Four Leaf Tayback, who tells him, “you gotta put them in the real shit.” Jumping into a chopper the next morning the platoon, along with director, Tayback, and pyrotechnics guy, fly into the jungle. Cockburn tells them that they’re making it “real,” and that cameras are placed in strategic areas to give a gritty feel to the movie. After Cockburn steps on a landmine and blows up, the actors are by themselves with at least 3/5 of them believing what Cockburn said.


As they traverse through the jungle they’re spotted by the Flaming Dragons, an Asian heroin-producing faction. The group winds up separating and Tuggman eventually gets caught and tortured, then made to perform the entirety of “Simple Jack” (“Dodgeball” never made it to their video store?) The rest of the group now must band together and bring back Tuggman.


There ya go. That’s the story pretty much summed up. While everything that was funny was in the movie, the movie has points that are a lot funnier. Like when Tuggman kills a panda (inside movie joke). Or when Lazarus has the “never go full retard” speech with Tuggman. Or when Fortnoy is tied-up to a tree and wants loose, and describes what he would do for the person who helps him out. Or when Lazarus (who looks more like Rayden than a rice farmer) sprays bullets from a machine gun on each arm. Or even when Grossman yells into a phone, “I want you to take a step back and f- yourself in the face.”


Aside from the blatant ripping on “Apocalypse Now,” and “Platoon,” and shallowness of the characters involved, the underlying theme of it all is reality versus fiction. When even the guy who wrote the book the screenplay was based on is a fake, what is real? Where do the lines between fact and fiction lie? Then again, maybe I’m looking too deeply into it all.


While there are some general LOL moments, and some stuff I got that other people didn’t, I felt like I had ordered fast food as opposed to a full meal. Maybe I wanted a little more from the movie, or maybe I was over-hyped. Either way, it was good but not a lot more than surface level.


My grade: B


Predicting the Box Office, Part III

When we last left off, Big Willie-style Fourth o’ July was goin’ on, and “Hancock” had one of the largest opening weekends of the summer. Let’s see how other movies have fared…


The next weekend released one of the better movies of July: “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army.” What shocked me were the differing opinions between the critics and the audience on the weekends. The critics hated “Hancock,” but loved “Hellboy 2”; conversely, the public went and saw “Hancock” and didn’t turn out for “Hellboy 2” like I had expected. Another release for that weekend was Brendan Fraser in “Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D,” which I was told you really DID need 3-D glasses for.


Eddie Murphy’s comedy “Meet Dave” opened at $5.2 million.


“Mamma Mia!” had an impressive opening as it could have hoped: $27,751,240. Why? Because of its competition: “The Dark Knight.” “TDK” kicked “Iron Man” and “Indy 4”’s opening weekends, raking in $158 million. It has since set box office records the least of which was biggest weekend box office opening. Whether it was the fact that it was a sequel to “Batman Begins,” or Heath Ledger’s last movie, or simply people who enjoy the work of Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight” has held the number one spot at the box office for the last month.


Believe it or not, I really DID want to believe, but the new “X-Files” movie let me down. With an opening of $10 million for the weekend, it was beaten out by the Will Ferrell/ John C. Reilly comedy “Step Brothers.” Whether it was the plot of “X-Files,” the fact that it’s been years since the series has been on the air, or maybe there are that many more fans for Ferrell and company as opposed to “The X-Files.”


We got a third “Mummy” movie, which was a slight disappointment at the B.O., only taking in $40 million. Its competition, “Swing Vote,” had one of the lowest openings for the summer as well. Was it the reviews of “Mummy 3” that kept people away, or are we already done with the franchise?


Batman continued his grip on the number one spot and if any movie could thwart him, it was “Pineapple Express.” However, Judd Apatow and company couldn’t pull that off, but did take in $23 mil for the weekend. Their competition, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,” brought in $10 mil.


Will anything break Batman’s stranglehold on the number one spot? This week we have the premiere of “Tropic Thunder.” If “Pineapple Express” couldn’t do it, this is the last chance.


Here are the rundown of the numbers for the summer:


Biggest Openings of the Summer:


“The Dark Knight”                    $158,411,483

“Indy 4”                                   $126,917,373

“Iron Man”                               $102,118,668

“Wall*E”                                  $63,087,526

“Hancock”                               $62,603,879

“”Kung Fu Panda”                    $60,239,130

“Sex and the City”                    $56,848,056

“The Incredible Hulk”               $55,414,050

“Narnia: Prince Caspian”          $55,034,805

“Wanted”                                 $50,927,085



And the Top Ten Cumulative for the Summer:


“The Dark Knight”                    $448,886,084

“Iron Man”                               $316,590,841

“Indy 4”                                   $314,819,219

“Hancock”                               $222,625,918

“Kung Fu Panda”                     $211,507,723

“Wall*E”                                  $211,332,152

“Sex and the City”                    $151,838,609

“Narnia: Prince Caspian”          $140,117,978

“The Incredible Hulk”               $133,932,430

“Wanted”                                 $132,802,780


Movies on DVD Review: The Seven-Ups (1973 )



Starring Roy Scheider and Tony Bianco. Directed by Philip D’Antoni.


Based on a story provided by Sonny Grasso (“The French Connection”), Roy Scheider is Buddy, the head of an underground police organization known as the “Seven-Ups.” They are called this because whatever criminal they catch receives a sentence of seven years or more. Mobsters around the city are being kidnapped and extorted for money, a plot that Scheider’s team finds out after a team member is accidentally killed. Playing both sides against the middle is Vito (Tony Bianco), Buddy’s friend and underworld informant.


This film could easily be considered a “sequel” to “The French Connection,” but don’t confuse it with “French Connection II.” For starters, there’s almost no dialogue whatsoever; outside of a few scenes between Scheider and Bianco, there’s just raw visual filmmaking. Using “French Connection” as a blueprint, the film is the classic “70’s style:” pseudo-documentary/ hand-held shots, wide angles, sparse dialog; an almost “being there” feel to it. Plus being directed by Philip D’Antoni (who produced “Bullitt” and “The French Connection”) there is the obligatory car chase.


Screeching tires? Check. Disobeying traffic laws? Check. Car continues to fishtail? Check. Trying to improve on “Bullitt” and “French Connection,” imagine a chase scene that is a marriage of the chase scenes from those movies; Roy Scheider in a Pontiac Ventura ripping through the streets of New York City following the bad guys driving a Pontiac Grand Ville. Throw in some traffic, kids playing in the streets, an extra police patrol car and a semi-truck at the end and while it may not be the best, it’s worthy of the Car Chase Hall of Excellence.


Should you rent this movie? If you’re a fan of Seventies cinema, yes. If you liked the “French Connection,” yes. If you’re a Roy Scheider fan, definitely.


My grade: B


In Passing… Isaac Hayes (1942-2008)



Soundtrack composer and actor Isaac Hayes passed away on Sunday, August 10, 2008 at the age of 65. Hayes has composed and/or performed music for 65 movie and TV shows, as well as acted in 66. He’s renowned for his roles in such films as “Truck Turner,” “Escape from New York,” and as Chef in the cartoon series, “South Park.” He is also the first Black American to win an Oscar for Best Original Song for the Theme of “Shaft.”


For more information, click on the link:


Thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.