Archive for August, 2009

28
Aug
09

September Movie Release Schedule

“All About Steve” – Sandra Bullock is a crossword constructor who finds true love with a CNN cameraman (Thomas Hayden Church) and crisscrosses the country trying to prove it to him. Originally slated for March 6, 2009, pushed back to September 4, 2009

“Carriers” – Chris Pine is one of a group of four friends fleeing a viral pandemic that soon learn they are more dangerous than the virus itself. Opens September 4, 2009

“Extract” – Mike Judge movie that follows the professional and personal life of a flower-extract plant owner. Stars Justin Bateman, Ben Affleck, and Mila Kunis. Opens September 4, 2009

“Gamer” – It’s the future and humans can control other humans in a mass-scale game. Gerard Butler is a player trying to escape this prison game and take down its mastermind, Michael C. Hall. Opens September 4, 2009

“Pandorum” – Sci-fi movie with Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster about two men who crash-land on a planet and have no memory of who they were, how they got there, or why. Opens September 4, 2009

“9” – In a post-apocalyptic world a being with the name “9” wakes up. Upon looking around he finds others like him and that it’s up to him to save what’s left of the world from the Machines. Stars the voices of Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau and Christopher Plummer. Opens September 9, 2009

“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” – Michael Douglas in the remake of a 1956 film about a writer’s plan to expose a district attorney that go awry. Opens September 11, 2009

“I Can Do Bad All By Myself” – Another Madea story, this time she stops a 16-year-old girl and her brother from looting her and sends them to live with her hard-drinking nightclub singing aunt. Opens September 11, 2009

“Sorority Row” – Five sorority sisters murder a fellow sister in a prank gone wrong. After graduation, a killer goes after each one. Originally slated for October 22, 2009, now opening September 11, 2009

“Whiteout” – Kate Beckinsale is a U.S. Marshal assigned to Antarctica who must solve a murder case in 3 days or else be stranded with the killer. Based on a series of graphic novels. Opens September 11, 2009

“Armored” – A crew of armored transport guards engage in a heist against their own company. Stars Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne, and Fred Ward. Opens September 18, 2009

“The Burning Plain” – Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger are daughter and mother, trying to form a bond after a difficult childhood. Opens September 18, 2009

“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” – CG animated movie based on the children’s book about a scientist trying to cure world hunger when food starts falling from the sky. Featuring the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Cann, Bruce Campbell, and Mr. T. Opens September 18, 2009

“The Informant” – Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a vie president-turned-informant on the dealings of agri-business. Based on the true story. Opens September 18, 2009

“Jennifer’s Body” – Megan Fox stars in a high school horror film (written by Diablo Cody) about a girl who uses sex to kill teenage boys. Opens September 18, 2009

“Love Happens” – Aaron Eckhart is a novelist who makes a best-selling book about coping with loss. Jennifer Aniston is the girl who he falls for. Opens September 18, 2009

“Capitalism: A Love Story” – Greed. Avarice. Michael Moore. Documentary. Opens September 23, 2009

“The Invention of Lying” – Ricky Gervais movie about a world in which everyone tells the truth and his character ‘invents’ lying. Barring any fibbing, the movie opens on September 25, 2009

“The Surrogates” – Bruce Willis in a scifi movie about a murder linked to a high-tech company that allows people to purchase unflawed robotic versions of themselves. Opens September 25, 2009

27
Aug
09

Movie News and Views August 27, 2009 Trailer Edition

“A Serious Man” – Coen Bros. movie about a man trying to find clarity in the Sixties. Opens October 2, 2009.

“Youth in Revolt” – Michael Cera is a teenager who falls for the girl of his dreams and develops a split personality who creates havoc. Wasn’t this “Fight Club?” Also stars Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, M. Emmet Walsh, Justin Long, and Fred Willard. Opens October 30, 2009

“The Fourth Kind” – Milla Jovovich in a thriller based on the real-life story of a town in Alaska where people have been disappearing and where they fear there’s a government coverup. Opens November 6, 2009

“New Moon” – Episode Two of the “Twilight Saga” based on the books. Opens November 20, 2009

“Avatar” – James Cameron has spent the last 4 years working on this one: a complete CG movie filmed in IMAX 3-D. Tickets are on sale now! Opens December 18, 2009

“Legion” – Paul Bettany is an archangel trying to save humanity after God gives up on it and sends an army of angels to begin the apocalypse. Mankind’s future rests on a woman about t give birth to a child who will be the next Christ. Also stars Dennis Quaid and Tyrese Gibson. Opens January 22, 2010

“The Wolfman” – English period piece with Benecio del Toro returning for his brother’s funeral only to find that he was mauled by a werewolf. Benecio gets attacked and bitten as well and begins to change. Also stars Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt. Opens February 12, 2010.

“Inception” – Sci-fi from suspense director Christopher Nolan (“Insomnia,” “The Prestige,” “Batman” movies) Stars Leo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, and Ken Watanabe. Okay, now I’m curious… Opens July 16, 2010

“The Ghost” – Ewan McGregor is a novelist hired to ghostwrite a biography on a Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). He begins to uncover secrets that put his life in jeopardy. Also stars Kim Cattrall, Tom Wilkinson, Jim Belushi, and Timothy Hutton. Coming soon!

26
Aug
09

Remake Radar: Poltergeist

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Welcome to Remake Radar, where we take on Hollywood’s penchant for remaking films for better or worse (which is most of the time). This month’s movie:

“Poltergeist” (1982)

Stars Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, and Heather O’Rourke.

Director: Tobe Hooper

Story: Steven Freeling (Nelson) is a rest estate agent who moves his family into newly designed suburban housing. When strange things begin to occur and his daughter Carol Anne (O’Rourke) sits and points at the TV showing static and saying, “They’re here!” he decides to get to the bottom of the matter. His boss tells him that his house rests on an ancient Indian burial ground. Great. Matter are further complicated when Carol Anne is taken hostage by the malevolent spirits and thrown into another dimension. Steven calls on parapsychologists who are immediately humbled and bring in a small medium for their large request: bring back their kid from the other side, and get rid of the ghosts.

What do we know now? When there’s a remake / in MGM’s neighborhood. Who did they call? / Vadim Perelman! In a case nearly unprecedented by surely the way the Studios are going MGM greenlit a remake of the movie, picked a release date of November 24, 2010, then picked a director (Perelman) and screenwriters Juliet Snowden and Stiles White. Perelman directed “House of Sand and Fog.” Snowden and White co-wrote “Knowing” and “Boogeyman.”

25
Aug
09

Movie News and Views August 25, 2009 Poster Edition

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– George Lucas is the highest-paid man in Hollywood, raking in $170 million. Feel free to make your own comment.

– “Resident Evil 4: Afterlife” will begin filming in September.

– Warner Bros. and Leo DiCaprio are pushing ahead on their “Twilight Zone” movie.

– Following “Spider-Man 4,” Sam Raimi is set to direct “World of Warcraft,” based on the video game.

– A sequel to “The Strangers” will begin shooting in September.

– Stephen Baldwin has filed for bankruptcy. Again, feel free to drop your own comment.

– More visitors to Sequel-ville: “300,” “Beverly Hills Cop 4,” “Constantine 4,” “Saw 6” and “Sex in the City 2.”

– “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” will start shooting April 2010.

– James McAvoy and director Timbur Bekmambetov will return for “Wanted 2.”

– David Cronenberg to direct “Cosmopolis,” based on the novel by Delillo about a guy whose day centers around his white stretch limousine.

– Is “Batman 3” a “go?” Nolan and Bale say they have no clue, but other reports are saying otherwise…

– Jon Favreau confirms “Iron Man 3.”

– “Chronicles of Narnia 3” now filming.

– Ron Howard is set to direct “The Parsifal Mosaic,” based on a novel by Robert Ludlum (“The Bourne” series)

– Ridley Scott is set to direct a prequel to “Alien.”

– Steven Spielberg’s next project is a remake of the Jimmy Stewart movie, “Harvey.”

– AO Scott and Michael Phillips are the new hosts for “At the Movies.”

– J.J. Abrams has hired writers for “Mission: Impossible 4.”

– Watch for “Underworld 4.” It has a January 2011 release date.

– Paul Giamatti is replacing Sean Penn in the “Three Stooges” movie, but now Jim Carrey has left. The only other original person to sign is Benicio del Toro.

– A “G.I. Joe” sequel has been confirmed by Paramount.

– With DVD sales falling 13.5% and Redbox’s revenue up 110%, the Studios are fighting back.

– Warner Bros. are developing a “Lego” movie. No word on how the shots will be blocked…

– “Poltergeist” remake has a release date of Nov. 24, 2010.

– Warner Bros. has lost the rights to Superman’s origins to the Jerry Siegel estate.

– For $500,000 you can be buried next to Marilyn Monroe.

– Blockbuster plans to offer movies that can be watched on Motorola cellphones.

– “Outland” and “Dirty Dancing” to be remade.

– Bryan Singer is set to remake “Excalibur.”

– Watch for “Cars 2: World Grand Prix.”

 

Thanks to www.worstpreviews.com

 

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21
Aug
09

Bourne Again

On a whim me and a friend decided to watch “The Bourne Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum” films. Here’s the rundown:

bourne_identity“The Bourne Identity” – Matt Damon stars as the main character, Jason Bourne, a spy found lying facedown in the ocean with two bullets in his back. When he awakes he has amnesia and must piece together who he is and/or was. His one clue to the past is a deposit box which has multiple passports, money, and a gun. This tips off the CIA who are looking for Bourne namely Conklin (Chris Cooper) who sent Bourne on a secret assassination mission that has blown-up in the CIA’s face and brought questioning by another person in-the-know, Ward Abbott (Brian Cox). Bourne enlists the help of Maria (Franka Potente) whom he pays $20,000 to take him to Paris where he hopes to find out more about Project Treadstone.

In Retrospect: I remember watching this movie and loving it, hyping myself up for the sequel. Looking back, it’s still a good movie but I don’t love it as much. At the time it came out (2002) it preceded the final Austin Powers movies as well as the last Pierce Brosnan “James Bond” movie, and this was a welcome change. Both franchises had run their course and Jason Bourne was a spy who didn’t really on gadgets or one-liners; the man could disarm and disable you in three seconds using only his thumb. It was new, fresh, innovative, and action-oriented WITH a story. Doug Liman directed the first film entry in the series and I’ll give him credit for what he did, but it does seem to pale against its sequels (and imitators).

 

 

bourne_supremacy“The Bourne Supremacy” – Classified Russian documents are stolen when a CIA operation is botched and Jason Bourne is framed. On the other side of the globe Bourne is living in India with Maria when he’s spotted and during the ensuing chase, Maria is killed. Bourne returns stateside to find out why he’s being hunted down. Memories of a secret mission that wasn’t part of Treadstone return in bits and pieces and he soon goes to Moscow, returning to the scene of the crime and confronting the hitman initially sent to kill him as well as apologizing to the daughter of the couple whom he assassinated. This time around he’s being tracked down by Pamela Landy (Joan Allen).

In Retrospect: I liked this movie as much as “Bourne Identity” when it came out, citing the fact that the extra car chase was “the cherry on top of an already good movie.” Re-watching it, I liked it even more than the first. Sure, the camerawork during the fight scenes can get a little crazy or choppy, but overall it kept a cohesive story amid all the chaos.

 

 

bourne_ultimatum“The Bourne Ultimatum” – A journalist for the UK paper The Guardian (Paddy Considine) has found out about Jason Bourne and is trying to expose him, along with information on a Top Secret project called Black Briar. Bourne has to get to the bottom of things and runs into Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) who happens to be working for the guy trying to sell the CIA secrets. Meanwhile, back at the ranch (CIA), Noah Vosen (David Strathairn) is honing in on the journalist when Bourne comes into the picture. Landy is sent in to help him with Bourne and, just in case, to be a scapegoat. Bourne must clear his name while trying to find out more information on Black Briar.

 

In Retrospect: I had such high hopes for this movie before I saw it in theatres. After watching it I wasn’t so much nauseous (major shaky-cam) as much as let down. It felt like an amalgamation of the other two Bourne films.

And I was partially right.

I’m reminded of a quote John Carpenter said about sequels which went something to the effect of people want the same movie over again. Sitting back and watching the other two Greengrass, as well as scriptwriters Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi, seemed to look at “The Bourne Identity” and say, “We can just use THIS script again!” Replace Chris Cooper with David Stathairn, Brian Cox with Albert Finney, Clive Owen with Joey Ansah, and even Franka Potente with Julia Stiles, and you have “The Bourne Identity Deux.”

And to make matters worse is the 1:20 (hrs:mins) point, where we find out that everything we’ve been watching takes place before the end of “Supremacy.” So, while Bourne was busy discovering why he was framed and avenging the death of his wife, he ALSO had time to find out about the other Black Ops Program, Black Briar. Did any of these guys think about this while it was happening, or just hope to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes? Fool me once, shame on me; I didn’t get fooled the second time.

 

THE WINNER: “The Bourne Supremacy.” A good blend of action-adventure with a plot and storyline.

 “The Bourne Identity” still holds, but not as well as “Supremacy.” “The Bourne Ultimatum?” More horrible than when I first watched it.

19
Aug
09

Movie Review: District 9

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Take some apartheid, mix in some aliens…

Starring Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, and Vanessa Haywood. Directed by Neil Blomkamp

It’s the best sci-fi I’ve seen in a while (better than “Moon”) and I’ll see if I can impress upon you what the movie is.

The story: Twenty years ago an alien spaceship came to Earth and hovered over Johannesburg. Not D.C., L.A., NYC, or even Chi-town, but Johannesburg, South Africa. The ship just hovered there and after 3 months the government made contact by sending a team into the ship where they found refugees. The government segregates the aliens into “District 9” and place signs all around telling people to contact authorities if they’re spotted outside their area. Meanwhile the district turns into a black market slum with the aliens (called “prawn”) scavenging for food and supplies through garbage, being serviced by prostitutes, and controlled by a paralyzed warlord named Mumbo. They trade with Mumbo for the one Earth commodity they crave: cat food. Mumbo also provides them with mutilated cow meat.

Fast forward to now. South Africa is fed up with housing the prawn and dealing with them. MNU, the government agency dealing with the prawn, has been given a new assignment: relocate them to District 10, a much smaller encampment. Heading up the group is our protagonist Wilkus Van de Merwe. Wilkus is an affable doofus who got the job because his beautiful wife happens to be the daughter of the guy running MNU. With his head stuck naively somewhere in corporate policy, Wilkus goes to move ‘em aliens.

Doing that isn’t as easy as advertised. The prawn are contrary, lying, refusing to go, causing complications because they’re supposed to be given 24 hours before eviction, etc. Wilkus finds a lot of weapons to collect and a helluva lot of hostility towards humans. Go figure. When he finds a canister with alien writing on it he pushes a button while inspecting it instantly sprays himself in the face with black “fluid.”

Now Wilkus is infected. He coughs and his nose runs black blood. After collapsing during a surprise birthday party he’s hospitalized when it’s found that… his hand has just became like the prawn! He’s quickly sent to underground MNU where they conduct experiments on him; namely, having him fire the prawn weaponry (the weapons only work biologically, so human DNA won’t operate them). He’s strapped against a metal closure and zapped with electricity, forcing him to operate their guns. Wilkus makes his escape and heads to District 9.

Wilkus’s body is changing and he’s beginning to hate it; he scarfs down cat food only to vomit it up moments later. In hiding he teams up with Christopher Johnson, a prawn he previously tried to evict. Johnson tells him that he can be changed back but first he needs to get the “fluid” back and that involves a suicide-mission to MNU’s underground labs. To do this they’re gonna need weapons which they get back from Mumbo, who vows his revenge. What follows is action, adventure, explosions, and the question: what does being ‘human’ really mean?

First off, get rid of the hype. This IS a good movie and you might leave the theater with the feeling that someone or something punched you in the stomach. It’s not this decade’s next “Dark City”: it’s something different. For that, it’s worth the hype.

But it’s NOT the be-all end-all, greatest thing since sliced bread. It’s a first film and there are some flaws. The transitions in Wilkus’s character toward the end might be plausible, but seem a little “sped up.” How can humans understand the aliens’ language? Or vice-versa? Also, some of the beginning CG is a little “iffy” of believability.

These things aside, I do recommend seeing “District 9.” I liked it more than “Moon” (but recommend it as well). With this being Blomkamp’s first feature movie, I’ll be looking out for what he does next.

My grade: B

19
Aug
09

Movie Review: Moon

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I think I’m a clone now…

Starring Sam Rockwell and Kevin Spacey as the voice of GERTY. Directed by Duncan Jones

NOTA BENE: If you want to be surprised by this movie, you may wanna skip this review.

Story: Sam Bell (Rockwell) lives on the moon working for Lunar Industries. It’s 2 weeks until his contract is up. He’s ready to see his wife and child again and be on Earth. He begins having hallucinations. GERTY, the computer running the facility, only wants to help him. Bell takes a lunar rover/tank (I don’t know how else to explain it) out to one of the harvesters that convert lunar rock into high-grade oxygen for the planet. Having another hallucination he crashes into the harvester and passes out.

He awakes in the lunar base’s medical lab. GERTY tells him that he’s been in an accident. As he walks around he swears that he encounters another version of himself. Eventually he makes contact with this “other” Sam Bell and finds that they are both clones. Digging deeper both Sam Bells find out more than they wanted to know about what’s going on as well as the price paid for being temporarily human.

I liked the movie and wouldn’t mind owning it, but it does take a while to get into. Bringing myself up on scifi from Asimov to Bradbury to Ellison to Matheson, clones are often a plot device. I liked how this treated the idea of “what happens when a clone realizes what he/she is, and they want more than that out of their life?” I’m reminded of the episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” where Riker (Frakes) found that during an engagement when he was beaming off a planet part of his DNA got caught into a transporter mishap and somehow a copy of him existed on the planet. The rest of the episode raised the question of who was more entitled to be “Riker.”

And that’s something I got out of the movie: the boundless questions. I’m not going to spoil the ending for you but it harkens back to the premise: is a clone of a living, breathing human being considered a human being? Or property by the ones who created him?

Well done indie scifi flick.

My grade: B