Posts Tagged ‘random musings



16
Dec
08

Oh, the Dickens: Favorite Christmas Movies

“Christmas, Christmas time is here

Time for joy and time for cheer…”

Hills of snow. The jingling of sleigh bells. Fireplaces with stockings hanging from them. Whether or not you get the Norman Rockwell/ Courier and Ives Christmas so lauded in songs and movies, I do wish you the best and present to you

TEN FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIES

charliebrownchristmas1A Charlie Brown Christmas” – The Peanuts Gang sing Christmas carols while Charlie Brown, distraught with all the commercialism, tries to find the true meaning of Christmas. One of the best Charlie Brown TV specials and it endures to this day. Also, I think I grew up having the exact same tree Charlie Brown had for Christmas.

rudolphdvdRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” – Narrated by Sam the Snowman (Burl Ives), this is the story of how a misfit reindeer and his friends Hermey and Yukon Cornelius brave the snow and the Abominable Snowman in order to make it to the North Pole, where it’s fogged-in until Santa finds a use for Rudolph.

miracle_on_34th_streetMiracle on 34th Street” – No offense to Richard Attenborrough, but I prefer the original 1947 version. When a man takes over being a store Santa he’s a hit but when the store manager (Maureen O’Hara) finds that he BELIEVES he’s Kris Kringle, she has him committed. It’s up to a young lawyer (John Payne) to prove he’s the real thing.

its_a_wonderful_lifeIt’s a Wonderful Life” – George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is a bank manager a heartbeat away from losing the bank his father helped found. Contemplating suicide, Bailey is visited by an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) who shows him what the world would be like if he didn’t exist. “Look Daddy! Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings!”

thegrinchHow the Grinch Stole Christmas” – Directed by Chuck Jones (the “Bugs Bunny” guy) and Bob Ogle, this is another TV staple that has stood the test of time. Based on the Dr. Seuss book, a grumpy recluse plans to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. “You’re a mean one, Mister Grinch. You really are a heel…”

christmas-carolA Christmas Carol” – There are a few film adaptations of the Charles Dickens book as well as numerous TV versions. Choose whatever version you can find but I suggest the 1984 TV version with George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge. For those who don’t know, this is the story of an elderly miser who is visited by ghosts from the past, present, and future who warn him what will happen if he doesn’t change his ways. “God bless us, each and every one.”

muppet_christmas_carolThe Muppet Christmas Carol” – Mickey Mouse, the Flintstones, and Barbie have all done their version of the story, so why not the Muppets? The first Muppet movie following the passing of creator Jim Henson, Kermit the Frog (voiced by Steve Whitmire) plays Bob Cratchit and Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge. Trivia fact: Caine claims that this was one of his most memorable roles.

scroogedScrooged” – Bill Murray takes on the “Ebenezer Scrooge” role this time playing Frank Cross, a TV exec who doesn’t care about Christmas until he has to produce a TV version AND met by the ghosts of Christmas past (David Johansen) and Christmas Present (Carol Kane). Great movie. Lee Majors is hilarious in the trailer “The Day the Reindeer Died.”

christmas_vacation2National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” – The third of the Griswold vacation movies finds the family planning for Christmas, which leads to disastrous, yet funny, results. Inviting both sets of parents to the home Clark (Chevy Chase) becomes consumed with creating the perfect Christmas. Joining in the mayhem is his cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid) and his family. Favorite scene: Clark “slicking up” the sled with some potent stuff before going bobsledding. Classic.

frostyfinal1Frosty the Snowman” – Jimmy Durante narrates this tale of a snowman who comes to life. Frosty (voiced by Jackie Vernon) is brought to life but must make his way to the North Pole before he melts. Following close behind is a magician who wants his hat back. This was the last movie for Jimmy Durante.


Honorable mentions:

christmas_storyA Christmas Story” – “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” All Ralphie wants for Christmas is an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Great movie, but after the 100th time it gets a little old. If you have NEVER seen, it, rent it immediately. Or, wait for TBS to show it for 24 hours straight.

nightmare_before_christmas“The Nightmare Before Christmas” – Tim Burton animated movie about Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, who decides to kidnap Santa Claus and bring his version of “Christmas” to everyone, with comical/horrifying results.

prancer“Prancer” – A little girl named Jessica (Rebecca Harrell) finds a reindeer with a broken leg and believes that it’s one missing from Santa’s sleigh. Her father, an impoverished apple farmer, has other plans. For the record, my mom likes this one.

die_hard“Die Hard” – John McClane (Bruce Willis) is in Los Angeles to visit his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). Problem is she’s at an office Christmas party taken over by terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). McClane must battle them, and the police who believe he’s a lone vigilante, in order to save his wife and the others in the complex. It takes place during Christmas so it’s a Christmas movie, right?

Enjoy the Holidays, and see you at the movies.

-Chas

This was first published in Wiregrass Parenting magazine. Check it out at: www.wiregrassparenting.com

28
Nov
08

December Movie Releases

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“Cadillac Records” – Biopic on the record company that gave starts to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James, and others. Stars Adrien Brody, Mos Def, Cedric the Entertainer, and Beyonce Knowles. Opens December 5, 2008

 

“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 5, 2008

 

“Punisher: War Zone” – Ray Stevenson plays the Marvel character who, this time, is taking on a New York underworld boss it wants to control it all. Opens December 5, 2008

 

“Che” – Part One of Steven Soderbergh’s two-part saga on revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevera. Stars Benicio del Toro. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“The Day the Earth Stood Still” – Keanu “Whoah” Reeves stars in this remake about an alien who comes to Earth to deliver a message: live in peace or be destroyed. No word on if he’s bringing the cure for cancer or not… Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Delgo” – CG animated epic about a teenage creature struggling to unite two warring nations. Contains the voices of Val Kilmer, Eric Idle, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Milk” – Directed by Gus van Sant, this is the biopic on San Fran’s first homosexual mayor, Harvey Milk (played by Sean Penn). Also stars Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, and James Franco. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Nothing Like the Holidays” – The Rodriguez family is converging on Chicago for Christmas. Stars John Leguizamo and Alfred Molina. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“While She Was Out” – Kim Basinger is an abused housewife who gets out of the house and goes to the mall, only to run into murderous thugs. Eventually, she finds herself in the woods with only her wits and a toolbox. Opens December 12, 2008

 

“Gran Torino” – Clint Eastwood plays a man in his seventies (who knew?) who saves the life of his Asian neighbor’s son, much against his prejudice. He ends up in a war against the gang that assaulted the son. Opens December 17, 2008

 

“The Wrestler” – Mickey Rourke stars as Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a burnt-out 80’s wrestler who has one last shot of glory: taking on his arch-nemesis “The Ayatollah.” Thing is, this could cost him his life. Also stars Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood. Opens December 17, 2008

 

“The Brothers Bloom” – Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo are brothers pulling a con job on a wealthy woman (Rachel Weisz). Also stars Robbie Coltrane. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Brad Pitt is the title character: a man who was born looking ancient and regresses in outward age as he progresses with his inward age. Complications arise when he falls in love with Cate Blanchett. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Seven Pounds” – Will Smith stars as a guy about to commit suicide who falls in love with a woman. Also, he tries changing the lives of seven people for the good. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“The Tale of Despereaux” – CG animated tale of a mouse whose ears (and ambitions) are far too big for his Mouseworld. He becomes an outcast and his journey leads him to a Princess named Pea, whom he must rescue. Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Yes Man” – Jim Carrey finds that “yes” is the new “no” and that saying it can be liberating. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks… Opens December 19, 2008

 

“Bedtime Stories” – Adam Sandler watches his sister’s (Courtney Cox) kids. When he reads them bedtime stories, elements of the stories bleed into reality with hilarious results. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“Marley and Me” – Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston adopt a Labrador puppy. Comedy hijinks supposedly ensue. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“The Spirit” – Frank Miller takes the director’s chair and brings “The Spirit” to the screen. Gabriel Macht plays the titular character: a cop who fakes his own death to fight crime. Also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, and Jaime King. Opens December 25, 2008

 

“Revolutionary Road” – Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet team up again, this time going forward a few years to the 1950’s, playing a couple dealing with personal problems while living in their Connecticut suburb. Opens December 26, 2008

 

“Valkyrie” – Tom Cruise heads up a cast of people trying to depose Hitler in Word War II. Based on a true story, and they’re stickin’ to it. Opens December 26, 2008

 

“Defiance” – Daniel Craig is one of four brothers saving Jews by taking them into the forest and setting up their own village with the help of Russian resistance fighters. Based on a true story. Opens December 31, 2008

17
Nov
08

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

quantum_of_solace

 

 

Quantum of Disappointment.

 

Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Olga Kurylenko, Mathieu Amalric and Gemma Arterton. Directed by Marc Forster.

 

I sat during the credits, waiting for others to leave before I did. A guy and his wife sat a few seats to my right. I turned to him and asked, “Is it me, or was this largely plotless?”

He turned to me and replied, “I think you’re right.”

“I mean, what the hell was this about?”

He shrugs and his wife looks at me as if I may have an answer to my own question.

 

“Quantum of Solace” picks up where “Casino Royale” leaves off. Jason Bourne James Bond (Craig) is tearing down a road, being chased by guys firing at him with machine guns. We later find that he has kidnapped a guy we recognize from “Casino Royale” who had something to do with Vesper’s death. What we don’t know is that he’s part of an organization more powerful than the CIA, FBI, MI6, and any other Intelligence Agency known, so much so that before Bond can interrogate him, double-agents within MI6 stop him and run at breakneck speed through the crowd, blindly firing at Bond and taking out a few spectators. This leads to one of the best fight/chase scenes in the movie.

 

With MI6 now being compromised (“He passed background checks 4 times. He was my personal bodyguard.” -M) Bond takes it upon himself to find out who these people are and if possible, get revenge on the death of Vesper. Tracking down a lead he meets and greets (read: kills) he impersonates a guy who is supposedly a geologist supposedly sent to kill Camille (Kurylenko). This altercation leads him to Dominic Greene (Almaric), an extreme environmentalist running a program called Greene Planet. Greene is buying up “useless” tracts of land in order to own all the freshwater in the world. Maybe it’s me but if I were heading-up an organization so secretive that the U.S. and Brits have no earthly clue about it, giving funding to an environmentalist who wants to control the freshwater of the world would not be in my budget. But hey, maybe they have other, better nefarious villains. One would hope.

 

Bond then finds information about other lower-level villains. They’re all working together! M strips Bond of his funds and passports, which forces him to gain help from Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini). Together they fly to Bolivia where Bond is met at the airport by Agent Strawberry Fields (Arterton). Dressed in an overcoat and boots, it’s easy to see how she’s following the cover story of her and Bond being “teachers on vacation.” Yea, right. They all attend Greene’s party where Camille shows back up. Apparently, she’s still on her mission of revenge to kill the General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio), a Bolivian dictator who killed her raped her mother and killed her family, making her watch and then setting their house on fire. More people are killed, Bond is blamed and Camille joins him as they go out to Greene’s lair. There the film’s climax takes place (which at that point is anticlimactic).

 

Camille has her revenge, but Bond has to finalize his. Finding the apartment of Vesper’s ex, he excuses the Canadian Intelligence woman who is with the boyfriend (Canadian Intelligence? Where have you guys been? What do you do?) and proceeds to deliver vengeance. M and others show and Bond is now back on duty, leaving the past behind him.

 

The action scenes were great in a lessened “Bourne Ultimatum” sort of way. I like having medium and wide-angle shots for my action scenes over constant shaky-cam, sped-up camera shots. But maybe that’s just me. While “Casino Royale” had segments that I thought I would need a defibrillator because they were that engrossing, this movie whisks you from shot to shot to shot until the scene is over and you feel like trying to find a “rewind button” to watch it again. I don’t mind being in the middle of everything going on but there is a point where if I feel more confused than the main character seems, something is amiss. And this “Bourne Ultimatum” action-shooting only happens during the action scenes; never before or after.

 

What hurt this movie moreso than that was the lack of story material. This was the first Bond movie NOT to be based on a novel and it shows. It’s not just that fact that revenge movies are hard to do; the story was weaker than the parts making it up. Sure, some of the action was good but by the middle you stopped caring. It’s like the screenwriters began with a few really cool concepts (unknown spy agency, revenge on Vesper) then let it unravel to a mess in which they were searching for ways to tie the ending up.

 

It didn’t feel like a “Bond” movie. Yes, we loved “Austin Powers” for skewering the “Bond” franchise, and we loved “Jason Bourne” because he was the gritty, American “non-Bond” spy. But if Bond can’t be Bond, then what is he? I’ll give “Casino Royale” it’s points for re-igniting the franchise and starting to build Bond from the ground up, but no “shaken, not stirred” quips. No Q/R gadgets. And a Bond villain that makes Elliott Carver (Pryce) from “Tomorrow Never Dies” hand down his “Worst Bond Villain Ever” crown. And when the Bond girls seem to be thrown in to serve the story (yeah, I know, but still) England, we have a problem. Maybe I’m being harsh because I had hoped that these signature Bond elements would’ve at least shown some incorporation, instead of the producers feeling like they should capitalize on what made “Bourne” a great series. Again this is James Bond, not Jason Bourne.

 

And I know it’s petty, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the “Another Way to Die,” the theme song to the movie. I like Jack White (the White Stripes) and Alicia Keys I appreciate, and they do work well together, but I wasn’t overly taken. I know that getting creative on a Bond theme song is getting more difficult to do (referencing death? Check. Referencing women? Check? He’s a spy and he may die at any given moment? Check) but still, this theme is only marginally better than Madonna’s “Die Another Day,” which wasn’t even as good as “Beautiful Stranger,” the song she did for “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Maybe Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name” (the “Casino Royale” theme) is a hard act to follow.

 

One other small note: a theme in the movie was keeping tab on how many people were killed because of Bond. Was this necessary? M constantly nags about every single kill Bond makes. I don’t remember this happening in any other Bond film and it’s not so much a welcome addition. He’s a spy, there are bad guys who are shot and killed… was I the only one to get irritated by this? If you know that most of the ones getting killed were bad guys in the first place, why care? Maybe it’s me and movie logic, but injecting too much reality into a Bond movie turns it sour.

 

Here’s to my hopes that since vengeance has been dealt, Mr. Bond will find his way again.

 

My grade: C+/B-

14
Nov
08

Movies With (a) Vengeance

While it has been busy here at the Film Guys Online / Chasfilm Productions Office of Cinematic Research proudly brings you

 

TOP TEN REVENGE MOVIES

 

once_upon_a_time_in_the_west“Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) – Charles Bronson stars as Harmonica, a man with a mysterious past who arrives in Flagstone, AZ. He walks into a situation involving a guy named Cheyenne (Jason Robards) and Jill (Claudia Cardinale), a woman whose family she married into had been murdered by Frank (Henry Fonda), a “gun for hire” via railroad tycoon Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti). To find out what Harmonica is doing there, and why he plays one, ya gotta catch this movie.

 

get_carter“Get Carter” (1971) – Jack Carter (Michael Caine) is a London mobster who finds out this his brother Frank had died. Carter believes his brother had been murdered and sets out to uncover the truth. As he delves deeper, other mob thugs close in as he finds that his niece was part of an amateur porn film and Frank was killed trying to protect her. Easily one of the most ruthless films ever made, and a great watch.

 

 

death_wish“Death Wish” (1974) – Charles Bronson is architect Paul Kersey. When his wife is Joanna (Hope Lange) is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted by muggers, Paul decides to deliver some vigilante justice. Based on the book by Brian Garfield, the movie spawned 4 sequels and was the inspiration for the movie, “The Brave One” (with Jodie Foster.

 

 

crow“The Crow” (1994) – Rockstar Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) and his wife are murdered in Detroit on Devil’s Night. A full year later Eric returns to the land of the living, having superhuman strength and invincibility, exacting revenge on the gang who murdered him and his wife. One of the best films that Brandon Lee did was unfortunately his last; a prop gun misfired, killing him.

 

 

braveheart“Braveheart” (1995) – William Wallace was a kid when the English murdered his father and 11 others. He went away and returned, vowing to push the English out of Scotland and earn independence for all Scots. Mel Gibson acted as well as directed this movie, loosely based on the life of the real William Wallace.

 

 

 

desperado“Desperado” (1995) – A sequel to “El Mariachi,” Robert Rodriguez directed the further adventure of a mariachi player with a guitar case full of guns. This time around, Antonio Banderas plays the main character, with Salma Hayek helping him exact revenge on Bucho. “I am looking for a man named Bucho. That’s all. But you had to do it the hard way.”

 

 

payback“Payback” (1999) – Based on the book, “The Hunter,” by Donald E. Westlake, Mel Gibson played Porter, a gangster shot and left for dead by his partner Val (Gregg Henry) and ex-wife Lynn (Deborah Unger). After the bullets are pulled out of his back, Porter is off and looking for his half of the money: $70,000. Blocking his path to the money are crooked cops, the Chinese Triads, and the leader of the Outfit (Kris Kristoferson), whom Val works for. This was originally made in 1967 as “Point Blank,” starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, Carroll O’Connor, and John Vernon.

 

memento“Memento” (2000) – What if you were trying to get revenge on the guy who killed your wife and gave you brain damage, but you could only remember what happened for 6-15 minutes at a time before you forgot it? San Fran insurance investigator Leonard Shelby (Guy Pierce) finds himself with that problem in an indie film directed by Christopher Nolan. As the films goes from black and white, past to present, you’ll find yourself putting clues together and feeling a lot like Lenny. Also stars Joe Pantaliano

 

kill_bill1“Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2” (2003/2004) – Quentin Tarantino and star Uma Thurman concocted this 2-part movie about The Bride (Thurman), a woman left for dead after her wedding “rehearsal.” Waking up in a hospital 4 years later, she tracks down each of her assassins (fellow members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), working her way to the master Bill (David Carradine). Fellow Vipers are Vivica Fox, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, and Michael Madsen.

 

bourne_supremacy1“The Bourne Supremacy” (2004) – The sequel to “The Bourne Identity” finds Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) living with his girlfriend Marie (Franka Potente) in Goa, India. When an assassin tries killing Bourne, his girlfriend pays the price and Bourne comes out from hiding. Unfortunately, he’s being framed for crimes he didn’t commit. He now has to clear his name and piece together important fragments of his memory.

13
Nov
08

My Thoughts on Blu-Ray

blu-ray_logo

 

 

With the holiday season approaching, one of the big electronic buys will probably be Blu-Ray players. Probably.

Maybe.

I’m not sure.

Problem is with the current state of the economy, Blu-Ray may not be the wisest of choices. For the sake of logic and pragmatics, let’s look at the pros and cons, shall we?

 

PRO: Blu-Ray delivers up to 7.1 Surround Sound.

CON: How much more sound is needed? I’ll grant you that 5.1 sound was a vast improvement over 4.1, 4.0, and 2.0, but really… How many more speakers do you need?

 

PRO: Blu-Ray delivers High-Def picture quality, and can even improve the picture quality on existing DVDs.

CON: That’s probably true, but first you need a TV set that is HD/Plasma/LCD. And that TV has to have more than a 40 inch screen in order for you to TELL the difference. And you’re looking at a TV that costs at least $1,000 (if not more).

 

PRO: Blu-Ray discs can be played on a Playstation PS3.

CON: I’m not sure if ALL Blu-Ray discs are compatible. Maybe they are. I remember not all DVDs being compatible with PS2s; just a word of caution. Out of curiosity, didn’t you buy the PS3 to play video games?

 

PRO: New titles are added every day.

CON: Yeah, but I have 170 DVDs in my apartment, and that’s 1/5 of my overall collection. How long will it be before “Star Wars,” “Back to the Future,” or “Once Upon a Time in the West,” is released on Blu-Ray? I have way too much money in my collection to switch over now. Will my DVDs then become like the 99-cent bin when VHS was getting kicked to the curb?

 

PRO: You’ll be able to purchase a DVD player for as little as $179.

CON: Yeah. And the TV for $1,000 and the Surround Sound for…

 

PRO: Blu-Rays are affordable.

CON: So is a 1974 Manta Mirage, if you’ve got the money. DVDs are cheaper and have a larger back catalog, somewhere to the tune of $3-$10.

 

PRO: Blu-Ray discs are more interactive, showing exclusive background information and content while the movie is playing.

CON: Whatever happened to watching the movie? Do we need more stuff for Generation ADD to not pay attention to? If I want to know more, I buy the Ultra Hermetically-Sealed- with-Special- Collectible- Inside Limited Collector’s 3-Disc Version at participating retail stores.

 

PRO: If one is inclined, for the money Blu-Ray delivers the best movie-watching experience that money can buy.

CON: I’m lazy, single, and have no money.

05
Nov
08

Movie News and Views Nov. 5, 2008 Trailer Edition

theinternational

“Cadillac Records” – Biopic on the record company that gave starts to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James, and others. Stars Adrien Brody, Mos Def, Cedric the Entertainer, and Beyonce Knowles. Opens December 5, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1326&item=1

 

“Che” – Part One of Steven Soderbergh’s two-part saga on revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevera. Stars Benicio del Toro. Opens December 12, 2008 View the teaser at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=974&item=1

 

“While She Was Out” – Kim Basinger is an abused housewife who gets out of the house and goes to the mall, only to run into murderous thugs. Eventually, she finds herself in the woods with only her wits and a toolbox. Opens December 12, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1333&item=0

 

“Gran Torino” – Clint Eastwood plays a man in his seventies (who knew?) who saves the life of his Asian neighbor’s son, much against his prejudice. He ends up in a war against the gang that assaulted the son. Opens December 17, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1332&item=0

 

“Seven Pounds” – Will Smith stars as a guy about to commit suicide who falls in love with a woman. Also, he tries changing the lives of seven people for the good. Opens December 19, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1093&item=1

 

“The Reader” – Ralph Fiennes is a British guy trying to unravel the mystery of his past: a woman (Kate Winslet) who made him read to her who was tried for Nazi war crimes. Opens January 9, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1058&item=0

 

“My Bloody Valentine” – A remake. In 3-D. Stars Jaime King. Opens January 16, 2009 View the trailer at: http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1279&item=0

 

“Notorious” – A biopic on the life of rapper Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. Opens January 16, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1206&item=1

 

“Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans” – No need to tell ya what it’s about; you probably need to be a fan. This is a prequel to the series (then why make it #3?) Word on the street is that neither Kate Beckinsdale nor director LenWiseman are returning for this one. Stars Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy and Rhona Mitra. Opens January 23, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1096&item=1

 

“Fanboys” – The “will it be released?” movie of the past two years, if ya haven’t heard of it is about a group of guys storming the Skywalker Ranch before the release of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” Looking back, I’m glad I never thought up this idea… Opens February 6, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=650&item=1

 

“They Came From Upstairs” – Comedy about a family moving into their vacation home, which is currently occupied by CG aliens. Stars Tim Meadows and Kevin Nealon. Opens February 13, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1269&item=0

 

“The International” – Clive Owen is an Interpol agent spearheading an investigation into financial corruption. Naomi Watts is an attorney who teams up with him to take a bank down. Opens February 13, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1023&item=1

 

“17 Again” – Matthew Perry is a 37-year-old whose life hits rock bottom and wishes he was twenty years younger. He wakes up as 17-year-old Zac Effron, and is able to re-write his high school life. Hope he doesn’t wind up in a musical… Opens April 17, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1117&item=1

 

“Angels and Demons” – Tom Hanks returns to the character from “The Da Vinci Code” for this installment, a sequel based on a book that was the prequel to “The Da Vinci Code.” Got that? Opens May 15, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=659&item=0

 

“Monsters vs. Aliens” – Dreamworks CGI film about a aliens poised to take over the Earth until the U.S. Government releases their secret weapon: a team of monsters (gelatinous blob, scientist/cockroach, fish-man, giant insect, and 50-foot-tall woman). Looks like it’ll be fun. Coming March 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=850&item=1

31
Oct
08

November Movie Release Schedule

 

 

 

“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” – Formerly “The Crate Escape,” those crazy New York Zoo animals try leaving the island, only to end up in Africa. They may spend some time kissing the rains… Opens November 7, 2008.

 

“Role Models” – Seann William Scott and Paul Rudd are energy-drink reps who get in trouble and are sentenced to community service via “Big Brothers.” Opens November 7th, 2008

 

“Soul Men” – Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson are the surviving members of a 70’s soul group called The Real Deal. They take a road trip to the Apollo Theatre in honor of their late frontman (played by Isaac Hayes). Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes were working on this film before their passing. Opens November 7, 2008

 

“Slumdog Millionaire” – An 18-year-old kid from the slums of India goes on their version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” in order to find the girl of his dreams. Opens November 12, 2008

 

“Quantum of Solace” – Bond is back! Opens November 14, 2008

 

“Bolt” – The title character is a dog for a hit TV show that winds up –mistakenly- to New York City, where his adventure back to Hollywood begins. CG-feature with the voices of John Travolta and Susie Essman. Opens November 21, 2008

 

“Twilight” – A girl is sent to live with her father in the state of Washington. While there, she falls in love with a kid named Edward Cullen. Edward is a vampire. Opens November 21. 2008

 

“Australia” – Word War II period piece with Nicole Kidman inheriting a ranch the size of Maryland and Hugh Jackman as the guy she reluctantly gets to help her drive 2,000 head of cattle across the country. Hugh’s not the only one who would do that for her… Opens November 26, 2008

 

“Four Christmases” – Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are an unhappily married couple who must go to four separate family Christmases. Let me know how that one ends… Opens November 26, 2008

 

“Milk” – Gus van Sant biopic on Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man voted into a public office. Opens November 26, 2008

 

“Transporter 3” – Jason Statham is back as the lead character. Opens November 26, 2008

 

30
Sep
08

October Movie Releases

 

 

“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

 

“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

 

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua” – Animal-talking movie about a Chihuahua who goes from spoiled to gringo when she goes across the border. Features the voice of Drew Barrymore, George Lopez, and Andy Garcia. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“Blindness” – A plague hits the Earth, causing everyone to go blind. Stars Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore, Danny Glover, and Sandra Oh. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” – Aside from being the story of my life, this is the story of a London journalist who comes to the Big Apple to try his luck. Based on real events. Stars Simon Pegg, Megan Fox, Kirtsen Dunst, Gillian Anderson, and Jeff Bridges. Opens October 3rd, 2008

 

“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” – Two punk kids at a concert fall for each other. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“Rachel” – A woman is getting married and her sister (Anna Hathaway) is there to bring the house down. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“RocknRolla” – London. Underground. Gangsters. Guy Ritchie. What more do you need? Also stars Gerard Butler, Thandie Newton, Ludacris, Jeremy Piven, and Tom Wilkinson. Opens October 3, 2008

 

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” – A woman who snags a job as a financial advise columnist must battle her addiction to shopping in order to keep her life from spiraling out of control. What other ideas were saved from the Disney studio waste-bin? Opens October 9, 2008

 

“Body of Lies” – Russell Crowe and Leo DiCaprio in a movie about trying to trap a dangerous Al Qaeda operative. Opens October 10, 2008

 

“City of Ember” – 200 years ago a city was built underground with a limited amount of power and resources. Time’s up. Stars Tim Robbins and Bill Murray. Opens October 10, 2008

 

“The Express” – Based on the true story of Ernie Davis, the first black American to win the Heisman Trophy. Stars Rob Brown, Dennis Quaid, and Clancy Brown (no relation). Opens October 10, 2008

 

“Quarantine” – A news reporter and a cameraman are stuck in an apartment while a deadly outbreak hits L.A. Stars Louisville native Jennifer Carpenter. Opens October 17, 2008

 

“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

 

“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

 

“Sex Drive” – An 18-year-old takes his brothers ’69 GTO to get to Knoxville so he can get laid by a woman he met online. Put in your own response. Opens October 17, 2008

 

“W” – Oliver Stone presents a story of a man who knows how to party, how to gamble, how to have a good time. This man has some lows; notably, bad management over a sports team and oil company. However, he triumphs and becomes President of the United States. This piece of Americana opens October 17, 2008

 

“Changeling” – Angelina Jolie is a mom in 1920’s L.A. When he son comes up missing, she goes to the police. A kid is returned to her, but it’s not her son. Based on real events. Directed by Clint Eastwood. Opens October 17, 2008

 

“High School Musical 3” – Self-explanatory. Opens October 24, 2008

 

“Saw V” – Yeah. Self-explanatory, too. Opens October 24, 2008

 

“Synecdoche, NY” – In Charlie Kaufman’s directorial debut, Philip Seymour Hoffman struggles women and building a life-size version of New York in a warehouse for a play he’s staging. If you think that sounds weird, feel free to check out the trailer. Opens October 24, 2008

 

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno” – Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) are roommates who are having problems making financial ends meet. Solution: make a porno. Kevin Smith wrote and directed. Opens October 31, 2008

28
Aug
08

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.

 

“WOLVERINES!!!”

19
Aug
08

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.