Introducing the new Joker

3 12 2007

empirejoker.jpg
The Dark Knight doesn’t hit theaters until next June but here is a glimpse at the masked avengers most dangerous villian. Leave your thoughts on the classic villians’ makeover. I personally like it.

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Oscar bait

3 12 2007

Here are short capsule reviews of titles hoping to leaving with Oscar in hand come next February.

eastern_promises.jpgEastern Promises (Focus Features)
David Cronenberg’s latest thriller has the elements of becoming an Oscar favorite from stellar performances (Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen), an engaging screenplay and the directors’ trademark unique visuals and story telling method. The films follows a mid-wife (Watts) who discovers an intrigue diary that sets her on a path to collide with the Russian mob. Mortensen’s seemingly frightening turn as a driver eager to join the ranks of the London crime family is a revelation. The actor single-handedly delivers one of the best fight scenes in the last five years and one that will stay with viewers days after seeing the film. For all its accomplishments, Eastern Promises starts to fall apart which it enters its final act as the unpredictable film begins to fall into a well-traveled path. You will be hard pressed to find a better thriller than Eastern Promises in today’s crop of thoughtless celluloid that fills theaters across the country.
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Possible Oscar nominations: Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor
Long Shot nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor

margotatthewedding_l200707111540.jpgMargot at the Wedding (Paramount Vintage)
Another touching drama about people with issues, but Writer/Director Noah Baumbach knows how to create interesting, identifiable flawed characters we can all connect with. The man behind 2005’s celebrated The Squid and the Whale invites viewers into the inner-workings of a relationship between two very different sisters. Margot (Nicole Kidman) visits her sister and disapproves of her choice of husband. Margot at the Wedding boasts sensational performances from Kidman, Jack Black and in particular, Jennifer Jason Leigh. The cast takes these characters and infuse them with humanity that in other less experiences hand could have been simply unlikeable. The film is a beautiful character driven story and a great companion to his previous body of work.
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Possible Oscar nominations: Best Original Screenplay
Long Shot nominations: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress

american_gangster_poster.jpgAmerican Gangster (Universal)
Ridley Scott, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe are a powerhouse who have managed to produce one of the fall’s first blockbusters, American Gangster with a whopping $120 million in the bank. The movie chronicles the rise of drug thug, Frank Lucas (Washington) and the detective, Richie Roberts (Crowe) eager to bring it to an end. The movie has immediately caught attention, but mostly has been labeled as entertaining and good. American Gangster faces comparisons with last year’s Best Picture winner, The Departed, a battle that Gangster can’t win. The film may be able to snag a few nominations but don’t expect this movie to pull any type of upset.
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Possible Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay
Long Shot nominations: Best Director, Best Supporting Actor

no_country_for_old_men.jpgNo Country For Old Men (Miramax)
The Coen Brothers’ are back with No Country For Old Men after a string of badly developed projects. The team that brought audiences Raising Arizona and Fargo have returned to their roots for this incredibly original crime drama. A trio of men all try escape/in hot pursuit are tied together by a $2 million that was found. Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones all deliver career defining performances helping to bring this unique tale to life. No Country For Old Men is exactly the type of film that makes you want to spend $14 and wait in line to see. The film blends together many different genres all the while keeping the viewers on the edge of their seat.
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Possible Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor
Long Shot nominations: Best Original Score

intothewild_bigreleaseposter.jpgInto the Wild (Paramont Vintage)
The tragic story of a young man who leaves everything behind and unknowning becomes a cautionary tale for millions is stirringly captured in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. Emile Hirsch, known most recently for Alpha Dogs, surprisingly is very haunting in this doomed role. The film has become a box office top 20 mainstay since its release and has slowly gone on to gross nearly $16 million without much hype besides word of mouth. If the good word continues through December, Into the Wild could be rewarded with a few prestigious nominations. The film is wonderful but it is not without its flaws. At certain moments the film seems to drag and all to often Penn’s directing is all too typical looking more like a special on the Discovery channel rather than a film.
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Possible Oscar nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay
Long Shot nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress





Spiderman breaks records

8 05 2007

Five years after Spider-Man made box office history, the franchise amazed again, breaking the same records of the first movie and then some.

Landing on the same early May slot as the original, Spider-Man 3 spun $151.1 million on over 10,000 screens at 4,252 locations, the biggest opening weekend and widest release ever. The litany includes all-time daily grosses for its $59.8 million Friday, $51.3 million Saturday and $39.9 million Sunday, fastest to $100 million and the mightiest IMAX debut: $4.8 million at 84 sites (included in the weekend total), topping 300’s $3.6 million.

The previous weekend title holder, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, reaped $135.6 million on over 8,500 screens at 4,133 locations last July. As impressive as Spider-Man 3 was, it was expected to eclipse that record, given its timing and the popularity and the precedents of its franchise. The first Spider-Man nabbed $114.8 million on 7,500 screens at 3,615 venues in 2002, and was the first movie to crack $100 million in three days. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, its start would equal over $130 million today.

Ultimately, Spider-Man grossed $403.7 million (or nearly $460 million adjusted), while the Pirates sequel closed with $423.3 million. Muted by a Wednesday start and Independence Day release, Spider-Man 2 had an $88.2 million first weekend and it wound up with $373.6 million (or around $396 million adjusted).

Distributor Sony, which claims Spider-Man 3 cost $258 million to make, hoped to at least match the first Spider-Man’s opening or hit the $120 million range, according to president of distribution Rory Bruer. “The majority of audiences we polled liked this one better than the first two,” Bruer added, while opening night moviegoer pollster CinemaScore’s grade was “B+.” Sony’s polling further indicated that the audience was 54 percent male and 63 percent under 25 years old.

The market as a whole grossed $189.6 million over the weekend, with Spider-Man 3 accounting for 80 percent of that tally. Indeed, the gap between Spider-Man 3 and second place Disturbia was the largest on record. That’s no slight on Disturbia, a hit in its own right enjoying the weekend’s strongest hold among wide releases, but a sign of how low the box office fell the past two weeks.

Overall business saw a 72 percent improvement over last summer’s kick-off, when Mission: Impossible III opened, and attendance was on par with 2002 when the first Spider-Man debuted with 70 percent market share.

Drew Barrymore and Eric Bana in Lucky You

The weekend’s other wide release, Lucky You, folded out of the gate, drawing $2.7 million at 2,525 venues. It was among the weakest starts ever for a very wide release. Distributor Warner Bros. had batted the poker romance around the release schedule since 2005.

At the foreign box office, Spider-Man 3 captured another record: biggest overall weekend, with $230.5 million from 107 countries since Tuesday. Add in domestic’s $151.1 million and, all told, Spider-Man 3 generated $381.7 million, which tops Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith’s $303.9 million as the highest-grossing worldwide debut of all time—a notable feat but one achieved mostly through the sheer mass of the release. (BoxOfficeMojo.com)





Williams joins Travolta in Old Dogs

26 04 2007

Robin Williams will star alongside John Travolta in the Walt Disney comedy Old Dogs, which is being directed by Walt Becker (Wild Hogs). Williams and Travolta will play two buddies and business partners whose lives are turned upside down when they are left to take care of seven-year-old twins. Travolta’s wife, Kelly Preston, and daughter, Ella Travolta, will also appear in the movie. David Diamond and David Weissman, who wrote the screenplay, sold the project to Disney last summer in a seven-figure deal. Williams will next be seen alongside John Krasinski and Mandy Moore in Warner Bros. Pictures’ License to Wed. (Hollywood Reporter)





Behind the Lens: David Lynch

26 04 2007

David Lynch has been selected to be featured in our latest installment of “Behind the Lens.” This is a special acknowledgment to directors who have made us think and refuse to give into the current trend. What they have offered us are original, daring visions often ignored or misunderstood by the masses. We salute you.

David_Lynch.bmpDavid Lynch
Born: January 20, 1946
Best Known For: 1986’s Blue Velvet
David Lynch is one director who refuses to dumb-down his work. He firmly believes movies should be thought-provoking, controversial and that he shouldn’t have to sacrifice his vision for a few more dollars at the multiplex. Lynch’s project are infused with shifting plots, high art and stellar performances. He has been making films since the late ’70s and has maintained a loyal fanbase who pick up anything the director associates himself with. Lynch scored cult hits with Eraserhead, Blue Velvet and most recently Mulholland Dr. In Inland Empire, Lynch played with the conventions of film making by shooting the feature without a working script. Each morning he would wake and write for that specific day of shooting then his cast (which included Lynch-veteran actress Laura Dern) would act it out. The director has been nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Director (Mulholland Dr., Blue Velvet and The Elephant Man) and won various other accolades. For his constant bravery and innovations in film, we salute David Lynch and hope to see more in the future.
inlandempire1_large.gifRecommendations
Must See

Mulholland Dr.
Blue Velvet
Eraserhead
The Elephant Man
Inland Empire
Wild at Heart

Worth a rent
Lost Highway
Dune





Dern relives infamous kiss

26 04 2007

Movie star Laura Dern was boycotted by Hollywood for more than a year after she played Ellen DeGeneres’ girlfriend in the gay comedienne’s controversial “coming out” TV episode a decade ago. Dern appeared on DeGeneres’ TV talk show Monday to mark the 10th anniversary of the pop culture moment when Ellen came out of the closet in real life and in her TV sitcom. The couple kissed on the show – and Dern now reveals her part on the controversial TV episode cost her her career for a year. The Jurassic Park star says, “There was certainly a backlash… It was awfully terrifying.” But Dern will never regret appearing on the episode, which she calls “an extraordinary experience and opportunity.”





Wilson to star in Girlfriend Experience

25 04 2007

Rainn Wilson will star in the DreamWorks comedy Girlfriend Experience, which is being produced by Montecito partners Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock. The story, which Wilson came up with himself, is about a lonely geek who hires a prostitute to pretend to be his girlfriend. Cousins Mark and Brian Gunn will write the screenplay. Wilson approached the writers after reading Juvie, a Universal script they wrote for the actor’s Office co-star Steve Carell, about a grown man sentenced to a prison for juveniles. Wilson just finished acting in the Jason Reitman-directed Juno and is now writing another script for him to direct. (Variety)