Archive for April, 2011

Official “Transformers 3” Trailer

April 28, 2011 3 comments

Well, here it finally is. Maybe it’s sad that I’m totally pumped for this for the sole reason that I’m a Chicago resident. Maybe this is Einstein’s theory of insanity at play in hoping that this film is actually better than the first misstep and the second FAILURE.

And yet, I just don’t care. This movie looks cool and appears to feature the Chicago skyline more than…well…maybe any movie I’ve ever seen. It pretty much got torn up. The scene in which 300 North LaSalle (which I ride past everyday) get’s completely cut in half looks particularly cool. What can I say? I’m pumped.

Here is the trailer for this summer blockbuster. Please, God, let it not shame the city it’s shot in.

Here is the Apple HD version, as well.

Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya

April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

There’s not a lot to say on this subject, so I’ll keep it brief. Suffice to say that this is epically tragic news. Tim Hetherington was a veteran photojournalist who has spent over a decade covering combat in third world countries. He shot several documentaries including “Liberia: An Uncivil War” and “The Devil Came on Horseback.” Recently, he received his first Oscar nomination, as well as the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, for the Afghanistan-based film “Restrepo.” The film is an extraordinary account of U.S. soldiers serving in perhaps the most dangerous place in the world.

Hetherington has been covering the recent situation in Libya with his team. This morning, he and fellow photojournalist, Chris Hondros, were killed by enemy fire in the city of Misrata. This event is both disturbing and disheartening. Heatherington dedicated his life to bringing atrocity and war before the public eye. He tried (and succeeded, in my opinion) to make a difference in the world through his art and the world of documentary cinema will be a lesser place without his contributions.

His last tweet reported from Libya was:

“In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”

My condolences go out to his family, friends and fellow journalists, especially Sebastian Junger, who lived and worked with Hetherington for months in that Afghanistan outpost.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Trailer

April 14, 2011 Leave a comment

A half and hour ago, this film was not even close to being on my radar screen. Since 2001, how can anyone look at anything with “Planet of the Apes” in the title and look forward to it? It just doesn’t have a high probability of greatness. However, I took the time to scope out the new teaser at Apple after seeing an effects shot that looked pretty decent.

I wouldn’t say that the trailer looks anything along the lines of incredible. Yet, there seem to be some pretty looking elements at play here. For one, much of the imagery looks incredible. The shot of a chimp standing over a sleeping couple was truly chilling. Also, the slow motion storm of branches and leaves falling from the sky as dozens of apes leap from tree to tree. One would hope that the presence of James Franco might mean something good, since he seems to be choosing his projects with a little more care, lately (with the exception of “Your Highness”). Plus, the added incentive of Andy Serkis reprisin his monkey-movement skills that he perfected in “King Kong” is very promising. I mean the man lived with mountain gorillas for the better part of a year just to make sure that he got their mannerisms correct.

Or maybe this will simply be another version of “Deep Blue Sea” only with apes instead of sharks.

Whatever the outcome, I think we can assuredly expect some dazzling visual effects here. The chimpanzee motion capture work from several shots (including that final one) look even more impressive than “Avatar.” Therefore, I will keep my expectations for this film above the minimum amount. Enjoy the trailer. I definitely recommend taking the extra time to download the Apple version below the embed.

Apple HD Version

“Mortal Kombat: Legacy” Web Series

April 12, 2011 2 comments

Does everybody remember when, almost a year ago, a ballsy filmmaker without a lot to his credit, assembled a cast and crew from his own friends and made a short film entitled “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth.” It was a gritty, high-profile pitch for Hollywood to allow the director to reboot the Mortal Kombat video game series into a new franchise of films for the modern film climate. The short film was hugely popular and became and overnight sensation. People really liked the idea of blending the realistic and fantastical into one film concept and there was a large outcry for the potential feature to be made.

Well, it hasn’t happened yet. In recent news, however, the “Rebirth” concept did get some level of funding; at least enough for a web series that has just premiered its first episode. “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” appears to mostly follow the police duo of Sonya Blade and Jax as they fight crime and (one can only guess they will, anyway) bite off more than they can chew. Only a few known MK characters have made appearances so far, but many are sure to follow. The logic here is that if the web series is able to garner enough support, the movie could become a reality.

I was a big fan of the short film when it was released, last year. However, this new web series is definitely not clutching my interest. Episode 1 feels like nothing more than the cheesiest of cop shows. Visually, it doesn’t look half as intriguing as its predecessor. It’s going to take a lot for me to stick this one out in hopes of a decent feature film.

If anyone else wants to give it a chance, they can watch the first episode, below:

“Hanna” Review at The DePaulia

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I had attended an early screening of this film a few weeks ago, but had to embargo my review until opening weekend. The review got published in The DePaulia today. Once again, here’s a short excerpt:

“Joe Wright, the young director of such films as “Pride and Prejudice” and “Atonement,” goes far out of his usual element to direct this fantastic thriller. It’s as though the man has suddenly started using artistic steroids or been abducted by aliens. Whatever the reasoning, Wright’s new style is not necessarily an improvement, but a welcome change. The pace and tone that he brings to the film create a sensation that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced from a film.”

This is film honestly still has my head spinning. I have no doubt that it’s already in contention for my eventual Top Ten List of the year and I had a lot of fun writing this review. Check out the full article through the link, below:

“Director, actress take a thrilling break from the norm”


Michael Shannon to Play Villain in “Superman”

April 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Once again, it’s pretty weird that I’m trying to be as on the ball as this on “Man of Steel” production updates, given that I’ve never been a huge fan of the comics or the character. I remember Amy Adams getting cast as Lois Lane and rushing to announce it, all the while, I’m asking myself why I care. Who knows? Maybe I’ve just completely given up on any potential aspiring from “The Dark Knight Rises,” what with its recent absurd string of press releases. I may end up eating those words but, come on. Pittsburgh as Gotham City? Yeah, good luck with that.

And now the news that they’re bringing back Ra’s Al Ghul as a villain in this film. He was one of the only things that heavily annoyed me in “Batman Begins” and now they’re bringing him back for another go-around? At least they picked a decent actor in Chris Pence, who did a hell of a job as the man behind the sunglasses (Armie Hammer’s body double) in “The Social Network.”

Anyway, I’ve gone off on a tangent. As I said, I have no overwhelming interest in the new “Super-Man” film, however, this recent news has me quite tickled. Michael Shannon, the audacious and exciting young actor from “Bug” “The Woodsman” and “Revolutionary Road” (which he received and Oscar nomination for), has been cast to play the villainous General Zod in Zack Snyder’s reboot. As I said, I know nothing about the comics. However, a segment of the report by Mike Fleming at shines some light on the character:

Snyder stated, “Zod is not only one of Superman’s most formidable enemies, but one of the most significant because he has insights into Superman that others don’t. Michael is a powerful actor who can project both the intelligence and the malice of the character, making him perfect for the role.”

Not sure how much this raises my expectations for the film. However, I’ll say that if there were a reason to go see it now, it would be for this fine actor.

Director Sidney Lumet Passes Away at 86

Without a doubt, perhaps the most saddening news I have heard in quite some time. Sidney Lumet, one of the greatest individuals ever produced by Hollywood, has died this morning from lymphoma.

Lumet started his career in 1957 with perhaps the greatest of all diectorial debuts, outside of “Citizen Kane.” That film was “12 Angry Men” and, to this day, it stands as a benchmark for pure suspense built through nothing more than powerhouse acting and thematic brilliance, both can be largely attributed to Lumet’s talent. Since that day, Lumet has produced a solid and intimidating career. Some classic examples of his greatness include “Fail-Safe,” “The Pawnbroker,” “Serpico,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Equus,” “Prince of the City,” “The Verdict,” “Running on Empty,” “Find Me Guilty” and “Network,” which is largely considered to be the most influential film of the 1970s.

Then, there’s my personal favorite, “Dog Day Afternoon,” which is one of the most rousing and unsentimental heist movies ever made. Certain scenes, such as the cheering of “ATTICA!” or Al Pacino on the phone with Chris Sarandon, live, in my mind, as absolutely classic. The film also features a performance by Pacino which I believe to be the greatest acting work of anyone on screen. Ever.

Lumet’s final film, “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” was released fifty years since his opening salvo, and overall, it was a fantastic film to close out with. It’s a wholly original script, fresh and wholly captivating at points. The movie also contains my favorite performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s career, which says quite a bit.

Lumet was my third favorite living director behind Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. He is also easily ranked as one of the top ten greatest directors of all time, living or dead. However, words cannot fully describe this man’s greatness. Therefore, I’ll be putting together a collection of clips that help best exhibit his raw talents.

Thank you, Sidney, for being one of the greatest contributors to the world of cinema.

NEW Trailer for “Crazy Stupid Love”

Yes, another movie trailer. What can I say? I love them. Who doesn’t? However this one, after you watch it, you will definitely not be sorry that I posted it.

Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa rose to the very top of my watchlist last year when they finally got a chance to release their much-anticipated film “I Love You Phillip Morris.” The film was as inventive as it was hilarious and should have easily netted Jim Carrey his first Oscar nomination. Now, the pair of artists has seemed to further their quest to ultimately change the face of the romantic comedy and turning it into something someone with taste and self respect can enjoy.

“Crazy Stupid Love” tells the story of a man (Steve Carell), down on his luck, whose marriage is officially ending. He’s forced to get back into the dating game in who knows how long. He enlists the assistance of a five star player who can seemingly get with any girl he pleases. Carell completely changes his appearance and personality, but cannot change his inner self as he realizes that he cannot change what he really wants. Meanwhile, Gosling is discovering that love might actually be in the cards for him, forever changing his lifestyle and putting him in a situation that he doesn’t know how to control.

This film looks phenomenal on more levels than I can count. Who knew that throwing two guys like Carell and Gosling into a film together could create such a dynamite composition. Bolstered by the acting (and star, for that matter) power of Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon, this film is literally gushing with potential. Yes, at times, the film does look like a higher brow remake of “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” an outstanding romantic comedy, in its own right. However, I feel that there’s something more at work here that could blow the above-mentioned film out of the water. It looks funny, touching and more than a little original. The film is set to be released on July 29th, and you can bet that I’ll be there opening weekend. I have a feeling that you all should, too.

Check out the trailer embed, below, or the link to the high quality Apple version below it.

Apple HD Trailer

“Win Win” Review at The DePaulia

As some of you know, I recently started writing for The DePaulia, DePaul University’s official newspaper. It’s not the Chicago Tribune, but it is a highly respected student publication and is a big step for me in building my reputation in the Chicago area. I recently published my first review for them and it is available online. Here’s a quick excerpt:

“Over the last decade, writer/director/actor Tom McCarthy has championed himself as a voice for the underappreciated. His pair of independent features (“The Station Agent” and “The Visitor”) stands as an ode to those ordinary people we see on the street and don’t give a second thought to, despite them having interesting stories to tell. With “Win Win,” the director crafts a true modern parable of contemporary middle class life and it’s a treat to behold.”

I was very pleased with the film, as well as my own review. I’m still not sure about the ethics or permissions of posting the actual reviews on my blog once they’ve been published in the paper. Meanwhile, below is a link to the full review at The DePaulia Online. Hope everyone enjoys it and wishes me luck on this new venture.

“Win Win” is a Victory for the Common Man” (DePaulia)