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“The Dark Knight Rises” Publicity Weekend

July 12, 2011 3 comments

Even though this was only released within the last few hours, it is already practically old news. Still it’s worth reporting on this mad publicity blitz for the highly anticipated film. This poster is only the first step. Accompanying the release of Warner Bros’ final installment of “Harry Potter” this weekend (thank God, by the way, that it is finally the last), there will be a featured first teaser trailer for Nolan’s flick.

To be quite honest, Batman fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. Their production has barely begun so I wouldn’t expect a whole lot of footage. I’m expecting something similar to the first teaser of “The Dark Knight,” a fancy, blue visual effects show with some voiceovers. Not that that preview didn’t give chills, but most of those came from hearing the first syllables spoken by an infinitely more anticipated antagonist. They might be generous and throw in a shot of Bane to wet appetites.

The poster, released today, granted is an early promotional tool, is honestly pretty boring to me. The design is cool, but the detail on the buildings is fairly sloppy. I understand that it’s just a poster and I shouldn’t take it too seriously, but take a look at the buildings again. That has got to be one of the most claustrophobic city blocks I’ve ever seen. Where does the street go?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m still just annoyed that it’s not a Chicago city street we’re looking at. I’m not sure if that grievance will ever be resolved in my mind, but we’ll save that round of bellyaching for a different article. I will post the new teaser as soon as it becomes available online, probably within a day of it’s release in theaters. In the meantime, I’ve attached the first “Dark Knight” teaser, below, to show what we can probably expect.

My Final 83rd Oscar Predictions

February 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, folks, it’s all come to an end. These will be my final predictions for this year’s Academy Awards. It has been a long year and a tough year, one with one of the biggest tide-turnings in the history of film. It’s hard to see the best, as well as my favorite, movie go from being on top of the world to fighting for its life. I still believe that it will come out victorious in the end, but I will be hanging on to that prediction by my fingernails until the first ballot is called.

This year, some of the races are a foregone conclusion. Both lead acting categories were practically finalized months ago, and the supporting awards are pretty close to sewn up, as well. You can probably take both of the screenplay awards to the bank, as well, along with animated feature. I also feel pretty confident calling both sound categories and visual effects for a single film to capture.

Several awards are thoroughly nagging on me and will be to the very end. One will be the very first ballot called, so we won’t have to wait long. Art Direction is in a very close. “The King’s Speech” is definitely the front runner with both “Inception” and “Alice in Wonderland” biting at its heals. It’s interesting to note that in all the times that a Tim Burton film has been nominated for this particular award, it has never lost. That statistic goes hand in hand with another, in that every time one such movie has been nominated for Best Costume Design, it has never won. I plan to go against that logic tonight, even as it faces a very strong contender in “The King’s Speech.”

Along with Design, both of the music categories have been severely nagging at me, as well. In Original Score, there is a showdown between the two Best Picture frontrunners, the stylish and innovative music in “The Social Network” vs. the quiet, beautiful, but really quite boring tones of “The King’s Speech.” Meanwhile, “Inception” and “How to Train Your Dragon” both have potential as spoilers. In Best Original Song, Randy Newman is looking for his second Oscar with the song “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” while A.R. Rahman seeks his third (he won two for “Slumdog Millionaire). Either has potential.

Finally, we come to the big one. It’s funny how after everything else, Best Picture ends up being the closest race of all. In one corner, there’s “The King’s Speech,” the heart-warming, generally-appealing historical epic. In its pocket are the PGA, the DGA and the SAG Ensemble. It’s opposition: “The Social Network,” is the original, stylized, cold-shouldered work of art. Behind it is the Golden Globe, the BFCA, the WGA, the ACE and basically every critics award for Best Picture that exists. It will be a fight to the finish. The one question the Academy has to ask themselves now.

Do they want to be smart or do they want to be saps? I still have faith.

My final predictions:

BEST PICTURE
Winner: “The Social Network”
Runner-Up: “The King’s Speech”

BEST DIRECTOR
Winner: David Fincher – “The Social Network”
Runner-Up: Tom Hooper – “The King’s Speech”

BEST ACTOR
Winner: Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
Runner-Up: Jesse Eisenberg – “The Social Network”

BEST ACTRESS
Winner: Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”
Runner-Up: Annette Bening – “The Kids Are All Right”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Winner: Christian Bale – “The Fighter”
Runner-Up: Geoffrey Rush – “The King’s Speech”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Winner: Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”
Runner-Up: Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Winner: “The King’s Speech”
Runner-Up: “Inception”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Winner: “The Social Network”
Runner-Up: “Toy Story 3”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Winner: “In a Better World”
Runner-Up: “Incendies”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Winner: “Toy Story 3”
Runner-Up: “How to Train Your Dragon”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Winner: “Inside Job”
Runner-Up: “Exit Through the Gift Shop”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Winner: “True Grit”
Runner-Up: “Inception”

BEST EDITING
Winner: “The Social Network”
Runner-Up: “The King’s Speech”

BEST ART DIRECTION
Winner: “The King’s Speech”
Runner-Up: “Inception”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Winner: “Alice in Wonderland”
Runner-Up: “The King’s Speech”

BEST SOUND MIXING
Winner: “Inception”
Runner-Up: “The Social Network”

BEST SOUND EDITING
Winner: “Inception”
Runner-Up: “TRON: Legacy”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Winner: “Inception”
Runner-Up: “Alice in Wonderland”

BEST MAKEUP
Winner: “The Wolfman”
Runner-Up: “Barney’s Version”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Winner: “The Social Network”
Runner-Up: “The King’s Speech”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Winner: “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3”
Runner-Up: “If I Rise” from “127 Hours”

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Winner: “The Gruffalo”
Runner-Up: “Day and Night”

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM
Winner: “Strangers No More”
Runner-Up: “Poster Girl”

BEST LIVE-ACTION FILM
Winner: “Na Wewe”
Runner-Up: “The Confession”

Enjoy the Oscars folks!

“The Dark Knight Rises” Villains Revealed

January 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, it has been months and months of speculation about just what the hell the next Batman movie is going to be about and who’s going to be in it. We’ve been through Joseph Gordon Levitt to Marion Cotillard to Phillip Seymour Hoffman with rumors ranging from the Riddler to Harley Quinn and the Penguin. Now, we have the official news from Christopher Nolan, himself.

That’s right, Warner Brothers reports that it’s going to be Catwoman, and Anne Hathaway is playing the part. This will be the first time Catwoman has been portrayed on screen since 1992 (I refuse to acknowledge the 2004 film because, really, what’s the point?). Anne Hathaway won the part in a competition that included, well, virtually every young actress in Hollywood. A fantastic choice if I do say so, myself. Hathaway is not only, what I would consider, one of the top ten most gorgeous women in show business, but an amazing actress to boot. Whether or not this part will require the same level of acting chops as the Joker (if that’s even possible) is a big question. However, it should be interesting to finally have some real sexual tension, or sexuality in general, in a Nolan Batman film.

In other news, the lid is off on who Tom Hardy will be portraying. I reported back in October that Hardy would be rejoining Nolan in the new film after a very successful venture with “Inception.” We now know that Hardy will be portraying Bane, the teddy bear-wielding, prison-born villain with drug-induced super-strength. Bane is best known for breaking Batman’s back in the comic book series. Tom Hardy is probably one of the best casting choices in a film since, well, Heath Ledger in the “The Dark Knight.” He’s an extremely capable and versatile actor, known for supporting roles in “Black Hawk Down” and “Band of Brothers,” as well as a lead role in the British psycho-drama “Bronson.” He is now ready to break out into super-stardom, and a great turn in this closing Batman chapter could do the trick.

Now, many people remember Bane being portrayed in “Batman and Robin,” really quite stupidly, if I may say so. But really, what didn’t “Batman and Robin” portray, stupidly? Still, the enormous character of Bane is difficult to imagine fitting into the realistic, contemporary atmosphere of Christopher Nolan’s Gotham City universe. This is one of the more fantastical comic book characters and I have trouble imagining the villain without the movie descending into silliness. However, in Nolan I trust. If he can twist the Joker into completely different, yet wholly believable and terrifying concept, then I believe that he can knock this one out of the park, as well.

All of this news is a bit less exciting to me as I would like, given the studio’s recent decision not to shoot in Chicago. Rumors are circulating that principal photography will be shot in Los Angeles, the UK, Louisiana and probably Detroit. This just angers me on so many levels. It pisses me off that one of the best parts of watching the first two installments is getting to see so much my town featured, not to mention the fact that Chicago is a perfect backdrop. I’m also pissed that Chicago won’t pony up the same incentives that other cities, like Detroit, are. Screw all of the parties involved. But hey, maybe if we’re lucky, Detroit can get hit by a meteor, get wiped off the face of the Earth and the production will come home where it belongs. I will keep you updated.

But seriously, folks, how do you find a better location? It bleeds Gotham.

68th Annual Golden Globe Nominations

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, here they are. Some good things and bad things. It appears that “The King’s Speech” leads with 7, while “The Social Network” and “The Fighter” in a close second with 6.

More later, but I leave you with this. Leave it to the HFPA to nominate one of the worst-reviewed and worst received films of the year for 3 awards including Best Picture for the sole reason that it has Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in it. I don’t know if it’s better to use that excuse, or to just say they have bad taste. Starfuckers, we salute you.

Best Picture, Drama
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Best Picture, Comedy/Musical
Alice in Wonderland
Burlesque
The Kids Are All Right
Red
The Tourist

Best Director
David Fincher, The Social Network
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter

Best Actor, Drama
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Best Actress, Drama
Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Best Actor, Musical/Comedy
Kevin Spacey, Casino Jack
Jake Gyllenhaal, Love and Other Drugs
Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version

Best Actress, Musical/Comedy
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Angelina Jolie, The Tourist
Emma Stone, Easy A
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Best Screenplay
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Christopher Nolan, Inception
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right
David Seidler, The King’s Speech
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours

Best Original Score
Alexander Desplot – The King’s Speech
Danny Elfman – Alice in Wonderalnd
A.R. Robin – 127 Hours
Trent Reznor – The Social Network
Hans Zimmer – Inception

Best Original Song
“You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me,” Burlesque
“Bound to you,” Burlesque
“Coming Home,” Country Strong
“I See The Light,” Tangled
“There’s a Place For Us,” Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Best Animated Film
Tangled
Toy Story 3
How To Train Your Dragon
Despicable Me
The Illusionist

Best Foreign-Language Film
I Am Love
Biutiful
The Concert
The Edge
In a Better World

Golden Globe Predictions 2010

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

So, as many of you know, I hate the Golden Globes. They’re a joke. The HFPA is a group of about 90 foreign film journalists who reside in Hollywood, almost none of them have anyone ever heard of. They make some of the most pedestrian choices that can be made for awards presentation. Once in a while, they have a good idea, but for the most part, they either go with the grain or go the blandest route. More than anything else, however, they are STARFUCKERS, excuse my language. But it’s true. These awards are meant to cater to movie stars and their own popularity with said persons. They’re a joke.

That being said, they are still one of the most influential and popular awards shows of the year, and therefore I will pay them credence.

Here are my predictions for the 68th Golden Globe Nominations, announced tomorrow morning. The full list after the jump.

BEST PICTURE, DRAMA
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”
“The Fighter”
“Black Swan”
“The Ghost Writer”
“Inception”
Alt: “Another Year”

BEST PICTURE, MUSICAL or COMEDY
“The Kids Are All Right”
“Alice in Wonderland”
“Made in Dagenham”
“Burlesque”
“Love and Other Drugs”
Alt: “Nowhere Boy”

Read more…

Hathaway and Franco

November 29, 2010 1 comment

So, as many of you might already know, James Franco and Anne Hathaway are hosting the Oscars. Not too sure how I feel about that. They seem more like the type of presenters who screw up their 5 minutes when they read the teleprompter wrong.

Plus, whose idea was it to have the host be someone who could be in very high contention for winning one of the biggest awards of the night.

Poor decision, Academy.

“Valentine’s Day” Review

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Not a whole lot to say about this film, so let’s keep it short and sweet. All in all, it’s about seventeen different chick flicks combined into one, as if one wasn’t enough to begin with. They’ve managed to cram every sappy and cliched plotline from other cheap romantic comedies and micromanaged them into bite-sized form. You have a woman in love, who doesn’t realize there’s another woman. You’ve got two strangers meeting on an airplane. You’ve got a guy who meets a girl who has a mysterious double life. You’ve got a budding young teenage romance and an elderly couple trying to hang on to theirs, along with many, many more. All these plots and all of these people, and what do you get? A candy-coated mess of a movie.

There’s quite a few issues with this piece of cinema. A big one is the film’s overwhelming sense of predictability. In every single case, it seems obvious to the audience how every story will be resolved. You know who’s going to break up, who’s going to make up and who’s going to hook up, and usually it’s just not at all exciting. The acting, for the most part, is stale and dissatisfying. Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Jamie Foxx and Julia Roberts more or less just meander through their lines. The “Grey’s Anatomy” stars are completely flat. Ashton Kutcher is his usual douchebag self. And the combination of Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner is perhaps the worst acting couple in recent film history. The only highlights were perhaps Anne Hathaway with her energetic variety of personalities and the always lovely Shirley MacLaine as a guilt-stricken grandmother.

Another noticeable flaw is the film’s quite poor use of editing. A story with this bulky of a plot needs a lot of fine-tuned editing to keep a fluid motion. The structure of “Valentine’s Day” is jumbled and clunky, and without the help of solid cutting, it seems completely uneven, as well. The different stories don’t melt together in a rhythmic fashion and the momentum is almost completely lost in the shuffle. Also, the film makes some very strange attempts at parallel editing which don’t accomplish the point of the technique. Instead of intercutting two scenes at a steady rhythm and matching intensity, they simply have two things happening and cut them together in an increasingly awkward manner.

Overall, the biggest flaw is that in a film such as this with many different stories and boatloads of characters, they need to feed and feed off each other as well as exist in their own right. Don’t get me wrong, this film certainly does intertwine it’s characters, but it just does not do it well. If you were to cut this film into pieces and have each story work as an individual film, quite simply put, they would not do so.

None of the stories follow a solid three-act plot structure. None of them are meaty enough in substance and conflict in both story and characters to act as individual tales. When the characters interact outside the boundaries of their inherent stories, those stories are damaged and lose their relevance. When you look at films that successfully accomplish the crisscross method (“Magnolia,” “Short Cuts,” hell even “Crash” does it better than this film) each character, or group of characters, is interesting enough to practically have an entire movie based on just them, and therefore, the whole structure is the better for it. In the case of “Valentine’s Day,” instead of getting a pretty, ribbon-tied basket of delicious treats, you’re handed a flattened box of sloppy, melted, old chocolate recently bought at the local convenience store. In essence: a mess.

GRADES:            C-             * 1/2 / * * * * *             3 / 10.0