Tuesday, January 31, 2006

ABC Cancels Commander-in-Chief

ABC has pulled the ‘Hilary in 2008’ campaign promotional program, Commander-in-Chief, from their line-up. Executives at the network assure liberals … I mean, fans that this happens all the time and is no indication that the political drama is being cancelled. However, whenever this sort of thing happens, it is usually a sure sign that the show is on the rocks.

List of Annual Academy Award Nominations (Commentary Coming Soon)

1. Best Picture: "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote," "Crash," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "Munich."

2. Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"; Terrence Howard, "Hustle & Flow"; Heath Ledger, "Brokeback Mountain"; Joaquin Phoenix, "Walk the Line"; David Strathairn, "Good Night, and Good Luck."

3. Actress: Judi Dench, "Mrs. Henderson Presents"; Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"; Keira Knightley, "Pride & Prejudice"; Charlize Theron, "North Country"; Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line."

4. Supporting Actor: George Clooney, "Syriana"; Matt Dillon, "Crash"; Paul Giamatti, "Cinderella Man"; Jake Gyllenhaal, "Brokeback Mountain"; William Hurt, "A History of Violence."

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Junebug"; Catherine Keener, "Capote"; Frances McDormand, "North Country"; Rachel Weisz, "The Constant Gardener"; Michelle Williams, "Brokeback Mountain."

6. Director: Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"; Bennett Miller, "Capote"; Paul Haggis, "Crash"; George Clooney, "Good Night, and Good Luck."; Steven Spielberg, "Munich."

7. Foreign Film: "Don't Tell," Italy; "Joyeux Noel," France; "Paradise Now," Palestine; "Sophie Scholl - The Final Days," Germany; "Tsotsi," South Africa.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, "Brokeback Mountain"; Dan Futterman, "Capote"; Jeffrey Caine, "The Constant Gardener"; Josh Olson, "A History of Violence"; Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, "Munich."

9. Original Screenplay: Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, "Crash"; George Clooney & Grant Heslov, "Good Night, and Good Luck."; Woody Allen, "Match Point"; Noah Baumbach, "The Squid and the Whale"; Stephen Gaghan, "Syriana."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Howl's Moving Castle"; "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride"; "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit."

11. Art Direction: "Good Night, and Good Luck.," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "King Kong," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Pride & Prejudice."

12. Cinematography: "Batman Begins," "Brokeback Mountain," "Good Night, and Good Luck.," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "The New World."

13. Sound Mixing: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "King Kong," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Walk the Line," "War of the Worlds."

14. Sound Editing: "King Kong," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "War of the Worlds."

15. Original Score: "Brokeback Mountain," Gustavo Santaolalla; "The Constant Gardener," Alberto Iglesias; "Memoirs of a Geisha," John Williams; "Munich," John Williams; "Pride & Prejudice," Dario Marianelli.

16. Original Song: "In the Deep" from "Crash," Kathleen "Bird" York and Michael Becker; "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from "Hustle & Flow," Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard; "Travelin' Thru" from "Transamerica," Dolly Parton.

17. Costume: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Pride & Prejudice," "Walk the Line."

18. Documentary Feature: "Darwin's Nightmare," "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," "March of the Penguins," "Murderball," "Street Fight."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club," "God Sleeps in Rwanda," "The Mushroom Club," "A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin."

20. Film Editing: "Cinderella Man," "The Constant Gardener," "Crash," "Munich," "Walk the Line."

21. Makeup: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Cinderella Man," "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith."

22. Animated Short Film: "Badgered," "The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation," "The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello," "9," "One Man Band."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Ausreisser (The Runaway)," "Cashback," "The Last Farm," "Our Time Is Up," "Six Shooter."

24. Visual Effects: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "King Kong," "War of the Worlds."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Film Review - The Lodger (1927)

There is a distinct absence of dialogue in The Lodger, a welcome change for audiences in the midst of the silent picture-era when title cards were used inordinately to convey the emotions and the mindset of the characters onscreen. Alfred Hitchcock instead freely uses the camera, unlike any English-speaking director before him, to express directly to his audience what is taking place onscreen. Hitchcock was never especially fond of dialogue. He was quite reluctant at the time they first came out and throughout the rest of his filmmaking career to delve into ‘talkies’, although in time he would accept the challenge of turning them into yet another tool for which to sculpt his vision onscreen. The resistance toward dialogue can be seen in The Lodger to great effect. The scene in which, thanks to the creation of a glass floor in the construction of this sequence, the Lodger is viewed downstairs by Joe Betts and Daisy’s parents pacing, almost neurotically, in his room above is most illustrious. And the exceptional use of the staircase, the unsettling stranger, and the innocent blonde bathing, all elements which would resurface in Alfred Hitchcock’s famous thriller, Psycho, in 1960, are used to their full potential in creating an intimidating atmosphere for audiences and characters onscreen alike.

Furthermore, The Lodger marks the first time in which audiences encounter the mannerism which would make Alfred Hitchcock’s films famous. For example, the scene in which the Lodger responds to Daisy’s last move on the chess board by saying, “I’ll get you yet”, is the bit of dark humor future generations of movie-goers would be accustomed to seeing from Hitchcock movies.

Regardless of his actual performance, Ivor Novello remains one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s most intriguing selections as the Lodger, even if the arrangement was not entirely his own. The decision to cast stage heartthrob Novello as the lead in this picture certainly goes against type, a trademark of Hitchcock in years to come, but, as the director himself soon found out, it came at a price. Studio executives at Gainsborough Pictures, the silent film production studio Hitchcock was employed at the time, thoroughly aware of the performer’s legions of adoring fans, were weary of implicating Novello’s character as the Avenger in any way, including an ambiguous outcome Hitchcock concocted which was rejected in favor of a ‘falsely accused’ conclusion. There are unmistakably moments in the film in which Novello’s stiff and undeviating performance work perfectly in sync with the atmosphere of the story, particularly audiences’ first encounter with the Lodger himself. In the doorway of the bordering house stands a tall, pale-white man with his nearly his entire obstructed by a cloth with the exception of his glaring eyes. Novello’s initial appearance in the picture is remarkably unsettling even by the horror picture standards of today. Unquestionably the scene is renascent of Max Schreck’s Graf Orlock in the 1921 silent picture, Nosferatu, a German picture from which Hitchcock certainly drew from in this film. However, this is where appreciation of Novello’s performance ends abruptly. His almost petrified performance grows increasingly exhausting as the film winds down to its conclusion and the insinuation that he is indeed the serial killer is proved wrong.

While on the subject, the outcome of The Lodger is easily the most disappointing and egregious errors Hitchcock is forced to make in this picture. The Lodger’s creepy mannerism, rather then acting as an implication of his guilt as the Avenger, prove him to be nothing more then stalker and a likely sexual predator, a revelation which makes the conclusion all the more distrusting. It feels too cobbled together to be taken for face value and comes off as anti-climatic more then anything else. This however is no fault of Hitchcock who was pressured by studio executives to develop an ending which did not implicate Novello as the serial killer. This just goes to prove, then as much as it does today, that studio executives have not the slightest clue how to properly produce motion pictures. Although enthralling to the last, the chase sequence at the end just is not nearly as scintillating as the revelation of the Lodger as the serial killer would have been for audience, then or now. Even an ambiguous ending in which no resolution to the mystery of the Lodger was given would have been better then what is in the final print.

Hitchcock himself was never happy with this ending and tried in vein through the rest of his career to remake The Lodger the way he had intended it. Sadly, this never came about.

It is a shame, a travesty actually, for director Alfred Hitchcock’s first enduring motion picture to be in the abhorrent condition audiences find itself in today. Why studios out in California have failed to pick up this picture and restore it to its former glory as it should remain is beyond anyone.The ending aside, The Lodger is truly a remarkable film, a perfect demonstration of the camera techniques, innovative storytelling, mystery, intrigue , and pure idiosyncrasies which would make Alfred Hitchcock one of the best, if not THE best, director in Hollywood history.

My Rating: **** out of 5 (Grade: B+)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Momma Sequel's Big at Box Office

Source: Comingsoon.net

Martin Lawrence has something to thank the gods of box office this weekend, because after starring in the biggest flop of his career, last summer's Rebound, he was able to bounce back with the comedy sequel Big Momma's House 2. It grossed an estimated $28 million its opening weekend, thanks to the support of his fans, happy to see him back in the dress and wig, and if those numbers stand, it will become the third biggest January opener ever. It earned three million more in its first three days than the original movie made five years ago before going on to earn $117 million and become Lawrence's first major solo hit.

Opening in over 1,000 fewer theatres, Universal Pictures' family film Nanny McPhee, written and starring Emma Thompson, found similar success with its Mary Poppins like story, as it earned roughly $14 million its opening weekend, an average of over $7,000 per theatre. Its a great start for the British export, which cost around $34 million to produce.

As would be expected, Sony/Screen Gems' own sequel Underworld: Evolution, starring Kate Beckinsale, took a dive in its second weekend with a 58% drop-off for an estimated $11.1 million in its second weekend. It has grossed $44 million in its first ten days.

Touchstone Pictures' military drama Annapolis, directed by Justin "Better Luck Tomorrow" Lin, was James Franco's second movie of the year--and it's only January!--and it did slightly better than Tristan & Isolde did over MLK weekend in a few hundred fewer theatres. It earned roungly $7.7 million, an average of $4,802 per theatre, putting it in fourth place just ahead of the Weinsteins' animated hit Hoodwinked. The latter added another $7.4 million to its box office gross of $37.8 million.

The Western romance Brokeback Mountain, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, continued to expand into more regions, adding 458 theatres just days before Oscar nominations are announced. Despite the doubters, the controversial film has managed to cross the $50 million with a weekend take of $6.3 million, just as director Ang Lee, was honored by the Directors Guild (DGA) last night with their highest honor for helming the film.

Walt Disney's basketball drama Glory Road, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and Queen Latifah's Last Holiday both felt the brunt of the new movies, dropping out of the Top 5 with $5.2 and $4.8 million respectively. They've both earned just over $30 million.

Walt Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe looks to be ending its impressive two-month run in the Top 10 with another $4.4 million, bringing its grand total to a massive $277 million.

Richard Shepard's crime comedy The Matador, starring Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear, expanded into 885 theatres this weekend, and it entered the Top 10 with a respectable $3.8 million.

Sony's remake of Fun with Dick and Jane, starring Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni, dropped out of the Top 10 despite an additional $3.6 million, which brought its total gross up to $106.3 million.

This week's second big comeback was the Johnny Cash biodrama Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, which began reexpanding into more theatres and finding new fans in the days leading up to Oscar nominations. It reentered the Top 12 for the first time in months with $2.9 million over the weekend.

Opening in limited release, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Michael Winterbottom's second teaming with Steve Coogan ("24 Hour Party People"), earned $59.8 thousand in three theatres while the Fox Searchlight romantic comedy Imagine Me & You earned slightly less in more than twice as many theatres, not a good start for a movie the studio hopes to expand nationwide in February.

Disney also opened its documentary Roving Mars in 27 theatres this weekend, where it earned an estimated $397 thousand.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Toy Story 3 Cancelled

I am so relieved to hear this morning that Disney’s proposed Toy Story 3 project which would have been produced without the assistance of Pixar Animation Studios has since been cancelled in light of the company’s acquisition of the computer animation studio. I figured this was merely a strategic move by Bob Iger to get Steve Jobs and Pixar Animation to give in to their buy-out offer, but there was still a part of me that said they were serious about the project (that’s what years of having Michael Eisner as Disney’s Chairman/CEO has done to my sense of judgment about the company) and that if they forward with it the project would be an absolute disaster.

One-Sheet for Madagascar 2 ... I mean, Disney's The Wild

It's Official: Disney to Acquire Pixar

Source: Comingsoon.net

Robert A. Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, announced today that Disney has agreed to acquire computer animation leader Pixar in an all-stock transaction, expected to be completed by this summer. Under terms of the agreement, 2.3 Disney shares will be issued for each Pixar share. Based on Pixar's fully diluted shares outstanding, the transaction value is $7.4 billion ($6.3 billion net of Pixar's cash of just over $1 billion).

This acquisition combines Pixar's preeminent creative and technological resources with Disney's unparalleled portfolio of world-class family entertainment, characters, theme parks and other franchises, resulting in vast potential for new landmark creative output and technological innovation that can fuel future growth across Disney's businesses. Garnering an impressive 20 Academy Awards, Pixar's creative team and global box office success have made it a leader in quality family entertainment through incomparable storytelling abilities, creative vision and innovative technical artistry.

"With this transaction, we welcome and embrace Pixar's unique culture, which for two decades, has fostered some of the most innovative and successful films in history. The talented Pixar team has delivered outstanding animation coupled with compelling stories and enduring characters that have captivated audiences of all ages worldwide and redefined the genre by setting a new standard of excellence," Iger said. "The addition of Pixar significantly enhances Disney animation, which is a critical creative engine for driving growth across our businesses. This investment significantly advances our strategic priorities, which include -- first and foremost -- delivering high-quality, compelling creative content to consumers, the application of new technology and global expansion to drive long-term shareholder value."

Pixar President Ed Catmull will serve as President of the new Pixar and Disney animation studios, reporting to Iger and Dick Cook, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. In addition, Pixar Executive Vice President John Lasseter will be Chief Creative Officer of the animation studios, as well as Principal Creative Advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he will provide his expertise in the design of new attractions for Disney theme parks around the world, reporting directly to Iger. Pixar Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs will be appointed to Disney's Board of Directors as a non-independent member. With the addition of Jobs, 11 of Disney's 14 directors will be independent. Both Disney and Pixar animation units will retain their current operations and locations.

"Disney and Pixar can now collaborate without the barriers that come from two different companies with two different sets of shareholders," said Jobs. "Now, everyone can focus on what is most important, creating innovative stories, characters and films that delight millions of people around the world."

"Pixar's culture of collaboration and innovation has its roots in Disney Animation. Our story and production processes are derivatives of the Walt Disney 'school' of animated filmmaking," said Dr. Catmull. "Just like the Disney classics, Pixar's films are made for family audiences the world over and, most importantly, for the child in everyone. We can think of nothing better for us than to continue to make great movies with Disney."

The acquisition brings to Disney the talented creative teams behind the tremendously popular original Pixar blockbusters, who will now be involved in the nurturing and future development of these properties, including potential feature animation sequels. Pixar's 20-year unrivaled creative track record includes the hits Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Disney will also have increased ability to fully capitalize on Pixar-created characters and franchises on high-growth digital platforms such as video games, broadband and wireless, as well as traditional media outlets, including theme parks, consumer products and live stage plays.

"For many of us at Pixar, it was the magic of Disney that influenced us to pursue our dreams of becoming animators, artists, storytellers and filmmakers," said Lasseter. "For 20 years we have created our films in the manner inspired by Walt Disney and the great Disney animators -- great stories and characters in an environment made richer by technical advances. It is exciting to continue in this tradition with Disney, the studio that started it all."

"The wonderfully productive 15-year partnership that exists between Disney and Pixar provides a strong foundation that embodies our collective spirit of creativity and imagination," said Cook. "Under this new, strengthened animation unit, we expect to continue to grow and flourish."

Disney first entered into a feature film agreement with Pixar in 1991, resulting in the release of Toy Story, which was hailed as an instant classic upon its release in November 1995. In 1997, Disney extended its relationship with Pixar by entering into a co-production agreement, under which Pixar agreed to produce on an exclusive basis five original computer-animated feature films for distribution by Disney. Pixar is currently in production on the final film under that agreement, Cars, to be distributed by Disney on June 9.

The Boards of Directors of Disney and Pixar have approved the transaction, which is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antritrust Improvements Act, certain non-United States merger control regulations, and other customary closing conditions. The agreement will require the approval of Pixar's shareholders. Jobs, who owns approximately 50.6% of the outstanding Pixar shares, has agreed to vote a number of shares equal to 40% of the outstanding shares in favor of the transaction.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Kayne West Poses As Jesus for Rolling Stone

Alright, this is totally absurd.

It is one thing for Howard Stern to pull this stunt (although I entirely disagree with his assessment, he did receive a lot of unnecessary crap from critics) but this is going way too far. It is completely unfounded for Kayne West, the so-called ‘rapper extraordinaire’ whose sole claim to fame has been his ‘Bush Hates Black People’ comment during a Hurricane Katrina relief effort on national television, to compare his ‘plight’ to The Passion of the Christ.

Underworld Goes Over the Top

Source: Comingsoon.net

Opening in just over 3,200 theatres, Sony/Screen Gem's action-horror sequel Underworld: Evolution, starring Kate Beckinsale, took the box office crown with ease, grossing an estimated $27.6 million its opening weekend, an average of roughly $8,600 per theatre. The original Underworld grossed $21.7 million its opening weekend in September 2003, and went onto make $52 million domestically and another $42 million overseas, and the sequel, which cost less than $50 million before marketing costs, becomes the fourth highest opening movie for the month of January after 1997's Star Wars (Special Edition), Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down and the comedy Along Came Polly.

Most of the returning movies held up well from the extended Martin Luther King Jr. weekend with The Weinstein Company's computer animated comedy Hoodwinked expanding into over 3,000 theatres, taking a definite second place with just over $11 million and a minimal drop-off of 10.7% from the holiday weekend. It has earned just over $29 million in the past ten days.

Dropping down to third, Disney's basketball drama Glory Road with Josh Lucas edged out the Queen Latifah comedy Last Holiday, each earning around $9.1 million in their second weekends, bringing their total grosses to $28 and $26.4 million, respectively.

After winning four Golden Globes on Monday, Ang Lee's romantic Western Brokeback Mountain was expanded by Focus Features into 1,196 theatres on Friday, enough for it to make a jump into the Top 5 with an additional $7.8 million in its seventh weekend. Its per-theatre average of $6,548 was the second highest in the Top 10, and to date, the unconventional romantic drama has earned over $42 million on its road to Oscar glory.

The Jim Carrey comedy remake Fun with Dick and Jane crossed the $100 million mark over the weekend with another $6.1 million in its fifth weekend, another minor 30% drop-off from last week. It barely edged out the C.S. Lewis fantasy epic The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for sixth place, the latter having grossed $271 million in its impressive run at the box office. Only $13 million separates it from the second highest grossing film of 2005, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

The independently-produced End of the Spear, a spiritual tale of missionaries killed by natives in the Amazon basin of Ecuador, used a grassroots campaign and strong commercials to get an impressive nationwide rollout into 1,163 theatres, where it grossed an estimated $4.7 million and entered the box office at eighth place. A second movie about first contact with natives received a nationwide rollout this weekend, as Terrence Malick's The New World, starring Colin Farrell and newcomer Q'orianka Kilcher, reopened in 800 theatres after a platform release over the holidays. The abbreviated version of the film pulled in $4.2 million to take tenth place.

In between, Eli Roth's gory thriller Hostel took another plunge, dropping from fifth to ninth with roughly $4.3 million in its third weekend, and bringing its total gross to $42.7 million.

Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong made its last appearance in the Top 12 with another $4.1 million added to its $209 million box office take, while 20th Century Fox's historic romance Tristan & Isolde wrapped up the Top 12 with $3.3 million.

Taking advantage of its three Golden Globe wins, the Fox biodrama Walk the Line, starring Best Actor and Actress Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, made an impressive 75% jump from last weekend, its $3.1 million weekend take was enough to finally get it across the $100 million mark after two and a half months in theatres.

Opening in limited release, Albert Brooks' first comedy in six years Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, was released by Warner Independent Pictures after a fall-out with Sony/Tri-Star over the title. Sadly, audiences weren't too inspired by the title either, and the comedy only made $455 thousand in 161 theatres, a pitiful theatre average of $2,826 that doesn't bode well for future expansion.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ashlee Simpson in Her Own Words (COUGH!)

Seriously, what does this say about American pop-culture? That we have no sense of taste? No, quite frankly it demonstrates that collectively we are a bunch of freakin’ idiots, that’s what!

Sorry, I just can not believe that this woman still has a career after the amount of screw-ups she has had (lip-synching on SNL, being booed off stage at the Orange Bowl, the tape of her drunk at a McDonalds, and now the reported sex tape). Please people, stop the madness!

Disney in Talks to Acquire Pixar?

Source: Comingsoon.net

The Walt Disney Company is in serious talks about an acquisition of Pixar Animation Studios, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper report said terms under discussion would have Disney pay a small premium to Pixar's current stock market value of $6.7 billion. The deal would be a stock transaction and make Pixar Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs the biggest individual shareholder in Disney.

The talks are at a sensitive stage and other options are possible, including an agreement for Disney to distribute Pixar movies, the report said.

The companies have been partners since Pixar began making feature films with Toy Story. Currently Pixar and Disney split costs, and Disney effectively has sequel rights to Pixar films.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Golden Globe Winners

Source: Comingsoon.net

Brokeback Mountain topped the awards count with four for Best Drama, Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Screenplay and Best Original Song. Walk the Line dominated the Musical or Comedy category, winning three awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon). Best Actor in a Drama went to Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote and Felicity Huffman won the award for Best Actress in a Drama.

Best Supporting film roles went to George Clooney for Syriana and Rachel Weisz for The Constant Gardener. John Williams' score for Memoirs of a Geisha won as well.

Best Television Drama Series went to Lost while Desperate Housewives won in the Musical or Comedy category. Geena Davis took home Best Actress in a Drama for Commander in Chief and Hugh Laurie Best Actor for House. In the Musical or Comedy category, Steve Carell won for The Office and Mary-Louise Parker for Weeds, shutting out the four Desperate Housewives actresses.

Best Supporting Television awards went to Paul Newman for Empire Falls and Sandra Oh for Grey's Anatomy.

Anthony Hopkins received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his "outstanding contribution to the entertainment field."

Glory Road Tops Hoodwinked for BO Win

Source: Comingsoon.net

According to final figures, Walt Disney Pictures' basketball drama Glory Road topped the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. weekend with $16.927 million from 2,222 theaters, just above second place finisher, Hoodwinked, the Weinsteins' computer animated family comedy that pulled in $16.879 million from 2,394 theaters.

Opening not far behind the two movies was Queen Latifah's latest comedy Last Holiday from Paramount Pictures, which earned $15.5 million over the weekend in 2,514 theaters. Despite coming in third, the comedy had a better debut weekend than the Queen's previous two films Beauty Shop and Taxi.

Dropping out of the Top 2 for the first time since debuting in early December, Disney's epic film based on C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe earned an $12.8 million in its sixth weekend, bringing its total to $264 million.

After opening strong in the top spot last weekend, Eli Roth's horror film Hostel, distributed by Lionsgate, dropped down four notches with a second weekend of $11.4 million. Off 42% from its opening weekend, it had the largest drop-off in the Top 12, but it's still well in the black with a total gross of $36.6 million.

Still holding strong from the holidays, Sony's remake of Fun with Dick and Jane with Jim Carrey and Téa Leoni, added another $10.3 million over the extended weekend to bring its total to $94.2 million in just over four weeks. It also was able to edge just ahead of Peter Jackson's King Kong, which dropped to seventh place with $9.1 million. The Universal remake also finally reached the $200 million mark including its Monday holiday grosses.

20th Century Fox's romantic drama Tristan & Isolde, produced by Ridley and Tony Scott, entered the market in eighth place with an unimpressive $7.6 million in 1,845 theaters.

Two potential Oscar nominees that have been fodder for controversy continued to rally for position in the charts as Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain added another $7 million to its box office take of $32.1 million. To date, it has earned just a million less than Steven Spielberg's political thriller Munich, which earned $5.9 million over the weekend in more than twice as many theatres.

Memoirs of a Geisha, the adaptation of Arthur Golden's bestselling novel, rounded out the Top 12 with $5.1 million, bringing its total box office receipts to $47.3 million.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

One-Sheet for Poseidon

Friday, January 13, 2006

Latest One-Sheet for Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Box Office Predictions for January 13th - 16th, 2006

  1. Glory Road - $21.2
  2. Hostel - $11.9
  3. The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - $10.8
  4. Fun with Dick and Jane - $9.1
  5. King Kong - $8.2
  6. Last Holiday - $8.1
  7. Hoodwinked - $7.9
  8. Brokeback Mountain - $6.1
  9. Munich - $5.6
  10. Tristan & Isolde - $4.9

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Million Little Lies

Oprah Winfrey got conned. What do I take such distinct pleasure in saying that? Oh, that’s right – I utterly despise her, that’s why.

Angelina Jolie Pregnant

God helps us all. Why are such idiots allowed to spawn? More importantly though, why do we care?

Film Review - Munich

The stage seems to be set for what at first glance would appear to be one of the most politically scathing awards ceremonies in years, the 78th Annual Academy Awards presentation on the ABC television network. No, this is not due in part to the announcement that the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart will host the program. This is just another clear sign that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has truly lost touch with its core audience and have reverted to catering to the whims of sniveling television executives eager to lure younger adults, albeit for a few short moments, to contribute to their key demo-rating. It is instead the potential motion picture nominees themselves that will have everyone talking. There is director Ang Lee’s controversial gay-cowboy picture, Brokeback Mountain, a film likely to arouse (no sexual pun intended) the pro-gay marriage advocates of California’s certifiable liberal base. Here’s a puzzler – how does Ang Lee go from directing The Hulk to a romantic-drama about homosexual cowboys in Wyoming? George Clooney, perennial poster boy for the Hollywood left, has two politically controversial pictures up his sleeve – the anti-Joseph McCarthy diatribe, Good Night and Good Luck, and director Stephen Gaghan’s ‘blood for oil’ leftist pamphlet piece, Syriana. If you can’t recall who Stephen Gaghan is, he directed the Oscar nominated film, Traffic. Can’t recall Traffic either? Don’t worry, more then likely no one else can either. And what would the Academy Awards be without a tribute to the false-state of Palestine? This year the spineless Europeans honor Palestinian suicide bombers with their foreign-language contribution, Paradise Now. Yes, the same homicidal maniacs who have made the Middle East region the certifiable blood bath it is today. There is no word at this time as to whether film distributor Warner Independent Pictures has chosen to follow former-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s lead and compensate families of suicide bombers. However, it appears that the most controversial of them all is director Steven Spielberg’s ‘semi-historical’ drama, Munich, a portrayal of the events following the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. Pro-Israeli advocates, not to mention the Israeli population in general, have come down hard on the Academy Award-winning director of Schindler’s List, a tribute to the innocent victims of the Holocaust during World War II, going so far as to claim publicly that he is no longer a ‘friend of Israel’. My, how times have changed.

Saying the least about it, the story for Munich is perfect. Perfect that is in the sense that is nothing short of a flawless piece of revisionist history drawn from the pulpit of self-loathing Jews, Palestinian terrorists, and the liberal rhetoric of Hollywood elitists. Steven Spielberg’s Munich has two fundamental flaws going against it in terms of the film’s claim of historical accuracy and legitimacy. First, the George Jonas novel, Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team, on which the script is primarily based upon, has been widely discredited leaving most historical and literary critics to regard its contents as a work of complete fiction. Jonas fails to support claims by Yuval Aviv that he was the inspiration for Avner and that he participated in Mossad operations to retaliate against Palestinian terrorists involved with the Munich massacre with either interviews or public statements. Ha'aretz journalist Yossi Melman revealed that Aviv, through investigative reports, “had a special fondness for conspiracy theories, and it turned out that he was willing to hire out his services to anyone who was willing to pay”. The other tragic flaw of this film is playwright Tony Kushner, an openly gay and admittedly self-loathing Jew, who was brought in personally by director Steven Spielberg to rewrite the script originally penned by Eric Roth. Kushner has stated that the creation of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948 was a “historical, moral, political calamity” for the Jewish people and believes adamantly that the sole intent of the Israeli government is to “systematic attempt to destroy the identity of the Palestinian people”.

Lest it be forgotten, let us make one thing perfectly clear – there never was nor will there ever be a nation called Palestine. The term ‘Palestine’ is a modern word used to define the Middle East legion which prior to World War I was a loose association of Arab tribes which would eventually be placed under the yoke of Nazi imperialism during World War II. The British in 1917 promised the Jews the formation of their own nation, Israel, with the signing of the Balfour Declaration, a promise which was eventually upheld in 1948. There exists no Palestinian ‘refugee problem’ today because refugees can not exist if there is no land from which they happen to be displaced from to begin with. The disdainful Arab nations which encircle the entire nation-state of Israel refuse to take in their own so that they may be used as a prominent example of the ‘atrocities’ the Jews have committed and that Israel may forever be used as a scapegoat for their cruelty and malice.

Overall, Munich, albeit skillfully choreographed, suitably acted out, and brilliantly scored by long-time Spielberg collaborator, composer John Williams, lacks the sufficient credibility in its anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian rhetoric driven storyline to make it a truly riveting historical drama. Munich’s most glaring weakness, Kushner’s screenplay, is so extreme in its revisionist interpretation of historical events it is likely to maker even pseudo-‘documentarian’ Michael Moore blush. Frankly the film is not all bad. Spielberg went to extraordinary lengths in the short few months of its production (filming began in July 2005, days after his two-hundred million dollar blockbuster, War of the Worlds, opened in theatres) to have nearly every scene in Munich reflect the styles, the culture, and the atmospheric feel of the 1970s.

First off, much to the embarrassment of Judaism in general, Spielberg and Kushner establish a level of confusion with their own twisted sense of moral relativism when it comes to the interpretation of the specific values and principles on which the Jewish religion is founded upon, an action which is hardly surprising given their fall out from their homeland. After an all too brief scene in which the Israeli athletes in Munich are taken hostage by terrorist agents of Black September, Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir is seen meeting with Israeli officials to construct a plan of retaliation against the Palestinians for the massacre. In this meeting she states, “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values”, which of course is in reference to Israel’s plans to assassinate suspected members of the terrorist organization, Black September. Although Spielberg and Kushner would like it to appear as though the Jews are doing exactly that in responding to the blatant act of terrorism in Munich, this is in fact far from the truth. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an entertainment reporter for Belief.net, in his assessment of the Spielberg picture clarifies on this issue, “The Talmud [a record of rabbinic discussions on Jewish law, ethics, customs, legends and stories] clearly establishes that one who comes to murder you must first be killed themselves. Those who have devoted their lives to killing innocent people have erased the image of God from their countenances and have therefore erased their right to life”. It is rather Christianity which advocates the concept of ‘turning the other cheek’ against your enemies and even then it does no such thing in suggesting that total submission be taken whenever a force seeks to commit harm against you or your loved ones.

The false Golda Meir, a woman who in her historical context was the Margaret Thatcher of the newly founded Jewish state, offers further words of wisdom. When an Israeli official questions how this action of retaliation against the Palestinians will corrupt efforts for peace in the region, she argues, “forget peace for now, we have to be strong”. Peace and strength, while distinctly different entities, are in no way incompatible with each other contrary to popular liberal mythology. Strength would hardly be an option had Al Gore been elected president when September 11th occurred, nor would there be peace. Terrorists, particularly al Qaeda, prey upon the indecisive, the timid, the weak and exploit peace deals and negotiation efforts to their utmost advantage as President Jimmy Carter can clearly vouch for. Any time in which Israel or the United States of America have flexed their muscles and stood up to those who seek to destroy our very way of life, only then have we gained the respect of the world. They may not like us for it, but we have garnered to respect.

In his screenplay Kushner then proceeds to scold Israel for the bombing of Palestinian ‘refugee camps’ in Syria and Lebanon four days following the Munich massacre which killed two-hundred people. And yet he fails to mention that two years earlier Jordan slaughtered ten-thousand Palestinians with the surviving refugees fleeing to the West Bank in Israel. This act was the true inspiration for the terrorist organization behind the Munich massacre, Black September.

The tragic events of the Munich massacre which took place on September 5th, 1972, are never shown in their entirety together. Rather they are spread throughout the two hour and twenty minute motion picture. Most distressing and disturbing of all, the actual slaughter of the nine remaining Israeli athletes in the midst of a failed rescue attempt by German authorities is spliced with scenes of Avner having sex with his wife. The actual climax of the massacre is Avner literally climaxing. It is here that Spielberg as a filmmaker makes his most egregious error. Rather then memorialize the unmitigated slaughter of these eleven Israeli athletes with a proper theatrical tribute he instead chooses to trivialize their deaths, shaping events to his liking so they suit his agenda. The separation of the actual massacre of the Israeli athletes from the beginning of the film drives home Spielberg’s point that ‘violence begets violence, blood begets blood’ and that the Munich massacre was merely a response to a response. Spielberg in his Judaist backpedaling fails to acknowledge what exactly the Palestinian kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes was in response to but, as with most leftist revisionist history, facts and the truth are merely an afterthought.

Furthermore, Spielberg in his depiction of historical events which soon followed the Munich massacre conspicuously leave out important details and significantly alter audience’s perceptions of the state of Israel. This includes the Arab nations at the Munich Olympics who refused to lower their flags to half-staff in light of the tragedy, essentially endorsing Black September and the terrorist attack which took place there. And let’s not forget the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to construct a permanent memorial to the eleven slain Israeli athletes out of fear of ‘offending’ those hostile to Israel. More importantly however Spielberg chooses to depict the response to the Munich massacre, in this case the assassination of eleven individuals in connection to Black September, as immediate and unrelenting when in fact it was never initialized until after October 29th, 1972, when Germany released the three surviving Black September kidnappers after a German jet carrying them was hijacked. The Germans suspiciously did this so that the three survivors would not face trial and implicate the German government, still reeling from fall out of the Holocaust during World War II, for the haphazard response.

Although it is Spielberg’s intention to place the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Team agents on the same moral footing as the Palestinian terrorists of Black September and the PLO, each group’s portrayal in the film is significantly different. Only one of the three targets the Mossad agents pursue is shown committing the loathsome acts of terrorism for which they are accused. Instead they are portrayed as either kindly old men or inoperative political activists with adorable children. The Mossad agents are not given such a luxury. They are seen basking in the deaths of those they target. They scrutinize over every dollar spent in pursuit of their objectives. And one agent’s tilted argument, “The only blood that matter to me is Jewish blood”, in response to another agent questioning the amount of collateral damage their bombs meant for their targets may cause shows them to be fideists. They are everything short of complete and utter monsters.

True, Spielberg falls short of portraying the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Team as total miscreations. For example, Avner and a fellow agent risk blowing their cover when they realize that a call received by the phone built with a remote detonator explosive placed in the target’s apartment has been answered by the target’s young daughter and alert their other team members waiting in a nearby car to abort the mission. In spite of evidence in the film to suggest that the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Team avoided as much collateral damage as physically possible, risking their lives just to confirm the identity of their target via matching photos with the suspects’ faces before they are killed, Spielberg in the end argues that these assassinations were all for naught. Since so few of the targets who were killed had direct links to the Munich massacre, though they were undoubtedly in some form or another associated with the PLO, the only contribution their deaths made was in the creation of more terrorists who were even worse then the ones Mossad eliminated in the first place. This is the same demented, twisted logic the rhetorical left uses in opposing U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their suggestion that going after terrorists for the slaughter of innocent civilians will only lead to more aggressive attacks on our own soil is laughably preposterous. They would rather have our head buried in the ground with our butts high in the air just waiting for the other shoe of Islamic fascism to come down on us rather then respond to it. Let’s get something straight here – killing terrorists does not create more terrorists. Did killing Nazis during World War II create more Nazis? Did arresting Klu Klux Klan members create more Klansmen? No, so why would it be any different in this situation? It is a tragically flawed logic; one sadly the radical left in this country seems intent on sticking to. In that case, let us no longer try and prevent murder, rape, underage sex, substance abuse, child molestation, or any crime whatsoever because apparently any effort we make to prevent such activities will only create more rapists, murderers, drug users, and terrorists, so it is best just to let it sort itself out.

This brings us to what is unquestionably the most insulting image in Munich. In the final scene of the film Avner, played by Troy’s Eric Bana, meets with Ephraim, his Mossad handler, in a park and tells him he can no longer return to Israel because it is not the moral haven it once was. As the two depart, the camera slowly pans over a 1970s New York City skyline and remains transfixed for a time on the haunting image of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. It does not take a genius to figure out what Spielberg and Kushner mean to suggest here. September 11th is our Munich. A response to a response – nothing more. They mean to suggest that the tragic deaths of both the eleven Israeli athletes in Munich and the nearly three thousand American citizens in NYC, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania were brought upon ourselves. Their lives should be honored, yes, but not in response against those who committed these acts of treachery. Heaven knows, why bother battling cancer if a cure has yet to be found. Better to succumb to despair and die with ‘dignity’ then fight to the bitter end and only make a dent in it. What honor is there in that? For those on the left who like the five year old children they mirror with their petty partisan squabbling who have yet to grasp the concept of sarcasm, everything!

My Rating: ** out of 5 (Grade: D+)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

LA Times Entertainment Reporter Says Jon Stewart Oscar Gig Could Be Disastrous

It was announced less then a week ago but the entertainment reporter for the Los Angeles Times is already predicting disaster for Jon Stewart as host of the 78th Annual Academy Awards this February. I’m with him on this one (I was right about Chris Rock – what a train-wreck), but we’ll have to see come Oscar night.

One-Sheet for American Dreamz

What's Coming Up on Lost?

Source: Comingsoon.net

E! Online's Kristin caught up with the stars of Lost to chat about what we can expect in upcoming episodes of ABC's Lost. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje says this Wednesday's new Eko-centric episode, "The 23rd Psalm," will show you a whole new side of the character.

"Eko has been pretty mysterious up until now, which I've loved playing, actually. Less is certainly more in my opinion, but you're about to get more," he says. "[We're] gonna unveil the mystery behind Mr. Eko. Episode 2.10, his flashback, reveals much of why he acts like he acts and basically where he comes from. Because he's quite a dynamic character, you're gonna get a lot more action and a lot more intrigue."

Prince Caspian is Moving Ahead

Source: Comingsoon.net

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has already earned $530 million worldwide -- nearly $70 million ahead of King Kong -- which is spurring plans for a sequel based on the next title, Prince Caspian.

Variety says Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media are currently working on a script and are expected to tap a director within a few weeks. Andrew Adamson directed the first film, but it's not confirmed he'll return for Prince Caspian.

The trade published a quote from Walden CEO Cary Granat, who said, "We're planning on starting production by the fourth quarter of next year." It's unclear when this interview took place. If it was before New Year's, "Prince Caspian" would start filming later this year. If not, Narnia fans have a long wait ahead of them.

24 Producers Plotting Feature Franchise

Source: Comingsoon.net

Entertainment Weekly's new cover story reveals that producers of Fox's 24 have begun plotting a film franchise for Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland's character in the hit series.

"It can be an amazing series of movies," Sutherland said. "One of the things I've experienced making this show is that an audience can handle a lot more than we thought when we started — the tension, the anxiety.... If we could [compress] all the energy we spread over 24 hours of programming and put that into 2, I think we'd knock your socks off."

The fifth season of 24 premieres with a two-day, four-hour event Sunday, Jan. 15 and Monday, Jan. 16 (8:00-10:00 PM). 24 will air original episodes – no repeats – every week for the rest of the season.

Hostel Brutalizes the Box Office

Source: Comingsoon.net

The first weekend of the New Year followed last year's tradition of a new horror movie bringing in the most business with Eli Roth's gory thriller Hostel taking a definite place in the box office's top slot with an estimated $20.1 million in less than 2,200 theatres, an average of $9,157 per theater. Produced for less than $5 million, it is Lionsgate's second horror film in a row to become immediately profitable, and presumably, it will become another franchise ala Saw, because Roth has said in interviews that he wouldn't be adverse to making a sequel. This was confirmed by the film's lead Jay Hernandez when he spoke to ComingSoon.net on Thursday. "Yeah, it's a possibility and people have mentioned it," Hernandez told us. "Like for me to come back in a 'Bourne Identity' sort of thing where you're trying to get back at the people who were involved, but who knows?"

Remaining in the top 2 for its fifth consecutive week, Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe fell 40% from the New Year holiday weekend, adding another $15.4 million to its total gross of $247 million. Dropping to third, Universal Pictures' remake of King Kong, directed by Peter Jackson, earned $12.5 million in its fourth weekend, widening the gap with Narnia after losing first place to it last week. The $208 million film has yet to earn back its production budget in North American theaters, although its current gross of $192 million points to it getting there by the end of next week's extended holiday weekend.

The Jim Carrey remake of Fun with Dick and Jane held up well, dropping a mere 26% with $12.2 million in its third weekend, while Steve Martin's comedy sequel Cheaper by the Dozen 2 also dropped down a notch to fourth with a third weekend take of $8.3 million, bringing its total gross to $66 million compared to Dick and Jane's $81.3 million.

Steven Spielberg's political thriller Munich expanded into just under 1,500 theatres, where it grossed roughly $7.5 million to move up to sixth place with its total reaching $25 million.

Remaining in seventh place for a second week, Sony Pictures' adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha, starring SAG nominee Ziyi Zhang, added another $6 million to its total, which is sitting just below $40 million.

Dropping down three places to #8 in its third weekend, the Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy Rumor Has It... grossed just under $5.9 million. The only Warner Bros. release in the Top 12 has grossed $35.3 million in three weeks.

With a number of guild nominations under its belt, Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain reentered the Top 10 at #9, after expanding into 483 theaters in its fifth week. The unconventional love story grossed an estimated $5.7 million, giving it the highest per-theater average in the Top 20. With a total gross of $22 million, its distributor, Focus Features, will likely continue to expand the film into more markets leading up to the Oscars in early March.

The Top 10 was rounded off by the first of three comedies from Fox, The Family Stone, which earned $4.6 million to bring its total to $53 million. Their indie subsidiary Fox Searchlight's The Ringer, starring Johnny Knoxville, made slightly less, dropping down three places to #11.

On Friday, Touchstone Pictures expanded Lasse Hallström's action-comedy Casanova nationwide into over 1,000 theaters, and it grossed $4 million in its third weekend to round out the Top 12.

With both returning comedies holding up well after the holidays, Fox's third comedy Grandma's Boy, produced by Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions, failed to find much of an audience, ending up just outside the Top 12 with $2.9 million, a dismal average of less than $1,500 per theater.

On the other hand, Woody Allen's thriller Match Point, which expanded into just over 300 theatres, earned $2.8 million, a more impressive theater average of $9,000. Its $3.8 million box office take in its first 12 days is more than Allen's last film for DreamWorks, Anything Else, grossed in its total theatrical run. Match Point is scheduled for a nationwide release on January 20.

And then there was Dr. Uwe Boll's latest BloodRayne, released by the new distributor Romar Releasing, who apparently sent about a thousand prints to theaters who didn't feel like wasting a screen on playing it. In a last minute turnaround, it ended up playing in only 985 theaters over the weekend, and it reported an estimated weekend gross of $1.2 million, a pathetic theater average of $1,244, which might not even be enough to get into the Top 20.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Dancers with Rolling Stones at Super Bowl Can't Be Over 45

I just found this to be a bit ironic.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Flight 93 Trailer Premieres

I am to say the least about it conflicted when it comes to the feature film adaptation of the heroic tragedy of Flight 93, the flight which fought back against the al Qaeda terrorists on September 11th, 2001, and crashed in a field in Pennsylvania destined for Washington DC. I see it as entirely hypocritical of Hollywood as a whole who go around berating the Bush Administration for the war against terrorism and for supposedly making a profit on oil from the blood of innocents when they themselves pump out as many September 11th/Iraq War projects as they possibly can without devoting a single cent of their ill beckon profits toward the families of the victims or charity services. On the other hand however I am proud to see these tragic events back in the limelight to demonstrate to Americans that we must truly ‘never forget’ what happen on that horrible day in 2001 and what we are continuing to fight for today.

This may or may not be the final trailer for the film adaptation of Flight 93 set for release in theatres April 2006. For me it seemed like a teaser trailer with little, if any, actual footage from the film, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one. In any instance, check it out now.

Jon Stewart Tapped to Host 78th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony

As if it were not apparent enough that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was desperate to attract viewers for their increasing declining Academy Awards presentation each year, they announced this morning that Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show will host the 78th Annual Academy Awards ceremony on ABC next month. I predict like their pathetic attempt last year to wrangle in younger viewers with ‘comedian’ Chris Rock this will back fire. The Daily Show, while substantially popular with young adults, has seen its ratings decline slowly over the last year. But who knows?

Disney Finds The Missing Link

Source: Comingsoon.net

Walt Disney Pictures has acquired The Missing Link, a pitch for a live-action comedy, to be written by Chicken Little screenwriters Ron Friedman and Steve Bencich.

Contrafilm's Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson will produce with Bryan Brucks.

Variety says the studio and producers are keeping the storyline of the family film under wraps.

Friedman and Bencich most recently sold the pitch The Treehouse to Warner Bros., and they are working on several projects for Sony Animation.