Wednesday, March 29, 2006

One-Sheet for United 93

Film Review - Rope

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, the first of what would eventually become four collaborative efforts with actor and close friend James Stewart, was based not only on a popular British play, Rope’s End (the re-titling given to the play when it came to Broadway after the release of the 1948 Hitchcock picture) by Patrick Hamilton, but an actual event as well. Hitchcock much like Hume Cronyn and Henry Traver’s characters in Shadow of a Doubt was quite the aficionado when it came to famous murder cases, using many he followed as a child in England as inspiration for some of his early works. It is no surprise then to see why Rope peeked his interest. Hamilton’s play was based on the murder trial of Nathan Freudenthal Leopold, Jr. and Richard A. Loeb, more commonly referred to as simply Leopold and Loeb, two wealthy and homosexual University of Chicago students who inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory of advanced ‘supermen’ sought to commit the perfect murder. Their victim, fourteen-year old Bobby Franks, was bludgeoned with a chisel, suffocated to death, burned with acid so as to make identification all the more difficult, and dumped in a sewage pipe. Avoiding a jury trial, the two ‘men’ were given ninety-nine years to life, though neither one served their full sentence (Loeb was killed in prison at age thirty-five and Leopold was paroled in 1958 and moved to Puerto Rico).

James Stewart was drafted into the United States Army Air Corps one year prior to the United States’ official entry into World War II, serving admirably in combat and rising to the rank of colonel. However, upon his return from war in the mid-1940s, he became increasingly disillusioned with Hollywood and was on the verge of quitting the movie business altogether. Stewart took up Hitchcock’s offer to play Rupert Cadell in his feature film adaptation of Rope if he was allowed to wave his salary for a percentage of the film’s box office gross. It was accepted.

Rope is a very short film, even by today’s standards, clocking in at one hour and twenty-five minutes. Therefore everything rides on the performances of the three main leads and Stewart for one does so with gusto. In the Patrick Hamilton play, Rupert in addition to being the boys’ former schoolmaster was also their one-time gay lover. It however makes more sense for Rupert to be played off as Brandon and Phillip’s surrogate father then their lover because as a surrogate father he must bear witness to the sadistic manipulation of his ideas and face the difficult task of admit to his own ‘sons’ that he was wrong in what he said. It is even more painful therefore for him to have to turn his ‘children’ into the authorities for something he taught them but never believed they would ever seriously consider. The final scene in which Stewart wrestles with himself over the gun is sheer brilliance. Does he shoot the gun out the window and alert the police, take justice into his own hands and kill the murderers himself, or in a fit of disparity turn the gun on himself? Chilling and intriguing to the bitter end, Stewart’s convincing performance truly makes this film the classic that it is.

John Dall is downright nefarious as Brandon Shaw, the ‘mastermind’ if you will behind this experimentation in Nietzsche’s ‘superman’ theory and how such men are above the moral limitations of their inferiors. It is to say the least a bit unnerving to see a sense of accomplishment, even distinct pleasure, come across his face after strangling young David to death and then proceeding to host a social get-together with the father and girlfriend of the victim in the same room as the trunk containing the victim’s corpse. Dall uses witty yet dry, dark humor throughout the film, a brutal honesty which is seriously unwarranted in areas, such as immediately following David’s death, but this rightfully falls in line with his character. This is a man whose obsession with playing God alienates everyone’s feelings but his own. His arrogance, his avid fixation on proving not to his former headmaster but to himself that he can get away with murder, proves to be his downfall.

Phillip Morgan, played eloquently by then-relatively unknown Farley Granger, is the precise opposite of Brandon Shaw in every way. While he does partake in the experiment of killing David Kentley just for the thrill of getting away with it, he’s dragged into more by Brandon and feels less of a desire or need to flaunt it in everyone’s faces. He just wants to dispose of the body and be done with it once and for all. This of course would be the smart way to do it. Whether because of a lack of courage or his unwillingness to upset his ‘relationship’ with Brandon, he doesn’t. This adds further tension to his already guilt racked conscience, something Brandon sincerely lacks, leading him to take up heavy drinking and chain smoking to ease his troubled mind. Sadly these serve as tell-tale signs for a genius like Rupert to pick up on that something is amiss.

While seen only for the first few brief seconds of the picture after the opening credits, his presence is felt nonetheless throughout the entire film. Similar to how Janet Leigh’s early demise in Psycho two decades later reverberated throughout the story, so does Hogan’s, though certainly less memorably. The presence of his ‘coffin’ in the middle of the room amidst the social get-together mirrors Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart for Phillip with the reemergence of the murder weapon, the rope with which David was strangled to death, adding only further burden to his guilt.

To this day Rope remains one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s most enduring and innovative motion picture drama. It stands as his first film to be filmed entirely in Technicolor. Although he would on occasion revert back to black-and-white in cases of budgetary constraints, Psycho the most likely famous example of this, as well as his nostalgia for artistic value, it showed once more he could adapt his art with the changing times as easily or better then anyone else in the field. With the exception of the opening credits, Rope is shot on one solitary set located within a soundstage, much as though you were watching a play performed on stage in front of you. Regardless of the confined space the performances occupy, the atmospheric tension is nothing short of electrifying all the way to the very end. In addition, Hitchcock creates the illusion, with some success, of one continuous shot. In reality, however, the one-hundred and eight minute motion picture was broken down into ten segments each ranging in length from four ½ minutes to just over ten minutes. It is rather obvious to audiences today that whenever a performer or a piece of furniture is moved in way of the camera so that it covers up the entire screen that it is Hitchcock’s way of covering up splits in the film segments. Nonetheless, it proved at least a reasonably effective film technique that he used once more in filming Under Capricorn for Transatlantic Pictures.

It is hard, then as it is today, not to pick up on the homosexual overtones of Rope. The closeness and quasi-intimacy Brandon and Phillip share together especially early on after they have killed David and stuffed his body inside the trunk suggest they are sharing a sexual liaison with one another. Brandon however can be viewed more as bi-sexual in nature as dialogue from him suggests that he had a short-lived relationship with David’s current girlfriend and soon to be fiancée, Janet Walker. In an ironic bit of taste, director Alfred Hitchcock cast John Dall and Farley Granger, both homosexuals, to play the roles of two gay students. Original choices were Cary Grant, long rumored to be bi-sexual, as Rupert and Montgomery Clift who after accepting the role backed out of the picture out of fear of being exposed as a homosexual. It is unknown whether James Stewart who replaced Grant as Rupert knew of the homoerotic overtones of his character or the film in general. However, any suggestion that Rupert is a homosexual is lost in Stewart’s performance. In addition, screenwriter Arthur Laurents was gay and in his published memoirs admitted to having a sexual relationship with actor Farley Granger. Much of the homoerotic dialogue and choreography of Patrick Hamilton’s original play were cut from the final print of the film but Hitchcock however was able to keep the suggestion in the minds of audiences with the memories of Leopold and Loeb still fresh in their minds.

My Rating: **** ½ out of 5 (Grade: A)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ahhh ... That New Movie Smell

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

One-Sheet for Mission: Impossible III

ABC's 'Boston Legal' Airs Anti-Bush Tirade

David E. Kelly’s spin-off legal drama, Boston Legal (which, surprisingly *cough, cough*, is not doing at all well in the ratings, having already been preemptively pulled at least once), has taken another swipe at the war against terrorism and the Fox News Network, using a storyline about a woman refusing to pay her income taxes because her grandfather would be ‘embarrassed’ by ‘what’s happening today’. James Spader’s character uses a litany of misdeeds the current administration is accused of and compares it to the era of Senator Joseph McCarthy (who, by the way, was right about communists infiltrating the federal government). Kelly needs to take a short walk off a cliff. He’s a has been, not that he could ever come up with something original or innovative to begin with.

Polygamy, the Next 'Civil Rights' Issue?

Has Bill Paxton’s new HBO drama series Big Love touched upon a burgeoning political issue, that polygamy is the next ‘civil rights’ issue? I doubt it. It seems as though the TODAY Show is just blowing smoke (again – they earlier did a report on a man fighting for women to have the right to walk around topless), but then what else is new?

Film Review - Shadow of a Doubt

Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, a film celebrated as one of his best motion picture projects made in America, had its origins in the killing spree of the true ‘Merry Widow’ murderer Earle Leonard Nelson. Nelson murdered twenty people, including an eight-month old child, in just a year and a half before he was captured in Canada and hanged for his crimes.

Having made himself a household name with his career defining performance in Orson Welles’s celebrated motion picture drama Citizen Kane, Joseph Cotton was just the marquee lead actor Alfred Hitchcock needed to fill the role of Uncle Charlie, a man who hides a dark secret. He is a cunning and manipulative individual, whose near-fatal bicycle accident as a child left with a permanent mental scar, viewing the world with hostility and fear. One can even go so far as to suggest that Uncle Charlie is the American equivalent of Satan, Prince of Darkness. After attending Church, the young Charlie is confronted outside by her uncle, “How was church, Charlie? Count the house? Turn anybody away?” “No,” she exclaims, “room enough for everyone”. “I’m glad hear that,” he retorts, “Show’s been running such a long time, I thought maybe attendance might be falling off”. Regardless of the ‘twin-ship’ they share together, the opposing sides of the two Charlies can be seen clearly in this regard.

The balance between good and evil is a prime subject of Shadow of a Doubt, exemplified through the director's perpetual use of pairs - the two Charlies, the two detectives, the two 'questionnaire' men, the two church scenes, the two garage scenes, the two train sequences (as Uncle Charlie arrives in Santa Rosa and then departs), the two attempts on young Charlie's life, the two murder suspects, and, most cleverly of all, the 'Til Two Bar.

Hume Cronyn made his motion picture debut as the collective mother’s boy Herbie Hawkins in Shadow of a Doubt. Additionally the film sparked a lasting friendship and partnership with director Alfred Hitchcock who brought him aboard future projects including Lifeboat, Suspense (a 1950s television program Hitchcock was requested to help put together), and Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well as requesting his assistance in contributing to the scripts of Rope and Under Capricorn. Henry Travers is best remembered today as Jimmy Stewart’s guardian angel Clarence in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Neither one contributes much in the way of advancing the storyline but they do provide some dark yet still light-hearted humor to the script. Bored with the melancholy of small town American life, they banter about how one might be able to commit the perfect murder, each coming up with more diabolical ways to one-up the other. Herbie is preoccupied with setting a detective novel (leaving clues and the like so as to write a book about his exploits) while Joseph is more obsessed with getting away with murder then producing a book about it. This of course is all the more perfectly ironic given that there is an actual murderer in their midst and they are too absorbed with their ‘game’ that they are too ‘blind’ to see Uncle Charlie for who he really is - the Merry Widow Murderer.

Although it is a shame, a near travesty really, that Shadow of a Doubt should be nominated for an Academy Award in one solitary category, it was at least selected for the category it deserved the most recognition in, Best Original Screenplay. By the time principle photography began on Shadow of a Doubt in 1942 nearly six or seven individual writers had contributed to its screenplay (only four were credited onscreen). Among them were Alma Reville (Hitchcock’s wife), Sally Benson (whose later contributions would include Meet Me in St. Louis and Anna and the King of Siam), Gordon McDonell (who came originally came up with the story), and, most famously, Thorton Wilder, playwright of Our Town. Wilder’s contributions to the script were arguably the most significant, solidifying the basic superstructure of the storyline which exposed the almost seedy underbelly of this small New England town, a dark side to Grover’s Corners if you will.

Surprisingly Alfred Hithcock’s Shadow of a Doubt delves into a few unconventional issues. Among them, one often overlooked by modern audiences (a perplexity given that it would have been more noticeable to audiences today then it was back when it was first released), is the incestuous relationship between Uncle Charlie and his young teenage niece who is named after him. Sadly the overwhelming presence of the Hays Office during this time eliminated any prospect other then merely suggesting such a sexually fueled kinship but it is enough to make anyone a bit unnerved, more so when Uncle Charlie’s dark ‘secret’ is finally exposed. The scene in which Uncle Charlie gives young Charlie a gift, an emerald ring, despite his niece’s objections to being given anything other then his presence at their home, in the privacy of the kitchen is the most evident example of this. This of course means to suggest that two have been betrothed (a suggestion reaffirmed by young Charlie’s kid sister who in response to hearing young Charlie hum the ‘Merry Widow Waltz’ to herself, “Sing at the table and you'll marry a crazy husband”), something which makes the scene in which Uncle Charlie attempts to kill his young niece (the broken stairs, the running car in the garage, and attempting to throw her off a fast-moving train) all the more poignant. In addition, Shadow of a Doubt confronts issues of superstition, among them mental telepathy (young Charlie knowing exactly when Uncle Charlie was coming to visit them in Santa Rosa, California) and bad luck (Joseph’s warning to Uncle Charlie not to toss his hat on young Charlie’s bed and the green emerald – a sign of bad luck – Uncle Charlie gives to his niece).

Shadow of a Doubt is one of the select few Hitchcock productions in the time leading up to and after the United States’ entry into World War II that he chose not comment, allusively or directly, to the political goings on of the world, although one scene can suggestively be interpreted as making a pointed commentary. Specifically in one scene Uncle Charlie teases Joseph, the young Charlie’s father, about working in the bank saying, “Can you stop embezzling a minute and give me your attention? What’s a little shortage in the books at the end of the month? Any good bank clerk can cover up a little shortage, isn’t that right, Charlie? We all know what banks are. They look all right to an outsider, but no one knows what goes on when the doors are lock”. This is exactly the sort of material that would have been ripe for censorship during the Hollywood Blacklisting. While director Alfred Hitchcock was concentrated during the 1940s on picking out the evils of Nazism and fascism in Europe, it would be much later in the 1950s when he tackled the political implications of Communism. This could very well be the first instance of this.

Shadow of a Doubt not only stands as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s definitive best, but in general in represents solid filmmaking, plain and simple. Carefully orchestrated, leaving no detail untouched, it has intrigue, mystery, dark humor, brilliant performances, and a good ol’ slice of hometown Americana which makes it simply irresistible.

My Rating: **** ½ out of 5 (Grade: A-)

Brand NEW Da Vinci Code Trailer

So Dark The Con of Man – As much as I object to the historical inaccuracies of The Da Vinci Code, I must admit that I am looking forward to the Ron Howard feature film adaptation. I may be in London, England, when it premieres but I will definitely catch when I have the time. Be sure to check out the brand-spanking new trailer for the film which opens May 19th, 2006, in the United States.

Title & Plot for the Third Shrek


DreamWorks Animation has given the third "Shrek" installment a title - Shrek the Third. The anticipated animated-comedy hits theaters on May 18, 2007.

Shrek the Third finds Shrek and Fiona reluctantly reigning over Far, Far Away. But if they can find the heir to the throne and bring him back, they can return to their swamp. While Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots are in search of the heir, Fiona holds off a coup d'etat by Prince Charming.

The film is voiced by Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and Justin Timberlake.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Film Review - Rebecca

It is hard to imagine that the only film from director Alfred Hitchcock’s comprehensive filmography to receive an Academy Award for Best Picture was the one project with the least ‘Hitchcockian’ mannerisms for which he is world renowned for today, but it’s true. Truth be told, Rebecca, based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier, was more of a David O. Selznick production then your typical Alfred Hitchcock picture. Selznick was in charge of the highly expensive adaptation of the now-classic Civil War period piece, Gone with the Wind, starring Cary Grant and Vivien Leigh, and while this production preoccupied a vast majority of his time, he was still able to keep Hitchcock on a tight leash. For the British director who up to this point had never directed a film in America before, he had little influence on the direction in which the picture was going and he reluctantly obliged with the producer’s demands. And while Rebecca went on to win for Best Picture of 1940, Hitchcock himself lost out in the Best Director category to John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath. He would be nominated four more times in his career but would never lay claim to the coveted golden statuette. Hitchcock affirmed in later interviews what many had come to accept, ‘he’ never won an Academy Award, Rebecca included.

Laurence Olivier provides a dry wit to the lead character, George Fortescu Maximillian de Winter (Maxim for short), in much the same light as he did for Wuthering Heights one year earlier. There unquestionably is sexual chemistry between him and Joan Fontaine, this in spite of his objections to her being cast opposite him (he really wanted Vivien Leigh for the role). For the most part Maxim is seen as a rather placid figure but it is the twist near the end, the revelation of the infamous Rebecca’s true demise, which truly elevates the audience’s absorption of the character to a whole new level.

Joan Fontaine is simply remarkable as the timidly apprehensive Second Mrs. de Winter (as with the novel the feature film adaptation is based on her character is never named). It may however come as a surprise to some that not only was Fontaine not the initial choice of either DOS or director Alfred Hitchcock but she also never placed on the short list of actresses considered for the role. In fact it was quite a stroke of luck that Hitchcock met Fontaine at a Hollywood dinner party shortly before production on Rebecca was set to begin and thought she would be perfect for the part. Originally when Olivier was cast as Maxim de Winter, he insisted that Vivien Leigh be cast opposite him in the film. At the time Rebecca went into production he had been romantically linked to the sexy starlet of Gone with the Wind, news that caused quite a scandal in Hollywood because both stars were married to other people. Nonetheless, her screen test with the director went so badly (not even executives at DOS who were incessant that she remain pre-occupied with another film project while Gone with the Wind went through a lengthy post-production were impressed) she was turned down for the role.

Good thing too. Leigh as a woman is too confident and independent with herself for an audience viewing Rebecca to take seriously in the role of an innocent, naïve young woman thrown head first into a strange new world in which she is caught way over her head and yet is too headstrong in love to turn back and admit defeat. The parting remarks of the corpulent Mrs. Van Hopper, Fontaine’s repulsive former employer, reinforce the idea that she will never look back least she face humiliation. In this way the audience identifies with her. We are embarrassed for her, not by her, when things go tragically wrong just as when they appear to be looking up. She is shy and quiet yet filled with such a burst of energy as to be accepted by her new social peers that you can’t help but root for her.

Judith Anderson gives a frighteningly enveloping performance as Mrs. Danvers, the head maid of Manderly who as the story reveals shared an unusually confidential relationship with the late-Rebecca. While in the end the Hays office whose production code restrictively governed how motion pictures were produced (and people complain about the censorship of the MPAA today) eliminated any direct reference to (as director Alfred Hitchcock put it) Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca’s intimately proto-sexual bond – in other words, that they were lesbians – was eliminated from the final print, Hitchcock was not one to let such restrictions ties down his artistic vision. There are enough allusions in the film, including Mrs. Danvers’s line that Rebecca’s underwear was handmade by cloistered nuns (a moment of particular enjoyment for anyone in on the inside joke), to create the suggestion that the two were indeed lesbians in the minds of the audience without having to directly say it. As for Anderson herself, she gives a remarkable intimate performance, surprising given that this was only the second film role of her career (the first belong to the 1933 gangster film, Blood Money). The final climatic sequence in which Mrs. Danvers is engulfed in the flames that have ravished Manderly, one of the more memorable scenes in Rebecca, is truly a highlight of her career.

Unlike any other Alfred Hitchcock production, before or since, Rebecca is respectively dialogue driven. This was of course a stipulate demand of producer David O. Selznick. Some how Hitchcock makes it work. While it is arguably slow to start off with, it becomes more tolerable, even gratifying, as the story progresses over the course of its two hour plus running time. This said however there are unmistakably specific lines of dialogue which don’t translate well from their literary source to the big screen. For example, when Maxim de Winter says to The Second Mrs. de Winter while holding her in a powerful embrace, “I want to make violent love to you behind a palm tree”, it just comes off as ungainly. Common sense would dictate that it would be ‘under’ not ‘behind’ a palm tree and even if it were meant to be ‘behind’ it doesn’t make sense because there is no cover at all behind a palm tree. It’s a stick in the ground, nothing more. And finally, why ‘violent love’? Shouldn’t it be ‘passionate’? Whatever the grievances against this particular line of dialogue, clearly it doesn’t fit within the context of the film.

There is on the other hand one scene in particular, easily the most ‘Hitchcockian’ in the entire film, that works better on film then it ever would have simply on paper. It is the scene in which having just yelled at his second wife for covering up the small statue she broke earlier responds to her question of whether he is happy with her or not by saying, “Happiness is something I know nothing about”. He then turns and says to her, “Oh, look … there’s the one where I left the camera running on the tripod, remember?” as home movies from their honeymoon project onto a screen before their eyes. Vibrantly brilliant.

Sure, Rebecca is flawed, probably more so then any other early Hitchcock project (with the only exceptions being Murder! and possibly The Ring), and it is agonizingly long (two hours plus), but surprisingly when you reach the end you’ll be more satisfied with it then you were an hour into it, guaranteed. This is not to say you’ll run right out and purchase the DVD, but it will be a more tolerable experience if you suffer through the first hour and give it a chance.

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

Sunday, March 19, 2006

V For Victory at the Box Office


Warner Bros. Pictures' graphic novel adaptation V For Vendetta, starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, topped the weekend box office with an estimated $26.1 million from 3,365 theaters. The action-thriller averaged a strong $7,766 per theater. The film, which is also playing in IMAX theaters, was adapted by Andy and Larry Wachowski, creators of "The Matrix" franchise, and directed by James McTeigue.

Last week's champ, Paramount's Failure to Launch, dropped to second and a respectable 35.2% in ticket sales for another $15.8 million. The $50 million-budgeted romantic comedy, starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, has earned a total of $48.5 million in two weeks.

Disney's The Shaggy Dog remake, with Tim Allen, came in at number three in its second week. The comedy made $13.6 million and has collected $35.9 million so far.

Amanda Bynes' new romantic comedy She's the Man, released by Paramount's DreamWorks in 2,623 theaters, took the fourth spot with $11 million, in line with the studio's expectations.

Horror-thriller remake The Hills Have Eyes rounded out the top five, adding $8.1 million in its second weekend for a total of $28.8 million. The Fox Searchlight release was budgeted at about $15 million.

In limited release, Vin Diesel dramedy Find Me Guilty earned an unimpressive $628,00 from 439 theaters, for an average of just $1,430. On the other hand, Aaron Eckhart-starrer Thank You for Smoking debuted strong in just five theaters, making $260,000 for the three days.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

One-Sheet for Disney/Pixar's Cars

Monday, March 13, 2006

NEW Cars Trailer

The full-length trailer for Disney and Pixar’s latest collaborative effort, Cars, is now online for your viewing pleasure.

ShoWest Posters - The Da Vinci Code and United 93

Source: Latino Review

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Failure to Launch? I Don't Think So!


All last week, the jokes were flying endlessly about the title of Paramount Pictures' new romantic comedy Failure to Launch, starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker. Many critics and analysts claimed that the title may as well be a self-fulfilling prophecy for the film's success. Whomever came up with that title is indeed getting the last laugh today, as the movie took an easy victory at the box office, claiming the #1 spot from Madea's Family Reunion with an estimated opening gross of $24.6 million, an impressive per-theatre average of over $8 thousand in upwards of 3,000 theatres. Proving that there was an audience eagerly awaiting a strong romantic comedy, the movie make almost a million more its opening weekend than McConaughey's previous rom-com hit How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days made three years ago. That movie went onto make over $100 million.

The original comedy was joined this weekend by two very different remakes fighting it out for second place. According to estimates, Disney's The Shaggy Dog, starring Tim Allen as a man who changes into a dog, eeked out the victory with an opening weekend take of roughly $16 million in over 3,500 theatres.

The Wes Craven produced remake of his own 1977 horror film, The Hills Have Eyes, this time directed by Alexandre Aja, was off to a good start on Friday, but dropped back over the weekend to a respectable opening of $15.5 million in 900 fewer theatres than The Shaggy Dog.

Dropping down to fourth place, the Warner Bros. thriller 16 Blocks, starring Bruce Willis and Mos Def, had the smallest second weekend decline of the movies opening last week, and it stayed perched above the other returning movies with $7.3 million, bringing its gross to $22.7 million.

Having passed the total gross of Tyler Perry's previous film over the weekend, Madea's Family Reunion took another 54% drop and ended up at #5 with $5.8 million and a cumulative gross of $55.7 million.

Disney's other dog movie, Eight Below, lost some of its family business to The Shaggy Dog, but still earned another $5.4 million over the weekend. So far, it has grossed $66.4 million in four weeks, and is currently the third highest grossing film to open in 2006.

Last week's other new films took sharp drops with 20th Century Fox's teen comedy Aquamarine pulling slightly ahead of Kurt Wimmer sci-fi-action film Ultraviolet, starring Milla Jovovich, in their second weeks. The former made $3.65 million in its second weekend, while the latter took in $3.6 million, putting it neck and neck with Sony's hit comedy remake The Pink Panther for eighth place. Starring Steve Martin as Inspector Clouseau, the latter has grossed more money than any other movie opening in 2006 after just five weeks.

20th Century Fox's romantic comedy spoof Date Movie held onto the Top 10 with $2.5 million, bringing its box office gross to $44.2 million. Having doubled its production budget, one can probably expect the inevitable Date Movie 2 to spoof Failure to Launch.

After a brief Oscar run in 2005, the long delayed period drama The Libertine, starring Johnny Depp, finally received a national roll-out into just 815 theatres where it made an unimpressive $2.2 million.

Surprisingly, the sharpest decline from last weekend was suffered by the concert film, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, which took a 68% drop in its second weekend, despite strong reviews before opening. Apparently, Chappelle's many fans were expecting something different from his comeback. It made less than $2 million this weekend, to bring its total to $9.6 million, but it dropped down to the bottom of the Top 12.

After losing the Best Picture Oscar to Crash last Sunday, Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain took a 49% tumble after losing 395 theatres. Still, it has grossed over $81 million, significantly more than the controversial Oscar victor.

Opening in limited release, the erotic drama Ask the Dust, starring Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek, made roughly $72 thousand in 7 theatres, while the Alfonso Cuaron sheperded Mexican comedy Duck Season made roughly a third that amount in 6 theatres.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Is This Someone's Idea of a Sick Joke?! Because It's Not Funny

Davy Jones Standee

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Bunnies Are At It Again ... So to Speak

A parody of Brokeback Mountain (with bunnies) in thirty seconds or less.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Capt. Jack Sparrow Standee

Teaser One-Sheet for The Ant Bully

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

X3 Trailer Premieres

I am still a bit weary about director Brett Ratner taking over the reins of the X-Men film franchise, but at least the brand new trailer which premiered last night during the two-hour broadcast of 24 can assure us for a little while.

One-Sheet for Lucky Number Slevin

Monday, March 06, 2006

Clooney: Proud to be Out of Touch

While I admit that given the circumstances it could have been a lot worse. The Academy Awards were for the most part an uneventful, apolitical presentation. The only exception was George Clooney’s pompous and self-serving acceptance speech when he received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the ‘blood-for-oil’ drama, Syriana. Just goes to show that pretty boy George is full of hot-air.

Here is an excerpt from his acceptance speech …
And finally, I would say that, you know, we are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while, I think. It’s probably a good thing. Uhm, we’re the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered. And we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular. And we, uh, you know, we bring up subjects…we are the ones…this Academy, this group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I’m proud to be a part of this Academy. I’m proud to be part of this community. I’m proud to be out of touch.

Yep, all hail Hollywood. If it weren’t for them, blacks would still be getting the short end of the stick in movie industry and Africa would still be inflicted by AIDS. Oh, wait! Africa is still afflicted by AIDS. But at least they’ve alerted the world to the problem. This affliction could be eliminated altogether if the celebrities would amass their egregious fortunes, but why do that? That would be too self-sacrificing. Let others less wealthy shoulder the burden. Additionally, wasn’t the NAACP biting at the bit just a short few years ago about the black community, especially women, being underrepresented by the Academy? Is that not why Halle Berry was selected as the token recipient of the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Monster’s Ball? Yeah, Hollywood solves all our problems.

More on the 78th Annual Academy Awards

It seems as though things continue to spiral out of control for the Academy Awards, going from bad to worse to just plain ugly. This year’s presentation was the lowest rated ceremony presentation since 1987 – and that’s with the ‘popular’ Jon Stewart as host. Perhaps if the element of suspense had been injected into the award ceremony then maybe more people would watch. There has not been a surprise at the Oscars – and I mean a big one – for quite some time. The last one I can seriously recall is Saving Private Ryan losing out for Best Picture to Shakespeare in Love. Brokeback Mountain losing to Crash is not a surprise, at least for me it wasn’t. I am more in the know about what is going on in Hollywood then the average person, so it may have been a shock to the rest of America but they could have cared less. Another element that has contributed to America’s lack of interest in the Academy Awards is the politics. Jon Stewart took note of it last evening during his monologue spiel, but I doubt anyone in the audience took him seriously (Nice try Jon). Ever since George W. Bush became president of the United States (and even before then, though less noticeably), the Academy Awards have become a quintessential Democratic National Convention. People who are apolitical don’t want to be harped on about the ‘evils’ of Republicanism or George W. Bush by know-all celebrities who believe they represent mainstream America. I’ll give credit to the Academy for not preaching the liberal choir this time around (a surprise given that four out of the five nominees were political commentaries on modern American society and foreign policy), but the past few years with celebrities promoting John Kerry here and there throughout 2004 and then proceeding to act like sore losers when Bush got reelected has come back to haunt them, or at least the Academy.

Additionally, it seems that Johnny Carson and Billy Crystal set the bar too high. Jon Stewart has drawn early mixed reviews which put him slightly behind Chris Rock, Steve Martin, and Whoopi Goldberg in a long line of mediocre hosts for the awards presentation.

Complete List of Winners of the 78th Annual Academy Awards

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Aronofsky Not Directing a Lost Episode


In October, it was announced that Darren Aronofsky, director of Requiem for a Dream and upcoming The Fountain, had signed on to direct an episode of ABC's Lost, which would have likely aired at the beginning of May sweeps.

The magazine now says that Aronofsky has respectfully bowed out of helming one of the current season's remaining episodes due to scheduling conflicts. "The timing didn't work out," Aronofsky says. "I'm expecting a child" (with Oscar nominee Rachel Weisz.)

The director is also prepping a new movie called Flicker, an adaptation of the cult novel.

Madea "Blocks" Willis and Chappelle


Contrary to the old adage, the March box office entered like a tame little lamb with the worst showing for the first weekend in March in over five years.

Despite its staggering 56% drop from its impressive opening weekend, Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion remained in the #1 spot at the box office with a second weekend take of an estimated $13 million. That would make it the lowest grossing #1 movie of the year so far, edging Disney's Glory Road, which opened slightly higher in January, out of that "honor." It is also the lowest grossing #1 movie since last October's The Fog.

The highest grossing new movie was the Bruce Willis action-drama 16 Blocks, directed by Richard Donner, which made $11.6 million its opening weekend in 2,706 theatres. The Warner Bros. film made only slightly more than Willis' 2005 offering Hostage, which opened in 600 fewer theatres.

Disney's adventure movie Eight Below continued its successful run, dropping down to 3rd place with an estimated weekend gross of $10.3 million, which brings its total box office to $58.7 million.

The top 5 was rounded out by a duo of colorful new movies, Screen Gems' sci-fi action flick Ultraviolet, starring Milla Jovovich, and 20th Century Fox's Aquamarine, starring pop singer Jo Jo, both opening in roughly 2,500 theatres. The former grossed $9 million in its inaugural weekend, an average of $3,518 per theatre, while the latter took in $7.5 million. Neither movie was screened for critics.

The remake of The Pink Panther, starring Steve Martin, continued to do decent business despite dropping down to 6th place. Its fourth weekend take of $7 million brought its grand total to just over $69 million, putting it just ahead of Martin Lawrence's Big Momma's House 2 as the highest grossing movie to open in 2006.

Opening in just 1,200 theatres, Dave Chappelle's Block Party, a concert documentary filmed before his recent walkout from the third season of his popular Comedy Central show, made $6.5 million over the weekend, and though it didn't do nearly as well as most expected, it had the highest per-theatre average for a new movie in wide release.

The rest of the Top 10 consisted of returning movies like the Fox rom-com satire Date Movie with $5.1 million, Universal's animated film Curious George with $4.4 million, and Harrison Ford's Firewall,which took in $3.2 million in its fourth weekend. Final Destination 3 was knocked out of the Top 10 with its own weekend take of $3.2 million, although it has grossed the most of the four movies with $49.7 million total, just ahead of Curious George.

Going into the Oscar weekend, Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, which won two Independent Spirit Awards last night, moved back into the Top 12 with an estimated weekend gross of $2.5 million, bringing its grand pre-Oscar total to $78.9 million.

Last week's other two new movies, Doogal and Running Scared, were both bumped out of the Top 12 after disappointing openings.

In addition, Warner Bros. released their big screen documentary Deep Sea 3D, narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, onto 43 IMAX screens on Friday where it earned $713 thousand, a respectable average of $16.5 thousand per theatre.

Another Oscar nominated foreign film opened in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, as the French film Joyeux Noel brought in $50 thousand in 6 theatres, less than the Oscar favorite Tsotsi in its own opening weekend last week.

Oscar Predictions

Best Picture – Brokeback Mountain

[As much as I want Capote to win, it doesn’t stand a chance against the two main contenders – Brokeback Mountain and Crash. Crash could very well be the upset pick of the evening, so it would not surprise me if it stole the award away from Brokeback this evening]

Best Actor – Philip Seymour Hoffman

[Definitely deserves it. Joaquin Phoenix would have had a clear shot at it any other year, but I doubt he stands a chance this time around. Too bad]

Best Supporting Actor – George Clooney

[As much as it pains me to select him, the Academy will more then likely award his contribution to both Good Night and Good Luck and Syriana]

Best Actress – Reese Witherspoon

[If Walk the Line had been nominated for Best Picture, it would be a guarantee for her. Sadly, Felicity Huffman may present some competition for her, though I am sure she will be come out the winner in this contest]

Best Supporting Actress – Amy Adams

[The dark horse category, Amy Adams and her little seen independent film, Junebug, will likely be recognized in this category]

Best Director – Ang Lee

[Personally I believe Bennett Miller should win since Capote was his directorial debut, but if Brokeback Mountain has a clear shot at Best Picture then more then likely they will give the award to Ang Lee for Best Director]

Best Foreign Film – Paradise Now

[Regardless of the objections of Israelis affected by the devastating attacks of these suicide bombs, the Academy – not to mention the press who are voting for it – is clearly left-wing biased, so they will more then likely choose to recognize this terrorist propaganda piece. My, how the mighty have fallen]

Best Adapted Screenplay – Dan Futterman for Capote

Best Original Screenplay – George Clooney and Grant Heslov for Good Night and Good Luck

Best Animated Feature – Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Best Art Direction – King Kong

Best Cinematography – Brokeback Mountain

Best Sound Mixing – King Kong

Best Sound Editing – King Kong

Best Original Score – Munich

Best Song – “In the Deep” for Crash

Best Costume – Pride and Prejudice

Best Documentary – March of the Penguins

Best Documentary (Short Subject) – God Sleeps in Rwanda

Best Film Editing – Cinderella Man

Best Makeup – Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

Best Animated Short – ?

Best Live-Action Short Film – ?

Best Visual Effects – King Kong

Razzie Award Winners Announced

The evening before the 78th Annual Academy Awards ceremony is set to take place on the ABC television network, winners of the coveted Razzie Awards, a ‘celebration’ of sorts of the worst films Hollywood had to offer this past year, have been announced and it seems Jenny McCarthy’s Dirty Love came out as the big loser.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

One-Sheet for Ice Age: The Meltdown

One-Sheet for Slither

One-Sheet for RV