Friday, February 26, 2010

Want A Studio Ghibli Prize Pack That Includes Ponyo?

CONTEST IS OVER! IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN E-MAILED, THEN YOU WERE TOO LATE! SORRY!

Disney and Buena Vista Home Entertainment have hooked up MGF with four Studio Ghibli prize packs to give away to our faithful readers! The package includes Ponyo (with a copy of the Blu-ray and DVD), My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Castle in the Sky. There's only two catches. You have to answer the following trivia question and email it to moviegeekfeed@ymail.com. We'll do a drawing from the correct answers we get. Then, if you win, you have to come pick it up from us at the Alice in Wonderland screening on Thursday night at Webb Chapel Cinemark 17. Hint for question - Wikipedia. Here's the question:

What was the name of the first anime series director Hayao Miyazaki worked on in 1971 to 1972?

Ponyo:
Welcome to a world where anything is possible! Academy Award® winning director Hayao Miyazaki (2002, Best Animated Feature, Spirited Away) and legendary filmmaker John Lasseter together with Disney bring to life a heartwarming and imaginative telling of Hans Christian Andersen s classic fairy tale The Little Mermaid. A young boy named Sosuke rescues a goldfish named Ponyo, and they embark on a fantastic journey of friendship and discovery before Ponyo s father, a powerful sorcerer, forces her to return to her home in the sea. But Ponyo s desire to be human upsets the delicate balance of nature and triggers a gigantic storm. Only Ponyo s mother, a beautiful sea goddess, can restore nature s balance and make Ponyo s dreams come true. Ponyo will delight your family with its magnificent animation and timeless story.

My Neighbor Totoro:
Visionary and Academy Award–winning director Hayao Miyazaki (2002, Best Animated Feature, Spirited Away) has created a heartwarming, music-filled, and wonderful world in My Neighbor Totoro, a delightfully animated family adventure. And now, exclusively in this special edition DVD, never-before-seen bonus features reveal even more of Totoro’s fantastic world! Follow the adventures of Satsuki and her four-year-old sister Mei when they move into a new home in the countryside. To their delight, they discover that their new neighbor is a mysterious forest spirit called Totoro—who can be seen only through the eyes of a child. Totoro introduces them to extraordinary characters—including a cat that doubles as a bus!—and takes them on an incredible journey. Bring home My Neighbor Totoro from Studio Ghibli and Disney for your family’s DVD library and experience the timeless classic film Roger Ebert calls “one of the very few that come along that are magical for all ages.”

Kiki’s Delivery Service:
Discover Kiki’s Delivery Service, a fantastic coming-of-age tale full of magic, adventure, and self-discovery from the sensational imagination of Academy Award–winning director Hayao Miyazaki (2002, Best Animated Feature, Spirited Away). And now you can explore even more of Kiki’s amazing world through never-before-seen bonus features—exclusively in this special edition DVD! Kiki is an enterprising young girl who must follow tradition to become a full-fledged witch. Venturing out with only her chatty black cat, Jiji, Kiki flies off for the adventure of a lifetime. Landing in a far-off city, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world. Bring home Kiki’s Delivery Service from Studio Ghibli and Disney for your family’s DVD library and share Kiki’s high-flying adventure again and again.

Castle in the Sky:
Introduce your entire family to Castle In The Sky, featuring a timeless story of courage and friendship with stunning animation from acclaimed Academy Award–winning director Hayao Miyazaki (2002, Best Animated Feature, Spirited Away). Plus, this special edition DVD includes never-before-seen bonus features that transport you deeper into the film’s amazing world! This high-flying adventure begins when Pazu, an engineer’s apprentice, finds a young girl, Sheeta, floating down from the sky, wearing a glowing pendant. Together, they discover both are searching for a legendary floating castle, Laputa, and vow to unravel the mystery of the luminous crystal around Sheeta’s neck. Their quest won’t be easy, however. There are greedy air pirates, secret government agents, and astounding obstacles to keep them from the truth—and from each other. Add Castle In The Sky to your DVD library, and this magical and uplifting classic from Studio Ghibli and Disney will thrill and amaze your family for years to come.

MGF Finds Some Health Care We Can Live With!


Horror Remix made its way back into the DFW area on February 10th. This time around, the theme was Health Care. Each film either took place in a hospital or had a doctor involved, most of the time as a murder suspect. It featured Horror Remix's trademark editing for Visiting Hours, Hospital Massacre (aka X-ray), and The Last Slumber Party. Each of these films was whittled down from their original running times of 90 to 100 minutes to 35 or 45 minutes.

The screening started out a bit roughly this time around, as there were some technical difficulties that made the HR team have to restart the film about 15 minutes into it. After they got that fixed, there was some kind of audio bleed-over they had to take care of. It was obviously a problem with the digital projector and not HR's fault. Some of the crowd started whining and complaining, which to me seemed ridiculous seeing that this was a free event. They even made up for it later by giving away free movie passes.

The first film to get the HR treatment was 1982's Visiting Hours. In the movie, "Deborah Ballin is a controversial middle-aged TV journalist, who is campaigning on air on behalf of a battered woman who murdered her abusive husband, claiming justifiable defense against the so-called victim. But her outspoken views championing women's rights incense one of the studio's cleaning staff, closet homicidal psycho (and misogynist) Colt Hawker whose deep seated despising of all things female occurred from seeing his Mother throw boiling oil in the face of his abusive Father when he was a small child (and who's M.O. is to photograph victims he stabs as they're spasming to death). So much so that he decides there and then to shut her up...PERMANENTLY! Managing to beat her home, he soon dispatches her maid Francine, before turning his rage onto her as she comes home. Despite the brutal injuries he lashes out on her, she manages to survive and is rushed off to the hospital. But undaunted he catches up to her in the hospital and, disguised as a florist he enter the building to continue his mission to finish her off...along with anyone else who gets under his skin." This little flick had quite an impressive cast that featured Lee Grant (The Swarm, Damien: The Omen II, Airport '77), Michael Ironside (Starship Troopers, Total Recall, Terminator Salvation, Highlander II), and William Shatner. Yes, that's correct. The Shat blesses us with his presence in this little gem. Ironside is almost too good in the role of homicidal maniac Colt Hawker. He likes to wear nothing but women's jewelry sometimes and has a taste for black leather wife-beater shirts.

1982's Hospital Massacre (aka X-ray) was up next. This one had a nice little Valentine's Day flavor to it, which fit perfectly since this was shown on the Wednesday before the big love day. Talk about Horror Remix killing two birds with one stone. What says I love you better than the head of your boyfriend delivered to you in a box to your hospital room? The movie centers around "divorcee Susan Jeremy, who goes to a local Los Angeles county hospital for a routine exam. Through a series of circumstances, she finds herself stranded there while a maniac, dressed in a doctor's surgical mask and clothing, goes around killing all the staff that are associated with her. Could it possibly be the psycho Harold, whom killed a friend of Susan's on Valentine's Day 19 years earlier? If so, there's no telling what he has grown up to look like since Susan has not seen Harold in all that time." The only actor in this film that was recognizable to me was Barbi Benton, who played guest starring roles in tons of 80's TV shows like Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, ChiPs, Charlie's Angels, and several others. This movie had some good kills in it and actually made me want to see the whole thing. The doctor in this film was one of the worst actors I've ever seen. Every time he was on the screen was a joy. And what was up with the two nurses who were always accompanying him everywhere like bodyguards?

Last and most certainly least was The Last Slumber Party from 1988. This movie was so beautifully horrendous. It had everything an 80's slasher flick should have - dumb high school chicks, idiotic jocks that drink through the whole movie, and a poor nerd who gets picked on mercilessly and finally snaps. In it, "Linda, Tracy and Chris celebrate by having a slumber party at Linda's house on their last day of high school. A few boys drop by and the beer flows like wine. Just good, clean, fun-loving kids. But the girls have another visitor, one they don't yet know about. Hiding in the house is a homicidal maniac who has just escaped from a mental hospital. Armed with a scalpel, the nut slashes a little here, a little there as he sneaks from room to room. One by one the guests start disappearing. What evil lurks there? What nightmare world have they entered?" It had hands down some of the worst acting I've ever seen. Do you know how hard it is to keep saying that after going to so many Horror Remixes now? The doctor / father was gloriously horrible. This was definitely one of those movies where you are cheering for the killer to off the partying girls and jocks. One of the girls has a habit of making homosexual references every time she name-calls someone. Definitely the 80's.

What Horror Remix would be complete without the witty commentary of Thunderclap and Cheesecake? They entertained the crowd with their jokes and reviews of the films. One of their sisters makes a guest appearance adding to the humor.

I think the Horror Remixes are definitely catching on well. They are branching out into different states and seem to be getting more frequent. They're not as spread out as they used to be. It seems like they're doing a new one every couple of months now instead of quarterly. I'm not complaining by any means. In my opinion, the more the merrier. I can't wait for the next one. (Review by Eric Shirey)

Brand New How To Train Your Dragon Trailer


Paramount and DreamWorks sent us the brand new trailer for their upcoming animated film, How To Train Your Dragon. The animation is pretty much more of the same thing we've seen, but I'm sure the 3D will help to enhance it. It does look pretty action-packed and their seems to be a lot of explosions and fire, so it will probably keep my attention. You can check out the trailer after the jump.

A Viking teenager named Hiccup lives on the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life. The teen's smarts and offbeat sense of humor don't sit too well with his tribe or its chief... who just happens to be Hiccup's father. However, when Hiccup is included in Dragon Training with the other Viking teens, he sees his chance to prove he has what it takes to be a fighter. But when he encounters (and ultimately befriends) an injured dragon, his world is flipped upside down, and what started out as Hiccup's one shot to prove himself turns into an opportunity to set a new course for the future of the entire tribe.

How To Train Your Dragon was directed by Christopher Sanders and Dean DeBlois. It features the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, and Craig Ferguson.

The movie flies into theaters on March 26th.

Reesa Contracts A Case Of The Crazies


A shotgun-toting farmer wanders on to the field in the middle of the high school’s opening baseball game. He looks blank, confused, and his nose is bleeding. When the man takes aim, the local sheriff takes him out with a well-placed bullet in front of the whole community. This is the first sign that something is amiss, as others quickly fall victim to the same “craziness” over a period of two days.

David Dutten (Timothy Olyphant) is the Sheriff of Ogden Marsh - a small Iowa town. He notices that some of its residents are suddenly exhibiting signs of unusual behavior. They stare off into space, and then become violent. Another farmer sets his house on fire while his wife and son are still inside. The firemen find him mowing the lawn while the fire rages. Some hunters find a body of someone who parachuted into the marshes, which leads to the sheriff finding a crashed plane that may have leaked a bio-weapon in the town’s water supply.

A satellite camera is zooming in on the activities of Ogden Marsh, population 1260 people. Soon, the town is taken over by military types in hazmat suits who want to bury the problem by gathering all the residents at the HS football field. They sort them quickly by separating anyone with an elevated temperature. They grab the sheriff’s wife, Judy, (Radha Mitchell) who is a doctor and may have a slight temperature because she is pregnant. The military strap her on a gurney with others residents while the men in protective gear and gas masks wait for the infection to set in and run tests. Meanwhile, the sheriff is being put on another bus to be processed and he manages to slip away so he can return and save his wife. Someone crashes into the containment area and all hell breaks loose as the military start shooting the locals while they escape. They are considered “the crazies” - infected people overtaken with an insanity that turns them into a murderous horde. The military pull out immediately as the area has been compromised.

This gives the Sheriff, his wife, Deputy Russell (Joe Anderson), and medical office assistant Becca (Danielle Panabaker) a chance to escape. They must try and make their way through the open farmland while avoiding the military and the wandering crazies. Their aim is to get to Cedar Rapids which is the biggest city in the area. Their traumatic adventures cause them to become stressed and jumpy. Are they going crazy too?

Breck Eisner (Sahara) directed this action packed remake of George A. Romero’s 1973 film, originally called Code Name: Trixie. The title was changed to The Crazies for home video. Remakes of movies don’t always work. But in this case, Romero’s original flick is not as well known so comparisons are not bound to distract. The 2010 version has characters that are personable and react like “real” people. They are not running around making boneheaded moves that make no sense. You care about what happens to them, so you are invested in the outcome. Just try not to think too hard or over-analyze why “the crazies” have differing levels of cognizance. Some are talking and responding and some are just staring. Or why some are infected and some are not. It’s just not as important as watching them trying to make it through the night and survive. Just stay during the credits to see if the governments’ ultimate solution did the job. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)

DVD Review - Halo Legends


Synopsis:
An anthology of eight anime episodes based on the hugely popular Halo video game franchise, Halo Legends gives us seven unique stories set during various important points within the larger Halo mythology. The DVD is a collaboration between Halo's 343 Industries and five of Japan's leading animation studios.

Special Features:
2-Disc Special Edition includes "The Making of Halo Legends" featurette, "Halo: Gaming Evolved" featurette, Audio Commentary with directors Frank O'Connor and Joseph Chou, and it's Widescreen (1.78:1). The Blu-ray version has all of the above, plus "Halo: The Story So Far" featurette.

Review:
The most anticipated DVD release date for Halo fanboys the world over has come and gone, and now we sit and wait patiently for the May 3rd release of the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta. So the question is: has Halo Legends earned its place in the deep and ever-increasing mythology already put forth not only in five blockbuster video games, but also in novel and graphic novel mediums?

The answer is a resounding yes. Halo Legends succeeds at being more than just a collection of action scenes and flashy animation. Each individual story weaves its own unique tale that captures the viewer and makes us care about the characters, despite the fact that almost all of the characters introduced are brand new to the Halo universe. Although each episode averages out at approximately fifteen minutes, superb pacing on the part of each of the animation directors means that not a second is wasted as every episode perfectly balances intriguing storytelling with blistering action.

The first two episodes, Origins Parts I and II, produced by STUDIO4ºC (whose work was also featured in both The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight) tells a sprawling, epic tale that takes us from the original Flood war tens of thousands of years in the past to the final closing scene of Halo 3. Though both parts are produced by the same animation studio, they have two distinct styles. Part one has a simpler, more stylized animation, while part two has a much sharper, more modern anime feel. While these two drastically different styles can be distracting at first, both ultimately work together (whether by design or coincidence) to capture the distinct differences in the time periods in which they are set.

Also from STUDIO4ºC, The Babysitter gives us great insight into the mind of an ODST and their rivalry with the Spartans. It also provides a great set of characters and plays on their camaraderie all within the scope of an assassination mission that culminates in a heart-pounding climax.

The Duel, the first of two produced by Production I.G, is easily one of the most memorable and enthralling pieces to be found on this DVD. Animated in a distinctive watercolor style, it will undoubtedly stand out as one of the most emotional, even haunting, stories ever told within the Halo universe. It stands out not only for its brutal combat scene, but also for a feudal samurai-inspired story with a distinct Akira Kurosawa flavor to its drama. Homecoming, the second of Production I.G's endeavors, weaves a tragic tale of the psychological damages endured by a group of children with the Spartan II project. While perhaps not as powerful and emotional as The Duel, Homecoming is easily the episode with the darkest subject matter, with its tortured female lead.

Toei Animation's Odd One Out, the only “off canon” story of the bunch, may be considered by some as the weakest link in the series, but as Japan's oldest animation studio and producer of such mega hits as One Piece, Sailor Moon, and the Dragon Ball franchise, Toei certainly knows its niche and is good at what it does. Odd One Out is goofy slapstick through and through, intended to be a more lighthearted story among a collection of darker, sometimes tragic tales. Taken as that, its Halo-meets-Dragon-Ball style is fun, even laugh out loud funny, from beginning to end.

Prototype, produced by Studio Bones, is one of the stand out episodes on the disc, following the story of a grizzled and haunted soldier who is tasked with destroying a secret weapon before it falls into Covenant hands. The dark past of the main protagonist remains truly memorable when coupled with the kind of blistering action than fans expect from the directors of such top notch anime as Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop, and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Satisfying as the rest of these episodes are, the one episode that will leave Halo fans begging for more will undoubtedly be the eighth and final episode of the collection, Casio Entertainment's The Package, not only for its top of the line CG animation, but also because it delivers exactly what Halo fans want: Master Chief like we've never seen him before. Tasked with reclaiming a mysterious “package” from a Covenant fleet, Master Chief leads a team of four Spartans into an explosive, edge-of-your-seat battle that runs almost the entire fourteen minutes of the episode. While lighter in story and emotion than most of the other episodes, The Package manages to be an adrenalin rush from beginning to end, and will certainly please Halo fans and noobs alike.

Released by Warner Home Video, Halo Legends is available in a single disc, movie-only DVD version and a two-disc special edition with extra features available on Blu-ray and standard DVD. A “steelbox” version of the special edition is available at Best Buy stores. In addition to two trailers and audio commentary with Franchise Development Director Frank O'Connor and Halo Legends Producer Joseph Chou on the first disc, disc two of the special edition also includes an in-depth “Story so Far” segment that will tell you everything you need to know about the Halo story line as well as some lengthy and satisfying “making of” segments for each of the episodes.

Overall, Halo Legends does not disappoint. It delivers on all of the hype that most mega franchises too often cannot live up to, and it will leave the viewer begging for a volume two. Even diehard fans of the Halo novels will be pleased to see little nods to them, such as on-screen appearances by Dr. Catherine Halsey and Kelly 087, not to mention a brief glimpse of Doctors Shaw and Fujikawa, inventors of Slipspace. While it contains just enough to impress the most loyal of Halo fanboys, it strikes just that right balance so as not to bog itself down with too much of the Halo lore that would otherwise turn away the more casual viewer. Halo Legends does indeed have a little something for everybody. (Review by Michael Medina - www.michaelmedina.com)

Reesa Is Ready To Cop Out


Veteran cop Jimmy Malone’s daughter is getting married. In order to pay for the wedding, he must sell his prized vintage baseball card. But the card is stolen and Jimmy and his partner Paul must track down a memorabilia obsessed Mexican gangster.

Bruce Willis once more plays his usual wise cracking cop, this time named Jimmy Malone. His daughter, Ava (Michelle Trachtenberg), and ex-wife Pam (Francie Swift) want a big expensive wedding. Pam’s rich new husband and Ava’s step-father, Roy (Jason Lee), is willing to cover the costs which to him is like a weekend in Las Vegas. But Jimmy despises Roy’s condescending attitude and the role he’s trying to replace in his daughter’s life, so he vows to find a way to pay for the cost on his own. That would mean selling his rare vintage Andy Pafko baseball card. While at the store to sell it, a thief named Dave (Seann William Scott) robs the store and takes Jimmy’s card.

Jimmy and his “partner against crime” for the past nine years, Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan), must recover the card. Unfortunately, Paul is distracted by his wife Debbie’s (Rashida Jones) alleged infidelity and he can’t seem to keep his attention on the crime. He also has a weird and somewhat effective habit of reciting movie dialogue when interrogating suspects.

Jimmy and Paul had just been suspended from the department because a set-up to find a drug shipment went south and a Mexican gang member shot up a cell store. They had failed to check with detectives Hunsaker (Kevin Pollak) and his partner, Barry Mangold (Adam Brody), who had a surveillance of the gang operation and it was now blown. Despite their troubles with their department, Jimmy and Paul get Dave out of jail to find out where he sold the card. They track the card to Mexican gang leader Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz), who collects sports memorabilia. They confront him but are outnumbered by his gang. He tells the buddy team he will return the card if they can find a Mercedes that was stolen. They find the car, but inside the trunk they find
Gabriela (Ana de la Reguera) who has knowledge and evidence of money laundering.

Willis is really the straight man to Morgan’s’ free for all’s while he’s improvising all the different movie characters and dialogue. Morgan is basically the same character in everything he’s done, but this time he has a gun. Seann William Scott steals his scenes as the annoying thief who likes to mimic everything you say. Pollack and Brody were goofy and earnest enough for me to want to see them in their own movie about their detective partnership with differences that don’t mean squat if someone’s got your back.

Kevin Smith, writer and director of Clerks, Dogma and Zack and Mimi was hired to direct his first feature which he didn’t write. It was written by Robb and Mark Cullen, who have mostly worked on TV shows like Las Vegas, Heist and Gary the Rat. The original title of the movie was going to be A Couple of Dicks. They did manage to insert that line in the movie. The story plays like a long sitcom with very raunchy humor and bloody violence. Teens will find it hysterical, but do they really need to see and hear it? People will go because Willis does sell tickets and there’s not much in the theaters at the moment - but then that’s a cop out. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)

Robert Pattinson Says "Remember Me" By Going To A Free Screening

CONTEST IS OVER! IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN E-MAILED, THEN YOU WERE TOO LATE! SORRY!

As if any girl in the age range of 13 to 35 would ever forget Robert Pattinson, right? Well, all you Team Edward members out there have another chance to show the actor some love by attending a free advanced screening of his new film, Remember Me. MGF is co-hosting a screening of the film on Monday, March 8th in Dallas, TX. All you've got to do is be one of the first 75 people to e-mail me the answer at moviegeekfeed@ymail.com to one simple trivia question. Hint to find the answer: Wikipedia. Here you go:

Robert Pattinson was in a 2004 movie where he only appeared in the film on the DVD release. What was the name of the film?

Tyler, a rebellious young man in New York City, has a strained relationship with his father ever since tragedy separated their family. Tyler didn't think anyone could possibly understand what he was going through until the day he met Ally through an unusual twist of fate. Love was the last thing on his mind, but as her spirit unexpectedly heals and inspires him, he begins to fall for her. Through their love, he begins to find happiness and meaning in his life. But soon, hidden secrets are revealed, and the circumstances that brought them together slowly threaten to tear them apart. Remember Me is an unforgettable story about the power of love, the strength of family, and the importance of living passionately and treasuring every day of one's life.

Remember Me was directed by Allen Coulter and stars Robert Pattinson, Emilie de Ravin, Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper, and Lena Olin.

The romance begins on Friday, March 12th.

DVD Straightjacket - Scooby-Doo: Abracadabra-Doo


Synopsis:
Scooby-Doo and the gang go on a trip to check on Daphne's sister, Melissa. She's been studying magic at the Whirlen Merlin Magic Academy. Apparently there's been trouble at the Academy. Sightings of a giant dragon have been scaring all the students away. The gang smells trouble and decides to investigate.

Special Features:
Scooby-Doo and Puppets Too Featurette

Review:
Everybody's favorite canine detective is back again. The Scooby Gang still seem fresh and vibrant in their latest straight-to-DVD adventure, Scooby-Doo: Abracadabra-Doo, over 40 years after their first television appearance. The Mystery Machine is a newer model and now has a very annoying GPS, but that's about all that's changed.

The script writers do seem to keep up with the times, seeing that this new adventure takes place at a magic school that is reminiscient of Harry Potter's Hogwarts. It also features a very cool gryphon that flies around snapping at everyone and causing all kinds of ruckus. The story has all the right elements you've come to expect from a Scooby-Doo movie: a big and dark house or mansion, the eccentric cast of suspects, and a creepy or foggy landscape. There's even a foreboding groundskeeper, voiced by John DiMaggio (Bender on Futurama, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ben 10), who is constantly warning everyone of impending danger.

Speaking of the cast, Matthew Lillard has picked up duties from longtime voice talent and radio DJ Kasey Kasem. Lillard does a great job, as if anyone ever had any doubt he could after playing the part in the two original live-action Scooby-Doo films. Frank Welker returns once again to voice both Scooby and Fred, thankfully. Mindy Cohn (The Facts of Life) again voices Velma. There's also some really cool guest voices, like John Stephenson (the narrator of Dragnet, Wacky Races, The Flintstones), Olivia Hack (The Brady Bunch movies, Hey Arnold! The Movie, Open Season 2), and Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development, The Larry Sanders Show, Hellboy 1 & 2).

The animation is the same comfortable look that we've come to expect. It's pretty much the look of What's New, Scooby Doo? A mix of the classic feel of the original television show and new animation technology. Thankfully, it doesn't look like the horrific animation of Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!

I definitely enjoyed this new entry in the Scooby series. Your kids will love it and it will keep their attention. This is good and entertaining family fun. (Review by Eric Shirey)

Reesa Befriends The Ghost Writer


A British ghostwriter is hired to finish writing the memoirs of a former prime minister after the previous writers’ body has been mysteriously found washed up on the beach. While ensconced in a luxurious beach house at Martha’s Vineyard, it is soon revealed that the prime minister is being accused of war crimes.

Ewan McGregor plays the ghost writer, who like in the 2007 book by Robert Harris, is nameless and simply referred to as The Ghost. The former British PM, Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), is staying in New England while on a lecture circuit in the US. With him at the isolated home are Lang’s wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), his assistant (and sometime mistress) Amelia Bly (Kim Cattrall), assorted guards, secretaries, and housekeepers. The beautiful stark home with large windows overlooking the deserted beach feels claustrophobic with the grey, cloudy skies and harsh seas.

Lang’s former foreign minister (Robert Pugh) announces that Lang had knowledge of the kidnapping of four Pakistani terrorists that were delivered to the CIA for torture in which one of them died. The ghost finds himself in a front row seat to Lang’s team of lawyers and advisors as they hustle to put a spin on the story while news crews and helicopters descend upon the island. The ghost is unwillingly recruited to write statements for the press. Lang is outraged but he is the consummate politician - fit, handsome, with a self assured grin as he faces the angry protestors camped in front of the compound’s guarded gate. Lang and most of his people decide to gather in NYC, leaving behind Ruth and the ghost whose publisher has upped the deadline to a couple weeks to capitalize on the new headlines.

The ghost is working from a 600 page manuscript completed by his predecessor who had worked with Lang for many years. They keep the hardcopy locked in a safe and it can only be worked on in the house. The ghost, having read and edited most of it, can see no reason for all the security. He is suspicious of the former writers’ demise, especially after speaking with a local about someone seeing flashlights on the beach right before the body was found and the only witness being in a coma. He also finds a secret stash of photographs from Lang’s past as an actor while in college that leads him to a phone number and a professor that may have ties to the CIA.

Lang has an obvious Tony Blair slant with his foreign policies that are sympathetic to the US. There’s even hints of a major corporation with a name that sounds like Haliburton. The ghost is the person who does work that is never credited to his own name. He’s the everyman caught in an impossible situation. Ruth is intelligent and mousey next to the cool and classy Amelia. They both work together, despite Ruth’s knowledge of her husband’s infidelities, to support Lang in his role as a world leader. In the end, its Ruth’s advise to whom Lang relies. Olivia Williams really stands out in this role and practically steals the movie. Also, look for Jim Belushi as the bald publisher, and Eli Wallach as the old vineyard guy. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)

News Bites:


Headlines...

David Goyer to Write the New Superman Movie

3 TV Spots for 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'

Wanted 2 Shot Down

Monsters, Inc. 2 A Go!

More...

Complete Tron: Legacy Viral Game Image Revealed

Sci-fi + Harry Potter director + Angelina Jolie = sign us up

Green Lantern writer to direct Flash movie

The hunks who could be Captain America (Jim Halpert??)

What a grown-up Alice discovers in a new Wonderland

3D Society's inaugural award goes to Avatar (Who else?)

Amalgamated Dynamics Working on 'The Thing' Prequel

Second Full Trailer for 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'

Shocking Frontrunners to Direct Glossy 'Paranormal Activity' Sequel?

Latest to Move Into Universal's 'Dream House'

New Trailer For How To Train Your Dragon

New Iron Man 2 Featurette

Bob Sapp Cast As Ukafa In Conan!

Anthony Hopkins Has The Rite to Exorcise Demons

Tom Atkins is BACK and Ready to Drive Angry

Dolan's Cadillac - Blu-ray / DVD Details

Ray Park to Breathe Fire in Jinn; Meet Him This Friday in Michigan

See Pegg and Serkis as Burke and Hare

Mickey Rourke Confirmed as Conan's Father

First TV Spot for The Losers

Official Kick-Ass Site Updated

Sean Hood Rewriting Conan

Taylor Lautner Ditches Max Steel In Favor Of Stretch Armstrong

Christopher Nolan Not Yet Confirmed To Guide New Superman

Transformers 3 Will Destroy Chicago And Moscow

New Repo Men Posters: They Encourage You To Drink Irresponsibly

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Trailer For Woody Harrelson's Defendor


Check out the trailer for Woody Harrelson's indie action / comedy Defendor after the jump. This looks like a comedic version of Kick-Ass. Obviously, Harrelson looks like he's a bit more clumsy than any of the "superheroes" I've seen in the Kick-Ass trailers. The movie looks like it could be a lot of fun anyhow. You'll have to check your local listings to see if it's playing in a theater near you. The movie will be released on DVD on April 30th.


ARTHUR POPPINGTON, is a regular man who adopts a superhero persona known as “DEFENDOR” and combs the city streets at night in search of his arch enemy CAPTAIN INDUSTRY.

In his attempts to combat crime and bring down this drug and weapons dealer, whom he mistakenly blames for the death of his mother, Defendor ends up befriending a young prostitute.

Armed with unconventional weapons like marbles and paper clips, and with his new friend by his side, Defendor proves that everyone is capable of making a difference as he puts his life on the line and foils the entire crime operation.

Defendor was directed by Peter Stebbings and stars Woody Harrelson, Kat Dennings, Sandra Oh, and Elias Koteas.

The film hits limited theaters this coming Friday, February 26th.

Interview With Ana De La Reguera For Cop Out


After the jump, you can check out an interview with Ana De La Reguera about her role as Gabriela in Kevin Smith's action / comedy Cop Out. She discusses what attracted her to the project, working with Guillermo Diaz, working with Bruce Willis, working with Tracy Morgan, and improvising in Spanish. Footage appears courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Two longtime NYPD partners on the trail of a stolen, rare, mint-condition baseball card find themselves up against a merciless, memorabilia-obsessed gangster. Jimmy is the veteran detective whose missing collectible is his only hope to pay for his daughter’s upcoming wedding, and Paul is his “partner-against-crime” whose preoccupation with his wife’s alleged infidelity makes it hard for him to keep his eye on the ball.

Cop Out is directed by Kevin Smith and stars Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Adam Brody, Kevin Pollak, Guillermo Díaz, Seann William Scott, Jason Lee, and Ana de la Reguera

The movie comes out in theaters on February 26th.

Interview With Rhada Mitchell For The Crazies


After the jump, you can check out an interview with actress Rhada Mitchell about her role as Judy in Breck Eisner's remake of George A. Romero's The Crazies. She discusses enjoying the storyline, her character Judy, working with the cast, and working with director Breck Eisner. Footage courtesy of Overture Films.

David Dutten is sheriff of Ogden Marsh, a picture-perfect American town with happy, law-abiding citizens. But one night, one of them comes to a school baseball game with a loaded shotgun, ready to kill. Another man burns down his own house-after locking his wife and young son in a closet inside. Within days, the town has transformed into a sickening asylum; people who days ago lived quiet, unremarkable lives have now become depraved, blood-thirsty killers, hiding in the darkness with guns and knives. Sheriff Dutten tries to make sense of what's happening as the horrific, nonsensical violence escalates. Something is infecting the citizens of Ogden Marsh with insanity. Now complete anarchy reigns as one by one the townsfolk succumb to an unknown toxin and turn sadistically violent. In an effort to keep the madness contained, the government uses deadly force to close off all access and won't let anyone in or out - even those uninfected. The few still sane find themselves trapped: Sheriff Dutten; his pregnant wife, Judy; Becca, an assistant at the medical center; and Russell, Dutten's deputy and right-hand man. Forced to band together, an ordinary night becomes a horrifying struggle for survival as they do their best to get out of town alive.

The Crazies was directed by Breck Eisner and stars Timothy Olyphant Sheriff, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker, and Glenn Morshower.

The insanity begins this coming Friday, February 26th.

DVD Straightjacket - Sherlock Holmes (The Asylum Entertainment)


Synopsis:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective faces the ultimate challenge when enormous monsters attack London.

Special Features:
Widescreen Presentation, 5.1 Surround Sound, Making of Featurette, and Asylum movie trailers.

Review:
What does a mini Tyrannosaurus rex, a giant squid, a steampunk mistress, and Iron Man all have in common with Sherlock Holmes? You can't really think of anything or a way they could mix together? Well, neither could I, until I saw The Asylum's version of Sherlock Holmes.

As is usual with The Asylum releases, this came out about three days after Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. Obviously, it's a completely different animal than the theatrical film. This is a crazy mix of Sherlock Holmes, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the Wild, Wild West movie with Will Smith. Still not excited?

The cinematography is what I've come to expect. A lot of odd close-up shots during action sequences, sometimes to help keep the special effects budget down. There's a lot of monster point-of-view where the camera barrels through the forest, chasing Holmes and Watson or attacking someone.

The acting is not too bad. First-timer Ben Snyder plays Holmes, and he kind of just literally walks through his part. He walks through the woods, the streets of London, the backalleys of the slums, the seaside, you name it. Other than that, he pretty much relies on Watson (played by Torchwood's Gareth David-Lloyd) to do all his dirty work. That dirty work includes an extremely overlong repelling trip down the side of a cliff which was obviously meant to create tension and put you on the edge of your seat, but ends up taking so long and being so overdramatic you actually start hoping he'll just fall. Surprisingly, David-Lloyd must have gotten paid enough to be in the entire film since he actually figures into almost every scene.

Besides Gareth David-Lloyd, there's another genre-related "big name" actor that is added to the cast to help attract fans to to the movie. They must have really had to push the budget to get two relatively "big" actors in one film. This time, it's Dominic Keating from Enterprise, Beowulf, and Heroes. He plays Sherlock Holmes' brother, who also goes by the name of Spring-Heeled Jack (seeming to have no connection to the character of folklore). No, it's not Mycroft. Apparently another brother we've never heard of who was injured in the line of duty exists and now has a robot / steampunk-looking body that is reminiscient of Iron Man. He barely ever wears the helmet for the suit, but it really does look kind of cool. Of course, it feels like Keating did just enough work to merit him being featured on the cover of the DVD to help promote it.

The special effects and makeup work all look pretty good. It's a little bizarre seeing a mini T-rex running around the London redlight district. The giant octopus tentacles that destroy the ship at the beginning of the movie look strangely similiar to the ones used in Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus.

The "Making-of" featurette was actually pretty cool. It gave me a little more appreciation for The Asylum films. It really does appear that the filmmakers actually care about their little movies. It seems like they're handed a script, told how long they have to shoot (in this case 13 days), and bang out the films with little or no pre-production. The guys that do the makeup and costumes actually put quite a bit of work into their individual tasks for the film.

This flick will fit nicely on SyFy's Saturday night line-up, which is where The Asylum has it custom-fitted for. It's definitely no worse than anything else shown in that time slot. It's crazy, but I actually think these films are fun and look forward to them. My wife, who can't stand B-flicks, even sat through this. That is a living testament alone. (Review by Eric Shirey)

Show All The Twilight Naysayers Out There You're Educated

CONTEST IS OVER! IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN E-MAILED, THEN YOU WERE TOO LATE! SORRY!

We've got two t-shirts to give away that have the artwork for the book "Defining Twilight: Vocabulary Workbook for Unlocking the SAT, ACT, GED, and SSAT." It's basically the book's jacket artwork on the front of the shirt. For those of you who don't know what Defining Twilight is all about, it's an educational workbook put together by Brian Leaf, M.A. Everybody's favorite vampire father figure, Peter Facinelli (Dr. Carlisle Cullen), even had good things to say about it:
"I never would have believed that students could study vocabulary and enjoy a great book like Twilight at the same time, but Brian Leaf makes it possible!"
After the jump, you can see how to win one of the shirts and read about the book.

All you've got to do to win is send me an e-mail at moviegeekfeed@ymail.com and you'll be entered into a drawing for one of the two t-shirts. Contest ends on Friday, February 26th.

Here's a description of the book:
"Can you resist the allure of Edward’s myriad charms—his ocher eyes and tousled hair, the cadence of his speech, his chiseled alabaster skin, and his gratuitous charm? Will you hunt surreptitiously and tolerate the ceaseless deluge in Forks to evade the sun and uphold the facade? Join Edward and Bella as you learn more than 600 vocabulary words to improve your score on the *SAT, ACT®, GED®, and SSAT® exams!

Use this workbook side-by-side with your own copy of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight!

- Each chapter of the workbook gives you eight words taken from Twilight, with page references for you to read the words in the context of your favorite novel
- Define the words on your own before turning back to the workbook for their actual definitions
- At the end of each section you’ll take SAT, ACT, GED, and SSAT drills and quizzes to review and integrate what you’ve learned
- Plus, you’ll learn synonyms, Latin word parts, and memorization tools throughout the workbook

Brian Leaf, M.A., is the owner and director of New Leaf Learning Center. In his eighteen years of private teaching and tutoring, Brian has provided SAT, ACT, GED, and SSAT instruction and preparation to thousands of students. In 2008, he was chosen as an English and Mathematics Expert for ExpertVillage.com."
If you're interested in purchasing one of the Twilight Defining books, you can check them out here:

News Bites:


Headlines...

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Brutal Brutal Brutal! Valhalla Rising Sneak Peek

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eric Takes The Hero's Journey With Percy Jackson


I know what you’re all thinking. Here we go again - another movie based on a young adult fantasy book series. And you would be partially correct. This movie will draw comparisons to Harry Potter, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Seeker, and any of the other films of that nature. But there’s a big difference-this seems very targeted to your everyday normal teenager who is rebellious or feels misunderstood. In my opinion, it’s much more realistic.

Where Harry Potter seems eager to be accepted and seeks the approval of his teachers, Percy Jackson comes across as trusting no one, not trusting any authority figure, and basically doing what he believes is in his best interest. Maybe it’s a personal thing, but I find Percy easier to identify with because of the way I was when I was a teenager. Potter seems concerned with being proper, whereas Jackson wants to be hip, individualistic, and cool. Jackson is Potter’s rough-around-the-edges American cousin who comes to visit him at Hogwarts and stir up trouble.

Yeah, yeah. Blah, blah, right? “So is the movie any good is what I want to know” is your question. My answer would be yes. I found the film to be well-paced and very focused with a youthful sense of humor. Everything it needs to be to draw in a teen and tween crowd.

The storyline was easy enough to follow. It had just the right amount of stops along the way of the “journey” and a nice climax. The diehard lovers of the book might get upset by some of the changes and omissions, but I don’t feel it affected the overall adaptation. I feel that they added a nice little motivation to push the movie forward and, give it more of a “hero’s journey” vibe by making the several stops they have on the road to their destination the pick-up points for Persephone’s pearls. That addition of motivation kind of helped to tie the whole film together and put the plot in focus.

Some might say that the acting at times was hammy or possibly kind of sketchy. I think it was perfect for the tone of the film and where the “newer” actors seemed a bit rough, it was still forgivable. The actors who played the gods performed the way they should -overdramatic and taking themselves way too serious. Isn’t that how you would imagine a bunch of self-centered Greek gods to act?

The visual effects looked great. Pierce Brosnan’s upper half seemed to flow perfectly into the bottom half of a horse’s body. The hydra blowing fire at Percy and his gang melded together the CGI and live-action convincingly. Even the special effects done with digital water looked great. Anyone who’s seen The Mummy movies knows that can be hard to pull off.

Veteran director Chris Columbus does what he does best. He puts normal kids in incredible situations and has them take a journey to learn life lessons, while not forgetting what it means to be young and carefree. It’s what he’s been doing for a long time and I truly believe he knows his craft and executes it well. I certainly look and hope for the next chapter in the Percy Jackson film saga. (Review by Eric Shrey)

Interview With Michelle Trachtenberg For Cop Out


After the jump, you can check out an interview with actress Michelle Trachtenberg about her role as Ava in Kevin Smith's upcoming action / comedy, Cop Out. She discusses . Footage provided by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Two longtime NYPD partners on the trail of a stolen, rare, mint-condition baseball card find themselves up against a merciless, memorabilia-obsessed gangster. Jimmy is the veteran detective whose missing collectible is his only hope to pay for his daughter’s upcoming wedding, and Paul is his “partner-against-crime” whose preoccupation with his wife’s alleged infidelity makes it hard for him to keep his eye on the ball.

Cop Out is directed by Kevin Smith and stars Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Adam Brody, Kevin Pollak, Guillermo Díaz, Seann William Scott, Jason Lee, and Ana de la Reguera

The movie comes out in theaters on February 26th.

Interview With Danielle Panabaker For The Crazies


After the jump, you can check out an interview with actress Danielle Panabaker about her role as Becca in the upcoming horror remake of George A. Romero's The Crazies. She discusses . Footage provided by Overture Films.

David Dutten is sheriff of Ogden Marsh, a picture-perfect American town with happy, law-abiding citizens. But one night, one of them comes to a school baseball game with a loaded shotgun, ready to kill. Another man burns down his own house-after locking his wife and young son in a closet inside. Within days, the town has transformed into a sickening asylum; people who days ago lived quiet, unremarkable lives have now become depraved, blood-thirsty killers, hiding in the darkness with guns and knives. Sheriff Dutten tries to make sense of what's happening as the horrific, nonsensical violence escalates. Something is infecting the citizens of Ogden Marsh with insanity. Now complete anarchy reigns as one by one the townsfolk succumb to an unknown toxin and turn sadistically violent. In an effort to keep the madness contained, the government uses deadly force to close off all access and won't let anyone in or out - even those uninfected. The few still sane find themselves trapped: Sheriff Dutten; his pregnant wife, Judy; Becca, an assistant at the medical center; and Russell, Dutten's deputy and right-hand man. Forced to band together, an ordinary night becomes a horrifying struggle for survival as they do their best to get out of town alive.

The Crazies was directed by Breck Eisner and stars Timothy Olyphant Sheriff, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker, and Glenn Morshower.

The insanity begins this coming Friday, February 26th.

Is Defendor Stumbling Into Your City?


Woody Harrelson's new indie film, Defendor, is coming out this weekend in a limited run. You'll have to check your local theaters' listings to find out if it's playing near you. It stars Woody Harrelson, so I can only imagine that it's going to be pretty funny. It looks interesting and it could be an unauthorized companion piece to Kick-Ass. You can check out more about it at the movie's website.

ARTHUR POPPINGTON, is a regular man who adopts a superhero persona known as “DEFENDOR” and combs the city streets at night in search of his arch enemy CAPTAIN INDUSTRY.

In his attempts to combat crime and bring down this drug and weapons dealer, whom he mistakenly blames for the death of his mother, Defendor ends up befriending a young prostitute.

Armed with unconventional weapons like marbles and paper clips, and with his new friend by his side, Defendor proves that everyone is capable of making a difference as he puts his life on the line and foils the entire crime operation.

Defendor was directed by Peter Stebbings and stars Woody Harrelson, Kat Dennings, Sandra Oh, and Elias Koteas.

The film hits limited theaters this coming Friday, February 26th.

Polanski Wins Best Director For Ghost Writer In Berlin


Roman Polanski has won the Silver Bear Award for Best Director at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival for his thriller The Ghost Writer. The movie has barely even been released over here in the U.S. It had a limited release last week and is opening in the Dallas / Fort Worth, TX area this coming weekend.

Here's a Festival Profile of The Berlinale:
"Berlin - a cosmopolitan, exciting capital, a city of culture with international appeal. In the middle of it all: the Berlinale – not only the city’s largest cultural event, but also one of the most important dates on the international film industry’s calendar. More than 19,000 film professionals from 136 countries, including about 4,000 journalists, are accredited for the Berlin International Film Festival every year. The Berlinale is truly a mega event. At the same time, it is a festival of encounters and discussions. With more than 270,000 tickets sold, the Berlinale is not only a film industry meeting. It also enjoys by far the largest audience of any film festival in the world. For two weeks, art, glamour, parties and business meet at the Berlinale."
When a successful British ghostwriter, The Ghost, agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, his agent assures him it's the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project seems doomed from the start--not least because his predecessor on the project, Lang's long-term aide, died in an unfortunate accident. The Ghost flies out to work on the project, in the middle of winter, to an oceanfront house on an island off the U.S. Eastern seaboard. But the day after he arrives, a former British cabinet minister accuses Lang of authorizing the illegal seizure of suspected terrorists and handing them over for torture by the CIA -- a war crime. The controversy brings reporters and protesters swarming to the island mansion where Lang is staying with his wife, Ruth, and his personal assistant and mistress, Amelia. As The Ghost works, he begins to uncover clues suggesting his predecessor may have stumbled on a dark secret linking Lang to the CIA -- and that somehow this information is hidden in the manuscript he left behind. Was Lang in the service of the American intelligence agency while he was prime minister? And was The Ghost's predecessor murdered because of the appalling truth he uncovered?


The Ghost Writer was directed by Roman Polanski and stars Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, and Tom Wilkinson.

The film is out in limited theaters now.

Alice in Wonderland Ultimate Fan Event


Well, we got the e-mail a little too late to get the  Alice in Wonderland Ultimate Fan Event announced ahead of time, so we figured we would at least help out by posting the excerpts from U-Stream. Why would I not want to help promote the upcoming Alice in Wonderland? I love Tim Burton. I love Johnny Depp. I love twisted whacked out versions of treasured fairy tales from your childhood. What's not to like? You can check out part of the event after the jump. It's split into a couple of parts, so just go to YouTube to see the rest or you can check it out here.

Last Friday, February 19th, "Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Records join(ed) forces with Hot Topic, KIIS-FM, MySpace, and artists from the upcoming album 'Almost Alice' for a great big ultimate fan event celebrating ALICE IN WONDERLAND. The event (took) place at the Hollywood and Highland Centre and streamed LIVE online. Featuring four musical acts, a visit from director Tim Burton to introduce select members of the ALICE IN WONDERLAND cast, plus opportunities to win prizes, including special meet-and-greets and a sneak peek of actual film footage. An exclusive clip (was) also shown to viewers that tune(d)-in online."

There's pretty cool stuff here. Besides the obvious interviews with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, we get to hear from the rarely interviewed Crispin Glover and Matt Lucas, who appears as Tweedledee and Tweedledum in his first American film. Thanks to Martin Long over at Susan Jacobs Inc. for the heads up.

News Bites:


Headlines...

Kristen Stewart is game for two final Twilight movies

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Cameron's idea for the new Spider-Man: Do it like Batman

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'Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy' Teaser Trailer

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New Alice In Wonderland Clip

Avatar on 3-D Blu-ray?

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Tron: Legacy Viral Countdown Reveals Cities

A Writer Chills His Brain to His Own Horror in 'Below Zero 3D'

Full Casting for 'Death Race: Frankenstein Lives'

Friday, February 19, 2010

Frame 137 Teaser Trailer


I always see James O'Barr around the area at different Comic Cons and Sci-Fi Expos and was very excited to hear about this. Hopefully, it will get funded and really become a feature film. After the jump, you can check out the one minute teaser trailer for Judd L. Tilyard's adaptation of the sci-fi short story Frame 137, which was penned and drawn by legendary The Crow creator James O'Barr. The story was first published in Dark Horse Presents in 1986.

Frame 137 Teaser from Judd L. Tilyard on Vimeo.

Here's a little more from Mr. Tilyard's Facebook page for the movie:
"The film is a sci-fi action piece based on the work of James O'Barr creator of The Crow, and made with his permission.

The film was shot on the RED using Lomo Anamorphic Lens over a weekend. Sam Ransom, the ten year old boy who plays Jonny Z (the film's hero), notably performed all his own stunts - including the fire breathing and wire-work, some of which is showcased in the Teaser.

The music used in the teaser, was also very generously recorded for the film by Nick Oliveri and Dave Grohl (The Foo Fighters, Nirvana) - my sincerest thanks guys.

You can follow the release of the short film and the development of the feature on facebook.com/frame137film."
Hopefully, we can get a hold of director Judd L. Tilyard and James O'Barr to comment and talk about the project for an interview. Be warned, this has a ten year old smoking, drinking, shooting people, and just causing mayhem in general. You know, all the things that would probably happen if a ten year old was left to fend for himself in a post-apocalyptic world. Not recommended for young kids.

Interview With Kim Catrall For The Ghost Writer


After the jump, you can check out an interview with actress Kim Catrall about her role as Amelia Bly in Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer. She talks about catching the imagination of the audience, Amelia's relationship with Adam Lang, working with Roman Polanski, working with Pierce Brosnan, Adam Lang, working with Ewan McGregor - the rebel in the story, working with Olivia Williams and the strength of Ruth. Footage provided by Summit Entertainment.

When a successful British ghostwriter, The Ghost, agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, his agent assures him it's the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project seems doomed from the start--not least because his predecessor on the project, Lang's long-term aide, died in an unfortunate accident. The Ghost flies out to work on the project, in the middle of winter, to an oceanfront house on an island off the U.S. Eastern seaboard. But the day after he arrives, a former British cabinet minister accuses Lang of authorizing the illegal seizure of suspected terrorists and handing them over for torture by the CIA -- a war crime. The controversy brings reporters and protesters swarming to the island mansion where Lang is staying with his wife, Ruth, and his personal assistant and mistress, Amelia. As The Ghost works, he begins to uncover clues suggesting his predecessor may have stumbled on a dark secret linking Lang to the CIA -- and that somehow this information is hidden in the manuscript he left behind. Was Lang in the service of the American intelligence agency while he was prime minister? And was The Ghost's predecessor murdered because of the appalling truth he uncovered?

The Ghost Writer was directed by Roman Polanski and stars Pierce Brosnan, Ewan McGregor, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, and Tom Wilkinson.

The film is out in limited theaters now.

Interview With Martin Scorsese For Shutter Island


After the jump, you can check out an interview with director Martin Scorsese about his new film, Shutter Island. He discusses the genre of the movie, Dennis Lahane, reading the script, what attracted him to the movie, casting Leonardo DiCaprio, what he responded to in the story, the story, working with Mark Ruffalo, working with Michelle Williams, creating a mood with lighting, and the feel of the movie. Footage provided by Paramount Pictures.

Two U.S. marshals, Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, are summoned to a remote and barren island off the coast of Massachusetts to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess from the island's fortress-like hospital for the criminally insane.

Shutter Island was directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, and Max von Sydow.

Out now in theaters everywhere.

Steve Norwood Enjoys His Stay On Shutter Island


Martin Scorsese's thriller Shutter Island has more in common with Angel Heart than Jacob's Ladder, if "unraveling hero" comparisons are necessary. By his own terms: it is more interested in the descent into madness than The Aviator; more about men seeking truth at the risk of their own souls than men seeking justice (through violence, as in Cape Fear). Shutter Island is a dense, elegant and sorrowful film that knows all the old trickery, yet performs effortlessly to the last shot. It is another great film by the American master, though it feels less like a Scorsese film than anything he's done in the last three decades.

It's 1954: Federal Marshal Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio, who seems quite at home in his fourth Scorsese film) is a man brimming with issues. When we first see him, he's physically sick, puking into a basin on a ferry headed to the titular island in Boston Harbor. There, Ashecliffe Hospital for the very violent, criminally insane awaits.

Teddy has a lot on his mind: a new but amiable partner (Mark Ruffalo) he's never met, wince-inducing memories of his wartime experiences (liberating concentration camps), and the headache-inducing loss of his wife in an apartment fire. An urgent request for help from Ashecliffe, where an inmate is missing, must take precedence in Teddy's mind, but the horrors and sorrows of his past keep intruding on his investigation. He quickly surmises three things: both the hospital staff and the patients are aware of something, no one wants to talk about it, and trust is in low supply.

Ashecliffe's serene head of staff, Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) accommodates the marshals, but clearly someone above him is pulling strings. Files cannot be accessed. Information cannot be shared. Cawley's subordinate Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) is less polite: he immediately begins testing Teddy, provoking defense mechanisms and gauging his reactions. But Teddy's detective skills are an equal match to the doctor's psychological finesse. After a day of runarounds and empty leads, Teddy decides they'll take the ferry back the following morning and file a report, washing their hands of the matter. But a hurricane is approaching, and leaving Shutter Island seems more daunting with every hour. It quickly becomes clear that the question isn't so much who is committing a crime, as what crime is being committed?

While DiCaprio makes the film his own, he has a substantial supporting cast filled with many fleeting, powerful performances. Jackie Earle Haley and Elias Koteas are strong as inmates who figure into the investigation; Emily Mortimer is eerily effective as a deluded multiple murderess; John Carroll Lynch is a by-the-book guard who manages the facility's security with cautious certainty. His boss is The Warden (Ted Levine), a forbidding fellow who shows up late in the game but makes his will known to DiCaprio's marshal in very explicit terms.

Scorsese's crafty applications of grandly melodramatic music, sound effects, dazzling light and murky shadow punctuate every scene, yet never distract from the persistent unease that builds ever-so slowly throughout the film. The director seems to have left behind his trademark flourishes; only a few recognizable camera moves are found in early scenes. Nor does his expertise overwhelm the story, based on the Dennis Lahane novel of the same name.

It is a terrifically fun experience, more of a queasy funhouse ride than anything he's made, even if in doing so it loses a degree of depth and memorability. But like Inglourious Basterds, Shutter Island has long, artful passages where the drama's heavy lifting balances the pure pulp surrounding it. The film also has several nods to Alfred Hitchcock, a spine-tingling use of vermin, and a suitable, perhaps even dignified, ending.

Alongside The Departed, Shutter Island comes across as the director's most accessible work, though that label should not be confused with "his best". (Review by Steve Norwood - content provider for the Asian Film Festival of Dallas - AFFD)

Eric Shirey Finds The Wolfman A Howling Good Time


Synopsis:
Lawrence Talbot is a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father, Talbot sets out to find his brother...and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself.

Review:
The Wolfman reminds me of the sequels to the original Universal monster movies of the 30’s and 40’s. You like them. You watch them because you want more of your favorite monster characters. But you know that they’re not completely up to par or as complex as their originals.

Before I move forward, I want to give credit where credit is due. When I make reference to Hammer Films in this review, it’s because Gary Murray from BigFanBoy.com pointed out to me after the screening the similarities between this remake and those classic British films. I just didn’t want to “steal” anything away from what he ends up writing.

As far as the setting of the film, it is most definitely a period piece. This hearkens back to the Hammer films more than the Universal ones, which had modern day settings. It also has a very heavy gothic overtone. From foggy countrysides to the dark and dank hallways of the Talbot homestead. This really does a great job of capturing atmosphere.

Storywise, it’s really nothing new. It’s at times comfortably familiar and at others a little thin. It feels like maybe something’s missing throughout. Through the entire climax of the film, I couldn’t help but keep thinking of the Jack Nicholson movie, Wolf.

Effects-wise, this is a big treat for horror fans. The transformation scenes and wolf makeup are very realistic and convincing, thanks to the legendary Rick Baker working his FX magic. The CGI city and background scenery is very well put together and looks beautiful. Furthermore bringing on the Hammer comparisons, keeping the blood and gore in this film were definitely one of director Joe Johnston’s main priorities. There are Technicolor red splashes of blood everywhere. Body parts fly in the air and flop on the ground almost nonstop during any scenes of action with the werewolf. Stomachs are slashed, intestines spilling out all over the ground. Heads are lopped off. This is the real deal!

Another thing I found very interesting was Danny Elfman’s soundtrack. He really reared it in with this one. There’s no signature kooky Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands vibe here. This is pretty much Elfman paying homage to the classic horror films and soundtracks of the past.

The actors all do relatively well in their parts. Benecio Del Toro plays Lawrence Talbot as a brooding and pained individual. Anthony Hopkins plays Talbot’s father with a delicious and vindictive air that shows how much fun he must have had playing the part. Hugo Weaving is commanding in his role of the Scotland Yard agent assigned to find out who’s committing the vicious murders in the countryside. Emily Blunt does a great job playing the heartbroken fiancé of Talbot’s brother, who becomes sympathetic and emotionally drawn to the helplessly cursed Lawrence.

Overall, what you’ve got with The Wolfman is an interesting mix of 10% Universal Classic Monsters, 10% of An American Werewolf in London, and 80% Hammer Horror Film. I find it strange that Universal somehow ended up mimicking and taking so many elements from the Hammer films, seeing that back in the day they would have or did keep the British studio from using any of their monster designs or images. It’s ironic how the tables have turned – the influenced became the influencers. (Review by Eric Shirey)

Reesa Travels To Shutter Island


It’s 1954 and US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is seasick aboard a ferry heading to an island in the Boston Harbor. He has been sent to Ashecliffe Hospital, a federal penal institution for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of murderess Rachel Solando. A hurricane is advancing as he slowly discovers all is not it what it seems.

On the ferry Teddy meets his new partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), who tells him that he has been recently transferred from Seattle. The island looming ahead looks forbidding and inescapable. The approaching storm casts dreariness on the already spooky location. The grounds are neat and tidy, cared for by the inmates or “patients” as they are referred to by slick Dr. Joseph Cawley (Ben Kingsley). The buildings are civil war relics, including a huge stone fort that is now called Ward C and is used for the most violent of offenders. No one is allowed there unless accompanied by Dr. Cawley or the Warden (Ted Levine).

Teddy reluctantly surrenders his firearm before entering the compound. He wants to see all the paper work on the patients and the guards, but is met by resistance from Dr. Haehring (Max von Sydow) who claims the hospital board voted no to his request. He is allowed to question the patients about Rachel Salando (Emily Mortimor) and they tell him the same answer practically word for word. During one interview, a patient from her group therapy sessions warns Teddy to “run”. While questioning the staff, they all seem to be condescending and suspicious which fuels his unease.

On top of all this paranoia, Teddy is experiencing blinding migraines, nightmares, and waking hallucinations. He has intense memories of being a soldier liberating a death camp during the war. He’s also seeing his wife Dolores (Michelle Williams) who, as he tells his partner Chuck, had died in a house fire set by arsonist Andrew Laeddis (Elias Koteas). It turns out that Laeddis is also incarcerated at Ashecliffe. Teddy confesses to Chuck that he really took this assignment to look for Laeddis who he thinks is in Ward C.

During the storm he and Chuck, dressed as orderlies, sneak into Ward C where he finds a very battered George Noyce (Jackie Earle Haley). Teddy relays that George had told him about Laeddis being in Ward C. He also told him that the patients in Ward C were also subjected to mind control experiments performed in the lighthouse. When he returns from the dark eerie fort, he’s informed that Rachel has been found and he can return to the mainland when the ferry arrives. But Teddy wants to check out the ocean surrounding the lighthouse, find Laeddis, and blow the cover off the secrets of Ashecroft Hospital.

The novel by Dennis Lehane is a better read than the resulting screenplay by Laeta Kalogridis (Pathfinder). Even if you hadn’t read the book, you will probably be able to figure out where it’s all headed. Director Martin Scorsese (The Departed and a million other quality films) effectively moves the action along punctuated by Robbie Robertson’s (The Band) heavy handed cellos….just in case you didn’t know to feel creepy enough. The film does have some interesting moments, but the whole weight of the movie feels bogged down by the claustrophobic narrative and misdirection. I’m not a DiCaprio fan and was annoyed by the constant close-ups of his furrowed brow to accentuate his psyche confusion.

For anyone who has ever lived in Boston, trying to replicate the Beantown accent is very difficult. Most people sound like they are doing Jersey or Long Island and this is no exception. It’s like people doing a Texas twang. If not done right, it becomes distracting. It’s interesting to note that Robert Downy Jr. and Josh Brolin were once considered for the parts of Teddy and Chuck. Now that would have been interesting. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)