Friday, October 31, 2008

Movie of the Week - Halloween

Thirty years after its original release, John Carpenter’s Halloween still stands, in my opinion, as the pinnacle of cinematic horror. From slow-building, heart-pounding tension to sheer, open-mouthed terror, the movie plays on the emotions central to the genre in a way that shapes every aspect of horror into razor-sharp perfection.

Most people are familiar with the plot, in which the psychotic Michael Myers escapes from a mental institution and embarks on a killing spree in small-town America. His victims: a group of helpless, unlucky teenagers, led by Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, in her first major role). Meanwhile, Myers’ psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) works desperately throughout the night to find Myers and put an end to his rampage. Loomis acts as an earnest but ultimately flawed compass when it comes to our understanding of Myers, who acts as a force that Loomis refers to as “purely and simply…evil.”

All of the devices that would become known as the conventions of modern horror are here. The teenagers are killed off, one by one, with the most promiscuous being the first to go; first-person camera shots from Myers’ point of view heighten the sense of the teens’ vulnerability; and a character is killed after speaking that most infamous of horror movie lines: “I’ll be back.” But somehow, these elements don’t seem the least bit cliché. Perhaps it’s because of the relative purity of these tropes in the late 1970s – Halloween was the first film to ever use them in the way that it did.

Unfortunately, the slasher movies that began to rise from the wake of Halloween’s success in the 1980s mistook these aspects of the movie for substance rather than style. Even Halloween’s sequels (there have been seven so far, as well as a remake – none of which were directed by John Carpenter) have fallen trap to this error, replacing the suspense and terror of the original movie with increasing amounts of violence and gore. The first film is not overly violent in comparison, though, relying instead on the viewer’s ability to sympathize with the teens’ desperation. Halloween may have created a formula for later horror movies to follow, but it did so unwittingly and in a way that has yet to be replicated to better effect.

Most importantly, and in stark contrast to nearly every horror movie that has been released since, Halloween reaches back to a time before popular culture ruled our lives – to a time when folklore and urban legend constituted the heart of the small community. The movie’s structure and plot even parallel the themes of a number of oft-repeated urban myths, making the experience at once familiar and frightening. Halloween reminds us of a time, perhaps even a real time that we experienced when we were younger, when good and evil were palpable entities and when terror seemed to lurk around every unknown corner.

Unlike most modern horror movies, there is no guilt to be found in being frightened by Halloween. It earns its scares by reincorporating folk culture into something new and terrifying, by becoming something more than the sum of its parts – and due to its familiarity with and mastery over our own subconscious, we have little choice but to follow it into the darkness of our own fears. For fans of the genre there are few films that can compete with Halloween’s particular brand of horror, and even less that can lay similar claim to being one of the best horror movies ever made.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Revenge of the Remakes

Sometimes it seems like every other movie that comes out these days is a remake. That’s not a trend that’s about to die out anytime soon, unfortunately, as there’s been an incredible amount of news concerning remakes over the last few days – none of it very good. So in honor of that, I’ve assembled the five most appalling pieces of recent remake news and ranked them from bad to absolute worst. Prepare to cringe.

5. George Clooney may be making an appearance in the upcoming remake of The Birds. Now, it’s not the George Clooney part that I think makes this bad news. In fact, I’ll see pretty much anything with his name on it – probably even this movie, unfortunately. But does the world really need a remake of The Birds? People have tried remaking the movies of Alfred Hitchcock before, and it never goes well for them (case in point: Psycho). And here’s the worst part – what if this movie ends up being successful? Will we get a Vertigo remake then? A new version of North by Northwest, perhaps? The very thought makes me shudder.

4. Sam Raimi is developing an ongoing TV show for Starz based on Spartacus. This may not actually be a movie, but I think since it’s based on one it should still be eligible for this list. I just can’t see this being a good idea. Remember when they turned Spartacus into a miniseries a few years ago? More importantly, remember how bad it was? I think this is just one of those cases where the original is such a classic that it will never be outdone, no matter how hard people try. I suppose this series could turn out all right, considering Starz generally has pretty good programming, but for now I’m not sold. I have a lot of respect for Sam Raimi as a filmmaker, but I think he should stick to what he does best – superheroes and campy horror movies.

3. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is getting a remake. According to MTV the new movie will “stay true” to the original, but I think that’s really missing the point. When it comes to movies that have a strong cult following, especially movies as funny as this one, it’s impossible for remakes to live up to the original. What often ends up happening in these situations (for example, with the recent remakes Death Race, The Invasion, Halloween, and The Wicker Man) is the new movie ends up being catered to an audience completely different from the people who liked the original. The result: unhappy fans and an indifferent general audience. Could you see The Rocky Horror Picture Show being remade? Or Blazing Saddles? I didn’t think so. This just sounds like a bad idea from the start.

2. The Star Trek remake is still happening. There’s no real concrete news to discuss concerning Star Trek, but it seems like new stills from the movie are released on an almost daily basis. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the pictures were in any way interesting, but the truth is that they’re downright boring. Who cares about a bunch of people standing around in Enterprise uniforms?

But there’s a bigger issue that I have with the Star Trek remake: I have no idea who the target audience is for this movie. Personally, I have never seen any of the Star Trek movies or even a full episode of any of the TV shows. From the standpoint of someone with no prior interest in the franchise, nothing I’ve seen or heard about the new movie excites me. It isn’t that I’m not open to liking or being interested in it, it’s just that everything released so far has been incredibly bland, to the point of being forgettable.

But while it may not be targeted toward people who are new to Stark Trek, the movie doesn’t seem to be aimed directly at hardcore Trekkies, either. The plot seems to revolve around one of the characters from the original series going back in time and changing something, which then leads to the events of this new movie happening. As a result of this change, all of the previously-made movies and TV shows technically “never happened” within the context of Star Trek canon. I’m not sure whether this is a good or bad thing, but regardless, it has a lot of older Star Trek fans upset. Maybe I’ll eat my words if the movie ends up being a success, but I’m just not feeling it right now.

1. Paramount has fast-tracked a Footloose remake starring High School Musical’s Zac Efron. This terrible information comes courtesy of IESB. Honestly, there’s not a whole lot I can say about this one to make it sound worse than it is. Instead, just imagine the entire cast of HSM performing an “exciting” new version of “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” Then, have fun trying to expel that horrible image from your mind.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Joaquin Phoenix Retires From Acting

Bad news: Joaquin Phoenix has told E! that he's retiring from acting in order to pursue a career in music. The interviewer seems to think he’s joking at first, but I think he sounds pretty serious. Plus, Phoenix has never really been the joking type and this seems like a pretty dumb thing to joke about anyway. You can watch the brief interview below.

This would be an absolute disaster for the world of film if it turns out to be true. Phoenix is a wonderful actor and his onscreen presence would surely be missed. Let's hope he has a change of heart.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Iron Man and Doctor Strange News

In an announcement that should come as no surprise to anyone, Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle have both been officially confirmed as being in Iron Man 2, with Downey also confirmed for Marvel’s upcoming superhero team-up movie, The Avengers.

Marvel also said that Iron Man director Jon Favreau would be back for Iron Man 2, and that he’ll be an executive producer on The Avengers. That still leaves the director’s chair for the movie up in the air, though. I had hoped they would go with Favreau, to be honest, so Marvel will really have to impress me with its choice if it’s going to be someone else.

On the rumor side of things, remember that Doctor Strange movie I mentioned last week? Well, according to Livenews, it sounds like Marvel has its eyes on Christian Bale for the role:
A source said: "Christian is hot property right now, courtesy of Batman.“Doctor Strange is a very different kind of hero to Batman and it’s felt Christian is the sort of actor who can make the part work on screen.“It is understood a deal could be struck in the coming weeks."
I can’t even begin to express how much I want this rumor to be true. Doctor Strange and Christian Bale…it just sounds like a match made in heaven. There are a few problems I can foresee with that casting, though.

One is that Bale is already identified with one major superhero – and he happens to belong to Marvel’s primary competition. Warner Bros. (which owns DC Comics) distributed both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and will be distributing the upcoming Terminator Salvation (also starring Bale). With Bale being such a hot commodity for them these days, I doubt the company would be willing to let him get away anytime in the near future.

If anything, talks with Marvel Studios would probably only accelerate WB getting to work on another Batman sequel, since Bale has expressed interest in doing a third movie. So, if you think about it...this Doctor Strange business could be a win no matter which way it goes.

What do you think – would you like to see Christian Bale play Doctor Strange, or is one superhero role enough for him?


Sorry for the brief hiatus, folks. I've been trying to post at least once a day but yesterday I just didn't get around to it. To make up for it here are a few pictures of some cool movie-themed pumpkins, courtesy of Walyou and Slashfilm. I was originally going to post all Star Wars pumpkins, but I just couldn't resist that last one.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two New Trailers

Below is the first trailer for Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino:

After seeing the trailer, I think Gran Torino will be an Oscar contender this year for sure. This has become my most anticipated movie of the year, right after Quantum of Solace.

A new trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was also released today:

I find it interesting that the trailer says the movie is coming out “this year.” It’s obvious that this trailer was either intended to come out next year, since the movie was pushed back to 2009, or it was made before the delay became official.

I gave up on the Harry Potter film franchise after Goblet of Fire, which was also the last book I read in the series. If I hear the new movie has returned the series to its Prisoner of Azkaban glory, it might rekindle my interest, but I won’t be holding out too much hope. The only other significant film credit director David Yates has is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which I never saw, but I heard it wasn’t anything exceptional.

Harry Potter fans, what do you think of the new trailer? How do you think Half-Blood Prince will stack up to the other movies in the series?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Movie of the Week - Young Frankenstein

More than thirty years after its original release, Young Frankenstein is still one of the greatest, if not the best, horror movie spoofs ever made. Shot in black and white, the film weaves a tale that parallels the classic Frankenstein movies of the 1930s while adding an almost constant stream of twists and gags to the formula.

Gene Wilder plays Frederick Frankenstein, the grandson of the original mad scientist. Frederick is a surgeon who inherits his predecessor’s Transylvanian castle, where he meets his servant Igor (Marty Feldman) and beautiful lab assistant Inga (Teri Garr). It isn’t long before, after finding his ancestor’s private journal, Frankenstein becomes similarly obsessed with re-animating the dead.

Frankenstein’s eccentricities are bizarre and yet strangely endearing. “It’s pronounced Fronkensteen,” he insists over and over in his first meeting with Igor. When Frankenstein finally says Igor’s name, the hunchback is quick to reply: “No, it’s pronounced Eye-gor.” The way Wilder and Feldman quip and bicker at one another throughout the movie is a constant source of entertainment. Even their facial expressions as they bumble about their experiments are comedy gold.

Inevitably, Frankenstein bestows life to the Monster (Peter Boyle) when he digs up an enormous body in a graveyard and places in it a stolen brain. Things go wrong, of course, and writer/director Mel Brooks goes on to parody several scenes from the original Boris Karloff Frankenstein movie perfectly. Gene Hackman is particularly funny as a blind, bumbling priest the Monster meets as he roams the countryside.

What makes the humor in Young Frankenstein so enduring, though, is that Brooks and the actors play it straight rather than trying too hard to amuse. It doesn’t hurt that there’s barely a throwaway line in the entire film – the jokes are frequent, funny, and memorable. If you’re looking for a movie in the Halloween spirit that’s comic rather than scary, Young Frankenstein is sure to please.

Jack Ryan Returns?

The latest movie in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series has been in development hell for years now, but it seems Paramount is finally making some progress. According to Moviehole, the studio has hired two producers for the franchise and given them a mandate “to come up with a Jack Ryan original ASAP.” No director and no star are attached yet.

Moviehole adds that there's “a possibility that the film may feature an 'older' Ryan, as opposed to a younger version.” The last Jack Ryan movie, The Sum of All Fears, featured a younger version of the character (played by Ben Affleck), and it ended up being a pretty big fumble on the parts of everyone involved. I think an older Jack Ryan might be what the series needs to get back on track at this point, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to bring Harrison Ford back into the fold.

It’s my understanding that Ryan eventually becomes president of the United States in Clancy’s novels, which sounds like it could be an interesting way to progress the film series as well. With so many reemerging franchises today starring older characters, from Indiana Jones to Rocky to Die Hard, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

Friday, October 24, 2008

In Defense of Roger Ebert

A lot of people are making a fuss today over Roger Ebert’s review of the movie Tru Loved, which he wrote having seen only the film’s first eight minutes. From IMDb:
In the Los Angeles Times, media columnist Patrick Goldstein writes today (Thursday): "If there were ever an act that indelibly painted critics as elitist snobs, it would be America's best-known critic reviewing a movie after only bothering to watch for eight minutes."

Orlando Sentinel critic Roger Moore says that writing a review of a movie based on its first eight minutes is "not cricket." He then concludes, "If we're going to start writing reviews of movies we haven't suffered all the way, or at least most of the way through, the way most people who shell out $10-12 do after they've spent the cash, we're all doomed."
There are more comments, from movie critics and readers alike, in the remainder of IMDb’s article as well as on Roger Ebert’s blog. In response, Ebert has posted a review of the entirety of the movie and voiced his regret over writing the eight-minute review. Both versions of the review can be read on Ebert’s website.

If you ask me, though, Ebert has nothing to apologize for. First of all, it’s not as if he pretended he had seen the entire movie in his original review. He very clearly states that he walked out after the first eight minutes.

As for whether or not a person can determine a movie’s quality in that short an amount of time – well, it’s hard to say. But if anyone can do it, then I have no doubt that Roger Ebert is that person. He’s been in the business longer than some critics today have been alive, and I think he of all people knows what he’s doing.

I’ve always had a great deal of respect for Ebert and his reviews, and this doesn’t affect my opinion of him in the least. I don’t see why it should affect anyone else’s either.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Gran Torino Poster

Today Warner Bros. released this poster for the upcoming movie Gran Torino, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.

It’s a bit humbling when you realize that even after all these years, Clint Eastwood has still got it. The man’s 78 years old, but he’s still scarier than a grizzly bear. This is a great poster, and it's really sparked my interest in the movie. I actually hadn’t heard of it before the poster came out, so I decided to find out a little about the plot. Here's what IMDb has to say:

Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possesion: his 1972 Gran Torino.

Sounds pretty cool to me. Gran Torino comes out on December 17, and USA Today has an excellent first look at it, which includes an interview with Eastwood. Could we be on the cusp of Hollywood’s greatest actor-turned-director nabbing yet another Oscar? Here’s hoping.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Judge Says We Are Marshall Is Not a Ripoff

This is one of the most ridiculous pieces of movie news I have seen in a long time. Apparently, the makers of a documentary about the 1970 plane crash that killed Marshall University’s football team decided to sue Warner Bros. for making We Are Marshall, a 2006 movie based on the same events. WB won the case yesterday, and the judge had this to say (from Variety):
"Though the two works tell the story of the Nov. 14, 1970, airplane crash, that event, and the events that preceded and followed, are all matters of public record which cannot be copyrighted."
Is it just me, or is this a no-brainer? Of course a movie based on real-life events is going to have something in common with a documentary on the same subject. The documentary-makers didn’t invent the story, so there’s no “copying” involved here. The judge must have had a good laugh at this case.

On the other hand, though, it might not have been such a bad thing if the makers of We Are Marshall had lost. At least then those of us who suffered through that awful movie might have been able to feel a sense of just compensation.

Hulk Will Return…But Not In a Sequel

If it seems like there’s been a lot of comic book movie news recently…well, that’s because there has been. The latest is that Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has confirmed that Hulk will be back. From Feige's interview with MTV News:

"The truth is that Hulk has had two films in the past five years, and it's time to give some of the other guys a turn," Feige said of why there was no scheduled "Hulk 2." "But certainly what we are doing is suggesting and cross-pollinating the characters between films, and like reading a comic, I'd like to set that expectation that anything can happen — and anyone can pop up — in anybody else's story.

"I would expect that people may see the Hulk again soon before he is again carrying his own film," he concluded, shouting out "The Avengers" as a possibility.

Personally, I’m fine with having to wait a while for another Hulk movie. I thought The Incredible Hulk was a pretty solid effort by all parties involved, and I would hate for them to burn themselves out by releasing a sequel too soon. And if the Hulk’s going to show up somewhere else first, then so much the better. (Would it be too much to hope for an appearance in Iron Man 2?) My only request is that they keep Edward Norton on board, since he did such a great job with the Bruce Banner aspect of the character.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quantum of Solace Footage, Anyone?

Movieweb has been kind enough to post several clips from Quantum of Solace, as well as a couple of featurettes about the movie. I’ve posted my favorite ones below. Head over to Movieweb to see the rest!

I'm anticipating this movie even more after seeing these clips. I found the one with Mathis especially interesting. I had already seen him in several trailers for the movie, and I was wondering how they were going to reincorporate him into the story after his seeming betrayal in Casino Royale. Now it seems we have a couple of clues.

Also, you might have noticed that I didn't post any of the clips involving the movie's theme song, by Jack White and Alicia Keys. That's because I think it's complete and utter garbage. If you really must see it, though, you can find the music video at the link above.

So what do you think? Based on these clips, will Quantum of Solace live up to the bar set by Casino Royale? Personally, I'm going with yes.

Doctor Strange: Coming Soon to a Theater Near You?

The president of Marvel Studios told MTV today that Doctor Strange is very likely to be the next Marvel character receiving the film treatment, right after they finish up with Avengers. People who are unfamiliar with the character may not think this is all too exciting, but trust me when I say that he is one of Marvel’s best characters that has so far gone untapped in the movie world (other than a straight-to-DVD animated movie released last year). Unlike some of the more "realistic" or technology-based superheroes we've seen in film lately, Doctor Strange is a magic-based character who I think would make for a very different kind of movie (in a good way). I will definitely be looking forward to more announcements about this movie.

In other comic book movie news, it seems there will be more Nick Fury in Iron Man 2, and that Daniel Craig turned down the role of Thor. I think we can all agree that both of those things are good news. Craig may be a good Bond, but a flying, helmeted, hammer-toting god of thunder he is not.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Being Left Out of Iron Man 2 is a Mystery to Terrence Howard

I was sad when I heard the initial rumors of Terrence Howard being replaced by Don Cheadle in the next Iron Man movie. I think Cheadle is the better actor of the two, but Howard is still great and I enjoyed his performance in the first Iron Man. It was basically assumed that Howard got axed because he couldn’t reach a financial agreement with the studio, but apparently that isn’t the case.

In an interview with NPR, Howard said that he has no idea why he was dropped from Iron Man 2. Chud provides a transcript of part of the interview:
"It was the surprise of a lifetime. There was no explanation. [The contract] just...up and vanished. I read something in the trades implicating that it was about money or something, but apparently the contracts that we write and sign aren't worth the paper that they're printed on, sometimes. Promises aren't kept, and good faith negotiations aren't always held up."
This is really disappointing. I’m never a fan of actors getting replaced in a film series, unless the original actor was just wrong for the part, but that’s not the case here at all. Maybe I shouldn’t complain, since Cheadle is one of my favorite actors – after all, this recasting could have gone much, much worse. But with possible casting changes in other upcoming sequels, including rumblings of Ed Norton being out of the Incredible Hulk follow-up, you have to wonder: would it hurt the people who cast these movies to just make a decision and stick with it?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

W. Review

While it doesn’t quite live up to the controversy surrounding it, Oliver Stone’s W. is still a fairly good film. It marks a departure from much of Stone’s previous historically based movies, in that it’s a mostly accurate depiction of events that really did happen. The film alternates in perspective between George W. Bush’s formative years, starting when he’s in college, and his first term in office as president. Stone, whose other presidential films JFK and Nixon were rather long-winded (both clock in at over three hours), shows considerably more restraint in W. by only focusing on specific moments of emotional upheaval for the young Bush.

Stone’s portrayal of Bush is surprisingly sympathetic. Bush has real, human motivations in this movie, and they’re not quite what the more cynical among us might expect. Josh Brolin plays the part extremely well, and you can’t help but like the character even when he’s acting out of utter ignorance. This may be the first time ever that someone has actually played the part of Bush, rather than simply playing a caricature of him.

Although Stone tries to boil down Bush’s life into a quest for the approval of his father (James Cromwell) a few times too many, he makes it clear that Bush (or, at least, his version of Bush) truly does believe in the ideology he claims to stand for. This can be seen no better than in a gripping war room scene – my favorite scene in the film, actually – in which the president and his cabinet discuss their plans for Iraq. While Vice President Cheney (Richard Dreyfuss, in a brilliant performance) rambles on about needing to gain control of the Middle East’s oil reserves, Bush is concerned only with “freedom” and the spread of democracy. W.’s supporting cast really shines in this scene, with the rivalry between Cheney and Colin Powell (Jeffrey Wright) being especially interesting to watch.

In fact, most of the cast give excellent performances throughout the entire movie, and I would not be surprised to see Cromwell, Wright, and especially Dreyfuss receive award nominations next year. It’s not all perfect, though. Thandie Newton’s grating portrayal of Condoleezza Rice is easily the worst part of the movie, and most of the time it seems as though she’s just walked out of a bad SNL skit. She doesn’t have many lines, thankfully, but she’s terrible enough that her presence in and of itself was enough to damage my overall opinion of the movie.

W. functions well overall, though, partly because Stone doesn’t gum up the works with a bunch of far-out, unsubstantiated conspiracy theories – in fact, most of the events in the movie are pretty well documented in real life. Some have complained that the movie glosses over such notable events as the 2000 presidential election and the specifics of Bush’s conversion to evangelical Christianity, but the fact is that they’re largely unimportant to the story being told. Stone’s sympathetic representation of Bush makes it clear that W. isn’t meant to be just a historical chronicle of Bush’s life; it’s Stone’s attempt at rationalizing what has happened to America in the last eight years.

In this light, the claims of some critics that the film was made “too early” or even “too late” seem ridiculous. W. relies on its audience being of the time when it takes place – the present – for its rhetorical message to function most effectively. It’s hard to tell whether W. will stand the test of time, as it seems doubtful that it will elicit the same emotional response from audiences viewing it ten or twenty years from now. For now, however, it is a fitting answer to nearly eight years’ worth of war, economic failure, and wasted frustration with what will surely go down in history as one of the worst American presidencies ever.

Rating: ***

About Reviews

My first review is going up in a few minutes, so I thought I would take a minute to explain the four-star rating scale I’m using. It breaks down like this:

**** = excellent, if not brilliant. A must-see by any standard.
***½ = great, though it may have some flaws.
*** = good, worth watching.
**½ = fair to mildly good.
** = mediocre at best.
*½ = not very good at all.
* = painfully bad, with little to no redeeming value.
½ = so horrible, you can’t help but wonder if it’s intentional.
0 stars = so excruciatingly awful, it can barely even be considered a movie.

One thing to keep in mind is that review scores are relative. So, for example, the rating for a movie like Wedding Crashers would be relative to other, similar comedies, not to things like The Godfather or Saving Private Ryan. Since movies are so diverse in terms of their content, it only makes sense that they can be worth seeing for different reasons, and I think this rating system is the best way to reflect that.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blu-ray Players Will Be More Affordable…Soon

I just came across an article on Gizmodo which says that we’ll be seeing Blu-ray players go on sale for as little as $149 on Black Friday (November 28th). This is great news, considering I was already planning to upgrade to Blu-ray this holiday season.

The particular Samsung model the article talks about is actually fairly cheap right now – it’s just over $200 on and comes with the Ultimate Matrix Blu-ray collection for free. So if you’re a Matrix fan who’s looking to go Blu, there’s really no reason not to upgrade now. I’m personally not interested in owning the whole trilogy, though, so I’ll be waiting until later in the year. Hopefully November will see a lot of first-generation Blu-ray discs go on sale as well so I can start out with a nice, beefy collection.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Is Daniel Craig Done With Bond?

According to monsters & critics, it seems Daniel Craig may be having second thoughts about returning as James Bond after Quantum of Solace (which comes out next month):
The actor - who reprises his role as the British spy in upcoming movie 'Quantum of Solace' - says despite signing a contract for another two movies in the franchise, he doesn't know whether he will return to the character.

He said: "I did sign on for four so a piece of paper says there are two more to do. But let's see how this one goes. In the film business, everything doesn't always go according to plan. We'll wait and see. If it goes wrong, we'll have to rethink things."
I thought Craig did an excellent job in Casino Royale, and I would hate to see him leave the role so soon. His words are pretty cryptic, though, so it’s hard to tell whether there’s really any cause for alarm. On the one hand, this could be part of an attempt by Craig to convince the studio that they should renegotiate the terms of his contract. I think this is the most likely scenario, and that he’s probably just looking for more money for his third and fourth Bond movies.

The only other way I can interpret his comment is that he’s disappointed with how Quantum of Solace turned out for some reason. The way he phrased it just gives me the same vibe as the infamous “don’t get your hopes too high” comments that George Lucas made right before Indy 4 came out. QOS is looking great from everything I’ve seen so far, though, so for now I’m really hoping that this is all just a lot of smoke.

Movie of the Week - The Fugitive (1993)

There are some actors who I think are absolutely fascinating to watch, even if the rest of the movie is beyond horrible. Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones both fall into that category. But fortunately for us, The Fugitive is not a bad movie at all. In fact, it’s a really, really good one, and the fact that Ford and Jones are in it makes it that much better.

Ford plays Richard Kimble, a doctor who’s been falsely convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife. When his fellow prisoners stage an escape from their police bus, Kimble goes on the run in an effort to prove his innocence. Jones plays Samuel Gerard, the U.S. Marshal hell-bent on bringing Kimble in.

What makes this movie so interesting is that while the two main characters have entirely opposing goals, they’re both essentially doing the right thing. As the audience we root for Kimble to solve the puzzle of his wife’s death, but at the same time it’s hard not to sympathize with Gerard for wanting to stop him.

Of course, the movie’s breakneck pace and well-done action setpieces don’t hurt its appeal either. While you may have to mildly suspend your disbelief when, early in the movie, Ford leaps from the side of an overturned bus just as a speeding train crashes into it, The Fugitive is entertaining throughout and never descends into the outright absurdity that’s present in so many action movies these days.

Jones and Ford are helped by a great supporting cast, which includes Julianne Moore and the always-amusing, multi-faceted Joe Pantoliano. The movie’s other characters go a long way toward adding a sense of realism to the story, making it more than just a game of cat and mouse between two larger-than-life figures. As an action movie, and even just as a movie in general, The Fugitive hits all the right beats and makes for a very satisfying two hours.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Yahoo Names the Ten Most Biographically Inaccurate Movies

In honor of Oliver Stone’s W. releasing this weekend, Yahoo Movies has put together a list of what they consider to be the ten most biographically inaccurate movies of all time. You can check out the list (with pictures!) right here.

For those who don’t want to click through the entire article, here’s the list, along with the real-life person being portrayed in each movie:

10. A Beautiful Mind (John Nash)
9. Ray (Ray Charles)
8. Houdini (Harry Houdini)
7. The Hurricane (Rubin “Hurricane” Carter)
6. Amadeus (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
5. Mongol (Genghis Khan)
4. Young Mr. Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln)
3. The Doors (The Doors – specifically, Jim Morrison)
2. Night and Day (Cole Porter)
1. Young Einstein (Albert Einstein)

I’m actually surprised that more of Oliver Stone’s films didn’t make the list. JFK misrepresented the life of Jim Garrison pretty badly (although it was still a good movie), and Nixon was chock-full of Stone’s signature revisionist history as well. I have yet to see W., but I’m curious to see how it stacks up to his other movies when it comes to historical accuracy. Some other movies I’d place on the list are Catch Me If You Can and American Gangster, although again, I did think they were good movies. Also, I really have to see Young Einstein now – that movie sounds like a riot.

So what movies do you think should have made the list? Feel free to leave a comment below!


Hi there, and welcome to my movie blog! This being the first post, I should probably say a few things about myself and why I’ve decided to start this blog. If you’re looking for actual movie-related content, then you can look forward to the blog proper starting either later today or tomorrow. But for everyone who doesn’t mind indulging me for a few moments, feel free to keep reading.

It’s been quite a while now since I first considered starting a blog about movies. I love movies – I love reading, writing, and talking about them. And, of course, I love watching them. My friends were encouraging when I mentioned the idea, and I decided that I would follow through with it. But, time and time again, I put off getting started.

More than anything else, the problem was getting off the ground. I’ve always thought the hardest part of doing most things is getting started, and that it gets a lot easier once you have momentum on your side. So here’s hoping that momentum is with me this time around, and that it can stay with this blog for a good long time.

So why even start a movie blog, anyway? Well, one thing that I’ve found especially encouraging as a fan of the movies over the last few years is how much more “aware” the mainstream public is when it comes to the world of film. Just a few years ago, the movies that made it to the major awards shows were easily dismissed by a lot of viewers. Oftentimes, people hadn’t even heard of the movies that had been nominated for the most prominent awards. Today, however, these types of movies are much more widely recognized and, as a result, they are much more successful. This has put a pressure on the entire movie-making world to produce higher-quality movies throughout the entire year, not just during the so-called “awards season.” If you’re doubtful, just look at the high caliber of America’s summer blockbusters over the last few years. Overall, right now is a great time to be a movie fan.

I have to give most of the credit for this shift to the Internet – to news sites and blogs devoted to informing us and expanding our enjoyment of film in one way or another. They make the world of film more accessible, more social, and more exciting, and they provide the casual fan and the hardened movie aficionado alike with a place where they can feel at home. I can only hope that my own little blog lives up to the precedent established by so many others before me.

At this point, I hope I’ve made it clear that this blog isn’t about just me. Conversation is one of the most exciting things we can do when it comes to movies, and I encourage you, whether you agree or disagree with what I have to say, to leave comments expressing your own opinions. Heck, why not leave a comment on this post when you’ve finished reading?

As for the specific direction of this blog, I don’t plan for it to be a “movie news” blog. I also don’t plan for it to be a “reviews-only” blog. Instead, I think it should be a little bit of both. We don’t compartmentalize our thoughts about movies in such a rigid, fact/opinion way, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to write about them in that way either.

That said, I’ll be sure to comment on movie news that I find interesting or significant. And when I do review movies, I’ll do my best to keep the movies I review relevant in some way. In most cases they will either be fairly recent (to theaters or DVD), part of a special theme I’m talking about, or part of a “Movie of the Week” feature that I plan on doing. So, hopefully, that leaves a bit of something for everyone.

Anyhow, I figure that’s enough for one post. Welcome again, and whether you were one of the people who encouraged me to start this blog in the first place or you’ve just stumbled across it from some distant corner of the net, I hope you stick around.