THIS JUST IN! Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Trailer

Woo hoo! Another preview to one of my anticipated movies this year.

Synopsis: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6′s echelons.

Wow, that is one suspenseful trailer, but man it looks sooo good! I love spy thrillers and this one looks realistic and intense. Espionage is serious business, none of that Bond frivolity, who has time for sipping martinis and shagging women when you’ve got a crisis! I almost didn’t recognize Tom Hardy w/ his blond looks, but he sure looks good! Swedish director Tomas Alfredson who did the critically acclaimed vampire film Let the Right One In is directing this one. The story is based on the 1974 British spy novel by John le Carré that was adapted into a BBC miniseries back in 1979 with Alec Guinness, which I have yet to see. “Le Carre’s spies live in a world of shades of grey – none of the good guy/bad guy clarity of the James Bond world,” Mark Phillips said on his CBS interview article with the author.

If there is a best ensemble cast award, this one containing some of the best UK’s dramatic actors is certainly a shoo-in! :D Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Toby Jones, and John Hurt. OH MY! The only thing is, where is the female cast?? On the IMDb page, there are only two actresses listed and I’m not familiar w/ either one of them.

Oldman plays George Smiley, a middle-aged, taciturn, perspicacious intelligence expert in forced retirement. He is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service.  As I said before on my Gary Oldman spotlight post, I am pulling for him to get at least a Best Actor Oscar nomination!


What do you think folks? Is this one on your radar?

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Morality Bites Blog-a-thon: Do filmmakers have a moral responsibility?

.Thanks to Ronan of Filmplicity and Julian of DirtyWithClass for organizing this thought-provoking blog-a-thon!

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I still remember the post that started it all… it was in the comment section of this post on DWC blog when Julian suggested to Ronan to get people to share their opinion on the hot-button issue, and voilà! :D


Do filmmakers have a moral responsibility?

When I read Ronan’s post on the issue of censorship, somehow I immediately remembered the utterly annoying Indonesian censoring system that basically puts a black tape over areas deemed inappropriate… such as in many of James Bond’s opening sequence where customarily naked girls are dancing about to the Bond theme song. For some reason this one at the end of For Your Eyes Only is the one that’s stuck in my mind!
I grew up in a culture with heavy censorship… it’s sooo strict to the point of absurdity. I’ve mentioned this on Ronan’s blog a while ago, even sitcoms like Growing Pains are censored! They’d even cut off scenes the Seaver parents smooching in the kitchen before one of them went off to work, and I always wonder, what is wrong with a scene of a loving marriage??! I’m not going into what law/ethics the Indo government based such strict codes on as I don’t want to get into political/religious discussion, but to put it mildly, unlike in the US, artistic freedom isn’t exactly upheld in a high regard in my home country.
However, as wonderful as such freedom is, the flip side to such a virtue is that it can easily be abused and/or be used to justify questionable content.

With the issue of morality, as a lot of other bloggers more eloquent than I have pointed out, is that it is nearly impossible to standardize or even define. What one person consider moral is different from person to person, because every person has their own ‘standard’ they go by that is guided by their own unique personal worldview. But whilst it’s impossible to measure the conventional standards of each person, I’d think that there is a certain barometer if you will that MOST people will regard as good or evil. I mean, one might enjoy watching Patrick Bateman in American Psycho whack his colleague’s head off with a chainsaw just because he feels like it, but if we ask that person whether that act is wrong or not, I can’t imagine anyone would say that it is perfectly fine to do so. The same case with the extremely violent behaviors found in films like SAW, Human Centipede and a number of other slasher flicks out there that have become increasingly popular.

Though it’s debatable whether there is a shift in moral code, it’s safe to say that people’s tolerance for certain things depicted in the media surely have changed over the years. What’s considered taboo before has become the norm and constant exposure to ‘shocking’ imagery/language/behavior surely have the power to desensitize our minds. I know that for me, my tolerance for violence and foul language have actually decreased as I get older. I’m becoming more mindful of what things I expose myself to, not only because I feel that is the right thing to do, but simply because I don’t find enjoyment in them any more. Those things don’t serve any purpose whatsoever as it neither inspire nor entertain me. But it seems that I am in the minority as there are perhaps more movies out there that are foul-mouthed than those that aren’t.

Sure there is the argument of presenting certain bad behaviors to illustrate a point or depict what really happened in history. So context definitely matters. But even so, I respect filmmakers who opt to show the violence, sexual act or what have you OFF SCREEN. One film that I thought did a great job in getting the point of the story across without resorting to unnecessary violence is Road to Perdition. It’s a dark story, yes, and there are violent scenes to be sure, but they’re not gratuitous for the sole purpose to shock the viewers.
My main concern about this morality argument is more towards films marketed to kids or young adults as they’re the most vulnerable and susceptible to pop culture. The other day I just read about doctors urging ban for junk food ads during kids shows, and I believe there are some strict order that ban sugary drinks and limiting the fat/sugar content of foods sold in middle and high schools. Now, I’m all about promoting good, nutritious food for kids (or anyone of all ages for that matter), but it strikes me that our society seems to be more concerned by what enters our physical bodies but not so much about what gets into our spiritual bodies, our soul. If there are calls to healthy eating that seem to be embraced by food makers/restaurants as well as average consumers, why is there such resistance to measures taken towards ‘healthy viewing’? If the same ‘restraint’ if you will is applied to what kids watch these days, perhaps raunchy teen shows such as Skins might not even be allowed to air to begin with.

I’ve been reading some arguments of those who don’t think filmmakers have moral responsibility and that such responsibility should be placed on the viewers instead. Sorry to single you out Julian but I just want to speak to your argument that ‘…viewers can, or at least should be able to judge what is appropriate for them, and more importantly know what they can and can’t apply from a movie into there actual lives’ Well, certainly in a perfect utopia, it would be nice if that were the case. It’s true that some people who’ve been exposed to dark/violent/sexual content since they’re a young age might not always turn out to be a disturbed person or serial killer. But that is not to say that there has never been a correlation between media violence and real-life violence. There have indeed been reports of some individuals doing very bad things because they are affected by what they’ve watched/played (in the case of violent video games). As in the case of the Columbine High School massacre over a decade ago, analysts/psychologists found that “…part of the killers’ problem may have been desensitization due to their constant exposure to violent imagery in such video games, as well as music and movies …” (per Wikipedia) Coincidentally, I have just read this article on CNN at lunch today and I couldn’t believe how extremely violent a lot of those video games that are easily accessible to kids, but that is a whole other discussion!

The issue of moral responsibility can be applied to all sorts of media, but since the question specifically pertains to filmmakers, I’m going to just contain my answer to movies.

So my answer to the question is: YES, the filmmaker do have a moral obligation to the audience, especially those geared to kids and teens who may not have the best judgments of right and wrong.

To borrow a quote from a famous Marvel superhero, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ I think that same sentiment can be applied to the powerful organization that is Hollywood (Now of course, there are other filmmakers outside of the US film industry, but Hollywood is by far the most mainstream). However, I don’t think the sole accountability lies ONLY with them. It ought to be a SHARED one with parents and teachers, as well as the moviegoers themselves. I think parents today have a much more challenging task in protecting their kids from all the temptations/distractions that bombard them day in and day out and my friend Scott (Custard) who’s a father of two girls can attest to that. There is a delicate balance between shielding them from harmful content and completely censoring them from anything that would help them to learn what’s right or wrong. I hope that when I become a parent one day I’d be able to know the difference. But as Ronan says in his post, I appeal that the power that be in Hollywood to take the initiative and give us a better quality of movies to choose from.


So that’s my two cents. Agree or disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments.

Guest Post: Ted ranks his favorite Quentin Tarantino films

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[rtm’s note: With the recent casting of Jamie Foxx in Tarantino’s upcoming film Django Unchained, Ted looks back on some of his favorite films from the Tennessee-born director. Also check out Ted’s review of Django Unchained script.]

QT is one of my favorite directors working in Hollywood today and yes I do think he’s a hack but he’s a damn good hack. He’s able to combine his favorite genre films from the 60s and 70s and put in own spin on them. With the news that he’s going to make a western, I thought I should list my favorite films of his. I’ll only list films that he was the sole director, I’m not going to list films or TV shows that he co-directed, co-wrote or starred in. Also, I won’t go into the plot of each film since readers of this site probably know QT’s films pretty well. In order, below are the films:

1. Pulp Fiction
I actually didn’t care for this film the first time I saw it. I thought it was weird and well just plain sucked. So a couple of years later, I decided to give it another shot since it got nominated for so many Oscars. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it the second time around and it’s now one of the few films I’d call a masterpiece. I have seen this film countless times now and I’m still waiting for it to come out on Blu-ray. Highly recommended if you’ve never seen it.


2. Inglourious Basterds
Tarantino spent over ten years writing the script of this film and I think it was well worth it. I love this movie, all the performances were great, especially Christoph Waltz as the sinister Col. Landa. QT said when he first wrote the script, he wanted to cast big named stars in the movie. He wanted Sly Stallone as the Basterds leader then Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Bruce Willis and Adam Sandler will play the Basterds. He wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger as Landa and the film was going to be more action oriented. Of course around this time, those actors were still making $20mil per movie so he figured there’s no way he can cast them all so he decided to re-write it. When he finally was ready to shoot the movie, he met with Leo DiCaprio and offered him the Landa role but Leo told him to cast an actual German for the role instead. We have to thank Leo for that suggestion.


3. Kill Bill
I know there are two films but I count them as one because originally the film was supposed to be released as one movie.  After The Weinstein Bros. saw the film, they told QT to cut it into two so they could make more money from it. Great move since both films earned around $70mil each, had they released it as one, they’d only make $70mil. QT’s take on the kung-fu and spaghetti western was just awesome; he even played homage to Bruce Lee’s Game of Death and Sergio Leone’s For A Few Dollars More.

I thought Uma Thurman got robbed for not getting an Oscar nomination for her role as The Bride. A little tidbit about the second film’s ending, in the script there’s a big fight scene between The Bride and Bill. The scene would’ve taken place right after their conversation near the end of the film. The fight was going to be on the beach and Bill’s demise was quite brutal, I think that’s a correct word for it. Rumors been going around that QT actually shot the scene but he didn’t like it and decided to not use it. Of course he never confirmed or denied those rumors. So hopefully we’ll get to see it in the near future.

4. Reservoir Dogs
I didn’t see this film until after I saw Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, by then I was in the QT fan club and wanted to see all of his work. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started watching this film but was quite surprised of how much I enjoyed it. The film has very intense torture scene, I still having a hard time sitting through it even if I watch it today. But I thought the way the scene ended was quite ingenious; I definitely didn’t see it coming.

5. Jackie Brown
QT’s take on the Blaxploitation genre was very good but it wasn’t well received by the critics or audiences. I think many people were expecting another version of Pulp Fiction even though he kept telling people that isn’t. I remember a guy I used to work with at a video store, he was so excited to see this movie and I kept telling him it won’t be like Pulp Fiction and he said he knew that going in. Well after he saw it, he told me it sucked because it wasn’t anything like Pulp Fiction. I thought it was funny and just laughed at him. I’ve only seen this movie once; it’s definitely one of my least favorite films of QT. I’ll see it again once it comes out on Blu-ray.

6. Death Proof (part of Grindhouse)
I enjoyed this film but can’t say it’s good because the film was pointless and didn’t have any plot whatsoever. Going into this film, I expected to see his version of Halloween or Friday the 13th, but what I got was a movie about pretty girls talking nonsense and they kept talking and talking and talking. Although I thought the chase scene at end was awesome and the little twist was pretty cool too. I can’t recommend the film to anyone unless you’re a huge die-hard fan of QT like I am.


Well those are my ranking of QT’s films, from best to worst. What do you think? If you’re a fan of QT, how would you rank his films?

THIS JUST IN! Second Immortals Trailer

Happy Monday, everybody!

Ooooh, lookie here. As you surely already know, I’ve been anticipating this movie for some time (you can see all my coverage on Immortals here). Last April I put up the first trailer and last night, director Tarsem Singh released the second one via Ryan Seacrest’s website. Check it out below:

I love swords & sandals genre and Greek mythology tales, and having one of my fave British actors Henry Cavill in the lead as Theseus just makes me anticipate this all the more! The trailer definitely is an improvement from the first one and Henry already looks much more expressive and engaging than Sam Worthington in Clash of the Titans. The rest of the cast is ok, apart from Mickey Rourke as the bloodthirsty King Hyperion and Luke Evans as Zeus, I’m not overly enthused about Stephen Dorff or Kellan Lutz. Indian actress Frieda Pinto as Phaedra seems fitting though, she’s such an unearthly beauty and I’m glad to see a person of color getting the female lead in this movie. Both Henry and Luke are two up and coming Brits high on my to-watch list, and I hope I get to meet them next month at San Diego Comic Con! :D

I was bummed out when I heard news last week that Marvel Studios won’t have a big presence at SDCC this year. But… that disappointment is short-lived when I read reports that IMMORTALS will indeed be in Hall H!!! According to Stars Entertainment website, Relativity Media has announced their lineup for Hall H that includes Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire (too bad one of the cast members Michael Fassbender won’t be in the guest panel), The Raven with John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe, AND Tarsem’s Immortals! Evans’ star power is surely on the rise as he’ll be amongst the panelists for the period thriller The Raven as well. Looks like everyone from Immortals will be present at the Con… AND there’ll be an official autograph signing at the Convention Center, wahoo!

Man, oh man! Just the thought of being able to shake hands with the future Superman just gets me all giddy! :D


Ehm, now that I got that out of my system… what do you think of the second trailer?

Weekend Roundup: ‘Black Swan’ review

Summer is certainly a busy month and this past weekend was another one jam-packed w/ activities. Last weekend I mentioned about the Fill Their Plate Run 5K/10K, well this Saturday morning my friends and I volunteered at a meal-packing event for Kids Against Hunger, a humanitarian food-aid organization which mission is to significantly reduce the number of hungry children throughout the world. There were about 60 something people in our shift and we packed about 12,000 meals to be sent to Haiti.

We didn’t have time to make it to the cinema but managed to watch Black Swan which I put in our Netflix queue quite a while ago. But before I get to my review, I’d like to remind everyone of an upcoming blog-a-thon called Morality Bites, spearheaded by my pals Ronan of Filmplicity and Julian of DirtyWithClass blogs. It’s a blog-a-thon that ask the burning question:

Does a filmmaker have a moral responsibility?
The rules are simple: Publish a post on your blog in response to this question or simply post your response on the page wall and email us a link to your post.

Click on the graphic to go to the Facebook page for more information or sign up on the FB wall. Hope you all will participate this Wednesday.

Now, on to the review…

BLACK SWAN

Obsession is a dangerous thing… even more lethal when you are obsessed with perfection. Nina Sayers is a beautiful ballet dancer who nabs the much-coveted lead role of a new production of Swan Lake. She’s perfect as the delicate White Swan, her teacher repeatedly tells her, but struggles to pull off the darker, more provocative part of the Black Swan. The stage performance tells of a tragic story where the Black Swan seduces the White Swan’s Prince which leads to the heartbroken White Swan killing herself.

This is the role of a lifetime — and like everyone in the grueling profession, Nina’s life is completely consumed with ballet and the dream of being cast in such a prestigious production. To make matters worse, she lives with a controlling mother, Erica, who was a former ballerina herself. Nina’s practically suffocated by her mother’s constant barrage of questions and demands, but at the same time, she is all she has because Nina’s got zero social life outside of her rigorous training. The ultimate tragic figure, director Darren Aronofsky takes us on a psychological ‘thrill of terror’ ride as Nina descends into madness the more she embodies the sinister side of the Black Swan.

Nina’s life is chock-full of complicated relationships — with her mother, her instructor, her main rival Lily, and ultimately with herself. As Leroy astutely whispers to her just before she goes on stage, “The only person standing in your way is you. It’s time to let her go. Lose yourself.” Her relationship with the free-spirited Lily is particularly intriguing. Nina is jealous of Lily because she easily personifies the sensual nature of the Black Swan, whilst at the same time being fascinated as well as threaten by her.

I’ve been warned by several people that this is a movie that messes with your mind… the line is blurred between reality and dreams/nightmares, one can’t tell when the illusions ends and reality begins. It’s a fair warning as the movie is not only spooky but can be frustrating at times as we’re always guessing what’s in Nina’s head and what actually happens.

This film was nominated for a slew of awards including Best Picture Oscar. After seeing this, I do think the accolades are well deserved. I was quite astounded that the movie had a measly $13 million budget as the production quality made it look more expensive than that. Aronofsky depicts the enigmatic world of ballet with a keen eye and the whole camera movement, choreography, the music by Clint Mansell and even use of color scheme captures the eerie and spooky mood throughout.

The casting is spot on all around as well. Parisian thespian Vincent Cassel is perfectly creepy but brilliant teacher, Barbara Hershey as the control freak mother, and even Winona Ryder as the cast-aside Swan Lake star Beth is unforgettable in her small role. Props for the casting agent for finding actresses who look believable as ballerinas. Mila Kunis is spot on as the sexy Lily who’s quite the comic relief in the movie. Her role the antithesis of the high-strung Nina though I don’t know if it’s really much of a stretch for Kunis as I feel she’s played this type of roles before.

As for Portman, she impressively carries this movie as the tortured soul protagonist. The amount of physical and emotional effort she puts into the role is nothing short of astounding. Her melancholic face suits the role well, as it seems that throughout the film she’s confined into looking either nervous or frightened. But there is one scene during her stage performance where she has this sinister look on her face as she becomes ‘possessed’ by the Black Swan. I’ve never seen that side of Portman before, and that last fifteen minutes of the movie really floored me [as I was already at the edge of my seat the whole time!]

So, did I enjoy the movie? Well, now that is an another question entirely. This is one of those movies I truly appreciate and am glad I’ve seen it because it was really well-crafted. At the same time, because there are lots of scenes that are extremely uncomfortable to watch, I don’t think I want to see this again. I find the world of ballet quite fascinating – I took a couple of lessons as a wee kid [fortunately I never dreamed of becoming a ballerina!] and have enjoyed a few ballet performances in my life. Yet because of the high suspense and state of mind when watching the film, I couldn’t quite enjoy the beauty of those performances… it’s as if Nina’s persistent state of twitchy restlessness rubs off on me as I keep anticipating something bad is about to happen.

Still, I think Black Swan lives up to the hype and for that I’m giving it a high grade. It’s one of those movies that lingers long after the end credits, oh and even the end credits segment itself is beautiful and if I had seen this at the cinema, it would be worth staying around for.

4 out of 5 reels

So what did you see this weekend? I feel like I’m the last person to see this movie, so most likely you’ve seen ‘Black Swan’ already.  If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

Vintage posters of Disney Princess Movies – in honor of Pixar’s BRAVE teaser poster

Happy Friday, friends!

A few weeks ago I posted some concept art on Disney/Pixar’s BRAVE. Well, now Disney and Pixar has revealed the teaser poster. LOVE it!!

And now we’ve got a teaser trailer, wahoo! I LOVE every minute of it, I’ve watched it three times this morning already :D I love the Scottish accent of the narrator, I can’t tell whose it is though, I want to say it’s Craig Ferguson but it could also be Kevin McKidd? Anyway, check it out below:


Here’s the more detailed plot from /Film:

Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Merida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Merida one day defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to set things right, Merida seeks out an eccentric old Wise Woman (Julie Walters) and is granted an ill-fated wish. Also figuring into Merida’s quest — and serving as comic relief — are the kingdom’s three lords: the enormous Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), the surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), and the disagreeable Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane).

Pixar’s 13th feature film will not only have its first female heroine, it’s also it’s first fairy tale fantasy (check out my review). Oh, and it’s also the first Pixar animated feature with a darker theme, here’s what director Mark Andrew told EW InsideMovies “What we want to get across [with the teaser] is that this story has some darker elements… Not to frighten off our Pixar fans — we’ll still have all the comedy and the great characters. But we get a little bit more intense here.” The mystical looking stones in the background also have some significance according to producer Katherine Sarafian, she’s quoted in the same article as saying that “Those stones are actually a pretty important set in the film… We can’t say what happens there, but they were inspired by an actual location in Scotland that we visited multiple times during our research. It was a very powerful setting for the kind of things we want to have happen in the story.” Oooh, all of this tidbit just amped my excitement tenfold! I’ve always been fascinated by Scottish culture [er… and Scottish men, ahah] and it’s one of those places in the world I still dream of visiting.

So in honor of Scottish Princess Mérida, here’s a look at some awesome vintage Disney ‘Princesses’… Snow White, Princess Aurora, Cinderella, Belle, and Ariel. My favorite of all is Sleeping Beauty… it’s my all time favorite Disney’s fairy tale feature because of the absolutely magnificent visuals, the wonderful Tchaikovsky’s music, and of course, the most elegant Disney villain, Maleficent.

….


So are you excited for BRAVE? And which one of Disney’s fairy tales is your favorite?

Five Notable Directing Siblings Working in Hollywood Today

This post idea actually came about a year ago when I first heard the rumor about Jonathan Nolan collaborating with his brother Christopher on the upcoming Superman reboot. Of course that is not the case, but they are indeed writing the script together for The Dark Knight Rises, which will be their fourth screenwriting collaboration after Memento, The Prestige and The Dark Knight. Well, since I came across the Wachowkis’ Cloud Atlas project I wrote about last week, I figure it’s a good a time as any to finally wrap up this post.

So my pal Ted and I are taking a look at the five major directing siblings who’ve made their mark in Hollywood. Here they are in alphabetical order:

..1. The Coen Brothers

Ruth Joel and Ethan Coen grew up in a Jewish community in St. Louis Park (which is the first suburban area I lived in when I first moved to the Twin Cities). I also just learned that their mother, Rena, was an art historian at St. Cloud State University (my alma mater). Known for their dark comedy, I recognize that they’re one of the best filmmakers in Hollywood today, but I have to say their movies are not exactly my cup of tea. I quite like Fargo but I’m not in love with it as a lot of people are, and I can count how many movies of theirs I’ve seen with one hand. I did like True Grit a lot however, even though I’m not into Westerns at all. In fact, it’s one of my top 5 best movies pick of last year.

Ted These guys are two of my favorite directors working in Hollywood today and I pretty much enjoyed most if not all of their films. My favorite movies: Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, No Country For Old Men, Fargo, True Grit, The Hudsucker Proxy and The Big Lebowski.

What are they up to now?
They’re currently filming Gambit, a crime comedy (their specialty) starring Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman and Colin Firth.

..2. The Farrelly Brothers


Ruth
– Peter and Bobby Farrelly are originally from Cumberland, Rhode Island and often film their movies in the New England area. They’re sports enthusiasts who often cast sports stars in cameo roles in their movies. According to this Tribute bio page, they scored their first credit with two episodes of the award-winning series Seinfeld which led to them getting the green light to do Dumb and Dumber in 1994. Their brand of humor is irreverent, politically incorrect and often use slapstick, gross bathroom jokes in their movies. Two of their movies, Something About Mary & Dumb and Dumber are my guilty pleasures… somehow I can’t turn away every time I see these movies playing on TV.

Ted – Throughout the 1990s these guys were the go to directors for grossed out comedies but their last few films were box office busts. Jim Carrey mentioned that they might do a sequel to Dumb and Dumber, so maybe that could be their comeback. Favorite movies: Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, Kingpin and Me, Myself and Irene.

What are they up to now?
They’ve recently wrapped Movie 43, a feature-film comprised of short comedy segments, here’s the cast so far: Elizabeth Banks, Gerard Butler, Kieran Culkin, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Moretz, Liev Schreiber, Sean William Scott, Tony Shalhoub, Emma Stone, Matt Walsh, Patrick Warburton, Naomi Watts, and Kate Winslet (read more about it in this post). They’re also producing The Three Stooges remake that’s currently filming.

..3. The Hughes Brothers


Ruth
– Albert and Allen Hughes are twin brothers from Detroit of African American and Iranian Armenian descent. I’m not very familiar with their work as their movies are extremely violent. I just saw The Book of Eli recently which I thought was quite good, but because of the amount of violence, I don’t think I want to see that again. I’m curious to see From Hell which is based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel Jack the Ripper. I like period movies and the story is set in Victorian era, plus there’s Johnny Depp as the lead. But Ted gave me this warning,”From Hell is quite violent just like all of The Hughes Brothers’ films, in fact I think The Book of Eli was their tamest work. The violence in Menace to Society, Dead Presidents and From Hell were so realistic that it probably made some people sick.” Yikes!

TedThese bros. have only done four films together but all of their films were quite good. Back in the late 1990s they were offer a chance to direct both Superman and Planet of the Apes reboot. The studio executives didn‘t like their pitch so they moved on to other projects. Menace to SocietyIf you‘ve never seen it give it a rent, it‘s way better than the overrated Boys‘ n the Hood. Dead Presidents  was about the effect of the Vietnam war has on war veterans except it’s from the perspective of African Americans. It’s a great film and I think it’s one of the most underrated films from the 1990s. Give it a rent if you’ve never seen it. Just a warning though, it’s quite violent and it doesn’t have a happy ending at all. Same with Menace to Society.

What are they up to now?
The last year or so they’ve been developing a film version of a cult Japanese animated film Akira but last we heard they left that project. [Added 6/27 – earlier today SlashFilm reported that Allen Hughes is developing a noir film called Broken City with Mark Wahlberg.]

..4. The Scott Brothers


Ruth
– Ridley and Tony Scott are the directing brothers I’m most familiar with and have seen a lot of their movies. The English film directors are seven years apart in age, raised in an Army family and both attended the Royal College of Art. In 1968, Ridley and Tony Scott founded Ridley Scott Associates (RSA), a film and commercial production company, and you could say they’re two of the most prominent British directors working today.

I like Sir Ridley‘s work much more than his younger brother Tony’s though, as Gladiator is one of my favorite movies of all time and Blade Runner is one of my favorite sci-fis. I’ve dedicated a post for Ridley’s ultra-prolific work, at 74 years old he hasn’t shown any sign of slowing down. Out of Tony Scott‘s work, my favorite is Spy Game (Honorable mention: Top Gun as it was the coolest thing when I saw it back in high school!)

Ted – These two bros. have never co-directed a film but they’ve produced a lot of films together. I think most people will agree with me that Ridley Scott is the more talented one. Below are my favorite films from each brother:

Ridley Scott: Blade Runner, Gladiator, Black Rain, Black Hawk Down and American Gangster. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t include Alien right? Well to be honest with you, I didn’t like that film at all, I thought it was well made but I just didn’t find it to be scary or thrilling. Just my opinion of course.

Tony Scott: Enemy of the State, True Romance, Revenge and The Last Boy Scout. Tony Scott‘s last few films were pretty awful in my opinion.

What are they up to now?
Ridley Scott is currently filming Prometheus, an alien sci-fi thriller starring Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron.

Tony Scott He was set to develop Emma’s War, about an expatriate British foreign aid worker in Sudan who married guerrilla leader Riek Machar, but according to Wiki, the family objected to a film based on the book so the project is delayed. He’s now set to direct Top Gun 2, but no news yet whether Tom Cruise will reprise his role as Maverick.

..5. The Wachowskis [formerly Wachowski Brothers]


Ruth
Born in Chicago as Laurence (Larry) and Andy Wachowski, Larry had a sex change a few years ago and changed his name to Lana. So now the duo is known as The Wachowskis. I admire two of their work: The Matrix (read my review), easily one of the best and most innovative sci-fi thrillers out there, and V for Vendetta, mainly for Hugo Weaving’s charismatic performance.

Ted –  The last film I saw from these two was The Matrix Revolutions and I want to imagine that the film never existed, in fact I’d like to think the two sequels to the original Matrix never existed. I might give Speed Racer a rent someday. My favorite movies from the Wachowskis: Bound and The Matrix

What are they up to now?
They’re currently developing Cloud Atlas as I’ve talked about last week.

HONORABLE MENTION:

Brothers Strause
Greg and Colin Strause are the Illinois-born directors who got their start in directing music video/commercials. Their recent feature films are AVPR: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem and Skyline. Reportedly, they’re currently developing another sci-fi fantasy action, War of the Ages.

Sources: IMDb and Wikipedia


Any thoughts on any of these directing duos? Please share your favorite movie(s) from these directing siblings or let us know which ones we’re missing.

P.S. If you like this post, would you be so kind as to share it via these sharing tools below? Thanks!!

The Snow White Movie Battles – which one would you rather watch?

I grew up watching Disney Princesses flicks… and to this day I still have a fondness for them. I still have Snow White and Sleeping Beauty on DVD in fact. With the success of Disney’s Tangled, clearly the fascination over them isn’t over, yet. Well, it’s been 74 years since Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs‘ was released in 1937, now the first Disney princess ever is getting not one, but TWO feature film treatment!

You’ve probably heard the buzz about the ‘Snow White battles’ as two studios — Relativity Media and Universal — are planning to release their own version in 2012, within a mere few months between them. The projects sound pretty ambitious, according to LA Times blog, the budget for the Universal’s version is $160 million, wow! I’ve been hearing casting news for both movies left and right in the past few months, but I haven’t really been paying attention as to who are doing what and the difference between two movies until today. So here are a quick guide to tell the two films apart when they’re out next year:

Untitled Snow White
March 16, 2012
Snow White & The Huntsman
June 1, 2012
Director: Tarsem Singh Director: Rupert Sanders
Cast: Julia Roberts (evil Queen), Armie Hammer (prince charming), Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham Cast: Charlize Theron (evil queen), Chris Hemsworth (huntsman), Sam Claflin (prince charming), Ian McShane + Eddie Izzard + Bob Hoskins + Toby Jones (dwarfs)
Plot: An evil Queen (Roberts) steals control of a kingdom, and an exiled princess (Collins) enlists the help of seven resourceful rebels to win back her birthright in a spirited adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal that will capture the imagination of audiences the world over. Plot: In a twist to the fairy tale, the Huntsman (Hemsworth) ordered to take Snow White (Stewart) into the woods to be killed winds up becoming her protector and mentor in a quest to vanquish the Evil Queen (Theron).

Lily Collins as Snow White

Kristen Stewart as Snow White

Armie Hammer as Prince Charming

Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman

Well, if we’re to judge the ‘winner’ by its release date, sounds like Tarsem’s version is the frontrunner as his movie will come out first in March. Online reports say they’ve already begun filming. Check out the concept poster to the right that’s already released last week (thanks to Dezzy @ Hollywood Spy for the tip)

The Tarsem version seems more appealing to me out of the two so far, I mean, I’ve never even heard of this Rupert guy and he’s got zero feature film directing credit (apparently he’s done some commercials & shorts, check out his website). I’ve talked about him and Tarsem’s film The Fall quite often in this blog, I admire his singular visual style so for sure this movie is going to look spectacular. His story-telling ability remains to be seen though, as no matter how beautiful The Fall was, it’s not exactly the most comprehensible film to follow. Perhaps it’s not going to be too much of an issue since he tends to gravitate towards fantasy type movies, his upcoming film Immortals fits that category as well.

On top of that, I’m just not sold on Kristen Stewart’s casting as the princess. I mean, she’s pretty yeah, but I just feel like this is a similar role to Twilight‘s Bella, y’know, the naive young ‘princess.’ And I personally can’t stand how whiny Bella is, it’s so darn irritating! Now, I’ve only seen Lily Collins (yes, she’s Phil’s daughter) in The Blind Side, but I think she was pretty decent in that. She’s drop-dead gorgeous and definitely has that fairy tale princess look about her. At 22, she’s actually older than Stewart by one year, wow she certainly looks a lot younger to me, which is a good thing as I reckon Snow White is supposed to be in her late teens.

I like both Charlize and Julia as the evil queen, but I’d give Julia the edge as I’m curious to see America’s sweetheart play a classic villain icon. According to GeekTyrant, the Indian-born director has this to say about casting Roberts: “She’s the obvious choice of being goody-two-shoes, and I didn’t want an Evil Queen in the sense that already existed…. It can’t be an evil, quintessential queen. I’m looking for a likable evil queen. I couldn’t think of anybody who is more of a likable evil queen than her.”

I also like both picks of Snow White’s love interest as both Hammer and Hemsworth are the tall, dashing, prince-ly type (as these two guys are 6’5″ and 6’3″ respectively, everyone will practically look like dwarfs by comparison, ahah). In this USA Today article, at one point the likes of Johnny Depp, Hugh Jackman, Viggo Mortensen, Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender were in the running for the huntsman role. Wow, if either Hardy or Fassbender had been chosen, that’ll definitely give Tarsem’s version some serious competition!


Well, in the spirit of a weekly feature on my local radio station called ‘Would You Rather Wednesday,’ which of these two Snow White movies would you rather watch?

Flix Character Spotlight: Lucy in ’13 Going On 30′

If one were to Google “scene-stealing performance,” Judy Greer should appear as the first page of hits. Born and raised in the Detroit area, she’s been working steadily since the late 1990s. She gets the odd dramatic role here and there (The Village, What Women Want) and has worked a fair amount in television (Arrested Development, Archer, and Mad Love, which looks to be headed for cancellation).

But mostly she utilizes her talents to grab your attention in light comedy movies. It’s a definite talent, one that few have to this degree. Perennially cast in the best friend or supporting character role, she takes that type and makes it riveting. She brings a needed acerbity to rom-com fare like 27 Dresses (in which she co-starred with the perennially under-appreciated James Marsden). She has the distinction of being the only watchable thing in The Wedding Planner. She apparently also portrays the best friend in Love and Other Drugs, which I have not yet seen.


However, I’d like to give her props for her work in one of my all-time favorites, 13 Going On 30. Yes, this is a deeply cheesy movie, and the formula of the younger person trapped in an older body has been many times before. But somehow this one is fresh, and I think Greer is part of why. Jennifer Garner captures Jenna’s 13-year-old mannerisms and speech patterns perfectly, but Greer, as her grown-up best frenemy Lucy, is excellent. With line delivery ranging from deadpan (“You’re pregnant”) to sarcastic (“Oh no, not his thingy”) to snappy (“Jenna, if you’re gonna start lying about your age, I’d go with 27”), sometimes within the same scene, she commits cinematic larceny just about every time she appears. She also manages to make shallow, two-faced Lucy funny and very nearly likable until the very end. What could have been more of cardboard cutout becomes a very real person, similar to someone you probably know…especially if you’ve attended high school.

I don’t know if she’ll ever become a household name or carry a big action picture, or if she even wants to. I do know that I am interested to see the three projects Greer has in the can for 2011 and 2012: The Descendants, directed by Alexander Payne, starring George Clooney, due out December 2011; and two in post-production: Jeff Who Lives At Home, with Ed Helms and Jason Segel, and Playing The Field, with Gerard Butler and Jessica Biel.


What do you think of Judy Greer? Do you think she’s leading lady material?

Weekend Roundup – LAMMYs and Michael Clayton review

Happy Monday, everybody! You are now viewing FlixChatter’s 600th post! :D

Hope y’all had a smashing weekend. It’s certainly a hectic but fun one for me — my hubby and I did the Kids Against Hunger’s Fill Their Plate 10K & 5K Run early Saturday morning and went to the Stone Arch Festival for some live music Sunday afternoon. We made the most of Minnesota’s short Summer days even when the sun was quite elusive throughout the weekend.

Oh, I also want to say a quick THANK YOU to those who voted for me at this year’s LAMMY Awards that I talked about in this post. Well, I made it to runner-up spot for BEST NEW LAMB! Sooo exciting! I never thought I’d even be nominated so this is very humbling indeed! CONGRATS to Stevee Taylor at CINEMATIC PARADOX for winning first place!!

Did anybody see Green Lantern at the movies? It reigns number one at the box office with $52.7 million, not bad considering the dismal reviews (25% on RottenTomatoes, yikes!). Looks like my friend Scarlet Sp1der agrees with the critics (read his review), but two of Anomalous Material’s staff like it a bit more. Regardless of the critical reception, I had no interest in seeing from the moment I saw the trailer, it’s a rental at best for me. I like Ryan Reynolds but not enough to see a film solely just for him, and the look of the movie nor the characters did nothing to entice me. Raghav from Ticker Film Talks begs to differ though, as he actually listed 12 reasons for why you should go and watch the movie.

We skipped the cinema but did manage to watch a really good movie Michael Clayton. We’ve been curious about it for ages, but when Ted put Tilda Swinton’s character as his top ten movie villains, I immediately bumped it up in my Netflix queue. Here’s my quick review:

Michael Clayton (2007)

This movie wasn’t in my radar much when it came out, even when it was nominated for several major awards I was sort of blase about it. But I’m glad I finally got around to seeing it as it’s certainly is a first-rate legal drama, much akin to The Insider which was perhaps the best Russell Crowe’s role to date. The difference is The Insider is inspired by a real life story of Jeffrey Wigand, whilst this one is written by Tony Gilroy specifically for a feature film.

What’s even more impressive is that this is also Tony Gilroy’s directorial debut. George Clooney plays the title role, a high-priced ‘janitor’ as he refers to his profession, a corporate lawyer who specializes on cleaning up other people’s messes. This time it’s a big one where several billion dollars are at stake as U-North, an agriculture products conglomerate is involved in a being sued in a class action case over the effects of toxic agrochemicals.

The film opens with a rambling narration (which sounds like a voice mail message) from Clayton’s colleague Arthur Eden which at first doesn’t seem to be making much sense but we later learns that he’s having a crisis of conscience in regards to his job. Arthur is the chief lawyer assigned by his firm to ‘clean up’ U-North’s big mess, but given that he’s suffering from bipolar disorder, his change of heart is easily dismissed by people (including Clayton) as simply a mental breakdown.

It’s apparent that Clayton is disillusioned with his profession, yet he’s caught in a major predicament given his financial setback in regards to his failed restaurant/bar business he hoped would be the key to getting out of being a lawyer. This subplot is running in parallel with the main storyline in a way that’s a bit tough to follow at times, but once it all clicks, we’re on for quite a thrill ride. Those who are expecting this to be a full-on action thriller will be disappointed though, but I actually love this kind of thriller. The suspense isn’t in the car chase or full-throttle shoot-out, but it’s in finding out just what is at stake for the characters involved and the kind of decisions they take that make you go ‘whoa!’

The strength of this film is in the well-crafted script and stellar acting… all of which are deservedly nominated for Oscar. Gilroy nabbed two nominations for writing and directing, and all THREE major actors (Clooney, Tom Wilkinson and Tilda Swinton) receive acting nominations but only Swinton went home with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I’m not Clooney’s biggest fan (which explains why this film eluded me) but he’s excellent here and it’s one of his most nuanced performances of his career (no annoying smirk in sight). But to me, the real stars of this picture are the Brits playing Americans, Swinton and Wilkinson. They’re both so tremendous in this that whenever they’re on screen, they practically ‘dwarf’ whoever else is on screen with them (yes, including Clooney).

Swinton as U-North’s general counsel is the picture of corporate villainy where blinding ambition steers someone towards utter wickedness. It’s ironic that her profession by definition is responsible for trying to assure that the company is acting within the law, clearly that’s so not the case in this movie. It is deeply unsettling to watch her in her panic attacks or as she nervously prepares for key speeches she has to deliver the next day… a lost soul with nothing but her drive to move up the corporate ladder to keep her going.

I can’t recommend this film enough for those looking for an intelligent and thought-provoking thriller. It also boasts a satisfying ending that makes you want to clap and cheer!

4.5 out of 5 reels

So what did you end up seeing this weekend? Have you seen ‘Michael Clayton’? Do share your thoughts on it in the comments!