Tag Archives: cool movies

Trailer Thursday: “Cloud Atlas”

What do you get you combine the mad genius minds behind “The Matrix” trilogy and the quick-cut renegade who directed “Run Lola Run”? Well, apparently, something like “Cloud Atlas”. I’m not sure what this movie is about or how each segment relates to the others, but, holy crap, does it look cool!

It also looks like the kind of movie that audiences are either gonna love or totally hate with a passion. With ideas this big, sweeping and crazy, there will be no middle ground and that makes me wanna see it even more! Go, “Cloud Atlas”!

Oh yeah, and if you dig the trailer, you might wanna watch the highly-unusual trailer introduction taped by the film’s directors, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and his new sister, Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski.

That’s right, amigos, one of the big galoots behind “The Matrix” is now a chick. And not a bad-looking one at that. I’m kinda digging the pink dreads…very “Run Lola Run” of her. Good on you, Lana!

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Cannes Film Festival Poster (2012)

Wow…it’s been a busy couple of weeks around here. How busy, you ask? So busy that I didn’t have any time to blog about this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped up Sunday. Yep, I said wrapped up, as in, the festival is over, the jury has gone home and I didn’t mention any of that nerdiness on my blog. Sad, huh?

I dunno if it was the lackluster slate of films in competition or maybe the fact that the star-factor of the jury left me kinda cold — even with Obi Wan himself, Ewan McGregor, on the panel! — but, for some reason, I just wasn’t that jazzed about this year’s fest. No Wong Kar-Wai, no David Lynch, no Woody, no Terrence Malick, hell, I woulda settled for another Tarantino master class, but, nope, not this year.

That said, the official poster for this year’s festival was freaking gorgeous, so, instead of babbling on and on about the films and filmmakers in attendance, this time, I’ll simply post the poster here instead. Enjoy!

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Trailer Thursday: “The Tree of Life”

Alright, I know I’m already breaking my rule about blogging too much about Cannes, but, when I saw the first trailer for Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”, I knew I had to share it here as well.

I’m not entirely sure what the plot is here — it looks a little “2001”-ish to me, which would be awesome! — but Malick’s visuals, as always, look pretty damn spectacular. And what a cast! People who have seen previews of the movie are already saying Brad Pitt is a lock for a Best Actor Oscar. Whoa…

Either way, dying to hear what the Frenchie’s think of the movie when it premieres at Cannes on Monday. Go, team Malick!

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Production begins on “The Hobbit”

I know it seemed like this day would never come, but, I’m very pleased to announce that after years of delays and behind-the-scenes drama, production on Peter Jackson’s two-part “Lord of the Rings” prequel, “The Hobbit”, finally began today at Jackson’s Stone Street Studios in Wellington, New Zealand. Hooray!

Even more awesome than this news are the super cool on-set pics Jackson posted on his Facebook page today. Whoo-hoo! Don’t you just wanna live in that sweet little hobbit house? And could that gorgeous, sun-dappled Shire look any more lush and inviting? Wow…

I know they just started shooting, but, I’m ready to throw on my hobbit cape and get in line for tickets, like, today. Bring it on, Mr. Jackson!

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“Inception”

OK…I know we’ve only seen like three of this year’s big award-season contenders (“Toy Story 3”, “Hereafter” and “The Social Network”, which were all awesome, by the way) and therefore, we probably shouldn’t be making any broad, sweeping predictions yet, but, mark my words, amigos, Christopher Nolan will win an Oscar for “Inception”.

Whether it’s for writing, directing or producing is still to be determined, but, the mad genius behind “Memento”, “The Prestige” and the Christian Bale “Batman” movies has really outdone himself with “Inception”, and for that reason alone, I see many gold statues in Nolan’s future. And boy does he deserve them!

Taut, suspenseful, positively gorgeous to look at, and populated by the coolest indie cast this side of Sundance, “Inception” is the best movie we’ve seen this year. Yep, I said it, the best. Of course, most of you probably already know this since you saw the movie when it came out, you know, last summer.

But, babysitters being increasingly hard to come by, Christine and I didn’t get to see “Inception” on the big screen until last week at Warner Brothers and lemme tell ya, it blew us away. To say that our heads were swimming (in the best way!) for days afterwards is a serious understatement.

This was no mere movie, amigos, it was total immersion in a completely original and boldly realized new world. And we loved every crazy second of it!

I know I geek out over things a lot, and tend to overhype stuff that I really love, but, I kid you not, I haven’t felt this way about a sci-fi movie since we saw the first “Matrix” or “Terminator” flick way back when.

The dazzling technical elements aside, “Inception” is that rare breed of totally game-changing screen stories that will inspire whole generations of nerdy kids to wanna make movies. For me, it was “Star Wars”, for Generation Whatever, it’ll be Christopher Nolan’s “Inception”. Again, mark my words.

Anyway, I don’t wanna give anything away by going too much into the plot or anything, but, trust me, you don’t have to love sci-fi or even Leo DiCaprio to love this mind-bending little jewel of a movie. Simply put, if you like movies, “Inception” will knock you flat on your movie-loving ass. You have never seen anything like it. EVER.

So, you best get busy on that acceptance speech, Mr. Nolan. The clock is ticking…

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“Bonnie & Clyde: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” on DVD

Wow…I was gushing over Arthur Penn so hard in my last post that I totally forgot to mention that after years of being relegated to a horribly-grainy, extras-free, pan-and-scan DVD version, “Bonnie & Clyde” was finally given it’s due back in 2008 with the absolutely gorgeous “Bonnie & Clyde: Ultimate Collector’s Edition” DVD.

Remastered, restored and packed full of totally awesome DVD extras, this is the version to buy or, you know, receive as a lovely gift from your friend Ginger (thanks again, chica!). Disc one features a lush, widescreen transfer of the film that will really knock your socks off. Trust me, if it looks good on our old-ass TV, the image quality will positively dazzle on a good HD set!

Disc two features such super cool extras as “Love and Death: The Story of Bonnie & Clyde”, a History Channel documentary on the real-life Bonnie and Clyde, two deleted scenes, Warren Beatty’s original wardrobes tests, a replica of the original road show press kit, and a beautifully put together documentary entitled: “Revolution! The Making of Bonnie & Clyde”. Featuring outstanding interviews with every principal member of the cast and crew, this is the thing that really makes the second disc soar.

Warner Brothers may have taken their sweet time releasing a home video version worthy of this cinema classic, but, wow, they certainly did a bang-up job of it! One of the funniest things I learned from the extras was that Morgan Fairchild (who is interviewed in the “Revolution!” documentary) was actually Faye Dunaway’s stand-in on the shoot. Wow…who knew?

Oh, there is also a miniature folded reproduction of the original telegram that WB studio head, Jack Warner (who was never a fan of the movie, even after the acclaim) sent to Beatty and Penn on the first day of production, wishing them well. I know it sounds completely geeky, but, man, I love that little folded telegram to death. So cool!!

But all that awesomeness aside, my favorite extra in this slick, elegantly-appointed boxed set — even the DVD’s themselves are cool with little bullet holes over each of the stars faces! — is the 36-page collectors book of photos. Usually the so-called “books” included in collector’s edition DVDs are more like pamphlets, but, not this time. This is a genuine article book here, folks, loaded with some of the coolest behind-the-scenes pics you’ll find anywhere. Amazing!

And, hey, even if you don’t dig all the groovy extras, the pristine new print of the movie alone will, pun intended, blow you away. So, light a candle for the late, great Arthur Penn and get thee to a video store…

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Arthur Penn’s “Bonnie & Clyde”

Wow, man, I don’t know if it’s the heat wave or what, but, celebrities have been dropping like flies this past week. Old Rose, Tony Curtis, stand-up comedian Greg Giraldo, Tarantino’s kick-ass film editor Sally Menke, and now, the visionary director Arthur Penn. Sad!

Like many directors of his generation, Penn began his career directing stage plays on Broadway. And even then, he broke all the rules. Using bold, minimalistic sets and lighting, and cultivating a raw, naturalistic acting style in his actors, Penn literally changed the way we watched modern theatre.

And when he turned that eye towards television and, eventually, film, he truly revolutionized the way movies are made. The stage and screen versions of “The Miracle Worker”, “Little Big Man”, “Alice’s Restaurant”, “Night Moves”, and the little-seen, hipster-noir classic “Mickey One”, Penn’s filmography would be impressive even is he hadn’t directed “Bonnie & Clyde”. But lucky for us, he did, and the world is a better place because of it.

I know I go on about the movies I love, but, “Bonnie & Clyde” isn’t just a movie that I love, it is a movie that rocked my world the first time I saw it. I remember my brother Ryan and I literally trembling while watching it on TV for the first time. Seriously, we were in awe, man. The perfect cast acting at the top of their game, the darkly-hilarious script, that bad-ass, hillbilly soundtrack, and all those crazy jump cuts…whoa…we just about died.

Overnight, “Bonnie & Clyde” became one of my favorite movies. And in the many years since I first saw it, my appreciation for the film and its renegade director has only grown. I mean, shit, “Bonnie & Clyde” could have easily been just another cheap genre picture, a lurid, pulpy, crime drama for the drive-in theatre market. Actually, that’s what Warner Brothers expected to get for their money, but man, were they ever in for a surprise!

Working with an Oscar-nominated screenplay by David Newman and Robert Benton, Penn and producer/star Warren Beatty, crafted a genuine cinematic masterpiece. And unlike some of the celebrated films from the past, “Bonnie & Clyde” is no dusty relic, revered solely for it’s groundbreaking technique or subject matter. No way, baby, watching “Bonnie & Clyde” today is just as vivid and electric an experience as it must have been in the summer of 1967. Um, you know, minus the drive-in theatre part.

And though there are many things that make this movie great, I have to say that Arthur Penn’s direction was crucial to pulling it all off. Finding the right tone was key…funny and sexy one minute, dark and disturbing the next, Penn walked a tightrope in every scene and the movie crackles with excitement because of it. In fact, that’s probably what makes “Bonnie & Clyde” so modern and relevant today. Crazy tone shifts happen all the time in movies nowadays, but, Penn and company pioneered that shit, yo.

And sure, some might grouse that Penn borrowed liberally from the French New Wavers (who, hello, borrowed liberally from pulpy American genre movies to begin with) but with “Bonnie & Clyde”, Penn didn’t just make a great New Wave film…he actually made New Wave mainstream. And in doing so, Penn and company ushered in a whole new era of raw, gritty and most importantly, personal, American filmmaking. Suddenly, it wasn’t just OK for your big name, A-list leads to be antiheroes, it was cool too! The revolution had begun…

And the violence? Oh, man…forget about it, that shit is insane! Slow motion, fast motion, bullets flying everywhere, it was positively operatic and again, it changed the way violence was depicted onscreen forever. Some might say that’s not such a good thing considering the overuse of hyper-realistic onscreen violence today, but, lemme tell ya, when Penn did it, it was golden, baby. Dying in a hail of bullets never looked so gorgeous. Mmm…

So, thank you, Arthur Penn. You turned the film world on its ear 43 years ago with a little movie called “Bonnie & Clyde”, and for that, and so much more, we are eternally grateful. RIP, brother…

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