Tag Archives: film

Lindsay Lohan to serve 90 days?!

Whoa…what the hell happened here? How did the cute little redhead from “The Parent Trap” — one of the only Disney live-action DVD’s in our collection — end up being sentenced to 90 days in the clink today for parole violation? Crazy!

Back before she was total tabloid fodder, we used to love Lindsay Lohan. I mean, hello, “Mean Girls” anyone? That movie rocked! So, here’s hoping Lohan gets some serious help while cooling off in the big house. Lord knows she needs it…

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A night at the Saturn Awards…

I should start off by saying that, sadly, “Not Forgotten” came home from the 36th Annual Saturn Awards empty-handed on Thursday night. Sorry…

But one of the things I learned about attending my first big-time award show (as a nominee!) is that it really is an honor just to be nominated. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. And seeing as the folks who put on the Saturn Awards are some of the coolest, geekiest, sci-fi, fantasy and horror fans imaginable (people like me!) I was even doubly honored.

Seriously, I have never felt more at home in a room full of Hollywood phonies, and that’s because these people were not your everyday Hollywood phonies.

No way, man, these folks were the real deal. That Starlight Ballroom was busting at the seams with talented, creative, film-loving freaks and geeks of every shape and size…and those people know how to party, yo!

This year, the Saturn Awards were held at the Castaway Restaurant in the hills overlooking Burbank…and if there was any doubt as to where you were when you got out of your car, the scads of little alien heads at the bar and the life size astronaut suit on the red carpet totally clued you in.

Still wondering what award show you were at? Well, perhaps you should ask that fellow over there in the Samurai Stormtrooper costume, or the man driving the moon buggy in a grungy space suit. I swear, amigos, I never stopped smiling all night…that place was fanboy heaven.

Rubbing shoulders with people like Sam Raimi, Leonard Nimoy, Billy Dee Williams, Guillermo Del Toro, Malcolm McDowell, the lovely Anna Torv from “Fringe”, cast members from “Heroes”, “Chuck” and “Breaking Bad”, iconic “The Greatest American Hero” star himself, William Katt, and actually being touched by the dude who played touch-happy Jacob on “Lost” (Mark Pellegrino)…I mean, shit, who needs an award with a line-up like that?

Of course, we would have loved to have won our category — we lost to Rod Lurie’s “Nothing But The Truth”, which includes no sci-fi, fantasy or horror to speak of — but, we were having too much fun to dwell on the loss for long. I mean, the food was great, the bar was wide open — Daddy had three mojitos and a chocolate vodka martini, but who’s counting? — and the vibe at the Castaway was awesome, so, what’s to complain about?

And on top of all that coolness, I managed to score two gift bags at the end of the night. Sure, I felt a little greedy lugging them around the after-party in the courtyard, but what can I say, I loves me some free shit. And when that free shit involves “King Kong” and “Avatar” DVD’s, well, all the better!

Thanks again for the nomination, guys…long live the Saturn Awards! To see a full list of this year’s Saturn Award winners, please click here.

And to see more of my super-nerdy pics please click here.

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“Not Forgotten” nominated for 2010 Saturn Award

Speaking of Sci-Fi…a few weeks back I got the super cool news that “Not Forgotten” had been nominated by the Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror for a 2010 Saturn Award for Best DVD Release. Yay! I didn’t blog about it then, because I wanted to make sure I got invited to the show first…and guess what? I did! So, whoo-hoo…let the celebrating commence!

If, like most non-hard-core sci-fi geeks, you have no idea what the Saturn Awards are, please allow me to fill you in. The Saturn Awards have been given out to the best of the best sci-fi, fantasy and horror films, TV shows, plays and home video for the past 36 years, and unlike the Oscars who traditionally shun such genres, these guys are true fans of the first order.

This is the organization that in the past has given Best Film Awards to “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Aliens”, “Poltergeist”, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and “Children of Men”…smart, bold genre movies that more staid institutions completely shut out. I used to read about these rocking, underground award gatherings in Starlog and Fangoria magazines when I was a geeky kid…so, to have something I co-wrote and associate produced be nominated at all, in any category is kind of mind-blowing.

And the fact that I will actually be attending the show tonight, rubbing elbows with the creators and cast of “Lost”, “Avatar”, “Star Trek”, “Harry Potter” and the like…well, shit…I might just explode!

However, in the highly-unlikely event that I actually do make it through the show tonight intact, I promise to post some pics soon, so, stay tuned. To see a list of all this year’s Saturn Award nominees, click here.

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Debbie Gibson vs. Tiffany!

OMG, someone has hacked into my dreams and stolen one of my passion projects! How else could you explain the fact that my favorite 1980’s-era teen-pop princesses, Tiffany and Deborah “you’ll always be Debbie to me, chica” Gibson will be facing off in an upcoming movie on The SyFy Network?

That’s right, amigos, the two hottest “singers” of the 80’s are gonna face off in a SyFy Saturday Night Movie entitled “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid”. Yes, that is the actual title…but wait, it gets even more awesome. This is the outline of the film’s plot as revealed in yesterday’s Hollywood Reporter:

‘Gibson will play a fanatical animal-rights activist who frees illegally-imported exotic snakes from pet stores, sending them into the Everglades, where they grow to mega sizes. Tiffany will play an overzealous park ranger who uses dangerous methods to save endangered alligators. In the script, the pair brawl at a party, then take matters outside into the swamp.’

Wow…in my version they faced off in a mall, but a swamp totally works for me too. Seriously, I’m so excited about this thing, I’m setting my Tivo as I type. Awesome! And to the creators of what just might be the coolest TV movie ever, you’re welcome…and please stop hacking into my dreams.

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Fake Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear commerical

OK, so, I’m sitting at my laptop nerding out on Facebook before bed tonight and I happen to see this very strange, totally retro commercial for something called a Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear. The first time the ad aired, I was like, weird, why are they playing that grainy ass-commercial on NBC? Then, fifteen minutes later, it played again and fifteen minutes after that, it played again!

At that point, I got kinda spooked (did I mention it was late at night?) and decided to Google this crazy toy I had never heard of…and guess what? The reason I have never heard of this cuddly little ’80’s icon is because he is actually a fictional toy/character in the upcoming Pixar release “Toy Story 3”! That’s right, amigos, Disney/Pixar has gone viral. Coolness!

And what a viral ad it is! The grainy VCR-era static, the costumes, hell, even the actors, I was convinced that this was some long-forgotton toy that I had never heard of. Seriously, the toy-collecting geek in me was all outraged that I never owned something as awesome as a freaking Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, with strawberry scent no less! Crazy, I know, but it looked that real.

So, kudos to the rocking team at Pixar for crafting such a hilariously-real ad campaign for a fake toy from the ’80’s, and if you like the American commercial, check out the equally-realistic Japanese one below. So cool! I can’t wait to see what role the little ball of cuteness plays in the new movie…even he does turn out to be the villain!

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“Not Forgotten” on Showtime

Just found out that “Not Forgotten” had it’s pay-cable debut last night on Showtime. Yay! We don’t have Showtime, but, for those who do, “Not Forgotten” plays several times over the next couple of weeks on the networks of Showtime and will be available at Showtime On Demand through the end of the month.

Finally, those of you who missed “Not Forgotten” on the big screen and on DVD and Blu-Ray will have one more chance to see my movie. Whew! 🙂 Oh yeah, and if you really don’t know anyone with Showtime, you could always watch it on NetFlix On Demand, like my brother-in-law did today. Thanks, Rob!

To see the complete schedule of “NF” air dates on Showtime, click here. And if I could just say one last super nerdy thing before I sign off…how cool is it that my movie was the lead-in tonight for groovy, award-magnet shows like “Nurse Jackie” and “United States of Tara”? Awesome!!

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“The Empire Strikes Back” turns 30!

Thirty years ago today my brother, my Dad, my Stepmom, Wendy, and I piled into our van and drove to San Jose to see what was then known simply as, “The Empire Strikes Back”, for the first time on the big screen. It was opening day and we didn’t have no internet machines back then, so, we got to the Winchester Century Theaters at the crack of dawn to get in line to buy tickets.

And then we waited, and waited, and waited some more, and roughly four hours after we got there, we got our tickets and went inside to see the movie.

Now, I’m sure the Winchester Theaters have aged a bit since then — the place was practically crumbling when we saw a midnight screening of the first “Harry Potter” flick there back in 2001 — but in 1980, that theater was the shit, baby!

Seriously, the screen was so big and the sound was so loud that I literally shook through the first half hour of the movie. I know that sounds crazy, but my brother and I had been waiting for this movie to come out for three years and my eleven-year-old brain simply could not take the excitement. I was in such shock to actually be in a theater watching that movie that I couldn’t even focus on what was happening onscreen. Crazy!

Anyway, when I did calm down enough to enjoy it, the movie rocked our world, and thirty years later, it is still the coolest “Star Wars” film in the series. I just watched it again last week with Greta and though I didn’t tremble through the first half hour like I did then, the thrill of sharing this monumental movie from my childhood with my daughter just about killed me.

So, in honor of the movie’s 30th anniversary today, I thought I’d share this collection of cool-ass “Empire” posters I found online. Happy birthday, old friend, here’s hoping the force is with you…always!

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Woody Allen @ Cannes (2010)

I know I said I wouldn’t geek out too much about Cannes this year, but, just wanted to post some pics of my boy (or should I say, old man) Woody Allen, who premiered his 41st motion picture over the weekend at the festival. Forty-one movies!? Wow, even if half of them suck ass, that is some batting record, man…

Entitled “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger”, Allen’s latest stars Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Gemma Jones and “Slumdog Millionaire” hottie, Freida Pinto. And like several of the Woodman’s recent flicks, this one was shot in London, so, here’s hoping it’s more like “Match Point” than his God-awful “Cassandra’s Dream”. Urgh…that movie suuuuucked!

Another interesting thing I read today is that Allen’s movies always screen out of competition at Cannes at his request. Cool, huh? I mean, say what you will about the dude, that is a very non-Hollywood thing to do…so, rock on Woody!

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Cannes Nerd 2010

Judging from the lack of comments the last time I blogged about the Cannes Film Festival, I’m guessing nobody cares about the Festival de Cannes like I do. And that’s cool, I’ll geek out over every last little detail of the fest on my own…but, seeing as it starts today in Cannes, I did want to at least show you guys the poster for this year’s festival.

Featuring the ageless Juliette Binoche, this year’s poster isn’t nearly as cinematic as the David-Lynch-designed poster for the 2008 fest, but, it’s still kinda cool in its simplicity. And hello, it’s still Juliette Binoche!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Ridley Scott’s out of competition “Robin Hood” is opening the festival tonight followed by what I’m sure will be a pretty rocking party. And speaking of rocking, Tim Burton is heading the jury this year, so, hopefully that will yield some cool winners down the line.

Of course Kate Beckinsale (huh?) is also on the jury this year, so, who knows. I’m not saying she isn’t pretty and everything, but, really? Kate Beckinsale is judging serious films now? Hmmm…not sure what I think about that one yet. Hopefully her fellow actor/jury mate Benicio Del Toro will help balance the scales a bit…

In any case…whoo hoo, Cannes is up and running, amigos! Vive le cinema! Vive le Festival de Cannes!

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Oscar Nominees 2010

I know I am totally behind on my analysis of this year’s Oscar Nominations — my friend James calls me the king of day old new lately — but Greta is about midway through her first winter cold, and, wow, what an all-consuming adventure that has been. Seriously, I’ve never seen so much snot…

And, ironically enough, that kinda describes how I feel about this year’s crop of nominees. I mean, there were a few cool surprises (Maggie Gyllenhaal earning her first nod for “Crazy Heart” and the always-deserving Jeremy Renner pulling an upset Best Actor nod for “The Hurt Locker”) but overall, most of the big award-magnet movies this year left me pretty cold.

“Up in the Air” was a total snooze, I really dug the ladies in that movie — both of whom scored well-deserved Supporting Actress nods — but I kinda hated George Clooney’s character and the too-cool glibness of the script sealed my hatred of the film. Same thing with “Precious”. Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe were fantastic and deserve every award that comes their way, but the movie itself was a glorified (if R-rated) after-school special. Snooze…

The Coen Brother’s latest outing “A Serious Man” was another one of their crazy, impenetrable disappointments. Seriously, does anyone know what the hell that movie is about? I sure don’t, and I’ve watched parts of it twice! The fact that this shiny turd of a movie scored a Best Screenplay nod and a Best Picture nomination makes me think the Academy sees the brother’s names on the ballot every year and just checks them off out of habit. I mean, come on, guys, you don’t  have to nominate EVERY movie they make! Urgh…

Now, with my least favorite nominess out of the way, let me get to the movies I did love. “Inglorious Basterds” was freaking amazing. Not only did it look great, but the cast rocked — the insanely-good Christoph Waltz is a lock to win Best Supporting Actor and he totally deserves it! — and the script was incredible. Tense, dramatic and funny as hell, “Basterds” is probably Tarantino’s best movie so far, and being a QT fan from way back, that is really saying something.

Also loved Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side” and was thrilled to see the movie recognized in the Best Picture category as well. I told Christine after we saw it that if there was any justice in the world, “The Blind Side” would be nominated for Best Picture, and, well, I guess justice ruled supreme on Tuesday. I kid you not, amigos, this is one the best Hollywood movies in years, so, congrats to everyone involved.

Also very glad to see Jeff Bridges in the race again for “Crazy Heart”. Bridges has served his time, and unless Renner pulls a major Adrien Brody-style upset, he is totally gonna win Best Actor this year. Bridges didn’t just play that character, he WAS that character. Awesome, awesome work!

Scoring her 16th nomination this year, Meryl Streep positively soared as Julia Child in “Julie & Julia”, and is probably the only genuine competition Sandra Bullock has in the Best Actress race. I’m hoping for another tie, but, barring that…it’s gonna be a squeaker.

Glad to see the Academy finally giving sci-fi some respect this year as well. I haven’t seen “District 9” yet, but the fact that a little indie geekfest like that scored so many nods — including those for Best Picture and Screenplay! — is very exciting for a sci-fi geek like me! Go, aliens!

And speaking of sci-fi, I gotta hand it to nutty old James Cameron, man, “Avatar” was incredible. Unlike the rest of the world, I hadn’t seen the movie until last night, and I was completely blown away.

I was so prepared to hate those freaky, blue bastards, but, wow, was I wrong. “Avatar” has more heart and soul in it’s weakest parts than several of the other nominees combined. And the effects? Gorgeous! Trust me, you have never seen anything like this movie before, and though it will face some stiff competition from “The Hurt Locker” in most of the major categories, I have a feeling “Avatar” will break the sci-fi curse by winning Best Picture. Yep, it’s that good.

Ooo…also very excited to see Stanley Tucci finally joining the Oscar Nominee club with his creepy turn as a murderous pedophile in “The Lovely Bones”. I really loved the movie and even though it was pretty much shut out everywhere else, was very glad to hear Tucci’s named called on Tuesday morning. Same thing with Tucci’s fellow first-time nominee, Christopher Plummer.

Yes, you read that correctly…Captain Von Trapp himself has never been nominated for an Oscar. Shocking, huh? And, even though I hear “The Last Station” is a total snoozefest, I gotta say, rock on Mr. Edelweiss!

And finally, though I have yet to see it, I was very pleased to see “An Education” score not only a Best Picture nomination, but also a Screenplay nod for Nick Hornby! Hornby is one of my favorite novelist, so, I’m guessing the script rocks. But either way, kudos to you, Señor Hornby!

To see the complete printable list of this year’s Oscar Nominees, click here. And, as always, dying to hear what you guys think of the nominated movies and such, so, fire away!

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“Not Forgotten” at the Beverly Center 13

No word yet on future distribution plans, but according to our friends at Boxofficemojo.com, “Not Forgotten” is still pulling in some pretty decent bank. Last time I checked (and I check almost hourly) the per screen average for the movie on only four screens was almost $3,000.00. Not bad for a little movie with almost no marketing, huh?

NOT FORGOTTEN at Beverly Center #1

NOT FORGOTTEN at Beverly Center #2

Even cooler than the numbers the movie has been pulling in have been the audiences themselves. I went to see “Not Forgotten” this past weekend at the Beverly Center 13 with my stepmom Wendy, my sister Courtney and our longtime family friends, Jan, Les and Brooke Wright and the crowd in our theatre seemed to really dig the movie.

Of course, it was a small theatre and we were kinda taking up half the seats in the joint, but still, the rest of the folks in that theatre were very much along for the ride. In fact, a woman and a man who were watching the movie with their elderly mother actually stopped me on my way out to ask me a few questions.

I’m guessing they knew I had something to do with the movie since our whole row cheered every time my name came up in the credits, but either way, once they heard that I had co-written the movie, they were on me like eager fanboys on J.J. Abrams at ComicCon.

NOT FORGOTTEN at Beverly Center #6

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Seriously, they were so excited to meet me and have me answer their questions (in person!) that I kept joking with Les that he must have paid them beforehand to make me feel good or something. It was kinda crazy, but totally fun and they were really, really impressed with the movie, so…how could I not enjoy my first real encounter with my “fans”? Ha!

Anyway, I’ll post more details on where “Not Forgotten” will land next when I get them and in the meantime, enjoy the pics from weekend number two in LA.!

NOT FORGOTTEN at Beverly Center #7

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“Not Forgotten” night at the Mann’s Chinese!

Friday night was the Hollywood premiere of my new movie “Not Forgotten” at the Mann’s Chinese and let me tell ya, it rocked! We had an awesome audience, great food and drinks at the after party at The Grill, and best of all, the movie played to packed houses all weekend long. Yay!

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #1

No official word on what that means for future distribution plans, but according to the fine folks at BoxOfficeMojo.com, “Not Forgotten” did manage to beat the pants off heavy-hitters like “17 Again”, “Hannah Montana” and even “Wolverine” (again!) on a per screen average, so, I’d say we kicked ass!

Also, I just found out that we will be moving to the Mann Beverly Center 13 on Friday, so, if you missed us last week at the Chinese, check us out this weekend at the Beverly Center by clicking here.

In the meantime, back to the premiere! After mingling with the cast and crew in the lobby, I walked the press line outside the theatre for a few pics and then Christine and I headed upstairs to our sweet-ass leather seats in the VIP section. Yep, I said leather seats, amigos. Honestly, I didn’t even know the Mann’s had a VIP section, but it was awesome.

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #2

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #3

The funniest thing was that Christine and I — who have both seen the movie a gazillion times — were completely freaked out by the kidnapping stuff this time around. I know it sounds crazy, but we both kept looking at each other like: “Should we call home just to make sure Greta wasn’t taken by Santa Muerte?” Wow, I guess that’s what being a parent is all about, huh? Weird…

Without giving too much away, all I can say is that if any of that spooky shit ever happens to my daughter…I might just go “mental” too. Yikes!

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #4

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Immediately following the screening there was a super cool party just around the corner at the swanky Hollywood Grill. In keeping with the Tex-Mex setting of the movie, the food was all Mexican — right down to the never-ending bottles of Corona with lime! — and though the chicken tostadas were kinda weird, the carne asada was out-of-this-world fantastic. My brother, Ryan, and I went back for that like, three times. Awesome!

Of course, the company was even better. Although neither Simon Baker or Paz Vega could make the premiere — she’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant and lives in Spain, and Simon is supposedly filming a movie in Australia, although he appeared on both “Regis & Kelly” and “Jimmy Fallon” on Monday night, so, who knows? — the rest of mi buen amigos from the supporting cast were there in spades and we had a blast.

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #8

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And though there were several cool celebrity sightings — Marion Ross from “Happy Days” came with her son, Jim Meskimen, who is the nicest guy in the world, even if he plays a child molester in our movie! — my favorite had to be Oscar-nominee and 70’s icon, Karen Black.

Miss Black was supposed to appear in an AFI student film of mine, “The Lone Star Letters”, way back in the day and I had always wanted to meet her in person. So, when I saw her noshing on tacos near the bar, I stumbled over. Being the geek that I am, I started with: “Are you Karen Black?” Lame…I know, but I was completely starstruck.

She was beyond cool and of course had no memory of my nerdy student film or why she couldn’t appear in it, but really, who cared at that point…I mean, I was talking about my movie with Karen-freaking-Black, how cool and totally Hollywood is that? Crazy!

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #11

NOT FORGOTTEN premiere night #12

Anyway, we all stayed way too late and drank and ate way too much, but, wow, what a party! Thanks to everyone who came to the premiere to party down with us and most of all to those of you who went out and actually paid to see “Not Forgotten” on it’s opening weekend in Los Angeles. My Aunt Linda and Uncle George actually drove down from the Fresno area to see the movie on Sunday afternoon. Wow!

So, thanks again for all the “Not Forgotten” love, amigos. You guys rock!!

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Duff vs. Dunaway: Battle of the Bonnies

Apparently, the Christian Bale blow-up isn’t the only juicy celebrity news this week. It seems that some totally lame-brained filmmakers have decided to inexplicably remake the film classic “Bonnie and Clyde” with, get this, Hilary Duff starring as Bonnie Parker.

Battle of the Bonnies #1

Battle of the Bonnies #2

Yep, that Hilary Duff. Insanity! But even weirder than the casting is the juicy war of words that followed its announcement. Upon hearing that Duff would be tackling the iconic role that made her a star, Faye Dunaway hissed: “Couldn’t they at least cast a real actress?” Meow-ch!

None too pleased with the very public dis, Duff fired back on E! News with this sassy rebuttal: “I think that my fans that are going to go see the movie don’t even know who she is. I think it was a little unnecessary, but I might be mad if I looked like that now, too.” Ooo…double meow-ch!

I don’t know if she’s just getting in character or whatever, but if I were Duff, I’d watch my back. Crazy plastic surgery or not, Dunaway is an Oscar-winning, Hollywood legend who has starred in some of the best movies ever made, and on top of all that, the bitch is straight-up crazy!

Battle of the Bonnies #3

Battle of the Bonnies #4

Battle of the Bonnies #5

So, mock Dunaway’s looks at your own peril Duffy…and don’t be surprised if you wake up one morning with a wire hanger sticking out of your pert little behind. Seriously…watch your back. Laura Mars gonna cut you!

Oddly enough, I actually think Duff bears more than a passing resemblance to a young Dunaway, especially in the pics above, taken during a strangely prophetic photo shoot last year for Allure magazine. So, who knows, maybe Duff will end up with a too-tight face and horse-chomper veneers of her own one day too. Who’ll be “mad” then, huh, Lizzie McGuire?

But the biggest question I have is why in the hell are they remaking “Bonnie & Clyde” in the first place? Maybe it’s that ending? Hmmm…come to think of it, it was kind of a downer…

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Oscar Nominees 2009

Came home from Slamdance with a wicked cold, so, forgive me ahead of time if I don’t over-analyze this year’s Oscar nominees. It’s not that I’m not excited about them — because there are some really cool movies in the running this year –but having slept on the couch last night to avoid getting Christine sick, I am definitely not at my finest.

That said, if I had to describe this year’s crop of nominees in two words, I would call 2009 the year of the working actor. And with longtime journeyman actors like Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”), Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”), Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), Tarija P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), Viola Davis (“Doubt”) and even Josh Brolin (“Milk”) for that matter, all scoring first-time nominations, the acting categories have never been stronger.

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Oscar nominee #2

Sure, some big stars snuck in there as well — Sean Penn for “Milk”, Meryl Streep for “Doubt”, Robert Downey Jr. for “Tropic Thunder” and the Oscar “it” couple du jour, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt scoring nods for their work in “Changeling” and “Benjamin Button” respectively. But the big story today is all about the old-school character actors.

And how refreshing is that? I mean, shit, Richard Jenkins has wracked up a whopping 82 onscreen credits since 1974, Leo has 78, Langella has 77, and Josh Brolin has been in 42 movies since his memorable debut in “The Goonies”. So, congrats to the “old-timers” of all ages…you guys have served your time and are totally due for some major gold!

Also surprised to see Kate Winslet nominated in the Best Actress category for her searing performance in “The Reader”. Till now, her “Reader” role has been relegated to the Best Supporting Actress category, with her role in “Revolutionary Road” taking the higher honor. I have always thought she was much better in “The Reader”, so, glad to see her pick up a nod for that performance instead.

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Oh, and speaking of “Revolutionary Road” — which fared far worse in the nomination count than I think anyone expected — the biggest surprise for me was the Best Supporting Actor nomination for Michael Shannon. Playing the deeply-troubled grown son of Kathy Bates, Shannon ignites every scene he’s in. Seriously, “Road” would have been a hell of a lot more boring without him. Very, very happy to see him pick up his first Oscar nomination today. Yay!

And though I agree with most of the Adapted Screenplay nominations, I gotta tell ya, the Original Screenplay category is kind of crazy this year. I’m not saying any of these movies are bad, but, wow, even the most experienced Oscar prognosticator couldn’t have guessed that this bunch of scripts would pick up nods. I mean, we’ve only seen one of the nominated films in this category…and we see everything! Ha!

On the directing front, happy to see Danny Boyle pick up his first directing nomination for “Slumdog Millionaire” and even though I hated “Benjamin Button” — and hate even more the fact that it scored 13 nominations…yikes! — I do love me some David Fincher, so, kudos to him for finally making the cut!

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Also kind of shocked that the Academy bucked the award-season trend by not awarding “The Dark Knight” a nod for Best Picture — giving the “wild card” fifth slot to “The Reader” instead. I guess Christopher Nolan and company will have to settle for their raft of technical nominations to go with the expected posthumous Supporting Actor nomination for Heath Ledger.

And while I was sad to see “Rachel Getting Married” and “The Wrestler” fail to pick up nominations in the Original Screenplay and Best Original Song categories, I was very happy to see the actors from both films pick up some very deserving nominations. So, yay!

Below is a list of most of the nominees in most of the major categories, to see the full list of nominated films, click here. And, as always, love to hear what you guys think of this year’s nominees…so, comment away!

BEST PICTURE

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“Frost/Nixon”

“Milk”

“The Reader”

“Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST DIRECTOR

David Fincher – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Ron Howard – “Frost/Nixon”

Gus Van Sant – “Milk”

Stephen Daldry – “The Reader”

Danny Boyle – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST ACTOR

Richard Jenkins – “The Visitor”

Frank Langella – “Frost/Nixon”

Sean Penn – “Milk”

Brad Pitt – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Mickey Rourke – “The Wrestler”

BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway – “Rachel Getting Married”

Angelina Jolie – “Changeling”

Melissa Leo – “Frozen River”

Meryl Streep – “Doubt”

Kate Winslet – “The Reader”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin – “Milk”

Robert Downey Jr. – “Tropic Thunder”

Philip Seymour Hoffman – “Doubt”

Heath Ledger – “The Dark Knight”

Michael Shannon – “Revolutionary Road”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams – “Doubt”

Penélope Cruz – “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”

Viola Davis – “Doubt”

Taraji P. Henson – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

Marisa Tomei – “The Wrestler”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Courtney Hunt – “Frozen River”

Mike Leigh – “Happy-Go-Lucky”

Martin McDonagh – “In Bruges”

Dustin Lance Black – “Milk”

Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter – “WALL-E”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Eric Roth and Robin Swicord – “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

John Patrick Shanley – “Doubt”

Peter Morgan – “Frost/Nixon”

David Hare – “The Reader”

Simon Beaufoy – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST ANIMATED FILM

“Bolt”

“Kung Fu Panda”

“WALL-E”

BEST FOREIGN FILM

“The Baader Meinhof Complex” – Germany

“The Class” – France

“Departures” – Japan

“Revanche” – Austria

“Waltz with Bashir” – Israel

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Alexandre Desplat

“Defiance” – James Newton Howard

“Milk” – Danny Elfman

“Slumdog Millionaire” – A.R. Rahman

“WALL-E” – Thomas Newman

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

“Down to Earth” – “WALL-E”

“Jai Ho” – “Slumdog Millionaire”

“O Saya” – “Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

“Changeling” – Tom Stern

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Claudio Miranda

“The Dark Knight” – Wally Pfister

“The Reader” – Chris Menges and Roger Deakins

“Slumdog Millionaire” – Anthony Dod Mantle

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

“Australia” – Catherine Martin

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” – Jacqueline West

“The Duchess” – Michael O’Connor

“Milk” – Danny Glicker

“Revolutionary Road” – Albert Wolsky

BEST ART DIRECTION

“Changeling”

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“The Duchess”

“Revolutionary Road”

BEST MAKE-UP

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

BEST EDITING

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

“The Dark Knight”

“Frost/Nixon”

“Milk”

“Slumdog Millionaire”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)”

“Encounters at the End of the World”

“The Garden”

“Man on Wire”

“Trouble the Water”

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Slamdance or bust!

Hola, amigos! Just wanted to remind you guys that my movie “Not Forgotten” will be having its world premiere this Saturday night at the 15th Annual Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Hooray!

I’ll be staying at the posh Best Western in Coalville, which I hear is where all the big Hollywood stars bunk up. Not! But hey, hotels in Park City proper are expensive, yo! But seriously, if you’re thinking of coming out for the festival, the floor in my room in swinging Coalville is all yours, baby!

Slamdance!

Sadly, Christine will not be coming with me this time as she is what we call “very pregnant” and for some reason, the idea of riding on a plane to Utah and then trying not to slip and fall on snowy Main Street is not exactly appealing to her at the moment. Weird, huh?

Actually, I don’t blame her, I can’t tell you how many times I slipped and fell in snowy Santa Fe last year…yikes! Guess I’m more of a warm weather walker…or maybe I just shouldn’t wear my flip-flops in the snow…hmmm.

Anyway, if any of you are seriously considering making the trek to Park City for Slamdance (or Sundance for that matter!) you can purchase tickets to either the Saturday or Monday screening here. Also, there will be a filmmaker Q&A after both screenings, so if you’ve ever wanted to heckle me…now’s your chance.

And if you really wanna throw tomatoes my way, make sure and swing by the WGA-sponsored Screenwriter Fireside Chat on Tuesday the 20th at noon. Since most of America will be watching our first African-American President take the oath of office around that time I think the crowd at the Fireside Chat will be a little lean…so, you’ll be able to throw shit at me pretty easily. Yay!

Hope to see you there!

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Two-fisted Kate Winslet!

Not only is she the youngest female performer to have wracked up five Oscar nominations at her age — with a likely two more on the way next week! — but Kate Winslet made history again last night by becoming only the third performer in the history of the Golden Globes to win two awards in one night. Insanity!

two-fisted Kate Winslet!

If I had to chose between her performances in “The Reader” and “Revolutionary Road”, I’d probably go with “The Reader”, but she was, as always, amazing in both films. I am actually hard pressed to think of a movie that Kate Winslet was not amazing in…oh, wait, I thought of one: “The Holiday”. Yikes…that movie sucked ass. Seriously toxic stuff…

But hey, one bad movie in a career of great one’s is pretty damn good. So, congrats to Kate Winslet on her two-fisted triumph at the Globes. I’m sure the two Laura’s (Linney and Dern) were relieved that Winslet didn’t act in any TV movies or miniseries this past year, or she might’ve swept those categories too!

Oh, and could she have looked any hotter last night? Wow, what a beauty…

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“The Wrestler”

Just watched Mickey Rourke and Bruce Springsteen pick up their well-deserved Golden Globes for “The Wrestler” and all I can say is…wow. These guys totally deserve any gold that comes their way this season, and if you haven’t seen “The Wrestler” yet, then get thee to a multiplex, amigos. This movie rocks!

Beautifully directed by Darren Aronofsky from a sweet, heartfelt script by Robert Siegel this movie truly soars. And while “Slumdog”, “Milk” and “Frost/Nixon” are still my top three, “The Wrestler” has made it a four-way race for our favorite movie of the year.

THE WRESTLER #1

This movie has more heart, humor and soul in it’s first ten minutes than “Benjamin Button” does in it’s entirety. Sorry, Benjamin, but it’s true. If you’re looking for a deeply-felt story about genuine love, loss and redemption, skip the bloated Brad Pitt-fest and see this instead!

Playing a battered and bruised pro-wrestler well past his prime, Mickey Rourke gives the performance of his life as Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Several critics have pointed out how Rourke’s real-life struggles and appearance give the movie an added heft, and that may be true, but I think that totally sells Rourke short.

I mean, sure, he looks like hell, but Rourke is not playing himself here, this is acting. And acting of the caliber I haven’t seen onscreen since, well, shit…I can’t even remember it’s been so long. Seriously, Rourke is so vital and alive in this movie that you’ll swear you’re watching a documentary.

THE WRESTLER #2

THE WRESTLER #3

And the story…wow…I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t seen it, but this movie takes off in directions I never saw coming and never looks back. And lest you think “The Wrestler” is all about Rourke, the supporting women in this film kick some serious ass!

Marissa Tomei has never looked hotter — literally, she has some full-blown stripping scenes that are beyond realistic! — and her performance as a damaged stripper is so naturalistic that you’ll swear she’s been pole dancing her entire life. I know a lot of people still give her shit for winning the Oscar for “My Cousin Vinny”, but if there were any doubts about Tomei being a real actress, this movie will put them to rest forever.

Beneath all the sweat and the shimmery body paint, Tomei’s character not only gives Rourke something truly powerful to play off, but also steals your heart in every scene she’s in. Seriously, she’s incredible.

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THE WRESTLER #5

And Evan Rachel Wood — who we adored on the vastly underrated “Once and Again” — delivers her most mature, nuanced performance to date as Rourke’s estranged daughter. Her scenes with Rourke will rip your heart out. Man alive, I was weeping like a baby a couple of times…beautiful stuff!

And when that Bruce Springsteen song kicks in at the end, holy crap, you just wanna die. This ain’t no tacked-on end credits song, this is a sad-ass rock ballad for the ages…and like the movie itself, it will stay with you for days. Amazing…

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“Batman” for Best Picture?

Don’t laugh, amigos…if there was ever a year a comic book movie could (and should) be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, this was it! And seeing how “The Dark Knight” just scored a Producer’s Guild of America nomination for Best Picture of 2008 — always a good omen going into Oscar season — the odds just got a little bit better for Bruce Wayne and company.

"The Dark Knight" poster

That’s right, despite a surprising snub by the Hollywood Foreign Press a couple of weeks back, “The Dark Knight” just became a front-runner in the very heated contest for an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The late, great Heath Ledger was already kind of a given for a Supporting Actor nomination, but a big summer movie scoring a nod in a major category is pretty, well…major.

So, kudos to Christopher Nolan and the rest of the “Dark Knight” cast and crew for making things very interesting this award season. And in case you were wondering, the other films the PGA nominated for Best Picture were the very deserving: “Milk”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Frost/Nixon”, and for some reason, the God-awful “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”.

Yikes…I still don’t get why people love that movie so much. But Christine has already forseen “Button” picking up a Best Picture nomination from the Academy and she is rarely wrong about these things, so…who knows.

“Button” aside though, I am thrilled with the rest of the nominations — which represent almost all of our favorite movies this past year — and the TV and Documentary Feature nominations are just as worthy. To see a full list of the PGA nominees in every category, click here.

And as we near the award season home stretch…go, “Batman”!

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“Last Chance Harvey”

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Christine and I see lots of movies this time of year — at last count we’ve seen 16 since Halloween, crazy! — and though most of them are awesome and totally award-worthy, they are also almost uniformly serious. So, when we see a funny, well-made romantic comedy this time of year, they usually stand out…big time.

One such movie from year’s past was “Miss Congeniality” — which we still love, despite the constant heckling from our friend’s Matt and Wan — and this year’s stand-out is the sparkling romantic comedy, “Last Chance Harvey”.

"Last Chance Harvey" #1

Starring Dustin Hoffman and a luminous Emma Thompson — seriously, beneath her frumpy, every-woman costumes, Thompson has star power to burn in this flick! — the bulk of “Last Chance Harvey” takes place over a 24-hour period in a beautifully-shot London, England.

I know it’s kind of cliche to say that “the city itself is a character” in a movie, but, I swear to God, London has never looked more vibrant and sunny than it does here. Even if you’re not big old UK geeks like us, this movie will make you want to visit London like never before. All burnished orange sunsets and crisp, yellow foliage, merry old England looks absolutely gorgeous here!

And the performances in “Harvey” are just as lovely and delicate as the setting. Playing two of the saddest, loneliest characters ever put to screen, Hoffman and Thompson are pitch-perfect as the star-crossed couple who “meet cute” and then spend the rest of the movie literally walking and talking around London.

I know, could be a total snoozefest, right? Well, trust me, it’s not. Working at the top of their game from a touching, often-hilarious script by director Joel Hopkins, the stars imbue every word they say with a depth and longing that is positively heartbreaking.

"Last Chance Harvey" #2

"Last Chance Harvey" #3

And that music…wow…the score, by composer Dickon Hinchcliffe, calls to mind the gloriously giddy work of Badly Drawn Boy’s killer “About a Boy” soundtrack. If you haven’t heard that score, or seen that movie, stop reading now and rent them both. Amazing!

But, back to “Harvey”. While on the surface it may sound like your classic boy-meets-girl romantic comedy, in reality what the filmmaker’s have crafted here is a wistful, Baby Boomer “Before Sunrise”. And if you knew how much Christine and I loved “Sunrise” and it’s arguably-better sequel “Before Sunset”, you know that is high praise indeed, amigos. Those movies were all about character and dialog and they made you laugh as much as they sometimes tore your heart out. Well, same thing goes for “Harvey”…this movie rocks!

So, if you’re looking for some holiday cheer this season, skip the bloated “Benjamin Button” and see “Last Chance Harvey” instead. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and, hand to God, you’ll walk out of that theatre smiling…

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2009 Golden Globe Nominees

Barring any last-minute drama by the fractured Screen Actors Guild — who just announced that they are presenting a strike authorization vote to their membership on January 2nd — this year’s Golden Globe Awards should play out a little better than last year’s lame, strike-addled affair.

Seriously, ask anyone who sat through last year’s Golden Globe “press conference” and they’ll you that that thing was a total disaster. If I never have to sit through Mary Hart and the rest of those old leathery gasbags reading names off a list again, I’ll die a very happy man indeed. Yikes…

"Rachel Getting Married" #1

"Rachel Getting Married" #2

But…I digress. This year’s crop of nominees are a pretty cool bunch. Sure, there are way too many nods for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Burn After Reading” (which we both kinda loathed), but I was seriously stoked to see “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Frost/Nixon” and “Milk” sneak in there in some pretty major categories. Those movies rocked hard, so, congrats to everyone involved.

Was really bummed to see Rosemarie DeWitt overlooked for her heartbreaking turn as Globe-nominee Anne Hathaway’s sister in “Rachel Getting Married”. Sure, Hathaway had all the big, “crazy girl makes a scene” moments in the movie, but DeWitt, playing the good, normal sister, stole every scene she was in. So, this is a huge oversight in my book.

I was stoked to see James Franco nominated for “Pineapple Express”. We haven’t seen the movie yet, but he kicked ass in “Milk”, so I’m rooting for him! And to have practically the entire cast of “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” score acting nominations is kind of awesome too. Especially that dreamy Rebecca Hall, who is almost supernaturally hot in both “Vicki Cristina” and “Frost/Nixon”. Yowza!

Penelope Cruz in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona"

Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona"

Seth Rogen and James Franco in "Pineapple Express"

But I think the thing I’m most upset about today is Anna Faris being totally shut out for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for  “The House Bunny”. Laugh if you must, but Faris was hilarious in the kind of role that category was made for! For shame, Hollywood Foreign Press, for shame…

And finally, speaking of “The House Bunny”, I’m also very glad to know that poor, beleaguered Rumer Willis will finally get to fulfill her long-delayed role as Miss Golden Globes at this year’s show. You go, Rumer!

To see a complete list of all this year’s nominees click here.

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“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

I should start by saying that I absolutely love almost everyone associated with this movie, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, David Fincher, hell, even the writer of the source material himself, F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the movie that this extraordinarily-gifted crew has cobbled together is just plain bad.

BENJAMIN BUTTON #1

I won’t go into detail because I know a lot of people who are seriously dying to see “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, and I was too. I mean, that teaser trailer rocked! But, sadly, trailers are not movies, amigos…

I think the kindest compliment I can give this syrupy-sweet, butt-numbingly long movie — seriously, it makes “Australia” look like a short film — is that if you liked “Forrest Gump”, you’ll love “Benjamin Button”.

And if you hated “Gump”, like Christine and I did (sorry America), then you will probably hate this movie too. Brad Pitt’s hokey, ever-shifting accent aside, there are so many Gump/Button similarilities that you could do a scholarly work on it.

Just to give you an idea of how liberally “Button” borrows from “Gump”, there is a sassy Momma character, a crazy sea captain best friend, a legless man, a thwarted longtime love born in childhood, and even a lame ongoing joke that rivals that annoying “shrimp this, shrimp that…” sequence from “Gump”.

BENJAMIN BUTTON #2

BENJAMIN BUTTON #3

And yet all that said, I gotta tell ya, “Gump” is a much better movie. Yep, it seems that that old hambone Robert Zemekis has Fincher beat in the epic crowdpleaser department. And since I am not one to ever shower Bob Zemekis with compliments of any kind, you know I must have really hated “Button”. Yikes…

So, come Christmas, save yourself a little hard-earned dough and rent “Forest Gump”, or better yet, check out a truly great movie like “Frost/Nixon”, “Milk” or “Slumdog Millionaire” instead…

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“Frost/Nixon”

Saw this bad-ass movie over the long weekend and all I can say is…wow, Ron Howard rocks, baby! As a director I have loathed (“The Da Vinci Code”) just as many of his movies as I have loved (“Cinderella Man”) over the years, but with “Frost/Nixon” it’s like Opie has finally found his voice as a serious director. And man, what a thrill!

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I have to admit, as much as I was looking forward to seeing this movie, I was also a little skeptical that a film based on a Tony-winning play about a legendary television interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon would be, I dunno, kind of stagy and plodding. But, man alive, was I wrong!

In opening up his play for the movie, writer Peter Morgan, as he did so beautifully with “The Queen” and “The Last King of Scotland” has made politics absolutely riveting. And when you couple his crackerjack script with Howard’s whiz-bang directing and the towering performances of Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost, well…how can you lose?

Seriously, in lesser hands, “Frost/Nixon” could have been a tedious series of close-ups and cramped interiors, but this movie could not be more cinematic. Big, open, sweeping, the camera is everywhere all at once and with Hans Zimmer’s incredible, slow-build score leading the way, the film has a sense of drama that is just breathtaking.

FROST/NIXON #5

FROST/NIXON #2

FROST/NIXON #6

And the fact that the production filmed in many of the real-life locales only ads to the gravitas. I can only imagine how much that helped the actors bury themselves in their roles, because bury they do, amigos!

Reprising his Tony-winning performance, Langella doesn’t exactly look like Nixon, but man, he has the strange tics and sad sack mannerisms down pat. And Tony-nominee Sheen — who, if you ask me, was robbed of a Supporting Oscar nod for his stellar turn as Tony Blaire in “The Queen” — more than holds his own as a man finding his voice as a journalist during the course of the interviews.

But perhaps even more exciting than the leads are the amazing supporting performances by Kevin Bacon as Nixon loyalist Jack Brennan, and Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt as Frost’s hard-working researchers, James Reston Jr. and Bob Zelnick, respectively.

All working at the top of their game, the three workhorse actors lend “Frost/Nixon” a boxing movie element that is entirely unexpected. And watching them quickly move in to clean up the figuriative blood when Frost and Nixon have finished a “round” before the camera is beyond awesome.

FROST/NIXON #3

FROST/NIXON #4

In fact, Howard structures the entire movie like one big showdown, and though it might sound a bit heavy-handed, it works like gangbusters. Yes, I said gangbusters…sorry, but it really is that good.

“Frost/Nixon” opens nationwide this weekend, so, check it out! And if you’re interested in seeing the real life “Frost/Nixon: Watergate Interviews” for yourself, they have just been re-released on DVD as well. Cool, huh? I can’t wait to see how they compare to the movie!

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“Australia”

OK, let me start by saying that Christine and I were huge fans of Baz Luhrmann’s last movie “Moulin Rouge!”. The music, that crazy dramatic story, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman singing in a giant elephant, what’s not to love? Almost any way you look at it, the movie kicked ass.

AUSTRALIA #1

So, when we went to a WGA screening of Luhrmann’s latest widescreen epic, “Australia”, on Friday night, we had pretty high hopes. Unfortunately, the movie did not deliver on many of them. It’s not that “Australia” is bad, because it’s not, in fact there are some really cool things in it, but overall the movie is a bit too bloated for it’s own good.

The biggest problem for me was that in trying to recreate his favorite sweeping epics from the past — “Out of Africa”, “Gone With The Wind”, “Giant”, etc. — Luhrmann lost sight of the things he does best. And though he infuses the film with plenty of crazy camera angles and editing, and his patented love-it-or-hate-it slapstick humor is all over the place, the movie as a whole is shockingly conventional. And for someone with Luhrmann’s unique talents, that is very disappointing indeed.

And though much of the dialog is extremely cheesy and almost painfully corny in spots — the first half hour of the movie is so obnoxious that we almost walked out, seriously, it’s mind-numbingly lame! — the movie has some very cool scenes, and stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman have never looked better.

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AUSTRALIA #3

In fact, they look so good that it’s kind of distracting. Kidman is at her shiny, china doll prettiest in this movie, which is cool, but a bit hard to swallow when she’s supposedly out there wrangling cattle in the outback. And Jackman’s costumes are so fetishized in some scenes that it’s almost laughable.

I mean, really, what self-respecting Aussie drover would be caught dead in those tight-ass, low rise jeans? And in 1939? Please! I get it, I mean, Jackman is hot and rugged and all that, but wow, there are so many shots of his enormous package and bounce-a-quarter off it ass that you’d think Tom of Finland was Luhrmann’s co-director. It was kind of crazy…

But all that said, the cattle drive portion in the middle of the movie is really cool and totally unique and the Aboriginal child actor who plays Nullah, newcomer Brandon Walters, was also pretty fantastic. And his narration, though difficult to understand in spots, definitely ads to the impact of the movie.

So, overall, not a great film, but definitely not the worst movie you could see this Thanksgiving weekend. And if you like your movies big, loud, and packed with Aussie stereotypes — seriously, Jackman says “crikey” so many times it’s like he’s channeling Steve Irwin or something — “Australia” is the movie for you.

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AUSTRALIA #5

After the movie, we stayed for a brief Q & A with Luhrmann and one of his co-writers, Stuart Beattie (“Collateral”) which was interesting, but totally dominated by Luhrmann’s strange ramblings. He was cool, but, wow, kind of a nutter if you ask me. Let’s just say I can see why he burned through three co-writers on this movie…yikes.

That said, I was a bit bummed that they cut the Q & A short because I wanted to ask about the rumor that they shot seven different endings for the movie (yep, you heard me, seven!) but seeing as the film itself was over two and a half hours long, I understood the moderator’s need to move things along.

Plus, after sitting in that theatre with a bunch of sweaty screenwriters for over three hours, crikey, even I was ready to go home! Whew…

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“Slumdog Millionaire”

OK, I know I said I’d blog about all the fun stuff we did with Ginger over the last few days, but after seeing director Danny Boyle’s new movie “Slumdog Millionaire” at a screening last night, I had to blog about that first because, well…this movie is freaking incredible!

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE #1

Christine and I have been huge Danny Boyle fans for years — we have seen every feature he’s directed except for last year’s sci-fi epic “Sunshine” and his first big flick “Shallow Grave” — and while all of his movies have been amazing, I gotta tell ya, “Slumdog Millionaire” is arguably his finest moment as a filmmaker.

One of my favorite things about Boyle’s movies is the way they so effortlessly balance hysterical humor and totally gut-wrenching drama, and, trust me, the heartfelt, beautifully-crafted “Slumdog” has both is spades.

I don’t want to spoil too much by telling you what it’s about — you really have to experience this thing for yourself, preferably on a big screen! — but essentially the movie takes place during a frantic two-day period in the life of the titular Mumbai slumdog, Jamal Malik (an astonishing Dev Patel) as he appears as a contestant on India’s version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”.

As the drama of the game unfolds, the movie flashes back in time to fill in the hilarious, touching and often painful series of events that brought a penniless Indian street urchin to the hot seat of the biggest game show in the world.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE #2

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Like “Trainspotting” and his lesser-known “Millions”, Boyle’s “Slumdog” pulses with life and moves along at a breakneck speed with a soundtrack that will totally blow your mind. Seriously, we were looking for it online the minute we walked in the door. It’s not available yet, but, wow…it kicks ass!

And while the cast is uniformly excellent — no doubt due to the superb job done by his co-director, legendary Indian casting director, Loveleen Tandan — the non-pro child actors featured in the flashbacks will totally rip your heart out. I shit you not, amigos, these kids are incredible.

And with a sparkling, award-caliber script by “The Full Monty” scribe Simon Beaufoy, and breathtaking cinematography by frequent Boyle collaborator Anthony Dod Mantle, this movie truly soars above almost everything else we’ve seen so far this year.

But perhaps the highest praise came in the form of the crazy-loud cheers that arose from the crowd — at a screening no less! — during key moments in the film. Seriously, that shit never happens during award season, and with a crusty old Academy crowd? Never!

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So, if they dug the movie enough to cheer each of the actors names in the super cool closing credits (yep, they did that too!) just imagine how much you’ll love this movie. “Slumdog” opens in limited release today, so check it out!

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Leave Rumer Willis al-o-o-ne!

For some strange reason my ancient WGA strike-era blog post “Golden Globes Update” has been inundated with literally hundreds of hits a week (sometimes a day!) in the past month or so. Looking into the matter I discovered that at least sixty people a day were finding our blog after doing a google search for last year’s Miss Golden Globes herself, Rumer Willis. I know…huh??

Since this made me even more curious, I did a little web investigating and found out two things. One, Ms. Willis — the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore for those of you unaware of her Hollywood lineage — is starring in her first big-budget movie, “The House Bunny” which comes out later this month.

On a totally unrelated note, I know the movie looks kinda goofy, but I will so rent it in a couple of months. Seriously, I think Anna Faris (the titular Playboy bunny in the film) is screamingly hilarious! I kid you not, amigos, she can make even the worst movie funny. Really, she’s that good. But, back to Rumer…

The second thing I discovered in my web investigation is that Ms. Willis has also been the subject of some pretty nasty internet buzz about her looks. And while no one has commented on my blog about this, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that’s what’s bringing in the hits lately.

So, for all you Rumer Willis haters out there, I say, LEAVE RUMER ALONE! Yeah, she’s got a big ass chin, but she is still really cute and after watching her chat up that old gas bag Al Roker on the Today Show this week, Christine and I are total fans. Ms. Willis was charming, funny and totally entertaining.

I can’t tell you yet if she can act her way out a paper bag, but hey, not being to act never stopped her parents from having long, storied Hollywood careers. So, there’s always hope!

And honestly, I am kinda dying to see how Rumer’s “House Bunny” character goes from nerd in bedazzled body brace — that’s her on the far left in the group pic — to super cute blonde (above) in the course of two hours! If that’s not acting, I don’t know what is!

Oh yeah, and just for the record, Ms. Willis was recently re-crowned as this year’s Miss Golden Globes since she was robbed of the chance to hand out shiny awards at last year’s strike-shuttered “press conference”. So, go on with your bad self, Rumer Willis! See you in January…

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Red carpet madness @ “The American Mall”

No film studies class I ever took at San Francisco State or AFI could ever have prepared me for how totally insane it is to walk down a red carpet at the premiere of your first movie. Not only is it totally intense and nerve-wracking, but it is also one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done.

Christine and I likened it to our wedding. You spend all day getting ready — and in Christine’s case, several days as we had just returned from a work trip/shoe shopping expedition in San Francisco — worrying that you might be late or that you might die on your way to the event (I’m not kidding, I actually worried about that on Monday) and then you get there and are forced to smile your ass off for the next couple of hours.

I’m not complaining, because it was totally fun, and, frankly, as glamorous as life as a grubby old screenwriter gets, but wow, that shit is just not normal. Crazy…

On our wedding day I remember my cheeks actually hurting at the end of the night from smiling so much, and to tell you the truth, smiling on that red carpet was pretty much the exact same way.

You never knew who was filming what and which picture or live interview you might be stumbling into, so smiling was the only safe way to walk.

And even though the folks from “Access Hollywood” and “Extra” never asked us who we were “wearing” — or asked us anything for that matter — Christine and I smiled like movie stars (or, you know, a screenwriter and his wife from Burbank) the whole way down the red carpet.

And only at the very end of our jaunt down the plushly-carpeted sidewalk, as I paused to snap a quick pic of Christine’s super cool new shoes (thank you, Michael Kors!) did I stop to think about how very cool it was to be there.

I mean, wow, strange as it all was, it was still some kind of thrill! So, rock on, “American Mall” red carpet!

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“American Mall” night @ The Cinerama Dome!

Surreal as it may sound, tonight is the red-carpet premiere of my MTV musical, “The American Mall”. Wow, just typing the word “my” and “red-carpet premiere” in the same sentence is so totally bizarre. Crazy…

And to make matters even more surreal, the movie is screening tonight at the historic Cinerama Dome on Sunset Blvd. If you live in the L.A. area and haven’t been to this theatre, you are seriously missing out, man. Housed in a giant geodesic dome, the curved screen is crazy big and the sound is incredible.

Ironically enough, the last movie we saw at the Dome was also a musical. We saw “Evita” on New Year’s Eve back in 1996 and I swear to God, Madonna’s face was so gigantic on that towering screen that I almost threw up. Of course, we were sitting in the front row, so that didn’t help.

But wow, what a screen! The Cinerama Dome was built in 1963 to screen the studio’s burgeoning library of sweeping, wide-screen epics in all their glory. And though it has come close to closing a few times, the recent addition of the adjoining Arclight Cinemas guaranteed that audiences will be enjoying the enormity of the Cinerama Dome for years to come.

So, as Christine and I run out the door to do some last minute errands before the premiere — actually, she’s the only one with “last minute errands” like getting her hair done and stuff — and I practice not tripping over myself in my slippery-ass dress shoes, enjoy these vintage pics of the Dome…

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SAG readies for war…

The leadership of the Screen Actors Guild might be saying publicly that talk of an impending actor’s strike is a “distraction” during their difficult ongoing negotiations with the AMPTP, but if you ask me, SAG created this distraction on their own, and they are loving every minute of it.

But if the rumors are true, and SAG truly is readying their troops for war, then why not just call a spade a spade and get on with it. Ain’t no shame in your game, SAG, just come out with it already!

Sure, another major strike right now would suck, but if you ask me, I say burn that mutha down, actors! After watching the DGA, my beloved WGA and even SAG’s crazy-eyed sister-union, AFTRA literally take it up the ass from the studios, I’m aching for someone to take a real stand against those greedy bastards.

And who better to do it than the biggest guild out there? SAG has 120,000-plus members, which is like ten times the size of the WGA. That is some serious union muscle, baby! And while the studios are always quick to undercut writers and directors, if they skimp on actors, well, they’re gonna feel that burn pretty quick.

With the ratings for last year’s TV season pretty much demolished by the WGA strike, I’m guessing the AMPTP might actually give this guild what they want this time. And, if it takes a strike to do it, then strike away, amigos. Like I’ve said before, I know a lot of writers who will be out there supporting your pretty faces on the picket lines every day, and, trust me, we have plenty of red t-shirts.

So, do what you gotta do when that deadline hits, Mr. Rosenberg — SAG’s current deal ends at midnight tonight — and know that whatever happens, we got your back! Go, union!

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“Indiana Jones” @ the Arclight

After all the Indiana Jones build-up last week, you’d think I would have written at least something about the experience of seeing the actual movie by now, right? Well, as much as I’d like to say that I loved “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” so much that I’ve been busy hurrying back nightly to see it again…sadly, that is not the case, amigos.

The main reason I haven’t written about the movie yet is that there is practically no movie to write about. No there…there, so to speak. More of a preview for what I’m sure will be some very cool video games and theme park attractions than an actual movie, “Crystal Skull” is everything I hoped it would not be.

After the movie ended, while stumbling numbly to the parking lot…wait, I take that back, “numbly” would imply that we actually had emotional feelings about this crapfest, I think a better word would be indifferently. So, while stumbling indifferently back to our car I said to my brother: “Well, at least it wasn’t as bad as “The Phantom Menace”, right?”

Shaking his head, Ryan pointed out something surprisingly wise considering the late hour. He said that while “Menace” was a huge disappointment, it at least had the promise of two other movies to come. And, the artistic value of the subsequent “Star Wars” prequels aside, that is totally true.

I mean, love it or hate it, “Menace” did have Darth Maul and the fascinating — and up to that point, never before mentioned! — concept of midi-cloriens: the little unseen mystical thingies that make up the Force.

And not only did Anakin Skywalker have a buttload of said midi-cloriens flowing through his body, but it was even alluded to that the annoying little “chosen one” from Tatooine was born of the Force itself. Wow! Now that is cool idea. And though he tried really hard at every turn, even musty old George Lucas couldn’t make that shit boring!

Unfortunately, “Crystal Skull” has none of those elements. And worst of all, it is really, really slooooow. At least “Raiders” started out big with the whole imploding temple bit. And that rock rolling after Indy? Kind of an iconic moment! But this movie opens with a groan and just keeps getting worse as it goes…

Of course, there were a few bright spots. Karen Allen looked great and it was really awesome to see her in a movie again. I thought Cate Blanchett was entertaining and despite the hisses from the rest of our party at her vicious scenery-chomping, it was very clear to me that she was having fun. And, hello…isn’t the queen of doom and gloom Oscar-bait allowed to have a little summer movie fun now and then? That’s right, you rock that crazy “Rocky and Bullwinkle” Russian accent, chica!

Speaking of over-acting, John Hurt — who I usually love — is also very strange in this. But hey, the summer blockbuster brigade isn’t exactly pounding on his door all the time either, so I cut him some slack.

On a positive note, Shia LaBeouf’s character, “Mutt”, didn’t totally suck. His Marlon Brando routine was lame and the fact that he had his name embroidered on his leather jacket was, well…kinda gay, but LaBeouf’s a great actor, and his chemistry with Harrison Ford was pretty nifty too, so it worked.

And while Ford still managed to work some of that Indiana Jones magic in spots — particularly during a scene involving Allen’s character and some quicksand! — overall, he felt more like a cartoon character than a real man.

I know, I know, the series isn’t exactly realistic, give Dr. Jones a break. But hey, realistic or not, audiences made some pretty big leaps of faith in the earlier movies too…I mean, come on, do you think anyone but Indiana Jones could hang onto the top of a Nazi submarine all the way to a secret island hideout? Please. But we were so into the movie back then that we bought it!

That is not the case in “Crystal Skull”. Here, the leaps of faith just seem bigger and way too hard to swallow. I won’t spoil it for you by going into detail, but there are at least two things that Indiana Jones does in this movie that defy the laws of physics in such a huge way that the audience actually laughed. And no, it was not in a good way.

Anyway, love to hear what the rest of you thought of the movie, so comment away. In the meantime, enjoy these pics I took of some of the cool promo posters and props they had strewn about the lobby of the Arclight. I know it’s hard to tell from the picture, but those giant banners above were actually draped down the entire length of an office tower on Sunset, cool, huh?

So, my advice is that if you live in Los Angles and you’re itching to see “Crystal Skull” on the big screen, see it at the Arclight. That way if you totally hate the movie — which you will — you can drown your sorrows by snapping some fun pics of Mutt’s groovy motorcycle in the lobby on your way out.

Hell, it worked for me…

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Sydney Pollack (1934-2008)

Christine and I were both very sad to hear that legendary, Oscar-winning director/producer, Sydney Pollack passed away on Monday at the age of 73. Diagnosed with cancer nine months ago, Pollack died at his home in Pacific Palisades surrounded by his family.

I had been a fan of Pollack’s mid-career movies for years, especially “Out of Africa” and “The Way We Were” — which our family watched almost every weekend on movie night — but it wasn’t until I was in film school at AFI that I got a true appreciation for what a bang-up director he really was.

The first time I saw “Three Days of the Condor” I was kind of blown away. The quintessential paranoid 1970’s political thriller, this movie not only rocked hard, but it changed the way espionage movies were made.

Starring frequent collaborator and longtime-friend, Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway and a creepy Max von Sydow as the ultimate Euro-heavy, “Condor” shot to the list of my all-time-favorite movies overnight. And even though it came out in 1975, this taut, suspenseful thrill ride is anything but dated.

In fact, the timeless stylistic influence of “Condor” can be felt even today in scores or like-minded knockoffs (“Munich” and the “Bourne” movies to name a few) and even in last year’s vastly underrated “Michael Clayton”, which Pollack co-starred in and exec-produced.

What I liked most about Pollack’s films was that they weren’t flabby. There was nothing extra, no fat, just tight action, romance, adventure or whatever and some damn fine acting to boot. If you can compare him to anyone, he kind of reminds me of John Huston, who, ironically, also acted in several of his own films.

Like Huston, Pollack was a visceral, masculine director who could take something as potentially cheesy and syrupy as “The Way We Were” and make it real and authentic. Other directors might have skated by on the sheer star power of Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, but not Pollack.

His skillful direction — and a knockout script by Arthur Laurents and an an uncredited David Rayfiel — turned these potentially larger than life characters into living, breathing people, who we loved and hated, sometimes in the very same scene. Hell yes, you still cried at the end, but those tears were earned, baby.

A master of the silent emotional scene, Pollack also knew when to back off and let his movies breathe and this was never more apparent than in “Out of Africa”. Arguably his best known film, “Africa” — which won an amazing seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Pollack — has some of the most beautiful dialog-free scenes ever put to film.

Sure the airplane close-ups are totally blue-screened, but “Africa”, like John Huston’s classic “The African Queen” makes those lingering nature-filled silences speak volumes about the characters. I mean, wow, when Meryl Streep grabs that handful of sand at the end, you can almost feel that shit in your palm. Amazing…

And “Tootsie”? Wow…words can’t describe how influential this movie was to me as a kid. Every scene is comic writing gold. I remember laughing so hard when we first saw it that my brother and I missed most of the jokes and had to see it again the following weekend. Hilarious!

And though I wasn’t a huge fan of several of his recent directorial efforts — “The Interpreter”, “Random Hearts” and the Redford-starring bomb “Havana” — the bold, daring choices Pollack made as a producer never ceased to amaze me: “Sliding Doors”, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, “Cold Mountain”, “The Quiet American”, “Sense and Sensibilty”, “Iris” and the mind-blowing “Michael Clayton” to name just a few. True, these movies weren’t always huge hits, but, man alive, they were always interesting.

Even cooler than his choices as a producer were the films Sydney Pollack chose to act in. Sure, his roles in his own movies always rocked — his performance in “Tootsie” alone sealed his street cred as a talented thespian in my eyes! — but I absolutely loved him in other people’s movies too.

My favorite will always be his loutish turn as Woody Allen’s newly-divorced friend in Allen’s pitch-perfect “Husbands & Wives”. Because of it’s unfortunate timing — the movie came out at the height of the Mia-Woody-Soon Yi mess — I think “Husbands” has always been kind of overlooked. But any true Woody Allen fan will tell you that this is one of his best movies ever.

And Pollack’s work here was just as worthy of Oscar attention as Judy Davis’s in my book. The scene where Pollack fights with his way-too-young-for-him girlfriend at a party is so real it’s almost painful to watch. And knowing that he was such a cool dude in person makes me appreciate his acting even more.

Sometimes, just the mere presence of Pollack in a movie or TV show lent the whole affair some class. “The Sopranos”, “Will & Grace”, “Frasier”, hell, I even liked him in “Changing Lanes” and that movie — which I half-watched on an airplane — was so God-awful, I wanted to pull the exit door open and jump out.

But I think my favorite memory of Sydney Pollack will be the time I spent listening to him speak at one of the Harold Llyod Master Seminars at AFI in 1994. Christine had snuck in with me to watch “Three Days of the Condor” on the big screen and stayed for the entire seminar.

Speaking onstage for about an hour and a half, Pollack talked about his favorite movies, his directing style, why he directs, actors, anything and everything you could imagine…and it was absolutely riveting. Trust me, I sat through a lot of those seminars, and Pollack’s was one of the best, and mostly that was due to the fact that the man, like his movies, was real.

Not only was Pollack a joy to listen to, but he projected such warmth and generosity of spirit that he totally endeared himself to both Christine and I forever more. And while I can’t speak for all the burgeoning film students that were in the theatre that day, I can tell you for damn sure that the super cool Sydney Pollack left his mark on me.

So, rest in peace, amigo. You will be sorely missed…

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