Tag Archives: films

Google Doodle Celebrates Drive-In Movie Theatres!

I know it’s a little late in the day to bring this up, but, did anyone notice that cool-ass Google Doodle that’s been up all day today? And if you noticed it, did you take the time to actually click on it too?

Well, just in case you missed it, here again for your viewing pleasure is Google’s salute to the 79th birthday of the drive-in theatre! Wow…who knew they had drive-ins in the 1930′s? Crazy, huh?

Anyway, enjoy the clip below and if you happen to be lucky enough to live near a drive-in, I command you to head over there and get your outdoor movie theatre on! I grew up near the late, great Skyview drive-in in Santa Cruz and have many tales to tell of my adventures there, none of them suitable for a family blog, but all of them as vivid and wonderful as drive-in culture itself! Oh, the memories…

Happy 79th birthday drive-ins…seriously, you don’t look a day over 50 to me!

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Holy blinking Ewoks, Mr. Lucas!

I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now, but, for those of you who haven’t, George Lucas has once again riled up the “Star Wars” faithful by making a handful of incredibly nerdy, holy unnecessary changes to the “Star Wars” movies for their upcoming Blu-Ray debut. And yes, blinking Ewoks is one of them.

Oh, you didn’t notice that the Ewoks in “Return of the Jedi” didn’t have eyelids? Well, neither did I. And neither did the rest of the flipping world, but, something tells me those un-blinking Ewoks kept Lucas awake many a night for the past twenty-something years. How else to explain that and the rest of the completely ridiculous changes he’s made to the sci-fi classics? Oy, seriously, somebody get this man a hobby already…

To see a full list of the absurdities about to be unleashed on Blu-Ray, click here, And in the meantime, I’ll be watching my beloved, un-butchered, un-special-edition Original Theatrical Release version DVD’s of the original series.

They might not look as crisp as the Blu-Ray versions of the films, but any world where Han Solo still shoots first and those loathsome little Ewoks have dry, itchy eyes, is cool with me!

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Happy 70th, Krzysztof!

I know I’ve been away for a while and I’m sorry about that, but, I guess the allure of summer sunshine has been too impossible to resist this year.

I mean, summers and two-year-olds are kinda all about the outdoors and by the time I finally plop down in front of my computer, well, lets just say Daddy is too tired for much else than a quick rundown of the happenings on Facebook.

And speaking of FB, it was there just now that I was reminded by a good friend of mine that today would have been the 70th birthday of one on my all-time-favorite writer/directors, the great Polish master Krzysztof Kieslowski. Not only did he make some of my favorite films, but his unique visual style and beautifully-interwoven storytelling techniques have informed everything I’ve written or wanted to write since I first saw his film “The Double Life of Veronique” way back in the early 1990′s.

Simply put, the man was a genius who died way before his time. Thankfully, Kieslowski completed at least two other masterworks before his death in 1996, the groundbreaking “Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red” and his indelible, early-career masterpiece, the ten-hour TV miniseries,“The Decalouge”.

If you haven’t seen any of his work yet, today is a great day to start. Celebrate the mad genius tonight by watching one (or if you have time, all) of his films…you will not be disappointed. Seriously, there was no one like him.

Happy birthday, Krzysztof, we miss you…

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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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Cannes starts today!

OK, you all know by now what a big old Cannes geek I am, so, this year, I promise to keep the coverage to a minimum…you know, unless something really cool happens. And with a jury featuring Uma Thurman, Jude Law, and headed by Robert DeNiro and a new film by my man, Terrence Malick, screening in competition, some cool shit could definitely happen…so, stay tuned.

In the meantime, I wanted to be sure and share with you guys this year’s gorgeous new Cannes Film Festival poster. The picture is of Faye Dunaway and was taken in 1970 during production of her little-seen film “Puzzle of a Downfall Child”. I consider myself something of a Dunaway fan (especially of her early work!) and even I had never heard of this film, but, apparently it was the directorial debut of Jerry Schatzberg (who also took the pic on the poster) and, for whatever reason, was hardly ever shown stateside.

Anyway, a completely restored print of the film is going to be screened at Cannes this week, with both Dunaway and Schatzberg in attendance. And if the movie is even a quarter as slick as this poster, well, shit, sign me up for the Blu-Ray when it comes out. I mean, seriously, could Dunaway look any cooler in that shot?

Wow…let the festival begin!

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Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

I know there’s already tons of coverage out there today about the legendary life and loves of Dame Elizabeth Taylor, so, I’ll try and keep it brief and post some of my favorite pics of Taylor over the years instead.

I didn’t love all of her movies — I mean, seriously, have you ever tried sitting through “Cleopatra”? And don’t even get me started on “Giant” — but she is one of the rare stars who could make even a bad movie totally watchable. And when Taylor had great material to work with, man alive, she set that screen on fire!

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “Suddenly Last Summer”, “A Place in the Sun”, “National Velvet”, hell, she made awesome movies in just above every era she lived. And though Taylor stands right up there with the acting great, I have always been a bigger fan of the balls-out way she lived her life rather than her filmic output.

Taylor was famous for most of her life and though that might make some people weird or camera shy, she was anything but. Taylor was funny, candid, and shockingly foul-mouthed…in a word, she was a first class dame. And I ain’t talking about the royal kind.

In my mind, Taylor was a broad in the best sense of the word. She could eat and drink and brawl with the best of them and for that, I salute her.

Hollywood is a freaky place and it changes most people for the worst, but, Taylor always kept it real and remained true to who she was — a totally-hilarious, brassy, old broad — till the very end. So, rock on, Miss Taylor, your humor, humanitarianism and total zest for life will be greatly missed…

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Anne Hathaway & James Franco to co-host the Oscars?!

Wow…what a strange and kinda shockingly-cool pick. We’ve always loved Anne Hathaway and she has been game for anything on a number of award shows recently.  And James Franco is just plain cool in anything. Seriously, he even managed to make a guest-starring gig on “General Hospital” cool.

Yep, he was on a soap opera, like, all last summer. I’m just saying, the dude is cool, not to mention totally versatile. He writes short stories too!

So, yay for both of them. Who knows, maybe their combined newbie host energy will make the Academy Awards a lot more fun? The only weird thing would be if Franco snags a Best Actor nomination for his rocking turn in “127Hours”. What does he do, like, excuse himself and hurry out into the audience to hear his name read? And better yet, what if he actually wins? Does he hold the award next to him the rest of the night? Weirdness.

Either way, kudos to the Oscar producers for thinking completely outside the box with this year’s Academy Awards host picks. Too cool!

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John Waters night @ the Aratani

OK, I’ll say it…last night kinda rocked. Not only did Christine manage to score my friend Arturo and myself two free tickets to a super cool John Waters reading and booksigning event downtown, but, in between the reading and the signing, Mr. Waters was interviewed onstage by none other than Princess-freaking-Leia herself…Carrie Fisher!

Waters started the night off by reading some very funny selections from his new book “Role Models”, which is his literary tribute to the people, both famous and not, who inspired him during his lifetime. And the list of inspirational people truly runs the gamut here, with legendary crooner Johnny Mathis sharing equal space with a buxom Baltimore barmaid. Awesome!

And then, the real fun started when Carrie Fisher took the stage and the two talked like the old friends they are for the rest of the night. There was a brief Q&A peppered with the usual wacky questions from the crowd — one chick asked Waters about the quality of the mussels at some dive in Baltimore! — and then all the crazy folks in the Aratani/Japan America Theatre (myself and Arturo included) got into line to get their books signed.

Unlike most booksignings I’ve been too, Waters really took his time with his fans and lemme tell ya, they ate it up. People brought him gifts of food, music, movies, you name it, it was there on the table beside him.

So, yeah, we waited in line for a long-ass time, but, wow, what a line it was. Drag queens, older gay men, younger gay men, lesbians, hipsters, Hollywood types, four very strange people in wheelchairs, two people hobbling around on broke-ass crutches, Johnny Knoxville (yep, he was there too!) and a morbidly obese one-armed woman in a halter top. I’m not kidding, amigos, that line looked like a John Waters movie come to life!

When we finally reached the amazing Mr. Waters he looked a little tired from all the craziness, but, ever the trooper, he not only signed, but, personalized both of our books, posed for individual pics with each of us and even signed my DVD copy of his film “Cecil B. Demented”. Hooray!

Now, if I could have just talked Carrie Fisher into signing the lightsaber collection in my backpack, all would truly have been right with the world…

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Brittany Murphy (1977-2009)

Wow…I know this is kind of old news by now, but we’re both still really, really sad about the sudden death of Brittany Murphy on Sunday at the age of 32. Like most people we fell in love with her in “Clueless”, but “Girl, Interrupted” was the movie that really showed us what that little powerhouse could do.

I mean, whoa…if you ask me, they gave the Oscar to the wrong crazy girl at the institution that year. Angelina Jolie was great and showy/crazy enough to take home the gold, but Murphy was the real time bomb in that movie. She was like, scary good…and those chickens under her bed? Yikes!

And though I loved her in the deeply-flawed “8 Mile” and some of her fluffier fare over the years — my Mom was just recently raving about a movie of hers called “The Ramen Girl” which I am now dying to see — I gotta say, my favorite Brittany Murphy “role” was her voice work as Luanne Platter on FOX’s long-running animated series, “King of the Hill”.

All of the voice actors were amazing on “Hill”, but Murphy’s Luanne was always my favorite. In lesser hands, Luanne coulda been a stereotypical dumb blonde, but Murphy imbued her with such heart and genuine emotion that you really rooted for her, no matter how far off track she went.

I know Luanne was a cartoon character, but, in Murphy’s gifted hands, she seemed so real and annoying that sometimes you just wanted to slap her silly…or kiss her, or, you know, both. I know that sounds crazy, but, Luanne was a very complicated character…so, back off.

Anyway, I’m sure the tabloids will have a field day with the finer details of Murphy’s tragically short life and untimely death, but all I know is that I’m bummed she won’t be around to make any more movies.

Hell, Christine and I liked Brittany Murphy so damn much that we even Tivo-ed (and watched!) the “Nora Roberts Collection 2009″ TV movie she did on Lifetime this past summer, “Tribute”.

The movie kinda sucked, but Murphy, as always, kinda rocked. And if that’s not a sign of someone with true star wattage, then I don’t what is. Rest in peace, sweet, beautiful, Brittany Murphy…we’ll miss you.

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2010 Golden Globe Nominees

With Greta teething like crazy, no one in our household has been getting much sleep lately. So, since I was still awake at 4:30AM this morning, I figured I may as well stay up to watch the Golden Globe Nominations at 5:00AM. I mean, what’s another half hour at that point, huh?

Well, apparently the Hollywood Foreign Press is as punctual as I am, because, even though their website said the nominations would begin at 5:00AM PST, they didn’t actually get to the good stuff till 5:37AM!! And trust me, trying to stay awake for those last 37 minutes sucked ass. Jesus, get it together, HFPA!

Anyway, there weren’t a whole lot of surprises this year on the movie side, except for the near total snubs of “The Lovely Bones”, “The Road” and “Where The Wild Things Are” — but it was cool to see three of our favorite actors (Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep and Matt Damon) score double nominations and, seriously, anytime Julianne Moore is nominated for an award is a happy day in my book. Now if she could actually win something sometime I’d be even happier!

Also glad to see Tarantino back in the thick of things with “Inglourious Basterds” raking up all kinds of Globes love, and though we haven’t watched our screener of “Up In The Air” yet, I am already in love with the movie from the trailers, so, kudos to Clooney and company on that front too. It was also very cool to see “Avatar” do so well and a smaller movie like “District 9″ score a coveted screenplay nomination. Wow…who knew the HFPA dug Sci Fi? Awesome!

But the big news of the day was on the TV front where Fox’s “Glee” very-deservedly cleaned freaking house with three acting nominations and a nod for Best Television Series Musical or Comedy. Hooray! After years of kicking ass in everything she does, Jane Lynch is finally nominated for an award! Coolness! Go-to character actresses like Alison Janney better watch their backs in the years to come, because the white-hot Lynch is on a roll, baby!

Also very happy to see “Big Love” score a few well-deserved nominations (go, Chloë Sevigny!) and we were very excited to see two of our favorite new shows, “Modern Family” and “The Good Wife” score some nods. Rock on, newbies!

My only complaint today are the three nominations for Lifetime’s God-awful “Georgia O’Keefe” biopic. That movie really, really sucked. Not only did it totally squander the considerable talents of it’s two lead actors, Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, but it was so damn boring that it made Lifetime’s epic 2008 train wreck, “Coco Chanel” look interesting. And yes, I actually Tivo-ed (and watched!!) both of those lame-ass movies. Yikes…

But at the end of the day, the big story at this year’s Globes — which air on NBC on January 17th — isn’t gonna be about the nominees at all. I mean, with Ricky Gervais hosting and the booze flowing freely, who really cares who wins?

To see a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

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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.

Oscar nominees #1

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.

Oscar nominee #4

Oscar nominees #3

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!

Oscar nominees #5

Oscar nominees #6

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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“Cloverfield” on DVD

Rented the insanely over-hyped Godzilla-lite movie “Cloverfield” over the weekend and all I can say is…wow…what a disaster, literally. This movie sucks so bad that it might just be one of the worst movies we’ve ever seen. And that is really saying something as we see tons of movies.

If the annoying, herky-jerky camera work doesn’t make you wanna hurl, than the acting and dialog surely will. I’m not kidding, the script is so bad you can’t even laugh at it. And this cast of pretty WB/CW rejects is so terrible that Christine and I were actually rooting for them to die.

Not to give too much away, but let me tell ya, when the most annoying character, Marlena, met her end in a spectacularly gory fashion, I literally stood up and cheered. Of course, the way she died — like so much of this crass marketing scheme of a movie — was lifted directly out of another movie (“Alien”) but hey, at least she died, so we were happy.

As for the camera work, yikes. I already have a hard time not throwing up during good movies with hand-held camera work — “Husbands & Wives”, “Breaking The Waves”, etc. — and when the movie is bad, wow, it kind of multiplies the nausea factor by a million.

Now, before you call me a film snob, let me say that bad acting and bad writing I can forgive — we have enjoyed some really bad scary movies over the years — but the biggest problem I have with this movie is that it’s not a movie at all. Seriously, “Cloverfield” plays like an extended YouTube video, and in fact, would probably have been much better had it been confined to three minutes instead of a 84.

You can almost hear the “story and plot be damned” pitch: “It’s BLAIR WITCH meets GODZILLA for the YouTube age”. I kid you not, that’s all it is. There is absolutely no explanation for anything that happens in this movie and the framing device (again clearly stolen from another movie) that this tape was found by the military is laughable.

Trust me, man, if the military found this talky, God-awful videotape, they would do some serious editing and skip to the good parts. Yes, I said good parts. Because this movie has two scenes that are pretty amazing. If you’d like to see the movie for yourself sometime, stop reading now while I discuss them.

SPOILER ALERT: The first scene that is worth checking out is when the monster attacks the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s very cool and totally scary.

And the second (and only other!) scene worth seeing is near the end of the movie when we spy the monster being bombed by the military. Shot from a helicopter as our surviving heroes (if you can call them that) are whisked to safety, it is our only clear view of the monster and it looks pretty damn cool.

And then, just when it seems like he’s beat, the monster jumps up and takes the helicopter down. Wow! This scene isn’t just awesome, but it is probably the only truly original scare in the entire film. Too bad the rest of this boring, crapfest sucks so much ass…

At the end of the day, I guess the best thing I can say about “Cloverfield” is that, thankfully, we saved some money by NOT seeing it in the theater. So, yeah!

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