Stop me if you think you've heard this one before...
Perhaps this is a mea culpa from Michael Bay? It looks soooo much better than 3.
The Purge did well in theaters. So naturally: Purge 2. Produced by Michael Bay. (Hmmm...)
It must be the season of the big egos, and Zack Snyder's in on it too. He's writing, but not directing this one, so maybe Noam Murro will be bringing something interesting to the table.
Girls kick butt too. Gina Carano last led in Haywire, which didn't fair so well in theaters. Maybe 2nd time's the charm? This one has Luis Guzman and Danny Trejo, which never hurts.
Regal Crossgates 18 continues their Classic Film Series with Alfred Hitchcock's brilliant Rear Window, this Wed. at 2 and 7pm only. Future films in the Classic series will be Chicago, The Grapes of Wrath, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Silence of the Lambs in following weeks, at 2pm on Sundays, and 2 and 7pm on Wednesdays.
Synopsis: When professional photographer J.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbors play out across the courtyard. When he suspects a salesman may have murdered his nagging wife, Jeffries enlists the help of his glamorous socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to investigate the highly suspicious chain of events. Events that ultimately lead to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history. Having received universal critical acclaim, Rear Window also ranks 31st on the IMDB list of top rated films of all time, as voted by users.
Tickets and Showtimes. (Change the zip code for theaters in your area.)
Rear Window was filmed entirely on a Paramount soundstage (at the time, the largest in the world). Hitchcock required the stage floor be removed to allow fully functioning apartment buildings to be built inside the soundstage. As such, the street level in the film is actually at the soundstage basement level. Actors could remain inside their 'apartments' during an entire day's shoot, and wore radio earpieces to receive instructions when filming.
Rear Window was unavailable for over 3 decades due to copyright issues, and was digitally remastered in 2008 - both superlative reasons to catch it in the theater while you can. And yes, Stewart would have needed a tripod to stabilize that ridiculous 400mm lens on his camera. As a professional photographer, his character should have known this. Update: upon rewatching the film, I took note that Stewart's character, in fact, uses his knee to rest the end of the lens. Only twice, does he hold it freehand, and once, his nurse does as well. This combination seems reasonable, if the goal is to simulate imperfect real-world behavior.
Materials copyright Universal Studios Entertainment.
Now that's how you make a monster movie!
Godzilla opens May 16th.
Wes Anderson straddles a line between mainstream popularity and remaining an independent auteur. Given everything we can glean from the copious teases, trailers and interviews distributed over the last few months, his newest effort looks only to enhance his unique reputation. And with a fist full of Hollywood A-listers, it might also be his most popular film yet.
Still, a basic outline of the story has been a bit hard to pin down. Until now.
Start with this interview, where Wes discusses his vision for the film:
Someone put Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe in the same room. Strangely, no portal to another dimension... but we get some good insight into what it was like working on a Wes Anderson film:
And finally, distributor Fox Searchlight's newly released featurette offers a solid outline of what the movie is actually about.
Update(Feb 25th): Here's a bonus clip, which was just released today:
The Grand Budapest Hotel opens March 7th in limited release.
Materials copyright 2014, Fox Searchlight
If there's something new in the pipeline Vin Diesel 'can't talk about,' he posts a picture to his 66 million fans on his Facebook page. (Yes, he's the most "liked" actor in the world!) Yesterday, he changed his cover photo to this:
Two weeks ago he announced Riddick was the #1 selling DVD the first week of its release, and that Universal was interested in involvement in a fourth installment. Also, remember that it grossed $60 million above its $38m budget at the box office, and it's pretty clear: the writing is on the wall.
Has a contract been signed or funding been secured? Perhaps a screenwriter has been tapped. For now, we can only take it as: "Mum's the word" and/or "Riddick fans rejoice."
Those of us old enough to remember know: David Letterman's comedy, as well as his general attitude, historically was pretty caustic. Oprah Winfrey and Madonna were two unashamedly vocal celebrities among many with a distaste for his show, his humor, and just him. It seems that time has softened his demeanor, and he's even made up with Oprah, but not so fast on assuming that classic wit is altogether gone.
Enter the Little Dragon - a trippy Swedish band performing on his show Wednesday night. Letterman is always kind to the bands performing on his show, and he's certainly introduced America to a number of outstanding new acts (The Proclaimers, Arctic Monkeys, Secret Machines - the list goes on). So here he is, congratulating Little Dragon after their performance of "Klapp Klapp," from their new album Nabuma Rubberband:
At 4:15, a cordial Letterman congratulates the band, commenting the song was "beautiful" and with "very, very heavy vertation." If you're wondering what 'vertation' is, you're not alone. The phrase was coined by journalist Serene Branson during a live remote report, where she suffered a "migraine with aura" in 2011. The story went viral at the time, so you may recognize this clip:
An article in the LA Times, Feb 18th, 2011 describes Branson's side to the story. "They kept asking me if I wanted to go to the hospital, and I just kept saying, 'I want to go home.' ..."I was so out of it that I went right to sleep," she said. Branson was unaware of the interwebs frenzy until friends alerted her the next day.
What's notable here is that Letterman remembers the phase, 3 years later, and used it at an opportune time. (How often has 'Boom goes the dynamite' come to mind recently, when you've needed it?) It's unlikely Letterman was mocking the band - he never does. It's much more likely he's changing up his phrases to avoid a repeating worn out phrases night after night. But there's still a little wry puckishness to his game. "Vertation" isn't a word, and it's a little bit teasing of Ms. Branson.
Branson can take it. Still at CBS KCAL 9, check out her bio from their site (Wow!):
Serene is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and the recipient of the Frank Shakespeare Award for Outstanding Achievement in Journalism. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area and proud Bruin, Serene is thrilled to be reporting on stories in her hometown.
Serene previously worked at the CBS affiliate in Sacramento, where she had the opportunity to cover state politics and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She was one of only a handful of media witnesses chosen to watch the execution of convicted killer Clarence Ray Allen at San Quentin State prison. Serene also landed an exclusive interview with one of the few sexually violent predators released from the Atascadero State Mental Hospital. She has covered some of California's largest natural disasters including wildfires and floods.
Oh, and feel free to restart the Little Dragon video from the begining, if you'd like to hear their entire performance of Klapp Klapp from the show last night.
Photo copyright Omnibus, Feb. 25, 2006.
Do your children suffer from Olaf-attacks? Are Anna-maniacs running around the house all day? If the little ones are complaining there's nothing Elsa do, well Sven, don't let things get out of Hans until they Duke it out, leaving you... er, Kristoff'd. There's lots of Frozen stuff for them to do!
1) Are your kids like Alex who, with his brothers MJ and Andrew, has seen Frozen three times? THREE!!! You might want to think about a Frozen themed birthday party, like Alex(left) had last week, with a whole crew of friends (including Nicholas and Samantha, pictured). This party (and that awesome Olaf t-shirt), shows the wide appeal the movie and its characters have. (Who couldn't adore a snowman on a blissfully clueless mission to get a suntan?)
2) Go see Frozen again. If mom's willing to sit through any movie three times, you know it has to be good. Frozen is still in local theaters, with morning and afternoon showtimes. The Sing-A-Long is showing at the Scotia Cinema, daily, at 3pm. (Just $4.50/$3.50)
3) If you are stuck in, and it's not somebody's birthday yet, distract them with these Frozen printable activities!
Build Olaf! Print out and have a parent cut out the pieces, then assemble your own Olaf. Then glue him to your bedroom door. (Use super-glue so he sticks real good.) Then show mom what a great job you did!
Mazes. Print it out, and find your way to the other side. Race against your little sister, but tell her she has to wear mom's glasses while you do. When she cries, tell mom she needs Frozen cookies (like the ones pictured above) to feel better. (And, you could use an Olaf t-shirt too, given the trauma and all.)
A Game! Print out all six sheets, and have a parent cut out the pieces, fold them. Arrange the cards face down, and take turns looking for matched pairs. You've got your own Frozen themed memory game! Helpful Tip: A long time ago, we called this game "Concentration." If you ask someone what the game is called, and they say "Yes, It's Concentration!", then you can say "Wow! You're Old!!!"
If you still need even more Frozen souvenirs, novelties, and party tricks, you might have to get creative. Kate, the birthday party expert extraordinaire explains, "I ordered the rings from amazon.com. The goodie bags were inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, but I made them myself. There is no local merchandise being released until March (to coincide with the DVD release, I was told), so I had to make do with my own craftiness." Now, that's a true fan - and super-powered super mom. (Just ask party animals Alex and MJ!)
(oh, and, Bella!)
Finally, do you think you're a stone-cold Frozen expert? Yeah??? Bet you don't know all the facts on the next page! Click the "continue reading" link below (if necessary), and check out all the cool facts Disney has compiled about the making of the movie. For example, did you know Disney brought REAL reindeer into the studio to learn how to draw them?
With everything we have available at the local box office, it's tempting to think that every movie worth seeing will make it onto those local screens...eventually. But when the Oscars roll around each year, that pesky Foreign Film category compels us to remember there's a lot of really good filmmaking that never crosses our shores, let alone finds it's way into small town venues. And it's not just Oscar-worthy fare, either. In fact, there's plenty available that's just plain entertainment - just not for us.
So, what does the rest of the world watch that isn't showing in the US? Here's the "other" top grossing films from this past weekend:
Click images to enlarge.
Some seem very familiar, and others, entirely obscure. Let's take a peek and see what these films are all about.
The Monkey King: Woah, trippy! It should be no surprise to see a Chinese film at the top of the list. They have a billion people there, after all. Judging by this trailer, the film could do well in the US, too. We'll see in September, when it opens stateside.
Robocop: Whaaa? That's right, RoboCop released in 47 territories before we got our first crack at it this weekend. That's ok, it's here now...
You can check out a full review, with clips, interviews, and behind the scenes footage by clicking over to this article here.
The Man From Macau: I know what you're thinking: You haven't seen Chow Yun-Fat in a while... Yes you did! He's in The Monkey King trailer too! Directed by Jing Wong, who also directed Jet Li's Legend of the Red Dragon, and about 6 million other films, The Man From Macau is the fourth entry in the God of Gamblers series.
As a comedy, and a caper flick, and with it's Las Vegas setting, this one deserves a US release.
Dad, Where Are We Going? It's funny what appeals to people sometimes. Here's a foreign cross between Entourage and Jon & Kate Plus 8. Celebrites drag their kids around, and we spy on them. For what ever reason, it's so incredibly popular, they've remade the Korean TV show into a Chinese TV show, and now a movie too. In the film, these celebrity dads and their kids visit a wildlife park and are faced with various competitive challenges. Not being used to manual labor, and the inevitable realities associated with wild animals, comedy ensues...
(Maybe it'd be funnier if we knew what they were saying.) As for the Chinese, this sold more tickets than The Monkey King, but with 3D premiums, and 7 additional Asian markets, King grossed more overall.
Miss Granny: You might recognize those 'squiggly' characters in the title below as Korean text. Directed by Dong-hyuk Hwang, Miss Granny is huge departure from his last film, the very serious, child abuse drama Silenced. Here, Miss Granny tells the story of an old woman who inexplicably transforms into her 20 year old self. Again, comedy ensues...
If you liked Big (it's Tom Hanks, who didn't like Big?), there's a good chance you'd warm up to Miss Granny too, though you might not recognize her in the morning!
Viy: Ok, this looks like something Hollywood would spit out. Actually, it looks a lot like I, Frankenstein. It's really a Russian production that took 7 years to complete due to funding problems and a decision mid-shoot to start over and film in 3D. Based the Nikolai Gogal horror story, it's only been released in its homeland so far.
It may not be Night Watch, but it has potential.
Mr. Peabody And Sherman: Here we go again... Another Hollywood project shopped around internationally before we even get a taste.
Peabody opens March 7th, here in the US.
47 Ronin: Now here's something interesting. 47 Ronin tanked domestically, yet it's still going strong internationally, having now crossed $100 million. In fact, those tracking figures show Ronin has banked two and half times as much from the rest of the world as it has here at home. That's quite the flip-flop from the usual 2:1 domestic to international ratio. Mabye it was worth watching after all?
Differing tastes or not, one thing's for sure: there's real talent and unusual creativity out there - and it's worth checking out. Let's hope more of these are allowed to make their way to our local venues. I mean, I'd like to see a flying monkey fight a dragon. Wouldn't you?
New Batch! DON'T WAIT - THEY GO FAST!
When: Wed., Feb. 19th, 7:30pm.
Where: Regal Crossgates Cinema 18, Albany.
Need for Speed stars Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, and Michael Keaton.
Click here to register for free passes. If the passes sell out, check back each day, as new batches will appear.
(Be sure to check out our RoboCop review, and our very interesting Lego Movie companion A Brief History of Legomation!)
Here's a little taste of why everyone has a Need For Speed!
Did you read to the end?
LAST RESORT: REGISTER ANYWAY. Then, check the day of the showing to see if last minute passes are offered. It happens.
"They can put a man inside a machine. Should they?"
- Gary Oldman
Brazilian director José Padilha gives us his very different take on the character from Paul Verhoeven's classic 1987 sci-fi actioner starring Peter Weller.
Synopsis: "In 2028 Detroit, when Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) - a loving husband, father and good cop - is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer."
Showtimes and Tickets:
Several distinct elements defined the original RoboCop as a Verhoeven film: Murphy as a Christ figure, a slew of memorable one-liners, a dystopian future envisioned as outrageous parodies of the excesses of the 1980's, and that colorful world contrasted against the bitterly cold portrayals of the characters and their relationships in it. Padilha seems to be keenly aware that a simple remake, grafting Verhoeven's trademark style onto modern CGI infrastructure, would have been a critical and likely commercial failure. We've seen all that before. So, where Verhoeven's cyborg was nearly devoid of memories, and quickly marches forward to clean up the city, Padilha focuses heavily on the mind of the man, and a contemplation on the effect technological advancements are having on us, as this science fiction of the 80's is quickly becoming the reality of today.
The film signals early on that this man versus machine conflict will feature heavily throughout the story. Dr. Dennett Norton, played by Gary Oldman, works with amputees, fitting them with cybernetic limbs, and helping them learn to use them. One patient is having trouble using his new 'hands.' They work, but psychologically, he can't accept them. With Dr. Norton's calm encouragement, the patient picks up a guitar and eventually beings to play. After a few moments, the patient starts to cry, and the hands malfunction. Dr. Norton explains that emotions interfere with control of cybernetic limbs. "I need emotion to play," the patient tells him. Naturally, when Alex Murphy finds most of his body has been replaced, the shock will incapacitate him.
Woah, two different hands! Symbolism!!!
This conflict spills over into relationships as well. Verhoeven's RoboCop was nearly devoid of memory, with the faintest of flashbacks hinting at the inextinguishable soul held within. This allowed RoboCop to quickly set to his task of dispatching bad guys, and left audiences full on action and catch-phrases, but emotionally empty without any resolution between RoboCop and his family. Padilha's cyborg is overwhelmed by memories, and crushed at the effect this new situation will have on his former life. Murphy's anxiety overwhelms him as he prepares for his first video chat home to his wife (Abbie Cornish as 'Clara'), since his accident. He zooms the webcam in to just his head, then closer on just his face, then a bit closer - just to be sure. He can't bear the thought she might see what's been done to him. It isn't until about halfway through the film that these issues are resolved enough for him to even leave the lab. It may be a simple decision to deviate, or it may be our modern reality, where stay-at-home dad's, maternity leave, and being 'real' are more normative than they were in the 80's, but however deliberate, Padilha's Robocop is a much more emotionally centered film.
"If You Prick Me, Do I Not... Leak?"
The emotional dilemmas, personal and corporate agendas, and criminal enterprises all compete and demand Robocop's attention, and it's all very chaotic until Murphy can find focus and take action. In this movie, the family issue must be resolved first.
"Who is this 'Rosie' I hear you've been spending a lot of time with?"
Once Murphy finds his footing there, the action can finally commence.
Nobody likes Robocop. Except OmniCorp. Sort of. They would rather go with robots, which are more efficient. But legal impediments mean he stands to earn them over $600 billion a year, or something. But will the public accept him? Padhila replaces the camp and parody of Verhoeven with the 24 hour, one-sided spin-cycle news that's entirely real today. Robot police are used in Tehran, and Samuel L. Jackson's Pat Novak, a deliciously accurate Bill O'Reilly impersonation, would have you believe Iranians love it. Padilha has no use for subtlety when comparing life for a Tehran family and their son, Navid, to Detroit life and Murphy's son, David. While he might be simply avoiding the Verhoeven style, it seems more likely Padilha is bluntly lensing our world as it is right now (Our Detroit really has declared bankruptcy, a pipe-dream from the original film). But with police corruption, and drugs on the street, and Murphy's own attempted assassination, it's all he can do to just solve some crimes in Detroit City.
Still, RoboCop finds his mojo, and begins the process of capturing bad guys, swaying public opinion, and solving his own murder. The threads of the original story, though buried deep under a different director's vision, are still there. RoboCop still saves the day.
The actors and crew from RoboCop discuss the making of the film, in this, one of many RoboCop featurettes Sony has released:
While it's difficult to decipher some of Padilha's motives, the results seem clear. "Dead or Alive...," "Thank you for your cooperation," "I'd buy that for a dollar" "You have 2 seconds to decide," - those catchphrases are here, but repurposed in entirely different ways. It reminds you where the story comes from - like a Michael Jackson song reworked by a country singer - but with a whole new feel. While Verhoeven posited the comedic dysfunction of technology run amok, Padilha asks tough questions on what effect today's near-science will have in our perfect families and conflict riddled world. And while Verhoeven doesn't trust autonomous machines, and only by imbuing them with the human soul can they function correctly, in Padilha's vision, the machines are perfect, even too perfect, and by overly ambitious integration, we corrupt them - or ourselves. Whatever Padilha's true intention, ultimately, it's the human spirit - and not a technicality - that triumphs over evil in this film.
For lots of behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and clips from the film, click the 'continue reading' link (if necessary), and the videos will appear below:
Jay Matthiessen is a native local, with a family immersed in the arts (a respected photographer grandfather, a grandmother and aunt professional dancers, a film producer, music teachers, a set designer, and dress maker/costume designers), it would have been no surprise to eventually work in the field. Yet while young, with a few years training under Vladimir Dokoudovsky, at the New York Conservatory of Dance, and a few minor attempts performing, it became clear some can best serve the arts by appreciating it. While majoring in more mainstream subjects, all free college coursework was dedicated to the arts: short story writing, script writing, science fiction film, photography, journalism, communications, and even three dimensional design, as well as writing for the college newspaper and membership in film club. Like his grandfather, though primarily working in a technical field, Jay has spent decades working in his spare time as a photographer, and has worked for a small newspaper. While a massive fan of blockbusters, thrillers, and science fiction films, his formative years have fostered a profound appreciation for the arts in all it's forms.