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Archive for December, 2007

The Great Debaters Movie Review

Thursday, December 27th, 2007


Starring Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker and Denzel Whitaker (no relation to either), The Great Debaters serves as a pleasant reminder that even in the land of formulaic, mainstream Hollywood, studio films occasionally get served up without the usual dollops of melodrama and cliche.

This is especially unusual in the triumph-over-adversity genre — and even more unusual when the setting is 1930s Texas, the predominant tone is sepia and the producer is Oprah Winfrey.

And yet, perhaps because of the sheer talent involved, this effort comes across as smart and genuine.

Washington, who makes his directorial debut here, stars as Melvin B. Tolson, a real-life poet and professor who became a renowned civil rights leader and led the debate team of Wiley College, an all-black school in the South. The members consisted of Henry Lowe (Nate Parker), Samantha Booke (Jurnee Smollett), James Farmer Jr. (Denzel Whitaker) and Hamilton Burgess (Jermaine Williams).

After beating the teams at all the other black colleges, they were invited to compete against a white team at the University of South Carolina — in the film it’s changed to Harvard — with this match providing the ultimate battle of wit and rhetoric.

In the opening sequence, we see James’s father, the minister James Farmer Sr. (Whitaker senior) telling his congregation that they must do what they have to do, in order to do what they want to do. It’s a running theme, with the characters having to make crucial decisions every step of the way about whether they should react to something or let it slide, whether they should fight with their fists or with their words, and often it’s an unfortunate catch-22.

As well, as the first woman ever chosen for Wiley’s debate team, Samantha in particular must confront almost twice the prejudice, while also dealing with the romantic advances, then betrayals, of Henry. Then James, too, finds himself enamoured with her, which complicates things further, though not as far as Tolson’s secret involvement with the Southern Tenant Farmers Union.

Click on the link below to read the entire review:

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Buy The Great Debaters movie posters here

The Savages Movie Review

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

The Savages deals with the death with a parent without being “maudlin” and overly sentimental. This movie hits all of the right notes.

Though it’s not possible to make a feel-good movie about death — at least one that’s in good taste — The Savages comes awfully close to that paradoxical equation thanks to director-writer Tamara Jenkins’s uncanny talent for finding just the right antidote to maudlin sentimentality.

It’s called divine comedy, and though it was originally conceived by 14th century Italian poet Dante as a means of exploring the human condition in a populist way, Jenkins finds success through similar channels as she chronicles the angst, depression and fear surrounding the mental and physical disintegration of an aging parent.

Without pandering to cheap yuks or preying upon easily understood and sappy universal truths about love and meaning, Jenkins pushes us into the chapter of life we’ve all learned to dread since childhood: Watching our parents die.

When we meet Wendy (Laura Linney) and Jon Savage (Philip Seymour Hoffman), they’re happily lost in their own personal dramas. For Wendy, elusive happiness lies in the idea of writing plays with the support of the Guggenheim Foundation and leaving her job as an office temp behind.

For Jon, survival and sanity take precedence over happiness, because the 40-something college professor just waved goodbye to his girlfriend for no good reason at all — except a profound fear of commitment.

Though knee-deep in their own sagas, the two siblings find themselves in a whole new hot tub when they get news of their father’s medical condition. A recent widower who just lost his meal ticket, Lenny Savage (Philip Bosco) is now a man in need of a home and full-time care.

Click on the link below to read the entire review:

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Buy The Savages movie posters here

Hellboy II: The Golden Army Teaser Trailer

Friday, December 21st, 2007

Hey, Hellboy fans! We have the teaser trailer for Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army Movie Posters

Juno Movie Posters

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Release date: Friday December 14, 2007
Release date: December 5, 2007 (NY, LA)
Genre: Drama
Running time: 92 min.
Director: Jason Reitman
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Producer(s): John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
Screenplay: Diablo Cody
Cast: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, Rainn Wilson, Cameron Bright
Official site:
Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content and language

“Juno” stars Ellen Page as the title character, a whip-smart teen confronting an unplanned pregnancy by her classmate Bleeker (Cera). With the help of her hot best friend Leah (Thirlby), Juno finds her unborn child a “perfect” set of parents: an affluent suburban couple, Mark and Vanessa (Bateman and Garner), longing to adopt. Luckily, Juno has the total support of her parents (Simmons and Janney) as she faces some tough decisions, flirts with adulthood and ultimately figures out where she belongs.

Juno Movie Posters

Unlocking the Book of Secrets

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

The folks over at IGN visited the set of National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets back in June and they are just able to share some their experiences.

On a colder-than-usual evening back in June of this year, IGN was one of a few select outlets invited to the backlot at Universal Studios, Hollywood, to observe the filming of the upcoming action sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Now, with the film’s Dec. 21st release date fast approaching, we’re finally able to share some of the sights and interviews from that visit.

Director Jon Turteltaub returns to the helm of this follow-up, inspired by the historical factoid that 18 pages mysteriously went missing from the diary of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth. Like the first film, Book of Secrets blends real history with conspiracy theories and outright fiction, presenting a series of clues that lead Nicolas Cage’s Ben Gates on a treasure hunt tied to the secrets of his ancestors.

This time, Ben’s not just on a quest for treasure, he’s also out to clear his family name when one of the missing pages turns up and implicates his great-grandfather in a conspiracy to kill Lincoln. The trail leads Ben and his team to the titular Book of Secrets, supposedly handed down from one president to the next. Said to contain the truth about every secret in the nation’s history — from Area 51 to the Kennedy assassination — the legendary book may also hold the key to finding the greatest treasure of all time.

Also reprising their roles from the original are Justin Bartha as Ben’s tech-savvy sidekick Riley; Diane Kruger as history expert Abigail Chase; and Jon Voight as Ben’s father, Patrick. And lending some additional star power to the cast this time around is Helen Mirren, fresh from her Oscar win for best actress in The Queen, playing Ben’s mom, and Ed Harris as Ben’s latest adversary.

Click on the link below to read the entire article:

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National Treasure: Book of Secrets Movie Poster

The Savages Movie Posters

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Release date: Friday December 21, 2007
Genre: Drama
Running time: 113 min.
Director: Tamara Jenkins
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Producer(s): Anne Carey, Erica Westheimer, Ted Hope
Screenplay: Tamara Jenkins
Cast: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco
Official site:
Rating: R for some sexuality and language

THE SAVAGES is an irreverent comic drama about a pair of adult siblings who are suddenly plucked from their self-absorbed lives and forced to care for their estranged and elderly father who never cared for them.

Fortunate to have escaped from the unhappy home of their childhood, the Savage siblings are firmly ensconced in their separate complicated lives. Wendy Savage (Academy Award® nominee Laura Linney) is a struggling East Village playwright who is involved with a married man and makes ends meet by working as an after-hours temp in the financial district. Jon Savage (Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a writer and college professor in Buffalo who lives an isolated academic life and can’t commit to the Polish woman he has been intimately involved with for years. Despite their emotional handicaps, both of the Savages have so far managed to muddle through their lives. All that changes when a surprise phone call informs them that their father, Lenny Savage (Tony Award® winner Philip Bosco), has developed dementia and can no longer take care of himself.

Now, as Wendy and Jon put their already arrested lives on hold, they butt heads over all the decisions that must be made over how to care for their father during his final days. The unfortunate situation brings long dormant conflicts to the surface and forces them to face their past. Despite their quarrels, each of them develops a deeper understanding of what adulthood and family responsibilities really mean.

The Savages Movie Posters

The Rocker Movie Posters

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Release date: April 18th, 2008
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Screenplay Ryan Jaffe, Wallace Wolodarsky, Maya Forbes
Cast: Rainn Wilson, Christina Applegate, Jeff Garlin, Emma Stone, Teddy Geiger, Jason Sudeikis, Jane Lynch, Demetri Martin
Studio Fox Atomic
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Offical Site Not Available
Rating: NONE

“The Rocker” tells the story of a failed, over-the-hill drummer who gets a second chance at fame. Robert “Fish” Fishman is the extremely dedicated and astoundingly passionate (not to mention sweaty) drummer for the eighties hair band Vesuvius who is living the rock ‘n’ roll dream until he is unceremoniously kicked out of the group. Unfortunately for Fish, this h appens right before Vesuvius becomes one of the biggest bands in the world. Fish is then forced to get a ‘real’ job and abandon his dream until an unlikely opportunity arises. Twenty years after getting booted out of the band he helped create, just when Fish has finally given up hope, all of his wildest fantasies come true.

The Rocker Movie Posters

Persepolis Movie Posters

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Release date: Friday January 11, 2008
Genre: Drama
Director: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud
Studio: Mongrel Media
Producer(s): Marc-Antoine Robert, Xavier Rigault
Screenplay: Marjane Strapi, Vincent Paronnaud
Cast: Anders Mastrup, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes
Official site:
Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material including violent images, sexual references, language and brief drug content
Runtime: 95 minutes

“Persepolis” is the poignant story of a young girl coming-of-age in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It is through the eyes of precocious and outspoken nine-year-old Marjane that we see a people’s hopes dashed as fundamentalists take power – forcing the veil on women and imprisoning thousands. Clever and fearless, she outsmarts the “social guardians” and discovers punk, ABBA and Iron Maiden. Yet when her uncle is senselessly executed and as bombs fall around Tehran in the Iran/Iraq war the daily fear that permeates life in Iran is palpable.

As she gets older, Marjane’s boldness causes her parents to worry over her continued safety. And so, at age fourteen, they make the difficult decision to send her to school in Austria. Vulnerable and alone in a strange land, she endures the typical ordeals of a teenager. In addition, Marjane has to combat being equated with the religious fundamentalism and extremism she fled her country to escape. Over time, she gains acceptance, and even experiences love, but after high school she finds herself alone and horribly homesick.

Though it means putting on the veil and living in a tyrannical society, Marjane decides to return to Iran to be close to her family. After a difficult period of adjustment, she enters art school and marries, all the while continuing to speak out against the hypocrisy she witnesses. At age 24, she realizes that while she is deeply Iranian, she cannot live in Iran. She then makes the heartbreaking decision to leave her homeland for France, optimistic about her future, shaped indelibly by her past.

Persepolis movie posters

New DVD Releases – Tuesday December 18, 2007

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

We have a really good list of DVD releases this week.

  • Blade Runner (Five-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition) – In honor of its 25th anniversary, Ridley Scott’s science fiction masterpiece, Blade Runner, starring Harrison Ford, is making a long-awaited return to the big screen with a completely re-mastered director’s cut, Blade Runner: The Final Cut. The film has not only been completely restored with new and improved special effects, but also includes never-before-seen added and extended scenes that Ridley Scott created specifically for the new edition.

    Spectacularly restored and re-mastered from original elements and scanned at 4K* resolution, fans of the original Blade Runner will have a chance to see this sci-fi classic as it has never been seen before, while a new generation of moviegoers will have their first opportunity to see why Blade Runner is still considered to be, by both critics and fans, one of the most important genre films of the 20th century.

    Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, M. Emmet Walsh, Edward James Olmos, Joe Turkel, Brion James, Joanna Cassidy, William Sanderson; Directed by: Ridley Scott

  • Underdog (Comedy) – Underdog’s mysterious origins begin in the wake of an accident in the high-tech lab of the maniacal scientist Dr. Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage). Suddenly, an ordinary, down-and-out young Beagle named Shoeshine finds himself with extraordinary powers, not to mention the unexpected ability to turn his bark into real speech.

    Cast: Alex Neuberger, Amy Adams, Jason Lee, Patrick Warburton, James Belushi; Directed by: Frederik Du Chau

  • Balls of Fury (Comedy) – In the unsanctioned, underground and unhinged world of extreme Ping-Pong, the competition is brutal and the stakes are deadly.

    Down-and-out former professional Ping-Pong phenom Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is sucked into this maelstrom when FBI Agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) recruits him for a secret mission. Randy is determined to bounce back and recapture his former glory, and to smoke out his father’s (Robert Patrick) killer — one of the FBI’s Most Wanted, arch-fiend Feng (Christopher Walken).

    Cast: Christopher Walken, Maggie Q, Masi Oka, David Koechner, Terry Crews, Aisha Tyler, Diedrich Bader, Jason Scott Lee; Directed by: Ben Garant

    View the movie trailer

  • Stardust (Fantasy) – The sleepy English village of Wall is named for the cobblestone wall that has, for eons, kept the villagers safely apart from the supernatural parallel universe that lies just on the other side. It is here that young Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox) makes a wild-eyed promise to the prettiest girl in the village (Sienna Miller), whose heart he hopes to win: that he will bring her back a fallen star. Now, in order to make good on his promise, Tristan will have to cross the forbidden wall, and enter a mysterious kingdom lit by unending magic and unfolding legends of which he will quickly become a part.

    In this fantastical realm known as Stormhold, Tristan discovers that the fallen star is not at all what he expected but a spirited young woman (Claire Danes) injured by her cosmic tumble. Now, she is in terrible danger — sought after by colossal powers including the “King’s” (Peter O’Toole) scheming sons for whom only she can secure the throne; and a chillingly powerful witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) desperate to use the star to achieve eternal youth and beauty.

    Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Peter O’Toole, with Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro; Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

    View the movie trailer

  • The Simpsons Movie (Animation) – In the eagerly-awaited film based on the hit television series, Homer must save the world from a catastrophe he himself created. It all begins with Homer, his new pet pig, and a leaky silo full of droppings – a combination that triggers a disaster the likes of which Springfield has never experienced. As Marge is outraged by Homer’s monumental blunder, a vengeful mob descends on the Simpson household. The family makes a narrow escape, but is soon divided by both location and conflict.

    Cast: VOICES OF:, Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Erin Brockovich-Ellis, Albert Brooks, Minnie Driver, Kelsey Grammer; Directed by: David Silverman

    View the movie trailer

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Trailer

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

The enchanted characters of C.S. Lewis’s timeless fantasy come to dazzling life again in this second installment of the seven book series, in which the Pevensie siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy – are magically and mysteriously transported back from World War II England to Narnia, where a thrilling, perilous new adventure and an even greater test of their faith and courage awaits them.

One year after the incredible events of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the Kings and Queens of Narnia find themselves back in that faraway wondrous realm, only to discover that more than 1300 years have passed in Narnian time. During their absence, the Golden Age of Narnia has become extinct, Narnia has been conquered by the Telmarines and is now under the control of the evil King Miraz, who rules the land without mercy.

The four children will soon meet an intriguing new character: Narnia’s rightful heir to the throne, the young Prince Caspian, who has been forced into hiding as his uncle Miraz plots to kill him in order to place his own newborn son on the throne. With the help of the kindly dwarf, a courageous talking mouse named Reepicheep, a badger named Trufflehunter and a Black Dwarf, Nikabrik, the Narnians, led by the mighty knights Peter and Caspian, embark on a remarkable journey to find Aslan, rescue Narnia from Miraz’s tyrannical hold, and restore magic and glory to the land.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Movie Posters

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