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Archive for August, 2010

Will ‘Spider-Man’ Become the First 3D Movie You Can Watch Without Glasses?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Spider-Man Image 2002What’s the most annoying part of 3D movies? The glasses, right? Especially for my bespectacled friends out there. I know that if I didn’t wear contact lenses I’d probably like 3D movies a whole lot less. Well, Sony and Toshiba are reportedly in a race to develop quality 3D technology that you can watch with bare eyes, though they seem to be concentrating on this benefiting television screens. There are some pricing and tech issues, but there’s no reason to think at least an expensive model will be ready in a few years, perhaps just in time for Sony to market its product as a tie-in with a 3D Blu-ray release of its Spider-Man reboot.

Don’t expect to see that superhero movie in the format without glasses on the big screen, though. Given how long it took (and is still taking) for theaters to convert to digital 3D-capable screens, I don’t see the industry going too crazy for any further advances requiring more costly equipment upgrades. Not anytime soon. So the big issue here is that 3D TVs will keep improving and adapting to consumer satisfaction while cinemas will have to deal with what they’ve recently invested in for a long time. And people will have another reason to stay home: the 3D in their living room will be better and more comfortable.

Despite some spin made by blogs like Superhero Hype and Splash Page, I have to note that there’s no real connection made by Sony or by AP’s report on this topic between the Spider-Man reboot and its potential to be available in glasses-free 3D. By the time the Marc Webb-directed film hits home video 3D DVDs and Blu-rays will be fairly common, so it’s not a big deal or surprising that this 3D movie would also be available for 3D home video formats. However, it would behoove Sony to mark the film’s home video release as a temporal aim for its tech plans due to it being a Sony title. Yet they should also worry that announcing such a goal too soon might have many moviegoers avoiding the theatrical version in order to wait for the more convenient option.

Will you be less interested in the 3D theatrical experience once you can have that experience at home? Especially when the need for glasses is eliminated?

Please leave your comments.

Original article by Christopher Campbell Aug 27th 2010

© Copyright (c) Cinematical 2010

“Hurt Locker” star joins “Mission: Impossible” team

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Jeremy Renner PicEthan Hunt has just picked up a new Mission: Impossible team member — and he’s got a specialty in bombs.

Jeremy Renner, who starred in “The Hurt Locker,” has been cast opposite Tom Cruise in the next installment of “Mission: Impossible” franchise, which is aiming for a December 16, 2011 release date. Brad Bird is directing the Paramount project, with shooting expected to begin in the fall.

Renner has been on a tear since his Oscar nomination as a bomb-disposal tech in “Hurt Locker” earlier this year. Marvel Studios recently cast him as Hawkeye in its 2012 release, “The Avengers,” which is supposed to start shooting in February, and Paul Thomas Anderson wants him for his next film, “The Master.”

But the “M:I-4″ development is a curious one. As Paramount, Cruise and producer J.J. Abrams, who directed and co-wrote the previous installment, had discussed a new dynamic for the fourth film, the plan was for younger actors to join the M:I team as a hedge if they decided to reboot the series at some point with Cruise’s character absent or less central.

Renner is about to turn 40, which makes him just eight years younger than Cruise. If Renner has been cast as a potential successor, that undercuts the idea of carrying on the franchise as a more youthful enterprise.

Deadline New York first reported the Renner casting.

Renner next stars in Ben Affleck’s crime drama “The Town,” which Warner Bros. opens in three weeks.

© Copyright (c) Reuters 2010

New Movie Releases – Friday, August 27

Friday, August 27th, 2010

These are the new movies that are being released in wide release this Friday.

The Last Exorcism

Rating: PG-13 for disturbing violent content and terror, some sexual references and thematic material.

Runtime: 1 hour 40 minutes

Synopsis: After a career spent helping the devout through prayer and trickery, Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) invites a film crew to document his final fraudulent days as an exorcist. Soon his faith is truly tested when a desperate plea from the father of a possessed girl (Ashley Bell) brings him face to face with the devil himself.

A horror film in the vein of “Cloverfield” and “Blair Witch Project”. The story concerns an evangelical minister who turns against religion and decides to participate in a documentary in which he practices his last exorcism.


Takers DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - International Style BRating: PG-13 for Intense sequences of violence and action, a sexual situation/partial nudity and some language

Runtime: 1 hour 47 minutes

Synopsis: Takers takes you into the world of a notorious group of criminals (Idris Elba, Paul Walker, T.I., Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen and Michael Ealy) who continue to baffle police by pulling off perfectly executed bank robberies. They are in and out like clockwork, leaving no evidence behind and laying low between heists. But when they attempt to pull off one last job with more money at stake than ever before, the crew may find their plans interrupted by a hardened detective (Matt Dillon) who is hell-bent on solving the case.

I Spit on Your Grave

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I Spit on Your Grave Original Promo Movie Poster - Style ASynopsis: Praised by some as a feminist tract, reviled by others as exploitation, Meir Zarchi’s 1978 film I Spit on Your Grave was met with a firestorm of controversy that continues to this day. On October 8, 2010, Anchor Bay Films will release the Zarchi approved remake, and is poised to be as much a hot-button talking point as was the original.

A beautiful woman from the city, Jennifer Hills, rents an isolated cabin in the country to write her latest novel. Soon, a group of local lowlifes subject Jennifer to a nightmare of degradation, rape and violence. Left for dead, she returns for vengeance. Trapping her male attackers one-by-one, she inflicts acts of physical torment upon them with a ferocity that surpasses her own ordeal. When the carnage clears, victim has become victor.

Cast: Rodney Eastman, Chad Lindberg, Andrew Howard, Daniel Franzese, Jeff Branson, Sarah Butler, Tracey Walter; Director: Steven R. Monroe

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Advance Style ASynopsis: Soren is a young owl enthralled by his father’s epic stories of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, a mythic band of winged warriors who had fought a great battle to save all of owlkind from the evil Pure Ones. While Soren dreams of someday joining his heroes, his older brother, Kludd, scoffs at the notion, and yearns to hunt, fly and steal his father’s favor from his younger sibling. But Kludd’s jealousy has terrible consequences—causing both owlets to fall from their treetop home and right into the talons of the Pure Ones. Now it is up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave young owls. Together they soar across the sea and through the mist to find the Great Tree, home of the legendary Guardians of Ga’Hoole—Soren’s only hope of defeating the Pure Ones and saving the owl kingdoms.

Cast: Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Emilie De Ravin, Ryan Kwanten, Jay Laga’aia, Miriam Margolyes, Helen Mirren, Jim Sturgess; Directed by: Zack Snyder

Eli Roth and Daniel Stamm Explain Why ‘The Last Exorcism’ Is Not the Horror Movie You’re Expecting

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

The Last Exorcism Movie PhotoExpectations are a fickle thing. If a film exceeds someone’s low expectations, it can be a halo effect. If it fails to meet one’s expectations, they can muddy the entire film. I bring this up not to subvert anyone’s expectations for how good The Last Exorcism is quality wise (though I do think it is damn good), but because I want to usurp any expectations I think most people, and for valid marketing reasons, are expecting The Last Exorcism to be just another entry in the recent swell of “found footage” horror movies. It is not. At all. Director Daniel Stamm’s documentary approach is not capitalizing on any trends, it’s not trying to convince the audience that it’s fact. It’s used expertly as a means of lowering the fourth wall, of delivering a frightening story and experience that would not be matched in any other style.

Cinematical was recently given a chance to talk to Stamm and producer Eli Roth about the film and while I had a ton of questions to ask the duo, most of our time went straight to talking about the film’s mindset. It’s something that can’t be prepackaged in a trailer or TV spot. The Last Exorcism is flat out not your typical horror movie. And I can’t think of a better embodiment of that than how we spent several minutes of our all-too-brief time together chatting about a character’s shoes. That is not a topic of conversation people are going to expect from a movie whose predominant marketing component is the name Eli Roth– and that’s just one of many, many reasons I think The Last Exorcism is going to blindside (in a brilliant way) a lot of people when it opens on August 27th

Cinematical: I have to thank you, Eli, because, in a roundabout way, you’re the reason I write about movies for a living.

Eli Roth: Wow. Really?

Cinematical: About four years ago something you kept repeating on the Cabin Fever commentary – that horror is not dead – inspired me to start my own genre review site.

Roth: That’s amazing, that’s so cool. I’m so proud.

Cinematical: Yep, so this is kind of a geeky full circle for me.

Roth: Here’s the thing: it wasn’t! Sh***y movies were dead and you felt it! The more you talk to guys like Neil Marshall, Alex Aja, Edgar Wright– everyone thought people gave up caring and stopped trying and we were very much against it. Let’s push it forward, let’s take a convention, challenge expectations and give something new and fresh that makes people go, “Oh my God, I never thought of doing it that way!”

And that’s what we clearly tried here, to give a shot in the arm to the exorcism sub-genre; a sub-genre I think should be as prolific as vampires. But people stayed away from it.

Cinematical: Well, I loved the result. I love the movie, it’s my favorite horror movie of the year so far.

Roth & Daniel Stamm: Thank you.

Cinematical: How did Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland’s script find the both of you?

Roth: For the whole project you really have to credit Eric Newman. Eric was the one who said ‘We want to remake Dawn of the Dead’ when everyone thought it was crazy. He found Zach Snyder and got James Gunn to write it. Eric’s a very creative producer and partner with Marc Abraham at Strike Entertainment, who had done Children of Men as well.

Eric had the conception of taking the pseudo-documentary style and do an exorcism gone wrong. He knew Huck and Andrew from their film Mail Order Wife. Which is a great, sick-

Cinematical: I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t seen it.

Roth: Oh, it’s so great!

Stamm: It’s a horror movie of a very different kind.

Roth: It’s dark, dark comedy. I knew Huck from film school and his short film Until There Are None about a guy who goes into national parks and shoots American Bald Eagles because he wants to kill them all. That kind of sensibility, these are f**ked up guys. So they wrote the script and Studio Canal said they’d finance it and the only name they’d need was mine; ” if Eli is on it, it will satisfy the international distribution climate.” The film has to be great, but it would at least get the film attention the attention of the fans.

Once I read it, I thought it was such a great script that worked on so many levels. It’s a psychological thriller, it’s a drama, then it gets…It’s my favorite kind of slowly building horror where you’re invested in the characters. I couldn’t put it down, every time I thought I had it figured out, the movie was a step of head of me.

They were about to start prep [to direct], but then we lost them because of their movie The Virginity Hit, which is a great comedy coming out in September by the way. That got greenlit so they contractually had to go and shoot that. So we thought about how we were going to find a director to fill their shoes, and enter Daniel, who definitely comes with his own very unique, giant shoes.

His film A Necessary Death blew us away with what he did. We spoke to him and his understanding of the material was so intelligent. We were talking about influences, and I love Fulci and Argento, and Daniel loves filmmakers like Lars von Trier. Now, that’s not saying we were trying to make a European art house film – we were always doing this for wide release audiences – but approaching it from a place of character and story that happens to be horrific. Not worrying about the scares, but coming from the place of telling a great story. And he got the job right away.

Cinematical: That’s one of the things I love about it; that it treats the audience like adults. It understands our subjectivity and leverages it. Not just in a visual sense, but its approach understands personal prejudices toward people of the deep South who are also deeply religious and uses that to play into the question of whether it is a possession or whether its something more cultural.

Would you agree that that social awareness of what the audience is going to be thinking is something that’s significantly lacking from most modern horror movies? To me, that’s one of the dividing lines between a fantastic horror movie and one that’s simply about a few base thrills.

Roth [to Daniel]>/b>: Well you respect your audience.

Stamm: To me that’s the most important thing. I can’t speak of other horror movies, but I know that for this movie it was important to me that I’m not giving them the answers, that they have to come up with the answers themselves. All I can do is give them a dilemma and ask the question. I’m not going to be arrogant enough to say I know the answer to this age old conflict between science and religion.

The best thing I can do is create very believable protagonists for both sides that are smart and have the girl’s best interests at heart. They all want to do good, they all want to help, but they have their different ways. And their ways make sense in the way they argue them and that is exactly the dilemma. There is no bridge between the two. They come from such different angles that they just clash and are unable to help in the end and that’s what leads to the tragedy. And I do think that that is something that reflects America in a way right now, but that’s also something for the audience to figure out and not for me to present on a silver platter.

Roth: Daniel took what was already a great script and truly made a fantastic, incredible film out of it. I remember watching the dailies and seeing that certain things from the script were exactly the same and others became launching points. He got such fantastic performances out of these actors and got to know them as people and truly see what they’re capable of.

I’ll never forget watching one particular dramatic moment where we’re caught in that conflict. It’s so interesting that its the preacher who is saying “Get her to a psychiatrist!” and even when he goes to Pastor Manley, he goes for a psychiatric reference! He never fully believed for a second that he would be able to help her, but there’s that scene where Cotton says, “Please, can we just get her to a psychiatrist!” and Louis comes back so fiery with “Our weapons of war are not carnal, they are mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds. Am I right?!” And Patrick [Fabian] just does this look where you realize it’s probably the first time he’s ever heard that. But he’s pretended to be the authority on this and it’s so painful for both of them.

Stamm: He’s essentially a champion in a sport he’s never even practiced. He’s always pretended to be a master of the sport, but he’s never even had a practice lesson.

Cinematical: That’s a great way of putting it.

Stamm: It’s what makes him so vulnerable. We’re with him in his awkwardness in not being able to actually deal with it.

Roth: And that’s where Daniel’s understanding of what the audience is going through comes in. With the script, Daniel said he wanted the crew to be more involved, which is what we saw in A Necessary Death. The cameraman is at first in control because he represents the audience, but once he starts asking questions and saying things like “I’m not comfortable being in a house with a girl who is drawing pictures of my head being chopped off” it worries us even more. But Cotton, because he’s coming from science, says “Well, she’s 16 years old, what’s she going to do? We can overpower her, what’s she going to do to us?”

So when things get so bad that the audience thinks “This is where I would get the f**k out of there”, that’s what the cameraman wants to do. This person, who is not even in the film but is us the audience, kind of becomes the subject of the movie in a strange way. But that’s Daniel. He really understood the film working on so many different levels.

Cinematical: What attracts you, Daniel, to the documentary style? Between this and A Necessary Death, is there one particular thing that makes you want to use it?

Stamm: It’s just so rich. It’s completely beautiful. You put a pin in all of the technical stuff and can focus on just the acting and on the storytelling. I think that now that everything is about special effects, it’s very harder to excite people with special effects. You can do it with $300 million obviously, but the really exciting stuff are the little human moments between people in conflict. I don’t think special effects can excite us as much as human darkness can.

In that style you can focus not just on the acting, but the actors as people. What you want them to do is contribute creatively, to have who they are as real people inform the character, to develop the characters with them, to listen to them and the impulses they have, which you don’t have time for on a normal film set with a different style because you’re like “I have this scene, I have this vision, we have to do it this way.”

There are all these little beautiful moments, like Nell getting the shoes for example. It’s probably something that wouldn’t have survived in a normal movie because how does it directly contribute to the plot? It doesn’t. But it’s so important.

Roth: And now you can’t imagine her without the Doc Martens.

Cinematical: I agree completely. Coincidentally I was recently talking with my wife about what, to me, is a big difference between good and great writing and it always comes down to what doesn’t appear necessary-

Roth: Exactly! You don’t realize how necessary it is at the time.

Cinematical: But its subtle moments like that that are crucial for instantly informing characters, and yet they’re most often things that most people wouldn’t think to include.

Stamm: Those things come out of having the time to develop them, to experiment. You’ll try a million different things and 98% of them won’t work, but they’ll lead to the 2% that are gold. That’s something this style really gives you.

It was great for A Necessary Death, but with horror it’s a whole different thing because it allows you to drag down that fourth wall that protects the audience from what is going on on the screen. There is no movie artificiality, no “this is the world of the movie”.

It’s funny how it works both ways. Talk about figuring things out… The audience is not protected from the film anymore, but you as a filmmaker are also not protected from the audience anymore. Suddenly you’ve set your movie in the real world that the audience lives in and they know what feels right and what feels wrong, what look is fake, what word is fake. You have to be so detail oriented or that single fake moment will bring the whole house down.

Roth: And detailed not just in terms of props, but in terms of character. You look now at a moment like the shoes and how essential that is. Not because Nell gets the shoes, but because in one second it says who Iris is and gets you to like her. So later, when she’s [outraged] it doesn’t suddenly come out of nowhere. It’s not just the female of the group that feels bad for what’s happening to the girl, we’ve seen that Iris likes her, that she wants to do something nice for her, that her care for Nell is genuine. It’s truly those subtle, subtle moments of understanding where the arc was going and fully thinking these characters out.

I mean, Iris was not in the script. That was Daniel adding that and now you can’t imagine the movie without her.

Cinematical: Oh, absolutely.

Stamm: How that moment developed – it’s so funny thinking back now – Nell was written as being barefoot the whole time, but the producers said that there is no insurance company that would cover us if we had our lead actress running around in a plantation that’s 200 years old in New Orleans barefoot. We had to put shoes on her somehow.

Okay, so what kind of shoes? Well, my ex girlfriend always had these Doc Martens and I kind of loved the image of them, so that’s how we got to that scene with them. But now it’s such a character thing.

Roth: It came inadvertently from an insurance company. If they had said they’d insure her, it wouldn’t be there. It’s weird, but that’s his understanding; that’s Daniel’s ability to take a script, which is truly a blueprint for where you’re going. We know what the film is basically going to look like, but certainly in the docu style it is all about those character moments. That’s why I loved Daniel’s approach of making a character piece.

Yes, obviously this being a horror film with my name it people are going to expect the gore and the blood, but that’s not what we were trying for. That’s why the PG-13 rating, which we did not shoot for and came back to us as a very pleasant surprise, is the correct rating. I think if people saw my name, an R rating and the word “exorcism” they’d be very disappointed and come back wondering why we didn’t get more gore. Whereas with PG-13 they go “we got these wonderful performances.”

And that’s what we want people to focus on: the performances and what Daniel is able to achieve with the simplicity and without the special effects and all the stuff that normally comes with horror movies. Something that is truly compelling.

Cinematical: Oh, it is. It works in a big way.

Stamm: To find producers – not to just kiss each others asses – but to find producers that are that open and trusting with that kind of stuff… they don’t go to a place of “We have to list the scares and I need to know in advance what the scare is going to be and how you’re going to solve it through an effect or through make-up”.

For them to just go, “Go! Make your movie and take your time and develop and change it as far away from the script as you want as the situation calls for and we’ll talk about it when you come back with the footage”… it was just incredible.

Original article by Peter Hall Aug 25th 2010

© Copyright (c) Cinematical 2010

Hollywood Has Made a Whopping $7 Billion Off Vampires

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Twilight and Blade Image

So The Hollywood Reporter just did a bit of number-crunching, and have pronounced that since Twilight first hit theaters in November of 2008, Hollywood has already grossed a staggering $7 billion from vampire-related properties, with worldwide box-office grosses accounting for $3 billion of that total. This might not seem like such a seismic cultural phenomenon when you consider that films about humans have domestically grossed nearly $20 billion in that same time period, but the breadth of our obsession with vampires is what puts those undead blood-suckers in a league of their own.

Despite the fact that vampires wantonly feast on the blood of the innocent, Americans young and old can’t help but invite this latest wave of folkloric parasites into their homes and hearts. Teenage girls across the country are tearing Justin Bieber off their walls in favor of giant Max Schreck posters, and you’re unlikely to find an adult who can’t quote Park Chan-Wook’s Thirst from start to finish and in Korean. …No? Okay, so maybe the financial figures are just more evidence that the True Blood and Twilight franchises are both wildly popular, but with the effortless parody Vampires Suck almost out-grossing the deservedly ballyhooed likes of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the final two Twilight films on the horizon, it’s time to concede that the $7 billion barrier actually means something beyond confirming the prevailing obsessions of our day? Could seeing a vampire in a film become as ordinary as seeing a kid in a film, or a Samuel L. Jackson?

In short – I doubt it. Vampires were around before we got here and they’ll be here long after we’re gone (they’re immortal, you know), their longevity is a result of the extent to which they tap directly into our greatest shared desires, and they’re as narratively versatile as mythological creatures get. But this is a phenomenon, and the blockbuster content will dry up. The Harry Potter films have collectively grossed $5.5 billion thus far, and though they’ll continue to inform the adventure fare Hollywood churns out, I don’t expect to see a glut of films about boy wizards in the wake of The Deathly Hallows (I do, however, expect to see a glut of films about endless camping trips).

With studios already gearing up for projects such as The Passage, Dracula Year Zero, and Castlevania, Hollywood is obviously going to ride this money train and keep blood-suckers in theaters for as long as the trend holds (insert joke about AMC doing their part with bedbugs, here), but the poor performance of films like Daybreakers and The Vampire’s Assistant suggests that fangs aren’t enough to guarantee success, and that lust and branding still trump subject. I’ve yet to be shown any definitive correlation between the respective successes of Twilight and True Blood beyond the fact that the former probably proved to HBO that a “genre” show was worth a shot – the rest can largely be attributed to fit naked people doing bad, bad things to each other. So Hollywood will read as much into those $7 billion as they can because they have nothing else to go by, and vampire projects will be greenlit that might not have been otherwise, but all that number really tells me is that Hollywood does itself a favor by respectfully acknowledging that the stuff of B-movies can also be the stuff of A-money.

Besides, everyone knows that there can never be a greater vampire film than the legendary Nicolas Cage vehicle, Vampire’s Kiss. Take a deep breath, accept that your life is about to be forever changed, and observe:

Original article by David Elrich Aug 25th 2010

© Copyright (c) Cinematical 2010

Actors We Miss: River Phoenix

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

River Phoenix in Sneakers

In honour of River Phoenix’ birthday (he woulld have turned 40 on August 23rd), Christopher Campbell has written this great article about the actor’s achievement while he was alive and what he may have accomplished if her were alive today. Read on :

He would have turned 40 today. Unfortunately, River Phoenix died in 1993 of a drug overdose outside LA’s Viper Room as Johnny Depp performed on stage inside. Not just because it’s his birthday, and a significant one at that, we are missing the forever-young actor this August and wondering what he might have been doing lately had he lived. Would he have any involvement with brother Joaquin’s enigmatic retirement and subsequent rap career, or at least appear in the (faux?) documentary I’m Still Here? What would he have thought of Dinner with Schmucks, which reminds me of his underrated drama Dogfight? Might he have been able to take over the Indiana Jones franchise so we didn’t get the old-man version we’re currently stuck with?

And if not that, what other series would he be starring in now? You know he would have been another Depp or Robert Downey Jr., putting more talent into a franchise that didn’t seem to deserve him at first. Could he have been a superhero? Or, would he have focused more on dramatic roles and easily won an Oscar or four after losing that nomination for Running on Empty? Given that Phoenix showed us remarkable talent so early and had diverse roles in sci-fi, westerns, action-adventure, drama, black comedy, coming of age, spy caper and gay modernizations of Shakespeare (My Own Private Idaho). And he seemed to get along with a number of his collaborators, many of whom, like Sidney Poitier, Keanu Reeves and Dermot Mulroney (and sort of Harrison Ford) he worked with more than once.

Phoenix was great as a suave leading man or a sometimes-comedic member of an ensemble. I love him especially in the latter capacity in his earliest films Explorers (as a cute nerd type before becoming a teen hearthrob with…) and Stand By Me as well as later, under-appreciated movies like I Love You to Death and especially Sneakers (my favorite) In that last one he shows signs he could have ended up one of the core stars of the Oceans 11 movies — alongside brother-in-law Casey Affleck, who is married to his sister Rain. In addition to giving us a slew of great performances during his decade in the industry, he also had a future in music, whether through his own band, Aleka’s Attic, or his co-partnership in the House of Blues. His interest in environmental causes would also still fit in well today.

Having seen people like Downey, Drew Barrymore and Jason Bateman overcome their addictions and relevant ’90s slumps, it’s even sadder to think of what we and he missed out on. Fortunately we have the nearly 15 features he did appear in, and here to share some favorites are other Cinematical writers:

Scott Weinberg:

“It was a touch of genius on the part of Steven Spielberg to cast River Phoenix as the young Indiana Jones. The director needed a youthful actor for a clever sequence explaining how our favorite archaeologist got his trademark hat, bullwhip, chin scar, fear of snakes, etc., so he enlisted the 19-year-old Phoenix for the role. The actor was fresh off of Little Nikita and Running on Empty, so it must have been pretty exciting to leap into a beloved adventure series.

“Mr. Phoenix was quite excellent as the young Indiana Jones, delivering a performance that was half of an homage to Harrison Ford and half just plain ol’ heroic derring-do. It’s a clever and very likable little performance, and one that indicated a little “action hero” potential from the young actor.

“Happy 40th birthday to the late River Phoenix. The movie world has been a little less interesting since he died.”

Mel Valentin:

“It’s hard to believe eighteen years have passed since Phoenix starred in My Own Private Idaho. Despite a series of strong performances stretching back a decade, it wasn’t until My Own Private Idaho that I realized Phoenix was a once-in-a-generation actor, an actor capable of revealing a character’s turbulent inner life persuasively.

“Seeing (and hearing) Phoenix’s character-revealing scene in My Own Private Idaho, e.g., a campfire where his character expresses his feelings for Keanu Reeves character (only to be rebuffed), immediately reminded me of James Dean’s performances in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause.

“At that moment, I couldn’t help but hope that Phoenix wouldn’t suffer a similar, unfortunate fate. He did. Movies were (and still are) much poorer for it.”

Peter Martin:

“Somewhere in the midst of Sidney Lumet’s, Running on Empty, my attention was diverted from Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti, as fugitives raising their family on the run from the FBI, and shifted to River Phoenix, as their eldest son, struggling to establish his own identity. He started off sleepy-eyed and dutiful, and slowly emerged like a bubbling volcano, a cauldron of emotions and desires, defined by love for his parents, and yet yearning to be set free. In those pre-IMDB days, I kept wondering, “Who is this kid?” not realizing it was the boy from Explorers and The Mosquito Coast. He had an uncanny ability to disappear into his characters, and I wish he was still around to pop up and surprise us with another startling performance.

Jenni Miller:

“River Phoenix was magical in Stand By Me, a perfect storm between director Rob Reiner and writer Stephen King. Their tender and sentimental take on one transformative day in four boys’ lives was never saccharine but still managed to pull at the gut. Phoenix’s performance as Chris Chambers, the tough kid with the cigarette box rolled up in his sleeve who desperately wants to get out of their small town and make something of himself, illustrated the young actor’s depth at the same time it showed the promise his future held.

“I was just young enough to have a crush on River Phoenix when Stand By Me came out; he was blond and beautiful but still exotic, not just another teen heartthrob no matter how often he showed up in those magazine. Hearing about his troubled life and death still saddens me for the people who knew him and loved him in real life, and not just on the screen.”

Joe Utichi:

“The final moments of Stand By Me, where it’s revealed that River Phoenix’s, Chris Chambers is stabbed and killed in a bar fight sometime after the movie’s story concludes, take on a special poignancy after Phoenix’s death in 1993. The film’s journey is epic, and we bond with its four pint-sized leads as much as they bond with one another. When Chris’s image fades out it’s impossible not to feel an emotional tug for the actor who brought him to the screen.

‘We were robbed of his talent too young – Phoenix was a maverick whose best work was still to come. His choices were brave and his performances shone, but his was a career still on the cusp of maturing. What we might have seen from him in the years since 1993, alongside contemporaries like Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp, simply doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Original article by Christopher Campbell et al Aug 23rd 2010

© Copyright (c) Cinematical 2010

Twilight’s David Slade Lead Contender to Direct ‘Wolverine’ 2

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

X-Men Origins: Wolverine DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Even if you’re not a Twi-hard, you probably heard that the latest installment, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse“, was a step up, and many people credit director David Slade with the improvement. Cinematical’s Eric D. Snider, for example, described him as “a good fit for the material,” noting his past work on the unsettling “Hard Candy” and “energetically creepy vampire flick” “30 Days of Night”. Could Slade work his magic next on an ailing superhero?

We’re talking about the beloved and hairy Wolverine, of course. “X-Men Origins: Wolverine“, the first solo outing with the character, did not fare well with critics, but it made $373 million at the box office worldwide, so a sequel is moving forward. The process of choosing a director has narrowed down to two men, Slade and Robert Schwentke (“The Time Traveler’s Wife“). New York Magazine’s Vulture blog says that Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, will make the pick, though they report: “A well-placed source inside the production insists: ‘It’s going to be Slade.'”

Between the two, I’d rather see Slade give it a go. Schwentke made “Tattoo”, a very stylish serial killer thriller, in his native Germany, then made his first Hollywood feature with Jodie Foster, “Flightplan”, following that up with the soapy, “The Time Traveler’s Wife”. Maybe the upcoming “Red” will change my mind, but so far all I’ve seen out of Schwentke is good-looking, anonymous films.

That’s all that director Gavin Hood could produce with the first film; the next one needs more of a harder edge, and Slade might be able to accomplish that, even working within the PG-13 ratings limitation. Wolverine is too good a character to let drown in increasingly mediocre product. “Wolverine 2″ (or whatever it’s eventually called) will start off in Japan as our hairy hero learns martial arts and falls in love with a good woman.

What do you think? Could David Slade rescue the next “Wolverine flick?”

Original article by Peter Martin Aug 20th 2010

© Copyright (c) Cinematical 2010


Friday, August 20th, 2010

Takers DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - International Style B

Synopsis: A Los Angeles detective races to bust a group of notorious thieves before they can carry out a 20-million-dollar heist in this crime thriller from director/co-screenwriter John Luessenhop and writing partner Avery Duff. Their heists are planned to perfection, and they never leave behind a shred of evidence. But when greed gets the best of the gang and they agree to one last job, one seasoned detective (Matt Dillon) vows to put them behind bars for good.

Cast: Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez, Michael Ealy, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen; Directed by: John Luessenhop

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