Release date: Wednesday December 1, 2010 (Limited Genre: Drama, Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min. Director: Darren Aronofsky Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures Producer(s): Arnold Messer, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy Screenplay: Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz, John McLaughlin Cast: Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Toby Hemingway Official Site:foxsearchlight.com/blackswan Rating:R for strong sexual content, disturbing violent images, language and some drug use Available film art:Black Swan movie posters
Synopsis Nina (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina whose passion for the dance rules every facet of her life. When the company’s artistic director decides to replace his prima ballerina for their opening production of “Swan Lake,” Nina is his first choice. However, Nina has competition: Lily, a newcomer. While Nina is perfect for the role of the White Swan, Lily personifies the Black Swan. As the rivalry between the two dancers transforms into a twisted friendship, Nina’s dark side begins to emerge.
“MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN — THE FANTASTIC CINEMA OF ISHIRO HONDA” by Peter H. Brothers. For the first time in America, a book has been published about Japan’s foremost director of Fantasy Films: “MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN – The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda”.
Known primarily for directing such classic Japanese monster movies as Rodan, Mothra, Attack of the Mushroom People and the original Godzilla, Honda has been a much-overlooked figure in mainstream international cinema. “MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN” is the first book to cover in English print Honda’s life as well it comprehensively evaluates all 25 of his fantasy films. It is also gives objective and critical analysis of Honda’s filmmaking methods, themes and relationships with actors and technicians.
Making use of extensive interviews from Honda’s colleagues, as well as a wealth of original source material never before gathered into one volume (including previously-unpublished essays), “MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN” is an affectionate tribute to the most-prolific and influential director in the history of fantasy films. “MUSHROOM CLOUDS AND MUSHROOM MEN” (ISBN No.: 978-1-4490-2771-1) is available at: www.authorhouse.com/Bookstore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=65692, online and as an “E-Book.”
‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole‘ is both visually stunning and compelling and that is due Zack Snyder (‘300′ and ‘The Watchmen’). It’s one of the movies opening this weekend so you might want to consider seeing it after reading this review by Todd Gilchrist.
I’m not entirely sure if children needed their own ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, much less one starring owls, but now they have both. ‘Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole’ is director Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the first three books in Kathryn Lasky’s acclaimed series of ‘Guardians of Ga’Hoole’ novels, but with the exception that it’s owls and not hobbits who populate its fantastic universe. Snyder’s film follows a trajectory similar to that in Peter Jackson’s trilogy by focusing on untested dreamers who make a perilous journey over unforgiving terrain in order to rescue themselves and their families from death or enslavement. But what’s more remarkable about the film is that its familiarity, to kids and adults alike, is not at all a bad thing.
Snyder, a surprising director commercially (if a perfect one creatively) for material like this, expertly adapts his muscular visual style to the demands of a world filled with warring (if family-friendly) owls, adding another artistic victory with ‘Legend of the Guardians’ to his already impressive track record.
Jim Sturgess (‘21‘) provides the voice of Soren, a young Tyto owl who is beginning to learn how to fly, fueled by stories of the mythical Guardians from his father Noctus (Hugo Weaving) and a healthy sense of competition with his brother Kludd (Ryan Kwanten). When Soren and Kludd are kidnapped by minions of Metal Beak (Joel Edgerton) and his queen, Nyra (Helen Mirren), the two of them are separated and subjected to imprisonment. Kludd throws in with Nyra’s fledgling army, but Soren escapes with the help of an elf owl named Gylfie (Emily Barclay), and the two of them embark on an epic journey to find the Guardians in the hopes that they will be able to defeat Metal Beak and then rescue their friends and family from his oppressive rule.
Somewhat awesomely, this really only describes the first 40 percent or so of the story of ‘Legend of the Guardians,’ and even if all of that sounds narratively familiar, the execution is unlike almost anything you’ve ever seen before. Rather than anthropomorphizing the owls to give them more humanlike reactions or physical attributes, Snyder protectively maintains the integrity and authenticity of owl physiology – or at least 90 percent of it – and makes them beautiful, graceful, agile creatures whose only human qualities are their personalities.
Animal Logic, the production company that animated the equally-accurate penguins of ‘Happy Feet,’ renders every feather and movement with so much meticulous detail that the only way to improve upon it would be to use a high-speed telephoto lens to shoot real owls in their actual habitat. But then, of course, it seems doubtful they would be able to do stuff like battle with one another, at least not with the ferocity that they do here. This is one film that presents its battle sequences with style, but not escapist glamour; notwithstanding the speech that explains how one owl collected his many disfigurements on the battlefield, even the off screen action doesn’t hesitate to suggest that these owls are definitely trying to kill one another.
(Speaking of which, I do think some parts of the film are probably a little too intense for younger viewers: the chase sequences and action set pieces are themselves markedly more aggressive than most family fare, but further, owls are beaten, tortured, defaced and decapitated, although via mostly implied rather than explicit violence.)
That said, the film does capture a genuine, captivating sense of wonder, and maintains a propulsive, sweeping momentum that keeps the story from drowning in the “epic movie” conventions that might otherwise make ‘Legend of the Guardians’ feel too familiar or forced. Snyder’s direction helps significantly in this regard; while his visual style sometimes seems to be a little light on substance, he maximizes the dramatic impact of the moments that need to be emphasized. Shots of owls moving in slow motion through rainstorms are definitely awe-inspiring, but Snyder makes sure that the flourishes serve the story rather than distract from or overshadow it. Moreover, he keeps the rest of the proceedings moving at a brisk enough pace that the story carries weight, but you don’t feel like you’re just waiting for the next “significant” moment.
Click here to read the rest of the indepth review.
Release date: Friday November 19, 2010 Wide Genre: Thriller, Drama, Suspense Runtime: 2 hr. 2 min. Director: Paul Haggis Studio: LionsGate Entertainment Producer(s): Michael Nozik, Paul Haggis, Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier Screenplay: Paul Haggis Cast: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Brian Dennehy, RZA Official Site:thenextthreedaysmovie.com Rating:PG-13 For violence, drug material, language, some sexuality and thematic elements Available film art:The Next Three Days movie posters
Synopsis Life is perfect for John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks), until Lara is convicted of a murder she says she did not commit. Three years later, John is struggling with the demands of work and raising his son alone, and still trying to prove Lara’s innocence. After her final appeal is rejected, Lara becomes suicidal, forcing John to exercise the only option he has left: break her out of prison.
Release date: Friday December 17, 2010 Genre: Animation, Family Director: Eric Brevig Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures Producer(s): Karen Rosenfelt, Donald De Line Screenplay: Jeffrey Ventimilia, Joshua Sternin, Brad Copeland Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake, Anna Faris, Tom Cavanagh, T.J. Miller, Andrew Daly Official Site:yogibear.warnerbros.com Rating:Not Yet Rated Available film art: Yogi Bear movie posters
Synopsis Hanna-Barbera’s beloved picnic-basket-stealing bear makes his big-screen debut in this live-action/animated mix children’s pic from director Eric Brevig (Journey to the Center of the Earth). Brad Copeland provides the screenplay, which centers around a documentary crew (headed by Anna Faris) as they delve into the goings-on of Jellystone Park, home to Yogi the Bear and Boo Boo (voiced by Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake, respectively).
If you are a fan of the Godzilla movies, you will be happy to hear that Legendary Studios and Warners Brothers are planning to “revive the international icon in a new Godzilla movie in 2012.” In this reboot Godzilla will go back to its root and instead of battling the military (as in the Sony version) the giant beast will be fighting “at least one other monster or “monsters.” Let us know what you think. Do you want to see yet another movie with Godzilla stomping around and making a general nuisance of himself? Read on to learn what the folks over at Cinematical have to say:
Legendary Pictures is gearing up for a ‘Godzilla’ reboot and there’s been a lot of speculation about what they have planned. ‘Godzilla 2012′ producer Brian Rogers took some time during The 3D Summit in California to update everyone on plans for the legendary monster. Fans of Toho’s giant green radioactive lizard should be pleased with what the producer reveals.
Zennie62.com captured Rogers’ comments on video and they’re a ray of hope for anyone worried that Legendary’s updating of the franchise might turn out like Sony’s 1998 reboot. When asked what he plans to do to distinguish the new film from that older abomination, Rogers states, “They [Legendary Pictures] want to do a complete reboot of the character and bring it to a new audience. In terms of the reboot, I think in all the conversations we have with Legendary they made it clear that they wanted to pay homage to the traditional Godzilla character and they did not want to make the same decisions that Sony did … “
What does that mean exactly? Well, for starters it means there’ll be no iguana-like Godzilla in the new film. It also means that Legendary won’t be traversing the narrative path of Sony’s film, wherein the King of Monsters fights the US Military, but will instead have the titular beast fighting at least one other monster or “monsters.” Rogers feels that not having another giant nemesis for Godzilla to contend with isn’t remaining true to the spirit of the original films.
Release date: Friday November 5, 2010 Wide Genre: Animation, Comedy Director: Tom McGrath Studio: Paramount Pictures Producer(s): Denise Nolan Cascino, Lara Breay Screenplay: Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons Cast: Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Tina Fey Official Site:megamind.com Rating:PG-13 for action and some language by the MPAA. Available film art:Megamind movie posters
Synopsis Megamind (Will Ferrell) is the most brilliant supervillain the world has ever known. And the least successful. Over the years, he has tried to conquer Metro City in every imaginable way. Each attempt, a colossal failure thanks to the caped superhero known as Metro Man (Brad Pitt), an invincible hero, until the day Megamind actually kills him in the throes of one of his botched evil plans.
Suddenly, Megamind has no purpose. A supervillain without a superhero. He realizes that achieving his life’s ambition is the worst thing that ever happened to him. Megamind decides that the only way out of his rut is to create a new hero opponent called Titan (voiced by Jonah Hill), who promises to be bigger, better and stronger than Metro Man ever was. Pretty quickly Titan starts to think it’s much more fun to be a villain than a good guy. Except Titan doesn’t just want to rule the world, he wants to destroy it.
Now, Megamind must decide: can he defeat his own diabolical creation? Can the world’s smartest man make the smart decision for once? Can the evil genius become the unlikely hero of his own story?
These are the new movies that are arriving in theaters in wide release this Friday. Enjoy and see you at the movies.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Synopsis: A decorated Coast Guard search and rescue specialist still haunted by the death of his teammates during a disastrous mission off the coast of Alaska is charged with the task of training the next generation of Coast Guard rescue swimmers in director Andrew Davis’ ocean-bound adventure drama. Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) was the best swimmer of his graduating class, but upon surfacing as the sole survivor of an Alaskan rescue mission attempted during a Category Three storm, his outlook on life has grown increasingly jaded. Now, as hotshot young swimmer Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher) arrives at Coast Guard rescue school looking to accomplish something meaningful with his life, he will be forced to endure the rigorous training methods of a man who expects nothing less than the very best in order to become a member of one of the most elite rescue squads on the planet.
Cast: Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Hugo Weaving, David Wenham, Emily Barclay, Abbie Cornish, Emilie
Synopsis: One teen’s quest to lose his virginity is broadcast on the Internet for the entire world to see in this comedy from producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Matt always wanted his first time to be special, but then his plan to lose his virginity with longtime girlfriend Nicole went horribly awry. Unfortunately for Matt, his friends were videotaping the entire thing, and before long the clip goes viral. Embarrassed and heartbroken, Matt finds his luck turning around when a pretty online admirer offers to be his first. But her offer comes with a list of stipulations, and as Matt prepares to take the plunge, his pals keep the camera rolling to catch every painfully awkward moment of his transition into manhood.
Cast: Matt Bennett, Jacob Davich, Zack Pearlman; Directed by: Huck Botko , Andrew Gurland
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Synopsis: Back in action again following a long prison term, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) finds himself on the outside looking in at a world he once commanded. Ostensibly hoping to repair his broken relationship with his daughter, Gekko forges an alliance with her fiance, Jacob (Shia LaBeouf). Though Jacob comes to view Gekko as a father figure, he learns the hard way that Gekko is still a master manipulator who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.
Cast: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Frank Langella, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin; Director: Oliver Stone
Release date: Friday December 17, 2010 Wide Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Fantasy Director: Joseph Kosinski Studio: Walt Disney Pictures Producer(s): Steven Lisberger, Sean Bailey, Jeffrey Silver Screenplay: Eddy Kitsis, Adam Horowitz Cast: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Beau Garrett, Michael Sheen Official Site:disney.go.com/tron Rating:Not Yet Rated Available film art: Tron: Legacy movie posters
Synopsis The Master Control Program is booted back up in this revamped Tron continuation that sees the return of original star Jeff Bridges as Kevin Flynn, the brilliant computer programmer whose disappearance leads his son, Sam (Garrett Hedlund), to search for him in and out of the computer world. Original director and co-writer Steven Lisberger produces the new film, which is helmed by commercial director Joseph Kosinski. James Frain, Olivia Wilde, Beau Garrett, and Michael Sheen also star, with Bruce Boxleitner returning as Alan Bradley and Tron, the heroic protagonist of the original film.
Release date: Wednesday November 24, 2010 Wide Genre: Drama, Musical Running time: 1 hr. 40 min Director: Steven Antin Studio: Sony Pictures/Screen Gems Producer(s): Donald De Line Screenplay: Steven Antin Cast: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Julianne Hough, Peter Gallagher, Alan Cumming, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci Official Site:burlesque-movie.com Rating:PG Available film art:Burlesque movie posters
Synopsis A small-town girl ventures to Los Angeles and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer.