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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Advance Style ARelease date: Friday May 20, 2011 (Wide)
Genre: Adventure, Action
Director: Rob Marshall
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Producer(s): Jerry Bruckheimer
Screenplay: Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott
Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane, Jami Gertz
Official Site: disney.go.com/pirates
Rating: Not yet rated
Available film art: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie posters

Synopsis
Flamboyant seafarer Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) lands himself in a bit of a bind after being lured onto Blackbeard’s (Ian McShane) ship by enigmatic siren Angelica (Penélope Cruz), and forced to seek out the Fountain of Youth. Trapped on the Queen Anne’s Revenge with the most nefarious pirate in history, Captain Jack reflects on his past with the elusive Angelica while embarking on his wildest adventure to date.


The Tourist

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

The Tourist DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Advance Style ARelease date: Friday December 10, 2010 (Wide)
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Producer(s): Jonathan Glickman, Graham King, Tim Headington, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber
Screenplay: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Christopher McQuarrie, Julian Fellowes
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Timothy Dalton, Steven Berkoff, Rufus Sewell
Official Site: thetourist-movie.com
Rating: Not Yet Rated
Available film art: The Tourist movie posters

Synopsis
When an American tourist (Johnny Depp) realizes that a female Interpol agent (Angelina Jolie) is using him to flush out the elusive criminal with whom she once had an affair, the stage is set for a game of international intrigue that threatens to turn deadly in this Spyglass remake of Jérôme Salle’s 2005 thriller. Paul Bettany, Rufus Sewell, and Timothy Dalton co-star.


Rango

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Rango DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Advance Style ARelease date: Friday March 4, 2011 Wide
Genre: Animation, Family, Comedy
Director: Gore Verbinski
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Producer(s): Graham King, Gore Verbinski, John B. Carls
Screenplay: John Logan
Cast: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Timothy Olyphant
Official Site: rangomovie.com
Rating: Not Yet Rated
Available film art: Rango movie posters

Synopsis
The story of a chameleon with an identity crisis.


Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Alice in Wonderland DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Advance Style A

Release date: Friday March 5, 2010
Genre: Family, Fantasy, Adventure
Director: Tim Burton
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Screenplay: Linda Woolverton
Producer(s): Jennifer Todd, Joe Roth, Richard D. Zanuck, Suzanne Todd, Tim Burton
Cast: Mia Waskikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Sheen, Crispin Glover, Christopher Lee, Alan Rickman, Eleanor Tomlinson
Official Site: disney.go.com/disneypictures/aliceinwonderland
Rating: Not Yet Rated
Available film art: Alice in Wonderland movie posters

Synopsis
Based on the classic Lewis Carroll story, this adaptation will combine live-action footage with performance-capture technology.


U.K. Movie Review: Public Enemies

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Public Enemies DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Michael Mann’s latest action-packed, gripping and grown-up says Orlando Parfitt of IGN UK. Public Enemies gets 9 out of 10 stars. Go Johnny! Read on:

Director Michael Mann transposes his unique brand of character-driven cops and robbers action onto the John Dillinger myth. The result is something close to a 1930s version of his caper classic Heat, and also one of the best films of 2009.

Johnny Depp is the infamous, Robin Hood-like gangster John Dillinger, who terrorised Depression-era America with a spate of high profile bank robberies. Along for the ride were his now legendary crew, including Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum), Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and his beautiful sweetheart Billie (Marion Cotillard).

Naturally the fledgling FBI weren’t too happy about this state of affairs, with creepy Fed boss J. Edgar Hoover entrusting crack agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) to take out the increasingly popular Dillinger.

What follows is essentially a series of brilliantly choreographed confrontations between Purvis and the Dillinger gang, with the two sides engaged in a variety shoot-outs, jail-breaks and all manner of other fisticuffs for much of the movie’s running time.

Its a deceptively straight-forward structure that dispenses with virtually all the clichés associated with the gangster genre, and the 1930s setting in particular, and instead – shock horror – actually trusts the audience to use their brains a bit.

This isn’t a biopic of the famous gangster that takes us on an emotional journey through his life, with him reaching some epiphany, or meeting his deserved, hubristic comeuppance by the end.

Instead Mann presents the real-life protagonists like he does in virtually all his other movies; as ultra-skilled but emotionally damaged experts, driven purely by a sense of professionalism and ego; think De Niro’s thief in Heat, Cruise’s hitman in Collateral or both Sonny and Tubs in (the seriously underrated) Miami Vice.

How and why did Depp’s Dillinger get into robbing banks? Don’t expect Mann to tell you. He starts the film as a fully-formed and rather charming criminal, and remains so – always living in the moment – for the rest of the movie.

That’s not to say that Depp’s performance somehow fails to add depth or nuance to the character. Indeed he excels as the charismatic Dillinger, who is soemtimes distant, capable of turning on the charm at the drop of a hat, and almost always revelling in his celebrity.

He’s not a flamboyant Tony Montana or Al Capone-style archetype, but a real, living human being. Depp’s best work is towards the end of the movie, when he subtly shows Dillinger’s mask of professionalism and charm begin to slip as his circumstances become more desperate as his crew are whittled down.

Bale is given less to do as the taciturn Purvis, but still manages to turn in a subtle performance that is the polar-oppositie of his daft, shouty turn as John Connor in Terminator Salvation. Not a typical, heroic G-man, instead a character that is single-minded and ruthless, but also often decent and conflicted by the increasingly barbaric methods he must employ to get his man.

The supporting cast also turn in complex, rewarding performances, with Stephen Graham stealing every scene he’s in as the unhinged Baby Face Nelson (we’d love to see him given his own spin-off Origins movie.) Cotillard is beautiful and heartbreaking as Dillinger’s moll, with their relationship adding another layer of richness to the film.

It is Mann’s direction however that is the real star of Public Enemies. His unique-shooting style – filming much of the movie on super-high definition handheld cameras – manages to give the movie both an air of documentary-style realism, and yet also a strange, dreamy feel. It’s like watching a documentary crew follow Dillinger and his gang for a couple of years and sets the movie apart from the numerous other 1930s gangster pics.

What this shooting style also heightens however is the many, many action scenes. No-one shoots gunfights quite like Michael Mann. His swooping, ducking camerawork – usually in long takes – and brilliant use of thudding sound means the audience feel the impact of every bullet (in contrast to the chop-heavy, confusing cutting style of certain other top Hollywood directors).

Nonetheless Public Enemies is not that easy to watch at times. Don’t expect to enter the cinema and completely switch off your brain. Sometimes events can get a little confusing, with Mann bringing in supporting characters and sub-plots – such as scenes with Hoover and mafia don Frank Nitti – that often don’t get resolved or add to the central narrative.

However these elements inexorably enrich the movie, showing the wider world, the context of Dillinger’s existence and the changing nature of American crime and law enforcement during this period. Several viewings are essential to fully appreciate Public Enemies.

After the nonsensical, exhaustingly stupid Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and the humourless, characterless and forgettable Terminator Salvation, it’s refreshing to see some grown-up mainstream filmmaking during the summer months. Public Enemies, as with The Dark Knight last year, shows you can have star-driven action films that also deliver an emotional and visceral punch during blockbuster season.


New Public Enemies Trailer

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Public Enemies DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Johnny Depp and Christian Bale go toe to toe


Johnny Depp plays John Dillinger in Public Enemies

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Public Enemies DS 1 Sheet Movie Pister - Style A

Criminals fascinate, and always have. Whether it’s Jack the Ripper and the Krays on this side of the Atlantic, or Jesse James and the Mafia on the other, they generate conflicting emotions in all of us. Yes, we know it’s wrong to rob trains or machine-gun our rivals. Yet down deep, admit it, there’s a part of you that wanted Ronnie Biggs to live the rest of his life on some sunny Brazilian beach.

What drives these feelings, I think, are the petty frustrations we all share with the rules of life, the mortgage that must be paid, the pompous boss who must be flattered, even the long queue at the supermarket (or bus stop with the strikes). Wouldn’t you love to rip up that mortgage bill, deck your boss or jump that line? That’s what criminals do. They break the rules that we cannot, and we live vicariously through them. Best of all, they usually meet justice in the end, confirming our faith in societal rules that we may dislike but know that we need.

Throughout history the glorification of criminals tends to rise during hard times, when living by the rules no longer protects us from losing a job or a home. This breeds resentment, and thus a tendency among some to root for those who flaunt the rules, who fight back. A case in point was America during the Great Depression, when legions of disaffected Americans cheered on an army of outlaws who rampaged through the Midwest, robbing banks and kidnapping millionaires. At the peak of this crime wave during 1933-34 the most visible of these gangs were led by Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly and Ma Barker. All these vaunted criminals rose and fell during the same 18 months.

Dwarfing all of these, however, at least in terms of international notoriety, popularity and headlines, was a flamboyant Indiana-born stickup man named John Dillinger, who is being brought back to life this summer in the movie Public Enemies.

The film, which is based on a book that I wrote a few years ago, is no straight-to-DVD indie either. Dillinger is portrayed by Johnny Depp, his nemesis, the FBI agent Melvin Purvis, by Christian Bale. The movie is directed by Michael Mann, the director of such memorable films as Heat and Last of the Mohicans.

For all the notoriety that Dillinger received during his lifetime, his profile has dimmed over the decades, in large part because, unlike Nelson or Kelly, he never earned a memorable nickname or, like Bonnie and Clyde, attracted a top-tier director.

Yet Dillinger is in many ways the consummate American antihero, an incorrigible criminal who was nevertheless cheered on by thousands of ordinary Americans. Part of this can attributed to the Depression; people were out of work and angry at the banks and businessmen who they considered to have put them there. They applauded Dillinger because, as a symbol of public outrage, he was able to do what they could not: fight back. But much of it was due to Dillinger’s outsized personality. He had charm and charisma to spare, vividly displayed in newsreels after one of his arrests, and he assiduously catered to his public, draping his coat over women who he took hostage during his bank robberies. “We don’t want your money, mister,’ he famously told one startled bank customer. “Just the bank’s.”

I won’t give away the movie, but one may safely assume that Depp is able to convey Dillinger’s likeability in spades. That will no doubt oblige reviewers and many customers to ask: how do these Hollywood myths compare with reality? The answer, at least when it comes to the greatest American crime stories, has been not very well.

From The Untouchables to Mississippi Burning, Hollywood has taken the facts of famous crimes and twisted them into wonderful narrative dramas in which, alas, the facts are inevitably and badly outgunned.

The classic example is the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde. It’s one of the best films yet made, but as history it’s sadly lacking. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, beautiful and dashing, were nothing like the real-life Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, a pair of white-trash spree killers from the slums of Dallas, Texas. Bonnie and Clyde were never rebels or philosophers. They were pint-sized, unattractive, barely out of their teens, dirty, smelly murderers for whom crime was a kind of game. You can see it in the silly photos that they took of each other, posing with machineguns and fat cigars. They weren’t even especially adept criminals, knocking off far more drugstores, filling Continued from page 1 stations and supermarkets than actual banks.

Their story has no clear narrative arc, no real rhyme or reason. Between 1932 and 1934 they simply took one long road trip through the Midwest, robbing things when they ran out of money and killing anyone who tried to stop them; Clyde and his partners murdered about a dozen innocent lawmen. Even their peers looked down on them, and their fame was largely limited to Texas and neighbouring states; the only time Bonnie and Clyde made the front page of The New York Times was the day after their deaths. The scene in the movie that hews closest to history is the last. Bonnie and Clyde really were cut to pieces by a hail of bullets on a dirt road in rural Louisiana.

Worse, at least in terms of historical accuracy, was the 1970 movie Bloody Mama, starring Shelley Winters as the criminal mastermind of another infamous Depression-era group, the Barker gang. In the film Winters portrays the submachineguntoting Kate “Ma” Barker, who, legend and the FBI has it, led her sons and their hillbilly pals in a string of bank robberies and kidnappings. Yet research for Public Enemies proved that Barker did nothing of the sort. She never carried a gun, had her face on a wanted poster or walked into a bank to do anything other than make a deposit. “That old woman,” one of the gang said decades later, “couldn’t even plan breakfast.”

The myth of Ma Barker, however, owes less to Hollywood invention than J. Edgar Hoover’s desperation. In reality, it was Barker’s son Fred and his partner Alvin Karpis who ran the gang. Ma Barker travelled with them from time to time, happily living off their ill-gotten gains, but she spent most of her time sitting by the radio doing jigsaw puzzles. The seeds of her legend were planted on the day that the FBI cornered Fred in a Florida lakehouse in January 1935. Once the smoke cleared from the resulting gunfight, FBI agents found that they had killed Fred Barker, as planned, but were startled to find that they had also killed his 62-year-old mother. Rather than explain this to the press, Hoover told reporters that Ma had been the brains of the outfit. Only with the opening of case files decades later can we see that the FBI did not gather a single fact to suggest that Ma Barker was anything but a dimwitted grandmother.

Dillinger presents special challenges for the historian and, in particular, the film-maker. He never intended to become a criminal. He never intended to be much of anything. He was the son of an abusive Indianapolis grocer, and a terrible student given to petty crimes; after high school tried the Navy, which he didn’t take to, and marriage, which didn’t work either. He was loafing in his neighborhood pool hall in the early 1920s when a local troublemaker enticed him into the drunken mugging of a grocer. A judge threw the book at Dillinger, giving him what became nine hard years, most of it in the Indiana State Penitentiary.

In prison he fell in with a hardened group of bank robbers whose friendship, one suspects, warmed once it became apparent that Dillinger would be given parole first. At that point his pals taught him how to rob a bank, gave him a list of promising targets and then made him promise to use his illegal proceeds to free them. That is exactly what Dillinger did, smuggling in a set of pistols the group used to break out of prison in September 1933. “There’s no denying I did it,” Dillinger told reporters after his subsequent crime spree and arrest. “Why not? I stick to my friends and they stick to me.”

That impromptu press conference in January 1934 introduced Dillinger to millions of Americans. His fame can be attributed in large part to his being one of the few “public enemies” to be captured and interviewed during his career; almost all the others were seen only as rigor mortis set in.

His performance in front of those reporters was breathtaking. He smiled and joked, leant his elbow on a prosecutor’s shoulder and admitted everything. As one scribe put it the next day, Dillinger “rates in the eyes of calloused observers as the most amazing specimen of his kind ever seen outside of a wildly imaginative moving picture”.

Dillinger has been portrayed by diverse actors in several movies, though by far the best-remembered is Warren Oates in the title role of Dillinger, directed by John Milius in 1973. The movie’s storyline bears little resemblance to history, and Oates, while a fine actor, is far too rugged a performer for Dillinger. The real Dillinger was a lover, not a fighter, absolutely smitten by his girlfriend Billie Frechette, and his politeness toward those he robbed was legendary.

Even worse was the movie’s portrayal of the lead FBI agent, Melvin Purvis, played by the hulking actor Ben Johnson. In the film Johnson is the walking personification of the taciturn western sheriff, a big man of few words who takes out gangsters by the score with nothing in his hands but a gun and a cigar. The real Purvis was a small, squeaky-voiced 29-year-old whose ineptitude was one of the main reasons that Dillinger was able to remain at large for so long. Little of this was Purvis’s fault. He was earnest, good-hearted and hardworking. But the FBI was very much in its infancy at the time. Until the gunfights of 1933 its agents were not allowed to carry firearms and, legally, could not make arrests. Purvis was simply never trained to the things he was called upon to do in the pursuit of Dillinger. Though the press never caught wind of it, Purvis was ultimately replaced. He later resigned from the FBI and killed himself in 1960. About the only thing that the 1973 Dillinger got right was in the young Richard Dreyfuss’s portrayal of the cackling psychopath Baby Face Nelson, Dillinger’s sidekick.

The Dillinger and Purvis you will see in Public Enemies are far closer to history than just about any cinematic gangster of recent issue. Yes, there is a degree of fictionalisation, but that’s Hollywood; if the film was 100 per cent accurate you’d call it a documentary. Mann, a stickler for historical accuracy, managed to shoot at the actual scenes of Dillinger’s most famous jailbreak; the site of his most famous gunight, at the Little Bohemia lodge in Wisconsin; and the site of his death, shot by the FBI outside the Biograph Theatre on Chicago’s North Side. For the Biograph scenes, Mann prevailed on the city of Chicago to hand over six blocks of North Lincoln Avenue, which were transformed into an exact replica of that steamy evening when Dillinger met his fate 75 years ago, in July 1934.

I was an extra in these scenes, portraying one of the first reporters to rush toward Dillinger’s fallen body. As someone who spent almost five years researching his story, it was an eerie experience. Everything was as it had been that night. Depp was dressed exactly like Dillinger; it is said that he was even wearing some of Dillinger’s clothing. Once he fell, to the same stretch of pavement where Dillinger died, I rushed past Christian Bale, as Purvis, towards him. This scene was shot over and over, and every last detail was true. History and Hollywood myth are seldom the same, but in this one small case I was able to smile, because Hollywood, for once, had got things right.

Bryan Burrough is the author of Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 Public Enemies opens nationwide, July 3

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Public Enemies Movie Trailer

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Johnny Depp

In the action-thriller “Public Enemies,” acclaimed filmmaker Michael Mann directs Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard in the story of legendary Depression-era outlaw John Dillinger (Depp)—the charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids made him the number one target of J. Edgar Hoover’s fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis (Bale), and a folk hero to much of the downtrodden public.

No one could stop Dillinger and his gang. No jail could hold him. His charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to almost everyone—from his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Cotillard) to an American public who had no sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into the Depression.

But while the adventures of Dillinger’s gang—later including the sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi)—thrilled many, Hoover (Billy Crudup) hit on the idea of exploiting the outlaw’s capture as a way to elevate his Bureau of Investigation into the national police force that became the FBI. He made Dillinger America’s first Public Enemy Number One and sent in Purvis, the dashing “Clark Gable of the FBI.’’

However, Dillinger and his gang outwitted and outgunned Purvis’ men in wild chases and shootouts. Only after importing a crew of Western ex-lawmen (newly baptized as agents) and orchestrating epic betrayals—from the infamous “Lady in Red’’ to the Chicago crime boss Frank Nitti—were Purvis, the FBI and their new crew of gunfighters able to close in on Dillinger.


Rumors Concerning Pirates 4

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Pirates-Boxart

Johnny Depp is set to reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates 4:

Disney recently announced that they are indeed developing a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film and that series star Johnny Depp was set to reprise his role as daffy pirate Captain Jack Sparrow. As has long been suggested, Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) will not be in the next film so how might the Pirates franchise go on without them?

Cinema Blend reports a rumor, which they stress is merely chatter from a reliable source about very early developments that could still change, the next Pirates might introduce the character of Jack Sparrow’s brother. They claim this role might be portrayed by one of two British comic actors: Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat, Sweeney Todd) or Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

The site adds that Geoffrey Rush is expected to reprise his role as Sparrow’s pirate rival Barbossa and that Gore Verbinski is expected to return to direct. However, Cinema Blend’s scooper claims that should Verbinski not return then Depp’s longtime collaborator Tim Burton (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Edward Scissorhands) might helm it instead. Depp and Burton are currently re-teaming for their seventh film together, a hybrid live-action/performance-capture retelling of Alice in Wonderland.

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Buy Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Movie posters here


Dark Shadows Film Buzz

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008


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Tim Burton and Johnny Depp reteam to make a big screen version of Dark Shadows.

The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory team of director Tim Burton, star Johnny Depp, and screenwriter John August are reportedly looking to re-team for a big screen version of the cult classic TV series Dark Shadows.

Director Pete Segal revealed to IESB over the weekend that his Shazam! screenwriter John August is also busy working on Burton’s Dark Shadows. This was the first time that Burton and August’s involvement with the Warners-based Shadows had surfaced.

It was announced last July that Depp would produce, via his Infinitum-Nihil production banner, a feature film version of Dark Shadows along with Graham King. It’s also expected that Depp would play the lead role of vampire patriarch Barnabas Collins, played on the original 1966-71 series by Jonathan Frid and in a short-lived 1990s revival by Ben Cross.

In addition to Charlie, Burton and Depp have previously teamed for Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd, and Ed Wood.

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Buy Sweeney Todd movie posters here


 
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