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Evil children subgenre can chill moviegoers

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Orphan DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Evil kids: Can’t live with ‘em, can’t kill ‘em.

Well, actually, you can. Unless they kill you first.

Ever since Patty McCormack’s sickeningly sweet murderess Rhoda Penmark in “The Bad Seed” in the mid-’50s, the horror movie subgenre featuring inherently wicked children has been scaring people no matter their age.

Now along comes “Orphan,” starring Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther, who would be a formidable foe for Damien from “The Omen” movies, those shiny-eyed towheads from “Village of the Damned” or glowering little Billy from “The Twilight Zone,” who controls everyone with his telepathic wishes.

Esther comes across as the near perfect child, with her politeness, painting and piano playing — until she smashes a bird’s head with a rock and forces a nun to drive off a snowy road, just for starters.

The most recent film in the Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” invokes the evil-child theme as well. It features flashbacks to the childhood of young Tom Riddle, who would go on to become the dark Lord Voldemort; even when Tom was a student at Hogwarts, it was obvious to his professors that he was powerful in a potentially dangerous way.

Evil-kid movies are revered enough that they’ve received the highest form of flattery: being sent up by other movies and TV shows, including “The Simpsons.” And “Family Guy” offers up a regular character: matricidal little Stewie, who wanted to kill Lois for the longest time.

Besides their imitators, such films have their antecedents as well, Seton Hall University film professor Christopher Sharrett points out. All of them build on the “increasing disbelief in the idea of innocence,” he says.

“You see the idea in `Angels with Dirty Faces,’ the Dead End Kids, and in the postwar years, the teenpic or `juvenile delinquent’ film of the Cold War that poses the teenager as internal threat to adult values,” Sharrett explains.

Wheeler Winston Dixon, a University of Nebraska film professor who’s written about evil children in film, says the enduring appeal of demon children in horror films is the fear of the unknown.

“Children are seen as `blank slates’ to a degree, and also as essentially `unknowable,’ because they live in a world very different from the adult world, in which fantasy and reality intermingle,” he says. “Parents wonder what their children will become, and while they wish the best for them, they often feel as if they have no control over them. It is this essential lack of knowledge, and the fear that the children have a secret world which adults can’t enter, which drives our fear of childhood as a separate domain.”

Josh Heuman of Texas A&M University suggests that the movies play “on the dirty little secret that kids aren’t sweet and innocent, and the anxiety that it provokes.”

“They’re little monsters, and not necessarily in the affectionate sense,” Heuman says. “I’m thinking of my wonderful 2-year-old’s outlandish force of will, and then the `It’s a Good Life’ episode of `The Twilight Zone.’ Billy is hyperbole, but not unrealism or irony!”

Yes, even in real life, the little dickens can frighten you.

Dixon notes that Rhoda in “The Bad Seed” was the first mainstream demon child, but the trope really took off with the 1960 British science fiction film “Village of the Damned” and the sequel “Children of the Damned,” in which a mysterious force impregnates all the women villagers simultaneously.

“They simply want to dominate adults, and destroy them if they thwart their plans,” he says. “In a way, this can be seen as a reaction to the nascent rise of juvenile delinquency in the late 1950s — when American youth culture was first firmly established, along with the rise of rock ‘n’ roll, as a perceived threat to then normative postwar values.”

Children were easier to control before the advent of television, which exposed them to “the secret playbook of the adult world,” says Glenn Sparks, a professor of communication at Purdue University, citing a 1986 analysis by Joshua Meyrowitz in the book “No Sense of Place.”

Before television, society was relatively well-defined by widely shared social boundaries, Meyrowitz argued. But when TV took hold in the 1950s, one of the medium’s most profound effects was to break down those well-established boundaries.

The playbook was no longer effective.

“Orphan” screenwriter David Leslie Johnson says he loved the evil-child horror subgenre ever since he saw “The Bad Seed” — which did seem like a revelation in the mid-20th century.

“If you look at the other movies that were coming out at that time, it’s like the movie came from outer space. There was nothing out there like it.”

And it was so horrifying, that the filmmakers — forced somewhat by the Hollywood code that crime should never pay — gave it a deus ex machina ending so Rhoda doesn’t get away with murder. (In the original book and Broadway play, she does.) To further reassure the audience, they even went so far as to break down the fourth wall with the closing credits with a spanking played for laughs.

In many of these films, the father is absent or bamboozled by his precious prince or princess; it’s left to the mother to come to the slow, horrifying realization about her offspring.

Orphan” is similar: Vera Farmiga’s character — troubled by alcoholism, a miscarriage and guilt over the near death of her deaf daughter — figures out there’s something wrong with Esther. Peter Sarsgaard as the father doubts his wife because of her past unreliability and is quite taken in by his newly adopted child. (Even before its release, “Orphan” has provoked anger from adoption advocates.)

“There’s just something really primal in that mother-child relationship,” Johnson says, “so I felt like that was really the best relationship to exploit and corrupt, to take what should be the most natural bond in the world and turn them into enemies.”

Maria Pramaggiore, a professor of film studies at North Carolina State University, has an explanation. Invoking “Rosemary’s Baby,” and the “Alien” franchise, she says: “In our culture, women in films are sexual or maternal. I wish we had moved beyond this dichotomy, but I can’t say we have.”

And then, Pramaggiore says, there’s the “child as replica issue.”

“They are born having inherited things from others and yet they are their own people,” she says.

Johnson can relate to Pramaggiore’s point. The screenwriter’s wife is pregnant with their first child, and he’s reading various books to prepare. The tomes impart a sense of mortality, he says, adding:

“It’s a little bit of `Body Snatchers.’ They look somewhat like you and even act a bit like you and eventually, they come to replace you.”


The Time Traveler’s Wife

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife D 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Release date: Friday August 14, 2009
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Drama
Director: Robert Schwentke
Studio: Alliance Films
Screenplay: Bruce Joel Rubin
Producer(s): Dede Gardner, Nick Wechsler
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Arliss Howard, Ron Livingston, Jane McLean
Official Site: thetimetravelerswifemovie.com
Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, brief disturbing images, nudity and sexuality
Available film art: The Time Traveler’s Wife movie posters

Synopsis
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” is based on the best-selling book about a love that transcends time. Clare (Rachel McAdams) has been in love with Henry (Eric Bana) her entire life. She believes they are destined to be together, even though she never knows when they will be separated: Henry is a time traveler—cursed with a rare genetic anomaly that causes him to live his life on a shifting timeline, skipping back and forth through his lifespan with no control. Despite the fact that Henry’s travels force them apart with no warning, Clare desperately tries to build a life with her one true love.

The Time Traveler’s Wife” was directed by Robert Schwentke (“Flightplan”) from a screenplay by Academy Award® winner Bruce Joel Rubin (“Ghost”), based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger. Nick Wechsler and Dede Gardner produced the film, with Brad Pitt, Richard Brener, Michele Weiss and Justis Greene serving as executive producers. The co-producer is Kristin Hahn.

Heading the film’s cast as Clare and Henry are Rachel McAdams (“Red Eye,” “The Notebook”) and Eric Bana (“Star Trek,” “Munich”). “The Time Traveler’s Wife” also stars Arliss Howard, Ron Livingston and Stephen Tobolowsky.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Florian Ballhaus (“Marley & Me”), production designer Jon Hutman (upcoming “My Sister’s Keeper”), Academy Award®-winning editor Thom Noble (“Witness”) and Academy Award®-nominated costume designer Julie Weiss (“Frida,” “12 Monkeys”). The music is by Mychael Danna (“Lakeview Terrace”).


The Informant

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

The Informat DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Advance Style A

Release date: Friday September 18, 2009
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns
Producer(s): Gregory Jacobs, Howard Braunstein, Jennifer Fox, Kur Eichenwald
Cast: Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Melanie Lynskey
Official Site: theInformantmovie.com
Rating: R for language
Available film art: The Informant movie posters

Synopsis
What was Mark Whitacre thinking? A rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Whitacre suddenly turns whistleblower. Even as he exposes his company’s multi-national price-fixing conspiracy to the FBI, Whitacre envisions himself being hailed as a hero of the common man and handed a promotion. But before all that can happen, the FBI needs evidence, so Whitacre eagerly agrees to wear a wire and carry a hidden tape recorder in his briefcase, imagining himself as a kind of de facto secret agent. Unfortunately for the FBI, their lead witness hasn’t been quite so forthcoming about helping himself to the corporate coffers. Whitacre’s ever-changing account frustrates the agents and threatens the case against ADM as it becomes almost impossible to decipher what is real and what is the product of Whitacre’s rambling imagination. Based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history.


The Stepfather

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

The Stepfather DS 1 Sheet Movie Poster - Style A

Release date: Friday October 16, 2009
Genre: Horror
Director: Nelson McCormick
Studio: Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems (Sony
Screenplay: J. S. Cardone
Producer(s): Greg Mooradian, Mark Morgan
Cast: Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Penn Badgley, Amber Heard, Jon Tenney
Official Site: welcometothefamily.com
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, mature thematic material and brief sensuality
Available film art: The Stepfather movie posters

Synopsis
Dylan Walsh stars as David Harris, very much a “family values” man who mysteriously comes into the lives of single mothers with children and becomes the dream man they always wanted. When he woos Susan Harding (Sela Ward) and eventually moves in with her family, her teenage son Michael (Penn Bagdley) begins to suspect that David is not quite the dream man he pretends to be. Along with his girlfriend Kelly (Amber Heard) and Susan’s friends (Paige Turco and Sherry Stringfield) they slowly start to piece together the mystery of the man who is set to become their stepfather, but they may be too late in getting to the truth.


Lucky You

Friday, April 13th, 2007

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Synopsis:
In the world of high-stakes Las Vegas poker. Huck Cheever (Eric Bana) is a blaster — a player who goes all out, all the time. But in his personal relationships, Huck plays it tight, expertly avoiding emotional commitments and long-term expectations.

When Huck sets out to win the main event of the 2003 World Series of Poker — and the affections of Billie Offer (Drew Barrymore), a young singer from Bakersfield — there is one significant obstacle in his path: his father, L.C. Cheever (Robert Duvall), the poker legend who abandoned Huck’s mother years ago. As these two rivals progress toward a final showdown at the poker table, Huck learns that to win in the games of life and poker, he must try to play cards the way he has been living his life and live his life the way he has been playing cards.

Cast: Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Robert Duvall, Jean Smart, Debra Messing, Kelvin Han Yee, Charles Martin Smith; Directed by: Curtis Hanson

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In Theaters: May 4th, 2007

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Interview: Karl Urban

Friday, April 13th, 2007

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Karl Urban, right, wages a violent, personal war against marauding Vikings

Karl Urban speaks to Stax of IGN.com about his starring role in Pathfinder. Read on:

IGN recently spoke with actor Karl Urban about his starring role in Fox’s forthcoming historical actioner Pathfinder. The Marcus Nispel-directed film stars Urban as Ghost, a Viking boy shipwrecked on the coast of America centuries before the arrival of Columbus. Although he was raised by the indigenous people who found him, Ghost is not truly one of them and remains torn between two worlds. When the “Dragon Men” return fifteen years later to conquer the Indians and plunder their land, Ghost stands with his adopted tribe against the ruthless invaders.

Urban believes the premise of the film — which, in terms of its look, owes more to fantasy than to straightforward historical movies — has its roots planted firmly in historical fact. “There’s Viking ruins and artifacts right down the east coast of America right into New Orleans,” the New Zealand-born actor explained. “So there is evidence to support the notion that it was indeed the Vikings who first discovered America a thousand years before Christopher Columbus.”

But he is quick to add that Pathfinder “is not a documentary. … In our film, (the Vikings are) really a bad bunch and we’ve really portrayed them that way. And with respect to the Viking culture, I think the Vikings in our film were probably closer to the berserkers than more traditional Vikings. From what I read, they were quite an extraordinary culture in their own right and had so much knowledge and they basically invented a democratic system.”

Although he co-starred in the mammoth Lord of the Rings trilogy, Urban was still struck by the rigors of shooting Pathfinder, which was filmed in frigid Vancouver. “We had one day where we shot on interior and the rest of it was shot 100% on location. That was a very grueling shoot. We were sliding into winter and I had the wardrobe lady outfitting me in a very traditional Indian costume, which consisted of a leather thong. [laughs] It was challenging at the time but, certainly, some locations were very dangerous. Thirteen members of our crew got injured while we were working in the cave system, either smacking into the roof of the cave or twisting their ankles on the slippery rocks. So it was a pretty tough, dangerous set at times.”

Click on the link below to read the entire article:

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In Theaters: April 13th, 2007

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Be on the Look-Out For Saw IV Next Halloween

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

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Saw IV will open in theaters next Halloween. Read on:

With Saw III debuting over the weekend to the tune of around $35 million, Lionsgate is expected to move ahead with plans for a fourth installment in the horror film series centering on psychotic killer Jigsaw. According to an Associated Press report, the studio will release Saw IV around Halloween 2007.

Actor Tobin Bell, who plays Jigsaw, has already publicly stated that he’s signed on for fourth and fifth films in the series.

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Review: Marie Antoinette

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

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Kirtsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette

Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette is simply brilliant. Read on:

Marie Antoinette is a film that some people will enjoy and others will not. But virtually none of them will have any idea how to explain or qualify why. Part of this is due to its strange clash of classic and modern ideas; director Sofia Coppola transforms what would otherwise be described as a costume drama into a subtle dissertation on the vagaries of our too-much-too-soon culture. But at the same time, Coppola’s general approach to moviemaking seems to produce this kind of confusion, or maybe just the stimulating sense that things aren’t quite so easily categorized.

With Marie Antoinette, Coppola proves that she is still one of the most talented, adventurous and exciting filmmakers of the modern era. Like an exhilarating union between Terrence Malick and Baz Luhrmann, she combines the immediacy of contemporary cinema with the studied professionalism and patience of previous decades, creating a masterpiece that is both faithful to its time period and vividly rendered in dimensions that modern audiences will relate to.

Rather than examining the French queen’s life in a strictly historical context, Coppola looks at the trajectory of her experiences in much the same way she did Charlotte’s in Lost In Translation — namely, by exploring the motivations and emotional underpinnings that produce Marie Antoinette’s behavior. Kirsten Dunst (Elizabethtown) portrays her as exactly what she was — a young girl caught up in events she could no better understand than control or change — and gives the film a heroine whose problems feel identifiable. While so many period movies dryly chronicle the broad strokes of so-called “universal” issues, Dunst and Coppola’s collaboration blows the dust off of the entire “period piece” ethos, and turns the historical figure’s travails into something sharp and evocative.

For film fans, Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard will immediately come to mind as visual and overall aesthetic references, but the film shares much more in common with the works of the aforementioned Malick, whose most recent work The New World similarly purported to document a bygone era via atmosphere and emotion rather than historical accuracy. Marie Antoinette is an impressionist’s view of what life must have been like for the teen queen: conjuring the texture of her world and the minutiae of her absurdly regimented daily life, Coppola finds the human truth in Marie Antoinette’s boredom, her loneliness, and eventually, her decadent self-destruction.

Click on the link below to read the entire article:

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Flicka Movie Posters

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

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Flicka will be in theaters, October 20th and you get the movie posters here at All Movie Replicas.

Synopsis: A young girl, Katy, adopts a wild mustang she names Flicka, only to see her father sell her now beloved companion. To win back Flicka’s freedom, Katy secretly schemes to enter a dangerous wild horse race.

Cast: Maria Bello, Alison Lohman, Tim Mcgraw, David Burton, Sierra Doherty Gillin, Kaylee DeFer; Directed by: Michael Mayer

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Marie Antoinette Will Rock Hard!

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

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Marie Antoinette director, Sophia Coppola will use a wide variety of popular rock music to bring her feature to life. Read on:

For her third feature length film, Marie Antoinette, director Sophia Coppola once again continues to utilize the vast expanse of popular music to accentuate her vivid visual imagination.

Joining her on her quest for the perfect marriage between sight and sound was Music Producer and Music Supervisor Brian Reitzell, who also worked with Coppola on her two previous films, Lost In Translation and The Virgin Suicides.

While writing the script for the film Coppola turned to Reitzell and the two discussed in depth both the tone of the film and the music she was looking for. The result was that Reitzell went for a combination of vintage New Wave (Bow Wow Wow, Adam Ant), Opera, and contemporary music.

“We decided early on that our approach would be a collage of different kinds of music,” says Reitzell. “The soundtrack is a double disc, a post-punk-pre-new-romantic-rock-opera odyssey with some 18th century music and some very new contemporary music.”

The accompanying album is broken into a 2-Disc set featuring classics from the likes of Gang of Four and New Order on one disc and lush score elements on the other disc.

Click on the link below to read the entire article:

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