I’m not one for hyperbole. Ok I am one for hyperbole, I try hard to grab attention but I always pull myself back from going over the top, so when I tell you that State of Play is the best film of 2009 (so far) I don’t say it lightly. This despite of the fact that I really don’t like Russell Crowe as an actor and based on news reports, a human being – but I’ve never met the man so it’s hard to put that kind of judgment on someone. But State of Play is the first film that I’ve seen all year that is about something. It’s more about the state of the newspaper industry and how it’s gone wrong than it is about the growing mystery surrounding the murder of a Senator Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) lover and how his best friend from College, a grizzled investigative reporter Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe) helps him manage the media fall out from this.
No, the murder mystery is secondary to the film showcasing how investigative journalist work, the fights that they have with Executive Editors who now have to worry about the bottom line from their new corporate overseers. It’s about old line journalist and newsrooms fighting the young bloggers like Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) who come cheap, work fast, and don’t necessarily care about getting the facts before she posts something on the newspaper’s website. At one point in the film McAffrey sums up the old guard’s feeling of being slighted by saying, “I’ve been here for 15 years, using a 16 year old computer. She’s been here for a few months and can launch a missile from her phone.”
The movie’s director Kevin Macdonald obviously has something against bloggers as he spends the first 20 minutes of the film trashing them and then the rest of it converting Della into a “real” Journalist to the point where at the end she says, “No, I’ll wait until this hits the stands, a big story like this needs to be felt on the hands.” I wanted to gag when she said that. Not only that but he doesn’t spend anytime showing her actually, y’know, blogging.
If you are like me and ever wondered what the High School Musical series would have been like with out Zac Efron’s bad singing and all the other horrible songs (that Zac wasn’t involved in) you have your answer in his first post non-HSM effort 17 Again. It’s the same movie only difference is he’s a 40 something dad trapped in a 17 year old body. But all the other elements are there right down to his being the school’s basketball star. Couldn’t he have changed it up a bit and at least be a track star or football star? He even dances a bit in the first few minutes. I like Efron, he’s likeable enough, he rocks the bangs, has amazing eyes and as an old woman I have impure thoughts when I see his amazing six pack, I know that I’m not his target market but I have to say a little bit of him goes a long way. I’m not sure what the message of 17 Again is supposed to be, it’s all over the place.
The joke is that when Mike O’Donnell (Matthew Perry) becomes his teenage self again he rediscovers his teenage kids, what he finds, he doesn’t like – his son Alex (Sterling Knight) is picked on by the basketball star and Maggie (Michelle Trachtenberg) is dating the jerk. The rest of the movie he tries to help his kids while preventing his wife Scarlett (Leslie Mann) from finalizing the Divorce. There really isn’t much else to say about 17 Again, it’s a competent movie but there’s no real chemistry amongst anyone and it feels as if everyone is just going through the motions. This is the definition of the Disney Cookie factory film but the irony is, it’s from New Line. I usually like teen films like this but this one is missing something. It’s a perfectly bland, forgettable 90 minutes.
Final Grade C
EM Review by
Originally posted 4.19.09
The headline says it all, for the 2nd time the folks at WB have changed the release date for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. This time pushing it up by two days. It will now be released on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 in theatres across North America (moved up 2 days from Friday, July 17th, 2009).
Hey Everyone, I know I’ve complained and whined about the Star Trek Webmaster Program, but now that the movie is close, I’m going to give you all of the “latest” news. Starting with brand new photos from the movie. I don’t know the meaning or significance of any of these shots, so no captions. I’m sorry, I’m sure I’m going to love this movie, but I’m not feeling this cast.
Local filmmaker Jimmy Traynor has been shooting films in the Baltimore area for the last 10 years, shooting well over 15 projects he’s back with his latest effort, The Ticket. The film is a comedy about a man who discovers that he won the lottery. Of course that means everyone’s out to get you, so you do the natural thing and hire a couple of bodyguards. The story is based on a 103 page script written by Jimmy and the actors flew in from LA to work on the film which was shot in a straight 32 hour period.
He also has another film that he’s promoting called Beat The Bastard Down. This movie is a non-scripted, feature length movie that was filmed improv style in 32 hours. All actors came on set with a variety of clothing and no idea what was about to happen. The entire movie played out only in the director’s mind and it was his job to direct the actors to do what he needed in order to create this quirky and fun movie. Interestingly enough, the movie was NOT filmed in the order it played in the director’s head. What an enjoyable challenge it was and a great performance by everyone all around.Jimmy is one of those gonzo indie filmmakers who is inspiring. He produces, writes, and directs all of his material and for micro-budget affairs you can see a lot of effort and potential in his work. Imagine what he could do if he had a real budget to work with. Check out some of his other features on his website here.
Last year, Hollywood proved once and for all that we can have big Tentpole films that are both Big, Intelligent, Original and Fun. This year it looks like they reverted back to form and are going for whatever is “safe.” The only movie I think I’m really actively looking forward to seeing is GI Joe and the Bonnie and Clyde Movie (forget the name). Everything else is just, eh. Here’s a list of summer films that I’m not looking forward to seeing – I think they’ll probably be entertaining and will get huge box office numbers, but will they actually be good or great – no.
I’ve never been a fan of the prequel or the “reimagining,” and I not sure how far the new Star Trek film is on the “reimagining” piece of the puzzle but I’m just not feeling this cast. All of the footage looks pretty amazing, lots of good space battles, the ships look huge and beautiful. This is another one of these films that’s been mishandled by the studio, I was interested in seeing this movie last year, after it got pushed back I lost interest and no matter how many times I see the trailers for this, I can’t seem to get excited.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
I loved the first Harry Potter film so much that I ran out and read the first two books and got hooked on the series. I became an obsessive Pothead, devouring 100,000 word fanfiction, trolling the Potter forums for any information on the upcoming books and movies. Book 3 came out and was great, but book 4 floored me. The last hundred pages of Goblet of Fire was filled with inventive action, mystery and drama. It perfectly set up the rest of the series to become this bad ass, over the top action piece. Then came Order of the Phoenix and everything completely fell apart. Nothing really happens in Order after all the talk about how evil and bad the Death Eaters and Voldemort we don’t get to see any of it until the end of Phoenix. The book felt like it was there to simply be filler. An 800 page book that’s nothing but filler. While the books became progressively worse, so have the movies. I blame Alfonso Cuarón who completely changed the look and tone of the film. He got rid of the bright colors and beautiful cinematography from the first to films and replaced it with this “gritty,” “grimy,” “realistic” view of the world. Of course the critics went crazy for the new tone, but me, I HATED it, it made the Potter world “common.” And that’s not what I wanted.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is an even worse book than Order of the Phoenix, the Wizarding War is completely in the background, I understand the point of the book is to show how kids and people in general live during War time – that life still goes on, but JKR spends 4 books setting everything up perfectly and never follows through. She totally destroys Ron’s character in HBP, I used to be a Ron and Hermione shipper but after HBP I’m convinced that not only shouldn’t they be together, because any relationship they have would be completely abusive, but they shouldn’t even be friends. The entire plot of HBP could have been solved in a few pages if anyone actually believed Harry about Draco. In the past 5 books everyone complained that Harry never went to any teacher with his suspicions, in HBP he tells almost everyone in the book what’s going on and no one takes him seriously. They are supposedly at war, everyone knows Harry’s at the center of it, and he’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt (yeah he screwed up at the end of Order) and their reaction is always, “oh, Voldemort would never use a teenager?” Really? The most evil Wizard in history would never use Teenagers?
Even though I loathed the book, I still forgave it, thinking ok, we still have Dealthy Hallows and that’s really going to be over the top great – boy was I wrong. JKR cared more about “Swerving” the audience then following a logical story progression in the last 3 books. She actively did the opposite of everything she sets up previously. Characters aren’t consistent, no one really dies a “heroic” death, no big battles, just terrible. I also hate MIchael Gambon as Dumbledore. I’m hoping the films take some liberties with the materials and at least show us that, yes, they are at war and not just talk about it. Then there’s the way WB has poorly handled the release of this movie. They don’t show a trailer or anything from the movie until a month before it’s November release, then at the last minute decide to push it back by 8 months. For all of these reasons and more, I’m not looking forward to seeing Half Blood Prince.
Ok this is my lame attempt to suck up to Disney, I’ll be completely upfront about that. But those of you who have read the site for the last 11 years, know that I’m generally a sucker for the teen film. I had a really bad, tasteless joke, but I’ll refrain. I actually like Miley, can’t stand Billy Ray though. But anyway, I love Disney’s little marketing scheme to pump up opening weekend traffic by promising surprise pop-ins by the stars of the movie. Of course they won’t come to DC, but you never know. You could be at the GT Theater getting your $10 Chicken Tenders, while you are waiting for your order you eyes wonder to the front doors and all of a sudden, bam! You see a limo pull up and it could be MIley or someone else from the cast. It’s all part of Disney’s new Opening Weekend Surprise program, in which moviegoers who show up to the theatre for a 2009 Walt Disney Pictures film during its national opening weekend could be treated to a truly magical Disney experience. This might include surprise in-theater appearances by talent from the film, live performances and more. Moviegoers won’t know in advance which cities, theaters or show times will be selecte
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Austin Texas has is the little theater that could. It’s become an Internationally known movie theater and a must see stop for anyone visiting town which is quickly becoming a haven for the Hollywood hipsters to hang out. This is in large part due to the folks at Ain’t It Cool News and the hot new South By SouthWest conference, that, apparently I’m not cool enough to give credentials too. But that’s another story. After a few recent bad movie going experiences here in DC, I was ready to get a movie executive on the horn and vent, who better to talk to then the CEO of the Alamo John Martin – especially since they are expanding and opening their 2nd theater, here in Virginia.
Can you start by telling us a little bit about your role at the Alamo Drafthouse?
As chief executive officer my role has been that of: Overseer of creative DNA for the Alamos, promoter of specialty events with celebrities, ambassador for independent filmmakers, and creator of expansion opportunities for Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in new markets.
I have big plans for Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas over the next 12 months and beyond. Alamo will expand beyond its home state of Texas for the first time this fall by opening an eight-screen theatre in Virginia and will continue growth in Texas with three theatres – two franchisee-owned locations in McAllen and San Antonio, set to open by the end of 2009, and one corporate-owned location in Austin opening early next year. I am also in the process of qualifying potential franchisees for a theatre in San Marcos, Texas for an early 2010 opening. Also, in addition to continuing Alamo’s commitment to first-run blockbusters as well as independent films, I plan to unveil a number of programs designed to appeal to a wider variety of guests.
For this year’s best and worst list I am going to follow the example set, this year, by legendary critic Roger Ebert, who decided not to rank his favorite films of the year. Instead, he listed the twenty films he most enjoyed in alphabetical order. It’s a really good idea – so, here are my favorite fifteen films of 2008…
Showtime Networks Inc., the home of such unique programming as Dexter and Californication have bumped up their movie slate by entering into an exclusive output agreement which includes up to forty-two of Summit’s films to be theatrically released between 2008 and 2012 for airing on the network. The agreement includes the studio’s box office hit Twilight and future instalments in the newly-minted franchise.
Besides the Twilight franchise, Summit has several highly anticipated releases set for 2009 and beyond, all of which will air under the agreement with Showtime. Titles include Knowing, directed by Alex Proyas (I Robot, The Crow) and starring Academy Award® Winner Nicolas Cage and Rose Byrne; Push, starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, two-time Academy Award®nominee Djimon Hounsou and Camilla Belle; Next Day Air featuring Donald Faison, Mos Def, and Mike Epps; Bandslam starring Vanessa Hudgens, Alyson Michalka, and Lisa Kudrow; and Sorority Row, with Rumer Willis and Briana Evigan.
In the movie “The Secret Life of Bees” (opening today), Queen Latifah plays the role of August Boatwright, who along with her two sisters May (Sophie Okonedo) and June (Alicia Keys), own and operate a successful bee farm in South Carolina during the tumultuous Civil Rights era. The three women befriend a fourteen year old Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) and her caretaker Rosaleen (Jennifer Hudson) on their journey to discovering the truth about Lily’s mother. Lily and Rosaleen quickly become part of the Boatwright sister’s family where they are embraced with love and a sense of belonging, something they both have been searching for.
I sat down with the Queen to discuss her role as matriarch and big sister to this incredibly impressive group of women both on the set of “The Secret Life of Bees” and off. We also talked about being confident in knowing who you are and how being comfortable with yourself in life can bring great happiness.