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.
Jennifer Hudson is an Oscar winning actress with the voice of a true diva. This American Idol cast-off’s career has taken off over the past few years to great heights. In her latest venture, Hudson co-stars in the upcoming film “The Secret Life of Bees” where she plays the part of Rosaleen, a young black woman living on a peach farm in the south during the volatile sixties hired to care for Lily Owens; a young white girl with an abusive father whose mother died tragically when she was a child. Rosaleen is Lily’s surrogate mother and dearest friend and when the two take the monumental yet dangerous step of trying to register Rosaleen to vote, they find themselves in a world of trouble and are forced to go on the run.
I sat down with Jennifer to chat about her role as Rosaleen and how it has impacted her life today as a young, successful African American woman; where she keeps her Oscar and I even got a peek at her gorgeous engagement ring…its ginormous!
In the upcoming movie “The Secret Life of Bees” (starring Jennifer Hudson, Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah) Tristan Wilds portrays Zack Taylor, a young, idealistic teen growing up in the tumultuous racially charged sixties during the height of the civil rights movement. As a young black man trying to find his way to becoming a lawyer, Zack works part-time for the Boatwright sisters who introduced him to a world of bee keeping, love, sisterhood and a forbidden friendship with Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning); a young white girl on a quest to find out the truth about her dead mother.
I had a chance to sit down and chat with Tristan about his role in this film, bringing “The Wire” to a close and his newest adventure on The CW’s smash hit remake of 90210 – which airs Tuesday nights at 8pm.
It’s been twenty years since Heathers was released by a dying New World to critical acclaim and some box office success. Now, Anchor Bay has released the dark high school comedy as part of its Cult Classic Film Series. The film’s indictment of kids who will do anything to be popular – and become the ultimate jerks once they achieve it – is as grotesquely funny today as it was when it was first released.
Veronika [Wynona Ryder] is one of the Heathers – the most popular girls in school [the other three are all named Heather] – and the least ruthless. About the same time as she reaches her limit with her so-called friends, she meets a charismatic new guy in school, J.D. [Christian Slater] and becomes in embroiled in a series of murders that the two stage as suicides.
First-time director Michael Lehman and first-time writer Daniel Waters produced a terrific film with its own peculiarly daring sense of humor – and its own slang. With its budget constraints, what propels Heathers is the energy of its performances. Ryder and Slater have, frankly, never been better – And Shannen Doherty stands out as the shyest of the Heathers.
Features include: Audio Commentary by Lehman, Waters and Producer Denise DiNovi; Swatch Dogs and Diet-Coke Heads [a 30-minute of reminiscences by the cast, director, writer, producer and editor]; Trialer; Screenply Excerpt; Original Ending, and Talent Bios.
Grade: Heathers – A
Grade: Features – A-
Final Grade: A
We have news on the video game for the Spiderwick Chronicles, including a ton of new screen shots. Players can choose to play as ANY of the three Grace children; each possessing unique abilities crucial to combating hordes of Goblins, hunting and capturing Faerie creatures and solving puzzles to successfully complete each mission. Players may also adventure through special tasks in the Spiderwick Estate as Thimbletack, the tiny Brownie who helps the Grace kids throughout their journey. Equipped with context sensitive controls for attacks and environment interaction, the game includes several combat elements, along with a creature collection component that allows players to log objects found during the journey into the Field Guide, earning the player new abilities, quest solutions or unlockable items.
Picking ten films as the best of the year is difficult when you don’t get to see everything [and, frankly, even with every studio providing press screenings of every film, no one critic can see everything released in a given year]. So, then, out of the far too many movies I saw in 2007, these are the ten that most impressed me in one way or another.
I went in to Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem expecting a terrible film. After all, the first one [on which I burned a free DVD rental coupon] was hideous beyond belief [so much so that I couldn’t believe that Uwe Boll hadn’t directed it]. I was in the mood for a big screen bonanza of senseless violence and mayhem – especially since this AvP edition carried an R rating. To my extreme disappointment, it was a decent enough timewaster.
Hey everyone, I’ve been hearing some buzz about JJ Abram’s new flick Cloverfield. Not sure what it’s about, but here’s the first look at the film!
I Am Legend will likely be the season’s most massive hit. It stars Will Smith and the trailers have been hyper-involving. Given that it’s at least the third attempt at bringing Richard Matheson’s classic SF novel to the big screen – and given that it really captures the essence of the novel for as long as it does – the odds are that the few who will leave the theatre feeling let down will be those who have actually read the book.