Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Party "Crash"-er

As far as I'm concerned, Crash is the best film of 2005, no matter what the academy decides on Sunday night.

It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels that way---as this story posted on Zap2it.com demonstrates:

'Crash'" Burns NAACP Image Competition

"Crash" was named best feature film at [last] Saturday [February 25th] night's 37th annual NAACP Image Awards.

Hopefully this latest recognition for the film will carry over to OSCAR ceremony (fingers crossed)! Congrats to the cast and crew.

RIP Dennis Weaver (1924-2006)

Actor Dennis Weaver, who died last Friday from complications due to lung cancer, may have been best known for his role on TV's "Gunsmoke" from 1955-1964, or as the horse riding detective Sam "McCloud" in the 70's but I will also remember him for his role in the 1971 tele-film Duel. In that movie, Weaver plays David Mann, a guy being terrorized by the driver of a tractor trailer. Not only was the film penned by one of the greatest writers of any medium, Richard Matheson, it also helped to lead a young director away from television, and a few years later, he established himself quite a feature film career. The promising young man's name? Director Steven Spielberg...Weaver is just fantastic in the movie. The roller-coaster ride of emotion that his character goes through and how the actor is able to pull that off is amazing

Weaver also made his mark in many westerns, like Chief Crazy Horse, Duel at Diablo and Ten Wanted Men, all genre classics. Speaking of classic films, he also showed up in Orson Welles 1958 masterpiece of film nior, Touch of Evil. I also remember him for two great episodes of "The Twilight Zone" in '60 and '61 too.

Rest easy partner....For more on the actor's life click here.

Monday, February 27, 2006

It's All About Family

The story behind Tyler Perry's success in Hollywood is one that we can all learn from. He began writing plays at age 18, making sure that his subject matter had plenty to say about the African American culture and the social issues that confronted them. It took him a decade to establish himself and for his message to catch on. Perry created his own traveling theater company, selling those performances on DVD. As of March 2005, the plays had grossed over $75 million in ticket and disc sales (source Wikipedia). His first film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, released last year, was made for a paltry $5 million dollars, but went on to became one of 2005 biggest hits. His second film, Madea's Family Reunion, finds itself following suit, as the number one movie in the land.

According to Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray:

Audiences congregated at 'Madea's Family Reunion' to the tune of $30 million, but avoided [the other new releases] 'Doogal ' ($3.6 Million, 8th place) and Running Scared'...($3.1 million, 9th place)

You can read Gray's full report here. Meanwhile, for more on Perry, read How Tyler Perry rose from homelessness to a $5 million mansion from Ebony Magazine


Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons, tells us that the long awaited film adaptation of the best selling novel The Da Vinci Code, may have hit a legal roadblock--causing a possible delay in the release of the film. Franklin's source for the story is the Scotsman. Here are the highlights from the Dark Horizons post:

The film is set to be released worldwide on May 19th, but a copyright claim by the writers of a non-fiction book, "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", is due in the High Court in London next week.

The $10 million claim by co-authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who wrote the book in 1984, is for breach of copyright on the grounds that the structure of their book was plagiarised by author Dan Brown for The Da Vinci Code.

According to the post, the case could not only lead to a delay in the release of film, but if the plaintiff is successful, it could lead to a total ban in Britain the origin of the lawsuit

Question? Where were these guys when the book came out in the first place?

See the original article for more info.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


There's a double dose of sad news to report today:

RIP Darren McGavin (1922-2006)

Darren McGavin died yesterday of natural causes, at an LA hospital with his family at his side--according to the actor's son Bogart.

McGavin was comfortable on both the big and small screens, finding success in both mediums, taking on many great roles.

His first film role, which went uncredited, came in 1945 as a student in A Song to Remember, Before long he graduated to bigger parts in movies like The Natural, Turk 182! , and Airport '77 .

The actor really made a name for himself on TV though, in the short lived cult classic "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" , during the 1974-75 season, which was revived last fall and met with a quick end. He did appear in the Pilot in a cameo. It seems like he was in just about every other series at some point. Besides Kolchack, I will remember his two appearances on "The X Files" which itself was a series inspired by Kolchak, and as "Murphy Brown" 's dad for which he was nominated for an Emmy.

But the one role in his long resume that will always be with me is as Mr Parker in the 1983 comedy, A Christmas Story--My favorite holiday film of all time! I will never forget him in that film as long as I live. He was pitch perfect in that film and helped make it the classic it has become today.

For more on his life and career click here.

RIP Don Knotts (1924-2006)

The comedic genius died this past Friday at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of lung cancer. He was 81.

Of course everyone will remember him as bumbling deputy Barney Fife on the classic TV comedy "The Andy Griffith Show" , for which he won 5 Emmys from 1960-1965 and as swinger in his own mind Ralph Furley on "Three's Company" from 1979-1984. Both parts, the actor was born to play, I might add.

Mr Knotts also made my childhood pretty special with film roles in The Reluctant Astronaut from 1967, in the star studded comedy It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World , The Incredible Mr. Limpet, as 1969's The Love God? And my personal faves The Apple Dumpling Gang and its sequel The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, both with pal Tim Conway They made quite a pair whenever they did a project together.

Late in life he had a great part in Pleasantville as The TV Repairman and did a lot of voice-over work, including last year's animated film Chicken Little

For more on his life and career, Click here

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Who Should Win

With the 78th Annual Academy Awards a little more than a week away, the folks at Entertainment Weekly have published their picks most likely to win gold, come Sunday March 5th. Over the years, their batting average, if you will has been pretty accurate when it comes to picking the winners--be sure to pick up the March 3rd issue, if for instance, you are in an office pool...

Rather than summarize EW's choices though, and then agree or disagree with those choices, as promised here's what I would like to see happen come the night of the ceremony...and why:

Best Picture: Crash-Anyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis, already knows that is my pick for the best film of 2005. I would love to see the film pull a major upset. The film is the only one on the list capable of beating front runner Brokeback Mountain.

Best Director: Paul Haggis. Crash, like Brokeback, tackles a very difficult social issue, that needs needs attending to. Haggis weaves a multi-layered tapestry with brutal honesty and craftsmanship.

Best Supporting Actor: Matt Dillon. As Officer Ryan in Crash, Dillion proves he has the acting chops and gives the best performance of his career. Ryan is a racist cop through and through and Dillion exposes just how ugly that can be.

Best Supporting Actress: I'm going with Michelle Williams here, because it would be nice to see a relative film novice snatch it from the seasoned pros on the list.

Best Actor: Terrence Howard. Since he wasn't nominated for his great work in Crash, I'll settle for him taking the prize for his performance as DJay in Hustle And Flow.

Best Actress: Judi Dench. I know she already has won in the past. But after the way she has been snubbed by the press recently, as being "too old" an interview, for a younger crowd. It would be great if she wins and then they would have to interview her anyway. Or maybe she could give them a taste of there own medicine?

Best Adapted Screenplay: A History Of Violence is a great graphic novel and I hear screenwriter Josh Olson did a great job adapting it. I would love to see something based on a "comic book" win in this very tough category.

Best Original Screenplay: Haggis and Robert Moresco for Crash Nuff said

Best Original Score: Double Nominee John Williams (for Munich & Memoirs Of A Geisha) deserves to win his sixth statue on output alone. 2005 had this industry master deliver more quality work then most composers half his age will deliver throughout their entire career.

Best Original Song: “In the Deep” from “Crash”
Music by Kathleen “Bird” York and Michael Becker Lyric by York As if you had to guess.

Best Documentary Feature: March of the Penguins I'm just happy I can actually say I saw a film in this category! Seriously... Read On The March and you'll know why it's my pick.

Best Documentary Short Subject:A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin--recounting one of the best radio programs in history. Why should it lose?

Achievement In Editing: Crash. Hughes Winborne did a super job pacing a film that had many story lines running through it.

Achievement In Makeup: Star Wars: Episode III Anakin to Vader/Palpatine to Emperor Way Cool!!!

Achievement In Visual Effects: KONG should be KING. Read The "Kong" Show to find out why.

Achievement In Sound Mixing/Editing: The teams that worked on the War of the Worlds remake deserve the prize for making the sound cool.

Best Animated Short Film: One Man Band--Nobody does it better than Pixar Animation Studios.

Best Foreign Language Film:“Don’t Tell" from Italy-It's all about supporting my heritage

Best Cinematography: Batman Begins. Wally Pfister's work...put the Dark in Dark Knight.

Best Costume Design: Colleen Atwood must have had a great time dressing up the cast of Memoirs Of A Geisha.

Achievement In Art Direction: Bringing old time New York City to life help sell King Kong, especially for the climax. Grant Major, Dan Hennah and Simon Bright should make it to the winners circle.

Best Animated Feature: I'm rooting for Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. It was funny, creative, and filled with his unique vision. Props must also go to a great voice cast.

Best Live Action Short: When I investigated the films in this category, Six Shooter stood out as the film with the most interesting premise.

There you have it. Remember, these choices are my preferred picks,--not who I think will win--That would be a different list entirely. It's true that I haven't seen many of the nominated films this year, (not much of the general public has for that matter) but it's still fun to take a shot.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Man In Black?

SuperHeroHype scored quite a coup from Sony Pictures today. Even though the third Spider-Man movie doesn't hit theaters until May 2007, the studio has given us our first official glimpse at the film with the release of a teaser poster.

Wow! Speculation abounds now, as to whether or not the image in the poster means that Spidey will inherit the infamous "black suit" for the new movie. For the uninformed, please indulge me while I "geek out" and provide a lesson in comic lore:

In the mid 80's and beyond the wall crawler's familiar blue and red duds were replaced with a black suit that had a white spider in the center. As it turns out, the costume is actually a living entity from outer space and it caused our hero quite a bit of trouble over time, ultimately the suit became known as Venom.

While not an exact replica of the black suit seen in the comics--I would say the rumors that actor Topher Grace-former That 70s Show star, (who is in the film) is playing Venom are probably true. Although no official announcement has been made. Whatever the case, series director Sam Raimi has done a great job packing a lot of history for the character into the first 2 films, and I have little doubt about the quality of the next installment.

Boy, what an awesome poster!!

Click here for more info and a larger view of the image.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

You Gotta Have Faith...And Loads Of Cash

Variety is a buzz with the latest sequel news for a trio of high profile studio franchises...and its all about having faith in your "employees"

Warner's men in tights by Pamela McClintock gives readers a progress report on the business side of things for the next Batman and Superman flicks

She writes:

Warner Bros. Pictures is already planning the next installments to "Batman Begins" and "Superman Returns," with respective helmers Christopher Nolan and Bryan Singer in line to return.

Neither director's deal is closed; the studio has hired Jonah Nolan -- Christopher's brother -- to pen the screenplay for the untitled "Batman" project. Studio has options on "Batman Begins" star Christian Bale and "Superman Returns" star Brandon Routh.

Next installment in the Caped Crusader franchise is further along in the process since "Batman Begins" was released last summer; Singer's "Superman Returns," now in post, doesn't bow until June 30.

Legendary Pictures, which put up half the financing for both "Batman Begins" and "Superman Returns," is expected to board the sequels and split the budgets 50/50 with Warner Bros. In return, Legendary would split all profits, also 50/50.

The Warners-based Legendary, led by Thomas Tull, is a financing and development company backed by more than $500 million in private equity.

Projects come as no surprise considering Warner's proclivity for big-budget tentpoles. "Batman" and "Superman" sequels could make their debut in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

While I agree that a sequel to Batman Begins is no surprise, given its success last summer, Warners' must be flying high over Bryan Singer's rough cut of Superman Returns to make a sequel commitment this soon. Sure, a sequel is always on the table for projects like this, but deals are usually not made public this fast. Stars are optioned for more films and all that but first weekend ticket sales have a lot to do with what we see next. Think Elektra folks. If that stinker of a film had done better...we would be seeing a lot more of her for sure. It did poorly. Thus, whatever sequel options the film had, were quickly and quietly rendered null and void.

Meanwhile, as I told you on 2-15-06, plans are underway for another Friday the 13th film--a prequel no less. Now comes word that the producers have tapped Jonathan Liebesman to direct the film. While I have yet to see his 2003 fright fest Darkness Falls, the producers must like his work, given that he also made the soon to be released Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning for the same team.

Read Dave McNary's Helmer makes plans for 'Friday' for more on the particulars of the project.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bond Backlash

I was really hoping that I wouldn't have to bring up James Bond, or Casino Royale on this blog for a while...but the way the story has developed on the film recently, things just keep getting stranger and stranger.

A group of disgruntled Bond fans are so upset by the casting of Daniel Craig in the title role of the new film, they've started a website called Graig Is Not Bond, to let the producers of the film know exactly how they feel. The founders of the website are a group of international Bond fans who posted this "mission statement" on the home page:

...to launch a boycott of the upcoming Bond film, Casino Royale. Chief among their concerns is Bond producer Barbara Broccoli's questionable decision to fire popular Bond star Pierce Brosnan and replace him with an unknown with a penchant for oddball roles, Daniel Craig.

And that's not all...the site has a petition for folks to sign...My favorite section is "What do the press and public think?", complete with evidence and poll data to support their claims that Graig is an unpopular choice--coming from all corners.

At this point, I can't say for certain that Graig is the wrong choice, (haven't seen too much of his work) but I do think Pierce Brosnan deserved at least one more time at bat before he was shown the door.

At least we now know who might have hexed the new film...that I speculated about in Sunday's post. And to those that started the anti-Craig site, I ask, if he's that bad a choice-why weren't you making more noise when he was cast last year?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Notes Of Interest

Here are few industry items that I caught my eye while surfing the net

RIP Curt Gowdy (1919-2006)

Everyone agrees that Curt Gowdy, who died yesterday at the age of 86 after a long battle with leukemia, was one of the greatest sportscasters that ever had the job. His career encompassed many different fields of play, including calling the action for football games, Baseball for the Boston Red Sox, then for NBC's "Game of the Week" , several Olympic games....He was a master of his craft unmatched...But did you know that Gowdy was also a movie star? In fact, he made his big screen debut, even while he was hard at work doing his day job in 1978's Heaven Can Wait. 10 years later he showed up in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, followed up by 1998's BASEketball, ending with 2001's Summer Catch. His greatest "film role" though, was in Frequency, where archives of his classic 1969 World Series calls were used in the film. Good stuff.

Games Of "Risk"

The official trailer for Basic Instinct 2-Risk Addiction has hit the net. My first impression is that the plot of the sequel (due March 31st 2006) may mirror the original classic beat for beat...We'll see...Additional stills from the film have also popped up too.


It seems that a fourth Jurassic Park is closer to being a reality. Paul Davidson of IGN-FilmForce writes:

[Franchise producer Frank] Marshall now says they have a "good script," and the idea is to start shooting the film next year (2007) and get it into theaters in 2008.

That said, Marshall and Steven Spielberg have other priorities at the moment — particularly Indiana Jones IV — but it sounds at last like things may be coming together for both highly-anticipated projects.

I didn't really care for the last film all that much. I'm willing to give this one a shot as long it has a strong script and Steven Spielberg doesn't overdo it with the CGI . And do us all a favor. Please convince more than one of the original cast members to show up for the whole film this time.

Dog Days Of February

The long President's Day weekend saw a family friendly flick take the top spot for the 4 day period.

According to Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray:

'Eight Below' was the alpha dog of the weekend with an estimated $25 million, mushing past Date Movie 's solid start,($22.3 million) while 'Freedomland' was ignored... (with a paltry $6 million in ticket sales--landing in 7th place)

Here's the complete breakdown of all the action...Meanwhile, it's not surprising that Eight Below did so well, considering lots of families were able to take in a movie this weekend with time to spare. While the advanced word about how bad Freedomland is, surely kept Samuel L. Jackson fans away, who would have otherwise gone to see it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Mountain Tops Across The Pond

Great Britain's version of the OSCARS, known as the BAFTA's were held on Sunday night. The big winner was Brokeback Mountain, walking away 4 awards, even as its got the most Academy Award noms, here in the states.

Variety's Adam Dawtrey recaps the event, including who won, and for what...

In the meantime, I will be posting my personal OSCAR picks (who I want to win) within the next week, just in time for the festivities on Sunday March 5th.

Progress Of Sin

Frank Miller's Sin City was one of my favorite films of 2005. The fact that Frank Miller-the man who created the graphic novels-is jazzed about making another film based on the series, with Robert Rodriguez, is a very good thing. The first film (read my review) was sooo good, I'm happy that a sequel is close at hand, with the same team in place

Miller spoke about what we can expect in the next installment during this year's WonderCon earlier this month. The details courtesy of Hilary Goldstein of IGN-FilmForce:

It was already revealed that the film would adapt one of the best Sin stories, "A Dame to Kill For". That, however, won't be the only story featured in the next movie. Miller is writing a brand new story to weave throughout the film. The new tale follows Nancy Callahan after the events of "That Yellow Bastard" and shows how she was affected by Hartigan's suicide.

Several shorts are also going to be featured. Miller hinted that "Blue Eyes" and perhaps a few other shorts from the book Lost, Lonely, and Lethal could make the final cut and see near-perfect panel-to-screen translations.

Casting is still unknown, but "A Dame to Kill For" would bring back several characters from last film, including Gail, played by Rosario Dawson. Dwight, played by Clive Owen in the first film, is the star of "Dame". However, in this story (which takes place before the events of the first film), Dwight has a different face, so it's unclear if Owen would still be cast in the role. Also appearing in "Dame" and likely Sin City 2 are Miho, Manute and Marv. Yeah, Marv is back, albeit in a smaller role.

According to the article, filming is set to start in May or June, with an eye for a 2007 release. I'll be first in line. "Dame" is an awesome story and a good way to go. Casting should be fun. Whether they decide to recast Dwight or not, is of course up to them, but I personally hope Owen returns. He was a great part of the mix last time. The thought of an original tale as part of the new film makes me absolutely giddy with excitement

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Male Bonding

Just when you thought the production problems that have dogged Casino Royale, the latest James Bond film, were finally over...

The Movie Reporter (aka IESB)'s Robert Sanchez, (via an article in the UKs' Sunday Mirror) posts that the famous superspy had to make, not one, but two dentist appointments so that he could finish saving the world from evildoers.

...we have early reports that Daniel Craig got popped in the mouth by a henchman during their first fight scene and lost two teeth.

As the shaken star staggered backwards clutching his bleeding mouth, cameramen thought it was a brilliant piece of acting.

But they quickly realised the new 007 was really hurt. His injuries were so bad local dentistry experts could not treat him. So Craig's dentist was flown out from London for emergency surgery in the Czech capital Prague.

Dentist Rod McNeil, based in London's Cavendish Square, fixed caps to his broken teeth then flew back to Britain.

The actor has now been given six gumshields and told to wear them while filming stunt scenes for the [multi] million [dollar] movie at Prague's Barrandov Studios

Click here to read the entire IESB post...

If I already wasn't sure that such things didn't exist, I'd swear that someone out there put a hex on the film, after finding out former Bond star, Pierce Brosnan wasn't going to do another one.

I mean Casino Royale was already made into a spoof once, in 1967, but the new version is quickly becoming an unintentional comedy of errors as well. No writer on the planet could make this stuff up. Hopefully, this will be my last post on this film for a while...reporting on the strange stuff anyway.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Need For Speed

In honor of this year's Daytona 500 race, taking place on Sunday, February 19th here are my thoughts on Days of Thunder, from 1990.

Given all of his strange behavior of late, I sometimes have to remind myself that Tom Cruise has had a lot of success as movie star, and is not some newcomer kook bursting onto the scene...

After the wild hit of Top Gun in '86, Cruise and director Tony Scott traded in fighter planes for hot wheels in their next collaboration. Days Of Thunder came about after Cruise was turned onto auto racing by his Color Of Money co-star Paul Newman. And while not a huge hit, the film is a solid "guy" film, with plenty of the right ingredients to entertain.

Hotshot race car driver Cole Trickle (Cruise) is poised to have quite a career after he's discovered by businessman Tim Daland (Randy Quaid). Daland teams the up and comer with veteran crew chief/car designer and father figure Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) to win the Daytona 500. Those dreams take a turn for the worst though when Trickle suffers a near fatal accident and is placed in the care of neurosurgeon Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), who naturally finds Cole attractive, even as he vows to race again.

Is the film's script from Oscar winner Robert Towne routine? Most definitely yes. That said though, Scott keeps the audience distracted, with enough noise and realistic looking racing footage, to make you forget the fluffyness of the screenplay. Meanwhile, the future (and now ex) Mrs. Cruise lights up the screen as she and Tom definitely share quite a few sparks with each other. In fact, with so much confection around, you barely even notice that Kidman looks way too young to be at the top of her profession. As the film's seasoned pro Duvall gives a convincing performance that helps sell it as well.

With the sport and NASCAR enjoying more widespread popularity than ever before, I'm a bit surprised that a special edition disc hasn't come along yet...but don't worry, I'm sure that one will pop up sooner or later, just as one has for Top Gun For now, the theatrical trailer is the DVDs sole extra, on the current Days of Thunder disc

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bond Gets His Gal And A Pal

It's nice to know those responsible for getting the next James Bond film to the multiplex, have finally gotten their act together, completing the casting process.

The widely held belief that actress Eva Green is going to be the next Bond girl is now a reality. We also got word who will be playing the all important villain, as well as who will be portraying Bond's CIA counterpart Felix Leiter in the newest movie. Sony Pictures made an "official"announcement with a press release late yesterday:

It was announced today by producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc, and Sony Pictures Entertainment that EVA GREEN has been cast to play the enticing Vesper Lynd opposite Daniel Craig in his debut appearance as James Bond in the highly anticipated 007 adventure thriller, CASINO ROYALE.

It was also announced that renowned Danish-born actor MADS MIKKELSEN has accepted the role of Le Chiffre, Bond's nemesis in the film and JEFFREY WRIGHT has joined the cast as Felix Leiter.

It's about time! As I said in the post, News That Flickers, on Wednesday, I was hoping to see the lovely Kimberly Davies as the latest Bond babe, still Green makes a fine choice. I have seen The Dreamers and I'm sure she can hold her own in the role for the film. I'm glad they decided to bring the Leiter character back to the movies as well.

Variety's Nicole LaPorte has more on the casting of Bond #21

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Spy Games

Zap2it.com posts an interview with first time feature film director, JJ Abrams, on doing Mission Impossible III .

Abrams is best known for co-creating television shows like "Felicity" and the mega-hit Lost. He is also the man responsible for the spy drama Alias, which like "mission" also uses elaborate stunts, gadgets and some worldwide crisis as its backdrop.

From Daniel Fienberg's article:

Abrams... felt undaunted following in the footsteps of Brian De Palma and John Woo, directors of the first two "Mission: Impossible" blockbusters.

"For me, it was as a series that, as good as those movies were, never sort of realized the promise of the franchise," says Abrams.

As a fan of the original long-running television series Abrams' solution -- working with veteran "Alias" scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci -- was to bring go back to some of the values of the source material.

Even as a fan of Abrams and his TV work, I still have been cautious to get too jazzed about the film, after being sooo disappointed by the second film. I know its unfair to hold J.J. Abrams responsible for the failures of MI:II, but I was really looking forward to John Woo taking over at the time that he did it and look how that turned out.

I do like the fact that he is a fan of the 60's tv series though, and hopefully, he put that to good use in making this film. Having 2 veteran writers on Alias was also a very smart move.

You can read the entire article here.

Now, onto news about another popular "spy" film franchise...courtesy MTV via Dark Horizons:

[Film] Producer Frank Marshall recently said that he doesn't expect the upcoming "The Bourne Ultimatum" to be the last film in the highly successful spy series."

It's kinda up to Matt [Damon]. Maybe to five [films] ... At some point, he's gotta find out who he is" says Marshall who added about 'Ultimatum' that Julia Stiles' character will "be a central character in this. So will Joan Allen and some of the other characters from the last movie".

The third film is scheduled to start shooting on August 1st and whilst the title is the same as the Robert Ludlum book, only the first film in the series bares any real resemblance to the original novel.

I know, I'm probably in the minority here, but I don't really care for this film series all that much. I have seen the first two 'Bourne' flicks, and for some reason, they both left me with that "let down" feeling. I think Damon is a fine actor, I enjoy the work of Doug Liman, who directed the first film and produced the second, I like action films...I think it's just matter of the way Damon comes across in that action guy persona...by contrast members of my family really enjoy the series and seeing Damon do his thing. I never read the Ludlum books and since they really don't seem to follow their lead, when making the films, I doubt that reading them would do me any good. For Marshall to even suggest up to 2 more sequels are possible, the series must be making some serious cah-hash, for all parties involved.

What am I missing?

Click here, to read the original MTV article, by Larry Carroll on the subject.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Better Late Than Never

I know that the 25th Annual Academy Awards "Nominees Luncheon" happened on Monday, February 13 2006, and that I'm a little late in mentioning it now. I actually had intended to to write about this shindig sooner, but other film-worthy news got on the way.

Quite frankly, after reading several articles about the event, I got the impression that it was a pretty standard affair for this type of thing. Of course you had the "group photo", most of this year's contenders schmoozing with one another--all smiles--that is until the winners are announced on March 5th and the like. The attendees got to hear remarks from academy President Sid Ganis, as well as a lesson in award show do's and don'ts from telecast producer, Gil Cates. Ho-hum.

At a pre-luncheon presser though, three time nominee this year, George Clooney got a big laugh when he took jabs at the Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney and his current melee with the media over the hunting accident.

I love what Reuters reporter Arthur Spiegelman writes in his article, following Clooney's Cheney riff though:

On a serious note, Clooney added, "I don't really feel like I am going to win. I just like the idea of showing up.".

Click here to read the whole article.

What a great word to describe the prospect of Clooney not winning an OSCAR this year... as a serious matter. "Serious"ly, Spiegelman dude, get a grip...that my friend, isn't serious in the least...whether he wins or loses. Trust Me.

News That Flickers

There' s certainly are a lot of interesting things going on in the industry right now...

This first 2 items come courtesy of WENN via The Internet Movie Database website:

Reservoir Dogs actor Chris Penn died accidentally from an enlarged heart and the effects of a combination of various medications, according to autopsy and toxicology tests. The Los Angeles coroner's office released a statement late Monday, confirming the reasons behind the shock death of Sean Penn's younger brother in his Santa Monica, California, apartment on January 24. The tests labeled the primary causes of death as "nonspecific cardiomyopathy" (an oversized heart) with the "effects of multiple medication intake." Chief coroner investigator Craig Harvey says, "There is absolutely no indication that this is anything but an accident. We know he had several prescriptions, including promethazine with codeine, which featured predominantly in his death. We don't know how much he ingested or when. There are a lot of 'what ifs' to be factored in." Chris, 40, starred in hit films Rush Hour, Starsky & Hutch, True Romance and The Funeral, for which he won the Volpi Cup at the 1996 Venice Film Festival.

To read what I had to say on the career and tragic death of Chris Penn at the time it happened, click here. So very sad.

Ben Affleck's forthcoming film on the death of TV Superman actor George Reeves has been renamed, following legal threats by the producer of the Superman movies. Affleck plays late actor Reeves in the Truth, Justice And The American Way, which has now been changed to Hollywoodland. Distributors Focus Features were forced to give up the original title after Warner Bros - who produces the Superman film franchise, including the upcoming Superman Returns - threatened to sue, as "Truth, Justice And The American Way" is Superman's slogan. Reeves, who played the Man Of Steel in the 1951 feature film Superman And The Mole-Men and the 1950s TV series Adventures Of Superman, died of a gunshot wound in June 1959. While the cause of his death was ruled suicide, friends and family suspected he may have been murdered. Hollywoodland, directed by Allen Coulter, also stars Adrien Brody, Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins, and hits US cinemas screens this year.

What's in a name anyway right? As someone who used to watch reruns of the classic series every weekday morning, before heading off to school, from ages 10-12, I am intrigued to see how Affleck does with the role here. The mystery that surrounds George Reeves death has always been one that offers more questions than answers. The film has a great supporting cast.

The next couple of items come courtesy Variety:

It seems that the casting problems that have plagued Casino Royale, the latest James Bond film, may be coming to an end. An article by Nicole LaPorte and Michael Fleming has the following details:

Though Sony [pictures] claims no casting will be announced, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson could use the occasion {of a press conference} to unveil its long-awaited supporting cast. But the studio, along with some of the talent's reps, claim nothing's been decided.

Even so, the producers are apparently deciding on a short list topped by Eva Green ("The Dreamers") and Olivia Wilde who had a steamy arc on "The OC" last season. The producers had earlier approached the likes of Charlize Theron, Thandie Newton and Kimberly Davies.

Even if the cast is not announced today, the villain role is expected to go to Danish thesp Mads Mikkelsen.

I was kinda hoping that Davies would be the next Bond Babe....As for Mikkelsen the only thing, I have seen him in is 2004's King Arthur. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens, but at least it sounds like they are gettin' close...

Speaking of getting close..It seems that many of the folks that worked on the 1998 thriller Wild Things may be working together on another steamy pic called Backstabbers. Chris Gardner writes:

[ Mandalay Pictures] has made a deal with "Wild Things" helmer John McNaughton to direct "Backstabbers," penned by Stephen Peters, who wrote the 1998 sexy thriller starring Denise Denise Richards, Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon and Kevin Bacon.

Richards and Campbell are in talks to reteam in "Backstabbers." Mandalay and producers are currently rounding out the rest of the {details}.

Story is described as a sexy caper about a rich New York man who masterminds his wife's kidnapping unaware that his mistress and bodyguard are going to double-cross him.

Wild Things is a great guilty pleasure. And although not a sequel, if the deal goes through Backstabbers should be pretty cool...

...I hate to end on a sad note, but as I was writing about the last news item, I heard that character actor Andreas Katsulas passed away on Monday of this week at age of 59, after battling lung cancer. You may not instantly recognize the name, but his work was unmistakable. I first saw him in a few episodes of TV's "Star Trek: The Next Generation" , like The Enemy, The Defector, Future Imperfect, and the series finale All Good Things as Commander Tomalak.

He would go on to join another TV space saga with a regular stint Babylon 5 as G'kar. He also appeared on other episodic television shows such as "NYPD Blue" and"Millennium" .

His films include Hot Shots! Part Deux, the highly underrated thriller Someone to Watch Over Me and The Fugitive, where he made quite an impact as the infamous "one armed man"

Gone but far from forgetten...Be sure to visit The Official Andreas Katsulas Website for more info.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Keeping Jason At "Bay"

I ask you, dear reader... What better way is there to commemorate Valentine's Day, on The Last Reel, than by discussing slasher flicks? Normally, I probably would not do that, but the news that Michael Bay is going to be producing the next Friday the 13th film was just too interesting not to comment on.

Variety's Dave McNary reports:

Bay's {production company} Platinum Dunes... is coming aboard to produce the 11th outing in the sturdy "Friday the 13th" franchise for New Line [Cinema]

{The} Studio's hoping to fast-track the project -- centered on the origins of the Jason Voorhees character -- so that the pic can be released three weeks before Halloween on Friday, Oct. 13. Bay will produce with Platinum Dunes partners Brad Fuller
and Andrew Form

New Line's hired Mark Wheaton (who wrote the TV movie "Son of the Morning Star") to pen the script. Studio prexy {or President} Toby Emmerich is overseeing along with execs Cale Boyter and Jeff Katz.

Click here for full details...

While I have always thought of the original Friday from 1980, as a genre classic, I think the rest of the series, on the whole, isn't nearly as much fun as the Halloween Movies are.

There are standout installments though, like 2003's Freddy vs Jason and 1984's Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, that were still a lot of fun. As for the other films...I'll be nice (for now)

Bay, known also for directing action films like Pearl Harbor, Armageddon , and The Rock has had some success producing "retro" horror films in recent years. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake kicked butt and I look forward to the prequel, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.

I 'm so intrigued by this latest Friday idea, and the possibilities it offers, I will even forgive him for helping with the pitiful Amityville Horror remake from last year.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Caped "Wonder" Visits Con

The media push for Superman Returns slowly continues...

Robert Sanchez and the folks at The Movie Reporter (aka IESB), have posted video of a media only press conference with Bryan Singer and Brandon Routh, after both men appeared at WonderCon over the weekend.

The two-part video, then leads into a one on one interview with Singer, conducted by Sanchez. By all accounts, when Routh showed up as a surprise for the main event, the audience went nuts. As for the presser itself, there was really nothing major that came out of it about SR. I was impressed with the way Routh handled himself. This was his first time at an event like this (facing fans and the press), and I thought he did quite well, especially when asked about the inevitable comparison between him, and the late Christopher Reeve.

The answer courtesy of ComicsContinuum:

"I'll say this about Chris and what he means to this film and how he's a part of this film," Routh said. "In my opinion as me as an actor portraying this role -- and I get asked questions like this a lot -- Superman is a really good character and here are these different people, not only actors, but artists who have drawn him and writers who have written for him in all these different incarnations, he's grown and he grows. "

"Each artist puts their own twist on it, but they take what everybody else did. They go, 'Ok, that's what Superman is, but there's this that I want to add to.' So, it's people slapping on layers of paint, right?"

"Chris, to me, is my biggest influence. So, of course, there's that presence there because he did it so well and he was the guy. I guess he is part of, because my portrayal is based on him as much as his was based on everybody else's."

Good answer. And that really means a lot to me--considering how much Reeve made the role of Superman his--even as the quality of the films went south. I grew up with Reeve playing the Man Of Steel, to me, no matter who else has stepped into the part since then, he set the standard.

The most juicy tid-bit that jumped out at me though, was when Singer mentioned during the one on one, that he is again teaming up with Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie for the remake of Logan's Run!

As for Routh, he is expected to show up to play in this year's NBA All-Star Celebrity Basketball Game, in Houston, TX for ESPN on Friday February 17th 2006. Here's the official press release from the BusinessWire.com website that says so

You Got The Wrong Guy

It would seem that I owe Steve Martin and EW Magazine's Lisa Schwarzbaum an apology. In a post called "A little Spring In My Step", that I wrote on Friday, I said:

"Surely, Firewall has to be better than that pointless remake. You can take Steve Martin Mr Ford, with one hand tied behind your back and blindfolded, I know you can."

And I implied that Schwarzbaum was way off when she gave higher marks to Panther over Firewall. Since I have yet to see either film, I should not have "predicted" the weekend outcome, so soon.

The people have spoken...

The box office numbers from this past weekend proved that my sarcasm for the Pink Panther remake may have been misplaced. I thought for sure that, of the 4 films that opened this past weekend, Firewall would have led the pack. I couldn't have been more wrong.

According to Box Office Mojo's Brandon Gray:

'The Pink Panther' passed inspection with an estimated $21.7 million, narrowly wresting the weekend from horror hit 'Final Destination 3 ($21.1 million).' Meanwhile,'Curious George' ($15.3 million) swung past expectations and 'Firewall' secured little interest...(landing in 4th place with $13.8 million in ticket sales)

...4th place...4th place...

Click here to read Gray's entire report.

Apparently, that "pointless remake" made movie goers more "curious" (despite some negative reviews) to see Martin's take on Inspector Jacques Clouseau, (first made famous by the late great Peter Sellers, who still owns the role, as far as I'm concerned) than to see Ford playing yet another hero family man.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

RIP Peter Benchley (1940-2006)

Peter Benchley, the author of the bestselling novel Jaws , that was made into a film in 1975 has died. He was 65.

The author passed away on Saturday night, at his home in Princeton N.J. due to complications from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or a scarring of the lung.

As a writer, Benchley was obviously fascinated with the Creatures of The Deep , with many of his books using those themes and settings. As a screenwriter, he himself adapted both Jaws (with Carl Gottlieb) and the highly underrated movie The Deep (with Tracy Keenan Wynn) , for the big screen. Several of his other novels were turned into TV movies and mini series, but none of those turned out as good as Jaws did. Under the leadership of a young Steven Spielberg, the film took the nation and the world by storm--making the term "Blockbuster" part of the cinema landscape ever since.

Click here to read more on the life of Peter Benchley, including his job working for former President Lyndon Johnson, as a speech writer.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

RIP Phil Brown (1916-2006)

Aint It Cool News reports that actor Phil Brown passed away yesterday, at the age of 89, due to failing health. He had been confined to a bed for quite some time.

Who is Phil Brown you ask?

His acting career spanned over five decades, in some 60 plus films and TV projects, but to me and millions of other sci-fi fans around the world, he'll always be Luke Skywalker's Uncle Owen (pictured above) in the original Star Wars, now subtitled A New Hope . His last "on screen" role was as a "Council Elder" in 1999's Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming-- A short film based on the popular sci-fi series. But it was restricted to the convention circuit only. His last major film role though, was as the "projectionist", in 1992's biopic of silent film star Charlie Chaplin. He even had a cameo as a "State Senator" in Superman-The Movie, that was cut from the original theatrical release of the film, but has made its way back in the flick for subsequent television airings over the years. He also played "Mr Black" in the 1980 television mini-series version of "The Martian Chronicles" .

He may have had only about 10 minutes of screen time in Star Wars, but he certainly made the most of it, and left a lasting impression for the many fans who grew up watching him over and over again in that "... galaxy far, far away".

Be sure to visit The Official Phil Brown Website if you would like to learn more about him. And click here to read an excellent interview with Brown, conducted by Joshua Griffin, of The Force.Net about his role in the space saga.

Friday, February 10, 2006

"Pammy" Says "Yes"

The Internet Movie Database reports, via WENN, plans for a movie version of the lifeguard TV drama Baywatch are moving forward:

Hollywood beauty Pamela Anderson will make a cameo appearance in the forthcoming movie spin-off... Anderson, who starred in the lifeguard soap in the early 1990s, is being lined up by David Hasselhoff to appear in the big screen version alongside other Baywatch cast mates, who are yet to be confirmed but could include Carmen Electra, Erika Eleniak, Yasmine Bleeth and Traci Bingham. The movie's director Eli Roth says, "Pammy and the original girls will most likely do cameos in the movie. For the main cast, they want to go with a new crop of hotties. The other producers spoke to Pamela about it and she said she'd love to do a cameo. For me, it just wouldn't be Baywatch without her." Hasselhoff adds, "The film will be set in different locations around the world. There will be lifeguards who are also sent on crime-busting sprees."

There have been rumors going around about a Baywatch movie for years, maybe even as far back as May 2001, when the series ended its 12 year run. And yes, I used to watch the series, particularly during my college days. It was, and still is, perhaps one of the best guilty pleasures, ever produced, and hard to resist. In fact, given the series has such worldwide popularity, and that it had such beautiful...um...uh..scenery...yeah that's it, I'm surprised it took them this long...

I do think that Roth seems an unlikely choice to direct the "epic". Given his penchant for the horror genre, there better not be any zombies, or sea creatures attacking the beach...After all, a film about lifeguards saving lives at the beach is "serious business", and should be treated with respect (wink, wink).

A little Spring In My Step

Even as "my neck of the woods", the mid-Atlantic region, prepares to be snowed in over the weekend with some 6-12 inches, I will try to think of happy things... I know. Up until now, the Winter of 2006 has been very mild, I just hope we don't end up paying for it with one big storm after another. I HATE SNOW!! Ahem...Sorry...I digress...

I can take comfort though, in knowing that no matter what happens with the weather this weekend, Spring is still in the air. I know it is, not because of the actions of some groundhog, but because the February 17th issue of Entertainment Weekly says so. The latest issue has lots of worthwhile film stuff to chew on:

Spring Movie Preview-"All the buzz on 97 new films", including an in depth article, by Joshua Rich, on the delayed V for Vendetta, starring Natalie Portman. I have high hopes for this one...Besides I think screenwriters Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski owe me one (maybe two) for the way the Matrix Trilogy turned out. I am counting on you both not to veer too far from the graphic novels, on which the film is based.

Gregory Kirschling interviews Tough Guy Harrison Ford on his new action thriller Firewall. The reviews that I have read for the film though, have not been all that good, with EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum giving it a D-. I don't know..Lisa gives the Pink Panther remake a better rating. Surely, Firewall has to be better than that pointless remake. You can take Steve Martin Mr Ford, with one hand tied behind your back and blindfolded, I know you can.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

"Crash" SE DVD News

Late yesterday afternoon I was surfing the net, and was stopped cold, after I read about a new 2 disc DVD set for Crash. As regular visitors to The Last Reel already know, I am hoping that this film can pull some sort of upset at this year's OSCARS, even though it has uphill climb, going up against 8 time nominee Brokeback Mountain (which just won big "across the pond" at the 11th annual London Critics' Circle Awards, by the way).

A while ago, I visited many of my favorite sites for daily disc news, to see if I could find out any more details...So far the only site to post anything about it is the DVD Zone At TheManRoom .

Here's what we can expect in the way of bonus material:

Disc 1

Director’s Cut Widescreen Feature

DVD Introduction by Director Paul Haggis

Feature Commentary with Paul Haggis, Don Cheadle and Bobby Moresco


Disc 2:

Deleted Scenes (with optional Director’s Commentary)

Behind the Metal and Glass Making of CRASH

On Paul Haggis Featurette

L.A. "The Other Main Character" Featurette

Unspoken Featurette

{A} Bird York “In the Deep” Music Video

Music Montages

Script-to-Screen Comparisons

Storyboard-to-Screen Comparisons.

I'm glad I only rented the current DVD. I can't wait for this set to hit the streets on April 4th 2006.

According to a story posted on the CNN Money website, the film's distributor, Lions Gate is having a great go of it at the Box Office and on Wall Street, with the all of the buzz about Crash and the success of last fall's horror sequel Saw II (hitting stores on DVD Valentine's Day--how romantic).

As I said, I hope of this positive chatter translates into lots of OSCAR gold, come March 5th.

If you haven't seen Crash yet...What are you waiting for? Rent it already!!!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Friends Will Practice Some Philly Law Together

Best pals (and sometime acting/writing partners) Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are going to be working together again on an, as yet untitled legal drama, according to Variety.

The duo have been friends for years, growing up in Cambridge Massachusetts and rocketed to mega-fame after winning an Oscar for their 1997 Good Will Hunting script. Each of them also have a common pal in film director Kevin Smith. In fact, the last time the trio worked together was on Jersey Girl, with Smith calling the shots, Affleck in a starring role, and Damon appearing in a cameo.

The new film for Matt & Ben sounds like it could be very good. We are gonna have to wait a bit though, before audiences can see the two men on screen together, as both of them seem to have very busy film slates to get done first.

The Little Festival That Could

Did you know that the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was going on? If it wasn't for the daily influx of "Movie News" that I receive, since starting to maintain The Last Reel, I may have missed it. It's not being covered in the media, in the same way that other film fests are.

In an article that saw print in yesterday's Variety, Robert Koehler, describes the scene as a "relaxed, Mediterranean-style affair -- a welcome getaway once the snow shoes are put away post-Park City {Utah}" (the locale for the recently ended, more high profile, Sundance Film Festival) .

If something interesting comes out of this event--I will be sure to comment on it here--or at least offer a summary of the fest sometime after it concludes on Sunday February 12th.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Peep Show

I just got a look at the first footage from the long delayed Basic Instinct 2, and just like '92 original, it seems those responsible for the sequel had to "fight" for the new film to get an R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America.

As for the footage itself, it's not an official trailer for the movie, thus it offers more skin than you might otherwise see. It's VERY explicit and NOT FOR CHILDREN OF ANY AGE.

It's hard for me to say, whether the scenes I saw, will translate into a worthwhile film, let alone something as good as the first film was. I'm sure the filmmakers are privately "thanking" the MPAA for the stir up over the rating. Because that will probably mean healthier first weekend ticket sales...at least. After that, it has to be a well made thriller, in order for it to work. All the skin in the world will not be able to save it.

Click here if you dare.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Stranger Than Fiction

For some reason, I haven't yet received my weekly email on the weekend box office numbers, from the folks at Box Office Mojo...But I did get one from Variety last night:

As expected, the remake of When a Stranger Calls, took the top spot with a solid $21.6 Million bucks. I guess the usual Oscar bump that happens the weekend after the nominations are announced couldn't overcome the popularity of the scary movie genre. Big Momma's House 2 took second place with $13.3 Million dollars While a few of the "golden" films made some gains--they were not as big as they had been in years past. One BIG nominee even took a bit of a dip...To find out how the OSCAR hopefuls ended up doing over the weekend, be sure to read the complete article, by Mr. Ben Fritz.

As for the #1 film itself, the reviews for When A Stranger Calls seemed to suggest that the remake doesn't come close to holding a candle to the original cult classic from 1979. As a fan of the earlier film, and after seeing the trailer for the new version, I could tell it's an inferior movie without seeing the whole thing. I will rent it when it hits DVD in about two months-just to see for myself how "bad" bad can really be.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Post Game Show

I don't know about you, but as soon as today's big game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers ends, I will begin going into some serious Football withdrawal. While I still have the NFL Pro Bowl to look forward to on February 12th--it's just not the same as the regular season stuff--and I can't quite bring myself to watch the Arena Football League. The only way that I can get through the long off season without any lasting effects is to watch these films that use the gridiron as their backdrop:

Remember the Titans -Watch for a great performance from Denzel Washington as "Coach Boone" Based on a true story that will make you stand-up and cheer.

Brian's Song -This TV movie from 1971 does everything right. From great chemistry between stars James Caan as Brian Piccolo and Billy Dee Williams as Gayle Sayers, both playing for the Chicago Bears, to the memorable, emotional final scene.

Despite not having the support of the NFL behind him, controversial director Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday still delivers the goods, thanks to Al Pacino and Jamie Foxx who make it work.

Friday Night Lights-Another film based on true events--this time with Billy Bob Thornton playing Coach.

Varsity Blues-Guilty Pigskin Pleasure #1

All The Right Moves-Guilty Pigskin Pleasure #2

Wildcats- Predictable yes but still lots of fun. Goldie Hawn is a riot calling the shots.

The Program-James Cann plays a "coach" this time out in a great role...

The Last Boy Scout-Little to do with the sport itself; but Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans make a good action duo.

Forget the the remake with Adam Sandler, stick with the 1974 version of The Longest Yard .

And my all time favorite Football flick--Rudy-Director David Anspaugh, actor Sean Astin plying "Rudy", writer Angelo Pizzo and the late great composer Jerry Goldsmith, combine to make a winning team in this inspirational power-house.

Even with all of these great films to watch preseason can't come soon enough...