Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Well, These 'Fifty Shades' Pictures Sadden Me

I was disappointed to hear that Marcia Gay Harden committed herself to star as Christian's mother, Grace Trevelyan-Grey, in the upcoming bangfest, Fifty Shades of Grey, and I forgot all about it. Entertainment Weekly has the first look photos of Harden, Rita Ora, and Andrew Airlie as Christian's family. We will meet them when Christian brings Ana over for dinner, and we are reminded that Ana Steele will never have the grace and poise as one Ms. Marcia Gay Harden. I don't really begrudge Harden--Fifty Shades will be huge, and it will be great exposure for her. Girl's gotta eat, right?

Who Should Make a Cameo in 'Jurassic World'

Everyone was buzzing about the new Jurassic World trailer yesterday, and Megan wrote a short piece about Bryce Dallas Howard's constant villainy. Since it brought up a lot of feelings of Steven Spielberg's original blockbuster, it made me realize that there was one character that I hope they revitalize: Mr. DNA.

Richard Attenborough proudly introduced Mr. DNA early on in Jurassic Park when Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum were taking their boring tour of the facilities, and the animated character popped up on screen for a documentary about how InGen created the dinosaurs. They should bring back Mr. DNA for the newest installment, but they probably won't. Who needs a quirky strand of DNA talking to you about science when the kids who are interested in dinosaurs can just whip out their iPads? I just love how he says, "Dino-SARS!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Random Poll: Which Peter Pan Trailer Tune is Better?

The trailer for Joe Wright's re-imagining of Peter Pan (titled Pan) hit today, and it looks like a fantastical version of the beginnings of Peter Pan. We seem him getting kidnapped out of his bed, meeting Hook, and facing off against Hugh Jackman's Blackbeard. What do I think of the trailer? Well, I can't hear anything other than the Christina Perri song playing in the background. 

Does anyone remember when Coldplay's "Clocks" played in the trailer for the 2003 version of Peter Pan? All I keep thinking of is Jason Isaac and Olivia Williams running to find their children in a kind of slow motion while that song played. Perri's "I Believe" blares throughout the trailer amid flying ships and scenery chewing. Which do you like more? You can check out both trailer below the poll in case you need a refresher!

Hold On To Your Butts...'Jurassic World' Tease Drops

Seeing Jurassic Park in the theater in the summer of 1993 was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. When the T-Rex attacked the SUV with Tim and Lex in the backseat, it was sheer pandemonium: people were screaming, kids were bawling, and concerned parents left the theater. Perhaps moviegoing experiences will never be that insane again with everything being chatted about on social media, and the first trailer makes me yearn for the original dinosaur blockbuster. Jurassic World's first teaser leaked today, and I have some mixed feelings. 

I'm generally against reboots, but I was originally very stoked about this. I am shaking my cane like an old man, but everything in this trailer seems too CGI-ed. 

"What do they got in there? King Kong?"

No, just a team of special effects technicians. 

The tease features some very clear homages to the original Park, and that's great to see (the gallimimus running and the bait used to lure a big baddie), but I am hesitant about the genetically created dinosaur. Up the stakes? Sure. Play more into the "man isn't God" theme? Absolutely. The shot of the whale-y dinosaur splashing the audience made me realize that animals in captivity might never be free. Yeah, that's right. I got all Blackfish on you for the Jurassic World teaser.

I was ready to write off the entire thing...and then that slowed down version of John Williams' score kicked in. I was sort of transported back to 1993, and I realized that the Jurassic Park movies are so much a part of my childhood that I don't think I will be able to have a rational reaction to it. This one's about a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur...and then things alllll go to hell. Natch.

Oh, hey Bryce Dallas Howard as a gorgeous but shortsighted scientist. I assume she is bad because she's talking about genetics one minute and then she's running for her life with a flair not unlike Laura Dern with a flashlight dragging behind her.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cool Rider! It's Maxwell Caulfield's Birthday!!!

I love Grease 2, and I will never apologize for it. The shy-brooding-nerd-turned-motorcycle-hunk leading-man, Maxwell Caulfield, went over the top to impress Michelle Pfeffer's leader of The Pink Ladies. Let's be honest here. We'd all do a lot less for the adoration of Michelle Pfeiffer, right? Caulfield is celebrating his 55th birthday today! Let's all celebrate by watching "Who's That Guy" from the much maligned musical sequel, shall we?!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fifty Shades of Suck: I'm (Banging) On a Boat!

The Fifty Shades of Suck podcast has returned! We are going to get back on track to recording this on a weekly basis, so we are going to bug you more frequently now. Isn't that great?!?!

We start off the podcast with a live viewing of the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer. Somehow Megan avoided it all this time, and you get to hear our reactions as we watch it, If you like watching along, use the video above! The Fifty Shades of Suck podcast is interactive now! 

Megan and I almost get to the halfway point of the book, and we tried out something different. She read all of the Christian stuff, and I read the rest, including all of Ana's idiocy dialogue and action. It's to the point where feminism is truly dead. Sure, it's been dead since page one of the first book, but now that Christian and Ana have declared actual love for each other, it's going to get to an entirely new level of annoying. 


There's a strangely detailed segment about how Christian had someone dry his hair as a kid, and Megan and I spend way too much time talking about it.

Oh, and they bang on a boat. Just when readers are thinking, "are they going bump uglies in this chapter," EL James has our insipid pair do it in Christian's cabin. 

If you are new to Fifty Shades of Suck, my best gal pal Megan and I meet up every week to read a chapter from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but we provide our own snarky commentary.  Last year, we subjected ourselves to the first book, and now we are chugging right along through the first sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.  If you would like to play catch up, the first set of podcasts are available here, and Fifty Shades Darker chapters are available below.  We hope you enjoy, and share them with your friends!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

'Mockingjay' Improves On Everyone's Least Favorite Book

Let's get serious here. Does anyone like the novel Mockingjay? The final installment in Suzanne Collins' mega-successful young adult dystopian trilogy is the most divisive among Hunger Games fans, and the apprehension towards the final film seemed obvious. Not only were fans wondering how the franchise would go out, many (myself included) hated the decision to split it into two separate films. For the record, Harry Potter was the only franchise that needed to do this. Twilight didn't, and, it seemed, that The Hunger Games was simply drawing out the series to a more lucrative close. 

I personally haven't revisited Mockingjay since it was released, and I urge fans to not feverishly re-read Collins' final novel before going into this adaptation. After The Hunger Games left audiences a bit famished two years ago, Catching Fire destroyed everyone's expectations. Mockingjay -- Part I doesn't have the action that whet everyone's last winter, but it sets the stage for an emotional climax. It also features strong performances from everyone involved. Sorry, David O. Russell. Jennifer Lawrence is better in Catching Fire and Mockingjay than she was in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle--Oscars be damned!

The action picks up almost exactly where Catching left off. Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen is now shacking up in the underground barracks of District 13 while plans against the Capital are made. Peeta is being held captive, and District 13's President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) is a quiet, careful presence. Katniss is going to be used as a symbol of the resistance, but Coin is hesitant at first, because she thinks the Games broke Katniss' spirit. Mockingjay reads like war novel, and the tone of the film is very grey and somber. Some of the districts have crumbled altogether, and director Francis Lawrence isn't afraid to show the small towns smoking and destroyed. There is a creepy moment early on where Katniss visits District 12, and the skeletons of her fellow townspeople lay scattered in this young adult wasteland. 

Did Mockingjay need to be split into two films? No. I admit, though, that I was taken by the penultimate segment. It lacks action, and it does feel like it's turning into The Hunger Games: Mockingjay PR Campaign in the first half. A camera crew follows Katniss around to film propaganda material to rile up the other districts, and the audience might wonder when the plot will actually kick in. We wait around for something to actually happen, because we are promised something will eventually transpire. The cast makes it all rather compelling. Lawrence has mastered the single tear cry, and the short scenes between her and Moore are, honestly, thrilling. Where would we get to see two women arguing war tactics in a blockbuster winter release? It's also very bittersweet to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final film roles (the film is dedicated to him). 

The emotion amps up in the last 20 minutes or so, and I could almost hear my audience drooling for more (Effie's fleshed out film role was much appreciated as well). I could probably watch a Hunger Games film every winter (especially if they continue to dress up Josh Hutcherson in Capital clothing that makes him look like Liberace's favorite rentboy). Mockingjay's seemingly early chilly critial reception seems a bit overblown. This film definitely sets us up for something big, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Contract Makes Appearance in 'Fifty Shades' Trailer!

If you have listened to the Fifty Shades of Suck podcast (starring yours truly and Megan), you would know how much we hate EL James' decision to include Christian Grey's dom/sub contract in full multiple times. We are closing in on the halfway mark of Fifty Shades Darker, and it hasn't made an appearance yet. I mean, it probably will. 

The full length trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey just debuted, and it features a shot of the contract! Rapture! Joy! Not only will we read the whole thing, but we will be fucking forced to look at it projected onto a movie screen. Fan-frickin'-tastic! 

Some other things are realized with this trailer:

1. Thank the BABY JESUS that Charlie Hunnam is far, far, far away from this.

2. I mean, I don't hate this...

3. No one could make Anastasia Steele's dialogue sound remotely real/credible/intelligent. Dakota Johnson is fighting a losing battle here. Poor thing. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

'Fifty Shades' Poster: Anyone Else Get a 'Stepfather' Vibe?

When I went to the movies tonight, there were two big Fifty Shades of Grey standees positioned right near the entrance, and, naturally, I have some thoughts. 

They give both Ana Steele and Christian Grey an individual poster, but Ana's just looks like a bad perfume ad. These have to be next to each other or one wouldn't have any idea why Dakota Johnson is just hanging out. Secondly, I get a Stepfather vibe from his poster. Is he going to use that tie to strangle Anastasia Steele. We are supposed to think that he's an iconic figure, but it just supports the notion that they have one of the most unhealthy relationships ever committed to the page. 

Just saying...

This is Me Right Now...

This might be a bad representation of my mood, because I'm not depressed or anything. I've just been on a lazy spell for the last few days. There are some movies I need to review, but I have zero motivation to actually type anything up. All I want to do is binge bad television and sit on the couch. 

I'll get out of my lazy funk soon--I swear.

Monday, November 10, 2014

'Nightcrawler' is Sleek and Scary

Jake Gyllenhaal has mostly played nice guys. His smile is big and warm, and he's played characters that were earnest and likable. That all changes with Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler, a sleek and intoxicating thriller that begs us to question what is shown on the evening news. It also contains Gyllenhaal's most terrifying performance of his career.

Gyllenhaal's Lou Bloom wants to work. At the beginning of Nightcrawler, he's seen stealing pieces of chain link fence and manhole covers so he can sell them to a construction manager, but the man doesn't bite. Lou effortlessly negotiates with him, but he walks away with nothing. He stumbles on a crime scene, and Lou quickly purchases a cheap camera and police scanner. 

The next time he hears about an accident, he runs out and grabs some low-grade footage. He sells it to Nina (Rene Russo), the director of a local television station. Nina applauds Lou's eye, and she tells him to come back when he captures something else worthwhile. Nina's station particularly showcases violent crimes, and that advisement sets the tone for what Lou will keep an eye out for. He hires a assistant named Rick (an earnest Rick Garcia) who is desperate to make money. 

Lou Bloom isn't the kind of guy who is used to success, and Gyllenhaal infuses him with a greedy ambition that is absolutely unsettling. He teases Rick with a made up training program, and the way he negotiates with Nina over new footage becomes tense as time goes on. Towards the end of the film, Lou stumbles onto a home invasion and crosses the line before the police can ever arrive. 

Gyllenhaal's performance succeeds mainly because he's played such lovable gents before. Normally, his characters are looking to do the right thing, but his smile in Nightcrawler seems tainted. Every time he grinned as Lou Bloom, I recoiled a bit. It might be the best performance of his career--Bloom is driven, calculated and sure of himself. Russo does not work as much as she should, so her presence on screen as an equally career-focused "woman of a certain age" balances nicely with Gyllenhaal. 

Not only are the performances from Gyllenhaal and Russo strong, but the look of the film is striking. The majority of Nightcrawler is shrouded in darkness. Streetlamps seem to illuminate a lot of the outdoor action, and even the interior scenes feel devoid of sunlight. Any time it goes towards the light, the film appears to be on the verge of coloring yellow. It begins to burn like the pages of a well-worn true crime book.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Disney is Fucking with My Emotions

Toy Story 4 would be the Saved by the Bell: The New Class of animated films. The Bell spinoff featured some familiar faces, but it also introduced some new characters. It ultimately didn't capture what the original series did (yes, I'm stretching here), so it always felt inferior in my eyes. The plans for a Toy Story 4 were announced, and it fills me with so much dread I have a hard time expressing it. 

That's kind of a lie. Here's how I feel about it: Disney and Pixar set up this beautiful trilogy of films that, on the outside, appear to be just about toys and shiny things and bright colors. By the time Toy Story 3 came around, it was about growing up and moving on. I saw that movie multiple times in the theater, and people CRIED THEIR FACES OFF! Do you need a refresher?

Why are they making a fourth Toy Story?!?! I don't give a flying crap about Bonnie and her interactions with Woody and Buzz. I don't care, and I never will. 

I fear that this is going to usher in a new wave of Toy Story films. Yes, I know there have been a handful of shorts, but those were just morsels. Yes, the original directer, John Lasseter, is on board to helm this one, but I've come to terms with how I feel about the series after Andy left his beloved toys with Bonnie. 

This feels like betrayal. The third installment of the series felt like a high-wire act--a beautifully animated feature that assures us it's all right to fully let go of part of our childhoods. The children who will revisit Toy Story 3 (the ones who were 7 or 8 when the film debuted) will get to experience a new set of emotions when they are my age, and they realize the themes of it. Continuing the series will be a huge cash cow (I can see Toys R Us catalogs bursting with new characters already), but it feels kind of cheap at the moment. 

"Don't worry, kids, there's another adventure right around the corner!" I'm just going to be the curmudgeon shaking my cane at it the entire time. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

10 Animated Shorts Advance in Oscar Race

The Academy has announced the 10 titles in contention for the Best Animated Short Oscar, and, lucky for us, we can see glimpses of each one online. Check out the trailers for each of the contenders, and then comment as to which looks the most promising.

The Bigger Picture directed by Daisy Jacobs

Coda directed by Alan Holly

The Dam Keeper directed by Robert Kondo & Dice Tsutsumi

Duet directed by Glen Keane. This one made the rounds online a few months back, so a number of people will be glad to see it get some attention. It's also completely available online. 

Feast directed by Patrick Osborne. This will be featured before Disney's Big Hero 6 this weekend, and the studio usually gets a short in the race in this category. 

Footprints directed by Bill Plympton. This is another short that's completely available online. 

Me and My Moulton directed by Torill Kove

The Numberlys directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg. This is the one I am most looking forward to from this list, because Joyce and Oldenburg won an Oscar a few years back for the delightful The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. It's an homage to Metropolis, so that should be enough to get people excited. 

A Single Life directed by Joris Opins. 

Symphony No. 42 directed by Reka Bucsi

The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 15th. 

New 'Woods' Trailer Faces the Music

You want singing? Here's some singing! 

A new, feature trailer for Into the Woods dropped in the wee hours last night, and I urge you just watch it.

Besides the singing, what else is there to love? A lot!

Lila Crawford's line delivery of, "Oh dear. How uneasy I feel" is droll and dry. 


Is anyone else excited for the casting of Cinderella's extended family? Christine Baranski? Yes! Tammy Blanchard? Yes! Lucy Punch? YES! On a side note of name dropping, the last time I was in New York, I saw Blanchard sneaking a smoke outside the Al Hirschfeld Theatre while she waited to go back on for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. She was super nice. 


This. Just this.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

'Into the Woods' Character Posters Drop; Fever Mounts

I don't know about you, but all this marketing for Into the Woods is totally working. All the advertising (the teaser, the featurette, the Entertainment Weekly cover, etc.) makes me more and more excited to see this movie, and it might be the most amped I've ever been for a big screen adaptation of a musical. Disney just dropped a series of character posters (called it!), and these ones are even slightly animated. 

I like the character names scrawled over some of them. It looks great on Johnny Depp's and Meryl Streep's, and it's great that they didn't just rely on the household names. I kind of want a James Corden poster all for myself. What a cutie he is!

My favorites might be for the pair of Princes, played by Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen. Instead of naming them Cinderella's and Rapunzel's Princes, they went with "The Prince" and "The Other Prince," which is hilarious. Magnussen must be over the moon right now. He gets his own one sheet for his film breakout. I can hear him calling a framer this very second...

The Biggest Julianne Moore Year Since 2002?

Back in 2002, Julianne Moore was everywhere. She was snatching up prizes left and right for Todd Haynes' masterpiece, Far From Heaven, and then she devastated us again later that year with her performance in Stephen Daldry's The Hours. She received 2 Oscar nominations for both performances and joined the small club of performers who have been up for 2 films. Moore is set to have a big year again with 3 incredibly different performances. 

The first official image for Moore's Freeheld came out yesterday (how I missed it, I don't know), and it's only adding fuel the flame. Based on the Oscar-winning documentary short of the same name, Freeheld revolves around Moore's Laurel Hester, a police officer who fights to have her pension benefits given to her partner (Ellen Page) after she is diagnosed with a terminal illness. The film has had a few bumps in the road (a Catholic school reversed their decision to allow filming when they learned what the content was), but this still has fueled excitement for the project. Freeheld won't come out this year, and it also stars Steve Carell and Michael Shannon.  

Moore won Best Actress at Cannes earlier this year for her portrayal of a fading leading lady in David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars. It seemed for a while that she might nab a nomination, but then Maps change its release schedule so her chances dwindled. 

The performance that everyone is waiting to see is in Still Alice. Moore plays a linguistics professors who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. It's the kind of performance that actresses dream of, but the word is that Moore might finally win her first Academy Award. To be honest, Moore winning is a dream, so I am hesitant to declare anything a done deal now. I don't want to jinx anything. Her walking up the stairs to finally win and Academy Award would be a huge highlight of my Oscar watching. I could just die right then. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Minions Are Coming! The Minions Are Coming!!!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sold on the idea of Minions when I first heard about it. I love those little Twinkie look-a-likes, but I didn't think that an entire movie based around them would work. The first teaser dropped for Minions, and I couldn't help but smile the entire time. Hopefully, they won't have these little guys speaking any other language or learning to speak something else. It would be great if it was basically a foreign film for kids. 

Sorry haters, but this looks adorable. Let's just pretend that Despicable Me 2 never happened and move right on over to this, ok?  Minions stars the voices of Michael Keaton, Sandra Bullock, and Jon Hamm, and it will hit theaters (and make a shit ton of money) next summer.