Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bring on the Dinosaurs and the Big-Budget Popcorn Movies!

At the very beginning of every season, I normally post my 25 most anticipated films of the summer and fall season. This summer I thought I'd do something different. I having a hard time making a list of 25 films, so I teamed with with fellow ADTV contributor Clarence Moye to discuss our top 10 most anticipated. It's a bit more condensed, and we focus primarily on popcorn flicks.

Have a listen!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ranking the 'Beauty and the Beast' Casting

The major players have been cast for Bill Condon's Beauty & the Beast, and, I must say, it's pretty frickin' perfect. Do we need a live-action version of this story? Not really, but Disney's recent success with Cinderella means they probably won't stop any time soon. To celebrate, I've ranked the casting of this remake below. This could be really great. By the way, Stanley Tucci's casting doesn't count since he's a brand new character for this realm). 

10. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette (Babette?)

Hold your horses. Before you get your panties in a twist, I should point out that this singular casting decision had me jumping up and down. We get to see Mbatha-Raw in a lighter role, and that's not knocking her huge breakout last year (with both Belle and Beyond the Lights--you have seen both of those, right...right?!). Why couldn't they have cast her as Belle? She has the musical chops (ahem...are you watching Beyond the Lights yet?), so while her role is strong, they could have really remade this classic by putting her front and center.

9. Kevin Kline as Maurice

Belle's father will be played by one of the funniest guys ever. I would argue that Kline could still play Lumiere, but some would say he's too old for it. Him wooing Mbatha-Raw might come across a little more The Last of Robin Hood than anything else. 

8. Luke Evans as Gaston

It's not that there's anything wrong with Luke Evans. He just appears in a lot of crappy CGI movies that come out between January and April (or at least it seems that way). Gaston is a monster (get it...), but he's also a hilarious buffoon. Channing Tatum or Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, would have been a better choice. He needs to prove himself. The Russell Crowe ruining factor is high with this one.

7. Dan Stevens as The Beast

Dan Stevens lands far down on this list mainly because I haven't seen him in a lot of things. Downton Abbey is nowhere on my personal radar, and he terrified me as a killing machine in The Guest. Those sparkling blue eyes are a great plus, though. 

6. Audra McDonald as Gerderobe

Audra McDonald. In a Disney feature film. A musical feature film. That is all. 

5. Ewan McGregor as Lumiere

Ewan McGregor's casting as the suave candelabra was the last major announcement. Jean Dujardin would have been the perfect choice, but maybe too much like the animated version? For all those haters out there, McGregor has charm to spare. Check out Down with Love when you get a chance, because he's winning and consciously aware of how infectious his smile is:

Worried about his singing and have some time to kill?

McGregor is one of the strongest decisions. 

4. Emma Watson as Belle

Emma Watson's casting was the first major breakthrough in the casting process for Beast. Watson is no stranger to playing headstrong female leads, and Belle is one, if not the, most independent princesses in the Disney canon. Will she get swallowed up by all the flashy casting around her? Maybe. People are already chomping at the bit to hear her singing as well...

Don't be worried. Watson has always been one of the strongest elements in all the films she's been in. 

3. Josh Gad as Le Fou

When Gad's casting broke, it made sense to a lot of people. He might be the cast member that most resembles his animated counterpart. It doesn't hurt that the Frozen mania has turned Gad into a recognizable figure, so don't be surprised when little kids are singing "In Summer" during your screening. Gad never minds look like an idiot, and Le Fou is Gaston with even less common sense and no muscles.

2. Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts

Emma Thompson elevates everything she's involved with, so she skyrocketed to the top half of this list immediately. Mrs. Potts is a gentle, maternal figure to Belle, but can we keep our fingers crossed for a bit of sass from Thompson? Like red carpet circa 2013 Emma Thompson? She could take the character into intellectual territory while not sacrificing her warmth. Hope she's not worried about singing that title number...

1. Ian McKellan as Cogsworth

One could argue that McKellan is too old to play The Beast's stuffy manservant, Cogsworth. For the last 10 years or so, McKellan has been recognized mostly as either Magneto or Gandalf. While he's brilliant at everything, I'm most looking forward to Cogsworth, because he's a fussy nincompoop. McKellan's best performance is in Bill Condon's Gods & Monsters (robbed of an Oscar, by the way), so fingers crossed that Condon allows McKellan to be looser and less serious than his tentpole fare. He's going to kill it. 

So, what do you think? Agree or disagree?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Random Poll: Birthday Booty Edition

I'll keep it short and sweet. Alex Pettyfer and Charlie Hunnam are celebrating their birthdays today, and these two very different hotties each have a very nice behind. Which do you prefer? I realize that Mr. Hunnam's picture is a lot more alluring considering he' action, so he's has an unfair advantage. 

Mr. Alex "I'm an asshole" Pettyfer...

Mr. Charlie "I'm so glad I got out of Fifty Shades" Hunnam...

Happy Birthday to US!!!

Who has a better booty?

Alex Pettyfer
Charlie Hunnam
Both. Duh.
Poll Maker

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Suck It, 'Fault In Our Stars'?

A lot of people complained about how some of the writing in last year's hit The Fault in Our Stars seemed a bit over-the-top or too grand. Maybe the straightfoward tone of the upcoming Me & Earl & the Dying Girl would better suit them? Yes, I realize that Fault and Earl have nothing in common except a girl dying of a disease. Easy now...

Based on the Jesse Andrews book of the same name, Earl tells the story of the relationship between Greg, Earl, and, you guessed it, a girl dying of leukemia named Rachel. She discovers that Greg and Earl make low-budget remakes of famous films, and her excitement inspires them to produce one about her. The film debuted to raves at Sundance this year, and received the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. 

The recreated movies look effing hilarious, and I want to watch all of them.

Another reason I'm super excited is because I didn't realize it was filmed in Pittsburgh. I totally spotted that super quick shot of the Birmingham Bridge near the end of the trailer. If I had known that Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman, and Olivia Cooke were filming in Pittsburgh, I wouldn't honed my stalking abilities.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Scariest Sex Ed Class You Never Took

The camera, much like a horny teenager, leers at the subjects in It Follows, the fantastic, new horror film from David Robert Mitchell. Nothing jumps out at the victims while chord of music blares in the audiences' ears. It Follows is much more concerned with unsettling you, and it's very effective.

The film opens with a girl fleeing her house. Her face is frozen with horror as her heels click on the sidewalk of her suburban neighborhood. We can't see what she is running from, and the prologue ends ghastly before it moves on to another teenage girl. Jay (Maika Monroe) longs to go on dates with boys, and we see her slowly getting ready for a date with Huge, a neighborhood hottie. After a few dates, they end up in the backseat of Hugh's car, but the evening doesn't end as blissfully as Jay imagined. Hugh tells her that someone gave "it" to him, and now he's passed it along to her. It will never stop hunting her, and all she needs to do is pass it along to another person. It'll be easier for her, he says, since she's a girl. 

Jay confides in her friends, and they believe her instantly. She insists that she can see people slowly walking towards her intent on hurting her, but they can never see them. The only thing Jay can do is run and run unless she decides to pass it along to someone else...

Every frame in It Follows is deliberate. This isn't sloppy filmmaking--it's controlled and well thought out. Mitchell is vague on the time period. There are fat bottomed station wagons and virtually no technology anywhere in the film. If the entire devoted, young cast were clutching iPhones or tablets, It Follows would lose its urban legend/campfire quality (even though there are a few noted spurts of technology sprinkled throughout). The bitching score by Disasterpiece ratchets up the tension in the suspenseful scenes and then pulls it back with dreamy synthesizers during sequences of teenage longing. 

Remember those sex ed classes where teachers warned us that when you sleep with someone, you sleep with everyone they've slept with? That notion is enough to scare the bejeesus out of any 15 year old, and that's why It Follows is so great. It taps into the deep-rooted fears we have about our bodies and our health. Anything can go bump in the night, but it's more terrifying that your bodily actions can be the one thing that does you in.