Friday, April 29, 2011

"Sleeping Beauty" Poster

As Cannes continues its approach with ease and controlled anticipation, material from the competing films is being put up for promotional sake. I've already expressed interest in Julia Leigh's Sleeping Beauty, with a certain apprehension at the talents of the questionable Emily Browning. Still, this poster maintains a sense of sensual and stylistic allure that has made the film subject of debate since the trailer hit the internet. Take a look at the full poster after the jump!

Theatrical Trailer: One Day

I think I've managed to overcome the first obstacle that One Day puts in front of me, and that's the English accent of all the characters. The second obstacle is the somewhat predictable cliche romantic plotline that feels a little tired upon arrival in this trailer? The third problem I have is the depiction of Britain, which I always thought of as a beautiful place, especially after seeing director Lone Scherfig's An Education. This one wreaks of a modern day hell. So what do I like about this trailer? I love the direction by Lone Scherfig, which still manages to maintain a sense of quality. I don't know how it will hold up in a feature length film, but I'm hopeful. Still, I'm tired of creating excuses for films I've been looking forward to. If I don't like it, I just don't like it.

The Weekend Report: Controlled Demolition

As optimistic as I often attempt to be, I just don't have much faith in such franchises that keep blowing up the balloon to no end. In many ways, that's an overarching theme for this particular Summer, with the release of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, the fifth X-Men film, and the eighth Harry Potter film. On the one hand, I don't like to think of Fast Five as the official start of this Summer. The series has gone on longer than it deserves to without offering us anything of value. The fact that this latest film is getting moderately positive reviews proves about as encouraging as the positive reviews for Unstoppable. Both are mindless action films that are heralded as embracing the insanity of it. It just never really worked for me. Then again, I submit that this will rake in a ton of cash at the box office this weekend, so in that sense many will assume that it's the start of the season.

The rest of the new releases are irrelevant, yet they'll probably draw in their undeserved winnings in ignorant viewers. Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil might do well from the younger demographic, but I'd sooner expect Rio to hold on to that audience. Prom also seems to be drilling from that well, as much as it is from the teen audiences. I'm not talking about people in high school as much as I'm talking about people headed for high school. In other words, people who don't have any sense of what the experience will actually be like. That's the optimist in me talking, but realistically both of these films will die on arrival. So my suggestion for you this weekend, if you are to head out to the theaters, is that you go out and see Scre4m. It has been taking an undeserved bashing at the box office, and it's an amazingly fun time. Plus, I'd like to see Wes Craven go on to make 5cream and Wes Craven's Final Scream.

For Your Anticipation: Believing Doesn't Make it True

If you were disheartened and confused by the absence of a Fringe review for last week's episode, I plan on suspending my thoughts on the last three episodes until the finale is over next Friday. Even after the monumental first episode, I could that this was a feature-length event stretched across three different episodes. In a nutshell, 6:02 AM EST covered everything that we expected to see in the season finale. Walternate activated the machine, Fauxlivia changed her allegiance to some degree, and Peter submitted himself to his destiny. Then the machine sent him flying, and we have two episodes left of unexpected developments. I'm eager to see what happens as the finale continues tonight.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Theatrical Trailer: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I've said it before, and I'm surprised that nobody has called me crazy yet, but I really enjoyed Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The facilitating problem with the first film, in my opinion, was that it took itself too seriously. That's a problem that Michael Bay has. It's not that his ideas are ridiculous as much as it is how he executes them. Revenge of the Fallen didn't take anything seriously, and as such, it was a lot more fun. So now we get to Dark of the Moon, which doesn't look to have that same ridiculous attitude. In fact, it looks rather serious. Regardless of whether there's any good characters or material, the visuals in this one are spectacular. It further validates my previous suggestion that the film is worth it in 3D. I'm looking forward to it out of a pure sense of, "Wow! That's cool!"

Transformers 3 Dark Of The Moon Theatrical Trailer from Michael Bay Dot Com on Vimeo.

For Your Anticipation: We Got Spikes!

I am a huge advocate for the end of a franchise, especially one that long since lost its steam. I don't remember when the first Fast and the Furious film came out, and I honestly do not care. I only became familiar with it after the fourth film came out, made $70 million in one weekend, and I was forced to watch a pirated copy by my high school chemistry teacher. I honestly cannot tell you the logic behind his decision. Suffice it to say that he wasn't hired back. In all seriousness, most of my anger at Fast Five derives from angst towards the series and the cliche nature of it. It looks like a decent action film that will get a lot of people to see it, and the second film this month to showcase Rio De Janeiro.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Teaser Trailer: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

So, it looks like I've quit the whole "Potter-Watch" segment, despite my greatest efforts. As much as I admire the series, my interest has waned a bit. I'm still excited for the finale, but this trailer is very much a confirmation of certain fears. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was such a brilliant film in terms of improving from where the series has been before. Still, that film doesn't hold up quite so well on repeat viewings. I still respect it as an effort of outstanding cinematography, and that's something sadly missing from the trailer for the final film. There's also a lack of what I call "finale drive". I'm about as excited by this trailer as I was by the Thor trailer. It's not a total failure, but it evokes the film being something of such. I'm still excited, but I expect an upset. I hope I'm wrong.

Theatrical Trailer: X-Men: First Class

Against all odds, and there were a great many, X-Men: First Class is shaping up to be the most confident superhero film of the Summer. We've received a great many trailers for Thor, Green Lantern, and Captain America, each of which evoked a sense of worry when it comes to execution. I'm not really feeling a whole lot of red flags come up when it comes to this new trailer. In fact, it really gels in a way that the first two films just didn't. A lot is made of Bryan Singer, but the man is horribly overrated. There is some real conflict at work in this trailer, and I am especially looking forward to Michael Fassbender's performance. If nothing else, that should make the film for me.

Digital 3D in Summer 2011

I feel like the film industry has learned some valuable lessons in terms of using Digital 3D in film. I am, personally, an affable fan of the technique just so long as it is done correctly. It's like really good chocolate, but you can still overdo it. This Summer has found a certain measure of moderation, with X-Men: First Class, Super 8, and Cowboys & Aliens all opting out of Digital 3D. I think it's a worthy rule that if your film isn't just standard popcorn fare that you shouldn't go for 3D. In the meantime, there are some films that you could easily see in 2D without complaint. I'll try to give you a decent idea of which films would be worth the extra three bucks.

Thor - Post-conversion, but deals with epic celestial realms. Probably still majestic and preferable in 2D.
Priest - Not in 3D. Not in 2D. Not on DVD. NOT EVER!
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Promising visuals from Rob Marshall in service of a less than spectacular screenplay. If you see it at all, go for 3D.
Kung Fu Panda 2 - Heartfelt animation from Dreamworks, so definitely worth 3D.

Green Lantern - It's practically an animated film, and the superhero was made for 3D. Should attract the same fans as Avatar, so you'll see it in 3D either way.
Cars 2 - If it's not in the sky, it's not worth your time. If you see Pixar's latest, see it in 2D.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Sparks, explosions, clanging metal, and more explosions. Shut your brain off and see it in frantic 3D glory!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - I'm completing the journey in 2D. You should too.
Captain America: The First Avenger - Seems to evoke the film I would have died to see in 3D, Star Trek, so go for the glasses.
The Smurfs - Seriously? Don't even bother.

For Your Anticipation: I Had a Talk with Myself

It looks like Disney is once again attempting to wax the emotional tomb of childhood in hopes of snagging a younger audience. I mean, Toy Story 3 played so well with the late high school audience, so why not Prom? Apparently every single person who made this film was home schooled, because nobody thought of prom as importantly as the characters in this film. I'm not sure if it was done the same everywhere else, but my prom would have never even been knocked down to a PG-13 rating. The fact that they managed a PG out of this compromises what high school was. It's not so much insulting as it is annoying. I'm not more upset because I honestly just don't care.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Theatrical Trailer: The Devil's Double

It's hard to wade through a great deal of crap to find a gem, and that's what I find myself doing with this trailer for The Devil's Double. A lot of what this trailer is proves to senselessly irritate me. The gigantic gold text, the overall gold tint of the cinematography, the crass lines of dialogue, and the aesthetic of film wreaking of an Iraqi Limitless. I don't know if it makes sense for them to be speaking perfect English. It probably doesn't, but I will say one positive thing of this film. Dominic Cooper is looking to give a pretty good performance, even if the rest falls by the wayside.

For Your Anticipation: I Did Not Just Hear That

After about five seconds of this clip, I was ready to put a bullet in my brain out of sheer desperation for a world where this film doesn't exist. I have very little to say about Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil, other than the unbelievably poor animation, pointless storyline, and annoying dialogue. Honestly, I can't take seriously a film that replaces "2" with "Too", because it just doesn't make any logical sense. Everything about this film seems engineered to make the audience murder the film's creators. As always, let this clip serve as explanation for my outrage.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Films to See in 2011: May

As the official start of the Summer movie season, I can't help but think that May is shaping up pretty well under the circumstances. Each weekend gives us a gargantuan sized blockbuster for mainstream audiences to spend their time and money on, even if you decide to count Fast Five as the start of the season. I don't, because I occasionally decide to be optimistic. I'll continue to refer to Thor as the kickoff event, much like I referred to Star Trek as 2009's kickoff event after X-Men Origins: Wolverine went up in a pile of smoke and oblivion. Reviews for Thor have come out surprisingly well, which was probably the biggest worry heading into this Summer. Joss Whedon has started production today on the epic scale blockbuster for next Summer, The Avengers. We don't want to head into it with a bad taste in our mouths.

I have reservations against The Beaver, and they surprisingly enough have nothing to do with Mel Gibson. The man may suck as a person, but his work is still formally brilliant. Bridesmaids looks like an amusing vehicle for underrated SNL comedian Kristen Wiig. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides doesn't have a hope in chance of being good or great. What we can expect is a fun ride. Finally, as much as I would like to hope for the best, The Hangover: Part II is just starting to look unnecessary. I'll see it, which is a guarantee either way. I was on a dodge-ball team in high school called "The Wolfpack". It's pretty much a mandatory requirement. I just may not find as much gleeful pleasure as I had hoped for. That leaves us with my top three most anticipated films of this upcoming month, and I should be pretty well assured of greatness this time around.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Box Office Update: Birds, Bunnies, & Black

The box office continued its wonderful turnaround period this weekend with some admirable holdovers and blissfully undeserved debuts. Two films ended up fighting for the top spot, and last week's 3D animated film, Rio, ended up conquering. The bird flick held onto audiences well, dropping 31.7% and putting it en route to become the highest grossing film of the year thus far. The other film in the battle, Madea's Big Happy Family, fared less well than some had predicted. I'm glad that Tyler Perry's box office strength has begun to ware off, but he's still able to pull in a respectable gross from his lesser trifles.

Water for Elephants managed to be a moderate hit, likely due to female audiences hankering for some Robert Pattinson. I still haven't come around to whether or not I'll end up seeing it, but it looks to be skewing too far on the corny aspects. This being Easter weekend, you could expect Hop to have a sizable increase on last weekend. It managed to be enough to boost the film's total gross just slightly above the $100 million mark. That should be great, but I take the lack of films breaking the $2oo million mark so far this year to be a terrible loss. The most depressing fall came from Scre4m, which fell over 60% from last weekend. It's terrible to see such an enjoyable film fall. The only other opening worthy of note is African Cats, which opened above last year's Oceans, but below the previous year's Earth. Overall, this weekend was a great 28.2% increase over last year. We're finally on the rebound!

1. Rio (Second Weekend; $26.8 million)
2. Madea's Big Happy Family (First Weekend; $25.8 million)
3. Water for Elephants (First Weekend; $17.5 million)
4. Hop (Fourth Weekend; $12.5 million)
5. Scre4m (Second weekend; $7.2 million)
6. African Cats (First Weekend; $6.4 million)
7. Soul Surfer (Third Weekend; $5.6 million)
8. Insidious (Fourth Weekend; $5.4 million)
9. Hanna (Third Weekend; $5.3 million)
10. Source Code (Fourth Weekend; $5 million)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Weekend Report: Another Unhappy Reunion

The good news to deliver, especially after last weekend proved to be the first weekend of this year that was greater than last year, is that the box office isn't likely to disappoint this weekend. We are being delivered our annual Disneynature documentary for the kiddies, a romantic drama starring Robert Pattinson, and yet another film from the equally famous and infamous Tyler Perry. The bad news is saved for those expecting any sort of quality film entertainment, of which we are given nothing new. So if you are looking for quality, head out to see Scre4m or Hanna or Source Code. Those films already have my stamp of unyielding approval. And, in case you wanted an update, I've decided not to see Rio any time soon. It just looks like a pain at this point.

The top item of this weekend is obviously Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family, an unnecessarily long title for another unnecessary film. My respect for Tyler Perry doesn't go anywhere beyond his cameo appearance in the Star Trek franchise. I heard disconcerting rumors last month that his latest film would exceed two and a half hours, an endurance test that rivals that of Enter the Void. Those tales have been thankfully exaggerated, but it doesn't make the experience of watching it any more daunting. I hope to put off the experience until next weekend, but I may just get it over with sooner rather than later.

The highest suggestion for this weekend would be African Cats, but that is assuming you have any interest in a low momentum nature documentary. If so, take that business to the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. You'll find some sort of equivalent, and for less money than you would be spending. You may be opting for the other "animal offering" and that would be Water for Elephants, the circus drama that I had, up until this point, been looking forward to. The half-hearted reviews and reminder that the film stars Robert Pattinson have made me reconsider. Christoph Waltz is the only draw, but I'll wait for DVD in this particular case. I learned a valuable enough lesson from The Green Hornet.

For Your Anticipation: I Could Get Used to This

After last Friday's boundlessly creative, original, and thrilling episode of Fringe, I'm pretty much game for whatever twists and turns the writers are ready to bring our way. I followed the characters through the first season, which more and more feels like a prelude to the series than a whole part of it. The second season started to give us some fantastic work to go off of. The third season has just been everything I hoped it would be and more. There's almost not a single episode that I look like and say, "That's unnecessary". Going into the 3-part season finale, I could build up all sorts of ridiculously high hopes. I just have to sit back contently as they exceed those at every turn. There's never been a better chance to jump on the bandwagon. Watch tonight's episode, even if you're new to the series entirely.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Red-Band Trailer: 30 Minutes or Less

And now we have a trailer for one of my most anticipated films of this year, 30 Minutes or Less. If it's only near the top of my list because it's directed by Ruben Fleischer, the man behind surprise piece of brilliance Zombieland, that's fine. It doesn't hurt that it also features Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, and Danny McBride. I tend to be more than a bit misguided with the comedies this year, especially since Your Highness proved as dumb as the title. This trailer offers a look at the more humorous aspects of the film, but I pray they convey whatever heart might be in the situation. That balance was what made Zombieland such a brilliant hit, and this one is shaping up to be more along the lines of Pineapple Express.

Theatrical Trailer: Another Earth

I've become a sucker for what is emerging as the biggest new trend in motion picture science fiction, and that's the idea of alternate universes. Fringe, a show that very few people watch from week to week, was what started this avalanche, and was shortly followed by J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. This past year has handed us other films on the matter like Rabbit Hole, Source Code, and now Sundance Film Festival darling Another Earth. The more scientifically minded are going to shrug this one off as being stupid and illogical, because alternate realities exist in other realms. They don't just pop out of the sky.

I set my scientific logic aside when Lars Von Trier decided to make a film called Melancholia, about a planet that appears from behind the sun and decimates Earth. What makes this trailer a wonderful thing to behold is the artistry and emotionality of it. It's not just about what happens when people are made aware of an alternate Earth. It's about the journey of one girl whose path was misguided, and she's desperately trying to get it back. Part of that melancholic mystery that leads her to go after this other version of herself is what makes this so instantly captivating. My reservations against Another Earth at first have been balanced by this wonderful trailer. I wrote two paragraphs about it, so please check it out.

For Your Anticipation: You Have to Pay a Penalty

At this point, the only thing that was ever drawing me to this film was the promise of Christoph Waltz. The man has such a nefarious charm that is ill served by the roles that he is given. Chudnofsky was a criminally sidelined character in The Green Hornet, and the weak opposition of Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon do not spell good things for Waltz in Water for Elephants. I thought that maybe there was a chance for Pattinson to improve. It seems I was wrong, as per usual. This is looking to be something of yet another failure. So it looks like I got at least 2 out of 3 of my picks for this month right.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Assayas, Law, and Thurman on Cannes jury

I'm usually more focused on the film end of the Cannes Film Festival, as that's the reason most are in attendance at the glorious event. Interestingly enough, I find myself equally fascinated by the jury that is forming around jury head Robert De Niro. Last year, one of the only major stars on the jury was Kate Beckinsale, which isn't saying especially that much. This year gives us a wide variety of photogenic and talented stars like Jude Law and Uma Thurman. As much as it pleases me to have Law, Thurman and De Niro in the same room, it's not the same as them being in the same film. However, I find myself far more intrigued and appeased with the addition of director Olivier Assayas, the man behind last year's brisk 5-hour masterpiece Carlos. It's wonderful to know who is calling the shots at this wonderful occasion, and it gives us something of a clear window to look through.

For Your Anticipation: The Right Prescripture

I don't take pleasure in seeing such awful films as these, even if I do find such while writing my critical defaming of the piece. I profess that I did not look at the clip provided below, because if I'm going to suffer through this film, I don't want to suffer any more than necessary. I don't watch African-American comedies, because for some reason they don't decide to consign to reality. It's not anything to do with racism, but it's a common critical analysis. I don't expect Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family to be any different, and I know I won't be proven wrong.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Theatrical Trailer: The Help

I am a fully professed fan of Emma Stone, having found her brilliant in Easy A last year. She looks to have some pretty amazing forthcoming parts in Friends with Benefits and Crazy, Stupid, Love., but it looks like she's taking a turn into dramatic territory this year. Obviously she's not diving right into that, because that might be a bit too much of a shock from the more bright and bubbly films she's done. Her face just has that likable pop-teen aura around it, not to an annoying degree, but more to a satiric area. I can't say The Help looks too interesting right now, because you can fall flat sometimes with these types of films. I remain optimistic on the promise of Stone.

For Your Anticipation: Meow

I never took the time to take Earth seriously in the least, Oceans was pretty with pretty music, but absolutely nothing more, and African Cats doesn't seem to be raising the standard of greatness. It's just about Earth Day, and you can expect Disneynature to export you via movie theater to beautiful factions of the world. This year, they're not really covering a broad topic. They're going specifically for wild cats that live in the African desert. While I'll admit that there's nothing cuter than a baby kitty, I don't expect that to ensnare many. Also, it's narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. He's hardly Morgan Freeman, and it already seems like he's characterizing this film as a ghetto safari picture.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dread Locks: May 2011

I don't have to go looking in order to eventually find bad movies, because one way or another, they find their way to me. Your Highness turned out to be far less than I had hoped it would be, not even providing minimal goods. I fear that Water for Elephants may be on the same route in terms of this weekend. I can hope I'm wrong, but I probably won't be. May is a particularly unpredictable bunch, because there are films that I'll see anyways, even if I know there's a great chance of failure. The Hangover: Part II and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides are two such features. With the way things are going, I may not even end up seeing the former. Too familiar and predictable for its own good.

Then we get down to the real crap, which there's a pretty certifiable chance that each of the films I've selected will be. Two of these films, both opening along the same weekend as Thor, have to do with people getting together for a wedding. Isn't that the cardinal cliche amongst romantic comedies? Handling the white end of it is Something Borrowed, a "she's sleeping with the guy marrying her best friend" feature set amongst a quaintly painted cityscape. Said feature features likable everyman John Krasinski as... actually, I don't know what he's meant to be doing in this film. Is he a friend of the protagonist, or does he like the best friend character? I don't know, I don't care, but I'll have to wait to figure out if I'll end up watching it.

Handling the black end of the marriage type comedy is Jumping the Broom. It's a bridging of an uptown family and a downtown family for a wedding between two people. I'm just going to break down the black comedy cliches that you can expect to be exposed to during this film, assuming that you decide to waste your time with it. We'll probably see an overweight mama bear sort of figure get into a fight a "skinny ass ho" from the rival family, or else two of the aforementioned "skinny ass hos" fighting amongst each other. You can expect guys chasing after girls from the family they're about to unify into their own. You can see white people trying to be black, trying not to break the mold of blackness. Ultimately, nothing I'd like to have to subject myself to. I already have to deal with a black comedy this month. I'm not going through that twice in a row.

And then there's Priest, the unholy vampire blockbuster spawn of the directors of last year's atrocity, Legion. I don't know how actors like Paul Bettany and Christopher Plummer get involved in crap like this, but the way things are going right now, I may have to end up seeing this film anyway. I don't need fake and predictable scares from obviously fake CG "vampires" fighting fake CG priests doing martial arts. I'm not the biggest fan of religion, but I can't even try admiring a film like this that twists religion to serve it's bone-headed needs. My view is that if the Bible is just a story, it's still a very good story. I've gotten to the point in which I don't want to see any of the films I've selected, so now it's up to you. Vote in the sidebar on which film you'd like me to see and review. The poll expires at the end of the month, at which point I will announce the winner via Twitter and start up the poll for next month.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Box Office Update: Vacation Cut Short

At this point, I'm sick and tired of people making excuses for not heading out to the theaters this weekend. It's no longer a fitting excuse to say that there's nothing worth watching out there, because that's a lie. Hanna proved to be something brilliant, Source Code was an intriguing and emotional journey, and Scre4m is an enjoyable enough romp if you're not looking for brilliance. So how is it that these films are being criminally under-appreciated at the box office? It probably has to do with the unreasonable boost in ticket prices. It is getting to the point in which it is not a weekly escape so much as an occasional luxury.

I admit that I did not get around to seeing Rio this weekend, mostly because I didn't have such an urge to rush out to the theater. It appears I was the only one, as families flocked (no pun intended) to the 3D animated adventure. I hope I'll get around to it sometime this week, but it's not an immediate priority. Scre4m underperformed at the box office, falling back on Saturday and Sunday grosses after a somewhat promising Friday. It's highly characteristic of how Sucker Punch performed a few weeks ago. Hop fell just as much as expected, which isn't at all surprising. Hanna fell being Soul Surfer, dropping 40.8% and 30.2% respectively. The Conspirator fared about as well as Scre4m did, at least in terms of per theater averages. The box office this weekend was actually 4.5% higher than it was the same weekend last year, when Kick-Ass also disappointed at the opening spot. How to Train Your Dragon picked up the slack in hold overs.

1. Rio (First Weekend; $40 million)
2. Scre4m (First Weekend; $19.3 million)
3. Hop (Third Weekend; $11.2 million)

4. Soul Surfer (Second Weekend; $7.4 million)
5. Hanna (Second Weekend; $7.3 million)

6. Arthur (Second Weekend; $6.9 million)

7. Insidious (Third Weekend; $6.8 million)
8. Source Code (Third Weekend; $6.3 million)
9. The Conspirator (First Weekend; $3.9 million)
10. Your Highness (Second Weekend; $3.9 million)

Film Review: Scre4m

I enter this review on a largely mixed mindset, not in terms of the film, because I know exactly what I feel about it. I find it occasionally difficult to judge a film based on its own technical merit as opposed to how much I enjoyed it. It really shouldn't be too hard to get to the bottom of this film, because it's altogether rather simple and straight-forward. I've taken the time to see the first three films in the Scream franchise this week, and my opinions variably match those of others. The first film is brilliance, the second film only slightly suffering from sequelitis, and the third one was just really bad. One could have fears of going worst with this next installment.

Thank the great fortunes that this film turned out to be just the right guilty pleasure to goad me into ignorant bliss. Any other film this year, I'd be able to pick to death for the many shortcomings in terms of narrative and execution. Somehow I just fell back on those standards this time at the theater. Scre4m, or Scream 4 to satisfy people of such a single mind, follows Sidney Prescott as she returns to Woodsboro on the anniversary of the famed killings. Suddenly, the murders start happening again, and it's all about who to trust, who not to trust, and what the new rules are for horror films. As put by Charlie and Robbie, the only real way for you not to be killed is if you're gay.

Even though I never really expected who would end up finally being the killer, that wasn't what made this one so interesting. I was just a sucker for how hilarious this installment of the series was. I feel like the earlier films didn't know how to balance the comedy and thriller elements, with the first one being the main exception. This one found a happy medium between the two. Another improvement that comes with the years is that the kills are much more gruesome, and we actually see the violence. Somebody is actually stabbed in the brain, and it takes him a whole minute to die. It's one of the most hilarious parts of the film.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Television Breakdown: The Dog Can Still Hunt

Fringe: Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

You know, maybe Fringe isn't the healthiest show for you to watch, seeing as you'll probably lose several hours of sleep thinking of the many potential outcomes. On the other hand, forget that small strain of thought and just bathe in the amazing and unexpected twists and turns this show takes from week to week! This episode took us into a whole new strange universe, Olivia's mind, and gave us a detailed yet subtle look at the character without ever really showing her until the end. Right from the first take, we knew that this was going to be a fast paced and unexpected adventure, with Olivia being put in danger within the first five minutes.

At this point, is it irrational to believe that William Bell might be scheming to put his own nefarious deeds ahead of others? It should be, but thankfully it isn't, as Peter and Broyles still keep an arms length from the famed scientist. Soon Walter and William decided to send themselves and Peter into Olivia's mind to guide her out. Along the way they come into contact with the more nefarious and dark constraints of Olivia's subconscious, mainly the memory of her stepfather. It also takes a strange detour into a cartoon version of all our characters, en route to Jacksonville to find Olivia in hiding.

Before we get into the deeper parts of this episode, may I first state that Peter is hilarious while tripping on LSD! It appears that Walter can handle his shit better than anyone else. His reaction to Broyles as he starts experiencing the effects of the hallucinogenics is priceless, amongst other fun moments. Astrid retorting to Walter's misspelling of her name by calling him "Wally" was such a sweet and hilarious little moment that only fans of the show will truly get. And what's better than Astrid's musings and Peter tripping? Broyles tripping, obviously. Not only did we get the impromptu critique of Walter's love for licorice, but that goofy wide eyed glare just made such a wonderful impact. In the end, it was all in service of the story, as Broyles confided in Astrid emotionally about seeing his own body dead in front of him. I'm glad to see that that plot string hasn't evaporated entirely.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Weekend Report: A Red Sun Rises

It looks like we are in for our first truly successful box office weekend this year, even if it's small by last year's standards. Two $40 million openings does seem a bit small in the context of Summer, but looking at the drought we've been in so far this year, it's a welcome change. Oddly enough, The Conspirator, the independently released historical drama starring James McAvoy and Tom Wilkinson has gathered many mixed reviews. So don't expect long term potential, not that we would from a 700 theater release. The real benefits of this weekend will come from franchise hits and 3D kids pics, as one should expect. We haven't had that many big franchise releases so far this year, so maybe that's the explanation for the decline.

After spending a decade away from theaters, the Scream franchise is back with Scre4m. All the nostalgic core fanbase members, along with new audience members intrigued by the trailers should be in attendance. I'd say Wes Craven's name is also a draw, but things have changed, and My Soul to Take didn't do too well with that. I'd imagine it to do about as well as Rio, the second 3D animated childrens film of this year, the first being Gnomeo and Juliet. Seeing as this film has a good chance of actually being good, I'd call its box office potential a more positive thing. Imagine both films to open as the best thus far this year. We're slowly escalating towards the Summer movie season, where the box office will really be booming.

Theatrical Trailer: Cowboys & Aliens

If a trailer runs through roughly the same footage and terrain as the previous one, can it still be thrilling in a whole different way? The marketing team behind Cowboy & Aliens sure seem to think so, and it looks like it's paying off so far. I've been on the fence concerning this effort since the first trailer, because I wasn't sure if they'd properly manage the two story aspects organically. This trailer gives an emotional backbone for all the badassery and explosions. While I'm at it, Daniel Craig does a brilliantly grizzled American western accent.

For Your Anticipation: A Sight for Sore Eyes

My love of Fringe goes beyond any explanation possible, and yet they always manage to one-up themselves year after year. If I was fit to be disappointed with Brown Betty last year, I can almost definitively say that I won't be with tonight's episode. It's a something of a homage to Inception one of the most fascinating and original science fiction films of the past decade. You can see that in the exciting trailer for tonight's episode. Cities of great expanse, the twin towers looming over the horizon, Olivia's evil stepfather, and the return of Leonard Nimoy as William Bell are just a few things to be excited about. It's great to know that after all this time, we're still questioning Bell's motives. Tonight's episode may be a quick detour before the 3-part season finale, but I'll be damned if it isn't worth it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Theatrical Trailer: Casa de mi Padre

Last week gave us the passable trailer for Everything Must Go, tonight gives us Will Ferrell's first appearance on The Office, and now we get a look at one of his most hilariously peculiar projects on the horizon. Going into this trailer knowing nothing, as I did, you can't help but wonder how Casa de mi Padre went over your head. Right off the bat, you get the idea that this isn't your average comedic venture. It looks like one of the most wisely crafted comedies of this year, not to mention one of the most original. Take a look below, and comment on your thoughts.

R-Rated Trailer: Sleeping Beauty

It's gratifying to get trailers as strange and captivating as this, reminding us that the big-budget Hollywood circuit isn't the only place where movies are being made. I'm not sure if these films would be so interesting if they didn't come so relatively out of the blue. I'm intrigued by the film's premise, which puts Emily Browning in her second prostitute role this year. It's impossible to tell anything from Sleeping Beauty because Julia Leigh is generally new to this business, and you never know when a new talent will fail or succeed. Still, this is certainly a sensuous and lovely trailer to look at.

Cannes playing host to Von Trier, Malick, Marshall

The unveiling of this year's Cannes Film Festival line up wasn't exactly filled with shocks and surprises so much as pleasantries and intrigues. Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is obviously making an appearance, as if we needed any further confirmation on that one. As predicted, but not confirmed, Lars Von Trier's latest film, Melancholia, will also be making an appearance in the competition. Pedro Almadovar's The Skin That I Inhabit is also to have it's premiere, along with several other wild cards. Restless is playing Un Certain Regard, as noted yesterday, amongst several other films we're sure to hear first words about this time next month. The only real surprise of sorts is Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides playing at the festival. I guess there's always one blockbuster in this heap.

"Midnight in Paris," Woody Allen

"Drive," Nicolas Winding Refn
"Footnote," Josef Cedar
"Hanezu no Tsuki," Naomi Kawase
"Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai," Takashi Miike

For Your Anticipation: You're Smaller In Person

Seeing as I hadn't seen any films in the Scream series until just last night, I can't profess myself an expert of Wes Craven's more recent film franchise. What I can say is that it does not feel like a horror series so much as a comedy with emotional content. The first two films have a brilliantly demented and hip sense of humor, even if the third film does completely fail on any and all promises. It was an inglorious end to a previously interesting series, so a continuation isn't the worst thing in the world. Anything to get the bad taste of My Soul to Take out of our mouth. Craven needs to get some street cred back, and you always head back to your home team when you need it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Open Thread: Children, Wake Up!

If things have been generally subdued here at the site for the past two weeks, that's probably a byproduct of the sluggish trend the film industry has fallen into this year. Everything about this year thus far screams of a sort of sedation and lack of enthusiasm, so much that it makes me question the overall happiness of people these days. No film this year has opened higher than $40 million over the weekend, something that should be remedied this weekend by either the child skewing Rio or the horror genre parody Scream 4. Are audiences really just tired with the theatrical experience, or is it just that there's nothing worth seeing out there? I'd very much like to believe the latter, but seeing as Hop is getting higher numbers than Source Code, we could throw that idea out the window.

Interestingly enough, Hanna seems to be playing better with audiences than I expected it would. The theater I went to see Joe Wright's art house feature in was skewing more towards the younger demographic than one would expect. I'm not just talking about teens and such, but there were young children in the audience, of course accompanied by their parents. It's almost as if they were begging to be observed for their reactions in this really frightening action piece. It actually reminded me an awful lot of Coraline in 2009, filled with kids who weren't expecting a terrifying experience when they initially sat down.

The older demographic's response to Hanna was one of unmitigated shock, and it's something that's completely understandable. I'm not sure if you noticed, but Hanna is an absolutely terrible role model for children. She murders people at the drop of the hat, showing little remorse for her actions afterwords. Obviously, I understand that there's more to Saoirse Ronan's character and performance than that narrow description
allows for. It's one of the many things that makes the film brilliant, how varying she is in her emotions of love, happiness, fear, anger, ambition, and apathy. All the same, you could excuse the parents for dragging their kids screaming out of the theater some time before the end.

For Your Anticipation: Lionel Richie Works Every Time

So it looks like Rio is 20th Century Fox's attempt to do what Pixar was going to do with Newt. An animated film needs to only be so good for people to truly embrace it and never let go, and kids will go for it either way. Rio doesn't look like the thing of renowned animated film, but it doesn't look bad. You can expect the cheesy musical cues that lesser animated studios indulge in, but you can expect some sort of warmth to go along with it. I'm held back because they're constantly advertising it as Rio The Movie, as if audiences in the theaters are expecting to go to the actual Rio de Janiero.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For Your Anticipation: Control the Prosecution

James McAvoy is in a most interesting position in his career at present. The man is a terrific actor, as very few would deny, but he has not been given a role that really pushes him to the level of fame he deserves. The Conspirator will not be part of that rise, nor do I expect it to do especially well in terms of critical reception or rewards. It will be good, and good enough, but not much more than that. If McAvoy makes a breakthrough this year, it'll probably be in X-Men: First Class. It's still too soon to tell.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Film Review: An Education

Many people talk about how Up in the Air was so evocative of the time it was released, and while I do agree with that as endlessly as the next person, I apply that description much more towards An Education. Of course it's set a whole fifty years in the past, and in London as well, but for somebody from a lower middle-class family struggling to make it to and through college, this always rang rather true for me. Come to think of it, I doubt there's a film that puts this real period in everyone's life more fitfully and eloquently than this. Last year's The Kids Are All Right comes rather close, but it focuses far more on the family aspect of becoming an adult, not to mention the summery tone to it.

An Education is the story of Jenny Mellow, a dedicated student who's on the road to apply and be accepted into Oxford University. Out of the rain comes the charming and intelligent David Goldman, who wins Jenny over with class and ease. He introduces her to his upper-class friend Danny and his girlfriend Helen, somebody whose road through life is more than a little reminiscent of where Jenny is headed. Jenny's schoolwork takes a backseat as she's immersed and distracted by the world that David and his friends live in. She begins to question what it is that she wanted in the first place, as we all do at some point.

When you're introduced into a new set of friends, you start to lose sight of who you are as a person and become more of a member of the group. I never thought of it as quite so tragic a thing as it is painted here, but when the individual being lost is so beautiful and kind, that does offer something you want to hold onto. At the halfway point of this film, I had myself wondering whether or not she would convert completely into one of these people. It certainly would have been a much bolder move, and it would have made the film into something completely different. In some ways I cling onto that idea of what this film could have been, and then a retreat into the happiness and warmth of what actually happens.

The unfolding of David and Danny actually being con men makes the repeat viewing experience of the film all the more foreboding. The scary thing about the first half of the film is how intimidating Peter Sarsgaard is as David. He pulls the wool over Jenny's eyes, and whenever it seems like he's charming her, he is simply ridiculing her former way of life in hopes of ensnaring a young companion. He's a wolf, precarious in his moves and generally deplorable in his methods. That's not to say that people who do what he does day to day, conning people out of certain goods, are similarly deplorable. Their glorious way of life is only sustainable through that deceit and underhanded dealing. In a world like this, it can be seen as a necessary evil.

The way that Jenny goes along with the wrongdoing is really the way that we all wish we could live. We all envision a version of ourselves who lives free of such moral inhibitions and does what they like, but the world we live in just doesn't accommodate that. Then as the final act looms forward, we get an idea of the sweet life Jenny has lived with David finally going sour. We get an idea of the true emotional connections in Jenny's life, including her father, played wonderfully by the exquisite Alfred Molina. However the most vital connection in her life may be her favorite teacher, played by Olivia Williams. If she keeps taking on roles as endearing and wonderful as she has been, she'll be well on track for an Oscar one day, or should.

The entire film has you thinking about the numerous aspects of what is happening and what will be happening. Jenny is one of the most intelligent characters written in a while, portrayed wonderfully by Carey Mulligan, because she's not completely infallible in her actions. She makes mistakes, occasionally doesn't realize it, but is always quick to explain her actions. That's what is so great about this film is that all the characters have their flaws and make mistakes. It's those mistakes that define their characters and don't lead the story. Films should be driven by their characters and not their plots. You don't just fall into circumstances by accident, but by actions of others. Ultimately the ending of the film is optimistic, making a point that focus and time can be put to use doing anything that you choose. A simple message, but one that never seemed less cliche or contrived. The ending is a little wishy-washy, but it's more than forgivable.


Theatrical Trailer: The Double Hour

My interest is piqued, but color me more than a little confused. Who wouldn't be after watching this trailer? It opens up with a typical Italian romance premise that we would expect to see from it. Then what happens? Apparently "A Robbery" and "A Mystery". I don't know what's going on, but I really want to know. I hadn't even heard of The Double Hour before this trailer popped up. Take a look at the trailer below, and comment on your own thoughts.