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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    Movie Preview: ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’

    Posted: 29 Sep 2011 04:56 AM PDT

    A 9/11 weeper, just in time for the holidays and awards season.

    “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” just judging from the trailer, is a big contender, a serious and emotional and resonant take on Sept. 11, 2001, and one family.

    Bullock, Hanks, a curious kid who needs to know about his dead dad. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” goes into wide release Jan. of 2012.

    Movie Review: What’s Your Number?

    Posted: 29 Sep 2011 04:16 AM PDT

    Bad timing allowed “What’s Your Number?,” a mildly raunchy romantic comedy about a woman lamenting her sexual history as she resolves to finally save herself for Mr. Right, to come out mere months after the too similar “Bridesmaids.”

    And bad timing is evident on the screen, as well, as this comedy struggles to find a tone, find its footing, find any comic momentum that two generally funny leads could carry across the comic finish line. Anna Faris and Chris Evans don’t have enough scenes together, don’t have enough funny lines and aren’t surrounded by enough funny people to give this “Bridesmaids-lite” a shot.

    Faris plays 30something Ally, who uses the day she is laid off from her marketing job to read an article detailing research that shows that women who have had more than 20 sexual partners are less likely to marry. Ally tallies herself up, figures she’s at “19,” and promptly gets drunk, sleeps with her creep boss, and now must track down her previous 19 so that she can rekindle an old flame and not cross that Marie Claire mag-decreed number of doom.

    Her assistant in this search (Yes, she starts on Facebook) is her randy player of a neighbor, Colin, played with shirtless (and often pantless) charm by Chris Evans. He’s been ducking into Ally’s apartment in order to not have breakfast with each night’s conquests.

    “You’re a peach,” he tells her, for letting him avoid “hurt feelings” amongst his bevy of babes.

    “You’re a pig,” Ally snarls back.

    A cute running gag — Ally keeps meeting her exes, and each is odd in his own odd way. And she was odd around them in an effort to court them. She dated a Brit, and faked a British accent to seal the deal. Does she still remember her “My Fair Lady” lines, guvner?

    Ally is also helping her younger sister, Daisy (Ari Graynor) prep for her wedding, giving Faris a chance to show off her “drunk” engagement toast shtick. She stuffs her face with samples of the wedding cake Daisy might choose.

    “Nobody’s ever going to see me naked again” is her excuse.

    It’s no longer a shock to hear the buxom blonde next door swear like a frat boy as she talks of her frat-boy friendly sex life. And it doesn’t help that we meet Faris in a scene identical to the opening moments of “Bridesmaids” — slipping out of bed, freshening up so that she can pretend to be that pretty even when she wakes up.

    The banter with Evans is often first-rate. “If these girls can’t see you coming, they deserve what they get!” There’s just not enough of it. They have a few cute set-piece scenes, just not that many.

    It’s a movie that lacks urgency, despite Ally’s protests that “I’m running out of time, money and viable eggs” during her man hunt. The director, “Entourage” vet Mark Mylod, doesn’t have either a light touch or a pound-out-the-laughs feel for the material, so lines are lost, situations fail to deliver and Faris and Evans never quite click the way the script ordains them to.

    Thus, “What’s Your Number?” fails to add up to anything we haven’t seen before, and recently and now on video.

    MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and language

    Cast: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Blythe Danner, Martin Freeman, Ed Begley Jr.

    Credits: Directed by Mark Mylod, written by Jennifer Crittendon and Gabrielle Allen, based on a Karyn Bosnak novel. A 20th Century Fox release.

    Running time: 1:41

    Antoine Fuqua may dive into ‘Hunter Killer’

    Posted: 29 Sep 2011 04:08 AM PDT

    The hot “Red October” style script “Hunter Killer” is a submarine thriller about Americans and Russians teaming up for a rescue mission designed to foil a Russian coup and prevent World War III.
    Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”) is the latest name director flirting with the idea of stepping behind the camera for that one.

    Tweet to win a chance to see ‘Paranormal Activity 3′

    Posted: 29 Sep 2011 04:01 AM PDT

    “Contagion” may have been released by another studio, but the true VIRAL operation these days is Paramount, which is using social media like nobody’s business on its various fall titles.
    They’re looking to drum up interest in the third “found video” “Paranormal Activity” movie, coming out later in October.
    Since Orlando was one of the tiny handful of cities that launched the original, there’s a good chance we’ll get this one first, too. THREE cities will be picked, based on tweets.
    Here’s how you do it. Go to “ and select your city from a global map, which will also serve as the point of entry to create a tweet with a special set of hash tags that link directly to twitter. Once a tweet posts, it counts as a vote. A leader board will show the top 20 global markets in real-time.”

    Of course, Orlando has a natural advantage in these contests (No Paramount, this isn’t “new,” only the twitter wrinkle is). It would be cool if a smaller city nearby won the battle, say Titusville (one dinky old multiplex) or Ocoee (West Orange 5).
    But go, and good luck!

    The "Tweet To See It First" competition is available to audiences worldwide and ends at 11:59 p.m. PDT on Thursday, October 13th. The top 20 cities will be announced on Friday, October 14th.

    Movie Preview: New Year’s Eve

    Posted: 28 Sep 2011 12:29 PM PDT

    I don’t know if the world is ready for “Little Miss Sunshine” to show off her “This is NOT a training bra.”

    But that dirty old man Garry Marshall is.

    “New Year’s Eve” has Sarah Jessica Parker playing the mom of Abigail Breslin, with Josh Duhamel, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher and that girl from “Glee” trapped in an elevator, Oscar winners Robert DeNiro, Hilary Swank, Halle Berry…
    Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeiffer don’t look like their old selves.

    Lotsa stars. The connecting thread? Pretty thin, at least in this first long trailer for the film.

    Today’s interview: Footloose remake director Craig Brewer

    Posted: 28 Sep 2011 11:09 AM PDT

    I first spoke with Craig Brewer before “Hustle & Flow” came out and made the Memphis filmmaker an indie film icon and turned Terrence Howard into a star.

    Caught up with him when he took on “Black Snake Moan,” his Samuel L. Jackson/Christina Ricci tease followup.

    Now he’s moved “Footloose” South in his remake of it.  Itt’s being previewed Friday night (Go here to get FREE Tickets) and next Thursday night (a paid preview, just buy a ticket and go) in select cities, including Orlando.

    Got questions for Craig B.? Comment below.

    Sony tells theaters it won’t pay for 3D glasses

    Posted: 28 Sep 2011 09:37 AM PDT

    So the studios convinced the theater chains to convert to digital 3D projection.

    And footed part of the bill for doing it.

    Then the 3D fad seemed to peak and fade. Audiences showed a reluctance to pay premium prices for a lot of the 3D product that was coming down the pike.

    Now Sony is tossing another shovelful of dirt on the movies with glasses, by telling theaters it won’t cover the cost of supplying glasses to 3D movies it releases. The idea? You’ll have to buy glasses in the theater. Or the theater itself will eat the cost, or jack up the ticket price to cover it.  This has already happened in some overseas markets.

    Movie Review: Courageous

    Posted: 28 Sep 2011 09:00 AM PDT

    It’s interesting to track the growing cinematic sophistication of those preaching/filmmaking brothers of Sherwood Baptist Church from "Facing the Giants" to their breakout hit "Fireproof" to their latest film.

    Writer Stephen Kendrick and writer-director-actor Alex Kendrick have mastered building suspense, hiding surprises, action beats (chases, shootouts) and even humor, and that makes their latest faith-based drama, a cut and many, many edits above "Fireproof" is simple movie terms.

    But it also has signs of that sophomore jinx that so many start-up movie-makers suffer after making a box office hit. It’s preachier. It mimics moments and the story arc of their last hit. Like a pastor so caught up in the moment that he can’t see that the air conditioning has given out and the congregation wants to go home, the film travels far beyond its dramatic climax, aiming for an altar call finale.

    And in a significant step backward, Alex Kendrick, an adequate actor, returns as star. He has yet to recognize that ineffable spark that makes even a Kirk Cameron ("Fireproof") more interesting to watch than a fellow who is comfortable in the pulpit, perfectly in sync with his story’s message, but not charismatic.

    "Courageous" is a challenge to "men of courage," to fathers to measure up to the Biblical definition of the word. It follows four Albany, Georgia (the home of Sherwood Baptist) sheriff’s deputies who are tested by the small city’s gang and drug problems, something the sheriff identifies, through statistics, as being the product of kids growing up in fatherless homes. The deputies — Adam (Alex Kendrick), Nathan (Ken Bevel), Shane (Kevin Downes) and David (Ben Davies) — are close enough friends to talk about their personal lives, with Adam and Nathan pointing to God and the Bible as their guideposts for how to live those lives.

    Adam frets over the father he wants to be to his young daughter and aspiring track star teenage son. Nathan is trying to keep his 15 year-old daughter beyond the reach of "saggy pants" older teens who are nothing but trouble to girls that age. Shane and David have different backgrounds and just listen, patiently, to their proselytizing colleagues.

    Nathan wonders "where all the good fathers went to," and demonstrates a good father’s vigilance when he asks a would-be gang banger (Donald Howze) to "explain the purpose of the relationship" the kid wants with his daughter, Jade. Derrick has just asked her to go "hang out," and is seriously put out. That’s Nathan’s teachable moment with Jade (Taylor Hutcherson).

    "If he shows no respect for us, he won’t respect you."

    The story drags in a hard-working immigrant, Javier (Robert Amaya), whose complaints to God about losing his job are met in a "The Lord will provide" instant by a mistaken identity hire that brings him into the orbit of the deputies.

    "Courageous" is often a soapy melodrama, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t moving moments – a eulogy, a father's desperate efforts to stop a carjacking. And there’s more humor, toying with stereotypes, playing around with miscommunication.

    The message delivered isn’t subtle, with Kendrick delivering toss-away lines that suggest he doesn’t even tolerate "the option" of divorce. But the bigger message might be that the Kendricks haven’t sold out, "gone Hollywood" or watered down their Baptist beliefs based on efforts to reach an audience beyond the faithful. That is what makes them inspiring to legions of other faith-based filmmakers, even though, as this myopic movie demonstrates, it is also holding them back.

    MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and drug content

    Cast: Alex Kendrick (Adam), Ken Bevel (Nathan), Ben Davies (David), Kevin Downes (Shane)

    Credits: Directed by Alex Kendrick, written by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. A Sherwood Pictures/Affirm Pictures release.

    Running time: 2:04

    Movie Review: 50/50

    Posted: 28 Sep 2011 05:00 AM PDT

    As frightening as the word is, you don’t put “cancer” in a movie’s title if you want people to come see it.

    Thus, the serio-comic “I’m With Cancer” was renamed “50/50.” Those are our hero’s odds of surviving the malignancy that he’s just found on his back. As Adam, Joseph Gordon-Levitt takes the news the way most human beings would — like a punch to the gut. No hysteria, no wild weeping. Just shock.

    It’s his friends, his mom and the therapist that the hospital puts him in touch with who can’t figure out how to react.

    “You’re young,” his pal (Seth Rogen) says. “Young people beat cancer all the time.” Celebrities, too. Such as?

    “Lance Armstrong, Patrick Swayze…” Uh oh.

    The film, written by Rogen’s real-life cancer-survivor friend Will Reiser, has a marvelous humanity and reality to it, even if it fails to take us anyplace we don’t anticipate going. And it’s funny. Adam and Kyle (Rogen), two 20something public radio news producers, banter and comically struggle to find a footing to talk about this awful thing that one of them is going through.

    But Adam, like any movie buff, has the solution for how he’ll break this news to his worry-wort mom (Anjelica Huston).

    “Have you ever seen ‘Terms of Endearment’?”

    Reiser’s script, directed by Jonathan Levine, zeroes in on on Adam, how he copes with both a lethal illness and those who cannot cope with him — his less than upstanding girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), and his pixie of a therapist, played by “Up in the Air” Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick.

    Kendrick has made this first-job-not-a-clue-how-to-do-it type her specialty. She clumsily touches Adam’s arm to comfort him, which he says “is like getting slapped by a sea otter.” She brushes that off.

    “I’m sensing some anger, which is good.”

    Their scenes together are the best things in this out-of-balance movie. The men are better written than the women, and the women are often “types.” Huston doesn’t have a big enough role to make an impact, and Rogen’s unfiltered coarseness — the guy would be mute if he couldn’t drop f-bombs — has become overly familiar. Not that he isn’t funny.

    “It’s just cancer. It’s not contagious!”

    Since he’s mimicking his own reaction to the screenwriter’s real-life cancer battle, there’s reality to his outrage, panic and protectiveness of his friend. Kyle is the ultimate wingman. He wants to get Adam a little sympathy sex. From somebody. Adam’s not sure he has a shot.

    “I look like…Voldemort.”

    The other wonderful scenes place the young cancer patient in the company of dying old men, led by Philip Baker Hall and the under-used Matt Frewer. They aren’t giving stupid, unsolicited advice, asking unwelcome questions. They’re sitting back, talking about the benefits of medical marijuana and taking their chemo like men, which is what Adam should do. The movie’s pathos comes from these moments.

    We’ve seen Howard play the heavy before, in “The Help.” And we’ve seen Kendrick do a variation of this youngster trying to learn empathy on the job. But as on-the-nose as their casting as these characters are, this story makes them understandable, sympathetic and interesting.

    It’s not the first word on cancer comedies (any more than Rogen’s earlier Adam Sandler dramedy, “Funny People”), and it won’t be the last. But odds are you’ll find something of substance, a few life lessons in between the laughs in “50/50.”

    MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, sexual content and some drug use

    Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston, Philip Baker Hall, Matt Frewer.

    Credits: Directed by Jonathan Levine, written by Will Reiser. A Summit Entertainment release. Running time: 1:39