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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    Jeremy Piven backs a documentary on reality TV

    Posted: 31 Oct 2011 04:06 AM PDT

    We can all remember those days when we dismissed the desperate, fame-craving souls who audition for and get on reality TV and “not real stars.” They tried to transition to movies, virtually none made it. They tried to get their own TV series. A few found footing there. And some from this latest generation are thriving, cashing in at every corner.
    Now Jeremy Piven is backing a documentary on such folks, “What I Really Want to Do Is…”

    Movie Preview: Paranormal Muppet Activity

    Posted: 31 Oct 2011 03:53 AM PDT

    The last of the “Muppets” parody trailers? So they say.

    Movie Review: The Son of No One

    Posted: 30 Oct 2011 07:42 AM PDT

    Three films into a critically dismissed, audience ignoring movie making career, it is becoming clearer why top drawer actors, from Robert Downey Jr. to Al Pacino, Diane Wiest to Chaz Palminteri flock to Dito Montiel’s movies.

    And no, it doesn’t involve compromising photographs and blackmail.

    Montiel, of “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” “Fighting” and next Friday’s “The Son of No One,” writes gritty urban melodramas with big, showy scenes and speeches. Movie stars just eat that up.

    “Son of No One,” about a cop covering up a dark day from his distant past and the code among cops that helps him do it, drew  Ray Liotta, Katie Holmes, Tracy Morgan and Oscar winners Pacino and Juliette Binoche.  And every one of them gets a big Dito Montiel speech.

    For Pacino, playing a retired detective trying to explain that past to the young Officer White (Channing Tatum), the big speech starts with “A man has to learn to live with his s—.” For Binoche, bizarrely cast  as a solitary newspaper columnist investing an unsolved and un-investigated pair of murders from the ’80s, the speech that lured her begins, “If this were a movie, Mr. White, I would say you looked like you saw a ghost.”

    As a child, White, nicknamed “Milk” by his pal Vin, killed somebody. He and Vin covered it up. Now, decades later, White is on edge over a small newspaper’s investigation, getting blackmail notes about the killing and wondering if they’re coming from Vin (Tracy Morgan).

    Ray Liotta gives a mysterious side to the Staten Island precinct captain who may be sympathetic or may be looking for a scapegoat to make all this bad press go away. Katie Holmes’ in the young cop’s wife, kept in the dark by a husband with a guilty conscience.

    It’s all very messy and entirely too obvious at the same time. Montiel makes the most of his settings, but the story keeps staggering into dead ends. And for all the casting coups he managed, making Binoche a paranoid, obsessed and plainly “Not from around here” journalist may be the worst move of her illustrious career.

    But at least she gets her big scene and her big speech. With Montiel, the bargain you make.

    MPAA Rating: R for violence, pervasive language and brief disturbing sexual content

    Cast: Channing Tatum, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes, Tracy Morgan.

    Credits: Written and directed by Dito Montiel, an Anchor Bay release. Running time: 1:34

    Movie Review: Take Shelter

    Posted: 30 Oct 2011 07:25 AM PDT

    In days of old, they might have thought Curtis a prophet of doom, or possessed by the Devil.

    But since he’s a modern working class Joe, drilling test holes for a contracting firm, these dreams Curtis is having provoke a modern response. Is he seeing the future, birds swarming before a nightmarish rain of oil, a tornado? Or is he coming unglued? Should he protect his family by preparing them for disaster, or check himself into a hospital, protecting them from him?

    That’s the provocative conflict at the heart of “Take Shelter,” the second film to team rising star filmmaker Jeff Nichols and the great character actor Michael Shannon. As Curtis, Shannon brings his usual mix of menace and vulnerability, adding confusion and acute paranoia to the brew inside of this guy’s head.

    Curtis has a lovely, resourceful wife, played by the marvelously earthy and omnipresent Jessica Chastain (“The Help,” “The Debt”). He has an adorable daughter, a nice rural Ohio home and a loyal dog. But he’s seen the dog bite him in his nightmares. The dog goes outside.

    His pal at work (Shea Whigham, terrific) runs the gigantic drill, and on a break, sizes him up.

    “You’ve got a good life, Curtis. I think that’s the best compliment you can give a man.”

    But the dreams won’t stop. Curtis wets the bed, seeks medical help and yet hedges his bets. There’s an old storm shelter in the yard. He’s going to fix it up to withstand anything.

    Shannon wonderfully modulates Nichols’ portrait of a man whose mind and life seem to unravel before our eyes. Nichols surrounds him with great character players such as Chastain and Whigham, with Kathy Baker playing his mother and Ray McKinnon (“The Blind Side”) well-cast as the concerned brother who shows up to see what’s up.

    Nichols walks a tightrope between giving us a dark, Gothic tale of misunderstood prophecy and a sobering lesson on the state of mental health care in rural America.  And Shannon, piling up the accolades with every film (“Reservation Road,” “The Runaways”) adds the troubled and troubling Curtis to a growing resume of vivid and utterly real off-center characters.

    “Take Shelter” opens here Friday.

    MPAA Rating: R for some language.

    Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Shea Whigham, Kathy Baker, Ray McKinnon

    Credits: Written and director by Jeff Nichols. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Running time: 2 hours

    Coen Brothers want Justin Timberlake for their next one

    Posted: 30 Oct 2011 06:13 AM PDT

    As he proves to have a bit of box office clout with “In Time” this weekend (not a lot, but a bit), Justin Timberlake would love to have that NEXT project to talk about.

    And he just might. “Inside Llewyn Davis” is to star Oscar Isaac (“Drive”) as a ’60s Greenwich Village folk singer in the Dave Van Ronk mold. Variety says that the filmmakers, The Coen Brothers, have offered Timberlake the role of Jim, a folk musician married to Jean, who will be played by Carey Mulligan.”

    Van Ronk is the guy from that scene who knew everyone, influenced everyone, but never got to be as famous as Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary or Joan Baez.  He was pals with Dylan, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell and Tom Paxton.

    Snowstorm muffles box office — ‘Puss’ may pack on only $33 million

    Posted: 30 Oct 2011 05:07 AM PDT

    The unseasonably early snowstorm that dusted and dumped the northeast drove down the box office take this weekend. “Puss in Boots” had been in a position to do $40 million plus, but a weak family film-going Saturday suppressed that -- low $30s Nikki Finke says. Maybe not the Halloween weekend record notes Variety.

    “Rum Diary” will only manage $5 million, “In Time” a more respectable $12 million, “Paranormal 3″ upper teens to take second place.

    “Saw III,” I think it was, owns the Halloween weekend box office record — $33.6 million back in 2006.