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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    The circle is complete — Mickey Rourke back to doing Indonesian action films

    Posted: 11 Oct 2011 04:37 AM PDT

    His “Wrestler” rescue is but a memory, his “Iron Man” turn a check he probably has already gone through.

    Does anybody expect great things out of Mickey Rourke and “Immortals,” the sword-and-sorcery epic due out, in 3D, in November? Tony Scott’s “Potsdamer Platz” remake appears on hold. We sincerely doubt that the Genghis Khan movie he and John Milius talked about ever comes to pass.

    Now the up and down — mostly down — career of Mickey Rourke appears headed back overseas, where the Carradines roam. He and Kellen Lutz, co-stars in “Immortals,” are flying off to Indonesia for a film called “Java Heat.” I can’t recall ever seeing a film from Indonesia, and precious few Hollywood or English language films set there. So maybe it’ll pay off.

    It’s all just a crap shoot, but the films he’s done since “The Wrestler” have left a lot to be desired. A few good paydays, a few failed gambles, and movies that had to look like dogs from the moment he saw a script treatment.

    Nora Ephon gets ‘Lost in Austen’

    Posted: 11 Oct 2011 04:09 AM PDT

    The veteran director Nora Ephron was in no great hurry to cash in on her Hollywood critical and commercial comeback “Julie & Julia.”

    But she’s now attached to a new spin on “Pride & Prejudice.” Or yet another new spin on “Pride & Prejudice.”

    That;s what “Lost in Austen” promises to be.

    I saw the British indie version of that title a few months back. Indiewire was it was an ITV mini series.  We saw a two hour version. Not terrible.

    Time travel, modern hip chic hurled into Lizzie Bennett’s world with Lizzie brought to ours. Will it work as a Hollywood picture? Do we all know Austen well enough for that to fly without a lot of explaining? Maybe.

    Woman sues ‘Drive’ studio because the trailer sold a different movie

    Posted: 11 Oct 2011 03:51 AM PDT

    The reason “Drive” didn’t do better at the box office, conventional wisdom goes, is that it didn’t deliver a real “car picture” full of chases and getaways, etc. It fell off its second weekend and underperformed. The trailer suggested that the movie might have more cool than cars, but no matter. You name your movie “Drive” and some dope in Michigan named Sarah Demings files a lawsuit, seeking “class action” status, for being ripped off by being promised one movie and then delivered another. 

    The “I Watch Stuff” joke bears repeating. “Neither’ Fast nor Furious’ enough” to suit her.

    Hah. Trailers are like infomercials. You expect them to lie. But below, here’s the trailer in question. Does it sell a movie that it doesn’t deliver? If you feel it does, “Class action” means you can sign on to the suit and try for a piece of the ticket action. Judging from the audience scores coming out of that one, a lot of people agree with her (Not critics, who endorsed it).
    Me? I’m trying to find a lawyer who’ll take my “Transformers” case. I am suing to get the six hours the last two movies in that series cost me.

    Paramount nabs Disney’s Stainton to run its animation division

    Posted: 11 Oct 2011 03:41 AM PDT

    For all the big bucks studios occasionally decide is still out there to be made from cartoons, it strikes me that this animation division ship has sailed.

    Disney and Pixar own it, DreamWorks has a big corner, Sony and Fox occasionally make a noise. Warners has “Happy Feet.” And “The Owls of Whatthey.”

    But the rest? They’re fighting for screens and table scraps. “Rango” apparently has convinced Paramount otherwise. I mean, it cost over $135 million and maybe earned that much, US and overseas, total. But hey, “studio accounting.”

    David Stainton ran Disney’s animation division at one time and had a long career at the Mouse House. He’s been tapped to take over Paramount’s animation department.

    Movie Review: ‘The Whistleblower’

    Posted: 11 Oct 2011 03:40 AM PDT

    Rachel Weisz has her best role since her Oscar winning turn in “The Constant Gardener” in “The Whistleblower,” another tale in which she plays an idealistic, morally complicated woman in pursuit of a deadly truth.

    This “inspired by a true story” film is an account of Nebraska cop Kathryn Bolkovac’s service as a UN contracted peacekeeper in Bosnia in the late 1990s. A divorced mother who cannot find a way to transfer out of state to be nearer her teenage daughter, she took a job with a security contractor for big pay and a short tour in the Balkans. As she listens to the pep talk on arrival, you can sense in her the feeling that she’s there to do good, to “protect the rule of law where lawlessness is rampant.”

    The ethnic strife isn’t beneath the surface, there. It’s right out in the open, local cops refusing to investigate domestic violence cases, especially those involving Muslims. Kathryn makes her mark by insisting that they start. She is promoted, put in charge of “gender affairs” by a UN official (Vanessa Redgrave) who gives her some autonomy, but not enough.

    That’s what Kathryn finds out when she stumbles into a sex trafficking scandal that has all the signs of UN complicity. First-time feature-director Larysa Kondracki has started her film with the tricking of girls in the Ukraine, teenagers, who think they’re headed to a better life, only to wind up imprisoned in a dank bar in the Balkans, tortured and raped by paying customers. Kathryn meets a few of them, and one, Raya  (Roxana Condurache) she promises to protect and serve. She sees something of her own child in this 15 year old, and much of the film is her furious effort to get around bureaucrats (Monica Belucci) and armed, menacing peace keepers who want to keep her from breaking “policy.”

    “I’m an American police officer,” she declares. No matter who I work for, I wouldn’t let somebody get away with this.”

    David Strathairn is the rare American in this cast of mostly-Brits playing Americans, and he stands out as an internal affairs officer who seems to be one person willing to listen to Kathryn’s charges and to help her find her way through the byzantine UN immunity rules and local laws.

    Kathryn isn’t a super cop and we see the diminutive Weisz do nothing physically that would defy the laws of physics.

    The “enemy” here is a trifle ill-defined, and the actual police work Kathryn does is shortchanged — simple shots of her adding photos and snippets of evidence to the massive bulletin board where she tracks the case have to suffice. And there’s more than a hint of melodrama to the possible romantic entanglements and references to the daughter she left behind in the states.
    But “The Whistleblower,” opening Friday at the Enzian, is still a first-rate one-woman-against-the-system drama, a film benefiting from grim recreations of an ugly reality and a stellar cast determined to expose it.

    MPAA Rating:R for disturbing violent content including a brutal sexual assault, graphic nudity and language

    Cast: Rachel Weisz, Vanessa Redgrave, David Straithairn, Benedict Cumberbatch
    Credits: Directed by Larysa Kondracki, written by Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan. A Samuel Goldwyn release.

    Running time: 1:48

    EXCLUSIVE: Zachary Quinto on ‘Margin Call,’ ‘Star Trek II’ and being the smart guy

    Posted: 10 Oct 2011 12:43 PM PDT

    Seeing as how Zachary Quinto's most famous big screen character personifies logic, reason and intelligence, and how his character in the new film "Margin Call" has been described as a "hotshot 'rocket scientist'" of Wall Street (Slant Magazine), "an ambitious math whiz" ( who is the first to realize the Great Recession is coming, a question from blog commenter "PA" seems fair, to the point and on the money.

    "Do you think you'll ever be cast as someone less than intelligent? Someone thoroughly clueless?"

    Quinto chuckles at that. At 34, he hasn't always played brainiacs. Take "What's Your Number?", in which he had an opening scene cameo as the feckless beau the heroine (Anna Faris) kicks out.

    "I was so NOT the smart guy in that movie. For all of, what, 30 seconds, I'm in that?"

    As if to give the lie to that image, Quinto peppers his speech with the words "totally" and "man." But he owns that pigeonhole the film business is building for him.

    "Sure man, I'm totally OK with being 'the smart guy' in the movies. I've always been interested in being challenged by intellectually stimulating material. So if that puts me in the category of actors offered that kind of material, I'm happy."

    "Margin Call," which opens wide Oct. 21, is a smart Wall Street expose that doesn't so much point blame at who caused the financial meltdown of 2008 as reveal the mindsets behind it, looking into one firm which sees the end coming and must make survival decisions that have little with do with ethics, morality or human kindness. Quinto isn't just one of the stars of this ensemble drama. He helped build it. He and his company, BtD, Before the Door, produced it.

    "I had a lot of conversations with actors directly," he says. "I got them to meet with our writer-director [J.C. Chandor] and assuaged their fears about working with a guy that new. Kevin Spacey was the first person, after me, to sign on. You get Kevin Spacey on board, other people who were maybe considering doing the film become convinced to do the film. He paved the way for others, like Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore and Simon Baker."

    Smart, but then, we'd expect nothing less. Quinto, a Pittsburgh native, had kicked around doing bit parts for TV for a few years after finishing up the Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama until landing a role on the hit sci-fi series "Heroes." That led to Spock in J.J. Abrams re-launch of the "Star Trek" film franchise.

    "Starting my production company is something that ‘Star Trek’ allowed me to do," he says. "I could utilize that exposure and parlay it into opportunities that would allow me to tell my own kind of stories instead of stories other people see me in. It's all tied into Star Trek. It put me in a position to have access that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I wanted to use that access to tell my own sorts of stories, with me involved in telling them."

    "Margin Call," with its moral ambiguity, intrigued him. "Nobody really gets raked over the coals, nobody is lionized. It really just presents an exploration of the human impact that these actions had on people who were somehow responsible for the decisions. It lets the audience formulate its own opinion, maybe generating a little dialogue afterward.

    "I wanted to make a movie that requires people to really invest – no pun intended – to connect with the characters as the story unfolds. It doesn't necessarily do the work for you. That's something I value as a storyteller and as someone who goes to see stories told, I like when my participation, my close attention, is required."

    Quinto's participation is required next in a "Star Trek" sequel, which starts filming early in 2012 and will take up the first half of the year. "I'm starting to shift into that mode of preparation," he says "I have physical training and other ways of prepping for it. None of us have seen the script. We're all very curious to see where he's taking us this time. We're going on rumors, little hints here and there, stories we've been told."

    And after that, BtD is doing a "found footage" comedy, having just finished the horror film, "The Banshee Chapter."

    "I may or may not have a conventional actor's journey in this business," he says. "That remains to be seen. But as a producer now, I have a chance to have a hand in creating the sorts of projects I want to put out into the world."

    Smart guy.

    Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Zeta-Jones team for ‘Broken City’

    Posted: 10 Oct 2011 06:41 AM PDT

    Russell Crowe’s been filling his dance card, these past few months, scrambling to sign onto projects that will put him back at the top of Hollywood’s A-List. He’s doing “Les Miz” with Hugh Jackman.

    And now he’s on board a detective thriller titled “Broken City” and set in New York, co-starring with hot-ticket Mark Wahlberg.

    Russell Crowe will play the mayor, Catherine Zeta-Jones is the wife he suspects of cheating on him, Wahlberg the detective the mayor brings in to uncover the truth, but who uncovers more truth than he bargained for.

    Netflix blinks — won’t split DVD mailing from streaming

    Posted: 10 Oct 2011 06:32 AM PDT

    Netflix has been reeling from the bad customer reaction to its plans to split its business into two halves, with Netflix streaming as one service and the older mail-order service to be run and billed under the banner of Qwikster. The two arms of the company would operate under separate websites.

    Now they’ve backed away from that. A bit. No more Qwikster. No more two websites for you to track down the content you want.

    Yeah, the price hikes that led customers to flee and the company’s stock to plummet (57%) are still happening. But some of the convenience of Netflix will be retained. For now.