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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    ‘Die Hard 5′ has a title, does the new Bond film have one as well?

    Posted: 13 Oct 2011 04:34 AM PDT

    “A Good Day to Die Hard” will start filming in Russia in January. Russia in January. Wasn’t Bruce Willis able to talk them into filming in Tahiti in March? Man, where’s his clout gone? It comes out Valentine’s Day 2013.

    Skyfall” is the name that’s been floating around the Internet as the possible title of the next James Bond film, aka “Bond 23.” Nothing nailed down or confirmed on that.

    Movie Preview: Albert Nobbs

    Posted: 13 Oct 2011 04:30 AM PDT

    A woman living her life as a man, a waiter, in 19th century Ireland.

    Glenn Close is earning Oscar buzz based on her great career and just a few clips of “Albert Nobbs,” and has been all year. She co-wrote it.

    Mia Wasikowska, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Brendan Gleeson, Brenda Fricker, Pauline Collins, this one looks good. Not sure when we’ll see “Albert Nobbs,” but it’s Oscar bait. So soon.

    ‘Lone Ranger’ rides again — lowered budget puts Depp, Hammer, Bruckheimer and Verbinski back in the saddle

    Posted: 13 Oct 2011 04:11 AM PDT

    Disney has mounted up for “The Lone Ranger” again, a mega-budget Jerry Bruckheimer Western starring Johnny Depp as Tonto. Oh, and Armie Hammer (Winklevii in “The Social Network”) as “that masked man.”

    Disney pulled the plug in August because they figured out there was no way they were going to break even on a $225 million Western. Westerns don’t travel well, and it’s the rare one that clears $100 million in this country. “Cowboys & Aliens” had to give them cold feet.

    The interpretation — with Depp’s Tonto taking center stage, may have given them pause, too. Hes the biggest start in the world, but that’s going to be tricky. Promising idea, in a satiric sense — “What that you say, White Man?” But risky.

    Now, things have been adjusted to more modest dimensions (Hah, right.) and they’re back on again, with Depp’s Pirates/Rango director Gore Verbinski behind the camera.  They ride…at dawn. And star shooting in Feb.

    Movie Review: The Big Year

    Posted: 12 Oct 2011 06:00 PM PDT

    “The Big Year” is a comedy about competitive bird-watching. It stars three of the biggest stars from two generations of screen comedy — Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black. So there’s little time for waxing poetic about our feathered friends, no lingering shots of the lovely, elusive and rare spotted woodpecker or pink-footed goose these men pursue to the ends of the continent.

    The movie’s a lot like the pursuit itself — manic birders, pressed for time, jetting and driving and boating hither and yon, trying to pile up the most species sightings in a given year, not really appreciating the winged wonders in their midst.

    Considering this cast, it’s not particularly wacky, either. That’s in keeping with the source material, reporter Mark Obmascik’s dry and perhaps lightly amusing book about three obsessed and very different birders piling up the numbers in the biggest birding year ever.

    What this film from the director of “The Devil Wears Prada” does manage is a gentle amiability, much like this “honor system” contest it depicts. These are people who can’t articulate what they love, they just know they love it. And their ranks are a quirky, disparate lot.

    Take Brad (Jack Black). He’s an overweight computer code-cruncher for a nuclear power plant who spends all his spare time and all his cash — and then some — birding.

    “Sooner or later, you’re going to have to do something with your life,” his dad (Brian Dennehy) grouses.

    “I just want to do something big, to make my mark,” he tells him, as he’s hitting the parents (Diane Wiest plays his mom) up for more cash. He’s going for a big year, and hanging on to a full time job while doing it.

    Then there’s Stu (Steve Martin). He’s a company president ready to retire just so he can leave behind his wife (Jobeth Williams) and their stunning Aspen estate to spend a year chasing birds. His underlings (Kevin Pollack, Joel McHale) don’t want him to leave in the middle of a big deal, but Stu is determined.

    Is he as determined as Kenny (Owen Wilson)? He’s a wealthy contractor who holds the current “big year” record. He knows all the tricks, is something of a swaggering, insufferable rock star in birder circles. And he’s so anxious to hang onto his record that he plans to travel anywhere, anytime, to better that record, o matter how much his wife (Rosamund Pike) wants a baby.

    Director David Frankel is blessed with this cast and a subject that seems ripe for mockery, or at least gentle lampooning.
    But he never lands big laughs, just grins and giggles.

    Kenny is conniving and the moment he finds out others are going for a big year, he gets in their heads. As they dash from Texas to Alaska, Minnesota to Key West, the guys raise their scores, empty their bank accounts and question what they’re doing.

    Anjelica Huston amusingly plays the flinty bird boat trip operator who takes her name from a rare bird — Annie Auklet. But she, like Tim Blake Nelson, as a fellow birder, and Anthony Anderson (as Brad’s boss) was hired and given too little to do.

    I like the way the Beatles’”Blackbird” is woven into the score, though that little ditty seems to set the tone here. There’s no urgency, not enough energy to lift “The Big Year” above a fairly dry account of an odd subculture in our midst. It’s OK to say “Golf is just a hobby,” while birding “is a calling.” But this is a movie. You need to show why.

    MPAA Rating:PG, for language and some sensuality

    Cast: Steve Martin (Stu Preissler), Jack Black (Brad Harris) and Owen Wilson (Kenny Bostick).

    Credits: Directed by David Frankel, written by Howard Franklin, a Fox 2000 release.

    Running time: 1:39

    Leo DiCaprio as computer pioneer Alan Turing? WB says ‘Yes!’

    Posted: 12 Oct 2011 12:27 PM PDT

    Since “The Social Network,” everybody seems to want a genius tech nerd film to call their own. The Steve Jobs bio-pic that is sure to come is partial proof.

    How about a story about WWII era computer pioneer Alan Turing, who helped crack the Enigma code (The Ultra Secret) and stands front and center of any early history of computers?

    Warners has grabbed the rights to a book about Turing with an eye on Leonardo DiCaprio playing Turing.

    The man was British and gay. Can Leo play both? At the same time? If he can, this is an Oscar bait role. Turing was a fascinating polymath, OBE winner and hero in the closet.

    Ben Stiller replaces Russell Brand in ‘Rent a Ghost’

    Posted: 12 Oct 2011 11:25 AM PDT

    The story is about a slacker who dies and decides to become more of a go-getter in the afterlife, setting up a service whereby ghosts can be rented for this haunting or that supernatural intervention.

    Russell Brand was to star in “Rent-a-Ghost.”  He’s out. Now Ben Stiller is on board.

    Universal blinks — delays ‘Tower Heist’ video on demand release

    Posted: 12 Oct 2011 11:20 AM PDT

    Apparently, the growing number of exhibitors who wanted nothing to do with Universal’s holiday caper picture “Tower Heist” caused the studio to rethink its early release to video on demand (three weeks after opening in theaters).

    Variety is reporting they’ve backed off that. Let’s hope U. hadn’t spent those $59.99 VOD fees they were counting on.

    Movie Review: The Thing

    Posted: 12 Oct 2011 09:00 AM PDT

    That classic “creature feature” “The Thing” earns its third treatment with a film that’s so enthralled with its actual “thing” that it forgets to be scary or suspenseful. A decent cast and a pristine glacial setting are wasted on a movie of alien transmutations and alien dissections that lacks urgency, or even a sense that’s its very cold in Antarctica.

    The Norwegians have found something Down There — beneath the ice. And they want to keep it secret. So they drag a t0o-young American paleontologist (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) with a bit of experience dealing with ancient frozen corpses and a few other folks in to figure out what it was that crawled out from that gigantic saucer that’s buried under 100,000 years worth of glacial ice.

    The Norwegians, led by the arrogant Dr. Dr. Halvorsen (Ulrich Thomsen) smell a Nobel prize in this discovery, “our visitor.” Keep it quiet. No radio contact with other bases on the frozen continent, even though there’s a storm coming in. The Americans — Kate Lloyd (Winstead) and the helicopter pilots, Carter (Joel Edgerton) and Jameson (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) are instantly wary.

    Something big, with claws, is carved from the ice. And before you can say “You don’t know what you’re dealing with” it’s out, and before you can say  “We will search in groups of two or three,” it’s preying on the “We must study it” Norwegians and the trigger happy Americans.

    Here’s what works in Dutch director Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s version of the thrice-told tale, which they’re calling a prequel. The location, what they use of it  (British Columbia and frozen corners of Canada), is stunning. The effects — a shape shifting creature of teeth and tentacles and every human-faced crab-critter of recent movie vintage — are on the money. The Norwegians are an amusing bunch, profane in English and in subtitled Norwegian.

    And hats off to Winstead (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) for her wide-eyed reaction and breathless alarm at this beast and their peril.

    But it’s an infuriatingly static picture — actors walking around when they should be running, ruminating when they should be panicking, generally failing to convey fear and pick up the pace. That’s the director’s fault. Empathy for characters doesn’t build, nor does the paranoia Winstead’s character keeps putting into words. This alien can take on the form of its victims, so they don’t know who is real and who isn’t.

    Forget the obvious foreshadowing, the “logic” of an Antarctic base full of flamethrowers and grenades (no improvising a defense against this monster).  Try to forget the earlier, superior versions of the tale. This “Thing” still doesn’t deliver much more than the odd jolt or provoke any praise other than “Cool effects.”

    MPAA Rating: R for strong creature violence and gore, disturbing images, and language

    Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

    Credits: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., written by Eric Heisserer, based on a John W. Campbell Jr story. A Morgan Creek/Universal release.

    Running time: 1:42

    Movie Review: Footloose

    Posted: 12 Oct 2011 09:00 AM PDT

    Toes are tapping, feet are shuffling and boots are bouncing in the opening to the new “Footloose.” Kids are dancing and frolicking, having a few beers to the title song of a 1984 movie, a tune by Kenny Loggins.

    Then tragedy strikes. And Bomont, Georgia becomes the town that banned organized dances. The preacher preaches this from his pulpit, the town council goes along and the local cops enforce it.

    But time passes, and it’s up to the dance-crazy new kid, Ren, to tame the local wild child preacher’s daughter, Ariel, and to get Bomont back on its dancing feet.

    If there is a movie more familiar to multiple generations than “Footloose,” chances are it has hills covered in edelweiss or Atlanta burning down. You tamper with a movie, a formula and a story this beloved, you do it at your own peril. Even if the original movie wasn’t anybody’s idea of high art.

    But Craig Brewer, the director of “Hustle & Flow,” re-sets that Kevin Bacon/Lori Singer/John Lithgow Midwestern hit in the rural South.  Suddenly, it all makes more sense. He replaces Bacon with Kenny Wormald, Singer with super-dancer Julianne Hough and Lithgow with Dennis Quaid. He swaps a game of tractor chicken with a figure eight school bus crash-o-rama and ingeniously adds singing 10-year-olds to the show-stopper “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” number. He gave the film a little Southern hip hop, and brought in real Southerners Quaid, Andie MacDowell and Ray McKinnon to further Southernize it.

    Brewer has made a new “Footloose” that is lighter on its feet and easier to swallow as a tale of teen rebellion against parents determined to over-protect their children. In most regards (We still miss Kevin Bacon), this is a “new and improved” “Footloose,” funnier, sunnier and funkier. Simply put, it works.

    Wormald, a dancer-turned-actor (“You Got Served”) is the Boston kid who likes his music too loud for Bomont. He’s come to live with his Uncle Wes after burying his mom. And the drawling Wes (Ray McKinnon, of “Dolphin Tale,” superb in this part) is just the guy to show the kid the rules in Bomont. Wes is a father figure who remembers his own heck-raising youth.

    Hough plays Ariel as an oversexed demon in cowboy boots — teasing the boys, especially her rich redneck boyfriend. Of course she’s going to flirt with the new kid. Eventually. Just as soon as she sees how much her preacher-dad (Quaid) disapproves.

    And Miles Teller is very funny as Willard, the football-playing classmate who takes Ren under his wing, shows him around and teaches him about the South.

    It’s a  corny story, and just as dated as it was when it first came around 27 years ago. Some scenes such as the bus race feel out of place, shoehorned in. The whole Ariel’s-jealous-boyfriend element fails to ignite. But the dance scenes are more fun and Hough gives it a sexy, sassy edge, all by herself — lots of hair flipping on the dance floor, tight skirts, tighter jeans.

    “Put a quarter in her back pocket,” one guy suggests. “You could tell if it was heads of tails.”

    If that opening, with kids dancing to the title tune, doesn’t get you, the kids taking their shot at making line-dancing cool will. And if it doesn’t, you probably never got over that crush on Kevin Bacon back in junior high.

    MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language

    Cast: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell, Ray McKinnon

    Credits:Directed by Craig Brewer, written by Brewer and based on Dean Pitchord’s script of the original “Footloose.”  Paramount Pictures release.

    Running Time: 1:53

    Today’s first interview: Michael Shannon

    Posted: 12 Oct 2011 06:37 AM PDT

    He’s off in Arkansas, filming “Mud,” his third collaboration with rising star of the Southern cinema Jeff Nichols. “Take Shelter” is showing in some cities, and hits Orlando Nov. 4.
    I’m a huge Michael Shannon fan. He’s in “Machine Gun Preacher,” opening here Friday, and he’s been great almost every time out — “Shotgun Stories,” “World Trade Center,” especially in “The Runaways.”
    He’s on “Boardwalk Empire,” and he’s General Zod in the new Superman picture, “Man of Steel.”

    Got questions for the intense Mr. Shannon? Comment below.