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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    Gerard Butler about to board ‘Hunter Killer’

    Posted: 14 Oct 2011 04:23 AM PDT

    The submarine-set Russian coup thriller “Hunter Killer” drew Antoine Fuqua as its director after he gave up on making a Tupac Shakur bio-pic.

    Now it’s landing that “Machine Gun Preacher,” Gerard Butler, as its leading man.

    Here’s the plot — It’s about “a rogue Russian general who kidnaps his country's president and looks to kick off World War III. Allied against him are an untested submarine captain, Joe Glass (the role Butler is in talks for) and a Navy SEAL unit led by Bill Beaman. Relativity is trying to lock down Sam Worthington to play the SEAL commander.”

    So Butler and Worthington, a couple of guys who have to hide their accents, will play the two American he-man roles. A sad statement on America’s ability to produce manly men action heroes for the movies.

    “Machine Gun Preacher” had pre-release Oscar buzz for Butler. Briefly. Then people saw it. He’s not bad in it, but it’s a poorly reviewed movie and isn’t doing well in limited release (it opens wide, including here, today). Butler has “Coriolanus,” “Playing the Field” and the upcoming “Of Men and Mavericks” in the pipeline ahead of “Hunter Killer.”

    Will ‘Footloose’ kick off its box office shoes?

    Posted: 14 Oct 2011 04:08 AM PDT

    Our friends at Fandango tell me that “Footloose” is leading the ticket pre-sales for the weekend. But it’s a weak “must go,” amongst users of that service.

    The box office guru generously pitches it as a $20 million opening weekend hit.

    Here’s the thing. It’s fun. It’s got just enough edge to work and still be younger teen friendly. The reviews were good, and I think word of mouth on it will be terrific. But with Hollywood’s remake-a-rama causing people to say they’re tired of remakes, especially people who don’t go to the movies as much any more, this one is going to be hard to peg. It’s got that label on it, and even though it’s been 27 years, even though it improves on the original, even though it entertains, kids may stay away. People have ridiculously fond memories of the original, which was and is clunky and silly, in between the two or three highlights.

    It could blow up to $25 million plus, or it could tank in the low teens. Audiences have been absurdly fickle this year, dodging good pictures, even remakes (“Fright Night”), or going and suing over good pictures.

    “The Thing” wears the same remake stigma, and the creature feature audience is hard to gauge as well. The guru figures $13 million, which seems about right. Bad reviews for this one. I wasn’t nuts about it either.

    “The Big Year” is getting “Isn’t that sweet” reviews, a bit unexpected for a movie teaming up Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin. Will it hit an older crowd who won’t mind the fact that it’s about competitive bird watching? Maybe. Middling reviews overall, and I found it watchable. A $6 million prediction from the guru seems very low for this one.

    Orlando Film Festival, some other reviews.

    Posted: 14 Oct 2011 03:19 AM PDT

    The Orlando Film Festival gets underway Wednesday night at the Plaza Cinema Cafe and various party venues downtown. Today’s Calendar has a selection of reviews, and here are a few more that didn’t make it into print.

    Did you miss review “Marathon Boy” which played at the South Asian Film Festival? Go to the link for that review. A longer review of “Grills Gone Wild”? It played in Daytona Beach. Here’s a link to that review.

    Kingdom of Dust” is a kidnapping melodrama set in Iraq sometime after the US invasion. An American (Stephen Hogan) is chained to a floor in a dusty basement and endures abuse, videotapings and lectures on the “innocent children” of Iraq that this invasion has killed from a trio (Alvy Khan, Elyes Gabel, Dhaffer L’Abidine) who say they will behead him if the US doesn’t remove its troops or begin to remove them in 48 hours.  Heavy handed, entirely too obvious and grim, Heath Jones’ movie is still an inventive way of telling a fairly big story on a tiny budget in a limited setting. News footage, sound effects and the sights of Army boots suggest invaders without having to actually pay for them.  the film is like “Buried” without the suspense or urgency.

    Showing: Oct. 20, 9:15

    “The Mole Man of Belmont Ave.” matches a couple of cowardly slackers against a beast that is eating the pets of tenants in the creaky Chicago apartment building they inherited from their mom. The quirky tenants (Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund plays one) aren't terribly funny, the jokes fail to pay off more often than not and co-writers, directors and stars Mike Bradecich and John LaFlamboy are too content to have their characters shrug and say, "Let's hit the bar."
    Showing: Oct. 21, 9:15 p.m.
    “Virgin Alexander”, the opening night film, is a woefully humorless and crude "Risky Business" riff, about a virginal guy (Rick Faugno), a house that's in foreclosure and the happy cluster of hookers who break free from their pimp (Bronson Pinchot) to help him make that mortgage.
    Showing: Oct. 19, 8:30 p.m., Oct. 21 8:30 p.m.

    Shea Whigham joins the cast of ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’

    Posted: 13 Oct 2011 10:33 AM PDT

    I caught up this morning with Lake Mary native Shea Whigham, who is on perhaps the hottest streak of his acting career, with a co-starring role in “Boardwalk Empire,” a scene-stealing turn in “The Lincoln Lawyer” and brilliant supporting work in the Cannes sensation “Take Shelter,” an Oscar contender starring his pal Michael Shannon opening here Nov. 4.

    He’s worked with Shannon half a dozen times, ever since that film that was sort of a starting point for them both (and for Colin Farrell), “Tigerland.” So he’s become something of a Michael Shannon expert. And vice versa.

    “People LOVE Shea, out here,” Shannon told me. “I’m happy to see all this happening for him right now. He’s earned it.”

    Whigham shyly says that “You just keep your head down, keep working, hope somebody notices.” Plainly, people — film business people — are.

    But the real news in our chat was this.

    “I am preparing something right now,” Whigham says. “I'm in 'The Silver Linings Playbook,' the first movie David O. Russell's made since 'The Fighter.' It's a good one, man. A really good one. Beautiful script. That cast, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and DeNiro. DeNiro's a hero of mine. Finally getting to work with him. I grew up with ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘The Godfather’ movies, ‘Mean Streets.’ I have to pinch myself over just getting the chance to work with him.”

    “The Silver Linings Playbook” is based on the quirky Matthew Quick novel about a former high school teacher fresh out of a mental hospital, estranged from his wife, living with his mom and pursued by the equally unstable widowed sister in law of his best friend. Cooper and Lawrence have the two leading roles.

    “I thought 'The Fighter' was the best picture of 2010,” Whigham says. “The role is taking me in a completely different direction. No convict hair, this time.”

    Exclusive: Michael Shannon talks about ‘Man of Steel’

    Posted: 13 Oct 2011 09:09 AM PDT

    Michael Shannon’s played a few heavies over the years, mixed in with his twitchy, tortured souls.
    But he’s in the middle of playing an iconic I've been on a little hiatus from 'Man of Steel.' Shannon plays General Zod, a major Superman foil in this Super reboot, directed by Zack Snyder and starring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams.

    We talked earlier this week about “Take Shelter,” a film that could have Shannon contending for an Oscar. In that, he plays a blue collar guy whose nightmares, fears and obsession with protecting his life and his family from a calamity he senses is coming. Is he a prophet of doom, or is he losing his mind? That one opens here Nov. 4.

    But as we wrapped up he talked about General Zod.

    “I'm going back to Vancouver this week and we'll see what happens,” he says. “This role is totally about your imagination. There's not really any research you can do. It's total fantasy.

    “The only research you can do is look at the comic book and see what other people have done in those comics and on screen. The original film series made a big impression on me. I remember being scared to death of Terrence Stamp and those other two, all dressed in black.

    “There's no way I'm going to be able to do anything close to what he did. I'm trundling off in my own direction and we'll see if it works. I can be a little scary, too.”

    I’ll say. Shannon, a shy sensitive guy who has become one of the great actors of our time, looks more like Jack O’Halloran, the guy who played the ultra-menacing Non (left) in the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies.

    Movie Preview: Act of Valor

    Posted: 13 Oct 2011 07:12 AM PDT

    This looks like the best movie Chuck Norris never made.

    But the fact that “real Navy Seals” are featured in it and that it is based on real missions this elite force has carried out give “Act of Valor” its mojo.

    Looks OK, fairly conventional, not a lot of “Movie” pop to it (That’s why there are movie stars in most movies). Opens in February. I am guessing the back story on how and why this was made is more interesting. Looks like it got a very high degree of military cooperation. The co-directors have done documentaries on military subjects, so it’s got loads of street cred.

    Reviews roundup — ‘Footloose’ endorsed, ‘Big Year’ not really, ‘The Thing,’ not even close

    Posted: 13 Oct 2011 06:55 AM PDT

    It’s a remake, as I said in my story on it, of a “beloved” but “bad” movie. Maybe that’s why reviews have turned surprisingly positive for this picture, subbing the South for the Midwest, Dennis Quaid for John Lithgow and Kenny Wormald for Kevin Bacon.

    Um, who? Yeah, Julianne Hough’s in it and she’s terrific. Craig Brewer did more than justice to the original. Not a great film, but it is fun, good clean dirty dancing fun. I gave it 2.5 stars out of 4, because really, it’s still silly and the story still moves in fits and starts. It’s still a pretty darned good time at the movies.

    Not so for “The Thing.”

    The third version of “The Thing From Another World” is all effects — no suspense, empathy or urgency. Bad reviews across the board on this one.

    “The Big Year” hasn’t been widely reviewed yet. I found it sweeter than I expected. The guy who did “The Devil Wears Prada” directed, and he didn’t have much that was edgy/snarky or funny to play with, so the movie doesn’t have any big highs. A sweet moment here and there, thanks to Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin. From reading the book it was based on, I would have gone a bit more Terrence Malick with this one — play up the birds (tricky, I know). It’s pretty, but it should look gorgeous. There’s no real wackiness here, no poetry to it, nothing particularly deep about the quest. Not a great subject or a great book, to be frank. But I think there’s a better movie in it than this.

    Orlando also gets the widely panned, indifferently received “Machine Gun Preacher.” I like the director and the star, but the movie can’t make up its mind about itself or its hero. Not terrible, but a letdown. Will Gerry Butler’s rabid female fans show up for a violent movie about a missionary/biker?

    And the Enzian gets a pretty good issues drama, “The Whistleblower.” Rachel Weisz fighting corruption and crime among the people who are supposed to be Peacekeeping for the UN in Bosnia. The best movie opening here this weekend, I have to say.