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Frankly My Dear...

    Frankly My Dear...

    Movie Preview: Angelina Jolie’s ‘In the Land of Blood & Honey’

    Posted: 25 Oct 2011 04:33 AM PDT

    Here’s a good looking, compelling trailer to Angelina Jolie’s writing/directing debut, “In the Land of Blood & Honey.”

    Bosnia, “ethnic cleansing,” rape and mass murder are the backdrop to this not-quite-love story, due out in December. A few faces we’ll recognize in the cast, not a lot of names we will.

    Harry Potter to disappear from DVD shelves Dec. 31

    Posted: 25 Oct 2011 04:29 AM PDT

    Warner Brothers has announced it will stop shipping new DVDs and BluRays of the Harry Potter films on December 31, 2011.
    So if you’re determined to hang onto discs, and keep copies of those movies that way, you’d better act now.
    You’ll still be able to buy the films in digital download form, so this isn’t a Disney style forced scarcity-labeling something a “classic” which can be revived every so often. Is it? Seems more like an acknowledgment of the future, and that there’s more money to be made from digital downloads.

    The studio has earned some $12.1 billion off the eight films, and that’s not including games and this local theme park.

    Netflix shares are in free fall as news of subscribers bailing out spreads

    Posted: 25 Oct 2011 03:56 AM PDT

    If you are or were a Netflix customer, you knew this ahead of “the Street.” That price spike, those other pricing/distribution plans that the popular home video delivery service rolled out last summer were a recession economy deal-breaker for many of us.

    The actual numbers — 810,000 customers lost from a company that depends on growth to survive, with some one million mail order folks bailing by the end of the year, and streaming subscribers remaining flat or falling. Ouch.

    That revelation sent the stock into a 27% plunge.

    I, for one, don’t doubt that Netflix has crunched the numbers and seen that mail order is a money-losing operation, that streaming is going to cost them more to provide as studios providing content demand a fairer price for their films and TV shows. But like a lot of market-share driven house-of-cards operations, from Groupon to, oh, the entire Chinese economy, at some point the piper is paid and that which is unsustainable will not be sustained.

    Several are trying to step into the opening that Netflix has left in the market, streaming to other gadgets, PS3’s and the like. Disnh Network and Blockbuster teaming up, etc. So we’ll see if any of them take hold.

    ‘The Arrangement’ sounds an awful lot like ‘Indecent Proposal’

    Posted: 25 Oct 2011 03:46 AM PDT

    Mandate Pictures has a script that they’d like Phillip Noyce to direct — “The Arrangement.”

    From Variety, here’s the ripped-from-today’s-headlines summary — “Story follows a married woman who makes a deal to spend three days with a wealthy man in exchange for a bailout loan, and then must choose between him and her husband.”

    And that, in turn, seems ripped from the novel that became the 1993 hit, “Indecent Proposal.” With a corrupt banking twist.

    The Australian Noyce has a mixed director as filmmaker, always doing well with more modest fare (“The Quiet American,” “Rabbit Proof Fence”) but landing all sorts of big ticket gigs (“Salt,” “Patriot Games,” “The Saint”), some of which aren’t all that.

    Movie Review: The Three Musketeers 3D

    Posted: 24 Oct 2011 01:38 PM PDT

    Perhaps, like me and hundreds of millions of others, you skipped Paul W.S. Anderson’s befouling of “The Three Musketeers” in 3D on its opening weekend.

    This is just a short note, well, a review, to point out our collective folly. This is a once-in-a-lifetime fiasco, an epic fail like none we have seen this year, a bad idea by a very bad director and a career-crippling credit for all concerned. You don’t want to miss it.

    It’s not that the acting is bad. Some of it, sure. The kid playing D’Artagnan, Logan Lerman, looks, acts and sounds like Shia Labeouf  in a Puss in Boots costume. And they found this otherworldly beauty to play his love interest, and Gabriella Wilde was put on this Earth to remind us that sometimes the scales balance, that stunning looks sometimes accompany a vacant stare.

    And there are clever touches — a prologue, narrated by the film’s Athos, the wonderful Matthew MacFadyen — sets the scene with toy soldiers and maps of 17th century Europe.

    But seriously, any movie whose first scene involves a 17th century scuba diving Ninja and climaxes with a 17th century airship battle must be by the director whose initials have long been rumored to stand for “What S–te,” British slang that rhymes with “bite.”

    We meet the Musketeers — the dashing Athos, the burly Porthos (Ray Stevenson) and soulful Aramis (Luke Evans) before they’ve fallen from favor. A mission betrayed by the treacherous Milady, played by Milla Jovovich as if she’s auditioning for “Resident Evil 8″ and yet thrilled to wear something other than vampire-killing togs.

    The young King Louis (Freddie Fox) is a fop. Plots are being hatched by Cardinal Richelieu (Christoph Waltz) to undo the monarchy by setting up the Queen (Juno Temple) as unfaithful. A major departure from the Dumas novel — in the book, she WAS in love with the Duke of Buckingham. Here’s, he’s a villain, that cad Orlando Bloom, as in “Whatever happened to Orlando Bloom?”

    The movie is all about departures from the novel, and the traditional way of telling this tale on film. Nothing wrong with that, or with staging the brawls as if they were meant to mimic the one-against-many fights in assorted Chinese martial arts movies. Anderson steals gimmicks from everything from “Hero” to “Master and Commander,” with “The Dark Knight,” “Tomb Raider,” Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Matrix” thrown in for good measure. In 3D, swords and sparks and airships and big flouncy hats fly off the screen. What fun!

    “Steal from one, you are a plagiarist, steal from many, you are a genius.” That maxim applies in most cases, but none involving Paul W.S. Anderson.

    The only apt comparison here is the movie that drove Sean Connery into retirement, that catastrophe, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” Alas, Paul W.S. Anderson isn’t an actor, and if one fiasco were his undoing, than his “Alien vs. Predator” career would have been smothered in the crib.

    But before that happens, you need to break out those 3D glasses and see this. “Musketeers” is a road accident fully deserving of a bit of gawking.

    MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of adventure action violence

    Cast: Matthew Macfadyen, Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, Christoph Waltz, Orlando Bloom

    Credits: Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, written by Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies, a Summit Entertainment release. Running time: 1:50

    EXCLUSIVE: Banderas on ‘Puss,’ ‘The Skin I Live In’ and ‘Zorba’

    Posted: 24 Oct 2011 08:26 AM PDT

    Antonio Banderas has “The Skin I Live In,” his latest collaboration with his friend and fellow Spaniard, Pedro Almodovar, already in theaters. And Friday he’s the star of DreamWorks’ new animated film, “Puss in Boots.” We talked at length about the cartoon, but also a little about the statement the movies make about him and his career, plans he has and plans 52 year old actor has and has had to put on hold.
    “The films (“Puss” and “Skin”) could not be more different from each other. But at the same time, it's almost a metaphor, them both coming out so close together. It's a metaphor for my whole life as an actor. Movies serve so many purposes. Light comedies, and serious movies that reflect the human condition, the complexities of the human soul.
    “But you know, both movies do that, in a way. I am very pleased to have these two different sides of my work in the movie theaters of America. I'm an actor. I tell stories, both for Almodovar, and for DreamWorks Animation.”
    He loves the laughs his incongruously big and sexy voice gets coming out of that “Tiny little kitty cat’s body” wins. But he sees more to “Puss” on the big screen.
    “When Puss tells the story of his life, it's this wonderfully tender scene. Very beautiful. We see him as an orphan, a baby, craving friendship, then betrayed by his friend. That's how I played it.
    “But when I saw it on the screen, they had found the comedy in that, visual jokes. It makes it work and makes the character even more lovable, I think.”

    If you get the new “Shrek” Halloween DVD, you can find the funniest moment Banderas has has in those movies, his hilarious version of “These Boots Were Made For Walking.” DreamWorks got him to cut the song, and intercut Banderas, doing his best Tom Jones in the booth, with Puss in Boots “performing” the song. (See below). Even now, Banderas laughs at that assignment.
    “We gave him this song, with that voice and that body, and it's funny. I am no Tom Jones, but I gave him the most powerful voice I could. It's kind of a mocking song, the way we did it. That was never in a movie, but I saw it turned up on Youtube.

    Banderas had been scheduled to bring a revival of “Zorba the Greek” to Broadway, a chance for him to sing ont the stage again, “but Pedro Almodovar called me for 'The Skin I Live In.' I don't turn down Pedro. It was time for us to get back together and work together again, and I don't regret the move. Quite the opposite.”
    “Zorba” remains on hold, he says.

    “I just an agreement with production companies in Spain and in France to produce movies. In April, I am doing a movie called 'Automata,' directed by a very young Spanish director, Gabe Ibanez. It's one of those Spanish promises.
    “Then I step behind the camera to direct for the third time, an original idea I had called 'Solo.' It's a post-apocalyptic movie about a returning Spanish general, home from Afghanistan. It will reflect on solitude, war and violence.”
    The last time we talked, he was trying to pull together another directing project, an epic period piece about the Spanish Reconquista.
    “In the world financial crisis, especially as is it is in Europe, it is difficult to find financing for big expensive period pieces. It's hard to get any movie made, much less one that will cost 50 million euros. The film will be burdened, if it has that budget in this climate.
    “So rather than that be a roadblock in the middle of my path, I went around it. I have met with financiers to do it, so when the time is right, I will be able to jump back into it.”
    Will there be “Puss in Boots” sequels?
    “Jeffrey Katzenberg (of DreamWorks Animation) is a very realistic person, and he knows the last word comes from the audience. They have to say if this character will go on. We will know, very very soon, if that happens. These kinds of franchises are MADE by the audience.”

    Movie Preview: The Avengers, ‘Sweded’

    Posted: 24 Oct 2011 07:44 AM PDT

    Here’s a “Be Kind, Rewind” riff on the trailer to “The Avengers” by a comedy troupe called DumbDumb.

    It’s been “Sweded,” as they said in that movie. Kinda funny, in a no budget (that’s the point) way. Sweet.

    Orlando Film Festival 5 — that’s a wrap

    Posted: 24 Oct 2011 05:34 AM PDT

    The fifth edition of the Orlando Film Festival ended Sunday night.
    Call it a success, as getting one of these things planned and executed is a Herculean task — movies to round up, parties to book, talent to fly in, etc.

    Over the course of the days I dropped in on it, I saw a steady trickle of audience, bigger crowds at night — but no “event” that I went to packed people in. Parties? Maybe. But I don’t go to a film festival for the parties, and few people do unless the parties promise a little glitz — movie stars, famous movie makers.

    Even the older, bigger Florida Film Festival has its down years, so perhaps we can write this off as one of those — a tight economy, studios stingier with the movies they lend to festivals (at no cost), less quality product out there to grab and show to film buffs. But I don’t think that’s the case with the OFF.

    Back when this festival started, with promises of bigger and better things every year, to pack in more glitz and glam and do it all downtown — things the Enzian-based Florida Film Festival hasn’t always done that well — OFF organizers griped that their named festival website would have to be “” instead “” Somebody without the interest or the wherewithal had snapped up the site name and kept it as a placeholder, perhaps wanting money just for the site name.

    But five years in, I keep waiting for the Orlando Film Festival to be something other than a placeholder, something more than a festival that gets by on being confused for the “other” Orlando Film Festival, the Oscar-qualifying/action packed (even in down years) Florida Film Festival. It hasn’t happened, and it doesn’t appear to be getting any closer to happening.

    Here’s the lineup at the Savannah Film Festival – Oliver Stone, Ellen Barkin, Ray Liotta, a mix of upcoming films (“A Dangerous Method”) and classics (Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon,” Stone’s “Born on the Fourth of July”). It’s a lovely city, with a prestigious arts/film school. But it’s a town a fraction of the size of Orlando, little of the money, and few of the things we have to offer. Why are they putting themselves on the map while the OFF is still just a placeholder festival?

    Here’s the lineup at Charlottesville’s more established Virginia Film Festival – Alexander Payne’s George Clooney film, “The Descendants,” “Albert Nobbs,” the Glenn Close dressed as an Englishman period piece, with Mia Wasikowska as one of their scheduled guests. This festival began life with deep pockets which went away, to some extent, when the sponsoring couple divorced. But the festival lives on, thrives, gathers names and prestige pictures that haven’t opened in the rest of the country yet. In a TINY city, with a tony university in the middle of it.

    Even tinier and admittedly tonier Sarasota’s Film Festival puts the Orlando Film Festival to shame, and some years, the Fla. Film Festival as well.

    Heck, not to rub anybody’s noses in it, but here’s the lineup of the Daytona Beach Film Festival, coming up Nov. 11-13. Several of the same titles as the OFF — mediocre titles suited to a festival for a city that is what, 1/10th the size of Orlando? A beach town with a couple of decent venues vs. an NBA city, top 25 TV market and a swank downtown cinema to show the movies in, and “Grills gone Wild” and “The Pill” and one no-name-stars indie movie after another, films that will never see the light of day after their showing at a small-time festival or three. And Daytona’s foreign film selection is so much better than what was rounded up here it’s as it the movies are still an afterthought.

    Just this week, major studios are previewing “My Week With Marilyn” and a couple of other upcoming titles here in Orlando. They’re going to the expense of renting a theater, inviting a non-paying audience (and critics) just to build interest and buzz in their pictures next month. Festivals take care of a lot of those details (theater, audiences, critics) for them, which is why studios sometimes provide their films to such festivals. Even if studios are stingier than they have been, you have to know what’s coming up in theaters to know what to ask for, you have to know to ask, and who to ask.

    A simple, no frills film festival posts its name and entry form on “Without a Box” and asks for submissions. It’s so simple even Sanford has launched a film festival that way. But a good film festival tracks what’s playing in other festivals and what’s opening in the next two months and nags/begs studios and filmmakers to let them show a several titles, even if only just once.

    A good film festival uses its local connections to bring talent from here back home to show off new work. It starts off by feting local talent, and works its way into bringing in bigger names (which cost money). Local hero Cheryl Hines came here to show “Serious Moonlight,” for instance. The OFF and Central Florida Film Festival (another one that shows a lot of weak movies that wouldn’t play anywhere else) do that better than the Fla. Festival most years. But that’s just a baseline thing to get right, a starting point.

    It takes time and the money to pay the professionals who put in the time to make these things happen. At the Orlando Film Festival, I see the same small (actually shrunken) list of sponsors I saw back when this operation started — trade-out sponsors, the host theater, a few others. The Orlando Film Festival needs to be able to fund-raise beyond the inner circle of founders it began with if it wants to be what it promised it would be, all those years ago. It’s need film festival pros in charge.

    They got their downtown film festival. They have a great venue to show the films in. But their chances to make a great first impression are being frittered away.

    Honestly, do you expect repeat moviegoers based on an opening night atrocity like “Virgin Alexander?”

    Does booking the runner-up for the audience award at the Tulsa Film Festival seem like a draw, to you? Seriously? Did all your energy go into your festival preview promos (and TV commercials), which weren’t very good?

    Here’s a hint. If  on the festival posters or by some miracle, the DVD box of the movies you’re rounding up the biggest festival “laurel” on the cover is “Official entry, Orlando Film Festival,” you need to aim higher. You need to attract a better class of movie. That means going after films that you hear about.

    When you do that, you get names from those movies to attend, you get buzz. You grow.

    Right now, you’re just holding a place, taking up space.