Sunday, September 28, 2008


Cool Hand Luke Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Newman - rebel with cause Young Newman

After over 50 years on the silver screen, beloved actor Paul Newman died at the age of 83. Giving us such iconic roles as Luke Jackson from "Cool Hand Luke" and Butch Cassidy from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Newman brought an emotional depth to the "Hollywood leading man," picking up where predecessors, like Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant, left off. Breaking into the public eye with his performance as criminal-turned-boxer Rocky Graziano in Robert Wise's biopic "Somebody Up There Likes Me," Newman sported his tortured charisma and attracted the attention of Hollywood big shots. The young actor followed up the breakout role playing one of the Twentieth-Century's great conflicted heroes, that of Brick from Tennesee Williams' "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof." Newman garnered his first Oscar nom for the role (Best Actor), earning 9 more nominations (and one win for "The Color of Money") throughout his film career. Newman soon became the "leading man of leading man," defining, and redefining, the term, playing naive poolhand Eddie Felson in "The Hustler," the cocky farmer's son Hud Bannon in "Hud" and conflicted playboy Lew Harper in "Harper" within five years of eachother. All of these roles, classic in their own right, came together in Luke Jackson, perhaps Newman's great character and most impressive performance.


- The Hustler (1961)
- Hud (1963)
- Cool Hand Luke (1967)
- Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
- The Sting (1973)
- Slap Shot (1977)
- The Verdict (1982)
- The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
- Road to Perdition (2002)
- Empire Falls (2005)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Eagle Eye Review

D.J. Caruso's Eagle Eye brought one of the best trailers I've seen for a film in recent years. It's disappointing the film doesn't live up to the promised mystery and suspense. Shia Lebouf brings his usual charm and a little more heart than seen in his other adventure this year. Michelle Monaghan plays a single mother "activated" by Eagle Eye and motivated to save her son. She tends to bring the most laughs, unintended or not, especially in a certain shotgun wielding scene. Billy Bob Thornton plays his usual self as a wisecracking government agent chasing Lebouf through countless obstacles. If one though the big brother overtones in The Dark Knight were over the top, I can't describe how ridiculous the themes in this film are. An interesting premise at first becomes tired out when we are introduced to the government "eagle eye" project. A film like this should be pure popcorn adrenaline fueled fun, instead it becomes too big for its own good by tackling themes that should be reserved for films that have some type of character development. With that said when the action comes it delivers. Shia and Michelle are involved in series of events "impossible" to escape, only to be aided by the mysterious eagle eye voice at the last second. It's fun, mindless and will warrant your ticket purchase. If you can forget the overbearing political themes than you have an enjoyable thriller that will keep you entertained.

6 out of 10

Monday, September 22, 2008

Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York Movie Trailer

I really wanted to see this film at TIFF, but didn't have a chance to. I love Kaufman and Hoffman so, after this fantastic trailer, this is shaping up to be one of my most anticipated of the year.

'Synedoche New York' Theatrical Trailer @ Yahoo! Video

Official Plot Synopsis: Synecdoche, New York explores nightmares that are all too realistic and human. Its hero, Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is a 40-year-old local theater director in Schenectady whose life is collapsing around him. His marriage to his artist wife Adele (Catherine Keener) is on its last legs while at the same time he is stricken with a series of increasingly catastrophic illnesses. He is afraid he will die any moment having never accomplished anything important in his life. When he receives a MacArthur Grant, he decides to use the windfall to stage a massive theater piece in NYC, determined to create The Great Piece of Art and leave something as true, honest and heartbreaking as life itself. It’s one of those rare films that deals with death, excruciating illness, gross bodily fluids, despair, heartbreak and bad sex but can still bring a twinkle to the eye.

You can watch the trailer in High Definition on Yahoo. Synecdoche, New York hits theaters on October 24th 2008.

Revolutionary Road Movie Trailer Arrives

Based on the novel by Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road tells the story of a young couple trying to find fulfillment in an age of conformity. Trapped in a world of encoded convention, they dream without faith, as lies and self-deceptions build to explosive consequences.

Revolutionary Road hits theaters Dec 26th, 2008.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Return of the Rourke

Remember Marv from "Sin City"? Ugly, tough, scarred? The essential bad-ass? Well, that same actor, one Mickey Rourke, was once the James McAvoy/Ryan Gosling of the early 80s; a good-looking acting dynamo who garnered critical comparisons to a young De Niro after films like "Diner," "Barfly," and "Rumble Fish." Flash forward 25 years later and Rourke is something less than a shell of his former self. The actor is now washed-up, flesh-out, and objectively unattractive. He also just gave the best performance of his career and is currently the frontrunner for a Best Actor Oscar next year. The film is "The Wrestler," directed by Darren Aronofsky, who has gained cult and critical acclaim for such stylistic indies as "Pi" and "Requeim For a Dream." This new film marks a new direction for Aronofsky, keeping the camerawork simple, the cinematography grainy, and the on-screen emotion generally reserved. Rourke plays Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a professional wrestler who is washed-up 20 years after being regarded as the best in the business (sound familiar?). And, not surprisingly, Rourke embodies Randy disturbingly well, exercising the man's angels and demons with a potent accuracy. Screenwriter Robert B. Siegel offers up a rather traditional screenplay, closely following Syd Field's three-act structure until the climax. This works for the film, which is filmed patientially by Aronofsky, using several long shots and a few long, dialogue driven scenes to fully examine its protagonist. While some may be turned off by the violence inside the wrestling ring (fake or not, it looks as though these guys take a beating), squint through it and fall in love with a character no one seems to love.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Slumdog" Wins at Toronto

Slumdog Millionaire Wins People's Choice

Variety: Danny Boyle’s "Slumdog Millionaire" hit the jackpot, nabbing the people’s choice award at the 33rd annual Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

"Slumdog" cast member Freida Pinto was on hand at the fest’s closing kudos brunch Saturday to accept the award, which comes with a C$15,000 ($14,141) cash prize. "This is a film about an underdog who believes in something, and is a tribute to Mumbai," Pinto said.

The fest, which opened Sept. 4 and unspooled more than 300 films, had a definite underdog vibe.

"It was a difficult year," TIFF CEO Piers Handling said in opening remarks. "People felt some of the films they took up last fall did not perform that well, so there was a sense of slight gloom and depression."

Still, he pointed to high-profile U.S. sales of "The Wrestler," "Che" and "The Hurt Locker" and international sales of "Skin" and "Valentino" among many other deals still in motion as proof the fest was well worth the trip for its 3,000-plus sales and industry delegates.

The Fipresci international critics’prize for a pic in Special Presentations went to Steve Jacobs’ "Disgrace," starring John Malkovich.

"Lymelife," starring Alec Baldwin and Rory and Kieran Culkin, won the Fipresci jury’s prize for a film in the Discovery program.

"Here come the Americans," joked "Lymelife" helmer Derick Martini, one of the few non-Canadians in the room. In town for pic’s final screening, a completely surprised Martini accepted the award for his tale of family dynamics in 1970s Long Island after an outbreak of Lyme disease. "This is a very personal film and I’m so appreciative of the festival."

Cassian Elwes of William Morris Independent is fielding several offers, according to "Lymelife" producer Jonathan Cornick. Martin Scorsese exec produced.

Jury president Jonathan Rosenbaum said he and fellow crix Nick Roddick, Elie Castiel, Ranjita Biswas, Kim Linekin and Pablo Scholz were in complete agreement on both winners, despite the large number of films considered.

Brit helmer Steve McQueen’s Camera d’Or winner "Hunger," the much-lauded drama about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, picked up the Discovery Award, voted on by 1,000 international film scribes attending the fest. Award offers a $9,433 cash prize.

The top Canuck pics are both stories of isolation: Helmer Rodrigue Jean’s "Lost Song" won for Canadian feature, while Marie-Helene Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu’s "Before Tomorrow" won for Canadian first feature. Special citations went to Atom Egoyan’s "Adoration" and Lyne Charlebois’ "Borderline."

Chris Chong Chan Fui’s "Block B," an experimental pic about an expat Indian community in contemporary Malaysia , won for Canadian short.

The festival closed Saturday night with a gala screening of helmer-writer Charles Martin Smith’s "Stone of Destiny." Dubbed the Scottish "Big Chill," pic is based on the true story of a 1951 raid by four Glaswegian students to "steal" back a symbol of Scottish pride. [via]

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gotham Takes Over IMAX....Again

Seems like The Dark Knight is coming back to theaters. Could the only reason be to push it past Titanic to the number one domestic unadjusted gross? According to Reuters, the studio planning a January 2009 IMAX rerelease, as an award season reminder. It is “uncertain” if the film will also be redistributed on conventional screens, but I don’t see why not. But with the DVD / Blu-ray rumored to hit store shelves one month earlier, just in time for Christmas, will moviegoers be interested in seeing The Dark Knight on the big screen one more time? [via]

Wes Anderson Finds His New "Best Friend"

Variety is reporting that Wes Anderson has been tapped to write and possibly direct an American remake of the French film Mon Meilleur Ami(My Best Friend). The original movie chronicled the adventures of François, an arrogant and unpleasant antique dealer who was challenged by his business partner, Catherine, to produce his best friend (not believing that he had one). If he succeeds, he will be able to retain possession of a valuable Greek vase he purchased using company money. François sets out to look for a best friend and finds Bruno, a gregarious cabbie, who will hopefully help him win the bet.

Between My Best Friend and the upcoming animated film The Fantastic Mr. Fox based on Roald Dahl’s bookit seems like Anderson is really stepping out of his comfort zone and trying new things. Although I’m not Anderson’s biggest fan, I have always agreed with the assessment that he’s one of the more talented directors of his generation. Like many things, I’m willing to take the wait-and-see approach before deciding if he can give this quasi-generic storyline a unique spin. [via]

What do you think about Anderson doing a remake?

Spielberg and Dreamworks Being Sued for Disturbia's Rear Window similiarities

When does a homage go too far? In this story from Reuters Spielberg and Dreamworks are being sued for ripping off Hitchcock's 1954 classic Rear Window.

According to the lawsuit, "Disturbia" and the "Rear Window" story are "essentially the same." Both are murder mysteries beginning with a man who, while peering from his window, witnesses strange behavior in the home of his neighbor.

The protagonist in all three of the works behaves in essentially the same way, interacts with similar characters and the plot unfolds in basically the same way, the lawsuit said.

"In the Disturbia film the defendants purposefully employed immaterial variations or transparent rephrasing to produce essentially the same story as the Rear Window story," the lawsuit said.

When Disturbia was released many saw the distinct similarities to Hitchcock's Rear Window. Where is the line drawn? Most films today take some type of past story or filmmaking style and transform it to their own way. Did Disturbia take it too far?

Poll: Favorite/Most Anticipated TIFF Film?

As many of us know the Toronto International Film Festival is this week. The festival usually brings a mix of high-profile Oscar contenders with a wide variety of foreign fare. This year the festival has much larger variety of smaller films taking away the focus from the big premieres. 

This weeks poll asks what film are you most anticipated to see or, if you are attending the festival, what was your favorite?

My early answer is Slumdog Millionare, having seen last Sunday, while greatly looking forward to The Wrester this Saturday and eventually wanting to see Che and Zach and Miri Make a Porno when they hit theaters.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Is Michael Bay the new Dr.Kavorkian?

We all know the pleasant Dr.K as the man who 'willfully' took peoples lives from them as they, apparently, asked for their lives to be cut short. Now in the realm of cinematic nurturings, there's no better analogy for Dr.K then our constant filmic target practice, Michael Bay. Why do you ask? Well it's simple: Aside from Uwe Boll and all those cinematic abortions we call '____ Movie' (Superhero movie, Disaster movie, etc.), Michael Bay is the lowest form on the movie art chain. He takes someones script (in the Dr.k analogy stage, a person) and destroys it (again, in the Dr.k realm, kills it). With Transformers 2 coming up next year (Kinda wish both of Shia's hands were destroyed in his accident), yet another terrible release is about to be unleashed upon the masses. Now, you have to ask yourself, should it stay or should it go? Quite briefly, and yours truly - Joe Strummers Ghost.

Bond Returns: Quantum of Solace Trailer #2

Daniel Craig returns as Bond on Nov. 18th, 2008. Here is the 2nd trailer available in SD, 480p, 720p, and 1080p

Trailer looks like Quantom of Solace will not disappoint. Filled with proof that this really is the "bloodiest Bond ever".


Here is the cover of Craig on the October Empire Magazine

TIFF Roundup: Slumdog Millionare, Goodbye Solo, + more

I got to Toronto Friday night and saw the following films on Saturday and Sunday:

The Sky Crawlers:

Being not too fond of most anime I decided to give this one a chance. The opening battle in the sky was great. After that it derived into the boring dialogue driven anime I can not stand. The second battle was breathtaking but the fact that there wasn't anymore action the rest of the film put me to sleep. If you love anime give this a chance, if not avoid at all costs.

3 out of 10

Goodbye Solo:

Ramin Bahrani's 3rd major feature revolves around the relationship between a young cab driver and an older elderly man. The lack of questions Bahrani answers makes the film continually engaging. The viewer is dropped into the middle of the relationship and left to decipher what is unfolding. The only criticism I have is the lack of "flash" and minimalistic approach made the film drag.

7 out of 10

Tale 52 

A stylish film about relationships and loss. For a film that is a little over an hour and half it feels like it lasts much longer due to the unnecessary prolonged ending. The repitition, an interesting an idea at first, is way overused and by the fourth time you have seen the same scene it tends to bore. I loved the experimental style playing with focus and edits. I would
 like to see this director take on another film with a better story.

6 out of 10

Before Tomorrow 

A slow moving, beautifully shot tale of Inuits as the came into encounter with the Europeans. The film moves at a very slow pace filled with steady shots of Inuit life and focus on the family. The performances and camerawork are exceptional, giving a documentary type feel. The story and the long shots started to wear me out towards the end of the film. It's still a fine debut from Canadian filmmakers Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Ivalu.

6 out of 10

Slumdog Millionaire  

Being a Danny Boyle lover (yes, 
even the last 3rd of  2007's Sunshine) I had pretty high expectations for the film. I can't say how satisfied I was. 
The style of Boyle with a engaging well written story. I couldn't ask for more.  The film follows Jamal Malik, played by Dev Patel, playing the Indian version of Who Wants to Be A Millionare. Going into the film I would think it would be slightly gimmicky, but that quickly changed as we learn what is so important about the game. We are met with destruction and sadness as we see the "slumdog's" poverty stricken life. Moments of happiness and laughter counter thanks to Simon Beaufoy's engaging script. The film has nonstop energy, only trickling a bit towards the end. I encourage everyone to see this when it hits theaters. November 28th in the US thanks to Warner Bros and Fox Searchlight

9 out of 10

Look for the next roundup after Sat's TIFF films:

The Wrestler 
What Doesn't Kill You 
Miracle at St. Anna

Welcome to The Film Stage

I've decided to start a blog. The main focus will be all things related film with occasional music and tv news. Hope you enjoy!