January 30, 2007

"Barbarella" Returning To The Big Screen

No, not Jane Fonda. Although, notwithstanding her seditious activity during Vietnam, it's hard for any man not to admit that - back in the day - she was pretty smokin' hot:

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But word is that the man who brought us the original "Barbarella" back in 1968, is geared up to re-introduce the character into what I'm sure will be a multi-picture series.

Now out promoting his new film "Hannibal Rising", legendary film producer Dino De Laurentis confirmed to NBC30 that he's creating a new franchise with the character.

De Laurentis quickly stated up front that the new film is "not a remake of 'Barbarella"' but "a completely new 'Barbarella.'"

At present no-one has been cast in the project, and the script is being worked on right now and will incorporate "love, sex, [and] adventure".

DeLaurentis is also the producer or executive producer behind such iconic films as the 1976 version of "King Kong", "Flash Gordon", "Conan The Barbarian" and the last three Hannibal Lector rip-offs movies.

Since the casting choice for the lead has not been made, I'd like to humbly offer my suggestion:

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Kim Bauer!!!! (aka Elisha Cuthbert)

Photo filched from Blogs4Bauer.com

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January 23, 2007

2006 Oscar Nominations (Or, "Movies I Didn't See")

OK, here are the nominations for this year's Academy Awards.

Here is a list of movies released in 2006, ranked by Total Domestic Gross (TDG).

Let's take the second list first. From that list, I can name the ones that I actually saw (with their TDG ranks):

#1. Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest
#2. Cars
#3. X-Men: Last Stand
#6. Superman Sucks Returns
#7. Ice-Age: The Meltdown
#10. Over The Hedge
#18. The Break-Up
#19. Scary Movie 4
#26. Saw III
#29. Charlotte's Web
#39. Rocky Balboa
#44. Flushed Away
#47. Underworld:Evolution (on DVD)
#49. Poseidon
#51. Little Miss Sunshine
#84. Accepted (on DVD)
#92. United 93
#102. Clerks 2
#133. Hollywoodland

That's it. Obviously as a father of three you can tell that a) I don't go out much and b) I see a lot of movies with my kids. Actually, now that I look at the list I'm surprised I saw as many movies as that.

Now go back to the first list. What you find is a whole lot of movies I haven't seen. Granted the ones on my list aren't all necessarily Oscar-worthy, but there are a handful.

I really liked "Little Miss Sunshine" and I suppose I'll root for that long-shot for Best Picture.

But the motivation for me to sit through a three-plus hour long awards show where a bunch of people, who make a living pretending to be other people, honor each other as if they've solved world hunger or found a cure for AIDS is...?

Dirty Harry at Libertas puts it this way:

I haven’t seen any of these, but for the most part, neither has anyone else. I have actors I’ll root for because of my affection for them, but can’t base that on these particular performances...

...The Oscars bore me to death. I am thinking about live-blogging them, but that would mean actually watching, so I’m not so sure.

That sounds about right.

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December 21, 2006

"Rocky Balboa" Is A Winner: My Review

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When I first heard about this project, I (like most of you out there) was very skeptical – and even a little cynical – about it. My first thought was “why?”.

The last Rocky movie was very disappointing on so many levels that I couldn’t imagine another installment of this franchise being worth seeing. I’m sure there are a lot of you out there who feel the same way.

Well, I saw “Rocky Balboa” last night in a packed theater full of enthusiastic people who wanted – and fully expected – a satisfying experience. They got what they paid for. more...

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August 08, 2006

Heading Out...

...to see "Clerks 2" before it leaves the theaters.

clerks2.bmp

Gonna check back on election results later tonight.

I'll leave you with this funny bit - when politics gets ugly. Enjoy!

h/t: HotAir.com

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July 21, 2006

Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center" A Winner

According to Cal Thomas, the Castro-hugging filmmaker actually got this one right. Not only is it not an anti-American screed, Thomas (no Liberal, he) contends that it's right up there on his list of favorite patriotic movies.

There is another element to this film that should be recognized and applauded. It is the overwhelming number of men and women of differing ethnicities in police and fire department uniforms who were so much a part of the good that shone forth through evil on that terrible day. At a time when we are engaged in a battle over illegal immigrants and the future of American culture, it should be encouraging to see so many who recently came from elsewhere behave like most Americans think real Americans should behave. They did, because they are real Americans.
It's refreshing to see a high-profile director like Stone celebrating what's good about America the way it is rather than what he thinks it should be.

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June 19, 2006

"Superman Returns"...Is That A Good Thing?

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Well, how'd we do?

Some of the early reviews are in - caution all contain some degree of spoilers (if it's actually possible to spoil a plot everyone is already familiar with):

Newsweek (thumbs up): "[Director Brian] Singer did the right thing. From the start of this gorgeously crafted epic, you can feel that Singer has real love and respect for the most foursquare comics superhero of them all, as well as a reverence for the Donner version, which serves as his visual and emotional template."

The Hollywood Reporter (thumbs up): "This high-wire act would have gone for naught if Routh had not so capably filled the Man of Steel's costume. Like Reeve, he is just right physically, looking at times like the old comic book drawings of Superman. There is honesty in his acting where the emotions that play across Superman/Clark Kent's face and body come from deep within."

Variety (thumbs up): "Singer imprints his handiwork with its own personality. Despite its acute awareness of what's come before, 'Superman Returns' is never self-consciously hip, ironic, post-modern or camp. To the contrary, it's quite sincere, with an artistic elegance and a genuine emotional investment in the material that creates renewed engagement in these long-familiar characters and a well-earned payoff after 2½ hours spent with them."

And then, to provide a little balast, we have a dissent from Libertas (F*** This Sh*t):

Superman Returns‘ FX tend to be on the hyper-detailed side, and impressive. Clearly about $200 million of the film’s budget was spent on FX, but after a while the visuals cease to be compelling. You just want a character, some recognizably human personality to hang on to. You can’t make a 2 1/2 hour film and not have characters - but that’s basically what Singer’s done here. He expects you to be ‘blown away’ so much that you don’t notice what’s missing: humanity, emotion, personality. One other point: superior filmmakers like George Lucas and Peter Jackson use visual effects to create worlds, new environments. Singer does none of that - his New York looks no different than Spider-Man’s New York, no different from any other New York - just louder and a lot more violent.

I’d like to stop the review here and make a suggestion to the powers-that-be in Hollywood. Although some of you read this blog, you won’t listen, because the din of the cash registers will be too loud when this film opens in a few weeks … but here goes anyway. Hollywood spends a lot of its time and seemingly all its money these days making superhero movies about guys with ’special powers.’ Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men, Daredevil, Hulk, Fantastic Four, etc., ad nauseum. And here’s the rub: I don’t remember guys like Humphrey Bogart or Gary Cooper or James Cagney or John Wayne or even Harrison Ford having ’special powers.’ The only ’special powers’ those guys had were their fists, their wits, and their character - their substance as human beings. Most of us in life don’t have ’special powers’ to brood over. We’re just regular Joes trying to get by, and we have a hard time relating to wonderboys like Brandon Routh or Tobey Maguire because their problems seem extremely trivial, and because while they probably look great in Zegna suits on the cover of GQ they don’t look like they can take a punch. Nor do they seem to stand for much. I know what Gary Cooper stood for in his films. I have no frigging clue what your cute little superheros stand for, other than their own narcissism.

Jason's review may seem harsh and more of a critique of the whole genre, but he does make some valid points. The original "Superman" and "Superman II" were heavy on character and story wrapped in a few well done visual effects and a kick-ass soundtrack. In his opinion, this is more of special effects showcase built around an existing set of characters. In other words, it rings hollow for him.

I felt something similar about this year's "Poseidon", but I think in this case the movie audience will look past this. There's something about "Superman" that really jacks up a young audience and fuels nostalgia for us old farts. I agree that the bar for great filmmaking has been substantially lowered over the last ten to twenty years. "Superman Returns" is probably not a great film. It probably won't stand the test of time as the originals (at least I & II).

But the bottom line is I have a ten-year old who can't wait to see it. And I can almost guaranty that he's going to love it. My own expectations are that I just hope that I like it. Because nowadays when I go to the theater, those are just about the best expectations I can realistically allow myself to have.

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June 03, 2006

"The Break-Up" Off To A Good Start

Reports have come in that the new Vince Vaughn/Jen Aniston comedy, "The Break-Up" pulled in a respectable $13.7 million last night, causing Universal to revise up their expectations for the opening weekend gross.

Look, here's the bottom line. This is another one of those "chick flicks" in raunch-comedy clothing. It's got something for him and for her. When was the last time you can remember a movie about relationships that the average guy is eager to see?

Vince Vaughn is such a big draw for men because he plays pretty much the same character in every movie. And as my friend, Kevin, says: "I'm perfectly OK with that". Except for the brief period when Vaughn would play a psychotic nutjob, his comedic talent is exactly what guys like me who were weaned on "Animal House", "Caddyshack" and "Stripes" appreciate - a confident, yet unpretentious style wrapped in an archtypical "everyman" package. He's the regular guy, but the one in the crowd who always seems to land on his feet.

Jennifer Aniston has really picked a series of unfortunate roles in films. But I recently saw her in "Friends With Money" and she was pretty damn good. It was actually the first time I saw her in a movie (besides "Office Space") and didn't think of Rachel from "Friends".

The key here is the chemistry that Vaughn and Aniston seem to have which should bode well for the film's success.

However, it's still way to early. Critics have savaged it, but most critics harbor an elitist attitude that handicaps a movie like this before they even see it. Aniston's off-screen problems with Brad Pitt have probably soured some of these folks on her as well. While this one has been much anticipated, it could easily tank after Sunday if word spreads that it doesn't meet expectations.

We shall see.

UPDATE: 6/5/06
All told, the film took in a little over $38 million. While it exceeded expectations and was the third-highest grossing opening weekend for a romantic comedy, the real test will be the next couple of weeks. Normally, movies lose about 50% in their second weekend. What it will come down to is word-of-mouth.

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May 17, 2006

"Poseidon" Review

Well here's a movie that was well hyped and was not only slammed by critics but fell well short of expectations for its opening weekend gross.

So, of course, I had to see it.

Let me start off by saying that the original, "The Poseiden Adventure", is my all-time favorite 1970's-era disaster flick. And one of the biggest reasons is Gene Hackman. I even own a VHS copy. That being said, I had adjusted my expectations down in the hope that they would be exceeded.

Here's the bottom line: It's "Titanic" without the two and a half hour build-up. more...

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May 01, 2006

"United 93" Review

I came away from this movie with three main observations:

1) The film answers a lot of questions about what happened that day. There isn't anything revealing in terms of new information but rather it presents these events in a way that shares the perspectives of everyone involved just as it happened. Even though what took place on the plane was pieced together mostly from transcripts of phone conversations between passengers and their loved ones as well as recordings from the cockpit, everything else that took place with the air traffic controllers, the FAA and NORAD are all painstakingly laid out so that we get a feel for what was going on behind the scenes while the rest of us could only watch and listen to news reports.

You can’t underscore enough how different a situation it was back then. Today, the idea of this kind of attack is so ingrained in our psyche as a reality of the world we live in. But before that day, the concept of a commercial aircraft being used as a weapon was inconceivable. It was a true sucker punch. While I can’t imagine something like that ever happening again knowing what we know now, no one could have dreamed of it happening in the first place up until after that moment.

2) The film was very well done. Presented in real time, it represents the last 90 minutes in the lives of everyone aboard that plane. Even though we all know the ending, since the editing is so tight and the information presented in the same way as it unfolded during those moments we, the audience, almost feel like there is a slight chance that the result will be different. It's completely free of politics or finger-pointing. It's practically a documentary.

3) This is an extremely important film. Because the result wasn’t different. It was as horrible as we remember. And for those who see this movie, every emotion and memory you had from that day – no matter how much they have receded into your brain’s long-term storage - will come back to you. You will relive that morning. As painful as it may be, it’s important that we all do that.

The greatest value "United 93" offers is not so much a reminder to those who lived through it of what happened or the kind of enemy we face. Rather, it will better serve those too young to remember or who were not yet born. Because we will still be fighting this enemy in the decades to come. And they need to understand what happened that day; not as a couple of paragraphs in a social studies text but as it actually happened and what it meant for this country.

If you have kids who are now teenagers and better prepared to handle the intensity of these events, I recommend that they see it as well. Be aware that there is some violence aboard the plane and some harsh language used by those on the ground who are trying to come to grips with what's going on (a few f-bombs were dropped out of frustration by folks at NORAD). You know you're own kids best. If they can handle "Saving Private Ryan" they can handle this.

"United 93" came in #2 at the box office this weekend. But as was the case with "The Passion", I think that word of mouth will keep this film in the top five for the next month or two. Anyway, thems my two cents.

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"United 93" Review Coming Soon...

Saw the film on Saturday but I've been away from the 'net. Soon as I get my bearings, I'll post the review.

Note - now that the "80's Crush Tournament" is over I will be featuring a weekly poll on whatever strikes my fancy in the sidebar. I'm leaving it where it is for now but I'll be moving it lower so keep an eye out for it.

UPDATE:
Welcome "Blue Crab Boulevard" readers! The review is HERE.

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April 27, 2006

"United 93" Endorsed By Father Of Todd Beamer

David Beamer, father of United Airlines passenger Todd Beamer who lost his life on that fateful flight, says the filmmakers "got it right". He wrote an Op-Ed in the WSJ Online today. He calls the film a wake-up call to a nation coming perilously close to forgetting the events of that day and enemy that we now face.

"There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can't we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let's discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life.

I encourage my fellow Americans and free people everywhere to see 'United 93.'

Be reminded of our very real enemy. Be inspired by a true story of heroic actions taken by ordinary people with victorious consequences. Be thankful for each precious day of life with a loved one and make the most of it. Resolve to take the right action in the situations of life, whatever they may be. Resolve to give thanks and support to those men, women, leaders and commanders who to this day (1,687 days since Sept. 11, 2001) continue the counterattacks on our enemy and in so doing keep us safe and our freedoms intact.

May the taste of freedom for people of the Middle East hasten victory. The enemy we face does not have the word 'surrender' in their dictionary. We must not have the word 'retreat' in ours. We surely want our troops home as soon as possible. That said, they cannot come home in retreat. They must come home victoriously. Pray for them."

Some people muse the the release of this film may be too soon. My concern is that, for some, it may be too late.

Hat tip: Libertas

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April 18, 2006

Irony

This is the movie poster for Al Gore's "global warming" scare flick:

inconvenient.jpg

Does anyone else see the pack of penquins blindly following each other into a desert as a metaphor for the radical environmentalist movement?

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The Early Buzz On "United 93"

Is very good.

Opens in theaters April 28th. Dennis Prager declares that "All Americans Must See 'United 93'".

Jason Apuzzo at Libertas asks if Americans are "ready" to see the film. His answer: most definitely yes.

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April 03, 2006

"Basic Instinct 2" Goes Over Like A Turd In The Punchbowl

Well, despite the prospect of seeing 48-year old Sharon Stone stark naked and performing deviant sex acts, the much-hyped sequel to "Basic Instinct" made as much money this weekend as "Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector" (which is in its second week of release).

And who does the director of the original film blame? The U.S. government. No, really?!? Dutch-born Paul Vernoeven, the man who brought you such flops as "Showgirls" and "Hollow Man", says that the American government has been foisting its Christian values on its citizenry, making them unwilling to embrace "erotica".

"Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States," said the Dutch native. "Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values. And Christianity and sex have never been good friends."

Scribe Nicholas Meyer, who was an uncredited writer on 1987's seminal sex-fueled cautionary tale "Fatal Attraction," agrees, noting that the genre's downfall coincides with the ascent of the conservative political movement.

"We're in a big puritanical mode," he said. "Now, it's like the McCarthy era, except it's not 'Are you a communist?' but 'Have you ever put sex in a movie?'"

Oh, give me freakin' break. A country that has spent (to date) $82 million to see a love story between two gay sheep herders is in a "big puritanical mode"? Nice try, guys. But the sad truth is that the movie SUCKED

Even people who are really into "erotic" thrillers could see this one for what it is: a rehashed concept without any of the elements that made the original so popular.

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March 27, 2006

Netflix Reviews

I'm stealing the idea of reviewing by weekly Netflix movies from Robbo the Llama Butcher. I signed up a couple of weeks ago and I've found that probably the best thing about this service is that because of its flexibility I end up watching a lot more DVDs that I have in a long time. Hey, when you have young kids, it's hard to motivate yourself to go out to Blockbuster or some other video store and wander up and down the display of new releases (a buddy of mine designates it as the "wall of shame") and find something - anything - worth taking a chance and wasting $5 and two hours on.

With the Netflix, you have plenty of time to browse, read reviews, discuss with the wife and throw a bunch of stuff in your queue.

First off, let be be upfront. My name is Gary and I'm a "24" addict. I'm most of the way through season one at this point and I'm kicking myself for not watching this first run. The biggest problem at this point are spoilers and I've come to accept the fact that no character is safe on this show. Any one of them can get killed off if future seasons and many are. So I'm just resigned to that fact. But this doesn't take away from the intensity of the show. I look forward to season two and beyond.

Next up, "Bend It Like Beckham". This was one my wife saw with friends at the theater a while back and she's been bugging me to see it. It's a bit more than your standard sports coming of age story. Yes, you have the teenage girl dealing with parental expectations thing. There's also the Indian v. British cultural clash aspect. But the main thrust of the story is about women who love to play football/soccer trying to make it in a "man's sport". One of things that struck me is that while Europe is often seen in this country as being so "progressive" and culturally "open-minded" the best these girls can aspire to is playing professionally in the U.S. Where are all the European women's sporting leagues? No where to be found, eh?

The United States has the WUSA, the WNBA, the LPGA...even a professional women's American Football league. Now, granted these leagues don't have anywhere near the popularity of the men's pro sports organizations but at least there's the opportunity for women athletes to compete in the sports they excel in, and get paid for it. I guess Europe has a long way to go in this respect.

Anyway, the film is funny and well-done. The lead character is Jess Bhamra, played by Parminder Nagra (who is currently starring in the series "ER"), whose talents with a soccer ball are noticed by Jules Paxton (Keira Knightly). Jules invites Jess to play on a amateur women's team she belongs to. Jess joins the team against the wishes of her parents, who would rather she follow her sister's example and find a nice Indian man to marry. The results are both comical and touching as Jess does her best to manage her family's desires and aspire to her own.

Lastly, I finally got around to seeing "Sideways" and was pleasantly surprised. Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) is a middle-aged English teacher and aspiring (but failing) writer who is really in his element when evaluating wines but is a guy who otherwise is not comfortable in his own skin. He heads up to Northern California on a week-long roadtrip with his buddy, Jack, who is getting married the following Saturday. Miles introduces his friend to the joys of wine and wine-tasting (though often a little too much tasting) but Jack is more interested in getting laid before he takes the big plunge.

The story is well-written and we gradually get to understand what makes these guys tick, especially Miles. Both men begin to reevaluate their lives at middle-age and ask the same questions that we all do - who are we and what do we really want out of life. Their exploration of wine-country leads to an exploration of themselves. There is a particularly well-written scene where Miles is discussing wine with Maya, the lead female character (Virginia Madsen), and the wine becomes a metaphor for life itself. I can see where some people might find the ending too ambiguous or open-ended but the key to the conclusion is Miles' personal growth. Where it goes from there, the viewer can fill in the blanks.

This is one of those films I think I'll probably watch again sometime - with a bottle or two of some good wine. Being a novice on the subject, I'm open to suggestions.

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March 17, 2006

"P" For Paranoid

There's been a lot of buzz generated by today's release of "V For Vendetta", the latest offering from the Wachowski Brothers (who managed to take a very cool "The Matrix" and turn it into a bucket of crap with its subsequent tedious sequels).

For those who don't know much about it, the preview makes it look pretty interesting. But before you plop down your $9 to make sure you're not the only one you know who hasn't seen it, you should be mindful that this film is more than just a heroic take on terrorism and anarchy. It's essentially a Left-wing paranoid fantasy that goes after the subject of fear-mongering by doing exactly that.

In an earlier post I highlighted this early review from the Conservative film blog, Libertas. It's worth linking again. Read the whole thing.

It's you're time and money, but just be aware of what you're paying to see.

Update: 11:45am
Debbie Schlussel weighes in to point out all of the Left's favorite screeds that are present in the film.

UPDATE: 3/21/06 9:30AM
Some people have called making this film an act of courage. Bah! Mark My Words takes a look at this claim.

According to Box Office Mojo, although it was the number one movie this past weekend, it only pulled in $25 million. And as far as opening weekends go, that's a little below average for a "comic book" film. It's just a bit more than the opening weekends for such stinkers as "Hellboy" and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" but less than "Sin City" and "Blade II". On the all-time rankings for opening weekends it ranked 201 just behind "Big Momma's House".

It will be interesting to see what the effect of word-of-mouth will have in next couple of weeks.

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March 14, 2006

Hollywood Polarization?

America is dividing into Red States and Blue States. Will Hollywood follow suit? Jason Apuzzo of Libertas looks at the new formula for movie-making that's veering away from the standard blockbuster strategy.

Liberal Hollywood makes Liberal movies on the cheap. They hype them up, get lots of free publicity and have a narrow, yet loyal, market: Blue State America and the International community. Put it another way:

One company that’s adopted “Fahrenheit [911]”’s model is Participant Productions, founded by eBay’s Jeff Skoll. Participant co-produced “Syriana,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “North Country,” and soon will release the Al Gore documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and Richard Linklater’s adaptation of “Fast Food Nation.” None of these films cost very much (”Good Night” cost only $6 million), and are easy films to sell to the sort of people who read The Huffington Post or The Daily Kos. Crazy as this may sound, this business model is increasingly making sense in Hollywood’s competitive marketplace.

So here’s the bad news: Hollywood doesn’t need the Heartland anymore. There’s basically no pressure for Hollywood to change what it’s doing, because there are plenty of Blue State audiences and DVD sales out there to make even something like the gender-bending “Transamerica” a hit, so long as the film doesn’t cost too much.

I’ve heard conservatives tell me for years that ‘market forces’ will eventually force Hollywood to change, become more mainstream. The argument goes something like this: Hollywood’s product will eventually become so toxic, so nakedly political, that there will eventually be a ‘backlash’ from the public - at which point things in Tinseltown will magically change for the better.

Guess what? It ain’t happening. Hollywood simply doesn’t need the Red States any more. Hollywood’s more interested in how a film plays in Mexico or France these days than in Kansas. After all, Charles Krauthammer may hate “Syriana” - but the Germans and the Brits love it! So do the Spanish and the Italians. That’s the global economy for you - Hollywood’s now out-sourcing its audience.

But there's an upside to this trend, writes Apuzzo - one in which Conservative filmmakers can capitalize.
Phillip Anschutz’s Walden Media turned a lot of heads in conservative circles last year by pumping about $180 million into “The Chronicles of Narnia.” It was a great, successful experiment - but you won’t see another “Narnia” until 2007 - and in the meantime Hollywood will go about its usual business, merrily bashing Bush.

Anschutz’s $180 million could just as easily support twenty films - maybe about the War on Terror? Maybe about loopy Marxist academics? Maybe about snotty West Hollywood liberals who drive gas-guzzling SUVs? Anything’s possible.

Wouldn’t it be fun if a conservative company followed the model of Participant Productions, and pumped out a few low-budget conservative films each year? Such a company could kick-start a conservative film revolution. It would be a refreshing change from what we’ve become accustomed to - and wouldn’t it be great for our side to make George Clooney angry for once, rather than the other way around?

Interesting concept. We shall see.

Jason's article is also posted at Townhall.com.

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March 10, 2006

"Private Joker, Why Did You Join My Beloved Corp?!?"

Friday entertainment: One of the funniest scenes of any movie, ever.

For your enjoyment. NSFW (best use headphones)

h/t: BMEWS

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February 17, 2006

This Is The New Bond Girl?!?

eva_green2.jpg

You've got to be kidding me. French actress Eva Green (who?) has been tapped to be in the new James Bond film, "Casino Royale".

"Eva is one of France's most accomplished young actresses, now receiving international acclaim," producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli said Thursday in a statement. "She brings to the complex role of Vesper an exciting combination of enigmatic and seductive beauty."
Ahem. Guys, the audiences for these films don't want to pay good money to see some "accomplished young actress" that looks like the angel of death! They want hot babes that look good in tight-fitting costumes and can credibly look like they know how to shoot a gun.

Does the script for "Casino Royale" call for a Goth chick or something? I had to reduce the picture size because she's so ghastly. What the hell has this franchise come to? First a blonde Bond, now this?

The movie takes place on the Riviera, right? Well, if she's got to be French, I'd like to offer a much more palatable alternative:

melissa theuriau should be new bond girl.jpg

Hey, you want a Bond girl? Tune in tomorrow for the "80's Crush Of The Week" and I'll show you a real Bond girl.

UPDATE - 4:00pm:
In the meantime, they've also announced the new actress to play Lara Croft: Tomb Raider:

new lara croft2.jpg

Oh yeah, THAT'S more like it. Guess which ticket I'm gonna buy? Face it, Lara Croft is the new James Bond.

Posted by: Gary at 03:15 PM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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February 06, 2006

Disney, Heal Thyself

If Disney President and CEO makes no other important decisions about the future of his company, he will have earned his pay by negotiating the recent purchase of Pixar. His predecessor, Michael Eisner, had so poisoned the existing partnership with the pioneer of computer-generated (CG) animation that this summer's release "Cars" would likely have been the last production released by Disney had Eisner still been around.

I've always felt that Disney hadn't released a single memorable non-Pixar animated film since "The Lion King", which is not coincidentally when Jeffrey Katzenberg - himself fed up with Eisner - left the company to start Dreamworks SKG with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Eisner was the worst possible CEO for a company that was founded on a commitment to quality family entertainment. He wielded his power like a tyrant, pushing out any source of dissent including forcing Roy Disney off the Board of Directors. It was no secret that most of people who worked under Eisner despised him.

While I was initially skeptical that Iger could engineer a turnaround for the media giant, I was glad to see this recent merger happen as a step in the right direction. Pixar CEO Steve Jobs made out pretty well too. In the deal, he garnered a 6% share of Disney stock and a seat on the Board of Directors. And the understanding between the two men is that Disney management will not interfere with the creative style of the Pixar group - a style that Disney had embraced in its earlier years. Maybe the Pixar culture could actually rub off a little on the current Mouse House.

The biggest plus for Disney in that John Lasseter will be in charge of the new business unit. Michael Levine describes today in the Washington Times why this is so significant:

Mr. Lasseter is the creative genius behind the Pixar animated films, and will bring back to Disney what the company's entertainment has been lacking in recent years -- strong story sense and characters children especially can find adorable.

That's no small thing. Characters drive the animated films, for sure, but they also are the major force behind many of the theme-park attractions and myriad products, television programming and corporate identity Disney has traded on so successfully in the past. Think about Buzz Lightyear, the entire Incredibles family, and Dory, the absent-minded fish voiced by Ellen Degeneres in "Finding Nemo." Now, try and think of one character from "Chicken Little" or "Atlantis: The Lost Continent." See the difference?
For the record, I thought "Chicken Little" was pretty decent. But on the other hand, it paled in comparison to such Pixar features as "Finding Nemo" and "The Incredibles", both films that go to the heart of the importance of family and the meaning of parenthood.

Bravo, Disney! Now get to work!

Posted by: Gary at 09:30 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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