Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Before They Were Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal

Totally forgot that Jake Gyllenhaal was in City Slickers. Here's 11-year-old Jake in cowboy hat being interviewed on a British TV show. Cute overload warning.

Crop This

This problem might not be a major issue for the average renter out there, but being a stickler for the preservation of the original theatrical aspect ratios of films - or at least, the original ratio the director intended their films to be seen - there seems to be an alarming rise of cropping occurring with Australian/NZ/UK releases. The most disconcerting example recently is the case of Rodrigo Cortes' thriller Buried starring Ryan Reynolds.

Icon Home Entertainment, for some reason which I hope soon will be made clear, have chosen to release the DVD and Blu-ray of the film cropped from its OAR of 2.35:1 to 1.77:1. As far as I'm concerned, such practice is unacceptable in this day and age, especially with customers being guaranteed the optimal presentation of films on home video via Blu-ray and the like. It's what, 15 years since DVD debuted, and films are still being cropped arbitrarily here and there? If anything new technology should educate the consumer of such matters, not the other way around.

The 1st image shows the US Lionsgate release in its OAR, the 2nd shows what we get.

Not only do we lose more image, we lose a sense of the director's vision, his composition of the shot.

Here's an excellent, and funny post about the ridiculousness of Buried's cropping, and this is a list of some Aus/NZ-releases titles that have been cropped (I'd add to that list Tell-Tale as well).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The World's Greatest Extra

I'm glad that there are people out there who have time to notice this kinda stuff. And this isn't just a case of a Hey, It's That Guy!-character actor-spotting, it's a freakin' EXTRA. Anyway, the extra in question, Jesse Heiman, has achieved viral fame now, and it wouldn't surprise me if he started getting substantial parts in Judd Apatow comedies in the future...

In Cinemas This Week

Get Low - Oscar winners Robert Duvall and Sissy Spacek team up to tell the true story of irascible Felix Bush, a backwoods Tennessee loner who planned his funeral in 1938 while he was still around to attend - and enjoy - the proceedings. Director Aaron Schneider's deft blend of dark humor and poignancy also stars Bill Murray as Frank Quinn, the huckster owner of a failing funeral home, and Lucas Black as his dubious assistant.

Red Riding Hood - This spooky re-imagining of the classic dark-woods folk tale stars Amanda Seyfried as Valerie, a village girl who's confronting a tumultuous romantic situation when a legendary werewolf slaughters her sister. Valerie enlists the help of a veteran demon hunter (Gary Oldman) to destroy the creature, but as each cycle of the moon brings fresh deaths, Valerie begins to realize that the murderous beast may be closer to her than she'd ever dreamed.

World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles - Led by their skillful staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart), a platoon of gutsy Marines, including Santos (Michelle Rodriguez), Simmons (Taylor Handley) and Lockett (Cory Hardrict), fight to protect all humankind from astonishingly powerful aliens who've suddenly invaded Los Angeles.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Trailer: Insidious

It's been a while since we've had a genuinely scary horror movie - let's not count faux-doco-type sutff like Paranormal Activity - so here's hoping Saw director James Wan's return to horror will get under the skin in the way that several early rave reviews have already hinted at. Here's one from South by Southwest, and another from Toronto Film Fest.

The trailer suggests Paranormal Activity/Poltergeist/haunted house-style spookiness, maybe with a twist (oh wait, "it's not the house"!), and it looks like Wan's paying much attention to slow-burning, creepy camerawork and atmosphere, though the "flash-cuttiness" towards the end is a bit disconcerting (maybe just part of the trailer?). Bring on the chills...

Unrelated but: Josh Lucas and Patrick Wilson - I always get them mixed up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Bombing of Robert Zemeckis' Mars Needs Moms

Robert Zemeckis' motion-capture animated film cost $150 million to produce but earned only $6.9 million in its debut at the domestic box office.

Ouch, that's gotta sting...

I'm really no fan of the creepy motion-capture animation technique Rob Zemeckis has been doing for a last wee while, so maybe he'll return to making live-action movies after this dismal result. I haven't loved everything the guy's done, but he's got some serious filmmaking chops (at least one hopes he still does) that have produced terrific, dazzling work - Back to the Future, Contact and particularly, Cast Away - and it would be an utter shame if he never made another film with flesh-and-blood humans again.

Here's the trailer:

PS: I wrote this under the impression that Zemeckis had directed the film, but he actually only produced it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Themed Geek Havens

This one goes out to both Batman lovers and lovers who are Batman lovers... click the pic to check out an amazing-looking Batman-themed room in Taiwan's Eden Motel (warning: not appropriate for minors):

And if you're a Lost fan, next time you're in Barcelona, be sure to stop over at Bharma, an all-Lost themed bar!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Cinemas This Week

Limitless - With his writing career tanking and his girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) casting him off, ex-druggie Eddie Morra's (Bradley Cooper) fortunes finally turn around when he's given a mysterious drug that provides astonishing mental powers -- but its deadly side effects threaten his sanity. Adding to Eddie's misery are shadowy businessman Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro), who wants to exploit his new genius, and the other users willing to kill for his stash.

My Wedding And Other Secrets - The contemporary story of Chinese New Zealand-born over-achiever Emily Chu, raised to believe she can get anything she puts her mind to. Even if 'anything' is at odds with her traditional Hong Kong born parents' wish for her to become a doctor like her two older sisters. Everything is coming up roses - until she meets James, a European New Zealander, and accidentally falls in love with him. But if her father finds out, she will face disownment. By the time Emily realises that she's sacrificing the respect of her family to follow her heart, James, too, has fallen irrevocably in love and there's nothing for it but to try and keep their relationship a secret. Happy endings don't come easy, if at all, but that doesn't mean they don't happen. But for Emily to get one, she needs to show James and her family that she has learned a lesson about the selflessness of love.

Never Let Me Go - Based on Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed novel, this sci-fi drama from director Mark Romanek is centered on thirty-something Kathy (Carey Mulligan), who reflects on her time spent at Hailsham, an English boarding school, alongside classmates Ruth (Keira Knightley) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield). Born for an unusual reason, the three struggle with their destiny and their love triangle. Charlotte Rampling plays headmistress Miss Emily.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wylie E Coyote does 127 HOURS

This hilarious 127 Hours parody is from Brooklyn-based animator Rob Yulfo. I guess its not long until someone does The King's Speech with Porky Pig!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In Cinemas This Week

Blue Valentine - Once crazy about each other, Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) have now grown apart. Cindy is bored and disenchanted with her life while Dean languishes in the emotional emptiness of their sexless, routine life in rural Pennsylvania. As they muddle through their marriage, they hearken back to the golden days when life was filled with possibility and romance.

Certified Copy - Renowned Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami serves up an elegant rumination about art and love in this story about British writer James Miller (William Shimell), who meets an art dealer named Elle (Juliette Binoche) in Tuscany and begins - or possibly continues - a romance with her. As James and Elle wander through a small town, their playful conversations reveal an intimacy that leads locals to suspect that they are actually longtime spouses.

Rango - Johnny Depp lends his voice to the portrayal of the title character, an adventurous family pet who leaves home to learn more about himself, in this family-friendly animated adventure directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean).

The City of Your Final Destination - After duping school officials into awarding him a grant to write a biography on novelist Jules Gund, grad student Omar Razaghi (Omar Metwally) must travel to Uruguay to get legitimate authorization from the late author's three executors. James Ivory (A Room with a View) directs this moving adaptation of author Peter Cameron's novel of the same name.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

House the Air Up There?

Watch this awesome recreation of the balloon-lifted house from Pixar's Up. Already holding the world record for the largest balloon cluster flight ever attempted, this experiment will air as part of National Geographic Channel's new series How Hard Can It Be? Beautiful!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trailer: Super

It's been nearly 5 years since James Gunn's last film, the wonderfully icky and twisted monster flick Slither, so it's nice to see he's finally got a new one on the way in the form of the dark superhero comedy Super. Unfortunately, the trailer's not selling it to me all that much, its ironic, self-reflexive approach to the genre seems all-too-familiar now to be fresh (it also has the problem of coming out after Kick-Ass, a movie it resembles quite a bit). Add to that the shrill Juno-isms courtesy of Ellen Page's presence (is it just me or or is she getting more annoying with each film?), and this one might be an uphill battle for me. There's been some good early press though...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

In Cinemas This Week

Cell 211 - Knocked out cold during his first day on the job, prison officer Juan (Alberto Ammann) awakens to realize that his co-workers have abandoned him in the middle of an inmate uprising. To survive, Juan must pose as a prisoner and befriend the riot's leader, Badass (Luis Tosar). As the violence escalates and political fallout mounts, Juan must use all his cunning to stay alive in this masterfully suspenseful Spanish thriller.

Hall Pass - Owen Wilson stars as a married man whose spouse (Jenna Fischer) grants him the right - for just one week - to pursue as many extramarital affairs as he can. His best buddy (Jason Sudeikis) receives an identical "hall pass" from his wife, and off the guys go. The hubbies soon discover, however, that picking up girls isn't as easy as they recall, while their better halves embark on their own erotic adventures.

I Am Number Four - After nine aliens flee their home planet to find a peaceful life on Earth, their plans are shattered by pursuers who must kill them in number order. Number Four is a teen named John (Alex Pettyfer), who uses his extraordinary abilities to battle his enemies. John's guardian, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), aids him in his deadly fight while he tries to protect his human girlfriend, Sarah (Dianna Agron), and connect with the others who share his powers.

Saw 3D - Insane, intense cruelty is the calling card of the Jigsaw killer (Tobin Bell), whose twisted spirit and terrifying human traps - recalled in flashbacks following his death in Saw III - inspire another installment of the hugely successful gore franchise. Led by fellow survivor Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery), Jigsaw's past victims band together to support each other.

The Adjustment Bureau - A congressman (Matt Damon) who's a rising star on the political scene finds himself entranced by a beautiful ballerina (Emily Blunt), but mysterious circumstances ensure that their love affair is predestined to be a non-starter. Screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this romantic adaptation of Philip K. Dick's classic sci-fi short story "Adjustment Team."

Trailer: Hanna

I'm not really a Joe Wright advocate - there are a few cool visual moments in Atonement (the beach tracking shot, primarily); The Soloist was just Oscar-baitin' pap - but I'm getting pretty hyped for his forthcoming hitman thriller Hanna. Starring Atonement's Saoirse Ronan as a teenage girl who is trained to be assassin by her father (Eric Bana), the film, according to Wright, will have a less conventional approach to its action scenes. He said he looked Robert Bresson's Pickpocket for inspiration, and if you know Bresson, he doesn't, by any means, do "action". The only thing I'm not too keen on is the Chemical Brothers soundtrack (and maybe Bana's Irish accent)... Here's the trailer:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sheen It All Before

So much crazy stuff has happened in Charlie Sheen's life recently I'm not even sure where to start (try AV Club's detailed Sheen update here if you need to catch up), but any doubts that the guy has really gone off the rails is erased in this interview with ABC's Andrea Canning. His "bi-winning" quote is priceless, as is his assertion that his partying makes "Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards look like droopy armless children". But the Two and a Half Men star claims he's clean now and isn't going to relapse, though I'm more certain he's going to be joining Mel Gibson and Linsday Lohan in celeb-scandal purgatory.