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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

IRON MAN 3 teaser poster.

Iron Man 3... Check out the official teaser poster for this May's highly-anticipated Tony Stark flick—as well as a preview for the 60-second TV spot (yes, a trailer for a trailer) that will air during Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday, February 3. Now that's good marketing.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

More on Star Wars: Episode VII... If the Dark Lady of the Sith named Lumiya was used in the upcoming film as hoped for in this journal entry [which isn't so farfetched... For The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan obviously incorporated Bane plus a couple of plot ideas that I typed about back in 2008 (not that I'm naive enough to think that he actually stumbled upon this Blog when the script was being written)], I'd call the new flick Star Wars: Episode VII - The Dark Witch. This is in the spirit of the more-ambiguous titles given to the first installments in the original and prequel trilogies (The Phantom Menace referring to Darth Sidious, and A New Hope referring to Luke Skywalker). Fortunately, I seldom receive any comments to this page's entries to know how much disdain this title would generate among other Star Wars fans. I love the Internet.

The Dark Lady of the Sith named Lumiya...in STAR WARS: EPISODE VII - THE DARK WITCH. Hah.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

STAR WARS creator George Lucas confers with STAR WARS: EPISODE VII director J.J. Abrams.

J.J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII! Just found out earlier today that the man who did to Star Trek what Christopher Nolan did to the Batman franchise will be helming 2015's new installment in the Star Wars saga! That's awesome news... Lens-flare issue aside, it's nice to see one of Hollywood's most gifted producers/directors heading to that Galaxy far, far away—after he originally said that he wouldn't do so. It's cool to know that after Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness hits theaters this May, he should begin pre-production on Episode VII if he hasn't started work on it already (with filming set to commence next year, obviously). All we need now is confirmation that Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher (as well as Billie Dee Williams) will be reprising their iconic roles in the next film. Do I really need to elaborate on what those iconic roles are?

While it's great news that J.J. Abrams is onboard to helm Star Wars, it's unfortunate that Drew Struzan—the artist who painted the awesome posters for the six current movies (like the ones for Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope below)—will probably not illustrate the posters for the sequel trilogy...since Struzan is retired. I wouldn't make too much of this though. If Abrams can change his mind about going to the universe that George Lucas created, then so can Struzan. 2015 can't come soon enough!

Drew Struzan's movie artwork for STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH and A NEW HOPE.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) meet for the first time in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Silver Linings Playbook... I watched the critically-acclaimed ensemble film yesterday, and needless to say, I wouldn't be surprised if it pulls an upset on Oscar favorites such as Argo and Les Misérables by winning Best Picture next month. Silver Linings Playbook is how romantic flicks should be... You know that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence hook up at the end (I don't think I'm spoiling the movie for those of you who haven't watched it yet—unless you didn't see the trailer or any of the TV ads. If that's the case then I apologize), but it's what takes place beforehand that director/writer David O. Russell was able to pull off so convincingly in this flick. There are no sappy moments (RE: Titanic); just a great story about how a guy gets more than he bargains for when he tries to get back with the love of his life.

Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver) have to deal with their son's wild mood swings in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Silver Linings Playbook is about a former mental patient, Pat (Bradley Cooper), who tries to get back with his estranged wife Nikki (Brea Bee)—who was caught cheating with another professor that taught at the school Pat and Nikki worked in. Pat doesn't know if Nikki was still working at the school after he checked into a psychiatric ward, and this is because he was handed a restraining order following his not-so-peaceful reaction to uncovering (no pun intended) his wife's infidelity. Once he checks out of the mental institution, Pat ends up having to live at home with his parents. Not too long after, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver) start to bear the brunt of their son's wild mood swings (Pat has a bipolar disorder)...particularly in one scene where Pat (hilariously) goes on a rant about author Ernest Hemingway and another episode where he's unable to find his wedding video. Although Pat not only freaks out his parents but also their next-door neighbors with his erratic behavior, he still has friends living close by that he can mingle with: Ronnie (John Ortiz) and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles). It is through these two that Pat feels like he can get in touch with Nikki once more. It is also through these two that he meets Veronica's widowed friend Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence.

Dolores speaks to a police officer after picking Pat and Danny (Chris Tucker) up from a mental institution in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

I won't delve into the rest of the movie's plot since things start to get really entertaining after Pat and Tiffany meet each other. Like Pat, Tiffany also has marriage issues...or used to before her husband had a tragic accident at a gas station. And just like Pat, she's also unemployed because of how she reacted to her marital distress afterwards. What makes Silver Linings Playbook so amusing is how well Bradley Cooper conveys Pat's cluelessness whenever he's around Tiffany. He thinks that she will help him make amends with Nikki—not knowing that Tiffany is giving him hints that she clearly met someone who'd help her get over her husband's passing. The film nicely interweaves their acquaintance (RE: budding romance) with the subplot where Pat Sr. wants to spend more time with his son to make up for parental failings in the past. When the dad's attempt to grow closer to Pat comes in conflict with Tiffany trying to get close to him as well, you get one of the most memorable scenes in Silver Linings Playbook. If there's a moment in the movie that shows why Jennifer Lawrence should win Best Actress (sorry Jessica Chastain), it's the one where Tiffany feuds with Pat Sr. and proves to him that she deserves to be with his son by listing all the wins the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies enjoyed (the movie takes place in the City of Brotherly Love, FYI) during the time that Tiffany and Pat spent together. (Pat Sr. is a die-hard Eagles fan who started a bookie business...with all of his bets obviously going to "the birds.") Jennifer Lawrence versus Robert De Niro... Who would've thunk it?

Tiffany has marital issues that she thinks Pat will help her overcome in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

If there's one other scene that should sell why Silver Linings Playbook deserves the Big Prize at the Academy Awards, it's the climax. Won't elaborate except to say that it involves an NFL game and a dance competition. Another Oscar-worthy moment for Jennifer Lawrence is when Tiffany finds out that Nikki was on-hand to see her and Pat do a dance number together. The heartbreak that is apparent in Tiffany's eyes as she feels her new life is about to come crashing down just as Pat's life is supposedly about to return upon seeing his wife in the ballroom they're in...is intense. But things aren't what they appear to be. When they first met, Pat saw Tiffany as a way to help him get back with his wife (by asking Tiffany to hand Nikki a letter he wrote—restraining order be damned). By the end however, things have changed to the point where Pat hands Tiffany another letter; not to give to Nikki, but for Tiffany to read on the spot. I think you can guess what that letter is about.

Pat Sr. wants to be a better father to his son in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

All-in-all, Silver Linings Playbook is definitely one of the best movies of 2012. I read online that Playbook is the first film in more than 30 years to receive Oscar nominations in all four acting categories—and this is rightfully so. I would say it will either be Daniel Day-Lewis (for Lincoln) or Bradley Cooper winning Best Actor, Jennifer Lawrence or Jessica Chastain for Best Actress and Christoph Waltz (for Django Unchained) or Robert De Niro winning Best Supporting Actor. (It will either be Lincoln's Sally Field or Les Misérables' Anne Hathaway winning Best Supporting Actress.) I'll definitely root for David O. Russell to take home the trophy for Best Director (though he's toe-to-toe with Steven Spielberg for Lincoln), but even if he doesn't win the gold, he should definitely be commended for this well-made romantic comedy. Just as Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence should be recognized for being two of Hollywood's most formidable talents today. Oh and before I forget, Chris Tucker was pretty funny in this movie as well. That is all.

Pat and Tiffany rehearse for a dance number that will change their lives in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Joel Kinnaman plays RoboCop in next year's ROBOCOP.

RoboCop... In case you haven't seen these yet, check out these photos taken of Joel Kinnaman (of 2011's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the AMC TV show, The Killing) as the title character from next year's remake of Paul Verhoeven's classic 1987 film. Kinnaman replaces Peter Weller as cop-turned-cyborg Alex Murphy, while the cast includes such heavyweights as Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Jackie Earle Haley, Abbie Cornish (of last year's Seven Psychopaths), Jay Baruchel (of How to Train Your Dragon) and Jennifer Ehle (of Zero Dark Thirty). With such stellar performers (and J. Baruchel... I kid) in it, RoboCop may be as respectable as last September's Dredd and not as crappy as last November's Red Dawn. We'll see...

Assuming production stays on track, RoboCop gets released in theaters nationwide on February 7, 2014.

Joel Kinnaman plays RoboCop in next year's ROBOCOP.

Joel Kinnaman plays RoboCop in next year's ROBOCOP.

Joel Kinnaman plays RoboCop in next year's ROBOCOP.

Joel Kinnaman plays RoboCop in next year's ROBOCOP.

ED-209 makes a return in next year's ROBOCOP.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 is on the hunt for Osama bin Laden in ZERO DARK THIRTY.

85th Annual Academy Award Nominations... The list of Oscar nominees was announced earlier today, and as expected, Argo, Django Unchained, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty are all up for Best Picture. Skyfall also got some love (deservingly) by the Academy...with the latest Bond flick being recognized for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Song (props to Adele), Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Unlike The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which all three films were up for Best Picture (with Return of the King actually taking home the gold in 2004), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey "only" managed to get three nominations—all in technical categories (Best Makeup, Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects). This is, unfortunately, more than you can say for The Dark Knight Rises...which was completely snubbed in this year's Oscar race. Whereas The Dark Knight was constantly mentioned as a Best Picture candidate before its official snub in 2009, Christopher Nolan's final Batman flick probably got omitted because of the bad vibe that still permeates around the movie following last July's tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Even with its flaws, The Dark Knight Rises is still one of the best comic book films ever made.

Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) gets into a spirited conversation with her husband (Daniel Day-Lewis) in LINCOLN.

As predicted in my review for Lincoln, Tommy Lee Jones is up for Best Supporting Actor, and so is Christoph Walz for Django Unchained. Keep aiming for that Oscar, Leonardo DiCaprio... I'm sure you'll stop getting snubbed by Academy voters, one day. And lastly, props to the Pixar film Wreck-It Ralph for being nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. Pixar's other flick Brave also got nominated for this category...but I didn't see that film nor do I intend to. The Academy Awards air on ABC on February 24.

Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and his fellow bounty hunter Django (Jamie Foxx) prepare to hunt down their next query in DJANGO UNCHAINED.

Ben Affleck plays CIA operative Tony Mendez in ARGO.

Daniel Craig is once again 007 and Bérénice Lim Marlohe is Sévérine in SKYFALL.

Ralph wins a medal after completing the first level of HERO'S DUTY in WRECK-IT RALPH.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Photo of the Day... Just thought I'd share a pic I took of the Chevrolet Chevelle SS used in the recent Tom Cruise film, Jack Reacher. The muscle car was on display at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood when I went there to watch Zero Dark Thirty last month. Pretty nice ride—even though I was more stoked to see in person the vehicles used for the Autobots in Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon when they were showcased at the iconic Hollywood theater in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

As for Jack Reacher itself, it was a pretty good movie. Interesting detective story...and Tom Cruise did a commendable job playing a role that, based on how Jack Reacher supposedly looks (a tall blonde dude who took the buses instead of driving fast cars) in the novels the film is based on, should've went to someone like The Expendables' Dolph Lundgren. Or at least Jason Statham, if he dyed his hair.

A photo I took of the Chevrolet Chevelle SS, used in the film JACK REACHER, at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood on December 21, 2012.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) has a moment of reflection in LINCOLN.

Lincoln... Happy New Year, everyone! I'm more than a month late, but just thought I'd start off 2013 by posting my review of Steven Spielberg's critically-acclaimed biopic about this nation's 16th president. Not only is Lincoln well-acted and well-scripted, but it is also totally relevant to today's political climate in the U.S. For those of you who have already seen the film, you'd know that the Congress depicted in the movie was just as divisive as the legislature that works on Capitol Hill today. In Spielberg's flick, you have the Republicans and (then-newly-created) Democratic Party sparring over the passage of the 13th Amendment (which abolished slavery in America) and trying to end the war with the Confederacy. In the Congress of today, you had the Republicans and Democrats sparring over the recently-passed bill that prevented the so-called fiscal cliff from taking place (at least for the next two months); the continued debate over legalizing same-sex marriage (the scenes in the movie where 19th century politicians consider interracial marriages to be unfathomable makes one think about how national leaders, and the public in general, will view gay and lesbian rights two hundred years from now)...as well as how to deal with post-war Afghanistan once the U.S. completely withdraws its troops from there next year. Clearly, the story of Honest Abe was compelling enough for Spielberg to bring to the big screen once more...and make it relatable to events of the 21st century.

Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field) gets into a spirited conversation with her husband in LINCOLN.

In terms of the acting in Lincoln, what's there to say except that you can expect an Oscar nomination or two for the talented cast that worked on the movie? Daniel Day-Lewis was totally convincing as Abraham Lincoln (even though Day-Lewis didn't convey Lincoln's deep, gruff voice that the president is famous for), with Tommy Lee Jones giving both a fiery and amusing performance as Republican leader Thaddeus Stevens (I wonder if Stevens was actually as bad-ass as Jones made him out to be in the film). Sally Field was terrific as the president's oft-unhinged wife Mary Todd Lincoln, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt was commendable as their strong-headed son, Robert. Rounding out the stellar cast is David Strathairn as William Seward (a.k.a. the guy who bought Alaska in 1867's then-called Seward's Folly), James Spader (who was in the previous season of NBC's The Office) as Tennessee lawyer W.N. Bilbo, Hal Bolbook (of TV's Sons of Anarchy and the upcoming Gus Van Sant film, Promised Land) as Francis Preston Blair, Jackie Earle Haley (of the 2009 flick Watchmen and the now-defunct FOX TV show Human Target) as Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, Bruce McGill (who lent his voice to FOX's The Cleveland Show and Family Guy, and appears on the TNT TV show, Rizzoli & Isles) as U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, and Jared Harris (of TV's Mad Men and Fringe, as well as 2011's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) as U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant. There are a lot of other phenomenal actors in Lincoln, but this paragraph would go on forever if I listed them all.

Mary Todd Lincoln greets Republican leader Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) during a White House dinner party in LINCOLN.

One gripe that has been made about Lincoln is its ending...which doesn't come as a surprise. Ever since 1998's Saving Private Ryan and (especially) 2001's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Spielberg has been known for protracting dark and intense films with sugarcoated happy endings. This is especially true with A.I. and the 2002 Tom Cruise flick, Minority Report. In Lincoln however, some moviegoers remarked that the film should've ended with Lincoln triumphantly walking down a hallway as his African-American butler looked on following the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Instead of this (appropriately) happy ending though, Spielberg decided to conclude the flick with Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre (though we never see John Wilkes Booth fire his pistol). However, one can understand why Spielberg would end the film when Lincoln unfortunately lost his life; right after the President took his last breath at Petersen House (where he was taken to following the shooting), Secretary of War Stanton actually commented that the President now "belongs to the ages." Considering how the movie depicted Lincoln's struggle and ultimate success in ending the Civil War...and slavery along with it, this was a fitting line to include at the finale of the film.

Robert Lincoln (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the president's son, wants to enlist in the U.S. Army during the Civil War in LINCOLN.

Less than two weeks from now, expect to see Lincoln nab several Academy Award nominations...especially in the upper categories. Best Picture, Best Director, possibly Best Actor, Actress and Supporting Actor (for Tommy Lee Jones) and Best Adapted Screenplay (since Lincoln is based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, by Doris Kearns Goodwin)— Steven Spielberg is a pro when it comes to conveying well-made historical dramas on the big screen. Whether it's Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan or his latest opus, Spielberg continues to show us why he's one of the greatest directors to ever work in Hollywood...with his newest film expressing how Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest American leaders to ever reside in the White House. Some people and their feats do indeed belong to the ages.

President Lincoln triumphantly walks down a hallway following the passage of the 13th Amendment in LINCOLN.