Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Earlier this month we learned that Forest Whitaker and Oprah were in talks to join Lee Daniels' long-in-the-works The Butler, for which Jane Fonda has now officially signed on.
Fonda will play former First Lady Nancy Reagan in the film, about a White House butler (played by Whitaker if he officially joins) whose career ended with Ronald Reagan's presidential term after serving several different administrations.
Other cast rumors involve Mila Kunis (who'd play Jackie Kennedy), Liam Neeson and John Cusack.
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
The filmmaker has written a new screenplay called The Butler, about black staffer Eugene Allen who served in the White House for 34 years, waiting on eight different presidents from 1952.
Mila Kunis has already been linked to the project - as Jackie Kennedy, the widow of assassinated U.S. leader John F. Kennedy - and now The Last King of Scotland star Whitaker has been tipped to take the title role.
Winfrey, who won critical acclaim for her turn in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple in 1985, is in negotiations to play Whitaker's onscreen wife.
Daniels is lining up an all-star cast for the film - Hugh Jackman and Liam Neeson are also said to be interested in playing real-life figures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Rare indeed is the actress capable of embodying Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis’ combination of beauty, refinement, and, in the immortal appraisal of Seinfeld’s Mr. Pitt, grace. Has Mila Kunis got what it takes? Lee Daniels thinks so. The Precious director has reportedly offered the Black Swan star the role of Jackie Kennedy in his upcoming film The Butler, a biopic about legendary White House servant Eugene Allen.
Should Kunis accept the role, she’ll be the latest in a long line of actresses who’ve portrayed the iconic First Lady on both the big and small screens. (Emphasis on the latter – Jackie O’s story has long been irresistible fodder for network programmers.) Here are five memorable examples:
Holmes played Jackie last year in The Kennedys, an eight-episode miniseries that was most notable for being declared unfit for airing on The History Channel, a network hardly known for its high programming standards.
The Crossing Jordan star tackled the role in the 2001 TV movie Jackie, Ethel, Joan: The Women of Camelot, about the trials and tribulations of being married to the Kennedys’ D.C. power trio of JFK, RFK, and Ted.
Before she was Touched By an Angel, Downey portrayed Jackie to some acclaim in the 1991 TV miniseries A Woman Named Jackie, which went on to win a Primetime Emmy for Best Miniseries.
The model-turned-Charlie’s Angels star proved her range in the 1981 TV movie Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, which chronicled Jackie’s early years leading up to her marriage to the future president.
British-born Bisset portrayed Jackie in the 2003 TV movie America’s Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story, about the short life and tragic death of JFK’s dilettante son.
Which was your favorite of Jackie?
Precious director Lee Daniels has written a new screenplay called The Butler, about black staffer Eugene Allen who served in the White House for 34 years, waiting on eight different presidents from 1952.
Kunis is reportedly negotiating a role as the widow of assassinated U.S. leader John F. Kennedy, while Hugh Jackman, John Cusack and media mogul Oprah Winfrey have also been linked to the project.
If Kunis signs on, she'll become the latest actress to portray Jackie Kennedy - Katie Holmes played her in The History Channel mini-series The Kennedys, opposite Greg Kinnear.
A decade and a half ago, a young Mila Kunis launched her career by playing a rich, beautiful, '70s-era socialite named Jackie. And look how far she has come!... Wait.
Kunis is considering the role of one Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in The Butler, a film written and directed by Precious' Lee Daniels. However, as the title suggests, neither Jackie Kennedy nor any member of the Camelot family will be the central characters of the film. The story actually centers on a Eugene Allen, a man who served as a butler in the White House for thirty-four years and through eight different presidents.
The Black Swan star will likely be one of many big names considered to play members of the various first families for whom Allen works between 1952 and 1986. Other names being considered for as of yet unspecified characters include Oprah Winfrey, Hugh Jackman and John Cusack.
The presidential families that fall under this time period include the Trumans, the Eisenhowers, the Kennedys, the Johnsons, the Nixons, the Fords, the Carters and the Reagans. So what other actors and actresses would befit these historical figures?
Source: Just Jared
The star, who wrapped up her daily chat show last year (11), is eyeing a movie return in a biopic of Eugene Allen, who served eight U.S. presidents as a butler in the White House.
Producers are courting Winfrey to play Allen's wife, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Hugh Jackman, Mila Kunis and John Cusack are also attached to the project.
Winfrey won an Oscar nomination for her big screen debut in 1985's The Color Purple. Her last acting role was in 1998's Beloved, and she has since loaned her voice to animated projects The Princess and the Frog and Charlotte's Web.
Who would have thought that Transformers: Dark of the Moon can join the ranks of a very elite list of threequel films that don’t suck. That might not be saying much considering the subpar Revenge of the Fallen but the third Transformers film is actually way more enjoyable than the first two combined thanks to non-stop pulse-pounding action sequences that showcase why like him or not Michael Bay was the perfect director for this saga.
In the early '60s during the Galactic Civil War of Cybertron between the oversized toasters an Autobot crash lands on the dark side of Earth’s moon. To cover up the investigation of what really happened President Kennedy authorizes NASA to put a man on the moon and in 1969 when Apollo 11 lands astronauts Aldrin and Armstrong investigate the crash site. Fast forward to a few years after the second movie. The Autobots and the U.S. Government are working side by side to ward off evil doers be it foreign domestic or Decepticon. Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is unemployed and frustrated about it. After all the kid did save the world twice now. Luckily his frustrations are alleviated by new girlfriend Carly Spencer (newcomer/model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). Things turn haywire for Sam and Carly when they head to N.E.S.T. headquarters to meet up with BumbleBee and the rest of the robopals to brainstorm the Autobots’ next move. Also along for the ride are Patrick Dempsey John Malkovich Frances McDormand and the returning John Tuturro to all beef up the films thespian quota making the the time between robot on robot violence scenes enjoyable.
As with any Bay movie action and spectacle trump story and in Transformers: Dark of the Moon there's so much of both there’s not even a proper synonym to use for it. Critics like Roger Ebert trash movies like this but that’s because they forget the film’s true audience are people who want to see the megaton mechs. So if you can check your brain at the door you’ll have a great time with the concluding chapter (?) of the Transformers saga.
Oddly enough the limited 3D edition is not cheesily named the "More Than Meets than Eye" Edition but damn it if it shouldn’t be. The film is available on every format imaginable except for the artifacts known as VHS Beta or Laserdisc. Armed with a conventional Blu–ray 3D Blu-ray DVD and Ultraviolet Digital Copy each version of the flick looks crystal clear and pumps sensational surround sound through whatever listening device you’re using. As for bonus content this is the most in-depth set of features on a Blu–ray I've seen in a long time. The only thing missing is a commentary track from Bay LaBeouf et al; but the sheer dearth of behind-the-scenes documentaries more than make up for it.
"Above and Beyond: Exploring Dark of the Moon"
After Bay Shia and other members of the crew all but denounce Revenge of the Fallen the cast and crew of Dark of the Moon discuss the genesis and production of the film. This expansive making-of doc is the meat and potatoes of the special features. It takes you through the entire conception and filming process of the movie. Interesting tidbits from the doc are the concept cars behind the Autobots the funny story of how Bay got to shoot inside the Lincoln Memorial the perils of filming in 3D and many of the film’s out of control Inception–inspired set pieces along with a piece on the crew of Winged Suit Skydivers that flew through the streets of Chicago in one of the most exciting sequences of the movie.
"Deconstructing Chicago: Multi–Angle Sequences"
There are 24 scenes split between Previsualizations and Visual Effects with optional commentary by Bay VFX Supervisors Scott Farrar Matthew Butler and Pre–viz Supervisor Steve Yamamoto. They're all brief sequences but also intriguing to see in shot-by-shot comparisons.
"The Dark of the Moon Archive"
Here’s where the disc’s fun little puff pieces lie. "3D: Transforming Visual Art - A Conversation with Michael Bay and James Cameron" is the highlight of this group of miscellaneous features. If you’re a fan of action movies from the past thirty years chances are you have seen more than a fair share of films from these titans. Hearing them speak about the benefits of 3D technology gives me hope for the progression of the format. Also included in the archives are shots from the film's World Premiere in Moscow Russia another look at the spectacular birdman sequence and the importance of sound design. Rounding out the puffery is a heartwarming piece "Cody’s iPad" in which Bay presents his friend Cody who has special needs an iPad to use for communication.
If these three multi-part features aren’t enough for you the Dark of the Moon Blu-ray also contains concept art galleries teasers theatrical trailers and a look at NASA’s history.
To sum it all up the Transformers: Dark of the Moon Limited 3D Edition Blu-ray is the Blu-ray you pull out to showcase your entertainment system and make the rest of your collection jealous. If any of your friends scoff at the idea of watching this movie sit them down shut them up and crank your speakers up to level 11 for one of best balls to the walls action movies in a long time.
Ladies and gentlemen, we're making our final descent towards naming a Best Picture of 2011.
With the Golden Globes behind us and Academy Award nominations hitting next week (with the show arriving at the tail end of February), the limbo week between them is reserved for the coveted BAFTAs, the UK equivalent of the Oscars. After picking up a few statues at the Globes, feel good favorite of the year The Artist leads the pack in the BAFTA nods with a whopping 12 nominations. Behind the silent comedy are the British spy drama Tinker Tailor Solider Spy with 11 noms and Hugo with 9. Can the BAFTAs give a much-needed boost to the latter two films? Only time will tell…The BAFTAs announce their winners February 12.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Outstanding British Film
My Week With Marilyn
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
We Need To Talk About Kevin
Outstanding Debut by a Writer, Director or Producer
Attack The Block - Joe Cornish (Director/Writer)
Black Pond - Will Sharpe (Director/Writer), Tom Kingsley (Director), Sarah Brocklehurst (Producer)
Coriolanus - Ralph Fiennes (Director)
Submarine - Richard Ayoade (Director/Writer)
Tyrannosaur - Paddy Considine (Director), Diarmid Scrimshaw (Producer)
Film Not in the English Language
The Skin I Live In
George Harrison: Living In The Material World
The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive
Martin Scorsese - Hugo
Tomas Alfredson - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Lynne Ramsay - We Need To Talk About Kevin
Michel Hazanavicius - The Artist
Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig - Bridesmaids
John Michael McDonagh - The Guard
Abi Morgan - The Iron Lady
Woody Allen - Midnight In Paris
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash - The Descendants
Tate Taylor - The Help
George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Beau Willimon - The Ides Of March
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin - Moneyball
Bridget O'Connor, Peter Straughan - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt - Moneyball
Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
George Clooney - The Descendants
Jean Dujardin - The Artist
Michael Fassbender - Shame
Berenice Bejo - The Artist
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Viola Davis - The Help
Christopher Plummer - Beginners
Jim Broadbent - The Iron Lady
Jonah Hill - Moneyball
Kenneth Branagh - My Week with Marilyn
Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Ides of March
Carey Mulligan - Drive
Jessica Chastain - The Help
Judi Dench - My Week with Marilyn
Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids
Octavia Spencer - The Help
The Artist - Ludovic Bource
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Hugo - Howard Shore
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Alberto Iglesias
War Horse - John Williams
The Artist - Guillaume Schiffman
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Jeff Cronenweth
Hugo - Robert Richardson
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Hoyte van Hoytema
War Horse - Janusz Kaminski
The Artist - Anne-Sophie Bion, Michel Hazanavicius
Drive - Mat Newman
Hugo - Thelma Schoonmaker
Senna - Gregers Sall, Chris King
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Dino Jonsater
The Artist - Laurence Bennett, Robert Gould
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Hugo - Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald
War Horse - Rick Carter, Lee Sandales
The Artist - Mark Bridges
Hugo - Sandy Powell
Jane Eyre - Michael O'Connor
My Week With Marilyn - Jill Taylor
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Jacqueline Durran
Make Up & Hair
The Artist - Julie Hewett, Cydney Cornell
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin
Hugo - Morag Ross, Jan Archibald
The Iron Lady - Marese Langan
My Week With Marilyn - Jenny Shircore
The Artist - Nadine Muse, Gérard Lamps, Michael Krikorian
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 - James Mather, Stuart Wilson, Stuart Hilliker, Mike Dowson, Adam Scrivener
Hugo - Philip Stockton, Eugene Gearty, Tom Fleischman, John Midgley
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John Casali, Howard Bargroff, Doug Cooper, Stephen Griffiths, Andy Shelley
War Horse - Stuart Wilson, Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson, Richard Hymns
Special Visual Effects
The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn - Joe Letteri
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 - Tim Burke, John Richardson, Greg Butler, David Vickery
Hugo - Rob Legato, Ben Grossman, Joss Williams
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes - Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White
War Horse - Ben Morris, Neil Corbould
The Orange Wednesdays Rising Star Award