Author

Matt Patches
After a few years of working behind the scenes on movies and TV shows (and earning an IMDb page for bragging rights), Movies Editor Matt Patches made a hard right into the world of entertainment journalism. In 2009, Patches became the Associate Movies Editor of UGO.com, departing in 2010 to go rogue as a writer-for-hire. Patches covered movies and festivals for a number of outlets, including Movieline, MTV NextMovie, CinemaBlend, and Film School Rejects, before joining Hollywood.com as Movies Editor in 2011. He proudly names "Groundhog Day" as his favorite movie of all time.
  • 'Underworld Awakening' Trailer: Vampires, Leather, Werewolves, Rock Music
    By: Matt Patches November 02, 2011 12:24pm EST
    During New York Comic Con, I caught the very first glimpse of the new, adrenaline-pumping trailer for Underworld Awakening, and now, it's online for you to see. While you may not get the full effect of the 3D NYCC presentation (the effect of flailing whips and zipping knives will be lost!), the trailer still looks pretty snazzy, with original star Kate Beckinsale back running, sliding and stabbing people in the neck. Entertainment! You can read my report for all my thoughts, but check out the trailer below first! Unerworld Awakening opens January 21, 2011. Source: Yahoo ="font-style:>
  • 'Project X' Trailer: The Ultimate Party Movie?
    By: Matt Patches November 02, 2011 10:39am EST
    My biggest problem with the Hangover movies was that you never actually saw the crazy party they were having. Only hints of the wild night via the photo montages that cap the film. That's no fun—how am I supposed to live vicariously through the movies if they don't show me the insane debauchery?! If you feel the same way, there is hope: Project X, a new movie from producer Todd Phillips and music video director Nima Nourizadeh. The film, starring a handful of unknown teenagers, focuses on one ridiculous night of partying that, as evidenced from the first trailer, blows up into something unexpectedly extreme. Sex, drinking, dogs in moon bounces, cars driving into pools—the mega-bash appears to have it all. The movie is presented in a found footage style similar to Paranormal Activity, and when Vice asked Nourizadeh about the approach, he explained why it made sense: It's a kid filming it, and other kids with their flips and their phones. We sourced every bit of footage and cut it together. We handed out cameras to our extras, made sure lots of angles were being shot. I think it's a sign of technology and our times. Kids film themselves. We've all seen shitty, pixellated footage of something interesting happening on YouTube. Kids today, that's all they watch, really. Hang on to your red Solo cup and watch the first trailer from Project X below: Source: Vice
  • Why Haven't Stoner Comedies Changed Marijuana Laws?
    By: Matt Patches November 02, 2011 9:31am EST
    Fourteen out of fifty states in the USA have decriminalized the possession of marijuana (generally under one ounce). In 2005, the case of Gonzales v. Raich ruled that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution allowed Congress to trump state law and criminalize the production of cannabis, even for medical use. The fact is that, today, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. And on Friday, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, the third in the stoner comedy series, arrives in theaters. While you won't see it in the trailers, let me remind you of the foundation on which this franchise is built: Yes, that's Kumar a.k.a Kal Penn from the first Harold & Kumar, riding in a pedal boat lovingly embracing a giant, anthropomorphic bag of weed. Cheech and Chong. Dazed and Confused. Half Baked. Pineapple Express. Hollywood has been hydroponically growing the pot comedy into its own subgenre since the '70s, each generation having their own quintessential stoner flicks. Backlash is rare—for all the effort seemingly put into keeping marijuana out of the hands of the country's citizens, each marijuana-infused film opens and closes with the box office equivalent of its cinematic competitors. No protests, no statements made, no ruckus. Everyone seems perfectly fine glorifying marijuana use if it's in a movie. To be fair, I don't have the legal or medical knowledge to really debate whether cannabis should or shouldn't be legalized. But in a landscape where stoner comedies have become a mainstay, where the smoking of weed on screen has evolved to the point that it can be simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking (in other words, honest) in a movie like 50/50, then what's keeping legalized marijuana locked up in the federal legal system? In a Splitsider article from earlier this year (part of the site's Your Highness "Stoner Week," for the record), writer Erik Voss speculates that stoner comedies may be keeping legalization movement back from its full potential. It's fascinating devil's advocate work—are the movies too apathetic? too…funny?—but, in the end, even he admits the movies are really making audiences familiar and comfortable with cannabis use. Last month, Gallup polled US citizens on marijuana, and for the first time ever, 50% of Americans favored the legalization of cannabis That sounds like a familiarization to me. So why is the issue stagnate? Or better yet, why the lack of action against these movies from proponents of marijuana criminalization? For reasons unknown, it's fine for Harold and Kumar to smoke weed (illegal) in an R-rated movie (a movie kids under 17 can see with parents), but a movie like the upcoming Shame, focused on the explicit sexual relationships and encounters of its main character (legal), is slapped with an NC-17 (restricting anyone under 17 from catching the film). That's confusing logic. I don't want political pressure to put an end to Hollywood's production of stoner comedies. They're too funny to disappear. But either the people who insist marijuana should be illegal need to step up and stand against the movies (which would cause the opposition to react) or the pro-cannabis folks need to use the accepting attitude of their contenders as fuel. Harold and Kumar, as insane as it sounds, are the face of a movement. People don't seem to realize it—stoner or not. ="font-style:>
  • One on One: Keira Knightley Talks 'A Dangerous Method'
    By: Matt Patches November 02, 2011 6:29am EST
    Before speaking with Keira Knightley about her new movie A Dangerous Method, I took another glance over her lengthy list of previous roles. She's really done a little of everything—action (The Pirates Trilogy), comedy (Bend It Like Beckham), romance (Pride and Prejudice), sci-fi (Never Let Me Go) and a few projects that are nearly unclassifiable (The Jacket). Not surprising, considering she's one of the most versatile, in-demand actresses working today. The real shocking part? She's only twenty-six! With so much of her career ahead of her, it's no wonder why Knightley is branching out, starring in one of the truly daring films of 2011. In Method, the actress co-stars as Sabina Spielrein, a young girl stricken by dementia who finds a cure through her own budding interest in psychoanalytics. Her doctor and mentor is the famed Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), who helps her overcome her physical and mental issues through correspondence with his own colleague, Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Jung and Spielrein's relationship complicates when their work evolves into a lustful romance. Knightley spoke to me on her day off from a new movie to discuss A Dangerous Method, digging deep into the clouded mind of her character, working with legendary director David Cronenberg and why crafting intense drama doesn't stop her from having a swell time: I was trying to figure out where you would be exactly, since I believe you're in the middle of filming? Keira Knightley: I'm in the middle of filming Anna Karenina, but I've actually got the day off. So I'm sitting in Shoreditch House in London. Well, extra thanks for talking to me! Your character, Sabina Spielrein, is a real person, ingrained in history. Where did your relationship with her life begin? How much research did you have to do to prepare to embody her? KK: I'd never heard of her before, so when I read the script, that was the first time I knew anything about her. I thought she was fascinating. But the idea of playing her, I thought, 'Wow this is daunting.' Quite often when you play characters, you understand them on an emotional level. You go, 'OK, she's sad because of this, I get that.' But with her there was really nothing. I had no idea why she would want to behave like that, or what would cause that kind of behavior. So I immediately phoned up Christopher Hampton who wrote the screenplay and the play it was based on. So I phoned him and said, 'I'm going to play it…HELP.' So I went to his house and he basically handed me an enormous pile of books and he said, 'start reading.' So I spent four months reading as much as I possibly could about the subject. There's actually very little about her, except for the book that the screenplay is based on, by John Kerr (A Most Dangerous Method). And then there was…I was lucky enough to find a book called Sabina Spielrein: Forgotten Pioneer of Psychoanalysis, a collection of essays written about her, and also translations of some of her diary entries and Jung's original notes. So I worked from that for quite a bit, and that was helpful. I also spoke with a couple of psychiatrists, including the one that compiled that book, a Jungian analyst. Just about the nature of what she was suffering from, sadomasochistic personalities, that kind of thing. It was completely fascinating. But when you're playing someone who's mad—I don't like that word—but as much as their behavior to the outside world seems illogical, it's completely logical to them. So you try to answer the questions of why this is the way this person must behave. What has driven them to this particular way? Considering the state Sabina is in at the beginning the film, was physicality a big part in realizing your character? KK: No…I think the first part was the script. For her, she was ravaged by tics, hysterical fits. But what does that mean? What is a hysterical fit? So I went to Christopher and he said, 'Well, anything you want, really.' And then I spoke to the psychiatrist and asked her 'what is a tic?' And she said, 'Well, it can be anything.' Helpful! KK: Yeah. So believe or not, there weren't very specific descriptions of exactly what it was. So I did a lot of reading, and the physical side was based on a part of her diary where she describes herself as a dog or a demon. I thought it might be quite interesting to show that. So it was and Francis Bacon paintings, which were quite good for understanding internal struggle. Really? Which paintings? KK: Francis Bacon's Study for a Crucifixion. There were three of them and they were all weirdly helpful. And then I got on Skype with David and started making faces and asked him which ones he liked. So there was a video Skype call that was just you making weird faces at David Cronenberg. KK: Yup, pretty much. And give him an idea of the accent. In a conversation before he said he wanted "mid-Atlantic with a blush of Russian" and wanted the tics to be not funny and 'on your face.' So I said, 'OK," went away for a few months then came back and did a little show and tell. So how much time did you spend making faces at yourself in the mirror? KK: Oh, a good couple of hours, really. Just making faces. It was like, 'Oh, that one looks horrible, I think I'll make that one!' How did you and David work together to discover the right tone, to figure out what worked and what didn't? KK: Well, it's kind of amazing. I don't know how he does it, really. There weren't many discussions. I didn't meet him physically until the first day on set—or rather, the day before the first day when he saw what I planned to do. But before that, he's like a horse whisperer. He creates this calm, creative atmosphere that makes everyone believe they're exactly the right person to be there. It's the most empowering, amazing thing ever. It's very tricky to make this film, especially with hysterics. This is a strange thing to say, but on film I think depression works really well because it's a kind of low energy, internalized thing, which you can pull people into. Hysteria is very highly energized that pushes people away. In another director's hands I would have been very concerned about playing this part, but because he's so brilliant, his taste is so wonderful he knows when to go really far and then when to pull things back. He basically said, 'go as far as you can and I'll pull you back.' So it sounds like you didn't have too much time to prepare before showing up to set. Were you able to rehearse with Viggo and Michael? Or does it just happen on set? KK: Exactly. That's the weird thing about David, it just happened! I have no idea. We got to Cologne, which is where we were shooting and I said, 'OK, should we rehearse?' and he was like, 'no.' I think me and Michael went out for a night of of drinking quite a lot of martinis. 'Hello! Nice to meet you!' And then we were on set. I'm beginning to think all great movies are born from long nights of drinking. KK: Well, I think it was actually the day before the first day. I wouldn't have been very with it if it was the day before. [Laughs] We did have one day before, where David took us on set, and we started with those kind of character scenes and he told us how he was thinking of shooting it and we went through it once. Literally we went, 'Yup. Fine. Great.' Did the intensity of the on-screen action bleed over into the behind-the-scenes atmosphere? Is it a worry that you'll carry around emotional baggage while not on set? KK: Oh, no, it was so fun, so happy. I was so grateful it was these people. It was the opposite of what you would think when you watch the film—we didn't take it home. I spent four months on my own researching it and knew it quite well, so I knew what it was going to be and it was just a question of getting it out. Once it was out, it was out. That's quite nice! After this movie, I can't imagine Viggo and Michael palling around and smiling. KK: But they're hilarious together! Absolutely hysterical, like a comedy duo. That's what's so weird about the whole thing. Apparently they need to do a buddy comedy! After delving into the world of psychoanalytic, do you suddenly find yourself analyzing everyone? KK: [Laughs] No, no, it's really annoying! The research was so specifically into her, I haven't retained any knowledge whatsoever. I read some amazing books, but I was only looking for things to use to play the character. So, no, as my study goes, it was a complete failure. But for studying for the part, it was very useful! ="font-style:>
  • The 2011 Awards Watch
    By: Matt Patches November 01, 2011 8:54am EST
    The first ten months of the year can be a mixed bag for award contenders. Maybe you'll see a few possibilities sprinkled amongst the comic book blockbusters, the joke-a-minute comedies and whatever else Hollywood has up their sleeves over January to October months, but for the most part, studios hold off to unleash their "Best Picture" challengers until late in the game. Now that November and the holiday movie season is upon us, we can finally take a size up the competition. What we've seen, what's coming and what movies may make it to the finish line when the Oscars roll around in February. It's anyone's game…or is it? Get ahead of your office Oscar pool with a look into the 2011 movies that are buzzing the loudest and guesses on who might take the gold! Albert Nobbs Starring: Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson Director: Rodrigo Garcia Release Date: January 27, 2012 The Buzz: Close first starred as the titular woman-disguised-as-a-man character back in 1982, when she nabbed the leading role in the play The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs in 1982. Now, after years of working to get the project off the ground, the cinematic adaptation is finally coming to theaters. The movie debuted at this year's Telluride Film Festival to mixed reactions, most of the compliments highlighting Close's performance. Potential: While Albert Nobbs sports a solid cast and creative team, Close's tour-de-force realization of Nobbs may overshadow the other positive (or negative) aspects of the film. Expect the actress to land a spot in the Best Actress race this season. The Artist Starring: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, Penelope Ann Miller Director: Michel Hazanavicius Release Date: November 23, 2011 The Buzz: Director Michel Hazanavicius is a master replicator. His films OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies and OSS 117 - Lost in Rio are pitch perfect spoofs of the Bond movies/spy genre, and his new film The Artist goes beyond mockery and captures the essence of a early 20th century silent film. Completely without dialogue, star Jean Dujardin lights up the screen in this lighthearted look at the evolving movie industry. The movie garnered rave reviews when it played at Cannes back in May, winning a Best Actor award for Dujardin, and has since picked up an Audience Award at the Hamptons International Film Fest.  Potential: Audience reactions to The Artist have been enthusiastic, while critical response has been favorable, but mellow. There's so much cinema dripping from the picture that it won't be ignored come Oscar time—Dujardin seems like a given, while Hazanavicius could slip into the Best Director race. The Artist is a definite contender for the Best Picture race. Carnage Starring: Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly Director: Roman Polanski Release Date: December 16, 2011 The Buzz: Legendary director Polanski rounded up four of Hollywood's best actors for an adaptation of the Tony award-winning play God of Carange. The result is a snappy, often-hilarious emotional roller coaster that builds momentum even within its singular location. The movie premiered at the Venice Film Festival where Polanski took home an award for directing. We saw the movie when it played at New York Film Festival and ate it up. Potential: The movie might feel too theatrical for most movie-focused voters, but Polanski's style is so energetic despite the restraints that he could very well pull through to the top five. With an A-List quartet sharing equal time in the spotlight, it would be hard for any of the four to come out on top. Right now, there isn't anyone championing any specific actor, so the talent in Carnage may slip by unnoticed. Coriolanus Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain Director: Ralph Fiennes Release Date: January 13, 2012 The Buzz: Master thespian/man behind Voldemort Fiennes makes his directorial debut with this modern day adaptation of Shakespeare's war and politics. The movie opened the Berlin Film Festival, and while many of the reactions were glowing, they were hushed. The movie scored several nominations alongside some other buzzed about Oscar-possibilities at the British Independent Film Awards, indicating, perhaps, that the louder buzz for Coriolanus has yet to come. Potential: Fiennes pulls double duty in the film—no easy task, especially with the fragile work of Shakespeare. But the existing reviews of Coriolanus praise his work on both sides of the camera, which might land him a coveted spot in both Actor and Director categories (a feat only achieved twice: first by Laurence Olivier in Hamlet, second by Roberto Begnini for Life Is Beautiful). Word on the street is that Vanessa Redgrave also delivers an award-worthy performance, so she could squeeze her way into Best Supporting Actress territory. A Dangerous Method Starring: Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley Director: David Cronenberg Release Date: November 23, 2011 The Buzz: Cronenberg's inside look into the battle of intellect, science and lust between famed psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung has run the gamut of award season film festivals, including Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York. The movie's repressed nature and physically demanding performances weren't everyone's cup of tea—reviews range from "masterpiece" to "floundered drama"—but the pedigree is there. I saw the movie at the NYFF and found it riveting, but it's easy to see why some found it off-putting. Potential: The pieces are there, but A Dangerous Method might be too odd, too introverted for mass audiences, and more importantly, award voters. It's a talky, tense film and while Fassbender, Mortensen and Knightley all deliver captivating performances, they feel emotionally distant (as they should). Fassbender and Knightley have potential as the two main leads, but the former has another movie to ride and Knightley is the antithesis of charming (again, purposefully). may be Theron's best performance to date. Potential: The pedigree might be there, but if Young Adult is too dark, too mean-spirited and puts all its chips on a character voters despise, it may not feel the love Juno saw a few years back. Then again, Theron won her first Oscar for playing a serial killer (Monster), proving that if the talent is there, so are the awards. Cody and Reitman both seem likely to nab respective nominations for writing and directing, but it'll all come down to response once Academy members see the film—which the studio doesn't seem to interested in making happen.
  • New in Blu 11.1.11
    By: Matt Patches November 01, 2011 5:34am EST
    New Releases: Californication: Season 4 (Showtime, $26.99) Click here to buy it. Cars 2 (Disney, $24.99) Click here to buy it. Check back soon for a full review! Crazy Stupid Love (Warner Bros, $24.99) Click here to buy it. We were big fans of the movie and we had a chance to check out the disc. Read our full review here. Snow Flower and Secret Fan (Fox, $24.99) Click here to buy it. Tabloid (MPI, $18.99) Click here to buy it. The Toy Story Trilogy (Disney, $67.99) Click here to buy it. Trespass (Millenium, $19.99) Click here to buy it. Water for Elephants (FOX, $21.99) Click here to buy it. Water for Elephants was supposed to be the proof that R. Patz had what it took to carry his own movie, that he was more than a hearthrob (see: Leo Dicaprio post-Titanic). I'm not sure he completely won over the crowds with this one, but he walked away unscathed. Water for Elephants is a good or bad film so much as it's there, a soulless drama with a dazzling period backdrop. The circus scenes alone may make this a worthy Blu-ray, but I'd only recommend to the biggest of Pattinson fans. Catalog Releases: A Christmas Carol: 60th Anniversary Diamond Edition (VCI, $9.99) Click here to buy it. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (Miramax, $10.99) Click here to buy it. Few caught George Clooney's first foray into directing in theaters. Makes sense—the mind-bending drama penned by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) focuses on the life of Gong Show host Chuck Barris, who believed himself to be a spy. Wacky, fun and worth checking out. Cop Land (Miramax, $10.99) Click here to buy it. Hook (Sony, $14.99) Click here to buy it. I've been told the only reason I love this movie is due to my childhood nostalgia. That's fine. This fantastical Spielberg movie is awesome. Phantom of the Opera (Image, $23.99) Click here to buy it. Scrooged (Paramount, $16.99) Click here to buy it.
  • The 'Two and a Half Men' Ashton Kutcher Scorecard: Week Seven
    By: Matt Patches October 31, 2011 6:19pm EST
    S9E7: Last week's episode "The Squat and The Hover" hit a new low. Even by Two and a Half Men standards, it was crass and ugly. The episode squeezed out two Charlie Sheen heads, but not without losing some of my faith in the process. Week to week I attempt to give Ashton Kutcher the credit he deserves, but after a slew of homophobic cracks and a flailing narrative, I realized my interest was waning. If Ashton's going to step up and make Two and a Half Men work on his terms, he's got to aim higher. Let's see how he does tonight. Here's the scorecard breakdown: One Charlie Sheen Head (1 - 10 Points): Ashton, you were in this episode. Two Charlie Sheen Heads (11 - 20 Points): Ashton, you landed a few jokes, but we can't stop thinking about good ol' Charlie. Three Charlie Sheen Heads (21 - 30 Points): Ashton, you earned tonight's laugh track. Solid. Four Charlie Sheen Heads (31 - 40 Points): Ashton, we're impressed. You've surpassed Sheen-level kookiness. Five Charlie Sheen Heads (41 - 50 Points): Ashton, you're scaring us with classic levels of comedy. Charlie who? That's that, now on with the Ashton Kutcher Two and a Half Men scorecard! "Those Fancy Japanese Toilets" 1. "I want to go green...unless Brookstone comes up with a compact nuclear reactor, because who wouldn't want one of those?" Points: 3 Ashton sits out of tonight's cold open, which sees Alan and his mother Evelyn unveiling the contents of Charlie's secret safe deposit box. Inside they find a journal—but even that discovery can't keep Evelyn's eyes off Walden. Maneuvering in her usual seductive manner, the Harper mother convinces Walden to take her on as an interior decorator. Ashton doesn't have much room to play here, but slips into goofball mode as he imagines the possibilities of remodeling the home. Kind of dull back-and-forth and completely overshadowed by a trashy joke dropped by Alan in the opening. Conveying how odd his mother is, Alan proclaims, "It's a miracle I'm not a transsexual on Dancing with the Stars." Is that a backhanded Chaz Bono dig? Yikes. These are the moments I pray Ashton enters the set and saves the show. 2. "Can we get one of those fancy Japanese toilets that sprays water and cleans your tushie?" Points:  4 No matter how many groan-worthy lows the show hits this season, I still believe that Ashton's Walden is a viable character that can sustain Two and a Half Men. Where he comes from and what he strives to become makes for good character, good dynamic and good comedy. That said, when the writers simply use him to make silly statements, like the five-minute-long riff on kooky additions he can make to his bathroom and bedroom, I zone out. Walking the pad with Evelyn, making suggests like marble countertops and a a balcony jacuzzi, Ashton discovers Charlie's bedroom ceiling cam. Apparently Walden's forgotten how much he loves his ex-wife Bridget, as he's now ready to sleep with as many chicks as possible (and tape them). 3. "Do you think a bit of better butter would make her butter better?" Points:  6 Alan, realizing Walden might be in over his head with Evelyn, tries to convince the childish billionaire to beware of her super duper uber cougar tactics—but to no avail. Tonight, Walden is in 100% flake mode, determined to make funny sounds to his voice-activated electric car and spout tongue twisters, rather than heed Alan's warnings. He's a computer genius with no street smarts. This moment isn't the smartest comedy the world's ever seen, but at least it balances the various sides of Walden that we've seen on display. That is to say, the show actually makes sense for five minutes. 4. "I think we should keep our relationship business, not bizzzz-nass." Points:  7 After a day of furniture shopping, Walden walks Evelyn to her door, only to be invited in for a drink. The seduction tactics are now apparent to Walden, who can't break Evenlyn's tractor beam innocence to vacate the situation. He proceeds, they do it, and the regret immediately sets in. This is Ashton at his best. Whereas tonight's entire Alan/Charlie's journal through-line consisted of Jon Cryer describing Charlie's life of coke snorting and hooker banging, Ashton actually made some attempt to ground Walden in reality, piling on funny bits of physical humor as Walden squirms in fright from sleeping with Evelyn. The minute of post-sex, mouth agape shock is priceless. 5. "What an affectionate family." Points: 6 The episode ends with Walden returning home, finding Alan in awe of the fact that Charlie loved him, and Jake full of joy after taking advantage of his chemistry partner (who's infatuated with Walden). Walden's encounter with Evenlyn isn't something he's able to shake, and I'm hoping this will be a thread through a few episodes. Can Alan's new best friend really get away sleeping with his Mom? This is a conflict I want to see and the show did a nice job of setting up the problem for long-term potential. If they could have done it with a few less Jake fart jokes, it would be even better! Total Points: 26 -  Three Charlie Sheen Heads! OK, Ashton. You managed to go up from this episode. I'll give you that. "Those Fancy Japanese Toilets" had some genuine laughs and concrete character moments, but, per usual, the "racy" material (read: plain old offensive) brings down the ship. But Ashton prevailed, proving he may actually be what keeps Two and a Half Men afloat in the absence of Charlie Harper. Would the writers ever take a chance and try to abandon the ham-fisted sex jokes? Ball's still in your court, Ashton.
  • Anonymous Review
    By: Matt Patches October 28, 2011 9:36am EST
    For nearly 100 years experts in historical and literary fields have been debating the authenticity of William Shakespeare's master works. Was he really a storytelling genius who single-handedly crafted a vast body of poems and plays? Or were they actually the works of another unnamed author? Could a group of playwrights have written under a sole moniker? Director Roland Emmerich dives headfirst into this century-old debate with his new movie Anonymous piecing together evidence to unravel the mystery with dramatic flair. Unfortunately the only thing he discovers in the process is that the answers aren't that interesting. The movie centers on Edward De Vere (Rhys Ifans) a scholarly gentleman forced as a youngster into the role of Earl of Oxford. While Edward prefers to spend his time waxing poetically and bringing theatrics to life for the adoring Queen Elizabeth (Joely Richardson) his caretaker the sinister mustache-twirling-without-a-mustache William Cecil (David Thewlis) authoritatively directs him on the path of the aristocracy. But that doesn't stop De Vere from toiling over his written work spending years crafting plays and poems in-between canoodling with the Queen (for shame!). As a grown man De Vere finds himself married off to Cecil's daughter battling the tired advisor and his hunchback son (Edward Hogg) all while continuing to write and attend the common man's theater. During one such excursion the Earl crosses paths with playwright Ben Johnson (Sebastian Armesto) who De Vere sees as the perfect representative to take ownership over his plays hoping they can finally be brought to life on stage. Of course Johnson realizes slapping his name on De Vere's works of genius would put the kibosh on his own career so he hands them over to his horny drunk actor friend William t (Rafe Spall). The staged plays are a hit but their appeal to the masses is a red flag to the court. Cecil commences a hunt for the true author of Shakespeare's plays landing De Vere in hot water. Emmerich intertwines De Vere Johnson and Shakespeare's quest for theatrical fame with political unrest and romantic subplots but none of the story arcs have the spark of a real mystery/thriller. The director and his screenwriter John Orloff (The Guardians of Ga'hoole) aim to replicate The Bard's tragic character-driven plays with their own story relying on performance and dense dialogue to entrance the viewer. But Emmerich goes so far out of his way to restrain himself from his usual eye for end-of-the-world destruction (made famous in Independence Day Godzilla The Day After Tomorrow 2012…) that the movie trudges along without an ounce of intrigue. It's almost as if Anonymous strives to be purposefully boring Emmerich attempting to deliver performance-first directing but ending up with string of flat sloth-paced back-and-forths. He does manage to squeeze a few action scenes into the mix—De Vere fends off an attacker in a thrilling confined swordfight—but even the bigger moments feel muted. The creative duo's grounded tactics do occasionally payoff thanks to a solid cast led by powerhouse thespian Ifans. Anonymous luxuriates in Elizabethan history and royal affairs presented in a fashion only a few steps up from your run-of-the-mill high school text book but Ifans steps in and turns hammy exposition into lyrical dialogue. While he doesn't have the power to make it all register Ifans makes the experience of Anonymous worth seeing and hearing. One transcendent moment shows De Vere crumbling in front of his wife explaining his instinctual need to write. The monologue is powerful—but the surroundings created by Emmerich fail to support him. The rest of the ensemble does their best to wrangle our attentions—the legendary Vanessa Redgrave as the older repressed Queen Elizabeth and Spall's lively arrogant Shakespeare are standouts—but the lingering question of "why does this matter?" continually stands in the film's way. The works of William Shakespeare are a foundation for the dramatic arts a staple of literary education and a testament to the power of written word. After 500 years his plays continue to be relevant embodying the full spectrum of human emotion. So it's understandable why Roland Emmerich would embark on an expansive blockbuster dissection behind the truth of these achievements. But Anonymous only manages to present plausible events never tackling the weight of those accusations dead on. Going head to head with The Bard should live up to the existing body of work. Anonymous on the other hand feels abridged.
  • Infographic: The Dreamworks Animated Hybrids
    By: Matt Patches October 28, 2011 7:36am EST
    One of Dreamworks Animation's top priorities has always been to reel in big name talent to fill the voices of their cartoon heroes (see: Puss in Boots starring Antonio Banderas). But when you put a movie star behind the facade of an animated character, are you really getting the most out of them? We have a solution. Instead of simply lending their vocals to these anthropomorphic creatures, we suggest Dreamworks goes all out. Splice the celebrities recognizable mugs into the design, so that you have a talking cat that sounds and looks like your high-profile star. It's quite genius, and as you'll see from our handy graphic, Dreamworks missed out on a lot of great opportunities in the past. Obviously. Inspired by the photoshopping magic of the terrifyingly amazing Pony Danza, we present this collection of Dreamworks Animated Hybrids. ="font-style:>
  • 'Parks and Recreation' Recap: Meet 'n' Greet
    By: Matt Patches October 27, 2011 5:51pm EST
    S4E5: After a one week break, Parks and Recreation returned with their first ever Halloween episode, a half hour that gave every character on the show a little something to do. Leslie's journey to election day is off to a slower start than I expected, with episodes like tonight's "Meet 'n' Greet" only scratching the surface of her campaign trail. But with an ensemble that's always delivering 110%, I rarely find myself hung up on the show's misgivings. There's too much good, and on the Thursday before Halloween, it's like a bag of comedy candy. "I don't like to throw around the word butthead very often but...I can say without hesitation that Tom is being a real dick." - Leslie Leslie realizes that the way to really rally the people of Pawnee is to win over the many small business owners of the town. Tom has a great idea: Throw a party and invite them all for a small chit chat. Tom also has a terrible idea: Let Entertainment 720 throw the party. Leslie arrives at the get-together to find the event space adorned with Tom's face. It's evident Tom has ulterior motives and hopes to convince the most successful man in town, Mr. Kernston (of Kernston Rubber Nipples), to invest in E720. Every moment Leslie tries to get a word in, Tom interjects, forcing her to employ the dirtiest of attacks: The nipple twist. We've been seeing a lot of angry Leslie this season and it's fun—she's out of her element, being pushed to the brink by pressure, and Amy Poehler is a fully capable maniac when necessary. In the wake of disaster, Leslie continuously dunks Tom's head in the stretch limo hot tub he rented for the party. "Way to join the party dude, where's your costume?" - Andy "Honey, that is his costume. He's going as Lame." - April Meanwhile, Andy and April decide to go all out and throw a debaucherous Halloween party. Everyone who is anyone is there—even the creepy kid Oren!—minus Ben, who, even being the loving couple's roomie, never caught wind of the shindig. Whoops. Ben explains that he comes from a long line of passive family members who never really deal with their anger, so Ben tries to get work done while the rest of the crowd guzzles beer and lives it up. Andy explains that he comes from a long line of brothers who used headlocks and punching and hugs and wrestling to deal with their problems, so that's exactly how he helps provoke Ben into honesty. If there's one thing I've been disappointed about thus far with Season Four of Parks is the lack of real Andy. Like the other characters, he's not a caricature, but he is a nutball who can easily slip into that mode. Not so here. He may stage a fight between him and Ben that leads to a blood capsule going off in his nose ("Gotcha!") that's actually a serious injury ("I think my nose is broken..."), but it's because he cares about Ben. The stuffy government employee admits to his oaf of a friend that, yes, he should speak up and, yes, Andy using his comforter in pillow forts does bother him. Andy pats Ben on the back and makes a touching statment: "We're brothers." Another classic Parks "aww" moment. "Hi there, is there a project I can help you with?" - Hardware Store Employee "I know more than you." - Ron This episode served up two short, but sweet subplots that were pulled off with the writing staff's usual care and consideration. Ron arrives to the party in his annual Halloween costume (a pirate), only to discover that April and Andy's house is in shambles. As a man who lives to fix things, home erosion of any kind is intolerable, and he recruits Ann to help him. Ann becomes entangled and mesmerized by the DIY approach, and the two share a few tender moments as the nurse learns to use tools. This felt especially heartwarming as the two characters, who never really interacted in the past, finally begin to share scenes in the series (the seeds being planted in Episode 3, "Born & Raised"). I like this team! "You're beautiful! On the inside. Where your spirit lives." - Chris And not to be forgotten is Jerry, who watches horrified as Chris continues to date (and publicaly hook up with) his daughter Millicent. For the amount of screentime invested in this on-going gag, you would think the writers would either pile a little bit more substance or consequence into the thread or drop it from this episode. But that's not their style—and frankly, I can't really complain about peppering episodes with more Chris-isms. It's looking like their relationship could have a real effect on Jerry in a future episode, and he too is a character I'm always anxious to see nab screentime. "I'm going to watch it everyday until I die. And then when I die, I'm going to project it on my tombstone." - Leslie Parks, you sly dog. Two touching moments in one episode?! Before Leslie drowns Tom to death, an admission slips out that we've been pretty much waiting for since Episode 1 of the season: Entertainment 720 is bankrupt. Leslie cools down long enough for Tom to admit that he was trying to rake in one investor for the company, but did in fact spend a little time compiling a video biography of Leslie to show at the party. The two head back to the office to watch the video, a montage of Leslie's past set to Ken Burnsian-like narration by Tom. The visual poem has Leslie in tears. Everyone's happy and friends again. That's why I look forward to Parks and Recreation every week.