21 March 2007
  poor little miss frida
well it looks like one of my most looked forward to movies this year is going all to hell. if you didn't see the trailer i posted the other day for julie taymor's new project then you should, because it looks awesome. unfortunately, according to this post on the ew blog, the studio has pretty much cut it to hell in order to make money. i think i am only watching foreign films from now on. here is the AWFUL article:

Beatle battle: We can work it out -- maybe
Mar 20, 2007, 09:01 PM | by Gary Susman

A studio takes a film away from its director, recuts it, and puts out the revised version over the director's objections. It's a story as old as Hollywood, though it's rare that the studio recuts a film behind the director's back. But that's what seems to have happened with Across the Universe, Julie Taymor's Beatles-scored musical starring Evan Rachel Wood (pictured). According to the New York Times, Revolution Studios chief Joe Roth lopped half an hour off of Taymor's 128-minute cut and test-marketed his version, which he believes is more commercial; as a result, Taymor is considering going all Alan Smithee and taking her name off the project.

Now, Roth has the contractual right to recut the film, and he's a director himself, though his movies (Christmas With the Kranks, America's Sweethearts) aren't exactly as acclaimed as Taymor's works (Frida, Broadway's The Lion King). Plus, a shorter cut can play more showings per day. Still, who would you trust more to do right by the movie musical: the woman whose radical reimagining of a Disney movie has been running on Broadway for a decade and spawned nine road-company productions, or the Revolution Studios exec who greenlit xXx: State of the Union and Gigli?

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16 March 2007
  33 movies to look forward to in 2007

i really enjoyed going to the movies in 2006, and that makes me sad. it seems lately that every other year is a good one for movies. so i don't have too much hope for what's coming out this year. most of the early awards buzz thus far centers on upcoming near-east-centric political dramas which are just not my cup of tea. and plus there is fated to be no more gael, no more gonzález-iñárritu, no more scorsese and no more eastwood. *sigh* still, there are things to look forward to. there will be more julianne moore, more nicole kidman, a new film by alexander payne and a ton of long anticipated sequels and adaptations. here is my list of 33 films to look forward to in 2007:

after a couple decades of more-or-less genre hibernation, the movie musical has been slowly coming back over the past 10 years or so. this year a ton of musicals are slated to be released. i am most looking forward to the musical version of john waters' 1988 film hairspray (20 july). i haven't seen the stage show, but i am a big fan of the film, and photos of john travolta in the divine roll are priceless. one of the most hyped films of 2007 is the new tim burton project, a film version of the musical sweeney todd (december), starring johnny depp. i don't really know the musical, but johnny depp plus tim burton is always a terrific formula. another movie that has been getting a lot of media attention is the sure-to-be-bizarre bob dylan musical biopic i'm not there (21 september). i'm definitely not a dylan fan, but i am a fan of filmmaker todd haynes, and the awesome cate blanchett is just one of the people portraying the musician. another upcoming film i am skeptical but hopeful about is julie taymor's new project across the universe (28 september), a musical about 1960s unrest. even though this film features beatles songs (ugh), it stars evan rachel wood, and that can't be bad. rounding out the slate of sure-to-be bizarre if imaginative musicals is the half live action/half animated disney musical enchanted (21 november), a modern day fairy tale set in manhattan.

another film genre set to get a booster injection this year is the western. two high profile westerns are coming out this year and both look really cool. the assassination of jesse james by the coward robert ford (september) has been being made for what seems like forever, but it is finally coming out in 2007. photos of brad pitt as jesse james are (in a word) dreamy. also hitting theaters is a remake of the 1950s western 3:10 to yuma (5 october). russell crowe and christian bale helm this film about a small town rancher who captures a well known outlaw.

there are quite a few sequels to look forward to in 2007. the most eagerly awaited and sure to be one of the biggest money-makers of the year is third installment in the pirates of the caribbean franchise, at world's end (25 may). seeing as how the film's predecessor ended with a huge cliffhanger, i can't wait to see what happens. another sequel i am looking forward to, even though its predecessor left a hugely bad taste in my mouth is ocean's 13 (8 june). i am really hoping billy ocean and his crew learn from their ego-driven mistakes and make a better film this time around. another looong awaited sequel is the poised-for-awards sequel to elizabeth, the golden age (5 october). i loved the first film and can't wait to see cate blanchett's return to the role.

the horror movie mania of recent years will not end in 2007, and, per usual, there are more horror sequels a'comin'. i am dubious if the franchise can continue its momentum this time around, but the money machine is wasting no time in rolling out saw iv (26 october). i haven't heard much about the plot, but i am curious how the film can really work seeing as how all the characters in the franchise are dead (and it is supposedly not a prequel). the hills have eyes 2 (23 march) is also coming out soon, the sequel to one of the goriest horror movies i have ever seen. more nuclear mutants chowing down on unsuspecting passersby? i for one can't wait. i am really anxious to see what eli roth does in his sequel project hostel part 2 (8 june 2007), considering that at the end of the first installment, pretty much nothing gets resolved. there is so much room for expansion on the über-creepy torture-tourism theme. another horror sequel hoping to cash in on the genre explosion is 28 weeks later (11 may), which will continue to show the effects of the apocalypse. fun!

there is also some new material to look forward to in the thriller/suspense/horror genre. looking like it leans further to the horror end of the spectrum is the upcoming hilary swank flick, the reaping (6 april). the trailer has been playing in theaters for a month or so and the biblical plagues in modern times imagery consistently creeps me out. perhaps lingering somewhere between suspense and horror with a sprinkling of sci-fi is sunshine (15 december), a film about the death of the sun. i love disaster movies, and there haven't been many lately so i am excited for a new one. probably located further to the thriller end of the spectrum is the awards-buzzed film adaptation of the book the kite runner (2 november). its political content is a potential turn off for me, but everyone seems to enjoy the book, so the film seems promising.

2007 is set to be a big year at the movies for fans of victorian lit. two upcoming films will focus on the lives of british writers of the 19th century. brontë (no release date), starring michelle williams as charlotte, tells the story of how the brontë sisters rose to literary prominence. the film also features the ultra-hot jonathan rhys meyers as the brontë's brother branwell (who knew they had a brother?). becoming jane (3 august), is a similarly themed biopic of the life of jane austen which also details the author's rise to fame. it stars anne hathaway in the title role. could this be the film that finally gains her some attention?

2006 will probably be remembered for its breakthroughs in foreign, foreign language and foreign-set films, and several 2007 films will continue in that vein. one film i have been looking forward to for some time is the nebulously themed paris je t'aime (21 july). this film, divided up into 18 shorts named after various paris districts, sports a long list of directors including alfonso cuáron, alexander payne and the coen brothers. it looks like it will be fantastically romantic. one of the most celebrated novels in latin american literature, gabriel garcia márquez' love in the time of cholera (16 november) is coming to the big screen this year, starring javier bardem and catalina sandino moreno. this is also a romantic story about a love triangle set in turn of the century south america. keira knightley is the star of another foreign-set film debuting this year, silk (3 august). this movie, set in 19th century japan, tells the story of a french silkworm smuggler's affair with a japanese concubine.

quite a few of my favorite actresses have films coming out this year giving me a lot to look forward to in that department. nicole kidman has had a quiet past year, but she has a big movie coming out this year, his dark materials: the golden compass (7 december). this is a futuristic sci fi fantasy film about a young girl who travels the world saving kidnapped children from medical experimentation. scarlett johansson has two high profile films coming out. first, the nanny diaries (20 april) is a comedy about a recent college graduate dealing with a new job as a nanny, a difficult boss and her increasingly fractured personal life. (hm, plot sound familiar?) also, johansson stars in the other boleyn girl (26 october), her latest film in which she is doomed to be considered and then disappointed come awards season. johansson stars with natalie portman (anne boleyn) as two sisters vying for the attention of henry viii. jennifer connelly's newest movie is already getting best picture buzz, the drama reservation road (9 november). this movie details the relationship between two families after one man kills the child of another in a car accident. one of my newer fave actresses, ellen page, has a really cool looking movie coming out this year where she appears opposite catherine keener, an american crime (17 august). in this true story, page plays a girl who was locked up for months in a basement in the 1960s by her mother, keener.

some of my fave filmmakers are also coming out with new projects this year. if you haven't seen the trailer for the new quentin tarantino movie grindhouse (6 april), you can't miss it. tarantino's newest project looks ultra-avant garde, a double feature about sex and violence at the movies featuring, among other things, rose mcgowan with a machine gun for a prosthetic leg. alexander payne also has a new movie coming out this year, i now pronounce you chuck and larry (20 july). even though its content seems questionable, the story of two straight men who get married in order to receive domestic partner benefits at work, it is after all an alexander payne film, so i am hopeful. sean penn is taking his turn at movie direction, helming the film version of one of my all time favorite books: jon krakauer's into the wild (21 september). i can't wait to see what penn does with this story about a boy who goes off into the alaskan wilderness to discover himself.

georgia rule (11 may) has been getting a lot of media attention, not for the film itself but rather for the onsite antics of star lindsay lohan. but the movie does have a pretty stellar cast including felicity huffman and jane fonda and the trailer looks really promising. similarly chapter 27 (no release date) which just recently had its debut at sundance, has gotten a lot of attention for its eye makeup-obsessed star jared leto and his alleged self-obsession. but the film itself, the story of mark david chapman's assassination of john lennon has gotten decent reviews and looks to be, at least, interesting.

probably the most hyped movie of 2007 is the simpsons movie (27 july). this movie is poised, i think, to make more money than any other this year. who isn't going to want to go watch this? worldwide, i think it will have an awesome audience. however, this also means that fans have super high expectations. so if the film is anything less than brilliant, it will be a huge disappointment. we'll see.
02 March 2007
  après les oscars
i don't know who produces the academy awards, but i think they might have down syndrome. and i don't even think it is like cute corky-from-life-goes-on down syndrome, but it is like full blown swedish chef level mental retardation. i mean what else could possibly explain someone saying-- hey, you know what this awards ceremony needs. . . interpretive dancers! then you have the endless inane montages. what the hell does that mean anyway? it's like, hey here are a bunch of movies from the past that have nothing to do with one another. . . enjoy. none of this boring pointlessness would have mattered much to me except for two things:

#1 the producer feels the need to play almost every single winner off stage, but she still has time to show a bunch of lame dancers making penguins out of themselves?!? HEY PRODUCER BITCH. people actually like hearing the award winners' speeches. NOBODY likes interpretive dancers.

#2 four effing hours.

on the good side, ellen was a pretty good host more or less. i guess after the past two years the hosts (chris rock and john stewart) have set the bar pretty low, so i wasn't expecting much to start with. even though ellen wasn't all that funny, she was really nice, which i liked. i don't understand why the hosts always have to take digs at people in the audience. it is just mean spirited especially in light of the situation. ellen didn't do that, so i enjoyed her if only for that reason. (plus, personally, i just think she is a really great person, so i am happy for her).

as for the awards themselves, (you mean they actually give out awards there?!?) there weren't a whole lot of surprises-- good or bad. alan arkin beat out eddie murphy for supporting actor which gave me a little pleasure. not that i actually was rooting for alan arkin or anything, but i was happy to see eddie murphy lose. what a tool. the biggest disappointment was probably pan's labyrinth losing best foreign film to some stupid movie from germany that nobody has ever even seen. i don't know how they vote for foreign film, but they really need to fix it. it seems the wrong movie ALWAYS wins that category.

and then there is cinematography. don't get me wrong, the camera work in pan's was pretty good, but how could those amazing shots from children of men not impress the voters? i am in awe about it.

as for the best moment of the night, i will have to go with john on this one. i couldn't have been happier to see melissa etheridge win the best song category. first of all, her song was simply the best-- hands down. but to see her kiss her wife when they announced her name and then thank her on the stage was really cool. for one brief moment, late at night, after several glasses of wine, i wished i was a lesbian.

p.s. out of the 12 awards i predicted, i got 9 right which i think was pretty decent. *yea* for me
Luke and John talk about movies

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