"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Elizabeth Banks is Effie Trinket!

It's official!!! Elizabeth Banks is Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games.  And while you can find this news on most movie sites it was officially confirmed by Banks herself when she "broke' the news on Twitter.  Here's what went down.

1. It all started with an innocent quote.

Guess who said this: "I'm smiling at you even though you're aggravating me."less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

2. That led to a confirmation.

Yes! And I can now confirm I'm EFFIE TRINKET in @TheHungerGames. So excited! RT @ohpoorsam Effie Trinket!less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

3. That leads to this gloriousness.  

May the odds be ever in your favor! #hungergamesless than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

She totally gets it. I'm so glad she's playing Effie.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Movie Review: Rango

I'm so glad that I could catch this film and see it in theaters.  I kind of always moan that animation films don't get proper respect; they are usually lumped into the category of kiddie films.  But I doubt most people would try to peg Rango as a typical animated feature and for that fact I am most grateful.

Rango is the story of an chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) who is thrown into the world of the town of Dirt and its residents from his lonely existence inside of a fish tank.  Rango is good at improvisation and soon a new "Rango" is born, popular and fearless.  In Dirt, Rango gets to be the guy he's always dreamed of in his stories.  Of course, the townspeople of Dirt don't make so easy for him.  They are wary of outsiders and they have a major drought crisis that permeates the mood of daily life.  But when that crisis threatens their daily existence, everyone bands together to find water and leads to the big eventual standoff.  

The film had some weak plot holes here and there and you can find out the main villain easily but Rango rises above the plot holes because of what it attempts to do; present an animated film for grown-ups.  No, this film is not certainly aimed for kids, it's a clever movie about finding yourself and how you can fit in by just being yourself.  It also brings back a genre that is long neglected, the Western.  Back in the 50s and 60s, Westerns were an American tradition, a genre created specifically by the harsh American frontier that had no real rules and survival depended on grit and determination.  Nowadays, you might hardly see a handful of them in a year.  But the fascination of the genre remains, the heroes of these films were called real men who survived when odds where stacked up against them.  You can understand why Rango wanted so much to be like these heroes.  

You root for the underdog here and Rango is a fine, if eccentric hero who goes through the usual cycle of a hero's journey.  I loved the old town of Dirt with its plucky citizens who are basically surviving in the middle of nowhere, these are characters to root for.  I'm so glad to finally have an animated film that was made for grown-ups and no kiddie gags or jokes, just clever humor.  Here's hoping that this will be the first of many such films.  

Directed by Gore Verbinski; Written by John Logan; Story by John Logan, Gore Verbinski, James Ward Byrkit; Music by Hans Zimmer, Edited by Craig Wood; Casting by Denise Chamain

Voice talents of: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Stephen Root, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone, Ian Abercromie, James Ward Byrkit


Cars 2: The Royal Edition!

Let's kick things off on the day of the royal wedding with a little bit of royal indulgence via Pixar, shall we?  As you may know, London is one of the pit stops in the Cars 2 universe releasing this June and today let's see the city through Pixar's eyes.  Also, the good folks down at Disney Pixar released this funny teaser trailer and poster via Stitch Kingdom that features a cameo by Her Royal Highness, the Queen.  Just in case you couldn't make it to London.

(Poster: Stitch Kingdom)

Reason #64868798453168 why I love Pixar.  Sigh!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 Trailer is here!

This is it! The final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is just months away and a decade after the film series first started in 2001, it will now conclude in 2011. End of an era!

What are your first reactions after seeing the trailer? I'm really happy that the movie was split in two and lots of attention is paid to the closing chapters of the Harry Potter saga because the trailer looks amazing. I can't believe how much destruction lays ahead for Hogwarts castle and the students that we watched grow and look now like weary adults determined for the final fight. Yeah, that's right, Voldemort too looks a bit worried. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is facing the battle of old foes head on, he's not afraid of anything anymore. This is intense, check out the trailer frame by frame, it is completely action packed and I can't wait to see it finally end in July.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Casting Updates: Ice Age 4 and more tributes for The Hunger Games!

(Pics: Entertainment Weekly)

  • More tributes news today, the nameless (so far) tributes from District 3 have been announced and the newcomers, again, are Ian Nelson and Kalia Prescott in the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games.  They were never named in the novels but I have a feeling they will given monikers for the movies.  
  • In more The Hunger Games casting news, Paula Malcolmson (Caprica) was also added to the cast as Katniss and Prim's mother.  In the novels, she is never mentioned by name, just as their mother.  
  • Ice Age 4: Continental Drift got a bit more crowded.  Joining Ray Romano, Denis Leary and company will be newcomers, at least to the voiceover biz, Jennifer Lopez, Jeremy Renner, Wanda Skyes, Keke Palmer, Aziz Ansari and rapper Drake.  Yeah, you know you've made it if you voice an animated character.  Personally, I'm really looking forward to what kind of wise-cracking animal Aziz Ansari's character will be.  Ah, the comedic possibilities!!!
  • The Dark Knight Rises could be shooting soon in Jodhpur, India.  Hmmm, very cool.  What kind of nefarious activities could Bruce Wayne be up to here?  I'm afraid you won't get much mileage in the Batmobile on these Indian roads.  First Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol shot some car chase scenes in Mumbai and now Batman in Jodhpur, the action seems much closer now.  
  • Yeah, I'll used to watch 21 Jump Street occasionally back when it was on TV.  Never a big fan, but I'm not against it being turned into a movie.  Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are starring in it and now comes word that Johnny Depp might cameo in the film.  Now I'm definitely tuning in.  

The Oscars announce next year's important dates


Yes, the Oscars just ended.  But look what we have to look forward to for next year!  In news, that probably only I'm really excited about, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced the big dates for next year's awards ceremony.

Without further adieu, they are:

Thursday, December 1, 2011: Official Screen Credits forms due
Tuesday, December 27, 2011: Nominations ballots mailed
Friday, January 13, 2012: Nominations polls close 5 p.m. PT
Tuesday, January 24, 2012: Nominations announced 5:30 a.m. PT, Samuel Goldwyn Theater
Wednesday, February 1, 2012: Final ballots mailed
Monday, February 6, 2012: Nominees Luncheon
Saturday, February 11, 2012: Scientific and Technical Awards presentation
Tuesday, February 21, 2012: Final polls close 5 p.m. PT
Sunday, February 26, 2012: 84th Academy Awards presentation
Mark your calendars, people! I know I will be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Joss Whedon's letter to the fans!

Ok, so yesterday I posted Peter Jackson's videoblog about The Hobbit and today we get Joss Whedon's letter to the fans on the start of filming of The Avengers.  I love Joss' wit and humility and if you've ever been a Buffy or Firefly fan, you'll get the references.  Here's what the man has to say over at Whedonesque:

Hi Pumpkins, joss here.

Tomorrow we start shooting (I THINK I'm legally permitted to say that). Day one. That's right. We'll be shooting the pivotal death/betrayal/product placement/setting up the sequel/coming out scene, at the following address:

[Marvel Lawyers rush in, take Joss's keyboard, blowtorch a picture of his family like in "Stormy Monday", drink his milkshake, leave the seat up, fluff his pillows, violently unfluff his pillows, leave]

Went too far. My bad. Anyhoo, it should be a fun day, followed by the eighty thousand other fun days it will take to finish this. I'll be checking in from time to time, if there's news or I crave attention (i.e. am awake) . None of it will be Avengers news -- I have some very denty pillows to remind of that -- but I may have tidbits. (They're not about Firefly. I should say that up front, if only to protect Sis Mo from the HATORZ.)

Some of you may be saying, Joss! Why this link, here, now, why, huh, howcum? My friend Allyx turned me on to these guys, and I'll tell you, they've gotten me through this intensely pressurized, preply time. I strongly recommend checking out their other vids -- I've watched them many many times, and I have a very special place for "Teamwork" in my heart. These guys are the guys. And IS there a better movie title than "Eagles Are Turning People Into Horses"? I thought not.

So wish me luck. DO IT! LUCK! NOW! I'm off to finish some Buffy pages, and then figure out what the movie is about already. I'm pretty sure it's about the Justice League [Marvel Lawyers re-enter, unspeakability occurs] or possibly something else. I'll get it. I've been looking forward to this. For about 46 years.



Monday, April 25, 2011

The Mega Poster Post: Abduction, Cars 2, The Change-Up and more!

Taylor Lautner uses his one expression on the Abduction poster.

I love this Cars 2 banner poster that's also currently serving as wallpaper on my computer.

Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman swap lives and bodies in The Change-Up.

More posters for Hangover Part II, Pirates 4, Mr. Popper's Penguins, X-Men and more after the cut.

The Hobbit Update: Videoblogging and more!

Got a special treat for The Hobbit fans! Peter Jackson shares with us the first of many (I hope) videoblogs about the making of The Hobbit starting with pre-production on costumes, armor and sets and it ends with a very special look at the Maori blessing of the stage where filming is about to begin. This video is worth the watch as it takes us back to Middle Earth and familiar faces (hello there, Ian McKellan) and truly makes the fans part of the filming process. Take a look!

Update: After the video was filmed, Peter Jackson announced on his Facebook page that unfortunately Rob Kazinsky who was to play the dwarf Fili has had to leave The Hobbit and return back home due to personal reasons.  Production will not be affected due to the change but a new Fili will have to be cast.  

Friday, April 22, 2011

Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's roles announced for The Dark Knight Rises

The worst kept secret about The Dark Knight Rises has been officially confirmed by Warner Bros. in a press release.  That being that Christopher Nolan's Inception actors, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are joining The Dark Knight Rises as new characters in the Batman universe.

BURBANK, CA, April 19, 2011 – Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have joined the cast of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the epic conclusion to the Dark Knight legend.
Cotillard will appear as Miranda Tate, a Wayne Enterprises board member eager to help a still-grieving Bruce Wayne resume his father’s philanthropic endeavors for Gotham.
Gordon-Levitt will play John Blake, a Gotham City beat cop assigned to special duty under the command of Commissioner Gordon.
The film reunites the actors with Christopher Nolan, who recently directed them in the award-winning blockbuster “Inception.”
The director stated, “When you collaborate with people as talented as Marion and Joe, it comes as no surprise that you would want to repeat the experience. I immediately thought of them for the roles of Miranda and Blake, and I am looking forward to working with both of them again.”
Heading the cast of “The Dark Knight Rises,” Christian Bale stars as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The main cast also includes Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy as Bane.
Nolan will direct the film from a screenplay he wrote with Jonathan Nolan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Christopher Nolan will also produce the film with his longtime producing partner, Emma Thomas, and Charles Roven.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is slated for release on July 20, 2012. The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

The film is due to start shooting this May and this shuts up the rumors abound what villainous role would Gordon-Levitt be playing.  He was previously rumored to be playing Alberto Falcone.  I'm intrigued by Cotillard's role, is she the new love interest to replace Rachel Dawes played by Maggie Gyllenhaal in the previous film? Where does that leave Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle aka Catwoman?  One thing is for sure, July 2012 is too far away! And yay, for the Inception reunion!

The Hunger Games: Let's talk about the Tributes!

So, obviously in the last week, there has been some major The Hunger Games casting afoot.  Now that the main tributes, Katniss and Peeta, and oh yeah, Gale too, have been announced, it's time to find out about the other districts.

Here are the Tributes from District 11, Rue and Thresh

(Pics: Entertainment Weekly)

Newcomers Dayo Okeniyi and Amandla Stenberg will play the Tributes from District 11 Thresh and Rue respectively.  Great choice in picking unknowns for the part.  There has been quite a big discussion on Peeta and Gale's casting choices with many fans on the fence or against the filmmaker's choices.  Prior to this, buzz was that Will Smith's daughter was a lock for Rue and I'm glad it's not Willow Smith as Rue, we need to bond with Rue just as Katniss does and Willow has too much recognition to bring to the role.  Both Thresh and Rue are friendly towards the District 12 Tributes, Katniss and Peeta, it'll be nice to see how this plays out.  Thumbs up here!

(Pics: Entertainment Weekly)

District 1 is not far behind.  The Tributes Marvel and Glimmer have been cast too, with Leven Rambin (Grey's Anatomy) as Glimmer and Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, is Marvel in his debut feature film.  Both Marvel and Glimmer are ruthless Career Tributes from popular District 1 and are a threat to both Katniss and Peeta competitively.  I've imagined them both to both big and threatening so I hope that the actors measure up to the part, especially Jack Quaid, he's a bit on the skinny side.  

(Pics: Entertainment Weekly)

And finally, the role of Primrose Everdeen, Prim, goes to another newcomer Willow Shields.  Prim is the younger sister of Katniss and whose name is first called out as a Tribute from District 12.  Katniss decides to take the place of her sister because she can't bear to see her be harmed.  Again, here I've imagined Elle Fanning as Prim since I heard the movie was to be made, but let's see how Willow does.  Prim is at the of the series and another fan favorite character. 

That's it for the casting new for now.   But more casting news is headed this way, Elizabeth Banks is said to be in talks for Effie and I'm sure the roles of Cinna and Haymitch should be announced soon.   And if you're on Facebook, go ahead and "like" The Hunger Games Tributes page where you'll get up to the minute news on the rest of the Tributes.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Weekly News Roundup: Tarsem Singh's Snow White, Brad Bird on his live-action debut and Tobey Maguire in Life of Pi.

I go away for a week and suddenly there's movie news and trailers all over the place.  Don't worry, I'm going to try to play catch up now.  Let's get to it then.

Snow White and her Prince Charming

  • Out of all the projects currently in production on Snow White, I'd bet my money on Tarsem Singh's Untitled Snow White Project that has picked up quite a cast.  Julia Roberts is the Evil Queen, Armie Hammer (The Social Network) is Prince Charming and Lily Collins (The Blind Side), daughter of Phil Collins, has been named as Snow White.  Trust me, it's not going to be boring. has a great video interview with the director here where he talks about his plans for the movie.  
  • Steven Spielberg is back to serious filmmaking, the kind that's going to get him back on the award podiums.  The long neglected Abraham Lincoln biopic, Lincoln, is back on, this time casting Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln.  Here's a fun fact, Field has never worked with Spielberg before, while Daniel Day-Lewis will be Lincoln.
  • James Cameron and Peter Jackson talk about speeding up 3D by using 48 frames per second in their next 3D projects The Hobbit and the Avatar sequels.
  • Brad Bird discusses with EW his first live-action film, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and how live-action differs from animated filmmaking.
  • Tobey Maguire joins the cast of Life of Pi as the interviewer who learns the story about Pi's journey across the seas.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Michael Shannon cast as General Zod

If you've seen my previous posts on the Superman man, then you've guessed that the villain announcement was due.  And here it is!   Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Broadwalk Empire) has been named as Zod in the new Superman: Man of Steel.  General Zod was previously played by Terrence Stamp in Superman Saga.  One thing is for sure, this film has cast all actors who can show amazing range and who previous to this haven't been involved in a superhero saga before.  Add the fact that it's been produced by Christopher Nolan who brings Batman expertise and Zack Synder who knows a thing or two about action flicks, this Superman movie shows real promise.  I sincerely hope it stays that way.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Hunger Games names its Peeta and Gale!

The Hunger Games has found its Peeta and Gale, the fellow competitor and best friend of Katniss Everdeen and they are...drumroll, please...Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mallark and Liam Hemsworth (brother of Chris Hemsworth aka Thor) as Gale Hawthorne.  The two actors were announced today by Lionsgate in an official press release.  With Jennifer Lawrence already picked as Katniss, Josh and Liam fill out triangle as they both vie for Katniss' affections.  What do I think?  I'm really pleased with Josh as Peeta although he'll have to dye his hair blond.  He's a fine actor and I've liked him since Little Manhattan in he was adorable as as 11-year-old.  I'm much more sceptical of Hemsworth as Gale since my previous viewing experience of him was Last Song which was just awful.  But I'll take consolation in the fact that Gale isn't one of my favorite characters from the books anyways.  I'm more a Peeta fan.  This also means that casting is in full swing and the announcements for Haymitch, Prim, Rue and Cinna can't be far behind.  After all, it is due for release next year.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Darren Aronofsky supports his actress!

Does everyone know what's happening with whole Black Swan controversy?  Sarah Lane, a dance double for Natalie Portman in the Black Swan, recently came out with comments suggesting that Portman only did 5% of the actual dancing in the film and that Lane was never properly credited and instead told to hide in the back during Oscar season.

Since then Portman's fiancee, Benjamin Millipied (and choreographer on the film), fellow actress Mila Kunis and the director Darren Aronofsky have all spoken up in defense of Portman and her commitment and determination to the role.  In fact, Aronofsky released this statement "doing the math" and standing by his actress.

“Here is the reality. I had my editor count shots. There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80% Natalie Portman. What about duration? The shots that feature the double are wide shots and rarely play for longer than one second. There are two complicated longer dance sequences that we used face replacement. Even so, if we were judging by time over 90% would be Natalie Portman.
And to be clear Natalie did dance on pointe in pointe shoes. If you look at the final shot of the opening prologue, which lasts 85 seconds, and was danced completely by Natalie, she exits the scene on pointe. That is completely her without any digital magic. I am responding to this to put this to rest and to defend my actor. Natalie sweated long and hard to deliver a great physical and emotional performance. And I don’t want anyone to think that’s not her they are watching. It is.”
Sarah Lane, who was probably trying to get recognition for her role in the movie has seen it all blow in her face.  She was trying to make it look like Natalie lied for the role while Natalie hasn't denied that a double was used in the movie for the hardcore dancing.  But at the end of the day, it's the acting that resonates through.  Yes, it is a dance film but it's not only about that.  Black Swan is highly performance oriented film, an acting piece that revolves mainly around one character, Nina played by Portman.  As Roger Ebert of the Sun Times, rightly pointed out:

Let us not forget Natalie Portman did ALL of her own acting in "Black Swan," and that's why she deserved her Oscar.less than a minute ago via SocialOomph

That is all that needs to be said on the matter.  Let the acting speak for itself!!

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