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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Italian Poster for To Rome With Love

(Poster: Hypable)
Here's a first look at the Italian poster for Woody Allen's upcoming anthology film To Rome With Love.  According to IMDb, the story is about "a number of people in Italy, some American, some Italian, some residents, some visitors and the romances and adventures and predicaments they get into." The cast includes Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Greta Garwig and Allison Pill.  It also marks the return of Woody Allen as an actor.  He was was last seen onscreen in Scoop (2006) opposite Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson.  To Rome With Love opens in limited release in June across USA.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New animation trailers: Hotel Transylvania and Rise of the Guardians

Sony Pictures Animation's Hotel Translyvania has a new trailer out showing us where all monsters and scary villains go when they want to relax.  Hotel Translyvania, of course!  It's run by Dracula who wants this place to be the haven for monsters who want some peace and quiet until a human comes to invade their space.  The voice talents for this film feature Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez and will release in September 2012.

From monsters to guardians as Dreamworks Animation brings the story of Santa Claus, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny who all unite to save the children of the world from the evil Pitch in Rise of the Guardians.  And no, this isn't the sequel to Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole.  The movie is, however, based on the book by William Joyce who just won the Oscar for Best Animated Short for the The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.  The voice cast is just as impressive with Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Isla Fisher and Hugh Jackman all lending their voice to the guardians and is executive produced by Guillermo del Toro.  Rise of the Guardians releases this November.  

First Photo: Only God Forgives

Initially Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling brought the innocuous sounding Drive which involved more than just cars and drivers and now they are teaming up for an ominous sounding Only God Forgives, which seems like a cops against gangsters story set in Bangkok.  Take a look at Ryan Gosling below.

(Photo: Yahoo)

What are the chances of him surviving this one?  Hope those Muy Thai boxing lessons help, Ryan!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Around the World in Posters: Brave, Mirror Mirror and Delicacy

(Photo: iTunes Movie Trailers)
Jeremy Renner is "Bourne" again in The Bourne Legacy.

Princess Merida and mysterious blue spirits in the new Japanese poster of Brave.  Absolutely beautiful!

Moonrise Kingdom, Mirror Mirror, 65th Cannes poster and more after the cut

Friday, March 23, 2012

Recommended Links: Books Edition!

(Photo: Borders Australia)

  • The Book Thief is coming to the big screen!  The book written by Markus Zusak has been on the NY Times Children's bestseller list for over 230 weeks and will be helmed for the screen by director Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).  It takes place in Nazi Germany where young Liesel Meminger "steals" books from mayor's wife and makes friends with the young Jewish fist-fighter her foster parents have hidden in the basement.  The book is narrated by Death.  I'm already imagining Elle Fanning or Chloe Grace Moretz for Liesel.  Wishful thinking?
  • Here's the teaser trailer for Stephanie Meyer's The Host.  Look past the confusing Tron music, there are no machines here.  Instead, it's about an alien soul, the Wanderer, who roams the Earth in captured human body of Melanie Stryder looking to find the last remaining humans.  Saoirse Ronan is Melanie/Wanderer and the cast also features William Hurt, Diane Kruger, Frances Fisher and Max Irons (son of Jeremy Irons).  The film is directed by Andrew Niccol (In Time, Gattaca) and will release next March.
  • And finally, two Buffy alums are headed to Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the sequel to Percy Jackson: The Lighting Thief.  Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly) will play Hermes and Anthony Head will take over from Pierce Brosnan as Chiron the Centaur.  There are nine books in the Percy Jackson series written by Rick Riordan so start preparing yourself for more sequels if this one does well.  
  • Link of the day: Get ready for your close-up, The Hunger Games!  The first film in the trilogy releases tomorrow and here's a refreshingly honest interview in the Los Angeles Times about the film's star, Jennifer Lawrence.  Her name is about to be just as famous as Katniss Everdeen.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Trailer Time: Dark Shadows and Prometheus

Director Tim Burton is back with another "re-imagining", this time it's a 60s show called Dark Shadows which gets the big screen treatment.  Those are in now apparently (see 21 Jump Street).  His staple actors, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are also back along with Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Eva Green and Chloe Grace Moretz.  Here's the official summary by Warner Bros.:
In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.
 Johnny Depp as a vampire!  Looks like fun, I love the shot of him brushing his, um, fangs.  Vampires need to have good dental hygiene too.  Dark Shadows releases May 11, 2012.

One of the summer's most anticipated releases is Ridley Scott's Prometheus which is or isn't supposed to be the prequel to Alien.  Whatever its status, the full trailer released this weekend promises to be intriguing.  Co-written by Lost creator Damon Lindelof, the trailer shows a group of space explorers trying to find the origins of the human race with some alarming discoveries.  The trailer doesn't reveal a whole lot but I find the title most intriguing.  Prometheus, according to Greek mythology, stole fire from Zeus and gave it away to the mortals.  His punishment was to be bound to a big rock while an eagle ate his liver and he was doomed to this fate forever.  What does this myth have to do with alien culture?  What ever it is, it doesn't look too good for those explorers.  The all starcast features Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba and Guy Pearce.  Prometheus will debut on June 8, 2012.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Hunger Games: The Next Big Thing!

The Hunger Games releases next Friday worldwide and I've got a pretty good feeling that the movie will do well.  After Harry Potter and Twilight, it's pegged to be the next big series to follow, but this will actually appeal to adults as well and not just teenage girls.  Suzanne Collins has written a fantastic gripping trilogy about a dystopian future in which children are randomly chosen to fight to their death while the rest of society watches on like a reality show.  It's disturbing but incredibly well-written that you can't help but root for the main characters Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mallark as they struggle to maintain their true self and stay alive.
Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, author Suzanne Collins and director Gary Ross

Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth

The world premiere were held in L.A. and London and judging by the cast and fan reactions, I'd say we have a new fan franchise on hand.  The sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire is already being adapted for the screen by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and will be directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) too.  I can't wait to see how it all unfolds on the big screen next week.  I've tried to limit myself not to spoil too much of the actual clips and TV spots that are being released but I couldn't help but peek at the clip below where Peeta (a character I have a soft spot) gets his TV interview time with Caesar Flickman (Stanley Tucci).  Take a look! 

Oscars: See you again next year!

Well, we are all just getting over the Oscars from two weeks ago but already the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is looking ahead to next year.  The awards show will be held on February 24, 2013 while nominations will be announced on January 15, 2013.  Mark your calendars! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Favorite Sequences: Welcome to Jurassic Park!

Usually when one thinks of Jurassic Park, you think of the amazingly realistic T-Rex chasing the car or even the vicious raptors chasing the kids in the kitchen, but my favorite sequence from Jurassic Park is when we first lay eyes on the majestic creatures. I mentioned this before in the Hugo review, I love this scene because when I first read the book, this is exactly how I had pictured it . The reaction on the faces of Sam Neill and Laura Dern's characters Dr. Grant and Dr. Sattler respectively, both paleontologists, who have studied dinosaurs their whole lives could be similar to the audiences as well.  Jurassic Park raised the bar on the visual effects making the dinosaurs come alive onscreen as if they really did inhabit that world.  Even today, nearly 20 years later, those effects still hold up.  That is some accomplishment.  Even today, when I see that clip, I remember how I felt in the theater that summer in 1993, forgetting I was actually in a movie theater and thinking I entered into the forgotten world of dinosaurs. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Photo: The Lone Ranger


For awhile this film looked like it would never make to the screens but The Lone Ranger is back in production and currently filming.  Armie Hammer is the titular Lone Ranger while Johnny Depp plays Tonto.  This first image released from the set shows the leads in costumes, I must say, this is Depp like we've never seen him before.  And we've seen him in a lot of strange get-ups.  Will this movie create another one of Depp's iconic characters like Jack Sparrow or Edward Scissorhands? We'll just have to wait and see.  The movie is due to hit cinemas May 31, 2013.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Movie Review: Hugo

After taking a requisite break from blogging after the Oscars, it's only fitting that my blog post back would be for Hugo.  The film was nominated for 11 Oscars and ended up winning 5 (and tying The Artist for wins) in the technical categories.  Having watched the film, it is easy to see why it did.

As everyone liked to point out in the weeks leading up to the film's release, Hugo is Martin Scorsese's first family film and many critics have rightly pointed out, his most personal ode to the movies.  Scorsese is known and famous for his gangster films such as Casino, Mean Streets, Goodfellas and The Departed for which he finally won the Best Director Oscar.  His films have a gritty realism to it with characters who inhabit them with many shades of grey.  Hugo, however, is unlike any other film he's ever made and I simply loved it and hope to see more of this "other" side of Scorsese.

The film opens in Paris, the opening sequence is quite astonishing; drawing us into Paris and the small world of the train station which Hugo Chabret (Asa Butterfield) calls home.  Hugo lives in the walls of the train station fixing and maintaining the various clocks.  He keeps an eye out for the station inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen) who dislikes and carts away young orphans.  He steals small parts from different toys to fix an automaton found in a museum by his late father.  Hugo feels that the automaton is his last link to his father and wants to get it working again at any cost. 

However, one day, he is caught stealing a wind-up mouse at the toy store by the owner, Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), who discovers his father's notebook of drawings of the automaton.  He confiscates the book and seems unsettled by it.  Hugo is distraught because this means he can't finish the automaton.  No matter of pleading works with Papa Georges either.  But he finds a sympathizer in Papa Georges' goddaughter Isabelle (Chloe Grace Moretz) who wants to help him out.  And thus begins their adventure into finding out the big clue to the automaton and its connection to Papa Georges.

Isabelle has a heart-shaped key which (surprise, surprise!) is the final key (pun intended) to making the automaton work.  The automaton comes to life and brings Hugo a message, an image of the moon with a bullet in his eye.  From there on, the film makes a reveal as to who Papa Georges really is and I'll allow you to find out his identity yourself.

After Isabelle and Hugo get the automaton working and help Papa Georges remember his past, those key moments are the strongest in the film.  Isabelle and Hugo make an adorable pair, both of them keen to have an adventure.  Hugo introduces Isabelle to the wonders of moving pictures and films and Isabelle brings Hugo to her sanctuary, the library filled with books of adventure.  They both have that wonder and awe that children have when you first discover a book you can't put down or see a film that changes your life and it consumes everything you think about after.

Scorsese captures the essence of how we first become movie buffs in the first place and it's his ode to preservation of older films which should be known to a newer generation of fans.  Because the current crop of movies owes a great debt to the innovations and techniques attempted by the pioneers.  Back when there was no color, each frame had to be painted painstakingly by hand and creating special illusions on film sometimes meant cutting the film to cover up the trick.  All this we take for granted and can easily be done with a few clicks on the computer but it's nice to show the younger generation that 'back in the day', you used your imagination to see how you could create this yourself by hand.

There is something about the movies, "the place where you get to see your dreams in the afternoon".  We've all had that moment.  I remember watching Jurassic Park in the cinema and that scene where they encounter the dinosaurs (Brachiosaurs to be more specific) for the first time.  And I recall getting goosebumps at the time because when I first read the book, it was exactly how I had pictured it in my mind.  I kept thinking, how did they know?  That connection with the movies is so well captured in Hugo and that is why it is so enchanting.  The movie has its pacing issues, it could have done with eliminating 20 minutes or so off its running time but the its final moments and the buildup are the true reason you should watch it.

Fun Fact: Did you know this movie was produced by Johnny Depp?

Directed by Martin Scorsese; Screenplay by John Logan; Based on the novel by Brian Selznick; Cinematography by Robert Richardson; Music by Howard Shore; Edited by Thelma Schoonamaker.

Also starring: Jude Law, Helen McCory, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Christopher Lee, Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour.


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