As a general rule, dramatic movies set in the Middle East or that have the slightest bit to do with terrorism have a hard time gaining traction at the American box office.
I haven’t seen The Devil’s Double yet, but judging from the trailer it is unlike any Mideast-set movie we’ve yet seen. The trailer reminds me of equal parts Scarface and The Last King of Scotland. It looks like an exciting, high-octane gangster ride that has far more to do with character and emotional conflict than with geopolitics. The photos below should give you a further idea of what I’m talking about.
The movie stars Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger, Mama Mia, An Education) in dual roles. He plays Uday, Saddam Hussein’s reckless, hard-partying, hedonistic son and also Latif Yahia, an Iraqi forced to play the role of Uday’s double.
Yahia must surrender his own identity to learn to walk, talk and act like Uday, a man who lives a fast life full of pleasure, cars, drugs, impulsive violence and women.
Yahia forms an alliance with Sarrab (Ludivine Sangier), Uday’s mistress and learns that escape can only come at a high cost.
The movie is based on the autobiographical novel of the real Latif Yahia.
Is it just me, or does anyone else think the upcoming Avengers movie is likely to be the worst major superhero movie ever? I’m dreading it. And I say this as someone who grew up loving the Marvel comic book. I eagerly awaited every issue of The Avengers and even bought and framed original copies of pages drawn by John Buscema and inked by Tom Palmer. I had letters published in the Avenger’s letters section. But the movies leading up to next summer’s big Avengers movie mostly have been fairly pointless and I’m pretty sure the film will be a let down.
Even these character posters that Marvel has released look hastily thrown together.
Shooting on The Dark Knight Rises begins this weekend in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is a beautiful city with a spectacular skyline - it’s particularly stunning at night when you emerge from the tunnel coming from the direction of the airport - and it will be great to see the movie bring attention to it.
It is a little odd, though, to see the likes of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale being trotted out with Pennsylvania’s governor before the local cameras to make nice with the locals as they do on this video of a presentation held by the Pittsburgh Film Commission.
Praising Pittsburgh’s architecture, Nolan talked a bit about why the city appealed to him.
“It’s a very beautiful city, on a very impressive scale, and yet it’s one that has a community that hasn’t lost its human scale,” Nolan said. “Those are two elements that are extremely very hard to find and are incredibly valuable to a production like The Dark Knight Rises.
And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that city leaders are so eager to put the city in the spotlight that they’re willing to endure the sort of disruption a production of this type entails.
I lived in Pittsburgh for three years (I covered Appalachia from the city for the Philadelphia Inquirer) and I can attest not only to the city’s beauty but to both the civic pride and hunger for recognition and appreciation from the outside world.
Bale also made brief remarks.
After chirpy welcome from someone the Dawn Keezer, the director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, I sorta hoped we’d get the surly, F-bomb-hurling Bale to counteract the sweetness. Instead, he was on his best behavior, despite looking a bit too dissheveled for the occasion. He even almost cracked a half-smile.
“We’ll try to stay out of your hair as much as possible and hopefully leave with good memories for everybody,” Bale said.
When I first heard about the upcoming reboot of Spider-Man, I’ve got to say that I groaned just a little bit. Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, with Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, was a good film. The second one was even better in many ways. The third one was an overloaded, boring monstrosity, but it came out just four years ago. Isn’t it too early for a reboot?
Andrew Garfield, a good British actor, plays Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man, which is slated to come out next summer.
Garfield is best known for Social Network (he played Mark Zuckerberg’s best friend), but he also did impressive work in the Red Riding Trilogy, the gripping, British decades-spanning crime films that reached these shores out a few years ago. He also was very good in the little-seen Never Let Me Go.
Despite my misgivings, this teaser trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man has piqued my interest. It looks darker, more atmospheric than Raimi’s Spider-Man movies.
And where the first Spider-Man’s origin story closely tracked the comic book, this new film clearly veers way off. This Peter seems tortured by the mysterious disappearance of his parents when he was a child. It is a mystery that he seems compelled to solve.
I also like the point-of-view shots when he’s testing his powers, scampering across rooftops and leaping and swinging between New York skyscrapers.
It has a video game feel, true, but it gives the trailer a creepier than the other films had. The way this is filmed, the question we ask isn’t “what is happening to Peter” but rather the more interesting (and potentially disturbing): “What has Peter become?”
In Marvel Comics’ The Avengers comic books, Captain America was always an anomaly, and not just because he was a 1940s war hero revived (after being discovered in a state of suspended animation in The Avengers # 4) to fight again in the modern age.
Amid a cast of Superheroes with a capital “S” (Thor with his magic hammer, Iron Man with his repulsor rays and metal suit), Captain America was a human scale hero.
Yes, he had been turned into a super soldier during World War II, and he carried an indestructible shield, but Thor or the Hulk could crush him. Cap wasn’t all that different from you and me. As a hero, he was easy to believe in…and that was the whole point. Captain America was, after all, created as a patriotic symbol at a time when everyone’s spirits needed boosting and we needed a hero to believe in.
Preposterousness and superheroes, of course, go hand in hand. Always have. When you pick up a comic book or watch a superhero movie, you’d better be prepared to suspend disbelief. Nothing wrong with that.
But the movie has to help you suspend disbelief - either that, or keep you so entertained that you don’t care about the preposterousness. Captain America is entertaining and well-acted, but CGI tricks that make Chris Evans look like a shrimp and Tommy Lee Jones’ great way with a line (and especially the shoddy 3D work here) aren’t enough.
Based on a true story, the comedy-drama Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston and Philip Baker Hall.
Gordon-Levitt is a guy in his 20s who is diagnosed with cancer and decides to use humor in fighting the disease. Rogen, who also serves as a producer (along with his producing partner Evan Goldberg) plays his best friend.
The script is by Will Reiser, based on his own experiences.
“We worked with Will on Da Ali G show, and it was shortly after that we learned he was sick.” Rogen recalls. “As shocking, sad, confusing and generally screwed up as it was; we couldn’t ignore that because we were so ill-equipped to deal with the situation, funny things kept happening. Will got better, and when he did, we thought the best way to pull something good out of the situation was to get him to write a screenplay. Ideally we wanted to make a film that would be as funny, sad, and hopefully as honest as the experience we went through. As soon as the script was completed, it quickly became a passion project for all of us. It helped us come to terms with Will’s struggle as well as our own experiences.”
I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but I find this short, music video cornily appealing. Or maybe it’s appealing corny.
It’s a promotional video for Winnie the Pooh, a new hand-drawn animated feature that at this very minute is getting trounced at the box office this weekend by you know who.
The video features Zooey Deschanel at the piano and singing a peppy song for the Winnie the Pooh soundtrack.
The song has sort of a Randy Newman feel to it. No, not good Randy Newman - the catchy, disposable Randy Newman who does cornily appealing music for the Toy Story movies.
So I like the ditty she’s singing, I like the novelty of seeing her sitting at a piano, banging the keys and (for all I know) lip synching the words for the video…and the fact that I like this stuff keeps me from rolling my eyes at the little cartoon characters and emblems floating in the air while she’s singing and at her corny interview patter about wanting to hug Winnie.
The Deathly Hallows movie is burning up the box office. The third-person action-adventure game that lets fans continue Harry’s quest to find and destroy Horcruxes, the magical objects that must be destroyed before Lord Voldemort may be vanquished.
You can play as Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Seamus, Neville, Molly Weasley and Professor McGonagall as you fight to save Hogwarts and to ensure the defeat of Voldemort.
The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, game features wizard duels, a diverse set of enemies and stunning game environments.
I must’ve been distracted when I glanced yesterday morning at the new poster for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Nice design, I thought, but nothing I hadn’t seen before.
Not until I read Anne Thompson’s Indiewire blog later in the day where she refers to it as “dark, sinister, architectural, graphic, and very Inception,” did I glance at the poster again and saw that this is a worm’s eye view of an urban and very dystopian Gotham City skyline.
I saw the bat image at first glance, which I read as white antispace exploding out of a dark, vaguely industrial background. But, really, the bat was the only thing that registered.