Archive | January, 2012

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New Releases: January 27

Posted on 26 January 2012 by William Gatevackes

1. The Grey (Open Road Films, @2,850Theaters, 117 Minutes, Rated R): So, over the last couple years, Liam Neeson has fought against all odds to save his daughter from white slavers in Paris, has fought against all odds to save his identity from a sinister conspiracy in Berlin, and, now, fights against all odds to save his life from a pack of wolves in Alaska. If I was Neeson, I’d just stay home.

Yes, a plane accident sets Neeson and his team of oil drillers down in the wilderness where the local wolf population sees them as intruders/lunch. It’s up to Neeson to lead his people to civilization by kicking as much wolf ass as he can.

This is a formula that works for Neeson, so this might not be that bad to see. But you know what I’d like to see? Neeson in a role that earns Oscar talk. He’s long overdue.

2. Man On A Ledge (Summit Entertainment, @2,800 Screens, 102 Minutes, Rated PG-13): This is a pretty high concept which ever way you look at it.

The plot appears to be about an ex-cop who is on a ledge of a high-rise building and threatening to jump. Seems he was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and now he wants to end it all.

However, as his cry for help is going on, thieves are attempting to steal some diamonds. Is the suicide attempt real and the buglary a coincidence, or is the ex-cop in on the robbery and trying to draw attention away from the crime? Or is there something else going on?

The film’s mix of a crime caper with a personal drama is a unique concept as well. If it works, this could be a pretty darn good film.

3. One For The Money (Lionsgate, @2,700 Theaters, 106 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Stephanie Plum is one of the most popular female characters in modern genre fiction. She has appeared in 18 novels (the latest? Explosive Eighteen), four novellas, a bunch of short stories and has made Janet Evanovich (one assumes) a very rich woman. She is a character with quirks and personality out the wazoo with a large and loyal fanbase eager for more adventures of the female bounty hunter.

So, why then is the adaptation of the first novel in Evanovich’s Plum series sneaking into theaters this week under the radar? I have not seen anywhere near the amount of publicity this film should have received or needs to make a mark. Is the film that bad? Has Katherine Heigl’s stock plummeted that much that her movies are risky propositions? I don’t know.

Regardless, it is interesting to see the “brokeback pose,” most often seen done by female superheroes on comic covers, put into play on the film’s poster. It couldn’t have been easy for Heigl to stand in such a way that patrons can look at both her derriere and her breasts at the same time. I hope her efforts bring some people in to see the movie at least.

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Voice Over Artist Dick Tufeld, 85

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Rich Drees

Dick Tufeld, the voice over artist whose narration of numerous trailers for Walt Disney in the 1960s was just a small part of his body of work, died Monday. He was 85

Tufeld’s voice was known not just to the generation that heard it in countless trailers for live action Disney films of the 1960s. He also supplied the voice for The Robot on the television series Lost In Space with his warnings of “Danger! Danger!” becoming one of the most iconic things to be associated with the series. Tufeld reprised his voice role for the 1998 Lost In Space film.

Tufeld began his career in radio in the 1950s before transitioning over to television. In addition to his Lost In Space work he also for producer Irwin Allen, providing narration for the shows Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and The Time Tunnel. At Disney he served as the announcer on various series including the 1957-1959 Zorro, which starred his future Lost In Space co-star Guy Williams.

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Lily Collins Out Of EVIL DEAD Remake

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Rich Drees

Lily Collins has dropped out of her lead role in the upcoming remake of Sam Raimi’s cult classic horror film Evil Dead, just a few weeks after it was announced she had won the gig.

The news comes via Variety’s Jeff Sneider who tweeted

Collins was suspected to be playing the heroic lead of the film, a casting twist on the original film’s Bruce Campbell. Unlike Campbell’s comedic character of Ash, it is believed that this new version to be directed by Fede Alvarez will be more a straight up horror film.

Currently the film is set for an April 12, 2013 release, so the production team will need to step into high gear with casting a replacement, as well as rounding out the rest of the cast, if they hope to meet that date.

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LOVELACE Loses Demi Moore And Gets Chloe Sevigny

Posted on 25 January 2012 by Rich Drees

Demi Moore has dropped out of the upcoming Linda Lovelace biopic Lovelace, but the film has added Chloe Sevigny to its cast.

Moore had been slated to play feminist Gloria Steinem in the story of the porn actress who became famous for her role in Deep Throat, one of the films that launched the 1970s porn chic movement.

According to a statement from her publicist-

Because of the stresses in her life right now, Demi has chosen to seek professional assistance to treat her exhaustion and improve her overall health. She looks forward to getting well and is grateful for the support of her family and friends.

Sevigny, however, will not be stepping into Moore’s abandoned role. Instead, she will be playing a feminist journalist writing a story on the titular porn actress.

Previously announced as Inferno: The Linda Lovelace Story, Lovelace stars Amanda Seyfried in the title role with Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman directing and Peter Sarsgaard, Debi Mazar, Cory Hardrict, Adam Brody, Eric Roberts, Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannavale, Chris Noth, Robert Patrick, Wes Bentley, Sharon Stone and Juno Temple rounding out the cast.

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Oscar Nominations Post-Mortem: Surprises And Sure Things.

Posted on 24 January 2012 by William Gatevackes

On Sunday, we handicapped the 2012 Oscar race by telling you who we thought was going to be nominated. Now, it’s time to face the music, and see how well we did. There have been a lot of surprises in the nominees,  both pleasant and puzzling. Let’s see how we fared against our prediction, then we’ll comment on surprises in other categories that we didn’t talk about over the weekend. Let’s start with Best Actor:

Performance by an actor in a leading role-

  • Demián Bichir in A Better Life
  • George Clooney in The Descendants
  • Jean Dujardin in The Artist
  • Gary Oldman in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Brad Pitt in Moneyball

Number of Nominations We “Called”:  5 out of 5

We Say: Granted, two of the ones we “called,” we called as longshots. But both Bichir and Oldman deserve the nomination (especially Oldman). But their inclusion comes at the expense of Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio. The Academy has shown a profound lack of respect for DiCaprio in the past, so his exclusion is not THAT big a surprise, but Fassbender has been great in just about every role he’s done this year. His snub is a bit of a shock.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role-

  • Kenneth Branagh in My Week with Marilyn
  • Jonah Hill in Moneyball
  • Nick Nolte in Warrior
  • Christopher Plummer in Beginners
  • Max von Sydow in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Number of Nominations We “Called”: 4 out of 5.

The One We Didn’t: Max von Sydow, in a role that received good notices but absolutely no other nominations for any major awarding body, knocks out Albert Brooks, who was in a role that garnered him even better notices, a bunch of nominations, and more than his fair share of awards from a number of regional critics. That is gob-smacking.

I will say this, Jonah Hill looks like a baby next to his fellow nominees. He is at least 20 years younger than anybody else on the list.

Performance by an actress in a leading role-

  • Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs
  • Viola Davis in The Help
  • Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady
  • Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn

Number of Nominations We “Called”:  4 out of 5

The One We Didn’t: Nothing against Rooney Mara, she is after all the scion of the Mara’s who own my second favorite football team, the New York Giants, and the Rooneys, who own my favorite football team, The Pittsburgh Steelers. I feel like I should root for her regardless. But I though the fact that she was playing a role that was already played to perfection by another actress just years before, when that actress, Noomi Rapace, didn’t get nominated, would have killed her chances. She didn’t get a lot of nominations in other places. I was also wrong in thinking Tilda Swinton was a dead solid lock over Glenn Close. Oh, well. Although I should get points for saying that this category had the best chance for a surprise.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role-

  • Bérénice Bejo in The Artist
  • Jessica Chastain in The Help
  • Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids
  • Janet McTeer in Albert Nobbs
  • Octavia Spencer in The Help 

Number of Nominations We “Called”:  5 out of 5

We Say: Not hard to pick the nominees here. Still, I’m glad that McCarthy got the nomination.

Achievement in directing-

  • The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius
  • The Descendants, Alexander Payne
  • Hugo, Martin Scorsese
  • Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen
  • The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick

Number of Nominations We “Called”:  5 out of 5

We say: The Academy’s love for Malick gave him the edge over the other, equally worthy candidates I thought might have had a shot, including David Fincher who got the spot in the Director’s Guild list, but the other four are a lock.

Best motion picture of the year- 

  • The Artist, Thomas Langmann, Producer
  • The Descendants, Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Scott Rudin, Producer
  • The Help, Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
  • Hugo, Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
  • Midnight in Paris, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
  • Moneyball, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
  • The Tree of Life, Nominees to be determined.
  • War Horse, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Number of Nominations We “Called”:  It’s hard to calculate, but we mentioned 8 out of the 9.

The One We Didn’t: Ah, Academy. First you expand the list of Best Picture nominees to ten, hoping that would appease the chorus of moans each and every year from fans who are complaining that their films do not get nominated. Then, this year, surely after waking up in a cold sweat thinking that a less-than deserving film might sneak in by mistake, you change the rules to make it so a film has to get at least 5% of the Academy’s first place votes in order to make the list, which could be anywhere from five to ten films. Then, you go and nominate Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, a film that had only received other nominations from Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards and has an abysmal 48% “Fresh” rating at the review aggregate site, Rotten Tomatoes, over looking Bridesmaids (90% fresh), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (87% fresh), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (84% fresh) and The Adventures of Tintin (74% Fresh)? Are you serious? Hell, even The Muppets (96% fresh) has more of a claim to being nominated Best Picture than Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close does! And to add insult to injury, there is one “open”spot on the nominee list that one of the more deserving film could have taken. None of those other movies were number one on 5% of the ballots? I find that hard to believe. This boggles the mind.

I guess this all proves one thing–the number of nominees is not the one thing wrong with this system, it’s the people who vote on what films will be nominated that is the problem.

Other surprises:

  • Even with the field expanded from three films to five, PIXAR’s Cars 2 was not nominated for Best Animated Film, essentially ending the studio’s dominance of this category. I didn’t think that the film had a chance of winning the award, but I thought it be a shoo-in for a nomination. This puts more focus and attention on Brave as a people become interested if this year was just a blip on PIXAR’s perfect record or the start of a major decline.
  • I was surprised that Captain America: The First Avenger and Green Lantern were snubbed in the special effects categories. The former for mixing CGI with live-actor’s appearance to create a new reality, the latter for creating whole new worlds and bring new alien species to life.
  • I’m happy that Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig got a nomination for Original Screenplay for Bridesmaids  and Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan got a nod for Adapted Screenplay for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It’s good to see the Academy throwing some recognition their way.

Stay tuned to FilmBuffOnline, because, as we get closer to the ceremony, the staff will bring you more news about this year’s ceremony.


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Hammer Studios Announces Catalog Restoration Project

Posted on 24 January 2012 by Rich Drees

Hammer Studios, best known for the gothic horror films it produced in the 1960s and 70s, has announced a global restoration project for a number of titles in its catalog. The studio will be teaming with Studiocanal, Pinewood and others to clean up and transfer more than 30 films to HD for blu-ray release and streaming platforms.

The good news is that the first title to be released from this initiative is Dracula, Prince Of Darkness, starring Christopher Lee, hitting store shelves in March. The Reptile and The Plague Of The Zombies will follow later on in the spring and The Devil Rides Out, Rasputin The Mad Monk and The Mummy’s Shroud all becoming available throughout the rest of 2012.

In addition to the HD conversions of the films, Hammer is looking to round out the blu-ray packages with an number of extras of interest to Hammer fans including newly filmed interviews with cast members. Additional, title-specific extras from Hammer’s vaults will also be added including cut scenes and on-set footage from Dracula, Prince Of Darkness, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Mummy and others.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that those store shelves the discs will be appearing on are all in the UK and that there are no US release dates accompanying Hammer’s announcement. States-side fans will either have to hope and wait for a US release announcement or else look into investing in an all-Region blu-ray player.

Via Deadline.

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HUGO Leads 2012 Academy Awards Nominations With 11

Posted on 24 January 2012 by Rich Drees

Hugo, director Martin Scorsese’s film that features an early pioneer of the film industry and stresses the importance of film preservation, has earned itself an impressive 11 nominations for Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the annual Academy Awards.

Right behind Hugo, in terms of the number of nominations it has received, is The Artist, which garnered nods in 10 categories including Best Actor (Jean Dujardin), Best Supporting Actress (Bérénice Bejo), Best Original Screenplay, Best Director (Michel Hazanavicius) and Best Picture.

The biggest surprise of the morning was the number of Best Picture nominees there would be. Thanks to the Academy’s new nomination  system, the number could have ranged anywhere between five and ten, but this year settled on nine.

One of those nine was the inside baseball film Moneyball, which earned a total of six nominations including Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill). War Horse also scored six nominations including Best Picture.

Of the five nominations the English-language remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo picked up, four were in technical categories with Rooney Mara picking up a Best Supporting Actress nod. The Help picked up 4 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Viola Davis and two in the Best Supporting supporting category – Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer.

Interestingly, Iran’s Best Foriegn Language film nominee, A Separation, also earned a Best Original Screenplay nod, a rare feat for a Foreign Language nominee.

Stay tuned for more in depth analysis of the Academy Award nominations later this morning.

Here are the nominations.

Best Picture
“The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
“The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
“The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
“Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
“Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
“Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
“The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
“War Horse” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

“The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” Alexander Payne
“Hugo” Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
George Clooney in “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis in “The Help”
Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Documentary (Feature)
“Hell and Back Again”
Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”
Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Foreign Language Film
“Bullhead” Belgium
“Footnote” Israel
“In Darkness” Poland
“Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
“A Separation” Iran

Animated Feature Film
“A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
“Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
“Kung Fu Panda 2″ Jennifer Yuh Nelson
“Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
“Rango” Gore Verbinski

Art Direction
“The Artist”
Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
“Midnight in Paris”
Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
“War Horse”
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

“The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
“Hugo” Robert Richardson
“The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
“War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

Costume Design
“Anonymous” Lisy Christl
“The Artist” Mark Bridges
“Hugo” Sandy Powell
“Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
“W.E.” Arianne Phillips

Documentary (Short Subject)
“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement”
Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
“God Is the Bigger Elvis”
Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
“Incident in New Baghdad”
James Spione
“Saving Face”
Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”
Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing
“The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” Kevin Tent
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
“Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

“Albert Nobbs”
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
“The Iron Lady”
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)
“The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
“The Artist” Ludovic Bource
“Hugo” Howard Shore
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
“War Horse” John Williams

Music (Original Song)
“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Short Film (Animated)
“Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
“La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
“A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
“Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)
“Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
“Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
“The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
“Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
“Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing
“Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
“Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
“War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Sound Mixing
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
“War Horse”
Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Visual Effects
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
“Real Steel”
Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
“Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
“The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
“Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Writing (Original Screenplay)
“The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
“Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
“Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
“A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi

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Jenny Agutter In AVENGERS, Lets Slip A Big Spoiler?

Posted on 23 January 2012 by Rich Drees

Although Marvel Studios have been working hard to keep spoilers leaking out to a minimum, hints about plot points in their upcoming The Avengers have been popping in the unlikeliest of places such as toy descriptions. But another possible spoiler has popped up, this time in an interview with actress Jenny Agutter, she of the classic Logan’s Run and An American Werewolf In London, in the English Radio Times. And while it is new information that she is a part of the cast of the film, she also makes mention of something she saw on set that is a doozy if it happens to be true. But I have my doubts.

Needless to say, turn back now if you don’t want to know.

In the article, Agutter dodges the question as to whom she may be playing, but in doing so let’s loose a rather surprising, and dare we say “Amazing,” cameo-

As for Agutter, she’s about to metamorphose again to appear alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson in upcoming Hollywood blockbuster The Avengers.

“I’m sworn to secrecy! I wasn’t allowed a script until I got there, and when I did I felt like a complete child being on big sets and a huge parking lot full of Winnebagos.”

She does let slip that two of these housed Spider-Man and Iron Man; we suspect Agutter won’t able to avoid sci-fi conventions for much longer.

Now, you probably know that the rights to Spider-Man are held by the folks over at Sony, while Marvel Studios holds the rights to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the other Avengers-related characters we know will be appearing in the film. It is very hard to get a studio to “loan out” any of the material it has the rights to use. It took someone of Steven Spielberg’s stature to persuade Disney to get Warner Brothers to agree to loan out Bugs Bunny for an appearance on screen with Mickey Mouse in 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. For an example that hit’s even closer to home, look at Twentieth century Fox’s Daredevil film. Joey Pantoliano’s reporter character of Ben Urich works for the Daily Bugle but since the film rights to the Daily Bugle were owned by Sony as part of their Spider-Man rights package, a new newspaper had to be invented for the film. So if Sony wasn’t about to let another studio use something like the Daily Bugle in their own film, what makes us believe that they would willingly do so with ol’ Webhead himself?

Now, I’ll admit that there is a slim possibility that maybe Sony agreed to let Spider-Man cameo in The Avengers as a way to build some excitement for their own Spidey movie coming out two months later.A really teeny, tiny slim possibility. Not a probability, but a possibility. (Have I hedged my bet enough here?)

More likely, though, either the Radio Times writer or Agutter just got it wrong.

But still…

Via Bleeding Cool.

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Posted on 23 January 2012 by William Gatevackes

Before I saw this film, I read Lisa Schwarzbaum’s review of the film in Entertainment Weekly. The first two paragraphs of that review caught my attention:

Barely 10 Minutes into Haywire, a young man who had previously been talking quietly with a young woman in a backcountry coffee shop radically switches methods of communication: He throws hot coffee at her, punches her in the face, flings her across the room, kicks her, and pulls a gun. The brutality is sickening, intensified by the shock of seeing a man whale on a woman with an ugliness that, in the grammar of movies, is traditionally reserved for men on men with the expectation of a fair fight. As it happens, the lady — a covert-ops specialist with the pulp-fiction name of Mallory Kane — can take care of herself. Played by mixed-martial-arts champion Gina Carano, Mallory punches, kicks, and stomps back, handily beating the bejayzus out of her adversary and former spy-world colleague (Channing Tatum). Finally, she breaks his arm, wrestles away his gun, and drives off toward her next fight.

This gender-flipped combat is meant to please the moviegoer. But I call foul: The agreement to laugh off the realistic-yet-bloodless beating of a woman as cartoon damage in order to enjoy a filmmaker’s skill at playing with the conventions of genre is bloody depressing. If people of any sex are going to hurt one another, the hurt ought to at least be for high political or moral stakes — just ask James Bond, Jason Bourne, or Lisbeth Salander. Yet there are no stakes at all in Haywire, where government types and shadowy private operators are interchangeable plot pawns, as are their goals. The movie’s only point is to showcase Carano, an attractive, impressive fighter who caught Steven Soderbergh’s eye while she was doing her Muay Thai/boxing/jujitsu thing on TV.

The reason why I reprinted this here is because I wanted you to read it for yourself. I went into the film with these words in my head because to be honest, they troubled me. After seeing the film, I think Schwarzbaum is wrong on a number of levels and not just in word usage (You wail on someone. You don’t “whale” on them). And I feel compelled to provide a counterpoint in my review of the film.

I’ll chalk Lisa’s justifiable reason for hurting someone up to a difference of opinion. Haywire is a revenge picture, and revenge has been a motivator for one person to do hurt to another person in drama dating back to the day of Shakespeare. Granted, this film is more of a thinking man’s Commando than a low-rent Hamlet (or Quantum of Solace for that matter), but I find the need to try and kill the person who is trying to kill you a perfectly acceptable excuse for cinematic violence. I don’t need the fight to also be about saving the world.

Where I think Schwarzbaum is most wrong is in the motivation she gives Soderbergh in making the film. I don’t think the director is playing with the genre’s conventions just for the sake of playing with them. I think he has a very salient point to make about gender roles in the world and in film, and he makes it both narratively and metatexually with this film. The violence plays a distinctive tole in this commentary.

The film follows Carano’s Mallory Kane, an ex-marine who works for a private company run by Kenneth (Ewan McGregor) that does dark ops for the Government. She is the best operative he has, but Kenneth is a bad businessman. She is about to leave when Kenneth convinces her to take one last, easy job. That job turns out to be a frame job and a hit on Mallory. Mallory easily escapes with her life, and goes on a quest to find the people who set her up and exact vengeance.

Far be it for me, a man, to call this film a means to support the feminist ideal, but I do see that in the film. Mallory is constantly underestimated in the film, either in her intelligence, her strength, or tenacity, by most of the men around her. And throughout the whole film, she proves again and again how much smarter, tougher and deadier she is than they are. No man in the film is her equal. Whatever they can do, she can do better.

Schwarzbaum is right about the violence. There is a quite a bit of it, and whenever Carano is punched in the face or slammed against a wall, it is jarring and upsetting (and despite what Schwarzbaum states, bloody too. There is one scene where Mallory must cover up her bruises and cuts with make-up in order to make her escape into the general public). But for just about every bit of violence inflicted upon Carano, the same has been inflicted on a Tom Cruise, a Viggo Mortensen, a Daniel Craig, and people don’t even bat an eyelash. If any of those men were the lead in this film, Schwarzbaum would have started her review in an entirely different fashion. And she probably wouldn’t have given the film a B- either.

But Carano’s character is one who works in a viceral, violent world, where people kill each other not with rifles on rooftops yards away, but up close and in person. To treat these scenes with kid gloves because Carano is a woman might not only be in its own way sexist but also a cinematic cop out. Soderbergh is trying to get his audiences to analyze the way the view violence on screen.

Other than that, how was the film? Soderbergh has shot the film beautifully. The film is full of his trademark style and flair. But don’t expect a full-out action film, the tone is more reminiscent of his Out of Sight. There are times when the action slows and the film drags.

The acting is good through out, including Carano. Her role is in the mode of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger”s early action work. She doesn’t have to do any major soliliquies of heart-rending emotion, but she acts serviceable in what she is given.

The writing shows wit at times but the plot asks more questions than it answers. This is not unusual for a action revenge thriller that is designed to showcase an action star’s ability to beat people up, but if you go in expecting more, you might be disappointed.

If Soderbergh’s mission was to examine gender roles using the action film as a focus, then the film is a success. As a good film, well, your mileage may vary. I enjoyed the film even with its flaws. And, thanks to Lisa Schwarzbaum, I got to examine the film more closely than I would have originally.



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Oscar Nominations: Who Will Make The Cut?

Posted on 23 January 2012 by William Gatevackes

It’s that time of year again. Tomorrow, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the nominees for the 84st Annual Academy Awards.

Every year there are snubs and surprises, thrills and controversies. There is no way of knowing who will be nominated, especially in a year when the Best Picture nominees could be 5 films, or ten films, or any number in between.  We here at FilmBuffOnLine, who believe the day nominations are announced should be a National holiday, are going to try and handicap the process for you.

We will try to tell you, in the most non-committal way possible, who we think are Almost Certain to get a nomination, who Definite May Be nominated, and whose nomination is a Outside Shot in the major categories (the four acting categories, Best Director, and Best Picture). We are trying to cover all bases, but don’t come to us if you lose money on your Oscar Nomination pool.

Best Actor:

Almost Certain:

George Clooney, The Descendants; Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Definite Maybe:

Michael Fassbender, Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method or Shame; Leonardo DiCaprio, J Edgar; Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Outside Shot:

Demián Bichir, A Better Life; Ryan Gosling, Crazy, Stupid Love, Drive, or The Ides of March; Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Clooney and Dujardin have won the most hardware this year, which not only make them a lock to be nominated, but also likely one of them will be taking home the award.

Fassbender has been great in a lot of films (listing X-Men: First Class was a bit of a joke, he’ll most likely get the nod for Shame, but I think he gave an Oscar worthy performance in that film) so he is practically a lock for a nomination. The next two are about 50/50 of getting in. The Academy seems to have something against DiCaprio, and his performance as J. Edgar Hoover while not horrible (he got a lot of nods for other awards for it), was not amazing enough to overcome that film’s lackluster performance critically or financially. Brad Pitt eked out a couple of wins along the way (most notably, the New York and Boston critics), and while Moneyball was well received, I don’t see it as 100% Oscar material.

If DiCaprio and Pitt don’t get nominated, there are worthy choices waiting to take a spot. Bichir was great in a small film with a limited release that opened over the summer. These all work against him, but he is deserving of a nod. Gosling, like Fassbender, was great in a lot of films this year, and has been nominated before, but none of the films he was in seem to pass Oscar muster. Oldman was flat out amazing in Tinker Tailor, but his subtle performance might be lost on Oscar voters.

Best Actress

Almost Certain:

Viola Davis, The Help;  Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady; Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin; Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Definite Maybe:

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Outside Shot:

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist; Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene; Charlize Theron, Young Adult

On paper, this seems to be the category that seems to have the least wiggle room. Davis, Streep, Close, Swinton and Williams are all in the type of roles that Oscar voters seem to trip over giving nominations to. But in every round of nominations, there are bound to be surprises, and this category is ripe for one.

Bejo and Olsen have the best chance of breaking in, in my opinion. But Bejo is getting pushed for Best Supporting Actress instead of Lead, even though she essentially had a lead role. Olsen got good notices in her role, but suffers from the same “too early/too small handicap” that Bichir has. Theron has received nods for Best Actress in the Golden Globes (where there are nominations for comedy and drama) and the Critic’ Choice Awards (where there are six nominees). She has an Oscar pedigree, but Young Adult could very well be seen as less than Oscar worthy.

Best Supporting Actor:

Almost Certain:

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn; Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Definite Maybe:

Albert Brooks, Drive; Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Outside Shot:

Nick Nolte, Warrior; Viggo Mortensen, A Dangerous Method; Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes or The Adventures of Tintin; Armie Hammer, J Edgar; Tom Hardy, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Plummer has won the Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice award Supporting Actor, making him a lock for an  Oscar nomination, if not the actual award. Branagh has been consistently nominated for his apt portrayal of Laurence Olivier, so he could get the nod as well. Slightly less certain but highly possible are nomination of two actors best known for comedy, Brooks and Hill, for playing against type. After that, place your bets. Will Nolte’s “sports mentor” role make the grade? Will Mortensen’s change of pace role as Sigmund Freud catch the Academy’s attention? Will the Academy make a statement and move towards the future by giving Serkis the nod for his superior motion-capture work? Does the Academy like J Edgar more than the critics and the general public do, thereby swing the nod to Hammer? Will Hardy represent Tinker Tailor‘s stellar cast with a nomination? Will it be another cast member? Or will the film be ignored?

Best Supporting Actress

Almost Certain:

Octavia Spencer, The Help; Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Definite Maybe:

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Outside Shot:

Jessica Chastain, The Help or Take Shelter; Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs; Carey Mulligan, Shame; Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

What I said for Christopher Plummer above also applies to Spencer. The only chance Bejo doesn’t get nominated here is if she gets nominated for Best Actress. But that race is crowded so I think she’ll land here. She is deserving.

The only thing keeping me from making McCarthy almost certain is the Academy’s apparent hatred of the comedy. They do not like to give nominations from comedies, no matter how good the role or film is. This time, though, I think they’ll make an exception.

After that, pick two. Chastain and Woodley might have a slight advantage, but McTeer has a good chance and Mulligan could sneak in.

Best Director:

Almost Certain:

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist; Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Definite Maybe:

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris;  Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Outside Shot:

David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life; Bennett Miller, Moneyball; Steven Spielberg, War Horse or The Adventures of Tintin; Tate Taylor, The Help

Hazanavicius is definitely most deserving and Scorsese won the Golden Globe, so they should both be nominated. After that, Payne is almost a lock, as is Allen, due to the number of nominations they received. After that, well, ot depends. Fincher got a Directors Guild nomination, Malick has been on a lot of west coast critics awards list, which might be a barometer of how the Academy will go. Miller might ride the surprising accolades Moneyball is getting this award season with a nomination. And months ago, it looked like it wouldn’t be a question if Spielberg would be nominated, but for which film. Now, here he is, a long shot for any nomination at all. Weird. And Taylor has to be consider taking into account the number of great performance that came from that film.

Best Picture:

Almost Certain:

The Artist; The Descendants

Definite Maybe:

Hugo; The Help ; Midnight in Paris

Outside Chance:

The Tree of Life; War Horse; Moneyball; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Adventures of Tintin; Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or just about any other film out there that has a miniscule amount of buzz.

Not having a definite number of nominees beforehand really plays havoc with the prognosticating business. I tried to pick out the five most likely films to get nominated, but with the possibility of five more, well, it could be any film of a certain stature.

So, what do you think? Am I on to something, or totally wrong? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

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