Tag Archive | "Brad Pitt"

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Director Marc Forster Won’t Be Back For WORLD WAR Z Sequel

Posted on 04 October 2013 by Rich Drees

WorldWarZPitt

World War Z was one of the surprising hits of the summer. Not because no one knew anything about the film before it opened, but because everyone knew everything about it. The stories of its tortured production were the meat for a number news reports for months, and the fact that director Marc Forster and star/producer Brad Pitt gutted the film’s third act for a drastic and expensive reshoot seemed to indicate that there was indeed major trouble on the project. But the film connected with audiences and since it managed to bring in over half a billion dollars worldwide, it is perhaps inevitable that they are moving forward with a sequel.

It is just that that sequel will not have the participation of Forster.

In a Hollywood Reporter story on Pitt’s Plan B production shingle, the potential World War Z sequel is mentioned but it is stated that “director Marc Forster won’t be back.”

And honestly that’s probably for the best.

I’m going to discount the reports that Pitt and Forster did not get along on the set, though that probably did play a factor into whomever decided to end the relationship between the two.

Instead, I’m going to focus on the why they had to basically reshoot the final third of the film at a cost of millions of extras dollars, making the risky project that much more of a financial gamble. And that’s because Forester completely threw out the original script that screenwriter J Michael Straczynski had written from Max Brooks’ original novel and brought in an entirely new writer. At the time it didn’t make much sense to me, and even now it still doesn’t. Straczynski’s draft was good enough that it got mentioned on the 2007 Black List, was gaining lots of praise in industry press and was the thing that got the studio first excited about the project. And, having read it myself, I found it to be an amazing bit of storytelling, taking the premise of a zombie outbreak and truly making it global, while at the same time taking the unorthodox structure of Max Brooks’ original novel and turning it into a more linear narrative and making it film-able.

marc-forsterBut upon Forster’s hiring, he immediately threw out the two drafts that Straczynski wrote, something which Brooks indicated to me was a stupid idea, and brought in Matthew Michael Carnahan to completely rewrite the screenplay, and in my opinion dumb it down to a more general blockbuster level that ejected much of the subtly and smart material that the Straczynski drafts contained. And in the process added a third act that was sprawling and expensive and ultimately, as was found out after tens of millions of dollars had been spent trying to shoot it, didn’t work. I don’t blame Pitt and Plan B for not wanting to continue working with a director whose instincts cost them millions of dollars.

While there is the old saying “You go into battle with the army you have, not the army you wish you had,” and the same applies to filmmaking as well. But no matter what kind of army you have, if the battle plan is so flawed that it takes some major on-the-fly changes and the cost of more resources to achieve victory, than the plan is still a failure. And the general responsible, should be removed from command. In this case, that general is Marc Forster, and his removal from a World War Z sequel is a most welcome piece of news.

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WORLD WAR Z Sequel Already Being Developed

Posted on 24 June 2013 by Rich Drees

WorldWarZPitt

Given its rather public and torturous production problems, it comes as a twin surprise that World War Z opened this weekend to both fairly positive reviews (67% at Rotten Tomatoes) and strong box office. And with the film looking like it pulled in close to $112 million in ticket sales worldwide over the last three days, thoughts are already turning to a potential sequel.

Paramount Studios vice chairman Rob Moore has told the Hollywood Reporter that the studio will be heading into active development on a sequel. Of course, whether a sequel becomes a reality will depend on whether the film continues to perform strong at the box office, as it needs to recoup its $190 million budget. For the studio to publicly announce sequel development before that has actually happened shows a strong confidence in how the film will continue to perform over the next several weeks.

The film has been a passion project for star and producer Brad Pitt, who worked for many years to get it made and who has spent the last several weeks jetting around the world doing promotion for the film. It was at the Moscow premier of the film that Pitt stated that there was plenty of material from Max Brooks’ original novel, on which the film is based, that so far has not been touched and which would provide fertile ground from which sequels could grow.

As anyone, such as myself, who has actually read Brooks’ book will tell you, there is virtually nothing from it that made its way into the film outside of a worldwide zombie pandemic. Not that it started out that way. Initial screenwriter J Michael Straczynski’s two drafts for the film did much to preserve the novel’s structure of documents collected after the zombie pandemic had been stopped. Subsequent drafts after director Marc Forster was hired movie the script into a more conventional structure, casting Pitt as a globe-hopping United Nations inspector trying to trace the origins of the zombie plague that is currently sweeping across the planet. But that move also upset diehard fans of the book. Perhaps now that they can see what Pitt and his creative crew have done with this first film, they’ll be more amenable to future films that will be more faithful to the source material.

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HISTORY OF THE COMIC BOOK FILM: The Non-Comic Book Superhero, Part VI

Posted on 03 May 2013 by William Gatevackes

In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. Today, we examine how superheroes are employed in kid-friendly fare, to good and bad effect.

Comic books, especially superhero comics, were at one time thought of as being exclusively entertainment for kids. Any adult who read comic books would be considered borderline illiterate and not someone you’d want to associate with. I’m fairly certain that there are many people out there that still hold that opinion.

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But comics haven’t been exclusively for kids for almost three decades. While there are some comics that are aimed at the younger set, they are becoming rarer as the years pass. This is a shame not only because there is room in comics for both kids and adults, but also because the world of film has shown that superheroes can be quality entertainment for kids and adults at the same time.

A sterling example of this was 2004’s The Incredibles. This was the sixth film released by Pixar, who were well in the run of quality films by this point. The film was a pastiche on the Fantastic Four with that team’s surrogate family dynamic morphing into a biological family dynamic. Mr. Incredible was the Thing like strong guy, who was immodestly named like the FF’s Mr. Fantastic, whose power set was matched by Elastigirl. Violet had invisibility powers akin to the Invisible Girl and Dash had the youthful impetuousness of Human Torch and Jack-Jack seemed be able to turn into flame (amongst other powers as well).

While there was an antecedent for The Incredibles in the Fantastic Four, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t original. It was, as most Pixar films are, a film that works for both adults and children, although The Incredibles gave the adults a little more to enjoy. The kids got the slapstick humor and flashy superpowers, while their parents got themes such as the Dad  balancing family life with his “secret”  identity. It was a film about the things you must give up in order to provide for the ones you love and the difficult pursuit of a satisfying balance between what you want to do and what you have to do.

The next film on our list is not quite as complex as The Incredibles, but is one of the few kid’s films to have a “Story by” credit given to an actual seven-year-old kid. That kid was Racer Max Rodriguez, whose father, Robert Rodriguez, decided to adapt the characters they both created around their house to the big screen in the form of The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D.

adventures_of_shark_boy_and_lava_girl_in_three_d_xlgThe film centers on a lonely outcast named Max who creates a world where young superheroes Sharkboy and Lavagirl live and have adventures. However, the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred when the heroes ask Max to come with them to save their world.

The film takes on a Wizard of Oz like dimension as many of the people Max knows appear in the dream world he created in different forms, yet tied to the way Max views them (for example, Max’s real life bully Linus becomes the villain Minus in Max’s fantasy world and his mean teacher Mr. Electridad becomes another villain named Mr. Electricity).

The film was a critical and box office disappointment, but is known for being one of the first films to usher in the 3-D resurgence and for being the first major film role of Taylor Lautner. All those Twimoms who get weak in the knees whenever he takes off his shirt in the Twilight films should take a look at that trailer up there.   He’s practically a baby in this film. They should be overcome with shame.

If you are looking to create a superhero movie for kids, you could do worse for a plot than a superhero high school or a teenager dealing with famous superhero parents. Sky High combines both plot elements to good effect.

skyhighThe film had a lot going for it. It marked Kurt Russell’s return to Disney family fare (although now as the parent instead of the kid), featured geek culture icons Lynda Carter and Bruce Campbell, had a role for Broken Lizard’s Kevin Heffernan and reunited Kids in the Hall members Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald. It was like they were doing a movie with a collection of actors with large cult followings.

The story was solid if conventional. The cast definitely made the most of the material and I really liked the end product. So much so, I am not ashamed to admit that I saw the film in a theater. However, it is with great shame that I admit that the very next year I saw a similarly themed film in the theaters, a film with a whopping 3% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

That’s not bad. For a long time, Zoom: Academy for Superheroes had a 0% fresh rating, meaning it received absolutely no positive reviews at all. I didn’t really consider the film to be that bad, I have definitely seen worse, but the film wasn’t very good either.

zoom_posterIf you were able to get past the fact that the federal government considers a six-year-old girl with super-strength to be a good line of defense against an incredibly powerful, homicidal super villain speeding his way towards Earth, you’d find other things about the film to make you wince. Like what, you may ask? Well, the reliance on gross-out gags for the sake of gross-out gags. There is an extended sequence where the four young trainees lock the more awkward scientist/trainer/mentor (played by a Chevy Chase who either just had bad plastic surgery done or is coming off a bad allergic reaction to a bee sting) in a room used to train the potential heroes how to react to adverse weather conditions. After Chase’s character is pelted by rain, sleet, snow and struck by lightning, a robotic skunk (yes, a robotic skunk) comes out and sprays (yes, the robot skunk has functioning anal scent glands) him in the face. It’s a pretty good spraying. If I recall correctly, Chase allows some of the spray to go into his mouth, which, you know, is one way to make it funnier. Well, if the scene was funny to begin with, maybe.

On top of that,  we get a Smash Mouth-heavy soundtrack, an extended Wendy’s commercial in the middle of the film, a countdown to disaster that doesn’t countdown in linear fashion (it goes from one day to two days then one day again), and Courtney Cox trying to act nerdy and clumsy. If you take away all of that, you have a relatively harmless kids flick. But the problem is, you can’t take all that away.

Megamind-PosterIt’s only fitting to end this installment with Megamind after starting it with The Incredibles, because the two films have a number of similarities beyond both being CGI animated superhero kid flicks. Both films opened on the same day (November 5th), albeit six years apart. One is done by Pixar, the other by Pixar’s main competition in quality and profitability, Dreamworks. Both draw their inspiration from comic book mythos’ (the Fantastic Four mythos is to The Incredibles as the Superman mythos is to Megamind).  Both appeal to adults as well as kids. And both are humorous examinations on superhero tropes.

This film takes a look at the stereotypical super villain who wants nothing more than destroy the superhero of the city he lives in. What happens when he gets what he wishes for? Well, create a new enemy to destroy, become a hero himself, and/or both.

The film had a great cast that would have been perfect even if the film was live-action. I mean, wouldn’t you want to see Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Will Ferrell together in just about anything? While it wasn’t quite as good as The Incredibles, it was good in its own right.

Next time, we discuss why it is best to use original superheroes if you want to make a superhero comedy.

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New Releases: November 30, 2012

Posted on 29 November 2012 by William Gatevackes

1. Killing Them Softly (Weinstein Company, 2,424 Theaters, 97 Minutes, Rated R): A gangster film that’s a parable for the world economic crisis? That’s something you don’t see everyday.

This film is an adaptation of the 1974 novel Cogan’s Trade. Three men come up with a brilliant idea. They’re going to steal money from a illegal card game. One problem: that card game is fronted by the Mob and the Mob needs the money the guys stole in order to run their operation. So they send Jackie Cogan out to get the money back so they can get back to good financial standing.

Brad Pitt is usually good in these kind of crime capers, and considering the other option this week, this film might be the best bet.

2. The Collection (LD Entertainment, 1,403 Theaters, 82 Minutes, Rated R): 2009’s The Collector had an fairly unique premise: a man intending to rob the house of a rich family stumbles upon a psychotic who is holding the family captive and has booby trapped the house. The thief is forced to try and save the family he was trying to rob.

It was so unique that it doesn’t really lend itself to a sequel. It’s not like the same thief can rob the same house that has been invaded by the same psycho.

The producers think they have figured a way around this. The Collector has capture another victim, the daughter of a wealthy man. The wealthy man hire mercenaries to go get her back. The first thing the mercenaries do is kidnap someone with experience with the Collector–the thief from the first movie.

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First WORLD WAR Z Trailer Looks Fairly Epic

Posted on 08 November 2012 by Rich Drees

After a long production schedule that was extended by reshoots, World War Z is finally getting ready for release and the first trailer for the film has just been released.

I have to admit that I have been rather down on the project ever since it was apparent that director Marc Forester was moving away from J. Michael Straczynski’s rather faithful adaptation of Max Brooks’s original novel towards a more linear approach. Still, it does look like it has retained some elements of the book, specifically a variation of the Battle of Yonkers. While it might not be a faithful adaptation of the book, it looks like World War Z is going to be a fairly epic zombie movie.

World War Z opens June 21st, 2013.

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OSCARS 2012: Know Your Nominees:Best Picture

Posted on 25 February 2012 by William Gatevackes

In the days leading up to the 84th Academy Awards, FilmBuffOnline will be offering profiles on all the nominees in the major categories. Some may be well know, others might be new to you, but if you need a refresher on these talented nominees, here it is.

The Artist

Producer: Thomas Langmann

Release date: November 25, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $41,169,740 (Domestic: $17,030,695, Foreign: $24,139,045)

IMDB Synopsis: Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 10 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Achievement in Art Direction; Best Achievement in Cinematography;Best Achievement in Costume Design; Best Achievement in Directing; Best Achievement in Film Editing; Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score; Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role; Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role; Best Writing, Original Screenplay)

Other honors for this film:

Won, Best Film, The 2011 Washington DC Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Picture, New York Film Critics Circle.

Won, Best Picture, Boston Society of Film Critics.

Won, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Won, Best Picture-Musical or Comedy, The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Won, Best Feature Film, 2012 Producers Guild Awards.

Won, Best Film, 2012 BAFTA Awards.

Nominated, Best Feature, 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 97% (178 Positive Reviews, 5 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: A crowd-pleasing tribute to the magic of silent cinema, The Artist is a clever, joyous film with delightful performances and visual style to spare.

Dissenting Opinion: “Ignores everything that’s fascinating and memorable about the silent-film era, focusing instead on a patchwork of general knowledge, so eroded of inconvenient facts that it doesn’t even qualify as a roman à clef.”–Jamie N. Christley, Slant Magazine.

Official Site: http://weinsteinco.com/sites/the-artist/

The Descendants

Producers: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

Release date: November 16, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $86,086,672 (Domestic: $59,186,672, Foreign: $26,900,000)

IMDB Synopsis: A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 5 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Achievement in Directing; Best Achievement in Film Editing; Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role; Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay)

Other honors for this film:

Nominated, Best Film, The 2011 Washington DC Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Picture, 37th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.

Nominated, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Won, Best Picture-Drama, The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Nominated, Best Feature Film, 2012 Producers Guild Awards.

Nominated, Best Film, 2012 BAFTA Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 90%  (192 Positive Reviews, 22 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: Funny, moving, and beautifully acted, The Descendants captures the unpredictable messiness of life with eloquence and uncommon grace.

Dissenting Opinion: “From beginning to end, everything that happens in “The Descendants” feels false.”–Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Official Site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thedescendants/

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Producer: Scott Rudin

Release date: December 25, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $21,960,998 (Domestic only)

IMDB Synopsis: A nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 2 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role)

Other honors for this film:

Nominated, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 46% (59 Positive Reviews, 69 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.

Dissenting Opinion: “It’s a unique journey that’s equal parts sympathy card and celebration of human resilience.”–Richard Roeper, RichardRoeper.com.

Official Site: http://extremelyloudandincrediblyclose.warnerbros.com/index.html

The Help

Producers: Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan

Release date: August 10, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $205,313,398 (Domestic: $193,613.398, Foreign: $35,700,00)

IMDB Synopsis: An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid’s point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 4 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role; Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role x2)

Other honors for this film:

Nominated, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Nominated, Best Picture-Drama, The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Nominated, Best Feature Film, 2012 Producers Guild Awards.

Nominated, Best Film, 2012 BAFTA Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 76% (149 Positive Reviews, 47 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: Though arguably guilty of glossing over its racial themes, The Help rises on the strength of its cast — particularly Viola Davis, whose performance is powerful enough to carry the film on its own.

Dissenting Opinion: “”The Help” comes out on the losing end of the movies’ social history. The best film roles three black women will have all year require one of them to clean Ron Howard’s daughter’s house. It’s self-reinforcing movie imagery.”–Wesley Morris. Boston Globe.

Official Site: http://www.dreamworksstudios.com/films/the-help

Hugo

Producers: Graham King, Martin Scorsese

Release date: November 23, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $90,001,874 (Domestic: $59,301,874, Foreign: $30,700,000)

IMDB Synopsis: Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 11 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Achievement in Art Direction; Best Achievement in Cinematography;Best Achievement in Costume Design; Best Achievement in Directing; Best Achievement in Film Editing; Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score; Best Achievement in Sound Editing; Best Achievement in Sound Mixing; Best Achievement in Visual Effects; Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay)

Other honors for this film:

Nominated, Best Film, The 2011 Washington DC Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Film, National Board of Review.

Nominated, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Nominated, Best Picture-Drama, The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Nominated, Best Feature Film, 2012 Producers Guild Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 94% (177 Positive Reviews, 11 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: Hugo is an extravagant, elegant fantasy with an innocence lacking in many modern kids’ movies, and one that emanates an unabashed love for the magic of cinema.

Dissenting Opinion: “It’s as if David Copperfield wandered into a History of Film lecture. Maybe it isn’t a great idea to wait till you’re nearly 70 to make your first kid movie.”–Kyle Smith, New York Post.

Official Site: http://www.hugomovie.com/

Midnight In Paris

Producers: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum

Release date: May 20, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $148,333,649 (Domestic: $56,473,065, Foreign: $91,860,584)

IMDB Synopsis: A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 4 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Achievement in Directing; Best Achievement in Art Direction; Best Writing, Original Screenplay)

Other honors for this film:

Nominated, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Nominated, Best Picture-Musical or Comedy, The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Nominated, Best Feature Film, 2012 Producers Guild Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 93% (179 Positive Reviews, 14 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: It may not boast the depth of his classic films, but the sweetly sentimental Midnight in Paris is funny and charming enough to satisfy Woody Allen fans.

Dissenting Opinion: “Pure Woody Allen. Which is not to say great or even good Woody, but a distillation of the filmmaker’s passions and crotchets, and of his tendency to pass draconian judgment on characters the audience is not supposed to like.”–Richard Corliss, Time Magazine.

Official Site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/midnightinparis/

Moneyball

Producers: Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt

Release date: September 23, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $106,781,156 (Domestic: $75,605,492, Foreign: $31,175,664)

IMDB Synopsis: The story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 7 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Achievement in Film Editing; Best Achievement in Sound Mixing; Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay;Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role)

Other honors for this film:

Nominated, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Nominated, Best Picture-Drama, The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Nominated, Best Feature Film, 2012 Producers Guild Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 95% (203 Positive Reviews, 11 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: Director Bennett Miller, along with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, take a niche subject and turn it into a sharp, funny, and touching portrait worthy of baseball lore.

Dissenting Opinion: “Those who enter the cinema unstirred by either the sport or by the joys of stats are unlikely to come out converts.”–Catherine Shoard, The Guardian.

Official Site: http://www.moneyball-movie.com/site/

The Tree of Life

Producers: Sarah Green, Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner, Grant Hill

Release date: May 27, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $54,303,319 (Domestic: $13,303,319 , Foreign: $41,000,000)

IMDB Synopsis: The story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 3 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Achievement in Cinematography; Best Achievement in Directing)

Other honors for this film:

Runner-Up, Best Picture, 37th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards.

Won, Best Picture, San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

Nominated, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 84% (203 Positive Reviews, 38 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: Terrence Malick’s singularly deliberate style may prove unrewarding for some, but for patient viewers, Tree of Life is an emotional as well as visual treat.

Dissenting Opinion: “[Malick is] a meticulous visionary who knows where to place a camera, but he hasn’t a clue about how to tell a story with simplicity and coherence.”–Rex Reed, New York Observer.

Official Site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thetreeoflife/

War Horse

Producers: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Release date: December 25, 2011

Box office gross as of February 1, 2011; $111,380,706 (Domestic: $75,980,706 , Foreign: $35,400,000)

IMDB Synopsis: Young Albert enlists to service in WWI after his beloved horse, Joey, is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on.

Number of Oscar Nominations: 6 (Best Motion Picture of the Year; Best Achievement in Art Direction; Best Achievement in Cinematography; Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score; Best Achievement in Sound Editing; Best Achievement in Sound Mixing)

Other honors for this film:

Nominated, Best Picture, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Nominated, Best Picture-Drama, The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Nominated, Best Feature Film, 2012 Producers Guild Awards.

Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer: 76% (149 Positive Reviews, 46 Negative)

Rotten Tomatoes Critical Consensus: Technically superb, proudly sentimental, and unabashedly old-fashioned, War Horse is an emotional drama that tugs the heartstrings with Spielberg’s customary flair.

Dissenting Opinion: “It’s overlong, painfully earnest and sometimes even hokey.”–Christy Lemire, Associated Press.

Official Site: http://www.warhorsemovie.com/

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OSCARS 2012: Know Your Nominees:Best Actor

Posted on 22 February 2012 by William Gatevackes

In the days leading up to the 84th Academy Awards, FilmBuffOnline will be offering profiles on all the nominees in the major categories. Some may be well know, others might be new to you, but if you need a refresher on these talented nominees, here it is.

Demián Bichir

Nominated for: playing Carlos Galindo, an immigrant gardener who is trying to give his son A Better Life.

Other honors for this role:

Nominated, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role , 2012 Screen Actors Guild Award.

Nominated, Best Male Lead, 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards..

Where you might know him from:

Bichir played Fidel Castro in Steven Soderbergh’s Che and Ernesto Reyes in the TV Show Weeds.

History with Oscar:

This is Demián Bichir’s first Oscar nomination.

George Clooney

Nominated for: playing Matt King, a man who must reconnect with his estranged children after his wife suffers a life-threatening accident in The Descendants.

Other honors for this role:

Won, Best Actor, Washington DC Film Critics Association.

Won, Best Actor, National Board of Review.

Won, Best Actor, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Won, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama , The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Nominated, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role , 2012 Screen Actors Guild Award.

Nominated, Best Actor, 2012 BAFTA Awards.

Where you might know him from:

Do I really have to write anything here? Everytime he changes girlfriends, it’s front page news.

After a career doing a number of small roles in unsuccessful films and TV show, Clooney got his big break playing Dr. Doug Ross on the TV series ER. He made the jump to films, and has starred in a number successful ones, and has directed quite a number of them as well. He is a frequent collaborator with fellow nominee Brad Pitt, having shared the screen with him in Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, Ocean’s Thirteen, Burn After Reading and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which Clooney also directed.

History with Oscar:

George Clooney has been nominated for an Oscar five times in the past, winning once, and is nominated for another award this year–with Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, The Ides of March.

2006: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Syriana (Won).

2006: Best Achievement in Directing, Good Night, and Good Luck (lost to Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain).

2006: Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Good Night, and Good Luck (with Grant Heslov) (lost to Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco, Crash).

2008: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Michael Clayton (lost to Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood).

2010: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Up in the Air (lost to Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart).

Jean Dujardin

Nominated for: playing George Valentin, a silent movie superstar whose career goes into decline with the advent of sound recording in The Artist.

Other honors for this role:

Nominated, Best Actor, Washington DC Film Critics Association.

Nominated, Best Actor, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Won, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy , The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Won, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role , 2012 Screen Actors Guild Award.

Won, Best Actor, 2012 BAFTA Awards.

Nominated, Best Male Lead, 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Where you might know him from:

Unless you’ve lived in Europe, you might not know him. But he has starred in the OSS 117 and Lucky Luke franchises, which savvy fans in the U.S. might have seen.

History with Oscar:

This is Jean Dujardin’s first Oscar nomination.

Gary Oldman

Nominated for: playing George Smiley, a retired British spy who is brought back in the fold to weed out a traitor in the highest levels of British intelligence in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Other honors for this role:

Won, Best Actor, San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

Nominated, Best Actor, 2012 BAFTA Awards.

Where you might know him from:

Some of his most famous roles were Sid Vicious in Sid and Nancy, Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK, Sirius Black in the Harry Potter franchise, and Jim Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s Batman films.

History with Oscar:

Surprisingly, this is Gary Oldman’s first Oscar nomination.

Brad Pitt

Nominated for: playing Billy Beane, who revolutionizes Major League Baseball by using computer statistical analysis to hire players in Moneyball.

Other honors for this role:

Nominated, Best Actor, Washington DC Film Critics Association.

Won, Best Actor, New York Film Critics Circle (honored for Moneyball and The Tree of Life).

Won, Best Actor, Boston Society of Film Critics.

Nominated, Best Actor, 2012 Critics’ Choice Awards.

Nominated, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama , The 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Nominated, Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role , 2012 Screen Actors Guild Award.

Nominated, Best Actor, 2012 BAFTA Awards.

Where you might know him from:

Again, do I really have to write anything here? Everytime he goes out for coffee with his family, it’s front page news.

If you need reminding as to who Brad Pitt is, he was the star of Se7en, Fight Club and Troy. In addition to all the films he co-starred in with George Clooney, Pitt also co-starred in True Romance with Gary Oldman.

History with Oscar:

Brad Pitt has been nominated for an Oscar two times in the past,  and, like Clooney, is nominated for another award this year– for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Moneyball, which Pitt co-produced with Michael De Luca and Rachel Horovitz.

1996: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Twelve Monkeys (Lost to Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects).

2009: Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (lost to Sean Penn, Milk).

 

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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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Paramount Looking To Stretch WORLD WAR Z Into A Trilogy

Posted on 05 January 2012 by Rich Drees

Let’s face it, the studios all hope that any new film they release will be successful enough to spawn a franchise. It should come as no surprise then that Paramount has plans to expand their upcoming adaption of Max Brooks’ zombie novel World War Z into a trilogy if the film turns out to be a hit.

The news comes from a LA Times interview with World War Z star and producer Brad Pitt, with the paper describing the film’s tone as having “the grounded, gun-metal realism of, say, [Matt] Damon’s Jason Bourne [film] series tethered to the unsettling end-times vibe of AMC’s The Walking Dead.”

In the film, direct by Quantum Of Solace‘s Marc Forster, Pitt is playing Gerry Lane, a UN fact finder racing to the cause of a zombie outbreak that threatens the globe.

Given the nature of Brooks’ book, there is certainly a lot of material to plumb for potential sequels. For the uninitiated, the book is presented as a collection of records, interviews and documents gathered after the zombie outbreak had been contained that attempts to explain how the situation spread out of control. The original screenplay for the project by J. Michael Straczynski kept this conceit and had its main character traveling the country collecting the stories and documents that are found in the book. Reportedly, script rewrites from Matthew Michael Carnahan have given the film a more straightforward narrative structure, which I have to confess I find the prospect of a bit disappointing. If enough people by tickets next December following the film’s release we’ll get to see how they intend to take the book and flesh out a further story.

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HISTORY OF THE COMIC BOOK FILM: Weird and Creepy

Posted on 07 October 2011 by William Gatevackes

In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we’ll continue our look at EC Comics with a number of films the company inspired in the 1980s and 1990s.

If EC Comics helped redefine horror for the 1950s (and beyond), then you can make the argument that George Romero did the same for the 1960s (and beyond) and Stephen King did it for the 1970s (and beyond).

Romero’s 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead, revolutionized the world of film horror, creating a still existing zombie craze but also showing, like the EC books, that you can slip social satire and commentary into a film about cannibalistic ghouls. The prolific King changed the way the world looked at print horror with works such as Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, amongst others, much of which was adapted for both the big and small screen.

Naturally, both men would be influenced by the EC books, and they showed their love for the company’s offerings when they collaborated on the 1982 film, Creepshow.

While Creepshow was not directly adapted from any particular EC comic, the tone and style of the film has EC written all over it. The film has a similar structure as the Amicus Productions adaptations from the 70s, with five independent stories joined together by a framing sequence (with a “Creepshow” comic book serving as an instigator for each of the segments). The segments themselves, all directed by Romero, were either adapted from King’s short stories or written specifically for the screen by King himself.

But those stories were essentially love letters to the EC Comics that were published three decades before. They consisted of many of the staples that made EC Comics great— gallows humor, the wronged dead coming back to life to exact vengeance, and plenty of O’Henry-esque twists.

The pair reunited five years later for Creepshow 2, with Romero stepping down as director and instead acting as a screenwriter who adapted King’s stories for the film:

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There are only three stories this time instead of five, but the “Creepshow” comic book plays a role once again in the framing sequence.

There was a Creepshow III made in 2007…

but this film was a sequel in name only. Neither King nor Romero had anything to do with it, the comic book framing sequence was removed, and replaced by an interwoven narrative connecting the various segments, ala Pulp Fiction. Tom Savini, friend and frequent collaborator to George Romero, has stated that 1990’s Tales From the Darkside: The Movie, was the ipso facto sequel to Creepshow 2.

Stephen King and George Romero do reunite for the film, which was a big screen adaptation of the syndicated TV series of the same time, but only on one of the three segments (“Cat From Hell”) and only as writers (the film was directed not by Romero, but by John Harrison). The film does feature a similar framing sequence to the first two Creepshow films, but without the comic book framing sequence.

In 1985, another story from an EC book was adapted for the big screen, although it is a bit hard to make the connection. The film?  Weird Science.

Wait! That's not the way Wyatt and Gary did it!

The film, written and directed by John Hughes, loosely adapts “Made of the Future” from Weird Science #5 (1951). Very loosely.

The original story is about a man, just jilted by his fiancée, who inadvertently bumps into a tour group from the future. On a lark, he returns to the future with the tourists and finds that men of the future are able to buy kits to construct their own wives. He brings a kit back home and, well, creates his own wife.

The film centers on a pair of unpopular teenagers named Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell Smith) and Gary (Anthony Michael Hall). Their answer to improve their social standing involved a computer, data concerning their ideal woman, hacking a Government computer for more power, and a Barbie doll. These elements combine to form Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), an incredibly attractive woman who exhibited super powers and existed, literally, only to serve Wyatt and Gary.

The two stories were so different that I, for many years, wasn’t able to put two and two together and realize that they were connected. But connected they are, apparently.

In the 1990s, HBO created a TV series based on the EC books called Tales from the Crypt. Every episode of the series, which ran from 1989 to 1996, was adapted from an EC book. The series was produced by an all-star lineup of Hollywood heavyweights, including Richard Donner, Walter Hill, Joel Silver, David Geffen and Robert Zemeckis and many Hollywood stars appeared in the series, either in front of the camera (Demi Moore, Joe Pesci, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Pitt) or behind the camera, as director (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks).

Due to the popularity of the TV series, the Tales from the Crypt brand was brought to the big screen in a planned trilogy of feature films. These films acted essentially as longer episode of the TV series, with each film being introduced by the show’s host, the Crypt Keeper, yet none were directly adapted from an EC comic book. The first film in the series was 1995’s Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight.

The script for Demon Knight was bouncing around Hollywood for years before the Tales from the Crypt name was attached to it. The plot involved a supernatural and long-lived guardian (William Sadler) who exists only to kill demons, and a stand-off between the guardian and a high level demon (Billy Zane) in a small New Mexico town. The follow-up was 1996’s Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood.

This installment was originally planned to be a zombie film set in New Orleans called “Dead Easy,” but that film morphed into a vampire flick where an acerbic private eye (Dennis Miller) takes a case of a woman (Erika Eleniak) who is searching for her missing brother (Corey Feldman). The trail leads to a bordello housing a legion of vampire prostitutes led by the “mother of all vampires” (Angie Everhart). The most memorable part of the movie, for me, was Miller’s character going into battle against the vampires with a Super Soaker loaded with Holy Water. I thought that was inventive.

Bordello of Blood was a box office failure. The third film of the trilogy, named Ritual, was never released in the U.S. and was only released overseas with all mentions of Tales from the Crypt removed from it (they were replaced for the U.S. DVD release). The film centered on a voodoo cult and zombies and starred Tim Curry, Jennifer Grey and Craig Sheffer. A company by the name of EMO Films had picked up the rights to the EC Comics line in 2009, so perhaps we’ll see more adaptations in the future.

Next time, we’ll cover some underground comix entering the world of underground film.

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