Film/Arts/Satire*
(*homocinematically inclined)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Film Art: Orange Rain

Some more Crazy 4 Cult art, fresh from the Gallery1988: Charles Cochran's Warholian mash-up of A Clockwork Orange and Singin' in the Rain. "Oh, what a glorious feeling" ... except when you're getting kicked in the gut by a droog.

Monthly Wallpaper - September 2008: High School Movies

It's back to school time at Movie Dearest, and what better way to show your school spirit then by downloading this month's calendar wallpaper dedicated to High School Movies!

With this all-star class of cinematic students, all through the month of September you can ponder such burning questions as: who would win the student council election, Tracy Flick or Pedro? Who's a better dancer, Danny Zuko or Tracy Turnblad? Who has a better prom dress, Carrie White or Gabriella Montez? Which is the cattiest clique, the Heathers or the Plastics? Who's better at channeling school spirit, Torrance Shipman or Riff Randell? Will you get extra credit if you join the Breakfast Club? And, most important of all, who will be the class valedictorian, Jeff Spicoli or Cher Horowitz?

Just click on the picture above to enlarge it to its 1024 x 768 size, then right click your mouse and select "Set as Background", and you're all set. If you want, you can also save it to your computer and set it up from there, or modify the size in your own photo-editing program if needed.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Poster Post: Passion in the Outback

As you can tell, we're a little excited about Australia, Baz Luhrmann's epic romantic adventure starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. And now it seems that we are going to have to wait just a little bit longer for it, as the release date has been pushed back, from November 14 to the 26 (damn you, Harry Potter!). Although I suppose it will be nice to have a visit with Hugh and Nicole for Thanksgiving.

In the meantime, you can check out the film's official website, including an array of stunning photos and a host of behind-the-scenes podcasts.

Summer Under the Stars: Spencer Tracy

Movie Dearest concludes our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Spencer Tracy - Stardates: Born April 5, 1900, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; died 1967. Star Sign: Aries. Star Qualities: Rugged attractiveness, mastery of craft, naturalness, total empathy with camera. Star Definition: "Spence is the best we have, because you don't see the mechanism at work." -- Humphrey Bogart. Galaxy of Characters: Manuel Fidello in Captains Courageous, Father Flanagan in Boys Town, Adam Bonner in Adam's Rib, Macreedy in Bad Day at Black Rock.

TCM's 2008 edition of their "Summer Under the Stars" comes to a close tomorrow with one of my personal favorite actors, Spencer Tracy. Nominated for nine Academy Awards, he won two of them (in consecutive years), for Captains Courageous and Boys Town (also airing tomorrow).

In the former (based on the classic Rudyard Kipling novel), he plays Manuel Fidello, a brave Portuguese fisherman who teaches some important life lessons to spoiled rich kid Freddie Bartholomew. Tracy was not too keen on the role at first, mostly because he had to curl his hair (Joan Crawford told him he looked like Harpo Marx). He even said that his performance was one of his worst; Oscar begged to differ.

Captains Courageous airs tomorrow on TCM at 8:00 PM EST as part of their Essentials, Jr. series.

Legends of the FAIL, Take 3

As this video clip shows, I guess she wasn't such a good witch after all ...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Out in Film: T.R. Knight

Idol worship: T.R. Knight, actor.

- As Dr. George O'Malley on Grey's Anatomy, he has received nominations for Emmy and Satellite Awards and won a Screen Actors Guild Award as part of the ensemble of the popular medical drama. The series returns for its fifth season September 25.

- He made his film debut in the indie drama Garmento and also starred in the comedy The Last Request.

- His first television role was on the short-lived Nathan Lane sitcom Charlie Lawrence. Other TV appearances include guest spots on Frasier, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

- On stage, he has starred in the Tony Award nominated Noises Off and Tartuffe on Broadway, and received a Drama Desk Award nomination for the Off-Broadway production of Scattergood.

- He very publicly came out two years ago following reports of an on-set altercation between two of his Grey's co-stars; perhaps you heard about it.

Best of the Fests: Telluride Goes Global

With a dearth of homegrown product, the Telluride Film Festival has gone for an international flavor this year. Only two American films -- Paul Schrader's Holocaust survivor drama Adam Resurrected (starring Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe and Derek Jacobi) and Tim Disney's racial conflict drama American Violet (starring Alfre Woodard, Michael O'Keefe and Tim Blake Nelson) -- are on the schedule for the 35th annual fest, which starts today and runs through Monday.

Other notable features set to appear include Kim Ji-Woon's "Asian spaghetti western" The Good, the Bad and the Weird, Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky, Steve McQueen's Cannes winner Hunger, Philippe Claudel's I've Loved You So Long (starring a French speaking Kristin Scott Thomas) and Ari Folman's animated documentary Waltz with Bashir.

Also screening this weekend is David Fincher's director's cut of Zodiac; the director will also receive a Silver Medallion award from the fest, along with actress Jean Simmons (Spartacus, Guys and Dolls), Scandinavian filmmaker Jan Troell (The Emigrants) and film critic Richard Schickel, who will screen his documentary You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story. For more information, see Variety's preview of the festival.

In related news, Turner Classic Movies will air a 24-hour marathon of films honored by the Telluride Film Festival on Monday, beginning at 8:00 PM EST. Scheduled movies include Steamboat Bill, Jr.; Sophie's Choice; Sunrise; Au Revoir, Les Enfants, Touch of Evil and the original 3:10 to Yuma.

UPDATE: Cinematical's Kim Voynar has a great wrap up of this year's Telluride fest, including buzz on the transgender-themed documentary Prodigal Sons, the well received, unscheduled screening of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, and Jeff Goldblum's Oscar chances for Adam Resurrected.

Summer Under the Stars: Katharine Hepburn

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Katharine Hepburn - Stardates: Born May 12, 1907, Hartford, Connecticut; died 2003. Star Sign: Taurus. Star Qualities: Ravishing bone structure, distinctive speech patterns, independent spirit, glowing presence. Star Definition: "She has tremendous integrity, a superb sense of humor, self-discipline, courage, generosity. And above all she is a great professional." -- Director Anthony Harvey. Galaxy of Characters: Susan Vance in Bringing Up Baby, Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story, Patricia Pemberton in Pat and Mike, Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond.

In the classic screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, Hepburn plays Susan Vance, a flighty heiress whose eccentricities include keeping a leopard (the "Baby" of the title) as a pet. She crosses paths with Cary Grant's uptight paleontologist Dr. David Huxley, who finds himself in this scene trapped in Susan's house with nothing but a frilly woman's robe to wear. Desperately searching for a pair of trousers, he is interrupted by a knock on the door, where a stuffy dowager (May Robson) says he looks ridiculous and asks him why he's wearing such an unlikely outfit. Completely flustered by this point, David blurts, "Because I just went gay all of a sudden!"

Arguably the first time the word "gay" was used on screen to mean "homosexual", it is certainly the most famous early example. Speculation has it that the slang term, which had just came into use during the late 1930's, wasn't familiar to the censors at the time. Otherwise, it most likely would have been cut. Legend also has it that it was Grant who came up with the line as an ad-lib, which only adds to the long-persistent rumors that he himself "went both ways".

Bringing Up Baby airs tomorrow on TCM at 2:30 PM EST.

MD Poll: The Boys of Summer 2008

Now that the summer of 2008 is almost past, it is time to reflect on the movies we have seen, the important themes they expressed, the fine acting on display, the quality of their production and, most importantly, which one had the best man candy.

That's right, the latest MD Poll asks the burning question, "Who is the Hottest Summer Movie Hunk of 2008?" Reflect on the choices wisely, for this may be the most important vote you place all year. Once you make your informed and balanced opinion, place your vote in the sidebar to your right, and check back in two weeks for the final results.

UPDATE: This poll is now closed. Click here to see the results, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

MD Poll: The Way We Are Feeling

It was a close race for the battle of the fake movie musical sequels in the last MD Poll, and in the end, only one vote separated second best from the ultimate victor: Grease 3: High School Reunion. Perhaps the news that Paramount is indeed developing a direct-to-video Grease 3 helped it to edge past the faux follow-up to this year's hit Mamma Mia!, the Big Edie inspired Grandma Mia!, which was in the lead for most of the poll's running time. (See the full stats for the poll in the comments section below.)

In honor of the Grease upset, here are two out-of-the-ordinary video tributes to two of the original movie's most memorable songs, "Summer Nights" and "You're the One That I Want".

And as an extra bonus, here are some more movie musical sequel ideas to ponder (they either didn't make the original cut, were suggested by readers or I thought of them too late):
  • Annie Get Your Other Gun
  • Beauty and the Beast II: Saved by the Belle
  • Hit the Deck 2: Back from the Bayou
  • Little Evita: The Prequel
  • Little Shop of Horrors II: The Revenge of Audrey II
  • Love Me Tomorrow Night
  • Meet Me in St. Olaf (starring Betty White)
  • More Singin' in the Rain
  • My Fair Wife
  • The New Gay Divorcee (set in modern day California)
  • Newsies: Boys 2 Men
  • On a Cloudy Night You Can't See Anything
  • Rent: Overdue
  • The Sound of Music, Part II: The Von Trapps in Vermont
  • Seven Babies for Seven Brides
  • Son of a Beach Blanket Bingo
  • Sweeney Todd: The Lost Years
  • Thoroughly Retro Ruthie
  • Twice (think about it)
  • Yentl 2: Only in America
UPDATE: Mamma Mia! hottie Dominic Cooper talks the possibilities of a sequel.

Click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Latest in Theaters: Summer's Last Gasp

It's Labor Day weekend, a.k.a. Hollywood's dumping ground, a.k.a. just go see The Dark Knight again. For better or worse, here are this week's new releases:
  • Babylon A.D.: Vin Diesel stars in this low-rent Children of Men sci-fi thriller that has its own director (Mathieu Kassovitz) calling it "pure violence and stupidity". Michelle Yeoh, Gérard Depardieu and Charlotte Rampling also star.
  • Disaster Movie: The only thing funny about this latest crappy spoof from the Meet the Spartans guys is this: our pals at The Gays on Film sit down for a dishy interview with the movie's stars Carmen Electra and Kim Kardashian.
  • College: A university-set would-be comedy that sounds as generic as its title and looks as tasteless as its poster.
  • Traitor: An international political thriller starring Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce and Jeff Daniels based on a story by ... Steve Martin?
  • Ballet Shoes: Emma Watson's first non-Harry Potter movie is actually a 2007 made-for-BBC period film about a trio of orphans whose dreams come true. Aww.
  • Sukiyaki Western Django: Quentin Tarantino is a gun-wielding stranger in this hyper-stylized Spaghetti Western parody.
  • And finally: one worthwhile alternative to these choices (or if you are experiencing Batman burn out) is the Sing-Along Mamma Mia! These special screenings come complete with onscreen lyrics; you'll have to bring your own silver platform shoes though.
To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Poster Post: Not in Kansas

Nicole Kidman returns to Oz -- along with her Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann -- in this fall's Australia.

Summer Under the Stars: Marlon Brando

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Marlon Brando - Stardates: Born April 3, 1924, Omaha, Nebraska; died 2004. Star Sign: Aries. Star Qualities: Animalistic appeal, bigger-than-life persona, revolutionary approach to screen acting. Star Definition: "His performance in On the Waterfront is the best male performance I have ever seen in my life." -- Elia Kazan. Galaxy of Characters: Mark Antony in Julius Caesar, Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, Col. Walter E. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.

Following his On the Waterfront Oscar win in 1954, Brando must have felt he could do anything -- even sing. Alas, that wasn't the case ... at least consistently; his songs for the 1955 film version of the Tony Award winning Broadway hit Guys and Dolls were actually edited together using the usable portions of his recordings. Nevertheless, his version of "Luck Be a Lady" placed at #42 on the American Film Institute's top 100 Movie Songs, not to mention his "I'll Know" has one very famous fan. And if Barbra likes his singing, that's good enough for me.

Additionally, due to Frank Sinatra's recording contract at the time, a complete soundtrack for Guys and Dolls was never officially released. However, a four track LP of Brando and Jean Simmons' songs from the movie (the above two, plus "A Woman in Love" and "If I Were a Bell") was issued. That album can be found as bonus tracks on this CD versionof the original Broadway cast album.

Guys and Dolls airs tomorrow on TCM at 2:30 PM EST.

See more pictures of Marlon Brando in The Back Room (NSFW).

Intervention: The Musical!

If you ever wanted to hear Kristin Chenoweth, the pint-sized and perky Tony Award winning Wicked witch and Emmy nominated star of Pushing Daisies, sing about crystal meth addiction, oral sex and Craigslist, then here's the video for you. And, believe or not, it's NSFW.

UPDATE: The fabulous Miss Chenoweth chats with The Advocate about Tina, Olive and her upcoming Christmas album.

Thanks to Dean for the heads up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Toon Talk: Finloose

Disney’s direct-to-video sequels are largely ignored and/or reviled by most hardcore Disney enthusiasts. And while there has been some quality examples (Bambi II, The Lion King 1 ½), the majority have been mediocre at best, completely deserving of their bad reputation at worst. Falling into the latter category is 2000’s The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. With its shoddy animation, contrived storyline and unappealing new characters (there’s a reason why Ariel’s daughter Melody never joined the princess line-up), I would even go so far as to say it is the worst of the worst (yes, even more than The Return of Jafar and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II).

So it is ironic that, as the video sequels are slowly dying down at Disney (while increasing at other studios such as Paramount and Universal), the studio has gone back under the sea to produce a mermaid tale that makes up for the previous blasphemous blunder. That movie is The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning,new to DVD this week. (Click here to watch the trailer.)

Wisely ditching any thoughts of a direct follow-up to Return to the Sea, Ariel’s Beginning returns to the sea anyway … and stays there; save for one brief sequence on the surface, the story mostly takes place in and around the undersea kingdom of Atlantica. Additionally, for the bulk of the action, the clock is turned back to roughly one year before the events of the original Little Mermaid feature. Prior to that, though, a prologue shows us the joyful … and tragic … early days of our favorite mermaid and her family.

A young King Triton (voiced by ace imitator Jim Cummings, stepping in for the absent Kenneth Mars) is seen with his happy brood of adorable toddler daughters and, for the first time, his beautiful queen, Athena (Lorelei Hill Butters). Their blissful lives are filled with love and music, until the fateful day when the queen is taken from them. Overwhelmed with grief, Triton bans all music from the kingdom (shades of, of all things, Footloose), lest it remind him of his lost love.

Cut to ten years later, and the daughters of Triton have grown into dutiful princesses, overseen by their ambitious governess Marina Del Rey (voiced by Sally Field, although the two time Academy Award winner’s name is oddly absent from all promotional materials). Restless under the rule of their strict father and his second-in-command crab Sebastian (Samuel E. Wright), it is the youngest, Ariel (Jodi Benson) who develops a rebellious streak (no big surprise there).

Ariel soon meets her future BFF Flounder (Parker Goris), who unknowingly leads her to the secret, speak easy-type Catfish Club, where music is king … and Sebastian is the master of ceremonies. Exposed to the wonders and magic of song and dance once more, Ariel is reinvigorated, and anxious to share the experience with her sisters.

However, the devious Marina -- who wants Sebastian’s job -- tells all to King Triton, who promptly closes the joint down and imprisons Sebastian, Flounder and their be-boppin’ buddies (in the jail sequence, movie buffs will get a kick out of some unexpected homages to The Shawshank Redemption and Dog Day Afternoon).

Meanwhile, Ariel and her sisters are confined to the castle, but that doesn’t stop our heroine from escaping, her new friends in tow. Sebastian leads them to a secluded spot that may hold the answers to all their problems, but an enraged Marina, along with her vicious pet electric eels, are soon on their tail.

Click here to continue reading my Toon Talk review of The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning at LaughingPlace.com.

Best of the Fests: Venice Begins

The 65th Venice Film Festival opens today with the world premiere of the Coen Brothers' quirky crime caper Burn After Reading (starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton and Brad Pitt). Other notable films screening at the fest -- and building their early Oscar Buzz -- include:
  • The Burning Plain: A mother-daughter drama starring, respectively, Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger.
  • The Hurt Locker: Yet another Iraq war film, this one directed by Kathryn Bigelow and starring Guy Pearce and Ralph Fiennes.
  • Inju: The Beast in the Shadow (a.k.a. Inju, la bête dans l'ombre): Tokyo set thriller from French director Barbet Schroeder.
  • Ponyo on the Cliff: A tale of a boy and a goldfish princess, this is the latest animated fantasy from the master of such things, Hayao Miyazaki.
  • Rachel Getting Married: Word has it that Anne Hathaway may finally get noticed by Oscar for this dysfunctional family drama, directed by Jonathan Demme.
  • Valentino: The Last Emperor: Documentary look at legendary Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani.
  • The Wrestler: The story of a retired professional wrestler named Randy "The Ram" Robinson (and played by ... Mickey Rourke!) at first doesn't sound like much ... except that Darren Aronofsky, of Requiem for a Dream fame, directed it.
The Venice Film Festival continues through September 6. For a quick look at the full line up, visit Screen Daily.

Woman We Love: Judith Light

Object of our affection: Judith Light, actress.

- She first gained fame (and two Daytime Emmy Awards) for playing desperate housewife-turned-prostitute Karen Wolek on the soap opera One Life to Live. While on the show, she met her future husband, Robert Desiderio. More fame came with the long-running sitcom Who's the Boss, in which she played working mom Angela Bower.

- Other TV appearances include memorable guest spots on St. Elsewhere, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Family Guy, plus starring in the short-lived series Phenom and The Stones; she currently co-stars in her Emmy nominated role as rich socialite-turned-ex con Claire Meade on Ugly Betty. She has also starred in several popular made-for-television movies, including The Ryan White Story, wherein she played Ryan's mother, Jeanne White.

- On stage, she has starred in acclaimed productions of Richard III, A Doll's House and Wit.

- In addition to her acting career, she is a longtime advocate for GLBT rights and HIV/AIDS causes. In 1997, she helped her former Who's the Boss son Danny Pintauro come out publicly. The following year, she received the Vision Award from the GLAAD Media Awards.

- Up next for the busy, multi-talented actress: the third season of Ugly Betty (starting September 25) and the gay-themed feature film Save Me (in limited release September 5), which she co-produced and co-stars with Chad Allen and Robert Gant.

Summer Under the Stars: Charlton Heston

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Charlton Heston - Stardates: Born October 4, 1924, Evanston, Illinois; died 2008. Star Sign: Libra. Star Qualities: Imposing physique, commanding voice and chiseled profile, all perfect for epic heroes. Star Definition: "So intelligent, so knowledgeable, so professional, so exciting -- exploring the full content of a scene and context of the intent." -- Janet Leigh. Galaxy of Characters: Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur, Major Amos Charles Dundee in Major Dundee, General Charles "Chinese" Gordon in Khartoum, Detective Robert Thorn in Soylent Green.

As recounted by author Gore Vidal in the documentary The Celluloid Closet, director William Wyler brought him on to the production of Ben-Hur to work on the troubled script, specifically the relationship of Judah Ben-Hur (Heston) and Messala (Stephen Boyd). To make the animosity between the two characters more believable, Vidal added some homoerotic subtext to their back-story, that when the pair was younger they were lovers, but Ben-Hur ultimately rejected Messala. Wyler okayed the idea and had Vidal discuss it with Boyd, but nothing was said about it to Heston, whom Wyler felt would reject the whole idea. The resulting scenes in the film are heavy with sexual tension, due largely to Boyd's performance.

When this whole story came out years later, Heston himself denied it, even saying that Vidal had very little to do with the script of Ben-Hur ... even though he had wrote in his autobiography that Vidal had authored much of the final shooting script.

Ben-Hur airs tomorrow on TCM at 4:00 PM EST.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Look: I Love You Phillip Morris

Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey get cozy on the beach in this first look at the upcoming "romantic dark comedy" I Love You Phillip Morris, due in theaters next spring.

Poster Post: Adventure Down Under

Hugh Jackman is featured in the first poster image of Baz Luhrmann's upcoming romantic epic Australia, in theaters November 14.

Summer Under the Stars: Tony Curtis

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Tony Curtis - Stardates: Born June 3, 1925, Bronx, New York. Star Sign: Gemini. Star Qualities: Curly black locks, killer smile, sharp timing. Galaxy of Characters: Tino Orsini in Trapeze, Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success, John "Joker" Jackson in The Defiant Ones, Joe/Josephine/Junior in Some Like It Hot.

As with Sidney Poitier, Jack Lemmon and Kirk Douglas in, respectively, The Defiant Ones, Some Like It Hot and Spartacus, Curtis ends up overshadowed by his co-star in Sweet Smell of Success. Not surprising considering it is Burt Lancaster as the sharp-penned, acid-tongued gossip columnist J.J. Hunsecker, arguably the star's greatest screen performance.

Sweet Smell of Success airs tomorrow on TCM at 10:15 PM EST.

The Latest on DVD: What's This?

Christmas ... and Halloween ... are coming a little early this year, at least for fans of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.The stop motion animated classic returns to DVD in a two-disc collector's editiontoday. The set includes brand new bonus features (including a look at Disneyland's "Haunted Mansion Holiday") plus an extra disc featuring a digital copy of the film, so you can watch Jack and Sally on the go.

Nightmare Before Christmas also makes its high-def debut on Blu-Raytoday. Plus, the standard format DVD is also available in an "Ultimate Collector's" deluxe gift setcomplete with a hand-painted bust of Jack Skellington:

With all these ghastly goodies, it will take me a little longer to get my Toon Talk review to you, so in the meantime, you can pay a visit to Dr. Finklestein's lab.

Check out the Latest on DVD widgets located in the sidebar for more of this week's new DVD releases available today from Amazon.com.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cult Art, Movie Style - Take 2

Just over a year ago, I posted about the way cool "Crazy 4 Cult" art showing at Los Angeles' Gallery1988, which inspired (and provided plenty of material for) the Film Art section here at Movie Dearest (of which, ironically, this is the 50th post). Well, they are doing it again this year (now through September 12), and it looks like the art on display is just as provocative and exciting as last year's selections.

An example is the piece excerpted above: a 39 x 12 inch cult film geek's dream line-up by talented San Diego artist Andrew Wilson. You can see the whole thing (and even order prints of it) at the gallery's site or visit this website to use an interactive feature where you can magnify the different characters to see them up close. This will come in handy if you plan to enter the gallery's contest to win a copy of the poster signed by the artist and film director Kevin Smith. All you have to do is correctly identify all 131 characters and the movie they came from ... that's all.

Just for fun, I've started a list of the ones I could figure out in the comments section below (movies only; if you want to enter the contest, you'll have to do a little work on the character names). Feel free to add the ones I missed or correct the ones I got wrong by leaving a comment.

Cinematic Crush: Vin Diesel

Crush object: Vin Diesel, actor.

- The buff, bald actor made quite an impression with his breakthrough role as a doomed GI in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan.

- The following year, he provided the voice of the title character in the modern animated classic The Iron Giant.

- Action franchises called with Pitch Black, The Fast and the Furious and xXx, but he only returned for the sequel to the first of these, The Chronicles of Riddick; two more Riddick movies are also planned.

- Other films include Boiler Room, A Man Apart, The Pacifier and Find Me Guilty.

- This week he stars in the sci-fi thriller Babylon A.D. and will next be seen in the fourth Fast and the Furious flick; he will also be directing a "prequel short" to that series and continues to work on his dream project, Hannibal the Conqueror.

UPDATE: "New model, original parts": the trailer for next year's Fast & Furious is now available.

Summer Under the Stars: Janet Leigh

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Janet Leigh - Stardates: Born July 6, 1927, Merced, California; died 2004. Star Sign: Cancer. Star Qualities: Peaches-and-cream face, voluptuous form, sensitive intelligence, adaptability. Star definition: "Small-town girl who got lucky and made good. Worked hard to learn and improve whatever God had given her." -- Herself. Galaxy of Characters: Edith Enley in Act of Violence, Aline de Gavrillac de Bourbon in Scaramouche, Susan Vargas in Touch of Evil, Marion Crane in Psycho.

In Orson Welles' stark noir classic Touch of Evil, Leigh plays the new American wife of Charlton Heston's Mexican narcotics agent who have anything but a perfect honeymoon when they become entangled in a seedy case involving crooked cops, car bombs and drug trafficking.

At one point, left alone in a sleazy motel room, Leigh is besieged and drugged by a gang of young hoodlums and is apparently sexually assaulted (off camera) as their butch lesbian leader watches. Making the scene even more unnerving is that not only does the biker chick look just like Mercedes McCambridge ... it is Mercedes McCambridge! The uncredited Oscar winner appears out of nowhere for this one sequence and is then never seen again.

Touch of Evil airs tomorrow on TCM at 8:00 PM EST; also, a two-disc 50th anniversary DVDwill be released October 7.

Dance 10, Plus 3

Thirteen new celebrities will take to the dance floor next month when Dancing With the Stars returns for a seventh season. The line up was officially announced on Good Morning America earlier today, but practically the whole line-up was leaked by gossip sites over the past few days. Among the contestants, notable names include:
  • Lance Bass, pop star of N'Sync fame, he is the first openly gay celeb on the American DWTS (and no, he will be paired with a female partner, as it should be).
  • Cloris Leachman, the 82-year-old Oscar winning dynamo and John Stamos stalker.
  • Susan Lucci, Emmy Award winning queen diva of the soaps.
  • Ted McGinley, the frequent sitcom star filling the Steve Guttenberg ubiquitous actor/punchline slot.
Rounding out the cast are Grammy winning chanteuse Toni Braxton, model/TV host Brooke Burke, celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and comedian Jeffrey Ross, plus three athletes ("World's Fastest Man" Maurice Greene, Olympic volleyballer Misty May-Treanor and Superbowl champ Warren Sapp), the show's youngest competitor Cody Linley (another Hannah Montana star) and sextape starlet Kim Kardashian.

The next round of Dancing With the Stars begins its three-night "premiere event" September 22 on ABC.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Summer Under the Stars: Ingrid Bergman

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Ingrid Bergman - Stardates: Born August 29, 1915, Stockholm, Sweden; died 1982. Star Sign: Virgo. Star Qualities: Scandinavian radiance, soulful sincerity, shy yet sensual smile. Star definition: "When she walks on screen and says, 'Hello', people ask, 'Who wrote that wonderful line of dialogue?'" -- Leo McCarey. Galaxy of Characters: Ilsa Lund in Casablanca, Dr. Constance Petersen in Spellbound, Sister Mary Benedict in The Bells of St. Mary's, Alicia Huberman in Notorious.

With six quotes (more then any other movie) placing in the American Film Institute's top 100 list, you could say that Casablanca is the most quotable film in history. Or, in the case of Bergman's contribution to that title, the most misquoted.

Placing at number 28 on the AFI countdown (and as seen here), Bergman's Ilsa Lund asks Dooley Wilson's piano player to, "Play it Sam ... play 'As Time Goes By'." Later, Humphrey Bogart's Rick says, "You played it for her, you can play it for me!" In the collective moviegoing conscience of the day (long before television reruns and home video), these two lines morphed in to the common ... but incorrect ... quote "Play it again, Sam".

Casablanca airs tomorrow on TCM at 6:15 PM EST.

Dewd, Where's My Cowboy?

Because there just ain't enough Brokeback Mountain merchandise out there, here's a creative alternative: yup, you too can "Do the Dewd!" with Brokeback Mountain Dew.

The logo is available on T-shirts, hoodies, caps, aprons, mouse pads -- even baby and toddler tees! -- all starting at just $20.00 and available direct at T-ShirtHumor.com.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Hell No

Do they do it on purpose? I mean, how easy are they making my job when they call a grueling, horrible biker road movie Hell Ride? “Yes, it was, but that was just watching it.” There, my review is over.

Not really. If I ended it there, you’d miss hearing about Joey Bishop’s son, Larry Bishop (who also wrote and directed), as Pistolero, a Sonny Bono look-alike who is inexplicably irresistible to the ladies. A word to the wise: don’t eat before seeing Hell Ride, or you’ll probably see your food flying back out of your mouth when you witness the “sexy talk” between Bishop and Leonor Varela, where every lame “fire fighter” variation is batted back and forth between the charisma-free pair. It’s along the lines of bad gay porno — “I wish you’d pull out your fire hose” sort of stuff — that goes on forever.

Much like the film, which is a dull biker take on the hoary old Western tale of one gang avenging the murder of their leader by a rival gang. Quentin Tarantino’s name above the title and the Grindhouse-ian trailer may fool you into thinking that Hell Ride is a campy take-off on classic exploitation movies, chock full of booze, boobs and blood. While it has all three, it’s not so much a parody as it is a really bad example of the genre, one that takes itself way too seriously.

You see, you’re actually supposed to care that on July 4, 1976 -- no symbolism there! -- the nasty Six-Six-Six bikers led by Vinnie Jones (who would have been eleven at the time) threw gasoline on a woman and set her on fire. That her name was Cherokee Kisum (Get it, “Kiss him?”) and that she held the key to a buried treasure that may or may not belong to hunky Eric Balfour is not interesting in the least. Sadly, what could have been a wild updating of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is instead some aging F-List actor’s combination wet dream and poor excuse for a Tarantino film.

Dennis Hopper, the king of easy riders, is reduced to an odd character with little or nothing to do, while Michael Madsen does what he can as The Gent. You have to feel for him -- he wears a frilly tux shirt that must have smelled pretty rank after a while, and has to ride a chopper that looks like a girl’s Huffy bike, minus the handle streamers. Any humor to be found in Hell Ride is purely unintentional, and sure to be stomped out by its sadistic violence and sad male wish fulfillment. At least they have the good sense to show Balfour’s chiseled torso every chance they can. But not even that can entice me to go on that woebegone Hell Ride again.

UPDATE: Hell Ride is now available onfrom Amazon.com.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

Tricky Dick Returns

"Excuse me, Mr. President ... do what to your finger?"

In this intriguing first look trailer, Frank Langella eerily channels Richard Nixon in Ron Howard's upcoming film version of Frost/Nixon. Adapted by Peter Morgan (The Queen) from his Tony Award nominated drama, the film reunites the play's West End and Broadway stars Langella (who won his third Tony for this role) and Michael Sheen. Sheen plays British talk show host David Frost, who landed the interview of the century with the post-Watergate Nixon.

Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt also star, along with Toby Jones (as legendary Hollywood dealmaker Swifty Lazar) and Patty McCormack (yes, The Bad Seed's Rhoda Penmark) as First Lady Pat Nixon. Frost/Nixon opens December 5.

Summer Under the Stars: Henry Fonda

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Henry Fonda - Stardates: Born May 16, 1905, Grand Island, Nebraska; died 1982. Star Sign: Taurus. Star Qualities: Absolute believability; haunting, slightly spooked face; personification of the American common man. Star definition: "He was a good character actor and a good actor in the American tradition of playing variations on oneself." -- Paul Newman. Galaxy of Characters: Prof. Tommy Turner in The Male Animal, Juror No. 8 in 12 Angry Men, William Russell in The Best Man, Frank Beardsley in Yours, Mine and Ours.

In The Best Man, the timely political drama penned by Gore Vidal (based on his Tony Award nominated play of the same name), Fonda stars as principled presidential candidate William Russell (the role that won Melvyn Douglas a Tony) and Cliff Robertson is Joe Cantwell, his opportunistic opponent. The two rivals are vying for the endorsement of ailing former President Art Hockstader (an Academy Award nominated Lee Tracy, recreating his Tony nominated role). Things get ugly when Russell's men dig up an old army buddy of Cantwell's who claims this GI Joe did a little "don't ask, don't tell" while stationed in Alaska during WWII.

An ironic bit of trivia for you: future President Ronald Reagan was rejected for a part in this film because of "not having the presidential look". Also, watch for an uncredited cameo by Vidal as a delegate.

The Best Man airs early Monday morning on TCM at 12:00 AM EST.

Grease 3 is the Word(s)

Call it art imitating life, call it an ironic twist of fate, or perhaps it's all just a bizarre coincidence, but as we here at Movie Dearest are in the midst of a poll asking you to vote for the next imaginary movie musical sequel, with one of the cheeky choices being Grease 3: High School Reunion, what does Paramount go and do? They announce plans for a Grease 3.

Seems a third visit to Rydell High is just one of many proposed direct-to-DVD sequels for the studio's "Famous Prods." (their abbreviation, not mine), a branch that will specialize in such, well, "prods." Other titles looking to be sequel-ized include Mean Girls, Road Trip, Bad News Bears and The Naked Gun, the latter two of which have already had plenty of follow-ups. The first title to be released will be Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling. (I'm with you, I had no idea what Without a Paddle was either before I looked it up, let alone why it would deserve a sequel.)

Naturally, if the plot for their Grease 3 is a high school reunion, then I expect full story credit, thank you very much.

UPDATE: Some more information revealed by Paramount Famous' Louis Feola, including possible plots, over at MTV.com.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Barcelona Bound

Despite using the worst title of his career, Woody Allen has created a very smart, sexy comedy in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. He has also single-handedly restored Javier Bardem’s sex appeal after the Coen Brothers obliterated it with his Dorothy Hamill “short n’ sassy” hairdo in No Country For Old Men.

Basically, the film is about Americans Vicky (British Rebecca Hall, daughter of esteemed director Peter Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who spend the summer in, you guessed it, Barcelona. They stay with expatriates Judy and Mark Nash (the sublime Patricia Clarkson and all-purpose schlub Kevin Dunn), who take them to an art gallery where Cristina falls for tortured artist José Antonio (Bardem). Later, he spies the girls in a restaurant and invites them to fly away with him (and make love with him, he proposes). Vicky is aghast, but Cristina instantly says yes, so off they go to the beautiful town of Oviedo.

Allen does a nice job of setting up our expectations that José Antonio is a pig and that Vicky is a prig, only to knock them down. José Antonio is deeper than he seems, having been deeply wounded, literally and figuratively, by his fiery ex-wife Maria Elena, played by Bardem’s ladylove Penélope Cruz. Of course, she must reappear, and boy, does she! Just as Cristina and José Antonio are setting up house, Maria Elena attempts suicide and must come live with them. Faster than you can say “Summer lovin’, had me a blast,” the three have formed an unconventional relationship that’s very European. Vicky, meanwhile, is struggling with her unresolved feelings for José Antonio, having fallen under his spell herself.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona features an intrusive narrator, who I came to appreciate, giving the film the feeling of a novel come to life. Woody Allen’s comic touch is on full display, even though he’s not, but what’s surprising is how unabashedly sexy the film is. Bardem is an effortlessly smoldering stud, and Cruz again proves that she really can act when not stuck in dreck like Gothika and Vanilla Sky. Johansson and Hall are both beautiful and give witty and rich performances as the two very different tourists, but they serve as the audience’s stand-ins, experiencing the magic of Barcelona as we wish we could. If you’re looking for a more mature date movie, I recommend you meet Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

UPDATE: Vicky Cristina Barcelona is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom Amazon.com.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.
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