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Showing posts from January, 2012

The Year of Nostalgia (Best Films of 2011)

Nostalgia hurts, so it came as a surprise that so many films this year were aimed at people opening old wounds and experiencing the joys of childhood again. Hugo mystified many this year and The Artist recreated a whimsical feeling in moviegoers that had gone unfelt since the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close made us wish for the innocence of a child before the fateful morning of September 11th. Midnight in Paris reminded us that nostalgia of an era we never lived in is just sentimentality.
But it wasn't just nostalgia for another time, it was for any semblance of normality. A return to a time when raising a family wasn't so damn hard. When your rivals couldn't simply outspend you. When your friend getting married didn't mean that she had to move away. When cinema could help audiences forget the troubles of the world. Few films have touched upon wish fulfillment in bulk the way that this year has. Even few have done so as we…

All 'The Dark Knight Rises' News Fit to Print

Being the most anticipated film of the year comes lots of news stories. In order to avoid reader fatigue combing the posts seemed like a simpler idea. Why take up three stories what you can do with one?

The above image comes from the prologue that came out in December.

Tom Hardy on Bane and his resistance to go to a dark place to play him:

Hardy described the character as "brutal" and "heavy-handed", but "I didn't get into a dark place at all. A lot of dark characters are easy to have distance from, it's something I feel comfortable with, I suppose."
Christian Bale on his mindframe playing Bruce Wayne/Batman:

For me he is an anarchist and a free spirit. He knows that there are parallels between him and his enemies because life is never stable – you always have to fight for it. Keeping in mind that it may never be boring and that nobody is obliging you to behave like a superhero and to always have your muscles flexed and bulging.
(Courtesy…

ArcLight Interviews: Gary Oldman

Thanks to ArcLight for providing us with an insightful look at how and why Gary Oldman took on the character of George Smiley in his Academy Award nominated performance in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Review: Brave Ideas (A Dangerous Method)

With any innovative idea there are vultures surrounding them, these vultures are both advocates and detractors just waiting to pick apart. Success has many fathers, but failure has just one. The "talking cure" that Dr. Freud (Viggo Mortensen) has implemented could either bring psychoanalysis to the mainstream or destroy the reputations of all doctors willing to treat their patients with it.
Dr. Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender, in yet another solid performance) likes to fancy himself a practitioner of the talking cure, but a new patient in the form of Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) could reveal him to be a student.

Sabina's psychosis is not a common one: she is excited by humiliation. Underneath all of this dilapidating fear, Jung sees a kindred spirit, a woman with insights of her own. He can find a way to cure her of this "disease", but in doing so he must tread lightly. His resolve is being corrupted by Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), a man who represses noth…

Review: Red Tails

It’s here! It’s finally here!

After 23 years of rejection, cinematic torture, and pure lack of interest from every conceivable motion picture studio, George Lucas’ retelling of the Tuskegee Airmen’s battle against racism and the Germans during WW II, has at last been released and is now playing at a theater near you.
The question is: is it any good?
Well, in a word … no. In a sentence … Red Tails takes a passionate and serious subject matter, glamorizes it, and then morphs the story into a unconvincing, incoherent, action frenzied mess.
Director Anthony Hemingway’s directorial debut is the type of film you want to embrace, though. It’s a feel good blockbuster that doesn’t degrade society or dismantle morals, but rather cultivates them. How unfortunate that substance is too often substituted with hyper kinetic (Lucas driven) CGI.
We pick up the story in Italy, 1944. It’s the height of WW II and a new program entitled The Tuskegee Airmen has been set in motion. Despite malicious racists …

Hungarian 'Shame' Poster

Given that Shame has played in maybe 40 theatres across the entire world, the only real look at Steve McQueen's divisive film has been at posters and trailers. Fortunately, these posters have been great. And here is the latest one coming to you all the way from Hungary.

84th Academy Awards Nominees

It should be no surprise that The Artist and Hugo lead all films with eleven and ten nominations respectively.  Nice surprises in Bichir and Oldman's Best Acting nods as well as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's technical nods and Mara for Best Actress. I would have liked to have seen one of the Michaels (Fassbender in Shame or Shannon in Take Shelter) nominated though.

Best Picture War Horse
The Artist
Moneyball
The Descendants
The Tree of Life
Midnight in Paris
The Help
Hugo
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Best Actress Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn Best Actor Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball Supporting Actress Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help Supporting Ac…

Oscar Senses Tingling, Part Three

The Descendants What it's likely to get nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor What I'd like it to be nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor

Alexander Payne has nailed the zeitgeist of the past decade and seemingly touched off again with this new one. The tale of one man's grief while pulling his family back together was the right amount of heart without reaching into the saccharin bag that too many films resort to.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
What it's likely to get nominated for: Best Actress, Editing, Score
What I'd like it to be nominated for: Best Actress, Best Director
We're in a reversal from last year where The King's Speech was almost the only feel good splendor in the field. This year Dragon Tattoo is the juxtaposed film against heart-warmers like The Artist, The Descendants, War Horse, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Daring the Academy to come out of the closet regarding their genre fetishism may prove too stron…

Review: Haywire

The world of espionage has changed, it is now mostly ran by private contracting firms. Firms about liability clauses and the money that comes from ignoring due diligence. Along with that sort of money comes smarmy bosses like Kenneth (a despicable Ewan McGregor). Mallory Kane (Gina Carano) is tired of Kenneth, his jealousy, his lackeys and his poor work ethic. Trust is a valuable commodity in her field and trust, it seems, is in short supply. So Mallory is getting out for good, or so she thinks.

The spy film has worn the tread off its tires with all the franchises based around the intelligence service over the years. Between James Bond, Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt and several other one-offs, there really isn't a lot of room left to surprise us. Given Steven Soderbergh's knack for adding style and flair to even the most moth-balled of genres, Haywire succeeds in providing thrills.

Telling Mallory's story in separate pieces keeps the audience from predicting too much of what c…

Review: The Artist (***)

As a classic movie and silent film enthusiast, I felt it was my duty to go on and watch this similarly styled film.  Knowing from interviews of Director Michel Hazanavicius that The Artist was filled with nods to classics like Singin' in the Rain and Citizen Kane, I was hoping to be touched by this film as I had been touched by its predecessors.  
George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is at the height of his popularity in 1927 Hollywood.  Applauded both on the screen in his action films, and in front of the audience thanks to his dancing skills and pet dog's tricks, Valentin barely misses a beat when an adoring fan slips between the policeman barrier and bumps into him outside of a premiere.  Why not enjoy a few laughs and poses with this pretty young lady?
Valentin's wife (Penelope Ann Miller) doesn't seem to agree with that sentiment the next morning, however.  Sour-faced and jealous, she paints a portrait of Valentin's life at home that sharply contrasts his carefree…

Most Valuable Performances: Jeff Bridges

Bridges' flip-flopped, stoned, modern-day incarnation of a Raymond Chandler detective is his biggest role and also his most fun. Some may say The Dude is also his laziest role, but they weren't paying attention. 
The Dude is a collection of hazy memories, recollected facts of the world and ninety-seven cent milk. You breeze through a character like this and everyone will sense a note of insincerity. Bridges roots himself in the terrycloth robe and Rayban shades. Any actor that could take a character that—for the most part—does nothing but bowl and get high, and make him compelling? That’s art, man.
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Review: Shame

If you met Brandon (Michael Fassbender) on the sidewalk, you may be taken in by him. He is well-dressed, impeccably groomed, and confident. Women are attracted to him and men find him impossible to compete with. He is in complete control of himself, or so we are lead to believe. Underneath the veneer finish lies a secret: Brandon is an addict.

The random encounter at a bar, "the look" on the train, the smooth compliment at just the right time. He is an operator, nothing is out of reach for his sexual conquests. Yet, Brandon's troubles are beginning. The game is insufficient now. The chase is easy, the payoff is in the climax. Like every addict the stakes may be hiked in order to get the thrill anymore. And every time Brandon aims to raise them he sets himself further away from others. There's no connection with these women, just another way to wring pleasure from his existence.

That's the danger of chasing a high, it is never sated and the morning after deals a …

Vote for Your Favorite Bond Poster

Royal Mail and EON Productions are celebrating 50 years of 007. To commemorate the occasion they will be launching a dedicatory sheet featuring labels to sit alongside first class stamps featuring the top 10 Bond posters, as voted for by members of the public.

To vote, visit Royal Mail. Voting closes on the 27th so get out there!

'Skyfall' Reveals Bond's Other Weapon (His Ass)

EON has released the first official still from the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall. And yes, I am firmly appealing to the female fans of this blog with this post. Shameless, I know, but Daniel Craig pays the bills.

700 With a Bullet

It took a long time to get here and not without an considerable amount of help. Over the last three years the staff has grown from just Ben and I to five writers now (welcome aboard Matt!). Some days it seemed like too much effort to write a post a day just to have something up, but all in all, it's been worth every second.

I'd like to thank people like Aiden, Hatter and Darren for keeping me motivated, Scott, Andrew, Dan, Rodney, Castor and Ruth for always leaving a comment and letting me know someone is reading all of this.

Thanks all! Here's hoping to 700 more.

Live Q and A with Angelina Jolie

PartnersHub is proud to present Angelina Jolie in a Live online Q&A on Thursday Jan 12th at 8pm EST /5pm PST to discuss her writing & directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey. 
This interactive event gives you the chance to ask Ms. Jolie questions about the film LIVE! Submit any question in the comments section and Never Mind Pop Film will pick a winner to send a poster from In the Land of Blood and Honey.

Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Taut thrillers have been left by the wayside in recent years - action films and romantic comedies are more sure investments for studios - but here, a prize one, has been placed right into our laps.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opens as George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is about to receive the boot. Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Bill Haydon (Colin Firth) and Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds) have the favor of Control (John Hurt) so the failure of their most recent assignment must fall square on the shoulders of Smiley.

Retirement suits Smiley well enough: he swims daily, reads the paper, and even decides to update his eye-wear (a nice reference when keeping track of the non-linear story). Yet retirement doesn't last long for Smiley, he is called in by Control. The Russians are have infiltrated "the circus" and Smiley has been tasked with finding a mole in his agency. When men start dying the stakes cannot be higher. But who can you trust?

Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of John le Carré’s nove…

The Best Poster of 2011 Is...

This year proved to be a fruitful one for posters, but as 2011 came to an end only one really stood out above the others: Jane Eyre. The entire film is a masterwork of composed shadows and landscape so the choice of a gray background was a curious one, but it works beautifully. However muted it is, the intent of this one-sheet could not be more clear: as Jane goes, so goes Rochester. His ghostly face proving to be essential to her spirit.

'Skyfall' Site Launches

You can now find Bond at his new online home at 007.com. Along with the new digs, a brief video can be found. Enjoy!