Archive for the 'Coming Soon' Category

07
Oct
15

Mililani Native Lands Moana Role

Moana

When Disney announced the Hawaii set animated feature Moana two years ago the state let out a collective sound of joy (and in some instances a collective sigh) at a new high profile Hollywood production that shine the spotlight at the Hawaiian culture. Slowly over the course of the two years since, more details have emerged about the film most notably that Dwayne Johnson would have a major role in the film as the voice of the Hawaiian demi-god Maui.

Today Disney unveiled that 14-year old Mililani native Auli‘i Cravalho has landed the title role of Moana, and in true local fashion, she sounds just right for the role. In speaking with People magazine on landing the role and playing Moana:

“From baby time to now, I wanted to be a Disney princess and then I wanted to be a singer or an actress . . .”

“Moana is such an amazing character . . . She’s brave, she is so empowered, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to get it, and I think that’s something that I can relate to as well. I just love watching how she goes along in this wonderful movie and grows as a person and helps her culture along the way.”

Even her co-star The Rock was quick to congratulate his co-star:

IT'S OFFICIAL: After months and months of worldwide casting calls, we've finally found our next DISNEY Princess… #MOANA. I'm pumped to welcome 14yr old @AuliiCravalho of Mililani, Hawaii to our project. What's amazing about this story is that she didn't think she was good enough so she never auditioned. Fortunately, one of our Oahu casting agents discovered her singing at a charity competition and the rest is history. * An awesome lesson to all young kids out there… work hard, have confidence in yourselves and never think you're not good enough because you never know what the future holds. Congratulations Auli'i! Can't wait to work with you and watch you bring this new Disney Princess to life. #YesThatsMeOnTheRight #HisNameIsMaui #HesADemiGod #AndHePutsMoanaInHerPlace #SoHeThinks #DisneyAnimation #MOANA #TimeToSing

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There’s also a nice featurette which shows Auli‘i’s casting and when the film’s producers told her that she had gotten the role:

From this short video, it sounds like the film’s creators have made the right choice. I love Auli‘i’s energy and I’m sure that will translate into her voice work that will give Disney animators a lot to work with. Because the synopsis of the film doesn’t state that Moana is a princess, I’m going to stop short of calling her a “Disney Princess” (besides, Hawaiians didn’t even have princesses). Even so, I’m sure that like myself, the rest of the state is proud to have Auli‘i represent Hawaii and Hawaiians on the big screen.

I think we’ve come quite aways from “Ohana means family. And family means no one gets left behind.”

Moana is due out in theaters in November 2016.

23
Apr
15

Post View: Thoughts on The Force Awakens Trailer

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I’ve had a lot of cautious optimism since the dual announcement of the LucasFilm acquisition by Disney and the creation of new Star Wars movies two and a half years ago. Though I have fond memories of watching each of the episodes in the New Trilogy (NT, Episodes I, II, & III), they just weren’t as memorable or as imaginative as the Original Trilogy (OT, Episodes IV, V, & VI) was. That’s why since the announcement I’ve been patiently waiting to see how the franchise would be guided and what kind of storytellers would be brought in to carry the saga forward.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that hot on JJ Abrams decision to nix the script that Toy Story 3 writer Michael Arndt was working on in favor of a storyline that brought the OT leads back. I wanted to see what new stories and challenges the characters in a post-OT Star Wars universe would have to face; not tagging along with Luke, Leia, and Han for “one last ride.” Their stories have been told already. Been there done that.

When the Star Wars – The Force Awakens teaser trailer came out last December I was intrigued, but not blown away. I mean really, all we got were a couple of short scenes that gave us an idea of how the film would “look.” Probably the biggest takeaway for me was that this film “looked” like it fit in with the OT and not dramatically different like the NT did. While everyone was excited to see the Millenium Falcon (the only appearance of something from the OT), I was excited to see that scene as well. Not because we got to see the Millenium Falcon, but because of how we saw it. That over the shoulder tracking shot of the Millenium Falcon as it did a loop and then turned right side up was so dynamic and exhilarating that it was definitely my favorite part of the trailer.

Now cut to a week ago.

Disney drops the first full trailer for The Force Awakens last week at Star Wars Celebration to rave reviews, fans crying (hell, even Matthew McConaughey shed a few tears), and nearly half of my Facebook feed wetting themselves. Again, cautious optimism. But what was getting everyone so worked up?

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. . . the reveal of Chewie and Han. I’m not going to lie, Harrison Ford looks older than ever. I don’t know if it’s because he became such a big star, but after his last slate of films that he’s been in (Expendables, Ender’s Game, Cowboys & Aliens, Morning Glory) I don’t see him as Han Solo anymore. I see him as an old and grumpy Harrison Ford. The brash and beguiling Han I know only appears in Episodes IV, V, and VI. Seeing him here at the end of the trailer telling Chewie “we’re home”, that did not do anything for me. Do not get me wrong, I am a fan of the series through and through and I love Han as much as the next fanboy; but seeing a tired Harrison Ford on-screen just kind of deflated the entire trailer for me. I’m still hopeful that maybe in the grand scheme of the movie, this wasn’t exactly Ford’s best moment. And who knows, maybe he is still is the same old Han Solo we all know and love just a bit older. We’ll have to wait and see.

Similarly to the teaser trailer, it’s the sum all the parts of this trailer that really gets me excited for Episode VII.

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The trailer starts out with a familiar shot of Tatooine, but then as the camera pans across the desert landscape we see a massive star destroyer crashed into the dunes with a wrecked X-wing in the foreground–already I’m hooked. We’ve seen the Tatooine landscape laid out for us before, and Lucas even brought back similar shots in the NT to give Anakin an angsty emotional moment. This opening shot, however, it lets us know that we’re not in that same galaxy far, far away that we once knew–things are different now.

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Then the nostalgia train gets started with Luke (we think) reciting his line from Return of the Jedi that talks about his family “having” Force abilities. While seeing Vader’s burnt and disfigured helmet is a nice touch, it’s when we get to this particular shot (image above) that we realize this isn’t the line from Jedi that we’re hearing, but new dialogue when we hear “my father HAS it.” This could mean any number of things, but most fans are speculating that this suggests that Vader is not dead. Why would Luke say this unless he knew his father (Darth Vader) wasn’t dead right? Maybe, just maybe he lived and what Luke burned at the end of Jedi wasn’t his father. Granted, this is one possibility.

Another interpretation could be that the reason Luke said it this way is because, as Obi-Wan told us, “from a certain point of view” Luke doesn’t consider his father dead because he is still “alive” as a Force ghost–which we saw at the end of Return of the Jedi. He could still be interacting with his father/Vader’s Force ghost ever since his death.

Still another possibility is that this isn’t Luke speaking at all, but perhaps it’s his son instead. Most of the theories out there posit that this next set of episodes will focus on the children of Han and Leia–who would have Force abilities passed down to them from their mother. However, as no official synopsis has yet been released, we still don’t know what the story is. The reference to “my father has it” could be from Luke’s son being told to someone else. Fun speculation to be sure, but like I said, this could be another possibility.

As we get into the second half of the trailer though, that’s where we get to see a bunch of fun puzzle pieces . . .

An ominous cloaked figure putting a metal hand on R2D2, someone being handed a lightsaber, Oscar Isaac getting excited flying he X-wing . . . while these next set of shots didn’t move the needle too much for me, the following did:

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Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and BB8 running from tie fighter strafing fire . . . totes exciting.

 

Is this a new sith lord? Is he the main villain of the film? Always two there are right? Which one is he?

Is this a new sith lord? Is he the main villain of the film? Always two there are right? Which one is he?

 

A tie fighter shooting up an Imperial hanger--you can feel JJ’s presence with both the look of the shot and how everything is framed.

A tie fighter shooting up an Imperial hanger–you can feel JJ’s presence with both the look of the shot and how everything is framed.

 

I saw this guy and wanted to know his story. Is he the sith lord from a few scenes ago? Or is he just a badass Tie fighter pilot?

I saw this guy and wanted to know his story. Is he the sith lord from a few scenes ago? Or is he just a badass Tie fighter pilot?

 

And then, the pièce de résistance for me . . .

FalconChaseSequence

This chase sequence through a crashed star destroyer (same one from the opening shot perhaps?) is damn near genius. It’s definitely got hints of Return of the Jedi when Lando took the Millenium Falcon into the Death Star, but I also love that it’s updated by JJ with the snap zoom shot as the Millenium Falcon enters the star destroyer. It’s something we’re familiar with, but updated for a new generation.

And that last shot, well, I’ve already talked about that at the top.

After seeing this trailer, I’m much more excited and hopeful that this next set of Star Wars films will be the Star Wars movies that we’ve been waiting for. While I will always have fond memories of camping out and seeing the NT in theaters the same way the previous generation did with the OT; the newer films themselves didn’t live up to the bar that was set by the older ones.

After this trailer though, there has been an awakening . . . have you felt it?

07
Jan
15

Most Anticipated Films of 2014 (That Have Yet to Come Out)

“Do you have eyes on this?” Bradley Cooper scopes out the last crop of films from last year that you haven’t had a chance to see yet.

“Do you have eyes on this?” Bradley Cooper scopes out the last crop of films from 2014 year that you haven’t had a chance to see yet.

Critics nationwide came out with their ‘Best of 2014’ lists all last month. Even friends of the Project, Anderson Le with HIFF and Myong Choi of Frolic, posted their favorite films of 2014. As such is life in Hawaii, we’re not done with 2014 movies just yet. While the big studio films have all come out, there are still a number of smaller, independent features that have yet to make their way onto Hawaii screens.

And this is the reason why I’m not yet ready to close the book on 2014. We’ve still got so much more movies to watch! I mean really, what do we have to look forward to in January? Liam Neeson’s very particular set of skills for a third time (Taken 3)? Hell, even Hollywood doesn’t come out with their ‘Best of’ list for another seven weeks (the Oscars are on February 22). So, read up on what’s still coming down the pike for 2014 and try to check some of these films out in the cold dark winter for the multiplex that is the month of January.

Selma

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With Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day right around the corner, it’s no coincidence that the Dr King biopic, Selma expands nationwide this week after it’s limited release in select cities on December 25th. Selma is a chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. David Oyelowo (Interstellar, Jack Reacher) is receiving a ton of accolades for his performance as Dr. King and is being heavily talked about as an Oscar nominee. Same goes for director Ava DuVernay who is garnering acclaim for craftsmanship of an amazing film that’s getting Best Picture buzz.

Website // Trailer
Release in Hawaii: Friday, January 9th

Inherent Vice

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If high brow art house is for you, then Inherent Vice is right up your alley. Based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon, Vice is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, The Master). I’m not really that much of a fan of PT Anderson, but critics seem to eat up his films every time they come out. Boogie Nights is the film I enjoy most from him, but his last film The Master definitely left me scratching my head. A lot of early reviews of Vice I’ve read say the film is very well shot and very well put together, but a bit confusing if you haven’t read the book. And then there’s Joaquin Phoenix. The usually stalwart actor’s performance in Vice hasn’t generated any talk for Oscar.

Website // Trailer
Release in Hawaii: Friday, January 9th

A Most Violent Year

0107_03-AMostViolentYear

I first heard about A Most Violent Year near the beginning of the festival season back in September. Year is the third feature film from director J.C. Chandor, whose first film Margin Call was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and whose second feature All is Lost garnered a lot of critical acclaim, most notably for Robert Redford’s solo (and for the most part speechless) performance in the film. With a lot of clout generated from his first two films, I’m definitely interested to see what Chandor has cooked up for his third go around. In Year, Chandor is working with acting power houses Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Drive) and Jessica Chastain (Interstellar, Zero Dark Thirty) and focuses on a couple in 1981 New York City who try to protect their business and family during the most dangerous year in the city’s history.

Website // Trailer
Expands Nationwide: Friday, January 30th

Cake

0107_04-Cake

I literally knew nothing about Cake until it started popping up on Top 10 lists and projected Oscar contenders in early December. The reason . . . a lot of critics say that Jennifer Aniston’s performance in the film is Oscar worthy. The way her performance is being described is enough for me to want to check out the film. Luckily, the film also stars Anna Kendrick, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macey, and Sam Worthington–a pretty solid cast to round out a small independent drama and definitely not a bad option to check out late in the month.

Website // Trailer
Expands Nationwide: Friday, January 23rd

American Sniper

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And finally, the movie everyone was asking me about during Christmas . . . American Sniper. A lot of people are excited for this film and if you’ve seen the first trailer for the film, then you already know how tense of a film this will be. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll definitely get sucked in by the trailer alone. Not only does the film look great, but Bradley Cooper is generating some buzz for his performance in the film and Clint Eastwood is also getting some attention for his direction. Thankfully, we won’t have too much longer to wait.

Website // Trailer
Expands Nationwide: Friday, January 16th

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January isn’t just a cold dark time in winter, it’s also a cold dark time in the multiplexes as Hollywood waits for the stars to align to release their next big tentpole. With that in mind it’s also the perfect time to catch up on these films from 2014 that have yet to be released as well as other great films from last year that you still like to catch up with. For myself, you can add Only Lovers Left Alive, Nightcrawler, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Laggies, and Beyond the Lights as films from 2014 that I still need to catch up with.

2014 over with? Hardly. Preparation for your Oscar ballot starts now!

What films from last year do you still have to catch up with?

07
Jan
14

It’s 2014–But Wait, There’s More (of 2013)

2013. 2013. 2013 fo'ever y'all.

2013. 2013. 2013 fo’ever y’all.

So here we are the beginning of a new year, with new hope, new possibilities, and new movies to see! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. We here in Hawaii have yet to experience some of the best films of 2013. Yes, even now while we are in the future–2014, some films that were “released” last year have yet to unspool on our shores.This is a problem I’ve lamented over somewhat in the past (here & here) and it’s something we just can’t help. While movie critics and bloggers have been trumpeting their ‘Best of 2013’ lists and are looking towards this year with their ‘Most Anticipated of 2014’ lists, we here in Hawaii are basically stuck with the Hollywood release slate as is and will be playing catch up for the rest of this month.

With a complex and sometimes even convoluted logic, a number of different factors go into when movies are released. The two biggest factors that affect Hawaii are our market size (Honolulu is currently 54th in population) and the crowded release slate in December (six major releases in the two weeks leading up to Christmas with another six opening on Christmas Day alone). Due to these factors, films that have been making a lot of ‘Best of’ lists we have yet to see.

So what have we been missing out on? Well, listed here are major releases or films that have been getting critical acclaim that have yet to be released in Hawaii. Since everyone in the movie world likes making lists; call it the ‘Best Films of 2013, That Haven’t Come Out Yet’ list.

HER – In Theaters This Friday, January 10

0106b_02-HER

Directed by Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are, Being John Malkovich), this film has made a number of Top 10’s and been voted Best picture by a number of critics groups, most notably the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system. While the setup may sound silly, in a post-Siri world it definitely seems possible. I’ve heard the relationship that develops and everything that revolves around it makes the film emotional and affective. Oh, did I mention that Scarlett Johansson lends her voice to the Siri-like operating system and has even emboldened some critics to say that she should be Oscar nominated for her role in the film (even though she herself doesn’t appear in the film at all)?

Lone Survivor – In Theaters This Friday, January 10

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In interviews Peter Berg has stated that the main reason he directed Battleship was so that he would have a deal for a film that he wanted to make. That film is Lone Survivor. If we had to sit through Battleship (though some of you didn’t) to get Lone Survivor–I’m totally ok with that. Based on the real life Navy Seal mission to capture or kill a Taliban leader, the film provides a cinematic version of what transpired from the account of the mission’s (spoiler alert!) Lone Survivor. Contemporary military films always hit a sweet spot with me so I’m definitely making sure I see this before I compile my list.

August: Osage County – Expanding to more theaters This Friday, January 10

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Based off of the stage play of the same name, August: Osage County was on everyone’s radar at the beginning of last year just off of the names of the cast alone: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a whole host of supporting players. Critics didn’t seem to like it too much however after it came out because I haven’t heard nary a peep about this film since it played the festival circuit in the fall. However, it could probably be worth the price of admission just from said star power.

Labor Day – In Theaters January 31, 2014

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If you’re not familiar with director Jason Reitman, you may remember two of his earlier films: Juno and Up in the Air. Relationships seem to be at the core of a lot of his films and Labor Day is no different. It stars Kate Winslet as a depressed single mother who, along with her son, take in a wounded convict whose story isn’t what it seems. As with August: Osage County there was a lot of early buzz about Labor Day being potential Oscar-bait being helmed by an Oscar nominated director and starring two solid actors. Why I think this didn’t get as much attention as originally anticipated might have been due to a crowded 2013 slate. Be that as it may, I’m still interested to see the film and it looks every bit as smoldering as the trailer leads us to believe.

There are also a number of foreign language films and documentaries in the awards hunt that probably won’t play here until after The Academy announces their nominees next week on January 16. Again, size matters, and with these films garnering such a niche audience, we simply have to hope and pray that a few of them will get a theatrical release here.

With all that said, here in Hawaii I always feel like creating a ‘Best of’ list for films can’t be realistically done till mid to late January–and even then, there could be a few releases yet to come. There’s only one person that I know of in Hawaii that may have seen everything, Hawaii News Now’s Terry Hunter (he’s part of the Broadcast Film Critics Association a group that gets studio screeners). Unless you’re getting screeners like he does, the rest of us just have to wait till these things come out theatrically in theaters.

Solomon Northup stares blankly at the bleak movie offerings for us in January.

Solomon Northup stares blankly at the bleak movie offerings for us in January.

Besides, has anyone really looked at the release slate for January? It’s usually a dumping ground anyway, but this year seems more so. There’s only two January releases that I’m interested in seeing: Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit and That Awkward Moment. Since there’s not that much going on, that not only gives you time to see 2013 releases that are coming out this month, but it also gives you time to catch up on 2013 films that are on DVD/Blu-Ray/streaming. My list of catch up includes:

  • Ain’t Them Body Saints
  • The Bling Ring
  • Francis Ha
  • Mud
  • Prince Avalanche
  • Stories We Tell

Whether or not I’ll have time to catch up with them is another story, but at least I’ll have something worthwhile to fill my January with.

In many ways coming up with a top 10 list for the year is somewhat of a chore if you’re trying to be diligent about seeing films, but I prefer to have seen a breath of films rather than post my list before I’ve seen all I want to see. Granted, seeing EVERYTHING is impossible, but that’s not the point. I’m looking for my favorite film of 2013 and it’s not a title I bestow very lightly. I want to be informed before I make a decision. To become the best in my book, you have to consider the rest.

Is there anything from 2013 that you’re still looking forward to? Let us know!

16
Apr
13

CinemaCon 2013: WB Presentation Underwhelms as Man of Steel Shines

0416_01-WBPanelDom

Everyone crowded into the Colosseum to get into the Warner Bros presentation today at CinemaCon.

Fresh off the Warner Bros 2013 presentation at CinemaCon we have a few thoughts on their upcoming slate for the rest of the year and their presentation as a whole. They went through their films as they will be released this year, we’ll do the same . . .

The Great Gatsby

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After Man of Steel, the footage shown of Gatsby was probably what had me invested the most in any of the films shown in Warner’s presentation. Essentially it was a five to six minute long trailer with a lot of footage that we haven’t seen in other trailers. The footage shown and the way the trailer/preview was cut together gave a rough outline of the story of the film. Every single second of footage was gorgeous to look at and the 3D was pretty good. On the whole we don’t really get anything new in terms of character or tone from for the film . . . all that you can get from previous trailers. However, the cinematography, effects, and scope that the footage showed was impressive to say the least. I wasn’t all that excited for The Great Gatsby this summer, but after today’s presentation, I am now.

The Hangover Part III

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The highlight of this presentation had to have been director Todd Phillips speaking to the crowd of movie exhibitors before showing the latest trailer to the film. He joked about opening against Fast & Furious 6 and how his mom doesn’t like movies. Aside from that we didn’t really get anything all that new. As mentioned they just played the latest trailer from the film which is a variation of the one they already had before. Was hoping for some selected clips but it was not to be. Oh well, the film does come out in five weeks.

Man of Steel

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Of course everyone was pumped to see the latest footage from the new Superman film but with director Zack Snyder intro-ing the trailer . . . he sort of put me to sleep rather than pump me up for what we were about to see. However, the awesomeness of Superman and seeing more of the story and how Superman uses his powers was definitely jaw dropping and sight to behold.

While we get to see origin story setup stuff in the first two minutes of the three minute trailer, its that final minute where we get to see just what this new Superman can do. From Supes flying around and throwing things to Zod yelling “I WILL FIND HIM” the trailer excited nearly the entire crowd in the auditorium. Is it June yet?

Pacific Rim

0416_05-PacificRim

Guillermo del Toro came out on stage to introduce the footage to Pacific Rim and whereas Zack Snyder kind of put a damper on things, del Toro talked about his love of monsters and giants robots and how working on his film has been a joy since he has gotten to see those two things everyday for the past couple of years. His sincere happiness talking about his film was a welcome introduction to the robot-on-monster carnage that we ended up seeing. While essentially what was shown was a long trailer (the one shown at WonderCon from what we’ve heard) we definitely get more of the setup of the story on how humans are fighting monsters with huge robots. The new nugget of story is that apparently the human race’s plan to use robots against the monsters was working, but something has recently happened and the monsters seem to be gaining the upper hand. I was really excited to see more of the robots fighting in the scenes that they showed; especially the one towards the end where the robot bashes in the head of one of the monsters and then while it looks like the monster might be done in, he shakes it off and roars. Definitely excited to see this film.

300: Rise of an Empire

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Things started to get a little more interesting as we got into Warner’s post summer slate as we got to see never before seen footage from films coming out in August and beyond; the first of which being the sequel/prequel to 300. While director Noam Murro said there was some unfinished effects work in the clips we were about to see, I really didn’t notice anything that was still in production.

Basically we were shown a rough cut of a trailer for the film. The look and feel of 300 is still there, but it looks like this time the scope and world building take on a much larger canvas. You have warships battling at sea and a hordes of fighters battling it out. Probably the thing that intrigued me most was Eva Green’s character. Looks like she’s serving Xerxes and going to be the bad guy in it. Overall I wasn’t blown away by anything. Looked like an extension of 300 and I really couldn’t get a good feel for the story from the footage they showed. We’ll have to reserve judgement till it comes out in early August.

Gravity

0416_07-Cuaron

The last piece of footage I’m going to dedicate a section to was for Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. High anticipated due to the director’s previous work (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mamá También) as well as its two high profile stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, the film was on everyone’s Oscar watch list last year as most figured it had all the trappings of Oscar-bait written all over it. After getting pushed to 2013 anticipation grew still. With only the log line of ‘two astronauts being stranded in space’ to go on, many wondered how a two hour film with just Clooney and Bullock drifting around would work. Sadly this question was not answered after seeing today’s footage.

Today at CinemaCon we got our first look at Cuarón’s Gravity and what I image to be the first portion of the film. In the footage that we screened today we saw the devastation of the station that Clooney and Bullock’s characters work on and the beginning of them getting stranded. Hardly any dialogue was given save for the errant radio communication between astronauts. A lot of visual effects work was on display in the destruction and there wasn’t any hint of the vastness of space that everyone is expecting. Though great to get a first look, I feel like we still didn’t see enough to give us a good idea of what to expect from this film.

Everything Else

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While Warner Bros did show footage from every other film that they have coming out this year, everything else on their slate was still in production and not a lot was shown OR were titles that they don’t feel too confident in enough to show the crowd hardly any footage at all. The best of the rest included a good long trailer for ‘We’re the Millers’ a comedy starring Jason Sudeikius and Jennifer Aniston who put together a fake family to transport weed across the Mexican border. The footage for The Conjuring actually gave us a lot of setup and backstory–footage and storyline that aren’t in the current trailer. A few scenes were put together to give the audience a rough idea for what the plot of Prisoners will be; a drama starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal where Jackman’s daughter is kidnapped and Gyllenhaal’s character sets out to find her. After that teaser ‘sizzle reels’ were shown for Getaway and Seventh Son; nothing to spectacular there.

Probably the biggest omission on from the backend of Warner’s slate was any new footage from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Granted the first installment of The Hobbit came out just five months ago and Peter Jackson did pre-record a message saying they were still in production on the second and third parts . . . but still, I found it hard to believe that they did not have ANY footage to show. Other movie bloggers speculated that after the negative reception CinemaCon goers had to 48fps last year that Warner’s scrapped any footage this year. Based on what I heard about last year and the lukewarm numbers that 48fps brought in this year, this isn’t hard to believe.

Final Thoughts . . .

0416_09-Waiting

To say that Warner Bros presentation was disappointing would be an understatement. From what I heard about the Paramount’s presentation Monday evening and Universal’s presentation earlier this morning Warner’s seemed in position to outdo both of them with the slate that they have coming up and they totally fumbled it. What it really comes down to is that while we did see some new footage for a lot of the summer films and films from later in the year; there simply wasn’t enough of it.

Most of what Warner’s showed had previously been released, either in trailers or clips posted online. Seeing all of this again didn’t really do anything to get me excited. Sure the crowded laughed and cheered when they were supposed to–a good movie will always make their audience do that. What we got was recycling of footage that most of us movie geeks have seen before and it played like watching reruns of Saved by the Bell . . . still fun to watch, but nothing really new or exciting.

Hell, even the exclusiveness of the Man of Steel trailer wore off pretty quick as it was posted online only a few minutes after it was screened in the Colosseum. What’s the point of hyping up this stuff to the people that show it off in theaters if you’re just going to release it to the public right after? There’s no need to fly to Vegas if that’s the case.

Also, Warner’s didn’t have any star power to backup any of their films. Oh sure they had Zack Snyder, Guillermo del Toro, and Todd Phillips to introduce their respective films, but none of the stars from the movies showed themselves. Granted having a star on hand to sing praises about their film won’t do all that much in the grand scheme of things. But when everyone else is doing it and you don’t; people notice that. Warner Bros made it a point to say that they’re the only studio to have twelve consecutive years of multibillion dollar box office grosses for their films . . . lets hope that their slate can sell itself because they sure didn’t at CinemaCon this year.

14
Sep
12

Trailer Watch: Lincoln

The fall movie season is usually a time when studios begin toting out the the films they believe will be awards (Oscar) contenders. These types of films are usually more dramatic and serious in nature but sometimes can also be epic and very cinematic. Case in point, Les Misérables and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey; both are based on books and both are bringing forth hugely cinematic visions for audiences that hope to connect not only on a visual level, but a nostalgic and emotional one as well. It’s about par for the course for the fall movie season–you can’t just have action and nice visuals to anchor your story. You also have to have a plot.

Which brings us to Lincoln. The latest film from Steven Spielberg was an interesting choice when I first heard it was announced a year or two ago, mainly because it’s not the sort of thing you think of when you think Steven Spielberg. Abraham Lincoln, the United States’ 16th president? Remember now, this is the guy that made us believe dinosaurs and aliens are real. However, after looking over Spielberg’s filmography, the man does have a diverse selection of films that he’s worked on.

President Lincoln having a personal conversation during a Maryland downpour.

The first thing that struck me after watching the trailer was the sheer epic scope of the film. Yes, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I’m a sucker for production value; and you won’t find more of it than you will in Lincoln. From the battlefields of the Civil War to the steps of the capitol with thousands of people to the period garb and sets . . . everything looks great and looks like we’re looking into a window of the past.

The many faces of Daniel Day-Lewis.

The second thing that blew me away was how much Daniel Day-Lewis seems to embody our 16th president. Before the trailer I saw a few stills of Day-Lewis on set in makeup, but that didn’t prepare me for how authentic he looks as Lincoln in the trailer. Now I’m sure we’ve all seen pictures of Abraham Lincoln, hell, we see one every time we bust out a $5 bill; but the way Daniel Day-Lewis looks, speaks, and carries himself in the trailer . . . that’s the way I’d envision the president. He butchered Liam Neeson in Gangs of New York and he also drank our milkshakes in There Will Be Blood, but it seems as if Daniel Day-Lewis is set to add another memorable character to his filmography.

Finally, prepare yourself for the ultimate history lesson. There’s definitely a lot of philosophical speak about slavery, freedom, and righteousness going on in the trailer; but I didn’t find them boring at all and it actually got me a little excited. How excited? Well let’s just say that after watching the trailer I wanted to go outside and raise the American flag in front of my house (if only I had flagpole or even an American flag).

Steven Spielberg on the set of his last film, War Horse.

Nobody knows how to do historical dramas like Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List, Amistad, Munich) so I’m definitely excited to see Lincoln after seeing this first trailer. A lot of the elements that you come to expect from a Spielberg film seem to be here and seem to have resonance. I wasn’t too into last year’s Spielberg joint War Horse and in fact preferred his Tintin collaboration with Peter Jackson of the two films that he had last year; so Lincoln definitely looks like a Spielberg film that we can get excited for.

Are you excited to see Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln after seeing the trailer? Let us know in the comments.

Lincoln makes its way to theaters on November 16.

30
May
12

30 for 30 is Coming Back!

What if I told you that one of the best series on television was coming back this fall; that documentaries don’t have to be boring; and that you’ll learn about a different side to sports.

Along with movies, I tend to watch a lot of television as well. One of the best series on TV in the past few years has been ESPN’s sports documentary series 30 for 30. Initially started as a way to commemorate ESPN’s 30th anniversary; the series chronicled ’30 films, from 30 filmmakers, from 30 years of sports (1979-2009–ESPN’s first 30 years of broadcasting)’. The subject matter covered in the 30 documentaries was diverse and ranged from popular stories (the Boston Red Sox come-from-behind 2004 World Series win) to not so well known stories (Terry Fox’s cancer awareness marathon across Canada).

At the network television upfronts week about two weeks ago, ESPN announced that due to the popularity of 30 for 30 and the other films that they’ve produced under their ESPN Films banner, starting this fall they would bring back the 30 for 30 documentary series for a second edition.

“When we embarked on ’30 for 30,’ we always wondered if there would be 30 good stories,” said Connor Schell, vice president and executive producer of ESPN Films. “Now, I think all of us in this group believe that there is an infinite number of stories.”

(/via NYT’s Richard Sandomir – ESPN Doubles Up on ’30 for 30’ Documentary Series)

Upping the ante on the series this time around, there will also be digital shorts released each month (starting this month, May 2012) and accompanying podcasts with related material as well. As with the first volume of 30 for 30, the series run will span about two years.

When I heard the news that ESPN had decided to produce a second volume to 30 for 30, needless to say I was super excited. I think one of the best things I can say about the series is that you don’t have to know sports or be a sports fan to watch any of the documentaries in the series. The stories that are chosen are stories that I think most people, at the least may have heard of, but may not really be all that familiar with. I remember there were times when I would see previews for a particular doc and would think “that doesn’t sound interesting” and then be totally surprised and engrossed in the show when I eventually watched it.

My two favorite docs in the series to this day are the first two that I caught on TV. They were Straight Outta LA and The Two Escobars.

Filmmaker Ice Cube interviewing rapper Snoop Dogg about Raider culture in Los Angeles in a scene from Straight Outta LA.

Straight Outta LA was put together by rapper/filmmaker Ice Cube and focused on the Raiders and how their 13 seasons in Los Angeles affected minority groups (and gang culture) during that time. When I first started watching football as a kid, the Raiders were a Los Angeles team and as I grew older I knew I eventually heard that they had moved to Oakland–not knowing that that was where they had originated. It wasn’t also till way later that I learned that the owner for the Raiders (Al Davis) was a very outspoken; and was a major factor in taking the Raiders to LA and eventually back to Oakland. Perhaps what hooked me, and in a sense kept bring me back to each new doc in the series, was that the story that was told in the documentary was so engrossing–to hear reflective insight and perspective from people that were there had me hooked. The fact that Ice Cube brought in the social aspect of how the Raiders affected culture in Los Angeles was super interesting as well.

An exhausted Andrés Escobar sets the tone for what is to come in the Colombian soccer documentary, The Two Escobars.

As with Straight Outta LA, The Two Escobars had a similar intertwining of sports and culture; although this time it wasn’t social culture . . . it was political culture. The Two Escobars was a look at Colombian soccer star Andrés Escobar and drug lord Pablo Escobar; the intertwining of crime and soccer in their native Colombia; and the connections between the murders of both men. I’m not a soccer guy so I had never heard of Andrés Escobar; and I knew very little of Pablo (story arc on HBO’s Entourage not withstanding), yet for the entire two hours of the doc I was engrossed in the rise of Colombian soccer, Andrés rise as a star, the intrigue surrounding drug money fueling the team’s rise to prominence, rising US tensions, and the downfall of it all.

Perhaps the “real life” element does add something, but the way these stories are told and the information they provide paints an intimate look at things I knew little to nothing about.

So what can we look forward to in this upcoming volume II of 30 for 30. No official list has been posted and there are only a few details available right now, but from the Volume II trailer here are potential glimpses of what may be in store for us:

  • Some type of doc about the economic shock faced by pro athletes who can no longer afford to live the high life after their life in sports.
  • The story of the North Carolina State Wolfpack’s 1982-1983 basketball run and eventual NCAA championship win. If you’re any kind of college basketball fan, they always show clips of the final shot of this game during commercials during the NCAA tournament every year.
  • A doc about the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan skating controversy preceeding the 1994 winter Olympics. We all remember the story, but I’m sure a closer look 18 years later will make for a great story.
  • And here’s the one I’m most interested in . . . a documentary about two sport athlete Bo Jackson. The guy played football and baseball and was one of the best running backs to use in Tecmo Bowl. I can’t wait to watch a story about him.

You’d be hard-pressed to find high quality programming such as this anywhere on television right now so be sure to check out 30 for 30 Volume II when the series starts again this fall. I really wanted to embed the trailer for Volume II here, but instead you’ll have to go to ESPN.com to watch it instead.

Have you watched any of ESPN’s sports documentary series 30 for 30? If so, what was your favorite episode?




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