The Official Newsletter of The Imaginative Cinema Society
The love of many, the work of a few....

February 2006  #85

 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS

CLUB NEWS  
Read ALL The Club News

TV NEWS

MOVIE NEWS

ICS MEMBER SPEAKS OUT

MUST SEE MOVIES 

FAREWELLS

THE LAST WARD

THE LAST WARD ON OSCARS & ICS Oscars Ballot


Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff Writers- Regina Vallerani, 
Andrew Kent, Mike Laird, 
John Ward, Joe Plempel, 
Dava Sentz, Jim Childs,
Tom Woodward

 
 
ICSClubnewsClubnews All About Us ClubnewsClubnewsICS 
 

LUCKY 7 
 January 24, 2006 marks the 7th anniversary of the ICS.  Being the rebels that we are, we bucked tradition and skipped the wool and copper gifts.  Instead, members were treated with grab bags containing a DVD, ICS magnet and other sundry goodies.  Seven lucky members got double vote cards and a few others received Jackie Chan books!  
 And because we are movie fans who embrace the giant monster genre, we knew what to do when faced with a giant monster of an anniversary cookie… gang up on it with some paper plates and finish it off. 
 Thanks to the board for the celebration goodies – especially Joe Plempel and Dave Willard for putting together the bags and Andrew Kent for daring to transport Cookiezilla.

WINTER CHILLS
 Tom Proveaux unleashed “Chilling the Funny Bone” on the ICS.  He discussed a few of his favorite satirical genre films including ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, and INNOCENT BLOOD using the tagline ‘And fun was had by all’ more than once!
  And fun was had by all since the winning film was Frank Capra’s ARSENIC AND OLD LACE starring Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey (playing the role Boris Karloff originated on Broadway), Peter Lorre, Josephine Hull, and Jean Adair.  Just before Grant is to marry Lane, he discovers that his Aunts (Hull and Adair) have been bumping off unsuspecting old gentlemen and burying them in their basement , to which he later remarks: "Insanity runs in my family... It practically gallops."  Completely ignored by the Academy, it is 30th on AFI's 100 Funniest Movies list.
 What a great way to start our new year – with laughs, chills and serial killer old ladies!  Great Job, Tom!

CONGRATULATIONS NEW BOARD!! 
    Our annual election was quite a surprise.  Steve Vaught had to drop out for personal reasons.  So, then there were five candidates for five open positions.  Unanimous acclaim from those present elected these five members onto the board.  Thanks to all who ran!! 

Jim Childs   Andrew Kent  Joe Plempel
John Ward   Dave Willard
 

DOES THE NAME ONG BAK RING A BELL?
  A late night movie omission – Our December late night feature was one that had been delayed from earlier in the year.  After the Yankee Swap and OMEGA MAN, we had a chance to view the martial arts extravaganza ONG BAK from the library of Steve Vaught. 
 

MID-ATLANTIC NOSTALGIA CONVENTION 2006
  Need a convention fix?  The ICS will be participating in The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Aberdeen on September 14-17.  Guests will include David Hedison from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Marta Kristen from Lost in Space.  The convention is geared to fans of Old-Time TV and Radio and Antique Cars.  
 ICS will have 2 tables in the dealers room (so we will need donated movie goods – see below for details – and volunteers once the dates get closer).  This convention will be sponsored by one of our ICS files subscribers, Martin Grams.  More details on the con can be found online at WWW.MIDATLANTICNOSTALGIACONVENTION.COM.

MOVIE GOODS NEEDED
  So, what’s lying around in your basement?  Old VHS tapes that have been replaced with DVDs?  DVDs that were replaced by the deluxe director’s cut version?  As you do your spring cleaning, keep in mind that the ICS is looking for movie donations for two special events this year.  
JUNE – Masked Auctioneer and Minimum Bid Kid are back for an auction extravaganza!!!
SEPTEMBER – Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Con Dealer’s Table (VHS/DVD only).
 The board will be accepting donations for these events beginning at our next meeting, so if you have anything to donate, please bring it in.  Movie Related goods only please.

ICS TEE
 Show your spirit – ICS T-Shirts are coming in March!  Tee-shirts will be heather gray with a front and back design.  The front design will be a small "Casper Von Stroheim" logo in black.  The back of the shirt will have the club-chosen Troy Farwell design in black with the words 'Imaginative Cinema Society' in red. 
 Shirts will be $15.  Payments can be made to the treasurer at the February meeting or via paypal (icsfilm@hotmail.com).  Please remember to specify your size when ordering.
  We will be taking orders until February 25th.   Shirts will be available at the March 25th meeting.  
 The following people have ordered shirts (* denotes prepaids).
Rick Arnold - XL 
(*) Jim Childs - XL
(*) Donna Burke - XL
Sam DiBlasi - L  
(*) Dava Sentz - M 
Lisa Schilling - XXL
Mike Schilling - XXL

OSCAR POLL – GO FOR BROKE!
 Ballots for the Oscar pool will be included in this issue of the ICS files.  If you are interested in participating, write your name on the form, fill out your picks from ALL of the listed categories and at the bottom of the form in the blank area, write in answers to the tie-breaker questions - (1) Which Film will win the most oscars? (2) How many will that film win?

 Forms must be hand delivered to John at the February meeting (no email or snail mail ballots will be accepted) and a participation fee of $5 must be given to the treasurer at our Februrary meeting. 
 This is a 50/50 pool.  The winner will get half and the ICS kitty will get the other half.  Good luck to all!

CALENDAR BLUES
 Due to a problem with Dave Willard’s PC, the 2006 calendars were not ready in time for the January meeting.  The following people have pre-paid.  If you want a refund, please let the board know.  Or if you have ordered a calendar but not paid and wish to cancel, also get in touch with the board.  We regret the delay.  For your convenience, the 2006 Calendar of ICS Meetings will be included in this newsletter.
 Calendar prepaids:
Dave Henderson
Mike Schilling
Dava Sentz
Richard Smith
Regina Vallerani
Neil Wagenfer
 

NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING (*ALWAYS* THE LAST SATURDAY)
 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday February 24th at 5:30 P.M. at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located at 8848 BelAir Road. Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road. Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the miniature golf course turn left into the parking lot. If you miss it there are ample turn-around opportunities. If you get stuck call 443-570-6455. That's Dave Willard’s cell phone. He'll talk you in.   

FEBRUARY PRESENTATION – DISASTER MOVIES
  Mike Laird’s movie nights seem to be total opposites in theme.  Way back in ’03 we got to pick from movie spoofs, like SPACEBALLS and SCARY MOVIE.  Now hold on to your hats, because February is going to be a night of great disaster movies (no, not like BLOODRAYNE…).  That’s right – ICS – Feb 24th – earthquakes, tornadoes, sinking ships, and maybe, if you’re good, a really scary roller coaster.

FEBRUARY LATE NIGHT FEATURE
  The February late night feature is a classic of exploitation cinema.   Russ Meyer’s ode to tough girls – FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! will be screened after our regular meeting finishes.
 Remember, our new rules are as follows:  Late night features will be show on even months.  We will vote for which film will be shown on the preceding month.  (i.e. Vote in January for February’s feature).
 The next time to offer a film is in March for the April meeting. 

DUES NEWS
    This is just a reminder that dues expire on New Year's Day. It will be time to pony up for the coming year. Individuals are $25. Couples are $40. Extra family members who reside at the same address are $15 each added the primary membership.  We hope that you decide to join us for an exciting year ahead. 
 Dues can be paid at the meetings or sent via paypal to ICSFILM@HOTMAIL.COM.  Please remember to pay by the March meeting in order to remain a member in good standing.

The following members have paid their 2006 dues – if you have paid and are not listed here, please contact a board member.

Rick Arnold
Donna Burke
Betsy Childs
Jim Childs
John Clayton
Suzanne Cooper
Sam DiBlasi
Heather Fleming
Tim Fleming
Diane Gervasio
Peggy Gervasio
Ralph Gervasio
David Henderson
Norman Jones
Skip Phillips
Joe Plempel
Justin Proveaux
Tom Proveaux
Robin Richards
Rick Rieve
Lisa Schilling 
Mike Schilling
Dava Sentz
Sue Ellen Sherblom
Blake Sherblom-Woodward
Taylor Sherblom-Woodward
Richard Smith
Courtney Spies
Jack Tydings
Regina Vallerani
Teeka Vallerani
Neil Wagenfer
John Ward
John Ward (son)
John Weber  
Dave Willard
Charlie Wittig
Tom Woodward
 
 
 
 
 
 

tvnewstvnewstvnews TheGlassTeat tvnewstvnewstvnews

DON’T WAIT FOR WILLOW
   Alyson Hannigan, who played Willow Rosenberg for seven years on the TV series BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, said that she occasionally hears rumors about proposed TV movies based on BUFFY or its spinoff series, ANGEL, but doubts that creator Joss Whedon will ever get around to realizing a telefilm based on her character. "I don't know," Hannigan said while promoting her new film, the comedy DATE MOVIE. "Yeah, it pops up every now and then, and I just don't know. I just treasure the experience. It was such a great, long chapter of my life." 
   Hannigan, who also co-stars on a CBS sitcom, added: "I think I would just be too scared to sort of go back and possibly tarnish it in any way. Joss is too busy [to do a Willow movie]. He's not going to write it. He's not going to direct it, you know? I'm sure he would get great people, but there's nothing like the Joss touch. I think by all means they should absolutely do the Spike movie. I think that's the logical next step, but ... I don't think Willow is the next step." 
   It's actually yet to be determined if any kind of BUFFY or ANGEL spinoff movie will come to pass.   Whedon is planning to write and direct a big-screen version of WONDER WOMAN and is also known to be developing a supernatural film called GONERS, casting further doubt on the likelihood of a Spike movie. Janollari's desire to air a Spike movie may be complicated by The WB's recently announced merger with UPN to create The CW, which came after Janollari made his comments in January. 
   For his part, Whedon has remained noncommittal about doing a Spike or other BUFFY spinoff movie, though he has expressed interest in doing one. 
 
 LAWLESS JOINS GALACTICA CREW
    SCI FI Channel announced that Lucy Lawless joins the cast of its original series BATTLESTAR GALACTICA upcoming third season. Lawless will become a recurring cast member, reprising her role as D'Anna Biers in a 10-episode arc. The third season begins production in Vancouver, Canada, in April. 
   Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess) first appeared on GALACTICA in the second-season episode "Final Cut," playing investigative journalist Biers, who arrived on the GALACTICA to do an expose on alleged crew misconduct that resulted in the death of four civilians. Eventually, the audience learns that Biers is actually one of the human-looking Cylon agents, who was sent to GALACTICA on a covert reconnaissance mission. 
   Lawless' second guest appearance will air on Feb. 24 in the episode "Downloaded," which gives viewers their first real glimpse into the Cylon world. (The second half of season two of Galactica premiered Jan. 6.) 
    The series is executive-produced by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, who was instrumental in originally casting Lawless in the role of Xena.

THE CW DEPROGRAMS CULT
   The CW—the fledgling network cobbled together from the remains of UPN and The WB—has pulled the plug on CULT, the former WB supernatural fantasy series from Farscape creator Rockne S. O'Bannon. 
   The news comes two weeks after The WB announced the pickup of the project and the casting of Matthew Bomer (Fox's Tru Calling) as the lead. 
   With the top series of both UPN and The WB, most of them one-hour dramas, set to transition to The CW's schedule, there are only a couple of available drama slots on the new network. 
   It is understood that CULT, which was ordered by departing WB entertainment president David Janollari, does not fit the programming needs of The CW, which are different from those of The WB. The Warner Brothers TV-produced show is a high-concept thriller about the mystery surrounding a TV show that is manipulating the lives of its viewers. 
    The other drama pilot ordered by The WB—the high-profile AQUAMAN—is reportedly not affected and is moving forward. 

JACKSON TALKS AFRO SAMURAI
   Samuel L. Jackson said that he's completed most of his work on the upcoming animated limited-run television series AFRO SAMURAI, based on the Gonzo comic book of the same name. "I think that it will air later this year [on Spike TV]," Jackson said about his new film, FREEDOMLAND. "We're doing five episodes. If those are popular, then we'll probably do more." 
   Jackson is providing the voice of Afro, an African-American samurai warrior who, in a futuristic feudal Japan, seeks to avenge the death of his father, who was slain before Afro's eyes when he was a boy. In addition to playing Afro, Jackson is co-producing AFRO SAMURAI  with the Japanese animation entity GDH and Takashi "Bob" Okazaki, creator. A live-action version of AFRO SAMURAI is also in the works, with Jackson reportedly attached to star. 
 
GREEN LIGHT FOR BLADE ON SPIKE
   Spike TV—which had previously announced a two-hour TV movie based on the BLADE movies and Marvel Comics franchise—has given the green light to 13 hours of the vampire drama as a TV series from New Line TV. 
   Batman Begins writer David Goyer, who also wrote the three BLADE movies, will executive-produce the series, along with show runner David Simkins. 
     Kirk "Sticky" Jones (F/X's Over There) stars as the title half-vampire warrior who fights to save the human race from a demonic underworld. Jill Wagner, Neil Jackson, Nelson Lee and Jessica Gower also star. Peter O'Fallon directed the pilot. Wesley Snipes played the title character in the movies. 
  The two-hour pilot will kick off the series as a movie event this June. Production on the remaining 11 episodes will begin this spring.

DOCTOR WHO IS WHERE? 
   SCI FI Channel announced Jan. 12 that it will air the first season of the BBC's hit SF series DOCTOR WHO, starting in March. The 13 episodes, starring Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor and Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, will air as part of SCI FI Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 
   The series, ran originally in the United Kingdom last year and was one of the network's biggest hits ever. An update of the classic DOCTOR WHO show, the series continues in the U.K. with an upcoming second season that will star David Tennant as the Doctor. 
   "The Doctor's made all sorts of journeys in time and space, but this is one of his most exciting yet!" Davies said in a statement. "I'm a huge fan of the SCI FI Channel, and I'm delighted that  DOCTOR WHO  is appearing on a channel that supports and enhances the entire genre." 
   "With its rich history of imaginative storytelling, DOCTOR WHO a true sci-fi classic," Thomas P. Vitale, SCI FI's senior vice president, programming and original movies, said. 

SG-1 GEARS UP FOR 10TH SEASON 
   Beau Bridges, who stars as Gen. Hank Landry in the SCI FI original series STARGATE SG-1 told SCI FI Wire that he is getting ready to go back to Vancouver, Canada, to begin work in the show's upcoming 10th season. "I read the first script, and we've got our hands full with the Ori again, and it's all going on," Bridges said "It really hits the fan right at the first part of the show this time. The first episode in this 10th season really gets off with a bang. Oh, my goodness, we're in deep trouble. But don't worry. We'll get it together." 
   Bridges joined the series at the beginning of the currently airing ninth season, along with FARSCAPE’S Ben Browder.   

SUPERNATURAL PILOT ON NBC
   Conan O'Brien's production company has landed a pilot at NBC about a man who gets a second shot at life. CBS, meanwhile, picked up what it called an Indiana Jones-type drama pilot. 
   O'Brien's Conaco, along with NBC Universal TV Studio, is behind an as-yet-untitled hourlong drama, formerly titled The Haskett Chronicles, from writer Willie Reale (Keen Eddie). 
   The potential series revolves around a politician who is murdered but is given a chance to come back to the physical world in order to save his soul. This time, he's at a much lower stage in life. 
      CBS, meanwhile, ordered the pilot UNDER PRESSURE, which centers on a "modern-day Indiana Jones" who takes on mysteries from the past and the present.

SCIENCE ON TV…EUREKA!
   Debrah Farentino isn't a scientist, but she plays one on SCI FI Channel's upcoming original series EUREKA. Oh, wait: She really is a scientist, studying for her bachelor's degree in molecular biology at Los Angeles' Mount St. Mary's College. "By hiring Debrah, we don't have to have a research staff," joked series creator Jaime Paglia. 
   Farentino, who stars as brilliant psychotherapist Beverly Barlowe in  EUREKA, went back to college to study science after having two children and working as an actress in TV and films for two decades (she's perhaps best known to SF fans for her starring role in 1994's short-lived NBC series Earth 2). "Technically, I'm a biochemistry major," Farentino sai. "But ... a great thing about women in their 40s, going back to school and doing it part time, is that I thought that's what I wanted to do, and after a year there, I realized it was really molecular biology that I love. And it's really a long-term journey, because I'm juggling family and work." 
   Farentino made the decision to return to school while working on the 1999 Fox sitcom GET REAL. "I was playing a mom and doing the same thing and kind of missing my kids growing up," she said. "And I found myself reading Scientific American and other science magazines, and thinking, 'I know there's something out there for me [that's] different.'" On a whim, she stopped by a lab at Mount St. Mary's College, which is in Brentwood, Calif., along her carpool route. In the lab, "I just started weeping," she recalled. "I said, 'I need to be here.'" 
   Now,  she's playing a scientist on EUREKA, about a small town in the Pacific Northwest that is the top-secret home of a group of geniuses placed there by the federal government.  

movienewsmovienews Silver Screen movienewsmovienews

Wind Chill Begins To Blow
     Ashton Holmes (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE) and Emily Blunt have been cast as the leads in Revolution Studios' supernatural horror movie Wind Chill, from producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. Greg Jacobs (CRIMINAL) is directing from a script by Joe Gangemi and Steven Katz. 
     Wind Chill centers on two college students who share a ride home for the holidays, but break down on a deserted stretch of road, where they are menaced by the ghosts of those who died there.

Reese Witherspoon vs. the Bell Witch
     Reese Witherspoon will star in the latest production to center on the real-life Tennessee legend of the Bell Witch, which has already inspired Courtney Solomon’s AN AMERICAN HAUNTING and the two indie films BELL WITCH: THE MOVIE and THE BELL WITCH HAUNTING. 
     The Witherspoon project, based on a Don Winston script called OUR FAMILY TROUBLES (it is only a working title and will change), casts the actress as a first-time mother who becomes targeted by supernatural forces. She returns to her Tennessee home in an effort to maintain her sanity, and there becomes convinced that the Bell Witch, a malevolent spirit who terrorized a family and killed a man in the 1800s, is after her son.

Two Chans and a Baby 
     Jackie Chan has started shooting his latest kung fu comedy, tentatively titled BB or Baby, in Hong Kong with local director Benny Chan.  Benny Chan previously directed Jackie Chan in the Hong Kong action film WHO AM I? Actress Gao Yuanyuan (Shanghai Dreams) will feature in the Hong Kong-China co-production. The film began shooting in early January. Budgeted at HK$130 million ($16.8 million), Baby is expected to wrap in March and premiere in October.
     The plot revolves around hijinx when small-time crooks steal a car without realizing a child is in it. Jackie Chan plays a bad guy, though one with a heart of gold. The screenplay was written by Yuen Kam-lun (NEW POLICE STORY.) The cast reunites Chan's childhood friends and Project A co-stars Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung. 

Monster Club Adaptation Gets Animated
     A deal has been signed to produce the British comic book property Monster Club as a 3-D animated movie. Production will begin shortly on the 90-minute Monster Club the Movie. The Monster Club comic, published by Britain's AP Comics and created by Kit Wallis, follows Mia and her three friends, all agents for the Organization, as they attempt to stamp out a monster epidemic worldwide.

Pirates 3 Will Shoot In Summer
     Uberproducer Jerry Bruckheimer said that production is almost finished on the upcoming sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and will begin on the third Pirates movie later this year. "We're in the Bahamas," he said in an interview. "We're finishing 2 and then doing 3. I think we have about five or six more days left on Pirates 2, and then we're done with it. We'll break in March and edit 2 and then go back at the end of the summer and finish 3." 
     Dead Man's Chest picks up the story of Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). It opens July 7.

Dimension Reels in PIRANHA Remake
     Dimension Films has picked up rights for the U.S. and other English-speaking territories to PIRANHA, the update of Joe Dante’s cult classic to be directed by Chuck Russell. The director, who remade THE BLOB back in 1988, also scripted the new fish-fear film, based on previous drafts by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger. This time out, the finned killers are not the result of government experimentation, but prehistoric piranha that get released into Arizona’s Lake Havasu (which sits on a volcanic crater) after an earthquake.

Warner Tames Wild Things
     Warner Brothers has acquired a film based on Maurice Sendak's classic children's book Where the Wild Things Are from Universal Pictures, which had decided not to develop the project. Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich) will direct from a script he and novelist Dave Eggers wrote. It's expected to get under way late in the year. 
     Figuring out a way to turn the 338-word Wild Things story into a movie has been a long process, with multiple directors and writers weighing in. Details of the Jonze-Eggers version have been closely held, but the movie will be a live-action feature that will likely require a sizable computer-animation budget. 
     The current vision of the movie has the strong support of Sendak, who told The New York Times in October, "I am in love with it. If Spike and Dave do not do this movie now, I would just as soon not see any version of it ever get made."

Tamblyn to Hold a Grudge 2
     Amber Tamblyn (JOAN OF ARCADIA) will star in the supernatural horror movie The Grudge 2, the sequel to the 2004 horror hit. Director Takashi Shimizu, writer Stephen Susco, and producer Sam Raimi are all returning. Arielle Kebbel and Teresa Palmer have also been cast. 
     Tamblyn will play the younger sister of Sarah Michelle Gellar's character, who returns long enough to pass on the movie's supernatural curse. The sequel delves into the secrets behind the grudge's wrath and introduces a seemingly unrelated host of new characters who find themselves connected by the curse. Kebbel and Palmer (December Boys) play American schoolgirls in Tokyo.

 ‘24’ Producers Plotting Feature Franchise 
     Producers of Fox's 24 have begun plotting a film franchise for Jack Bauer, Kiefer Sutherland's character in the hit series. "It can be an amazing series of movies," Sutherland said. "One of the things I've experienced making this show is that an audience can handle a lot more than we thought when we started — the tension, the anxiety.... If we could [compress] all the energy we spread over 24 hours of programming and put that into 2, I think we'd knock your socks off."

Caspian To Follow Narnia
     The success of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is spurring plans for a sequel based on the next title in C.S. Lewis' epic book series. Cary Granat, chief executive officer of production company Walden Media, said that work is already underway on a script for the sequel, Prince Caspian, with plans to name a director within a few weeks. 
     "We're planning on starting production by the fourth quarter of next year," Granat said.

Eli Roth Going Back to the HOSTEL
     After the smash opening box-office weekend for HOSTEL (final tally: $19.6 million), it’s no surprise that a sequel is in the works. Writer/director Eli Roth is in talks to return on the follow-up, which, like the original film, will be released by Lionsgate but produced by Screen Gems, which will retain international theatrical and U.S. home video rights. Plans are to get the second HOSTEL into theaters a year from now (similar to the successful turnaround on Lionsgate’s SAW sequel); producers Mike Fleiss and Chris Biggs are also in discussions for the second film. Executive producer/presenter Quentin Tarantino’s involvement is still a question mark.

David Fincher to Head Torso 
     David Fincher, who is currently directing Zodiac for Paramount and Warner Bros., will re-team with Paramount to direct Torso. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the project will be adapted by screenwriter Ehren Kruger (THE RING, THE SKELETON KEY).
     The story will center on real-life federal agent Eliot Ness -- made famous by The Untouchables -- after he closes the Al Capone case in Chicago and moves to Cleveland. There he makes a promise to help clean up the town until the city is scarred by a series of gruesome killings known as the "torso" murders.

Madsen Replaces Shue in The Number 23 
     New Line Cinema has hired Virginia Madsen (Sideways) to star opposite Jim Carrey in The Number 23, a thriller by director Joel Schumacher (PHONE BOOTH). Madsen is replacing Elisabeth Shue in the film, due to begin shooting Monday – by coincidence, Jan. 23. Danny Huston and Rhona Mitra also star. Carrey will portray a man who becomes obsessed with a book that seems to be about his life but ends with a murder, with the number 23 woven through the plot.

Jason Statham Seeks Rogue 
     Jason Statham will star in Rogue, an action-thriller that co-stars Jet Li in the title role. Statham previously starred together with Li in The One. Music video director Philip Atwell will make his feature directing debut. Corey Yuen, who handled the action direction for Statham in The Transporter, is choreographing and directing the action scenes.
     The storyline centers on Jack Crawford (Statham), whose partner Tom Lone and Lone's family are killed by an assassin for the Chang crime family. Crawford becomes obsessed with finding the elusive and brutal killer, Rogue (Li). Production is scheduled to begin in March on location in Vancouver.

Deschanel Crosses Bridge
     Zooey Deschanel (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) has come aboard the fantasy film Bridge to Terabithia for Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. Gabor Csupo is making his live-action directorial debut on the movie, based on Katherine Paterson's 1978 Newbery Award-winning book. Jeff Stockwell (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) wrote the adaptation.
     Josh Hutcherson and Anna Sophia Robb have already been cast as two classmates who, because of their outsider status, create the world of Terabithia, an imaginary kingdom filled with giants and trolls and all manner of magical beings. Deschanel is the kids' teacher, whom they admire. 

Kilmer Has Deja Vu 
     Val Kilmer will star in the Tony Scott-directed sci-fi movie Deja Vu opposite Denzel Washington. The Disney drama will re-team Kilmer with his Top Gun director Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. The cast also includes Jim Caviezel and Paula Patton. 
     Kilmer and Washington play FBI agents who get the opportunity to step back in time to stop a terrorist from blowing up a ferry. The movie will shoot early next month in New Orleans.

Douglas Blesses Priest
     The Amityville Horror [remake] director Andrew Douglas will turn his attention next to Screen Gems' horror movie Priest, based on the graphic novel created by Min-Woo Hyung. Sam Raimi is one of the producers on the project. Production is slated to start this summer. 
     Cory Goodman wrote the script, which is a vampire western that centers on a warrior priest who disobeys church law by teaming with a young sheriff and a priestess to track down a band of renegade vampires who have kidnapped his niece. 

Warner Bros. Refills Gaslight 
     Warner Bros. Pictures will remake the 1944 thriller Gaslight with Pride & Prejudice director Joe Wright making his U.S. directing debut. Based on a 1938 British play by Patrick Hamilton and preceded by a 1940 British film, the MGM classic starred Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman and garnered seven Oscar nominations, including a win for Bergman. It also introduced the film's title into the vernacular, as the act of "gaslighting" someone means to drive them insane. The film revolves around a woman whose suitor has designs on her money, and after luring her to a house of horrors, he methodically tries to convince her she is insane.

New FRIDAY THE 13TH For Friday the 13th
     New Line Cinema, ending a long period of speculation, is moving forward with a new FRIDAY THE 13TH movie. The studio is aiming to have the film in theaters Friday, October 13, 2006. Rather than a FREDDY VS. JASON follow-up, the new feature will go back to explore the origins of Jason Voorhees.

Raimi To Direct Wee Free Men
     Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD) will direct The Wee Free Men, an adaptation of Terry Pratchett's best-selling young-adult fantasy novel. Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired the book and set Pamela Pettler to write the script. 
     Published in 2003, Wee Free Men centers on a 9-year-old farm girl who heads off to a parallel world to retrieve a brother who has been grabbed by a nasty fairy queen. She battles the monsters of Fairyland with the help of 6-inch-tall, blue-faced rowdies who wear kilts, speak in thick Scottish brogues, steal sheep and drink heavily. The novel is part of the British author's Discworld series. 
ICS Members Speak Out -This Months Guest is ICS Member Tom Woodward 

Is the new King Kong better?
   Is the new King Kong better than the original?  
   Beforehand, this seemed an unlikely proposition. Even with Peter Jackson directing, it was hard to accept the possibility in advance. Our experience with remakes is poor.  And the 1976 version of Kong served as an example of just how badly a classic of quality could be dishonored by the process. 
   The fundamental error of most remakes lay in their motive.  Typically, the purpose of the remake is to either a) use new techniques to produce better special effects, or b) update the setting of the story to a world that modern audiences can better relate to.  Neither of these motives encompasses the purpose that underlies all good movies: the desire to tell a tale.  As a result, failed remakes have at their heart the filmmaker’s fixation on what they regard as the deficiencies in the original, instead of with what spoke to them and held their fascination.
   At a minimum therefore, the first requirement we one must have of a remake of a great film is that it not lose the heart of the original. Jackson’s Kong clearly passes this test. Everything that was meaningful in the original is still here. Principally, there is the tragedy of Kong.  And just as important is the reason for his destruction. A movie company specifically looking for a wonder that it ultimately destroys brings home the point much more clearly than an accidental discovery.  Jackson understands this. Everything in the original worth preserving is still here. 
    One nice touch, I thought, was the terrible over-the-top acting in the filming sequences on board ship. It helped defeat the updating temptation, and firmly grounded the story back in the same time as the original, when wonders such as Kong still seemed possible to us.
   The second requirement is that nothing be added that detracts from the principal themes. And again, on this score, Jackson does fairly well. It's possible that he went too far with some of the events on Skull Island. One can’t be entirely certain whether the dinosaur stampede and pileup was really necessary or just irresistible. 1Certainly the extended scene in the ravine with the insects and man-eating swamp plants is disposable.  
    The third requirement is that the film improves on the original, particularly with those things that technology can help with. There are several areas where this was achieved.  First, there were the improvements with respect to Ann Darrow. If nothing else, it was a major improvement to convert her from a prop to a character. This change wasn't just some form of political correctness driven by our changing view of gender roles. Ann’s relationship with Kong in the new version enhances the tragedy on just about every level. Having her go to Kong when he escapes in New York (instead of being seized by him) erases any remaining feeling one may have against him. Having her futilely attempt wave off the attackers puts the sympathizing viewer squarely in the action.
   Her changed role also helps on other levels too. It is just not possible to watch the original without feeling uncomfortable with the implicit racism. Kong had received many female sacrifices before Ann, none, presumably worthy of his affection. There was no evident reason for his fixation on her other than race. This might be forgivable in 1933, but it still lay there, generating an unpleasant feel for a modern audience. In this version, Kong may initially regard Ann as a novelty because of her blond hair. But his fascination with her is due to her personality. He finds her plucky and funny and responds to that. 1They develop a relationship that is critical to the tragedy but was never apparent in the original. 
   Pictorially, Jackson’s vision of the island and its inhabitants is another improvement. The original conveys something close to a paradise shared with Kong, where sacrifice is required for his good graces that allow the people to remain safe and happy.  
   Not in Jackson’s version. In the remake, the camera sweeps from the human-inhabited part of the island B a place devoid of all color and plant life B across the separating wall to a world is not only rich in flora and fauna, but everywhere with ruins of the great constructions of the natives’ ancestors. These are a desperate and scared people. The sacrifice they offer is just to stay alive. They are not cruel and primitive, just pitiable. 
   Of course the real potential for improvement is Kong’s appearance. And  Jackson's use of special effects here is exactly what it should be: to better make Kong a character with depth.  The 1933 Kong is masterful. But the 2005 Kong shows us so much more. Over and over we see Kong with feelings. One of the best scenes is Kong, having defeated the big lizards to save Ann, marching away from her, his work done, indignant and hurt that she would leave him.
   The ability of his gorilla to emote so well is further augmented by other big monkey scenes made possible by the available technology. Kong and Ann on the ice is a great sequence to have added; their relationship no longer has to be inferred; it is on full exhibition. Kong leaping up to catch the wing of one of the attacking planes is a marvelous display of his vigor, power, and physical grace.

   Working through the matrix of requirements, everything points to this being a better Kong.  The decisive test is this: if you are to recommend a Kong to someone who has never seen either and will only watch one, which would you choose?  

   I have no qualms on this score.  Jackson’s is to be preferred. Yet, I still have a nagging feeling that in saying this I have betrayed the memory of the original. Shouldn't there be yet another standard?  Shouldn't we ask that the newer version be enough better?  And should I rate it on that, asking the question whether what he adds on the margin is worth the expense of making the film, and the value of the audience’s time in watching it. After all, everything preserved from the original was already here. Jackson is not responsible for that.  Should we give him credit for that too?
   That seemed logical until I scanned my record shelves (yes, records, as in the vinyl things).  I have multiple versions of many of the same works both orchestral and operatic.  
    How many different performances have I seen of plays and operas that I like? 
    I realize that this marginal standard I was about to apply to movie remakes I have never applied to anything else. And my guess is that no one else does either. Stories bear retelling.  And we don’t even ask the new versions to be better, just different, and to speak to us in possibly another way.
   It is not fair to hold a remake to a higher standard than the original when it comes to the question of which to recommend. When asking -which is the better movie- the same standard applies to both. But there are other questions to be asked for which other standards apply.  And that perhaps is the point we need to keep in mind when our loyalty to original makes us feel uneasy about praising the remake.  
   The 2005 King Kong is the better movie. But the 1933 King Kong is the greater movie-making achievement. And that should be enough of an accomplishment.
 

IMAGINATIVE CINEMA COMING SOON
MUST SEE MOVIES FOR YOU!

Feb 10th      Final Destination 3
Premise:  When a high school student fails to stop the fated roller coaster ride that she predicted would cause the deaths of several of her friends, she teams with a schoolmate, in a race against time to prevent the Grim Reaper from revisiting the survivors of the first tragedy 

Feb 10th     Firewall            
Premise: Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) is a bank security expert, whose specialty is designing infallible theft-proof financial computer systems. But there's a hidden vulnerability in the system he didn't account for - himself. When a ruthless criminal kidnaps his family, Jack is forced to find a flaw in his system and steal $100 million. With the lives of his wife and children at stake and under constant surveillance, he has only hours to find a loophole in the thief's own impenetrable system of subterfuge and false identities to beat him at his own game.

Feb 10th      The Pink Panther    
Premise: In this new Inspector Clouseau adventure, the incompetent French detective (Steve Martin) investigates the murder of the nation's soccer team coach while also looking into the disappearance of the famous Pink Panther diamond, the national treasure of the nation of Lugash (Knowles plays the #1 suspect, a pop singer whose boyfriend has recently died; Reno plays Clouseau's chauffeur and sidekick, who is really an undercover cop assigned to make sure he doesn't screw up).

Feb 24th    Running Scared
Premise: Joey Gazelle (Paul Walker) is a low level mob flunkie whose role is to dispose of "hot" guns from mob killings.  Joey has been hiding these guns in his basement, instead of tossing them in the river. Joey's young son and his best friend, Oleg (Cameron Bright), find the guns, Oleg steals one -- and shoots his abusive stepfather (Karel Roden) with it. Things would be bad enough, except then the stepfather turns out to be the nephew of a psychotic Russian mob boss... who happens to be in business with Joey's crew on a gasoline scam.. And even if Joey can make it through the night, he's still got to answer to his wife... Humor, Action and weird twists of events make this an interesting movie.

March 10th   The Hills Have Eyes
Premise: 

A suburban American Family is being stalked by a group of psychotic people who lives in the desert, far away from the civilization. A remake of Wes Cravens movie from 1977.
farewellsfarewellsfarewells Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells

Shelley Winters, the first actress to win two Oscars in the best supporting category has died.  She started her career in the 1940s as a blond bombshell and evolved into a character actress best remembered for her roles as victims, shrews and matrons. 
Born Shirley Shrift in St. Louis, Winters grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. While still in high school, she entered local beauty contests, modeled and acted in school plays, this lead to bit parts on the New York stage. Columbia studio head Harry Cohn spotted her blond good looks and comedic possibilities in an early Broadway role and asked her to do a test. She was soon in Hollywood under contract.
A little bit Jean Harlow, a little bit Mae West, she was once lumped with such sexy starlets as Marilyn Monroe. But Winters from the start was willing to give up glamour for a good role. After years on studio contract playing negligible parts, she got a break in George Cukor's 1947 film, A Double Life, in which she played a waitress who was murdered by Ronald Colman.
She won Oscars in the best supporting actress category for her roles as Mrs. Van Daan in George Stevens' The Diary of Anne Frank and Rose-Ann D'Arcy, the abusive mother in A Patch of Blue. The actress donated the first Oscar statuette to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
Winters was the author of two well-received autobiographies: Shelley, Also Known as Shirley, which was on the bestseller list for many weeks, and Shelley II: In the Middle of My Century. She delighted in telling ribald stories of her many liaisons with such Hollywood notables as Burt Lancaster, Marlon Brando, William Holden, Farley Granger, Errol Flynn and Sean Connery and did so on numerous T.V. talk shows.
Kevin Thomas, a retired newspaper writer who had known her for more than 30 years, said: "Shelley was a mass of contradictions as only a Method actress can be. Nobody could be more down to earth … but quicker to fall back on a star's perquisites. She was mercurial, adorable, infuriating, loyal and brave." 
She was also a pretty good actress. She was 85.
 
 
 

Anthony Franciosa, the rakishly handsome actor who came to fame on Broadway in the 1950s and had a long career in Hollywood as a star in five TV series, including The Name of the Game and Matt Helm, has died. 
An alumnus of New York's Actors Studio under Lee Strasberg, Franciosa received his break in 1955 in the Broadway production of A Hatful of Rain. His portrayal of the brother of a heroin addict earned him an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony nomination. His success on Broadway brought him to Hollywood, where he earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for reprising his theater role in the 1957 movie version of A Hatful of Rain, starring Don Murray and Eva Marie Saint. Some of his other films were a face in the crowd, the long hot summer, rio conchos, assault on a queen, and the drowning pool. There were also genre films like earth ii and death house. He was 77.

Shelly Winters and Tony Franciosa were married for a short time in the early 1960s.
 

Al Lewis, the vampire patriarch of TV's The Munsters, died Feb. 3 after years of failing health. 
Lewis, who was most famous for playing Grandpa Munster in the 1960s monster sitcom, died with his wife at his bedside, said Bernard White, program director at WBAI-FM, where the actor hosted a weekly radio program. White made the announcement on the air during the Saturday slot where Lewis usually appeared. 
Lewis became a pop-culture icon playing the irascible father-in-law to Fred Gwynne's ever-bumbling Herman Munster on the 1964-66 television show. 
Lewis also achieved notoriety as a basketball talent scout; operated a successful Greenwich Village restaurant, Grandpa's; and even ran unsuccessfully as the Green Party candidate against incumbent New York governor George Pataki in 1998. He was 82.

(Shelly Winters and Al Lewis were not married.)

 
THE LAST WARD
By John Ward

 After four months of traversing Memory Lane on my Top 100 list, it feels kind of refreshing to take a look back at some more recent material.  I can honestly say that 2005 was an interesting year at the movies.  Once again, I had no problems filling a Top Ten list, but there were some surprising candidates.  Only a few films from my year-opening predictions stayed around long enough to merit mention as the Best of 2005, and some of my sure-fire hopefuls, well…let’s just say I never expected what I saw.  So here goes, with the usual comments, Eleventh Place winners, Honorable Mentions, the “Allies,” and my Top DVDs of the year, too.  Enjoy!

THE TOP TEN MOVIES OF THE YEAR, 2005

10. KING KONG

 Here’s one “sure-fire hopeful” that I wish had been higher, but even overstuffed, overblown Peter Jackson is still better than 75% of the Chicken McNuggets that pass for American movies these days.  As a piece of popular entertainment, you really can’t go wrong with KONG.  There’s plenty of action, whiz-bang state-of-the-art special effects from WETA Workshop, a great performance from Naomi Watts, and a Skull Island that truly exists as the stuff of prehistoric nightmares.  I just wish that someone had told PJ, “You know, Peter, we really might not need that 37th shot of the ship, or that 423rd shot of the New York City skyline.  Audiences should be able to get by with 10 or 12 shots of each, no problem.”

9. THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN

 After a couple of years of stealing movies out from under guys like Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell, cameo artist extraordinaire Steve Carell finally got a chance at a lead role of his own, thanks to the writing and directing skills of TV vet Judd Apatow (Freaks and Geeks), and the result was comic nirvana.  Carell plays Andy Stitzer, a nice-guy nebbish who works at a Circuit City clone and unwisely reveals to his work buddies that he’s still (ahem) pure at the big 4-0.  The buddies take it upon themselves to rid Andy of his “predicament,” while Andy would just rather be left alone.  The chest-waxing scene, of course, has been seen by most of the free world thanks to TV and the internet, but there’s much more here than that.  I never laughed harder at a movie in 2005; THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN is easily the funniest movie of the year.

8. WAR OF THE WORLDS

 The first of two big summer “popcorn” entertainments to make my list – and it was a pleasure to see Steven Spielberg back in blockbuster mode again.  When the man’s on his game, no one does it better.  His pessimistic take on the H.G. Wells classic was a complete thrill from beginning to end, despite what some folks have said about his choice of an ending.  (Hey, it’s my soapbox, and I can say what I want.  You don’t like it?  Write your own column!!)  There were some visuals in this film that rivaled just about anything else to come along this year for pure emotional impact, and it was helped along with some great acting, particularly from Dakota Fanning and Tom the Couch Jumper.  I thought Spielberg’s vision of the alien tripods actually trumped George Pal’s 1953 version, but hey, that’s just me.  (No, I mean it!  Write your own column!!  Betsy could use the material, for pete’s sake!)

7. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

 The fourth film in the fantasy series proved that the third one was not just a fluke, and that it’s finally about the material, not necessarily about the director.  Although I thought Britisher Mike Newell did a first-rate job interpreting the story.  Bottom line:  the filmmakers should be commended for pulling off the near impossible:  taking an 800-page book and condensing it into a 2 ½ hour movie that really entertains.  The three young leads are now so comfortable in their roles that Warner Bros. should spare no expense locking them in for the remainder of the series; I couldn’t imagine anyone else other than Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson playing Harry, Ron, and Hermione.  Ralph Fiennes stepped up as Lord Voldemort and showed that the franchise’s knack for dead-on casting hasn’t erred yet.

6. THE DESCENT

 It wasn’t a great year for horror movies; LAND OF THE DEAD had its moments, although they were few and far between.  And I liked Tilda Swinton’s psychotic archangel Gabriel in CONSTANTINE.  But for sheer wall-to-wall scares, I had to go to merrie olde England.  That’s where I found Neil Marshall’s sophomore feature about unlucky spelunkers, all female, trapped in a deep, dark Appalachian cavern with pretty nasty beasties lurking in the shadows.  THE DESCENT proved that the hair-raising (no pun intended) chills of Marshall’s debut, DOG SOLDIERS, were not a fluke.  We have seen creepy group-trapped-in-a-tight-spot flicks before, but none as claustrophobic as this one.  It’s clear that the director put his no name cast through some pretty hellacious hoops, which only added to the tension.  THE DESCENT was the year’s best horror movie, by far.

5. CRASH

 Thank goodness for DVD, which enabled me to stick to my picky “calendar year” rule when it came to CRASH:  The movie only counts if I see it in the year it was released.  It just so happens that I caught up to this one before Christmas when I picked up the DVD on a whim.  Paul Haggis, the writer of MILLION DOLLAR BABY, wrote and directed this consistently fascinating slice of L.A. life, where prejudices run deep, across all color lines.  CRASH was truly unlike any other movie with its huge cast of characters that kept bouncing into and off of each other in any number of ways, many of them dangerous, some of them sad, and a few of them incredibly tragic.  Particularly effective were Matt Dillon as a bigoted cop with an uncommon savior streak, Terrence Howard as a black TV director, Thandie Newton as his wife, Don Cheadle as a detective, and Michael Pena as a locksmith, my favorite character in the movie – pretty much because he seemed to be the only person in the film without any serious character flaws.  CRASH played with my expectations; just when I thought I knew where it was going, it turned another corner.  A great film.
 

4. A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

 David Cronenberg, long a favorite of genre fans but short on critical acclaim, finally got his due with this searing thriller.  Viggo Mortensen stars as Tom Stall, a small-town diner owner whose act of bravery early in the film throws an unwanted spotlight on his violent past, a “history” he has kept from his wife (Mario Bello).  One of Cronenberg’s favorite themes has always been the monsters and ugliness that lurk beneath our pretty, handsome exteriors, and never has that notion been better acted than it is here.  There’s wonderful support from Bello, but also from Ed Harris and William Hurt as mobsters who draw Tom out.  It’s a pretty crowded supporting Oscar field this year, but I would love to see one or two of these names on the ballot.

3. BATMAN BEGINS

 Just when everyone thought the Batman franchise had died, Christopher Nolan stepped in to rejuvenate the Dark Knight by taking him back to his roots.  Fans rejoiced; it was as if the first four movies had never even existed.  (Well, at least the last two.)  Our hero never even dons the cape until an hour into the film; first, his motivations and his training captivate us when he runs afoul of R’as Al Ghul, the leader of the League of Assassins.  There is richness, a dynamism inherent in almost every scene in BATMAN BEGINS that really puts to rest the cartoonish sensibilities of the earlier films.  And the casting is flawless:  Christian Bale brings a welcome angst to Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine is the ultimate Alfred, and Gary Oldman is an understated delight as Lt. James Gordon.  BATMAN BEGINS rests atop a tiny pedestal with the likes of SPIDER-MAN 2 as one of the best superhero movies ever made.

2. SIN CITY

 It seems like such a long time ago since I sang the praises of Robert Rodriguez’ stylized rendition of Frank Miller’s nourish graphic novels, but nothing has changed in the succeeding months:  SIN CITY still rocks the viewer with its feverish intensity and its outrageously dead-on use of CGI and green-screen.  There are many moments in the movie when the viewer literally cannot distinguish between the film and its comic panel origins, and one is left to wonder where filmmakers are going from here.  I love being amazed by what I see on the movie screen, but I also long for the days when everything was done by hand, and we were still amazed by the visual magic of the filmmakers.  SIN CITY exists somewhere in the violent limbo between these two worlds.  Once again (as in all of my top 5 films) the cast is flawless, including a surprisingly effective return by Mickey Rourke.  I was so amazed by Rodriguez’ artistry that I felt confident SIN CITY would be the movie of the year for me.  That feeling lasted right up to the afternoon of Dec. 31st, when I saw…

1.MUNICH

 Steven Spielberg’s hard-hitting examination of terrorism and its aftermath of retaliation affected me like no other film released in 2005.  It begins right in the middle of the Israeli hostage crisis at the 1972 Munich Olympics, but we are there as witnesses to the tragedy for a scant 15 minutes; Spielberg is much more concerned with showing us Israel’s response, which is to unleash a merciless “death squad” of assassins to track down and kill the men behind the Munich attack.  But these are not superslick James Bond types; they are family men, loners, scientists, accountants, worker drones, all thrown together and committed to act as one.  The group of five is led by Eric Bana in a great performance as Avner, a former bodyguard drafted out of the Mossad to run point.  He leaves behind a pregnant wife to go off on what he hopes is a journey of no more than a few weeks, but when the tasks start to mount, time begins to fall away, and the men in Avner’s group start to crack under the strain of commitment.  Daniel Craig is notable as the trigger-happy member of the group, and I looked into his steely blue eyes and saw the future of the Bond franchise.  Ciaran Hinds is also effective as the group’s clean-up artist, and Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush provides solid support as Avner’s superior.  Their final confrontation in a Brooklyn playground ends with a sad, silent glimpse of the Twin Towers across the river, and we are left with Spielberg’s final truth – the true horror of modern warfare is like that of a snake eating its tail.  MUNICH was the year’s best movie.
 

ELEVENTH PLACE

 This year, I can say that my top 6-or-so movies were locked in, but below that level it became a real logjam, and I waffled back and forth over what to cut.  Once again, several titles floated to the surface and, in other years, could easily have made the list.  They included THE INTERPRETER, STAR WARS: EPISODE III, CINDERELLA MAN, FLIGHTPLAN, KISS KISS BANG BANG (my final cut), and THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA.
 

HONORABLE MENTION

 A lot of other movies came and went this year, and once again, I walked out of the theater feeling, if not outright overjoyed, at least a little entertained.  For one reason or another, I found something to like about ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, CONSTANTINE, ONG-BAK: THE THAI WARRIOR, HOSTAGE, FEVER PITCH, THE LONGEST YARD, LAND OF THE DEAD, BAD NEWS BEARS, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, SKY HIGH, RED EYE, SAW II, and even YOURS, MINE, AND OURS!

THE “ALLIES”

 Yes, there was a “worst,” and boy, was it CURSED.  As my grandmother used to say, I’m a poet and don’t know it.  But if you throw DVD rentals into the mix (as long as the films were released in 2005, of course), the list would have to include Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman in BEWITCHED.  Yikes!  These two films represent my inaugural “Allies” as the real Dogs of the Year, named in honor of our family pooch.  But unlike the real Allie, they don’t exactly rule the roost.  They more or less live in its basement.

And of course, there is the list of the Top movies on DVD to watch from your couch.

THE TOP TEN DVDs OF THE YEAR

1. SIN CITY: RECUT/EXTENDED/UNRATED EDITION
2. KING KONG COLLECTION (Best Buy Special Box)
3. THE WIZARD OF OZ 3-DISC COLLECTOR’S EDITION
4. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD – LEGACY SERIES
5. HOOSIERS – COLLECTOR’S EDITION
6. KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER – THE COMPLETE SERIES
7. 24 – SEASON 4
8. THE BELA LUGOSI COLLECTION
9. BULLITT – 2-DISC SPECIAL EDITION
10. LOST – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
 
 

THE OSCARS – AN ICS FILES SPECIAL EDITION

THE LAST WARD
By John Ward

 This year’s Oscars are going to be remembered as one of those “Indie” years, when most of the buzz surrounded little-seen films by small studios – similar to 1996, when movies like SHINE and FARGO carried the day.  Here’s an interesting statistic: the box office gross for this year’s five Best Picture nominees combined is a measly $187 million, which isn’t even enough to pay George Lucas’ bar tab.  Something else I noticed:  when you throw out the documentary and short subject categories and rank the remaining 20 categories in rough order of importance, top to bottom, the movies listed in the bottom 6 or so categories (all the tech stuff) are almost completely different from the films nominated in the top 14.  Which is why the movie with the highest number of nominations, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, managed a paltry 8.  No across-the-board blockbusters like TITANIC or RETURN OF THE KING this year, folks.
 So take this year’s Oscar tips with even less salt than usual.  Although I can honestly say I’ve seen two of the five Picture nominees (one more than last year, yippee), access to the remaining films (not to mention flat-out appeal) has been relatively slim.  Unless, of course, you live across the street from the Charles Theatre.  I would love to see GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, for instance, if it would just come to a theater nearby.  I can’t even imagine how moviegoers in far-flung locales like, say, Frederick get their jollies.  At least we’ve got screens.  Of course, for every 20 screens, you’ve got 5 showings of BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE 2 and another 3 or 4 showing the cell-phone remake of WHEN A STRANGER CALLS.
 But enough curmudgeonly digression.  Here are my thoughts on this year’s nominees – and knock yourselves out, pool people.  With the last two pool titles under my belt, I think I’ve picked a good year to step aside.  (Personal prediction on the winning pool total: 11 out of 24.)

MAKEUP

 One of the biggest shocks this year – and there weren’t many – was that George Lucas’ final chapter of his STAR WARS epic could only manage one nomination – for makeup.  And I’m not even sure it deserves this one.  The other nominees are CHRONICLES OF NARNIA for all its whimsical beasties, and CINDERELLA MAN for all the cuts and bruises.  I have a slight suspicion that NARNIA will sneak in to take this one, and deny the Overlord of Light and Magic one last Oscar.

SOUND MIXING

 Five strong nominees here – everything from Johnny Cash tunes to alien tripods.  It might be too early for a coin flip, but that’s what it looks like.  (I told you I was happy to step aside this year.)  I’ll give a slight edge to WAR OF THE WORLDS over WALK THE LINE and KING KONG.

SOUND EDITING

 More of the same; the nominees here are usually similar to sound mixing, only two fewer.  I never could figure out why this category only got three nominees.  It’s the same with Visual Effects.  I think this will be one of the two tech awards for KING KONG…

VISUAL EFFECTS

 …and here’s the other.  I was happy to see the two most visually spectacular films of the year, KING KONG and WAR OF THE WORLDS, get nominated, although I was a little surprised that CHRONICLES OF NARNIA edged out STAR WARS III for the third slot.  I have to go with KONG. Lord knows, there was plenty to look at.

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

 Okay, here come the categories that really separate the winners from the weenies.  Honestly, if I could ever call these next four categories correctly in a single year, I’d be on the first plane to Vegas with my life savings in my pocket and a song in my heart.  You’ve got a jawbreaker like THE MYSTERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORATIONS OF JASPER MORELLO up against something called 9.  That’s it, just 9.  If you ask me, I think they should give it to the number on sheer chutzpah alone.

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

 Well, I thought it might be worth a shot to check out Oscar.com and see if they had any information to share, some little nugget that might steer me toward a pick in this category.  All they had were the titles listed next to photos as big as my thumbnail.  But there was a cute little kid in one photo, next to AUSREISSER (THE RUNAWAY).  Next to the kid, the other shots looked too depressing.  Works for me; I pick AUSREISSER.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

 There’s a nominee here called GOD SLEEPS IN RWANDA, which reminded me that a movie named HOTEL RWANDA was nominated for a couple of Oscars last year.  It has to be the same subject matter.  What are the chances some voters will feel guilty for not picking last year’s Rwanda picture?  I vote for guilt, a strong motivator.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

 A lot of folks think the best documentary of the year wasn’t even nominated:  GRIZZLY MAN.  In its absence, the nominees include that overblown National Geographic special about the penguins, and a profane look at wheelchair athletes, which I hear was actually a pretty damn good film.  While I think it would be nice to award quality and give it to MURDERBALL, I think the heart-tugging sentiment of MARCH OF THE PENGUINS will be enough to pull this one out.

ANIMATED FEATURE

 Hayao Miyazaki, who won this award for 2002’s SPIRITED AWAY in a refreshing upset, is back with HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE.  There’s no denying his artistry – I was especially impressed with his PRINCESS MONONOKE – but I think this year’s award will go to the deceptively simple stop-motion charms of WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT.  I admit I wasn’t as bowled over as the rest of the folks who saw W & G, but there’s a lot of support out there for it.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

 I can usually count on knowing at least one or two nominees in this category most years, even though I rarely visit the Charles Theatre, but this year is a crapshoot.  I haven’t heard of any of them.  So I did a little research and finally found a sidebar on the Movie City News website called “The Gurus of Gold,” a collection of online prognosticators well steeped in Oscar lore.  Nine “gurus” out of 13 picked a South African film called TSOTSI, so I figure they must know something I don’t.  Like how to pronounce TSOTSI.  When in doubt, go with the masses.  You can always blame them later.

ORIGINAL SONG

 Now, this is pathetic.  For only the second time in 70 years, the Academy couldn’t find five decent songs to fill out this category.  (For those who are interested, the other off-year was 1988, when Carly Simon beat two even lamer nominees with WORKING GIRL’s “Let the River Run.”)  Granted, there have been some classic winners down through the years, but when I think of all the great songs that were shafted, I cringe.  This year, we’ve got Dolly Parton (Remember them?) going up against – get this – “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” from HUSTLE &FLOW.  And before you start laughing at how one-sided that competition sounds, I have one word: Eminem.  I’m personally dying to hear how the Academy frames a production number featuring lyrics like “niggaz,” “ho’s,” and “bitches.”  Seeing Jack Nicholson swallow his sunglasses could be the highlight of the evening.  Hmmm…country vs. rap… I think I’ll pick the ballad from CRASH.

ORIGINAL SCORE

 John Williams racked up his unbelievable 44th and 45th nominations this year for MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA and MUNICH, but I don’t think he’ll win.  (To be honest, as much as I loved MUNICH, I don’t even remember the music.)  This one could go to BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.
 
 

COSTUME DESIGN

 Four of the five nominees in this category are period pieces, and the fifth, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, is just plain out there.  I think the intricate costuming of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA will triumph over the more sedate look of PRIDE & PREJUDICE and WALK THE LINE.  Then again, this was the category I bombed two years ago when RETURN OF THE KING was the bandwagon winner.  So it might be time for another coin flip.  (Just kidding…I’d be surprised if GEISHA lost.)

ART DIRECTION

 I was pleasantly surprised to see the fourth HARRY POTTER picture nominated here, along with KING KONG.  I would love to see either of those films win, but I think this one will go to MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA.  Simply put, it’s the kind of movie that wins this award.

EDITING

 Here’s an interesting category.  MUNICH and CINDERELLA MAN are both very strong contenders, but I think CRASH has an excellent chance to sneak in and take this award.  On second thought, it really should be the favorite; there were at least 7 or 8 eight different plot threads that kept intersecting, and I had no problem following them.  I figure the editors had something to do with that.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

 IMHO, the biggest surprise in the entire field of nominations – which would result in my widest smile if it won – was BATMAN BEGINS.  To paraphrase one of my earlier lines, BATMAN BEGINS is exactly not the kind of movie that wins this award.  It’s a movie blockbuster, not a “prestigious” film.  But the camerawork was gorgeous throughout, from Asian mountain terrain to the shadowy, vaulted canyons of Gotham City.  That having been said, BATMAN doesn’t have a rat’s chance against BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.  It’s bandwagon time.

SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL)

 Usually seen as a sop award, given out to the film that doesn’t win the big prize, the Original Screenplay Oscar is truly up for grabs this year.  Several of the nominees, including THE SQUID AND THE WHALE and GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, are late arrivals peaking at the right time.  There’s also Woody Allen, nominated for MATCH POINT, his umpteenth “comeback” film.  But I think there’s just too much support in the industry for CRASH, which (as I write this) just won the Writers’ Guild award.  It’s not bet-the-mortgage time, but it’s close.
 

SCREENPLAY (ADAPTATION)

 Where do we go here?  You’ve got Tony Kushner’s masterful job on MUNICH, actor-turned-writer Dan Futterman’s much-praised work on CAPOTE, and the twists and turns of THE CONSTANT GARDENER and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE.  I don’t think VIOLENCE has much of a shot, nor GARDENER.  I think CAPOTE will lose a close race to Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana’s script for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.  Yep, I hear that bandwagon a-rollin’…it’s a-rollin’ round that track…

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

 My personal favorite here is Catherine Keener, although I haven’t seen her nominated film, CAPOTE.  But I did see her earlier in the year as Sean Penn’s all-business FBI partner in THE INTERPRETER and as Steve Carell’s love interest in THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN.  That’s a pretty impressive range, folks.  I’d be more than happy to see Keener take it, but it looks more and more like Rachel Weisz’s year.  She’s won the Golden Globe and the Screen Actors’ Guild awards, and most of the gurus are picking her to win, with Michelle Williams from BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN on the outside.  Weisz will probably win for THE CONSTANT GARDENER, although I’m still shaking my head that Keanu Reeves’ co-star from CONSTANTINE (not to mention the female lead in the MUMMY movies) could wind up with an Oscar nod.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

 George Clooney won the Globe for his performance in SYRIANA, but I really don’t think he’ll win this.  People were shocked about William Hurt’s nomination for what amounted to 10 minutes of screen time in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, but it’s not without precedent; Ned Beatty was nominated in 1976 for NETWORK, simply for bellowing at Peter Finch for 5 minutes.  I think this will come down to two men:  Matt Dillon for CRASH, and Paul Giamatti for CINDERELLA MAN.  Dillon is a happy-to-be-here first-timer, and Giamatti is a twice-screwed-over actor ready for his due.  I loved his corner man in CINDERELLA MAN, and I think he’ll take the prize here.

ACTRESS

 Forget Judi Dench, Keira Knightley, and Charlize Theron.  The buzz right now is all about two women:  Reese Witherspoon for WALK THE LINE, and Felicity Huffman for TRANSAMERICA.  Huffman’s gender-bending role is just the type of “special” showy performance the Academy loves to reward – remember Hilary Swank in BOYS DON’T CRY?  She’s also a Globe winner.  But then again, so is Witherspoon, and Witherspoon has been nearly unshakable from her perch as the front-runner ever since people first noticed her performance as June Carter Cash.  I think Reese will win.
 
 

ACTOR

 Strong performances across the board, and four of them will bow down before Philip Seymour Hoffman for CAPOTE.  He’s won just about every single critics’ prize out there, not to mention the Globe.  Heath Ledger might drum up some votes for his tormented cowboy in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, but this is where I think the bandwagon will stall.  Pick Hoffman, going away.

DIRECTOR

 For the first time in 24 years, the nominees for Director and Picture match right down the line.  Ang Lee won the Director’s Guild award 5 years ago for CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, then sat and watched Steven Soderbergh take the Oscar for directing TRAFFIC.  I don’t think the same thing will happen here.  Lee, the recent DGA winner, will win his first Oscar.

PICTURE

 I’m tempted.  Oh, boy, how I’m tempted.
 To go against BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, that is.  My personal choice here would be MUNICH, which I picked as my no. 1 movie of the year.  (See my Top Ten column, elsewhere in this issue.)  But I’m enough of an Oscar realist to know it doesn’t have a prayer.  MUNICH aside, I would then turn to CRASH, another movie that I loved, and the one film I think has the best chance to create another Picture/Director split.  But not this year.  I’ll take a deep sigh and cast my vote for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.  I just think it has too much support at this point to be denied.  You don’t care about the money?  Vote CRASH.  You want to win the pool?  Vote BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.
 

 And there you have it, the 2005 Oscars at a glance.  Come back next month for the unveiling of the winner.  Remember, you must have the ballot to me by February’s club meeting.  See you then!

NAME ______________________________     page 1

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEES BALLOT
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
CAPOTE
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
HUSTLE & FLOW
WALK THE LINE
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
CINDERELLA MAN
CRASH
HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, A
SYRIANA
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
NORTH COUNTRY
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
TRANSAMERICA
WALK THE LINE
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
CAPOTE
CONSTANT GARDENER,  THE 
JUNEBUG
NORTH COUNTRY
ANIMATED FEATURE
HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE
TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE
WALLACE & GROMIT…CURSE
ART DIRECTION
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
HARRY POTTER & GOBLET 
KING KONG
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
CINEMATOGRAPHY
BATMAN BEGINS
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
THE NEW WORLD
 
 

COSTUME
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS

WALK THE LINE
DIRECTING
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
CAPOTE
CRASH
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
MUNICH
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE
ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS
MURDERBALL
STREET FIGHT
DOCUMENTARY SHORT
THE DEATH OF KEVIN CARTER
GOD SLEEPS IN RWANDA
THE MUSHROOM CLUB
A NOTE OF TRIUMPH…
FILM EDITING
CINDERELLA MAN
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
CRASH
MUNICH
WALK THE LINE
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
DON'T TELL
JOYEUX NOèL
PARADISE NOW
SOPHIE SCHOLL - FINAL DAYS
TSOTSI
MAKEUP
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
CINDERELLA MAN
STAR WARS: EPISODE III…ROTS
 

SCORE
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
MUNICH
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
SONG
CRASH
HUSTLE & FLOW
TRANSAMERICA
 

BEST PICTURE
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
CAPOTE
CRASH
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
MUNICH
ANIMATED SHORT
BADGERED
THE MOON AND THE SON…
THE MYSTERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC 
EXPLORATIONS OF JASPER MORELLO
9
ONE MAN BAND
LIVE SHORT
AUSREISSER (THE RUNAWAY)
CASHBACK
THE LAST FARM
OUR TIME IS UP
SIX SHOOTER
SOUND EDITING
KING KONG
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
WAR OF THE WORLDS
SOUND MIXING
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
KING KONG
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
WALK THE LINE
WAR OF THE WORLDS
VISUAL EFFECTS
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
KING KONG
WAR OF THE WORLDS
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
CAPOTE
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
MUNICH
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
CRASH
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
MATCH POINT
THE SQUID AND THE WHALE
SYRIANA

Tie Breaker question –

Pick the movie with the most awards? ____________________   How many? _______­_

          
NAME ____________________________________________   Page 2