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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.
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
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
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
JUNE – Masked Auctioneer and Minimum Bid Kid are back for an auction
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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!
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
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
The next time to offer a film is in March for the April meeting.
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.
Sue Ellen Sherblom
John Ward (son)
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
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
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
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
Batman Begins writer David Goyer, who also wrote the three
BLADE movies, will executive-produce the series, along with show runner
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
"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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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…
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.
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.
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
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
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.)
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.
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
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…
…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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
HUSTLE & FLOW
WALK THE LINE
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, A
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
WALK THE LINE
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
CONSTANT GARDENER, THE
HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE
TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE
WALLACE & GROMIT…CURSE
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
HARRY POTTER & GOBLET
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
THE NEW WORLD
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
WALK THE LINE
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS
THE DEATH OF KEVIN CARTER
GOD SLEEPS IN RWANDA
THE MUSHROOM CLUB
A NOTE OF TRIUMPH…
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
WALK THE LINE
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
SOPHIE SCHOLL - FINAL DAYS
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
STAR WARS: EPISODE III…ROTS
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
PRIDE & PREJUDICE
HUSTLE & FLOW
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
THE MOON AND THE SON…
THE MYSTERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC
EXPLORATIONS OF JASPER MORELLO
ONE MAN BAND
AUSREISSER (THE RUNAWAY)
THE LAST FARM
OUR TIME IS UP
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
WAR OF THE WORLDS
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA
WALK THE LINE
WAR OF THE WORLDS
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA
WAR OF THE WORLDS
THE CONSTANT GARDENER
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
THE SQUID AND THE WHALE
Tie Breaker question –
Pick the movie with the most awards? ____________________
How many? ________
NAME ____________________________________________ Page