All About Us ClubnewsClubnewsICS
GET WELL WISHES
Club president, Dave Willard,
was unable to attend the December meeting. He needed surgery to remove
a growth near his kidney. Dave has been released from the hospital
following surgery and is recuperating at home. He would appreciate
hearing from club members. His email address is DUWILLARD@VERIZON.NET.
Get well, soon Dave –
we miss you!
SEVENTH SWAP IS A SMASHING SUCCESS
Twenty-two members participated
in the Yankee Gift Swap, an ICS holiday tradition. There were relatively
few steals, absolutely no bloodletting, and a good time was had by all.
Superman was the #1 theme for gifts as several members received Superman
gifts. Other gifts included – The Omen Box set, a plush Angel, a
Tortured Soul figure, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre diorama and the DVD’s CANNIBAL,
HELLRAISER, GOJIRA, and DOGVILLE.
Thanks to all who participated
in one of our most lively annual traditions!
REVENGE FROM THE ID
The theme of the night
was Revenge films, presented by Regina Vallerani. Club members had
the choice between DEATH WISH, MAD MAX, THE PIT, LADY SNOWBLOOD, and the
winner, David Cronenberg’s THE BROOD. In THE BROOD, Oliver
Reed portrays a charismatic psychiatrist who uses role-playing techniques
to provoke cathartic reactions in his patients – reactions that have physical,
as well as emotional, manifestations. Samantha Eggar plays one of
his patients, a wife and mother who was raised by physically abusive, alcoholic
parents. While she is in Reed’s retreat, her mother and father are
attacked by deformed children, and her husband begins to suspect a connection
with the psychiatrist's methods. The revenge angle in THE BROOD is
not revealed until the final 15 minutes. In that sense, it is unlike
the other, more traditional revenge films that were offered.
Although this is clearly
a horror film, Cronenberg (who also wrote the script) treats it as a domestic
drama, concentrating on the effects of divorce and broken marriages, child
abuse, and the power cult gurus hold over their followers. And on
yet another level, it's an exploration of Cronenberg's own feelings on
these issues which were formed as he went through a fairly acrimonious
divorce and custody battle. Even during the film's climax, where
everything gets very gruesome and bloody, Cronenberg treats the material
seriously—never turning the film into a pure schlock exploitation flick.
In fact, he referred to THE BROOD as his answer to KRAMER VS. KRAMER.
Other revenge films to
check out: THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND, OLDBOY, SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE,
SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE, DOGVILLE, FREAKS, IRREVERSIBLE, BITTER MOON,
Revenge films to avoid:
ART OF THE DEVIL – don’t let the gruesome cover fool you – it’s really
a boring Thai soap opera – fast forward to the gore if you must – but you
may fall asleep during the tensionless story - DEAD MAN’S SHOES –
8.1 IMDB rating my butt - great MST3K film – ridiculous revenge thriller.
NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING –LAST
SATURDAY IN JANUARY
Our next meeting will
be held on Saturday January 27th 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.
JANUARY PRESENTATION – DARK SHADOWS
Before FOREVER KNIGHT
…. Before BUFFY… Vampires, Werewolves, Witches and Gothic Romance were
the staples of the Cult TV Soap DARK SHADOWS. Rick Arnold will give
us a glimpse into this groundbreaking, long-running soap.
NEW MEXICO GREETINGS
John Ward relayed long
distance holiday greetings from Tim and Heather Fleming, our members emeritus
in New Mexico. Tim and Heather were digging out from nearly two feet
Happy New Year Flemings
from all of your friends at the ICS! We will look forward to seeing
you when you visit back East!
Iron Man awards were distributed
to all members who stayed up all night watching movies at the Halloween
all-nighter. Recipients were: Andrew Kent, Dava Sentz, Tom and Justin
Proveaux, Rick Rieve, Steve Vaught, Skip Phillips, John Ward, and Joe Plempel.
Congratulations to all of you night owls! I’m sure there will be
more competition in 2008!
100TH MEETING TREAT!
The board announced a
special surprise to commemorate the upcoming 100th meeting: a field trip
to the new Geppi’s Entertainment Museum at Camden Yards. The field
trip will take place on Saturday, April 7th. All club members in
good standing (with paid-up dues) will receive free admission, compliments
of the club’s treasury. An exact time has not been decided, but we
hope to gather at another place, such as a Light Rail stop, and ride to
the museum together. (This will relieve parking woes.) The date was
selected to take advantage of the Orioles’ out-of-town schedule.
A sign-up sheet was passed around. Thus far, 19 people have committed
to attending. The March meeting is the final time that you can sign-up
for the field trip.
Let’s give a round of
applause to The Board for thinking up such a fun treat!!
Our club treasurer, Andrew
Kent, has a few extra 2007 calendars remaining. The calendars feature
the work of artist Frank Dietz. They are $15 each. If you are
interested in purchasing one, please see Andrew.
HEAR YE HEAR YE! ELECTIONS
elections will be held at the January 2007 meeting. The requirements
for running for election are simple – have a paid 2007 membership to the
club, be willing to give up an extra day in the month for a board meeting
and have a strong interest in helping the club prosper. If you’d
like to run, please contact John Ward prior to the January meeting.
Candidates are: Jim Childs,
Andrew Kent, Joe Plempel, Mike Schilling, John Ward, and Dave Willard.
TOP 100 GENRE MOVIES
John Ward is compiling
a Top 100 Genre Movies for our 100th meeting in April 2007. He will
be accepting lists until our March 2007 meeting, so please email him with
your list ASAP at JOHN5509@COMCAST.NET. And if you don’t feel like
listing 100 movie titles, you can do as little as 5 or as much as 99 –
he will count ‘em all.
The following members
received “double vote” cards for turning in their lists by Dec. 31st: John
Clayton, Mike Schilling, Robin Richards, Gary Roberson, Betsy Childs, Dave
Willard, Norman Jones, Joe Plempel, Tom Proveaux, John Weber, and Rick
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 to Andrew
Kent at meetings or sent via paypal to ICSFILM@HOTMAIL.COM or mailed to
5025 Green Mountain Circle
Columbia, MD 21044
All Checks should be payable
to ‘ICS’ or ‘Imaginative Cinema Society’.
LOOK AHEAD - 2007 SCHEDULE
Feb 24 (*) Haunted House Movies,
presented by Sam DiBlasi
March 31 Son of No-Stinkers
Night, presented by John Ward
April 7 Field Trip to Geppi
Museum at Camden Yards
April 21 (*) 100th Meeting
& Top 10 Genre Movies as picked by the club
May 26 ICS Cookout
June 30 (*)
August 25 (*)
October 27 (*) Greg Mank
Returns; Halloween Potluck Dinner & All-Nighter
December 29 (*) Yankee
(*) denotes Late Night Feature
A LOOK AT MOVIES 2007: A LOOK AT MOVIES
A LOOK AT 2007, or THE CRACKED CRYSTAL
By John Ward
This article began when
I thought of tacking a “What I Want to See Most in 2007” list to the end
of my “2006 Top 10” Last Ward column. I started checking out some
of the usual websites for info – Ain’t It Cool News, ComingSoon.Net – and
before long, I realized what was on the horizon for 2007 would fill more
than just a quickie list. One of my favorite bits from the old “ellipsis”
columns was “If I could see one movie a month…” A movie a month in
2007? Not likely. Not even close. And when you take a
look at some of the genre titles on tap for the new year, I think you’ll
be inclined to agree. The following “mega-list” has movies separated
by month. In a few cases, I’ve added the specific date, especially
if it’s a locked-in blockbuster. But in many cases, the release dates
on the websites did not indicate wide release, and as we Baltimoreans know,
that means anywhere from a week to several months after the posted date
– so make of it what you will.
PAN’S LABYRINTH – The new film
from Guillermo Del Toro, director of HELLBOY, has received rave reviews
for its nightmarish visions. It opens wide on 1/12.
THE HITCHER – Sean Bean takes
over for Rutger Hauer in a slicked-up remake of the ‘80s psycho classic,
proof that Hollywood hasn’t lost its desire to cannibalize itself in order
to make a buck.
BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE – It looks
like a cross between UNDERWORLD and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS – not
a promising pedigree. Female werewolf falls for American art student,
goes against the will of the pack. You have been warned.
PRIMEVAL – Nasty killer crocodile
movie no. 1, dumped into theaters three months ahead of schedule to get
the jump on nasty killer crocodile movie no. 2. The trailer does
its level best to play down the whole giant reptile angle, choosing instead
to go for cheap serial killer thrills.
SMOKIN’ ACES – Joe Carnahan,
the gritty director who got booted from M:I III to make room for J.J. Abrams,
comes back with this comic shoot ‘em up. Two Feds are assigned to
baby-sit a sleazy Vegas magician, Buddy “Aces” Israel, who has agreed to
rat on the Mob. Said Mob puts out a winner-take-all bounty on Aces’
head, and what seems like everyone in the free world with a gun and a dream
comes gunning for Aces. One of those films with a giant cast that
amounts to a string of glorified cameos.
THE MESSENGERS – Stop me if
you’ve heard this premise before: Family moves into spooky old house,
but only the kids can see the spooky gho…whoops, that didn’t take long.
Thanks for stopping me.
ROGUE -- Nasty killer alligator
movie no. 2, from the guy who directed the equally nasty WOLF CREEK.
HANNIBAL RISING – The advance
buzz on this prequel has been incredibly negative, partly owing to the
fact that its source novel (completed after the screenplay, by the way
– go figure) has been universally panned as a stinker of the highest order.
I’ve read all of Thomas Harris’ books, and this is the first one I have
no desire to read. Coincidentally, I don’t have much desire to see
the movie, either. But I listed it for its geek value.
GHOST RIDER –Marvel hasn’t had
much success premiering superhero flicks in the dead of winter. (Think
DAREDEVIL and ELEKTRA.) They obviously haven’t learned their lesson,
because here comes Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze, a daredevil biker who
sells his soul to save a loved one. This, of course, gets him no
respect from Satan – just a flaming skull where his head would be.
And his bike sprouts flaming tires and rides up walls.
THE NUMBER 23 – I watched the
trailer for this latest Joel Schumacher film and was suitably unimpressed.
Jim Carrey plays a poor fool who becomes increasingly unglued when he perceives
some kind of strange conspiracy revolving around all sorts of permutations
of the number 23. (Hence the title.)
THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2 – Last
year’s remake of the Wes Craven ‘70s horror classic had one thing going
for it: director Alexandre Aja, whose first film, HIGH TENSION, was one
of the best horror films of the past ten years. Aja’s THE HILLS HAVE
EYES had a nasty, gritty kick to it. Naturally, Aja’s not involved
with this sequel, about a cadre of National Guard types who mistakenly
wander into the same nuclear testing ground. I’ll probably pass.
ZODIAC – Now we’re talking.
David Fincher, best known for SEVEN, makes a welcome return to the director’s
chair with this take on the true story of the search for San Francisco’s
Zodiac serial killer. The strong cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark
Ruffalo, and Robert Downey, Jr.
300 – Now we’re really talking.
The current buzz on this film is red-hot, based on a great pedigree (graphic
artist Frank Miller, director Zack “DEAD remake” Snyder) and an eye-popping
trailer. All about the Battle of Thermopylae, when 300 Spartans stood
against the mighty Persian army, sending testosterone levels off the charts.
I’ll be in line for this one!
FIDO – Two words: domesticated
zombies. No, I’m not kidding; I read the premise and watched a clip
online. In the not-too-distant future, after a zombie plague has
been dealt with, humans train zombies to do household chores. All
the zombies ask in return is to chomp on a stray mailman now and then.
I guess having your own zombie valet would be quite a status symbol.
(For our crowd, anyway.)
SHOOTER – A “wronged man” thriller
with Mark Wahlberg as an ex-Special Forces sniper set up by some crooked
Feds to take the fall for an assassination attempt. Directed by Antoine
“Training Day” Fuqua, and based on the novel by ex-Sun film critic Stephen
TMNT - Nope, don’t want to go
there. Sorry. (Anyone who can’t figure out that acronym is
reading the wrong newsletter.)
GRINDHOUSE – One of the three
movies I most want to see this year, but since the other two (Spidey and
Harry Potter) have built-in appeal, I’m putting GRINDHOUSE at the top of
the pile. It’s actually two movies in one: Robert Rodriguez
and Quentin Tarantino have each filmed their own 90-min. movie in the same
vein as the sleazy grindhouse flicks of the ‘70s: Rodriguez’ film is a
zombie mish-mash called “Planet Terror,” and Tarantino’s is a psycho movie
called “Death Proof,” in which serial killer Kurt Russell uses a souped-up
sports car to run down his victims. To capture the flavor of a true
double feature, several other genre directors have filmed fake trailers
for imaginary movies, such as Rob Zombie’s “Werewolf Women of the SS”.
The trailers will run between the Rodriguez and Tarantino features.
HOT FUZZ – The long-awaited
second feature from the guys behind SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Simon Pegg,
the star of SHAUN, plays a “supercop” (think a younger Dirty Harry) who
gets transferred to a quiet English village, where he’s teamed with a chubby
new partner ( Nick Frost, Pegg’s buddy from SHAUN). It’ll be interesting
to see if the same brains who twisted the zombie genre can do the same
to buddy cop films.
THE CONDEMNED – Here’s another
familiar premise: a convicted killer (pro wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin),
awaiting execution, is “purchased” by a TV producer and dumped on a remote
island with nine other condemned killers from all over the world, with
freedom going to the sole survivor. Think BATTLE ROYALE with extra
steroids, but without the subtitles.
SPIDER-MAN 3 – Everyone who
made the second movie is back, with a couple of new faces: Thomas
Haden Church is the Sandman (one of my favorite old Spider-man villains,
by the way), and Topher Grace plays Peter Parker’s rival Eddie Brock, fated
to become Venom. Bryce Dallas Howard, fresh from LADY IN THE WATER,
plays Gwen Stacy. The trailer looks nice, but while we’ve gotten
a pretty good look at the infamous “black suit,” the filmmakers have been
careful to keep Venom’s look under wraps. It opens 5/4.
28 WEEKS LATER – A sequel to
Danny Boyle’s genre-busting shocker of several years ago. Six
months have passed since the rage virus wiped out the British Isles, and
the U.S. Army has declared that the virus has been eradicated and people
can start to re-settle the country. Well, not quite. One of the returning
settlers carries a mutated form of the virus. Hilarity ensues.
1408 – Stephen King fans might
enjoy this adaptation of one of his scarier short stories, which was read
aloud at an ICS meeting several years ago. John Cusack plays a writer
intent on disproving the ghost stories revolving around a haunted hotel
room, and Samuel L. Jackson plays the hotel manager who tries to talk him
out of staying.
SHREK THE THIRD – I laughed
a good bit at the first one. I laughed once at the second one (the
helicopter shot of the “white bronco”). I don’t hold out a lot of
hope for the third one, although Shrek and Spidey will probably beat each
other up for the early summer box office.
ELI ROTH’S HOSTEL: PART II –
This one recently underwent a title change when Roth decided he’d go the
John Carpenter route and create his own brand name. It’s basically
the same plot as the first, with a gender reversal – this time, it’s the
ladies who are the unsuspecting tourists. Releasing it at the beginning
of the summer season doesn’t look right, but that’s just my opinion.
OCEAN’S 13 – Director Steven
Soderbergh has corralled the cons again, including Clooney, Pitt, and Damon,
to team up with their old adversary, casino magnate Andy Garcia.
Garcia is being muscled by hotel kingpin Al Pacino, and Clooney and co.
are recruited to help Garcia strike back. Early buzz is that 13 isn’t
nearly as trying as 12, but this might be a case of one too many trips
to the well.
FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE
SILVER SURFER – I offer this capsule purely as a public service, since
I thought the first film was one major-league stinker. But I must
admit the trailer looks interesting: a clip of the Surfer’s first appearance,
rather than the usual montage of money shots. Now, if they could
only guarantee Galactus would make an appearance, they might have something.
(I can’t believe I’m actually sitting here, talking myself into going to
EVAN ALMIGHTY – Yet another
sequel, this time designed to cash in on Steve Carell’s post-VIRGIN popularity.
He plays the newsman embarrassed by Jim Carrey in the first film, who is
visited by God (Morgan Freeman again) and asked to build an ark.
More embarrassment on the horizon.
LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD – Last
year, ROCKY BALBOA took the title as my Guilty Pleasure Must-See of 2006.
Here’s my pick for 2007. I don’t care if every critic in the free
world laughed this off as a mind-numbingly bad armpit of a movie; I’d still
go. I loved the first two, I thought the third was OK, and Bruce
the Bald is back for more as supercop John McClane. This time, an
Internet genius is trying to destroy the American mainframe, or something
like that. All I know is that Willis cracks wise and lots of stuff
blows up. I’m there.
RATATOUILLE – Pixar’s 2007 model,
which is basically all that animation fans need to know. The premise:
a Parisian rat suffers from having gourmet tastes in a sewer-slimy world.
The trailer’s pretty funny (“Once you muscle past the gag reflex, it’s
not that bad.”)
TRANSFORMERS – Fireballing director
Michael Bay returns with a live action/CGI take on the popular children’s
toy. The new trailer gives the barest of glimpses of the machines’
appearance, but in typical Bay fashion, the whole thing seems to move pretty
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF
THE PHOENIX – Finally, the film version of my favorite Potter book.
I have long predicted that Harry’s destiny will be to take over as Hogwarts
headmaster one day, that his true calling is to be a teacher, and this
was the book that started to show glimpses of that. Everyone’s back,
and in true series fashion, they’ve nailed the casting again; this time,
they’ve got Oscar nominee Imelda Staunton to play Dolores Umbridge, Dumbledore’s
successor as headmaster. Should be good.
THE SIMPSONS MOVIE – First,
let me say that I don’t watch The Simpsons. (Actually, I don’t watch
much animated TV at all.) But dang, the trailer makes me laugh.
Matt Groening and his crew are boldly trumpeting the fact that they’re
“gloriously 2-D in a CGI world.” Who better than the Simpsons to
make that statement work?
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM – Matt
Damon returns for Round Three of the Jason Bourne saga, once again directed
by Paul “United 93” Greenglass. Bourne is still searching for his
real identity, and most of the secret agents around the globe are still
RUSH HOUR 3 – Someone decided
there was still money to be made in the teaming of martial arts master
Jackie Chan and motormouth Chris Tucker. Seriously, has this Tucker
guy done anything else even remotely interesting? As in most of Jackie’s
recent American-made films, the bloopers over the closing credits will
probably be the most entertaining part of the movie.
FANBOYS – Four buddies take
a cross-country trip to honor the wish of their dying friend: to see the
premiere of STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE at George Lucas’ Skywalker
Ranch. The trailer was hit-or-miss; just when I thought it was basically
a teen-centric gross-out comedy, it nailed a perfect fan-geek-Star Wars
joke, and I smiled. There are scheduled cameos from Carrie Fisher,
Ray Park, and Billy Dee Williams. It might have possibilities.
THE INVASION -- Nicole Kidman
and Daniel Craig star in yet another remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.
Kidman plays a D.C. psychiatrist who begins to suspect that a wave of behavioral
changes among the populace is extra-terrestrial. A huge chunk of
the movie was filmed in Baltimore, so if nothing else, it should be good
for another round of Spot-the-Landmark.
HALLOWEEN – Rob Zombie brings
a fresh perspective to the original horror classic; I admit I’m curious
to see what the director of THE DEVIL’S REJECTS can do with the story of
Michael Myers. Dead-on casting tidbit: Malcolm McDowell will
step into Donald Pleasance’s Dr. Loomis role, and Tyler “Sabretooth” Mane
will don the Shatner mask as Michael himself.
SHOOT ‘EM UP – This sounds vaguely
like an old John Woo film: Clive Owen plays a man caught in a gun battle
who delivers a baby and is forced to protect the infant from thugs who
want to kill him. The additional cast includes Monica Bellucci and
RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION –
One can only hope.
THE BRAVE ONE – Further proof
that Hollywood has become imaginatively bankrupt: Jodie Foster stars
as a New York radio host who is brutally injured and her fiancée
killed in an attack. She goes on an anonymous rampage to find the
men responsible, capturing the hearts and minds of New Yorkers in the process.
Terrence Howard plays a detective doggedly trying to bring Foster down.
Yep, it’s DEATH WISH with a sex change.
TRICK ‘R TREAT – This sounds
like a throwback to those anthology horror flicks of the early ‘70s, with
several different tales revolving around the same premise or backdrop.
This time, the stories have a Halloween theme: a couple regrets blowing
out the jack-o-lantern candle before midnight, a group of young pranksters
get their comeuppance, etc, etc. Anna “Rogue” Paquin and Brian Cox
head the cast.
VANTAGE POINT – A Rashomon-styled
take on a Presidential assassination attempt, told from different points
of view: the Secret Service agents assigned to protect the man (Matthew
Fox, Dennis Quaid), a tourist who videotapes the event (Forest Whitaker),
and a TV producer reporting on the scene (Sigourney Weaver).
30 DAYS OF NIGHT – Hollywood
seems to be turning more and more to graphic novels for inspiration.
First SIN CITY, then 300, and now this. Steve Niles adapts his own
book, about a small Alaskan town attacked by vampires during the town’s
annual 30-day period of darkness. Josh Hartnett plays the town sheriff.
SAW IV – Need I say more?
AMERICAN GANGSTER – Ridley Scott
directs Russell Crowe for what seems like the umpteenth time, as a New
York detective in the ‘70s (based on a true story, of course) trying to
bring down a Harlem drug kingpin (Denzel Washington). Washington’s
character, Frank Lucas, built his empire by smuggling heroin out of Vietnam
in the body bags of dead soldiers. Trivia tip: This is not the first
time Denzel and Russell have starred together; years ago, Crowe played
a computer cyborg baddie in Denzel’s sci-fi flick, VIRTUOSITY. I’m
pretty sure Ridley Scott had nothing to do with that one.
BEOWULF – Robert Zemeckis directs
an animated version of one of the earliest fantasy epics, about the warrior
Beowulf and his battle with the monster Grendel (not to mention Grendel’s
vengeful mama). Voices include Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, John
Malkovich, and Ray Winstone.
THE MIST – Stephen King fans
have waited for this one for a long time. It’s a creepy “siege” thriller
about a mysterious mist that blankets a town and forces residents to hole
up in a supermarket; they proceed to get picked off by nightmarish monsters
lurking in the fog. Frank Darabont, who scored with two of the best
King adaptations ever – THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION and THE GREEN MILE – returns
to write and direct, with Thomas “The Punisher” Jane signed to star.
THE GOLDEN COMPASS – I know
very little about this one, but research tells me it is based on a popular
fantasy novel, the first in a trilogy, about a young girl in an alternative
fantasy world who tries to save her friend from a group of nasties known
as the Gobblers. Nicole Kidman teams with Daniel Craig again for
this one, which sounds like it should keep the NARNIA crowd busy until
PRINCE CASPIAN arrives in 2008.
ALIEN VS. PREDATOR 2 – They’re
baaack. Round Two of the intergalactic smackdown takes place in a
small Colorado town, and much mayhem is promised. 24 fans should
note that Reiko “Michelle Dessler” Aylesworth is attached to star.
I AM LEGEND – Of all the films
on the genre list for 2007, this is the one I would love to see make money.
Why? Because it’s based on one of the greatest vampire stories of
all time, a tale that has been filmed twice before and not that successfully
– although I always thought THE LAST MAN ON EARTH was an underrated creepfest,
and THE OMEGA MAN was a kitschy guilty pleasure. This time, superstar
Will Smith takes over from Vincent Price and Charlton Heston as scientist
Robert Neville, the sole survivor of a vampire plague. Smith’s character
struggles to get by in a New York City turned ghost town, all the while
being hounded by vampires out for his blood – literally. Directed
by Francis Lawrence, who brought some twisted imagery to life in CONSTANTINE.
Smith’s most recent outing, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, is making millions
and may score him another Oscar nomination, so I am cautiously – cautiously
– optimistic for I AM LEGEND.
news tv news tv news the glass teat tv news tv news tv news
AMC LOCKS UP THE PRISONER
AMC will air a remake of
the trippy 1968 TV series The Prisoner, with a storyline similar to that
of the original series, which starred Patrick McGoohan, who also was creator,
producer, writer and director. The original series aired on CBS 1967-'68.
The new series will follow
a man who finds himself inexplicably trapped in "the Village," with no
memory of how he arrived. All of the inhabitants are identified by number
instead of name, have no memory of a previous existence or outside civilization
and are under constant surveillance. The man, Number Six, sets out to discover
the truth behind the Village, why he's there and how he can escape.
Production on the hourlong
series is scheduled to begin in the spring for a worldwide premiere targeted
for January 2008. The number of episodes is yet to be determined, but it
will be a minimum of six or eight.
AMC also has acquired rights
to the original Prisoner and will air those episodes around the time of
the new series' launch, along with films in the same genre as the show.
JAN 26th DEAD SILENCE
“Personally speaking, from
the word 'go,' it always felt to me somewhere in the neighborhood between
90 and 100 episodes was going to be a version of Lost where we never had
to do the bad season," Damon Lindelof, co-creator and executive producer
of ABC's hit show Lost, said that 100 episodes is the magic number for
the series, and that he would like to see it end in the fifth season.
Lindelof said, "We knew season
one was going to be introduction, season two was going to be into the hatch,
season three was going to be the others. I don't want to tell you what
season four is going to be. And then there was a wrap-up season, a shortened
version, that would put you somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 episodes.
At the end of season four we'll have produced 93 hours of the show. And
I would imagine that would be very close to where it would end, ideally."
Lindelof and co-producer
Carlton Cuse created a stir when they announced that they are in discussions
with the network about finding an end point to the show. "We all looked
at each other at the very beginning and said, 'By the grace of God will
this show even survive 13 episodes,'" he said.
"So Carlton and I are able to now
sit down with the network and say, 'Remember in the very beginning when
you were having us convince you that this thing could go on for years and
years and years and we all agreed it couldn't? Well, now, just because
it's successful doesn't mean that that's changed.'
“The reality is, they can
produce a sixth or seventh or eighth season, but would anybody be watching?
Because the show will be so miserable by that time. Was it really The X-Files
anymore when David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson weren't on the show? For
me, The X-Files wasn't about, 'Have aliens invaded?' It was about Mulder
and Scully—a skeptic and a believer—and once that element of the show was
gone, the show was over. So we don't want to produce those episodes of
Lost, and in fact, we're not going to produce those episodes of Lost."
As for what Lost is about,
Lindelof has a clear idea, and a specific plan about what needs to happen
to the characters before the story concludes. "This show is about people
who are metaphorically lost in their lives, who get on an airplane and
crash on an island and become physically lost on the planet Earth," he
said. "And once they are able to metaphorically find themselves in their
lives again, they will be able to physically find themselves in the world
again. When you look at the entire show, that's what it will look like.
That's what it's always been about."
Lost returns with the first of
an uninterrupted run of episodes on Feb. 7. It will still air on Wednesdays,
but in a later timeslot, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
CHILLER, A NETWORK FOR US
In an unexpected move, NBC
Universal plans to roll out Chiller, a new digital cable network devoted
to horror-themed programming.
Jeff Gaspin, NBC Universal's president
of cable entertainment, digital content and cross-network strategy, is
expected to announce the network on Jan. 12 at the TV Critics Association
winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. Dan Harrison, senior vice president
of emerging networks for NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, will be in
charge of the channel.
The cable network will launch
March 1 and initially be seen in 12 million homes via a carriage deal with
DirecTV. The channel also will be offered on DirecTV's new tier of 100
HD channels slated to roll out later this year,.
NBC U has already started
pitching other cable operators on the channel and is hoping to land carriage
agreement on other systems.
Chiller will take advantage
of NBC U's deep reservoir of horror-related TV shows (Alfred Hitchcock
Presents) and films (The Shining, Psycho), many of them from the old MCA
library. But Gaspin said the cabler also has acquired programming from
other companies, including 20th Century Fox TV, Sony, Warner Brothers TV
Other programming assets
include Twin Peaks, Tales From the Crypt, Freddy's Nightmares and Friday
the 13th: The Series.
BIONIC WOMAN TO BE RIVIVED?
Not Zombie Bionic woman,
though that may be fun, but rather a remake. NBC has given a cast-contingent
pilot order to a reimagined version of the 1970s TV series The Bionic Woman,
from Battlestar Galactica producer David Eick. Eick is co-writing and co-producing
the project with Laeta Kalogridis (The Dive).
Eick has said that he's been
combing through the library at Universal, where his production company
is based, to find another title to revive following Battlestar. The original
version of The Bionic Woman—a spinoff of The Six Million Dollar Man— starred
Lindsay Wagner as a woman whose body is mechanically enhanced to save her
OKA REVEALS HEROES FUTURE
Masi Oka, who stars as Hiro
Nakamura on Heroes, said that his character will find love and a sword
in future episodes. "Let's put it this way, I heard from series creator
Tim Kring somewhere down the line—I'm not gonna say when—somewhere down
the line there will be another love interest with Hiro," Oka said. "From
what I understand it's gonna be a new character. But who knows? You never
know what's gonna happen in the minds of the writers."
In the last few episodes
before the mid-season finale, Hiro fell in love with a Texas waitress named
Charlie (played by Jayma Mays), but was unable to save her from the serial
killer known as Sylar (Zachary Quinto). According to Oka, the experience
will have a profound affect on Hiro in the last half of the season. "The
death of Charlie has definitely put a certain devastation and a realization
of reality into his power," he said. "He's definitely come to realize he
can't change the past. Fate is fate and he can't change that. Same with
destiny. He believed in that and he realizes that that's something not
to be messed with. But Hiro's still on his pure journey, but he's gone
through a lot of tragedy and obstacles, so it's going to be hard for him
to sort of balance that."
Hiro will also begin a quest
for the sword he saw himself using in a picture drawn by the character
of Isaac (Santiago Cabrera), who has the ability to paint the future. "The
next seven episodes are definitely focused about Hiro and his quest for
his sword, which he believes will let him focus his power and get back
the control over his powers," Oka said. "But we'll see some very interesting,
new kind of effects, because of his lack of control of his powers and how
they are tied to his emotions."
And what of the dinosaur
also seen in the painting? Oka, who also has a career in special effects,
said that it will be explained, and possibly even seen, in the next new
episode. "Our show has always realized Isaac's paintings," he said. "So
we know it comes to fruition in one form or another. And all I can say
is I do work for Industrial Light & Magic, and we've worked on a great
film called Jurassic Park."
HALLSTROM’S NEW AT FOX
Lasse Halstrom is set to direct and executive-produce
the SF pilot New Amsterdam for Fox,. The project is the first foray into
American television for the Oscar-nominated director.
The series, written by Allan Loeb
and Christian Taylor, centers on a man cursed with immortality who works
as a homicide detective in New York. "I was really intrigued by the writing,"
Hallstrom. "I find it emotionally very strong, with a very interesting
lead character and a recognizable observation of human behavior."
Hallstrom, who worked in
television in his native Sweden for 10 years before coming to the U.S.
in 1989, said he had been toying with the idea of venturing into U.S. television
for years but that his feature schedule never permitted him to do a pilot.
news movie news Silver Screen movie news movie news
NEXT SUPERMAN HAS MORE BUDDIES?
Michael Dougherty, co-writer
of last year's Superman Returns, said that the upcoming sequel will feature
at least one villain drawn from the DC Comics franchise. Or more than one?
"Maybe," Dougherty said "It's [Mr.] Myxyzptlk," he added, with tongue in
Dougherty said that it's
likely he and his Superman Returns writing partner Dan Harris will again
work with Singer on the sequel. "We're talking," Dougherty said. "We're
bouncing ideas around with Bryan. Big ideas. Action-packed ideas."
Singer has said the next installment will be along
the lines of the second Star Trek film, and Dougherty said the comparison
is apt. "I think it's going to be a more action-oriented film," he said.
"Again, the easy comparison to make was X-Men to X2, or Star Trek -The
Motion Picture to Star Trek II. I mean, I know that Bryan has said he's
going to Wrath of Khan it, and by that he means, 'Let's take what we've
already established—we've gotten that out of the way—and let's just make
it shorter, tighter and more action-packed."
JOHN CARTER OF MARS
Disney is optioning rights
to the Edgar Rice Burroughs SF series John Carter of Mars as a potential
franchise for the studio. The story centers on a Civil War veteran who
retreats into a cave to avoid capture by Apache Indians and finds himself
transported to the planet of Barsoom and taken prisoner by 12-foot-tall
green men. Burroughs wrote 11 volumes of Carter's adventures. Disney is
the film will launch its next major film franchise.
GHOST ALMOST READY TO RIDE
Mark Steven Johnson, director
of the upcoming Ghost Rider, said that he's still working on the film's
visual effects and editing with only one month to go before its Feb. 14
release. "I literally came from the Sony mixing stage, but I wanted to
give a good introduction to the fans," Johnson said.
Johnson and one of the movie's
stars, Eva Mendes, were at a convention to show nine minutes of new footage
from the movie, based on the Marvel Comics superhero with a blazing skull
and flaming motorcycle. An appreciative audience of about 200 whooped and
applauded after seeing the footage.
"I'm still working on it,"
Johnson said. "There's still some rough stuff. There's some old footage
on the Internet with some early effects, and this is a huge step up."
Mendes admitted that she wasn't a comic-book fan,
like her co-star Nicolas Cage, but became a fan after reading the script.
"I want to thank Mark for not making me just the 'chick.' I think she's
a modern-day powerful female role who still shows that she's vulnerable,"
Mendes added: "I think there's
a superhero in me. I would watch Nic and say, 'Aw, why can't I be on fire?'
I would like to be a superhero."
DEAD SILENCE RELEASED
A March 23 release date is
set for its supernatural thriller Dead Silence, starring Ryan Kwanten,
Amber Valletta, Donnie Wahlberg and Bob Gunton. The film, directed by James
Wan (Saw), tells the story of newlyweds Jamie (Kwanten) and Lisa Ashen,
who have established a new life for themselves far from their hometown
of Ravens Fair. When his wife is gruesomely murdered, Jamie reluctantly
returns to Ravens Fair for the funeral, where he reunites with his ill
father (Gunton) and his father's new young bride (Valletta). Jamie begins
to explore the creepy town and encounters the legend of Mary Shaw, a famous
murdered ventriloquist whose presence still casts a pall over Ravens Fair.
TINGLER TO RETURN IN REMAKE
Columbia Pictures is developing
a remake of Vincent Price's 1959 horror classic The Tingler. The studio,
along with Neal Moritz's Original Pictures, has hired screenwriting team
Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan to update the script. The pair is best
known for writing the horror film Feast, which was chosen as the focus
of the third season of Project Greenlight.
In the original Tingler,
Price plays a mad scientist who discovers a creature that attacks people
from inside when they are afraid. He uses the creature to literally scare
people to death. Columbia and Moritz started developing the remake in 2003,
with Greg Pace on board as screenwriter. But the project stalled and was
inactive before Melton and Dunstan were brought on board.
TEEN HEADED FOR BIG SCREEN
Cartoon Network's animated
series Aqua Teen Hunger Force will be the first original show of the channel's
late-night Adult Swim programming block to be turned into a feature film.
The 86-minute film was written, produced and directed by co-creators Matt
Maiellaro and Dave Willis.
The film centers on the origins
of Hunger Force characters Meatwad, Frylock and Master Shake and an immortal
piece of exercise equipment threatening the balance of galactic peace,
the trade paper reported. "It was too big a story to do in 11 minutes,"
Willis told Variety. "It's based on our fear of exercise equipment."
KELLER GETS NIGHTMARES
Fred Keller—whose television
directing credits include SF dramas Day Break and the upcoming Raines—will
direct the independent horror thriller Worst Nightmares. Keller has also
done a rewrite of the script, originally written by Australian writer-actor
Shane Briant. The story follows the ordeal of people killed in the manner
of their own worst nightmares. Nightmares, which marks Keller's first major
feature as a director, is due to start production this summer in Los Angeles.
By Dava Sentz
The pre and
post Christmas season is always filled with cinematic choices; some of
it good, some of it bad, some of it strictly for the kiddies, and some
of it very ugly. I wasn't able to fully indulge my movie wish list this
season, but somehow I still managed to see a movie that, in one way or
another, fit into every category described above...a happy little tale
about a happy tap dancing penguin appropriately titled Happy Feet.
have certainly never had anything against penguins and have always found
them quite cute, my affections for them have never stretched into a desire
to watch them sing and dance for two hours on the silver screen. But, there
was just something about Mumble. Was it his sweet personality? Was it the
fact that he was an underdog? Was it his adorable feet? On the surface,
yes, but there was something else at work...something in his voice...something
The main reason
I was attracted to Mumble and his happy feet was because, underneath the
fat belly and feathered wings lurked the body of Elijah Wood, a former
blue-eyed hobbit who, over the years won the respect and admiration of
Middle Earth as well as myself. This, along with a storyline that resembled
Rudolph: The Red-Nosed Reindeer, was more than enough to get me into the
all, I enjoyed spending time with Mumble and his friends in their arctic
world. EG Daily was adorably charming as Baby Mumble and, true to form,
Robin Williams turned out a rather humorous performance, doubling as the
voices of head "Amigo" Romon and penguin psychic Lovelace.
it is cute and somewhat amusing to watch penguins sing and dance on the
big screen, recent criticisms by the media were right to suggest that it
was overdone. After all, what sets Mumble apart from his, to use the term
loosely, friends and family is his lack of singing ability; the absence
of a beautiful "heart song" that is supposed to attract the female penguin
Mumble lacks in a voice he makes up for in feet, tap-dancing happy feet
that beats its audience over the head with a message of hope; a message
that says "I'm different and that's okay." I got the point immediately.
There was no need to drag it out.
However, prior to seeing the film, I read another review denouncing the
penguins for providing another message; Be kind to your planet. When excessive
pollution begins to ruin his home, and the food supply to the penguin population,
Mumble goes off in search of answers, using his tap dancing abilities to
draw attention to us, the human race.
this movie for an overuse of singing and dancing is one thing, but now
we're attacking a children's movie for expressing an environmental concern?
Am I the only one who finds that unsettling? Shouldn't a message like that
be viewed as positive? No matter how misguided or right on, the films drawbacks
might be, this is still a cute and cuddly movie experience; one that I
think children and adults alike will enjoy.
CINEMA COMING SOON
IMAGINATIVE CINEMA - COMING SOON
to a Theater near you!
MUST SEE MOVIES FOR YOU!
Cast: Leigh Whannell, Amber
Valletta, Ryan Kwanten, Donnie Wahlberg
Premise: A man is called
home by his dying father, but tongueless corpses begin piling up all around
the young man, who enlists a female friend from his high school days to
figure out who's doing the gruesome killings.
BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE
Cast: Agnes Bruckner, Hugh Dancy,
Oliver Martinex, Katja Rieman
Premise: With the Five on her
tail, a young beautiful werewolf named Vivian seeks peace in the arms of
Aiden while escaping the never-ending infatuation Gabriel has on her. But
when a string of accidental murders happen, this threatens to rip and expose
her pack apart.
JAN 26th THE
Cast: Justin Chatwin, Margarita
Levieva, Marcia Gay Harden,
Premise: Nick, a high school
senior is brutally attacked and left for dead. Now in limbo, not quite
dead but invisible to the living, his spirit can only watch as his mother
the police search frantically
for him, unaware that he is only hours away from truly perishing. A remake.
Cast:: Kristen Stewart, Dylan
McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett
Premise: A family moves
into a run-down sunflower farm. As the farm begins to revive after years
of disrepair, the family begins to notice uncomfortable and alarming changes
in their father's behavior.
Cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Gong Li,
Rhys Ifans, Richard Brake, Kevin McKidd
Premise: In "Red Dragon" and
"Silence of the Lambs" we learned who he was and how he thought. Now comes
the elusive chapter in the life of Hannibal Lecter – the one that explains
what we have asked – WHY did he do it? This is the story of the monster
Hannibal Lecter's formative years. These experiences as a child and young
adult led to his remarkable contribution to the fields of medicine, music,
painting and forensics.
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes,
Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott
Premise: Long ago, superstar
motorcycle stunt rider Johnny Blaze made a deal with the devil to protect
the ones he loved most. Now, the devil has come for his due. By day, Johnny
is a die-hard stunt rider... but at night, in the presence of evil, he
becomes the Ghost Rider, a bounty hunter of rogue demons. Forced to do
the devil's bidding, Johnny is determined to confront his fate and use
his curse and powers to defend the innocent
Good bye farewellsfarewellsfarewells
Yvonne De Carlo, the beautiful star
who played Moses' wife in The Ten Commandments but achieved her greatest
popularity on TV's The Munsters, has died. She was 84.
De Carlo died of natural causes
Jan. 8 at the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban Los
Angeles, longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns said..
De Carlo, whose shapely figure
helped launch her career in B-movie desert adventures and westerns, rose
to more important roles in the 1950s.
But for TV viewers, she will
always be known as Lily Munster in the 1964-'66 slapstick horror-movie
spoof The Munsters.
Lily, vampire-like in a black
gown, presided over the faux scary household and was a rock for her gentle
but often bumbling husband, Herman, played by 6-foot-5-inch character actor
Fred Gwynne (decked out as the Frankenstein monster).
The show lasted only two years,
but had a long life in syndication and resulted in two feature movies,
Munster Go Home! (1966) and The Munsters' Revenge (1981, for TV).
Before that, Cecil B. DeMille
chose De Carlo to play Sephora, wife to Charlton Heston's Moses in The
Ten Commandments. The following year she co-starred with Clark Gable and
Sidney Poitier in Band of Angels as Gable's upper-class sweetheart who
learns of her black forebears.
De Carlo, who was born Peggy
Yvonne Middleton in Vancouver, B.C., lived in semiretirement near Solvang,
north of Santa Barbara. Her son Michael died in 1997, and she suffered
a stroke the following year.
Lois Hall, a veteran character
actress and former leading lady to B-movie western stars Johnny Mack Brown,
Charles Starrett and Whip Wilson, has died. She was 80 years old.
During her B-movie heyday, Hall
appeared in westerns such as HORSEMEN OF THE SIERRAS with Starrett, COLORADO
AMBUSH with Brown and NIGHT RAIDERS with Whip Wilson.
She also starred in Republic
Pictures' 1949 adventure tale DAUGHTER OF THE JUNGLE, played the Lady of
the Lake in the 1949 Columbia serial THE ADVENTURES OF SIR GALAHAD, starring
George Reeves; and appeared opposite Buster Crabbe in Columbia's 1950 serial
PIRATES OF THE HIGH SEAS.
Her scores of television credits
began in the 1950s with DICK TRACY, STUDIO ONE, THE RANGE RIDER, THE LONE
RANGER, ANNIE OAKLEY and THE CISCO KID and include genre series THE ADVENTURES
OF SUPERMAN, THE UNEXPECTED, STAR TREK:TNG and extend to more recent series
such as SIX FEET UNDER, COLD CASE and LOST. She also had a recurring role
in SONS & DAUGHTERS.
Martin Nodell, the creator
of Green Lantern, the comic book superhero who uses his magical ring to
help him fight crime, has died.
Nodell was looking for a new
idea for a comic book in 1940 when he was waiting for a New York subway
and saw a train operator waving a lantern displaying a green light. Nodell
imagined a young engineer, Alan Scott, a train crash survivor who discovers
in the debris an ancient lantern forged from a green meteor. Scott constructs
a ring from the lamp that gives him super powers, and becomes a crime fighter.
He brought his drawings and story lines to All-American Publications, which
later became a part of National Periodical Publications, the company that
was to become DC Comics.
The first Green Lantern appearance
came in July 1940, in an eight-page story in a comic book also featuring
other characters. The character then got his own series, and Nodell drew
it until 1947 under the name Mart Dellon.
After its cancellation in 1949,
the series was reborn in 1959 with a revised story line, and it has been
revived several times. Meanwhile, Nodell left the comics field for an advertising
career. In the 1960s, he was on a design team that helped develop the Pillsbury
He was 91.
Iwao Takamoto, the animator who
designed the cartoon canine Scooby-Doo as well as characters on such shows
as The Flintstones and The Jetsons, died Jan. 8 after suffering a massive
coronary. He was 81.
Takamoto died at Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for respiratory
problems, said Gary Miereanu, a spokesman for Warner Brothers Animation.
He designed Scooby-Doo, his
equally famished and cowardly master Shaggy, and their pals Velma, Daphne
and Fred in the late 1960s while working at the Hanna-Barbera animation
studio. The Great Dane's name was inspired by an improvised line at the
end of Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night."
He also designed the snickering
dog Muttley, who was featured in a number of productions, and Astro, the
family dog on The Jetsons. For The Flintstones, he created the Great Gazoo,
a green alien.
Takamoto's death comes exactly
three weeks after that of Hanna-Barbera co-founder Joseph Barbera, who
was 95; Barbera's business partner, William Hanna, died in 2001.
THE LAST WARD . . .
THE LAST WARD
by John Ward
2006 was not a very spectacular
year at the movies. Warmed-over sequels carried the day, with pirates,
mutants, animated cars, and dancing penguins scoring at the box office.
What can you say about a year when the biggest hits had numbers in the
titles? Around here, you call it business as usual. I was pleased
to note only one film in my Top 10 with a number in the title, and it most
definitely was not a sequel. I call that progress.
For the past several years,
I’ve averaged about 40 trips annually to the old multiplex. I think
that’s about normal for me these days. Now that we’ve become a Netflix
family, it’s a lot more convenient to stay home and watch what I want.
It’s the same old story: prices keep going up, and I keep getting
pickier. I’m not ready to give up on the pleasures of the theater-going
experience, but I admit it’s becoming easier to pass films by. I
used to see every piece of dreck that crawled into town; nowadays, I can’t
afford it. Which means a film I see in the theater is less likely
to be a dog, and more likely to be worth my time. But I was still
able to award an “Allie” this year, thanks to No. 1 Son. There’s
quite a gap between my no. 1 film of the year and my “Allie,” although
I have a suspicion that several of my top picks will not make most other
lists. But isn’t that the point?
This one was a complete surprise.
It played Bawlmer for a short time earlier in the year, but I didn’t catch
it until it hit video in the fall. BRICK is an amazingly sure-footed
film noir, with a tired gumshoe looking for the people responsible for
the death of his ex-girlfriend. There’s a mysterious mastermind,
a femme fatale, thug henchmen, double crosses, and a situation that just
seems to get bleaker and bleaker for our nominal hero. Oh – did I
mention that the whole thing is set in a suburban high school? Joseph
Gordon Leavitt, whose previous claim to fame was his role on the TV show
Third Rock From the Sun, plays Brendan, a quiet slacker, trying to figure
out why his ex-girlfriend was found dead in a drainage culvert. Leavitt
never once takes a false step as he navigates the murky world beyond the
school, looking for answers, taking beatings, getting slammed around, yet
never giving up.
Horror made a strong showing
on my list this year, beginning with this hilariously profane collection
of gruesome scares, or as the hero sheriff nonchalantly put it, “That’s
some pretty f$%ked-up s$%#t.” If the ‘80s can be considered
“old school,” then this is an old school creature feature, starring Firefly’s
Nathan Fillion as Sheriff Bill Pardy, struggling to save his small Southern
town from – well, there’s no other way to say it – slugs from outer space.
Said slugs are nasty little devils, fond of entering their human hosts’
bodies and taking them over, turning them into bloodthirsty crazies.
James Gunn, who wrote the well-received DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, made his
directing debut here, and the results were a lot of fun. If you haven’t
seen it, I recommend the DVD, with some of the most laid-back behind-the-scenes
features I’ve seen.
8. THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Robert De Niro’s second directorial
feature was sober-minded and leisurely paced, but incredibly engrossing
– the history of the CIA, as seen through the eyes of one of its young
members. Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson, recruited from Yale’s secretive
Skull and Bones Society to join the ranks of a fledgling “foreign service
agency” at the dawn of World War II. De Niro has a small role as
the general who recruits Damon, and many top names play supporting roles,
including Angelina Jolie, William Hurt, Michael Gambon, and Alec Baldwin.
Even De Niro buddy Joe Pesci shows up for one scene. Damon plays
the part in a very buttoned down, closed-off manner, and we watch as he
sacrifices everything – a regular schedule, a family, a connection with
his son – for the good of the agency. Most of the action is told
through flashbacks as Damon, deep into the Cuban Missile Crisis, thinks
back over his career. THE GOOD SHEPHERD is one of those movies that
you can sink into, but you better be willing to pay attention.
This movie was released on
the very first weekend of the year, only a few days after I wrote my last
Top Ten column; I didn’t expect it to still be on my list, yet here it
is. Eli Roth’s follow-up to his gross-out flick CABIN FEVER is just
as gruesome, but tighter, more intense. I thought it was the best
of a relatively thin sub-genre of horror films known for their sleazy,
sordid tone, like THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, and the SAW
movies. It opens like a cheap sex comedy, with a couple of American
students looking for girls while backpacking around Europe. They’re
lured to Bratislava on the pretext that the women are easy, but become
victims of a nightmarish torture club. This is definitely not the
sort of film that wins awards, but within its genre, there was none better.
6. SNAKES ON A PLANE
The Internet made this movie,
and the Internet effectively killed it, too. What began life as a
second-tier action thriller took on an entirely different meaning when
bloggers, fanboys, and other assorted movie geeks made the film’s ingeniously
obvious title a sensation. Things got crazier when word leaked that
the studio suits had demanded a recut that would actually make the film
an even harder R, including star Samuel L. Jackson’s infamous dialogue
about – umm – incestuous reptiles. What got lost in the translation
was the fact that the film achived exactly what it was meant to do:
deliver thrills in abundance. SNAKES was a disaster movie for the
new millennium, with FBI agent Jackson battling a planeload of poisonous
snakes while trying to protect his charge, a witness to a Mob murder.
It died a fairly quick death at the box office, chiefly because it coldn’t
live up to its own Internet hype. But folks who stayed away missed
out on a real roller coaster ride.
I guess you could call this
Mel Gibson’s comeback film, even though his previous directing gig netted
hundreds of millions of dollars. Then again, before this movie came
out, ol’ Mel had a pretty crummy year. APOCALYPTO saved it for him.
Like THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, Gibson’s new film used gorgeous photography,
subtitles, and an unstintingly violent eye to memorably evoke another time
and place. This time, Gibson used a cast of unknowns to tell his
exciting story. Rudy Youngblood played Jaguar Paw, a young Mayan
Indian separated from his pregnant wife and child and kidnapped by a more
warlike tribe. He escapes, the warriors give pursuit, and the last
45 minutes of the film were as suspenseful as anything else in the theaters
this year. The ending (which I will not give away, so relax) puts
Jaguar Paw’s story into historical perspective. Very well made.
4. THE DESCENT
For the first time, I’ve
included the same movie on my Top Ten list two years in a row. Technically,
THE DESCENT followed my primary listing rule, which states a film must
be seen in the year it was released. I saw Neil Marshall’s horror
thriller during its initial release in London during the summer of 2005.
The film got great reviews in England, but had the misfortune of premiering
right after the subway bombings. People weren’t exactly in the mood
for this kind of scare show. Marshall fiddled with the ending a bit
and released it stateside last summer; it still managed to top all other
releases as the best horror film of the year. Six women, all extreme
sports enthusiasts, go caving in the Appalachians. After a cave-in
traps them a mile underground, the women realize they’re not alone; a race
of subhuman creatures have targeted them for dinner. THE DESCENT
was unrelentingly grim and claustrophobic, definitely not for everyone’s
tastes. But horror fans couldn’t find a better time at the movies
3. UNITED 93
I thought long and hard about
including this one on the list, but in the end, solid filmmaking won the
day. Director Paul Greenglass told his 9/11 story without taking
a side, and his objective point-of-view proved to be a real advantage.
The story of the flight that went down in Pennsylvania didn’t need any
fictitious embellishment to make it one of the most gripping of the year;
its ending was a stark, sudden commentary on the events of the day, and
viewers were left shaken. Greenglass populated his film with a mix
of no-names and real-life participants, and that made the scenes
even more believable. I thought UNITED 93 did a better job than Oliver
Stone’s perfectly acceptable WORLD TRADE CENTER of capturing the immediacy
of the story, and no film last year was better at showcasing the inherent
courage of the human spirit.
2. CASINO ROYALE
From a film geek’s point
of view, CASINO ROYALE had to be the year’s happiest miracle: a complete
reinvention of the James Bond franchise, with almost unanimous worldwide
acclaim. (Nope, I didn’t see that coming.) Daniel Craig put
all fears to rest and made the Bond character his own, a simply incredible
piece of acting that put him on a very small pedestal next to Sean Connery.
Longtime producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson decided to go back
to basics, a decision that many of us had been demanding for years, and
the results were electric: the creation of Bond as 007, licensed to kill,
falling in love, losing at love and at the poker table (but not for long),
butting heads with M (superbly played by Dame Judi Dench, the lone holdover
from the Brosnan days), and keeping the thrills on an entirely human level.
Craig’s Bond no longer has to save the free world; he simply has to save
himself. One of the two purest film pleasures of the year…
1. THE DEPARTED
…and here’s the other.
Martin Scorsese returns to what he knows best: the human tragedy of organized
crime. THE DEPARTED is a remake of the Hong Kong crime thriller INFERNAL
AFFAIRS, but Scorsese has made the story his own, setting it in Boston,
telling the tale of two men on opposite sides of a cops-and-crime war,
both of them undercover. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a rookie cop infiltrating
mob boss Jack Nicholson’s gang, while Matt Damon plays Nicholson’s protégé,
already a cop, and reporting back to boss Jack. Both men are assigned
an impossible task: smoke out the informant (in other words, each other).
They don’t really meet until the final act, but for most of the film, they
circle warily around each other, coming closer and closer to the truth,
until the audience is left gasping at Scorsese’s filmmaking wizardry.
I feel exactly the same way about Scorsese that I felt about Peter Jackson
in 2003 – if the man doesn’t finally win his Oscar, there really is no
Once again, a number of films
fought hard to be included in my final ten, and when the smoke cleared
and the dust settled, the following movies just missed the cut: V
FOR VENDETTA, INSIDE MAN, MONSTER HOUSE IN 3-D, WORLD TRADE CENTER, and
even ROCKY BALBOA!
ALIVE AND KICKING
Like I said before, it’s
getting harder and harder to find a movie on my big list that qualifies
as an unadulterated piece of crap. For the most part, I’m usually
able to find something good about almost anything, simply to justify the
expense of the ticket. These films made it easier to do just that.
I found something to like in GLORY ROAD, FINAL DESTINATION 3, THE HILLS
HAVE EYES, THE SENTINEL, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: III, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND,
CARS, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST, TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE
BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBY, INVINCIBLE, THE PRESTIGE, BORAT, and NIGHT AT THE
I think I’m going to start
my own list of criteria for bad movies, and one rule that should be high
on my list will be, “Movies that focus on dragons will almost always be
bad.” I wasn’t planning to see ERAGON, but No. 1 Son tugged at the
ol’ guilt chain by saying, “Dad, I don’t want to see this movie with my
friends; I want to see it with you.” I had no defense for that, and
I basically had no defense for the movie, either, a derivative mess that
plenty of folks said ripped off THE LORD OF THE RINGS, but nothing could
be further from the truth. The movie that ERAGON really ripped off
was STAR WARS. A young orphan boy, raised by his uncle, spends his
evenings looking at the sunset and pondering his destiny. His uncle
is killed by the bad guys, the kid falls in with a mentor who teaches him
that he is the last in a long line of…oh, hell, if you can’t see STAR WARS
through the trees, then you really are reading the wrong newsletter. And
ERAGON was as wrong as a movie can be, the worst film I saw in theaters
THE TOP TEN DVDs OF THE YEAR
1. SEVEN SAMURAI 3-DISC SPECIAL
EDITION (CRITERION COLLECTION)
2. SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: THE COMPLETE
3. THE SEARCHERS: ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S
4. SAM PECKINPAH: THE LEGENDARY
WESTERNS (THE WILD BUNCH, PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID, THE BALLAD OF
CABLE HOGUE, RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY)
5. THE WILD WILD WEST: THE COMPLETE
6. ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN: 2-DISC
7. FINAL DESTINATION 3: 2-DISC
INTERACTIVE THRILL RIDE EDITION
8. 24: SEASON FIVE
9. THE DESCENT: ORIGINAL DIRECTOR’S
10. LOST: SEASON 2
TEN THINGS I LOVED ABOUT TELEVISION
4. Everything on LOST except for
5. The “Final Days” of THE WEST
6. Watching the Ravens destroy
the Steelers twice in five weeks
7. The “Mac Vs. PC” commercial
8. PRISON BREAK
9. The Emmy Awards (but mainly
because of 24)
10. The reaction when Three 6 Mafia
won the Best Song Oscar for “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp”
CALENDER OF EVENTS
BLOOD AND CHOCOLATE
JAN 26th THE INVISIBLE
JAN 27th ICS MEETING –Saturday at 5:30 P.M.
We will have Rick Arnold’s presentation of a ground breaking TV show from
the late 60’s. Part soap opera, part horror fun, come and learn about “Dark
Shadows”. Also, Club dues for 2007 are due and our annual elections
will be held on this night.
FEB 4th Star Wars Roadshow – at Odenton Library
From 1:30-4, email email@example.com for more info
(Or email Betsy.)
FEB 16-18 FARPOINT
– Media Con, at Hunt Valley Inn.
Special Guest: RON GLASS "Shepherd Book", Firefly/Serenity
LOOK AHEAD - 2007 SCHEDULE
Feb 24 (*) Haunted House Movies, presented by Sam
March 31 Son of No-Stinkers Night, presented by John
April 7 Field Trip to Geppi Museum at Camden Yards
April 21 (*) 100th Meeting & Top 10 Genre
Movies as picked by the club
May 26 ICS Cookout
June 30 (*)
August 25 (*)
October 27 (*) Greg Mank Returns; Halloween
Potluck Dinner & All-Nighter
December 29 (*) Yankee Swap
(*) denotes Late Night Feature