Archive for November, 2009

Paramount Picks Up ‘Area 51′ Movie

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment


Some new, quite extensive details have just surfaced for Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli’s followup film, Area 51. No, it’s not a sequel to the mega-hit Paranormal Activity (although that’s also in the works), but rather – and no prizes if you guessed it – a film about aliens. The plot we heard about at the beginning of last month involved three teens whose curiosity leads them to the famous secret-section of the Nellis Air Force Base out in the Nevada Desert, in search of extraterrestrial phenomenon.

The studio which “took the chance” on Paranormal Activity was Paramount Pictures, and now it’s landed the U.S. distribution rights to Area 51.


Variety reports the news, and also reveals that Peli had a significantly increased budget to play with this time around, jumping from $15,000 to about $5 million. That’s still not much compared to some Hollywood movies (both Transformers 2 and 2012 cost around $200 million EACH).

Paramount has made a commitment in the seven-figure range, sources say, to become co-financiers of the film with Incentive Filmed Entertainment and the Aramid Entertainment Fund. The three companies are apparently going to be on-board for any sequels that may arise (and you know that’ll be at least discussed if Area 51 is anywhere near as successful as Paranormal Activity was).

Supposedly there were four other studios bidding to acquire Area 51’s rights, but Paramount Film Group president, Adam Goodman, had an “inside track.” Goodman was a big part of acquiring Paranormal Activity when he was at Dreamworks and was the exec at Paramount who helped push the studio’s word-of-mouth marketing campaign, something which paid off tremendously.

Area 51 has already sold in most movie markets (it was one of the biggest sellers at the American Film Market), except for Japan and some East European markets. Some examples of international companies that bought the rights include Momentum in the UK, Alliance in Canada and Gussi in Latin America. Talk about selling like hot cakes – I guess your last batch really helps your next…

Area 51 completed principal photography about three weeks ago (boy that was fast!). It employs the same kind of found-footage technique Paranormal Activity did, this time in order to tell the story of the three teens who end up at the titular Area 51. I wonder if the storytelling structure will work as well now that so many people saw Peli’s haunted house hit. If they play up the fact that Peli directed Paranormal Activity (which they definitely will), then will people connect the dots and the alien film will lose a bit of its impact.

Area 51

As we previously reported, Paranormal Activity 2 is looking very likely, with Variety reporting it will be, “the next deal to be made.” I guess Hollywood hasn’t learned from the Blair Witch 2

Were you one of the lovers or one of the haters of Paranormal Activity (I just saw it last week and it scared me, I must admit)? Are you looking forward to what Oren Peli has come up with his followup, Area 51? Are you surprised the rights to it have been snapped up so quick?

In case you missed it, check out the “Secret Area 51 (Movie) Documents” (in other words, an “edited” script, which Latino Review scored) that we posted about earlier this month.

There’s no exact date been set for Area 51 yet, but a release sometime in 2010 is highly likely. The pic will go into post-production soon.

Source: Variety

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Categories: NEWS STORY

Iron Man 2 Movie Poster: War Machine Revealed

November 30, 2009 Leave a comment

Posted on Monday, November 30th, 2009 by Peter Sciretta

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment have premiered the first official movie poster for Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2 on Yahoo. A poster usually means that a trailer isn’t far off. The new poster plays off the number 2 and features Iron Man back-to-back with War Machine.  Favreau previously hinted on his twitter account that we might see the first trailer for Iron Man 2 attached to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, which hits theaters on Christmas Day. Check out the full poster below.

Iron Man 2 Movie Poster

Here is what we know about the film so far:

  • Sam Rockwell plays a fast-talking weapons manufacturer named Justin Hammer, “who fancies himself the next Tony Stark”. He sells Stark the weapons he uses to construct War Machine.
  • Mickey Rourke plays Russian criminal Vanko, who creates his own battle-suit while incarcerated in a Soviet prison.
  • Whiplash’s suit “shoots devastating, whip-like beams.”
  • Hammer and Whiplash join forces to take on Stark/Iron Man.
  • Scarlett Johansson plays Russian superspy Natasha Romanoff (aka the Black Widow), who is hired as Stark’s assistant which inevitably sparks romantic tension between Stark and former assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), who’s been promoted to CEO of Stark Industries.
  • Tony is trying to learn more about his father’s mysterious past, specifically the Stark Expo, which must “play a major role in the energy crisis, which is a chief issue in the film.”

Iron Man 2 will hit theaters on May 7th 2010.

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Categories: POSTERS

Movie History – This is the Ape Figurine someone paid $200 Grand for..

November 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Back in 1933 there was this little movie called King Kong. While not an epic award-winner, the film instantly became a legend for stunning special effects and arguably the most iconic Hollywood monster of them all. Whether you’ve seen the film or not, you’ve no doubt witnessed the scene, where the large ape grabbed Fay Wray’s Anne Darrow and carried her to the top of the Empire State Building, where he fought off planes and machine gun fire to be with the unwilling object of his affection.

reports that the specific metal skeleton used in that iconic scene has sold for approximately $200,000 at a Christie’s auction in London. Talk about a killer find! The 22-inch figurine was originally “covered in cotton, rubber, liquid latex, and rabbit’s fur,” but being over 70 years old, that covering has rotted away to reveal what you see above — a collection of metal, rivets, and screws fashioned into an ape skeleton.

While there’s a whole lot of great computer-generated effects out there, I can’t help but feel a pang for the good old days of tangible creations and miniature models. They gave an added sense of realism to special effects-laden filmmaking. You can check out the scene (colorized) after the jump.

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Interview – Director John Hillcoat of 'THE ROAD'

November 22, 2009 Leave a comment

The Road movie image John Hillcoat slice.jpg

Australian director John Hillcoat creates a bleak universe on film and brings it to life with an incredible cast in his latest film, The Road, an epic post-apocalyptic tale about the survival of a father and his young son as they journey across a barren America destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm. Based on the best-selling Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, The Road stars Academy Award-nominee Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and young newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee.

While The Road is a tough movie to watch, it’s an incredible story and something worth your time.  We recently had the pleasure to speak with John Hillcoat and our interview is after the jump.  He talks about making the film, casting, film stock, why did he shoot in Pennsylvania, working with Viggo, and a lot more.  It’s a great interview so take a look:

Q: How did you find Kodi?

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JH: Well firstly through absolute luck. That was because I had actually, with my casting director, Francine Maisler, combed across America and Canada. We looked at Britain and very late in the day we had a great short list of kids and then some friends said “Oh, you’ve got to look at this Australian kid.” We went to any sort of drama clubs. We put out flyers in our schools. We looked, of course, at all the agencies and looked at other work, at other kids working in film. We even put it out there by word of mouth for any boys that had certain qualities. It was basically what they call a very wide net – looking at non-professionals, kids just dabbling in drama theater, all the way up to kids that have been doing film work.

What’s crazy is I thought this is an American story and what I forgot, of course, is he can pick up [the accent]. When I was looking in Britain, I was thinking that’s tough, because accents, I mean, the emotion has to be so raw and real. How do you then make a kid have to work with dialogue coaches and that’s why I ruled it out. Of course, what I forgot is that kids in Australia grow up with American television and all of that. They absorb. That’s why Aussies are so good at American accents and now it’s firmly implanted. We had a top dialogue coach, one of the great dialogue coaches in America, work with Kodi. After one hour, he walked out and said, “You’re wasting your money. I don’t need to come to set. He’s fine.” So he didn’t have a single dialogue coach on set at any point. Again, that’s a great gift.

The fact that he looks like Charlize (Theron), just the physical resemblance, is incredible. It was again an added thing. But, I had heard he’d done a film in Australia, “Romulus, My Father,” and I saw the trailer and thought he looked interesting. I got him to put something on tape because we were going to audition these kids with Viggo (Mortensen) and see how they work. He put all this extra material on tape that I would have never asked any kid to do.  His real father is an actor and his sister is an actor – they’re like this acting gypsy family.  His real father played the father on the tapes and did scenes that – it was like “Whoa!” To me, it was obviously a message saying “Hey, my kid can handle this” or it’s “ring Child Services” (laughs) and I was like “Oh, which way?” Then I talked to other people in Australia because he had done this film. It’s just one of those things where some kids are mature way beyond their years.

When he arrived, his father had already read him the whole book. He understands on a level like drama and yet he’s a kid. We encouraged that on set the whole time. Viggo was teaching him all the sword moves from “Lord of the Rings” and he’s into skateboarding. He was really unaffected. I mean, he understood in a profound way what the scenes were about.

The Road movie image (1).jpgQ: There’s a remarkable and consistent look in this film, but to get that rich a palette of grey in an ostensibly color film, lighting conditions have to be pretty specific. You must have had the strangest fights with the weather while filming this?

JH: It was tough. Yeah. It was a huge challenge. Javier Aguirresarobe, our Spanish DP, is a very fiery, passionate man. He would be charging out like it was the happiest day in all our lives when it was just raining sideways, horrible weather. And then, when it was beautiful, stunning blue sky and sun amongst this Pennsylvania winter, he would be just beside himself, cursing, because he had to then block that sun out. Then, we had to use visual effects to get rid of the blue sky. It was a nightmare.

Q: Did you have to use any special kind of film stock?

JH: No, no. He did underexpose it a little just to get a lower contrast because the idea is sun is all about contrast so we did do [that] but nothing too forced. Even though it feels like it, we did actually depart from the book in the sense that everything in the book was literally covered in ash and grey is used over and over — grey, grey, grey – and there’s more of a heavy black. He talks about in the middle of the day even, it’s almost semi-night. Obviously we couldn’t take it that far and I think it would have been too much visually, so there are some bits of color in there and we really protected that little bit whether it was the plastic bottle or… We tried to get it in camera first. The locations were the key. Then we had physical effects – spraying some biodegradable grey paper around and dressing. We had a brilliant production designer, Chris Kennedy, who is a legend in his own right throughout all of Australia, and another Aussie, Margot Wilson, did the wardrobe. Our references were the homeless. I mean, that was the thing about the trolley and all the possessions. In fact, I was actually surprised that that hasn’t been used in apocalyptic films because of course that’s what you would do.

Q: Where exactly did you shoot in Pennsylvania?

The Road movie poster.jpgJH: Well, we did go to Lake Erie. We went to Breezewood. That’s where the interstate is with the abandoned tunnels. The irony is that’s where we actually found – and it says something about technology which is a bit scary – but my production designer, Chris Kennedy, in Australia in the countryside saw it on his computer and found 90 per cent of those locations while we had all these location scouts. That Breezewood one he found on an obscure website called “Lost and Abandoned” where people just send in photos of things that are lost and abandoned. And then he also used Google Earth and he literally spent 3 – and I’m not exaggerating – 3 weeks full time scanning America with Google Earth –
like finding and zooming in. It’s unbelievable the information because you can see the dark patches and that’s where he came across the – he actually discovered those huge ash piles outside. I’m trying to remember. Again, it’s outside of Pittburgh but quite deep into Pennsylvania. Then we went to Lake Erie as well but that was towards the end of the film.

Q: So the Lake was the ocean?

JH: Yes. We didn’t want all that big, bustling sea, like Oregon, those big waves rolling in. We wanted a kind of stillness as we get to the end to focus it straight on to the kid and the father.

Q: The book has no explanation as to what disaster has happened and the characters have no names. How important was it to you to keep that in the film?

JH: Both were essential because I think that’s one of the great things about the book. And again, that actually focused the spotlight onto the father and son’s relationship because the more you go on about the big event – and to me actually it finally unlocked the key of why. I actually had my own gripe about apocalyptic films, so much so that when I heard this unpublished manuscript by one of my favorite authors of all time was coming my way, my heart sank as soon as they said it’s an apocalyptic tale of a father and son. I just thought “Oh no! Cormac, what have you done?”

But then, when I read it, I realized I carried all that baggage of the big spectacle and the thing I realized in analyzing it is, the bigger that spectacle, the less there is of the human dimension and then it becomes more just about spectacle. Also, it becomes irrelevant because if you ever did survive something like that, it’s about the here and now and how do you get through the next stage. It’s not about analyzing and discussing.

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Also, I interpreted it as a kind of projection anyway of humanity’s worst fear and every parent’s worst fear and every individual’s worst fear, which is coming to an end and how do you move on and are your loved ones prepared. How do you leave things when it’s your time? So, it’s all that.

Also, because it’s those themes, it had this strange mythical quality because it didn’t give people specific names or say it was a nuclear war and this is Frank and George and Carrie and all that. Do you know what I mean? It just gave it a more… Like Cormac says, it’s like a parable about human goodness and it kind of preserves that quality because then everyone can feed into their own interpretations. And yet, it felt really familiar and very specific. There are two incredible tasks that I think the book managed which was this macro vision and yet an incredibly intimate, personal journey and there was this non-specific mythic thing and yet very specific everywhere you go.

Q: Was Viggo a part of it from the very first?

JH: Yeah, he came to mind. We were trying to get in touch with him. Of course, in these situations, you always need a couple of people. I was trying to — I kept going back to his face in that and something about “The Grapes of Wrath” and in the Dust Bowl heading for California, there’s something about I can just see him. To me, that’s apocalyptic, it’s similar. And then I looked at father and son relationships and I was amazed that in film there’s very few. There’s mainly tyrannical or absent fathers.

Another great source of inspiration was “The Bicycle Thieves” and again the face of that character reminded me of Viggo. I forget the actor’s name. [Lamberto Maggiorani] I’m terrible with names. What an amazing film. Again, that’s a father and son under incredible pressure and it’s about human goodness where the father – because when people are under pressure, it brings out the best and worst and the child does save the father.

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Q: We heard Viggo lost a lot of weight and spent 3 months walking barefoot and also didn’t bathe to stay in character.

JH: Yeah. He slept in his clothes. He got chucked out of places. “Who’s this homeless bum. Get out of here.” They called in security.

Q: What was your stance on this? Did you support him in this?

JH: I support him. Look, I think what actors have to do, what performers have to do to emotionally get to that place and have a camera and have your face 20 feet high on a screen, is such an incredible thing. There are different schools. There’s the Method. You could say Viggo is very Method and yet actually there are a lot of things about him that aren’t. The more I work with actors, the more I’ve realized that as much as every person has a personality, there’s that many approaches to acting, so it’s a way of just how do they get to… I’m sure you’re familiar with the famous story from “Marathon Man” of Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier. They’re both valid. They’re both right because in that film they’re both unbelievable. So, to me, it doesn’t matter. You need to support and find a way of just getting there.

I mean, we did discuss limits. I didn’t want Viggo to starve himself to a point where it would become distracting and that’s what you start thinking about rather than what’s happening between him and the boy and all of that. It’s an intense experience when someone’s diving into a winter ocean with dangerous currents and signs everywhere saying “Do not swim” and having stunt guys on ski jets and him not wearing a wire. All that’s pretty hairy. But, it’s that level of commitment that you can see in the performance. It’s unbelievable.

Q: This movie was originally scheduled to come out about a year ago and it’s been changed some since then. Can you tell us what those changes were?

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JH: Well, very simply, it wasn’t ready to come out a year ago and I’m a little frustrated that release date ever came out because that was unachievable. It was overambitious because of the momentum of the book — but hang on, we’re making a movie here, and the end of May we discovered one of our locations, Mount St. Helens, was 20 feet under snow. So, we had to start editing and then go back again at the end of July. It was tough – fighting the weather and then CGI. That was our last resort but we had to go there so many times because it’s amazing, no matter all these places you go to, there’ll still be jet streams of jets in there or birds and all that stuff. And then, in the edit, there’s the delicacy of the balance of getting what you leave in and what you leave out and to protect that journey. The more cannibal stuff, the more that journey gets overwhelmed and becomes something else. For all those reasons and to get the film right, we couldn’t have released it. It simply wasn’t ready.

Q: That had nothing to do with Oscar campaign strategies?

JH: No.
To be honest, we always thought the perfect time of year [would be] in the fall. It’s not a summer movie, is it? (Laughs) Actually I cannot think of a better date than Thanksgiving given the themes of the film and giving thanks for what we have. That’s the whole idea of why we enhance the flashbacks and put a bit more in just as a reminder. It’s kind of bizarrely lucky because when they choose a release date, it’s about what they’re going up against. So, it’s actually the other films and the other circumstances and we just happened to land on Thanksgiving, which I think is pretty great and fortuitous.

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Q: I wondered about the boy in relation to this Method acting approach. Did he go back to the hotel at night and…

JH: …and sleep in his clothes. (Laughs)

Q: I can’t imagine that he did, but how did he relate to Viggo doing this?

JH: It was like the way they both reacted to being in these locations. It was like it gave a reality to something. He would have had a hellish time trying to get those emotions and get to that place if it was a green screen comfort studio. Actually it gave it a visceral reality. But Viggo, by the way, this is where the Method departs and we encourage this  — when we stopped filming, he would be teaching Kodi how to swordfight from the “Lord of the Rings” so there was all that going on as well. Kodi was more into the sword moves than your toenail’s bleeding, and I think the level of commitment is something that actually brought them together on screen in a dynamic way. But they worked very differently. Kodi was just like in and out of being a kid and then just like “Oh yeah, this scene. Of course, I remember losing my dog.” A great thing happened just to illustrate Kodi though. He was trying to get his head around the Duvall scene. The night before, he and his father saw this mangy dog that was blind in one eye. Kodi is such a gentle, kind kid that he was feeding it and throwing some fries to it and his father pointed out “That’s it,” and the next day he treated Duvall like this kind of strange disadvantaged dog (laughs) because he was so unfamiliar with how to inter-relate and Duvall was like this kind of damaged animal.

The Road opens in theaters on November 25th. Hillcoat is currently in development on Joe Petrosino with Benicio Del Toro attached; The Wettest County in the World, with Nick Cave writing; and Mob Cops with Terence Winter writing.

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Interview – Viggo Mortensen 'THE ROAD' by

November 22, 2009 Leave a comment


Viggo Mortensen has consistently earned acclaim for his work in a wide range of films, including most recently Eastern Promises, A History of Violence and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. In 2008, he starred again with and was directed by Ed Harris in Appaloosa.

We sat down with him this past weekend to talk about his new movie, The Road, the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of the beloved, best-selling Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote No Country for Old Men. Mortensen leads an all-star cast featuring Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and young newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee in this epic post-apocalyptic tale of the survival of a father (Mortensen) and his young son (Smit-McPhee) as they journey across a barren America that was destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm.

Directed by John Hillcoat, The Road is an adventure story, a horror story, a road movie and ultimately a love story between a father and his son and a man and his wife. It’s also a celebration of the inextinguishable will to live, a thrilling evocation of human endurance and an unflinching examination of people at their worst – and at their best.  Read our interview with this great actor after the jump:

Q: Can you talk about how physically demanding this film was?

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VM: Well, you know, it was and it needed to be. If it hadn’t been and if we hadn’t shot outside in the winter, I don’t think it would be as good a movie because no matter how well you fake it visually, the actors aren’t going to feel the same. It’s not the same. Cody said it one day. He said, “It’s a lot easier to be cold than to pretend to be cold. We have enough things to worry about.” And I said, “Yeah, you’re right.” And it also affected our relationship because I felt naturally extra protective of him, not just character to character, but just the boy himself. He’s a skinny little kid from southern Australia. He’d never even seen snow. I would tease him. He was saying to somebody, “That’s really cool. The snow is falling from the sky.” I go “What do you think? You think it grows out of the ground?” (Laughs) He got really offended when I said that. He was very cold and it would wear him out, quickly sometimes. I knew that he was making that much more of an effort and accomplishing that much more by dealing with it, but it helped us as miserable as it was sometimes.

Q: Can you talk about what it was about this role and the themes in this film that really resonated with you as an actor?

VM: Well I liked the idea of getting to a point where you stop making excuses for your behavior, justifying not doing the right thing. I liked that lesson that in a way is what the movie is about — that man learns from what happens to them but mainly from the boy in the end about forgiving oneself and forgiving others and realizing that it doesn’t matter how bad things are, something good could happen always and that it doesn’t matter how many excuses you have for behaving in an unkind manner towards others that there’s never any excuse for not being kind and that it’s always better to be kind even if it seems pointless and that that in fact is the highest wisdom – being kind. It sounds like a very noble, ethereal, simplistic idea but it’s true and when you go through the movie – you know, it’s hard to explain it – but since you’ve seen it, you know that when you go through this journey, you do earn that conclusion. You do earn that strangely uplifting feeling that you get at the end, I think.

Q: How did you physically prepare for the movie? Did you go on a crash diet?

VM: No, I just ate a lot less and that took me a while. I think the older you get the harder it is to [lose] probably. Your metabolism slows down, whatever, but I’m a pretty active person so I just became a little more active physically.

Q: How much did you end up losing?

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VM: I’m not sure exactly but from the clothes that didn’t fit, I think it was around maybe 30 pounds. I’m not sure about that. It could be more, it could be less.

Q: Did having a son of your own influence your performance?

VM: It helped, certainly in the beginning. Throughout the movie I did think many times, “Oh my son did something like that once.” Something that Cody did or it reminded me of myself or my dad. But generally, it didn’t matter after a while. It was my way in. When I was first preparing, I thought a lot about it and then I kind of put it away because I think just like someone who reads this book and is touched by it, they don’t have to be a dad or a mom to relate to the predicament these people are in – this adult and this child.

Q: Your character is trying to teach his son what a human should be. What have you tried to teach your own son about that?

VM: Just simple little things. Someone does something for you. Kids are shy and they often don’t want to make eye contact or say “thank you.” Let’s say if you’re out in a restaurant having a pizza and someone comes and they put it down and then you just sit there and you just can’t wait to eat the pizza and then they walk away, I might say “Well you should look at them and say ‘thank you’ because they’re working” and whatever. It’s just a simple thing, things like that, and then you might forget to do it sometime and then they might say “You didn’t say thanks, dad.” I’d say “Oh yeah, you’re right.” It’s that thing that happens and this story is in a very profound way about that – that keeping an eye on each other out of affection, wanting your dad to be a good guy. Once you learn the idea of what a good guy is, you want your dad to be a good guy, and when your dad lets you down and doesn’t act like a good guy, it’s disappointing and can make you angry as you see it happen, which is beautiful and very believable. I thought that evolution, that transition was handled really well in the movie.

Q: Is this a director who gave the actors a lot of direction or was there room to play and improvise and stay in the environment for a while before doing a scene?

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VM: The best thing he did was, in the weeks before, especially because Cody and I were basically the ones who were working every day and sometimes these wonderful actors would show up and do a day’s work or two. As we sat down for a week or more, maybe a couple we
eks in Pittsburgh, and every day we just went through the script little by little with Cody, with Cody’s dad who’s also an actor so he’d be there, and his dad wanted to get a feel for how the dynamic was going to be, I’m sure, between me and him, and wanted to make sure his kid was safe and in good hands and that his kid was working properly and that was fine. With another kind of parent that was very meddling, it wouldn’t have worked but he was really great with Cody and knew how to just let the director do his thing and the director and the writer. We all sat around and we went through the script and that was really smart because first of all, we’re shooting in winter and there’s limited hours.

It had to look gray so that cuts it down even more. And we wouldn’t have time to mess around and try to break down and talk about it and discuss on the set so you had to be on the same page. All directors should do it. It’s rare unfortunately. But we did go through it and everybody knew and I could understand in that process. I got to know Cody because we’d been talking and joking. It was a big sort of room, office area, and I remember there was wall-to-wall carpeting and we had a ball, a soccer ball for football. When we would get bored, and then the grown-ups – because it was almost like I wasn’t a grown-up – Cody and I, we got to know each other. We would even read scenes sometimes kicking the ball back and forth. We got to know each other and I got to see something that was really interesting to me [which] was that he really understood the book. It wasn’t just a kid that was going to be sheltered and just be shown this and “we’re just going to do this and you just need to do that and just mimic this.” He actually knew what it was about. So he invested his own feelings in it and you can see that and that helped me a lot. Because if it was up to me to do it on my own and they had to do tricks with the camera to cheat around the boy and manipulate him into giving what looked like an intelligent performance but wasn’t, it would have been a lot harder and I don’t think I could’ve been as open and found as many things as I did in that. The movie wouldn’t have worked because the movie is only as good as that relationship is, as believable as that relationship is. That’s the fate of the movie right there.

Q: Was it an emotionally taxing role for you?

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VM: Yeah. To be honest, that was the hardest part. It was harder than the physical part, for me. I mean, I’ve been in movies where I’ve had to do physical – you know, whether I was in extreme heat or cold, mountains, horse work, fights, all that – I may have done things that I knew “Oh God, we’ve got weeks or months of this” – and you just get through it. But it’s a whole other thing to have to – and I’ve been naked physically in movies – but it’s a whole other thing to be naked emotionally in a way that’s not just a distraction or a character. It had to be very sincere or it wouldn’t work because just the landscape we’re in is so real. It’s so raw and in a way it’s such an open wound that our feelings had to be on that level, which was kind of a measuring stick, I felt. And then, I’ve never been in a movie where the environment was so consistently a character. Even though it was dead or dying, it was very alive in its dying, in its death throes. It was so helpful.

Q: Those trees!

VM: Yeah. It was intense – the trees, the waterfall, just the weird cityscapes. I mean, it was very helpful. It was like another character and I think not only the weather helped us acting-wise, but being in these real places, we didn’t have to. It wasn’t like a sci-fi thing and a green screen and we had to just imagine where the director said, “Yes, you’ll be talking to this tennis ball but really it’s a cannibal.” No. Everything that you saw, we saw, which was very helpful – and a necessity. It’s not a big budget movie so it’s a movie that needs… We had to shoot it that way. We had to shoot in those places. But I think the director, even if he’d had twice the budget, would have probably done the same. His approach was good, I think. He wanted to be faithful to the book and that was the way to do it.

Q: Were you shocked by the realness of the locations that you were seeing and were they enhanced by the production team?

The Road movie image (7).jpgVM: Sometimes they weren’t. Some of that mining, the slag piles and things, that’s just what’s there. That strip mall where we were wandering around and he sees that deer head, that was pretty much… We didn’t touch it. It was a part of New Orleans that just hasn’t been cleaned up. If you look at it closer – I don’t know if you can see it or not – but what I was amazed at was that at about this height (demonstrates) in all these shops and on all the walls, the exterior walls, there was this slimy green line. That was where the water had been for a long time. And everything – like that thing where he looks at the deer head was a recruiting office and there was still hanging slightly sidewise a picture of George Bush looking very young from his first presidential portrait – you know, not so much gray and having that crazed smile – but then there was the guy’s briefcase that was slightly open on the desk of the recruiting officer and his passport. It was bizarre. It was like it hasn’t been touched and people could’ve stolen that but they don’t care.

I mean, they’ve got other problems. And so, that was unusual. The movie theater where he kicks the can? That’s a movie theater and there’s a concession stand and the marquee has all the titles of the movies that were playing that day and there’s a clock that stopped at that time. You know, all that sort of … That was unusual. I mean, at first I thought why would we be doing that? It seems we have a limited budget to go and take the crew and go down there for a few days. We could’ve shot this in Pittsburgh and you could. You could’ve shot in the industrial areas where we were shooting, but there was something intangible about those ghosts that probably had something for sure. I mean, it felt unusual. Where I’m walking in the neighborhood where it’s in my old house, they added some gray and some dirt and dust and stuff but basically that’s the way those houses look.

Q: Did they say what the catastrophe may have been? I would probably think that’s why the director wanted New Orleans because this was a legitimate catastrophe.

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VM: Yeah. Well Mount St. Helens was a natural catastrophe and other places – well Katrina was also a natural catastrophe. But other places, as far as the mining and other things, were manmade catastrophes and other polluted areas that we were in and industrial affected, places affected by heavy industry. No, they didn’t and the book doesn’t either and I think it’s appropriate not to go into it. If you want to see that and get all those answers about that which is an external thing,
you see another kind of movie. I haven’t seen it, but I imagine “2012″ probably deals with that kind of stuff, the spectacle of things coming undone. There’s a beautiful line in the book. I wish I had it with me. “The counter spectacle of things ceasing to be. There’s something beautiful in that.” But anyway, if you want to see that and explain, it’s beside the point. Yes, it’s interesting but if you tell the story emotionally in a truthful way, then you start naturally looking at the landscape and thinking “Wow, we have to watch out.” It’s fine to think that but really it’s a device. Stripping everything away just leaves us with nothing but each other and to learn how to appreciate that. That’s what it’s about. It makes extreme what any parent who is halfway responsible worries about. “Well how’s my kid going to be if

I’m not around for a few hours or forever.” Mostly it’s “Well, is he going to have friends or food?” or “Will he have enough money to go to college?” or something. “Will he get a job or a girlfriend or a boyfriend or whatever?” In this case, it’s not about any of that. It’s just “What the hell is he going to do?” He’s got no roof, he’s got no food, he’s got people who want to kill him and eat him. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare in a way, but it’s just a way of getting to that. It’s also a way of exaggerating a thing that’s natural with adults and kids anyway, that adults, we accumulate memories, life experiences, and therefore regrets. We often live in the past a lot more than we probably realize and it’s only, many times, when somebody hits you in traffic or something or getting bad news about somebody in your family, you’re immediately there. Everything falls away. Or you get really sick and you’re supposed to go to work today and do all these things and go shopping and do this and that or pick someone up at school and suddenly you can’t. You’re just in bed so everything disappears except your body and what’s happening. And, in this situation, you’re there all the time and the father remembers the world the way it used to be and he has these flashes of the horrors, the flowers or his wife being pregnant and beautiful, the sound of cicadas or bees. That’s all over. The kid never knew that. So it even exaggerates that difference. The kid is much more in the moment, like kids are because they don’t have that accumulated memory, but it’s even more extreme because the father remembers the whole world that the kid will never know about except for the father telling him about it.

Q: What about “The Hobbit”? Are you going to be involved with that at all? I know your Ring character is not in it, is he?

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VM: No, no, he’s not. But if they ever make another…I’m sure that if they think they can make something interesting and make some money…

Q: Would you do something in “The Hobbit” if they asked you and if it was interesting to you?

VM: Well, I mean, I would rather finish playing the part if he’s going to be in it than have someone else do it. The only way it would work is if they made a connective story between “The Hobbit.” There’s about 60 years that go by between “The Hobbit” and the start of “The Lord of the Rings,” I think. Something like that if I remember correctly. I mean, my character is not in that book but he was alive. He was young. But because he ages so slowly, in a bridge story I could certainly do it, but I don’t know if they intend to do it. I’m sure that fans would like to do it and that those guys would be sure of making money if they knew that they could put some of the characters that people got to know, some of the actors that people got to know, in the trilogy. So I’d like to but I haven’t been contacted. I think they’re having enough trouble just getting the first one made.

Q: What is next for you?

VM: I’m doing a play next.

Q: In New York?

VM: In Madrid actually. In Spanish.

Q: What about the U.S. release of Alatriste?

VM: I don’t know. That was a shame because it’s a beautiful movie. It’s a beautiful, beautiful movie. It hasn’t even come out on DVD which is crazy. I don’t know why. It’s a beautiful movie and really good actors in it. I mean, the best actors in Spain. And visually, if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. If you like Velasquez paintings from the 17th century, it looks exactly like them. It feels like that, really.

“The Road” opens in theaters on November 25th.

Posted via web from MovieDriver – Hollywood Teamster


'New Moon' – Second Biggest Weekend Ever for Movie Industry $258 Million

November 22, 2009 Leave a comment

"Twilight: New Moon"

Summit Entertainment had the kind of opening studio executives dream about this weekend, but it's hard to find anyone in the movie business who's not smiling.

Although Summit's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" opened to a massive $140.7 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio estimates, it wasn't the only film to perform well. "The Blind Side," which Warner Bros. distributed for financier Alcon Entertainment, opened to $34.5 million, very strong for a modestly budgeted drama. Festival and critics' favorite "Precious" more than tripled its theater count and kept up its winning ways, grossing $11 million at 629 locations.

With one huge hit, numerous strong performers and no real flops, total box-office receipts expanded to nearly $260 million, according to several studio executives and That's the second-biggest nonholiday weekend ever, behind only the one in July 2008 when "The Dark Knight" launched and movie theaters collected just over $260 million.

"It's a really good sign for the industry," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros. "It just goes to show you that good movies can expand the marketplace."

Several movies are well positioned to keep playing strongly throughout the holidays, most notably "The Blind Side," which garnered an average grade of A-plus from moviegoers, according to market research firm CinemaScore. It's only the second film this year to get a perfect grade, along with "Up." It could easily collect more than $150 million by the end of the year, making it very profitable for Alcon and Warner Bros., which receives a distribution fee.

"New Moon" is sure to drop significantly after its massive debut. The first "Twilight" fell 62% from its opening on Thanksgiving weekend and the sequel will probably do the same. Nonetheless, if it follows the path of its predecessor, "New Moon" will end up grossing more than $300 million domestically and the same amount overseas, making it one of the most profitable pictures of the year. Summit spent only $50 million to produce its second teen vampire flick based on the bestselling novels.

Overseas, "2012" continues to perform extremely well. It grossed $100.5 million overseas, down 37% from its international debut last weekend. That was helped by a huge $7-million launch in Japan, the biggest for any nonlocal movie this year. Domestically, "2012" dropped 59%. The worldwide total gross for Sony's disaster flick from director Roland Emmerich, which cost $200 million to produce, is a very strong $449.8 million.

"Broken Embraces" Two films performed extremely well in limited release in the U.S. and Canada. Sony Pictures Classics opened the Pedro Almodovar picture "Broken Embraces," starring Penelope Cruz, to $107,597 at just two theaters. On its second weekend, Fox's stop-motion animated picture "Fantastic Mr. Fox" collected $199,200 from four theaters, down just 25%. It starts playing nationwide Wednesday.

First Look Pictures opened the new Nicolas Cage crime drama "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," directed by Werner Herzog, to a so-so $257,267 at 27 locations.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, according to studio estimates and

Posted via web from MovieDriver – Hollywood Teamster


Movie Review – 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' by

November 19, 2009 Leave a comment


The Twilight Saga: New Moon, like last year’s Twilight, is critic-proof.  We film critics don’t get it, this film isn’t for us, and the fans will love it.  However, none of that means New Moon isn’t worthy of humorous derision or concerned analysis of the disturbing subtext.  New Moon is a bad movie which fails on nearly every level, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fascinating.  The series is one of the most popular young adult stories of the last decade yet the movie, which wouldn’t dare make radical changes to the book, lacks so much: a strong female protagonist, subtlety, joy, a positive message to young women, and above all, shirts.  The men of New Moon need shirts.

The film opens with the 18th birthday of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), one of the most vapid and irritating protagonists in recent memory.  While most teenagers would be happy to be hitting their 18th (guns and voting!), Bella can do nothing but sulk and quiver in the presence of her dreamy, pale-skinned, cold vampire love-muffin, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).  In a vain attempt to make Bella smile for at least a second, her best friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) gives her a dream catcher and must explain to her what it does because the film considers her that freaking stupid, although she certainly is.  Bella and Edward whisper to each other during class and he tells her how he wish he knew how to kill himself.  Happy Birthday.

The Twilight Saga New Moon movie image Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson 1.jpg

Later that night, rather than spend any time celebrating with her father or her human friends, Bella enjoys (which means she sulks a little less) the company of the Cullen family, all vampires and not blood related other than they all live together and suck animal blood to survive.  Unfortunately, Bella becomes the first person in human history to get a paper cut from unwrapping a present and one of the Cullens goes nuts and tries to attack her, Edward protects her by accidentally throwing her into furniture thus giving her an even worse injury.  Dr. Cullen, the family’s patriarch, patches her up and Bella mentions that they wouldn’t have to worry about this if Edward changed her into a vampire.  Dr. Cullen remarks that he and his family are damned and that changing her would make her soulless.  Remember kids: when Bella says she wants Edward to “change her” it is a metaphor for an 18 year old girl wanting her boyfriend to take her virginity.  Edward, who looks like he’s either going to or coming from a GQ photo shoot, protests.  In fact, the following day Edward (after breaking into her room while she’s not at home), says he’s leaving in order to protect her and that he never wants to see her again.

Bella then shuts down completely and her break-up causes her to become catatonic interspersed with night terrors.  This is odd because not only do teenage break-ups rarely cause such extreme reactions (at least in healthy, well-adjusted teenagers), neither Twilight nor in this movie do we see what Bella is missing.  What makes Edward special other than his looks and brooding demeanor?  There’s nothing substantial to miss and what Twilight and New Moon fail to do is convince us that infatuation is love.  But infatuation isn’t love; it’s a negative manifestation of a fantasy.  I understand the teenage love thing when your emotions are so strong that you feel like there’s nothing more important in the entire world.  But New Moon keeps mistaking that for true love and that Edward and Bella are a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.  I know this because at the beginning of the film, Bella’s reading Romeo & Juliet and she’s supposed to write a paper on Romeo & Juliet and Edward’s birthday-downer-suicide monologue is during a class where the teacher is showing a movie adaptation of Romeo & Juliet.  Subtlety, thy name is anything other than New Moon.

Director Chris Weitz brings three skills to New Moon that Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke sorely lacked: the ability to shoot a movie without a blue filter, well-shot action scenes, and convincing special effects as far as the animals are concerned.  But Weitz makes Hardwicke look like Bergman when it comes to subtlety.  There are moments in New Moon where I laughed out loud because I thought I was supposed to.  I thought Weitz was mocking this overwrought teenage love story by using the cheesiest and clichéd images imaginable like running through fields and laying in a meadow.  But he’s playing it completely straight and while Twilight fans are eating it up, the rest of us are trying to balance slack-jawed amazement with hysterical laughter.  Those moments are at least a reprieve from the Bella’s unrelenting misery.

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After five months of dealing with a break-up that should’ve caused hospitalization, Bella finally drags herself out of the house only to discover that the only way she can see Edward is if she behaves recklessly, because before Edward left he told her not to be reckless.  But when she does behave recklessly, Edward tells her that she promised him she wouldn’t and she stops because Bella Swan can’t think for herself or do anything which does not relate to a dominant man.  Also, when she sees Edward, he appears as a cheesy ghost effect which, again, I could not believe they were using.  I understand that they need a way to keep Pattinson around despite his character’s absence for the majority of the film, but reappearing as ghost mist?  Did Weitz think his audience was so dense that they would think a non-misty Edward would actually be there?  And this audience has read the book so they already know he’s not really there!

Thankfully, Bella discovers that she can cling to the other hot man in her life, Jacob.  The beginning of their relationship is one of the few bright spots in New Moon as the two flirt, joke around, and have personalities.  Furthermore, Lautner has charm and charisma which is more than I can say for Pattinson whose performance consists of pensively looking at the ground, sadly looking down at the ground, and bashfully looking down at the ground.

But soon the film realizes the horrible abomination of having a likable character and soon Jacob joins up with the bad boys who don’t wear shirts.  It turns out Jacob and the shirtless bad boys are werewolves.  The shirtless wolf pack is the film’s best unintentional running gag.  No matter the weather, location, or situation, these men will not wear shirts.  I know these guys want to show off their pecks and washboard abs, but you don’t have to show them off all the time.  There’s a scene that takes place in a torrential downpour where Bella is pleading with a shirtless Lautner to stay with her and not go off with the bad boys.  It’s really quite an amazing scene as you can actually see Lautner developing pneumonia.

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Bella’s absolutely dependence on men is where I leave the silliness of New Moon behind and begin to actively loathe the property and what it stands for.  This past summer, I dropped my unnecessary hatred toward Twilight fans because their infatuation with cute guys is harmless and nothing new to contemporary American culture. I accepted the following of older fans because I assumed they recognized the series as harmless fantasy and nothing more.  But I didn’t lose my hatred of the books and the message they give to young women and New Moon pushed me to start questioning what was appealing about this fantasy.

Bella is a reactive character and her every action is based on what either Edward or Jacob does.  She behaves recklessly, not as a way to escape from her pain, but so she can keep seeing ghost-Edward.  Later, she tries to kill herself and then cover it up with the excuse she was cliff-diving.  But even that isn’t as disturbing as when Jacob confesses to Bella that now because he’s a werewolf, just a split second of anger could cause him to lose control and seriously hurt her.  Her response: “That will never happen because I will always tell you how special you are.”  This is a girl who will never argue or even question a man she loves because otherwise he may lose control and beat her to within an inch of her life.  It won’t be his fault; he just has a monster inside him he can’t control.  And why does Edward leave?  Because he’s afraid his presence will hurt Bella.  Of course, his big realization is that by leaving Bella, he put her in more harm.

Here are six words you will never hear Bella Swan say: “I can take care of myself.”  This is the protagonist of one of the best-selling books today.  I know author Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon and I find her belief system provides a sickening subtext to her work.  While Mormonism isn’t the only religion to promoted abstinence, I find it an absurd and counter-productive response to burgeoning sexuality.  It’s blatant religious patrimony to tell young women that all sex before marriage is wrong, even if she wants to, is over 18, and her boyfriend isn’t pressuring her.  If a couple wants to wait until marriage to have sex, I have no problem with that.  I have a problem with painting an ideal man as an asexual protector who treats his girlfriend like a child and that if they have sex before they get married, “changing” her will make her lose her soul.

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And that’s not even what I find most offensive!  I am appalled that there’s not even a hint of a moment where Bella has an interest of her own other than whether or not a man can protect her and what she can do to serve him.  I find it offensive that Bella is so selfish that she doesn’t care if she hurts her kind and devoted father or pulls away from people who were supposedly her friends.  Parents, is this really the kind of role model you want for your child?  And women who see this as fantasy, is this really what you find exhilarating?  I understand attraction to hot guys but plenty of other movies and stories offer that without the repulsive moral values.

There are moments I don’t hate New Moon.  I like the action scenes, the cinematography, the werewolf CGI, Taylor Lautner (when he’s not brooding), and that they made up an action movie called “Face Punch”, which I would totally see based on the title alone.  But two questions about the movie remain at the forefront of my mind: how troubling it is that this movie will most likely gross over $200 million while having such repulsive messages; and why won’t someone give these hot Native Americans some shirts?

Rating —– F

Posted via web from MovieDriver – Hollywood Teamster

Categories: REVIEWS