May 30, 2008

Thank you David Stern...


The dream came true!!!! The Lakers and Celtics are in the finals! Bring on the heavy advertisement and old montages of the 80s classic rivalry... Congrats to KG, Peirce, Allen, Odom, and Gasol for making their first final. Predictions???

My prediction: Lakers in 5

Kelly's 100 Films - # 98: Billy Elliot (2000)



Directed by...Stephen Daldry
Written by....Lee Hall
Starring: Jamie Bell, Gary Lewis, Julie Walters, Jamie Draven, Nicola Blackwell

Synopsis: 1984: In a northern England mining town, miners are on strike and the atmosphere is tense. Eleven-year old Billy Elliot, whose father and brother are participating in the strike, whose mother has died quite some time ago and whose grandmother is not completely aware of what's going on, doesn't like the brutal boxing lessons at school. Instead, he falls for the girls' ballet lessons. When his folks find out about this unusual love of his, Billy is in trouble. Being supported by the ballet teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, he keeps on training secretly while the work situation as well as the problems at home get worse. Finally, Mrs. Wilkinson manages to get Billy an audition for the Royal Ballet School, but now he also has to open his heart to his family.

Why Is It On My List?: Many people may hate Stephen Daldry's 2 films thus far but I find them both irresistible to watch. This one, his debut feature, is a tremendous debut. Why? Two words: Jamie. Bell. Terrific young actor whose subsequent work, especially KING KONG, has been less than perfect, which this film most definitely is. It is heartbreakingly raw and natural and filled with good characterizations, music, dialogue, and precise direction.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoiVEyCosEE

Awards Attention

Oscar
Best Supporting Actress - Julie Walters
Best Director - Stephen Daldry
Best Original Script - Lee Hall

(notable snubs: Best Actor (Jamie Bell), Best Picture (Greg Brenman & Jonathan Finn), & Best Film Editing (John Wilson) )

BAFTA
***Best Actor - Jamie Bell
***Best Supporting Actress - Julie Walters
Best Supporting Actor - Gary Lewis
Best Director - Stephen Daldry
Best Original Script - Lee Hall
Best Film - Greg Brenman & Jonathan Finn
***Best British Film - Greg Brenman, Jonathan Finn, & Stephen Daldry
Carl Foreman Award for Most Promising Newcomer - Stephen Daldry (director), Lee Hall (screenwriter)
Best Cinematography - Brian Tufano
Best Film Editing - John Wilson
Best Film Music - Stephen Warbeck
Best Sound - Mark Holding, Mike Prestwood Smith, Zane Hayward

Golden Globe
Best Supporting Actress - Julie Walters
Best Motion Picture - Drama - Greg Brenman & Jonathan Finn

SAG
Best Actor - Jamie Bell
Best Supporting Actress - Julie Walters
Best Ensemble: Jamie Bell, Gary Lewis, Julie Walters, Jamie Draven

WGA
Best Original Script - Lee Hall

PGA
**Nova Award: Most Promising Film Producers - Greg Brenman & Jonathan Finn
Best Motion Picture of the Year - Greg Brenman & Jonathan Finn

Golden Satellite
Best Actor, Drama - Jamie Bell
Best Supporting Actress, Drama - Julie Walters
Best Original Script - Lee Hall
Best Motion Picture - Drama - Greg Brenman & Jonathan Finn

The Foot Fist Way Q &A


Creative Screenwriting Editor Jeff Goldsmith recently sat down with The Foot Fist Way's co-writer/star Danny McBride (whose upcoming roles in TROPIC THUNDER and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS are sure to leave him 2008's breakout star) as well as the film's co-writer/director/co-star Jody Hill and co-writer/co-star Ben Best about their new film. Many people may remember McBride from a hilarious promotional stint on Late Night with Conan O'Brien as well as his roles in the comedies HOT ROD (2007, with Andy Samberg), THE HEARTBREAK KID (2007, with Ben Stiller), and DRILLBIT TAYLOR (2008, with Owen Wilson). Most recently, McBride has signed on to star opposite FOOT FIST WAY producer Will Ferrell in the upcoming remake of the hit TV Series LAND OF THE LOST, currently set for a summer 2009 release.

Follow the link: http://cdn3.libsyn.com/creativescreenwritingmag/TheFootFistWayQandA.mp3?nvb=20080530185458&nva=20080531185458&t=070845c8df8d151a5a920

May 29, 2008

Hollywood is Burning again!

The Lakers are headed to the finals!

Come on Boston, make the "LA-Boston" dream come true...

[blogger note] Did anyone see Saša "The Machine" Vujačić take that 3 in the end? That was a pretty douchebaggish move...but I won't let that spoil my evening.


Harvey Korman: 1927-2008
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Km7WD8wkb1c

From IMDb News
29 May 2008 5:50 PM, PDT

Comedian Harvey Korman, a multiple-Emmy award winner best known for his work on "The Carol Burnett Show" and in comedies such as Blazing Saddles and The Pink Panther Strikes Again, died Thursday at the age of 81. According to a family statement issued by UCLA Medical Center, Korman reportedly suffered complications related to the rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm he experienced four months ago. Korman’s television career spans back to the early ‘60s, including small parts on such classic series as "The Red Skelton Show" and "The Untouchables". It was not until he began to appear in skits on "The Danny Kaye Show" that he became known for his dry delivery and ease with playing the second banana. Korman joined that show’s cast in 1964 and remained with it until its cancellation in 1967, the same year he joined the skit comedy series that made him a household name, "The Carol Burnett Show." On "Carol Burnett" the lanky Korman’s claim to fame was playing the perfect straight man to the outrageous slapstick comedy of the other actors in the cast, but mainly Burnett and fellow cast member Tim Conway. They and the fourth member of the variety show's core ensemble, Vicki Lawrence, spoofed a number of iconic films and television series throughout the show’s run. "We were an ensemble, and Carol had the most incredible attitude,” Korman said in a 2005 Variety interview. "I've never worked with a star of that magnitude who was willing to give so much away.'' Korman spent ten seasons on "Carol Burnett” before leaving to helm his own series, "The Harvey Korman Show", which was quickly canceled. But the comedy actor soon parlayed his familiarity into a number of recognizable roles on series such as "The Love Boat", "Roseanne" and "Mama’s Family". He also lent his voice to The Great Gazoo on "The Flintstones" in 1966, before finding fame on "Carol Burnett." But it was his turn as Hedley Lamarr, a clumsy version a moustache-twirling villain in Mel Brooks' Western satire Blazing Saddles, that film buffs may recall best. He also appeared in two other Brooks comedies, History of the World: Part I and High Anxiety, in addition to playing Professor Auguste Balls in Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther. More recently Korman partnered with Conway for a live show, "Tim Conway and Harvey Korman: Together Again," which toured the country. He is survived his daughters Katherine and Laura, his wife Deborah Fritz, and two children from his previous marriage to Donna Ehlert, Maria and Christopher.

Burn After Reading Trailer released!



Is this the year of Brad Pitt? The cast looks phenomenal, but is it possible for the Coen Bros. to repeat last year's major success?

May 28, 2008

A Future Classic in Our Midst?

Hey hey, Joey here....just wondering what film from last year everyone thinks will be the "great" film that people still remember 10 years from now.
Will "There Will Be Blood" be mistaken for the title of a horror flick or revered as another brilliant PT Anderson movie?
Will people confuse "No Country for Old Men" with "The Bucket List"?
Will "Juno" really remind people more of the city in Alaska?
Personally, I think that films like "Into the Wild" and "Gone Baby Gone" will be looked back on as having deserved more attention than they received?
Your thoughts?

On "The Road" Part 2

The Road is done.
Also, there is a piece in the NY Times about the film.

Oh, and my man Michael K. Williams (Omar Little from the Wire) is in the movie. It is only fitting that he is playing a thief. Check him out in a classic scene from the Wire.

May 27, 2008

A Surprisingly Decent Week for DVD Releases!

Hey peeps! Joey here with the weekely dvd post. This is the strongest week in a while, which isn't really saying much, but it has some stuff worth a purchase, and the PICK OF THE WEEK is actually extremely strong. It is a movie that was unfairly ignored when it got released last year and is:

Grace is Gone

John Cusack most definitely deserved an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of a man coping with the death of his soldier wife and trying to figure out how to break the news to his two young daughters. It is a truly powerful film and everyone should give it a watch, if for no other reason than to watch Cusack do some of his very best work.

We also have a new Woody Allen movie (on the heels of the good word about Vicky Christina Barcelona at Cannes) that didn't do much business last year. It's Cassandra's Dream, and while it mostly plays like an inferior combination of Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point, though it is far from bad. After all, decent Woody beats a lot of what's out there anyway.

Sly Stallone has the latest Rambo adventure out, and if you need me to tell you about it, you don't want to see it. A critic-proof movie for sure (though one I greatly enjoyed).

Also out is the documentary Darfur Now, the emsemble drama The Air I Breathe, and the Paul Schrader drama The Walker, though most of these films have a rather limited appeal,

My old school pick is The Last Kiss, which is a rather good romantic drama that was pretty much ignored when it came out a few years ago. Zach Braff does some strong work here and the soundtrack is terrific. Give it a shot if you've never seen it.

What will you guys be watching this week?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRIS SHAPPLEY!

It's one day late and we're sincerely sorry, Happy Birthday to our own Chris Shappley. Leave him your birthday wishes here....

May 26, 2008

Sydney Pollack dies at 73!


New York Times reports but no details as of yet. Another great one, unfortunately taken too early....

May 25, 2008

Awards from Cannes

Joey here with the winners from the Cannes Film Festival. This is the word from Cannes:

_Palme d'Or (Golden Palm): "The Class," Laurent Cantet (France).
_Grand Prize: "Gomorrah," Matteo Garrone (Italy).
_Jury Prize: "Il Divo," Paolo Sorrentino (Italy).
_Special 61st Anniversary Prizes: Catherine Deneuve (France) and Clint Eastwood (United States).
_Best Director: "Three Monkeys," Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey).
_Best Actor: Benicio Del Toro, "Che" (United States).
_Best Actress: Sandra Corveloni, "Linha de Passe" (Brazil).
_Best Screenplay: "Lorna's Silence," Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Belgium).
_Golden Camera (first-time director): "Hunger," Steve McQueen (Britain).
_Best short film: "Megatron," Marian Crisan (Romania).

Seems like Del Toro could be a real strong candidate for Best Actor and Clint is, well, Clint.

What do you guys think?

Eating My Fedora

Joey here....willing to admit when i'm wrong, and apparently...I was mistaken about Indy. Now, it is nowhere near as good as any of the other 3 films, but it wasn't bad at all. Worked for me in the same way Live Free or Die Hard did...not exactly the same as the originals, but the spirit is there enough to make it work.

Feel free to rag on me more....I deserve it!

May 24, 2008

el Curioso Caso de Benjamin Button


Trailer for the upcoming David Fincher film, The Curious Case for Benjamin Button.

It looks pretty awesome! If the movie is able to capture the essence of the short story, it will certainly be a major contender for a bunch of awards this season.

What do you think?

[update] They are taking these down quickly, so look at it asap.


New York Times Weighs in on Synecdoche, New York

A.O. Scott writes:

Mr. Kaufman, the wildly inventive screenwriter of "Being John Malkovich" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," has, in his first film as a director made those efforts look almost conventional. Like his protagonist, a beleaguered theater director played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, he has created a seamless and complicated alternate reality, unsettling nearly every expectation a moviegoer might have about time, psychology and narrative structure.

I'm getting the feeling that "Synecdoche" will end up like INLAND EMPIRE or Southland Tales. It will probably be to unconventional for any major Academy attention. A best director nod in the vein of David Lynch for Mulholland Drive may be its best shot. Then again, early reviews of There Will Be Blood said that film was too unconventional for the Acaedmy, and we know how that turned out. 

May 22, 2008

Eastwood and the Black Mamba are back!

Clint Eastwood's latest movie is getting rave reviews so far. (kudos to Sasha Stone)

Oh, and the Black Mamba strikes again! Kobe Bryant only had 2 points in the first half, and exploded in the second half with 25. This series is going to be really interesting. I like that the Lakers are playing Duncan single coverage for most of the game. If you watched the Hornets series, they doubled Duncan, and they paid heavily for it. Every person on the Spurs can shoot the 3, so it does not make sense to double Duncan (who is a great passer out of the double). We'll see how the series rounds out. But, I think the Lakers can take it in 6.


May 21, 2008

"Che" Marathon Divides Cannes Critics...

The four-hour, eighteen minute long screening of Steven Soderbergh's long awaited 'Che' Guevara biopics (The Argentine + Guerrilla) just finished its Cannes presentation to a very mixed reaction (reviews for Del Toro have still been solid).

Variety's Anne Thompson:

"A folly." "A mess." "Great." These words came from some of the critics coming out of Steven Soderbergh's four-hour 18 minute Spanish-language Che Wednesday night. At the end there was slight applause; no boos. My own description: noble failure.

Todd McCarthy:

No doubt it will be back to the drawings board for "Che," Steven Soderbergh's intricately ambitious, defiantly non- dramatic four-hour eighteen-minute presentation of scenes from the life of revolutionary icon Che Guevara. If the director has gone out of his way to avoid the usual Hollywood biopic conventions, he has also withheld any suggestion of why the charismatic doctor, fighter, diplomat, diarist and intellectual theorist became and remains such a legendary figure; if anything, Che seems diminished by the way he's portrayed
here.


And Jeff Wells has (positive) buzz to share:

The second half of Che, also known as Guerilla, just got out about a half-hour ago, and equally delighted although it's a different kind of film -- tighter, darker (naturally, given the story). But I've been arguing with some colleagues who don't like either film at all, or don't think it's commercial. Glenn Kenny and Kim Voynar feel as I do, but Anne Thompson is on the other side of the Grand Canyon. Peter Howell is in the enemy camp also.

What do you think? Another contender out?

New Blog Look!

We're trying a new blog look for a while....tell us what you think?

May 20, 2008

DVD Releases for This Week= Go To The Movies!

Yes friends, it's Joey again with the dvd's for the week, and as will be the case more than once this summer, the crop of titles available only encourages you to go to the theaters instead. By process of elimination, this next film is my PICK OF THE WEEK simply because it's the only film here that doesn't suck. It is:

Diary of the Dead

George A. Romero is the master of the zombie movie, and this modern take on the undead rising is unique and chilling. Though not on the level of Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, this definitely is on the level of Day of the Dead and vastly superior to Land of the Dead, so horror fans will like this flick just fine.

If you're in the mood for Indiana Jones, but can't wait a few more days, you can go pick up National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, but that will pretty much only serve to remind you how much better Indy is. We also have Strange Wilderness out, but the less said about that "comedy" the better. Finally, there's a direct to dvd film that is only notable because it includes Richard Gere and Clair Danes in the cast. It's called The Flock, and if any brave soul is willing to watch it and report back, i'll post up your thoughts.

My old school pick for this week is my first documentary choice ever. It's Bowling for Colombine, and the passing of a few years has not dulled the point of this documentary at all. Say what you want about Michael Moore, but he knows how to make an effective film.

Until next week....happy watching!

May 19, 2008

Why are the Spurs so good?

My hatred for the San Antonio Spurs grows after tonight.

I respect that they are a great team, but I really wanted to see Kobe and CP3 battle in the Western Conference Finals. Maybe next year. But, my dream for a "Boston-LA NBA Finals" still lives on! Right now, this is all I have.

Australia trailer


I can't quite make up my mind about Baz Luhrmann. He earned my undying hatred after what he did to Shakespeare's greatest play in Romeo + Juliet, but almost redeemed himself for that seemingly unforgivable offense with the surprisingly excellent Moulin Rouge!. I wasn't looking forward to Australia before I saw this trailer, and it has done little to change my expectations. Hopefully it will have more in common with "Rouge" than "Romeo." Unfortunately, this trailer doesn't give any indication, so I can't say I'm particularly excited about it.


May 18, 2008

A Bad Idea by Any Other Name...

Joey here....and I might be about to get myself killed for saying this, but I really can't see how the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is going to be any good. It's just a gut feeling that I have. The trailers and tv spots have been uninspiring so far, but the thing that bugs me the most about everything is that from what I have seen, it doesn't look or feel enough like Indiana Jones should.

Perhaps I will will have to eat my fedora when it comes out, but I can't escape this sinking feeling that we're in for a bit of a dissapointment.

What do you guys think?

Mr. Trumbo (1905 - 1976)



One of my favorite screenwriters of all time is Mr. Dalton Trumbo. The once-blacklisted writer has written (and or/re-written) many classics. He began his career as a writer of fiction and as a stock writer for film.

Dalton Trumbo, the Oscar-winning screenwriter, arguably the most talented, most famous of the blacklisted film professionals known to history as the Hollywood 10, was born in Montrose, Colorado to Orus Trumbo and his wife, the former Maud Tillery.

Dalton Trumbo was raised at 1124 Gunnison Ave. in Grand Junction, Colorado, where his parents moved in 1908. His father, Orus, worked in a shoe store. Dalton, the first child and only son, was later joined by sisters Catharine and Elizabeth. The young Dalton peddled the produce from his father's vegetable garden around town and had a paper route. While attending Grand Junction High School (Class of 1924), he worked at The Daily Sentinel as a cub reporter. Of his early politics, a much older Dalton Trumbo told how he asked his father for five dollars so he could join the Ku Klux Klan, a mass organization after the First World War. He didn't get the five dollars.

While at university, he realized that his calling was as a writer. He worked on the school's newspaper, humor magazine and yearbook, while also toiling for the Boulder newspaper. He left school his first year to follow his family to Los Angeles. The family moved due to financial difficulties after his father had been terminated by the shoe company. In L.A., Dalton enrolled at the University of Southern California but was unable to complete enough credits for a degree. Orus Trumbo died of pernicious anemia in 1926, and Dalton had to take a job to become the breadwinner for his widowed mother and two younger sisters. Dalton Trumbo took on whatever jobs were available, including repossessing motorcycles and bootlegging, which he quit because it was too dangerous. Eventually, Trumbo took a job at the Davis Perfection Bakery on the night shift and remained for nearly a decade. Trumbo continued to write, mostly short stories, becoming more and more anxious and eventually desperate to leave the bakery, fearing that he would never achieve his destiny of becoming an important writer. During this time, he sold several short stories, written his first novel and worked for the "Hollywood Spectator" as a writer, critic and editor. His work also appeared in "Vanity Fair" and "Vogue" magazines. Trumbo's first novel, "Eclipse" (1934), was set in fictional Shale City, Colorado (a thinly veiled Grand Junction) during the 1920s and 1930s, with characters who resembled notable community members. One of its main characters, John Abbott, is modeled after Trumbo's father. Dalton had tried, perhaps unfairly he admitted later, to avenge his father on the town where he had failed.

In 1934, Warner Bros. hired Trumbo as a reader, a job that entailed reading and summarizing plays and novels and advising whether they might be adapted into movies. It lead to a contract as a junior screenwriter at its B-pictures unit. In 1936, the same year he of his first screen credit for the B-move Road Gang (1936), Trumbo met his future soulmate Cleo Fincher and they married two years later. Daughter Nikola was born in 1939 and son Christopher in 1940. A daughter was added, Mitzi, the baby of the family.

He wrote the story for Columbia's Canadian-made Tugboat Princess (1936), clearly influenced by Captain January (1936), which had been made into a silent in 1924 before being remade with superstar Shirley Temple, substituting a tugboat in the original with a lighthouse. His screenplays for such films as The Devil's Playground (1937) showed some concern for the plight of the disenfranchised, but the Great Depression still existed, and social commentary was inevitable in all but fantasies and musicals.

After leaving Warners, he worked for Columbia, Paramount, 20th Century-Fox, and beginning in 1937, M.G.M., the studio for which he would do some of his best work in the 1940s. By the late 1930s, he had worked himself up to better assignments, primarily for RKO (though he returned to Warners for The Kid from Kokomo (1939)), and was working on A-list pictures by the turn of the decade. He won his first Oscar nod for RKO's Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman (1940), for which Ginger Rogers won the Academy Award for best actress as a girl from a poor family who claws her way into the upper middle class via a failed marriage to a Main Line Philadelphia swell.

By the time of America's entry into World War II, Trumbo was one of the most respected, highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood. He had also established a name for himself as a left-wing political activist whose sympathies coincided with those of the American Communist Party (CPUSA), which hewed to the line set by Moscow.

Trumbo was part of the anti-fascist Popular Front coalition of communists and liberals in the late 1930s, at the time of the Spanish Civil War. The Popular Front against Nazism and Fascism was been torn asunder in August 1939 when the USSR signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany. Many party members quit the CPUSA in disgust, but the true believers parroted the party line, which was now pro-peace and against US involvement in WWII.

Trumbo reportedly did not join the Party until 1943 and harbored personal reservations about its policies as regards enforcing ideological conformity. However, the publication of his anti-war novel "Johnny Got His Gun" in 1939 coincided with the shift of the CPUSA's stance from anti-Hitler to pro-peace, and his novel was embraced by the Party as the type of literature needed to keep the US out of the war. Trumbo agreed with the Party's pro-peace platform. The book, about a wounded World War One vet who has lost his limbs, won the American Book Sellers Award (the precursor to the National Book Award) in 1939. In a speech made in February 1940, four months before the Nazi blitzkrieg knocked France out of the war, Trumbo said, "If they say to us, 'We must fight this war to preserve democracy,' let us say to them, 'There is no such thing as democracy in time of war. It is a lie, a deliberate deception to lead us to our own destruction. We will not die in order that our children may inherit a permanent military dictatorship.'"

His speech was a rebuke to New Deal liberals. The Party began demonizing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who hated Hitler and was pro-British, as a war-monger. The Party ordered its members to henceforth be pro-peace and anti-FDR in their work and statements. In June 1941, after Nazi Germany invaded the USSR, the CPUSA shifted gears to become pro-war, supportive of FDR's aggressive behavior towards Nazi Germany.

Shortly after the German invasion, Trumbo instructed his publisher to recall all copies of "Johnny Got His Gun" and to cease publication of the book. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the German declaration of war against the U.S. catapulted the U.S. into both the Asian and European theaters of World War II, the book - always popular with peace-lovers and isolationists who opposed America's involvement in foreign wars - suddenly became popular among native fascists, too. However, it proved hard to get a copy of the book during the war years.

Trumbo joined the CPUSA in 1943, the same year Victor Fleming's great patriotic war movie A Guy Named Joe (1943), with a Trumbo screenplay, appeared on screens. In 1944, Original Story was a separate Oscar category and David Boehm and Chandler Sprague were nominated in that category for an Academy Award. Trumbo's screenplay was overlooked. Like other communist screenwriters, he proved to be an enthusiastic writer of pro-war propaganda, though except for the notorious pro-Stalin Mission to Moscow (1943), few films displayed any overt communist ideas or propaganda. One that did was Tender Comrade (1943) , which Trumbo wrote as a Ginger Rogers vehicle for RKO. Directed by his future Hollywood 10 comrade Edward Dmytryk, it depicted a mild form of socialism and collectivization among women working in the defense industry. He also wrote the patriotic classic Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944) for M.G.M., which was based on the Doolittle Raid of 1942.

Trumbo voluntarily invited FBI agents to his house in 1944 and showed them letters he had received from what he perceived were pro-fascist peaceniks who had requested copies of "Johnny Got His Gun", then out-of-print due to Trumbo's orders to his publisher. He turned those letters over to the FBI and later kept in contact with the Bureau, a fact that would later haunt blacklisted leftists, urging that the F.B.I. deal with them. His actions conformed to the CPUSA policy of denouncing anyone who opposed the war.

In 1945, the last year of the war, MGM released the Margaret O'Brien / Edward G. Robinson vehicle, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945), penned by Trumbo. Robinson was a future member of the Hollywood "gray-list" with those, like Henry Fonda who were suspected of leftist sympathies or for being Fellow Travelers, but who could not be officially blacklisted. Drawing on his own rural childhood, it was a picture of a young girl's life on a farm in rural Wisconsin. The year 1945 was crucial for Trumbo and other Hollywood party members in terms of the CPUSA's desire to have their work reflect the party's ideological agenda.

HCUA was originally created in 1934 as the Special Committee on Un-American Activities to look into the activities of fascist and pro-Nazi organizations. Then popularly known as the McCormack-Dickstein Committee, the Special Committee on Un-American Activities exposed fascist organizations, including a planned coup d'etat against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the so-called Business Plot. Later on, it became known as the House Un-American Activities Committee or the Dies Committee after the new chairman, Martin Dies. HCUA originally was tasked with investigating the involvement of German Americans with the Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

HCUA became a standing committee in 1946, still tasked with investigating suspected threats of subversion or propaganda that attacked "the form of government guaranteed by our Constitution." The focus was solely on the communists and their allies, so-called Fellow Travelers who made common cause with communists during the War Years. Fellow Travelers was a loose term that seemed to embrace many liberal FDR New Deal Democrats.

HCUA subpoenaed suspected communists in the entertainment industry. Trumbo's screenplay for Tender Comrade (1943), which concerned three Army wives who pool their resources while their husbands are away fighting was denounced as communist propaganda. However, writer-producer James Kevin McGuinness, a conservative who was a friendly witness before HCUA, testified that left-wing screenwriters did not inject propaganda into their movie scripts during World War II. McGuiness testified "[The movie industry] profited from reverse lend-lease because during the [war] the Communist and Communist-inclined writers in the motion picture industry were given leave of absence to be patriotic. During that time...under my general supervision Dalton Trumbo wrote two magnificent patriotic scripts, A Guy Named Joe (1943) and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)."

Appearing before HCUA in October 1947 with Alvah Bessie, Herbert J. Biberman, Lester Cole, John Howard Lawson, 'Ring Lardner Jr' , Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, and Samuel Ornitz, Trumbo - like the others - refused to answer any questions. In a defense strategy crafted by CPUSA lawyers, the soon-to-be-known-as "Hollywood 10" claimed that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave them the right to refuse to answer inquiries into their political beliefs as well as their professional associations. One line of questioning of HCUA was to ask if the subpoenaed witnesses were members of the Screen Writers Guild in order to smear the SWG. It was a gambit played by the Committee as it knew that which of the 10 were in the unions, and it knew which were communist. As Arthur Miller has pointed out, HCUA left the Broadway theater alone, despite the fact that there were communists working in it, because no one outside of the Northeastern U.S. really cared about theater or knew who theatrical professionals were, and thus, it could not generate the publicity that HCUA members craved and courted through their hearings.

HCUA cited them for contempt of Congress, and the Hollywood 10 were tried and convicted on the charge. All were fined and jailed, with Trumbo being sentenced to a year in federal prison and a fine of $1,000. He served 10 months of the sentence. The Hollywood 10 were blacklisted by the Hollywood studios, a blacklist enforced by the very guilds they helped create. Trumbo and the other Hollywood 10 screenwriters were kicked out of the Screen Writers Guild (John Howard Lawson had been one of the founders of the SWG and its first president), which meant, even if they weren't blacklisted, they could not obtain work in Hollywood. Those who continued to write for the American cinema had to do so under assumed names or by using a "front", a screenwriter who would take credit for their work and pass on all or some of the fee to the blacklisted writer. Later, as one of the Hollywood Ten, Trumbo claimed for himself the mantle of "Martyr for Freedom of Speech" and attacked, as rats, those who became informers for HCUA by naming names. In 1949, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., wrote in The Saturday Review of Books, that Trumbo was in fact NOT a free speech martyr since he would not fight for freedom of speech for ALL the people, such as right-wing conservatives, but only for the freedom of speech of CPUSA members. The anti-communist Schlesinger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard historian, thought Trumbo and others like him were doctrinaire communists and hypocrites. In response, Trumbo wrote a scathing letter to The Saturday Review to defend himself, characterizing himself as a paladin championing free speech for all Americans under the aegis of the First Amendment, which the Hollywood 10 claimed gave them the right to refuse to cooperate with HCUA.

After his blacklisting and failure of the Hollywood 10's appeals, the Trumbo family exiled themselves to Mexico. In Mexico, chain-smoking in the bathtub in which he always wrote, usually with a parrot given to him by 'Kirk Douglas' perched on his shoulder, Trumbo wrote approximately thirty scripts under pseudonyms and using fronts who relayed the money to him. His works included the film noir classic Deadly Is the Female (1950) (AKA Gun Crazy), co-written under the pseudonym Millard Kaufman, Oscar-winning Roman Holiday (1953) (with screenwriter Ian McLellan Hunter as a front), and The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955) for director Otto Preminger and upon which blacklisted Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Wilson also worked).

At the 1957 Academy Awards, Robert Rich won the Oscar for best original story of 1956 for The Brave One (1956). Rich was not present to accept the award, which was accepted on his behalf by Jesse Lasky Jr. of the Screen Writers Guild. When journalists began digging in to the background of the phantom Mr. Rich, they found out he was the nephew of a producer. Suspicion then arose that Rich was a pseudonym for the blacklisted Trumbo.

Though Hollywood has always been inundated with writers, Trumbo, even while blacklisted, was prized as a good writer who was fast, reliable and could write in many genres. Despite being a communist, Trumbo's favorite themes were more in the vein of populism than Marxism. Trumbo celebrated the individual rebelling against the powers that be.

With rumors circulating that Trumbo had written the Oscar-winning The Brave One (1956), it triggered a discussion in the industry about the propriety of the blacklist, since so many screenplays were being written by blacklisted individuals who were being denied screen credit. The blacklist only worked to suppress the prices of screenplays by these talented writers. In 1958, Pierre Boulle won the Oscar for the screenplay adapted from his novel The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), which was unusual since Boulle could not speak nor write in English, which may have been the reason he did not attend the awards ceremony to pick up the Oscar in person. It was immediately realized that the screenplay had likely been written by a blacklisted screenwriter. It was - Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman.

In 1959, Trumbo was hired by producer-director Otto Preminger to write the screenplay for Exodus (1960) and was almost simultaneously hired by Kirk Douglas to adapt Howard Fast's Spartacus (1960). Both Douglas and Preminger made public announcements of Trumbo's hiring, and intent to give him screen credit, thus officially breaking the blacklist.

Trumbo wrote many more screenplays for A-list films, including Lonely Are the Brave (1962), The Sandpiper (1965), Hawaii (1966) , and The Fixer (1968). In 1970, he was awarded the Laurel Award for lifetime achievement by the Screen Writers Guild. He made a famous speech that many saw as a reconciliation of the two sides of fight. In 1971, he wrote, directed, and appeared in the movie adaptation of his famous anti-war novel, Johnny Got His Gun (1971). His last screenwriting credit on a feature film was for Papillon (1973), in which he also had a cameo role.

A six-pack-a-day smoker, he developed lung cancer in 1973. Two years later, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (which had supported the black list), Walter Mirisch, personally delivered a belated Oscar to Trumbo for his The Brave One (1956) script, now officially recognized by AMPAS as his creation. Eighteen years later, AMPAS would award him a posthumous Oscar for Roman Holiday (1953).

Dalton Trumbo died from a heart attack in California on September 10, 1976. At his memorial service, Ring Lardner Jr., his close friend and fellow Hollywood 10 member, delivered an amusing eulogy. "At rare intervals, there appears among us a person whose virtues are so manifest to all, who has such a capacity for relating to every sort of human being, who so subordinates his own ego drive to the concerns of others, who lives his whole life in such harmony with the surrounding community that he is revered and loved by everyone with whom he comes in contact. Such a man Dalton Trumbo was not."

Here is a partial list of Mr. Trumbo's "credits". These are not the only films he worked on

A Bill of Divorcement (1940)
Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman (1940)
A Guy Named Joe (1943)
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)
Our Vines Have Grapes (1945)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Roman Holiday (1953)
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)
The Brave One (1956)
Cowboy (1958)
Career (1959)
Exodus (1960)
Spartacus (1960)
The Last Sunset (1961)
The Sandpiper (1965)
Hawaii (1966)
The Fixer (1968)
Johnny Got His Gun (1970)
Exective Action (1973)
Papillon (1973)


There is also a new documentary about the literary icon featuring the likes of Joan Allen, Brian Dennehy, Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, Paul Giamatti, Danny Glover, Nathan Lane, Josh Lucas (POSEIDON), Liam Neeson, David Strathairn, Donald Sutherland, and son Christopher Trumbo wrote the script based on his own biographical play of his father

Here is the trailer for the film

http://movies.aol.com/movie/trumbo/32368/video/trailer-no-1/2124452

Trivia: "His" Oscar for best story for THE BRAVE ONE (his credit reads: "Story by: Robert Rich") remains the only unclaimed Oscar to date.

WGA's 101 Best Screenplays Part 2



Again bored and want to continue on the "article". For full posting, please view: http://filmcriticsdiscussion.blogspot.com/

26. DOUBLE INDEMNITY
Screenplay by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler
Based on the novel by James M. Cain

27. GROUNDHOG DAY
Screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis

28. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard

29. SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS
Written by Preston Sturges

30. UNFORGIVEN
Written by David Webb Peoples

31. HIS GIRL FRIDAY
Screenplay by Charles Lederer
Based on the play "The Front Page" by Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur

32. FARGO
Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

33. THE THIRD MAN
Screenplay by Graham Greene (based on his short story)

34. THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS
Screenplay by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman (based on his novelette)

35. THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Written by Christopher McQuarrie

36. MIDNIGHT COWBOY
Screenplay by Waldo Salt
Based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy

37. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY
Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart
Based on the play by Philip Barry

38. AMERICAN BEAUTY
Written by Alan Ball

39. THE STING
Written by David S. Ward

40. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
Written by Nora Ephron

41. GOODFELLAS
Screenplay by Martin Scorsese & Nicholas Pileggi (based on his novel "Wise Guy")

42. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
Screenplay by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman and Lawrence Kasdan

43. TAXI DRIVER
Written by Paul Schrader

44. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES
Screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood
Based on the novel "Glory For Me" by MacKinley Kantor

45. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST
Screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman
Based on the novel by Ken Kesey

46. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE
Screenplay by John Huston
Based on the novel by B. Traven

47. THE MALTESE FALCON
Screenplay by John Huston
Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett

48. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI
Screenplay by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson
Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle

49. SCHINDLER'S LIST
Screenplay by Steven Zaillian
Based on the novel by Thomas Keneally

50. THE SIXTH SENSE
Written by M. Night Shyamalan

May 17, 2008

Return of the Woodman?

Howdy! Joey here, reporting that the early word out of Cannes is that Woody Allen's new film Vicky Christina Barcelona is not bad at all. Special mention is being made of Penelope Cruz and her performance.

Could it be that Woody is back after frustrating audiences with the mediocrity of Scoop and Cassandra's Dream?

May 16, 2008

I Sing and Dance For Your Milkshake!

Joey here...apparently Daniel Day-Lewis is in talks to replace Javier Bardem in the film adaptation of the show Nine (9). This could be very interesting. Rob Marshall of Chicago fame is directing and the cast already includes the likes of Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, and Judi Dench. Wow

Does this sound like Oscar material to you? And is there anything that Daniel Day-Lewis can't do?

May 15, 2008

WGA's 101 Best Screenplays Part 1


While I'm sitting here bored with nothing to do until tomorrow, I thought I would look at the list of the WGA's 101 top scripts.. Cast/Crew...synopsis...discuss, discuss, discuss!

1. Casablanca (1942)
Written by: Philip G. Epstein & Julius J. Epstein and Howard Koch
Based on a play by Joan Alison and Murray Burnett

2. The Godfather (1972)
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo (based on his novel)

3. Chinatown (1974)
Written by: Robert Towne

4. Citizen Kane (1941)
Written by: Herman Mankiewicz & Orson Welles

5. All About Eve (1950)
Written by: Joseph Mankiewicz
Based on the short story "The Wisdom of Eve" by Mary Orr

6. Annie Hall (1977)
Written by: Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

7. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Written by: Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman Jr.

8. Network (1976)
Written by: Paddy Chayefsky

9. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Written by: Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond
Based on the German film "Fanfare of Love" written by: Robert Thoeren and M. Logan

10. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Written by: Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo (based on his novel "The Godfather")

11. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Written by: William Goldman

12. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Written by: Stanley Kubrick and Terry Southern and Peter George (based on his novel "Red Alert")

13. The Graduate (1967)
Written by: Calder Willingham and Buck Henry
Based on the novel by Charles Webb

14. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Written by: Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson
Based on the life and writings of Col. T.E. Lawrence

15. The Apartment (1960)
Written by: Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond

16. Pulp Fiction (1994)
Written by: Roger Avary & Quentin Tarantino

17. Tootsie (1982)
Written by: Don McGuire and Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal

18. On the Waterfront (1954)
Based on the articles "Crime on the Waterfront" by Malcolm Johnson
Starring: Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning, John Hamilton

19. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Written by: Horton Foote
Based on the novel by Harper Lee

20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Written by: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, & Frank Capra with assistance by Jo Swerling and Michael Wilson
Based on the short story "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern

21. North by Northwest (1959)
Written by: Ernest Lehman

22. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Written by: Frank Darabont
Based on the short story "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King

23. Gone with the Wind (1939)
Written by: Sidney Howard with assistance by David O. Selznick among others
From the novel by: Margaret Mitchell

24. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Written by: Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry, & Charlie Kaufman


25. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Written by: Noel Langley and Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf
Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum

**Look for the extended post on: http://filmcriticsdiscussion.blogspot.com/

A Closer Look at: Howard Hawks


For the first edition of this recurring feature, I've chosen to write about Howard Hawks, a man whose contribution to film is undeniable and who rarely gets credit for it.

Howard Hawks has long been the overlooked genius of early cinema. Hawks first gained notice with the gangster film Scarface (which was remade into the more popular, though significantly worse, 1983 version starring Al Pacino) and went on to work in every genre imaginable. A true chameleon, Hawks took on screwball comedies (Bringing Up Baby), westerns (Red River), film noirs (The Big Sleep), war films (Sergeant York), and made classics in each genre. Hawks, along with Alfred Hitchcock, was one of the first directors to be cited as an auteur (a director who asserts creative control over his films) when the term was first coined by french film critics in Cahiers Du Cinema in the 1950s. Despite all of this, he never quite achieved the public awareness of contemporaries Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, John Ford, or Orson Welles.

Hawks is perhaps most famous for the overlapping 'Hawksian' dialogue that is abundant in nearly everyone of his films, a trademark that was reused by Robert Altman throughout his career. This dialogue is often the primary obstacle standing in the way of the Hawksian protagonist's success, as in Bringing Up Baby, where an exasperated Cary Grant is continually thwarted by his own bumbling mannerisms, and through a series of events that he is unable to explain, is sent to jail.

No matter the subject matter, Hawks was always an optimist. He imposed his wry sense of humor upon each of his films, even one as dark as The Big Sleep. Hawks toys with Raymond Chandler's original story just enough to satiate his comic tendencies, and though much is changed, it is striking to note that major plot points remain intact. The original protagonist is a sardonic loner; in the film, he is a reluctant ladies man. Hawksian dialogue is injected into important scenes and distracts from the events of these critical moments. The ending is changed to offer a likely romance between the two leads of the film (Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall), an alteration that runs against everything the novel was about. But Hawks never showed any romance, he merely implied it. Every character ends up in exactly the same way they did in the book. The body count is even higher in the film. It is a testament to Hawks's brilliance that he could so perfectly balance his own leanings with those of Chandler.

Hawks was one of the first to see the true potential of film as an art form. His use of black and white is a good example of why Hawks was one of cinema's first artists. Hawks used black and white to raise questions of morality. My favorite example of this can be found in Scarface. Tony Camonte, is a goofy, brutal gangster who ascends to power by killing everyone in his path. Camonte is overprotective of his sister. He falls for he boss's girlfriend. He seems almost human when he isn't murdering people. After he takes complete control of the mob in his city, he stands in front of a window, the bright light of the outside shining in. Against the light, all we see of Tony is a dark silhouette. Hawks wants us to consider Tony's nature. Is he a violent man with complex motivation? or rather is he a single-minded thug, completely corrupted by evil? The image of Tony against the window is used to raise this question, as it is symbolic of the latter theory.

Hopefully I've done Hawks justice with this post. Keep a look out for the next edition of this feature, where I'll be taking a closer look at the Japanese master of animation Hayao Miyazaki.

Pixar Power?

Hello out there boys and girls...joey here, and I wanted to open up a discussion in relation to an article I wrote on the site recently. Basically, the thing I want to talk about here is whether or not WALL-E has any shot at a Best Picture nod. I want to know what you all think. Is it a legit contender if it's good enough? Or is the Best Animated Feature the best a cartoon can do these days?

Let the debate begin!

May 14, 2008

'Blindness' Opens to Mixed Reviews...



While cast members Julianne Moore, Gael Garcia Bernal, Mark Ruffalo and Alice Braga have generally pleased critics, most reviewers feel acclaimed filmmaker Fernando Meirelles fais to capture the essence of, my fellow portuguese, Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago's Blindness.

Personally, I can't blame him...

Read more here.

May 13, 2008

Trailer for new Woody Allen film 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'

Well...it certainly looks interesting. Time will tell if this is a Match Point or a Cassandra's Dream. Being a big fan of Allen's early work (Pretty much anything he did from Annie Hall to Crimes and Misdemeanors was brilliant), I hope he hits this one out of the park.

A DVD Release Week to Prep for a Certain Fedora'd Gentleman

Hi all, Joey here...this is a first for me, as this week my PICK OF THE WEEK for DVD releases is not going to be a new release, but a box set of 3 old films. The reason I do this is because it ties into an upcoming film...so, without further delay, here it is:

Indiana Jones- The Adventure Collection

If you don't already own all 3 of Indy's adventures (Raiders, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade, obviously) this ia a must have, sespecially considering Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is quickly coming upon us.

As for new releases, the best of the bunch of Francis Ford Coppola's return to the director chair in Youth Without Youth. It's definitely an artistic film, perhaps even a bit on the weird side, but it's Coppola, so it's more than worth a view.

We also have Denzel Washington's The Great Debaters, which was could, but at least to me, could have been better. It's fantastic compared to the following two films. Untraceable is about as bad as serial killer movies get (think the exact opposite of Silence of the Lambs), and Mad Money is incredibly bad just given the amount of talent involved in this. Shame on you Diane Keaton.

My old school pick is a two parter. First we have the best work Nicolas Cage has ever done. It's Leaving Las Vegas, and if you're not a stickler for happy endings, you'll absolutely love this. My other pick is American Psycho. Before Christian Bale was a superstar and beloved the world over, he portrayed Patrick Bateman, my all time favorite literary character. While it's significantly different than the book by Bret Easton Ellis, it still is a superb flick.

What will you guys be buying this week?

2008 Tony Nominations

For all those who care. Not living in New York, I have not any of these productions so I cannot guess as to who will win. As far as I know, the shows that did not get much (if any) love but deserved to include: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, NOVEMBER, THE COUNTRY GIRL, and CYRANO DE BERGERAC. Next to each of the acting nominees, I have included the on-screen appearance for which they are best known (if any).

WHOOPI GOLDBERG is set to host.


**Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play**
Patrick Stewart, Macbeth
Rufus Sewell, Rock 'n' Roll
Mark Rylance, Boeing-Boeing
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

**Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play**
Kate Fleetwood, Macbeth
Eve Best, The Homecoming
Amy Morton, August: Osage County
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba

**Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play**
David Pittu, Is He Dead?
Jim Norton, The Seafarer
Conleth Hill, The Seafarer
Bobby Canavale, Mauritius
Rael Esparza, The Homecoming

**Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play**
Laurie Metcalf, November
Martha Plimpton, Top Girls
Sinead Cusack, Rock 'n' Roll
Mary McCormack, Boeing-Boeing
Rondi Reed, August: Osage County

**Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical**
Stew, Passing Strange
Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair
Lin-Manuel, Miranda in the Heights
Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park with George
Paulo Szot, Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific"

**Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical **
Patti LuPone, Gypsy
Kerry Butler, Xanadu
Faith Prince, A Catered Affair
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park with George
Kelli O'Hara, Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific

**Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical**
Boyd Gaines, Gypsy
Robin De Jeses, In the Heights
Daniel Breaker, Passing Strange
Danny Burstein, Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific"
Christopher Fitzgerald, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein

**Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical**
Laura Benanti, Gypsy
Olga Merediz, In the Heights
de'Adre Aziza, Passing Strange
Loretta Ables, Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific"
Andrea Martin, The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein

**Best Direction of a Play**
Maria Aitken, The 39 Steps
Conor McPherson, The Seafarer
Matthew Warchus, Boeing-Boeing
Anna D. Shapiro, August: Osage County

**Best Direction of a Musical**
Arthur Laurents, Gypsy
Stew & Heigi Rodewald, Passing Strange
Alex Lacamoire & Bill Sherman, In the Heights
Sam Buntrock, Sunday in the Park with George

**Best Book of a Musical**
Stew, Passing Strange
Douglas Carter Beane, Xanadu
Quiara Alegra Hudes, In the Heights
Mark O'Donnell & Thomas Meehan, Cry-Baby

**Best Revival of a Play**
Macbeth
Boeing-Boeing
The Homecoming
Les Liaisons Dangereuses

**Best Revival of a Musical**
Gypsy
Grease
Sunday in the Park with George
Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific"

**Best Play**
Rock 'n' Roll
The Seafarer
The 39 Steps
August: Osage County

**Best Musical**
Xanadu
Cry-Baby
In the Heights
Passing Strange

go to www.tonys.org for full coverage.

**LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT**
Stephen Sondheim




**Is anyone able to predict these? I cannot since I have not seen these particular productions.

Here's the tally...

13 nominations
In the Heights...Best Actor, Best Featured Actor, Best Featured Actress, Best Direction, Best Book, Best Musical, Best Choreography, Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design (of a musical)

11 nominations
Rodgers & Hammerstein's "South Pacific"...Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Featured Actor, Best Featured Actress, Best Direction, Best Revival, Best Choreography, Best Scenic Design, Best Costumes Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Sound Design (of a musical)

9 nominations
Sunday in Park w/ George...Best Actor, Actress, Direction, Revival, Orchestrations, Scenic Design, Costumes, Lighting, Sound

7 nominations
Gypsy......Best Actress, Featured Actor, Featured Actress, Direction, Revival, Costume Design, Sound Design (of a musical)
August: Osage County...Best Actress (2), Best F. Actress, Best Direction, Best Play, Best Scenic Design, Best Lighting (of a play)

6 nominations
The 39 Steps......Best Direction, Play, Scenic Design, Costume Design, Lighting Design, Sound Design (of a play)
Macbeth...Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Revival, Best Scenic Design, Best Sound Design, Best Lighting Design (of a play)
Boeing-Boeing...Best Actor, Best Featured Actress, Best Direction, Best Revival, Best Costumes, Best Sound Design (of a play)

5 nominations
Les Liaisons Dangereuses...Best Actor, Best Revival, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design (of a play)

4 nominations
The Seafarer...Best Featured Actor (2), Best Direction, Best Play (of a play)
Xanadu.........Best Actress, Best Book, Best Musical, Best Choreography (of a musical)
Rock 'n' Roll...Best Actor, Best Featured Actress, Best Play, Best Sound Design (of a play)
Cry-Baby......Best Book of a Musical, Best Musical, Best Choreography, Best Original Score

3 nominations
The Homecoming...Best Actress, Best Featured Actor, Best Revival (of a play)
A Catered Affair.....Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Orchestrations (of a musical)
The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein....Best Featured Actor, Featured Actress, Scenic Design (of a Musical)

2 nominations
The Little Mermaid....Best Lighting Design of a Musical, Best Original Score

1 nomination
Thurgood...Best Actor in a Play
Come Back, Little Sheba...Best Actress in a Play
Grease..............................Best Revival of a Musical
Mauritius.........................Best Featured Actor in a Play
Is He Dead?......................Best Featured Actor in a Play
Top Girls..........................Best Featured Actress in a Play
Cyrano de Bergerac..........Best Costume Design of a Play
November.........................Best Featured Actress in a Play

Kelly's 100 Films - # 99: Working Girl


Director: Mike Nichols
Writer: Kevin Wade
Cast... Harrison Ford, Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack, Philip Bosco, Nora Dunn, Oliver Platt with special appearances by Kevin Spacey and Olympia Dukakis

Synopsis: Tess McGill is a hard working young woman who is determined to reach the top of the stockmarket world by hard work but as she turns 30 she is stuck in secretarial work so when she starts working for Katherine Parker she is glad that Katherine is willing to accept input and ideas from her. However when Katherine goes on holiday and breaks her leg she asks Tess to look after things and this causes Tess to discover that Katherine is going to pinch her big idea that would save a large company from a a foreign takeover. Enraged that her boyfriend is also cheating on her, Tess sets out to do a deal by using her idea herself while Katherine is away. She teams up with Jack Trainer to close the deal before Katherine's return and the two slowly fall in love little knowing that Jack is Katherine's boyfriend...

Why Is this On My List?: Not only does this mark Nichols' comeback as a filmmaker, it was also one of his biggest hits, next to The Graduate, of course. It has everything you want in a rom-com and more. A pedigree cast and crew bring this hit to life. Great New York non-Jew performances by all 4 stars...Ford, Griffith, Weaver, and Cusack. A memorable appearance by Dukakis as well as a then-unknown Spacey.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=1Jrm6yy1I8Q

Awards Attention:

Oscar
**Best Song - "Let the River Run" (Carly Simon)
Best Actress - Melanie Griffith
Best Supp. Actress - Sigourney Weaver, Joan Cusack
Best Director - Mike Nichols
Best Picture - Douglas Wicke

Golden Globe
**Best Actress, Musical/Comedy - Melanie Griffith
**Best Supporting Actress - Sigourney Weaver
**Best Picture, Musical/Comedy - Douglas Wicke
**Best Song - "Let the River Run" (Carly Simon)
Best Director - Mike Nichols
Best Screenplay - Kevin Wade

BAFTA
Best Actress - Melanie Griffith
Best Supp. Actress - Sigourney Weaver
Best Original Score - Carly Simon

DGA
Mike Nichols, Best Director

WGA
Kevin Wade, Best Original Screenplay

May 12, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D



Director: Eric Brevig (Visual F/X coordinator of Pearl Harbor)

Writers: Michael Weiss (The Closer) and Jennifer Flackett & Mark Levin (Nim's Island)

Cast: Brendan Fraser (Crash) and Josh Hutcherson (Zathura) and Iceland-native Anita Briem (The Evidence)

Synopsis: On a quest to find out what happened to his missing brother, a scientist, his nephew and their mountain guide discover a fantastic and dangerous lost world in the center of the earth.


Your thoughts?

Is it just me?

Or is playing Grand Theft Auto IV akin to being a part of a really good crime movie? It's so well written that it's shocking sometimes. Is it just me?

On "The Road"

I read here that the Road is coming out in late November. I'm currently reading the novel, and if done right, it could be a force to contend with come Oscar season. It was written by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men), and is currently being directed by John Hillcoat (The Proposition). Also, the book won a Pulitzer for Fiction. And the cast is not too shabby.

So is there any reason why the Road isn't getting more love from critics and movie lovers? Please let me know. Heck, even Oprah liked the book.

Let's just blame Oprah for now. But, it's my sleeper nonetheless.

May 10, 2008

Radiohead Rocks

Good day folks,

I just got back from my first Radiohead concert; and, like any great experience, i learned a few things:

1) Radiohead is the sickest band alive, and is probably the greatest band of the last 2 decades (sorry Nickleback fans)
2) Listening to Johnny Greenwood play live is not as great as listening to his other work
3) People should stay away from trying to dance to Radiohead
4) I think I comprised of at least 37 percent of the black population at the concert
5) And don't ever put a chair over your head to protect yourself from rain (especially if someone is angrily standing behind you)

Also, Radiohead makes great music for movies... Which leads me to ask: What are some other musicians that make great music for movies? or who would you like to hear?

Ellen Page Alert

Hey all... Joey here.... just wanted to drop a quick line that a new pre-Juno Ellen Page movie opened in a VERY limited release today. It's called The Tracey Fragments, and is one of those flicks that uses a multiple frame split-screen approach to tell its story. The film itself seemed to have gotten a panning, but Ellen Page is said to be a one woman show, so I wanted to mention it real fast in case there are other Page lovers like me out there.

Cheers!

May 9, 2008

Batman 3 Update

Movies.com recently posted this:



The Dark Knight star Aaron Eckhart, who plays D.A. Harvey Dent turned baddie Two-Face in the comic book flick, hinted in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that the facial scars he'll suffer in the July 18 movie are much worse than fans can imagine.


And if a photo that's popping up on fan sites of the post-burned Dent is real, he wasn't exaggerating.


ComicBookResources.com originally put up the photo, which is currently posted on Cinema Blend after being removed at Warner Bros. request by several sites, and it shows Dent in full Two-Face mode, with a horrendously scarred half-face that's light on the comic touch and heavy on the gruesome.


It's a far less cartoonish makeup job than Tommy Lee Jones' Batman Forever Two-Face and every bit as disturbing as Eckhart describes. More Batman news: As the most recent trailer suggests, Harvey Dent/Two-Face will continue to be a big part of the action in Batman 3, according to a Cinema Blend scooper, who also says The Joker (Heath Ledger) was going to play a major role in the sequel before Ledger's death earlier this year. The next sequel, which is likely to be director Christopher Nolan's last Batflick, says Cinema Blend, will be based on the two graphic novels The Long Halloween and Dark Victory, and it may also introduce Batman's (Christian Bale) Boy Wonder sidekick, Robin.

So let's do some casting, shall we?

First off, let's start with Robin. So far, on screen, this role has been portrayed by Douglas Croft (1943's The Batman), Johnny Duncan (1949's Batman & Robin), Burt Ward (1960's TV series/film), and Chris O'Donnell (Batman Forever, Batman & Robin). So who should portray him if he is indeed in the next film? For some reason, the only person I can think of is: Casey Affleck. After his tremendous performances in Gone Baby Gone and The Assassination of Jesse James, he would be a terrific choice. However, let's say the part is in the film and Affleck is cast, he should not be so eager to jump into costume. The role should be all about the evolution of Robin, just as the first installment was about the evolution of Batman.

Now, looking on Wikipedia at the list of new characters "introduced" in The Long Halloween are Poison Ivy, the Riddler, and the Mad Hatter. It also brings back the character of Scarecrow (portrayed by Cillian Murphy).

So, let's cast those parts, shall we?

First off... Poison Ivy. So far, this role has been played solely by Uma Thurman (Batman & Robin). While Thurman made for an "okay" Pamela Isley, her portrayal of Isley's alter-ego Poison Ivy is rubbish. So who should be cast as Isley/Ivy? Let's take a look..

1) Elizabeth Banks. She is no stranger to comic book movies (she had a recurring cameo in the recent Spider-Man series). In her other roles, she has showed her range from comedy (The 40-year-old Virgin and Scrubs) to drama (Seabiscuit). While I do not think she would be the best choice, producers may be looking for a fresh new talent.

2) Rachel Weisz. A recent Oscar winner. A great actress. No stranger to blockbusters (see: The Mummy series).

3) Penelope Cruz or Tilda Swinton. Okay, so maybe I am stretching it now. There is no way any of these women will do a Batman film. This may be true for Cruz but both Weisz and Swinton (Chronicles of Narnia) have done blockbusters before and may very well do so. Also, no American Penelope Cruz film has been a success.

Now, let's discuss 'The Riddler'. So far this part has been played by Frank Gorshin (who earned an Emmy nod for his portrayal in the 1960s television series) and Jim Carrey (Batman Forever). So who would make a good riddler? I agree it must be a stand-up comedian, much like Carrey, who knows the ins & out of comedy, someone like Dane Cook. Suprising choice. The recent darkening-of-looks of characters like The Joker and Two Face (a pic is online) could prove for a very sarcastic, more-humanlike portrayal.

And finally, there's the Mad Hatter. So far, on screen, this character has been portrayed by little-known actor David Wayne, star of the stage (Finian's Rainbow) and screen (The Andromeda Strain), no relation to John Wayne, in four episodes of the 1960s television series. However, in the 90s, legendary former child star Roddy McDowell provided the vocals to an animated Mad Hatter in various animated television productions. So who should play him?

First, take a look at the following picture of the Mad Hatter in The Long Halloween:


Now, I can easily see this character being switched from a looney old guy to a looney, rebellious youth. Someone like Golden-Globe nominee Kieran Culkin, brother of Macaulay, who has been notably absent from the screen since his Golden Globe nominated performance in the 2002 indie drama Igby Goes Down. Finally, in 2008, he will return to the screen in Kenneth Lonergan's ensemble drama Margaret, opposite Anna Paquin and Mark Ruffalo, among others.

Now looking at Dark Victory, it has the characters of Poison Ivy, the Scarecrow, the Riddler, and the Mad Hatter. So it's a safe bet we'll see all, if not most, of those characters in the next installment. It also has the characters of the Penguin (after Danny DeVito's portrayal, no one wants this character to reemerge on screen unless done absolutely right). It also has the characters of Mr. Freeze (Ah-nuld is likely to reject the opportunity to reprise said character), Two-Face (who is likely to return after this summer's film), and perhaps the most interesting of villains: Solomon Grundy, a large zombie super-villain, portrayed by Mark Hamill in a recent animated series. A character yet to see the light of day in a live-action adventure. A fresh character which may be what is needed to add authenticity and originality to the recent reboot of the Batman franchise.

So who could portray Mr. Grundy? I don't have a clue. Does anyone out there have an idea?

May 8, 2008

Novel Film Ideas for...well...Novels

Hi everybody! (Hi Dr. Nick) Joey here, and the question I want to put forth for discussion is the following: which books would you kill to see adapted into (hopefully) good films?

I gotta say that a few jump out for me:

Tietam Brown by Mick Foley (think Catcher in the Rye on an acid trip)
Hope by Glen Duncan (character study about and English man addicting to porn)
Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk (thriller about a children's lullaby that kills)


Which pieces of literature would you guys like to see made into feature films?

First Look: Josh Brolin as W

We have already discussed (click here) the controversial biopic by Oliver Stone and now EW offers the first look of NCFOM's Josh Brolin as George W. Bush.

From EW:

''Where is George Bush's bedroom?''

Oliver Stone is flinging open French doors inside an enormous brick man¬sion in Shreveport, La., inspecting loca¬tions for his new film about the 43rd President of the United States. ''This one is too small,'' he says. ''This one looks like George Tenet's bedroom. Where did we decide to put Bush's bedroom? It's around here somewhere, isn't it?''

Shooting begins in less than two weeks on W (or dub-ya, as it's spelled out in the initial sketches for the poster), but not everything is exactly where it should be, and not only here in the house where the First Family's residence will be re-created. The 32,000-square-foot soundstage the production is rent¬ing across town stands empty, waiting for the Oval Office and Cabinet Room sets to get trucked in from Los Angeles. The screenplay still needs work too. It's gone through two rewrites since an earlier draft leaked to the press last month (some skeptics took it as an April Fools' joke), but Stone would still like one more pass at it (''It's evolving,'' he says). And while most of the cast has been assembled and outfitted with prosthetic noses and hairpieces — Josh Brolin will play President George W. Bush and Elizabeth Banks will star as Laura — there is one major character still in search of an actor: a heavy named Dick Cheney.

Stone is famous for courting controversy with dramas like JFK (1991) and Nixon (1995). But with W, the 61-year-old filmmaker isn't merely courting it — he's grabbing controversy by the lapels and giving it a big wet smacker. For the first time, he's turning his cameras not just on a living president but on one who'll still be knocking around the White House when the movie premieres late this year. As if that weren't provocative enough, Stone could end up releasing the film as early as October, at the height of a presidential campaign in which one of the major issues will undoubtedly be the legacy of the guy on the screen. The movie has become a lightning rod before Stone has shot a single frame. If that bootlegged script is any indication, the film will feature such flag-waving moments as the Commander-in-Chief nearly choking to death on a pretzel while watching football on TV and a flashback of him singing the ''Whiffenpoof'' song as a frat pledge at Yale, not to mention scenes in which he refers to his advisers by dorky nicknames — ''Guru'' for Condoleezza Rice, ''Turdblossom'' for Karl Rove, ''Balloon Foot'' for Colin Powell — while discussing plans for the invasion of Iraq with the coolness of a late-night poker game.

So, who should play Cheney? Do you think AMPAS will support Stone's W?

First Look: Penn as Milk


From EW:

In this exclusive First Look at director Gus Van Sant's highly anticipated biopic Milk (out Nov. 26), Sean Penn, as community activist Harvey Milk, celebrates his long-fought election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977, the first time an openly gay man had won elected office in a major U.S. city.

Milk ran his campaign headquarters out of his camera store in the city's de facto gay neighborhood known as the Castro, and ''we re-created the camera store in its actual location on Castro Street [for the movie],'' explains producer Dan Jinks (American Beauty). "[Sean] is playing a guy who's not at all like him, way beyond the sexuality of the character. Harvey was this guy who wants everybody to love him, and he loves everybody else. Sean just completely became that guy. It's a real transformation.''

Oscar numero dos coming soon?

Kelly's 100 Films - # 100: CITY LIGHTS (1931)

Writer/Director: Charles Chaplin
Cast: Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Harry Meyers, Florence Lee, Al Ernest Garcia, Hank Mann.

Summary: Charmingly simple story of The Little Tramp who meets a lovely blind girl selling flowers on the sidewalk who mistakes him for a wealthy duke.

When he learns that an operation may restore her sight, he sets off to earn the money she needs to have the surgery.

In a series of comedy adventures that only Chaplin could pull off, he eventually succeeds, even though his efforts land him in jail. While he is there, the girl has the operation and afterwards yearns to meet her benefactor. The tear-inducing closing scene, in which she discovers that he is not a wealthy duke but only The Little Tramp, is one of the highest moments in movies.

My Thoughts:

In doing my research on what exactly I should write about, I stumbled upon a Charlie Chaplin website-subpage devoted to City Lights (1931). I thought that this page said more about this particular film than I could ever possibly think to write. So, click here if you wish to explore Chaplin's City Lights a bit more or go directly to his website:

http://www.charliechaplin.com/

From the TIME Magazine Archive:
"Chaplin does not reject the sound-device because he does not think his voice will register. His objection is that cinema is essentially a pantomimic art"
—Feb. 9, 1931

May 7, 2008

An Introduction

Josh Kirschenbaum here.

I'll be writing for the blog from now on. A few things you should know:

1. I love comics. This will become painfully apparent during ComicCon, when I'll be geeking out at the plethora of new info on Frank Miller's The Spirit and Zack Snyder's (unfortunately doomed) Watchmen.

2. I'll have a recurring feature where I'll write a primer of sorts on a great director. I'll analyze recurring themes, motifs, and trademarks and do mini-reviews of their best work. Hopefully, I will get to the root of why this particular director is so revered. If you have any recommendations on who I should start with, let me know in the comments.

3. I currently have 36 favorite movies. I will post my list (along with justifications/praise for each film) in the next few weeks.

4. Frost/Nixon is going to fail. Sorry I had to be the one to tell you.

If you have any other questions or comments, leave them in the comments and I'll be happy to respond.

Memories from a TV classic...

A close friend of mine was showing me some of the early episodes of The Simpsons on his computer earlier today. Growing up in a country where every tv show is dubbed to our native language, I really never experienced the amazing voice-over work done on the series by Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner and company.

I think that's exactly where the massive success of The Simpsons comes from, the great writing is able to cross every barrier and every border. Thanks to its universal humor, the show is able to connect with the viewer without ever getting lost in translation.

I haven't watched much of The Simpsons lately though, I probably stopped watching around five or six years ago (Believe it or not, in Portugal it is mostly considered a kids show).

I understand the show is on its way to a 20th season right now. I have heard its quality has somehow declined and it has also lost popularity to South Park and Family Guy (shows I actually watch since I moved to America).

A couple of episodes into our improvised marathon, my friend asks the mandatory question: "What's your favorite episode." I don't know the name so I describe the plot to him, he replies... "Lisa's Substitute." Also one of his favorites.

He then proceeds to show me this old list, Entertainment Weekly's 25 Best "Simpsons" episodes. Great childhood memories came to mind instantly; who can forget Mr. Burns channeling Citizen Kane in "Rosebud" or Homer's quick trip to the gay steel mill in "Homer's Phobia."


Regardless of its current quality, The Simpsons already set its legacy on television and if you watch any of its earlier episodes, you will probably remember why...

Do you have a favorite episode?