June 30, 2008

The Dark Knight for Best Picture?

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but early buzz for the Dark Knight is exceptional so far. From the reviews (see below), the movie seems to transcend the superhero genre, and take it to another place altogether. Given the recent trend of the Academy to recognize darker, edgier flicks (No Country, the Departed, There Will Be Blood, Munich, etc.); I feel like the Dark Knight can very possibly (and ultimately will) get a nomination for best picture. Also, if you factor in how AMPAS probably need to nominate a more recognizible movie for ratings, nominating the Dark Knight starts to make sense. Or, perhaps my excitement is getting the best of me.

What do you think are the chances of the Dark Knight getting a nod?

Another Early Rave For The Dark Knight

From Todd Gilchrist at ign.com:

It isn't an overstatement to call The Dark Knight the most sophisticated and ambitious work of its kind. Superior to all three Spider- Man installments and even its amazing predecessor in terms of conceptualization, writing, acting, and direction, Nolan's follow-up to Batman Begins is a dark, complex and disturbing film, not the least of which because it grafts its heroics onto the blueprint of actual reality rather than that of spandex-clad supermen.

Read the full review here: http://movies.ign.com/articles/884/884876p1.html

Bond Trailer Released!

Here's the trailer for the upcoming Bond film, Quantum of Solace.

This looks great. Hopefully it can exceed the mega hit Casino Royale, but something is telling me that I should not bet my life on this...

source: comingsoon.net

June 28, 2008

WALL-E Most Definitely Kicks Off The Oscar Season!

Joey here...i've already seen it twice and it's by far one of the 5 best cartoons i've ever seen in my life. If the Academy makes it eligible, I can't believe it won't be a strong choice to wind up with a Best Pic nom. Believe the hype ladies and gents, WALL-E stole my heart and soon he'll collect yours as well for his collection. See it now and thank me later!

June 26, 2008

Oscar Season Kicks Off w/ Wall-E...

...or, at least that's what the Hollywood Reporter believes.

The Dark Knight is No Joke...According to Rolling Stone

Joey here...as if we all weren't excited enough for The Dark Knight, this early review from Peter Travers of Rolling Stone only cements it...this is going to be something special.
-Anyone actually not excited for this flick?

June 24, 2008

A Whole Mess Of New Oscar Voters

Hey all, Joey here to let everyone in on who now gets to vote for the Oscars. The new people at the Oscar party are as follows:
Sacha Baron Cohen
Josh Brolin
Marion Cotillard
Ruby Dee
Allison Janney
Jet Li
Ray Winstone
David Bowers
Ash Brannon
Doug Cooper
Jeremy Lasky
Caroline Leaf
David Schaub
David Silverman
Suzie Templeton
Jim Houston
Neil Machlis
Sheila Nevins
-Casting Directors
Ronna Kress
Jonathan W. Brown
Clark Mathis
Kramer Morgenthau
J. Michael Muro
Tim Orr
Tom Richmond
-Costume Designers
Isis Mussenden
Sergei Bodrov
James Gray
Michael Haneke
Doug Liman
Kimberly Peirce
Peyton Reed
Jason Reitman
Walter Salles
Gore Verbinski
Nanette Burstein
Heidi Ewing
Liz Garbus
Michele Ohayon
Deborah Shaffer
Alan Bergman
Dana Goldberg
Sidney Kimmel
Chris S. LeRoy
Andrew Rona
Jeff Skoll
-Film Editors
Barry Alexander Brown
John Carnochan
John Gilroy
Mark Livolsi
Dylan Tichenor
Juliette Welfling
-Live Action Short Films
Philippe Pollet-Villard
Jan Archibald
Kate Biscoe
Didier Lavergne
Christien Tinsley
Glen Ballard
J. J. George
Michael Giacchino
Armyan Bernstein
Jennifer Fox
Lianne Halfon
Hal Lieberman
Andrew Macdonald
Karen Murphy
Peter R. Newman
JoAnne Sellar
-Production Designers
Jack Fisk
Clayton R. Hartley
-Public Relations
Stephanie Allen
Suzanne Fritz
Kevin Goetz
Stephanie Kluft
Tim Palen
Marc Weinstock
-Set Decorators
Larry Dias
Katie Spencer
Sandy Reynolds Wasco
Craig Berkey
Fernando Camara
David Giammarco
Mike Hopkins
Robert J. Kizer
Alyson Dee Moore
Mark Onks
Jon Taylor
-Stunt Coordinators
Melissa R. Stubbs
-Visual Effects
Nick Davis
Brian Gernand
Dan Glass
Bryan Grill
Edward T. Hirsh
Helena Packer
Kelly Port
Ted Rae
Doug Roble
Carey Villegas
Judd Apatow
David Benioff
Jean-Claude Carriere
Diablo Cody
Tamara Jenkins
Jeff Nathanson
Nancy Oliver
congrats to all!

Be Still The Heart of Good Taste

Joey here with a poster that proves that Hollywood will remake ANYTHING...
Tisk Tisk...

DVD Therapy This Week From Charlie Bartlett?

Joey here, running down the dvd releases for the week. Not a bad week at all, but not a tremendous one either. There's definitely enough her to get through the week till WALL-E on friday. Jumping right in, my PICK OF THE WEEK is one of my 10 favorite films of the year so far, and it is:
-Charlie Bartlett
This is a smart and funny flick, with a tremendous performance by Robert Downey Jr. to boot. If you ever wondered what Tony Stark would be like as a principal, this movie is for you.
-We also have out this week Definitely, Maybe, which is a solid entry into the romantic comedy genre, In Bruges, a quirky hitman tale that is quite witty, The Hammer, a nice take on the Rocky tale. It's a funny little film. Also out is Persepolis, which is some good animation, and The Spiderwick Chronicles and Bonneville, which are pretty average, but not terrible by any stretch.
-Unfortunately out this week also is 10,000B.C., which is a huge turd and deserves to have been forgotten about 10,000 years ago.
-My old school dvd pick is an influential horror film called Cannibal Holocaust. It's been a big influence on a lot of filmmakers and is well worth a watch,
What will you guys be watching this week?

June 23, 2008

George Carlin (1937-2008)

Joey here with some awful and depressing news. Legendary comedian/actor George Carlin has died at 71 years old of heart failure. On a personal note, George Carlin was a hero to me, someone who's comedy was first (and some would argue only) thing my father and I ever bonded over (we often do his famous poem "The Hair Piece" in unison at the dinner table). For years at school I'd break the ice with Carlin's work, and his HBO specials were a yearly treat for my family.
Carlin would no doubt be the first person to take me (or anyone else) to task for making a fuss about his death, but he has had such a strong impact on my life that it's not something I could not address. Before I wrap this up to have a drink in his honor and open the floor to comments, I wanted to post here my favorite line that George Carlin ever put on paper:
-" I'm an outsider by choice, but not truly. It's the unpleasantness of the system that keeps me out. I'd rather be in, in a good system. That's where my discontent comes from: being forced to choose to stay outside"

-Rest in peace sir....

June 22, 2008

"Night" Not "Happening" Anymore?

Hey all...Joey here quickly to simply ask all of you the following puzzle: What the hell has happened to M. Night Shyamalan? How can the man who gave us The Sixth Sense and Signs give us The Happening (or as I just called it to my grandfather, The Crappening)?
-Anyone with any clue should let me know here...

Brett Ratner's film version of "The Road"

Let's hope the Road is not made in a similar grain. (*plot spoiler*)

June 21, 2008

Hail Star Wars!

Is it just me, or does Star Wars: Clone Wars look amazing?
We probably should include this in best animated feature category?

source: IMDB

Chicken Soup for the Film Fan's Soul...

howdily doodily ladies and gents...Joey here, and the question I propose to everyone today is the following: which film or films do you consider your comfort film(s)? Basically, what movie do you watch when you're in a bad mood or feeling sad or even just on a rainy day. It's a film that consistently is always there for you and is one you can always count on. For me, the movies that would qualify are:
-The Shawshank Redemption
-Jerry Maguire
-The Girl Next Door (sue me, I really dig this modern take on Risky Business)
-Love, Actually
-Juno (yes, even at this early stage, it qualifies....i've seen it about 12 times by now)
Guess I'm a romantic at heart...
-What movies would you claim to be your "chicken soup"?

Christian Bale as Robin Hood?

Looks like Christian Bale is set to play another archetypal hero. According to Mail Online, Christian Bale is in talks with Ridley Scott to play Robin Hood. Also, Russell Crowe is already part of the film, so this will pair Crowe and Bale one more time! If you have not seen 3:10 to Yuma (2007), then you missed a great movie last year (go rent it!).

Source: http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=46191

June 20, 2008

I Can't Resist Not Posting This...

How could I resist?

EW is fond of list...

Check out EW as they count down the top 100 movies of the last 25 years.
An interesting start to say the least...

[update] I just went through the list, and some notable misses are: The Usual Suspects!!!!!, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and the Shawshank Redemption. Yet, they include Speed and Men in Black. (Fun movies, but classics of the last 25 years?)

June 19, 2008

Tony Stark is tearing up the Box Office

Iron Man is the first movie of 2008 to cross the 300 Million dollar threshold (in the US). Congrats to Robert Downey and the rest of the Iron Man cast!
Speaking of Robert Downey, guess who wants him to don his pajamas in a biopic?

AFI Thinks Quite a Few Films are "Great"

Joey here...just wanted to quickly recap the AFI special from a few days ago. They did the top 10 films in 10 Classic categories...and here's the rundown for our debating pleasure:
1. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” 1937.
2. “Pinocchio,” 1940.
3. “Bambi,” 1942.
4. “The Lion King,” 1994.
5. “Fantasia,” 1940.
6. “Toy Story,” 1995.
7. “Beauty and the Beast,” 1991.
8. “Shrek,” 2001.
9. “Cinderella,” 1950.
10. “Finding Nemo,” 2003
1. “The Wizard of Oz,” 1939.
2. “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring,” 2001.
3. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” 1946.
4. “King Kong,” 1933.
5. “Miracle on 34th Street, 1947.
6. “Field of Dreams,” 1989.
7. “Harvey,” 1950.
8. “Groundhog Day,” 1993.
9. “The Thief of Bagdad,” 1924.10. “Big,” 1988.
1. “The Godfather,” 1972.
2. “Goodfellas,” 1990.
3. “The Godfather Part II,” 1974.
4. “White Heat,” 1949.
5. “Bonnie and Clyde,” 1967.
6. “Scarface: The Shame of a Nation,” 1932.
7. “Pulp Fiction,” 1994.
8. “The Public Enemy,” 1931.
9. “Little Caesar,” 1930.
10. “Scarface,” 1983.
1. “2001: A Space Odyssey,” 1968.
2. “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope,” 1977.
3. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” 1982.
4. “A Clockwork Orange,” 1971.
5. “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” 1951.
6. “Blade Runner,” 1982.
7. “Alien,” 1979.
8. “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” 1991.
9. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” 1956.
10. “Back to the Future,” 1985.
1. “The Searchers,” 1956.
2. “High Noon,” 1952.
3. “Shane,” 1953.
4. “Unforgiven,” 1992.
5. “Red River,” 1948.
6. “The Wild Bunch,” 1969.
7. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” 1969.
8. “McCabe & Mrs. Miller,” 1971.
9. “Stagecoach,” 1939.
10. “Cat Ballou,” 1965.
1. “Raging Bull,” 1980.
2. “Rocky,” 1976.
3. “The Pride of the Yankees,” 1942.
4. “Hoosiers,” 1986.
5. “Bull Durham,” 1988.
6. “The Hustler,” 1961.
7. “Caddyshack,” 1980.
8. “Breaking Away,” 1979.
9. “National Velvet,” 1944.
10. “Jerry Maguire,” 1996.

1. “Vertigo,” 1958.
2. “Chinatown,” 1974.
3. “Rear Window,” 1954.
4. “Laura,” 1944.
5. “The Third Man,” 1949.
6. “The Maltese Falcon,” 1941.
7. “North By Northwest,” 1959.
8. “Blue Velvet,” 1986.
9. “Dial M for Murder,” 1954.
10. “The Usual Suspects,” 1995.
1. “City Lights,” 1931.
2. “Annie Hall,” 1977.
3. “It Happened One Night,” 1934.
4. “Roman Holiday,” 1953.
5. “The Philadelphia Story,” 1940.
6. “When Harry Met Sally …,” 1989.
7. “Adam’s Rib,” 1949.
8. “Moonstruck,” 1987.
9. “Harold and Maude,” 1971.
10. “Sleepless in Seattle,” 1993.
1. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” 1962.
2. “12 Angry Men,” 1957.
3. “Kramer Vs. Kramer,” 1979.
4. “The Verdict,” 1982.
5. “A Few Good Men,” 1992.
6. “Witness for the Prosecution,” 1957.
7. “Anatomy of a Murder,” 1959.
8. “In Cold Blood,” 1967.
9. “A Cry in the Dark,” 1988.
10. “Judgment at Nuremberg,” 1961.
1. “Lawrence of Arabia,” 1962.
2. “Ben-Hur,” 1959.
3. “Schindler’s List,” 1993.
4. “Gone With the Wind,” 1939.
5. “Spartacus,” 1960.
6. “Titanic,” 1997.
7. “All Quiet on the Western Front,” 1930.
8. “Saving Private Ryan,” 1998.
9. “Reds,” 1981.
10. “The Ten Commandments,” 1956.
-My take is that overall this is a good primer on a wide variety of classics that everybody should see.
What do you guys think of this list?

June 18, 2008

YouTube shows love to Indie Film Makers

This is pretty dope. YouTube is setting up a screening room for indie film makers. They're going to show four new films a week. I'll keep you guys updated as more develops from this...

Another Cool Poster

Joey here with a second poster today (trying to make this more of a thing), this time for Burn After Reading, the Coen Bros follow-up to a little known movie last year called No Country for Old Men. It looks somewhat groovy and perhaps more of a lark than No Country.
Any thoughts?

Does This Look Like An Oscar Flick?

Joey here, with a quick profile for a film that I think is a bit under the radar at the moment. It's Defiance, the Edward Zwick directed film that tells the story of three Jewish brothers who fight back against the Nazis and aim to protect those around them from harm during WWII. It's a war drama with echoes of the Holocaust in it, so it should have the attention of people already, but it is below the radar a bit right now. Here is the trailer, which seems to suggest a powerful film:


-They also just put out a new poster for the film, which I put at the top of this. It highlights Daniel Craig, who could be heavily pushed for an Oscar nom. Word is that Liev Schreiber is also quite good in this. Time will tell though.

What do you guys think?

June 17, 2008

"Be Kind" to this week's dvd crop

Joey here with the weekly dvd report, and it is again a weak bunch of films coming out. No one film jumps out at me as a "must see", but I still have a PICK OF THE WEEK and the one I chose is:
-Be Kind, Rewind
A flawed film to be sure, but it has some interesting aspects to it and some very fun moments. Take the choice of this as the best of the week as an indication of the overall quality of the movies this week.
-We also have a few films that aren't horrible, but none that are going to set the world on fire. We have Chaos Theory, a film only worthy of mention because it has a nice variety of actors in it and Ryan Reynolds does a real good job with the ridiculous material. There is Rails & Ties, a film by Alison Eastwood that is well made, but missing something to be sure, Under The Same Moon, a melodrama about immigration that is decent, but only that, and we also have Super High Me, a documentary about a very controversial subject. It's not a bad doc, but it isn't going to win any Oscars either.
-Fools Gold and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins also come out this week, but they aren't anywhere near being worthy of any further mention here than the simple mention that they're out, and avoid them.
-My "vintage" choice for the week is the Woody Allen film Deconstructing Harry. Perhaps the dirtiest of Woody's comedies, it also contains some of his funniest moments, as well as being a bit of a light into his own mind. Unless you hate Woody Allen, you'll enjoy this.
-Is there anything this week that has you excited?

June 16, 2008

Stan Winston Passes...

Joey here with some terrible news....Legendary effects man Stan Winston has died. Here is the Variety story on this tragic passing: http://www.variety.com/VR1117987531.html
Feel free to post your favorite effect by the master here.

June 15, 2008

Best Musical goes to "In the Heights"

Not unexpected. 

The evening held few surprises, so this is a predictable way to end a predictable night. I can't pick out an undeserving winner in the bunch. 

That's a wrap. Goodnight.

Patti LuPone is wins best actress in a musical

After "August: Osage County," hers was the easiest win to predict. The band starts to play her off, she responds in kind: "Shut up! It's been 29 years!" The crowd loves it. 

Best Revival of a Musical

"South Pacific." No surprise there.

Come to think of it, I don't think we'll see anymore surprises tonight.

"August: Osage County" wins best play


Best Actress in a Play

Deanna Dunagan for "August: Osage County." No surprise. One of the better speeches of the night, I think. Maybe second best next to the guy who rapped his acceptance speech. 

Best Actor in a Play...

...Goes to Mark Rylance for his role in "Boeing-Boeing." This category was considered to be between Patrick Stewart and Laurence Fishburne, so this is a pretty big surprise. The Tonys have really gone for "Boeing," which picked up the Tony for best revival of a play earlier tonight.

Patti LuPone is winning tonight

Her category hasn't been announced yet, but if you just saw her performance then I think you'll agree. The excerpts of the musicals they perform during the Tony show can fail pretty easily. The songs were meant for the stage, not a TV. LuPone was just fantastic though. It's almost enough to make me overcome my natural aversion to musicals and go see her show.


Best Featured Actor and Actress

Jim Norton wins for "The Seafarer." 

Rondi Reed for "August: Osage County."

Neither is particularly surprising, though Norton was something of an upset. 

The Tony Awards have begun!

The show opens with a great performance from The Lion King, one of the best musicals to ever hit broadway. I am now officially inspired to get tickets to the show and watch the disney movie a few times. 

Whoopi's hosting. 

Tony Awards are tonight!

Check on the blog throughout the night. I'll be updating throughout the show.

June 14, 2008

About Halfway Through The Year...

Joey here...can you believe that we're almost halfway through the year already? We've seen about 35-40% of the films that the year will bestow on us, so while the second half (the other 60% of movies being released till new years or so) will be more filled with "prestige", we've gotten a decent sense of what the year is like. That being said, what is your favorite movie of the year so far? Is it Indiana Jones? Sex and the City? Maybe Iron Man or Forgetting Sarah Marshall? For me, these are the top 10 of the year so far:
1. The Go-Getter
2. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
3. Iron Man
4. Funny Games
5. Cloverfield
6. Teeth
7. Diary of the Dead
8. Rambo
9. Charlie Bartlett
10. Stop Loss
-Your turns!


WALL•E Writer/Director Andrew Stanton
Source: Joshua Starnes June 13, 2008

It's been over a decade since Pixar burst onto the scene with it's brazen combination of old fashioned film craftsmanship and the cuttingest of cutting edge technology. Since then their undisputed reign as the cream of modern animation's crop has been challenged by every studio under the sun, but they keep coming out on top, proving that their success is not just from being the only ones doing what they do, but also the best.

A key component to that success is Andrew Stanton. Originally one of Pixar's key story leads and screenwriters (earning a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Toy Story), Stanton branched out to directing with equally impressive results with 2003's Finding Nemo, earning an Oscar for Best Animated Film for his efforts.

It's been five years since then, but Stanton has hardly been resting on his laurels. Despite how advanced the tools have gotten, the nature of animation hasn't changed that much since Walt Disney first started production on Snow White and it still takes the better part of four years to create one of Pixar's highly polished efforts. Ever since "Nemo" was released, Stanton has been busy working on the story of WALL•E, the last robot left on Earth to clean up after the human race has long since abandoned the planet. With production on WALL•E almost finished (Pixar tends to tweak films right up to the last minute) Stanton is finally taking some time away from Pixar's lavish San Fransico campus to talk about his latest labor love, which brings him to the Four Seasons in Houston, in a blue sports coat and lots and lots of blond hair.

ComingSoon.net: Your hair is so long. I wasn't expecting that.
Andrew Stanton: Thank you, I love it. Yeah, I didn't cut it since "Nemo."

CS: There were some superficial parallels with your movie and another movie that came out a couple of years ago called "Idiocracy."
Stanton: Really?

CS: You'd love it. In the first 20 minutes the future is all trashed and human beings are essentially all sitting on a couch.
Stanton: I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to make that sort of extrapolation with the future. The reason I went that way, because I don't have an ecological bone in my body, is because I wanted to go with something very visual and gettable. Because I knew I wasn't going to have a narrator, I wasn't going to have a character that was going to be able to explain what happened, I needed something you would just be able to get visually. And I also wanted, I thought it was the lowest job you could have, to be cleaning up the mess someone else left. And so it was very gettable, to see litter on the ground and know you have to move it and get it out of the way, so that's really where it all started. Because it's all driven by the love story for me, in everything I chose to do.

CS: Was it really difficult in not just not having any exposition, but having a character who doesn't talk, more or less.
Stanton: Well, he talks all the time. I would argue with you on that.

CS: No, I thought it was amazing how much range you got out of someone who says two words.
Stanton: That's what, well, he says two English words, but in my mind he's got a vocabulary that's quite extensive, and I know every beep and squawk that I would use to get a certain emotion and a certain statement. Because when I wrote the script I wrote all the dialogue and then I put it brackets and then I knew that's what we had to convey. And then I hired Ben Burtt who had already invented languages for not only machines but for alien life forms and all that stuff in his history and I was sort of getting twenty years of experience right away, sort of jumping ahead with having that. So between knowing what the intention -- what I wanted each character to say and when -- and having someone who had the ability to give me that language, I never felt held back. I never felt I couldn't convey something the way I would normally. The last thing -- I didn't want to do a silent picture. I wanted to do a picture that really played with the integrity of the character that it was, which was a machine. And I wanted it to feel like a machine because I was so smitten with the character of Luxo Jr. before I ever came to Pixar and I just loved how every ounce of you saw it as an appliance and then you imbued a character on it, which is a lot more impressive and engaging than seeing something that is designed to be a character and trying to make you throw that on it. So that was really wanted I to play in, that sort of range.

CS: Were you thinking about trying to get Ben to do the sound while you were working on the story?
Stanton: Really early on, once I knew it was officially going to be allowed to be made. I kept saying "like R2D2, like R2D2, like R2D2," and my producer, Jim Morris, said "well, why don't we call Ben Burtt" and I said "Wow! We can do that? Okay." So we called him and I thought, yeah, go for the guy that's inspired the whole thing. And I told him "I want you to be two thirds of my entire cast" and I think it would be great, and he took the bait. Honestly, now that I've worked with him for two years I don't think we could have achieved what we got with the character and with all the other characters that he did, if we hadn't had him. I basically bought all that experience.

CS: In the credits there were two visual consultants, Roger Deakins and Dennis Muren. Could you talk briefly about them?
Stanton: One of the big things that I really wanted to improve upon on WALL•E was the use of our camera. I'm getting a little geeky but exactly how the lens was working. Because I felt going into shallow focus and barrel distortion and things you're used to seeing on any live action film, it wasn't doing exactly the correct thing. And I knew on this movie, because there would be less dialogue, you would be hanging onto understanding what was going on, your sense would be more focused on the visuals and how do I create intimacy in a dystopian world with two metal boxes? And I realized that I would be using the lens a lot, making it more soft and intimate by bringing in the focus very, very narrow. And I wanted that kind of wonderful distortion you get where things that are lights in the back suddenly become big transparent ovals. Where something's so close to the camera it actually starts to become transparent and blurred out, and I wanted all those sort of imperfect artifacts that we've been used to forever. So we actually called a consultant and we – again, my producer Jim Morris said, one of the best guys out there is Roger Deakins. Why don't we call him up? He gives a weekend seminar. And we were like, okay, bring him up! So he gives a weekend seminar and we got so much out of it, enjoyed it, we asked him to stay for a couple of more weeks and advise us, and at the same time we sort of ripped apart all our software and fixed problems where it wasn't accurately doing what a real camera does and with [Dennis Muren's] advice as well, those two combined, we really did actually go a major step in how accurate we can film stuff, and it would look like a real camera. Which was a real point. I really did want you to feel like you were a fly on the wall sort of capturing this little guy alone on a planet.

CS: There's one close up, between the two of them, were we see her visor, wrapped around.
Stanton: And you get that. One of my favorite scenes visually is when they're in the truck and she's looking at the lighter and he's just sort of staring at her and we get to full bore play with what our camera's can do now. And I just felt it made it that much more intimate.

CS: You said in the early teaser that this was one of the original storylines explored by Pixar.
Stanton: Yeah, it was, well to get really picky, it was an original character that we came up with at that lunch. The story I didn't start on until the "Nemo" years, but out of that lunch came just a quick little concept of like, sci-fi and robots and what if everyone left the planet and what if there was this one little robot left collecting all the garbage that just didn't know it could stop doing its job. And I thought that is such an exercise in futility, I could even buy a character that's a machine, after seven hundred years of doing the same thing, finally asking the question "there's got to be more to life than what I'm doing." I just thought that that was great. But it was such an abstract concept even then, before we'd even proven that we could do "Toy Story," we were like, well no one would ever give us the money or the opportunity to do something like that, that was so out there. So it got put on a shelf and we became much more experienced, much more involved in other pictures, much better filmmakers and so by the time "Nemo" came out I felt we were at a place where maybe I would internally get the okay to make a movie like that but maybe the outside world would be open to coming to a movie like that. So maybe in a weird way it was better, letting it simmer for so long.

CS: Because the story isn't so far out there.
Stanton: No. Because it is a very conventional love story, just told through very unconventional means with very unconventional characters, and to me that's the thing that was interesting.

CS: I mean things like the obesity, one in four children is obese.
Stanton: I didn't know any of that ten years ago when I began to work on this and I'm not that psyched that some of these things became prophetic. I just went with simple logic. The thing that made me pick humans the way they were. It's funny, I actually tried to avoid obesity. I wanted blobs, I wanted babies. Because in doing research with our, one of the consultants to NASA and his expertise was long term residency in space and the reason we don't send a man out to Mars right now is because if we do, they'll come back with almost no bones because disuse atrophy will kick in with very little gravity and osteoporosis will occur and you will lose a large percentage of your bones, and you'll just be this jello blob. And, so I thought oh my gosh, that's a perfect sort of thing dealing with people, later on in life, who have everything solved for them. We don't have to farm anymore, we don't have do all these things that make us get up and survive and what if technology was so advanced that all these things were solved. How to live longer, regenerative food, all that stuff, what would you do with your time? Because the theme of the movie was irrational love defeats programming. I just love the idea of a machine that basically had more of an understanding of what living was all about than everything else in the universe that was living and he was almost like the involuntary keeper of the flame of that. And what if everyone that was truly human living had forgotten all that, that they were so distracted and so programmed into their habits and their rituals, that they were filling their days but they weren't really living. And that's really what drove it. And the whole realization that if you were out in space for that long you would sort of have a lot of bone loss made me feel like wow, you could almost buy that people would be stuck in their beach chairs and we be almost babies. And I thought that was a great metaphor for having to grow up again and stand on your own two feet. And that's what drove it.

CS: I thought the "keeping the flame" line was an interesting point because it seemed like there was a lot of mythological underpinnings. He's really like Prometheus, except instead of fire he's bringing a plant back.
Stanton: Yeah. You don't consciously go in -- I'm a little bit more of a proponent of going with your gut and going with your subconscious and then maybe somewhere midstream analyzing what you're going with because I think you get to a truer place that way. At some point you have to take responsibility and go what is my theme, but it's more like what is this story telling me it wants to be. But things like that, yeah, we did sort of fall into, and I don't know why they do, but they just made sense. One thing that I know, to be honest, when I first came up with the plan, I had not a single ecological issue, I just loved the idea of something real trying to survive among all this stuff that's manmade. And so you have the idea of life, or the point of living, trying to survive through the soul of this robot, and I thought this plant sticking up through all this garbage was such a perfect visual metaphor for exactly what was WALL•E that I felt that they were these two characters that just meet each other. Same with the Captain, who's just somebody that's having the same Monday everyday, who has no reason to be there, everything's going to work without him, so what's the point? So I almost felt he and WALL•E were soulmates, about having the same questions about what is the point of why I'm here? And that was really, it's weird, those were the three points I had before I had anything to say.

CS: You've talked about the Pixar process with "Nemo" in-depth. Did you go through the same process in putting together the story for this?
Stanton: Yeah. It was very – it's always ugly and arduous and I try my best every time going into it to try and solve all my problems as early as I can, and it still, it was just very, very tough to get the story just right. I've started to learn you don't have much say about when you're going to get an idea and which idea it's going to be that sparks stuff. For WALL•E, for instance, the idea came from the character and then I tried to find a story to put around. So often it's the other way around, you try to think of a situation or a plot device or some sort of storyline and then you start to try and build up your characters to make them dimensional enough to follow. And this was so so the opposite. I already liked him, I already cared about him, and I didn't know where this was going to go. So In a weird way I had the beginning before I had the end and it's what I always tell people, it's the first lesson in my lecture, know the punch line to your joke. And that's nice if you have a say when you're inspired, and sadly I was inspired the wrong way, and just made life hard for myself. So I did spend the first two of the four years just reworking and reworking versions of the movie until I found the ending that I knew was the right ending to the movie and then I went back and changed – even though we did all this work, I changed whatever I needed to change to make it all flow organically to the end. So it was hard. Story guys will tell you that.

CS: Every project Pixar has done has been popular and critically successful. How do you do it and why doesn't Hollywood follow suit?
Stanton: I don't know. All I know is that I can look back and see certain factors that I know play into. I don't think it's one thing. It certainly has so much to do with who's at Pixar, I just think we've just got an amazing crew of people and certainly a core of who started it all and as we've grown they've just been so intelligent about who they've hired and then those people have been intelligent about who they've hired so it's almost been like good apples breed more good apples. Another major factor is we've never been in Hollywood, we're out in San Francisco, so we can very easily seduce ourselves into the fact that we're just making this for ourselves, in this building. One because it takes so long, two because when we leave the building there's no one else doing the stuff so we go home and we're kind of reminded on a daily basis that it's a privilege to make a movie, so we still are excited when we get to work. So that has a major factor in it, those two things. The other is that we learned, really early on, that part of making movies is making a million mistakes, is falling on your face, is taking risks. That is not something you should be trying to get out of the equation. That is something you should actually embrace and plan for. I don't think we're any smarter or any more talented or any better than anyone else, but I do think we've gotten very good at how do you repair your mistakes. We're very good at how do we pick up the pieces after we've fallen off our bike fifteen times, and how to improve and encourage each other and every crew for how to make the picture better. I don't think people really work at that. They either freak out, they fire people, they move things along, they kill a project if they don't like – "I'm not seeing it." If you look back we pretty much have one idea and then we stick to it until it works. You're not going to get there and get people to stay up and keep working on it unless you're encouraging them to fail. So it seems counterintuitive right away, but once you're in the middle of it, it seems to work, and I think that's another one of the key factors. Because I can't say our ideas, our films, have ever looked as good as they do when they're done, for most of the course of their making. I'd say for most of the course they're in puberty and they look like "Really? This is what you're going to make?" And it scares the crap out of us, too. So we live in fear for most of the production of these things.

CS: Was there anything that you really wanted that you had to lose?
Stanton: That's a good question. In one of the older iteration scenes, Auto used to be more of an independent moving robot that looked kind of like it was akin to the model that EVE was, had a little bit more of a sinister look, and for a long time I was going to have him secretly go to the databanks of the ship and you would find out what his agenda was before anybody else would. It turned out to not be that interesting, it was like moving shoe leather and it was weird to leave your main character for a while, and so it was much better to do it the way we now do it in the movie, but he had a very funny scene that was sort of "Get Smart" of going through these secret doors and stuff and he goes down this long shaft and he has to give this eye scan, in the middle of the shaft, to get the ID to go into this bank, and he leans and his visor just goes tumbling all the way down the shaft. And it's just this humble moment where he has to go all the way down and find it in the dark and it'll be on the DVD. It was very funny but because everything had to change, and that was all on boards, it was before we ever went and modeled anything.

CS: Were there any left turns, you said you kind of go with your gut.
Stanton: Yeah. My most extreme left turn was I thought, what if humanity was so evolved, or devolved, that it became gelatinous, and even the language got so abstract so that even we the audience would think it was an alien race. It had more of a planet of the apes twist, and they at the end would discover, as well as we would, that it's actually us. And it was a cool idea, and kind of got at the geek in me from the sci-fi bent, but it was so abstract and so hard to convey that I said I think I'm biting off more than I can chew. And I think it was also a little silly. So we just pulled it back to someplace where there was more to ground on. You just felt like there was only so much abstraction you could throw at somebody in one movie before it just became a chore.

CS: Why the choice of all the live action?
Stanton: Actually it came out of practical reasons. Once I knew that one of the objects I wanted WALL•E to find would be an old musical, and we would be looking at actual footage, I said "well he's going to be looking at live action people, that sets a precedent." Now, any time I have him looking at real people, at footage from the past of any humans it should be the same world, so I made them live action humans, and I figured since we've changed over 700 years I could get away with keeping humans CG.

CS: Why "Hello Dolly"?
Stanton: It's one of those things, I did it out of pure, unconscious abstraction at first. I just, sort of like an artist sticking two colors together and going, wow, I wonder why that works. I knew I wanted old-fashioned against the future and I loved the idea of some sort of old-fashioned music playing against the stars, almost like a Woody Allen film. And there was something about that, I just loved the juxtaposition, and then I started searching around for what the song would be. I did a lot of musical theater as a kid and there's a short list of plays that I think everybody had to do, and I know "Hello Dolly's" one of them. So I starting popping through it for a little bit and I heard "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" and that first phrase where it just says "Out there..." and has all this sort of hope and naïveté to it, and I thought that kind of works. And then I thought more about what that songs about and it's about these two guys that have never been anywhere and they want to go to the big city and sort of experience life and their big goal is to kiss a girl and I thought that's got such simple innocence to it that almost is WALL•E. So then it made me explore the other songs and I found "It Only Takes a Moment" and suddenly I realized how powerful these songs could be to convey story and push story along for me. Particularly the idea of holding hands, because I have two characters that can't say "I Love You," they have to find some other way to express it, and holding hands is one of the most intimate things you can do in public with somebody in many cultures, and I thought that was just a perfect way to convey that over the course of the movie, so then I was hooked. Once that started delivering so many assets for me I knew I was going to use them. And I know it's the weirdest thing and I'm going to be answering this question for the rest of my life but, so be it.

CS: We're starting to see a lot of, especially as the tools for CG get more sophisticated, a lot of cross over between CG and live action filmmakers. Robert Zemeckis essentially only makes animated films now. Ever had any temptation to cross over and make a live action film?
Stanton: I think you're going to see mixes like that more and more, the line is so blurred now.

CS: But yourself, are you thinking about it?
Stanton: Oh definitely. I got such a little taste on this movie, and it's such small potatoes, and I loved it. It's such the opposite of what we do. The wonderful thing about working in CG is that you have a god-like control. You can change anything at almost the last minute. And it really does allow you to, if you're a perfectionist, to push things to their best. But there's no spontaneity. Nothing takes, if something gets done in weeks it seems like lighting fast. But live action, you plan for it the same way, but you shoot it that day and you're done. That just blew me away. I thought that was the most amazing and invigorating thing I'd ever done. So it's a give and take. But I also think that how much of a thing is a hybrid, how much is a percentage of one thing or another should really be dictated by what the story is, what's the best way to tell it, what's the best way to see it. We never look at it from a stand point of "Do we want to do live action, do we want to do CG?" It's, here's a great story and I think this would be great entirely in CG, and here's another I story I think would be great as a mix of something. As our directors sort of vary in their tastes and their strengths, and our interests in stories varies, you'll also see the mediums vary a bit.

CS: A couple of things you mentioned, like the mixing of live action and CGI and creating new languages, those are also all part of the next project you're doing for Pixar, "John Carter of Mars"?
Stanton: [Laughs]. Look at you guys. It's very telling who does their research on the internet and who doesn't. That is my next project. I'm in the middle of writing it right now with Mark Andrews, who was the head of story on "Ratatouille" and "Incredibles."I always like to say I'm a little bit country and he's a little bit rock and roll and together we sort of cover the bases of what we feel that story should be. We both grew up loving that series of books and can't believe to this day that we've managed to get it in our laps, because it was almost going to be made by so many people and we're hoping we're not just one of many in another line of this stuff. So we're spending this whole year trying to make sure that the story is as worthy as it can be. It's the one thing that I've learned working at Pixar is regardless of the sexiness of who you might cast or how it might be done or all this stuff, just don't be distracted by that and write the greatest story you can write, because you're only going to get more distracted as you go. So we haven't even thought about how we're going to execute it. We're just going to devote this year to writing and improving as best we can for the screen.

WALL•E opens in theaters on June 27.

June 13, 2008

The Lake Show is done!

Holy cow, the Celts made my week. I predicted the Lakers, but the Celts played with a great deal of heart tonight. They deserve the chip. Anyone who missed Game 4, missed one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history. I'm proud to be a fan of basketball and the NBA.

We just need to find a way to get rid of this guy. Where is Partlow and Snoop when you need them?

June 12, 2008

Spike Lee's best arguement against Clint

Joey here with the trailer for the upcoming Spike Lee World War II film "Miracle at St. Anna". Instead of fighting a war of words with Eastwood, Spike should just let his film (which looks rather good) show the story that he feels is not being told by people like Clint. Here is the trailer: http://movies.yahoo.com/premieres/8290153/standardformat/
-what do you guys think of it?

Emmy Predix - MINUS directing and writing

** = predicted winner

Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
**Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Steve Carell, The Office
Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
**Tina Fey, 30 Rock
America Ferrera, Ugly Betty
Anna Friel, Pushing Daisies
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
**Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Rainn Wilson, The Office
Jeremy Piven, Entourage
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Jenna Fischer, The Office
Jean Smart, Samantha Who?
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty
Holland Taylor, Two and a Half Men
**Cheryl Hines, Curb Your Enthusiasm

Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Andy Richter, 30 Rock
Matthew Modine, Weeds
**David Schwimmer, 30 Rock
Giovanni Ribisi, My Name Is Earl
Robert Wagner, Two and a Half Men

Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Carrie Fisher, 30 Rock
Elaine Stritch, 30 Rock
Gabrielle Union, Ugly Betty
Polly Bergen, Desperate Housewives
**Janeane Garofolo, Two and a Half Men

Best TV Series - Comedy
30 Rock
Ugly Betty
The Office
Pushing Daisies
**Curb Your Enthusiasm

Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
**Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Hugh Laurie, House, M.D.
James Spader, Boston Legal
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, The Tudors

Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Glenn Close, Damages
Patricia Arquette, Medium
**Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer
Calista Flockhart, Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Masi Oka, Heroes
Ted Danson, Damages
**Michael Emerson, Lost
Dave Annable, Brothers & Sisters
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Elizabeth Mitchell, Lost
Marlee Matlin, The L Word
**Chandra Wilson, Grey's Anatomy
Laura San Giacomo, Saving Grace
Rachel Griffiths, Brothers & Sisters

Best Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Keith Carradine, Dexter
Barry Corbin, The Closer
Peter O'Toole, The Tudors
**Robin Williams, Law & Order: SVU
August Schellenberg, Saving Grace

Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series
**Ellen Burstyn, Big Love
Rosanna Arquette, Dirt
Anjelica Huston, Medium
Rosemarie DeWitt, Mad Men
Elizabeth McGovern, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Best TV Series - Drama
Boston Legal
Grey's Anatomy
Brothers & Sisters

Best Lead Actor in a Movie/Mini-Series
Kevin Spacey, Recount
Sam Shepard, Ruffian
Paddy Considine, PU-239
**Paul Giamatti, John Adams
John Turturro, The Bronx Is Burning

Best Lead Actress in a Movie/Mini-Series
Judi Dench, Cranford
**Laura Linney, John Adams
Vanessa Redgrave, The Fever
Ellen Page, An American Crime
Hattie Morahan, Sense & Sensibility
Ellen Burstyn, Oprah Winfrey Presents: Mitch Albom’s For One More Day

Best Supporting Actor in a Movie/Mini-Series
**Oscar Isaac, PU-239
David Morse, John Adams
Kevin Kline, As You Like It
Tom Wilkinson, John Adams
Michael Keaton, The Company
Bradley Whitford, An American Crime

Best Supporting Actress in a Movie/Mini-Series
Laura Dern, Recount
**Eileen Atkins, Cranford
Sarah Polley, John Adams
S. Epatha Merkerson, Girl, Positive
Alfre Woodard, Pictures of Hollis Woods

Best TV Movie
As You Like It
Bernard & Doris
An American Crime

Best TV Mini-Series
**John Adams
The Company
Sense & Sensibility
The Bronx Is Burning

Best Reality TV Host
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol
Howie Mandel, Deal or No Deal
**Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Tim Gunn, Tim Gunn’s Guide To Style
Tyra Banks, America's Next Top Model

June 10, 2008

Is The Bucket List on Your List?

Hiya boys and girls, Joey here with the weekly dvd report. This week has a fair amount of variety, ranging from old men laughing in the face of death to Naomi Watts crying in the face of death to Hayden Christensen "jumping" away from potential death to a certain Boleyn girl's famous death, among other things. Let's begin with the PICK OF THE WEEK, which is probably the least entertaining of the bunch this week, but by far the best film of the week:
-Funny Games
This is a real tough movie to sit through, and it's essentially the art house version of the new film The Strangers, but it's incredibly well made, features a fantastic performance by Naomi Watts, and is an exercise in filmmaking unlike almost anything I've ever seen before. If you can sit through it, you'll be rewarded (or tortured).
Next up is a far happier film, though more standard issue by far than Funny Games. It's The Bucket List, and if you like well produced Hollywood fluff, you'll love this. Jack gets to be Jack, Morgan Freeman is reliable as always, and it has some great moments in it. Nothing in the film is revolutionary, but it does its job quite well.
Also out this week is the unique horror film The Signal, which is not exactly a zombie movie, but not exactly not. It's not amazing, but it's far from bad. The Other Boleyn Girl gives a slightly hip take on an old piece of history, but it is nowhere near as good as the actors in it try to make it. I love Scarlett and Natalie, but this was a little hard for me to sit through. The Grand is an improv poker movie with some big stars, but if you're a stickler for plot it's not for you. Take that as you will.
Finally we come to two films that are about as worthless as they come. Jumper is big, loud, and boring. Doug Liman misfired in a big way with this one. More offensive however, is Larry the Cable Guy's Witless Protection. He's fine as a comedian, but as an actor, wow....nothing more needs to be said. Avoid at all costs.
My "vintage" pick for this week is perhaps one of my favorite cartoons ever. It's The Jungle Book, and if you haven't seen this movie in a while, pick it up and you'll be singing about the bear neccesities in no time!
So what do you guys have your eyes on this week?

June 9, 2008

Cameron Crowe is Back!

Joey here with some exciting news (for me at least)! Cameron Crowe will be making another film shortly, this one starring Ben Stiller and Reese Witherspoon. This is the Variety story on this exciting upcoming flick:
I can honestly say that no matter the plot, I will be in line on opening night for this.
What about you guys? Does Cameron Crowe still complete you?

Angelina Jolie will make my Oct. much better

The Changeling (new/old title) is due out Oct. 24th!
and the buzzzzz continues to grow...

Oh, and doesn't Clint Eastwood sort of looks a little like God?

June 7, 2008

Return of the Auteur

Hey hey...Joey here. Today I pose an interesting question/discussion topic: which once grand "auteur" that's fallen on some degree of hard times would you most like to see return to glorious form?
-Woody Allen? (he does have Vicky Christina Barcelona coming out)
-Francis Ford Coppola (the time off seems to have mildly damaged his form)
-Brian De Palma (The Black Dahlia still hurts me to think about)
-George Lucas (will Uncle George ever direct something memorable again? Do we even want him to try?)
-David Lynch (Inland Empire was too weird, even for him)
-Steven Soderbergh (Che doesn't seem to be a return to form)
-Cameron Crowe (I am probably the only person on earth that liked Elizabethtown)
-The Wachowski Brothers (Bound and the original Matrix are their highpoints...it's getting to be a long time since they've done something good, unless you liked Speed Racer...)
What do you guys think?

June 4, 2008

Better Late Than Never...

Joey here with the dvd releases (a day late I know, but waking up for summer classes kicked my ass this week...won't happen again), though there isn't much to get excited about this week. A few things are worth a look (including my first mention of a TV program on dvd), but overall this is another down week, with the PICK OF THE WEEK pretty much coming by default:
One of the most compelling films of last year that was sadly overlooked comes to dvd and if anyone was an Ian Curtis or Joy Division fan, they really ought to see this.
Also out worth checking into is (for Clint Eastwood fans at least) the Dirty Harry Collection. These films are what they are, and if it's your thing, they're definitely worth adding to your collection.
My first mention of a TV show here is the release of the 4th season of Rescue Me. This is (in my humble opinion) the best show on the air, and if you don't watch it on FX, go out and get the seasons on dvd. Thank me later.
This week also sees the release of Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show, which was ok but nothing special at all, Semi Pro, though it was not something that anyone outside of hardcore Will Ferrell fans should feel the need to search out with any force, The Eye, which basically is in the same boat as Semi Pro, only for Jessica Alba fans, and Meet The Spartans, but the less said about that flaming turd of a movie, the better.
The "classic" pick of the week is something to remind us that the Wachowski Brothers once had talent. No, not The Matrix, but Bound, a crime noir that is immensely entertaining. You won't look at Jennifer Tilly or Gina Gershon the same way ever again...
Anything this week strike the interest of you guys?

June 3, 2008

Kelly's 100 Films - # 97: Romeo and Juliet (1968)

Directed by...Franco Zeffirelli
Written by.....Frank Brusati, Masolino D'Amico, & Franco Zeffirelli
Starring........Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey, John McEnery, Milo O'Shea, Pat Heywood, Michael York, Bruce Robinson, Paul Hardwick, Natasha Parry, Robert Stephens

Synopsis: Shakespeare's classic tale of romance and tragedy. Two families of Verona, the Montagues and the Capulets, have been feuding with each other for years. Young Romeo Montague goes out with his friends to make trouble at a party the Capulets are hosting, but while there he spies the Capulet's daughter Juliet, and falls hopelessly in love with her. She returns his affections, but they both know that their families will never allow them to follow their hearts.

Why Is It On the List?: First off, it's ROMEO AND JULIET. Second off, it's ROMEO AND JULIET. Third reason...okay, needless to say, it is the best version next to the 1930s version.

Trailer: http://youtube.com/watch?v=2LOfgaSvKz8

Awards Attentions:

Best Director... Franco Zeffirelli
Best Picture..... John Brabourne and Anthony Havelock-Allan
**Best Cinematography...Pasqualino De Santis
**Best Costumes.....Danilo Donati

Best Supporting Actor...John McEnery
Best Supporting Actress...Pat Heywood
Best Director..................Franco Zeffirelli
Best Film Music .............Nino Rota
**Best Costumes.....Danilo Donati
Best Film Editing...Reginald Mills
Best Art Direction......Renzo Mongiardino

**Best New Star - Male....Leonard Whiting
**Best New Star - Female...Olivia Hussey
**Best English-Language Foreign Film...UK/Italy
Best Director..................Franco Zeffirelli
Best Original Score...........Nino Rota

**Best Director.................. Franco Zeffirelli

Best Director - Motion Picture... Franco Zeffirelli

June 1, 2008

Coming Soon, Too Soon, or Not Soon Enough?

Howdy all, Joey here. Since it's officially June (though it doesn't seem like it considering I have class tomorrow morning) I figured now was as good a time as any to see which summer films everyone is anticipating/dreading.
Everyone knows the usual suspects for the big summer releases, but I'll quickly go through some of the remaining releases and seperate them into the categories of anticipating or dreading...
Get Smart (loved the TV show, this looks almost as fun)
Wall-E (in line to be the best Pixar film ever?)
Hancock (please be better than I Am Legend)
The Wackness (could be the breakout indie of the year)
Hellboy 2 (seems good enough so far)
The Dark Knight (Batman!)
Mama Mia (cheaper than Broadway)
The X Files (can't suck too much)
Swing Vote (Kevin Costner looks alright in this)
Pineapple Express (could be the funniest movie of the year, plus I love David Gordon Green)
Tropic Thunder (so wrong, it must be right)
Hamlet 2 (silly indie comedy, but looks good)
Vicky Christina Barcelona (the Woodman always gets my hopes up)
You Don't Mess With the Zohan (though Judd Apatow's presence gives me a bit of hope)
The Incredible Hulk (be nice if this is good, but I won't hold my breath)
The Happening (see The Incredible Hulk)
The Love Guru (I feel like Mike Myers is past his sell by date)
Wanted (just doesn't do it for me, not sure why)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (3-D...oh my)
Deathrace (Speed Racer with more violence, still not good enough)
Meet Dave (Eddie...what can we do with you?)
Step Brothers (just not getting my hopes up)
The Mummy 3 (never loved the first 2)
How bout you guys?

An Actor To Watch: Ryan Reynolds

Not in the Oscar race this year but in general. Ryan Reynolds is quite the scene stealer in his films. Just check him out at his best in Blade: Trinity

A Closer Look at: Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki started his animation career in the 1960s, but didn't break out as a hugely creative force until 1984, when he directed "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind". Soon after the film was released, Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli with fellow animator Isao Takahata. Disney has taken responsibility for the global distribution of Ghibli films. There is a strict "no cuts" policy when it comes to packaging his movies overseas.

Miyazaki has a reputation for being environmentally inclined; many of his films feature a conflict between man and nature. "Mononoke" concerns an iron mining town at war with the magical creatures that live in the forest surrounding the encampment. The humans in "Nausicaa" are constantly at odds with giant insects known as Ohmu who violently defend the home, a "toxic jungle" poisonous to humans. In each film, Miyazaki preaches a reverence for nature. The most wondrous moments of animation come at moments of great natural beauty. My personal favorite is in "Mononoke," when the protagonist travels through the forest with two wounded men, guided by a multitude of playful forest sprites.

Miyazaki is often critical of contemporary society. In "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle," greed and gluttony lead to great trouble. "Spirited Away" begins with a girl's parents gorging themselves at a buffet. They are promptly transformed into pigs. In "Howl's," the Witch of the Waste, a grotesquely enormous diva, turns an innocent young woman into an elderly one in an attempt to gain the attention of Howl, a wizard whose heart the Witch is trying to acquire.

Perhaps his greatest criticism is of mankind's tendency to quickly resort to violence in most situations. Miyazaki's films are often violent, but never without consequence. Howl slowly changes into a monster the more he fights. The protagonist of "Mononoke" is dying of a disease that worsens as he is consumed by hate. The battles in Miyazaki films come as results of misunderstandings more often than not. He is reluctant to ever proclaim any side of a conflict as right or wrong. You would be hard-pressed to find a true villain in any of his films. His characters are complex people with complex motivations. No Miyazaki film ends with one character triumphing in a fight over another. He is not interested in petty conflict, but rather in the absurd nature of most conflicts, and the way they can be resolved peacefully.

I have heard rumors that his newest film, "Ponyo on a cliff" will be his last. There were similar rumors surrounding "Mononoke," "Spirited Away," and "Howl's." I don't think Miyazaki can or will ever stop. His creations are too beautiful, magical, fantastically unique; I don't think I could handle it if I heard that they were to ever stop.