Thursday, January 31, 2008

Monthly Wallpaper - February 2008: Romantic Movies

With Valentine's Day, February is a month for l'amour, and Movie Dearest is taking the opportunity to celebrate our favorite romantic movies.

From the deck of the Titanic to Golden Pond to the Moulin Rouge to the burning of Atlanta, these certainly are affairs to remember: Rick and Ilsa, Tony and Maria, Jack and Ennis, Katie and Hubbell, Harry and Sally, Dr. Zhivago and Lara, Vivian and Cay and, of course, Romeo and Juliet. Whether he was a tramp or an officer and a gentleman, these stories of cinematic passion have stood the test of time.

All you have to do is click on the picture above to enlarge it, then simply right click your mouse and select "Set as Background". (You can also save it to your computer and set it up from there if you prefer.) The size is 1024 x 768, but you can modify it if needed in your own photo-editing program.

The Latest in Theaters: Eva, Jessica and Bigfoot

Beauties and a beast are the stars of this week's latest in theaters:
  • Over Her Dead Body - Eva Longoria Parker, the sassy Gabby on Desperate Housewives, drops dead at her wedding to hunky Paul Rudd (don't you just hate it when that happens) and comes back to haunt his new flame Lake Bell in this fantasy rom com. Jason Biggs also stars as Bell's gay pal.
  • The Eye - Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola and Parker Posey offer plenty of (wait for it) eye candy in this supernatural thriller.
  • Strange Wilderness - Steve Zahn and Justin Long are nature TV show hosts who hatch a plan to boost ratings: track down the elusive Sasquatch. And no, the creature is not played by co-star Ernest Borgnine.
Visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets.


Once and Again

"Falling Slowly", the Oscar-nominated Original Song from the indie fave Once whose eligibility had been called into question earlier this week, has been cleared of all charges and remains a nominee.

And if you haven't heard it yet or even if you have, here is a great reason to listen to it again: a well-made tribute video honoring the best movies of 2007.

31 Days of Oscar: The Adventures of Robin Hood

Starting tomorrow, Turner Classic Movies will begin their annual salute to Academy Award-winning and nominated films from the past 80 years with the "31 Days of Oscar".

So, starting today, I will be highlighting one of my personal favorite classic Oscar-noted movies, one that will air on TCM the following day. (And for the record, I have seen all but one of the 31 movies that I will spotlight, and you'll see why I picked that one anyway when I get to it.)

Kicking off the celebration (literally -- it's the first movie scheduled for the month) is one of my favorite adventure films of all time: The Adventures of Robin Hood. Directed by Michael Curtiz and starring the dashing Errol Flynn and the beautiful Olivia de Havilland, the 1938 Warner Bros. hit was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning all but the big one: Best Picture.

The Adventures of Robin Hood airs tomorrow at 6:00 AM EST on Turner Classic Movies.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Oscars at 80: The Best Pictures

In recognition of entering their eighth decade this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be offering this new "best of" poster shortly after the 80th Best Picture is named. And you can pre-order it now so you'll get it just in time before all the Oscar post-mortems die down.

If you need a refresher of the first 79 Best Picture winners, here is an up-to-date video review, spanning from 1927's Wings to last year's The Departed.

And as for this year's contenders, here is a super-cool mash-up of all five BP '07 wannabes combined into one well-edited mock trailer. Enjoy.

First Look: Sean as Harvey

A blast from the past: Sean Penn gets shaggy as Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant's Milk, now filming on location in San Francisco.

From Pan's Labyrinth to Middle Earth

If you were worried about who would take over as director of The Hobbit with Peter Jackson only producing, worry no more: Guillermo del Toro, of Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth fame, is currently in talks to take on the potential blockbuster, as well as a follow up feature rumored to be a story bridging the prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

However, one only has to take a look at del Toro's Imdb page to see that he will be an awful busy guy, writing and/or directing and/or producing eleven films in the foreseeable future (including the H.P. Lovecraft fantasy At the Mountains of Madness). And that's not even including the movies he's wants to make, such as his take on Frankenstein and a little movie called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, not to mention this summer's Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

UPDATE: As Empire states, "Guillermo Del Toro is directing pretty much every film coming out between now and 2017": he also wants to direct a big screen version of another comic book hero, Doctor Strange.

'S Wonderful

On the dancing heels of The Band Wagon, another classic MGM movie musical is traveling from screen to stage: the 1951 Oscar winning Best Picture An American in Paris.

In addition to the classic songs from the movie, the score will be enhanced with such other Gershwin standards as "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and "The Man I Love". The plot has also been tweaked, and will now revolve around the making of a fictional movie also titled An American in Paris. Crazy for You's Harry Groener and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Erin Dilly star.

The new tuner, officially titled The Gershwins' An American in Paris, will have its world premiere in April in Houston.

UPDATE: Playbill.com has an interview with playwright Ken Ludwig, who is adapting An American in Paris for the stage. Ludwig received a Tony Award nomination for his work on Crazy for You, which also featured the songs of George and Ira Gershwin. In the article, he mentions the Broadway possibilities for the show.

A Nightmare Re-Awakens on Elm Street

The franchise that put New Line Cinema on the map, A Nightmare on Elm Street, is now the latest horror series to get the "reboot" treatment (in Hollywood speak, "reboot" has become the new "re-imagining", but of course, they are all just remakes).

Following in the bloody wake of the recent returns of Leatherface, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees (also in the works), this return to Elm Street will reportedly have a new Freddy Krueger as well. Now how anyone could (or want to) don the stripped sweater and finger blades made iconic by Robert Englund is beyond me.

(That sound you hear is outraged fanboys scrambling to post boycott notices and online petitions as we speak.)

What if Flight 815 ...

... crash-landed in ... the Twilight Zone?

Lost returns with the first of eight new episodes tomorrow night on ABC, with an encore showing of last season's finale airing tonight.

And for a refresher course on all things Lost, check out Doc Jensen's "cheat sheet" over at EW.com.

Women We Love: Norma Shearer

Object of our affection: Norma Shearer, actress.

- She is credited as "the first American film actress to make it chic and acceptable to be single and not a virgin on screen".

- She won the third ever Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Divorcée and was nominated another five times (Their Own Desire, A Free Soul, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Romeo and Juliet and Marie Antoinette).

- Married for nine years to "boy wonder" film producer Irving Thalberg, twenty-five years her junior; he was head of production at Metro Goldwyn Meyer, thus she was known as "The First Lady of MGM". After Thalberg's death in 1936, her interest in her career wavered; she would pass on the lead roles in such future classics as Gone With the Wind, Mrs. Miniver and Now, Voyager.

- Life imitates art: infamously feuded with co-star Joan Crawford during the filming of George Cukor's The Women, her last great role.

- Two of Norma Shearer's early pre-code classics, The Divorcée and A Free Soul, will be released on DVD for the first time on March 25 as part of the TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Volume 2,now available for pre-order from Amazon.com.

Movie Music: Jaan Pehechaan Ho

Made famous in the movie Ghost World, the quirky, practically surreal "Jaan Pehechaan Ho" production number is from the 1965 Indian movie Gumnaam.

Watch it in its original, head-bopping form here ... it's just as mesmerizing as Thora Birch made it look.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lee, Nolan on Ledger

Two of the directors that worked with him pay tribute to the late Heath Ledger:

Ang Lee, Academy Award-winning director of Brokeback Mountain: "He brought to the role of Ennis more than any of us could have imagined -- a thirst for life, for love, and for truth, and a vulnerability that made everyone who knew him love him. His death is heartbreaking."

Christopher Nolan, director of Ledger's final completed performance in The Dark Knight, currently being edited: "Heath was bursting with creativity. It was in his every gesture ... I see him every day in my edit suite. I study his face, his voice. And I miss him terribly."

Falling Slowly ... Out of the Running?

Every year there is usually at least one scandal amidst all the Oscar hoopla, and this year is no different. Seems Once's "Falling Slowly", nominated for Original Song, may not be so original after all.

The Academy's music branch is reportedly meeting this week to determine the eligibility of the tune (widely believed to be the front-runner to win), which prompts the question: aren't they supposed to do that before the nominations?

Start of Something New

The legit stage version of Disney's High School Musical just got a little more legit: it will open in London's West End this summer following a sold out tour of the United Kingdom.

Best of the Fests: Sundance 2008

The 2008 Sundance Film Festival came to a close this past weekend. The big news was the surprising lack of big buys; one would think the studios would be snapping up these ready-made films to stock up for the strike-weary future.

But it isn't all about deal making in Park City (at least, it's not supposed to be); awards were handed out as well, with the bleak drama Frozen River and the Hurricane Katrina doc Trouble the Water taking the grand jury prizes.

And for all the scoop on the fest's queer offerings, head over to AfterElton.com for Lawrence Ferber's extensive "Gay Film Dispatches".

Real American Heroes

The sure to be high-testosterone big screen version of G.I. Joe just got even more manlier: Channing Tatum and Dennis Quaid have been drafted as the leads (Duke and Hawk, respectively).

They join the already cast Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who co-stars next month with Tatum in another military movie, the expected to be far more realistic Stop-Loss.

Crash TV

The movie Crash -- the Paul Haggis one, sadly not the David Cronenberg one -- is being developed as a drama series for the Starz network, a first for the movie channel.

Considering that the Oscar winning Best Picture (it still hurts to say that) was as episodic, derivative and pretentious as most television dramas these days, it should fit in just fine on the boob tube.

Awards Watch: SAG Pulls a Stunt

Hollywood stunt people just can't seem to catch a break.

Not only have they been constantly turned down by the Academy for their own Oscar category, but even the Screen Actors Guild, which did create a "Stunt Ensemble" award this year, ended up showing them little respect come showtime. Instead of actually showing the presentation of the new awards during the ceremony telecast itself, they were actually handed out beforehand ... and on the red carpet no less.

The winners were The Bourne Ultimatum for film and 24 for television.

Film Art: Up, Up and Away

First look at concept art for Disney/Pixar's 2009 release Up, a tale of a 70-year-old man who "travels the globe, fights beasts and villains and eats dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon".

The film will show Up in theaters on May 29, 2009.

Day-Lewis Honors Ledger

The most memorable moment of Sunday night's Screen Actors Guild Awards was Best Actor winner Daniel Day-Lewis' heartfelt dedication of the award to the late Heath Ledger. Backstage, Day-Lewis elaborated to the press:

"I suppose that's all I've been thinking about for the last few days. I never met him. I thought he was beautiful. I just have a very strong feeling that I would have liked him very much as a man. I admired him very much."

This proves that not only is Day-Lewis one of the finest actors of our time, he is also one of the classiest.

In related news, Ryan Gosling also paid quiet tribute to his fellow actor at the ceremony.

UPDATE: SAG has posted the complete transcript of Day-Lewis' speech.

Awards Watch: Golden Tomatoes '07

And a rat shall lead them: Rotten Tomatoes has revealed their 9th Annual Golden Tomato Awards, honoring the best-reviewed films of 2007, with the Disney/Pixar hit Ratatouille landing in the top spot. Netting an overall score of a whopping 96%, the Oscar nominated animated comedy won director Brad Bird his second Golden Tomato; he received his first four years ago for The Incredibles.

Rounding out the top ten for wide release movies are No Country for Old Men, The Bourne Ultimatum, Sicko, Hairspray, Juno, Knocked Up, Gone Baby Gone, Enchanted and Zodiac. See the comments section below for the top ten films in limited release and the number one movie per genre.

Poster Post: Army Fatigue

MTV Films is hoping to steer clear of the bleak box office of other recent war-themed dramas with this Outsiders-esque image for Kimberly Peirce's Stop-Loss.

Of course, the presence of Channing Tatum, Ryan Philippe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt can't hurt. Stop-Loss opens in theaters March 28.

Click here to buy Stop Lossposters from Amazon.com.

The Latest on DVD: Big Lewton

Warner Home Video has released another DVD box set devoted to old school horrormeister Val Lewton. In addition to nine of Lewton's best films (including Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie), the set now includes the brand new feature length TCM documentary Martin Scorsese Presents: Val Lewton - The Man in the Shadows.

Click here for more info and to order The Val Lewton Horror Collectionfrom Amazon.com. And for more of this week's latest on DVD, see the Amazon widgets located in the sidebar to your right.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cinematic Crush: Scott Bakula

Crush object: Scott Bakula, actor.

- Best known for his time-traveling Dr. Sam Beckett on the cult sci fi drama Quantum Leap, a role that earned him a Golden Globe and four Emmy nominations.

- Also appeared on such TV shows as Designing Women, Murphy Brown and Star Trek: Enterprise, wherein he played the dashing Captain Archer.

- His film work includes co-starring roles in Color of Night; My Family, Mi Familia; American Beauty and Life as a House.

- Onstage, he was nominated for a Tony Award for the tuner Romance, Romance; also on Broadway, he played Joe DiMaggio in the musical Marilyn.

- Stepping into the shoes of none other then Fred Astaire, he has been cast as the lead in Dancing in the Dark, the new stage musical version of the classic movie musical The Band Wagon.

Poster Post: The Adventures of Indiana Spurlock

Raiders-inspired artwork for the latest documentary from the cheeky Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame): Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?

Be-Leaguered

In their time, the heroes that have made up the Justice League of America have faced their fare share of fearsome foes and nefarious nemeses, always emerging triumphant. Alas, their greatest defeat may be due to Hollywood politics.

That's right, the big screen debut of the world's greatest superheroes has become the latest casualty of the accursed writers strike.

Film Art: The Second Star to the Right ...

... is Tina Fey as that sassy sprite Tinker Bell, joined by supermodel Gisele Bündchen as Wendy Darling and dance legend Mikhail Baryshnikov as Peter Pan (looks like the boy that would never grow up, well, grew up).

This is just one of four new images created by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz for Disney Parks' never-ending "Year of a Million Dreams" campaign. Other pix include two inspired by Aladdin (Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez as Al and Jasmine and Whoopi Goldberg as the Genie) and pale face Jessica Biel as Pocahontas.

You can se all ten of the special photographs here; something tells me that at least two more will pop up by the end of the year and the whole lot will be repackaged as a wall calendar on sale at your local Disney Store.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

SAG Awards '07: Best Cast

No Country for Old Men



SAG Awards '07: Best Actress

Julie Christie in Away from Her


SAG Awards '07: Best Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood


SAG Awards '07: Best Supporting Actress

Ruby Dee in American Gangster


SAG Awards '07: Best Supporting Actor

Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men


Poster Post: Gimme Shelter

Not that it would be too hard to advertise a movie about two surfer dudes who fall in love, but the new poster for festival favorite Shelter sure is sexy.

And if that doesn't do it for you, this video preview should.

You can learn more about the movie at its MySpace page.

From Barbary Lane to Broadway

A stage musical version of Armistead Maupin's beloved Tales of the Cityhas been rumored about for some time now, and now it appears to be a bit closer to reality: Jake Shears, lead singer of the Scissor Sisters, says he is currently writing the show's songs.

Anyone who has heard the group's Bee Gees-esque "I Don't Feel Like Dancing" will agree that Shears is a good choice for the 70's set story.

Perhaps we'll even get a madrigal from Mrs. Madrigal?

UPDATE: The producers, librettist and director of the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q are now attached to this project, with eyes on Broadway for the 2009/2010 season.

LA Times' O'Neil: Child Rape = Gay

It is usually easy to dismiss the often obsessively overenthusiastic Tom O'Neil, the Los Angeles Times resident entertainment award guru, he of the "tail that wags the dog" school of such coverage (i.e.: more concerned about a film's awards chances then the actual, you know, quality of said films). But a recent outrageous blunder of his cannot -- and should not -- be ignored.

While perusing the recent nominees for the GLAAD Media Awards, O'Neil scoffs at the "not gay enough" contenders and wonders why The Kite Runner, a film deemed homophobic by the queer press, was "snubbed":

"One great film with a gay subtext got overlooked by other awards this derby season and deserved to be noted here, but wasn't: The Kite Runner, which contains a controversial boy-rape scene. Why did GLAAD wimp out?"

Seems that in O'Neil's eyes, lesbian cheerleaders and cross-dressing pirates are nothing compared to child rapists. In the comments of his article, be sure to leave a virtual quarter so that Tom can buy a clue.

UPDATE: AfterElton.com tries to get the bottom of O'Neil's comments; in his replies, O'Neil repeatedly uses the offensive term "gay rape" ... and then throws a hissy fit in the comments section of his original post.

Queer Quartet

Four critically acclaimed gay-themed movies from 2007 will be hitting DVD in the next few weeks:
  • The Bubble- Eytan Fox's film festival winner about two men -- one Israeli, the other Palestinian -- who fall in love in Tel Aviv.
  • Dirty Laundry- This dramady recently made history as the first gay film to be nominated for an NAACP Image Award.
  • Fat Girls- Another fest fave, this comedy is for anyone who never quite fit in in high school.
  • For the Bible Tells Me So- Although this documentary on organized religion's view on homosexuality didn't make the final five, it was a finalist for the Academy Award. Click here for interviews with the film's producer, Robin Voss, and one of its subjects, Bishop V. Gene Robinson.
The latter film will be available February 19; the other three come out February 12. Click on the title links for more information and to pre-order from Amazon.com.

Shrekland?

DreamWorks Animation, home to Shrek and other crude-minded toons, is branching out into the theme park business ... in Dubai?

Talk about Far Far Away ...

Film Art: Keeping Up With the Jonses

Steve Anderson's classicly-styled cover painting for the upcoming Dark Horse comic book adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Awards Watch: Coens Win DGA & More

No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood each added one more trophy to their respective cases last night.

Joel and Ethan Coen won the Directors Guild of America award for No Country, thereby more or less ensuring their eventual victory come Oscar night (in its 60 year history, the DGA and AMPAAS have only not matched 6 times). And Blood's Robert Elswit was anointed the best of the year by his peers in the American Society of Cinematographers.

Also, the last of the guilds has chimed in with their nominations: the Motion Picture Sound Editors. Leading the pack are American Gangster and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with three nods each. See the comments section below for a quick look at the nominees; winners of the Golden Reels will be announced February 23.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

MD Poll: If You Picked the Oscars 2007

With the nominations this week of the 80th Annual Academy Awards, Oscar season is in full swing. So today, Movie Dearest is kicking off a month-long countdown to show biz's biggest night (a.k.a. "the gay man's Super Bowl") that will include special Cinematic Crush and Women We Love looks at this year's acting nominees, Oscar trivia and video clips of our favorite past Oscar moments, plus the usual predictions and breaking news.

To start the festivities, the latest batch of MD Polls ask you not to merely predict who will win (with this year's race, the outcome has become pretty predictable), but what movies and actors you would vote for if you were lucky enough to be a member of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The five separate polls for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress can be found in the sidebar at your right. Be sure to vote in each one, and remember, this is who you would vote for, not the Academy (and sorry, no DVD screeners are available).

You'll have plenty of time to make your decisions, as the polls will run from now until 12 noon EST Saturday February 23, the day before Oscar day, with the results of the MD Oscars to be posted shortly thereafter.

UPDATE: This poll is now closed. Click here for the results, and click here to vote in the latest MD Poll.

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