Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Latest in Theaters: Tomb Raiders

New this week in theaters: mummies, meat trains and the first Best Actress contender of the year --
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Brendan Fraser is back for a third round of Indiana Jones-ish escapades. This time, he has a new wife (Maria Bello, replacing Rachel Weisz), an older son (Luke Ford) and some fresh villains (Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh).
  • Swing Vote: Kevin Costner stars as the one guy whose vote will decide the US Presidential Election in this well-timed comedy. The all-star cast includes Nathan Lane (who just played a president on Broadway in November), Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper. The latter two play the film's fictitious contenders, who even have their own campaign ads (including this spoofy pro-gay marriage spot) ... and YouTube channels.
  • The Midnight Meat Train: Hellraiser creator Clive Barker brings more of his dark nightmares to the silver screen in this grisly gorefest (in limited release), which stars Bradley Cooper, Brooke Shields and Roger Bart. We'll have more on Barker in tomorrow's Out in Film profile.
  • Frozen River: Melissa Leo is generating some early Oscar buzz as a desperate mother caught up in an illegal immigration drama; Michael O'Keefe, last seen as Scotty's dad on Brothers and Sisters, co-stars.
  • And finally: Frameline Fest award winner XXY, a drama about an intersex teen faced with making a life changing decision, returns to the Bay Area.
To find out what films are playing in your area, visit Fandango - Search movie showtimes and buy tickets!

Summer Under the Stars: Michael Caine

As the summer movie season winds down in theaters, it is time to turn our attention from the now to the then as Turner Classic Movies launches their "Summer Under the Stars" month tomorrow. For the sixth year, each day in August on TCM is dedicated to a different legendary star -- from Astaire to Widmark -- and their classic films. (Watch a promotional preview here.)

In the tradition of our coverage of TCM's "31 Days of Oscar" back in February, Movie Dearest will spotlight each day's star the day before. And, in addition to a "Star Profile" (courtesy of TCM's Now Playing guide), I will pick out one movie a day to recommend or that is of other interest. Fresh off the biggest movie of his career (that would be The Dark Knight), Michael Caine is up first:

Now Playing Star Profile for Michael Caine - Stardates: Born March 14, 1933, Rotherhithe, London, England. Star Sign: Pisces. Star Qualities: Elegant professionalism, colorful British twang, empathy with the common man. Star definition: "Wonderfully good company, ceaselessly funny and a brilliant actor" -- Laurence Olivier. Galaxy of Characters: Alfie Elkins in Alfie, Jack Carter in Get Carter, Milo Tindle in Sleuth, Lt. Col. "Joe" Vanderleur in A Bridge Too Far.

And speaking of Olivier, he co-starred with Caine in Sleuth, the taught two-character mystery thriller that was director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's last film. Both actors were nominated for Academy Awards, one of the few times a film's entire credited cast was so recognized. The original 1972 movie (written by Anthony Shaffer, adapting his own stage hit) had some homoerotic subtext between the dueling duo; this was amplified in the little seen remake from last year, wherein Caine shifted to the Olivier role and Jude Law took over Caine's.

Sleuth airs tomorrow on TCM at 10:00 AM EST.

Johnny Depp: Next Stop, Wonderland?

Well, what do you know: rumor has it that Johnny Depp is going to be the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Never saw that one coming. Let's see, will he have Kabuki-white face makeup and speak in a slightly feminine voice? And, with an unknown cast as Alice, will Helena Bonham Carter be the Queen of Hearts?

In more Depp rumors: Johnny as the Riddler in the next Batman movie? And joined by Angelina Jolie as Catwoman and/or Philip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin?

Well, if it's on the internet, it's all got to be true, right?

The Martian Chronicles

Considering how popular he (and his merchandise) has been over the years, here's some news you can file under "Huh, I wonder why they never thought of this before": Marvin the Martian, the intergalactic Looney Tunes character celebrating his 60th birthday this year, will soon star in his own feature film.

Warner Bros. is currently developing the movie, which will reportedly mix live action and computer animation. For some reason, they are going with a holiday-themed plot, what sounds like a mix of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, although that could change. Well, as long as it's better then Space Jam ...

No word yet if Marvin's frequent co-stars Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck (a.k.a. Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century) will appear, but I'm sure he'll have his trusty Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator on hand.

Fried Green Revelations

Hitting the wires today: "Mary-Louise Parker begged the director of Fried Green Tomatoesnot to censor the film's lesbian plotline, believing it to be a crucial part of the story. Parker starred in the 1991 movie with Mary Stuart Masterson playing her best friend, but in the original story -- from Fannie Flagg's 1987 novel -- their characters were lovers. Movie bosses were determined to downplay the relationship and portray the couple as just close pals -- despite Parker's desperate pleas to filmmaker Jon Avnet."

Of course, astute viewers of the movie (and anyone who read the book beforehand) can detect slight traces of the original story; you may remember Susie Bright recalling her unpleasant reaction to it in The Celluloid Closet.

At the time of the film's release, many were disappointed over the "glossing over" of the lesbian subject matter of the book, although Avnet has revealed that that "a scene between the two women engaging in a food fight was intended to be seen as symbolic love-making". Yeah, because we all know plenty of lesbians who throw food at each other to display their passion ...

Nevertheless, it won the GLAAD Media Award that year, and Flagg was Oscar nominated for adapting her book, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,to the screen.

A Quantum Duet

Following rumors of Amy Winehouse and Beyoncé, it has finally been revealed who will croon the next James Bond theme song for Quantum of Solace: Alicia Keys and Jack White.

Yes, that's right: for the first time in Bond song history, it will be a duet. Titled "Another Way to Die", the tune was written by White, lead singer of the White Stripes.

Daniel Craig returns as Agent 007 in Quantum of Solace, in theaters November 7.

For Tonight at Least, It Doesn't Suck to Be Them

Avenue Q has a big night tonight. The hilarious musical comedy about finding your purpose, falling in love and the joys of internet porn celebrates its fifth anniversary on Broadway.

To commemorate the occasion, here is a video clip of another big night for Rod, Lucy the Slut, Trekkie Monster and all the gang down on the Q: their Tony Award show performance, which preceded their unexpected win as Best Musical later that evening.

Of course, the show that lost was Wicked, so to rub that in, here's a bonus clip: Wicked, Avenue Q style!

Monthly Wallpaper - August 2008: Drama Queens of the Silver Screen

August is going to be a dramatic month here at Movie Dearest, what with the likes of Margo Channing, Norma Desmond, Phyllis Dietrichson, Blanche DuBois and Mildred Pierce gracing our movie calendar wallpaper. That's right, it's the Drama Queens of the Silver Screen.

And, believe it or not, this is the first time the real Joan Crawford appears on this monthly feature.

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.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Prince & Princess Tales

First look teaser at Disney's upcoming return to traditionally animated fairy tales, The Princess and the Frog. And a first listen too; three guesses who the songwriter is ... but you'll only need one.

Also, the first real trailer for a little movie called Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Illustration of Princess Tiana (voiced by Anika Noni Rose) by "Nippy13" at DeviantArt.com.

Women We Love: Emma Thompson

Object of our affection: Emma Thompson, actress/ writer.

- Warm and witty, she's the actress at the top of my "fantasy celebrity dinner party" invite list. In sharp contrast -- proof of her amazing talent -- she plays the cold and calculating matriarch at the center of the new Brideshead Revisited (opening wide this weekend), a performance already gaining whispers of Oscar #3 for Miss Thompson.

- She won Oscar #1 (along with every other award known to man) for her breakthrough role in Howards End. Two nominations at once followed, for The Remains of the Day and In the Name of the Father, and then again for writing and starring in Sense and Sensibility; Oscar #2 came for adapting the Jane Austen classic to the screen.

- Prior to all that, she co-starred with her then husband Kenneth Branagh in Henry V, Dead Again, Peter's Friends and Much Ado About Nothing (she is currently married to her Sense co-star Greg Wise). Other notable film roles include The Tall Guy, Impromptu, Junior, Carrington, Primary Colors, Treasure Planet, Love Actually, Nanny McPhee (which she also wrote), Stranger Than Fiction and two Harry Potter movies (so far) as the loopy divination professor Sybil Trelawney.

- On television, she won an Emmy for hilariously playing a closeted lesbian (and Ohioan) version of herself on Ellen, and received nominations for Wit (for both acting and writing) and the landmark Angels in America.

- After Brideshead, her next films include the 60's set coming of age drama An Education, the late in life romantic drama Last Chance Harvey and the rock radio comedy The Boat That Rocked. Plus, she has just revealed that she will adapt George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion for the planned remake of the beloved musical My Fair Lady.

Dubya Debut

It takes about a third of this trailer to realize that this movie is indeed Oliver Stone's upcoming look at the current President of the United States of America, W. And then "What a Wonderful World" kicks in, and you realize ... ohmygod, this is comedy?! And then you realize, "Of course, that makes perfect sense."

Josh Brolin as George W. Bush heads the all-star cast playing the all-star cast of characters, including Elizabeth Banks as First Lady Laura, James Cromwell as daddy George, Ellen Burstyn as mamma Barbara and Richard Dreyfuss as veep Dick Cheney. Oh yeah, and then there's Toby Jones as Karl Rove, Ioan Gruffudd as Tony Blair, Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld, Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice and Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell.

W. hits theaters October 17 ... right before election time. Oh, Oliver, you scamp.

Poster Post: Period Chic

Keira Knightley stars as the title character in The Duchess, in theaters September 19.

The tagline for this period romantic drama, based on a true story, is "There were three people in her marriage". The other two are Ralph Fiennes and Mamma Mia!'s Dominic Cooper, who gets some steamy action with Knightley in the film's trailer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Xanadu Makes Whoopi

Tony Award winner Whoopi Goldberg returns to Broadway tonight in the hit musical Xanadu. For a limited time (through September 7), she will cover the role of mischievous muse Calliope; Jackie Hoffman, who originated the role, is taking a six-week sabbatical from the show to promote her new album, Jackie Hoffman Live from Joe's Pub. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to hear the Whoopster's version of "Evil Woman".

Also arriving in the land of disco balls and roller skates this evening is Xanadu's returning leading man Cheyenne Jackson. The Dearie Award winner dons his short shorts once again after his recent run in the Encores revival of Damn Yankees. To commemorate the occasion, Cheyenne has submitted his own "Cue & A" over at Playbill.com. In it, he reveals that he is a 100% Cancer, his pants have split many a time on stage for "obvious reasons" and he is "MAC-curious".

In other stage fave news, Tom Wopat returns to familiar territory tonight. Wopat, who wrapped up his Tony nominated run in A Catered Affair just this past weekend, is back to "razzle dazzle 'em" as lawyer Billy Flynn in the long-running Chicago.

And speaking of Chicago, the Xanadu tour will open there in January, following its launch in La Jolla this November.

UPDATE: As usual, Broadway.com was on the scene for Whoopi's opening night, and they have the pictures to prove it.

JCPenney Serves Up a Little Breakfast

John Hughes' classic ode to 80's teen angst The Breakfast Club is getting a lot of love these days. Not only was its iconic imagery co-opted for the recent documentary American Teen (in theaters now), but its most memorable moments have been recreated in commercial form by retailer JCPenney.

With a cover of the Simple Minds' anthem "Don't You Forget About Me" as its soundtrack, the 30-second and one minute spots (airing on TV and in movie theaters, respectively) -- part of a surprisingly extensive back to school campaign -- have received some oddly hostile criticisms from online advertising pundits.

Apparently, these bitchy curmudgeons are unaware of the enduring appeal of a brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse.

Head of the Class

Legendary movie costume designer Edith Head, who won a record eight Academy Awards out of an astounding 35 nominations, is the subject of a new stage play opening tonight in London.

A Conversation with Edith Head is written by Paddy Calistro and Susan Claassen, based on Calistro and Head's book Edith Head's Hollywoodand starring Claassen as the famed film fashionista.

The production is scheduled to run through August 31.

The Latest on DVD: The Tribe Has Bitten

Perhaps hoping to cash in on early hype for the Twilight movie, Warner Home Video released today on DVD and Blu-ray a direct-to-video sequel to that seminal 80's cult flick about young vampires in love, The Lost Boys. Titled Lost Boys: The Tribe,the new vid predictably doesn't star Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland or even Dianne Wiest. But hey! The two Coreys are back! (Yeah, I know, no big surprise.)

Also available is the sequel's soundtrack album,which includes a cover of the original film's theme song, "Cry Little Sister", as heard in the trailer for The Tribe.

UPDATE: Regarding the cast of the original Lost Boys, have you ever wondered "where are they now?" Moviefone has the answers.

Check out the Latest on DVD widgets located in the sidebar for more of this week's new DVD releases available today from Amazon.com.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Comic-Con 2008: Wrap Up

Comic-Con 2008 came to a close yesterday, which means it is time for some gratuitous shots of sexy costumes!

Continuing the tradition started last year, here's another 300 hunk, along with a bevy of comely Disney vixens, a studly Superman, a bearish Wolverine, and a whole pack of sexy Jesuses. If you ever wondered what is was like to be a superhero-for-a-day, Cinematical's buxom-for-a-day Elisabeth Rappe (that's her Lara Croft with the Hamlet 2 gang) blogs all about it over on her home turf.

Save for the Watchmen confab and that out-of-nowhere Tron 2 teaser (catch the covert footage online while you can), there wasn't anything all that earth shaking this year. That is, unless you count some paltry information about remakes (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Friday the 13th, H.R. Pufnstuf, Red Sonja, The Wolfman) and sequels (The Evil Dead, I Am Legend, Punisher: War Zone, Scream 4, Terminator Salvation) nobody really asked for, not to mention movies just begging to be franchises (GI Joe, RocknRolla, The Spirit, Twilight). And then there is always the tantalizing news of exclusive footage that no one outside of the Con can see for now (most notably, an extended trailer for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which keeps appearing and reappearing on the net ... let me know if you find it). Most glaring was the complete lack of anything regarding the new Star Trek movie. It seems that now that Hollywood has more or less taken over the Con, the studios are holding all the cards ... and they're playing them very close to their vests.

Nevertheless, Moviefone has a pretty thorough overview of the entire geektastic weekend (including a tease about the two name actors who star in the fictitious gay porn flick Shut Your Mouth Before I F*** It in Kevin Smith's raunchy comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno). And for more photo galleries of the fantastic fashions on display, visit Cinematical.com.

UPDATE: Who were the "hunks of Comic-Con"? Visit Thompson on Hollywood to find out. And for more of the best in retrospect, Cinematical has posted their "first annual Comic-Con awards!"

More Kudos for Billy

Billy Elliot the Musical, which won four Olivier Awards for its original London production, picked up seven more accolades at the 8th Annual Helpmann Awards, the Australian equivalent to the Tony Awards.

The acclaimed tuner, based on the 2000 movie of the same name and featuring a score by Elton John, received awards for Best Musical, Best Director for Stephen Daldry (who was Oscar nominated for the original film) and acting honors for Genevieve Lemon (as ballet teacher Mrs. Wilkinson) and the show's quartet of Billys, Lochlan Denholm, Nick Twiney, Rarmian Newton and Rhys Kosakowski.

Other notable winners include two awards each for Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show and the opera version of Dead Man Walking, including acting prizes for the former's Columbia, Sharon Millerchip, and the latter's Joseph De Rocher, hunky baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes.

Next for Billy Elliot the Musical, which begins performances on Broadway October 1: the Tonys.

Cinematic Crush: Colin Farrell

Crush object: Colin Farrell, actor.

- The Irish bad boy of modern movies, he has starred in everything from gritty dramas and period epics to comic book flicks and a notorious sex tape ("breakfast, lunch and fookin' dinner" indeed; go on, Google it ... you know you want to).

- His breakthrough role came in Joel Schumacher's Tigerland, quickly followed by Minority Report, Phone Booth, Daredevil and S.W.A.T.

- He has played gay in a few films, such as Oliver Stone's controversial (and often re-cut) Alexander and A Home at the End of the World; a deleted full frontal shot in the latter made headlines.

- In addition to Alexander the Great, he played another historical figure, Captain John Smith, in Terrence Malick's Pocahontas pic The New World. Other notable films include Miami Vice, Cassandra's Dream and In Bruges.

- Upcoming projects include the cop drama Pride and Glory, the thriller Triage and Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus; he, along with Johnny Depp and Jude Law, stepped into that troubled production following the death of Heath Ledger earlier this year.

Reverend's Report from Comic-Con ... in Absentia

At the end of Comic-Con weekend here in Southern California, I hate to admit that I didn't make it down to San Diego for the first time in five years. I was registered and planned to attend Friday at least, but I had to stay in Long Beach on-call for my hospice "day job." Granted, tending to the dying is infinitely more important than movie previews and guys roaming around in 300 attire, but I still hated not being able to be there.

Alas, all was not lost. As my mother taught me when I was a kid: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!" So I created my own, individualized Comic-Con weekend, with enough superheroes and genre events to tide me over until Comic-Con 2009:

Watchmen: I had been most excited about going to the Watchmen movie preview at Comic-Con on Friday. The trailer is amazing (and I'll give a special blessing to the first person to respond with the name of the prior comic book-inspired film that the Smashing Pumpkins song used in the trailer comes from). But Friday morning I realized, "I've had the original Watchmen graphic novel on my bookshelf for at least two years and have never read it!"

So on Friday, I started reading it. I haven't finished it yet, but suffice to say I could see within the first ten pages that the kudos heaped upon it since its publication in 1986 are well deserved. Great writing meets great, cinematic art, which will hopefully translate well to the big screen next March. Big, blue, naked Dr. Manhattan (personified by the talented, hot and digitally enhanced Billy Crudup in the film) is enough to get me to buy a ticket!

The Dark Knight: All indications were that it would have a huge opening weekend, so I didn't rush to see the latest Batman adventure. At the risk of upsetting my fellow critics and fans who have been raving about it, I think it's a very good movie but also highly overrated, not to mention overlong. The best movie of the year and/or best comic book movie ever? I think not. It struck me more as a classic-style gangster film than a superhero saga. There is too much talk/philosophizing/ moralizing, and at least three subplots and plot twists too many.

Heath Ledger was very good in a different interpretation of the Joker (especially when one lays it alongside his performance in Brokeback Mountain), but he wasn't necessarily better in the role than Jack Nicholson or even Cesar Romero. I think his untimely death has a lot to do with the adoration his performance is receiving.

The best performance in the movie is actually that of Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. I didn't expect Two-Face to be as significant in this film as he is, and it is really his story rather than the Joker's or even Batman's. I encourage my fellow critics and fans of the film to give the overshadowed Eckhart the accolades he deserves.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army: I knew nothing about Mike Mignola's comic Hellboy when the first film inspired by it was released in 2004. The character intrigued me, the movie engrossed me, and I was eagerly looking forward to the sequel.

As directed and largely designed by Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy II is frequently beautiful to look at but lacks the creepy, apocalyptic spirit of its predecessor. It's more of a fairy tale about elves trying to overthrow the human race, and Hellboy's being the son of Satan doesn't figure into it much. Ron Perlman, however, continues to surprise and amuse as the big red bad boy trying to fit in and do good.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe: Comic-Con wouldn't be complete each year without The X-Files making its presence known, so I caught Mulder and Scully's new movie sequel to the TV series. I hadn't heard much about it in advance and had only read one review (which didn't reveal much), so I really didn't know what to expect.

Wow! Not only is I Want to Believe the best-written movie of the summer so far, treating a number of very serious current topics (including same-sex marriage) in a profoundly mature way, it is also very well-directed by series creator Chris Carter; wonderfully acted by David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and the supporting cast; beautifully photographed by Bill Roe; and brilliantly edited by Richard A. Harris. Oh, and it's as eerie, scary and teasingly romantic as the series' best episodes were.

It didn't do very well at the box office this weekend (even Mamma Mia! grossed more), so please get out there and see it. Be sure to stay through the end credits!

Clearly, one doesn't have to go to San Diego each summer in order to have a Comic-Con experience. But Comic-Con is unique, and I'll look forward to returning there next summer, along with 125,000-plus of the craziest and coolest people on the planet.

UPDATE: Hellboy II: The Golden Army, The X-Files: I Want to Believe and The Dark Knightare now available on DVD from Amazon.com.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Blonde Bundy Gets Blue Moon

As you can see, Laura Bell Bundy was positively verklempt over this cheeky parting gift from the chorus boys of Legally Blonde: The Musical.

Visit Broadway.com for more pics from Bundy's last night on Broadway in her Tony nominated role as Elle Woods.

UPDATE: Did you wonder how the Legally Blonde team kept the news of the new Elle Woods a secret during rehearsals? Playbill.com has all the answers, plus a hint at the musical's feature film possibilities.

Franco as Ginsberg

Here's some unexpected queer cinema scoop from Comic-Con, of all places. While promoting his next movie Pineapple Express, James Franco revealed to MTV News that he has been cast as legendary "Beat Generation" poet Allen Ginsberg in Howl, an upcoming documentary by the award winning team of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

Considering that it is a documentary, I'm not exactly sure how Franco could "play" Ginsberg; perhaps in reenactments and/or voice-overs. Interestingly enough, this will be the second time this year in which Franco went "gay for pay" on film. He will also portray Scott Smith, Harvey Milk's lover, in Gus Van Sant's biopic Milk, due this December.

Epstein and Friedman are no doubt familiar to Movie Dearest readers as the creators of such seminal gay docs as The Celluloid Closet, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt and, ironically, The Times of Harvey Milk. The latter two films won Academy Awards.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Music to My Ears

I don't know who Emily Rems is, but I think I just found my new best friend, or at least a kindred spirit as far as movie musicals are concerned. Rems recently wrote about her top ten cinematic tuners for Premiere.com, and I have to say, I like her choices.

In addition to such usual suspects as Cabaret and West Side Story, she has also picked some less-heralded but no doubt worthy examples as The Muppet Movie and The Little Mermaid (often overshadowed by Beauty and the Beast but, in some ways, superior). Also making her cut are a few films that are often looked down upon by cinematic classicists, like Grease, Rent and Moulin Rouge! She even manages to throw out "honorable mention" status to Hairspray and even Hello, Dolly!

These aren't exactly my top ten (no Mary Poppins, for example), but it's a great collection nonetheless.

Jumpin' Jupiter

Of all the buzz-worthy properties buzzing about this year's Comic-Con, perhaps the buzziest is Watchmen, Zack Snyder's eagerly awaited big screen adaptation of the landmark graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Even with the first trailer still fresh in our minds, and the film's official website just re-launched, there was still plenty of other fresh information to impart to the fan masses at the Con. So much so that Cinematical posted not one but two reports on the official Watchmen panel. Highlights included:

- Extended clips showed why this movie won't be anywhere near a PG rating, including Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) "kicking lots of ass in Vietnam". (And remember, Dr. Manhattan is big, blue and bald. And naked.)
- A look at the mask of Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), which can change its freaky inkblot visage, in action.
- Regarding Patrick Wilson's Night Owl: "Yes, he does have a paunch." Too bad for us Wilson watchers.
- Some sexy moments between a redheaded Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter (a.k.a. the original Silk Spectre; that's her in the accompanying illustration, by artist James Jean) and a sleazy Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian, who had this to say about getting into character: "I found getting in the costume and sticking a cigar in my mouth really got me in the mood to kill people".
- Most of the sets were real, not green screen, as in Snyder's 300.
- And finally: Matthew Goode (currently in Brideshead Revisited) was told this by a friend when he was cast as Ozymandias: "Looks like you're playing another gay, but this one's a stoner".

Watchmen opens in theaters March 6, 2009.

On Location: The Von Trapp Villa

Have you, like me, ever wanted to pay a visit to the land of the edelweiss, where the hills are alive with the sound of music? I have often dreamed of packing up my favorite things and traveling sixteen going on seventeen hours by plane so that I can track down my own lonely goatheard for a little something good. Too bad I'm a little short on the dough (poor me). And though I have confidence that my wish of climbing ev'ry mountain in that far-off land will some day come true, I know I will have to bid "so long, farewell" to it for now.

This dream was reawakened recently with the news that the Villa Trapp, the original Von Trapp family villa near Salzburg, Austria, opened this weekend as a hotel and museum. Despite the fact that the classic movie musical version of the Von Trapp's lives, The Sound of Music, was not actually used for filming (at the time, it was inhabited by a bunch of missionaries), fans should still get a thrill at visiting the actual location where the events of the movie took place, minus a little less musical numbers and the beatific presence of Julie Andrews, of course.

And although Music lovers have been visiting the area for years through scenic tours themed to their favorite movie, not everyone is happy about this endeavor to cash in on history, real and cinematic. Residents of the neighboring village have already expressed their displeasure, and you know the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont (where the famous family settled in after their escape from the Nazis) is likely none too pleased about their new competition.

However, I imagine that both locations will, like the appeal of The Sound of Music, continue to thrive. After all, there is just something about Maria.

Bat Booty

If you want to be as styling as millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, all you have to do is head over to The Noble Collection™for their line of Dark Knight inspired bat-accessories, such as:
So head on over to The Noble Collection™to Get Props and Collectibles from Batman: The Dark Knight. Shop Now!And be sure to check out their other movie collections, including The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, The Golden Compass, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Superman and 300.

Mamma's Boys

Mamma mia is right ... whoever was in charge of marketing this movie, they sure know their audience!

Visit BroadwayWorld.com for more of these "atmosphere models" at the New York premiere of Mamma Mia!

Reel Thoughts Interview: From Sexy to Serious

On the eve of the DVD release of the frisky A Four Letter Word, actor/director Casper Andreas is plotting a meatier follow up with Between Love & Goodbye, the serious movie he planned after completing Slutty Summer in 2004.

A Four Letter Word is not that film, which you’ll now be able to discover when it comes out on DVD in August 19 (click here to pre-orderfrom Amazon.com). If you missed the run at your local theater, now’s your chance to see what happened to all the guys and girls from Andreas’ Slutty Summer.

He was happy to reunite all but one of the original actors for A Four Letter Word, which focuses on Jesse Archer’s lusty party boy Luke as he struggles with — gasp! — monogamy with hunky Stephen (hunky Charlie David). It also deals with other kinds of love entanglements, such as the perfect couple (J.R. Rolley and Steven M. Goldsmith) who can’t handle perfection, a bride-to-be (Virginia Bryan) seeking comfort in the arms of her AA sponsor (Allison Lane), and the sex-store manager (Cory Grant) seeking self-love through naked yoga.

Andreas jokes that Archer finally wore him down enough to get him to collaborate on the film, which the two friends wrote together. Andreas starred as well as directed Slutty Summer, so he was glad to step behind the camera exclusively on A Four Letter Word.

“You don’t have to worry about looking perfect all the time,” he laughed.

Already, the film has netted awards at film festivals including Best Picture and Best Screenplay, so Andreas is looking forward to its DVD debut. Not one to rest, apparently, I caught him en route to the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival where he was going to premiere his newest film, the serious one I mentioned, Between Love & Goodbye.

Andreas wanted to explore relationship topics in a more serious way, and actually prefers more dramatic films. He enjoys directing a great deal, even the exhausting road to all the festivals after completion, but he hasn’t abandoned acting. When asked, he did profess a desire to do more acting, but only after he finishes the promotional tour for Between Love & Goodbye.

I asked him what he thought of all of the fuss over California’s legalizing of gay marriage, and he explained that it’s something he’s watching very closely.

“I’m from Sweden, so I’m very interested in the upcoming election,” he explained, noting that the unequal treatment of GLBT Americans plays a big part of what drives Between Love & Goodbye.

Described as “a modern gay drama about falling in and out of love, and the rocky ride in between,” the film’s events are thrown in motion when Frenchman Marcel marries his lesbian friend Sarah so that he can remain in the US with Kyle. Kyle and Marcel are madly in love, but when Kyle’s sister April, a former prostitute, appeals to him to let her crash at his place, he doesn’t realize that she’s also planning on smashing up his happy relationship. As April methodically poisons their happiness, Kyle and Marcel’s relationship tumbles into fits of possessiveness, rage and jealousy. Not the lighthearted tone of A Four Letter Word, to be sure, but it is a film that Andreas is very proud of, and one closer to his own interests.

He noted that if Marcel and Kyle could legally marry, or at least form a legal partnership, they wouldn’t have experienced many of the complications they encountered.

Personally, Andreas feels that he would be content with a legally recognized union with his boyfriend, provided that it gave gay people the same legal rights as everyone else enjoys. In Sweden, a 1987 law defined marriage as between one man and one woman (sound familiar?), but civil unions have been recognized for years. In 2006, a Parliamentary panel deemed civil unions outdated, and recommended that full marriage rights be granted to same-sex couples. Whether it will come to pass is up to the courts and the Swedish Parliament, but clearly Sweden is a more enlightened country when it comes to GLBT issues.

As for A Four Letter Word, its goal is captured in its theme song “A Different Kind of Love,” a catchy little samba that celebrates “love in the twenty-first century” where “people can be what they want to be.”

Now, whether Luke can tame his wild ways for “macho” trust fund baby Stephen, and whether or not the judgmental Stephen is what he seems, is part of the fun of the modern sex romp.

Andreas hopes that people will be entertained and find the film sexy and thought provoking. Maybe with some prodding, your local art house will bring Between Love & Goodbye to your city. If it’s as engrossing as A Four Letter Word is funny, it’s sure to be another hit for the talented Andreas.

Watch the (slightly NSFW) trailers here: A Four Letter Word, Between Love & Goodbye.

UPDATE: Between Love & Goodbye is now available on DVDfrom Amazon.com.

Interview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

Affair Ends, Game Over for Yankees

It's a big day in the Big Apple for show closings.

In addition to A Catered Affair (the Harvey Fierstein penned musical adaptation of the Bette Davis drama The Catered Affair, starring Tony nominee Faith Prince) and Encores' Damn Yankees revival (starring Sean Hayes, Jane Krakowski and Cheyenne Jackson), the popular Off-Broadway tuner I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change will end its record-setting run.

The production opened in 1996 and has been performed over 5,000 times, making it the second longest running show in Off-Broadway history, after The Fantasticks.

Wolf Blitzkrieg

The Wolfman crew were out in force at Comic-Con yesterday, and attendees not only got a look at the trailer (alas, not online as of yet), but also a bunch of information about the eagerly awaited remake of the Lon Chaney Jr. monster mash classic. Most reassuring was this comment from the new film's makeup maestro, Rick Baker: "the whole movie is a nod to the original".

The Wolfman, directed by Joe Johnston (Hidalgo) and starring Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, Anthony Hopkins and Hugo Weaving, is scheduled to open April 3, 2009.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Boys Are Coming Home

Controversial is right. William Friedkin's film version of Mart Crowley's seminal play The Boys in the Band has endured a lot of criticism over the years, somewhat unfairly in my opinion. Sure, it's dated and stage bound, but it also offers a time capsule look at an era and culture rarely seen on film, even now.

As it has been out of print on home video for years and rarely plays on television, most people haven't even seen it, which could explain why its bad reputation is so enduring. However, that is about to change, as The Boys in the Band is finally being released on DVD this fall.

And it sounds like it will have been worth the wait. In addition to a restored print, bonus features promised include three documentaries on the creation of the play, the making of the film and the legacy of both. Participants in the new material include Friedkin (who provides an audio commentary), Crowley, playwright Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and cast members Laurence Luckinbill and Peter White. It is not clear if the original trailer will be included, but you can watch that right here.

The Boys in the Band will be released on DVD November 11. Click here to pre-orderit from Amazon.com.

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