No, really, why?
The reviled Jar Jar Binks is MIA from the new artwork for Episode 1
I wish I could articulate why I think Star Wars’ “Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” was a maligned classic that deserves to have another chance, but frankly, I can't. Having grown up with the Luke Skywalker trilogy, I was so looking forward to George Lucas’s prequels that I was among the first in line back on May 19, 1999. Alas, I was also first among the bitterly disappointed who thought Lucas had gone round the bend with his storytelling abilities. Like so many other Star Wars fans, I found the film convoluted and sorely missing the heart and humor that made the three previous films such a phenomenon. Also like most, I reserved special disdain for the loathsome Jar Jar Binks, a spectacularly unfunny character who seemed more of a merchandising gimmick than an integral part of the events in this galaxy far, far away.
Of course, despite worldwide disappointment in George Lucas’s misstep, “The Phantom Menace” raked it in at the box office, earning $28 million on its opening day. It was the most successful film of 1999 and its eventual global take of $924 million made “Episode 1” the seventh highest-grossing film of all time.
As we’ve discussed here several times, George Lucas announced in September 2010 that he was converting all six of the Star Wars films to 3D and will be releasing them in theatres one by one, in chronological order according to the story. “Epsidoe 1: The Phantom Menace” will open on February 10, 2012.
Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox have just released the poster for the new version, shown below after the break:
My foolhardy stab at guessing who will make the Academy's short lists this year
The Oscar nominations won’t be announced until January 24, 2012, but people in this town are already buzzing about who will make the cut. Of course many of the films that will vie for the prize have not yet been released so trying to figure out which films and performances will be recognized by the Academy at this point is probably the height of lunacy.
Still, I can’t resist speculating on the acting nominees and which 10 films will be up for Best Picture. Check out my predictions below and let me know if you think I’m completely nuts. With 11 weeks left in the year, there are more than a few game changers still to come. These include “Anonymous,” “The Rum Diary,” “J. Edgar,” “Melancholia,” “The Descendants,” “Hugo,” “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” “Carnage,” “The Iron Lady,” “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “We Bought a Zoo,” and “War Horse.” I’ve included only the most obvious choices from that list in my predictions. I mean, does anyone on the planet think that Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”) and Leonardo DiCaprio (“J. Edgar”) won’t get nominated?
There are some long shots below that may seem especially crazy. But you know how the Oscars work—I’m hoping that Academy voters surprise us, as they often do, by singling out actors from some of the smaller indie films. The only sure bet on my list besides Streep and DiCaprio? I’d stake my life on the fact that Jessica Chastain will get nominated for one of the three films she excelled in this year.
Gulp. Here goes:
Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, “The Tree of Life,” “The Help,” or “The Debt”
Bryce Dallas Howard, “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”
Octavia Spencer, “The Help”
Marisa Tomei, “The Ides of March”
The unlikely birds of a feather on competition, birding and more ...
Sitting down opposite Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson, it's hard to not feel a moment of awe -- after all, each of the three is renowned for comedy timing, quick-wittedness and a remarkable willingness to go all the way for a joke. Talking about their birdwatching comedy "The Big Year," Martin, Black and Wilson talked about the nature of competition, the allure of birding and of the elastic way time stretches or shrinks depending on your interest level.
At one point, Jo Beth Williams' character says, 'They're men, dear: If they're not competing, they die.' Do you find that to be the case? Are you competitive gentlemen?
Wilson: I'm definitely competitive. I don't think insanely competitive, but there are people that are so competitive they keep playing because it hurts too much to lose. I'm the type of competitive where I'd actually like to play somebody who's a little better, because it's more fun, it's more challenging.
Martin: Who would want to play a game against someone who's not competitive?
Wilson: They play a game against somebody who they can beat. My friend Don Nelson would rather play somebody in shuffleboard that he can beat 20 times in a row, whereas I'd rather play somebody who's a little bit better.
Black: I want to win so badly that, like your friend, if I sense that I'm not going to win, I'll pretend like I'm not interested in that game, like, 'Eh, what a boring game.'
Wilson: That would drive me crazy. That would infuriate me.
Filmmaker will be only second woman to helm a Marvel property
Jenkins will be only the second female director to helm a Marvel property (the only other is Lexi Alexander, who directed "Punisher: War Zone" in 2008, a film that is comparably much smaller than "Thor 2"). It's obviously yet to be seen what Jenkins will do with her new hot property, but her attachment to the film is an incredibly interesting choice by the studio and guarantees that a fresh talent will be behind the camera.
What do you want to see in "Thor 2"? Are you excited about "The Avengers," which will open in May of next year and tie into the end of the first "Thor"?
The aid of tons of human stars won't hurt
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist home video releases of the week
There is no denying the ambition of "The Tree of Life" (Fox), Terrence Malick's portrait of one boy's education growing up in Texas set against nothing less than the origins of life in the universe. It has amazed, confounded and frustrated audiences, but the experience is like no other American film I've seen in recent history. Videodrone's review is here and interview with star Jessica Chastain here.
"Green Lantern" (Warner), the big screen debut of the DC Comics superhero starring Ryan Reynolds as the mere human given the power of an alien ring, underwhelmed its fan base. Warner, however, is pulling out all stops for the Blu-ray release, offering an extended cut of the film, an interactive viewing mode and, of course, all sorts of featurettes and supplements. And there is a Blu-ray 3D version as well. All editions come out on Friday, October 14. More from Videodrone here.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are traveling companions on "The Trip" (IFC) to the finest restaurants in Britain, where they spend time in comic one-upmanship (their dueling Michael Caine impressions is worth the price of a rental).
Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis plot revenge against their "Horrible Bosses" (Warner) Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Kevin Spacey in the black comedy. John C. Reilly is an eccentric high school vice-principal in "Terri" (Fox), an indie comedy with Sundance credentials, Rhys Ifans plays "Mr. Nice" (MPI), based on the crazed true story of a wildly successful British marijuana smuggler, and "Beautiful Boy" (Anchor Bay) stars Maria Bello and Michael Sheen as separated parents who turn to each other in shared grief.
TV on DVD:
As the tongue-in-cheek spy show embarks on its fifth and final season, "Chuck: The Complete Fourth Season" (Warner) catches you up with the adventures of amiable nerd turned super-spy Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), who spends the season looking for his mother (guest star Linda Hamilton), who also happens to be a spy and may be working for the other side. Oh, and there's a birth and a wedding. Mission debriefing from Videodrone here.
And while "Bones" has no end in sight, the upcoming season will be truncated due to pregnancy, so the full-sized "Bones: The Complete Sixth Season" (Fox) will have to fill the void for those of us who love the show, bones and all. Videodrone examines the remains here.
'It's very entertaining, very twisted, and it's a beautiful story about revenge ...'
In Pedro Almódovar's new "The Skin I Live In," Elena Anaya plays Vera, the experimental subject for the mad scientist Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), a genius driven by grief to not only invent a new type of skin -- flameproof, more durable, quicker-healing -- but also to use that 'improvement' as just one of the steps in his re-shaping and re-making of the strange and beautiful young woman seemingly trapped in his home ...
After roles in "Sex and Lucia" and other films -- like this year's excellent thriller "Point Blank" -- Anaya pulls off the role of Vera masterfully, in a performance that grows deeper and richer as the film's unseen depths open up under you like a rotting floor giving way under the weight of your understanding. no surprises are given away in this interview -- for that, you'll have to see the film yourself -- as we spoke with Anaya by phone.
Obviously this is a tough film to talk about before people see it, but did Mr. Almódovar tell you the plot of the film, or did he just hand you off the script and go, 'Here you go?' Were you as surprised by the story's turns as the audience is going to be?
Anaya: He was kind -- when he offered me the role, he explained it to me very carefully, tender and sweetly. It's a tough story. He talked to me about the film he wanted to, why he was doing this, and why he wanted me playing that role. Then he gave me the script. It took him a few hours to explain this film and talk to me about the tales, when I read the script, which is excellently written. I just loved him. It was impossible to read that script in that moment. Of course, I was very touched by emotions of all the feelings the script presented to me. Also, it was a thing of happiness, because I got offered the this beautiful and complex role. Those things happen few times in life. It happened.