Pics reveal Hawkeye, Bruce Banner ... and not much else!
Can you guess what it is?
If you don't know the secret at the center of new independent film "Norman," don't worry, the first trailer for the film doesn't quite give it away - but the signs are all there (ahem, hint). The film stars a very talented cast, including Dan Byrd as the titular Norman Long, Richard Jenkins as his dad, and Emily VanCamp as his charming love interest.
Norman is different - the sort of whip-smart and alienated teen that everyone remembers from high school, the loner that seemed both too cool and too awkward to fit into the normal boxes that teenage social situations set up. But Norman's not just dark and a bit strange as part of some kind of teenage phase - he has reason to be. Norman's mom has recently (and suddenly) passed away, and his dad is losing a long battle with stomach cancer. But all is not lost, not when the lovely Emily takes an interest in him, and the two embark on a fledgling love affair.
But there's a twist to Norman's life, a secret that threatens to derail not just his romance with Emily, but his entire existence. Sound sort of been there-done that? It's not, and this isn't one of those tossed-in twists that's included just for the sake of surprising the audience, it's one that's both believable and heart-breaking.
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist home video releases of the week
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Paramount), Michael Bay's third rock 'em sock 'em giant robot spectacular, was shot and designed for 3D, which forced the director to slow his chaotic editing down and create a coherent action canvas. While the DVD and Blu-ray are standard format, they too benefit from the restraint: you can actually see the transformations unfold and the action play out. It's just the story that makes no sense. But then again, it's a movie about giant alien robots who go to war in the city of Chicago and destroy half the city along the way, so who needs a story? Note that this is a Friday, September 30 release and features no supplements. Expect a special edition and a Blu-ray 3D version by the holidays. Videodrone's review is here.
"Carlos" (Criterion), Olivier Assayass' epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist. It is packed with incident and detail and moves at a remarkable for its entire five-and-a-half-plus hour running time. Videodrone's review is here.
Also new this week: the thriller "The Ledge" (IFC) with Charlie Hunnam, Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson, the Hong Kong gangster flick "The Stool Pigeon" (Well Go USA) with Nicholas Tse and "Viva Riva!" (Music Box), an award-winning, adrenaline-charged African crime thriller set in Kinsasha, Congo, among a generous collection of foreign language films this week.
TV on DVD:
"The Hour" (BBC), a BBC mini-series set in the fifties, is an odd but intriguing hybrid of journalism drama and Cold War conspiracy thriller, all set in the crucible of a fresh, adventurous TV news hour that pushes against the suffocating government restrictions on reporting. Though the soap opera diversions tend to distract, it builds to a dynamic climax that creates high tension out of low-key defiance. Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai and Dominic West star. Videodrone's review is here.
First Cage was a vampire, now Travolta is a time traveler
Just last week, we were introduced to an eBay auction of a picture that the seller claimed was Nicolas Cage - from 1870. The seller suggested that the Oscar-winning actor was actually a vampire, which was his ironclad reasoning for how Cage manages to appear in both that photograph and in his current existence. That story went viral pretty quickly, especially considering that the seller was also asking for one million dollars for the photo, and eBay responded by yanking the auction. The picture is now back on sale over at Etsy for a reduced price of $100,000, if you're still in the market for it.
But if you're not a fan of undead Cage, maybe you are of undead John Travolta? Another picture has popped up on eBay (this auction is also currently suspended) from another seller who claims to be hawking an ambrotype photo from the 1860s of a man who looks like an apple-cheeked John Travolta. The seller points to Travolta's religion as a possible source of his apparent time-traveling abilities, saying “For those of you who don’t know, John Travolta is a Scientologist and many Scientologists believe in a type of reincarnation...Of course Time travel can’t be ruled out as well.” This seller was asking for $50,000 for his supposed profe of a time-skipping Travolta.
Garry Marshall continues assault on innocent holidays
Garry Marshall's "New Year's Eve" needs just one tagline, and one tagline alone - "for the people who loved 'Valentine's Day'!" That's it, because what the director has essentially crafted with his next film is an unofficial sequel to "Valentine's Day." Just like "Valentine's Day," the film focuses on a giant group of people as their lives and loves intersect over the course of one holiday in one large city. This time around, it's New York City on New Year's Eve, not Los Angeles on Valentine's Day. If that's not confusing (because it's really not), Marshall has also brought back some of the cast from "Valentine's Day" (namely Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Biel) to play totally different characters, because really, why not?
In case it's not evident by now, I loathed "Valentine's Day" on an almost molecular level. The very conceit of the film is a cheap one - and one that makes it inherently difficult to ever get truly involved with Marshall's giant cast of characters. Look at a good example of the multi-storyline film, like "Love Actually." That film worked because, though it too revolved around the lives of many people, those lives actually criss-crossed over with each other in deeper ways. Hugh Grant's prime minister storyline was already a fun and sweet one, but when it's revealed this his character is Emma Thompson's character's brother, the film takes on a new dimension. This happens frequently throughout the film - real connections that strengthen every character. "Valentine's Day" did no such thing - try drawing a chart to graph who knows each other and see if things link up in a satisfying manner. Here's a hint - they don't. I specifically remember a scene in "Valentine's Day" where two characters, unlinked to anyone else outside their own plots, drove by each other. That was their link. That's just sloppy and silly filmmaking. Beyond that, most of the characters in the film were immensely unlikable (save possibly Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper, who had the only story that even remotely attempted to feel human and relatable).
Marshall's latest somehow has an even larger cast, which means more storylines, looser connections, and more of what made "Valentine's Day" such a wretched experience. That cast includes Kutcher, Biel, Sofia Vergara, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Carla Gugino, Zac Efron, Josh Duhamel, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank, Sara Paxton, Abigail Breslin, Alyssa Milano, Halle Berry, Sienna Miller, John Stamos, John Lithgow, Julie Andrews, Frankie Muniz, Til Schweiger, Ice Cube, Jon Bon Jovi, Ludacris, and Seth Meyers. And more. Good luck getting attached to anyone's plotline, because at this point, everyone will get about two minutes of screen time.
"New Year's Eve" opens on December 9. Check out the second trailer for the film after the break (if you must).
And MSN has an exclusive clip
Soberly show-offy and humorless, this super-production is a triumph of craft over art, spectacle over drama, and William Wyler is the perfect craftsman for the job. The roaring sea battle and the show stopping chariot race -- two of the most spectacular scenes of epic action ever mounted on Hollywood -- were helmed by unheralded second-unit superstar Andrew Marton and legendary stunt coordinator Yakima Canutt. They look as good as ever, even in the age of CGI, because digital still hasn't quite matched the presence of physical action. Jack Hawkins, Sam Jaffe, Frank Thring, Haya Harareet, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, and Cathy O’Donnell co-star. It won 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (William Wyler ), Best Actor (Charlton Heston), and Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith).
'Found VHS' Horror three-quel success as it rewinds the timeline, fast-forwards the mythos
One of the traditions of Fantastic Fest is the secret screenings -- kept a mystery from all attendees until, ideally, the last moment between the theater being filled and the lights going down. Earlier this week, the crowd took in Pedro Almodovar's "The Skin I Live In" as the first secret screening of Fantastic Fest 2011; yesterday night -- or, for that matter, this morning -- the midnight crowd were told that they'd be seeing an unfinished cut of "Paranormal Activity 3," the latest installment of the low-budget/high-effect horror series begun in 2007 by Oren Pelli.
Unfinished, yes, but not unwelcome; whether you like the first "Paranormal" or consider it a warmed-over mix of "Poltergeist" and "The Blair Witch Project," it's worth noting that for all of their jumps and jolts , the "Paranormal" films traffic more in tension than in gore, more in half-seen shades of grey than mere crimson blood. Starting with glimpses of the first film's Katie (Katie Featherston) and her sister, the second film's Kristi (Sprague Grayden) as they hand some storage boxes between each other, we see a huge stack of VHS tapes. We then jump back to 1988, where Featherston's and Grayden's mother (Lauren Bittner) is a young mom with a loving boyfriend, Danny, who makes his money filming wedding videos and two darling young daughters, Katie and Kristi … and a beautiful home full of love and laughter and odd nightsounds that, as fans of the series know, will only grow louder as we skip through the tapes …