Instantly, 'The Muppets' becomes the more anticipated film of the holiday season
The upcoming Muppets feature film (simply called "The Muppets") has used a ton of clever and cutesy marketing to get audiences excited for its fall release. Teaser trailers for the film have previously taken on "Green Lantern," a fake film within the film itself, and a hilariously fake send-up of hard-hitting trailers in general. Their latest teaser parodies the upcoming David Fincher-directed "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and its quick-cut, highly-stylized, almost too-serious, and musically pounding trailer, all while also poking fun at movie marketing in general. You know how the Muppets were funny and irreverent when you were a kid? They're still funny and irreverent now.
This latest take on the Muppets stars a giant cast, including Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Alan Arkin, Jack Black, Billy Crystal, Zach Galifianakis, Kathy Griffin, Ricky Gervais, and Emily Blunt.
The film centers on "Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan, and his friends Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) from Smalltown, USA" who "discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze the Muppet Theater and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets' former stomping grounds. To stage The Greatest Muppet Telethon Ever and raise the $10 million needed to save the theater, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate." Can the Muppets save their beloved theater and reunite their splintered gang? Something tells me they'll be able to accomplish all that and more.
"The Muppets" opens this Thanksgiving. Check out the film's new trailer, "The Pig with the Froggy Tattoo," after the break.
Are plan changes to blame? (Yes.)
With a spat of recent changes to its services that have turned once-satisfied customers in the opposite direction, it’s really no surprise that Netflix stock is down today, but it is a surprise that the stock is down nearly 18% as of this posting. Deadline also weighs in, saying that the company reports that their subscriber projections are down, coming in for the third quarter of the year at 21.8 million subscribers, after the company had projected for 22 million. While that may not sound like a lot, DVD-only subscriptions are way down, coming in at about 2.2 million, when the company had projected them to hit 3 million. Ouch.
The all comes on the heels of a bevy of Netflix news that has not pleased subscribers – from their announcement earlier this summer that they would be dividing their plans into DVD-only and Instant Watch-only plans, effectively doubling the plan price for a service customers have gotten very comfortable with over the years. This news was followed by Starz Entertainment’s decision to not renew their contract with the company, depriving Netflix of many of the newer titles that are part of their Instant Watch plan.
Basically, Netflix is now offering their customers less entertainment for more money. Duplicating a previous plan that included both DVDs and Instant Watch involves purchasing two plans for about twice the original price, and without the Starz films, Netflix has less content to offer. When Netflix announced its changes earlier this summer, some customers were expected to drop the service, but these numbers show that even Netflix was taken by surprise by just how many did.
Are you a Netflix customer? Have you changed your service plans to accommodate Netflix changes?
'I think a lot of politicians are some of the best actors in the world …'
Clad in a high-collared tan retro-dress and a pair of red-soled Louboutin shoes, Evan Rachel Wood is the model of a modern starlet as she talks about her role in "The Ides of March" -- until she wants to talk about the paralysis of partisan politics in modern legislation. It's rare to find the modern actor -- regardless of gender -- with a mind as clear as their skin, but Wood is that actor, and that intelligence -- and, yes, a tempering hint of naiveté -- is evident on-screen as she plays Molly, the Presidential-campaign intern whose romance with high-level campaign staffer Ryan Gosling opens up problems in George Clooney's political thriller. We spoke with Wood in Toronto.
I feel like we can't talk about the twists and turns of the plot too much because it might dilute the pleasures of the film for some people. When you were reading the script, were you going, 'Oh my God?'
Wood: Absolutely. I didn't see the play; I didn't know the story. The storyline surrounding my character, there's a lot of twists and turns that occur in that. I was shocked.
Do you feel like audiences won't see it coming, either?
Wood: Yeah, I think there's a lot of surprises in the film that no one's going to see coming.
You're playing an intern in a political campaign. Did you research that world? Did you get a taste of it? There's documentaries and research materials, but did you go and look at that process and what it's like or just go with what was on the page?
Wood: The story's so great, the writing's so great, it was really there. George gave a lot of the cast some great documentaries to watch, which show the behind-the-scenes with press on the campaigns and the interns. It's a really interesting line of work, to get that close to a candidate and to see the evolution of where they go throughout the whole process. It's clearly interesting. 'Journeys with George' was my favorite, I think. That's an amazing documentary.
'Dogtooth' director takes another bite at the world with black, bleak comedy and playfully perverse drama
"Dogtooth" had the evident vast amount of talent -- and just as importantly, a vast amount of time -- to make a splash on the film festival circuit, where it played Cannes, Toronto and South By Southwest. That slow-motion assault stretched from 2009 to 2010, culminating in a deserved but inexplicable Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination. Among those for a taste for cinema both strange and strong, eyes were focused on director Giorgos Lanthimos' next film. Would it continue the surreal startling strength of "Dogtooth?" Or would it move in its own direction as something new in the face of expectation?
And the answer is yes, and no. "Alps" is remarkably like "Dogtooth" in staffing (Lanthimos again teams with Efthymis Fillippou as his co-writer, and again features Aggeliki Papoulia in a lead role) and thematic and plot elements (we again have dancing freakouts, pop culture as psychic wound and cranial injury as how men assert authority). And at the same time, "Alps" is more open than "Dogtooth," and takes place in a fractured and dark version of the real world in a way that that film's sealed and antiseptic small-scale dystopia did not.
Four people -- nurse Papoulia, paramedic Aris Servatalis, teen gymnast Ariane Lebed and her coach Johnny Vekris) -- gather together in what could be either a small business, a support group or an improbably sensitive conspiracy in the name of helping people move on after the death of their loved ones. Not by talking, or by small gestures of support but instead by acting, and acting out, as the people who have passed. A bereaved family who've lost a young daughter, for example, recreate a nice day at the beach with her, as Papoullia splashes in the surf and say what they want her to say in the name of replication and relief.
Three documentaries "Made by a fan for fans" made available through the fan medium of YouTube
Jamie Benning is an editor for British TV by day, but in his spare time, the die-hard "Star Wars" fan created his own low-tech documentary chronicling the making of the original "Star Wars" trilogy, using TV and radio interviews from the cast and crew, deleted scenes, alternate takes, bloopers and all sorts of otherwise unseen footage he uncovered in his search for film history. The project took six years and resulted in three two hour-plus documentaries, all made for the love of "Star Wars." He discusses the project with GeekDad at Wired here.
No, they are not part of any of the Luscasfilm DVD or Blu-ray editions but you can watch all three below. And as Lucasfilm has chosen not to include some of the more substantial documentaries from the earlier DVD editions (notably the feature-length "Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy" but also some terrific shorter featurettes), consider this our contribution to the supplements. But budget plenty of time, or better yet, bookmark the page and come back after you see the films again. They really are terrific, lo-fi aesthetic and all. "Building Empire" and "Returning to Jedi" follow after the jump.
Star Wars Begins
Sex versus romance, music and mood and the pleasures of driving a rickshaw
In Part One of our interview with 'Take This Waltz' stars Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman and Luke Kirby, the three talked about appearing in writer-director Sarah Polley's romance-drama, with Rogen and Kirby competing for Michelle William's affections. In part two of this roundtable interview, the three talk about acting, about working with Williams and about Rogen feeling guilty for Kirby transporting him via rickshaw.
One of the interpretations of the film is that it's very pessimistic about monogamy. Do you agree with this view?
Kirby: I don't know that it's a pessimistic view of monogamy; it's a view of if you're desirous of all things in life, you have to look at whether or not you can hold off pursuing physical relationships with many people. I don't think it's pessimistic particularly.
There has been some discussion about whether this film, for Sarah, represents a somewhat biographical or autobiographical take on certain events in her own life. When she was directing the film or presenting the film to you, did you ever get the impression that she had a distinct vision of the film as something that was very personal to her? Was she more open to your interpretations about the story?
Kirby: I think it was personal to her, but not in a specific way. To her own experience, I don't think it was personal. I think it was just she felt strongly connected to the material. I don't think we represent specific people in her life. The first time I met her, I said, 'Did this happen to you?' She was like, 'No, it's just a story.' That was literally one of the first questions I asked her when I met her. Again, I think you don't have to be writing about something that's specifically happened to you to have a vision and feel personally connected to it. It's more about feelings, man.
Silverman: Sarah said she's into examining people and dynamics in relationships and possibilities.
The studio is teaming up with eBay to help the rescue organization featured in the film
Relativity Media announced today that it is collaborating with eBay to auction off premiere tickets, a movie poster autographed by the cast, and a custom-built motorcycle that was made for its upcoming film, “Machine Gun Preacher.” 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Angels of East Africa Rescue Organization, the charity that is the focal point of the movie. Gerald Butler (“300”) plays Sam Childers, a former drug dealer who goes through an amazing transformation and ends up as biker preacher and the savior of kidnapped and orphaned children in East Africa. It was Childers who founded the Angels of East Africa, the organization that has rescued over a thousand orphans from starvation, disease, and enslavement.
This hard-hitting, inspirational film opens on September 23 in New York and Los Angeles. It was directed by Marc Forster (“Monster’s Ball”) with a screenplay by Jason Keller, and also stars Michelle Monaghan, Kathy Baker, Madeline Carroll, and Michael Shannon.
Click here to get to the online auction. Bidding opened today for two VIP seats for the Los Angeles premiere (starting at $500) and the signed poster ($50). You have until Monday, September 19 to place your bids (which are completely tax-deductible) so hurry up and help out this fantastic charity. It’s a win-win!
Starting September 26, you can bid on the badass 2010 custom-built Rate Bike motorcycle driven by Gerald Butler in the film (the starting bid is $30,000). That auction will be open until Thursday, October 6.
Bid today and be a part of Hollywood history! Check out the trailer to this incredible real-life tale after the break.
And I'm telling you it's not a 'Dreamgirls' redux! And I'm lying!
Sony Pictures is hard at work lining up the cast for the remake of “Sparkle,” tricking it out with popular singers who should give the film a bit more cache than what may have been expected from a film that’s almost phenomenally unnecessary. THR reports that Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks will play mother and daughter in the film, with Mike Epps taking on one of the male leads.
The original “Sparkle” opened in 1976, and hit the screen care of director Sam O’Steen and writers Joel Schumacher (no, really!) and Howard Rosenman, with a cast that included Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, Mary Alice, Philip Michael Thomas, Dwan Smith, Dorian Harewood, and Tony King. The film loosely told the story of The Supremes, featuring Cara, McKee, and Smith as singing sisters who make it big in the 1950s – until they are felled by drug problems and internal strife. The film’s music was composed by Curtis Mayfield, with Aretha Franklin singing the songs for the film’s soundtrack. It’s a bit of a cult classic, but that’s not the only reason why this all sounds so strangely familiar.
“Sparkle” is one of the direct inspirations for a certain Broadway musical hit that went on to become a very popular feature film that eventually won six Academy Awards. That film was called “Dreamgirls.” And, no, you’re not hallucinating, that film came out a mere five years ago. Too soon? I’d say just a bit.
Houston will play the mother to Sparks’ titular Sparkle, with Epps serving as Satin, who marries one of Sparkle’s sisters and directly leads to her downward spiral. The film will mark Houston’s return to the screen after a number of years away, as she last starred in 1996’s “The Preacher’s Wife.” She will also serve as an executive producer. The film will be Sparks’ acting debut.
This new “Sparkle” was penned by Mara Brock Akil (who created the popular BET sitcom “The Game”) and will be directed by her husband, Salim Akil (who has directed every episode of “The Game”).
“Dreamgirls” was a wonderful entry into the musical feature genre, and “Sparkle” seems set to be a less-than version of that film, not a standalone remake of a beloved old school flick. Are you interested in seeing a new “Sparkle,” or will you stick with your “Dreamgirls” DVDs?