Why Are Super Heroes So…Super?

If you haven’t watched The Avengers yet, read Daniel’s review of it, and check it out; it’s a lot of super-heroey fun. And as always, stay after the credits. Twice. I was shocked at how many people left the theater right when the credits started. Seriously, people? Four years later and you still don’t get it? Anyways, moving on…

I recently had the opportunity to record Dave Canfield (Twitch Film writer) speaking about Super Heroes and Culture at The Row House in Lancaster, PA.

The Row House hosts a wide, diverse range of lectures and discussions from “Mom Guilt” to “Harry Potter’s Alchemy”.

Check out their podcast for old forums, and participate in one if you’re in town.

 

Eagle’s Fan (60 Second Film Festival)

UPDATE:

You can now vote for the people’s choice award at http://www.60secondfilmfest.com/ (on the right-hand side). Thanks!

 

 

I recently submitted a film for the 60 Second Film Festival in Lancaster, PA. It’s a mini-doc about my little brother.

If you’re in the Lancaster, PA area it will be shown with 11 other short films on Sunday, May 13th at 7:00pm at Penn Cinema. Tickets are free, but are on a first-come-first-serve basis.

There will also be a fan favorite award; I will post a link to that page when they put it up.

Here’s a link to the film if it doesn’t show up below.

Thank you for your support!

 

Short Spotlight: Sockfeet

My appreciation for short films began when I first attended the Nashville Film Festival. Blown away by the wide range in content and talent, I immediately went to the Internet to find more short films. Modern short films are a fascinating genre, ranging from no budget backyard productions, to low budget indie films, to full-blown blockbusters. Short films are a great way to glimpse future talent, or a window into the origins of a respected director. The goal of this series is to showcase a wide range of short films from all over the world. If you want to have a short film featured, please comment and leave a link. Enjoy the show!

The first film in this series comes from my Alma mater, Bryan College. It’s a short, sweet love story told from a unique perspective.

 

2012 Oscar Predictions

JOSEPH’S PREDICTIONS

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin
Best Actress: Viola Davis
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer
Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Best Documentary: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Best Film Editing: The Artist
Best Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Best Art Direction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Best Costume Design: Jane Eyre
Best Makeup: Albert Nobbs
Best Sound Editing: War Horse
Best Sound Mixing: War Horse
Best Original Score: The Artist
Best Original Song: ‘Man or Muppet’
Best Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris
Best Live-Action Short: The Shore
Best Documentary Short: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

CASSIE-MARIE’S PREDICTIONS

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Best Actor: George Clooney
Best Actress: Viola Davis
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer
Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Best Documentary: Undefeated
Best Foreign Language Film: Bullhead
Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Best Film Editing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best Visual Effects: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Best Art Direction: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II
Best Costume Design: Jane Eyre
Best Makeup: The Iron Lady
Best Sound Editing: War Horse
Best Sound Mixing: War Horse
Best Original Score: The Artist
Best Original Song: ‘Man or Muppet’
Best Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris
Best Live-Action Short: Raju
Best Documentary Short: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

DANIEL’S PREDICTIONS

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin
Best Actress: Viola Davis
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer
Best Original Screenplay: Midnight in Paris
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants
Best Animated Feature: Rango
Best Documentary: Undefeated
Best Foreign Language Film: A Separation
Best Cinematography: The Tree of Life
Best Film Editing: The Artist
Best Visual Effects: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Best Art Direction: Hugo
Best Costume Design: The Artist
Best Makeup: The Iron Lady
Best Sound Editing: Hugo
Best Sound Mixing: Hugo
Best Original Score: The Artist
Best Original Song: ‘Man or Muppet’
Best Animated Short: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris
Best Live-Action Short: Saving Face
Best Documentary Short: Tuba Atlantic

See you all tonight at the Oscars. Follow our Twitter accounts for LIVE up-to-date results and opinions:

@jdemme / @cinexcellence / @dtuck318 / @CMarieDemme

Joseph’s Most Anticipated Films of 2012

As much as I would like to post my top 10 films of 2011, that list would have recently featured Crazy, Stupid Love, which is indicative of how many 2011 films I need to catch up on. But that doesn’t stop me from looking forward to 2012…

 10. Coogan’s Trade

 

I’m not familiar with the material, but any film that puts Brad Pitt and Richard Jenkins on-screen together is a film that I want to see. It’s also written/directed by Andrew Dominik, who previously directed Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

9. Looper

Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom) writes/directs a film about time-travel starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. If that isn’t enough to get you on board for this film, Collider reports that Shane Caruth worked alongside Johnson on the time-travel mechanics. Caruth wrote/directed the small-budget 2004 film Primer, which is one of the best time-travel films out there; watch it.

8. Untitled Terrence Malick Project

I would watch a Terrence Malick film about paint drying. Watching Ben Affleck act is a close second. Known on IMDb as “Untitled Terrence Malick Project”, this film stars Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in,  “A romantic drama centered on a man who reconnects with a woman from his hometown after his marriage to a European woman falls apart.” I may have my doubts on the casting, but Terrence Malick and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki know how to make  a beautiful film together.

7. Lincoln

Daniel Day Lewis leads an impressive cast in Steven Spielberg’s film about Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. Lewis is joined by Sally Fields (Mary Lincoln), Tommy Lee Jones (Thaddeus Stevens), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Robert Lincoln), David Strathairn, John Hawkes, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley, and Michael Stuhlbarg. 2013 Oscars, anyone?

6. Django Unchained

The above image says it all.

5. The Avengers


I’ve been looking forward to this one ever since Samuel Jackson’s first appearance at the end of Iron Man. (My poor wife is now tired of my “Where’s Samuel Jackson?” joke after every movie we watch in the theater. But let’s be honest; Kirsten Wiig and Tintin would be awesome Avengers.) With Joss “Can I kill off a main character?” Whedon at the helm, I think this is going to be a fun, bantering, character-driven superhero film.

4. The Master


Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix star in P.T. Anderson’s latest film about, “The relationship between a charismatic intellectual known as “the Master” whose faith-based organization begins to catch on in America, and a young drifter who becomes his right-hand man”, set in the 1950s. (IMDb) I’ve been hearing about this film for a while now, and am really excited about it. I’m not sure if it will be released in 2012 or 2013, so don’t hesitate to correct me on this. If it’s a 2013 release, maybe Tom Tywker’s Cloud Atlas will be placed at number ten.

3. Brave


Brave is the latest film from Pixar Animation Studios, and it looks incredible. I have my doubts from watching the preview for the film, but I’ve learned over the years that Pixar trailers tend to undersell their films. I like that it’s an original fairy tale, and that they’ve casted Emma Thompson as the Queen.

2. The Hobbit


I’ve been wanting to see this film (live-action, mind you…) since I first read the book. And while I’m a fan of Peter Jackson and his version of Lord of the Rings, I was really excited about Guilermo del Toro directing it. I’m curious if any of his vision will make it into the final film. On a technical level, The Hobbit is being filmed in 3-D at 48 frames-per-second, twice what films are normally filmed at; I’m excited to see how it ends up looking.

1. The Dark Knight Rises


Choosing The Dark Knight Rises over The Hobbit was a tough decision. I ended up with Christopher Nolan’s latest (lastest) in the series because it’s not a story that I’m familiar with, having not ready many comic books. (Although if I had to pick my favorite trailer of the year, it would be The Hobbit). The trailer for The Dark Knight Rises succeeds in selling the film while not spelling out what it’s about. I think a trip to the Whitaker Center IMAX in Harrisburg might be in order for this one.

Honorable Mentions: Untitled Kathryn Bigelow Project, Cloud Atlas, Moonrise Kingdom, Dark Shadows, The Cabin in the Woods

What films are YOU looking forward to the most this year?

Oscar Nomination Predictions

The 2012 Oscar nominations will be formally announced tomorrow, and these are my predictions for the films that will be nominated. This year I’m only predicting the main categories.

Best Picture
The Artist
The Help
Hugo
The Descendants
Midnight in Paris
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
War Horse

Best Director
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Terrence Malick (Tree of Life)

Best Actor
George Clooney (The Descendants)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Michael Fassbender (Shame)

Best Actress
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Viola Davis (The Help)
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin)
Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)

Best Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
Nick Nolte (Warrior)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Patton Oswalt (Young Adult)

Best Supporting Actress
Bernice Bejo (The Artist)
Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Shaileen Woodley (The Descendants)
Jessica Chastain (The Help)
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)

Adapted Screenplay
The Descendants
The Help
Moneyball
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Ides of March

Original Screenplay
The Artist
50/50
Midnight in Paris
Bridesmaids
Win, Win

The Oscar nominations will be announced at 8:30 ET.

Fall / Winter 2011

The Summer blockbuster season is over, and with the announcement that Eddie Murphy will be hosting next year, the race to the Oscars has begun.

Daniel & I are looking forward to a lot of films coming out in the next few months, and thought we’d share our individual top ten anticipated films with you.

Feel free to agree, disagree, and share your own top ten in the comments below.

DANIEL’S MOST ANTICIPATED

10. J. Edgar

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen. The list of directors he has worked with reads like an All-Star Hollywood lineup — Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, and Martin Scorsese, to name a few. Now he has a new name to add to his resume: Clint Eastwood. Eastwood showed he had a skilled hand for historical drama in 2008’s Changeling. With Oscar-winning writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk) on board for his latest work, we could be looking at another fine film from one of the greats.

9. Moneyball

We haven’t had a great baseball movie since The Rookie. The sad truth is that baseball movies are few and far between these days, but Moneyball looks to be a winner. Co-written by Aron Sorkin (The Social Network), the movie tells the story of Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane and his radical decision to use computers to draft baseball players. Co-starring Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, and the always reliable Philip Seymour Hoffman, Oscar buzz for this movie seems inevitable.

8. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

I’ve never been the biggest fan of motion capture animation, but after seeing the trailer for Spielberg’s first animated feature, I was sold. The Adventures of Tintin is something I don’t want to miss. Every frame is alive with spirited energy and overflowing with vibrant life. It’s always exciting to see directors pushing the medium forward. Who knows, maybe Spielberg will do for motion capture what Cameron did for 3D.

7. Drive

After his terrific performance in Blue Valentine last year, Ryan Gosling seems to be getting more and more roles. His latest is a man simply known as Driver, a professional Hollywood stunt driver who drives getaway cars in his spare time. After a heist goes wrong, he finds himself targeted by powerful men. Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Vahalla Rising) took home top honors for his direction on the film at Cannes and will continue to receive such praise as we head into Oscar season.

6. 50/50

Screenwriter Will Reiser tells the story of his personal diagnosis with cancer and the effect it has on himself and those close to him. With an incredible cast featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, and Bryce Dallas Howard, this mix of comedy and drama is sure to be one of the year’s best.

5. The Ides of March

George Clooney’s Good Night and Good Luck remains one of the best films of the last decade, and I’m very excited to see what he brings to the table in this year’s Ides of March. Loosely based on Howard Dean’s failed presidential campaign back in 2004, the movie explores dirty politics in a presidential campaign. Boasting one of the best ensemble casts of the year (Clooney, Gosling, Tomei, Giamatti, and more), The Ides of March is bound to be a key player in this year’s Oscar race.

4. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Gary Oldman is garnering quite a bit of Oscar buzz for his role as George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, an all-star thriller set during the Cold War. Oldman may be getting most of the buzz, but it’s the cast as a whole (Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Toby Jones, and Mark Strong to name a few) that has me really excited for this movie. After learning that a Soviet agent has embedded himself deep inside MI6, Smiley comes out of retirement to find the traitor. I don’t know much about the original novel or the British television series it inspired, but I know I’m going to see this as soon as I can.

3. The Artist

The Artist promises to be one of the most unique movie experiences this year. The year is 1927, and the arrival of talking pictures is right around the corner. This poses a problem for George Valentin, one of the kings of silent cinema. While he  deals with the changes that Hollywood is embracing, he must also confront his interest in a young dancer by the name of Peppy Miller. The movie was a huge success at Cannes, and it looks to be a personal instant favorite. The biggest attraction to this movie is that it’s filmed like a silent film, the kind that we would have seen back in Valentin’s day.

2. Hugo

Is there any genre Martin Scorsese won’t tackle? He’s done biblical drama, period pieces, romances, concert movies, documentaries, and more. Hugo, based on the beloved children’s book by Brian Selznick, is the great director’s first family-oriented film. Scorsese transports us to 1930s Paris, where we follow a young boy named Hugo and his quest to discover the mysteries left behind by his father.

I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have in the director’s chair for a proper adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. David Fincher’s work on films like Seven and Fight Club are perfect examples of why he is the right man for the job. I enjoyed the Swedish adaptation of the popular novel, but it suffered from budget constraints. I can’t wait to see what Fincher does with the material and a more appropriate budget. Its dark and haunting story might be too much for Oscar voters to handle, but it’s bound to be one of the year’s best.

 

JOSEPH’S MOST ANTICIPATED

10. Albert Nobbs


2011 is definitely a good year for strong female leads, even with Glen Close playing a woman character who dresses as a man. I’m really looking forward to her performance, which in my mind, is a follow-up to Steven Spielberg’s Hook. (Don’t believe me?)

9. My Week with Marilyn

Michelle Williams takes on the titular role of the celibritous Marilyn Monroe. Kenneth Branagh also stars, in a role envied by many a British actor, as Sir Laurence Olivier. Emma Watson, fresh off of the Harry Potter train, joins the cast as well.

8. The Rum Diary


I will admit that I haven’t seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (also based on a Hunter S. Thompson novel), but I have heard about this adaptation for many years. The hype has slowly been building in the back of my mind, and with the recently revealed trailer, it looks like this film has actually been filmed.

7. Drive



Reminding me of the genre-bending present in Hanna, Ryan Gosling stars in a film that, on paper, sounds like a knock-off of the Jason Statham vehicle, The Transporter. With that preconception in mind, the positive buzz from Cannes was confusing. The trailer for the film shows that yes, it shares the same concept, but is something else entirely (Apologies to Martin Scorsese for bumping Hugo from the list at the last minute). Also, I need to watch Bronson now.

6. The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn


I have fond memories of reading the American versions of The Adventures of TinTin, a comic book series by Belgian artist Herge. I had worries about it being translated to the big screen, but I think it’s in good hands with director Steven Spielberg. They seem to have a grasp on the overall tone and atmosphere that makes the series the period/modern/future swashbuckler that it is.

5. The Iron Lady


The theme today is performances, and The Iron Lady is no exception. I’d watch a movie starring Meryl Streep playing a woman who watches paint dry. (Paging Gus Van Sant) Streep stars as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and as usual, chameleons her character well. I’m interested to see how Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!) does directing a period film.

4. J. Edgar


Leonardo DiCaprio has an impressive track record for quality acting, and has been busy for the last several years. His latest performance, as J. Edgar Hoover, teams him up with director Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) and writer Dustin Lance Black (Milk). If this isn’t a recipe for a road to the Oscars, I don’t know what is.

3. Moneyball


I love a good game of baseball, but as a spectator sport, I’d rather watch golf. So why, out of all the films coming out this year, would I want to watch this? Director Bennett Miller, writer Aaron Sorkin, and actors Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman (woefully absent from the trailers), and Jonah Hill (hoping he does well in a non-comedic role).

2. War Horse


While at times sounding more like Lassy than Gone With the Wind, I’m excited about the latest from Steven Spielberg. (I loved Munich and enjoyed Crystal Skull) The story sounds moving, epic, and judging from the trailer, looks gorgeous. It stars David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Tom Hiddleston, and newcomer Jeremy Irvine in the lead role.

 

1. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy


This movie looks fantastic, plain and simple. Tomas Alfredson, who directed the magnificent Let the Right One In in 2008, returns with a film set during the Cole War. Alfredson has proved his skill in subtlety and atmosphere, and has surrounded himself with a steller cast, including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Mark Strong, Cieran Hinds…the list goes on. Watch out for this one.

 

Weekend Warrior: The Apes Change It Up

 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Written by: Rick Jaffa / Amanda Silver
Starring: James Franco / Andy Serkis / Freida Pinto

The Consensus: Rotten Tomatoes: 88% Meta Critic: N/A

Negative Take:

I realise that action movies aren’t meant to be realistic but these characters needed to be far more interesting and believable if they were going to draw me in.

Matthew Toomey (The Film Pie)

Positive Take:

Audacious, violent and disquieting, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a summer sequel that’s better than it has any right to be. This movie about how the apes rose up against the humans who would trap them, cage them and use them in medical experiments is a stunning job of back-engineering the familiar “Planet of the Apes” story and another leap forward in performance capture animation.

Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel)

The Change-Up
Directed by: David Dobkin
Written by: Jon Lucas / Scott Moore
Starring: Jason Bateman / Ryan Reynolds / Olivia Wilde / Leslie Mann

The Consensus: Rotten Tomatoes: 35% Meta Critic: 49

Negative Take:

While the reliable Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman wring some laughs from a creaky but durable setup, playing polar-opposite buddies who find themselves by stepping outside themselves, the script takes R-rated gross-out humor to such forced extremes that its later bid for sentimental sweetness feels disingenuous and unearned.

Justin Chang (Variety)

Positive Take:

The idea’s old as the hills — wisdom won by literally walking in someone else’s shoes — and often the gross-out humor in “The Change Up” seems designed specifically for adolescents. But for the love of Peter Pan, stifle your inner censor and give this half-smart, deliciously transgressive mess of a movie a chance.

Kat Murphy (MSN Movies)

Let us know what YOU thought in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Howl

Howl
Directed by: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
Written by: Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman
Starring: James Franco / David Strathairn / Jon Hamm

Written and directed by documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, Howl is a special kind of movie that espouses different filmic styles. The first ten minutes of the film set up the groundwork for the rest of the story, opening on a black-and-white scene where Allen Ginsberg (James Franco) reads the opening lines from the nominal poem in a dusky building to a rapt audience of his peers. After the line “floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz” we transition to kinetic, jazzy opening credits.

We then cut to an interview with Allen Ginsberg, this time in color, followed by the court case regarding the obscenity in his poetry in 1957. After that we jump back two years to a black-and-white Ginsberg intently typing on a typewriter, which transitions into another animated sequence, where his letters become musical notes. The opening lines of the poem are again heard, this time accompanied by an animated sequence inspired by graphic artist Eric Drooker, which attempts to bring Ginsberg’s poetry to life.

This combination of documentary, narrative, and animated styles work well as individual pieces, but are inharmonious as a whole. Epstein and Freiedman excel in their documentary look, for sure, but also during the court case. While a considerable amount of time is focused on Allen Ginsberg’s life as it pertains to his writing, Howl is not a biopic. It’s more focused on the poem itself, and the censoring of art, which it is most known for. The court case, which is at the heart of the story, is a great example of the director’s ability to make the mundane intriguing, especially with the back-and-forth between David Strathairn (Prosecution) and Jon Hamm (Defense).

During the court case, many literary critics are brought to the stand and questioned about the literary qualities of Howl, and it’s staying effect. When one critic is asked by Strathairn, “Do you understand what ‘angel-headed hipsters yearning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night’ means?”, he replies with a brilliant line: “Sir, you can’t translate poetry into prose. That’s why it is poetry.” Coupled with the animated sequences used throughout the film, I couldn’t help but notice the irony of this interaction.

The animation is well done, but doesn’t belong in a film about poetry, especially one that is defended in court in this manner. James Franco’s performance as Allen Ginsberg is incredible in the way he delivers the lines from Howl. There is an energy and excitement behind every word. I love the scene near the end of the film where Ginsberg reads the “I’m with you in Rockland” portion from Howl. Franco’s reading is emotionally sparked, and is one of the finest scenes in the film. The animated sequence of this reading that was shown earlier doesn’t carry the same weight. The viewer is shown images rather than getting caught up in the rhythm, the words, and the performance. As Ginsberg says during his interview, “Poetry is a rhythmic articulation of feeling.”

It’s a feeling that begins in the pit of the stomach and rises up through the breast, and out the mouth, and…and it comes forth as a croon or a groan or a sign. So you try to put words to that by looking around you and trying to describe that’s making you sigh, to sigh in a way, you simply articulate what you feel.

Allen Ginsberg