Barry's Beowulf Highlights from the Comic-Con Preview


The hugely anticipated first look Paramount provided at Comic-Con this past week for their fall centerpiece, Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf, provided a mixed, if promising experience. A packed auditorium found bulky but not altogether unfashionable black glasses on every seat, which, initially made us think perhaps Paramount was trying to bring Blues Brothers shades back into style.


 Posted on August 1 in Comic-Con 07, Editorial, Hype | 1 Comment

Film Retrospect - Summer of '97: Contact

Around this time ten years ago, Men in Black was getting the most of the attention from moviegoers and became the biggest hit of the summer. Considering how funny, stylish, entertaining and (most importantly) crowd pleasing MIB is, the film's immense popularity wasn't surprising. Yet, Robert Zemeckis' Contact, a film that carried twice the hype, appeared a few weeks later and became one of the year's most discussed works.


 Posted on July 20 in Film Retrospect | 5 Comments

Film Retrospect: The Lost Boys

The Lost Boys PosterIf all had gone as planned, The Lost Boys may have ended up a very different film. As most die hard, Honorary Frog Brothers know, Richard Donner was originally going to direct this film. Coming off the success of The Goonies, Donner was fashioning The Lost Boys as a thematically similar, kid-friendly adventure, pitting child vampires against The Frog Brothers (one of the few characters that survived the first draft and made it into the final version). The pre-production went on too long and Donner decided to jump ship and make Lethal Weapon instead. Rather than junk Lost Boys, it ended up in the hands of a promising new director named Joel Schumacher and Donner became the producer instead. With his noted eye for style, Schumacher re-imagined the piece as a sexy, scary teen thriller, flush with comic elements and an MTV-ready style. A new screenplay was prepared, filming took place mostly in Santa Cruz, California and the summer of 1987 saw the release of a genre classic.


 Posted on July 15 in Film Retrospect | 7 Comments

Director Spotlight: Michael Bay

Michael BayThere's a moment in Bad Boys II that completely captures the essence of what makes a Michael Bay movie. For reasons that are too elaborate to explain, Martin Lawrence and Will Smith are behind the wheel of a car and a bunch of dislodged automobiles are being hurled at them as they drive at a speed even Paris Hilton could appreciate. The golden moment is when we see a car fly past Lawrence, missing his head by mere inches and he gives out an enthusiastic "woo!" This unabashedly over-the-top, logic-free, stupid and utterly cool visual is pure Bay, in that it offers audiences a wild kick and demonstrates just how far Bay will go to give his audience a good time.


 Posted on July 9 in Director Spotlight | 1 Comment

Film Retrospect - Summer of '97: Speed 2: Cruise Control

The problem with failed sequels is that a) they kill a potentially lucrative franchise and end a successful run for their studios and, most importantly, b) they hinder your fond memories of the original. Many critics griped about the sequels to Chinatown, Terms of Endearment and The Last Picture Show, saying that they (being The Two Jakes, The Evening Star and Texasville respectfully) came too late, weren't as good as the originals and were uninspired. I liked all three films for very different reasons, but the criticisms made toward them were valid and their disastrous runs at the box office hurt audiences overall view of them. With Speed 2: Cruise Control, things looked odd from the get go.


 Posted on July 7 in Film Retrospect | 1 Comment

The Betting Table: Summer Edition - This Week: Live Free or Die Hard

Welcome to The Betting Table, a look at the weekend's theatrical fare and a place where you can place your bets on what will swim and what will sink.

John McClane is back! Bruce Willis returns to his most famous character, in a lavish action/adventure directed by Len Wiseman (the Underworld series) and co-starring Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, fan-favorite Mary Elisabeth Winstead and some guy named Kevin Smith.


 Posted on June 29 in Betting Table | 1 Comment

Barry's Ode to John Cusack

John CusackThe seemingly effortless, natural approach John Cusack brings to his roles is both a familiar stock in trade and part of what makes him such a delight to watch. His onscreen persona (quirky, insecure, and utterly likeable) can be witnessed in his most famous films, like Say Anything and High Fidelity, but really, the guy never seems to be acting at all. Only in certain films like Cradle Will Rock (where he played Nelson Rockefeller) or the bizarre, brilliant Being John Malkovich, do we see him embody roles outside of audience expectations (and wonderfully, at that). Yet, his unpretentious, from-the-hip acting style conceals what a gifted, thoughtful performer he is. Cusack makes his dialogue sound like spontaneous bursts of thought and not the carefully scripted dialogue it is and he has proven to be believable in nearly every genre of film.

With the release of 1408 (which has already been acclaimed as one of his best performances), let's look at Cusack's finest hours, his few unsuccessful films and the gems you may not have seen.


 Posted on June 24 in Editorial, Hype, Opinions | 14 Comments

The Betting Table: Summer Edition - This Week: 1408

Welcome to The Betting Table, a look at the weekend's theatrical fare and a place where you can place your bets on what will swim and what will sink.

Based on a short story from Stephen King (from "Everything's Eventual"), John Cusack plays the skeptic who checks into a haunted hotel room and Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of reason who tries to talk him out of it.


 Posted on June 22 in Betting Table | 2 Comments

Film Retrospect: Joe Dante's Innerspace

Die-hard film buffs know the name Joe Dante well. This is a man who loves movies, comes from the legandary Roger Corman school of B-movie know-how (the same as James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Jack Nicholson, among others), gleefully ads sly in-jokes in every one of his movies and always has a part for B-movie Grandmaster Thespian Dick Miller in everything he directs. This is a filmmaker whose joy in front of the camera matches the fun he creates in front of the lens and the fact that he remains underrated and underappreciated by Hollywood is a mystery and a shame.


 Posted on June 21 in Film Retrospect | 3 Comments

Film Retrospect - Summer of '97: Breakdown

Breakdown PosterAbout four years ago, I lost my wife. You read that right - I couldn't find her. At all. We were engaged at the time and had set a date for the movies (Secret Window was the film we chose to see together that night, I recall). We had set up a place to meet after work, only at 5:00, she didn't show. Neither of us had cell phones at the time, but I had a pocket full of quarters, so I called her at work - "she already left", someone told me. I called a few of her friends and they didn't know where she was either. I drove over to her parent's house - they hadn't seen her and thought she was with me. I smiled and politely thanked them, masking my growing feelings of unease. I drove back to the place we were designated to meet… not there. I began to wonder if she ran an errand or simply forgot. About 30 minutes after we were supposed to hook up, she was still a no-show (this was highly unlike her) and some truly paranoid musings began to take hold of me. I wondered if she was hurt, or trapped somewhere or, most likely, kidnapped.


 Posted on June 17 in Film Retrospect | 1 Comment

The Betting Table: Summer Edition - This Week: Fantastic Four 2

Welcome to The Betting Table, a look at the weekend's theatrical fare and a place where you can place your bets on what will swim and what will sink.

Jessica Alba… and three other people from the 2005 blockbuster, Fantastic Four, are back, along with director Tim Story. Comic book fave the Silver Surfer is both the protagonist and antagonist (that’s good guy/bad guy, in layman's terms), along with Julian McMahon returning as Dr. Doom.


 Posted on June 16 in Betting Table | 1 Comment

Director Spotlight: Steven Soderbergh

Steven SoderberghLike Richard Linklater, here is an American director who has pushed cinema past the realms of the normal. Both a celebrated art house director and a maker of commercial, crowd pleasing hits, Steven Soderbergh has gone back and forth into the mainstream, creating films that are stunning in their technical and intellectual brilliance. His love of varying directors, complex narratives and wildly versatile screenplays has lead to films that some have complained are pretentious and emotionally cold. Yet, nearly every one of his films are better, richer experiences upon second glance and his ability to extract great performances from his actors, create a specific visual style for each of his films and craft a style and tone that changes from each project, make him one of the most interesting and important directors working today.


 Posted on June 11 in Director Spotlight | 3 Comments



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