Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Scorsese hasn't Departed DiCaprio


After Titanic, it seemed as though Kate Winslet was in and Leonardo DiCaprio was out. Yet Di Caprio is very fortunate that Martin Scorsese has embraced him. Leonardo has been fortunate to get top billing in Scorsese's most recent big-films, Gangs of New York(2002) and the Avaiator (2004).

And Leonardo DiCaprio gets another lucky shot to be the lead in Martin Scorsese's big project coming out this year (October 6) called The Departed.

The film (apprently based on the 2002 Hong Kong hit Internal Affairs) and deals with the Boston State Police Department's rivalry with a strong Irish-American gang.

Apparently the Boston PD sends a mole to join the Irish gang and the Irish gang sends a mole to join the Boston PD. Violence follows.

The Departed has a star studded cast: Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, and as mentioned, Leonardo DiCaprio.

With it's dark feel, strong cast, and Massachusettes setting t makes me think of Eastwood's film Mystic River. Could this film even begin to be as good as Mystic River? Will Leonardo be getting his 3rd academy award nomination this year? It seems like Matt Damon has a better shot at getting his 2nd acting nomination. And you can never count out Jack Nicholson. And above all, Martin Scorsese will surely get some attention award season, although certainly it won't be with this project that he will win his first Oscar.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

X-Men: The Last Stand - The Juggernaut Error

warning: x-men 3 spoilers within this post
I recently learned from a friend about a liberty that the writer took with the character of Juggernaut in X-Men: The Last Stand.
Cain Marko (Juggernaut) is not a mutant, rather he is Dr. Charles Xavier's human step-brother who received his powers of force, unpenetratable skin and unstoppability through a mystic gem.

This character issue would not be an issue if it were not for the fact that in the presence of Jimmy/Leech, Juggernaut looses all of his powers. Yet only the X-gene of mutants should be surpressed not Juggernaut's supernatural powers. In which case Leach and Kitty Pryde should not have been able to escape as they did.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

2006 Cannes Film Festival Winners


Despite all the great reviews and buzz for Volver (by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar) and Babel (by Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu), the film that won the Golden Palm this year at Cannes festival is The Wind That Shakes the Barley directed by Ken Loach.

Loach's film deals with the Irish fight for independence in the 1920's and stars Padraic Delaney and Cillian Murphy (pictured right...you may remember Cillian Murphy as Jackson Rippner from Red Eye or Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow in last years Batman Begins)

Palm D'Or (aka the Gold Medal): The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Grand Prix (aka the Silver Medal): Flandres

Prix du Jury(aka the Bronze Medal): Red Road

Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Babel


Best Actor(s): Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Roschdy Zem, Sami Bouajila, Bernard Blancan -Days of Glory

Best Actress(es): Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo, Chus Lampreave - Volver

Best Screenplay: Pedro Almodovar - Volver

My pre-Cannes post is here: Cannes Film Festival Soon To Begin

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An Open Letter to Dan Brown (author of the Da Vinci Code)

(Warning: In this letter I will speak of various aspects of The Da Vinci Code...if you have not seen the movie and do not want to be influenced by this piece, please do not read it, it may/will contain spoilers)

Dear Mr. Dan Brown:

I have a confression. I haven't yet read your best seller. I know that about 1 in 3 adult americans have, but not me. It's not that I don't read, it's just I sometimes avoid the best sellers like that, they're just not my thing.

But I'm interested in spiritual discussions and I love movies and so I was very curious to see how Ron Howard would direct this very popular and controversial book and see what it was all about.

I thought the movie was very entertaining. I liked it more than my wife. She found it very goofy and not realistic. But I thought it was fun and suspenseful and I loved all the different historical elements and ideas you pulled into the story. In fact I don't think the movie is as rotten as the critics have said.

I'm impressed with all the different historical events and places you tie in to your book, Dan. You obviously are very smart and did a great deal of research to make such an intellegent thriller.

And you're a bright guy and I'm sure you were aware of many of the instances where you twisted factual information to fit the ideas and story you were writing. (You would not believe how many searches I have coming to this sight for information on the number of panes of glass the louvre pyramid contains.)

(I'm surprised Percival was never mentioned in the movie because I don't see how the grail legend could be mentioned without the mention of Percival and the arthurian tie-in. Maybe it was in the book.)

Churches and universities have preached sermons, held seminars and special events to talk about errors in your book. Historians, theologians, and art guru's want to correct the factual wrongs presented in your story.

But of course as to be expected Christians spoke up the most in offense. And some of their concern was founded because your falsified information and theories are almost believable. It takes either strong faith, intellengence, or intellectual resources to realize that you've done nothing more than right and fun and fast paced adventure story.

And I hope people don't believe the Da Vinci Code any more than they'd believe the ideas proposed in the movie National Treasure. And Mr. Brown, I know people will try to guess at your thoughts and intentions on writing this story, but I don't know you so I can't begin to judge your motives. I hope your intentions were motivated for entertainment and not to create doubt and damage the faith of believers.

I didn't really like some of the themes of your story that I saw in the movie. I felt like you minimalized God, saying that humanity is in itself devine, and that structured religion is nothing more than a farse that allows our society to have hope and faith.

I have no ill-will towards you because of this story and hope that Christians have not condemned you or shown you hate because of your artistic expression. I believe God is bigger than your story and while I will speak the truth of God I will not waste my energy fighting against you or your work.

Best of luck,

RC

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Hugh Jackman's Shot to Break Free to New Genres


Before X-men Hugh Jackman certainly wasn't a name most people recognized. But now that Hugh Jackman has had the chance to get the attention of audiences as Wolverine, the question seems to be that with X-Men: The Last Stand ending the three film series, can Jackman burst free from the franchise and image that comes with the Logan and Van Helsing image?

2006 could be Jackman's year to break free if he wants to.

Hugh Jackman gets a shot in Woody Allen's non-New York film Scoop costaring Jackman and Scarlett Johansson (who got some attention in Woody Allen's 2005 film Match Point).

Hugh Jackman gets a shot in Christopher Nolan's (Memento, Batman Begins) new film The Prestige. This film about competing magicians (Jackson and Christian Bale). This film is also set in London and Scarlett Johansson also has a role in this film.

Hugh Jackman gets a shot in Darren Arenofsky's (Requim for a Dream, Pi) new film The Fountain. Rachel Weisz is Jackman's co-star.

And then Hugh Jackman gets to lend his voice talents in Happy Feet (Animated March of the Penguins with an Emperor Penguin who can't swim) and Flushed Away (It's Finding Nemo in reverse with Rats getting flushed to the sewers of...you guessed it, London).

And yet if being under the direction of greats like Woody Allen, Christopher Nolan and Darren Arenofsky...then maybe Jackman is wise to return to his X-Men success with a Wolverine spinoff (at this point named Wolverine)...but if there's any success with these films...come on Hugh...say peace out the x-men.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Say What? TCU's new web pictures


TCU (Fort Worth, TX) just launched an updated webpage....which is good becaues they also updated the pictures (which were pretty old)...so i was pushing refresh I suddenly got this picture above.

Leave a caption to go along with the picture of these science partners.

My caption: Mix up your own love motion #9 in the science lab.

Web update? I see the new web page on my screen but my friend Jonathan sees the old webpage with the old pictures...I do not understand?
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The Muffin Men and their Famous Counterparts

Follow up to my post last week:Do You Know The Muffin Man?

The two teens involved have been caught and are behind bars. Joey Tellini and Jan Walker, both 18 are in prison for lacing muffins with marijuana at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas last week.

Both are accused of five counts of assault on a public servant, which could result in up to 10 years in prison if convicted. (I guess they'd have been better off if they had given these muffins to a friend, mechanic or vetrinarian. Because they are teachers the charges are worse).

None of the charges YET are for the drugs that were used.

In honor of this event...
Recent Movies Prisoners:
(previously we had movies about food)

Denzel Washington as Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter in The Hurricane,
Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey in The Green Mile,
Sean Penn as Matthew Poncelet in Dead Man Walking,
Clifton Collins Jr. as Perry Edward Smith in Capote,
Kevin Space as David Gale in The Life of David Gale,
Kevin Space (Verbal), Gabriel Bryne, Stephen Baldwin, Benicio Del Toro, Kevin Pollack as the Villains in The Usual Suspects.

Can You Think of some more famous movie prisoners?

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

4 Movie Tidbits

The the december movie "Nativity" has a name change...it's now going to be called The Nativity Story (check out more information about this movie in my post here). (via)

Apparently Sofia Coppola's Marie-Antoinette is not Cannes film festivals shining star. In fact it appears the film has even been booed. Coppola's follow up the Lost in Translation apparently is not the critical success some had expected. (previous post on the film and the Cannes Film festival can be found here) (picture of Sofia Coppola, right, from The Age)

Sony is following up The Da Vinci Code with Dan Brown's first novel Angels and Demons. Da Vinci Code Producers Brian Grazer and John Calley as well as screenwriter Akiva Goldsman are attached to this new project. (via)

Apparently there is serious talk about making The X-Files 2. According to scifi.com in an interview with writer Frank Spotnitz. David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson sound like they are attached for this picture. (The orignal came out in 1998).

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Monday, May 22, 2006

2005's Best Film Portrayl of Love and Grace

"In my vanity,
I thought I could
make you love me
and one can not
do that
or should not. "
--John Rolfe in The New World (played by Christian Bale)


I finally saw Terrence Malick's great film The New World. I was a little surprised how little buzz this film got when it came out and that it failed to pick up more than it's one academy award nomination (Cinemotography), especially after Terrance Malick's sucess with the film The Thin Red Line (with it's 7 nominations and of course it's all star cast: Nick Nolte, James Caviezel, John Travolta, John C. Rielly, Sean Penn, Adrian Brody, Jared Leto, Woody Harrelson, et al.)

Yet I can see how this film would not be "main stream" with the way it takes the time to tell it's story using beautiful imagry which are far more important than the words that are said.

And while I would not recommend this film about John Smith and Pocahontas to everyone (mainly for it's pacing)...I think that this film has one of the most beautiful portrayls of love and grace in the character of John Rolfe (Christian Bale). If there was a film award for a portrayl of love and graciousness, Christian Bale would have won it hands down.

Side Note: Colin Farrell was not annoying like I thought he might be, and young star Q'Orianka Kilcher was absolutly wonderful...I hope she gets more complex roles like this one.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Is Da Vinci Code a Titanic

Some people may have hoped that The Da Vinci Code would sink like the Titanic not succeed like James Cameron's film Titanic.
Estimated Box office numbers are in and this weekends box office saw the Da Vinci Code getting an estimated 77 million dollars, Over the Hedge $37 million and Mission: Impossible III with $11 million (M:I III's 3rd week so far $103 million).

I think 77 million can be counted as a huge success for Ron Howard Sony. This is by far Tom Hank's biggest opener (in second is Saving Private Ryan $30.5 million opening weekend). And this is Ron Howard's biggest opener (in second is Dr. Suess' How the Grinch Stole Christmas with just over $55 million).

This made me wonder? Could Da Vinci Code top Titanic's record for the highest grossing movie ever...so I did some basic research.

When Paramount released Titanic December 19, 1997 it made $28.6 million it's opening weekend and was the number 1 film for 15 different weekends.

Bad causality would suggest that Da Vinci Code is in good shape with $77 million opening vs. $28.6 million Titanic earned.

Yet I think Da Vinci Code will be successful but will not become the #1 grossing domestic film all time.

Titanic's Upper Hand:

Better Critical Success: Titanic's critical reviews were glowing...Rottentomatoes.com reports an 86% fresh rating for Titanic compared to Da Vinci Code's 21% fresh rating.

More Teen Support: Teens (especially females) got behind Titanic seeing it in theaters multiple, multiple times (3, 6, 9...who's counting) and they're the ones with the disposable income.

No Anti-Campaigning: There was no boycott's that I can remember of any signifcance w/ Titanic (I remember some people were off-put by the steamy car scene, but otherwise not a controversial film).

Award Buzz: Titanic was getting nominations and winning awards while the film was still in theaters. (not to mention all the academy award nominations and wins...see James Cameron's picture with his award)

Less Movie Piracy: Films made available by illegal activities are more prolific now than 9 years ago.

***There is no way that Da Vinci Code could have 15 #1 weekends...I just can't see it. The fans of the books are itching to see the film adaptation and will fill theaters for the first couple weekends and the curious non-readers will catch it to and bring their friends...but fifteen weeks and 600 million...I can't see it happening.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Pier 1 Product Placement

I've recently become aware of Pier 1 Imports financials financial woes. If pier 1 was thinking like Aaron Eckhart's character in Thank You For Smoking than Pier 1 would be looking for product placement opportunities for some of their well known wicker furniture.

I've decided to help out Pier 1 myself with some hot summer movies. Pier 1, please inquire about where you can send my check for these services rendered.

As you see the beautiful outdoor Mandarin Bench (item #2024621) was on set with Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth in the upcoming film Superman Returns.


Maybe you didn't notice this in the film if you saw it this weekend, but this fine akira 7 drawer chest (item #2074581) can be seen in the Da Vinci Code.


Although the agressive campaign by Pier 1 wanted Dr. Xavier (Patrick Stewart) to be riding a wicker wheel-chair but the patent is still pending so Pier 1 accepted the placement of this modest St. Simons Armchair (Item #1914312) in X-Men 3:The Last Stand.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Why We Are Not Yet Ready for Children

Suspect Apprehended for Possible Plant Slaughter
At 5:45 Thursday night the owner of this plant remembered that she had left the plant in the car unattended for an hour and a half.

The temperature was 97 degrees and not a single window was cracked.

The suspect responded "I'm not used to having a plant in my car." As if that was an acceptable excuse.

There are currently no other subject in the plant's death, the suspect believes that in time the victim can be revived.

She is currently facing charges for negligence with possible future charges for involuntary plant slaughter if the victim does not recover.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Update: Da Vinci Movie, Aras, Muffins & Nepotism

Any of my past 10 post that contain the word "Da Vinci Code"
Check out Rottentomatoes.com's Da Vinci Code reviews...currently with 16 reviews coming in only Lou Lumenick of the New York Post has given the film a positive review...making the film currently only 6% fresh...I imagine it will go up as more online critics join the scene...but yikes...that's not good for Da Vinci fans, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Dan Brown or Sony.

Of the 9 reviews so far for Over The Hedge also coming out this weekend, the rating is 78%. This can only help the Othercott coordinated by Barb Nicolosi.

Survivor 12- Panama - Exile Island Prediction
I ultimatly picked Bruce Kenagai to win this season...but here is a quote from my Febuary 1st Preshow predictions: "I think that the winner of Survivor 12 - Panama - Exile Island will be Aras, Bruce, Bobby or Sally." And there you have it Aras Baskauskas did win. (Although there's always a money winner and "real winner" obviously this year is Cirie Fields...a friend of mine suggested that Cirie would be a great host of the View.)

Open Letter to Paul Greengrass (director of United 93)
Matthew Englander in the comments refered to another 9/11 film: "Wasn't there a Hollywood film a couple of years ago about a firefighter who had to give a eulogy for his colleagues who died at the WTC, and hires a woman to write it for him and then falls in love with her? I remember seeing trailers for it but don't know the title. I just mention it because unless it's a figment of my imagination, that was really the first theatrical film about 9/11. " I never saw Ladder 49 with Jaoquin Pheonix and John Travolta, but I think this might be the film your refering to.

Do You Know The Muffin Man?
Fact: The School (Lake Highland High School) lost power The morning after (Wednesday) and had to cancel classes.
Fact: An 86-year-old woman who worked at the school was hospitalized overnight, and was released Wednesday from Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas

Cannes Film Festival Soon To Begin
Thanks Agustus on the good information about Jason Schwarztman being the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola (thus a Sofia Coppola's cousin) this obviously could have helped his chances being cast as French royalty is Sofia's new movie Marie-Antoinette.

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About Food and Not About Food

Thinking about the muffin man I began to make a mental list today of movies with a central theme of food. Then I started thinking of movies that have very little or nothing to do with food but with titles that make the movies sound like they should be about food.

Movies With A Central Theme of Food:
* Chocolat (Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp)
* Babette's Feast (1988 best foreign film Denmark)
* Willy Wonka and The Choclate Factory (Gene Wilder)
* Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (Johnny Depp)
* Eat Drink Man Woman (Ang Lee's 1994 film from Taiwan)
* Tortilla Soup (2001 film that's EXACTLY the same as Eat Drink Man Woman, but this time with a Mexican-American family)
* Ulee's Gold (Peter Fonda...umm...honey)
* James and the Giant Peach (not really about food but it is the primary setting)
* Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Begman pic)


Movies That Sound Like they could be about food but are not:
The Constant Gardener, Jarhead, Vanilla Sky, Punch Drunk Love, Cheaper by the Dozen, Big Fish, Chicken Run, Jawbreaker, Pi, A Cool Dry Place, Nutty Professor, Milk Money, Lorenzo's Oil, Fried Green Tomatoes, The Breakfast Club, Grease, Jaws, A Clockwork Orange, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Breakfast at Tiffanys, Duck Soup.

Kar Wai Wong acclaimed director/screenwriter of the films In The Mood for Love and 2046 (and head of this years Cannes film festival jury) is working on a new project called My Blueberry Nights...I wonder which catagory this film falls into?

Feel free to add to either of these list with a comment below.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Do You Know The Muffin Man?


Fact: 18 High School Teachers at Lake Highland High School in Dallas Get Sick (Richardson school district)
Fact: The 18 staff members ate muffins out of brightly colored boxes
Fact: 5 uneaten boxes of muffins were turned over to the police
Fact: The FBI Was called in to investigate the contents of the muffins for chemical and biological tampering.
Fact: It is presumed that the muffins either contained Marijuana, Benadryl, or a similar anti-histamine.
Fact: It is believed a male in late teens or early 20s delivered the muffins.

Do you know the muffin man?

Image from here.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Cannes Film Festival Soon To Begin

Cannes Film Festival is about to begin in Cannes, France (May 17th-May 28th).

A couple thoughts:

Why is Samuel L. Jackson representing the USA on the 9 people jury? (Last year it was author Toni Morrison...and I kind of feel like Jackson and Morrison would vote on different films).

Every time I see a picture from the film Babel I think it looks like George Clooney more than Brad Pitt...maybe it's just me? (See picture above)

Last year of all 22 films A History of Violence was the only Cannes Film to get any academy award nominations. Yet some films still had there own success like the French film Cache (with numerous other awards) and Sin City which made over 70 million in US Theaters and is currently ranked on imdb.com has the 60th best movie of all time...what movies will have post-Cannes success this year?

The big movie people are talking about pre-Cannes seems to be Sofia Coppola's most recent effort Marie-Antoinette. This movie seems a lot like a Meroirs of a Geisha to me...I expect a lot of estrogen, and I really don't want Kristen Dunst to get an academy award nomination...let her stick with nominations for the Saturn Awards (The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror) for which she's been nominated 3 times (Interview with the Vampire, Jumanji and Spider-Man).

Also speaking of Marie Antoinette...how did Jason Schwarztman get cast as a the French King, King Louis XVI?

Richard Linklater has a big year with the artistic sci-fi film A Scanner Darkly and Fast Food Nation...a film playing at Cannes this year based on Eric Schlosser's best selling non-fiction book. Is this ensemble piece do with fast food what Crash did with racial prejudice?

I wonder if Pedro Almodovar will garner as much recognition as he did for the bizarre coma-film Hable Con Ella with his new film Volver premiering at Cannes.

For a list of the films in the 2006 competion is here.

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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Unfortunate

Went to my sister's college graduation yesterday in Colorado...and I felt very sorry for one of the graduates an interior design major named:
Katrina Storm.

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Update: Church Building Community Swimming Pool

In February I posted about a four year-old church (Harvest Church in Billings, MT) planning to building a community swimming pool.

I recently e-mailed Harvest Church and got a response from Ben Kerns about the status of the project. Here's the details:

As far as an update, we don’t have that much new to report.

We are one year in on a three year commitment that families from our congregation made to help raise money for our project that we call “Raise The Water”. We delayed the construction because of the extreme rise in construction cost over the last 9 months. We are still moving forward on the project and will break ground as soon as the necessary funds are in.

Not only is our congregation giving to the project but we are also pursuing appropriations and grants that may be available to us.

Thanks
Ben Kerns
Executive Pastor
Harvest Church







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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

No More Disney Toys in Your Obesity Enducing Happy Meal


Heard the news: Disney and McDonalds are ending their business relationship.

A recent BBC article claims that the the reason McDonald's & Disney are ending their 10 year relationship is because of economic reasons not because of obesity issues. The last paragraph of the article says:

"Obesity is now a growing political issue in the US, home to the highest number of obese people in the world. "

What does this sentence have to do with McDonald's or Disney?

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Steve Carell sporting the Noah in Evan Almighty

Who knew there would ever be a sequel to Bruce Almighty?

USA Today has the first images I've seen of Steve Carell (The Office, Forty Year Old Virgin) playing a modern day Noah in Evan Almighty.

The film is do out in 2007 with Morgan Freeman is reprising his role as God.

(via: film chat blog)

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Four Dawson's Creekes Today

Of the original four Dawson's Creek characters (James Van der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson & Michelle Williams) all the actors have had a chance to hit the silver screen at one point or another.

I always thought that Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson would be the two starlets to make the conversion.

Katie Holmes has had some great opportunities for "serious roles" in films namely Go, Wonderboys, Pieces of April, Batman Begins and now Thank You For Smoking. (Holmes was poorly cast for the role of Heather Halloway in Thank You For Smoking, but that's not neccesarily her fault).

But you've got to wonder if in the same way that Tom Cruise's scientology obsession and tabloid garabage is going to keep Holmes from getting good parts? (It's believed that tabloid fodder has hurt Mission: Impossible III's success). If it's hurting Tom it's got hurt Katie too, right?

But obviously Holmes has had her day in the sun...and it'll surely continue. But so far the other Dawson's Creeker who I thought would "make it" hasn't since the show went off the air in 2003.

Joshua Jackson had the most early success with the Might Ducks trilogy...then Cruel Intentions, Apt Pupil, Urban Legend and The Skulls...he seemed perfect for Teen Star success story...but everything else since has been small and unnoticed. (He does have a role in Emilio Estevez's project Bobby I briefly mentioned in this article about Linday Lohan. But it's hard to tell if the role has any wieght.)

James Van Der Beek's shining moment had to be Varsity Blues, but otherwise he looks like he has downsyndrome and so I don't expect to hear his name for anything that significant (for his next project he's headlining in a horror film called The Plague.)
I
Michelle Williams...now this is the true story. It's still wierd to me that just a few years after Dawson's Creek goes off the error that Michelle Williams is now considered "Academy-Award Nominee Michelle Williams." And it's odd that she could potentially be the most famous actor to come off the show. Who would have thought it.

This all comes with the news that Michelle Williams will be one of the voice over talents in the 2007 film Where the Wild Things Are. Okay, I know this is a kid's movie, what's the big woop, Joshaua Jackson had a voice role in the cartoon "Racing Stripes."

But this is certainly not Racing Stripes. This adaptation of Maurice Sendak's children's story is being directed by Spike Jonze, the former MTV music video guy who bumped his film-guy stock when he directed Being John Malkovich and Adaptation (Jonze is lucky to have the opportunity to direct Charlie Kaufman's works).

Where the Wild Things Are already has a power cast with voice over work Benicio del Toro, Forrest Whitiker, Catherine O'Hara and now Michelle Williams! Also two time academy award nominess (Being John Malkovich and Capote) Katherine Keener is the only "live" character announced yet...the boy has not been announced.

Kind of crazy how this cast of a WB teen drama would be thrown so many opportunities.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

United 93: 20% played themselves & 31% played on Law & Order

There are 71 cast members for United 93 listed on imdb.com

of those, 14 were playing themselves

also, 22 actors who has appeared on at least one Law & Order episode (Special Victims Unit, Criminal Intent, Prime, Trial By Jury):

Polly Adams
Opal Alladin
Starla Benford
Nancy McDoniel
David Alan Basche
Richard Bekins
Susan Blommaert
Liza Colón-Zayas
Trieste Kelly Dunn
Kate Jennings Grant
Peter Hermann
Marceline Hugot
Joe Jamrog
Becky London
Jodie Lynne McClintock
Tom O'Rourke
John Rothman
Daniel Sauli
Rebecca Schull
Chip Zien
John Moraitis
Bill Walsh

also, of the 5 casting directors none of them appear to have had anything to do in the past with Law and Order...very interesting?

My open letter to director Paul Greengrass can be found here.

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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Open Letter to Paul Greengrass (director of United 93)

(Warning: In this letter I will speak of various aspects of United 93...if you have not seen the movie and do not want to be influenced by this piece, please do not read it, it may/will contain spoilers)

Dear Mr. Paul Greengrass:

I was very curious about how your film United 93 would turn out as soon as heard about it.

Obviously Paul (do you mind if I just call you Paul?) there was a lot of talk about the film and many people were critical of the thought of a movie about 9/11 coming out so soon.

Some people said that they would "pass on the movie because they already knew the ending." But just because we know the ending does that mean we don't see it, it certainly didn't stop people from seeing Titanic.

And yet, I'm sure you were aware of all these things when you made United 93 and I think it says something that you were able to make a film about the tradgedy that was honest and families of victims could appreciate.

When it came to writing, my teachers always said "Show, don't Tell." And I think that's exactly what you did in the film. First of all Paul, I really liked how there was very little dialogue in the film, just the visuals and pacing that you tried to create in this film. When the characters were sitting at the airport I too felt like I was at the airport, when they were flying, I too could imagine being on the plane. The people looked like people I'd see on a flight or in the airport and it felt like you were documenting the common experience.

Seconly, I thought this showing was helpful because it didn't try to create a story or an argument or any large point. People who walk away saying the passengers were heroic think that only because they made that leap in judgment. People's opinions on the government and the FAA are only based on their own assumptions and feelings, not because you tried to present an argument or idea.

Similarly, I like how you didn't try to play with my emotions in this movie. I was surprised I didn't cry when I watched this film. But you hardly had any music in this film, more natural sound. I liked that a lot. Also thank you for not creating any side stories or giving us main characters we are following.

Soon there will be 9/11 films that follow various "characters" real and imagined who triumph and experience huge arches of emotions. But you did not try to attach me to particular flight attendants, passengers or FAA crew members. That is just one of the many ways you were incredibly tasteful in this film. Thank you for not making this movie feel like the disaster movies we were accustomed to in the 1990s. I'm glad this didn't feel like Independence Day or Deep Impact. In fact, I was very surprised there was no character playing a CNN new person or a character playing a passengers spouse. That was very unexploitive of you. (Your actually reminded me most of Good Night and Good Luck but less political and dramatic and of Thirteen Days but more interesting in every way)

I've got to admit I think it is interesting that man who has written/directed the first 9/11 film has done so with such great critical acclaim. I mean, come on you're from Surrey, England. And not just that but I guess it was hard to give you enough credit because I think Paul Greengrass and I think of the high-grossing pop culture Jason Bourne trilogy.

Paul, I really thought it was great how you did not cast Kristin Dunst as one of the flight attendants. Thank you for not making Jason Lee or Jake Gyllengaal one of the passengers on the United flight. And thank you for not casting Morgan Freeman or Tom Wilkinson as one of FAA crew members.

I think your film deserves all the credit that it has and I hope that you will be an example to other film makers and screenwriters. I think it would be great if you received some recognition come award season. I think you certainly deserve a writing and directing nod. Also, I know that your movie will be remembered forever as the successful and tasteful first feature length film directly covering September 11th.

Thank you so much, I am very glad I decided to go to the theater and see your great film,

RC

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Hunter Woo and the Art Department

The following article is written exclusively for Strange Culture by Hunter Woo. Hunter Woo has been involved with the art department of major motion pictures including the current release, American Dreamz, directed by Paul Wietz.

For most art students graduation means an uncertain future in the world of art. As a graduate art student in L.A., I always hoped I could work in an "art department" for a movie upon graduating, the only problem, I had know idea what that would entail.

Upon graduation, I did indeed begin working as an assistant in an art department but as a painter, I quickly realized I hadn't taken the appropriate classes in school.

A year and half later, I'm still working in the art department and I've been learning about the business of making movies ever since.

So to answer the question, what does the art department do? Think of it this way, everything you see on screen that is not the actors, lighting, or special effects is the work of the art department. Essentially the art department is an in-house architecture and interior design company hired by the producers.

The department is lead by the Production Designer who "designs" the show and the Art Director implements the Designer's vision by making sure communication is flowing to all other departments, especially the construction department. And once the sets are built they are dressed by the Set Decorator,who works to implement the Designers vision with color and tone. The Decorator is also responsible for coordinating all the details that create the story.

Working in an art department is exciting, as you constantly strive to bring the script alive. It can include building models, to creating dressing, to finding obscure furnishings. Working on a film is never dull, but it is a job just like any other. You have to get past the fact of the history of some of the sound stages you're working on.

On my last picture, Nancy Meyer's "Holiday", we shot on the Sony lot and were on the same stage where much of Wizard of Oz was shot. I was geeking out a bit, but then, like any other job, it's back to work as usual.

Currently, I'm working on Judd Apatow's follow up to 40 Year Old Virgin. I'm really excited to see how this one turns out. I know we've put a lot of hard work into the sets, now it's time for the director and actors to take over and actually shoot the movie. It should be a fun summer.

(Pictured above Hunter Woo with one of his paintings; next the stage being built on the set of American Dreamz; All pictures courtesy of Hunter Woo)

Woo's blog can be found here.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

The Afters: "I Wish We All Could Win"


It took a number of years for this Dallas-based rock band to hit it big.

Josh Havens and Matt Fuqua were Starbucks employees in Mesquite, TX who played a few acoustic songs in the store when it was slow.

Before long there band grew and they were playing to packed out houses at The Door club in Dallas...they called themselves Blisse and released their first local album When the World is Wonderful in 2002.

But a little over a year ago they released their first national album under the name The Afters. This album called "I Wish We All Could Win" named from a line in the song "Someday."

By far the most successful song off the album has been "Beautiful Love." This song has become the theme song to the MTV reality series "8th and Ocean." This song was written by lead vocalist Josh Havens shortly after he got married and his wife was away on a mission trip to Mexico. (This song also

Beautiful Love is not the only song that has become a theme song for a television show. The energetic song "Until the World" is also the theme song for the ABC television show "Beautiful People."

But the music from The Afters national release album is much richer than just songs for television shows about models.

Songs like "Someday" and "The Way You Are" allow the band to incorporate a deeper heavier town. Other songs are more melodic like "Thank God I'm Not the One" or the pastoral "Love Lead Me On." Also nice and soothing is the accoustic song "Wait."

One of the hardest things for me with this album is that I am very familiar with the Blisse-style of performing "The Way You Are" one of my favorite songs on the album, namely for it's driving beat and creative and catchy lyrics. Yet it's a marked transition to a definite post-grundge produced sound which is a little less gritty then I'm used to. But by far this song is one of the true treasures on the album.

"The Way You Are" is not the only song to be recycled from Blisse's "When The World Is Wonderful album. "Until the World" and "You" also appeared on the 2002 release.

This album is a great edition to world of rock music, because it's a fun album with a lot of diversity. The Afters remind me a lot of Jeremy Camp because their music is appropriate for the Adult contemporary genre as well as the rock/alternative genre.

If you're not going to buy the album let me rank the top 5 songs worth downloading from itunes:

1. Beautiful Love
2. The Way You Are
3. You
4. Love Will Make You Beautiful
5. Someday


The Afters are: Joshua Havens, Matthew Fuqua, Marc Dodd & Brad Wigg.
There website can be found at theafters.com

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Nativity (in theaters December 1, 2006)

Saw here and here about the script review for the upcoming movie Nativity to be released December 1st, 2006.

This film (currently being shot in Morocco and Italy) tells the story of the birth of Jesus. According to the script review it sounds like the story focuses on Mary as best described in the biblical account.

The script review shows that the story seems to focus on:
* Mary's early days in the Judean town of Nazarath under King Herod's rule
* Her father arranges her marriage to Joseph
* Mary is visited by Gabriel
* Mary visits her understanding and also pregnant her cousin Elizabeth (pregnant with John the Baptist)
* Mary shares the news with Joseph and her parents
* Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem, are visited by 3 wise men
* Mary, Joseph, Jesus flee to Egypt at King Herod's mandate to kill all baby boys under the age of 2.

I find this interesting because this is a hard story to tell with out making some people mad as it will surely make assumptions and suggestions that depart from the Biblical narrative or our common conceptions.

I think it is a very interesting creative team and cast behind this film.

The screen writer is Mike Rich who also wrote the enjoyable-non-controversial-fuzzy-moral-issue-movies Finding Forrester, the Rookie and Radio.

The director is Catherine Hardwicke who's past directorial efforts have been the heavy hitting movie about teenagers drug use thirteen and the skateboard film Lords of Dogtown. HHardwicke is also known for her production design of movies like Vanilla Sky and Three Kings.

I don't think Hardwicke and New Line Cinema could have found a more talented cast for these roles...Oscar Nominee (lead actress for Whale Rider, 2004) Keisha Castle-Hughes is playing the part of Mary. She did such a wonderful job in Whale Rider and at the age of 16 I can't imagine anyone better for this part. (Castle-Hughes pictured at the 2004 Academy Award ceremony)

academy Award Nominee (supporting actress for House of Sand and Fog, 2004) Shohreh Aghdashloo is playing the role of Elizabeth. Another great selection by choosing this very talented Iranian actress.

Shaun Toub will play Mary's father, Joaquim. (Toub played the part of Farhad in Crash).

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Strange Culture on Assignment: 666 Pains of Glass at the Louvre?

A Strange Culture reader asked "I've wondered from reading the Da Vinci Code if the Louvre's Pyramid really has 666 panes of glass and if that was intentional?"

Obviously the number 666 certainly has some connotations as the mark of the beast.

But according to Wikipedia's entry on the pyramid this was a false rumor that began in the 1980's and while various reports give numbers such as 672, 673 and 698 the number appears to be greater than 666 panes of glass. Although this is no more than a myth, it has gained increased prominence by it's inclusion as fact in the fictional novel, "The Da Vinci Code."

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Vomit Enducing Summer Movies

May 12: Poseidon
I respect Wolfgang Peterson's film Das Boot but why must he do another water film, his last one was only so-so (The Perfect Storm). Who decided we needed a remake of the Poseidon Adventure anyways...we've all seen Titanic.

May 19: See No Evil
Wow, there hasn't been a horror movie in theaters for months...oh never mind.

June 2: The Break-up
Hey Jennifer Aniston...maybe if you didn't makea new movie every month you might be able to do something worth by theater admission. And plus with Vince Vaughn and Joey Lauren Adams in the same film I'd feel like I was watchng the lack luster A Cool Dry Place (1998) again.

June 6: The Omen
How cute and clever...a horror movie coming out on 6-6-6. I'll pass, although a horror movie hasn't been in theaters for months.

June 16: The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift
Why they didn't name this film 3 Fast 3 Furious I will never know.

June 16: The Lake House
I'll make an exception for A Scanner Darkly, but otherwise I avoid movies with Keanu Reeves.

June 16: Wordplay
After I saw Word Wars the documentary about crazy scrabble obsessed people, I'm afraid to see a documentary so soon about Crossword Puzzles.

June 23: Garfield's A Tale of Two Kitties
Do I really need to explain this one? Even the four or five frame comic looses my interest, no thanks John Arbuckle.

July 5: Little Man
From imdb.com: "A wannabe dad (Shawn Wayans) mistakes avertically challenged criminal on the lam (Marlon Wayans) as his newlyadopted son." You gotta be kidding!

July 14: Pulse
There certainly hasn't been any other horror moviesout this year.

July 14: You, Me, and Dupree
Me and Owen Wilson need to take abreak, I'm still getting over how bad The Big Bounce was.

July 28: Brothers of the Head
Can't really say I'm into movies about siamese twins - especially when they're in a rock band.

August 4: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
The only reason I'd see this is because I was so impressed with Amy Adams in Junebug.

August 11: The Reaping
You know what, if only there were more horror movies to choose from.

August 18: Snakes on a Plane
Best of luck to this film in it's quest to become the most successful bad movie ever...but it's not getting my money.

August 25: Beerfest
Do I really need to explain?

August 25: Material Girls
It looks like a Mary Kate-Ashley Olson film, except when the Olson twins weren't available they enlisted Hillary Duff and her older sister Haylie Duff.

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