Feb 27, 2009

The Class: Interview


Laurent Cantet discusses his Palme d'Or winning school-set drama, The Class, which last year became the first French film to win the top prize at Cannes in over 20 years.

Filmmaking was the not the obvious career choice for Frenchman Laurent Cantet. Both his parents were teachers and he describes himself as "on a leave of absence from teaching." In fact his films usually have some lessons to impart going back to his multi-award winning feature debut Human Resources (1999) which looks at the complicated politics between a working-class father and his executive son. He followed that up with Time Out (2001) - a winner at the Venice Film Festival - about an unemployed man who becomes increasingly alienated from society. More recently there was Heading South (2005), a sort of socially conscious Shirley Valentine following three women on holiday to poverty-stricken Haiti.

The Class consisted of volunteers from the school.
His latest opus The Class, based on an autobiographical novel by François Bégaudeau, goes straight to the heart of his concerns about French society. The students who make up the supporting cast reflect the changing face of a country, one that is culturally diverse and economically divided. When a young, well-intentioned teacher (Bégaudeau essentially playing himself) enters the class, it appears the stage is set for a formulaic tale of a liberal do-gooder who aims to win hearts and minds. However, Cantet's film is far from a love-in, more a subtle critique of the teaching system, and his documentary-like approach also gives it an immediacy and dynamism that lacks in Hollywood's usual take on the classroom drama.

Filming on HD cameras helped Capture the details which make The Class 'feel real'.
Cantet has already been awarded the prestigious Golden Palm at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and earned an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Film category. He talks to BBC Film Network about his own teaching experience on the film; taking a bunch of regular students from a deprived neighbourhood and turning them into film actors.

The Class is released in UK cinemas on Friday 20th February 2009.

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Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail


The latest in this troublemaking grandma series showcases wonderful African-American actors. Too bad the jokes are so lame.

By now everyone knows Tyler Perry movies are A) review-proof (they're not screened for critics, and they make tons of money on their own, anyway) and B) not made "for" white people, so if white people see them and don't get them, it's because they're, well, white people.

As a white critic, I have mixed feelings about Perry's movies: On the one hand, he gives wonderful actors an opportunity to work, the kind of approbation they don't always get in Hollywood. This time around he's got the subtle, intuitive Derek Luke and Viola Davis, an actress who's been giving extraordinary performances for years and is only just now being recognized by the Hollywood mainstream. (She's been nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting role in "Doubt.") On the other hand, Perry's movies have crummy production values, stringy plots that go nowhere, lots of lame jokes (among some admittedly funny ones) and, perhaps worst of all, often feature him in multiple roles -- most notably as the troublemaking matriarch Madea, an outsize, silver-haired hellion who scuffles around in her flat granny shoes and giant polyester dresses, stirring up trouble with her good, old-fashioned plain talk.

To put it another way: It's great that Perry has seized opportunity for himself and for the performers he employs. But has he succeeded only in creating a kind of ghetto for black-themed entertainment that's of sub-par quality -- one that, admittedly, makes him a lot of money?

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Wrestling with those questions -- particularly now that we've stepped into the age of Obama, a time when all kinds of stubborn cultural barriers are, at last, being rethought if not actually dismantled -- is far more interesting than actually watching a Tyler Perry movie. "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail" involves two young, successful assistant district attorneys, Joshua and Linda (played, respectively, by Luke and Ion Overman), who are engaged to be married but who hit a rocky patch when Joshua encounters an old friend, Candace (Keshia Knight Pulliam), who's landed herself in deep trouble. Candace has been working the streets, and she has a drug problem, but she keeps refusing anyone who tries to help; those people include Joshua and a tough-love minister, Ellen (Davis), who has experience getting troubled women back on the straight and narrow.

Meanwhile, Madea (played by Perry, who also appears as a crotchety, weed-smoking old-timer named Joe), is getting into all kinds of scrapes. For example, when a snippy white girl steals the parking space she's headed for, she solves the problem by using a forklift. Although she's usually let off the hook by lenient judges, she finally goes up in front of Judge Mathis (playing himself), and he shows no mercy. Her high jinks finally land her in jail, the same facility where, it turns out, Candace has also been incarcerated.

Everything and nothing happens in "Madea Goes to Jail." In addition to the aforementioned prostitutes, lawyers and ministers, there are also scummy white business guys and abusive pimps. The plot involves duplicitousness between lovers, a back story involving a rape and, last but not least, a sassy elderly black woman who has no qualms about driving without a license. The acting isn't the problem here: Luke and Davis play their characters skillfully, as if they've willfully blocked out the ridiculousness of the movie around them. Other notable actors pop up, too, like Vanessa Ferlito (from "Deathproof," the Quentin Tarantino portion of "Grindhouse," who gives a good performance even in a tiny, thankless role. And occasionally, Perry (who is, as usual, both the writer and director here) pulls off a good joke. I laughed when Madea's friend Cora (Tamela J. Mann) tries to instill good Christian values in Madea by showing off the "What Would Jesus Do" bracelet she wears. When a nasty driver cuts in front of the car Cora's driving, Madea cackles, "Did you show him your bracelet?"

But the laughs are few and far between in "Madea Goes to Jail," even when Dr. Phil makes an appearance (playing himself), hoping to help Madea manage her anger and then practically losing his temper himself. "Madea Goes to Jail" will surely make Perry -- and, I hope, his actors -- a lot of money. And as an alternative to the Hollywood mainstream, which doesn't provide many good roles for African-American actors, Perry's movies are at least a stopgap solution. It's just too bad they're not better. [salon.com]

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Feb 18, 2009

New 'Transformers 2' Teaser Trailer Lands Online


Will the latest installment be 2009's most successful sequel?

After the successful debut of a teaser trailer during the Super Bowl, a new, longer teaser for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is now available online.

Michael Bay's first Transformers film was one of the biggest box office successes of 2007, with a domestic haul of nearly $320 million. Even though it will be a highly competitive summer, Revenge of the Fallen could easily be one of 2009's biggest hits. The film has the prime release date of Wednesday, June 24 and so far no major summer blockbusters are slated to open that same day.

Check out the HD version over at Yahoo! Movies.

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Schwarzenegger Joins Stallone's 'Expendables'


In an incredibly surprising casting move, Sylvester Stallone has reportedly signed Arnold Schwarzenegger for a cameo performance in his upcoming action flick titled The Expendables.

The cast for Expendables is already an action fan's dream come true. Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Mickey Rourke have all joined the cast. Fresh of his comeback in The Dark Knight, Eric Roberts has also snagged a part.

The last time that Schwarzenegger appeared on the bigscreen was in the 2004 dud Around the World in 80 Days, which starred Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan. The film managed to bring in only $24 million domestically.

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The best DVDs of 2009


"Magnificent Obsession" An overripe Technicolor spectacle from 1954 that launched the A-list careers of both star Rock Hudson and legendary director Douglas Sirk, "Magnificent Obsession" gets a spectacular Criterion Collection restoration that emphasizes Sirk's gorgeous deep-focus compositions and the performances of Hudson and co-star Jane Wyman. You can call it passionate melodrama, exaggerated social satire or Freudian allegory, but this yarn about the careless playboy who A) accidentally causes the death of a beloved surgeon; B) falls for his widow and causes her to go blind; C) wins her love under false pretenses; and D) performs the operation that restores her sight is a rich and immersive viewing experience that fires on all cylinders. Arguably not the greatest Sirk film -- I might incline toward "Written on the Wind" or "Imitation of Life" -- but surely among his most beautiful and memorable. His handling of Hudson and Wyman, who play the ludicrous Lloyd C. Douglas love story (swamped in turgid mid-century Christian self-help philosophy) absolutely straight and with surprising delicacy, is masterful. From a technical point of view the entire production, from Russell Metty's camerawork to Milton Carruth's editing to the "Ode to Joy" remix of Frank Skinner's score, represents '50s Hollywood at its height of craftsmanship. The two-disc set also includes John M. Stahl's 1935 black-and-white version with Irene Dunne and Robert Taylor, which some aficionados prefer and has been unavailable on DVD until now.

"The Quare Fellow" With the wave of "Prisoner"-mania surrounding the recent death of Patrick McGoohan, it's a great moment to remember one of his greatest and least-heralded roles, as the naive Irish prison guard Thomas Crimmin in Arthur Dreifuss' riveting 1962 screen adaptation of Brendan Behan's mordant anti-death-penalty masterpiece. Dreifuss' script adds elements that lapse here and there into drinkin'-and-fightin' Irish caricature, but none of that masks the authenticity of the atmosphere -- the film was shot in Ireland, and partly inside Dublin's historic Kilmainham Gaol -- or McGoohan's brilliance as the country boy forced to face the inhumanity and hypocrisy of a system he thought he believed in. Tremendous supporting performance by Irish writer Walter Macken, in one of his few acting roles, as a heartbroken older guard who refuses to yield his humanity. English actress Sylvia Syms is sexy but a bit out of her depth in the vixen role. Kino International's disc transfer captures all the depth and shadows of Peter Hennessy's superb black-and-white photography.

"Days and Clouds" A middle-class marriage in trouble is one of the staples of postwar European film, so you can't call Italian director Silvio Soldini's take on it profoundly original. For many recession-plagued Americans, in fact, the scene where a real-estate broker advises unemployed executive Michele (Antonio Albanese) and overstressed academic Elsa (Margherita Buy) to lower their asking price by 100,000 euros may hit just a bit too close to home. But this movie was an international art-house hit for a reason, and that reason is the well-matched pair of sterling lead performances, a consistently intelligent and perceptive screenplay and the sympathy and warmth with which Soldini portrays this marriage, even as Michele and Elsa lie, fight, recriminate and do close-to-unforgivable things. I thought I could dip into their story for half an hour and finish it later, but that proved impossible: You'll love this couple and long for both of them to be OK, whether that means together or apart. This is the latest in Film Movement's series of subscription DVDs, which is well worth checking out.

"The Taking of Power by Louis XIV" How does the guy who launched the neorealist movement with ground-level dramas about ruined postwar Europe -- most famously, "Rome, Open City" and "Germany Year Zero" -- move on to a movie about the Sun King's total consolidation of power in himself, circa 1640? Somehow Roberto Rossellini got there. This 1966 production, made ultra-cheap for French TV, was the great Italian director's first feature after his road-to-Damascus moment in the early '60s, when he pronounced that cinema was dead and that its true mission was to educate the public about history rather than entertain. Quite a strange business this movie is too, more focused on the intimate physical details of Louis' reign -- the servants and dogs sleeping on the king's bedroom floor; the learned doctors sniffing a dying man's chamber pot -- than on the court drama involving nobles, ministers and cardinals (oh, and a musketeer named d'Artagnan, who appears briefly). Minor characters sometimes interrupt the action to explain what's going on in expositional asides, and Louis himself is played by Jean-Marie Patte, an unprepossessing mailman (or sales clerk; reports vary) who is always staring offscreen because he doesn't know his lines and must read them off a blackboard. Shot largely in and around the actual palace at Versailles, "Louis XIV" displays Rossellini's ingenious shot construction, remarkable gift for group choreography and focus on the emotional center of each scene. You'd have to say the film fulfills its mission: It's handsome to watch -- the Criterion transfer is, of course, meticulous -- and you'll learn a whole lot about 17th-century French life. And it ardently refuses to abandon its rather dry and distant demeanor and become anything like conventional drama. There is considerable fascination to the arguably misguided spectacle of a great artist making elegant didactics, and if you wish to go deeper still, Criterion's Eclipse label has a new box set offering three of Rossellini's later history films, including the four-hour "Age of the Medici" from 1972.

"Workers for the Good Lord" Before Jean-Claude Brisseau became infamous as the French director convicted of sexually harassing two of the actresses in his erotic film "Secret Things" -- and then went on to make his next erotic film, "Exterminating Angels," as a sort of meta-meditation about that experience -- well, before all that he was actually known in France for having made a damn good movie. "Workers for the Good Lord" is that movie, made in 1999, and while it does have semi-nude women aplenty, it's also a gleeful, anarchistic Robin Hood romp in the spirit of the New Wave, with handsome Stanislas Merhar as a jilted, jaded would-be race driver and full-time narcissist who goes on a crime spree together with a gamine postal worker who loves him and a renegade African prince who is also a rebellious school bureaucrat. In the great French tradition, an homage to earlier filmmaking styles (from Capra to Godard and the avant-garde) and also very much its own eccentric creation. Indispensable for lovers of Gallic film.

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Funny Face" Paramount Pictures' Centennial Collection continues with these two well-loved Audrey Hepburn staples and, yes, there are few films more often issued and reissued in every possible home-video format over the years. Still, here they are again, on double-disc sets featuring new high-definition transfers (for both DVD and Blu-ray) and a bunch of special features never seen before. The gorgeous and only slightly silly "Funny Face," with its magical Gershwin numbers (and the highly age-inappropriate coupling of Hepburn with Fred Astaire) has mini-features on co-star Kay Thompson, fashion photography, the VistaVision process used to make the film and Paris in the '50s. "Tiffany's" is even richer, with a making-of featurette, mini-docs on Hepburn and composer Henry Mancini and a convoluted attempt to apologize for Mickey Rooney's offensive Asian character. If you don't own these movies, these are terrific packages; on the other hand, there'll be another reason to reissue them in three or four years.

The Films of Michael Powell Well, two of the great British director's films, anyway -- essentially a miscellaneous double bill of Powell films to which Sony happens to hold the rights. Powell's best-known work, including "The Red Shoes," "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp," "The Small Back Room" and "Peeping Tom," is available from the Criterion Collection. What you get here is one undoubted classic -- the supernatural wartime drama "A Matter of Life and Death" (also known as "Stairway to Heaven"), with David Niven as a British flyer forced to argue his way from heaven back to earth -- and one late-career oddity. That would be "Age of Consent," made by Powell (without longtime co-director Emeric Pressburger) in the relatively hedonistic climate of late-'60s Australia. It stars James Mason as a burned-out painter (based loosely on Aussie artist Norman Lindsay) who finds his muse near the Great Barrier Reef in the form of a comely and uninhibited lass, played by a then-unknown 24-year-old named -- wait for it -- Helen Mirren. The movie's fascinating and a little creepy, tinged with that unmistakable Powell dyspepsia, and there's a terrific interview with Mirren among the extras. [salon.com]

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Feb 17, 2009

Movie Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic


Can we call it Consumer-Porn?

Poised for a Valentine's weekend release, the new fashion-centric romcom by Muriel's Wedding director P.J. Hogan is as an odd hybrid of pretty and partially digested. On the heels of He's Just Not That Into You, a film that faced a critical blast to be dwarfed by the fate of Shopaholic, this exercise in capitalist wish fulfillment is not unlike a Depression Era Studio Fantasy. Featuring women who struggle financially only to find happiness in the arms of recession-resistant men and fat-cat magazine publishers [yes, you read that right] who are hunks ready to take massive risks without the slightest R&D, this flick is shakey uplift with minor merits. Shopaholic bandies in the same brand of humiliation-humor that made Sex and the City (and Forgetting Sarah Marshall to provide a masculine equivalent) seem so sincere. That plus the glam of celebrity stylist Patricia Fields are viable draws, just not ones destined to last beyond a two week drop off.

Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) is a journalist who, from young, has found practicality poorly suited to her. Her parents, warm-hearted spendthrifts (John Goodman and Joan Cusack), were so different from her she sought identification outside of her home and her personal life: primarily through fashion. This is how we gain access to the issue of her addiction, which is handled oddly and intermittently, but with some clarity. What Rebecca is good at (or rather, we learn she's good at it because she writes one article that sweeps the nation), is writing. She pens a piece under the pseudonym "The Girl in the Green Scarf" that uses fashion as a metaphor for investments and in so doing makes the premise of saving money (something we all have within our reach to understand) finally clear to the common man. So while she plays Martin Luther to the financial institution, instructing the masses in the ways of power, she comes slowly unraveled under the weight of her own massive debts. Hypocrisy or irony: Your choice.

Editor Luke Brandon (her opposites-attract love interest played by Hugh Dancy) instructs her in the simple but weighty distinction between cost and value and when her dire debt situation is made public, she ends up pitting her credit issues against his hard-built credibility. The rules of economics are never far from this love story, even if they’re spooned out in easy to digest servings (probably true to the spirit of Rebecca’s writings—which we’re never lucky enough to hear...I wonder why).

It’s easy to see a film that fetishizes YSL and Prada as a slap in the face during economically hard times. Sophie Kinsella’s original books (upon which the film is based) came out in 2000, just shy of the dot com bust. So, why release this title now? Add this question to the morally awkward characterization of the titular Shopaholic as a vivacious, fun-loving, inspiring woman with an uncanny knack for duping her boss and her debt collector (could you call her a con-artist?) and you’ve really got something to ponder. That Rebecca is most creative when cornered by money troubles is a value at odds with our more common view of commerce (and by extension civilization) as something that sucks out our spirits. But this film, with workmanlike direction and occasionally pronounced cinematography is a can of worms squirming in opposing directions. Character motivations are continually hard to gauge outside of the obvious melodrama at play, and the chemistry between the main love interests relies so heavily on head tilting you would think the actors suffer from Swimmer’s Ear. Thin on plot and heavy with criminally underused talent (Lynn Redgrave plays “drunk woman in the bathroom,” I’m not kidding) the film is a trifle, but if we found that sort of thing comforting in 1931, we’re likely to find it somewhat comforting today too.

Distributor: Disney
Cast: Isla Fischer, Hugh Dancy, Kristin Scott Thomas, Krysten Ritter, Joan Cusack and John Goodman
Director: P.J. Hogan
Screenwriters: Tracey Jackson, Kayla Alpert and Tim Firth
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: PG for some mild language and thematic elements.
Running time: 105
Release date: February 13, 2009


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The Pink Panther 2


Not even as funny as the joke that ends “dead ant, dead ant”

With this sequel to the 2006 release that both reinvented and relaunched the original Blake Edwards film series, Steve Martin officially becomes the first actor since Peter Sellers to earn a second stint in a Pink Panther film. Given the series’ turbulent history of false starts and failed restarts, that’s no small achievement. Unfortunately, the film itself is. Geared primarily to the teens and preteens for whom there is no Inspector Jacques Clouseau, this, the eleventh Panther picture (for those keeping count), is vapid, low-grade slapstick, hopelessly dull yet innocuous, designed more for marketability than entertainment so as to coast comfortably through two middling weekends of respectable pre-Oscar counter programming before word of mouth drops its third weekend drop-off off a cliff.

Having already dispensed with the Sellers comparisons in the previous picture, Martin, who again takes a co-writer credit (this time alongside the screenwriting team of Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter) has clearly grown comfortable molding Clouseau to his own particular comedic proclivities, which is to say the kind of slapstick and relentless mugging that he was supposed to have left buried in the ’80s. Indeed, the resurrection of Clouseau has likewise marked the resurrection of an archival Martin that, in the edgier era of Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller, feels almost anachronistically juvenile.

The story once again centers on the theft of the Pink Panther diamond—one of several precious artifacts that have been stolen by a legendary thief known simply as The Tornado. Assigned to an international “dream team” of detectives that includes the suave Italian Vicenzo (Andy Garcia), Japanese tech genius Kenji (Yuki Matsuzaki) and pompous Englishman Pepperidge (Alfred Molina), Clouseau initially does little but aggravate his colleagues with his apparent incompetence and clumsy bumbling. Of course, as per usual, bumbling is all part of a sleuthing process whereby, somehow, Clouseau always manages to prevail.

Part of the problem here is that the formula that once worked so well for Edwards and Sellers (but less well for Edwards without Sellers) feels especially uninspired in second-hand hands. The previous film—directed in predictably lackluster fashion by Shawn Night at the Museum Levy—wasn’t much better, but received a certain amount of leeway from critics and audiences willing to give the new Martinized Clouseau the benefit of the doubt. In the hands of Pink Panther 2 director Harald Zwart, the Norwegian-born helmer of both indie gems (One Night at McCool’s) and studio duds (Agent Cody Banks), the institutionalization of those flaws makes the new picture aggravating at best. With the exception of only one very clever gag—a restaurant scene involving a tumbling wall of wine bottles—there’s nothing here that rises even to the level of a bad Three Stooges short. Martin tries too hard, John Cleese—stepping into the Dreyfus role played previously by Kevin Kline—is painfully miscast, while returning cast members Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer—both exceptionally talented performers when given good material—are frustratingly underused. Indian superstar Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, here appearing in her first major Hollywood studio film, is a luminous presence until she’s actually asked to do something, at which point the picture collapses as badly on her as it does everyone else. Only Garcia and Molina manage to acquit themselves respectably by elevating badly written parts that essentially have nowhere to go but up.

Fans of cameos get a few modest payoffs courtesy of Lily Tomlin, Geoffrey Palmer, Jeremy Irons and French recording star Johnny Hallyday (“Man on the Train”), though even these appearances seem forced and unnecessary.

Unless 12-year-old boys have suddenly developed taste and discernment, however, this should all add up to box office earnings sufficiently respectable to justify a third infliction of the same, which, in keeping up with its developmentally-challenged audience, just may see fit to elevate its comedy several notches to finally include fart jokes.

Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina, Emily Mortimer, Aishwarya Rai Bachchnan, Andy Garcia, John Cleese and Lily Tomlin
Director: Harald Zwart
Screenwriter: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber and Steve Martin
Producers: Robert Simonds
Genre: Comedy
Rating: PG for some suggestive humor, brief mild language and action.
Running time: 92 min.
Release date: February 6, 2009


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Justin Timberlake is America's most stylish man


The singer has topped GQ magazine's list of the Ten Most Stylish Men in America for his impact on fashion and his ''knack for targeting trends.''

Justin – who has his own clothing line William Rust – topped the list because of his willingness to take style risks with his use of hats, three-piece suits, skinny ties and facial hair.

The list also includes T.I. - who features on Justin's song "My Love" - Kanye West, Jason Schwartzman, hotelier Andre Balazs and photographer Alexi Lubomirski.

Despite his grand title, Justin believes British supermodel Kate Moss is the ultimate fashion icon because she "could put a barrel on and it would be some sort of statement."

Justin - who has been dating actress Jessica Biel since early 2007 – was recently thrown a surprise party by Jessica to celebrate turning 28.

A source said: "Justin was totally blown away when he walked in. He had no idea."

Source: BANG Showbiz

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Salma Hayek has married French businessman Francois-Henri Pinault


The "Ugly Betty" actress - who has a 16-month-old daughter, Valentina, with Francois-Henri - reportedly tied the knot in France on Valentine's Day (Feb 14, 2009).

The ceremony took place at the city hall of the Sixth Arrondissement in St. Germaine, Paris.

It has been claimed the couple - who called off their engagement last July - decided to give their romance a second try by taking two romantic breaks to the French capital late last year.

In December, Salma and Francois-Henri sparked reunion rumors after they were seen being "very affectionate" at the Dubai Fim Festival.

Salma, 43, recently confirmed she is still romancing the 46-year-old businessman - who is CEO of luxury brand giant PPR - after revealing she thinks of him when she films love scenes with her "30 Rock" co-star Alec Baldwin.

She said: "I keep telling Francois, 'I imagine I was kissing you.'"

Francois-Henri - who began dating Salma in May 2006 - is one of France's richest men and has an estimated fortune of $16.9 billion.

Source: BANG Showbiz

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Maxim Magazine March 2009


Eliza Dushku - Maxim Magazine (March 2009)
PDF | English | 7 Pages | 8.38 MB


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Feb 12, 2009

Chris Brown Rejected by Radio; Rihanna Cancels on Jakarta


Chris Brown has been canceled, while Rihanna has canceled once again.

Brown, who's under investigation for allegedly beating his "Umbrella" singer girlfriend, has been completely nixed by a Cleveland radio station. WAKS "Kiss" FM 96.5 has dropped "Forever," "Kiss Kiss" and all other tracks by the 19-year-old R&B star from its onair playlist.

"After the alleged incident, the phones exploded," evening host Java Joel said on the channel's website. "It's all that people wanted to talk about. They were outraged at his alleged behavior and wondered why we were continuing to support his music. I agreed and immediately pulled all Chris Brown songs from my show until this thing shakes out in the legal system."

The station's program director Bo Williams adds, "I then made the decision to rid the whole station of Chris Brown songs while this plays out. We are fans of Chris Brown's music, and this is not something that will last forever. But it appears that Chris has made some poor choices, we are following the lead of our listeners, and we will not be supporting Chris Brown on 96.5 Kiss FM in Cleveland until the alleged situation gets resolved."

In the meantime, Rihanna has scuttled yet another appearance of her own.

The stunning singer will not be performing in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Thursday, as originally planned.

This is the second time this particular show has been delayed and it won't likely be rescheduled.

"We spoke to Tony Goldring of William Morris Agency and he said the concert had to be canceled because of an assault case involving Rihanna's boyfriend," local promoter Troy Reza Warokka told Agence France Presse.

"He offered to reschedule but we don't think we'll take it up, not this year at least. This is her second postponement. Her fans are traumatized and we've spent so much money on production and promotional materials."

The "Disturbia" singer postponed her sold-out Friday performance in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, earlier this week.

··· THEY SAID WHAT? Get today's most commented stories now at www.eonline.comRihanna to Cops: Chris Brown Threatened to Kill MeRihanna Leaves the Hospital, Postpones ConcertChris Brown Lowdown: Cops Continue Probe, Wrigley's Halts AdsChris Brown Bounces NBA All-Star AppearanceChris Brown Doesn't "Got Milk"; CoverGirl Stands by RihannaChris Brown Investigated for Domestic Assault; He and Rihanna Sitting Out GrammysRihanna's New York City Birthday Party CanceledChris Brown Grew Up "Terrified" In a Violent HomeD.A. Wants Further Investigation in Chris Brown-Rihanna CaseT.I. & Kanye West Rap on Chris Brown-Rihanna Sitch.

source: movies.yahoo.com

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Rewriting Hollywood History in Julie Dash’s Illusions


“Now I am an illusion, just like the films. They see me but they can’t recognize me.” So states the protagonist of Julie Dash’s 1982 film, Illusions. The film is a critique of Hollywood history and an attempt to subvert that very history by calling attention to the lack of an African-American presence in Hollywood during the era of World War II and even today, for that matter.

The film begins with a rotating Oscar with a voice-over that states:

“To direct an attack upon Hollywood would indeed be to confuse portrayal with action, image with reality. In the beginning was not the shadow, but the act, and the province of Hollywood is not action, but illusion.”

These illusions that Dash discusses in her short film attempt to call attention to the illusion that African-Americans were not a part of Hollywood history and seek to end the illusion, to finally make things right, by re-writing history. This illusory element is at its peak in the dubbing sequence of Illusions.

The scene begins with a pan across a sound booth that Mignon (Lonetta McKee) and her boss (Ned Bellamy) enter while two sound engineers attempt to finish the dubbing and post-synchronous sound for their Christmas holiday-season release, but there is a problem: the dubbing does not match and their star is away helping with the war effort. To fix the problem, they have hired Esther (Rosanne Katon), a young African-American girl, to replace the voice of Leila Grant, the star. We then see a musical scene from the film.

Leila Grant is the object of desire: ‘the true woman of the discourse of feminity,’ an object of the gaze and the editor’s cut. She does not have desire; she is desire. She does not have voice; she embodies it. Stranded on the Dark Continent, Esther looks at Leila and desires to be desired. (1)

Throughout this scene, the film clips we see of Leila Grant all position her as the object of desire through several close-ups of her various body parts - her face, legs, etc. - which objectify this idealized woman of the screen.

As the group in the sound booth watches the debacle, on the back wall we can see a Mae West poster. This image is important on many levels. First, West seems to be the real world counterpart to the Leila Grant character. Both are white, beautiful, blonde screen queens who are objectified by the male gaze. On the other hand, this poster of Mae West can be seen as doing something different. In her heyday, West was famous for her on screen bawdy double entendres, her most famous being the quip: “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

During the 1930s, when the Production Code was taking over the morality of Hollywood, West, who co-wrote many of the screenplays for which she was to star, was forced to edit out the “racy” content. It seems that Dash is making a statement with the West poster on the wall for the fact that not only were African-American women subjected to the white patriarchal Hollywood system, but white women were as well. If they were seen to be strong, independent, sexual beings, they were forced by either the studio heads or the Production Code to tone down their acts, in essence erasing many of their dreams and talents from history and forcing them to be mere illusions of what they desired to be.

Like West, Esther, the young African-American girl who is selected to replace the voice of Leila Grant, is also a mere illusion, forced into non-existence by the studio system.

Like the seamless continuity style that conceals its work (e.g., editing, processing, discontinuity), Hollywood cinema has concealed or erased and prohibited the work of people of color, on and off screen. (2)

Esther begins to sing and, at this point, Dash has done something very interesting with the composition of the frame. In the upper-left-hand corner, Esther is singing; in the upper-right-hand corner is a screen with the Leila Grant film playing; and in the bottom part of the frame is a doubled image of one of the sound engineers watching this take place. Esther’s voice literally “looming in dark space asserts the power of cinema to produce images and illusions” (3).

What is interesting about this shot is the way in which it utilizes the multiple gazes found in the cinema. First, we have Esther, the object of the gaze of the sound engineer. Second, we have Esther looking at Leila Grant on the screen trying to lip-synch her words to her mouth movements. Then, we have the literal “doubling” of the sound engineer to which the audience is sutured with, as we are placed inside of the sound booth with him watching all of this happen inside the studio.

Dash’s Illusions calls attention to the ways in which the Hollywood studio system created the illusions that forced African-American women to the wayside of film history only to be forgotten. In her films, Dash makes these illusions visible by critiquing that very system and showing how the Leila Grants of the world in effect were not the real star of the picture, but the Esthers who had the real talent à la Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952).

Yet, Illusions’ own operation remains transparent. Ironically, in the projection scene, the diegetic and extradiegetic levels collapse; all the female voices in this sequence are post-dubbed. Both Ester and Leila lip-sync Ella Fitzgerald. The narrative’s focus on synchronization- the corporealization of the female voice- shifts attention away from the film’s orchestration of image and sound so that Leila’s voice, in fact, is no more or less true than Esther’s. (4)

According to Mellencamp, “Dash reverses the blond standard of the star system that defined conventions of female beauty within a regimented, standardized uniformity.” (5)

To put it briefly, Dash’s film, namely the dubbing sequence, attempts to subvert the history of Hollywood that all but disintegrated the presence of African-American women. She revises this

by synching their off-screen voices to onscreen white women. Women of color were heard, but not recognized. When women of color were on the soundtrack or passing on screen, they were not remembered or recognized. Illusions inscribes the point of view missing from U.S. film history: African-American women (both onscreen and in the audience) granting visibility and audibility by synching image to off-screen voice. Illusions also charges Hollywood, which did not make films about people of color even during World War II, and the nation with hypocrisy and racism. (6)

Illusions calls attention to this travesty and tries to rewrite history and reclaim what was lost: “Illusions explores questions of race, representation, and gender in Hollywood cinema-in particular, the absence of ‘meaningful’ and ‘realistic’ images of our lives.” [source]

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Feb 11, 2009

Salma Hayek Kisses Alec Baldwin


What does Salma Hayek use for inspiration when locking lips with Alec Baldwin on 30 Rock? Her ex-fiancé and current boyfriend, Francois-Henri Pinault.

"I keep telling Francois, 'I Imagine I was kissing you,' " Hayek, who is doing a guest stint on 30 Rock as Baldwin's girlfriend, said on The Rachael Ray Show for a segment that airs Wednesday.

Hayek, 42, otherwise kept mum about Pinault – they called off their engagement in July though still remain a couple – but had plenty to say about her onscreen love interest.

"I have so much fun with him," Hayek says of Baldwin. "He is just so precious, I love him."

Daughter Sees Ghost
The actress also has her hands full with Valentina, her daughter with Pinault. At 16 months, the girl already is trilingual – she speaks English, Spanish and French – and seems to have developed a sixth sense.

"Last night she saw a ghost. I'm convinced," says Hayek, "Last night she woke up and her eyes were open. And she's looking at one specific point and she's going, 'No no no no, au revoir,' which means goodbye in French ... And she's looking at someone, but there's no one there.

I was so scared, and I'm like, 'Yes, au revoir, whoever you are, get out!' And then she started saying it in English: 'Bye bye, bye bye!' I guess she was trying in different languages to see what nationality this ghost was to go away. It was terrifying!" [people.com]

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Alain Cavalier - Thérèse (1986)


Alain Cavalier - Thérèse (1986)
French | Subtitle: English (Hard Sub) | 1:26:54 | 720x394 | 29 fps | DivX 5 | DVDRip | Audio: 192 Kbps | 865 MB
Drama | Biography

Stark, stylistically directed, fact-based story of a dreamy, intense 15-year-old girl (Mouchet) and her desire to become a Carmelite nun, to be wedded to Christ. Winner of six Cesar Awards, including Best Picture. Remake of the 1938 film THERESE MARTIN.


Catherine Mouchet-----Therese Martin
Aurore Prieto------------Celine
Sylvie Habault-----------Pauline
Ghislane Mona----------Marie
Clemence Massart------Prioress
Nathalie Bernart--------Aimee
Beatrice DeVigan-------The Singer
Noele Chantre----------The Old Woman
Anna Bernelat----------The Cripple
Sylvaine Massart-------The Nurse
M.L. Eberschweiler-----The Painter
Josette LefevreGilberte-Laurain The Nuns
Jean Pelegri-------------Father
Michel Rivelin------------Pranzini
Jean Pieuchot-----------The Bishop
Armand Meppiel--------The Pope
Lucien Folet-------------Old Man with Flowers
Pierre Maintigneux-----Convent Doctor
Guy Faucon--------------Aimee's Fiance
Joel Le Francois---------The Young Doctor
Jacqueline Lagrain------Violinist
Simone Dubocq----------Embroideress
Helene Alexandridis-----Lucie

Producer-----------------Maurice Bernart

Director------------------Alain Cavalier

Screenwriter------------Alain Cavalier
----------------------------Camille De Casabianca

Editor---------------------Isabelle Dedieu

Cinematographer------Philippe Rousselot

Art design---------------Bernard Evein

Costumes---------------Yvette Bonnay

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Playboy Present Dian Parkinson (1993)


Playboy Present Dian Parkinson (1993)
PDF | English | 7.49 Mb


>>> Depositfiles <<<>>> Rapidshare <<<

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DVD Review: Frozen River


Here's the double Oscar nominee you haven't seen yet. We hope it takes home a gold statue or two come Oscar night.

Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo) is a mom who only wants to do right by her two sons, teenager T.J. (Charlie McDermott) and five-year-old Ricky. But a week before Christmas her husband robbed them of the little cash they had in their "tin crapper" house trailer and lit out for ... well, Ray and the boys have no idea. The only certain thing is that he abandoned his car at a bus stop and hopped a Greyhound for God knows where. Now Ray is trapped in the December wasteland of rural upstate New York with kids who need a pantry that holds more than popcorn and Tang. All she has are a dead-end part-time job at the dollar store, an impossible balloon payment on a relatively palatial double-wide (no more frozen pipes) her family dreams of, and a desire to let her kids "have Santa Claus" when Christmas finally comes.

When opportunity and desperation meet, Ray turns to crime just to get by. That opportunity arrives in the form of Lila Littlejohn (Misty Upham), a young woman on the nearby Mohawk reservation. Marginalized by family and tribe alike, Lila has her own quiet desperation to unfold through the story. Their uneasy relationship begins when Lila recruits Ray into a scheme smuggling illegal aliens (of various nationalities) from Canada to the U.S. in the trunk of Ray's car. The job pays well, and Ray absolutely needs the money, but the clandestine trips back and forth involve evading both the state troopers and the tribal hierarchy that already know what Lila's up to. And then there's that little matter of driving a fully packed car across a temporarily frozen river at night. Lila's husband is somewhere under that ice, "lost on a run" the previous winter.

A tense, emotionally gripping tale of the heroically struggling poor, Frozen River (official site) is now the reason for Melissa Leo's Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards. Its first-time writer-director, Courtney Hunt, is also an Oscar hopeful for best original screenplay. And that's after Frozen River's five Independent Spirit Award nominations -- including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actress -- and the big win of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Drama at Sundance. The American Film Institute dubbed it one of 2008's top movies, as did a list of professional press critics as long as your arm.

So how come Frozen River is the Oscar contender that has so many people asking, "What the hell is that? I've never even heard of it."

Like sausages and laws, motion picture PR and distribution deals are things you don't want to see actually being made, the process is that ugly and sometimes bloody a grind. Frozen River's limited initial distribution did it no favors, and the advertising imagery fails at hooking us into the film's beautifully written and played substance. But that's being corrected now by a new theatrical run and a timely release this week on DVD and Blu-ray disc. That's a smart move, as Frozen River absolutely deserves our attention as indeed one of the best films of 2008. Its center of gravity is Melissa Leo's finely tuned performance as Ray. In her close orbit are most notably Charlie McDermott, who chose to not play T.J. as an easy Angry Teen, and first-timer Upham, who, even while maintaining a deadened flat affect, holds her own with Leo in every one of their many shared scenes.

Having finally caught the film on Blu-ray, I couldn't be more pleased if the film takes away both its potential Oscars. My only regret is that there's no Oscar for Most Impressive First-Time Director Who Could Teach Studio Hacks With Vaster Resources and Budgets a Thing or Two.

As both a writer and a director, Tennessee-born Hunt displays a flair for a good story well told. She understands the power of subtlety in hard realism, and exhibits a feel for the revealing details that speak volumes -- a bra strap so old its elastic is dead; a lower back tattoo on the young blonde co-worker that tells us in one glance everything we need to know about why Ray isn't getting ahead at the dollar store; Ray's reasoning while abandoning on the ice a Pakistani family's duffel bag -- maybe it holds a nuclear bomb or poison gas, "and I don't want to be responsible for that," when in fact what it holds becomes a key connection between Ray, Lila, and the immigrants who are also just trying to do right for their families as best they can. Looking at Melissa Leo's worn-through, terribly authentic face, you see that Ray knows hardship down to her marrow. Ray's ease with a handgun clues us in to a life's worth of understanding that even the most determined resolve sometimes requires its own backup plan.

Assisted by Reed Morano's cinematography and the supportive musical scoring by Peter Golub and Shahzad Ismaily, Hunt is a filmmaker of such restraint, and she avoided so many moments that could have careened into studio-imposed clichés we've been conditioned to expect, that Frozen River let me forget I was watching a movie, something that didn't happen often in 2008.

Yes, Frozen River is a knowing, naturalistic, bone-and-blood story of racial inequities and women on the verge of having their lives crack beneath their feet to swallow them down. But remember this, because the PR here is missing the opportunity to hook us in -- it's also a tightly wound, albeit low-key, crime thriller. And emerging from the shady dealings and gunshots and suspense are moments of unforced humor (how do you mask the smell of smoke after you almost burn your trailer down?) and lovely little revelations (what is T.J. building with that blow-torch?). Think a low-humming Fargo vibe without the Coens' exaggerations, or Sam Raimi's A Simple Plan minus the conventional plot theatrics.

What the publicity campaign is completely missing is Hunt's subtly conveyed mainspring piercing through Frozen River. It winds itself on the unifying, universal importance of family, that hard, irreducible, driving force that joins our common humanity no matter where we come from or where we're going or what we're willing to sacrifice in between.

Now on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony, Frozen River presents as well as you'd expect a new film shot in digital HD to look on home video. A few dark scenes tend to get unusually murky to my eyes, but that's the worst I could say about it. The only significant extra is the commentary track with Hunt and producer Heather Rae. It's a disappointing track for anyone taking notes on Hunt's production techniques or how she worked toward her sudden rise as a filmmaker to watch. She and Rae remark on production points here and there, give us some background on Frozen River's origins as a short film shown at the New York Film Festival, and of course they rightly praise everyone on screen and behind the scenes for their good work. It's not a bad track, for sure, but there's too much dead air and not enough prepared information on how it was all done and what they can teach us about the latest wave of filmmaking and "the industry" today.

Besides that, the only extras here are the theatrical trailer and a half-dozen trailers for other recommended indies such as The Wackness and Rachel Getting Married.

This review written by Mark Bourne, published at film.com

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