The best indie movies of 2007

There must be some kind of human tendency to seek intellectual convergence that kicks in, I suspect, whenever movie critics (or ordinary citizens) start concocting year-end top-10 lists. Maybe pop-science genius Malcolm Gladwell has a name for this phenomenon, but it can be both as subtle and as hard to resist as the flowing current of a river. You might not notice the force of this opinion-suck, even as it sweeps you off your feet and pulls you downstream in a rushing torrent of groupthink. Even if you sense it and nobly struggle against it, that doesn't mean you've escaped its effects.

Maybe the term exists; maybe it's "herd mentality." Or brainwashing. Read enough of the top-10 lists that American movie critics put together, for one thing, and you might wonder whether a single damn film worth watching came out before the first of October. There are exceptions to this rule, naturally enough, but by and large the films that rack up the rave reviews and award nominations, and thereby begin to emanate "Oscar buzz" like some mutant horror-movie bumblebee, are films of a certain kind, released in a certain season.

(Source: Salon)

Vudu does movie magic, but is hamstrung by Hollywood

For a few years, technology companies have been racing to find a way to get movies from the Internet to the living-room TV in a way that will get consumers excited.

The Vudu, a black $399 box from a California startup, is the best attempt yet. It's easy to use and offers a large library of movies, even a few in high definition.

The device plugs into the TV and a broadband Internet cable. It comes with a small, simple remote with just five buttons and a scroll wheel. There's no monthly service fee: You pay for the hardware and the movies and TV shows you buy or rent. Most movies start playing the minute you buy them.

Yet it's difficult to see the Vudu as something that's going to bust the living room wide open to the Internet, at least not yet.

The reason has little to do with technology and much to do with Hollywood: The movies are rented out in a way that has studios dictating how quickly you need to finish them.


Nameless horror movie gets internet guessing


A film with no name, no famous Hollywood stars and no million dollar marketing campaign has captivated bloggers, online forums and film fans in the latest triumph for viral advertising.

Known only as the Cloverfield project, the low-budget 2008 release is shrouded in secrecy. Its plot has been closely guarded, only one trailer has been screened and even its actors are not trusted with the full plotline.

The barest basics are known. Cloverfield is a horror movie. It reportedly cost £15 million to make. It will be released on Jan 18 in the US. It may involve a monster, "the size of a skyscraper", terrorising New York.

(Source: Telegraph UK)

How Paul Thomas Anderson sets himself apart from Hollywood’s other wunderkinds


It's only fitting that Paul Thomas Anderson's breakthrough film, Boogie Nights, was the story of a triple-X superstar with a python in his pants. This is one director you could safely call a size freak—or, to put it more politely, a maximalist. The gushers of oil in his new film, There Will Be Blood, are an apt visualization of how all his films function: They're designed to erupt and spill over. The larger the canvas, the grander the theme, the higher the volume, the wilder the emotion, the more inspired the filmmaking.

We may not be living in a golden age of American movies, but a new New Hollywood of sorts has emerged—a cluster of adventurous directors in their 30s and 40s who have figured out how to get personal films made with Hollywood or Indiewood money: Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, Todd Haynes, Sofia Coppola, Alexander Payne. Many of them have a specialty. Fincher is a visual virtuoso, Linklater a verbal stylist. Payne is good with character, Coppola with moods and music. Tarantino has the encyclopedic geek smarts, Soderbergh the taste for reinvention. With Paul Thomas Anderson, all of the above apply. His thing is that he can do it all.

(Source: Slate)

Jack Nicholson dishes about acting and getting old


Who would have ever thought that the 1954 Class Clown of Manasquan High would turn into one of the most recognized Oscar winners in the world?

Few people know more about the craft of acting than Jack Nicholson. But he had to start somewhere and he chose to pass some insights along to the readers of Hollywood Today. “My first acting teacher Jeff Corey said that your job is to provide a stimulating point of departure, this is what you must do in a theatrical experience,” Nicholson commented on the acting process itself.

Nicholson was there with another revered thespian, Morgan Freeman, to talk up their latest movie “The Bucket List.” But like any two guys into their work, the veterans soon started to talk shop.

(Source: Hollywood Today)




Director: Rob Reiner
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Morgan Freeman
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Plot: Two terminally ill men (Nicholson and Freeman) escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.



Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Stars: Belén Rueda, Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep
Studio: Picturehouse Entertainment

The Plot: Laura's return visit to her childhood orphanage has an odd effect on her son, Simón, as he makes a group of imaginary friends and begins to show signs that he shares some of the same memories from his mother's childhood.



Director: Denzel Washington
Stars: Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise
Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

The Plot: In 1935, Melvin Tolson (Washington), a professor at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, leads his underdog team of speech and debate students into a competition with Harvard University.




Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Stars: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Gena Rowlands
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics

The Plot: A look at life in Iran during the Islamic revolution from the perspective of a young and precocious girl.




Director: Jay Russell
Stars: Emily Watson, David Morrissey, Alex Etel
Studio: Columbia Pictures

The Plot: A lonely boy discovers a mysterious egg that hatches a sea creature of Scottish legend.




Director: Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Stars: Reiko Aylesworth, Steven Pasquale, Shareeka Epps
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

The Plot: Warring alien and predator races descend on a small town, where unsuspecting residents must band together for any chance of survival.




Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds
Studio: Paramount Vantage

The Plot: A story about family, greed, religion, and oil, centered around a turn-of-the-century Texas prospector (Daniel Day-Lewis) in the early days of the business.



Picking 2008’s movie winners


The movie release schedule for next year remains tentative and most of the films are unfinished. So picking the box-office hits of 2008, on a month-by-month basis, is more guesswork at this stage than projection, but here goes.

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

Gardening and the movies


So there I was muttering, "Fraud, fraud," while watching Enchanted April.

It's a charming movie that sets very few viewers to grumbling. Oppressed women leave cold, rainy 1920s England and proceed to find happiness, peace, and sunshine in a rented castle on the Italian coast.

My complaint wasn't about the story line but about the fact that the movie's Portofino, Italy, hillside garden was bursting with flowers that wouldn't be blooming simultaneously. No garden in the real world would look like that—the blooms of high summer (roses, sunflowers, geraniums) right next to the flowers of April (daffodils, tulips, camellias). It's garden fraud.

(Source: Slate)

Apple iTunes and Fox close movie rental deal

Apple Inc and Twentieth Century Fox are set to announce a deal that will allow consumers to rent Fox movies through Apple's digital iTunes Store, according to media reports on Thursday.

The agreement will allow rentals of Fox's latest DVD releases by downloading a copy from the online iTunes store for a limited time, the Financial Times said. The Wall Street Journal also reported the deal in its online edition.

Fox's corporate parent, News Corp, had no comment. An Apple spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.

The reports sparked heavy selling of shares of Netflix Inc, a leading online DVD rental company, and Blockbuster Inc, the largest U.S. movie rental chain.

(Source: Reuters)

INTERVIEW: Diane Kruger goes on the hunt for ‘National Treasure: Book of Secrets’

MoviesOnline sat down with Diane Kruger at the Los Angeles press day for her new movie, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” which opens in theaters this weekend. In this follow up to the box-office hit "National Treasure," treasure hunter Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) once again sets out on an exhilarating, action-packed new global quest to unearth hidden history and treasures. Kruger plays the beautiful, scholarly Abigail Chase, who shares Ben’s passion for history.

When a missing page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth surfaces, Ben's great-great grandfather is suddenly implicated as a key conspirator in Abraham Lincoln's death. Determined to prove his ancestor's innocence, Ben follows an international chain of clues that takes him on a chase from Paris to London and ultimately back to America. This journey leads Ben and his crew not only to surprising revelations – but to the trail of the world's most treasured secrets.

Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turteltaub and directed by Turteltaub, the story reunites the original cast including Cage, Kruger, Justin Bartha and Academy Award winner Jon Voight, joined this time by four-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris, Academy Award nominee Harvey Keitel, and 2006 Academy Award winner Helen Mirren.

(Source: Movies Online)

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