MOVIE OPENINGS – May 29, 2009


Director: Pete Docter Bob Peterson 
Stars: Edward Asner, Jordan Nagai, John Ratzenberger
Studio: Buena Vista Pictures

The Plot: By tying thousands of balloon to his home, 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America. Right after lifting off, however, he learns he isn't alone on his journey, since Russell, a wilderness explorer 70 years his junior, has inadvertently become a stowaway on the trip.


Director: Sam Raimi 
Stars: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Ruth Livier 
Studio: Universal Pictures

The Plot: A loan officer (Lohman) ordered to evict an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse which turns her life into a living nightmare. Desperate, she turns to a seer for help, and learns she only has a short period of time before she is literally ushered into Hell.


Director: Yôjirô Takita 
Stars: Masahiro Motoki, Ryoko Hirosue, Tsutomu Yamazaki 
Studio: Regent Releasing

The Plot: A musician (Motoki) who is jobless after his orchestra is dissolved moves back to hometown with his wife for a fresh start, a move which introduces him to an unusual profession: an "encoffineer," one who prepares the deceased for burial and entry into the next life.

How to make the perfect movie franchise

As promised 25 years ago the terminator is back. This time, inTerminator Salvation, aka Terminator 4, it’s the turn of Christian Bale to play John Connor, the leader of a rag-tag bunch of humans who battle a mighty machine army in a post-apocalyptic future world. It’s a preposterous if entertaining spectacle, full of explosions, bullet-ridden set pieces and corny one-liners (yes, Bale does get to say: “I’ll be back!”). But it’s also emblematic of the type of movie — the bigbudget franchise — that has come to dominate the Hollywood horizon.


Women and Career Choices in the Movies

What will it take for women to compete on a level playing field with men in the world of film? And is it just the fault of Hollywood -- or the film world in general -- that men still largely dominate the industry when it comes to directing and the production side of the business, or are gender expectations, differences in the ways women were raised, and psychological barriers equally important hurdles?


Blockbuster to sell movie-related merchandise on store shelves

Blockbuster's revival plan includes selling sunglasses.

The nation's top renter of DVDs said Thursday that it's getting serious about branching out into new territory, and that anything movie-related is fair game.

Therefore, expect to start seeing replicas of the sunglasses Tom Cruise wore in "Top Gun" and that Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith wore in "Men in Black" on Blockbuster shelves.

The sunglasses and a slew of other items are part of Blockbuster's push into stocking its stores with merchandise it sells on consignment, thus negating its need to shell out large amounts of capital.


New short film directed by Mike Figgis

$70 dollar zombie film is sensation at Cannes


Indie filmmakers accustomed to boasting about their movies’ tiny budgets can pretty much surrender all bragging rights for the foreseeable future. British director Marc Price spent a grand total of $70 on Colin, his dirt-cheap zombie flick that became a word-of-mouth sensation earlier this month at the Cannes International Film Festival.

The movie doesn’t look particularly cheap, judging from the blurry but stylish Colin trailer (embedded above). So how’d Price pull it off? Favors, lots of favors.

X-Men: The Last Stand make-up artist Michelle Webb, for example, volunteered to supervise effects for the bloody zombie attacks. As Price told CNN: “We were having the same latex that was put on Wolverine.”


Justin Long: The Multi-Faceted “Mac Guy”

With roles in "Galaxy Quest," "Live Free or Die Hard," and "He's Just Not That Into You," Justin Long has been a rising star in Hollywood for the past decade. This Friday he is back in theaters, co-starring in the new thriller "Drag Me To Hell." 

Long, who has also been known as "the Mac guy" from the Mac/PC ads and has appeared in over 25 movies in the last decade, sat down with Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith to chat about his new film. 

"When people see you on the street, especially on the corner of 59th and 5th, (where the Apple Store is located in New York City) what do they say?" Smith asked. 

"That's a little obvious, that's a little shameless," Long said. "I hang out there as much as I can in front of the store, just begging to get recognized. It's so sad. I am just kidding." 


Acting Classes and One Minute Monologues


A dear friend, wonderfully accomplished actor, and renowned and revered acting teacher, George DiCenzo, invited me to attend his acting class. I felt compelled to write about.

Unbeknownst to his students, I, (along with several other actors auditing the class), was invited to see each of his students perform a 1-minute monologue. The students were not told anything in advance, as a sort of ‘test’ to see how they would perform in this ‘pressurized’ situation (the situation being the attendance of a Casting Director and an ‘audience’ of other actors).

It was The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.


Writer-Director John Sayles can’t sell his novel

For 40 minutes last month he held them spellbound, reading about America in 1898. John Sayles didn't just give the crowd a taste of his new novel, "Some Time in the Sun" -- he performed a comedy about tabloid newsboys in New York, playing 26 characters with thick, period accents.

"WAR!" Sayles boomed in the voice of a 13-year-old newsie thrilled ("Trilled!") that the Spanish-American War had boosted his daily street sales: "Remember the . . . Maine! Jeez, the way they played it out -- Day 1, the ship blows up. Day 2, who blew the ship up? Day 3, we think we know. Day 4, we sent down our experts!"

When it was over, the audience at City University of New York's Gotham Center gave Sayles an ovation. But then he was humbled by a question from a woman in the front row: When would the book be out?RI

"I've been done with it for six or seven months, and it's out to five or six publishers," he said quietly. "But we haven't had any bites yet."


Jon & Kate Plus 8 returns for 5th conflicted season


Jon & Kate Plus 8 returned last night for an oversized season 5 opener, and the first show in the series since charges about the couple's marriage exploded in the tabloids: first, that Jon Gosselin had strayed with a teacher (after earlier partying with coed "friends"), then that Kate was unwholesomely linked with a bodyguard. Which meant that the friction between the parents of 8, which had been a grating/amusing subtext to the megafamily reality show before, was now uncomfortably front and center. 

Well, kind of. What TLC served up last night was a bizarre, jarring, excruciating and sad mishmash of what looked like two separate episodes spliced together. There was a (relatively) normal Jon & Kate episode, in which Kate corralled the troops to organize a fifth birthday party for the sextuplets—albeit under pursuit by paparazzi. Then there was what looked like a Barbara Walters special, as producers interviewed the two—mostly separately, as they appeared in most of the episode, about the upheaval in their family / media corporation. 


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