Sunday, June 22, 2008

Popcorn & Cigarettes Hall of Fame - Nicole Kidman!

Welcome to the very first inductee to the Popcorn & Cigarettes Hall of Fame! We will be doing this every so often to highlight and honor some of the best and brightest actors, directors, writers, and anyone else who contributes to the film industry. Hopefully you guys will send in some suggestions for new ones, and comment on them as well!

So first up I, Cigarettes, have chosen Nicole Kidman. Mostly because she is one of my all time favorite actresses, but also because it was her birthday just recently (Happy Belated Nicole!) and she has a new movie coming out this year which looks all kinds of exciting.

Nicole Mary Kidman was born on June 20, 1967 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Dr. Anthony Kidman and Janelle Kidman. The family moved to Washington, D.C. soon after her birth and three years later they relocated to Sydney, Australia. While still a child she took up ballet, mime, and acting. Eventually she began to pursue acting over the other arts while attending high school (with fellow classmate and friend Naomi Watts). She began to study at the Phillip Street Theater in Sydney where she once received a letter of praise from an audience member Jane Campion (who was a film student at the time).

She went on to star in Dead Calm with Sam Neill and Billy Zane in 1989, which was her first major film in America. She continued to work in film, but it wasn't until Gus Van Sant's To Die For, that she garnered a Golden Globe for her work.

She was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002, for her work in Moulin Rouge!, but it was her work in The Hours in the following year that would claim the Best Actress Oscar.

She has continued to make some damn fine films over her career, which now spans almost twenty years on the American screen. Although her films might span from everything in between great and trash, I find that her characters are almost always compelling and interesting to watch. She is a brilliant actress and has some excellent work behind her, and hopefully more to come (which seems highly likely to me). Her future projects include Australia, Need, and Nine.

Australia, the next film from Baz Luhrmann (who collaborated with Nicole on Moulin Rouge!) is scheduled to hit theatres on November 14. The $120 Million project is centered around an aristocrat by the name of Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman) who inherits a cattle ranch the size of Maryland. She hires a cattle driver named Drover (played by Hugh Jackman) when she discovers that cattle barons plan to take over her land. The film is set prior to, and during World War II, when Australia was still under the threat of attack by Japanese air fleets.

So the trailer hit the internet awhile back (for those of you who missed it, it can be seen here) and it just looks stunning. This film looks so beautiful, I don't think anyone will be skipping out on seeing this on the big screen. Promotion has already begun on this film (July's Vogue has our lady Nicole gracing the cover) and it also looks fantastic. (In case you're wondering some of those photos are littered all over this post.) I know I will be seeing this on the week it comes out, and hopefully it will be a certified hit, because both Kidman and Jackman certainly could use one (remember this and this?).

Need is the new film from director Ryan Murphy who wrote, produced, and directed 2006's Running With Scissors. What is special about this project is that it will be the first time Nicole Kidman and her good friend Naomi Watts will pair up together for a project onscreen. [SPOILERS] The film centers around a suicidal woman (Kidman) who is infatuated with her very successful psychiatrist (Watts). Little does the woman know that the psychiatrist's marriage is on the rocks due to her cold and controlling nature. She meets the psychiatrist's husband in a bar, and they begin an affair, and upon discovering the truth, the psychiatrist seeks revenge and disregards personal ethics. Sounds like something I want to watch. Watts vs. Kidman. [/SPOILERS]

And finally, the last of her upcoming projects (for now) is the film Nine directed by Rob Marshall, the guy who brought us Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago. Nine is based on the stage musical of the same name, which is based on the Federico Fellini film . The cast of the film is stunning and awe-inspiring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Sophia Loren, Penélope Cruz, and Dame Judi Dench.

With all of this news it looks like fans of Nicole Kidman will be having some pretty good times in the theatres in the upcoming year. Hooray for our first inductee into the Popcorn & Cigarettes Hall of Fame!


Friday, June 20, 2008

TRAILER: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Today, the world (outside of those who attended the new Indiana Jones) can finally witness the awe and wonder that is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This is an exciting project for almost a million reasons. First off it is being brought to us from none other than David Fincher, the brilliant director behind films like Se7en, Fight Club, and the recent Zodiac.

Not convinced? Well the screenplay is written by Eric Roth, the guy that also wrote Munich, The Insider, and Forrest Gump for starters. Still not enough? Well the story is also adapted from a short story of the same name, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It also has some great names attached to star, including Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, and Cate Blanchett.

The story centers around a man named Benjamin Button (Pitt), who is born in 1919 at the age of 80. As his life continues, he begins to age backwards, which causes some complications when he falls in love with a thirty year old woman named Daisy (Blanchett). Button's life comes to a close at the millennium.

The idea for this movie has been floating around for a long time now, all the way since 1994. It is finally getting made after going through many different drafts. I am glad that this story is finally going to see some light. The $150 Million film finished production in September of 2007 and was slated to open during May 2008, but was pushed back to November 26, 2008, and then pushed back once again to December 19, 2008 presumably to make it a big contender for the Academy Awards.

The cast is brilliant, and the trailer looks stunning in HD, so without further ado, I present the trailer for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button... errr... well actually the link for the trailer here. Enjoy!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wallace and Gromit - A Matter of Loaf and Death

Some good news out there for Wallace & Gromit fans, Nick Park (the co-writer and director of all of the previous Wallace & Gromit films) and the Aardman Studio have been hard at work on the next installment of the series. Entitled "Wallace & Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death'", the new film will be a short like the previous films "Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers" and "A Grand Day Out with Wallace & Gromit".

Here is a quick synopsis of the events that are occurring in the new installment:

Wallace and Gromit have a brand new business. The conversion of 62 West Wallaby Street is complete and impressive, the whole house is now a granary with ovens and robotic kneading arms. Huge mixing bowls are all over the place and everything is covered with a layer of flour. On the roof is a ‘Wallace patent-pending’ old-fashioned windmill. The transformation is perfect. Although business is booming, Gromit is concerned by the news that 12 local bakers have ‘disappeared’ this year – but Wallace isn’t worried. He’s too distracted and ‘dough-eyed’ in love with local beauty and bread enthusiast, Piella Bakewell, to be of much help.
The new short is set to hit televisions in the U.K. sometime during December of this year, and I personally cannot be happier. I am a huge fan of the series and the characters which are almost twenty years old! I think that the production stills look fantastic. You can keep up with updates about the new film over at their website, and you can check out the rest of the production stills here.

[Source Chud]


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Criterion Contraption

I was looking around the Criterion Collection's official website when I stumbled upon a link to this blog called The Criterion Contraption.

The blog was created by Matthew Dessem whose mission is to watch all of the Criterion films in order, by spine number. The blog was created so that he could review and give some information about each film he has seen so far. He has been at this for about four years now, and he is currently at Spine Number 84: Yasujiro Ozu's "Good Morning".

I find that the reviews I have been able to read so far get better each time. He is an excellent writer who clearly puts a lot of effort and thoughts into his work. The screen captures he gets from the films are all high in quality, and are not likely to be found anywhere else (like the one above). He provides a lot of detail and insight in his reviews, and encourages discussion about each film through his comments. I find that by doing all of these things, it really sets apart his blog from some of the other Criterion completionists out there (Which he links to on his blog as well). From what I can tell, he updates about once a month so you should remember to head over to his site every now and again to check out if he has seen anymore of the Criterions.

I am going to refrain from giving too much of a synopsis of what he does and why, because there is an illuminating interview that Dessem had with Christopher Zane that covers most of it. (Interview: Part 1, Part 2) However, I will say that this was a really great find, and if you have the time, it is a great read. Do yourself a favour and head over there and check out some of his thoughts and insights.



Thursday, June 5, 2008

TRAILER: Transsiberian

Another new trailer today, and this one is for the new film Transsiberian (which premiered at Sundance). This film stars Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Kate Mara, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Eduardo Noriega, and is directed by The Machinist director, Brad Anderson.

The film, budgeted at an estimated $15 Million, centers around a young American couple Roy (Harrelson) and Jessie (Mortimer) who decide to head over to Moscow by taking the train. While on their ride they meet another couple in their cabin, Carlos (Noriega) and Abby (Mara). Things go sour after Roy gets separated from Jessie during a stopover, and Jessie discovers that Carlos and Abby are not exactly who they seem to be. Soon Jessie and Roy find themselves caught up with Grinko (Kingsley) a Russian police officer, mobsters, and locals on their journey.
The film is set to be released in theatres in the U.S.A. on July 18, 2008.

I have been looking forward to this film for a long time now, way back when Samantha Morton was attached to play the Jessie role (Morton had to drop out of the film due to health problems, and was replaced with Mortimer). I think the cast that Anderson has assembled is fantastic, and the trailer for the film looks pretty decent. Mortimer is a sensational actress, and I cannot wait to see her acting alongside Harrelson and Kingsley. Kate Mara has also been an actress I have been watching ever since her role in the film Brokeback Mountain, which I thought she was great in.
However, a review over at Bloody Disgusting paints a much different picture for the film which is unfortunate (The review can be found here). Hopefully this film will defy early reviews and go on to be great. One has to hope.

[Source JoBlo]


TRAILER: The Women

So here is the new trailer for the upcoming film The Women. It has an all female ensemble consisting of Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Carrie Fisher, Candice Bergen, Jada Pinkett Smith, Debra Messing, Cloris Leachman, and Bette Midler starring in the first feature film from Emmy-winning director, Diane English.

English, who is best known for her work in television, wrote and directed the film. The Women centers around Mary Haines (Ryan) a wealthy clothing designer who discovers that her husband is having an affair with Crystal Allen (Mendes) a perfume salesgirl working at Saks Fifth Avenue. The situation becomes a hot topic among her close friends Sylvia Fowler (Bening), Edie Cohen (Messing), and Alex Fisher (Smith), and puts their loyality to each other to the test. The film is set to be released in the U.S.A. on September 12.


Now of course this films comes with a lot of red flags. Messing hasn't done anything on film worth mentioning since the end of her show Will & Grace. (Although I have not yet seen Purple Violets, which looks watchable.) Meg Ryan hasn't done anything worth watching since... well... actually, she hasn't done anything worth watching in the last decade. However, this film does have Annette Bening, so that probably means I will be there in the theatre on opening weekend to bask in all the glory that is the Bening. Respect the Bening. Tame Meg Ryan.

[Source JoBlo]


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Apologies and Prince of Persia

First of all I would like to apologize for the lack of posts so far. I know we began pretty strong, full of promises. Well we haven't actually posted any reviews as of yet, however I am posting some movie news in the meantime. Hopefully this will be enough to sustain readers until we get some actual posts.

Alfred Molina, a great actor whose recent appearances onscreen include The DaVinci Code, The Hoax, and Silk, has signed on to the 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' alongside Jake Gyllenhaal, Sir Ben Kingsly and Gemma Arterton. In the Mike Newell directed film, Molina will portray Sheik Amar, a man who becomes mentor to the prince.

Alfred Molina, Jake Gyllenhaal and Sir Ben Kingsley are all great actors so this sounds like great news to me. But I can't shake the memories of seeing Sir Ben Kingsley in the trailers for such films as: The Last Legion, BloodRayne, Thunderbirds, and Mike Myer's upcoming summer flick The Love Guru.

The director Mike Newell is kind of a mixed bag when it comes to films. (In my opinion). He did direct the recent Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which did turn out half decent, so maybe he will be able to make Prince of Persia into a blockbuster worth watching.

[Source Variety]