I hear there is some sort of sporting event going on this weekend. So it makes sense that studios decided it would not be a good time to release big-budget movies with hopes of big box office. If Sunday will be devoted to Superbowl XLII, much of the potential theater-going audience will be at home. I got that.
But I still don’t understand why that means that the studios did not let critics see three of the four new releases in time to write reviews. Movies not screened for critics are called “cold opens” because they open without any reviews, which means no exclamation-point-studded blurbs for ads. Jessica Alba has been everywhere promoting the thriller “The Eye,” but they did not show it to critics. There are ads all over television for the comedy “Strange Wilderness,” starring Steve Zahn, from Adam Sandler’s production company. But no blurbs from critics because no one has seen it. And what possible reason could there be to keep critics (except those from LA and NY) away from the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert film? Are they afraid we’ll give away the surprise ending? (She’s both! It’s a wig! And it’s in 3D!) Here is a clip of the concert film, which is more than critics got to see.
This movie starts out badly, gets much worse, and then after it is just dull for a while, it veers off into a whole new category of awful. Stay away.
The premise is promising. How do we know? Because it has been done with various levels of success before, first and best in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, where just as a widower is celebrating his new marriage, the ghost of his ex-wife appears to stir things up. Everything that one did right, this one did wrong, however. That one had wit and charm and a storyline that was supple and surprising. This one: none of the above.
This is my third year as one of the nominators for Beliefnet’s annual awards that pay tribute to the most spiritually nourishing and inspiring films of the year. Each of the candidates is presented with pro and con statements (mine is the pro for Emile Hirsch’s performance in “Into the Wild”), with the awards to be decided by Beliefnet voters. Please visit the site and let us know what you thought about the nominated films and performances.
And I enjoyed Idol Chatter’s list of the 10 Most Inspiring Westerns. Westerns are epic and mythic. They present stark contrasts — cowboys and Indians, outlaws and sheriffs, ranchers and herders, railroads and farmers, gamblers and solid citizens, dancehall girls and prim schoolteachers. I do not agree with all of the choices (especially “Maverick” and “Tombstone”), but endorse with enthusiasm the selection of Silverado as the top choice. This year’s 3:10 to Yuma is worth including. But why limit the list to recent films? Classics like The Searchers, High Noon, My Darling Clementine, How the West Was Won, How the West Was Won, and Red River should be seen by everyone.
“Grace is Gone” is the story of a father who cannot bear to tell his daughters that their mother has been killed in Iraq, so he takes them on a road trip to a theme park called Enchanted Garden. It was written and directed by James C. Strouse, who spoke to me about making the film. You worked with two of my favorite actors on this film, John Cusack, who played Stanley and Alessandro Nivola, who played his brother.
John wanted to try something different. It was written pretty specifically, you could see it on the page that [his character] was buttoned down and quiet, slightly repressed, and he was excited to try that. I had a backstory for him and put him in touch with a couple of people including a man who lost his wife and has three kids. John was ready to do and came up with a lot of the performance on his own.
Alessandro is just phenomenal. That was one of the last roles we cast and as soon as he read the script he said, “Yes, I’ll do it.” He’s so smart. It’s great to meet an actor who not only understands their part but the larger story as well. It’s kind of a luxury, when they understand the micro and macro at the same time. From the first take, I had very little to say because he just got it so clearly. Like his character, he was a breath of fresh air, a fun presence. The girls just instantly were smitten with him. I loved his film Junebug and I poached as many people as I could from that film, not just Alessandro but also the editor, screened the movie for Junebug’s director Phil Morrison to get his comments.
Contest: Win a DVD of Ella the Elephant [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PL7Eup7JXScZz_ZAyJKN2XMIdAVp-n3iCW" frameborder="0"]
Join Ella the Elephant and her kindhearted friends in this all-new animated series from Disney Junior featuring 8 charming episodes. Elephant Island is home to many
Kellie Pickler Joins the Veggie Tales in Beauty and the Beet [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h9mcbvBvE0[/youtube]
Country star Kellie Pickler joins the cast in "Beauty and the Beet," from the Veggie Tales folks, coming out October 14, 2014. (With a name like that, it was just a question of time!) BEAUTY AND THE BEET, a brand-new VeggieTales mus
Smile of the Week: Baby Got Class A great video for Back to School from the hilarious Holderness family!
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/s56-Ta35JRk?rel=0" frameborder="0"]
James Franco's New Movie Mash-Up Series James Franco has a new series on AOL Originals. He'll be re-enacting classic movie scenes combined with other classic movie scenes.
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/cNkFIwas0rk?rel=0" frameborder="0"]
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