Thursday, December 31, 2009

Clothing Of The Future - Clothing in The Year 2000


A hilarious clip depicting what designers in the 1930's thought fashion in 2000 would look like. Watch for the headlight hair accessory.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, HORRORTHONNERS!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I love the new Star Trek


From geekology, Ever wanted to see a bunch of Star Trek fans wearing nothing but funny faces and body paint? God you're sick. But also lucky, because this is exactly that. Don't miss Worf's head in the back!

See the NSFW version here

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Man Sought By Police For Sniffing Butts In Supermarket


From huffingtonpost, According to The Daily Telegraph, there's a man in the UK going around sniffing people's behinds. He trolls the supermarket, looking for candidates (or "victims") while they shop. Then, when they reach for the peanut butter, he casually drops down for a sniff and continues on his way.

Police are currently on the hunt for this deviant, but while there is surveillance footage of the man, his identity is unknown. The only description available is that he's "white, clean-shaven, and of medium to large build." Perhaps they should add that his height varies, depending on the height of the butt he's sniffing.

[JPX] Credit goes to JSP for discovering this gem!

Crossing the "Uncanny Valley"


[UPDATE: I added "behind the scenes" images from Digital Domain; scroll down.]

I haven't seen Avatar yet, so I can't comment, but I've noticed that everyone's giving James Cameron's team credit for "finally" solving the problem of creating expressive digital faces that look photorealistic and genuine, without being creepy...since nobody else has done this.

Really? As with all digital effects, the audience only thinks to comment on them when they're aware of them...which is when people start pointing out how "obvious" they "always" are. In reality, most of the time, viewers have absolutely no idea that they're being fooled, unless there's no other way to explain what they're seeing. My Dad turned to me during Gollum's first appearance in The Two Towers and whispered, "Is that a digital effect?" Point being that it couldn't possibly have been makeup or a puppet or anything else, so he deduced what it was; deprived of the opportunity for deductive logic, people totally miss what's in front of them. (Everybody knows there aren't any ten-foot-tall blue people with cat faces, so, ergo, "it's digital.") I'm not claiming to be any different, either: I know enough about digital images and animation to know that I can't trust my own eyes at all.

To illustrate my point, here are some frames from David Fincher's sublime The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, in which the actual Brad Pitt doesn't appear for forty minutes, and the audience isn't complaining about any "uncanny valley," because they're completely, blissfully unaware that they're seeing millions of pixels. Check out the (imaginary) old and young Pitt (and some "behind the scenes" pictures of the process Digital Domain used):







Monday, December 28, 2009

Inception trailer

Kinght and Day trailer, I'm embarrassed for all involved

Box office report: 'Avatar' makes $75 million on Hollywood's best weekend ever


From ew, Hollywood gave itself one heck of a Christmas present this year: the single best day in the history of the box office. The weekend’s slate of movies racked up a record-setting $278 million overall haul, with James Cameron’s Avatar ($75 million) leading the charge. The sci-fi epic dipped an incredibly slim two percent in its second weekend, bringing its 10-day domestic total to an impressive $212.3 million.

Not that newcomer Sherlock Holmes (no. 2, $65.4 million) had a bad weekend, either. The action-adventure pic from director Guy Ritchie scored the best-ever Christmas weekend debut, adding another notch to star Robert Downey Jr.’s box office belt. The weekend’s other new wide releases, the animated Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (no. 3, $50.2 million) and the Nancy Meyers rom-com It’s Complicated (no. 4, $22.1 million) connected soundly with two very different demographics. While the Chipmunks got kids and families dancing into theaters, Complicated stars Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin drew adults in the mood for a (tastefully) R-rated romp.

Results were mixed for the two Oscar contenders that expanded into wider release this weekend. Up in the Air (no. 5, $11.8 milion) flew straight to the top five by adding 1,720 new theaters, but the awards-bait musical Nine (no. 8, $5.5 million) only mustered a so-so $3,926 per-site average. Meanwhile, Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus opened well at four sites, earning $130,000.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Your Complete Guide to Saving Movie Theater Seats


From Defamer: "I'm laying down some ground rules about movie theater seat saving, because I'm sick of having the film ruined by you assholes...If you can not follow them, then you have to sit in the aisle or wait for everything to come out on DVD and leave the theater for civilized folk."

The rules (click here for full text explaining each item):

The party for whom the seat is saved must be in the theater.
A seat with a coat or bag on it is taken.
The only acceptable place to go is to get popcorn or use the toilet.
You can only save one seat at a time.
No, I will not move over.
No, I will not watch your stuff.
Don't ask me if a seat is free.
When the previews start, any save is voided.


Again, read the complete list (recommended).

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Horrorthon gathering


Tonight come for a very rare meet-n-greet with Horrorthon's very own JSP. The doors open at 6 although I'm assuming that people might wish to drift in a little later, say 7:30-8ish?

Come one, come all!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bill would turn down volume of TV commercials


Washington (CNN) - It's after dinner. You're tired. You ease yourself into a comfortable place to watch your favorite TV show. Suddenly you're jolted from your couch potato demeanor by a commercial break.

It's an ad for insurance or rum or a credit card - and it's blaring, invading your calm and boosting your blood pressure.

Marketers want the loud commercials to grab viewers' attention.

A California congresswoman, however - and her fellow politicians in the House - find them more annoying than effective.

In her crusade to eliminate the nuisance, Rep. Anna Eshoo authored the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, which mandates that TV commercials be no louder than the programs in which they appear.

Representatives unanimously passed the bill last month and sent it to the Senate for consideration.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yeesh.


From thesuperficial, "Redbox, which operate DVD kiosks around the US, are dispatching teams to remove the Deadline box art from kiosk displays."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar (IMAX 3D)

(2009) ****1/2

The most relevant thing to tell you is that this movie is an ass-load of fun. Fantastic action, an unreal setting with incredible depth, a tight pace, and a complete feast for the eyes. I'm going to try to do this in bullet points.

The bad: The story contains few surprises, the expected share of boilerplate characters, and with them an array of unfortunate dialogue. At some point Sigourney Weaver says "so much for the quiet life" or something like that, and you'll roll your eyes. It won't be the only time, but in the end you probably won't care.

But: the characters are likeable, and the love story is not belabored.

The Na'vi: look great. Some are better than others, but the main characters are handled with an exquisite amount of attention and skill. To me it seemed less an achievement of the images' photorealism than it was the remarkable believability of the Na'vis' facial expressions. I'm sure it was a combination, but the point is I've never seen better.

The forest: is rich and exotic. One of my doubts since they started releasing stills was that planet Pandora didn't look all that different from Earthly forests. But when you get on the ground, when you see the colors in the corners and the wonders in the sky, it's a whole different story. One of the best cinematic alien planets ever.

The scale: I'll get to the 3D in a moment, but whatever dimension you see it in, see it on the biggest screen you can. It pays off very quickly.

The action: even when we're hatin' on James Cameron, we all know his actions scenes pump adrenalin. The level of pure spectacle in this is jaw-dropping.

The 3D: What I've been saying all along is that I'm still not convinced 3D is the next big thing, at least not to the extent that it's being shoved down our throats. And I say this because of claims that 3D will be as significant to movies as special effects themselves (perhaps these claims weren't made, but I believe they were).

My feelings about Avatar's 3D went like this. At first I noticed certain shots in which too many elements were in play, resulting in large parts of the onscreen image being blurry. Perhaps the eye just can't focus on too much at once, perhaps it's a natural effect of 3D. Perhaps "blurry" is the wrong word, and it's natural motion blur that was throwing me off. It seemed to happen in shots containing a lot of movement close to the camera. It wasn't a big problem, like a low grade shaky-cam sensation, but it did make me wonder about the effectiveness of 3D.

Well, maybe all the shots like that were just clustered at the beginning of the movie, because not too far into the story I noticed I wasn't having that problem anymore. In fact, I wasn't even noticing the 3D at all. That just cemented my opinion; if 3D is either going to be a problem on one hand or negligible on the other, why bother with it?

But tonight I was discussing all this with my friend Bruce, who has worked on most of Disney's recent 3D efforts, and he said some things I've been thinking about. One point was that 3D images can broadcast textures in a way 2D can't because you are actually getting two slightly different perspectives on every surface. I thought of how that might augment the experience of seeing Pandora's forests. Unfortunately I was trying to police a toddler-eating-yogurt situation in the chair next to me, and our conversation was cut short.

But I have to consider: I haven't seen Avatar in 2D, so I don't know how I'd rate the two experiences. Maybe saying that I wasn't noticing the 3D is just like Jason Reitman saying he "gets" 3D after 20 or 30 minutes, and in truth I am enjoying the effect even if I'm not consciously grooving on it. Maybe not noticing it is just getting acclimated to it. After all, a LOT of cinematic effects depend on the viewer not knowing what they're looking at. Much of my work building miniatures is about fooling the audience.

As for the "blurry" shots, Bruce pointed out that with any kind of effect you might get shots that don't work. Hmm. For now I draw no conclusions, but I must say my skepticism about 3D has taken a serious hit.

Because it's such a great sci-fi movie! A really good sci-fi action movie! For Christmas! Woo!

Oh, and that lame-ass song doesn't happen until the credits roll.

For your Horrorthon 2010 consideration

Monday, December 21, 2009

Silent Hill




(2006) ****

If you drew a straight line from The Matrix to Dark City and then extended the line along the same axis, you’d eventually hit Silent Hill, French director Christophe Ganz’ feverishly obsessive cinematic rendering of the acclaimed computer game series of the same name. This odd, grisly, beautiful movie was a box-office disappointment (and has many detractors), but I appreciate its elegance and sensual force more and more, each time I watch it. The detractors have a point—after a strong opening, the narrative quickly becomes snarled, complex and directionless, and the ending is unsatisfying—but I can’t make myself care. Other directors have attempted to do what Silent Hill does—to depict a sulphurous, demonic underworld directly beneath the surface of reality (notably, Francis Lawrence in Constantine) but no other movie I’ve seen achieves the particular, wonderfully creepy Edward Hopper-meets-H. P. Lovecraft atmosphere that seeps freely from this movie like steam from a street grating.

Have you ever driven down a dark, deserted country road late on a moonlit night, passed an unmarked turnoff, and (with a hint of unease), wondered, “What would happen if I left the highway and followed that road?” Silent Hill is about that unease—about the dream horrors that we imagine might be quietly hidden deep within underpopulated pockets of the nocturnal landscape. (Don’t take the turnoff—trust me.) Thirteen minutes after the movie starts, not-particularly-bright housewife Rose Da Silva (Pitch Black’s Radha Mitchell), traveling with her troubled, sleepwalk-prone daughter Sharon (whose ailments she’s trying to investigate), drives her Jeep Cherokee down that proverbial abandoned road—and off the edge of the sane universe. Silent Hill, the deserted West Virginia mining town that’s become a dimensional gateway into the depths of Hell, is the cause of Sharon’s somnambulistic distress, and the nexus of a neo-satanic curse that’s bent reality into a multi-layered puzzle-box of blood and evil straight out of Dante by way of Francis Bacon.*

One of the many strokes of genius in the Matrix movies is the creation of not one, but two fantastical environments: the “Matrix” itself (that stylish, subtly-tinted simulacrum of urban reality where heroes wear designer clothes and sunglasses, defying gravity as they kung-fu fight and dodge bullets) and the poisoned, rubble-strewn postnuclear “real world” where the same characters wear grime-smeared rags as they flee the red-eyed machines beneath a scorched sky. In almost exactly the same way, Silent Hill presents two different nightmare locales, existing right on top of each other (and overlaying yet a third dimensional plane—normal, sunlit, rain-drenched reality, where Rose’s husband frantically and uselessly searches for her), all three occupying the same physical space: the streets and buildings of the titular ghost town (a term that, obviously, may be taken literally and figuratively). The first level (called “Ash World” in the original game’s parlance) looks like reality...sort of. Nothing moves except the steady snow of ash that falls from the gray sky and coats the streets and buildings. Rose’s daughter is a constantly-glimpsed distant figure, endlessly running away like the faraway silhouettes in DiChirico’s paintings. I mentioned Edward Hopper, but Silent Hill draws from other surrealist masters including DiChirico, Balthus and Magritte (the yawning, sawtoothed, bottomless mist-shrouded cliffs that surround the town—shearing every exit road to make escape almost ludicrously impossible—resemble the vast, distant rock formations behind Magritte’s expansive landscapes).

“Ash World” would be frightening enough (and, in fact, contains the crucial clues with which Rose can solve the story’s deepest mysteries) if it were all the movie provided...but there’s more. Moments after Rose’s arrival, a lonely air-raid siren blares from somewhere nearby (a church steeple, as she eventually discovers) and she learns the most important rule of Silent Hill: when you hear that sound, be somewhere else. “The Darkness” (Silent Hill’s vastly more terrifying alternate reality) falls at regular intervals and for regular durations (again, reproducing the gameplay): the pale gray sky fades to black and all the world’s light vanishes. (I love the brutal efficiency of this particularly terrifying conceit: What’s the first rule of fear, anyway? Darkness.) This isn’t the conventional, spooky horror-movie dimly-lit environment: there is no light at all except for the unlucky visitor’s Zippo flame (and, later, a perpetually-dying flashlight) that allows flickering glimpses of the surrounding transformation of reality. It's like the end of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in reverse: every surface curdles and shreds like blowtorched paint melting from metal, revealing an obscene, viscera-spattered industrial-funk wasteland of blood, all steel grids, catwalks and fans, like an underground dance club painted by Hieronymus Bosch. “The Darkness” is where the mummified, barbed-wire-skewered corpses come to life and the monsters manifest out of thin air: the insects with screaming human faces; the half-formed infant blobs of corrosive flesh; the blood-drenched, knife-wielding, blindfolded nurses (played, in a brilliant directing choice that has been mentioned elsewhere on Horrorthon, by dancers), and, finally, the terrifying, giant-razor-wielding “pyramid-head” ghoul—the kind of demon Tolkien’s Nazguls would run from—who rules the landscape (even the menacing swarms of giant beetles flock to him).

All of this reproduces the game’s environmental logic, and its survival rules—twice, Rose escapes “The Darkness” simply by running out the clock. The movie is gameplay come to life, complete with MYST-style puzzles—Rose follows a map, finds the keys she needs, interprets cryptic messages—without the additional overlay of characterization or plotting that (for example) the Tomb Raider movies attempt to add. According to most of Silent Hill’s detractors, this is the problem: watching somebody else play a game wouldn’t be anyone’s first choice for a diverting entertainment. But I fundamentally disagree with the critique: in my opinion (which resembles my opinion of I Am Legend, another Francis Lawrence project) the environment is the movie, and, once the weirdness begins to cohere into a genuine story, things go astray. The always-interesting screenwriter Roger Avary (Pulp Fiction, Killing Zoe, Beowulf) provides a historical and motivational armature, sketching in the town’s noxious coal-mine fires, deviant church minions, and decades-old sins and curses that explain and define the multi-tiered nightmare locale I’ve described. But none of that really makes much sense, or difference. As Stephen King wrote (in Danse Macabre, the nonfiction book I’m always quoting), the basic triumph of The Twilight Zone was to present the nightmare “without explaining it or apologizing for it;” when Silent Hill follows this guideline, the results are peerless. (King fans, in fact, will find many of his favorite motifs, including his penchant for cursed towns, creepy religious sects, unsettling rifts in time and space and the horrors that await the hapless travelers who stumble into those dark, otherworldly realms. If King were a filmmaker rather than an author, he might make a movie like this.) Ironically, despite the aforementioned “just the game, filmed” critique, by attempting to go further, Ganz and Avary nearly undo the fine work they’ve done. As I said, I don’t mind: as far as I’m concerned, breathing life (and death) into a place like this—a town “from the dark side of the imagination” (as the Dark City trailers memory phrased it)—is achievement enough.


[BONUS VIDEO: If you haven’t seen the movie (or even if you have), you should watch the excellent trailer I’ve put up on my site. It’s very well done and conveys the peculiar, eerie tone of Silent Hill perfectly. MYSTERIES WITHOUT ANSWERS / SECRETS WITHOUT EXPLANATION / FEAR WITHOUT END.]

*The painter, not the philosopher.

Some crazy looking posters


'Sesame Street' photographer Olivia loses battle with cancer


From usatoday, Alaina Reed Hall, who may be better known to you as Olivia the photographer on Sesame Street, died on Dec. 17 in Los Angeles after a lengthy fight with breast cancer. She was 63.

Hall, who appeared for a decade on the PBS kids' show starting in 1976, is also remembered for her role as Rose Holloway on the 1985 NBC sitcom 227.

Just When You Thought Marmaduke Couldn't Get Worse



Watch the teaser trailer here

Brittany Murphy SNL sketch pulled (probably for not being the least bit funny)

There's a great disturbance in the force


There has been a lot of whispering and speculation and I’m here to set the record straight. The rumors are true, Horrothon’s very own JSP will be making a rare East Coast visit this week and I think it would be fun to have a meet-n-greet. Originally the idea of meeting at the Cinema Pub was suggested, but we concluded that this wouldn’t be conducive for a lot of conversation. Last year we met at Snookers, which has since relocated, for an evening of pool and booze. Given JSP’s brief visit and busy schedule, it appears that Saturday night would be the best evening to meet up - any objections to meeting at the new Snookers? More importantly, who’s in?

Roger Ebert’s Best Film Lists for 2009


From slashfilm,

Top Ten Mainstream Films for 2009

Bad Lieutenant
Crazy Heart
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Knowing
Precious
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
The White Ribbon

Top Ten Indie Films for 2009

Departures
Disgrace
Everlasting Moments
Goodbye, Solo
Julia
Silent Light
Sin Nombre
Skin
Trucker
You, the Living

Box Office


Despite snowstorms that battered the East Coast and kept many moviegoers at home, the sci-fi epic Avatar still managed out-of-this-world numbers.

The James Cameron space opera collected $73 million, according to studio estimates from Nielsen EDI.

The debut was $3 million above the projections of many analysts, who thought that weather, the length of the film (2 hours, 40 minutes) and additional ticket charges (most were $15 for the digital IMAX experience) would temper returns.

As usual, Cameron proved his critics wrong, scoring the largest debut for a 3-D film. And, as usual, he claimed he would.

Read full article here

Watch the TMNT sing Deck the Halls and then scratch your eyes out

Watch a scene from Toy Story 3

Bond 23 to Have a Shocking Story


From slashfilm, I’m still reeling from the crushingly disappointing Quantum of Solace, but I’m continuing to hope for the best regarding future Daniel Craig Bond outings. And if we’re to believe Bond 23 (the film is still untitled) scribe Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Last King of Scotland), the next entry in the franchise may be different than the typical Bond film. Speaking to Bond fansite MI6, Morgan said that the next Bond film has a “shocking story.” It’s easy to read a lot into such a short statement, but as the first real bit of news about the next Bond film, it’s making me hopeful that it’ll resemble Casino Royale more so than Quantum.

Read the full article here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Clash of the Titans remake trailer 2 ruined by bad heavy metal music

Need to solve a crime? Enhance it!

Brittany Murphy Dies



From TMZ, Brittany Murphy died early this morning after she went into full cardiac arrest and could not be revived, multiple sources tell TMZ.

She was 32.

A 911 call was made at 8:00 AM from a home in Los Angeles that is listed as belonging to her husband, Simon Monjack, the Los Angeles City Fire Department tells TMZ.

We're told Murphy was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

Murphy starred in such films as "Clueless," "8 Mile," and "Don't Say a Word."

Story developing ...

No Joke!!!


Yeah, to this day I write "cat fud" on the shopping list. But that's not why I'm posting.
I'm posting because I could use a little help. Mr. AC and I will be visiting family at the end of the week, and since his brothers use humor to cope with "family dynamics," odds are we'll get into a big ol' joke fest. Nothing makes me happier than cracking up Mr. AC's brother Stephen, but sadly, after 15 years of this tradition, I'm out of material. So if you know any good jokes, comment away. If the jokes are too raunchy or offensive for the blog (which is always a good sign), email me. If the joke is long, I'll memorize it on the drive down.
Many thanks in advance- and may your holidays be filled with laughter.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It Does Feel Like Hoth: Star Wars Weather


From geekology, Star Wars Weather is a website by Tom Scott that gives the current forecast in your area in reference to a planet in the Star Wars universe. For instance, where I am now it's cold as shit and miserable as hell, just like Hoth! And in case you can't read the fine print it says, "you may have to climb inside a tauntaun for warmth". HA! Can you ever mention Hoth without making a tauntaun reference? Because I can. One time on Hoth I dry-humped a Wampa because I couldn't find any loose AT-AT's. TAUNTAUN TAUNTAUN TAUNTAUN! Okay, so it's harder than I thought.

Check out the site here

Bryan Singer to make X-Men movie I have no interest in seeing


From ew, And now for some news that will make you drop your coffee mug to the floor in slow motion: Bryan Singer is returning to X-Men! According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox has confirmed that the The Usual Suspects director will be back to take on the next installment in the blockbuster series.

This is a smart move. The first two X-Men movies, helmed by Singer, adhered to the golden rule of superhero franchises, namely that the second film will be better than the first. Cleverly, Singer hoped to avoid the other golden rule, that the third film will suck eggs, by hop-skipping from Marvel to DC and making Superman Returns. (But he forgot something key: Returns is meant to follow Richard Donner’s Superman II , a superior super-sequel, making it technically the third film in that series. Nobody but nobody escapes the curse.)

Like someone who just went through a bad breakup and is willing to hook up with anyone with a pulse, Fox hired Brett Ratner to do the X-Men: The Last Stand, which many fans believe ended up blowing more than one of Storm’s hurricanes. So, both humbled and willing to give the relationship one more shot, Fox and Singer are back together to work on a prequel titled X-Men: First Class that will follow the lives of the mutants as teenagers. Which means we might be seeing an awkward Wolverine at prom, Mystique’s poorly attended Sweet 16, and Toad frantically applying Clearasil to his first wart. Honestly, I’m interested as long as they hire new, younger actors and stay away from that creepy anti-aging CGI used to make Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen look like evil CPR dummies.

I actually believe that bringing Singer back to create a whole new storyline within the same universe is a good way to mix the new with the proven, and it might go far in helping this series rise like a Phoenix Saga from the cold, wet ashes Ratner left behind. My only suggestion: Somehow use the theme music from the animated series. That stuff is amazing.

'Squeakuel' Chipmunks Classified by Type


From iwatchstuff, (Left to right) Douchebag, sex offender, just some fat asshole, affable retard, failed experiment, doable.

R.I.P. Dan O'Bannon


From examiner, Some sad news from the world of film making yesterday. Screenwriter, director and actor Dan O'Bannon has passed on at age 63.

O'Bannon was responsible for some of the favorite sci-fi/horror myths of our generation. He wrote the screenplay for a little film called Alien, directed by Ridley Scott, (you may have heard of it), and worked on all the sequels. He was also responsible for The Return of the Living Dead, the amazing George Romero zombie satire, and he worked on the Total Recall script and created the B-17 sequence in Heavy Metal. Not only that, but he provided the screenplay and served as Special Effects Supervisor on the John Carpenter flick, Dark Star, and he worked on a film called Star Wars. You may have heard of that one, too.

Dan O'Bannon truly was a geek creator and he will be sorely missed in the world of film. He was working on the Alien prequel to be released in 2011 at the time of his death. He is survived by Diane Louise Lindley and one son.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Spider-Man 4 is Having Villain Problems


From worstpreviews, During the making of "Spider-Man 3," director Sam Raimi did not want Venom to be the villain in the movie, but Sony convinced him otherwise. The result, a big mess. And now that "Spider-Man 4" is ready to head into production in March, the studio is once again getting in Raimi's way.

IESB has learned that the new installment, being called "Spider-M4N" by Sony, has been put on hold while Raimi and executives figure out which villains will appear in the film.

Raimi is pushing for Vulture (possibly played by John Malkovich), a character who can fly through the air and brandish his sharp wings to attack our hero. But Sony believes that there are plenty of other more popular villains that he can use. The studio doesn't have any characters in mind, but will take whichever one is selling the most comic books right now. And it's not the Vulture.

Because of this disagreement, the fourth film has come to halt, leaving the script unfinished and in need of villain. Only time will tell whether the March start date will be pushed back. Stay tuned.

The Vulture seems to be a favorite for Raimi, since he was pushing for the villain to appear in "Spider-Man 3" instead of Venom. Vulture and Flint Marko would have been cellmates who escaped together, with Vulture pressuring Marko into committing crimes.

First picture from the forthcoming Marmaduke movie already enrages me

Roy Disney: 1930-2009


From denofgeek, Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt, has died it has been confirmed. He was 79. He had been fighting stomach cancer for the last year and died on Wednesday in California.

Roy Disney had been a pivotal figure in the Disney organisation for much of his life, not least for twice leading shareholder revolts that overthrew board members. The first time was back in 1984, when Walt's son-in-law was ousted after Roy grew concerned about the direction in which the Disney company was heading. The second was more recent, as he was one of the catalysts for the chain of events that led to ex-Disney boss Michael Eisner stepping down in 2005.

He was also the man who championed the idea of Fantasia 2000, amongst his other film work.

Above all, though, Roy Disney was a champion and lover of animation and was a protector of the Disney legacy and its standards. Across his career, this put him into conflict on more than one occasion, but history has more often than not found in his favour.

His influence over the Disney company across his life extended far further than his surname, and his loss is a sad one.

Rest in peace, Roy.

The 8 Greatest Humans on Sesame Street

4) Matt Robinson as Gordon


See the full list here

Iron Man 2 official trailer!



See the new trailer here

Coconut-Carrying Octopus: First Evidence Of Tool Use In Invertebrate, Researcher 'Gobsmacked'




This is so amazing and wonderful! You just have to watch it. From the Associated Press (via Huffinton Post):

AP-- SYDNEY — Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter – unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal.

The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot.

Julian Finn and Mark Norman of Museum Victoria in Melbourne observed the odd activity in four of the creatures during a series of dive trips to North Sulawesi and Bali in Indonesia between 1998 and 2008. Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal Current Biology.

"I was gobsmacked," said Finn, a research biologist at the museum who specializes in cephalopods. "I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh."

Octopuses often use foreign objects as shelter. But the scientists found the veined octopus going a step further by preparing the shells, carrying them long distances and reassembling them as shelter elsewhere.

That's an example of tool use, which has never been recorded in invertebrates before, Finn said.

"What makes it different from a hermit crab is this octopus collects shells for later use, so when it's transporting it, it's not getting any protection from it," Finn said. "It's that collecting it to use it later that is unusual."

The researchers think the creatures probably once used shells in the same way. But once humans began cutting coconuts in half and discarding the shells into the ocean, the octopuses discovered an even better kind of shelter, Finn said.

The findings are significant, in that they reveal just how capable the creatures are of complex behavior, said Simon Robson, associate professor of tropical biology at James Cook University in Townsville.

"Octopuses have always stood out as appearing to be particularly intelligent invertebrates," Robson said. "They have a fairly well-developed sense of vision and they have a fairly intelligent brain. So I think it shows the behavioral capabilities that these organisms have."

There is always debate in the scientific community about how to define tool use in the animal kingdom, Robson said. The Australian researchers defined a tool as an object carried or maintained for future use. But other scientists could define it differently, which means it's difficult to say for certain whether this is the first evidence of such behavior in invertebrates, Robson said.

Still, the findings are interesting, he said.

"It's another example where we can think about how similar humans are to the rest of the world," Robson said. "We are just a continuum of the entire planet."

Little octopus...carrying discarded shells around...making a shelter on the seabed...I love it. What a planet!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Iron Man 2 trailer preview

'Wolverine' bootlegger arrested by FBI


From ew, The FBI has arrested a New York man for uploading copyright-protected copies of the 20th Century Fox movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine to an Internet site last spring, according to FBI documents obtained by EW. Gilberto Sanchez, 47, was indicted Dec. 10 by a grand jury in L.A. for violation of federal copyright law and was arrested without incident at his home in the Bronx early today. He is expected to appear in front of a U.S magistrate today. If convicted, Sanchez faces up to three years in jail and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or gross loss attributable to the offense, whichever is greater.

A rep for Fox emailed EW the following statement: “We are supportive of the FBI’s actions and we will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement to identify and prosecute any individuals who steal our movies.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's starting to look like Avatar is actually really good


When even those grouchy depressed snotty hipsters on Gawker publicly apologize for attacking Avatar (and sing its praises), it starts to look like ol' James Cameron pulled it out. Apparently he aimed for the impossible sci-fi bullsye and hit it:

For months, the evidence mounted and mounted that James Cameron's long awaited Titanic follow-up was going to be the biggest let down since Phantom Menace. No one wanted to believe that more than we did.

So imagine our horror, when last night we attended a screening of Avatar — and it was pretty spectacular.

[...]

It is going to become to film that everyone — nerds, families, grandparents — will have to see and it will rake in unbelievable amounts of loot; mountains of cash beyond the imagination.

So now it is time to point fingers — at ourselves. How in the heck did we get this so wrong? How did a movie manage to look so horrible and actually turn out to be great?

Well for starters, all the stuff that we ridiculed in the the trailers and publicity campaign — the laughable dialogue, the cartoonish good versus evil plotting, the clunky character names, the silly looking cougar noses — they are all in there, and they are all ridiculous. But what wasn't clear from the trailers is how small a part of the film those laughable/clunky bits would be.

We were basing much of our dread on memories of Titanic — which we still hold was the worst film ever made; thinking that the sins of Titanic, as they reappeared in the Avatar campaign, meant that the same tedious nightmare awaited us, like an iceberg drifting through the dark Atlantic towards our ship of entertainment.

But in Avatar, Cameron managed to reverse the disastrous Titanic equation, letting him play from his strong suit. Whereas Titanic was a drama with bits of action, Avatar is basically an action/adventure movie with bits of drama stuck in. Yes, there is ridiculous clunky dialogue, eye-rolling Dances With Wolves-like worship of the Earth-loving (or Pandora-loving) native wilderness people, a plot that attempts to be a parable of US foreign adventures written with the subtlety of a 12-year-old.

Yes, the irony of making a film celebrating the sanctity of every living organism which revels in exquisitely slaughtering vast number of characters is completely lost on the filmmaker.

All that is there in Avatar and we were right to mock those elements.

But those pieces, amazingly are small and fairly unobtrusive in plot that is mostly a rollicking, visually spectacular adventure (even if it sags a bit in the middle). They provide guffaw-ready moments but unlike Titanic, where the love story went on hour after hideous hour, here it basically is handled in one fairly brief scene.

Trust us, this gives us no joy to write, but this time the tea leaves were off and we must hereby humbly resign our seat on the board of Avatar-Bashing Incorporated.

More at this link: An Apology: Avatar, Amazingly, Does Not Suck

Natalie Portman to conquer 'Zombies'


(The Frisky) -- If all of the film adaptations of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" have left your brain numb, this one may really kill you ... in a good way.

Natalie Portman has signed on to produce and star in the movie version of the best-selling book "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," written by Seth Grahame-Smith and, uh, Jane Austen.

This expanded version of the Austen classic adds a twist on the well-known love story when the outbreak of a deadly virus begins to turn townsfolk into killers. Elizabeth Bennet struggles to balance her blossoming love for Mr. Darcy with her obligation to kick some zombie butt.

And who better to bring the right combination of elegance, wit, and edginess to the role of Elizabeth Bennet than Portman? She certainly has the chops to convince us to embrace this version of Elizabeth -- a woman who at long last will have a proper outlet for her sense of purpose.

Sure, zombies may seem like a peculiar addition to the original text, but there is something about the outbreak of the undead in 19th-century England that somehow makes the story more accessible.

The idea that love can blossom in spite of treacherous, external forces is really a modern concept. Besides, who hasn't had to slay a couple of zombies to land Mr. Right?

Turns Out Doc Brown's Kid Was a Little Freaky Pervert


From iwatchstuff, Oddly, a child beckoning towards his crotch is still not the most ridiculous element of Back to the Future Part III.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Love it

Box Office


From ew, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog dominated the pre-holiday weekend with a $25 million nationwide debut, pushing the frame up over the same weekend last year. The 2-D animated flick introducing the first African-American princess Tiana proved to be a big hit with audiences, earning an A from exit pollster Cinemascore. It has now grossed close to $28 million including its $2 million from 2-week limited engagement and should be one of the highest-grossing movies of the upcoming holiday season. The studio was also able to bookend the top 5 with its well-playing holdover The Christmas Carol, which fell only 11% in its sixth week to $6.8 million.

Filling in the gaps were The Blind Side, which in the number two spot fell only 23% its fourth weekend in theaters. The Sandra Bullock crowd pleaser added $15.4 million to its $150 million total. The other new wide release of the frame, Clint Eastwood’s Invictus opened to a weak $9 million. But with an A- score from exit polls, the Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman-starrer is likely to play well in the weeks to come. Place four belonged to The Twilight Saga: New Moon which grossed an additional $8 million to push its astounding total at $267 million.

The top 12 was up 8% compared to last year at this time when The Day the Earth Stood Still debuted at $30 million. And the box office is sure to cross the $10 billion mark for the year next week when the behemoth Avatar from James Cameron opens worldwide next weekend. Hollywood and box office prognosticators everywhere will be closely watching how the expensive sci-fi extravaganza performs. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

From the Vaults: Lost Boys and Near Dark

I thought I'd post my 2004 review of Near Dark, which came in an email to JPX and JSP after I wrote the reviews at work. Since these two reviews came in one package, I'm reprinting them both.


85. Lost Boys (1987) ***

My roommate has a synopsis of this movie from the TV section of Entertainment Weekly pinned to the fridge: "Vampires chase everyone named Corey."

This is the movie that immortalized the words "My own brother, a shit-sucking vampire! Wait until Mom finds out, buddy!" and planted its own flag in the ever-crowding hill of modern vampire movies. Universal movie mom Diane Weist and her two sons move in with Grandpa in the vampire-infested beach town of Santa Carla. One son gets recruited by the vamps, the other son gathers two allies and starts the fight.

This movie has some stuff going for it. There's some original applications of the age-old vampire rules. Yeah, why not fill a water pistol with holy water? That just makes sense. Keifer Sutherland pulls off a decent villain here, too, there's a good deepness to his voice I hadn't really noticed before. There are some perks on the soundtrack. Also, I absolutely love the last line of the movie. Here and there are a couple of other moments that still ring true, but what does this movie not have going for it? Quite a bit.

First of all, Lost Boys has the incredible disadvantage of being one of the definitive bastions of late 80's cool. Uh-oh. I'd hope we all know by now how I feel about the late 80's. (Love the early 80's, of course.) You've got the bizarre showcasing of Corey Haim, not knowing that the ride will ever end. Watch as preteen girls get excited about Corey...taking a bubble bath! Or looking at the sexy Rob Lowe poster on his wall (I'm not kidding, it's there). We have the antics of the other Corey and his onscreen brother -- while sometimes still funny, it turns out they get more annoying with time. And then there's the vampires, whose main recruiting promise is that you can rev your motorcycles in the dark and go "woo hoo!" and stuff. This time around I didn't find the vampires flying like Superman really to be all that interesting, and the bulk of the scares are based on those flying POV shots, so...



I don't think I realized this was directed by Joel Shumacher until this viewing, but I wasn't surprised. The sets and costumes reminded me a lot of the unfortunate set design of the back alleys of Shumacher's Gotham City. Everything is all cluttered, the vampires' lair is a fathomless collection of posters, drapes, hanging chandelier things, candles. The costumes on the hench-vamps are complicated collections of colored jackets and shirts and scarves. A lame design sense I don't miss.

It's not like this movie is unwatchable now, but so much of what made it fun feels extremely diluted. Good performances, and enough action to propel it forward, but it'll be a few years before I think about checking this out again.

87. Near Dark (1987) ****

Ah, here we go. A vampire movie that came out the exact same year that still has staying power. Also director Kathryn Bigelow's best movie, in my opinion. Caleb is a young cowpunk who's got nothing to do because he lives in Oklahoma. He meets a pretty girl one night who nips him on the neck, and soon finds himself unwillingly hooked in to a roving gang of Western vampires, led by the always-eerie Lance Henriksen. Unlike Lost Boys, all the vampires in Near Dark have personalities. They've also got a nasty, dirty look to them, both from the dust of the road and the leftover soot from catching bits of sunlight.

This movie doesn't bother with any of the vampire rules except drinking blood, never dying, and avoiding sunlight. And they do some great stuff with the sunlight, like when Caleb is walking home in the sun just after getting bit and there's all this smoke coming off of him, or when Bill Paxton blows a shotgun hole through a door (and the cop outside) and then the sunlight comes through the hole and slams him across the room. Like any good western, there's a lot of gunplay.

The key to this movie is mood. The stylish direction and Tangerine Dream soundtrack never stop delivering the agoraphobia of the open West, or the nightblue strangeness of being a vampire out in the big country. So many movies will lack this completely, or flub the attempt (Shumacher's mood bits in LB involve a lot of dreamy crossfades and come off very Hallmark).

I'm a little dubious of the plot point about reversing vampirism, but I'll certainly let it go for this yummy gem of a movie.