February 25, 2011

The Man, The Trinity, The Cage

Sure, go ahead, laugh at him. Call him crazy, call him broke, call him over-exaggerated, but you don't dare call Nicolas Cage not one of the greatest living actors. This is a dude who consistently brings it with the bizarre, wild, and insane. I first became familiar with Cage when I was in middle school and at the time he was starring in three films that I like to refer to as the Nic Cage Trinity. I'd love these three films so much, I wrote his for an autograph and got it, it's framed and in a box somewhere back in Boston. So today in honor of his new film "Drive Angry 3D," let's take a look at three films of the Trinity of Cage.

Some people sleep on this flick and I don't understand why. Not only do you have Cage rocking a ridiculous white tank top and with a flowing mane, but you also have Cage acting with a truly fine supporting cast. John Malkovich, John Cusack, Ving Rhames, Dave Chapelle, Steve Buscemi, and Danny Trejo round out the action fest. And let us not forget, this is one of the only films that finds Cage engaging in mortal kombat over a stuffed animal rabbit.

Borderline perfect. Yeah, I said it, this is one of the greatest movies ever made, no questions asked. People ask me, yo TPG, why you always defending Michael Bay, and I say, listen hippie, stop taking instagram pictures of your Arcade Fire forums and go watch the got dayum "Rock." Cage, playing nerdy chemist Stanley Goodspeed basically goes from a weakling dork to a full on action Jesus, all because his proximity to Sean Connery and love for The Beatles, his hot wife, and his country. The film contains every action movie requirement. Car Chases, explosions, one liners, drama, latino badass commandos, Tony Todd, chemical weapons, fighter jets, conspiracies, Elton John quotes, and chaos.

I've written about this film before, but man Face/Off really is a piece of work. Revisiting the film recently, I found it to be even crazier than I remembered. Every line of dialogue from Cage and Travolta is delivered with fierce tenacity that almost makes the film take on Greek Opera tones, of course the slow motion doves help as well. Film critics have pointed to this film as the first emergence of Cage's "mega-acting" style which almost defines him now. Check out what the man himself said about his mega-acting style in a recent interview with the website screenjunkies
Yeah, I think that makes sense. I often refer to it as outside the box, as opposed to over the top. The two things mean the same thing on one hand but one sort of celebrates the idea of breaking free and going into other forms of expression, whether they’re abstract or extreme or as this friend of yours calls mega acting. The other sort of implies you’re not being truthful to the part, but see, I don’t know how you measure something like that because life can be extreme and life can be mega.
See, the man is a genius! Even The New York Times calls him "mathematically the greatest actor int he world today" All you haters out there, reveling in his youtube video (posted below) should ask yourself the following question: What other actor brings as hard as Cage does in a variety of genres? No one? Well maybe someone, but you'll have to wait til next to find out who. Til then, drive angry folks.

February 24, 2011

Is Christopher Nolan Converting Inception to 3D?

(Photo via Screen Rant)

Christopher Nolan is converting Inception to 3D for an upcoming 3D release. Yes, you're not dreaming, Inception 3D. The information comes form Jonathan Liebsman, who is directing the "Clash of the Titans" sequel, titled "The Wrath of the Titans" for Warner Brothers. In an interview with Collider he dropped this little piece of information regarding 3D Conversion

The clincher for me was Warner Bros. showed me how far conversion had come. They showed me Chris Nolan Inception converting for the DVD, they showed me Harry Potter being converted. So now what we’re doing is, I wanna shoot film, we’re gonna have what are called stereographers on set who are guys who are sitting there advising you. 
I'm going to say that this is for a release way down the line, as in when more people have 3D TVs in their homes, but still it's a very interesting though.

February 22, 2011

The Movies Are Not Dead, Inception Isn't The Movie Messiah, And Hollywood Is Fine

Mark Harris has no faith in the power of Hollywood. Let me rewind, last week Harris dropped an article in GQ Magazine called "The Day The Movies Died." With a killer title like that, it was no surprise that the article became a "mini-hit" with people instantly agreeing and tweeting the article everywhere. Yet the problem is Harris is wrong on many accounts. He states that the only people going to the movies now are males between the ages of 18-25, yet this is the best box office year ever for adult dramas.  He deplores the studios for the now infamous statistic that there are 27 sequels coming out in 2011, but what is so bad about sequels anyway? And finally, he wishes more studios took chances on an original ideas (like "Inception" which he adores) but in reality, original ideas in Hollywood are rare at best now and are aren't the most profitable or critically acclaimed. Before he sounds the death knoll for Hollywood, it sounds like he needs to get a large popcorn with extra butter and pay attention to Hollywood around him.

Harris goes into detail stating that movies that are not aimed at kids are becoming "a peculiar and antique art. Like books. Or plays." If this is so true, why are "adult" films, you know the kind that don't involve robots, come from serious directors, and get nominated for awards, are thriving. Take "The King's Speech" for example; It's an awards favorite, won't sell any toys and has already made $100 million plus in the United States. The same can be said about "Black Swan" and "The Social Network" For more on the success of high class films that Harris believes don't succeed anymore, check out Patrick Goldsteins excellent article about it here

Now to hear Harris tell it, there is nothing worse than a follow up to a successful film, no matter if it is a prequel, sequel, remake or reboot. They are all indicative of Hollywood's desire for "branding" not product. Sure some of them like "Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" are purely $$$, yet many of them are in fact have some of the world's best creative minds working on them. For example the new "Mission Impossible" film, is first live action film from animation genius (and Oscar Winner) Brad Bird. Or "X-Men First Class," the first super hero movie to take place in the Cold War. And  let us not forget 2012's "The Wolverine" from wunderkind director Darren Aronofsky. And if Christian Bale wins an Academy Award for the "The Fighter," "The Dark Knight Rises" will have four Academy Award Winning Actors in it (Bale, Freeman, Caine, Cotillard), why shouldn't we be excited about that?

And while these may not excite you, what is so bad about sequels in the first place? After all it's not like the movies invented the idea. The concept of a sequel goes back to 18th century novellas, hardly a Hollywood created idea. After all if there were no sequels we wouldn't have  "Lord of the Rings" (A bloody follow-up/prequel to the Hobbit!), no "Chronicles of Narnia," (it even contains a prequel!), or even 'Harry Potter." If people love a fictional character, what is so bad about wanting their story to continue? And yes, Mr. Harris I am very excited to see if Vin Diesel can beat The Rock in mortal/car combat in "Fast Five."

If there is one thing that Harris is positive about in his article, it's "Inception." To hear him tell it, "Inception" is the most original film in Hollywood history and Nolan is the cinematic messiah that will save us from our problems with his bold ideas. Yet here is the problem with original ideas - Hollywood doesn't like them that much. Critically if you look at the Best Picture Winners of the last 10 years, only 3 were original ideas ("Crash," "The Hurt Locker*," and "Gladiator**"). The rest were based off books, plays, and foreign films. From a box office perspective, not counting last years mega behemoth "Avatar," the last original film to top of the Box Office was "Saving Private Ryan" in 1998. The issue here isn't that there aren't good ideas out there in Hollywood, it's that people/critics aren't that receptive to them (even they're offered). Simply put, "Inception" was a fun, exception to the norm.

Mr. Harris needs to stop ringing the death bells for Hollywood and take a deep breath. Sure there's a lot of sequels coming out, get over it, sequels are here to stay. And while the content may not be original, the studios are taking bigger risks on young directors and developing their talent (people like Nolan) in the process. Intellectual films like "The King's Speech" are succeeding at the box office. And finally from a technical perspective, 3D films when made correctly are redefining cinema as an experience (see Avatar). Hollywood is not dead, it's just evolving and changing, anybody who can't see that needs to wake up from their dreamland. Maybe Nolan/Leonardo can help Mr. Harris with that.

*The Hurt Locker was based off an article
**Gladiator was original but was rooted in Roman History/Myth

February 18, 2011

Kazaam Takes You Into All-Star Weekend

Yeah that's right, it's NBA All-Star weekend here in This La Life and Kazaam is bringing the weekend fun!

February 17, 2011

Super Hero Smackdown: Thor rises in rankings

There are so many super-hero movies coming out this summer I've started a fluid rankings system as my excitement for each as the releases approach. With this new trailer for Thor, the film has rised in the rankings considerably. The blend of earth based action and fantastical beasts getting their ass whipped by Thor is appealing.

  1. X-Men First Class - Period based super heroes + interesting equals = dayum!
  2. Captain America - see above
  3. Thor - see above
  4. Green Lantern - Where are you bro?

Cred Confessions: Blade Runner & The Robot Uprising

Considering the robot uprising is imminent, the fact that I hadn't seen Ridley Scott's humanoid masterpiece "Blade Runner" was a massive hole in my preparation for my future enslavement by the machines. I heard many things about the film, some good and some bad, so I was intrigued to see if it would provide me some answers. I got a copy of the film* on Blu-Ray, notified my roommate John Connor that I would definitely fight against SKYNET, and dove into the world of Blade Runner.

Watching the film on Blu-Ray was an incredible experience, the cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth is astounding. I read here how Cronenweth and director Scott wanted the film to look like a noir and they totally succeeded. And it's not just the look of the film screams noir, it's the entire story. You have a detective played by Ford, his fat tubby boss, a femme fatale, a pure evil bad guy, a damsel in distress, and the wise-cracking partner. They're all here, granted with a wild sci-fi twist.

But beyond the fact that it's a very well put together future noir, what really struck me about the film was the ideas it presented. Sure they weren't as mind blowing as the space mind melt extravaganza that is "2001," but they seem more timely. With Watson on "Jeopardy," and the singularity on the cover of TIME, the issues of sentient computers is still prevalent almost 20 years after it's initial release. Shit, some people even think that Watson got that last question wrong on "Jeopardy" on purpose to keep us calm (before the uprising). Ridley Scott was ahead of his time with this one and I'm happy to report the film still holds up as a borderline masterpiece. No word if the film will serve as a template to stop the robot uprising though.

* I know there are like 7 versions of the film, I watched the 1992 directors cut.

February 16, 2011

T-Rex Nap Time

It ain't easy being the world's greatest predator to ever stalk the earth. I feel for you, T-Rex.

February 15, 2011

The Halo Effect

HALO, the very mention of the name conjures up late nights with plasma grenades and Spartan Lasers. The game is a cultural landmark and monster franchise, but there still are no real plans for a big time feature film. Fanboys have had to settle for a series of live action short films, presented as commercials to get their live action Halo fix. With the announcement that Noam Murro will be directing "Die Hard 5," I went back to the all the live action commercials and every single director who has made one as a HUGE film project on the horizon. Simply put, if you make a dope live action Halo Short film, people trust you to make a big budget Hollywood movie - I call it the Halo Effect.

1. The Master Chief - Neil Blomkamp

Halo Connection - Blomkamp's Halo connection is the stuff of the legend. Handpicked by Peter Jackson to direct the big budget Halo film, he had the project taken away from him by Fox and Universal. They didn't trust a rookie director with the mega franchise. When they pulled the plug, they had some props already made in pre-production and Blomkamp used them to make this short film to promote Halo 3.

What's Next - After blowing the globe's mind with "District 9," Blomkamp is prepping his next film "Elysium." This film, set to come out in 2012, has a 100 Million dollar budget and will reportedly star Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, and "District 9" star Sharlto Copley. It will be a science fiction film and if this piece of viral marketing is to be believed, it will involve some pretty gnarly aliens.

2. Noble Six Elite Squad - Rupert Sanders

Halo Connection - Titled "We are ODST" Sanders directed the first live action short after Blomkamp and it's safe to say he brought it hard (maybe a little too hard, it's just a game bro). Intended as a commercial for Halo 3: ODST, once again, the same type of imagery and props are used, although this time the whole thing is more grim that Blomkamp's outing.

What's Next - Strangely, Sanders is directing a mega budget action version of "Snow White" for Universal Pictures. Yes, he went from Spartans to Snow White. Titled "Snow White and the Huntsmen" the film rumored to star Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, and Kristen Stewart is an adventure in the spirit of "Pirates of the Caribbean."

3. The Rookie - Noam Murro

Halo Connection - I know, I know, I posted this yesterday, but this is the final short film made so far in the Halo Universe. Intended as the finale of the "Remember Reach" webseries for this fall's "Halo Reach" the story once again uses the familiar imagery but also introduces new gameplay elements, like the mighty jetpack.

What's Next - Die Hard 5! Just last Friday, Murro became one more director to land a big time gig after being associated with the video game franchise. While his attachment to the film is preliminary, one can assume the the film will involve Bruce Willis kicking ass. Considering that in the last film, Willis saved the entire country, don't be surprised if he is now saving the entire planet. Maybe? Could be cool?

February 14, 2011

First Image of The New Spiderman (With Mask)

Previously we had a seen the emo spidey and now we have Andrew Garfield as Spiderman with the mask on. Hard core geeks will notice the presence of the web shooters, which apparently to some is a huge deal.

February 11, 2011

Have A Surprising Weekend

What's He Doing There

Noam Murro Will Direct Die Hard 5

John McClaine is coming back to the big screen and some techno wiz-kid director named Noam Murro is going to help him get there. The news which broke today on Deadline is welcome considering that "Live Free or Die Hard" wasn't as terrible as people thought it would be, I actually found it to pretty enjoyable. The above Halo Short Film was directed by Murro and the action and visual aesthetic is in line with saving the world, which is all McClaine does these days. No word yet on a son of Ellis cameo, but that would be incredible!

February 10, 2011

X-Men First Class Trailer Drops

Wolverine or Batman?

A Letter to the nine 9 year old explaining Commando

Dear Alex,

You're on the right path man, keep it up with your Arnold recaps. How do you know Jay Judah, he told me about the video, where did you meet him? Anyway, yeah, Arnold is the shit, you don't need to tell me that, but here are a couple of pointers that I want to recognize before you move forward with your dissertation of his body of work.

1. You are correct when you assume that "Arnold" is the star of all his movies. He does not play characters, he plays Arnold in every movie. They are all connected, yes, the prequel to Commando is Conan and the sequel to Commando is Twins.

2. You're lack of not mentioning "One Liners" is frustrating but I'll give you a free pass for the language barrier

3. When is your next Arnold recap. May I suggest Predator?

4. If you really want your mind to get blown, check out "Last Action Hero," it might be to meta for you, but you'll dig it.

5. Oceans, rivers, lakes, Arnold doesn't differentiate and either should you.

6. You may surprised that Arnold when he was the Governor of California did a lot to help out the flowers, yeah, I know he kills a lot of them in Commando, but he likes the environment

7. Have you ever seen Clueless, the bad man from Commando is in that. Different movie same mansion.

8. You're ability to jump large gaps in the story shows that you're hip to somewhat jagged narrative based storytelling, which is popular now, you ever think about screenwriting?

9. The child of Arnold is in more movies! As a grown up!

10. Keep up the good work!

Hasta La Vista,


February 9, 2011

First Photo of Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover

Picture via Slash Film
Here is the first photo of Leonardo DiCaprio from Clint Eastwood's new film "J. Edgar." This is the first time that Eastwood, one of the greatest living directors has worked with Leo (one of the greatest living actors) and I don't know about you, but I'm thrilled. Written by "Milk" scribe Dustin Lance Black, this film is literally Oscar bait of the highest caliber.

Eastwood has assembled a supporting cast that is full of movie stars both current and future. Joining Leo is Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Armie Hammer, Ed Westwick, and Ken Howard. And as for Leo, I've read the script and don't worry he gets to spend a lot of time doing his batshit crazy thing, Hopefully people will realize that this type of acting is incredible and deserves to be recognized with a statue. In case you don't know what I"m talking about, check out this video from thislalife reader Jack W!

February 8, 2011

The First Mind Melt of 2011: Stars Wars "The Force Kid" Meets Real Life Vader!

Max Page with James Earl Jones. This is even more crazy because the little Max looks like a baby Luke Skywalker. Now if we could only get David Prouse up in here it would be a Star Wars miracle, and then maybe a pod race, then a lightsaber, whoah whoah, slow it down now.

February 7, 2011

RIP Brian Jacques

Very sad news to hear that Brian Jacques, author of the "Redwall" series of books passed away. While the books never reached the height of popularity of "Harry Potter," they are beloved by millions of readers. Truthfully, I grew out of the series, but when I was first getting into reading I was scarfing them down like strawberry scones at the Abbey.

While "Redwall" might be most well known title in the series, I was a bigger fan of the badass badger lords featured prominently in Salamandastron. It was here in the pages of Jacques books that unbeknownst to me I was learning about the classical mythic structure of heroic narratives. It also helped that there were badgers in armor kicking vermin ass, but still the classical structure was there. His stories always featured a young hero on a quest, and I am a huge fan of quests of any kind. Just great stuff.

One of the most magical things though about the series is that it was never given the mega budget Hollywood treatment. Sure, there is an animated version, but since it human actors couldn't portray the animal characters of the books, the characters exist in their purest form in my mind. I never had to imagine Hugo Weaving voicing Clooney. The books were and continue to be wonderful examples of the worlds that a reader can create in their mind.

Jacques will be missed

4 Quarters With The Superbowl Movie Previews

1. 36 seconds. That's how long it took for everyone to forget about "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" and start salivating over "Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon." I knew this movie was going to be dope, mainly because Michael Bay was directing and he is the MASTER of destruction, but this, with it's alien invasion plot, new babe, and Optimus Prime taking care of BUSINESS on a city street with swords really just shattered my brain. Sure the plot may not be incredible but this is the summer popcorn flick to beat! And it shot in 3D!

2. "Transformers" isn't a movie, it's a spectacle of metal and fire, but "Captain America," this is a movie man does this look cool. It's the first period piece super-hero movie and based off this trailer, it appears that the film has captured the comic book feel expertly. The transformation of scrawny Chris Evans to beefy Chris Evans is cool, but the real badass part of this trailer is the reveal of the Red Skull! As a kid, the Skull always freaked me out, I mean he's a evil nazi commander with a red skull for a head, and based off this image, I'd say they knocked the look out of the park.

3. Yeahhhh! No trailer got a bigger reaction from my superbowl party than this one. I don't know what it is about fast cars, Vin Diesel, hot babes, guns, The Rock, guns, explosions, scorching hot babes, trains, fist fights, techno, and cars/people falling off cliffs that gets people excited, but I'm pretty sure people like those things.

4. Emotional Mystery! That was the theme of the trailer for JJ Abrams and Stevein Spielberg' s"Super 8." While I thought the music was a little too magical/cheesy the imagery here was definitely interesting. Abrams junkies have already found clues in the trailer revealing the monster, but in the end I included this one because it makes me wonder just what is going on here. It's a period piece but there is a military/monster/magic prescense. Those three M bombs are like the Spielberg trinity and it looks like this film could deliver.

February 4, 2011

Life The Movie: "The Day After Tomorrow" & The Current Winter Storm

This winter storm that's messing up everything from the Superbowl to the power grid is straight up movie status. And to honor that, thislalife reader Bob G for sending in this photo from Wisconsin. That's him in the background with his hands up!
The Day After Tomorrow

February 3, 2011

Indiana Jones, Hollywood, and the Egyptian Revolution

Just recently I was pushing an Egyptian vacation on my family. I dreamed of exploring the pyramids, carrying torches in tombs, and commenting on crocodiles as they chomped on water buffalo, uhhh, I mean commenting on crocodiles as they chilled on the banks of the Nile. But that's all changed in the past week. Egypt is in the midst of a revolution and being there as a tourist, even an adventurous one doesn't sound that fun.

Most of what I imagine Egypt to be like comes from the movies, wait, correction, all of what I imagine it to be like comes from the movies. Films such as "Raiders Of The Lost Arc," "The Mummy I & II" (Brendan Fraser 4 Life!), and to some extent "Stargate" conjured an image of magic, history, and adventurous chaos. In almost all these films, Egypt is wild place. Indiana is chased through markets, Fraser is killing the undead hordes, and James Spader is talking about the science of nefarious alien Pharohs.

But now with the country is real chaos, it makes me realize how one sided Hollywood's portrayal of the country is. Sure in recent times films like "Cairo Time" show a more developed country, but generally the land of adventure still persists. And now that there is chaos in the streets, I feel the stereotype will continue to persist until the revolution ends. In some ways Hollywood has prepped us for this revolution, where we go from here, it's up to the Egyptian people and Hollywood to decide.

February 1, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises Adds Joseph Gordon Levitt To Cast

While he 99% sure won't be playing the Riddler as once speculated, Joseph Gordon Levitt is in talks to join "The Dark Knight Rises" reports deadline. Wow, Nolan is really loading this movie up with interesting actors. With the villains previously announced his role remains up in the air. Dare I say....ROBIN?**

**Nolan has said there will be no Robin in his films**

How Does America Deal With A British Superman? With Captain America that's how

This man on the left is Henry Cavill. He is a British actor who as of Sunday is set to play Superman in Zack Snyder's Christopher Nolan produced Superman, which hits theaters in the Winter of 2012. Does he look like he could carry a train on his back and/or be a somewhat decent reporter? Does he look like he could beat Lex Luthor's ass and still have trouble romancing Lois Lane? Does he look like he's going to make an American icon eat bangers and mash? Whaaaaaat?

And so another iconic American super-hero is played by someone from the United Kingdom. Christian Bale is Welsh, Andrew Garfield (Spiderman) is British. And for what it's worth, Ryan Reynolds (Green Lantern) is a Canadian. Sounds like our super-hero companies have zero sense of patriotism. On the other hand delivering a bad movie that doesn't honor a legendary hero like Superman is the ultimate un-patriotic act.

Thank God for Marvel though who track record is much more Hamburger friendly. Most of their heros with the exception of Australian Chris Hemsworth who plays Thor, are American, and if you still are craving an American hero: