These days it seems I know more than a few people with websites floating out in the ether of the interwebs. So today, I'm declaring it "Plug a Friend Day," and taking a few minutes to introduce a few of these sites to you. Check them out, pass them along, and henceforth let it be known as "Plug a Friend Day!"
Good friend and incredible Sound Engineer, Emmett Farley, worked on the film score recording, mixing and sound design for this pretty damn good film noir-esque movie about the world's first superhero labor union. Watch The League online and get to know the Grey Raven, Sparrow and the Blue Blaze! I still can't believe it was a university thesis project...
Long time friend and actor, singer, songwriter Alex Yacovelli recently launched his site to help chronicle where the hell to find him (the guy is very busy)! Whether he's playing guitar at Starbucks, or performing The Libertine on Lafayette, his site will help make sure you never miss a gig. So if you're a New Yorker, and you're looking for a show to go to (or an actor to hire), head to alexyacovelli.com.
You might remember I mentioned Mark around Valentine's Day to promote his lovely penguin themed e-card. I've known him now a long time, and he is flat out talented. His blog has been getting some notice lately for his series of superhero portraits. To the left you see The Flash, and on the site you'll also find The Green Lantern, Spider-man, Wolverine, Superman, Batman, The Hulk, and Captain Marvel. You'll also find sketchbook pages, character designs and tons more. So if you're into illustration, comics, or penguins, Mark's site is a must click.
Fellow Skidmore grad, art major, and comm design lab junkie, Katina Zulakis, did a truly amazing thing for her senior thesis art show... she drew a portrait of every single graduating art major. There were 56 of us, not including herself. Prof. Sattler said it couldn't be done, but she did it anyway. Here, you can check out all incredible 56 pencil drawings, and get to know the art majors of Skidmore's '08 graduating class. And that's me, fourth row down, second one from the right! To the left you'll see another talented artist, Ms. Alex Labriola.
Currently a grad student at Mass Art, Adrian was by far one of the most "art school" looking of the Skidmore art majors. Constantly covered in paint and charcoal, this kid was always in the studio, bashing around trying to see what was there, or what could be there. He's a really gifted guy so take a minute to go on his site where you can find examples of his paintings and drawings, and stay up to date on new works.
Not a Skidmore grad, but a Skidmorian all the same, Yost came in as official "tech guy" during my junior year. But in his spare time, John's a filmmaker, with two full-length features already under his belt. You can check out Every Good Thing to Rust here, and The Brave and The Kind here. On his site you can also find examples of his pretty incredible photography and some of his short films.
That's all for now, but I'm sure there will be more to come! And as always, check out all the incredible blogs I'm following on the sidebar.
Now go plug your friends (it still sounds dirty...)
Is Monster's, Inc. back in business? Ask and you shall receive seems to be Pixar's new motto as news breaks that plans for the long awaited Monsters, Inc. sequel are supposedly in the works (thanks for the scoop First Showing!). Director Pete Docter who just finished UP, the upcoming release from Pixar, hasn't officially confirmed this sequel news yet, but I'm guessing the rumors are true. Next to The Incredibles (which practically has sequel tattooed on its... arm), Monsters, Inc. is the most requested Pixar film. Rabid fans are dying to know, so tell us Docter, is it true?
Third Narnia to upgrade (hopefully) Prince Caspian lacks everything that makes a movie likable. Yes, this is harsh, and I do apologize to those that I might offend, but this film was incoherent, dismal and boring. I still have high-ish hopes for its "breakout star", Ben Barnes (coming to screens soon as Dorian Gray), but I didn't come to that decision based on his performance as "I desperately need a better accent" Caspian. Honestly, now might be a good time for the Narnia franchise to cut it's losses and just scrap the rest of their planned films, but they have decided to the opposite. For the third film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, they've gone ahead and hired a new writer, Michael Petroni (best known to me as co screenwriter of The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys). For fans, this could mean that your third film might be better than the first too... but I would be wary of too much optimism at this point. Can all the original live action BBC Narnia fans throw 'ya hands in the air? People in beaver suits are always better than digital beavers.
Goode and Adams Roam Ireland Matthew Goode (Brideshead Revisited and Match Point) and Amy Adams (Doubt and Enchanted) are set to team up in the romantic comedy Leap Year (releasing in 2010). The film will center on Adams, a young woman who attempts a surprise proposal to her boyfriend in Ireland on Leap Day. But bad weather and screenwriters get in her way. Enter Goode, who'll play an Irish inn keeper who guides her across Ireland. The producers are the same ones behind King Arthur, P.S. I Love You, and Becoming Jane. Have you ever heard such a sad, bad movie list? But I'll stick with Adams through anything.
Do you want this directing Eclipse?
The Twilight movies have had more headlines this week than anything else, and that's even WITH the reviews of Watchmen starting to roll in. But the most bone shattering one to drop yet is that Summit is courting Drew Barrymore to direct Eclipse. I think my soul just died, came back to life, heard that headline, and died again. So you're telling me that the girl who just did Beverly Hills Chihuahuais "at the top" of someone's list to direct a major movie franchise? I think I need some air.... Now I know what you're going to say,
"oh, but she just directed this cool indie flick with Ellen Page!".....
"Awww she's just so cute in Adam Sandler movies, throw her a bone and let her direct Eclipse."...........
I make you this vow to you now readers and moviegoers, and you know this is hard for me because I am an admitted Twilight rally girl... If Drew Barrymore directs this movie, I am officially done supporting, watching and anything else to with these films. Do you hear me Summit? AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WILL NEVER WATCH TWILIGHT AGAIN.
So the poster's yellow, Paul Dano's in it, and to top it off they use the same goddamn music from the Little Miss Sunshine trailer! I think Mr. Dano and Alan Arkin (see my take on Sunshine Cleaning) need to go to Sunshine rehab. Clearly they're addicted. None the less Gigantic looks right up my indie ally, and Dano is looking better than ever as that love stoned guy who gets hotter with time and patience. And apparently having Zooey Deschanel and John Goodman in your movie is the new trendy thing to do, although this is the first time together that I'm aware of. The love story will either be cute or annoying. I could see it going either way.
It's been awhile since I saw the horrible revival of Damn Yankees, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth. I remembered loving the show as a kid, but either the show wasn't what I remembered or their production just bombed. Either way, when news broke from Variety that Jake Gyllenhaal and Jim Carrey are possible contenders to star in a contemporary remake of the film/show, some of that bad taste started to fade away. For those of you not familiar with the plot of Damn Yankees, it's about Joe, who longs to go back to his younger years so he can help his favorite baseball team win against the Yankees. In walks this smooth talking devil (literally) who offers Joe the chance to do just that, in exchange for his soul. Is the casting starting to make sense now? With Gyllenhaal as shoeless Joe and Carrey presumably as the devil, this remake may have a shot of making it out of the gate. But it's all preliminary, so don't get your hopes up.
The Neverending Story (literally)
So there's talk abound of another Neverending Story movie. I'm shocked! Not really, it was only a matter of time till people desperately needed Falkor back in their lives. Really there's not too much to post about this yet, I just wanted an excuse to post this amazing Family Guy pic ;) And with regards to the post title, say her name bitch... I mean Bastian.
They talk. and talk. and oh yeah, they talk a lot more. They talk about Anne Frank. They talk about football (soccer to us Americanos). They even talk about coffee machines. And it's all in French btw. Pretty much, The Class never shuts up. But despite being one long run-on sentence of a film, that perhaps I wasn't ultimately in the mood for last night, it's good. It's really good in fact. With a full cast of unknowns (and likely never-knowns), the film feels more like a documentary that hit the jackpot, than a written drama.
The film follows French professor Francois as he copes day in and day out with a class of kids from a low rent neighborhood in France, that don't really know how to listen. Like any normal teenagers, the students are fine one day and a complete mess the next. One minute they are timidly inspiring hope in their teacher that he is making a difference in their lives, and the next they are throwing his attempt to educate them back in his face. Francois ricochets back and forth between trying to reach his students, and just giving up on them completely. Whatever you've heard about the film being centered on a "cool" or "inspiring" teacher, couldn't be further from the truth. As a man in a influential position with children, he makes huge mistakes constantly (and I'm not just talking about that one big one...). He says the wrong things all the time, he's discouraging without meaning to be, and he doesn't have the presence to command the room by jumping on a desk or grabbing a megaphone. In other words, he's real. You probably had a teacher just like him. In fact Francois Begaudeau, who plays himself in the film, was a real teacher. He wrote a book on his experiences called The Class, which he then turned into a screenplay of the film we see now. Francois' is exactly like many teachers I've had over the years, only he's more challenged by his students than mine ever were. He's flawless in the part, but would you expect him to be any other way since he's playing himself?
The key to the film is that everything feels completely unaltered by the presence of the cameras. It's all so real, it borders on terrifying. The question then becomes, is it so real, that it's pointless? Since it's not a documentary, it can never be the truth, no matter how hard it tries (even if it's based on true stories). However, since it's filmed and received like a documentary, where does this film fit in? It was in following this line of questioning that it dawned on me... this film is unique. I don't think anyone can say that often, if at all anymore. The more I thought about the film's lack of peers, the more I liked it. I focused less on the endless talking and more on the fact that no one does this. Is this a good enough reason for me to like the film, that it's alone? I'm still thinking on that. The subtle way that the topics of race and class were established in the film was one of its best attributes. They didn't hit you over the head with stereotypes or cliches, they just put the right kids together in the same class, and the rest seemed to come naturally from them. It was refreshing to see that not everything worked out in the end for them because they were "so inspired" by their wonderful, life changing professor. In fact, it seems the one thing the movie tries to establish the most is that nothing ever really changes, something everyone can appreciate.
Ultimately I walked out The Class overworked and tired. But all day today, I was still thinking about it, about it's lack of sugar and onslaught of reality. I appreciate the film now more than I can say. I'm increasingly impressed by it, even as I write this now.
Short and Sweet
Filmed like a documentary, but brilliantly written by the lead actor and real life professor Francois. As much talking in a film (and in French too) as you can likely stand. The Class stands out as a unique drama about being the classroom. There is no sugarcoating, and beware, there is no neatly tied up finale either. But it's worth seeing and learning from it what you can.
Check out the teaser trailer for what is likely the next big epic film. Agora, set to release in December 2009, takes place in Roman Egypt and follows a young slave, Davus (Max Minghella of Art School Confidential fame), who falls in love with his master, female professor and atheist Hypatia (Rachel Weisz). Swelling operatic themes in the background and larger than life shots signal that Agora could be the next big thing.
What are your thoughts? Does this look promising or will it fall flat?
The final Harry Potter film (Deathly Hollows Pt.2) gets a release date! And that date is July 15, 2011. Deathly Hollows Pt. 1 is set for Nov. 19, 2010. Apparently the Iron Man featured film of The Avengers is also scheduled for a release on that exact same date as HPDH Pt. 2. Looks like it's war between the wizards and the marvel universe. As much as I loved Iron Man, I'm rooting for wands all the way.
The Class inspires revival of "cool teacher" movies
Tonight I'll be seeing The Class (Entre les murs), the Oscar nominated French drama about a teacher who navigates the difficult topic of race with his students in a "tough" neighborhood. I'm looking forward to seeing it (review to follow shortly), and today, Total Film happens to have a feature (in honor of The Class) called 7 Insanely Cool Movie Teachers. It's a pretty good list, that covers most bases. I have a soft Spot for Jack Black in School of Rock.
Freida Pinto signs on with Woody Allen
Rising Star Freida Pinto has already gotten her next big break. She recently stated that her next film will be with Woody Allen. It feels like Scarlett Johansson all over again. Supposedly Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins and Josh Brolin are also all aboard with Allen. So what will this new film be about? I'm thinking it will be about a marriage falling apart between Watts and Brolin, due to his affair with Pinto? And Hopkins can play the wise mentor that Watts turns to in her despair... thoughts?
B Team with Ferrell and Wahlberg?
Adam McKay is back with avengeance it would seem. After less than amazing results from Step Brothers and Talladega Nights, all following the insane success of Anchorman, McKay hopes to hit a high note again with Will Ferrell and possibly Mark Wahlberg on B Team (the possibilities are endless). The script is written by Chris Henchy, who also wrote Ferrell's upcoming movie, Land of the Lost. Ferrell and Wahlberg? Sign me up! (Didn't you see I Heart Huckabees?).
Gondry saves The Green Hornet
I'm sure you've already read this a million places before seeing it here, but did other blogs have this cool trippy picture? Michel Gondry has taken up the reigns of the The Green Hornet after Stephen Chow dropped out. The film written by Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg, has a release date of June 25, 2010, not to be confused with The Green Lantern, set to release in December 2010. I'm all for Gondry taking a stab at Hornet, he is one of my favs. And things can't get any worse for the movie, right?
Blanchett to play Maid Marian
Cate Blanchett has officially signed on as Maid Marian in the upcoming adaptation of Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott. As much as I love Cate (despite her Benjamin Button misstep) and digg Ridley, I am less than pleased with Crowe. His last few movies have either been boring or uninteresting, or he's been boring an uninteresting in them. If I had heard about this back during his Gladiator days, I would have been a lot more enthused, but in the wake of films like Body of Lies and State of Play, I've just lost interest. But who knows?
Gore Verbinski to direct Clue Remake
Director Gore Verbinski, most famous for The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean films, is not slated to direct a remake of Clue. This has got to be the umpteenth board game movie in the works. Unlike Candy Land however, Clue actually has the potential to make a good film (as evidenced by the 1985 Clue made with Tim Curry). I am pretty attached to the original Clue, but depending on casting, the remake could get my attention.
My Embarrasing Guilty Pleasure Lastly, for now, I'm going to admit an embarrassing addiction. This is hard for me to say, but, I love watching Legend of the Seeker. As bad as the show might be, and as far away from the Goodkind books as the readers feel it is (never read them), I still love it. Gorgeous Australian Craig Horner plays Richard Cypher who is the "Seeker," a chosen one, on a quest to kill the evil Darken Rahl who has taken over the midlands. With him on his journey as his protectors and companions are, the high wizard Zeddicus Zu'l Zorrander aka Zed, and the beautiful confessor Kahlan (Bridget Regan). For a story that echos so many of the themes of Lord of the Rings, it is really nothing like it (except that they were both filmed in New Zealand). The show time and again lives up to it's syndicated nature. It has been likened to famed shows of the past, Hercules and Xena. I didn't watch either of those, so I can't fully compare their differences or similarities, but I can tell you that in it's own cheesy, lovable way, this show is fun to watch. Plus, I'm always a fan of good chemistry between leads (even when it's cliche). Check out Are You Screening's in-depth article on the show.