Monday, June 14, 2010

“Barrymore movie about whales being shot in Alaska - Webcenter 11” plus 3 more

“Barrymore movie about whales being shot in Alaska - Webcenter 11” plus 3 more

Barrymore movie about whales being shot in Alaska - Webcenter 11

Posted: 13 Jun 2010 02:11 PM PDT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — How's this for a plot twist? The next major movie about Alaska is actually being filmed here.

A production company plans to begin shooting "Everybody Loves Whales," a $30 million movie starring Drew Barrymore, this September in Alaska, the executive producer said Friday.

The film is based on the 1988 attempt to rescue three gray whales trapped by sea ice near Barrow, though the majority of filming will take place in Anchorage. Barrymore plays a Greenpeace worker while John Krasinski -- Jim from NBC's "The Office" -- portrays a small-town news reporter covering the story.

The filmmakers are looking for Alaskans to play dozens of roles with casting to begin right away, executive producer Stuart Besser said in a phone interview.

"There's at least 1,000 extras, and there are probably about 30 to 40 speaking roles that we would attempt to get in Anchorage," said Besser, who recently served as executive producer on "The Losers" and "3:10 to Yuma."

The tale of California gray whales stranded above the Arctic Circle swung an international spotlight on Barrow, where a Soviet icebreaker eventually carved an escape route for two of the animals. A third had earlier disappeared and apparently died.

It was Roy Ahmaogak, now 50, who first spotted the whales bobbing in open patches in the ice one September day on his snowmachine. At the time he had been looking for a place to launch an aluminum boat to hunt fall bowheads.

(In Barrow, everybody loves whales for dinner.)

Ahmaogak said Friday the rescue effort brought people together -- the Russians and the U.S., the state and the feds, military and oil companies.

But he unplugged his phone during all the hubbub more than 20 years ago and isn't sure if he'd want to appear in the flick. Being an adviser might be alright.

"It'd be interesting to see how Hollywood works," he said.

Carolyn Robinson, executive producer for the Anchorage-based production services company SprocketHeads, said you'll soon see evidence of the project across the city.

"Anchorage, if you leave your house, you will see signs that this is going on," Robinson said. "Whether it's the actors walking down the street or the set up at a certain location, shooting outside."

Hollywood regularly makes movies about Alaska. There was the one about the Barrow vampires. The alien abductions in Nome. Al Pacino in the phony Nightmute of "Insomnia." But few major films shoot more than the scenery here.

That's changing, and not just with "Everybody Loves Whales," Robinson said. "There's two (additional) major features that I think will come here and one movie of the week."

Besser said the state's tax incentive program -- which allows movie-makers to recoup more than 30 percent of their spending in Alaska through transferable tax credits -- made it feasible to film here.

Movies that employ Alaskans, shoot in rural parts of the state and are filmed in winter are eligible for bigger tax breaks, said Alaska Film Office manager David Worrell.

The Barrow whale movie has been something of an open secret in Alaska for weeks. A movie industry trade site,, announced in April that the project was in the works. SprocketHeads has been calling for workers, upscale housing and gift-bag goodies for the cast and crew on Facebook and Twitter.

A company working on the film signed a deal to lease 12,000 square feet of office space in the Daily News building off of Bragaw Street until Dec. 14, said publisher Pat Doyle.

Besser, the executive producer, said the story will be based on real events, with the writers and director taking "literary license." He characterized it as an inspirational, family- oriented movie.

"It's not a documentary," he said.

Ken Kwapis ("The Office," ''The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants") is directing, Besser said.

The movie is expected to take about 10 weeks to film. Shooting in Barrow will likely be limited to one or two weeks, the producer said, because the North Slope city doesn't have the hotels, housing and businesses to accommodate a months-long shoot.

"The scenes in the movie that take place in Barrow, we're trying to reconstruct in Anchorage," Besser said. The whole film will be shot in Alaska, he said.

Along with actors and extras, the filmmakers plan to hire construction workers, people to help with sets, props and wardrobe and other workers.

The movie is being distributed by Universal Pictures and is tentatively due to be released in 2012, according to the Internet Movie Database.


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Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith in 'The Karate Kid': movie review - The Christian Science Monitor

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 03:04 PM PDT

The new "Karate Kid," starring the frisky Jaden Smith and the charming Jackie Chan, is closely modeled, sometimes right down to camera angles and dialogue, on the 1984 hit starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita.

That film came out of the rah-rah "Rocky" era, when underdogs always won (even if they didn't). This may sound like our era, too, except that, in the movies, this particular formula is in semi-hiatus. The latest "The Karate Kid" will probably work best for young audiences unaware of its predecessor – or of much of anything else for that matter.

In this version, the 12-year-old boy, Smith's Dre Parker, moves with his widowed, job-relocated mother (Taraji P. Henson) from Detroit to China, where he immediately warms to a cute violinist schoolmate (Han Wenwen) and is pounded by the local bully (Wang Zhenwei).

He doesn't, however, experience much culture shock. Dre, though intelligent, seems remarkably uninterested in the ways of the Chinese, except, of course, for kung fu. (The film should really be called "The Kung Fu Kid.")

He prevails upon Mr. Han (Chan), a somewhat dissolute, aphorism-spouting handyman, to teach him how to defend himself. (It's a disappointment that Chan does very little fighting here.)

The usual learning curve montage ensues, and Dre eventually ends up in the big local kung fu tournament, complete with instant replay, as he faces off for the championship against – are you ready for this? – the bully.

The pummelings that Dre endures leading up to this match are disturbingly violent, and so is the tournament finale. It's all a bit much.

Dre's doting mother, for example, despite the occasional grimace and gasp, cheers him on as if he was vying for a volleyball championship. Wouldn't she be a wee bit more horrified? I realize this is not an overwhelmingly reality-based movie but still.

Especially in this kidpic genre, doesn't a realistic depiction of violence demand a realistic response?

Grade: B- (Rated PG for bullying, martial arts action violence, and some mild language.)


More Monitor movie reviews:

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Sandra Bullock and Scarlett Johansson Lock Lips on MTV Movie Awards - CBS News

Posted: 07 Jun 2010 07:44 AM PDT

Scarlett Johansson, left, and Sandra Bullock kiss on stage at the MTV Movie Awards. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK (CBS) "Twilight's" Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart may have taken home the MTV Movie award for "Best Kiss," but Sandra Bullock and Scarlett Johansson grabbed all the headlines for it.

PICTURES: MTV Movie Awards 2010
PICTURES: MTV Movie Awards Backstage

All eyes were on Bullock and Johansson when the two locked lips after the Oscar-winning actress accepted the Generation award - MTV's version of a Lifetime Achievement honor.

"Now that we have done that," said a smiling Bullock, "can we please go back to normal because therapy is really expensive."

Emerging from media seclusion, Bullock seemed to be in high spirits and looked glamorous in a black, sequined minidress.

Sunday's award show marked Bullock's first televised apperance since the March Oscars and the scandal that erupted afterwards over her soon-to-be ex-husband, Jesse James' infidelity.

The "Blind Side" actress received a lengthy standing ovation after Betty White, Bradley Cooper and Johansson presented her the award.

Both White and Cooper have shared the silver screen with Bullock, while Johansson was substituting for her absentee husband and Bullock's "The Proposal" co-star , Ryan Reynolds.

Upon accepting her award, Bullock took the opportunity to clear the air. "I love what I do. And I'm not going anywhere," she said.

List of 2010 MTV Movie Award Winner
MTV Movie Awards Fashion: Stars' Spangled Manner
Ken Jeong Brings Laugh and Tears at MTV Movie Awards
Tom Cruise Plays "Tycoon" With J-Lo at MTV Movie Awards

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MOVIE REVIEW: Debauchery runs rampant in ‘Get Him to the Greek’ - North Little Rock Times

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 07:40 AM PDT

MOVIE REVIEW: Debauchery runs rampant in 'Get Him to the Greek'

To laugh, or not to laugh.

That is the question, especially with a movie like "Get Him to the Greek."

This summer's gross-out "Hangover" wannabe, "Get Him to the Greek" has several things going for it, from the satirical minefield of its rock-music setting to the amusing reunion of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" scene-stealers Russell Brand and Jonah Hill.

But this latest model from producer Judd Apatow's bromance assembly line has just as many things going against it, including its all-over-the-place pacing and — inevitably — its in-your-face, anything-for-a-larf comedic philosophy.

That's larf, as in barf.

So here's a handy-dandy quiz to determine whether "Get Him to the Greek" is your kind of movie.

There's a guy (in this case an earnest, funny fat guy, but it could be any guy) who's utterly oblivious to a smear of vomit on his smiling face.

Do you laugh? Do you cringe? Do you cringe, then laugh?

Or do you sigh and shake your head, secure in the knowledge than no matter how raunchy things get — and that's pretty raunchy — "Get Him to the Greek" ultimately will pull its punches in time for the heartfelt, all-is-forgiven finale?

Like so many other movies of its type, "Get Him to the Greek" assumes that a heaping helping of sentiment just before the happy ending will redeem its raunch by reminding viewers of the protagonists' essential humanity.

Wrong. It just reminds viewers (or this viewer, anyway) of its essential willingness to sell out in the name of crowd-pleasing sentiment.

But never mind. Most people will be too busy laughing to notice — or to care.

For crabby critics like me, however, such things seem easier to notice in a movie with long stretches of frenetic mayhem — and not enough laughs to go the distance.

Although "Get Him to the Greek" reunites two supporting standouts from the 2008 comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," it's not a sequel — because only Russell Brand reprises his role as rock star Aldous Snow.

He's as much off-his-rocker as ever — but is also off the wagon since a messy breakup with his longtime love, Brit-pop tart Jackie Q (a cheeky Rose Byrne).

Jonah Hill, who played a Snow-obsessed waiter in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," plays another loyal Aldous Snow fan in "Get Him to the Greek."

This time, however, that fan is Aaron Green, a low-level schlub at Snow's L.A. record label, which is run by the maddening (and possibly mad) Sergio Roma (Sean "P. Diddy" Combs).

When the boss demands some snappy ideas from his underlings, Aaron suggests that Aldous Snow return to Los Angeles' legendary Greek Theatre, scene of a long-ago triumph, for a comeback concert.

Great idea, Sergio decrees, dispatching Aaron to London to escort Aldous to L.A.

It's a dream come true for Aaron, who's so thrilled by the chance to get up close and personal with his personal rock god he hardly notices the less-than-ecstatic reaction of his girlfriend Daphne ("Mad Men's" Elisabeth Moss) to his impending road trip.

Clearly, Daphne knows something Aaron doesn't.

Once he connects with Aldous in London, Aldous leads Aaron on a round-the-town spree — making them late for a very important date in New York, where Aldous hits the "Today" show. (If only Meredith Viera had hit back.)

Next, it's off to Vegas, baby, Vegas.

Sin City proves the perfect stage for the movie's most unhinged debauchery — and a reunion between Aldous and his long-estranged lounge musician father (Colm Meaney). Sergio shows up too, just to make sure the partying's extra-hearty.

Someday, I'd love to see a Vegas movie where the characters gaze out the window of their fantasy suite to see what the Strip really looks like these days. This isn't it; Treasure Island's old pirate-style marquee and what appears to be the long-ago-imploded Sands tower don't exactly qualify.

But "Get Him to the Greek" has bigger problems than outdated stock footage of the Strip.

Writer-director Nicholas Stoller (who directed, but didn't write, "Sarah Marshall") tries to blend raucous rock 'n' roll satire and heartfelt character comedy but never gets the balance right.

Instead, the movie caroms from outrage to attempted insight, dragging us through some awfully bumpy, and not necessarily gut-busting, territory.

Especially when you ponder Aldous' self-destructive drugging and drinking — and Aaron's growing realization that partying like, and with, a rock star isn't such a dream after all.

Stoller also never solves the riddle of "Get Him to the Greek's" premise: how to turn supporting characters into leading characters you're happy to watch for an entire movie.

In "Sarah Marshall," Aldous Snow and his obsessed waiter stole plenty of scenes. In "Get Him to the Greek," that scene-stealing function is performed by the dapper Mr. Combs, whose profanity-laced tirades prove the movie's most dependable laugh-getters. (Stay through the credits and you'll get a bonus outburst .)

Now that they're responsible for holding the entire movie together, Hill and Brand respond with surprisingly affecting performances, Hill's everyguy desperation contrasting nicely with Brand's out-there, out-of-control anguish.

As a team, they'd be ideal in a rockin' update of "My Favorite Year," the 1982 delight about a TV intern assigned to keep a notorious, perpetually sloshed movie swashbuckler (a peak-form Peter O'Toole) out of trouble until the star's guest stint on a live '50s variety show.

But in a down-and-dirty contemporary romp like "Get Him to the Greek," the duo's undeniable humanity keeps getting in the way of all the rude-'n'-crude antics.

If only we could figure out whether to laugh with them, or laugh at them.

Because the movie can't decide between those two options, however, neither can we.

Carol Cling is the film critic for the Las Vegas (NV) Review-Journal. Contact her at

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