Friday, August 27, 2010

“Movie review: Get Low - Democrat and Chronicle” plus 3 more

“Movie review: Get Low - Democrat and Chronicle” plus 3 more

Movie review: Get Low - Democrat and Chronicle

Posted: 27 Aug 2010 02:05 AM PDT

Felix Bush is the closest thing his Tennessee town has to Bigfoot. Hirsute, antisocial and at times downright violent, the elderly hermit has kept real life at bay for 38 years, posting his backwoods property with No Damn Trespassing signs and patrolling the perimeter with a rifle.

This belligerent bogeyman has become such a mythic figure that when he rides his mule-drawn buckboard to town, the streets go hushed.

There could be no better actor for the role than Robert Duvall. In a sublimely observed performance, he does an emotional dance of the seven veils, revealing that old man Bush is strong and capable, courtly, burdened by pain and losses. He is also about half mad from doing a harsh, self-imposed penance for almost four decades.

The recluse comes to town because he reckons his days are numbered and he wants to go out with a bang. He visits Frank Quinn's funeral parlor to commission a send-off party while he is still alive. Quinn, an apathetic vulture who sighs that "People are dying in bunches, but not around here," is perplexed.

When Bush puts a roll of bills the size of a coffee can on his desk, Quinn practically jumps out of his vest to organize the morbid hoedown. If his eccentric client wants to invite all the townsfolk who loathe him, giving them a chance to tell their stories about him, well, the customer is always right.

Quinn organizes radio appearances for the "crazy old nutter" and sells tickets to everyone in the county. Bill Murray, who was born to play flakes and snake-oil salesmen, is perfectly cast as the hustling mortician.

Blessed by the gods of casting with two performers whose faces belong on any Mount Rushmore of American actors, Get Low could coast to the finish line and still be a fine little dramatic comedy.

Somehow director Aaron Schneider scored a trifecta, hauling in Sissy Spacek, too. She plays Mattie Darrow, Bush's sweet old flame "a thousand years ago." She physically resembles a delicate, well-preserved china doll, but there's a core of iron to her.

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As it comes to light that Bush is organizing his goodbye party because he needs a strong dose of redemption, in part because of the way he abused Mattie's trust, she calls him to account as no other character can.

Cinematographer-turned-director Schneider lights the film like an old master, and sees the feral glory of his boondocks locations. He gets the look of Depression-era Tennessee just right: no cheap nostalgia, but shabbiness and beauty side by side.

The big reveal, a public pre-deathbed confession, isn't as surprising as you would hope, but Duvall's delivery — stammering, choking on his words, blinking back manly tears — is a bravura moment. Get Low is one of the high points of the summer.

Rating: PG-13. Running time: 100 minutes. Critic's rating is 9.

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Brad Pitt to play John Marston in Red Dead Redemption Movie - Zimbio

Posted: 27 Aug 2010 12:39 AM PDT

According to a report on Showbizspy Brad Pitt is being given first option on the role of John Marston in an epic cowboy shoot-em-up movie based on the PlayStation title, Red Dead Redemption. … yeah apparently the Xbox 360 version will have Billy Bob Thornton in the role of John Marston instead… idiots. Anyway back [...]

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Movie review: 'Takers' will turn some viewers into leavers - Washington Post

Posted: 26 Aug 2010 11:13 PM PDT

It's not quite clear during the opening moments of the gun-crazy, chase-happy "Takers" whether director John Luessenhop is trying to reinvent the heist movie or searching for the Holy Grail -- i.e., a hetero-male version of "Sex and the City": luxurious clothes, hipster cars, fat cigars, big guns (of course), women as drapery -- you know, all the cool stuff, shot like porn.

But after its brief attempt at being a homicidal "Entourage," "Takers" eventually settles into a caper-flick groove, largely because it takes its cues from some far superior films, namely "Oceans 11/12/13" and Michael Mann's "Heat."

Like the George Clooney/Brad Pitt crime comedies, "Takers" assembles a group of suave, handsome, vaguely funny and chronically dysfunctional criminals who join forces to make a big killing. Like "Heat," it begins with one crime, a bank robbery, and builds up to another, the seizing of an armored car carrying $30 million, which will be accomplished by blowing up an entire Los Angeles intersection. In between, the movie puts its equally sympathetic cops and robbers in parallel motion toward a cataclysmic collision, but not before making them Real Human Beings.

Everybody has personal problems. Gang leader Gordon (the supremely charismatic Idris Elba) has to choreograph the big score while trying to keep his reprobate sister (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) in rehab. He's also trying to dismiss some nagging doubts about Ghost (rapper T.I.), a former member of the robbery gang who took the rap before, served six years in prison and is back, carrying an outsize chip on his shoulder.

On the other side of the criminal-justice aisle, Detective Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) neglects his young daughter while obsessively trying to piece together a mosaic of clues that don't quite seem to connect Gordon to the gun-toting Jake (Michael Ealy) or the strategist Johnny (Paul Walker) or the useless Jesse (Chris Brown) or Rat-Pack wannabe A.J. (Hayden Christensen), or any of them to the bank robbery that opened the movie. Meanwhile, Jack's partner, Eddie (Jay Hernandez), is being scrutinized by Internal Affairs; Ghost is simmering because his old girlfriend Rachel (Zoe Saldana) has taken up with Jake. The Russian mobsters who provided Ghost with the info on the armored car are saying nyet, nyet, nyet. The whole thing is a soap opera, but with much bigger bullets.

Fortunately the melodramatic aspects of "Takers" ("We're all takers," murmurs Gordon. "It's what we do.") are good, because otherwise the movie would be pure muddle. Luessenhop and his antic camera are after a kineticism that eludes them: He shoots too closely; he's practically crawling up his characters' nostrils with his unhinged camera. Sometimes there's no center of gravity at all, so all that motion is rendered meaningless: To get a vicarious thrill, you have to at least know where you are.

It's up to the actors to provide the traction, and that's a mixed bag. Elba and Dillon are solidly engaging and, at the risk of dwelling on "Heat," do the same thing De Niro and Pacino did: hold up opposite ends of a movie in which they barely come into contact. The rest of the casting is more about marketing than drama. T.I. and Brown, aiming to join the estimable ranks of rappers-turned-actors (can we call them raptors?) turn in passable performances. T.I.'s is one-note but memorable; Brown's is all but forgettable save for a prolonged chase scene that grows tiresome long before it's over. Walker and Saldana don't have enough to do. Christensen is like part of the plumbing.

What this shoot-'em-up could have used was more complexity in its storytelling: Compared with some of the better-known titles in the genre ("Riffifi," "Topkapi," "The Asphalt Jungle"), "Takers" is strictly smash-and-grab. It could have used fewer people, too, or at least fewer poses: A story this thin can only prop up so much 'tude.

** PG-13. Area theaters. Contains adult content, violence and vulgarity. 107 minutes.

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Movie News & Gossip - YAHOO!

Posted: 25 Aug 2010 08:58 PM PDT

LOS ANGELES - Highlights of the fall film slate (release dates are subject to change, and some films will play in limited release):


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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California state Senate has delayed confirming actress Bo Derek to a commission that oversees horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering at racetracks in California.

A spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says the delay comes because the Democrat from Sacramento wants more time to consider all four of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's appointees to the racing board.

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LOS ANGELES - Sylvester Stallone has proven that he's not quite expendable yet at the box office.

Stallone and his pumped-up pals lifted Lionsgate's 1980s-style action romp "The Expendables" to a No. 1 debut with $35 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Sylvester Stallone outmuscled Julia Roberts at the weekend box office in North America on Sunday to score the biggest opening of his career with his new film "The Expendables."

The action hero's all-star mercenary thriller earned an estimated $35 million across the United States and Canada during its first three days of release, distributor Lionsgate said.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - How is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger killing time between budget negotiations? Vegas, baby!

Schwarzenegger said "Hasta la vista" to his day job for a few hours Wednesday, jetting off to Las Vegas to help friend Sylvester Stallone promote his the new action flick "The Expendables."

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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Julia Roberts doesn't have a prayer against Sylvester Stallone at the weekend box office in North America.

Sylvester's all-star mercenary thriller "The Expendables" will outmuscle Roberts' "Eat Pray Love" as well as fellow newcomer "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," giving the venerable action hero one of the biggest openings of his career.

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- "The Expendables" is an exercise in nostalgia for the bygone era of muscly, macho action films. It's willfully out of date, like an aging hair band that can't pack away the spandex.

Sylvester Stallone, the director, co-writer and star, has said he set out to make a movie "with brains and brawn, not modern technology."

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- Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

"Animal Kingdom" — We know we're in for a different kind of family values right off the top, as we watch a teenager sitting next to his passed-out mother on the couch while some inane game show blares on the television in the background. It's only when the paramedics arrive at their shabby apartment that we realize she's dead from a heroin overdose, and yet the boy's expression remains stoic throughout. This development will force Joshua "J" Cody (James Frecheville) into a life with the relatives he never really knew — relatives his mother tried to keep him away from because they were even more screwed up than she was. Now, this 17-year-old must find his place among them, even though he's clearly in over his head from the start. Watching this small-time Melbourne crime family unravel under the weight of their overconfidence is riveting, as Australian writer-director David Michod takes his time methodically detailing their self-destruction. The combination of steady pacing, intimate cinematography and startling performances will leave you feeling tense throughout "Animal Kingdom" and probably for a while afterward. It's such a stripped-down, assured little thriller, you'd never know it was Michod's feature debut. Guy Pearce, Jacki Weaver and Ben Mendelsohn are among the excellent cast. R for violence, drug content and pervasive language. 112 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.

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LONDON - Sylvester Stallone premiered his new movie "The Expendables" in London Monday after touring two other European capitals with some of his action-hero studded cast.

Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham, two of a cast packed with 80's action stars, joined Stallone at Leicester Square's Odeon theater red-carpet premiere, lined with rows of fans screaming "Rocky! Rocky!"

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SAN DIEGO - With his business shirt, black tie and blue tinted shades, Sylvester Stallone looks more like a hipster movie executive than a battle-worn bruiser on a deadly mission in South America.

But beneath that shirt are the muscles he first revealed in "Rocky," and behind those eyes is the grit that got his breakthrough movie made back in 1976. At 64, Stallone is still a tough guy, and he aims to prove it alongside a cast of killer comrades in "The Expendables," which opens Friday.

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