Saturday, August 7, 2010

“Movie Review: Internet porn tale 'Middle Men' gleefully gives up the goods - Big Hollywood” plus 3 more

“Movie Review: Internet porn tale 'Middle Men' gleefully gives up the goods - Big Hollywood” plus 3 more


Movie Review: Internet porn tale 'Middle Men' gleefully gives up the goods - Big Hollywood

Posted: 03 Aug 2010 07:48 AM PDT

Christy Lemire, The Associated Press You'll probably want to take a shower after watching "Middle Men," just to wash all the "ick" off yourself. And that's a compliment.

This inspired-by-a-true-story film about the birth of Internet porn is giddily sleazy, full of convincing crazies and criminals, as well as the scumbags and wannabes who surround them.

Writer-director George Gallo seems to have been influenced here by "Boogie Nights" and "Goodfellas," not just in their subject matter but in their fast-paced, in-your-face hodgepodge of images, styles and music. (The soundtrack, featuring period-appropriate songs from Moby and Fatboy Slim and a particularly apt use of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," must have cost a fortune.) It's a predictable rise-and-fall tale of people who get in over their heads with no clue about how to get out, but at least it's fun while it lasts.

Besides, the details and the characters are what make these types of movies work. And Gallo, who previously wrote "Midnight Run" and "Bad Boys," creates some lively figures for many of his actors to inhabit. Giovanni Ribisi is gloriously over-the-top as former veterinarian Wayne Beering, who helps come up with the idea of distributing porn online in the late 1990s when he becomes bored with his own, um, inspirational material. Coked up and chain smoking, rambling and usually ready for a fight, he's a complete idiot but he might also be a genius.

The real brains behind the operation is former NASA technician Buck Dolby (Gabriel Macht), who creates a program within minutes that allows users to provide their credit card information online and receive photos and videos in return. (It almost seems quaint to look back at a not-so-distant time when Internet porn didn't exist, given how pervasive it is now.)

Neither of these guys knows how to handle the millions of dollars they make; at one point, even after they form an actual billing company and move into a legitimate office building, they forget a $2 million check that's just sitting in a desk drawer. But while Buck is just as much of a coke fiend as Wayne, he's comparatively coherent. So when they find themselves in deep trouble with a bunch of Russian mobsters (led by the formidable Rade Sherbedgia) and get beaten bloody in a trashed Las Vegas hotel suite, Buck kinda-sorta has enough sense to figure a way out.

Unfortunately, that involves bringing in the well-connected and opportunistic lawyer Jerry Haggerty (a perfectly ruthless James Caan), who in turn brings in Jack Harris (Luke Wilson), a Texas businessman with a knack for solving problems. And Jack is actually the one at the centre of "Middle Men," the straight man amid these larger-than-life lowlifes. After all, someone's got to anchor all this mayhem. But Wilson plays him a little too straight. He's so low-key it's difficult to connect with him and, at least until nearly the end, hard to know whether his various alliances ever plague on his conscience.

Jack glides among and manipulates all these people with such blase ease, he may as well be ordering take-out over the phone. He has a wife (Jacinda Barrett) and two kids back home in Houston, but his work in Los Angeles — which he likes to think of as above-board, since all he's doing is running a billing company — keeps him away for longer and longer stretches. It also leads to a dalliance with a 23-year-old porn star (Laura Ramsey).

We get a lot of voiceover from Wilson — probably too much — but then again, there are so many intertwined characters perpetrating so many scams, perhaps Gallo felt the device was necessary to help us keep track of everyone and everything.

"Middle Men" is based on the experiences of Christopher Mallick, one of the film's producers, and it's hard to tell what's real and what's fictionalized. Maybe it doesn't matter though — maybe it's just as well if we view it all as artifice and illusion, not unlike Internet porn itself.

Two and a half stars out of four.


The Canadian Press, 2010

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Bar scuffle not part of Ohio movie for Corbin Bernsen - Morning Journal

Posted: 06 Aug 2010 10:11 PM PDT

FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2008 file photo, actor Corbin Bernsen poses on the media line at the 8th Annual Discovery Award Dinner hosted by Zimmer Children's Museum in Beverly Hills, Calif. Bernsen has told police he was thrown to the ground during a bar brawl in Ohio, where he's making a movie. According to a police report, the star of TV's "Psych" and "L.A. Law" says he scraped a knee in the fight July 27 in the Akron area, where Bernsen is filming "25 Hill" about the All-American Soap Box Derby. (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg, File)

NEW FRANKLIN (AP) — Actor-director Corbin Bernsen has told police he was thrown to the ground during a bar brawl in Ohio, where he's making a movie.

According to a police report, the star of TV's "Psych" and "L.A. Law" says he scraped a knee in the fight July 27 in the Akron area, where Bernsen is filming "25 Hill" about the All-American Soap Box Derby.

A spokeswoman for the movie claims the scuffle began when a local man made unwanted advances to a woman on Bernsen's film crew while the moviemakers were having dinner.

The man told New Franklin police he knew the woman from high school and was merely saying hello.

Punches were thrown, and "25 Hill" co-producer James Greilick was treated for a black eye.

No one is pressing charges.

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Back to the movies in former West Bank outlaw city - YAHOO!

Posted: 06 Aug 2010 03:30 PM PDT

JENIN, West Bank (Reuters) – The big screen is back in Jenin after a 23-year intermission, marking a fresh start for the West Bank city that was a bastion of armed militias at the peak of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.

Mothballed in the grim atmosphere of 1987, Jenin Cinema was finally reopened Thursday evening with a screening of "Heart of Jenin," a wrenching documentary that spurred its renovation.

The film tells the story of Ismail Khatib, whose son was shot dead in 2005 by Israeli troops who mistook his toy gun for a real one. The traumatized father, in an unusual gesture of forgiveness, donated the boy's organs to Israeli patients.

"We rebuilt the cinema on Ismail's message: there is hope," said German director Marcus Vetter, who made the documentary.

"Heart of Jenin" had won numerous prizes, including Germany's Best Documentary award. But Vetter said he realized there was actually nowhere to show the film in Jenin itself.

Thursday it was screened for 500 people at a gala reopening, in another milestone in the peaceful transformation of these once lawless streets near the border with Israel.

"I see my son Ahmed in all these faces," Khatib told the audience.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who was among the guests, told Reuters: "This shows the determination of our people to close the chapter of despair and open the chapter of hope."

"JENINGRAD"

Competing militia groups swaggered around Jenin in their bandoliers during the hardcore days of the second intifada (uprising) that began in 2000. The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat used to call it "Jeningrad."

In 2002, Jenin witnessed one of the fiercest battles between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops, in which dozens were killed on both sides.

Today, Jenin is the prime example of a U.S.-backed policy that helped Palestinians build a professional security force to uphold the rule of law throughout the West Bank, as foreseen in the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords.

The town of 40,000 is bustling again, attracting Israeli Arab customers from across the border. Uniformed police in blue have replaced gunmen who once had the upper hand in the streets.

The German government provided 325,000 euros ($428,900) for the cinema's renovation, in addition to donations from Fayyad's government and local Palestinian businessmen.

It has two movie theatres, indoor and outdoor, plus a production company, a film school and a digital library of film music and books. The cinema will show Arabic and Hollywood feature films in future.

"Opening this cinema is an extraordinary thing. It is a reflection of reconciliation and peace," said Goetz Lingenthal, head of Germany's representative office in Ramallah.

"There is nowhere better than Jenin to show that achieving success is possible."

(Editing by Douglas Hamilton and Mark Heinrich)

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Mulligan-Knightley movie to open film fest - Investors Business Daily

Posted: 06 Aug 2010 08:09 PM PDT


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