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by Bill Gibron

11 May 2011


Granted, it didn’t have a lot going for it at the time. That cinematic Antichrist himself, Shawn Date Night at the Museum for the Pink Panther Levy was set to direct, and while pleasant to look at, Hugh Jackman appeared to be spinning his superstar wheels in yet another grinding action effort. Then the teaser trailer arrived, and suddenly, Real Steel looked like it might actually be pretty good. The premise - a future world where robots fought to the mechanical death for the amusement of a jaded population - had promise (it was based on a short story by genre ace Richard Matheson and was actually made into a memorable episode of the old Twilight Zone) and with today’s ever polished CG, the F/X should/would blow us away. Without more of the plot, Real Steel felt like Stuart Gordon’s underappreciated Robot Jox, except with a splash of improved eye candy.

Then the latest preview hit the Web yesterday, and all genre goodwill just…died. To see what Levy had done to the idea, to see how the entire movie switched gears from a action packed punch-out to a warmed over Kazam was crushing. Who knew that this high tech tentpole for the Fall of 2011 was an interactive video game adaptation of The Champ, complete with a washed up pugilist (Jackman) looking for redemption, an equally out to pasture automaton that everyone pegs as an underdog, and a precious whiny weepy little brat (Dakota Boyo) making sure that everything that happens is a directly result of his desire to have the entire future shock world revolve around his pug nosed snottiness.  Oh course, he’s also the son of a distant and disaffected Jackman.

by Suzanne Enzerink

6 May 2011


“You have made your mother very proud”—for those familiar with Charles Kaufman’s 1980 film Mother’s Day, that seemingly endearing sentence will never have the same innocent and touching quality anymore. It was the punch line that succeeded graphic scenes of rape and violence committed by Mother’s gruesome twosome, framed in what The New York Times called an “absurdist comedy” while the director himself referred to it as a satire.  Kaufman’s version will be released on Blu Ray soon, but that’s not the only thing that gives the film a current twist.

Darren Lynn Bousman (of Saw 2-5 infamy) directed a same-titled remake of the film, or better, a reinterpretation. While there’s no official U.S. wide release date yet, Bousman will attend the Midwestern premiere of the film in Chicago, on Saturday, 7 May at 11.59PM at the Music Box Theater, and the film has been released in countries such as the Netherlands just in time for the commercial holiday. But in this case, most mothers will be happier receiving the standard bouquet of flowers than a trip to the movie theater. For all of you brave people, an intro to both films.

by Suzanne Enzerink

28 Apr 2011


D.W. Griffith wanted to be a director. But when he showed up knocking at film studio Biograph’s doorsteps, all they could offer him was a role as an actor, something Griffith already had plenty of experience with on the stage. He was happy with the work, as he remembered the days when he had to shovel coal or pick hops to make a living all too well. While his ultimate dream was to become a playwright, his dire financial situation made him decide to have a go at film screenwriting and directing as well, and it was in this that he would achieve tremendous fame with The Birth of a Nation. Not that this came easily; it was only when a last-minute cancellation by house director Wallace McCutcheon left Biograph bosses scrambling for a replacement that Griffith got his break. In 1908, his first film titled The Adventures of Dollie made its New York debut. The twelve-minute film about a kidnapped young girl floating down the river in a barrel sold twenty five copies, and Biograph offered Griffith a contract. The rest is history.

One hundred years later, not all that much has changed. Aspiring actors and actresses wait tables or take on other odd jobs awaiting that one crucial callback. And once one has a foot in the door on screen, the established networks come in quite handy when thinking about a career behind the cameras. This week, Ryan Phillippe became the latest actor to express an interest in taking on a more active role behind the scenes. The appeal is obvious. Directing is more prestigious, it allows one express his or her creative vision in ways that acting never could, is interesting financially, plus it offers better long-term prospectives when looks start waning or when one is ready for a more private existence. Numerous blogs have been written about actors who have successfully (or not so) made the transition—the undisputed number one being Clint Eastwood, while Ben Affleck is turning out to be quite the talent as well—but notably absent from the lists are actresses who did the same.  However, this certainly does not mean that there have been no actresses who have demonstrated considerable talent behind the cameras. I have chosen to focus on directors rather than producers, meaning that Mary Pickford is left out—even though she remains the most powerful woman behind the screens up until this day in her role as a producer and founder. Here are six actresses who have taken the leap:

by Ben Travers

26 Apr 2011


In his first post-Office role, Steve Carell is playing it safe. First, he chose a familiar character—a depressed, funny, romantic everyman named Cal Weaver in Crazy, Stupid, Love (due July 29). Similar to his roles in Date Night, Dan in Real Life, and even The 40 Year Old Virgin, Carell plays a middle-aged man looking for love after a seemingly ordinary life racked with an extra dose of downers. In the sporadically funny two-minute trailer, Cal seems relatable, sympathetic, and even attractive after a comely makeover. Not a bad one-two-three punch for the funnyman (oh yeah, he’s funny, too).

While the trailer makes Carell’s top-billing clear, the other above-the-title names make Crazy, Stupid, Love seem like an even wiser choice for an actor who thrives in ensemble pieces. Just about every demographic is covered by the film’s four stars. Carell brings the Office crowd who loves Jim and Pam just as much as Michael. Julianne Moore lends respectability and Oscar cred to an otherwise youth-oriented cast. Speaking of, the enticing coupling of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone should prove irresistible for the cinema-savvy 18-49 group. Throw in a few extra fans paying for the cast’s respective sex appeal and Carell’s production company, Carousel Productions, should expect a $20 million-plus opening weekend.

by Suzanne Enzerink

21 Apr 2011


With his piercing blue eyes, blond hair, and chilling performances, Rutger Hauer is not an actor you will quickly forget. At 67, he is more prolific than ever, with around seven films (depending on which country you live in) in cinemas this year. With international successes such as Blade Runner and The Hitcher, Hauer is one of the very few Dutch actors who have forged a successful career in Hollywood, and in the process singlehandedly gave Dutch cinema a face. Hauer’s entire career is characterized by elusiveness; it is impossible to pinpoint him on genre, type of character, or the scale or format of the productions he stars in, and this is what makes his oeuvre so exciting. This Wednesday—on the first day of the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival—he was honored with a Career Achievement Award. With all these accolades coming his way and a whole host of new films coming our way, it is the perfect time for a guidebook to Rutger Hauer’s 2011.

The Netherlands and the United States are the two defining countries of his career. Ever since he catapulted into the limelight with the risqué Dutch Turkish Delight, Hauer has found himself going back and forth between the two. With a major starring role in Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D coming up and his recent appearance in the coldly received exorcism-thriller The Rite, Dutch journalists again confronted Hauer with the by-now completely superfluous question: what about The Netherlands? Hauer grasped the award ceremony as an opportunity to remind all those present that he hasn’t forgotten his “Dutch soul.” The grass, the water, the humor, and even the reserved attitude of the people, Hauer loves it all. He currently resides in the province of Friesland, a province all the way up north characterized by an abundance of lakes and natural beauty and the relative absence of people.

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