This ain’t no Frosty, this ain’t no yeti, this ain’t no fooling around

A scary snowman who means business menaces some cute cartoon characters with idol-worshiping tendencies in this apparently somewhat controversial 1932 ‘toon released by RKO, possibly somewhat influenced by James Whale’s “Frankenstein.”

This, on the other hand, actually is Frosty, and jazzy, too.

  

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A Chat with director Patrick Hughes and actor Ryan Kwanten of “Red Hill”

Patrick Hughes and Ryan Kwanten of First-time feature directors — especially when they’re essentially financing their films — tend to make low-key stories without much in the way of action. Often, they are offbeat romances or perhaps something about a bunch of guys in their teens or late twenties avoiding the responsibilities of adulthood. Directors who emerge from the world of commercials often wind-up making movies that rely on flashy visuals and employ the worst kind of ADHD editorial approach. To his everlasting credit, Patrick Hughes, a first-time self-financing feature director with a background in commercials, did none of those things in his first feature, “Red Hill,” an often violent suspense tale with elements of classic westerns, monster films, and a strong sense of its Australian heritage.

Its star, Ryan Kwanten, is by far best known as Jason Stackhouse of “True Blood,” an occasionally likable dim-bulb of a character who would pretty much be nothing if it weren’t for his athletic good looks and sexual prowess. But Kwanten as an actor is certainly no mere boy-toy, even if he remains a favorite of young female fans and looks about a decade younger than his actual age (he’ll be 34 later this month). As the rather archly named Shane Cooper, the earnest, violence-averse policeman hero of “Red Hill,” he must be believable dealing with the rampage of revenge waged by an Aboriginal escaped convict (Tommy Lewis) while protecting his loving and pregnant wife (Claire van der Boom), dealing with the barbs of his taskmaster of a new boss (Steve Bisley), and spending a good chunk of the movie marinating in his own blood and believably fighting on. If that isn’t proof that Kwanten is, you know, a real actor, his next non-“True Blood” role appears to be as Charles Manson.

I met with voluble writer-director Hughes and actor Kwanten – who, as befits this film’s low budget provenance, come across as remarkably down-to-earth in person – during a press day held at Strand Releasing’s east Culver City office. A short time later, Kwanten would be chatting telephonically for a solo interview with my colleague, Will Harris, who’d be concentrating on his career, definitely including “True Blood.” No prima dona, and you’ll see just what I mean by that later in the interview, he was fine with surrendering some of the spotlight to director Hughes, who kind of dominates the discussion during the first half of this interview. However, do not fear, Kwantenites: we do hear from the very talented actor starting just past this interview’s halfway point, as he discusses crucial matters of blood, guts, and pig poo.

01._Ryan_Kwanten

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“Shrek Forever After” to live up to its name?

Shrek Forever After Quite possibly, if three weeks constitutes “forever.” The final installment of the CGI animation series was considered a fairly major disappointment in its first week, earning a relatively anemic amount just under $71 million, tens of millions less than prior entries. However,  “Shrek Forever After” has shown decent staying power, indicating that the relatively strong reviews this time around might be reflective of something that actually matters to audiences. If we are to believe jolly Carl DiOrio, it is once again the probable box office champion. Indeed, DiOrio expects the grosses to be between $25 and $30 million, which could easily double almost all of the four, count ’em, four major new releases coming out this week, assuming his lowish guesses for the other films are right.

To a lesser extent, the second week of the widely hated “Sex and the City 2” is also a contender for third place according to DiOrio — in his video, he doesn’t mention it in writing — but the Numbers see things quite a bit differently. I’d personally expect a bigger than average drop-off from it’s unimpressive debut simply because I get the feeling that hardly anyone liked it much, perhaps not even the franchise’s biggest fans.

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We interrupt this movie news blog…

For a day of trailers and suchlike frivolity. My excuse reason is that, other than the unveiling of the movie costume for Captain America at AICN, or Anne Thompson noting that James Cameron has put in his two-cents on undersea robotic technology re: the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (how could the feds keep him away?), it’s looking like a pretty damn slow movie news day. Also, I’m got some other stuff to catch up on that I think some of you might like. Watch this space.

So, courtesy of Latino Review, here’s one of this week’s upcoming new releases. Produced by the recently self-disenhobbited Guillermo del Toro, directed by Canada’s Vincenzo Natili (“Cube”), and starring a more grown-up looking and therefore more beautiful than ever Sarah Polley and Adrien Brody, this buzz on “Splice” has been good. It sure looks to be a clever little science-fiction and horror spin on the Frankenstein model.  This extreme-gore-phobe who nevertheless loves a good horror flick is happy to note that its MPAA R-rating, is for “disturbing elements including strong sexuality, nudity, sci-fi violence and language.”  Those are a few of my favorite things. I mean who can resist “language.” Anyhow, take a look.

  

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Friday night movie news dump

I’ve got a bunch of other stuff to get to, so let’s see how efficient and selective I can be tonight.

* We have a Bat-date and it’s July 20, 2012.

* “Iron Man 2” is already starting to rake it in.

98447551TT008_Iron_Man_2_Wo

* I can’t believe I failed to mention this a couple of days back, but writer-director Bill Condon is handling the next “Twilight” film. These days, Condon is best known for “Dreamgirls,” and he did a brilliant job turning Bob Fosse’s anti-dramatic theater-piece, “Chicago,” into an audience-friendly hit as a writer. However, he’s made a horror film (one of the “Candyman” films) and also his terrific “Gods and Monsters” was an homage to “Frankenstein” director and all-around filmmaking great James Whale. In other words, he’s far more interesting a guy to do this than you would expect.

* News-flash: “Kick-Ass” man Matthew Vaughn will, once again, not be directing an X-Men movie. Don’t stop the presses!

* If James Cameron paid such careful attention to the science in “Avatar,” why couldn’t he also spend a little time on the dialogue?

* With all the sequels being made, why the f*** not “Anchorman 2”? Too many comedy superstars means too much $, I suppose.

* Speaking of money, you’d think it would be easy for David O. Russell to get enough money for two or so days of shooting to finish “Nailed,” written by Kristen Gore (Al and Tipper’s  funny daughter). It seems the quirky comedy (the extremely talented, conflict-prone Russell makes no other kind) has been sent to cinema hell — or purgatory if we’re all lucky — not by Russell, who for once seems to have things nicely under control, but by seriously troubled producer David Bergstein. For those of you with enough time, check out the long version of what left this film literally hanging as written by Kim Masters. Sad/fascinating stuff.

* Justly respected critic Todd McCarthy is back after being canned by Variety and blogging for Indiewire. Good news.

* J.J. Abrams may be doing something with Steven Spielberg. Quoth Beaks:

[It] will be “both a tribute to and a collaboration with Steven Spielberg”. The film, about which nothing specific is known, is intended as an homage to Spielberg’s ’70s and early ’80s output; “…an interpretation of some of Spielberg’s earlier films, but done in a personal way.”

…This is either kinda cool, or a little creepy. I can’t decide.

  

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