Hearts and flowers to lead double-holiday weekend?

He’s been wrong very recently, but that’s what jolly Carl DiOrio confidently predicts over at The Hollywood Reporter.  A fiscally very big weekend at the movies is expected overall because we have three new high profile, high-concept films debuting in over 3,000 theaters each according to Box Office Mojo. Moreover, it’s all happening over a President’s Day weekend which also includes Valentine’s Day on Sunday.

Julia Roberts and some guy in

Everyone’s going to either try to get closer to their special someone, forget that they don’t have a special someone, or perhaps try to forget that they have to pretend like they’re want to get closer to that special someone when they really would rather be in a far away foreign land of fantasy. Movies aren’t a bad prescription in any of those cases.

Garry Marshall’s multi-stor, all-star rom-com, Valentine’s Day,” is the worst reviewed of the three critically unloved films coming out this weekend, but since when does something like a seriously lacking 14% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes stop filmgoers bent on lightly sentimental entertainment? With Julia Roberts on board and Garry Marshall’s brand of uber-schmaltz on offer, a lot of mostly female folks will be interested and their partners better be alongside them. DiOrio is expecting as much as $45 million for Warner Brothers for this one. “Avatar” shchmavatar, I guess.

Director Chris Columbus is, if anything, even less of a critical darling than Garry Marshall. (He’s absolutely no darling of this critic, I can tell you that.) Still, the latest entry in the “Precious: Based on the Noel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” ungainly title sweepstakes is Columbus and Fox’s version of “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” It may look like a teen-Harry Potter knock-off to the uninterested observer, but critics are being a bit less harsh on this entry, allowing it a mixed 48% “Fresh” rating, It’s worth noting that that the Greek mythological background might make things a bit easier for English teachers the world over. DiOrio is expecting something over $30 million. Sure, I guess.

Expected to come in at the #3 spot or thereabouts is the monstrous semi-remake of “The Wolfman,” with Benecio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins stepping in for Lon Chaney, Jr. and Claude Reins in a much bloodier and more elaborate period tale. Del Toro may be the best actor to play the part so far. Still, many critics, including our own Will Harris, are only about 31% impressed with either his acting this time around or the movie as a whole.

http://www.bullz-eye.com/mguide/review_images/2010/the_wolfman/the_wolfman_5.jpgKind words mostly seem to be mostly reserved for the striking atmospherics from director Joe Johnston’s effects team including make-up genius Rick Baker, which have been getting us fanboys so riled about this long-delayed production for low these many moons. Horror and monster lovers (in a platonic way, I mean) haven’t hard much to work with lately, so that sounds about right to me. I guess.

  

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A scary Tuesday night at the movies

*  The rep of PG-rated horror these days couldn’t be much worse. So, I have no problem believing CHUDster Devin Faraci that a publicist sent out a blast e-mail crowing about the R-rating given to “The Wolf Man” for “‘bloody horror, violence and gore.”

The-Wolf-Man1

I’m excited enough about what appears to be a nicely movie-movie stylized general approach to the movie from director Joe Johnston, of the underrated “The Rocketeer” among other movies, to still be looking forward to seeing this, I think. Moreover, I am a fan of the fairly sanguinary (and, to me, truly freaking scary in more or less the best way possible) “An American Werewolf in London,” but I’m still a bit nonplussed. I realize I’m a bit of wuss about too much gore, certainly compared to the typical horror fan.

Nevertheless, I can’t help finding the attitude of AICN’s Quint a little Stephen Colbertesque in its equation of blood and gore to “nards” (Colbert would just come right out and call it “balls”). I also think making a tough, scary film really doesn’t have that much to do with how much colored corn syrup you throw around. But then who listens to a guy who likes musicals?

* The most disconcerting news about “The Wolf Man” is not the above, but the news last month about the decision to apparently drop a mostly completed score by Danny Elfman. Yesterday, Jon Burlingame of Variety wrote an even more disconcerting piece arguing that film composers are being devalued. Here’s the article ending quote from respected composer James Horner (not my personal favorite, as it happens, though he’s certainly worked on plenty of good movies and I’m perhaps not giving him enough credit):

“No one just says, ‘What do you think of my picture? I want you to write what’s in your heart.’ I haven’t heard that in years. That simple concept does not exist anymore.”

Michael Stuhlberg in Apparently, though, it does for some composers, when they’re working with really good directors. Michael Stuhlberg’s interview with Anne Thompson a while back indicates the Carter Burwell’s music may have changed the tone of Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man” considerably and that he was given considerable latitude. Real filmmakers apparently still realize that musical choices — when and how to use it, or not use it —  are absolutely crucial.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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Good wolf, bad wolf

Or rather there is good film effects werewolves  — and what looks to be good, old school filmmaking — and bad sfx lycanthropes. Both have been making the rounds today as chronicled by Christopher Campbell. First the very good computer-aided vision of “The Wolfman,” as shown off in the second trailer from the apparently fairly loose new Joe Johnston remake of the 1941 Universal monster classic and with old wolf hand Rick Baker masterminding the monster make-up work. The effects here have some real weight and detail to them and remind me of the great work of the WETA crew for the “Lord of the Rings” cycle. I’m not crazy about the Marilyn Manson music, but otherwise I’m more or less sold. I can be a baby about horror movies, but this look like my kind of monster flick. Strong on atmosphere and, if we’re a lucky, a bit of thought behind it as well as some first-rate actors in front of the camera.

And this clip I actually saw over the weekend at the Spike TV Scream awards, which I’ll discussing here next week. Let’s just say it didn’t make me feel that I’ve missed the boat on this whole “Twilight” business having skipped the first, hugely lucrative, film in the series.

Aside from the fact that these werewolves lack any sense of weight or heft or look about as menacing as Alaskan sled dogs, what’s with their human forms? I know it’s all about the romantic fantasies and preferences of contemporary teenage girls, but if you’re going to have perpetually shirtless lycanthropes running around — and it looks kind of cold wherever they are — a bit of token chest hair might be appropriate. They’re supposed to be a tribe of beast men, not a collective of pampered Tiger Beat pin-ups. Except, obviously, that’s exactly what they’re supposed to be. Of well, it’s not like adolescent boys don’t get their proclivities catered to enough.

If you missed the first, also very good, trailer for “The Wolfman,” you may click here. And if monster soap is your thing — and, as a “Buffy” fan it’s not as if I’m innately opposed — here’s the trailer for “The Twilight Saga: New Moon.”

  

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“The Wolf Man” trailer

A really strong trailer has just come out on what looks like a fairly loose remake of the 1941 Universal monster/horror classic which originally starred Claude Reins and, in the title role, Lon Chaney, Jr. The new version has Benecio del Toro as the unfortunate Lawrence Talbot and Anthony Hopkins as his concerned pop, as well as Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving.

All I can say is that this version looks top notch. I thought director Joe Johnston’s “The Rocketeer” was very fun and pretty underrated, and this looks to have the potential to be even better. One thing’s for sure, considering the best known movie wolf men so far have been ex-Dr. Pepper song-and-dance guy David Naughton (“An American Werewolf in London”) and Chaney, Jr., who had some moments but was not nearly the actor his legendary dad was, it’s safe to say that del Toro will be by far the best actor to inhabit’s the wolf man’s hairy skin. Check it out.

And remember….

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

  

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