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Trailer for “Veronica Mars” movie

Uber-cute blondie Kristen Bell will be back soon in the new “Veronica Mars” movie, and the trailer has just hit the web. Judge for yourself whether it’s worth seeing, though we expect the Veronica Mars fans to hit the theaters in droves.

You can also see the lovely Kristen Bell in a racier role in “House of Lies” on Showtime, with Season 3 premiering on Sunday, January 12th. Kristen plays a promiscous management consultant who is willing to use sex for career advancement. In Season 1 she had a pretty awesome private dance scene in a hotel room wearing only skimpy lingerie, but she had to tone things down in Season 2 as she was pregnant during filming.

So fans of this blonde hottie will have plenty to watch in 2014. Enjoy!

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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More midweek movie news — it bleeds so, alas, it leads

* It’s probably just the aftermath of a quiet holiday week or two, but there’s been an awful lot of movie news I haven’t mentioned this week. Tonight, however, all of the usual casting tidbits and what not are being overshadowed by an extremely dramatic new development in the murder or Ronnie Chasen. Chasen, you’ll recall, was the highly respected and well-liked industry publicist who was shot five times in her car with hollow point bullets in a murder that seemed senseless, yet not random. Tonight, the big news if you turn on any local news station out here is that police went to serve a search warrant, one of a few, on a “person of interest” in the case but before they could talk to the man, he committed suicide with a handgun. Not surprisingly, Nikki Finke has the latest on what has to be the strangest and saddest Hollywood story of the year.

* Speaking of Finke, she claimed another “toldja” tonight. Channing Tatum will be Jonah Hill‘s costar in the upcoming comedy rendering of “21 Jump Street” written by Hill and Michael Bacall.

* A ballet comedy with Chloe Moretz, Kristen Bell and Jackie Earle Haley? Works for me. Moretz makes a lot of sense here. As we discussed when I interviewed her last summer, she has a background in ballet. She was also fairly gaga over the portions of “The Black Swan” she’d been able to see.

* A sweet tribute to the late Leslie Nielsen by David Zucker.

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* Anne Thompson has a rundown of the selections for this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which is just about six or seven weeks away already, if you can believe it.

* Speaking of Anne Thompson, she posted an early review of the Coen Brothers new version of “True Grit” tonight. She was very positive about the movie herself but seemed to feel  that younger viewers don’t “get” westerns because they happened a long time ago. (Does that mean they dislike all films taking place more than a hundred years in the past? I find that a sad thought.) She also said the response at the screening she went to was “mixed.”

Well, at least so far it’s not so mixed with the geek elements of the film blogosphere because Drew McWeeney, Harry Knowles (who, yes, tends to be excitably positive), and Eric Eisenberg of CinemaBlend posted flat-out raves. This fan of Westerns, who recently read the Charles Portis novel and is looking forward to reacquainting himself with the 1969 version really soon, is excited. Only blogo-blowhard Jeffrey Welles has labeled it a “misfire” in what I’ve read so far, and I can’t help but consider the source. At least he didn’t spend the review calling Jeff Bridges fat or something. It seems like every time I read Welles, he’s criticizing someone for being overweight.

* Left over from last night. Christopher Nolan makes sense and tells us to embrace the ambiguity. Actually, the deliberate little bit of doubt at the ending was one of the few things I liked unreservedly about “Inception” which, overall, was a big, cold, glittering disappointment for me.

* Michael Douglas is apparently doing well in the health department and, from a totally selfish point of view, the best part is that it really does look like the Soderbergh Liberace movie is going forward.

* Whedonesque reveals a non-story as Entertainment Weekly manufactures a dubious scoop on the Joss Whedon-less “Buffy” movie.

* I’m sure Peter Jackson knows exactly what he’s doing, but it blows me away that a big scale fantasy epic like “The Hobbit” is going to be shot with RED Epic digital cameras. I know I have huge retro tendencies, but somehow, I’d feel better if he were using those massive old 3-strip Technicolor cameras.

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Weekend box office: greed is still pretty good

Things turned out at this weekend’s box office more or less as predicted on Thursday. “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” came in on top at an estimated $19 million for Fox, according to the Box Office Mojo chart, about a million or two shy of the figures being bandied about, but close enough for an adult skewing film expected to have decent legs. Nikki Finke thinks it may have missed it’s moment in terms of being a topical must-see and also avoiding some bad press provided by the mouthy Oliver Stone. Maybe. She also points out that Fox hasn’t exactly been on a hot streak this summer. Still, this is actually a career high, raw cash wise, for Stone and not too bad a showing for the longest break between an original and a sequel since Martin Scorsese and Paul Newman dared to follow-up the genuine classic, “The Hustler,” with his underrated non-classic, “The Color of Money,” a quarter century after the fact.

Following not so far behind, really, is Warners’ “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” which earned an estimated $16.3 million. Anthony D’Allesandro is calling the film a “bomb” along the lines of the recent “Cats and Dogs” sequel. That may be accurate compared to what family films like this usually make and in light an as yet unspecified large budget but it’s still within a couple of million of this weekend’s $50-70 million live-action hit.

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While the books might have had an audience, something just seemed generally awry and the film lacked a clear premise for non-fans other than “owls fighting.” Whether or not Zack Snyder, whose early hits are receding in the memory of Hollywood, no doubt, gets to remain in the high end movie big leagues may now be largely dependent on what happens when his strange and zany looking action fantasy, “Sucker Punch,” comes out on 3/25/11.

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Weekend box office never sleeps, does it?

It’s certainly not resting this very busy weekend when the return of Mr. “Greed is Good” himself and a bunch of 3-D fantasy owls will battle for the #1 spot, with any number of other interesting things happening on the sidelines.

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The smart money seems to be pretty positive that “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” will earn in the neighborhood of $20 million and so may end up winning the weekend. At least that’s what I’m reading via jolly Carl DiOrio and the more circumspect Ben Fritz.

The audience for the latest from Oliver Stone skews fairly older, not only because it’s a topical thriller from the bombastic but literate Stone, but because it’s a sequel to a hit movie that is — shockingly for some of us — old enough that 24 year-old co-star Shia LaBeouf was barely a toddler when it first came out. That may help with the film’s longevity since older audiences tend to take their time seeing a new movie. Also, a bit of extra publicity from Gekko-man Michael Douglas‘s well-publicized upbeat battle with cancer might add to awareness over the long term. The reviews, which also have a somewhat stronger effect on older viewers, are only meh-to-okay with somewhat better response from more blue-state-centric “top critics.”

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If you’re looking for a surprise at the box office…

…I suggest you got to the front of your local multiplex, remove your pants, sing “La Cucaracha” at the top of your voice, and see what happens. You certainly won’t get anything too unexpected from the weekend’s movie grosses based on what I wrote Thursday night.

Avatar

According to Box Office Mojo , once again the 3-D science fiction fable that just won’t quit, “Avatar” continues to “hold” fabulously for Fox and is down only 14.1% from last weekend for a very nice total of $30 million in its seventh week atop the box office. Jolly Carl DiOrio reminds us, however, that while James Cameron‘s previous “Titanic” record is about to be demolished in terms of raw cash, that mega-blockbuster stayed on top of the box office for an astonishing 15 weekends. (I’m glad I wasn’t writing these back in 1997-8; I might have gone insane from the repetition.) Of course, all it takes to end the record is one really sizable new hit movie to make into the high twenties or low thirties. We’ll see.

For now, that sizable new hit remains a mere phantom. This week’s silver medalist is the thriller “Edge of Darkness, starring Mel Gibson” The film managed an estimated $17.12 million in 3,066 theaters for Warners, making for an unexciting per screen average of $5,584. This is not a terrible performance, but given the film’s $80 million budget, it ain’t great. Some of you (you know who you are) may recall that, when the space opera “Serenity” opened with about $10 million some years back, it was deemed a fairly major disappointment with a budget of less than half that much. Ol’ Sugar Tits and company are going to have to hold on very well at the box office in subsequent weeks if he wants this to be seen as anything resembling the start of an acting comeback.

Kristen Bell in
Speaking of movies related to great-but-canceled television shows with high geek appeal, what does it mean that, just as I was starting to write this post, the Dandy Warhols’ “We Used to Be Friends” came on the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Muzak? Yes, the theme to “Veronica Mars” put me in mind of the performance of the critically drubbed romantic comedy “When in Rome.” Still, the appeal of former TV teen detective Kristen Bell may have counted for enough to get the film a non-terrible estimated opening weekend of $12+ million for Disney, which might be enough, or not, depending on the budget.

There was some interesting blowback from prior weeks. Last week’s surprising situation where the killer-angel film “Legion” came in at a strong #2 with over $28 million, defeating the family appeal of Fox’s “The Tooth Fairy” was reversed this week. The PG-rated Dwayne Johnson comedy vehicle stayed in the #4 position and earned an estimated $10 million dropping a relatively very modest 28% in its second week. “Legion” from Screen Gems sank by a whopping 61.1% and came in at the #6 spot, beneath “The Book of Eli,” with only an estimated $6.8 million.

The only other news of much note is the strong performance of the slowly expanding country-music themed drama, “Crazy Heart” — featuring a multi-award-winning performance by Jeff Bridges that really seems like an Oscar lock. In 239 theaters as of this weekend, the film earned one of the weekend’s best per-screen averages ($9,414) for an estimated total of $2.25 million. That will be sweet, soulful music to the ears of the suits of Fox Searchlight.

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Why do I even bother to write new headlines for the box office previews?

When the same frickin’ movie tops the box office office charts every single week for seven damn weeks in a row, I mean, why even bother to make movies if you’re name isn’t James Cameron? Okay, that may be taking it way too far, but jolly Carl DiOrio has once again stated that “Avatar” is once again on track to top the weekend’s box office with something in the neighborhood of $25 million. Who am I to argue?

Still, in a world where old fashioned movie star status still seemed to mean something commercially — and where Mel “Sugar Tits” Gibson (see yesterday’s post), hadn’t eroded his appeal through some bad/hypocritical behavior and an acting hiatus of several years — “Edge of Darkness” would, at least, be giving the Na’vi a run for their blue money. It’s a movie version of a BBC miniseries originally directed by busy helmer Martin Campbell, who also directed this outing and the screenplay is co-written by William Monahan, who did such a brilliant job adapting the strong but somewhat thin Hong Kong hit, “Infernal Affairs,” into the outstanding “The Departed” for Martin Scorsese.

Mel It’s worth noting, however, that in that case Monahan was allowed to flesh out a stripped down shorter script into more of an epic length tale and, in this case, he and fellow scribe Andrew Bovell are pairing down a miniseries into a vastly shorter feature length film. The reviews so far are acceptable but unexciting. It’s at 59% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes and the general vibe I’m getting is a slightly more positive than usual “meh.” Not exactly the huge comeback MSTG could really use if he wants to be a big time movie star again, rather than just a controversial director.

Now, if there’s anyone new out there who deserves to suddenly become a big time movie star, it’s Kristen Bell. However, there’s something about “When in Rome” that has critics sharpening their most negative adjectives despite their affection for Bell as TV’s “Veronica Mars,” among other terrific performances. Certainly our own David Medsker dislikes the film as much as he likes Bell, and that 10% Rotten Tomatoes rating indicates he’s not alone, and the film’s strong supporting cast doesn’t seem to have helped any. The director is Mark Steven Johnson who is really proving t be no directing genius. He made “Ghost Rider” and, though our own Jason Zingale had some kind words for it, the utterly lacking “Daredevil.” As Stan Lee would say, “’nuff said.”

Jolly Carl DiOrio predicts that both the K-Bell and Sugar Tits Gibson films will do something in the “low to mid-teen millions” though from very different audiences. Sure, why not?

K-Bell deserves better!

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Will “Couples” find box office fulfillment?

Couples Retreat

As if the movie gods themselves wished to offer me some breathing space, this weekend has only one new wide release, and it sure doesn’t strike me as anything to get very excited about. Our own Jason Zingale — who enjoyed seeing a reunion of “Swingers” pals Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau — gave a pretty tepid, just this side of positive, review to “Couples Retreat.” Jason’s take, however, is a hysterical rave compared to the blistering reviews that had the film at a pretty darn rotten 09% “fresh” Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Nevertheless, audiences may differ from the critics. The comedy does boast the appeal of the all-mid-level star cast, which also includes the very talented Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell. Also, the fact that the R-rated blood/body-parts splatter comedy, “Zombieland,” and the PG-rated family food splatter science fiction comedy, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” are dominating the box office right now means that there’s not a whole lot out there in wide release for the non-splattery date movie trade.

Whip ItNow, Fox Searchlight’s hopes of good word-of-mouth-based box office could pan out for the girl-powered sports comedy, “Whip It.” So, if director Peter Billingsley — yes, Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” — wants to avoid a nasty box office defeat, he’ll have to hope there are no pleasant suprises for his fellow ex-child star making a feature directorial debut, Drew Barrymore. Variety‘s Andrew Stewart says the lately somewhat beleaguered Universal expects “decent numbers” whatever those are, but my hunch is that “Couples” will be lucky to be in the top five on this weekend’s hit parade and may not crack double digits. However, I’m nearly always wrong when I stray from the experts. We shall see.

The remaining action this weekend is in terms of limited releases. As per Box Office Mojo, other than some potential Oscar fare we may be discussing in coming weeks, we have “Good Hair,” from Chris Rock and director Jeff Stilson getting excellent reviews and debuting in 185 theaters, as well as the LeBron James-headlined sports documentary, “More Than a Game,” expanding into 44 theaters. “From Mexico With Love,” an old-school boxing/message picture being aimed at the Latino market, is also getting a very decent sized release in 285 theaters. The earnest looking drama has been so successfully hidden from critics so far, it’s not even appearing on Rotten Tomatoes new release listing.

Oh, and I almost forgot the one release that’s probably destined to be more than a trivia question after this week is over. After an extremely successful midnight-only release last week, the canny scarefest “Paranormal Activity” will be getting a normal release in 159 screens this weekend. As it happens, I saw it last night and will be writing up the review after I’m done here, but suffice it to say for now that I personally observed a bunch of presumably jaded, mostly youngish, industry-connected folks at a screening on the Paramount lot last night doing a pretty good impression of the folks in the trailer — well, maybe laughing at their own fear a bit more. This is not just hype.

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Expansions

Just a couple of items where some more information might be of interest.

* I linked yesterday to a Variety story reporting that James Cameron had signed with mega-agency CAA. Last night, however, ace gadfly muckraker Nikki Finke reported that it was merely a new camera technology developed for Cameron’s upcoming “Avatar” 3-D extravaganza, not Cameron himself, that the agency will be repping. In true Finkean style, she can’t resist taking a swipe at Variety in the process, though I guess it might be earned in this case.

Sigourney Weaver* On a more pleasant and actually interesting note, we have some news about Sigourney Weaver‘s upcoming projects, after discussing her — well, actually, Ellen Ripley — topping Total Sci-Fi’s list of female science fiction icons yesterday. For one thing, I didn’t realize until now Ms. Weaver is one of the stars of the aforementioned “Avatar” (as is Will Harris’s talented Facebook buddy Dileep Rao).

But that’s far from all, JA at The Film Experience is waxing enthusiastic over her possible casting (it’s not truly confirmed yet, I gather) in another sci-fi film, of sorts. “Paul” is to be directed by Greg Mottola of “Superbad” and “Adventureland” and written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” and “Spaced” fame. Apparently the film has something to do with a couple of British comic book geeks (Pegg and Frost) traveling cross-country from Comic-Con who meet up with Seth Rogen — I gather possibly animated or CGI’d or something — as an alien named, naturally, Paul at Nevada’s Area 51 (at least that’s how SlashFilm’s Paul Sciretta has it). It will also feature Bill Hader, Jane Lynch, Jason Bateman and Kristen Wiig.

Sounds pretty good, but JA was also good enough to mention another comedy casting for Ms. Weaver, this in “You Again,” which will star Kristin Bell, a particular favorite over here. As JA points out, it will re-team the high talented, geek-friendly Bell with director Andy Fickman, who elicited one of her most interesting performances in “Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical” back in 2005. At the risk of going off on a bit of tangent (and, by the way, just happening to mention my lengthy 2007 blog post on Fickman’s entertaining, though highly imperfect, movie), did you know that the former Veronica Mars can, as the Western codgers say, sing purty?

Don’t worry, she gets a lot less wholesome later on

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“Veronica Mars” movie on the way?

Good news, “Veronica Mars” fans — it looks like there may be a movie in the works.

Fans of the CW drama were absolutely crushed when the network didn’t renew the show in 2007, and talk immediately turned to giving the series a proper two-hour Cineplex sendoff. Now, creator Rob Thomas has divulged the first solid details of the project, which is closer than ever to becoming reality.

Speaking to reporters at the TCAs in Los Angeles, Thomas (on hand to promote his new ABC show Cupid) confirmed that he is writing a Veronica Mars movie, according to iFMagazine.com.

Thomas says he has the movie “70 percent” down in his head, and is struggling with one crucial plot point. However, he also feels he is “on the right track now” and will clear that hurdle soon enough.

The movie is not going to take place where Veronica Mars’ would-be fourth season would have (Thomas made a presentation for network execs that proposed jumping forward in time to Veronica in the FBI). Instead, the movie is set to start just days before Veronica graduates from Hearst College.

According to the article, the cast is interested and financing shouldn’t be a problem, so this is looking very good at the moment. This comes on the heels of the news that there is also a “Jericho” movie in the works.

Count this writer amongst the fans of the show that were sorely disappointed when the CW elected not to renew it. In that final season, “Veronica Mars” was every bit as good as it ever was, and it felt like there were plenty more stories to tell. I was intrigued by the possibility of her ending up at the FBI, but I’ll take any of Ms. Mars that I can get at this point.

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Heroes 3.10 – The People with the Answers Won’t Tell the People with the Questions the Answers

When a music geek is handed an episode with a title like “The Eclipse,” you’re given a lot of different choices for lyrical references as the title of your blog entry. Should I go with Pink Floyd (All that you slight, everyone you fight…), or should I go with Bonnie Tyler (Once upon a time, there was love in my life…)? Instead, I went with a relative obscurity – a line from the closing track of the Beta Band’s Hot Shots II – but given the way the series has been going, it seemed rather appropriate.

Let’s split this week’s blog into two parts, shall we?

Before the Eclipse:

Arthur has just been a sketching fool since taking on the power of poor Usutu, but, wow, he’s really let his people skills drop off. Really, though, can you blame him? Thanks to his new abilities, he knows what’s coming…and, yet, he can’t seem to do a damned thing to change it.

The relationship between Sylar and Elle turned darker this week than I expected. I mean, I know I made a comment a few weeks ago about how Sylar’s so freaking wishy-washy that he’ll probably switch sides half a dozen more times before the end of the season, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that he left his touchy-feely side behind, but I just didn’t expect Elle to be the one who turned him. She’s a complex character, that one. (Her throwaway description of HRG as “Glasses himself” was hilarious.)

Mohinder really just isn’t a very good scientist, is he? “I, uh, didn’t think the eclipse had anything to do with it,” he mutters. Whoops. From there, it was back to “Return of the Fly,” unfortunately.

Matt and Daphne’s quest to find Hiro turned out to be a short one when he and Ando turned up, courtesy of their comic book intel. I loved the interplay between Ando and Daphne, not to mention Hiro and the turtle, but I’m wondering how long this whole back-and-forth thing between Matt and Daphne is going to go on. That said, once the boys followed Daphne to Lawrence, Kansas, I had to laugh at Hiro’s exclamation: “Holy crap!”

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