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Video: Frustrated Rant Against Growing Commercials In Movies

Features - by John - April 6, 2009 - 19:52 America/Montreal - 110 Comments

To some it may not be a big deal, but there is NOTHING in the movie industry or movie going experience that annoys me to the point of blind furious rage more than the issue of commercials that play in the theaters before a movie starts. The only thing that comes close to being as annoying are people who try to defend it. Movie Blog regulars will know that I go off on this topic about once a year… but this week I had one of the worst experiences of my life with it and just had to rant my face off and get it off my chest. Enjoy.

Still Not Over The Christian Bale Incident

Features, News Chat - by John - March 2, 2009 - 12:04 America/Montreal - 79 Comments

We’re a funny society. We are very quick to ignore, overlook and forgive massive wrongs committed by certain people if they are one of our favorite celebrities. I mean, if that guy can play guitar really well, then I’m sure he had a good reason for doing all that cocaine and beating up his girlfriend.

If that legendary baseball player hit so many home runs, there’s no need to talk about the fact that he was a womanizing, abusive drunk.

If that TV star has a hit show and is really cool, then we can just overlook that he got behind the wheel of a car after drinking and killed two kids.

And hell… if Batman becomes a self absorbed, narcissistic, primadonna little whining bitch… then it’s all cool because he’s a great actor… weather he actually assaulted his mother and sister or not.

Yes, since we all loved Batman so much, most people quickly jumped to Christain Bale’s defense when reports came out that his own mother and sister called the cops on him. People were so desperate to defend their hero, that they pointed the finger at the alleged victims. Forums were filled with people saying (before knowing any facts) that the mom and sister were just trying to get Bale’s money (It should be noted here that formal charges were never laid and the incident was dismissed.

Make no mistake about it… people only jumped to Bale’s defense because he’s Batman. Period.

Don’t believe it? Imagine if you will that the EXACT SAME INCIDENT occurred, but it was Uwe Boll instead of Christian Bale. You think people would have jumped to his defense if his own mother and sister called the cops on him for assault? No, they wouldn’t. They would have crucified Boll (again, probably before any of the official facts were known). I defy anyone to argue this point.

Again, Bale may have been totally innocent or totally guilty in the incident with his mother and sister. Neither is really the point. The point is that we as a society jumped to excuse or defend Christian Bale for no other reason than we like him in the movies… and we would have burned Boll at the stake for the same thing because he’s not so good.

Then last month came the infamous Christian Bale freak out on set of Terminator Salvation. We’ve all seen and heard it, so there’s no reason to play it again. Bale berated, embarrassed, humiliated and abused another person for over 5 minutes in a profanity laced outburst, name calling and even threatening with violence. And what was this other “lesser person’s” great sin? He walked behind the camera for a moment.

I’m sorry, I’ve been on lots of movie sets… and sometimes people do quietly move behind the camera while a scene is being filmed. It happens. It’s not a big deal. Well… it’s not a big deal unless you’re a self-perceived god-man who really believes all his own press and hype, and who just maybe actually thinks he might be Batman.

But once again, people rushed to Bale’s defense. “Everyone loses their temper once in a while” some will say. “Maybe he was just having a bad day”.

Shortly afterward, Christian Bale came out and apologized for the incident. But that was MONTHS after it actually happened and only after it was released publicly. And it should be noted that he has apparently never actually apologized to Shane Hurlbut, the target of his outburst.

Now, once again… had this been Uwe Boll, people would have been quick to point back the the alleged incident with his mother and sister as maybe detecting a pattern of behavior. But this wasn’t Uwe Boll… this was Batman… and we love batman… so we ignore it and VERY QUICKLY let it go… sweep it under the proverbial rug. I never read ANYONE bringing up the previous incident. Not once. I’m sure someone out there did… but not enough that I saw it.

Look, I’ve gone on record before that I don’t think we should allow the personal character of an actor detract from our enjoyment of their acting. Hell, I always say that Russell Crowe is hands down the best actor on the planet right now… but he’s still a jerk.

Christian Bale is not just a GOOD actor… he’s an AMAZING actor. His talent is indisputable, and not just because of Batman… he’s brilliant in just about everything he’s ever in. But this pattern I see, a pattern of self-importance, really turns me off as a fan. And it’s not just the mom or rant incidents. You can see it in his interviews too.

For me as a FAN, I’m having a hard time now looking forward to Terminator Salvation… just when I was finally starting to get excited about it. When I see Bale in the trailers now, all I see is that jackass who decided he was more important that everyone else on set. berated another human being in front of everyone and only showed any sense of remorse once he got publicly outed for his asshole behavior. Maybe it’s all just perception, but it’s still the perception I have of him at the moment.

Look, Christian Bale might be a great guy. It’s possible that he was totally innocent in the incident with his mother. It’s possible he was totally justified in his behavior on the Terminator set. The point of this post is not “Is Bale right or wrong”… the point is that I’m amazed how quickly we all just let our favorite celebrity off the hook when we would have crucified almost anyone else in the exact same situation.

FACT: If it was anyone other than Batman, we wouldn’t have so quickly swept all this under the rug.

And for me personally, I’m still hung up on it. I’m sure I’ll get over it and I totally believe everyone deserves a second chance… but right now… yeah I admit it… the whole thing is effecting my enthusiasm for Terminator, and I wish it wasn’t.

An Inconvenient Truth - The Dark Knight Didn’t Deserve The Nomination

Features - by John - January 22, 2009 - 21:47 America/Montreal - 187 Comments

The fallout has been swift and decisive. No more than 10 minutes had past from when the official 2009 Oscar Nominations where announced to when the backlash began. 90% of the backlash was over one category. The Dark Knight failed to garner one of the five coveted spots for a Best Picture nomination.

Anger hath swept the interweb all day. A lot of people are labeling the Oscars a “sham” and a “joke” for it’s failure to give the Christopher Nolan film it’s proper, in their eyes, props… and if I had a nickel for every use of the work “snub” I’ve read or heard today I’d be a rich rich rich man my friends.

BUt just as Al Gore had to lay an inconvenient truth on us about the state of the climate… so to must someone come out and do a very unpopular thing. There is another inconvenient truth that must be spoken. And that inconvenient truth is that The Dark Knight didn’t deserve to be nominated for best picture this year.

It’s a great film. I personally had it at #8 on my best films of the year list. Perhaps in another year with slightly weaker competition it would have been nominated. There is certainly a case for arguing The Dark Knight’s merits for deserving one. But when all is said and done, as good as The Dark Knight is (I personally like it more and more each time I see it), the fact of the matter is, in my opinion anyway, it didn’t deserve to given one of the top 5 spots, and it’s absence from the Nominee List is not only acceptable, but proper.

Now don’t get me wrong… I certainly wouldn’t have complained if it had indeed been given a nomination. As a matter of fact I half expected it to get nominated.


Let’s get this straight first. Just because something is overrated does NOT mean it’s not good or quality. It just means that it gets more praise than it deserves… regardless of how good it is. The Dark Knight is a great movie… but right from the first weekend the hyperbole pouring out about HOW great it is was nauseating. It got so bad some people were calling it the greatest film of all time, or the greatest crime drama of all time and other various nonsense like that.

Right from the beginning it felt like us fan boys had been so desperate for so long to have one of OUR films (a genre film… a comic book film) be this good, that the moment such a film appeared we wanted to crown it Caesar and heap as many accolades on it as possible. The hype for the film took on a life of it’s own and grew bigger than the movie itself. So while The Dark Knight is great, it was nonetheless tragically overrated.


With the massive euphoria surrounding the film, people on a mass scale seemed to willfully blind themselves to the obvious weaknesses of the movie (yes, even the best movies have weaknesses). It seemed like no one would acknowledge some of the more blatant mistakes of the film. Thankfully, as with most movies, I’m finding that as more time passes, people are willing to own up to some of these weaknesses. But we’re still not there yet.

It’s almost as if people fear that if you admit or acknowledge one of your favorite movies has flaws… it somehow invalidates your love for that movie. I think that’s nonsense. I wrote the following back in July to illustrate this:

Regular Movie Blog readers know how much I loved Transformers. I bloody flipped my lid for that movie beyond all reasonable limits. I said it was the most fun summer flick I’d ever seen and I said it was the best visual effects I’d ever seen. However, if you read my stuff, or if you listened to the Transformers DVD commentary that we did, you’ll know that I openly talk about the many weaknesses of the movie. The painful dialog in places, the poor choice in certain characters they used, the horrible lack of dialog between the decepticons (how can you have a transformers movie and only have 1 single line between Megatron and Starscream?!?!) Just because I acknowledges the film had a lot of flaws didn’t mean I couldn’t still love it

The film was too long. All the mobsters besides the Joker himself were dreadful, the boat scene was so terrible it risked ruining the grittiness of the film, the way they wasted Two-Face (not Harvey) was a joke and Bale’s Batman voice got worse than it was in the first one. These are real issues that very few seem willing to acknowledge. Just a few too many things (again, in my opinion) to make it a “lock” for an Oscar Nomination.


Some people, including a bunch I really respect, are suggesting that The Dark Knight was purposefully snubbed by the Academy because it’s a “genre” film. The suggestion is that the 6000 voting members all somehow collectively decided they hate genre films and would not allow a genre film to get an Oscar nomination on their watch.

The problem with that logic is summed up in 5 simple words: THE LORD OF THE RINGS. The Lord of the Rings trillogy by any definition are a set of genre flims. The ultimate geek movies really. Wizards and trolls, swords and monsters, elves in woodland kingdoms with magic rings and potions. The Lord of the Rings films are geek genre films… and yet all 3 of them got nominated for best picture and The Return of the King tied the record for most Oscar wins by taking home 11 awards (winning in ever single category it was nominated for). So please don’t try to suggest the Academy is just out to snub genre films… because that’s just silly.


The Oscar is a tough award to win. Over 4000 full feature length films were produced in the US last year… and of those 4000+ movies only 5 can be nominated. Add on top of that the fact that film is subjective and each member of the Academy will have a slightly different view than the next. There can be only 5… and The Dark Knight wasn’t one of them. All things considered, I don’t think it’s all that surprising, all that unjust and realistically not a “snub” in the least.

Just my two cents on the issue. What do you think?

The Love Guru Leads the Razzies

Features, News Chat - by Rodney - January 22, 2009 - 11:58 America/Montreal - 13 Comments

The Razzies are not just the Anti-Oscars, but it is a celebration of the bad. It goes one step farther than just informing you of juse how bad some films were, but it relishes in it adding another layer of mockery to the already squirming celebrities who participated in the nominated productions.

I came across a list of the nominations thanks to FilmJunk. and it looks like The Love Guru is leading in suck.

Worst Picture

* Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans
* The Happening
* The Hottie and The Nottie
* In The Name of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale
* The Love Guru

Worst Director

* Uwe Boll (1968: Tunnel Rats, In The Name Of The King, Postal)
* Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer (Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans)
* Tom Putnam (The Hottie and the Nottie)
* Marco Schnabel (The Love Guru)
* M. Night Shyamalan (The Happening)

Worst Actor

* Larry the Cable Guy (Witless Protection)
* Eddie Murphy (Meet Dave)
* Mike Myers (The Love Guru)
* Al Pacino (88 Minutes, Righteous Kill)
* Mark Wahlberg (The Happening, Max Payne)

Worst Actress

* Jessica Alba (The Eye, The Love Guru)
* The Cast of The Women (Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett-Smith
and Meg Ryan)
* Cameron Diaz (What Happens in Vegas)
* Paris Hilton (The Hottie and The Nottie)
Kate Hudson (Fools Gold, My Best Friend’s Girl)

Worst Supporting Actor

* Uwe Boll (Postal)
* Pierce Brosnan (Mamma Mia!)
* Ben Kingsley (The Love Guru, War, Inc, The Wackness)
* Burt Reynolds (Deal, In The Name of the King)
* Verne Troyer (The Love Guru, Postal)

Worst Supporting Actress

* Carmen Electra (Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans)
* Paris Hilton (Repo! The Genetic Opera)
* Kim Kardashian (Disaster Movie)
Jenny McCarthy (Witless Protection)
* Leelee Sobieski (88 Minutes, In The Name of the King)

Worst Screenplay

* Disaster Movie and Meet The Spartans
* The Happening
* The Hottie And The Nottie
* In The Name Of The King:A Dungeon Siege Tale
* The Love Guru

For the most part I agree with the un-accolades these films are getting however I didn’t find Dungeon Seige to be that terrible. Wasn’t awesome, but still not really that bad. However it is no surprise that the Razzies are jumping at the chance to mock Mike Myers. If it was just another bad movie no one would really react, however, after so many years of success it is a might big step down for him with the poor showing with the Love Guru. And it was a freefall for the beloved Canadian comedian.

You can check out all the nominations at The Razzies Official Website.

Any legitimately bad movies that you think they missed? How do you feel about the nominations?

2009 Oscar Nominees

Features, News Chat - by John - January 22, 2009 - 08:38 America/Montreal - 32 Comments

The 2009 Oscar Nominees were announced today.

The obvious winner in the 2009 Oscar Nominees list was obviously The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button with 13 nominations, with Slumdog Millionaire coming up 2nd with 10 nominations.

The only real shaft of the whole thing was that the very best film of the year… by a MILE… didn’t get nominated. Wall-e only got the token cop out nomination for Best Animated Film… which is total bull. Other than that, it’s a pretty solid list.

I’m a LITTLE bit surprised that The Dark Knight didn’t get nominated for best picture… but honestly I didn’t think it was one of the 5 best films of the year, so I can’t say I’m shocked.

Here are the 2009 Oscar Nominees:

Best Picture
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Reader”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Director
David Fincher, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Ron Howard, “Frost/Nixon”
Gus Van Sant, “Milk”
Stephen Daldry, “The Reader”
Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Actor
Richard Jenkins, “The Visitor”
Frank Langella, “Frost/Nixon”
Sean Penn, “Milk”
Brad Pitt, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway, “Rachel Getting Married”
Angelina Jolie, “Changeling”
Melissa Leo, “Frozen River”
Meryl Streep, “Doubt”
Kate Winslet, “The Reader”

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, “Milk”
Robert Downey Jr., “Tropic Thunder”
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, “Doubt”
Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Michael Shannon, “Revolutionary Road”

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “Doubt”
Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Viola Davis, “Doubt”
Taraji P. Henson, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Marisa Tomei, “The Wrestler”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Reader”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Original Screenplay
“Frozen River”
“In Bruges”

Best Animated Feature Film
“Kung Fu Panda”

Best Foreign Language Film
“The Baader Meinhof Complex”
“The Class”
“Waltz with Bashir”

Best Documentary Feature
“The Betrayal (Nerkhoon)”
“Encounters at the End of the World”
“The Garden”
“Man on Wire”
“Trouble the Water”

Best Art Direction
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“The Duchess”
“Revolutionary Road”

Best Cinematography
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“The Reader”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Costume Design
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Duchess”
“Revolutionary Road”

Best Film Editing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Makeup
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”

Best Music (Original Score)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Music (Original Song)
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Sound Editing
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Sound Mixing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Slumdog Millionaire”

Best Visual Effects
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Iron Man”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“The Conscience of Nhem En”
“The Final Inch”
“Smile Pinki”
“The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306″

Best Short Film (Animated)
“La Maison de Petits Cubes”
“Lavatory - Lovestory”
“This Way Up”

Best Short Film (Live Action)
“Auf der Strecke (On the Line)”
“Manon on the Asphault”
“New Boy”
“The Pig”
“Spielzeugland (Toyland)”

Defiance Review

Features, Reviews - by John - January 21, 2009 - 10:17 America/Montreal - 12 Comments

Hey there folks. Thanks for checking out our Defiance Review.

When Daniel Craig burst onto the collective consciousness as the newest James Bond (and in my opinion, the best one ever), I instantly become interested in anything he was involved in. Heck, I was even up to seeing him in The Golden Compass and The Invasion (ouch… painful memory). So when I heard about him staring in a true story about Jewish warriors who lived and hid in the woods during the Nazi occupation of his homeland… I thought “Hell yeah”! My excitement got even bigger when I heard that Edward Zwick, director of Blood Diamond and The Last Samurai, was helming the project.

As Ricky Gervais pointed out at the Golden Globes the other night: “The only problem with holocaust films is that you can’t put a funny gag reel on the DVD”. So true. Not a lot of laughs expected.


The synopsis for Defiance reads something like this: “Inspired by a true story, director Edward Zwick’s epic World War II drama Defiance tells the tale of three Jewish Eastern European brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, and Jamie Bell) who narrowly escape certain death at the hands of the Nazis, subsequently vowing to avenge the deaths of their loves ones by launching a desperate battle against the forces that seek to exterminate their entire race. The year is 1941, and the setting is Nazi-occupied Poland. The Final Solution is in full effect, and the Jews of Eastern Europe are being slaughtered wholesale. Tuvia (Craig), Zus (Schreiber), and Asael (Bell) have miraculously managed to escape into the dense surrounding forest. Having played in these woods since childhood, the brothers have a distinct advantage over their adversaries, and soon decide that simply surviving is not enough. In order to make a difference, they must take action, but in order to take action they will need support. As whispers of their bravery take wind, others like them appear determined to lay their lives on the line for the cause of freedom. Tuvia has become the de facto leader of the group, but he’s still somewhat reluctant to take on such a heavy responsibility and his brother Zus expresses concern that his idealistic plan will ultimately bring about the group’s downfall. With winter setting in, everyone works to create a functioning community that will help them endure the frigid months that lie ahead, and Asael reluctantly finds himself caught in the crossfire of his older siblings’ rivalry. Is it possible to keep faith alive in a time when the world seems devoid of humanity and survival becomes a way of life?”


There is something inherently powerful about great human tragedy that brings out the very best in human beings. It seems that when faced with our most daunting challenges that the true strength of the human spirit, the human will to survive, the human will to be… human, truly comes out. Therein lay the power of holocaust films. The movies are set against one of the most tragic eras of human history, which ultimately sets the stage for some of the greatest human stories of courage, endurance, kindness and resolve. This is were the main strength of Defiance shines. The filmmakers make my gut hurt seeing the horror and the pain and the loss all these people suffered… but in that horror, in that pain and in that loss something is birthed out of them that inspires me. It is a cold reminder about just how small most of our daily problems really are that we complain about so much and it shames me when I see stories of people facing so much more than me exhibiting so much more strength than me. More of us need these sorts of reminders I think.

When you have these sorts of human stories, it’s essential that the performers bring out that humanity. On this point I can’t say enough about the performances by both Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber. The raw mixture of pure fear, pure anger, pure sorrow, pure rage all at different times and in different mixtures allowed me as a viewer to really FEEL their circumstances which allowed to me to them experience the story on an entirely different level. Damn, I can’t wait to see Schreiber as Sabertooth in the upcoming Wolverine movie.

One of the things that often poses a road bump for films like this is that the director gives in to the temptation to make the good guys pure good, and the bad guys completely inhuman. Fortunately the director resists this simple way and embraces the full humanity of the Bielski brothers… showing them as heroes, yes. Showing them as brave… yes. But also showing them as flawed. Real men facing the real hardship and struggles both morally and physically and faced with choices they never thought they’d have to make… and sometimes making the wrong ones… doing the wrong things. This to me made the characters even more relatable and inspiring.


Unfortunately, Defiance sort of misrepresents itself. The ads and synopsis tell us and give the impression that it’s about a group of warriors who take to the woods to fight the Germans. That’s not really the case. It’s about a group of scared and desperate survivors who gather together in the woods to survive and hide. Some of the ads give you the impression that you’re about to see a Jewish version of “Red Dawn“, but that really isn’t the case here.

The film is guilty of some repetitiveness. For example, I didn’t really feel the need to see a love story and interest between one of the brothers and a woman in the new hidden village. I certainly didn’t need to see a love story and interest between TWO of the brothers and women in the new hidden village. But I just had nothing left to do but roll my eyes when we had to see love interests with ALL THREE brothers. Yes, I get it… finding beauty in harsh circumstances… I get it. Oh… you didn’t hear me and you felt the need to do it twice. Ok, I get it. Oh… you still didn’t hear me and felt I was so stupid you had to show it to me 3 times. Gaaaa.

In the same vein of repetitiveness, there was a very powerful scene when new survivors would wander into the hidden village brining news of the Germans killing Jews in a certain town. A current member of the village who had loved ones in that town would hear the news and start to cry and weep. It was a solid device that hammered home the extent of the circumstances these people were in. However… about 10 minutes later they did the EXACT SAME THING. New people arrive with news of German atrocities in a town, and someone with loved ones in the town get a scene of their weeping. THEN IT HAPPENED AGAIN about 20 minutes later. Yes… I get it… move on.


Defiance is an inspiring story about bravery and humanity in the midst of the worst of human circumstances. Solid performances by the leads giving real substance the characters and overall giving a sense of hope. The film has weaknesses in it’s execution and repetitiveness of certain themes that become distracting and it’s really not the movie it advertises itself to be. Still, a solid film that I would recommend. Overall I give Defiance a 7.5 out of 10.

Fine Line Betwen Being a Movie Blogger And A Director

Features - by John - January 14, 2009 - 11:57 America/Montreal - 1 Comment

It’s a really weird spot I find myself in at the moment, but at the same time a very interesting one. For those of you who don’t know, on Feb 2nd I start shooting my first feature film. It’s a comedy I wrote called “The Anniversary” and I’m extremely pumped about it (more info on that to come later).

The thing is, I have said many times over the years here on The Movie Blog that directors should not openly criticize other directors to the media. As a matter of fact I once wrote this:

Here’s the thing. I’m all for critiquing and giving negative commentary. HOWEVER… I don’t think it’s the place of any director to bash another director that way. Nor do I think any actor should publicly bash another actor. I find it really distasteful and pathetic when a person in a field, publicly bashes the work of another person in their field. That’s pussy. You don’t do that. Let other people do that.

So this raises a very legitimate question that some people have asked me that I’m working through. The question basically is: “Is it hypocritical to be a movie blogger… whose job it is to comment, praise and criticize the work of directors (movies) and then to be a director yourself”? That my friends, is a very fair question to ask.

I guess the way I’ve approached it right now is the same way I approach the question of if I’m a “film critic”. I AM NOT A FILM CRITIC. I have never claimed to be a film critic. As a matter of fact I’ve told people over and over and over again I’m not a film critic. I’m just a guy. That’s it. I’m a guy with a BLOG who talks about my opinions on movies. Sometimes that means doing a “review”, but my “reviews” are nothing more than a film fan talking about what he did and didn’t like about a certain movie… just like anyone else on the planet standing around a water cooler. Just because a bunch of people read my thoughts doesn’t make me a “film critic”. The work of professional film critics is far above me and I don’t deserve to be called one. Which is fine… because I’m not one.

That being said, I still do engage in openly criticizing and critiquing movies openly (duh… it’s a blog). So how can I be a director, and sometimes openly criticize the work of other directors?

The answer is this: I’m not a director.

Here’s the thing. If you decide one day to paint your own living room instead of hiring a professional painter. Someone who is, by trade, a PAINTER… does that suddenly mean YOU are a painter? No, obviously not. If you put air in your own car tires, are you suddenly a mechanic? No, obviously not.

I guess the way I look at it right now is that I’m not a director. Oh sure, I’m directing my own movie that I wrote… but I’m not a director. No more than a guy who paints his own living room is a “painter”. Quite frankly, if I had the money I would have probably hired a REAL director to direct the film for me. I’m directing this because I need to direct it… and yes, to see how much I enjoy it and if I’d be any good at it.

Let’s put it this way, if The Anniversary (the name of my movie) turns out well, I enjoyed doing it and people think I have a talent for directing… then I may decide to direct more… at which time I will be a “director” and I’d have to retire from Movie Blogging because I can’t be a director and actively criticize the work of other directors publicly at the same time. That would be wrong in my opinion. But that’s just my opinion.

There are other examples out there. Some guys from Ain’t It Cool News are actively trying to get a film career going as writers and producers. John from JoBlo’s Arrow In The Head is a talented filmmaker and actor with a number of credits to his name. Jay Cheel over at The Documentary Blog and Film Junk is a gifted documentary filmmaker in his own right and is venturing into narrative filmmaking as well.

I think the bottom line here is that deep down, any movie website guy (or girl) wants to be in the movies (on screen or off screen) and be involved in the business. I’m certainly no exception… but the key, I think, is to know when you’ve actually crossed over. When you can actually call yourself a “director” or “actor” or “producer” or “writer” or whatever, and then separate yourself from the blogging.

Other people may have different opinions on this issue, and that’s cool. I’m not sure my opinion is the right one. But it is mine… and so I have to govern myself accordingly. Just a thought.

Since the comments are down right now… feel free to email me your thoughts and I’ll post them up later. You can reach me at [email protected].

A Biased Open Letter From The Watchmen Producer

Features, News Chat - by John - January 9, 2009 - 06:44 America/Montreal - 53 Comments

Bias isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. Bias in many cases isn’t a CHOICE. It is, more often than not, a result of circumstances someone finds themselves in. Bias enters the conversation when the person involved stands to gain or lose or has a vested interest in the result of a given situation. That’s not the person’s fault… it’s just the result of their circumstances. In that way being biased neither makes you good or bad. If your house was on fire, you would be very biased in your desire to see the fire department arrive sooner rather than later. If your place of employment was making job cuts, you would be biased in your opinion of who should be allowed to stay and who should be fired.

And, in the same vein, if you were a producer of a mega budget Hollywood movie that you stood to gain or lose a fortune on, you would, through no fault of your own, be extremely biased on any issue relating to your film getting released. Being biased isn’t a negative reflection on the character of that individual… it’s just something that the observer has to weigh and keep in mind when evaluating the opinion of those who are in the biased position.

With that being said, Lloyd Levin, producer of Watchmen, has issued an open letter to the public giving his thoughts and knowledge of the current legal battle between WB and Fox regarding the release of the movie. The following open letter comes to us through Hitfix:

Who is right? In the Watchmen dispute between Warner Brothers and Fox that question is being discussed, analyzed, argued, tried and ruled on in a court of law. That’s one way to answer the question - It is a fallback position in our society for parties in conflict to resolve disputes. And there are teams of lawyers and a highly regarded Federal Judge trying to do just that, which obviates any contribution I could make towards answering the “who is right” question within a legal context. But after 15 plus years of involvement in the project, and a decade more than that working in the movie business, I have another perspective, a personal perspective that I believe important to have on the public record.

No one is more keenly aware of the irony of this dispute than Larry Gordon and I who have been trying to get this movie made for many years. There’s a list of people who have rejected the viability of a movie based on Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s classic graphic novel that reads like a who’s who of Hollywood.

We’ve been told the graphic novel is unfilmable.

After 9/11 some felt the story’s themes were too close to reality ever to be palatable to a mainstream audience.

There were those who considered the project but who wished it were somehow different: Could it be a buddy movie, or a team-up movie or could it focus on one main character; did it have to be so dark; did so many people have to die; could it be stripped of its flashback structure; could storylines be eliminated; could new storylines be invented; did it have to be so long; could the blue guy put clothes on… The list of dissatisfactions for what Watchmen is was as endless as the list of suggestions to make it something it never was.

Also endless are the list of studio rejections we accrued over the years. Larry and I developed screenplays at five different studios. We had two false starts in production on the movie. We were involved with prominent and commercial directors. Big name stars were interested. In one instance hundreds of people were employed, sets were being built - An A-list director and top artists in the industry were given their walking papers when the studio financing the movie lost faith.

After all these years of rejection, this is the same project, the same movie, over which two studios are now spending millions of dollars contesting ownership. Irony indeed, and then some.

Through the years, inverse of the lack of studio faith has been the passionate belief by many many individuals - movie professionals who were also passionate fans of the graphic novel - who, yes, wanted to work on the film, but more for reasons of just wanting to see the movie get made, to see this movie get made and made right, donated their time and talent to help push the film forward: Writers gave us free screenplay drafts; conceptual art was supplied by illustrators, tests were performed gratis by highly respected actors and helped along and put together by editors, designers, prop makers and vfx artists; we were the recipients of donated studio and work space, lighting and camera equipment. Another irony, given the commercial stakes implied by the pitched legal dispute between Fox and Warners, is that for years Watchmen has been a project that has survived on the fumes of whatever could be begged, borrowed and stolen - A charity case for all intents and purposes. None of that effort, none of that passion and emotional involvement, is considered in the framework of this legal dispute.

From my point of view, the flashpoint of this dispute, came in late spring of 2005. Both Fox and Warner Brothers were offered the chance to make Watchmen. They were submitted the same package, at the same time. It included a cover letter describing the project and its history, budget information, a screenplay, the graphic novel, and it made mention that a top director was involved.

And it’s at this point, where the response from both parties could not have been more radically different.

The response we got from Fox was a flat “pass.” That’s it. An internal Fox email documents that executives there felt the script was one of the most unintelligible pieces of shit they had read in years. Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie - yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No.

From there, the executives at Warner Brothers, who weren’t yet completely comfortable with the movie, made a deal to acquire the movie rights and we all started to creatively explore the possibility of making Watchmen. We discussed creative approaches and started offering the movie to directors, our former director having moved on by then. After a few director submissions, Zack Snyder came onboard, well before the release of his movie 300. In fact, well before its completion. This was a gut, creative call by Larry, me and the studio… Zack didn’t have a huge commercial track record, yet we all felt he was the right guy for the movie.

Warner Brothers continued to support, both financially and creatively, the development of the movie. And eventually, after over a year of work, they agreed to make the film, based on a script that, for what it’s worth, was by and large very similar to the one Fox initially read and deemed an unintelligible piece of shit.

Now here’s the part that has to be fully appreciated, if for nothing more than providing insight into producing movies in Hollywood: The Watchmen script was way above the norm in length, near 150 pages, meaning the film could clock in at close to 3 hours, the movie would not only be R rated but a hard R - for graphic violence and explicit sex - would feature no stars, and had a budget north of $100M. We also asked Warner Brothers to support an additional 1 to 1.5 hours of content incurring additional cost that would tie in with the movie but only be featured in DVD iterations of the film. Warners supported the whole package and I cannot begin to emphasize how ballsy and unprecedented a move this was on the part of a major Hollywood studio. Unheard of. And would another studio in Hollywood, let alone a studio that didn’t show one shred of interest in the movie, not one, have taken such a risk? Would they ever have made such a commitment, a commitment to a film that defied all conventional wisdom?

Only the executives at Fox can answer that question. But if they were to be honest, their answer would have to be “No.”

Shouldn’t Warner Brothers be entitled to the spoils - if any — of the risk they took in supporting and making Watchmen? Should Fox have any claim on something they could have had but chose to neither support nor show any interest in?

Look at it another way… One reason the movie was made was because Warner Brothers spent the time, effort and money to engage with and develop the project. If Watchmen was at Fox the decision to make the movie would never have been made because there was no interest in moving forward with the project.

Does a film studio have the right to stand in the way of an artistic endeavor and determine that it shouldn’t exist? If the project had been sequestered at Fox, if Fox had any say in the matter, Watchmen simply wouldn’t exist today, and there would be no film for Fox to lay claim on. It seems beyond cynical for the studio to claim ownership at this point.

By his own admission, Judge Feess is faced with an extremely complex legal case, with a contradictory contractual history, making it difficult to ascertain what is legally right. Are there circumstances here that are more meaningful, which shed light on what is ultimately just, to be taken into account when assessing who is right? In this case, what is morally right, beyond the minutiae of decades-old contractual semantics, seems clear cut.

For the sake of the artists involved, for the hundreds of people, executives and filmmakers, actors and crew, who invested their time, their money, and dedicated a good portion of their lives in order to bring this extraordinary project to life, the question of what is right is clear and unambiguous - Fox should stand down with its claim.

My father, who was a lawyer and a stickler for the minutiae of the law, was always quick to teach me that the determination of what is right and wrong was not the sole purview of the courts. I bet someone at Fox had a parent like mine who instilled the same sense of fairness and justice in them.

Lloyd Levin”

It’s a good open letter. But my thoughts on it are this: Aside from the completely biased position Lloyd is in, it’s still pretty much totally pointless.

The main thrust of the letter seems to be that Fox wasn’t going to make Watchmen into a movie. Ok, fine. The problem is that has never really been the question. That’s also never really been disputed. The question of this legal battle has NEVER been if Fox was going to make the movie. The question… the ONLY question of this dispute has been who owns the rights. PERIOD.

As I, and others have mentioned before, if you own something then you have the right to put it in your living room and use it everyday or the right to put it in a box up in your attic for 50 years never to see the light of day. It’s yours. You can do, or not do with it as you please.

At the end of the day the issue here is STILL that WB failed to do the proper diligence to ensure they actually had the right to make Watchmen. They failed to do so (as a judge has already ruled). Now this mess is here. Fox (and trust me, I like WB a lot more than Fox) is simply doing what they have the right, and legal obligation to do… protect their legal rights.

But I do take one issue with Levin’s letter. The patronizing paragraph that reads: “For the sake of the artists involved, for the hundreds of people, executives and filmmakers, actors and crew, who invested their time, their money, and dedicated a good portion of their lives in order to bring this extraordinary project to life, the question of what is right is clear and unambiguous - Fox should stand down with its claim.” I call bullshit. All those people got paid Lloyd. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that no one individual stands to make more here than you… and that’s what this is really all about.

Lloyd Levin is the single most biased individual in this entire situation. And that’s not Lloyd’s fault, nor is it a negative reflection on Lloyd in the least. It’s simply the circumstances he finds himself in that make it that way. And, as I mentioned near the beginning of this post, Levin being biased isn’t a reflection on him as an individual… it’s simply something that you and I have to weigh and keep in mind when considering his opinion and comments on the matter he is biased in.

That’s my point of view. What’s yours? Share in the comments section.

Where Are The Movies That Celebrate The Beauty Of Humanity And Can Make Me Cry?

Features - by John - January 2, 2009 - 12:33 America/Montreal - 92 Comments

Makeover-cry.jpgI’ve mentioned a few times that there are only 2 movie moments that have ever made me cry… yes I’m man enough to admit it. I’ve never gotten choked up at the normal things that get others emotional over. Romance scenes or scenes of sadness never get to me… don’t get me wrong, I like and appreciate those scenes when they work for the movies they’re in, but on an emotional level they don’t actually get me choked up.

No, the things that get me choked up, or even make me cry (remember, just two times ever… grrrrrr… I’m a manly man) are the scenes in films that effectively portray or show amazing acts of kindness. Yeah, i know that sounds weird, but it’s true.

For example, one of the movie scenes that made me actually cry (grrrrr… manly man) was one of the last scenes in “My Best Friend’s Wedding”. No, it wasn’t the wedding that got to me. No it wasn’t the fact that Julia Roberts didn’t get to marry the man she loved. It was the scene where Roberts is at the wedding and is on the phone with her gay best friend (played brilliantly by Rupert Everett) who lives across the country because she’s hurting a bit and needs to talk to him. The catch is she realizes that he was there at the wedding too. He traveled across the country to be there just in case she needed him. Yes international friends, a friend flying across the country to be there for his friend made me cry. Shut up.

What can I say. The things that really get to me are acts that show the capacity of humanity to show beauty and kindness. Not romance. Not sadness. Not puppies.

The reason this sort of came up today is because last night I was up late and flipping through the TV stations when I came across a TV show called “Extreme Home Makeover”. You know the show? It’s the one where Ty Pennington (used to be on that “Trading Spaces” show) and a team of people find a needy family, tear down their house and build them a brand new one.

Ok, here’s the story of the episode last night. This family of a mom and 4 kids had their father suddenly die 6 months earlier unexpectedly. Apparently the whole community just loved this guy and he was a great husband and father. The thing is, the house was terrible and ready to fall apart, and with the dad suddenly gone, the family was also in a bit of a financial crisis. You had a mom at her wits end who was trying to support, raise and comfort her kids all while still dealing with the grief of losing her husband and trying to make ends meet at the same time. It was a moving story.

So in comes the “home makeover” team, send her and her kids on a week long vacation, tear down her house, get hundreds of volunteers together, tear down their house and build a completely brand new BEAUTIFUL house fully furnished with sentimental pieces from the old house scattered throughout the new house including a big portrait of the family when the dad was still alive. When the family was brought back “home” and shown their new house, they all just broke down into tears. Not the stupid annoying happy dance that people with money do when they win some game show… real tears. Tears from a family that had been though so much, struggled so much, lost so much… and suddenly out of nowhere where shown an incredible act of kindness that was really going to change their lives.

I won’t lie to you… I cried like a freaking chick watching Leo sink at the end of Titanic. I hated myself for crying… but I cried (shut up, I’ll punch you in the face).

Now here’s the thing. There are a lot of movies with heroes. Movies with characters showing acts of bravery or heroism or doing good. But where are the films that show the random acts of kindness that display the best in humanity? I for one would like to see more movies that center around these types of things. Granted, it’s not as exciting as Iron Man taking out tanks or the Joker pushing a guy’s face down on a pencil (which are both awesome by the way), but it’s still something that I think there is a lack of in movies today.

Off the top of my head (and I’ve only thought about this for a few minutes) I can only really think of one example of this sort of thing in a movie. In “As Good As It Gets” Helen Hunt plays a mom with a sick son who can’t afford to get him the sort of medical attention he needs and his condition seems to just get worse and worse. Then, along comes Jack Nicholson who arranges for a top notch doctor to personally go and care for her son and cure him. Now granted, Jack had an ulterior motive because he wanted Hunt to be at work to serve him breakfast (he has a mental illness that makes him NEED routine), but still it was sweet. A woman trapped who was set free by an act of unexpected kindness. I love it.

So where are these movies? I’m sure there are SOME others out there that have this type of theme that just aren’t coming to me off the top of my head. So tell me folks… what are some other movies that have this type of theme or scenes in them that you think might choke me up (Grrrrrr).

The Best Movies Of 2008

Features, News Chat - by John - January 1, 2009 - 11:53 America/Montreal - 69 Comments

It’s time for the best movies of 2008. Happy New Year everyone!!! I trust last night you all had a smashing time ushering in the new set of 365 days and then proceeded to wake up next to someone you don’t know… but hot nonetheless.

As we begin this new year, it’s time to reflect back on the best movies of 2008. I’m going to list 15 of them, just to be different from the usual 10. Remember all lists, like movies, are subjective. None of you will have the exact same list as mine, so hopefully that will open the door for lots of discussion and chat in the comments section. It was a pretty damn good year for movies with lots of big and little treasures along the way.

So now I present to you, the best movies of 2008:

After “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, this is, in my opinion, the funniest and best Apatow related movie they’ve ever done. The movie is driven by the lead character who is completely sweet and you like him immediately even though quite flawed. But like any good comedy it’s driven by it’s comedy which was top notch.
This movie initially caught all of our attentions because of the news that we’d see a threesome involving Penelope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson. Not much of a threesome, but the film made up for that horrible error with great characters, a solid story and some decent laughs.
I have to admit I wasn’t even going to see this movie until all the awards buzz started flying around about. As a matter of fact I only saw a screener a few weeks ago, and I’m damn glad that I did. Trust me, all that awards buzz Sally Hawkins is getting for her performance it totally deserved. See this when you get the chance.
The Coen brothers are on a roll. Following up last year’s “No Country For Old Men”, they return to comedy and in my opinion hit a home run. This flick is genius, hilarious, convoluted in a very orchestrated way and was a pure joy to watch. I think a case could be made for Brad Pitt getting best supporting actor nomination for his part in this. Brilliant!
A movie that was a hit on the film festival circuit, but sadly never found a serious audience in its theatrical run. This is a beautiful movie that I lament more of you didn’t get a chance to see. A wonderful look at innocent in a world of filled with a lot of beautiful that only innocent eyes seem really capable of seeing. The kids in this flick were great too. Touching, funny… and you even might learn something watching it.
#10 - IRON MAN
I was not at all looking forward to this flick in the least when it was first announced. I even thought doing a movie on Iron Man in general was a bad idea. But after seeing the trailer at Comic Con last year, I started getting interested, and the movie delivers. Exactly what a summer super hero movie should be. Holy crap did Robert Downey Jr. knock it out of the park. He was the perfect Tony Stark.
This will probably be the most controversial film to make my list. I know many people don’t even like this movie. Well screw you!!!!! I frigging loved it! Matter of fact… we all watched it again when we got back from the New Years party last night. This film is just over the top insanity and adrenaline inducing fun from start to finish. Never thought I could buy James McAvoy as an action hero… but I guess I was wrong about that.
The more I watch this movie the more I appreciate it. One of the best comic book movies of all time with one of the most powerful performances ever by a supporting actor in any film of any genre. How the hell does Nolan top this one?
A beautiful film that takes a look at life and the common issues we face from the radical perspective of a man who ages in reverse from the rest of us. Sweet, intelligent, profound and will probably land Pitt a best actor nomination. The visual effects in the movie are some of the best I’ve ever seen and probably the best USE of effects ever in film.
Oh look, another vampire movie about love between a vampire and a mortal. But hold on… this one isn’t like any other we’ve ever seen before. Erie and creepy yet incredibly human at the same time. This might be the best vampire movie since the original Lost Boys. And the BEST use of Morse Code I’ve ever seen in a movie (pay very close attention to the very end of the film).
The 3 main cast members (Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes) are all beyond brilliant. The film is funny, exciting… and who knew that Colin Farrell could be such a great actor when he puts his mind to it? The film has a “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” sort of feel to it, but it’s very much its own movie.
Who would have ever thought that a movie about an interview… yes… a whole movie made about an interview, would be some engaging and dramatic? You’re drawn in by the drama right from the first frame of the movie and I was kept swept up in it until the very end. Frank Langella will get a best actor nomination for this if there is any justice in the world whatsoever.
#3 - MILK
I’m not usually all that taken with biopics (especially biopics about musicians), but this one is special. Not just because Harvey Milk is an important historical figure who helped change the world, but also because of the way this story was told and some of the most brilliant performances from an entire cast we’ve seen this year. Sean Penn WILL and SHOULD win best actor for this.
I didn’t really want to see this film at first because it sounded like a cheesy concept, but man I’m glad I did. Profoundly human and in my opinion the best Danny Boyle to date. Boyle should probably win best director for this because of the amazing performances he was able to bring out a this relatively inexperienced cast to tell him amazing story. My prediction is that this film will win Best Picture at the Oscars this year. Even though the film that should win it is…
#1 - WALL-E
No surprises here since I already named Wall-E the best film of 2008 in our 2008 Movie Blog Awards list last week. Hands down, no questions asked, far and away and easily the very best movie of 2008. Funny since at first it looked to me like it might be the worst film Pixar ever put out (which would still be better than 99% of other movies). I’ve raved enough about this movie so I won’t do it any more.

So there you have it folks. Our best movies of 2008. What would your list look like? Which films would you add? Which ones would you remove?

Can You Judge A Movie Before You See It? Sort Of

Features - by John - December 30, 2008 - 22:19 America/Montreal - 37 Comments

It’s a topic that comes up just about every single time a bad looking movie is about to come out. The trailers look bad, the premise seems lame, maybe it has a bad director at the helm or a bad “star” in a leading role or any number of other things. You see all the stuff and declare: “Man, this movie is going to be crap” or “This movie looks terrible” or some other variation of that sentiment.

The thing is, even though ALL OF US do this (and rightfully so), inevitably some people will jump up and down and lament: “You can’t say that, you haven’t even seen it yet. You have no idea if it’s good or bad!”.

The people who say this are, 9 times out of 10, people who are already predisposed to liking the crap looking movie in question. Maybe they’re already a fan of the director. Maybe they’re already a fan of the property the movie is based on. For whatever the reasons, some people will always come along and tell you you’re not allowed to form an opinion about if a film looks bad in advance.

The basics of what they’re saying is true. If you haven’t seen a movie you can’t definitively say the movie IS good or bad. That’s 100% correct and I’ll agree with them about that. However, you can form a predictive opinion without seeing a movie. You CAN say “That movie looks like crap” or “This movie will suck”.

This is all just a very legitimate part of building up to a movie. Even the studios know we all form predictive opinions about movies before we see them… that’s why they put out trailers. They make posters and trailers in an attempt to influence your advanced opinion about a movie. The better your advance opinion is, the more likely you’ll drop $12 to hit the theater to see the movie. The worse your predictive opinion, the less likely they’ll get your money.

Look, once in a while we can be wrong. For example, in the last couple of years there have been 2 films that I swore looked horrible for a long time. But in the end, I wound up really enjoying TMNT and Punisher: Warzone. So our advanced opinions aren’t always right. That’s a good thing. But 95% of the time I find my predictive opinion was completely accurate as I ended up hating the crappy looking movies.

The bottom line is, while it’s true that until you actually SEE a movie, you can’t outright say a movie is good or bad… but at the same time we should form advance opinions. It’s what separates what we choose to see and what we don’t choose to see. It lets us talk about and debate upcoming films. The fact of the matter is we ALL form opinions about movies we haven’t seen yet as to if we think they’ll be good or bad… even the people who yell at you not to do it.

The 2008 Movie Blog Awards

Features - by John - December 19, 2008 - 02:12 America/Montreal - 73 Comments

Awards-Plaque.jpgThere is only one honor this awards season that really means anything at all. It’s not the Golden Globes. It’s not the Oscars. No my friends, the one award that studios and publicists in Hollywood clamor for, campaign for… and yes… even beg for. The 2008 Movie Blog Awards honoring the best in movies for the past year.

Ok, maybe no one actually cares… but that doesn’t stop us from doing them anyway.

All things considered, I’d have to say this was a pretty damn good year for film. Yes, there was a lot of crap on the screen this year as well (as you can see from our “Worst 10 Movies of 2008″ post we did a few days ago), but overall a solid year.

So as we get ready to dive head first into the major awards season and get ourselves pumped up for the new year in film, let’s take a few minutes to look back on 2008 as we now present to you the winners of the 2008 Movie Blog Awards!

This award is given to the best overall film of 2008



Easily, without question and hands down the best film of 2008. The movie is a brilliant mixture of humor, emotion and message. Never before have I seen a character so engaging, likable and emotionally investable without ever really saying a word (other than Eve a couple of times). It is the #1 critically rated film of the year for good reason, and this year’s recipient of the 2008 Movie Blog Best Movie Award.

Honorable Mention (In no particular order)
- Frost/Nixon
- Slumdog Millionare
- Milk

This award is given to the film achieving the best and most consistent laughs



Like many people, I had begun to grow a bit tired of the Will Ferrell schtick, especially with the horrible Semi-Pro only coming out months earlier. However, Step Brothers seemed to tap into that intangible quality that makes Will Ferrell the funniest man on the big screen when he’s on his game, and John C. Reilly is his perfect on screen partner. Hilarious from start to finish. For our money, the funniest movie of 2008.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- Tropic Thunder
- Forgetting Sarah Marshall
- Sex Drive

This award is given to the best film in the Comic Book, Sci-Fi or Fantasy genres



We all thought Christopher Nolan accomplished the near impossible when he masterfully resurrected the Batman property into a new living breathing franchise. Then he faced an even greater challenge in trying to top Batman Begins. Well… he did it, delivering one of the greatest comic book films in history.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- Iron Man
- Hellboy 2
- The Incredible Hulk

This award is given to the film which exceeded its initial low quality expectations by the greatest amount



My first thought of The Spiderwick Chronicles was… well… pathetic. Just another throw away film trying to capitalize on the modern trend of converting popular children’s books into mid grade movies. The trailers looked terrible too and so my expectations for the film were below basement level. But to my shock, I ended up truly enjoying just about every minute of it. Freddie Highmore does a fantastic job playing twin brothers. The movie is magical and I found myself getting caught up in the wonder of it and feeling like I was 8 years old again.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- Bolt
- Step Brothers
- Kung Fu Panda

This award is given to the best film of the year that receives little to no attention or credit for its quality



A sweet and endearing story told from a very interesting perspective. The concept of the narrative of the movie being told by the father through a series of stories to his daughter as a game so she can figure out which woman in the stories is her mother worked surprisingly well. The movie also serves notice that when called upon, Ryan Reynolds can be one hell of an actor and in my opinion this was the best performance he’s ever given in his young career.

Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- In Bruges
- Wanted
- The Forbidden Kingdom




Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino)
- Frank Langella (Frost / Nixon)
- Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler)




Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)
- Meryl Streep (Doubt)
- Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road)




Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges)
- Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder)
- James Franco (Milk)




Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
- Kate Winslet (The Reader)
- Viola Davis (Doubt)
- Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona)

So there you have it folks. I’m sure there are a million different opinions out there for each one of the categories, so now is your chance to jump in the comments section and let us know how your “awards” would break down.

Also, are there any other categories you can think of besides the old traditional ones that you’d like to see us do a follow up post in this coming week? Let me know.

Rodney’s Forgotten Gems: The Santa Clause

Features - by Rodney - December 16, 2008 - 22:37 America/Montreal - 25 Comments

Thanks for checking out my review in a feature I like to call Rodney’s Forgotten Gems.

Being the Christmas season, I thought I would write a special Christmas Edition of Rodney’s Forgotten Gems. Granted, this particular flick is hardly forgotten, but it isn’t new either. Today instead of just one film, I want to share a Trilogy of films for the Yuletide. The Santa Clause.


Scott Calvin is the single dad in a separated family who gets his son for Christmas Eve. After hearing such a clatter he runs out on his front lawn to find the real Santa on his roof and startles old Saint Nick, who falls off the roof and expires. He leaves behind his coat and boots, which Scott takes up to investigate the roof. There he finds the reindeer and puts on the outfit and accidentally becomes Santa.

The act commits Scott Calvin to a contract. The Santa .. clause.

So the first movie deals with Scott Calvin coming to grips with becoming Santa Claus. The second film is a further part of the contract, the Missus Clause, which requires Santa to take on a wife. Then finally when life as Santa, and a Mrs. Claus with a baby on the way and Jack Frost infringing on Santa’s season, things gets a little complicated, which introduces the Escape Claus, where Santa can wish he never was Santa.

Never has there been so much fun with puns and Christmas cheer at the same time!


Tim Allen has that charm of that Uncle who tries to hard to be funny and hip, and yet somehow manages to be funny and hip anyways. He can toss out a cheesy quip and even though its cheesy you find it amusing. Its almost magical. Which makes him the perfect pick for the jolly old elf himself.

But also, the supporting cast is fun too.

Judge Reinhold plays the former Mrs. Calvin’s second husband and his touchy-feely psychiatry offers up some comic relief and some one-liners mostly revolving around his tacky knit sweaters.

And introduced in the second film is the stern Principal cleverly named Carol who falls for Scott played by Lost’s Elizabeth Mitchell. She plays the cold and direct person until Scott comes along and she just lights up. She is infectiously attractive. No she isn’t a supermodel, but she is very appealing.

In the third movie, Martin Short makes a wonderful adversary that throws a wrench into Santa’s plans and he is a witty delight. He also plays that cold demeanor littered with his own dramatic style that makes him both the showman, and the evil manipulator all at the same time.

And I cannot overlook the council of legendary figures. Father Time, Cupid, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Mother Nature. They all get their moment to shine even if the Easter Bunny is a little creepy in part 3.

And the PUNS. The obvious title puns with the legal clauses are fun, but the subtle stuff is great. Mrs Claus is named Carol. And they slip them in subtly so you are not faced with fanfare and a rim shot when you hear them.


Some things go unsaid, and they gloss over them like they don’t matter. This bugged me the whole time, but I got over it. Its a movie about Santa - there is a forgiveness of reality here. See in part 2, Scott has to take on a wife or he stops being Santa. But in the first movie he sees Santa have an accident where he falls off a roof and presumably dies. Did that Santa not have a Mrs Claus?? The elves are dramatically concerned about Santa facing the plot critical events that might stop him from being Santa, but they are so nonchalant about seeing a new Santa appear in the first movie. Guess the old one died.. oh well. Mrs Claus takes on the standard appearance we have come to accept and magically puts on 80lbs after she marries Santa, but in the third movie she is slender and fit again albeit with a baby bump?

But really the series does seem to peak and fall for me. As an overall story, the first one was great, and I liked the second one even better, but the third movie fell a little flat for me. I really didn’t like the addition of Carol’s parents, but that was because I didn’t like their characters. At all. And David Krumholtz’s Head Elf status is replaced by his eager sidekick Curtis from the previous films as the new head elf. Elves are played by children who are timelessly mature despite their childish appearance, and Spencer Breslin’s Curtis is too old to still play a kid in the last film, but he reprises his role anyways. Kinda awkward. I still liked it, but it just didn’t live up to the first two even though I LOVED Martin Short’s Jack Frost.


A great set of movies for the Christmas season where you can share in that warm fuzzy goodness. Rarely is there a set of movies that all revolve around the Christmas theme so well. Most Christmas movies are one shots, and deserving so. Untouchable classics in their own right that need no retelling. It is refreshing to see a trilogy of films that continue to capture that Christmas message and have some fun while they are at it!

Typically this is where we would write a “Out of 10″ rating, but since all of these Forgotten Gems are going to be what I would rate a 8, 9 or 10, I have made my own rating system.

TV - Make a point of watching it if you see it listed on TV.
Rent - Good enough to go out of your way to see it, but not enough to buy it.
Buy - So good. You will watch it again and again. Buy it!

So on a scale of TV, Rent or Buy I suggest BUY!

I bought all of them. My kids love them. I love them.

Grab a cup of hot chocolate (with marshmallows of course) a blanket and cuddle with your little guys while you can. This series will have them glued to the set and believing in Santa all over again.

The Worst Films Of 2008

Features - by John - December 16, 2008 - 10:18 America/Montreal - 100 Comments

Worst-Movies-2008-puke.jpgWell, as we approach the end of 2008 it’s time to continue the tradition and announce The Movie Blog’s 10 worst films of 2008. There were a LOT of horrible movies this year so it took a while to narrow down the bunch to just 10… but we have them here now for you to focus your disgust at. These movies represent the very worst of Hollywood and painful memories of wasted money at the box office. Thank goodness we had some really great films this year too… but that post is for later this week.

So for now I present to you for discussion, The Movie Blog’s 10 Worst Films of 2008

Worst-2008-spartans.jpg #1 - MEET THE SPARTANS
I don’t know that I have it in me to think about this movie long enough to make a statement about it. The fact that it made $30 million on it’s opening weekend proves that “Idiocracy” was more of a prophecy than a movie. Hands down the worst film of 2008.
Worst-2008-guru.jpg #2 - THE LOVE GURU
Should have just called it “Austin Powers 4 With A Different Accent And Without The Humor”. Myers… what happened to you dude? Yes, it was even worse than…
Worst-2008-witless.jpg #3 - WITLESS PROTECTION
How can a guy who is so funny on stage (yeah, I actually dig Larry as a stand up comedian) be so flat out horrible on screen each and every time he’s up there?
Worst-2008-Rocker.jpg #4 - THE ROCKER
I knew this film was a train wreck after being on set for just 5 minutes. Rainn Wilson was poised to become a big comedy movie star… after this flop it just ain’t gonna happen. Damn movie made less that $6.5 million. OUCH!
Worst-2008-X.jpg #5 - X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE
I wanted to like this movie so badly, but it’s like the filmmakers sat down one day and said to themselves “how many ways can we really screw this movie up, and how fast can we do all of them”. Good job guys… total success!
Worst-2008-88.jpg #6 - 88 MINUTES
Al Pacino holds the honor of being the only performer to headline 2 films on this year’s worst of list. Can anyone remember far back enough when this guy being in a movie meant something?
Worst-2008-body.jpg #7 - OVER HER DEAD BODY
Turns out Eva Longoria actually can’t act or attract an audience and just fluked out with Housewives. Wow this movie SUCKED! Why did Paul Rudd agree to be in this?
This is another one I so dearly wanted to like, but instead it just rotted like bad pork in the sun. Some great visual effect stuff in there… but aside from that just about nothing redeemable about the film whatsoever.
Worst-2008-Righteous.jpg #9 - RIGHTEOUS KILL
The long awaited team up of Al and Robert was made about 7 years too late. And why the hell would you get the director from 88 Minutes to do this??? A horrible piece of crap movie which only served to push Pacino and De Niro further into irrelevance.
The worst unforgivable sin any comedy film can commit is to not be funny. This film was not funny. Not even once. Not one giggle, not one smile, not one grin. Can someone please tell Michael Cera that he’s allowed to play more than one character? Yes, I get it Cera. You’re a mildly awkward, good hearted, understated and sympathetic post-teen who struggles with identity and self confidence despite having a lot to offer. Oh wait… which one of his characters are we talking about? Oh that’s right… ALL OF THEM!!!

So there you have it folks. The list of the very worst films of 2008. I’m sure there are others you’d like to see on there, so why don’t you guys fill out the rest in the comments section. Which films do you think deserve the “honor” of being on there… and which ones would you take off this prestigious list to make room for them?

In a couple of days I’ll be posting the Annual “Movie Blog Awards” listing the best films of 2008 including the categories of “Best Film”, “Most Surprising”, “Biggest Disappointment”, “Most Underrated” and a few other.

TMB’s The Dark Knight DVD Commentary

Features - by John - December 11, 2008 - 23:36 America/Montreal - 31 Comments

As promised, there is The Movie Blog’s DVD commentary for The Dark Knight. I’m joined in this special “production” by Soul Video and Kristopher Tapley (Robert Sanchez got held up and we had to do it without him).

Now remember… this isn’t like a Director’s commentary. We don’t dish all the inside information on the film or how they made it… it’s just s couple of guys sitting around talking about their thoughts and opinions on the film as we’re watching it… and hopefully as you watch it with us (make sure you have your DVD of The Dark Knight ready).

So go ahead and download the commentary here.

Reflecting On “Friends” Failure In The Movies

Features - by John - November 29, 2008 - 01:29 America/Montreal - 76 Comments

As the old saying goes, there are always exceptions to every rule. The rules we’re talking about here is the absolute inability of TV stars to successfully make the transition to movie stars. Yes, there are the odd success stories like Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Johnny Depp and even Rhona Mitra seems to be on her way (she’s not there quite yet), but for the most part these represent mere drops in an ocean of small screen to big screen flops and failures.

Some people believe that the more popular a TV performer is, the better the chance that they could successfully transition to movies. But in reality the opposite seems to be more true. In some recent film production classes I took, the instructor made a great observation about this by saying:

“The general public isn’t likely to pay money to go see a celebrity (go to see a movie they’re in) that they’re accustomed to seeing for free on TV each week”

On top of that, people in general don’t deal very well with change, and if they love a certain TV celebrity, they don’t normally want to see that actor playing a different character from the one they love. This obviously isn’t true for everyone, but the principle is still there.

There is also the issue of TV acting being very different (not harder, better or worse) from acting in film. They are two different styles. Yes they are obviously similar, but it’s like in baseball where batters are better at hitting either left handed pitchers or right handed pitchers. It’s the same game, they’re doing the same thing… but it’s different. Think about it… if you flip on the TV late at night and see something you’ve never seen before on the screen, you instantly know if you’re watching a movie or a TV episode (Unless it’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force).

The most striking example of this “rule” is the cast from one of the most popular sitcoms in television history… “Friends”. The show lasted 10 seasons and was still extremely popular when it went off air. The 6 leads of the show were household names and conventional wisdom dictated that they would all be very successful in any move to the big screen they made. Well… that didn’t really work out did it?

So let’s take some time to reflect on the film legacy of former “Friends” stars shall we?


Just as there are exceptions to the “no TV stars make it in the film industry” rule, there are also some exceptions to the “All the Friends stars movies have failed” rule too and it’s only fair that we acknowledge those exceptions (although as you’ll see, most of these exceptions don’t even really count):

Friends-Nine-Yards.jpg THE WHOLE NINE YARDS
This is easily the very best movie to have a former friends star as a lead. Yeah Matthew Perry basically played his exact same character from Friends in this film… but for this movie that’s exactly what he needed to do. Acting this way along side of Bruce Willis made for a terrific on screen chemistry. The movie was flat out hilarious and introduced me to one of my most powerful celeb crushes… Amanda Peet. Too bad the sequel sucked so badly.
Friends-Scream.jpg SCREAM
To be honest I never really liked this one and have never understood the following it has. However, there is no denying this film was a success and has a very loyal following. I hesitate to put this one in here because Courtney Cox isn’t really the “lead” of the movie, but her role is a big and significant one so I’ll say it qualifies.

Ummm… really that’s about it. Of all 6 former “Friends” stars, those two are the only movies that could fit here. I’m sure some people would like to point out Office Space or perhaps Analyze This and also thrown Bruce Almighty in there too… but although Friends stars were IN those movies, they were only secondary supporting characters and that doesn’t really count. I also don’t count doing a voice in an animated film wither, so please don’t mention Madagascar (sweet heavens how I LOATH that movie).

So what are we left with? The surprising (or not so surprising) reality is that out of the 6 Friends stars, not many of them have even been given more than a couple of opportunities to lead a project. The smell of big screen failure seems to march ahead of them into any casting meeting. And sadly, when they have been given a shot… it usually ends up an epic failure. Don’t believe me? How about some of these classics (seriously, the following list looks like it was pulled right out of a Wallmart $2 bargain bin):


Friends-Ed.jpg ED
Who can forget the instant cinematic masterpiece where Matt LeBlanc (Joey on Friends) plays opposite a baseball playing monkey. No… I’m serious. I’ll repeat those three words again to let the aweomeness sink in a little deeper. BASEBALL… PLAYING… MONKEY. I hope LeBlanc didn’t just fire his agent after being talked into doing this… I hope he dragged his ass into the parking lot and beat the hell out of him too.
Friends-Mari.jpg MARCI X
I hope whatever movie executive gave the official green light to this movie took a trip to some third world nation and caught syphilis. What the hell was Lisa Kudrow thinking?!?!?! Exactly what part of “A Jewish American princess falls in love with a bad boy gangsta rapper played by Damon Wayans” sounds like a good idea to you?
Friends-Lucky.jpg LUCKY NUMBERS
Another absolute shit bomb from Lisa Kudrow. At least with this project you could understand the appeal since John Travolta was still a pretty hot name in 2000 (although his career had already started its decline again by then). Still, one read of the script should have sent her, and everyone else involved with this film running.
Freinds-3000.jpg 3000 MILES TO GRACELAND
Man, the first 15 minutes of this flick had me thinking I was watching one of the greatest guy movies of all time. Then it went straight downhill for the rest of it. I hesitate to put this one on the list because technically Courtney Cox isn’t one of the “leads”, but her role is the third most prominent one in the film. To bad.
Friends-Fools.jpg FOOLS RUSH IN
Ok, I at least can understand why Matthew Perry gave this one a shot. The studio was very behind this film giving it a big marketing push, Selma Hayek was a hot name (and hot other things as well) and in theory it at least sounded interesting. However the movie turned out horribly, and even though Friends was insanely popular at the time, the movie failed to even crack $30 million. No one cared.
Words simply fail me. I watched this 10 years ago once to appease a woman I was with. I no longer speak with that woman.
Friends-Picture.jpg PICTURE PERFECT
Really the first (of many to come) film where I realized that Jennifer Aniston was pretty much always going to be Rachel in every movie role she ever took. A standard RomCom snooze fest without the courtesy of giving us anything to laugh at in the film (other than at the film itself). Times must have been pretty rough for Kevin Bacon to appear in this thing.
Friends-Pallbearer.jpg THE PALLBEARER
Seems like in a 2 year span the studios were taking chances on every Friends cast member, and even the funny looking David Schwimmer was no exception. Hey, don’t get me wrong… offer me a movie with Gwynethh Paltrow and I’d take it too. But come on… anyone could have told that this film was going to be terrible. Oh… and even though Friends was huge at the time… the flick made LESS than $6 million. Nice.
Friends-Polly.jpg ALONG CAME POLLY
Wow… SHOCKING! Another RomCom from Jennifer Aniston! This time she’s paired up with with Ben Stiller and even that doesn’t work. There were times that this whole mess just felt like a rip off movie version of Dharma and Greg if you follow me.
Friends-Serving.jpg SERVING SARA
I’ll give this to Matthew Perry… when he signs up to appear in a RomCom as the same old guy he always is… he at least manages to appear with some of the hottest women in the business. This movie was almost worth the 90 dreadfully painful minutes just to see Elizabeth Hurley. Well… at least when she wasn’t speaking that is.
Friends-Tango.jpg THREE TO TANGO
Wow, i don’t even know where to begin with how bad this movie was. Ok, if you’re going to have a love triangle type of comedy, this isn’t a bad cast for it. But nothing worked in this film. Well ok… there was this one scene where Neve Campbell is talking about a lesbian experience she had in college while soaking in a bath tub that’s pretty memorable… but that’s for the wrong reasons.

Oh there are others, but I think we’ve tortured ourselves enough at this point don’t you agree?

One of the interesting things to notice is that even though these people are all “names”… today you really don’t see them getting many (if any) roles at all aside from Jennifer Aniston. So Matt LeBlanc hasn’t had a lot of failures… but that’s because no one wants to give him any more chances… and who can blame them?

However, I don’t think the lack of big screen success for the former Friends cast is necessarily a negative reflection on them as actors, but rather more of a case of what I was saying at the beginning of this post. TV stars have an almost impossible time transitioning to the big screen successfully. It does happen sometimes, but not often.

I also think that in the specific example of the Friends cast, the general audiences’ reluctance to accept these performers in any other role is actually a testament to just how good they all were on that show and how great the chemistry was between them, so please don’t take this post as a “bash” on the Friends crew… just as an observation, good or bad.

So what are some of your favorite Friends cast movies? Do you even have any at all?

Why I Loved Twilight And Understand Why Many Others Didn’t

Features - by John - November 26, 2008 - 11:12 America/Montreal - 60 Comments

It really wasn’t until Comic Con that I had any idea about the phenomenon Twilight had become. To be honest, I hadn’t even HEARD of Twilight until just a few short months before that when word of a film deal was released for the property. But if you were at Comic Con, you knew there was something about Twilight that had tapped into a serious fan base that made them… well… fanatical (And that’s a good thing). Comic Con was over run by rabid Twilight fans who single handedly put the project on the radar for a lot of outlets (like The Movie Blog) who up until that point hadn’t been paying much attention to it. The fans at Comic Con made that impossible to continue. This was going to be a hit.

But still, over the last couple of months I have sounded off a serious doubt about a Twilight movie. No, I never said it would be bad and I never suggested it couldn’t be a great movie… but having never read the book I simply couldn’t understand what the big deal was. After all, there is nothing original about the basic concept:

“There’s a vampire, and vampires are bad, but not THIS vampire. This vampire is a good vampire with a heart of gold. And this vampire you see… he falls in love with a mortal girl which is totally forbidden. And the girl you see… well she’s so in love with the vampire she overlooks his beast side”.

Yeah yeah yeah… we’ve seen this specific idea done a thousand times before. So while I never “hated” on Twilight, I just openly questioned what all the fuss was about considering it really didn’t strike me as being anything original. This got a lot of Twilight fans mad at me, but I was just being honest with my thoughts.

I was so indifferent about Twilight that I passed on an opportunity to see an advanced screening the studio invited me to and let someone else go in my place. I just didn’t care about the movie.

So opening night for the film comes and someone invited me to go see it with them, so I went. To my surprise I ended up LOVING the damn thing. And oddly enough… many of those Twilight fans who were mad at me for not speaking positively about it in advance… ended up hating it.

I believe there are some very legitimate reasons to love this movie. However, I also can see some very legitimate reasons why many people dislike it as well.


I’ve said this a million times: The most beautiful thing about film is the pure subjectivity of it. It’s like a work of art hanging on a wall. 10 different people can stand and look at it, and each person can see something totally different from what the other people see and have a unique experience with it. That’s the movies.

Let me start by talking about why I enjoyed this movie so much.

First of all ironically enough my one biggest apprehension about the movie (The lack of originality) actually ended up being the most striking thing to me. This was the first Vampire movie I’ve seen in a long time (probably since Lost Boys) that really introduced some new and unique ideas to the whole vampire mythology that I had personally never really seen done before.

For instance, the concept of daylight. In just about every vampire story telling, sunlight burns and kills vampires. Some smoke and burn, some just flat out explode. But in Twilight, the vampires don’t stay out of the sun for fear of spontaneous combustion, but rather because their skin glimmers as if it were made of some sort of diamond crusted armor when exposed to direct sunlight which gives them away. Just the fact that it was so different from the way any other vampire genre film had dealt with this really made me sit up in my seat and honestly wonder what else we would learn about these creatures.

In film, you get most engaged with a movie when you share in the journey with the main character. But in vampire movies, even the best ones, you can never share in that journey with the character… because as the human character is unraveling the “mystery” of this dude who ends up being a vampire… is discovering strange things about them that leads them to the revelation of them being a creature of the night… we can’t share that suspense because we already know everything. We already know the mythology, we already know what kills them, we already know what their weaknesses are… WE ALREADY KNOW EVERYTHING. So the journey of the character becomes just time filler to us until the revelation is made and then the real story can start.

But with Twilight, because of some of these subtle differences (Like the glimmering skin in the sunlight) I found myself more interested in the journey Bella was on. I didn’t know what else we might learn about Edward or his family.

Edward can read minds?
His sister can paint the future like Isaac from “Heroes”?
Different vampires have different unique abilities?
The glimmering skin?

All of these changes, these differences that makes them unique allowed me as an audience member to become more engaged in the film because I, like Bella, didn’t know what would be discovered next. This alone added a lot to my enjoyment of the movie.

I LOVED the history of the Cullen family. The Patriarch of the family is a DOCTOR who loves to save human lives!?!?! His “family” are people he’s turned into vampires over the past couple of hundred years who were once his young patients that were terminally ill and did it to save their lives… and then he brings them up to be “vegetarian” vampires who only feed on animals and not humans. LOVED IT. Great backstory… and to me backstory is 30% of a movie like this.

Speaking of the family, I loved them. The dynamic of the family was a lot different than I was expecting. It was quirky, sweet and had an almost “Leave it to Beaver” feel to it, which to me was hilarious when you remember their vampires. But they were never “goofy” or silly or crossed that line. You never forgot they were indeed vampires.

I liked the whole family, but I think i liked Jackson Rathbone (who played Jasper) the most. He only has a couple of lines, but his expression and just general disposition made me grin every time he was on screen.

I’m finding myself becoming a big Billy Burke fan. To me he’s becoming one of the most solid and reliable character actors out there, even when whatever movie he’s appearing in sucks (which has happened a lot). Personally I think he a “A list” potential and would cast him in anything I did.

Scenes like the family day of baseball out in the woods gave some depth and developed the “family” nature of these vampires for me and let us understand the bond between them without using cheesy dialog or some hack monolog scene to convey it. The action (when there was some) was pretty tight, the effects weren’t half bad either and the film had a great pace.

All together, for me they put together a movie that hit it’s mark and made for a very enjoyable time at the theater.


Those that are complaining about Twilight have some very legitimate beefs. Beefs that for me weren’t enough to negate my enjoyment of the film, but I could understand why it would spoil it for them.

1) The core of Twilight is the love story between Bella and Edward… and I’m sorry to say I never bought into it in the least. I never once really felt any chemistry between them on screen. It felt forced, awkward and at times extremely contrived. That spark, that passion, that electricity so many fans of the book tell me are on the pages just never made it on to the screen for me at all.

2) The acting. Oh dear heavens the acting. Kristen Stewart (Bella) for the most part was actually ok, except sometimes she came across as a psycho girlfriend with an over extended sense of dependance than a loving girlfriend. Good grief… that scene near the end when she was in the hospital and freaking out on Edward about how he can never leave her… man… if I was Edward my “crazy chick” alarm would be going off like nuts and I get the hell away from her as fast as my little vampire legs could carry me. Speaking of Edward… sorry… Robert Pattinson may be dreamy to look at for you ladies, but his acting chops need a lot of work in my opinion.

3) Not enough action. Yes I know this is primarily a love story so I’m not expecting a Jackie Chan flick here. But come on, its a movie about vampires! Let’s see some more vampire stuff!

4) They ruined a potentially cool villain in James. James suffers from what I call the “Darth Maul Syndrome”. It’s a situation where you’ve got a solid bad guy, but then hardly ever use him and kill him off pretty unceremoniously and quickly (although I must admit seeing the Cullen family show their “bad ass” side by ripping him apart was pretty cool).

5) They didn’t give us enough Jacob or reveal enough about his true identity. I thought giving us just a little bit more of him could have added another layer to the film without giving too much away.

There are more, but you get the point.

All in all, I stood in front of the Twilight painting on the wall and was able to engage it, appreciate it and love it. However I can completely see why others had a different experience from mine too. We know that a sequel is already planned, so here’s hoping that they build on the aspects of Twilight that worked and made me love it, and better develop those aspects that didn’t work and made some people hate it. As always, we’ll have to wait and see.

Top 100 Movies Based On Books

Favorites, Features, Top Lists - by John - November 21, 2008 - 05:11 America/Montreal - 163 Comments

Well, today is the official opening day of “Twilight”. A very highly anticipated movie… not because of the marketing campaign (which has been average at best), but because of the rabid and loyal following that the book series has. With that in mind, I thought it would be an appropriate time to put together a top 100 movies list of movies that were based on books.

Whenever I hear of a new movie coming out based on a popular book or comic book or a sequel, I instantly hear naysayers complaining about a “lack of creativity in hollywood”. “Why not write something original” some will say. But I say thank goodness gifted screenwriters adapt novels into movies! As you can see from my list, some of the greatest movies in the history of film were adapted from books… films that I can’t even imagine what the world of film would look like today if they never came to be.

So I spent a couple of weeks putting together this list with three purposes in mind:

1) To highlight the important role books have played in the movie world

2) To draw attention to some fantastic movies that some of you may have never taken the time to watch before

3) To draw attention to the fact that these movies are indeed based on books, which may encourage you to try reading them (which I confess is a little hypocritical of me since I’ve only read a fraction of the books here.)

Now let me emphasize this next point very explicitly. THIS LIST IS NOT A LIST OF THE BEST BOOKS OR WHICH MOVIES DID THE BEST JOB ADAPTING FROM THE BOOK. It is a list of the best movies which happen to be BASED on books. Also, while I did not include Graphic Novels or Comic Books in this list, I do include short stories or novellas since they are usually a part of a single issue collection.

Like all movie lists, this one is subjective and in no way authoritative. The main purpose of which is to spark discussion and maybe interest in seeing some of these fantastic films again, or for the first time. So now I present to you The Movie Blog’s Top 100 Movies Based On Books:

Book-Joy-Luck.jpg #100 - THE JOY LUCK CLUB
Rottem Tomatoes Rating - 90%
Synopsis: Through a series of flashbacks, four young chinese women born in America and their respective mothers born in feudal China, explore their past. This search will help them understand their difficult mother/daughter relationship.
John’s Thought: Yes, I am a heterosexual male… and I loved this movie.
Book-Mambo-Kings.jpg #99 - THE MAMBO KINGS
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 78%
Synopsis: Musician brothers Cesar and Nestor leave Cuba for America in the 1950s, hoping to hit the top of the Latin music scene. Cesar is the older brother, the business manager, and the ladies’ man. Nestor is the brooding songwriter, who cannot forget the woman in Cuba who broke his heart.
John’s Thought: No Antonio! Too sexy! Too Sexy!
book-stardust.jpg #98 - STARDUST
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 76%
Synopsis: “Stardust,” based on the best-selling graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, takes audiences on an adventure that begins in a village in England and ends up in places that exist in an imaginary world. A young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) tries to win the heart of Victoria (Sienna Miller), the beautiful but cold object of his desire, by going on a quest to retrieve a fallen star. His journey takes him to a mysterious and forbidden land beyond the walls of his village. On his odyssey, Tristan finds the star, which has transformed into a striking girl named Yvaine (Claire Danes).
John’s Thought: Easily the single most underrated and under appreciated film of 2007
book-green-tomatoes.jpg #97 - FRIED GREEN TOMATOES
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 82%
Synopsis: A heartwarming tale of family, friendship and murder in rural Georgia. In a Southern nursing home, a feisty resident and old local fixture named Ninny Threadgoode (Tandy) befriends Evelyn Couch (Kathy Bates) a depressed housewife and stirs her to action with an inspirational tale. She tells the story of a transcendent friendship between two young women living in Georgia in the 1930s, Idgie Threadgoode (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Ruth (Mary Louise Parker), who forge a powerful bond after witnessing a terrible tragedy together. The two women open a cafe (where fried green tomatoes are a house specialty) together in their small Southern town of Whistle Stop and manage to survive the hardships of life, despite racism, prejudice and the pressures of trying to live their lives as individuals in a strict and close-minded Southern society.
John’s Thought: Powerful cast, powerful story. An honestly moving film.
book-shining.jpg #96 - THE SHINING
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 86%
Synopsis: A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil and spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future
John’s Thought: Iconic film with some of the most quoted one liners from a horror film in history.
book-patriot-games.jpg #95 - PATRIOT GAMES
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 80%
Synopsis: Jack Ryan, the hero of Tom Clancy’s techno-thriller series, returns in the sequel to _The Hunt for Red October_. Ryan is on vacation in England when he spoils an assassination attempt on an important member of the Royal Family. Ryan gets drawn back into the CIA when the same splinter faction of the IRA targets him and his family.
John’s Thought: Once again proving you CAN change actors and still make the franchise work. Ford in his prime and my introduction to the brilliance of Sean Bean.
book-wag-dog.jpg #94 - WAG THE DOG
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 84%
Synopsis: When a Firefly Girl accuses the president of sexual misconduct in the Oval Office less than two weeks before the upcoming election, White House official Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) is told to bring in Conrad Bream (Robert De Niro) to fix the situation and save the president’s chances for reelection. This mysterious “fixer” fabricates a conflict with Albania in an effort to detract attention from the sex scandal, bringing in legendary Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to “produce” the war. When the CIA foils the initial plot, the creative team turns to a new story line, creating the saga of a U.S. soldier left behind enemy lines whom the president vows to find and return to American soil.
John’s Thought: Especially funny watching this movie now after the events of the last 8 years. Hard to go wrong with Hoffman and DiNero before he started sucking.
books-Charlottes-Web.jpg #93 - CHARLOTTE’S WEB
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 74%
Synopsis: Wilbur the pig is scared of the end of the season, because he knows that come that time, he will end up on the dinner table. He hatches a plan with Charlotte, a spider that lives in his pen, to ensure that this will never happen.
John’s Thought: Loved this as a kid, still love it today and will leave it on whenever I stumble across it channel surfing. Much better than the Julia Roberts voiced one from a couple of years ago.
books-Pride-Prejudice.jpg #92 - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 88%
Synopsis: From the classic novel by Jane Austen about the morals and mores of the class system in early Georgian England. The intelligent and spirited Elizabeth Bennet is one of 5 daughters — which, during that era, meant trouble: because women cannot inherit, upon her father’s death her family’s home will become the property of their nearest male relative. Only marriage, preferably to someone wealthy, can ensure her security. But the proud young lady instantly takes offense when Mr. Darcy, a promising newcomer in town, doesn’t seem quite admiring enough, and she spurns his advances. Slowly and painfully, Elizabeth realizes her error, but not before it seems she has lost him forever.
John’s Thought: Easily the best adaptation of this book ever done. Not taking away from any of the other ones… but Olivier rules.
books-Notebook.jpg #91 - THE NOTEBOOK
Rotten Tomatoes Rating - 51%
Synopsis: The movie focuses on an old man reading a story to an old woman in a nursing home. The story he reads follows two young lovers named Allie Hamilton and Noah Calhoun, who meet one evening at a carnival. But they are separated by Allie’s parents who dissaprove of Noah’s unwealthy family, and move Allie away. After waiting for Noah to write her for several years, Allie meets and gets engaged to a handsome young soldier named Lon. Allie, then, with her love for Noah still alive, stops by Noah’s 200-year-old home that he restored for her, “to see if he’s okay”. It is evident that they still have feelings for each other, and Allie has to choose between her fiancé and her first love.
John’s Thought: I avoided seeing this for a couple of years because it had “chick flick” written all over it. My loss… turned out it’s an exceptional film.

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15 Possible Oscar Hosts

Features - by John - October 23, 2008 - 14:36 America/Montreal - 48 Comments

Oscar-Host-84.jpgI make no secret about it. Besides Christmas, the Oscars are my favorite time of year. Since I’m a movie freak that really shouldn’t surprise anyone. The one day that we celebrate the year that was in the movie world is something I look forward to every year. I know it’s the cool thing to talk smack about the Oscars, but to me it’s one of those things I count down to every year. I’m kind of a loser that way. And for those who like to point out that the Oscar ratings were down last year… don’t forget that aside from the Superbowl it was still the highest rated television broadcast of the year.

Anyway, every year as we approach Oscar season the speculation starts over who will (or should) host the event. I have some very strong feelings on this issue. First and foremost, since it’s the night to celebrate the world of MOVIES, I prefer to have a MOVIE personality host the event rather than a comedian or TV personality. Call me crazy. I don’t see why you’d get Slash from Guns N’ Roses to host the Tony Awards.

With that being said I’ve put together a list of 15 possible hosts for this year’s Oscar ceremonies with what I see as the pros and cons for each potential host. I’m listing them in order of my preference, not in order of what I think their actual chances are of hosting.

Oscar-Host-Gervais.jpg #1 - RICKY GERVAIS
Pros - The man is absolutely hilarious and continues to be a growing name in the industry. His most recent film “Ghost Town” shows he has all the tools to be a cinematic comedy superstar and his one man stage shows prove he is extremely qualified to handle the hosting duities. A terrific personality and stage presence make Gervais my #1 pick to host the Oscars this year.

Cons - He was already approached about hosting this year and turned it down. DAMN!

Oscar-Host-Clooney.jpg #2 - GEORGE CLOONEY
Pros - He is the last vestige of the classic Hollywood movie star. An Oscar winner and multi nominated actor and director with some of the most natural charm and presence in the business. George Clooney IS Hollywood and would make a fantastic front man for the event.

Cons - Some people would be turned off from this pick simply because of his political beliefs.

Oscar-Host-Carell.jpg #3 - STEVE CARELL
Pros - Carell is a hot name right now, very very funny and has all the tools at his disposal to run and hold the Oscar evening together. Having been a writer for Jon Stewart doesn’t hurt his resume for the job either. He has broad appeal and that would help the Oscar ratings.

Cons - Clearly a movie start NOW… but he’s still relatively new in the industry

Oscar-Host-Martin.jpg #4 - STEVE MARTIN
Pros - To this day I think he may have turned in the best Oscar hosting performance of my lifetime. Best joke ever made at the Oscars: “To me, hosting the Oscars is like making love to a beautiful woman. I can only do it when Billy Crystal is out of town”. I nearly laughed myself sick. He is a film legend. He is beyond hilarious. He is all class and not affraid to poke serious fun at the stars. He’s Steve Martin damnit!

Cons - It’s been a while since he’s hosted and since his last hosting gig his film resume hasn’t exactly been stellar. I completely love the man, but to be honest he’s not as relevant as he used to be.

Oscar-Host-Hanks.jpg #5 - TOM HANKS
Pros - Is there a more respected statesman for the film industry than this man right now? He is Hollywood nobility. Winner of back to back best actor Oscars, nominated multiple other times, respected and admired throughout the industry and lest we forget a very funny comedic performer and one time stand up artist.

Cons - To be honest I can’t really think of any.

Oscar-Host-Washington.jpg #6 - DENZEL WASHINGTON
Pros - Another performer who is a landmark in the movie industry. Multiple Oscar winner and habitual nominee. One of the most recognizable figures in the movies today who also holds heaps of respect from the movie community.

Cons - Even though the Oscars would have their own team of comedy writers to create material for the host to use, I’m not really sure Washington could comfortably work with the material in a virtual one man stand up routine. Could feel awkward.

Oscar-Host-Ferrell.jpg #7 - WILL FERRELL
Pros - Everytime Will Ferrell has appeared on the Oscars he generally steals the show regardless who does the skit with him. He is a legitimate A-list movie star (for comedy at any rate), very popular, would attract an audience and clearly can hold his own in the stand up department.

Cons - Some people may see Ferrell hosting as just a gimmick and write him off. Some (not me) would also see him hosting as “beneath” the Oscars (then why have Chris Rock host it one year?)

Oscar-Host-Stewart.jpg #8 - JON STEWART
Pros - Stewart has hosted the Oscars multiple times already and so would bring a sense of continuity and perhaps even tradition with him. He seems to have improved from his first time hosting with last year doing a very good job. Very funny, very popular and seems more and more comfortable with the role.

Cons - He’s not a movie personality. yes I know he had bit parts in a couple of films, but there is no debate that he is first and foremost a TV personality. His political satire could be a turn off for some people.

Oscar-Host-Seinfeld.jpg #9 - JERRY SEINFELD
Pros - One of the most amazingly gifted comedians of our generation. Quick, witty with a terrific delivery. Could and would make the Oscars a very entertaining program this year.

Cons - Again, like Jon Stewart, my problem with Jerry Seinfeld is that he is first and foremost a TV personality and not really a member of the film world. To nit pick a little bit, he also turned off a lot of people in the Documentary field his last appearance on the Oscars when he was presenting the award for Best Feature Documentary and basically insulted the genre.

Oscar-Host-Downey.jpg #10 - ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
Pros - Even with The Soloist being pushed back a year, 2008 is pretty much the year of Robert Downey Jr. He is an insanely hot commodity right now and people love a good comeback and redemption story. He’s handsome, popular and very charismatic.

Cons - This is Robert’s big come back year… but many people will still remember that he disappeared for a reason for a while. There will probably be many people in the Academy that would probably like to see RDJ keep himself on the straight and narrow for a couple of more years before taking a risk on him.

Oscar-Host-Fey.jpg #11 - TINA FEY
Pros - Besides the fact that Tina Fey is an absolute comedic genius, has one of the hottest and most awarded comedies on TV right now (30 Rock) and the head writer for the tv institution know as Saturday Night LIve, Tina Fey is simply one of the most likable personalities around and could hold an Oscar crowd with very little trouble.

Cons - Once again… Tina Few, who although has appeared in a couple of movies, is undeniably first and foremost a television personality. Not to mention some people may not be happy with her amazing Sarah Palin impersonations.

Oscar-Host-Stiller.jpg #12 - BEN STILLER
Pros - In frat terms Ben Stiller is a legacy with family lines in the entertainment industry. But don’t forget he is also an insanely successful filmmaker and actor as well. Very funny man who does solid work in stand up solo situations. Add to that he has a very popular movie out (Tropic Thunder) this year too.

Cons - Stiller has his detractors in the film world. Like Ferrell many people see Stiller as “low brow” and perhaps not a fit for the Oscars. Still, I’d like to see him get a shot.

Oscar-Host-Colbert.jpg #13 - STEPHEN COLBERT
Pros - One of the most popular figures on TV and an absolute comedic mad man. Stephen Colbert has done hosting duties before for other programs and has always done extremely well in these kinds of situations.

Cons - Again, he’s a TV personality and not a movie personality. Like a few others there would be those turned off by his political material. Another knock against him is that he and Stewart are seen as two sides to the same coin and Stewart has already hosted a couple of times… they’d probably be more likely just to bring Stewart back again.

Oscar-Host-Boll.jpg #14 - UWE BOLL
Pros - Say what you will about this man’s filmmaking abilities (or lack thereof), this man has the biggest balls in the film industry and one of the flat out funniest story tellers (in personal I mean… not in his movies). He could get on stage and just tell everyone in the audience why their movies all suck compared to his and that they’re all cowards and then challenge the winners to a boxing match. Come on… admit it… you’d tune in for sure.

Cons - Well… he’s Uwe Boll.

Oscar-Host-Degeneres.jpg #15 - ELLEN DEGENERES
Pros - She hosted once and didn’t release toxic gas to kill everyone.

Cons - What? You mean besides the fact that she sucked on a Jena Jameson level of suck power? This woman was an embarrassment and should never be allowed near this show again. And yes… I did rate her lower than Uwe Boll.

Why The Dark Knight Will Get Nominated For Best Picture

Features - by John - October 20, 2008 - 20:30 America/Montreal - 93 Comments

There were few films coming out this year that were as highly anticipated as The Dark Knight, and for good reason. Batman Begins re-energized the Batman franchise and delivered us the very best Batman movie to date. Christopher Nolan is one of the very best up and coming directors (can you call him up and coming anymore?) in the business, Christian Bale became the best on screen Batman in film history and the film just worked on just about every level. Why wouldn’t people be pumped about the sequel… ESPECIALLY with the most famous of all the Batman villains (The Joker) being the main antagonist.

Yes, The Dark Knight was highly anticipated… and it didn’t fail to deliver. The movie was deep (as far as comic book movies go at any rate), exciting with improved action and dramatic tension over the first film… and they exchanged Katie Holmes for an upgrade in Maggie Gyllenhaal (so please, no more discussion about how you can’t exchange supporting actors in a franchise).

Now me personally, I thought the film was great… but also over-rated by many other people who gushed out the ears for the film and poured generous amounts of hyperbole all over it like gravy on thanksgiving potatoes. Outrageous statements like “One of the greatest crime dramas ever made” nonsense. The reality is that The Dark Knight did have its weaknesses and although I loved it, I wouldn’t talk about it in terms of a possible Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Well… at least I wouldn’t have before.

I’ve been talking to many of my film critic friends who have been seeing the early screenings (like my friend Kris Tapley over at In Contention) and it seems many of the higher profile “Best Picture” potential buzz movies that a few months ago many thought would be shoe ins for nominations are starting to fall by the wayside.

“The Soloist” has been pushed back to next year.
“The Changeling” is getting mixed reviews
“Milk” is getting mixed feedback
“Quantum of Solace” is generally thought to be good, but not as good as Royale
“Defiance” didn’t have the pop many hoped it would

Let me put it this way… if this was last year, The Dark Knight would have no business being mentioned in the “Best Picture” category. But this year may be different. With a number of these unseen early oscar favorites starting to get mixed responses it’s starting to look like a “very good” movie like The Dark Knight may just be good enough to be considered for Best Picture.

Here we are in October and it still really could be possible. If I personally had to pick the best picture nominees right now (not including films that haven’t been released yet), my nominees would be:

1) Wall-E (Best picture of the year so far bar none)
2) In Bruges (tragically underrated)
3) The Dark Knight
4) Son Of Rambow
5) Burn After Reading

So what do you think. With the early favorites starting to fade a bit, do you think it’s possible for The Dark Knight to be nominated for best picture this year?