Sunday, January 31, 2010

Italian Director to make Porn Film in 3D

JAN 31, 2010 - Veteran erotic film director Tinto Brass (pic), best known for his 1979 release of Caligula, has said he would produce "the world's first-ever 3D pornographic production", Hollywood Reporter reported.

With "Avatar" recently becoming the biggest film of all time, the 76-year-old Italian filmmaker said the time is right for 3D to be used to create an erotic film. He noted that the project, which he said will be the world's first 3D erotic film, will also be the first 3D film of any type made in Italy.

Brass said he plans to "revisit an abandoned project about a Roman emperor that was ruined by Americans, and go from there," a reference to "Caligula," which he has criticised because of hard-core sex scenes added during postproduction without his consent. He collaborated on that project with author Gore Vidal and Penthouse magazine publisher Bob Guccione.

Brass said he would start work on casting and the script immediately, and that he planned to start filming in May or June.

Tinto Brass' soft porn films were once a popular item among VCD pirates in Malaysia.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

WEEKEND PIC - Jan 29 - 31, 2010

YOUR GUIDE TO THE WEEKEND MOVIES

NEW THIS WEEK:

a) UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: A NEW BEGINNING (action adventure with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski and Corey Johnson) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This made-for-DVD film by director John Hyams is the sequel to Roland Emmerich’s 1992 movie. Reteaming Van Damme and Lundgren, it offers the kind of action and humour the fans of Universal Soldier films expect and nothing more.

b) FAME (dance musical with Naturi Naughton, Kay Penabaker, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton and Debbie Allen) Rated * * (2 stars): A totally needless remake of the famous 1980 musical with Irene Cara that spawned a TV series and many similar flicks. This one, however, is both tame and lame - with a cliched plot and characters that are utterly forgettable. (Reviewed below)

STILL GOING STRONG:


1. AVATAR (sci-fi adventure with Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi) Rated * * * * (4 stars out of 4): James Cameron has gone one up on his Titanic. The plot may be a bit derivative but the setting, in a futuristic and fictional planet of Pandora, is a visual and sensuous feast. The action sequences, augmented by CGI and motion-capture techniques, are mind-boggling. Now the world's top-grosser. (Reviewed below)

2. TOOTH FAIRY (fantasy comedy with Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant, Julie Andrews, Billy Crystal and Ryan Sheckler) Rated * * (2 stars): A flimsy plot and kiddie humour mark this second comedy outing by The Rock Johnson (after The Game Plan). The one-joke set-up has Johnson being 'sentenced' to serve as a Tooth Fairy by Andrews for crashing a child's dream. (Reviewed below)

3. LEGION (apocalyptic thriller with Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Doug Jones, Jon Tenney, Charles S. Dutton, Lucas Black, Kate Walsh and Adrianne Palicki) Rating * * (2 stars): As an apocalyptic thriller about God sending his angels to wipe out the human race for the second time, Legion is a total mess. Technically, there are some cool effects and credible performances. But that's it.

4. THE SPY NEXT DOOR (comedy with Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Alina Foley, Magnus Scheving and Katherine Boecher) Rating: * * (2 stars): Another greasy kids' stuff the likes of The Pacifier and Old Dogs, with Chan reduced to playing an undercover CIA spy who has to take care of his neighbour's three kids. Yup, the trite, sentimental crap that Chan is now good for.

5. CASE 39 (horror thriller with Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Kerry O'Malley, Callum Keith Rennie, Bradley Cooper and Adrian Lester) Rated * * (2 stars): Derivative and predictable horror about a family services officer who takes her case to her own home. Expect lots of stuffed borrowed from The Omen, The Orphan, et al. (Reviewed below)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Avatar Sinks Titanic in Worldwide Gross

JAN 27, 2010 - It's official: Avatar has surpassed Titanic to become the worldwide highest-grossing movie ever. Its worldwide total stands US$1.859 billion, compared to Titanic's US$1.843 billion.

Avatar's gross on Monday (Jan 25, 2010) was US$3.2 million in North America and an estimated US$16.9 million in foreign ticket sales.

Here is the Top Five worldwide movies, in terms of rank, (studio), worldwide gross in USD million, and (year of release).


1 Avatar (Fox) $1,858.9 (2009)

2 Titanic (Paramount) $1,843.2 (1997)

3 Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (NL) $1,119.1 (2003)

4 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (BV) $1,066.2 (2006)

5 The Dark Knight (WB) $1,001.9 (2008)

Source: Boxofficemojo

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

FAME - More Like 'LAME'

FAME (dance musical)
Cast: Naturi Naughton, Kay Penabaker, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles S. Dutton and Debbie Allen
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Screenplay: Allison Burnett, based on the film by Christopher Gore
Time: 102 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)


PREAMBLE: Now, let's see what rhymes with FAME? Tame? Lame? Shame? At a time when we are inundated with musicals like 'Glee' and 'High School Musical', not to mention popular reality shows like American Idol, why would anyone wanna remake a PG-version of the 1980 Fame (which was rated R)?

This apparent 'reboot' is definitely too tame for today's youth who have been exposed to raunchier stuff on TV, like Adam Lambert, for example. To the adults, this will be lame, compared with the original. What a shame!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT? It's about a group of students who 'struggle' their way through four years at the New York City High School of Performing Arts.

The main characters include Jenny (Kay Panabaker), who has problems with her confidence and her relationship with fellow student Marco (Asher Book); angry rapper Malik (Collins Pennie), who forms a musical partnership with fellow student Victor (Walter Perez); classical pianist Denise (Naturi Naughton), who secretly longs to sing and dance against the wishes of her father; and Kevin (Paul McGill), who worries he'll never meet the high standards demanded by his dance teacher (Bebe Neuwirth).

HITS & MISSES: Plotwise, there are too many characters for director Tancharoen to handle and he seems at a loss over what to do with them. The better-known stars like Kelsey Grammer, Bebe Neuwirth and Charles S. Dutton are wasted in dull and uninspired roles while most of the younger cast manage to hold their own.

Making matters worse is that most of the characters the screenplay focuses on are walking clichés and Tancharoen has no idea how to flesh them out of their script constraints. Although the film-makers keep the tone and colour like that of the original, there is no grit or depth to this film and it does not resemble the school of the original.

Musically, there are one or two exhilarating numbers - including a brilliantly edited impromptu jam session (incorporating rap, singing, dance with pulsating drums) that erupts in the school canteen. Subsequent musical numbers never quite top this one, though.

THE LOWDOWN: Fame? More like Lame.

Monday, January 25, 2010

'Avatar' Still Tops US B-O on 6th Weekend

JAN 25, 2010 - It is inevitable. Avatar has sold US$1.841 billion (RM6.26 billion) worth of tickets worldwide during its unbroken six-week record reign, and is a day or so away from surpassing the seemingly insurmountable US$1.843 billion racked up by Titanic in 1997-1998.

This announcement was made by 20th Century Fox yesterday.


In North America, Avatar may have to wait up to two weeks to sink the US$601 million total of Titanic, Fox said. Moviegoers in the US and Canada spent US$552.8 million, enough to replace 2008’s The Dark Knight (US$533 million) as the second-biggest movie of all time.

Data are not adjusted for inflation, and Avatar ticket sales got an additional boost from premium pricing for 3D screenings. Imax Corp said its big-screen engagements have sold a record US$134 million worth of tickets worldwide.

The biggest movie of all time in North America — adjusted for inflation — is 1939’s Gone with the Wind, with sales of almost US$1.5 billion, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo. Avatar ranks No. 26 by that measure.

Meanwhile, the thriller Legion led the way in second place at the North American Box-office last weekend. Family comedy The Tooth Fairy saw mild business in fourth while moviegoers ignored the drama Extraordinary Measures which landed in seventh. Films with major Golden Globe wins all witnessed small declines.

Here is the Top 5 North American B-O studio estimates for Jan 22 - 24, 2010 weekend, in terms of rank, Movie name (studio), Weekend takings in USD, (Cumulative gross, USD) and week on chart, courtesy of Boxofficemojo.

1. Avatar (Fox) $36.0 million ($552.8 million) 6

2. Legion (2010) (Sony / Screen Gems) $18.2 million ($18.2 million) 1

3. The Book of Eli (Warner Bros.) $17.0 million ($62.0 million) 2

4. The Tooth Fairy (Fox) $14.5 million ($14.5 million) 1

5. The Lovely Bones (DreamWorks) $8.8 million ($31.6 million) 7

Basterds Wins Big At SAG Awards


JAN 24, 2010 - Inglourious Basterds won its biggest award so far yesterday, taking the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild awards.

Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock were hailed as Best Actor and Actress of 2009 on a night where no single movie dominated but which lined the two stars up for likely Oscar glory in March.

Inglourious Basterds, won for Best Ensemble for a multinational cast that included American Brad Pitt, Germany’s Diane Kruger and Austrian Christoph Waltz, who also added the SAG best supporting actor trophy to his slew of awards.

SAG also hands out awards for television, with AMC’s stylish 1960s series “Mad Men” won for a second year for Best Ensemble Drama cast and the Fox quirky musical comedy “Glee” taking the award for Best Ensemble Comedy cast in its first season.

Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin continued their long streak of wins for best comedy actress and actor for NBC’s “30 Rock.” Former “ER” star Julianna Margulies won best TV drama actress for “The Good Wife” on CBS, while Michael C. Hall won for his role as a serial killer in Showtime drama “Dexter.”

Here's a list of the winners of the major awards:

ACTOR: Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart

ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo'nique - Precious

ENSEMBLE CAST: Inglourious Basterds

ENSEMBLE STUNTS: Star Trek

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Betty White

BEST ACTOR in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Kevin Bacon (Taking Chance (HBO))

BEST ACTRESS in a TV Movie or Miniseries: Drew Barrymore (Grey Gardens (HBO))

BEST ACTOR in a Drama Series: Michael C. Hall (Dexter (Showtime))

BEST ACTRESS in a Drama Series: Julianna Marguilies (The Good Wife (CBS))

BEST ACTOR in a Comedy Series: Alec Baldwin (30 Rock (NBC))

BEST ACTRESS in a Comedy Series: Tina Fey (30 Rock (NBC))

Best Ensemble Performance in a Drama Series: The cast of MAD MEN (AMC)

Best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Series: The cast of GLEE (Fox)

Best Stunt Ensemble in a TV Series: 24 (Fox)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jean Simmons Dies at 80 of Cancer

JAN 23, 2010 - Actress Jean Simmons, 80, has died in California, the Los Angeles Times reported today. Simmons, who had lung cancer, died at her home in Santa Monica last night.

Born in London, Simmons (pictured) started acting in British films as a teenager and later moved to the United States to star in movies such as the 1955 musical Guys and Dolls with Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, and Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus with Kirk Douglas in 1960.

Simmons won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for playing Ophelia in Hamlet in 1948 and a Best Actress nomination for her role in The Happy Ending — a 1969 film directed by her second husband Richard Brooks. She was married twice: in 1950 to Stewart Granger, divorcing in 1960, and in 1960 to Brooks, divorcing in 1977.

Simmons continued making films well into the 1970s. In the 1980s she mainly appeared in TV mini-series, such as "North and South" (1985) and "The Thorn Birds" (1983). She made a comeback to films in 1995 in How to Make an American Quilt co-starring Winona Ryder and Anne Bancroft, and most recently played the elderly Sophie in the English version of Hayao Miyazaki's Hauru no ugoku shiro (2004).

She is survived by her two daughters, Tracy Granger and Kate Brooks.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The BAFTA Awards Nominations


JAN 22, 2010 - Browsing through the nominations for the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards, I get a sense of deja vu. The nominated movies are more or less the same as those for the Golden Globes and the Critics' Choice awards.

However, on closer look, there are some notable differences. Sandra Bullock and Robert Downey Jr both picked up awards (for comedy/musical) at the Globes are notable by their absence here (as well as Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes). In their place we get nominations for Saoirse Ronan and Stanley Tucci, the stars of Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones.

When the nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards are announced on Feb 2, we can be sure of these familiar titles: Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Precious, Up in the Air, Inglourious Basterds, The Hangover, Julie & Julia and An Education.

The BAFTA awards will be presented on Sunday, Feb 21.
Here's the list of the BAFTA nominees:


BEST FILM

Avatar
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Precious
Up in the Air

Leading actor

Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
George Clooney (Up in the Air)
Colin Firth (A Single Man)
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
Andy Serkis (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll)

Leading actress

Carey Mulligan (An Education)
Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Audrey Tautou (Coco Before Chanel)

Supporting actor

Alec Baldwin (It's Complicated)
Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles)
Alfred Molina (An Education)
Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Supporting actress

Anne-Marie Duff (Nowhere Boy)
Vera Farmiga, pictured right (Up in the Air)
Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)
Mo'Nique (Precious)
Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy)

Outstanding British film

An Education
Fish Tank
In the Loop
Moon
Nowhere Boy

Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer

Lucy Bailey, Andrew Thompson, Elizabeth Morgan Hemlock, David Pearson (directors, producers – Mugabe And The White African)
Eran Creevy (writer/director – Shifty)
Stuart Hazeldine (writer/director – Exam)
Duncan Jones (director – Moon)
Sam Taylor-Wood (director – Nowhere Boy)

Director

James Cameron (Avatar)
Neill Blomkamp (District 9)
Lone Scherfig (An Education)
Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)

Original screenplay

The Hangover (Jon Lucas, Scott Moore)
The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal)
Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
A Serious Man (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
Up (Bob Peterson, Pete Docter)

Adapted screenplay

District 9 (Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell)
An Education (Nick Hornby)
In the Loop (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche)
Precious (Geoffrey Fletcher)
Up in the Air (Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner)

Film not in the English language

Broken Embraces
Coco Before Chanel
Let the Right One In
A Prophet
The White Ribbon

Animated film

Coraline
Fantastic Mr Fox
Up

Music

Avatar (James Horner)
Crazy Heart (T-Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton)
Fantastic Mr Fox (Alexandre Desplat)
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (Chaz Jankel)
Up (Michael Giacchino)

Cinematography

Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Road

Editing

Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Up in the Air

Production design

Avatar
District 9
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Inglourious Basterds

Costume design

Bright Star
Coco Before Chanel
An Education
A Single Man
The Young Victoria

Sound

Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek
Up

Special visual effects

Avatar
District 9
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek

Makeup & hair

Coco Before Chanel
An Education
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Nine
The Young Victoria

Short animation

The Gruffalo
The Happy Duckling
Mother of Many

Short film

14
I Do Air
Jade
Mixtape
Off Season

Orange Rising Star Award (voted for by the public, nominations announced earlier)


Jesse Eisenberg
Nicholas Hoult
Carey Mulligan
Tahar Rahim
Kristen Stewart
(all pictured above, pix pinched from the BAFTA website)


WEEKEND PIC - Jan 22 - 24, 2010

YOUR GUIDE TO THE WEEKEND MOVIES

NEW THIS WEEK:

a) TOOTH FAIRY (fantasy comedy with Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant, Julie Andrews, Billy Crystal and Ryan Sheckler) Rated * * (2 stars): A flimsy plot and kiddie humour mark this second comedy outing by The Rock Johnson (after The Game Plan). The one-joke set-up has Johnson being 'sentenced' to serve as a Tooth Fairy by Andrews for crashing a child's dream. (Reviewed below)

b) LEGION (apocalyptic thriller with Paul Bettany, Dennis Quaid, Tyrese Gibson, Doug Jones, Jon Tenney, Charles S. Dutton, Lucas Black, Kate Walsh and Adrianne Palicki): Sorry, I have not been able to catch the movie yet. The Skinny: God has lost faith in humanity and sends his legion of angels to wipe out the human race for the second time. Mankind's only hope lies with a group of misfits holed up in a diner in the desert and they are aided by the archangel Michael.

STILL GOING STRONG

1. AVATAR (sci-fi adventure with Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi) Rated * * * * (4 stars out of 4): A happy marriage of form and function, James Cameron has gone one up on his Titanic. The plot may be a bit derivative but the setting, in a futuristic and fictional planet of Pandora, is a visual feast. The action sequences, augmented by CGI and motion-capture techniques, are mind-boggling. Soon to beat Titanic as the world's top-grosser. (Reviewed below)

2. SHERLOCK HOLMES (action adventure with Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly and William Hope) Rated * * * (3 stars): The world-famous detective gets a blockbuster-style makeover by Guy Ritchie in this robust and entertaining but irreverent rendition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes. (Reviewed below)

3. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (horror thriller with Micah Sloat, Katie Featherston, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong, Tim Piper and Randy McDowell) Rating * * * (3 stars): Made like The Blair Witch Project, this supernatural docudrama is about horror in a house. It was last year's sleeper that became a runaway hit. Scary too.

4. CARRIERS (thriller with Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Emily VanCamp, Christopher Meloni and Kiernan Shipka) Rated * * * (3 stars): An engaging tale of how four youngsters set out on a road trip in a post-pandemic America where a viral infection has claimed almost all its population. Commendable cast with good chemistry. (Reviewed below)

5. THE SPY NEXT DOOR (comedy with Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Alina Foley, Magnus Scheving and Katherine Boecher) Rating: * * (2.5 stars): Another greasy kids' stuff the likes of The Pacifier and Old Dogs, with Chan reduced to playing an undercover CIA spy who has to take care of his neighbour's three kids. Yup, the trite, sentimental crap that Chan is now good for.

6. CASE 39 (horror thriller with Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Kerry O'Malley, Callum Keith Rennie, Bradley Cooper and Adrian Lester) Rated * * (2 stars): Derivative and predictable horror about a family services officer who takes her case to her own home. Expect lots of stuffed borrowed from The Omen, The Orphan, et al. (Reviewed below)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Marc Webb To Direct Next Spider-Man Film


JAN 20, 2010 - Columbia and Marvel Studios has announced that Marc Webb, director of (500) Days Of Summer, will helm the next instalment in Sony’s rebooted Spider-Man franchise.

Webb will direct from James Vanderbilt’s screenplay and will work closely with producers Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin to develop the project. Production is scheduled to begin later this year in time for a summer 2012 release.

“At its core, Spider-Man is a small, intimate human story about an everyday teenager that takes place in an epic super-human world,” Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal said. “The key for us as we sought a new director was to identify film-makers who could give sharp focus to Peter Parker’s life… We believe Marc Webb (left) is the perfect choice to bring us on that journey.”

“I am signing on not to ‘take over’ from Sam [Raimi],” Webb said. “That would be impossible. Not to mention arrogant. I’m here because there’s an opportunity for ideas, stories, and histories that will add a new dimension, canvas, and creative voice to Spider-Man.”

Raimi and Tobey Maguire left the franchise last week after Raimi expressed concern that the script would not be ready in time for a May 2011 release. Columbia had the Vanderbilt screenplay ready and moved quickly.

Before directing
(500) Days Of Summer, Webb was a music video maker and director.

TOOTH FAIRY - Another Cinema Fodder

THE TOOTH FAIRY (fantasy comedy)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant, Julie Andrews, Billy Crystal and Ryan Sheckler
Director: Michael Lembeck
Screenplay: Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel
Time: 102 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

LET'S CUT TO THE CHASE: It is January, folks, the traditional low period in the cinema business and a time when they let loose the 'turkeys' and 'turds' from the studios. You may recall this month's titles like Old Dogs, The Spy Next Door, and Have You Heard About The Morgans? - basically films about stars who have expired their shelf-life being given another chance at fame (or infamy).

Well, Tooth Fairy is another of these cinema fodder.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT? Derek Thompson (Dwayne Johnson) is an ice-hockey player dubbed The Tooth Fairy for his dirty habit of knocking out his opponents' teeth. When Derek tells Tess (Destiny Whitlock), the young daughter of his girlfriend Carly (Ashley Judd) that the tooth fairy is not real, he finds himself magically in Fairyland, sentenced to a couple of weeks' penance as a real tooth fairy.

To his horror, Derek realises he has no alternative but to obey Lily the Head Fairy (Julie Andrews) and as he adapts to his new position, he remembers his own forgotten dreams...

HITS & MISSES: To enjoy this movie, we must heed Derek Thompson's advice and "lower your expectations: that's how you'll be happy". Working on the theme about believing that anything is possible, this movie is aimed at undiscerning kids and indulgent parents. There are plenty of cringe moments (as opposed to funny), watching 'The Rock' Johnson in tutu and wings, trying to pull off some juvenile gags. It was not as bad in The Game Plan, but the former wrestler has less to work with here.

Julie Andrews, on the other hand, makes good use of her accent and regal looks to play Lilly, and Billy Crystal is fun as the guy who offers Derek a little bag of fairy gadgets (like shrinking paste, invisible spray, magic wand, dog bark mints and amnesia dust). The tough guy 'trapped' in the world of children comedy formula has been over-flogged since 1990, when Arnold Schwarzenegger played Kindergarten Cop. It is not funny anymore!

THE LOWDOWN: Skip it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

'Avatar' Tops US B-O for 5th Weekend

JAN 18, 2010 - For a fifth straight weekend Avatar controlled the US box office setting another milestone as it moved past Star Wars into third place on the all-time North American box-office chart.

It brought in an estimated US$41.3 over the weekend, bringing its total to US$491.7M. Avatar has made an astounding US$1.6 billion worldwide in only five weeks and the only question now is when it'll beat Titanic, not if.

In third place after a nationwide rollout is Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, a tale of a murdered girl who narrates her life from the beyond.

Here is the Top 5 North American B-O studio estimates for Jan 15 - 17, 2010 weekend, in terms of rank, Movie name (studio), Weekend takings in USD, (Cumulative gross, USD) and week on chart, courtesy of Boxofficemojo.

1. Avatar (Fox) $41.3 million ($491.8 million) 5

2. The Book of Eli (Warner Bros) $31.6 million ($31.6 million) 1

3. The Lovely Bones (Paramount) $17.1 million ($17.5 million) 6

4. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (Fox) $11.5 million ($192.6 million) 4

5. Sherlock Holmes (Warner Bros) $9.8 million ($180.0 million) 4

Avatar, Cameron Shine At Golden Globes

JAN 18, 2010 - Avatar and James Cameron took the Golden Globes as Best Dramatic film and Best Director while The Hangover won the Best Comedy or Musical award handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the 67th Golden Globes ceremony last night.

Cameron’s ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow had been expected to win as Best Director for The Hurt Locker and Cameron graciously noted this in his speech. Nominated for four awards, Avatar won two of the biggest prizes and is now the Oscar frontrunner.

Up In The Air, the overall favourite, only managed to convert only one of its six nominations when Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner won Best Screenplay honours for their adaptation of Walter Kirn’s novel. Rob Marshall’s Nine had five nominations but won none.

The popular Jeff Bridges from Crazy Heart and Sandra Bullock from won top acting honours in the dramatic category, while Best Musical or Comedy prizes went to Robert Downey Jr for The Blind SideSherlock Holmes and Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia.

Supporting actors Mo’Nique for Precious and Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds were the most predictable winners of the night and would appear to be shoo-ins for the Academy Award. Mo’Nique was the first recipient of the night and gave a heartfelt speech that set the tone for a classy and good-humoured night. The two were also winners at the Critics' Choice Awards.

Here's a list of the winners of the Movie categories:

Best Picture – Drama: Avatar

Best Picture - Musical or comedy: The Hangover

Best Director: James Cameron, Avatar

Best Animated Feature: Up

Best Actor in a Drama: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

Best Actress in a drama: Sandra Bullock (pic), The Blind Side

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy: Robert Downey Jr, Sherlock Holmes

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy: Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious

Best Foreign Film: The White Ribbon

Best Screenplay: Up In The Air, Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

Best Original Song: The Weary Kind, T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham (Crazy Heart)

Best original score: Up, Michael Giacchino

Saturday, January 16, 2010

'Hurt Locker' Wins Critics' Choice Award

JAN 16, 2010 - The Hurt Locker , a film about an American bomb-disposal unit (pictured, left) in Iraq, was named Best Picture by the Broadcast Film Critics Association's at its 15th annual Critics' Choice Awards held at the Hollywood Palladium last night.

The movie’s director, Kathryn Bigelow, became the first woman to win the Best Director award. The Critics' Choice Awards is reported to have a knack of foretelling success at the Oscars.

Jeff Bridges was named Best Actor for his role as a drunken country singer in Crazy Heart,” while the actress award was a tie between Meryl Streep (for Julie & Julia) and Sandra Bullock (for The Blind Side).

'Avatar', which had nine nominations, was named Best Action movie, and won five other awards in newly-established technical categories to lead the overall field.

Here's the list of the Winners:

BEST PICTURE - The Hurt Locker

BEST ACTOR - Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

BEST ACTRESS - Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia), Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) pictured, right

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Mo'Nique (Precious)

BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS - Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones)

BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE - Inglourious Basterds

BEST DIRECTING - Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY - Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY - Up in the Air (Jason Reitman)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - Avatar

BEST ART DIRECTION - Avatar

BEST EDITING - Avatar

BEST COSTUME DESIGN - The Young Victoria

BEST MAKEUP - District 9

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS - Avatar

BEST SOUND - Avatar

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE - Up

BEST ACTION MOVIE - Avatar

BEST COMEDY - The Hangover

BEST PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION - Grey Gardens

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM - Broken Embraces

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE - The Cove

BEST SONG - The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett

BEST SCORE - Up (Michael Giancchio)

Friday, January 15, 2010

'Avatar' Sets US$100m Global Record for IMAX

JAN 15, 2010 - IMAX Corporation has scored its first US$100m global hit as sources confirmed that Avatar has grossed more than US$101.3m since the film launched one month ago.

James Cameron’s sci-fi epic has amassed more than US$33.3m overseas and US$68m in North America, easily outstripping The Polar Express’ US$71m mark to become the biggest worldwide hit yet on the large screen format.

Avatar is understood to have crossed US$100m mark early on Thursday morning [January 14].

Meanwhile IMAX Corporation, Marvel and Paramount announced they had signed a deal to release Iron Man 2 on May 7.

Iron Man 2 is a fantastic addition to our growing film slate for 2010, which is filling out faster than any previous year,” IMAX CEO Richard L Gelfond said. “The roll-out of our digital projection system has enabled us to add more films to the slate, and we’re very excited to partner with Marvel and Paramount on this next instalment of the incredible Iron Man franchise.”

“The success of the first Iron Man movie catapulted the franchise from the comic books to theatre screens, and we’re excited that the IMAX format will offer fans an even more immersive way to experience the sequel,” Marvel Studios COO Tim Connors said. (Source: Screen International)

WEEKEND PIC - Jan 15 - 17, 2010

YOUR GUIDE TO THE WEEKEND MOVIES

NEW THIS WEEK:

a) THE SPY NEXT DOOR (comedy with Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Alina Foley, Magnus Scheving and Katherine Boecher) Rating: * * (2 stars): Another greasy kids' stuff the likes of The Pacifier and Old Dogs, with Chan (pictured, right) playing an undercover CIA spy who has to take care of his neighbour's three kids. Yup, the trite, sentimental crap that Chan is now reduced to playing.

b) CASE 39 (horror thriller with Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Kerry O'Malley, Callum Keith Rennie, Bradley Cooper and Adrian Lester) Rated * * (2 stars): Derivative and predictable horror about a family services officer who takes her case to her own home. Expect lots of stuffed borrowed from The Omen, The Orphan, et al. (Reviewed below)

STILL GOING STRONG

1. AVATAR (sci-fi adventure with Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi) Rated * * * * (4 stars out of 4): A happy marriage of form and function, James Cameron has gone one up on his Titanic. The plot may be a bit derivative but the setting, in a futuristic and fictional planet of Pandora, is a visual feast. The action sequences, augmented by CGI and motion-capture techniques, are mind-boggling. Already the No. 2 Top-Grossing film worldwide, behind Titanic. (Reviewed below)

2. SHERLOCK HOLMES (action adventure with Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly and William Hope) Rated * * * (3 stars): The world-famous detective gets a blockbuster-style makeover by Guy Ritchie in this robust and entertaining but irreverent rendition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes. (Reviewed below)

3. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (horror thriller with Micah Sloat, Katie Featherston, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong, Tim Piper and Randy McDowell) Rating * * * (3 stars): Made like The Blair Witch Project, this supernatural docudrama is about horror in a house. It was last year's sleeper that became a runaway hit. Scary too.

4. CARRIERS (thriller with Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Emily VanCamp, Christopher Meloni and Kiernan Shipka) Rated * * * (3 stars): An engaging tale of how four youngsters set out on a road trip in a post-pandemic America where a viral infection has claimed almost all its population (pictured, left). A bit like Zombieland. Commendable cast with good chemistry. (Reviewed below)

5. JU-ON: WHITE GHOST and BLACK GHOST (Japanese horror with Ai Kago and Akina Minami) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This is actually a combination of two short movies of about an hour each - one about a murder horror in a house, and the other, the grudge of an unborn child. Not particularly earth-shattering but a good marketing ploy, though.

6. CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE's ASSISTANT (sci-fi fantasy with John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Massoglia, Ray Stevenson, Patrick Fugit, Orlando Jones, Willem Dafoe, Salma Hayek) Rating: * * (2 stars): Like the title suggests, this film about a boy running away to join the circus is freakish, disjointed and messy. It is the first of a vampire trilogy by Darren Shan but don't bet on a sequel.

7. HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THE MORGANS? (romantic comedy with Sarah Jessica Parker, Hugh Grant, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen and Elisabeth Moss) Rated * 1/2 (1.5 stars): Derivative tale of a Manhattan couple forced to slum it out in a small town in Wyoming under a witness protection programme. Grant's acting is irritating and Parker looks lost. (Reviewed below)

8. OLD DOGS (comedy with John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Seth Green, Ella Bleu Travolta, Lori Loughlin and Matt Dillon) Rated * 1/2 (1.5 stars): An infantile attempt at comedy with Travolta and Williams playing clowns after being saddled with taking care of a pair of twins. Some gags can make you puke. (Reviewed below)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

CASE 39: Predictable Bad Seed Thriller

CASE 39 (horror thriller)
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Kerry O'Malley, Callum Keith Rennie, Bradley Cooper and Adrian Lester
Director: Christian Alvart
Screenplay: Ray Wright
Time: 108 mins

Rating: * * (out of 4)

Zellweger and Ferland

PREAMBLE: Many parents see their kids as "little devils" but no one would ever dream of putting them in the oven and turning on the heat. This is what threatens to happen in Case 39 and yes, we are into another Bad Seed thriller. If you have seen The Omen or The Orphan, this one will be pretty predictable when you get halfway into the film.

However, what is curious about Christian Alvart's Case 39 is the way the film was shelved for almost two years before being released in the UK and Asia. Could it be the case of the jitters over its controversial subject? Nawww, I think the owners were worried about its marketability.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT? Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger) is a devoted family services officer who takes on more than she can handle when she is assigned Case 39. This is the case of 10-year-old Lillith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland), an obvious victim of child abuse. Emily breaks her own rules of not getting personally involved when she takes the child into her own home.

Expectedly, harm seems to come to everyone who is into contact with Lillith and Emily finds herself in a precarious and irrational situation. Emily has two friends she turns to for help: a child counsellor (Bradley Cooper) and a cop (Ian McShane as Mike Barron) who comes in handy because something is clearly not right with Lilith.

HITS & MISSES: Director Alvart, who later gave us the insepid Pandorum, is not someone who is inventive or original. He throws in cheap 'sudden' scares as well as ideas loaned from other thrillers like The Omen (fierce rottweilers and bees flying out of one's nose and mouth) and lots of unexplained occurrences to jolt us.

Zellweger does her utmost - including pouts, shrieks and screams - to convey the terror Emily is facing but she is burdened by an unconvincing plot. Her co-stars support well, especially young Ferland as the creepy Lilith.

THE LOWDOWN: Better leave this Case alone.