Monday, November 29, 2010

Farewell, Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen, star of 'Airplane!' and 'Naked Gun,' dead at 84
By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -- Leslie Nielsen, whose longtime career as a square-jawed dramatic actor took a sudden turn into comedy with gut-busting spoofs like "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun," has died at age 84, his family said Sunday. The Canadian-born Nielsen's career reached back into the early days of television, when he made frequent appearances on live drama series like "Goodyear Playhouse."

He played the earnest starship captain in the 1956 science-fiction classic "Forbidden Planet" and made regular appearances on a wide range of TV dramas into the 1970s, including "Hawaii Five-O." He also played the captain of an overturned ocean liner in the 1972 disaster movie, "The Poseidon Adventure." Much of that changed in 1980, when he was cast as a doctor aboard an endangered jetliner in the gag-a-minute disaster-movie parody "Airplane!"

Nielsen's deadpan response to the question "Surely, you can't be serious?" with "I am serious -- and don't call me Shirley" helped launch a second career. The film's producers went on to cast him in their short-lived television series "Police Squad!" He reprised that show's bumbling lead character, Lt. Frank Drebin, a decade later in three "Naked Gun" movies, in which he shared the screen with O.J. Simpson and Priscilla Presley.

Nielsen appeared in several similar but less-acclaimed spoofs following those films. Nielsen was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2003. The medal is awarded to "Canadian citizens for outstanding achievement and service to the country or to humanity at large."

Nielsen died of complications of pneumonia in a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, surrounded by family and friends, a family statement said. Doug Nielsen called his uncle's death a "great loss."
"He was extremely funny," the younger Nielsen said in an interview with CNN affiliate Global Network News in Vancouver. "At all of our family get-togethers, he was always the life of the party and a great-natured guy," Nielsen said. "He was a very good friend to me."

[source: CNN]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 opens today

The Beginning of The End is here...
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 opens today in Iloilo City theaters, and in theaters around the world as well. Today, November 18, 2010 is the official international release date of the first of the two-part final chapter of the Harry Potter series.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a 2010/2011 two-part epic fantasy film directed by David Yates, written by Steve Kloves and based on the novel of the same name by J. K. Rowling. The film is produced by Rowling along with David Heyman and David Barron. The two parts form the seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter film series, with the story following Harry Potter on a quest to find and destroy Lord Voldemort's secret to immortality - the Horcruxes. The films star Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, alongside Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as Harry's best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

James Bond Will Return

There is really only one test that matters for the re-organized MGM when it comes to their recovery from bankruptcy, and today, we get our first look at how they plan to face that test.

If you haven't been following the MGM bankruptcy story, or if you're only aware of it in vague terms, I don't blame you.  I've been in Los Angeles for 20 years now, and MGM's been struggling with bankruptcy for most of that time.  I've always find it amazing that this titan, this 86-year-old movie icon, could be run so poorly and managed so badly for such an extended period of time.  Now that they've rejected the takeover bid by Lionsgate and Carl Icahn, they've got to prove that they can turn the ailing company around.  In order to do so, they filed a pre-packaged plan with a Manhattan federal bankruptcy court that outlines their goals and the ways they hope to accomplish those goals.

And as I said, there's only really one thing that matters:  what do they plan to do about James Bond?

After all, "The Hobbit" is going to happen under the guidance of Warner Bros. and Peter Jackson's Wingnut Films.  MGM may have their name on that film, and they may well end up distributing it internationally, depending on how healthy that part of the company is in 2012, but they aren't really "making" it.  They can't afford to.  I'm not sure how they plan to deal with their $275 million "total obligation" to the movie, but my guess is they'll have no shortage of third party financiers looking to jump in.

With James Bond, they've got their one ongoing franchise that is a proven worldwide brand, and they detail their goals to have the first film in theaters November of 2012, with a new Bond movie in theaters every two years after that.  They want to split the costs of the first film 50% with someone, with the idea being that later Bond films would be funded entirely by MGM.

It's an ambitious plan, and they've already done some of the development work on what they're calling Bond 23, with Peter Morgan onboard to write it and Sam Mendes supervising with an eye on possibly directing.  All of that was put on hold, though, and with the schedules of guys like that, there's no guarantee they'll be able to jump back into the movie.

And let's say they do get everything on track for Bond 23.  With the way this company's been run traditionally, how can they say they'll have a Bond film every two years like clockwork?  Even in the best times, that hasn't been the case consistently.  How many more films does Daniel Craig have in him?  How many is he contracted for?  When you're making films on an assembly line schedule, how can you guarantee you'll have a story worth telling every two years?  Or that you'll have another Bond ready when Craig finally steps aside?

You'll see a lot of headlines today saying that we're getting a James Bond film in 2012, like everything's been magically solved for MGM.  At this point, there's no word from EON Productions about their feelings on this filing, and since they're just as important to the development and release of Bond films, that seems like a pretty significant gap in terms of information.  For now, the most positive thing you can say about this is that MGM knows how important Bond is to their overall success, and they are obviously desperate to renew the superspy's license to kill.

Whether or not they succeed at their mission remains to be seen.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Farewell, Dino De Laurentiis!

He was a small man who dreamed big, hit the highest heights and failed like few others.
Dino De Laurentiis was born to be a movie producer.

The Academy Award-winning legend of the Italian New Wave and producer of "Serpico" and "Barbarella" who helped revolutionize the way movies are bankrolled and helped personify the no-limits life of a cinematic king, died Wednesday night at the age of 91 in Beverly Hills.

His dozens of credits included the art-house classics "La Strada" and "Nights of Cabiria," the cult favorite "Blue Velvet," the Hollywood epics "War and Peace" and "The Bible," and such mainstream hits as "Three Days of the Condor." He backed horror films ("Halloween 2"), police drama ("Serpico") and the most far-out science fiction fused with sex and sexuality ("Barbarella").

And when he bombed, he really bombed: "Dune," about which director David Lynch complained he was denied creative control; the Madonna vehicle "Body of Evidence"; the 1976 remake of "King, Kong," which nearly finished off the career of Jessica Lange before it really started.

Not all his movies had big budgets, but De Laurentiis didn't think a film was real without real money. "Night of Earth" director Jim Jarmusch has spoken of meeting with the producer at his office, where De Laurentiis' desk was big as Jarmusch's apartment. He spoke to Jarmusch about the director's low-cost productions.

"He asked me, 'Why do you make amateur films instead of professional ones?'" Jarmusch once recalled. "I asked what made a film amateur or professional. He said any film that costs more than $5 million is professional."

De Laurentiis was one of the first producers to understand the box-office potential of foreign audiences, and helped invent international co-productions, raising money by pre-selling distribution rights outside North America. He was tiny, but tough, a veritable Napoleon on the set and utterly tireless. "Such a little lion," was how his second wife, producer Martha De Laurentiis, put it when he turned 80.

Throughout his career, he alternated lavish, big-budget productions with less commercial films by directors such as Robert Altman, Ingmar Bergman and Lynch, and he often packaged the blockbusters with art films to secure distribution for the smaller films.

"The extraordinary thing that Dino taught all of us is the true figure of the independent producer," De Laurentiis' nephew, Aurelio De Laurentiis, a noted Italian film producer, said Thursday. "He always behaved in the U.S. as a major studio, even though he was a one-man show."

"He was my biggest champion in life and a constant source for wisdom and advice. I will miss him dearly," granddaughter Giada De Laurentiis, a star chef and host on Food Network, said.

Raised outside of Naples and one of six children born into the family's pasta-making business, De Laurentiis quickly realized that his destiny was in moviemaking.

He was central to the rise of Italy's film industry, which in the 1950s rose to international prominence as the Italian New Wave.

De Laurentiis' initial success began after World War II, starting with "Bitter Rice," in 1948, which launched the career of his first wife, Silvana Mangano.

In 1950, he went into business with another rising director, Carlo Ponti. They soon dominated the Italian movie business, monopolizing top stars such as Mangano, Sophia Loren (who later married Ponti) and Marcello Mastroianni. Their first international production was the epic "War and Peace" (Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer) in 1955.

With the lure of huge salaries, he often imported international movie stars to boost a film's prospects. For Fellini's "La Strada," which won the Academy Award for foreign language film in 1957, he persuaded Anthony Quinn to come to Rome. De Laurentiis also produced Fellini's "Nights of Cabiria," which won the foreign film Oscar a year later.

At Dinocitta, De Laurentiis married Hollywood stars with spectacle: "Barrabas" (Quinn); "The Bible" (George C. Scott, Ava Gardner); "Anzio" (Robert Mitchum); "Waterloo" (Rod Steiger). He also made more offbeat fare, such as Roger Vadim's sex romp, "Barbarella" (Jane Fonda).

De Laurentiis was one of the first producers to understand the box-office potential of foreign audiences, and helped invent international co-productions, raising money by pre-selling distribution rights outside North America.

He began to move away from his base in Italy in the 1960s when the government changed the rules to mandate totally Italian productions to qualify for subsidies. He sold Dinocitta to the government in 1972. He relocated the studio in Wilmington, N.C., and dubbed his production company the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.

The Oscar-winning "Serpico," in 1973 with Al Pacino, was De Laurentiis' Hollywood debut. Charles Bronson's "Death Wish," Robert Redford's "Three Days of the Condor" and John Wayne's last film, "The Shootist," followed.

He often stayed loyal to young, talented directors, even though the results weren't always strong. He made "Buffalo Bill and the Indians" with Robert Altman. Even after Michael Cimino's huge flop "Heaven's Gate," De Laurentiis made "Year of the Dragon" and "Desperate Hours" with him. Despite the failure of "Dune," he stuck with David Lynch and two years later produced the acclaimed "Blue Velvet."

De Laurentis also continued to be a small factory for tackiness. Though he had earlier worked with revered filmmakers such as Victorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini and Ingmar Bergman, some of his schlock included the plantation drama "Mandingo," the horror film "Amityville II," the cult comedy "Army of Darkness" and Madonna's "Body of Evidence."

Though flops like "King Kong" and "Hurricane" could be shaken off, personal tragedy took its toll. In 1981, his son Federico was killed in a plane crash. Mangano, his wife of more than four decades, died in 1989.
De Laurentiis, close to 70, was undaunted and started over. Within two years, he had a new wife, 29-year-old Martha Schumacher, formed a new company and started producing moneymakers again.

De Laurentiis also produced the first Hannibal Lecter film, Manhunter (1986). He passed on adapting Thomas Harris' sequel, The Silence of the Lambs, but produced the two follow-ups, Hannibal (2001) and Red Dragon (2002), a remake of Manhunter. He also produced Hannibal Rising (2007), which tells the story of how Hannibal becomes a serial killer.

"My philosophy is very simple," he once said. "To feel young, you must work as long as you can."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2010 Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival

The movies are novelty. The stories are unpredictable. The talents are a mix of flag bearers and an emerging new breed. These are what make the 6th Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival a highly anticipated event when it opens at the Shang Cineplex of Edsa Shangri-La Plaza. Its equally awaited awards night will be held on November 14 at the Dolphy Theater of the ABS-CBN.

Spearheaded by the country's number 1 movie cable channel Cinema One, and helmed by its Director for Programming Ronald Arguelles, this year's festival is anticipated to be a success and is part of the ongoing 16 Year Anniversary of Cinema One's leadership in local cinema. The festival will also award its Cinema One Original Tribute to two filmmakers who are pillars in local cinema: Celso Ad Castillo and Lav Diaz. This award and tribute was given to director Danny Zialcita as its first recipient.

Chosen through careful deliberation from over 100 entries, this year's seven finalists possess liberating out-of-the-box storytelling. They have potentials to open a new genre or combine genres and make names for its directors, writers and actors. The seven finalists and competing digital movie entries this year are: Ang Damgo ni Eleuteria by Remton Siega Zuasola, a novelty comedy of a young provincial lass who becomes a mail order bride to hoist her family from poverty. Third World Happy of writer-director E JSalcedo is a melodrama about a "balikbayan" artist who has spent most of his life abroad but whose perspectives in life changes when he comes home to attend a funeral and reunites with his friends and girlfriend. Astro Mayabang of director Jason Paul Laxamana is a social satire about a financially, socially, intellectually and sexually frustrated man who boasts of his nationalism and Pinoy pride, but ends up humiliated because of his misguided and aggressive ways. Dagim by director Joaquin Pedro Valdes who also co-wrote it with J. Eliseo Sandico is about two farm brothers whose search for their lost father lead them to a company of strange mountain inhabitants.

Ishmael by Richard Somes who gave us last year's most triumphant winner Yanggaw, is about an ex-convict who is ostracized by his neighborhood. Little does he know that this neighborhood he once knew is set to awaken his past. Tsardyer by writer-director Sigfreid Barros-Sanchez is based on a true-to-life story of a young boy who was tasked by rebel soldiers to charge their phones used for their negotiations with the government while holding the media people they kidnapped. Layang Bilanggo is a family drama about a fugitive on the run who yearns for the love of his daughter that he abandoned several years ago and disguises in an attempt to get near her.

Catch all of the film entries in the 2010 Cinema One Originals which promises to enrich all movie audiences. These movies are produced and owned by Cinema One Cable Channel and the Creative Programs, Inc. through this annual film festival project.

2010 Cinema One Originals Digital Film Festival:
[venue: Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Shaw Blvd. cor. EDSA, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, Philippines]

10 November, 2010 (Wednesday)
12:00 - Wanted:Border
02:00 - Paano Ko Sasabihin
04:00 - The Cinema of Celso Ad Castillo
07:00 - Confessional
09:00 - Ishmael

11 November, 2010 (Thursday)
12:00 - Ishmael
2:00 - The Cinema of Celso Ad Castillo
4:00 - Yanggaw
7:00 - Third World Happy
9:00 - Dagim

12 November, 2010 (Friday)
12:00 - Third World Happy
2:00 - Dagim
4:00 - Ishmael
7:00 - Astro Mayabang
9:00 - Tsardyer

13 November, 2010 (Saturday)
12:00 - Astro Mayabang
2:00 - Tsardyer
4:00 - Ishmael
6:00 - Third World Happy
8:00 - Layang Bilanggo
10:00 - Ang Damgo

14 November, 2010 (Sunday)
11:30 - Layang Bilanggo
1:30 - Ang Damgo
3:30 - Third World Happy
5:30 - Astro Mayabang
7:30 - Tsardyer
9:30 - Dagim

15 November, 2010 (Monday)
11:30 - Astro Mayabang
1:30 - Dagim
3:30 - Layang Bilanggo
5:30 - Ang Damgo
7:30 - Tsardyer
9:30 - Ishmael

16 November, 2010 (Tuesday)
12:00 - Layang Bilanggo
2:00 - Ang Damgo
4:00 - Third World Happy
6:00 - Tsardyer
8:00 - Dagim
10:00 - Astro Mayabang


Monday, November 01, 2010

John Carpenter returns with Darkchylde

The Master of Horror is set to bring you the girl of your dreams. John Carpenter is onboard to direct Darkchylde, based on the comic by Randy Queen about a good hearted southern teen cursed to become the creatures from her many recurring nightmares. Every time Ariel Chylde transforms, she sheds her skin and a new nightmare emerges from her Id to act out her deepest, darkest impulses.

John Carpenter and Sandy King’s Storm King Productions have allied with Randy and Sarah Queen’s Darkchylde Ent. to produce the film, following the release of test footage created by Richard Taylor’s Academy Award Winning Weta Workshop. (The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, King Kong, The Hobbit)

John Carpenter says, “Randy Queen’s hijacked angel, Ariel Chylde, is the best young female character since Laurie Strode in Halloween. Bringing Ariel and her dark mysteries to life should be quite an adventure for us all.”

Adds Queen, “I’m beyond thrilled that John Carpenter, one of our most important, and legendary genre directors, and the man responsible for such landmark films as THE THING, and HALLOWEEN has come onboard with Weta Workshop to help bring the nightmarish tale of Ariel Chylde to the silver screen. As a horror fan, the thought of Carpenter and Weta together, beautiful dreamscapes, and multiple transformations, makes me incredibly excited. There is a reason nearly his entire catalogue has, or is being remade, and it’s because Carpenter is a genius.”

Offering a stark contrast to super hero comics, Darkchylde was a breakout sensation of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, garnering immediate acclaim, and an unusually large female fanbase. The property went on to outsell Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman in both domestic and foreign audiences, and has been realized in toys, trading cards, apparel, lunch boxes, mini busts, and more recently a hit crossover with Top Cow, and a statue from PopCultureShockToys. Fans can now read the Ariel Chylde saga online via Wowio and and a trade paperback collecting the “Legacy” and “Redemption” series of books ships in January from Image Comics.

John Carpenter is an acclaimed director, screenwriter, producer, and composer, who won an academy award for his short film while still just a student at USC. His storied career includes such seminal films as Halloween, The Thing, Escape from New York, Starman, Christine, In the Mouth of Madness, Assault on Precinct 13, They Live, and The Fog. His most recent outing, The Ward, starring Amber Heard as an institutionalized woman tormented by a sinister spirit, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.