Saturday, June 27, 2009

Robbie Williams in Concert

Robbie Williams in Concert
3 concerts on 1 DVD
(Tracker is gone) :(


Robbie Williams - Live at the Albert (2001)

1. Have You Met Miss Jones
2. Mack the Knife
3. Straighten Up and Fly Right
4. Let's Face the Music and Dance
5. Well Did You Evah (with Jon Lovitz)
6. The Lady is a Tramp
7. Things (with Jane Horrocks)
8. One For My Baby
9. Mr. Bo Jangles
10. I Will Talk and Hollywood Will Listen
11. Do Nothin Till You Hear From Me
12. Beyond the Sea
13. Me & My Shadow
14. Ain't That a Kick in the Head
15. It Was a Very Good Year
16. My Way
17. My Way (Reprise)

Robbie Williams - The Robbie Williams Show (2002)

1. Trouble
2. Handsome Man
3. Rock DJ
4. Strong
5. Something Beautiful
6. Feel
7. Have You Met Miss Jones
8. Mr Bojangles
9. One For My Baby
10. Ain't That A Kick In The Head
11. Monsoon
12. Hot Fudge
13. No Regrets
14. Nan's Song
15. Me And My Monkey
16. One Fine Day
17. Come Undone
18. Angels - Robbie Williams
19. Listen To The Music
20. Everything Changes
21. Revolution

Robbie Williams - Live In Berlin (2005)

1. Intro
2. Ghosts
3. Feel
4. A Place To Crash
5. Supreme
6. The Trouble With Me
7. Advertising Space
8. Spread Your Wings
9. Angels
10. Millennium
11. Come Undone
12. Sin Sin Sin
13. Tripping
14. Rock DJ
15. Make Me Pure
16. Outro

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson & Farrah Fawcett

Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)

Farrah Fawcett (February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009)

May they rest in peace.

(Michael Jackson tribute video made by jodygeary1986

News Flash >> IMDb

Michael Jackson Memorial Service
Staples Center Los Angeles - 7 July 2009

(15 parts)

Most memorable words from Al Sharpton:
"There was nothing strange about Michael, it was strange what he had to deal with"

Upcoming: The Last Airbender (2010)

The Last Airbender is an upcoming 2010 live action fantasy film adaptation of the first season of the Emmy-winning animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. The movie is the first film in the planned The Last Airbender trilogy. It will be marketed and released by Paramount Pictures, and Nickelodeon Movies. The series, influenced by Asian art, mythology, and various martial arts fighting styles, was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Adapted, directed, and produced by M. Night Shyamalan, the film will star Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, and Dev Patel as Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Prince Zuko, respectively. Filming began in mid-March 2009; the movie is scheduled to be released in The United States on July 2, 2010.

On January 8, 2007, it was announced that Shyamalan would write, direct and produce the live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an animated TV series on the children's cable channel Nickelodeon, a series influenced by Asian art, mythology and various martial-arts fighting styles. The movie will be produced for Paramount Pictures' MTV Films and Nick Movies. The trade paper Variety later reported Shyamalan would film Avatar after The Happening.

(Slumdog Millionaire star) Dev Patel as Zuko

According to an interview with the co-creators in SFX Magazine, Shyamalan came across Avatar when his daughter wanted to be Katara for Halloween. Intrigued, Shyamalan researched and watched the series with his family. "Watching Avatar has become a family event in my house ... so we are looking forward to how the story develops in season three," said Shyamalan. "Once I saw the amazing world that Mike and Bryan created, I knew it would make a great feature film." According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Shyamalan will begin filming Avatar: The Last Airbender in May 2009; he will need four or five huge soundstages in the Philadelphia area to produce this film. On April 15, 2008, Paramount and Nickelodeon announced the official title for the film will be The Last Airbender. Also announced was the release date, July 2, 2010. The Last Airbender is currently the only movie announced for the July 4th holiday weekend of that year.

Controversy quickly arose over the casting of the film, an all-white cast for a predominantly Asian-themed show. The casting of these white actors triggered negative fan reaction marked by accusations of racism and a letter-writing campaign. On Martin Luther King Day, Derek Kirk Kim wrote a negative response to the allegedly racist casting, saying, "What if someone made a “fantasy” movie in which the entire world was built around African culture. Everyone is wearing ancient African clothes, African hats, eating traditional African food, writing in an African language, living in African homes, all encompassed in an African landscape...but everyone is white." Actor Jackson Rathbone dismissed the complaints, saying "I think it's one of those things where I pull my hair up, shave the sides, and I definitely need a tan. It's one of those things where, hopefully, the audience will suspend disbelief a little bit."

The Last Airbender (2010) - Official Trailer #1 [HQ]

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Donnie Darko: Documentaries & extras

Documentaries & extras only

During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. He returns home the next morning to find that a jet engine has crashed through his bedroom. As he tries to figure out why he survived and tries to deal with people in his town, like the school bully, his conservative health teacher, and a self-help guru, Frank continues to turn up in Donnie's mind, causing him to commit acts of vandalism and worse.

The new Director's Cut includes a production diary of the film (with optional commentary by Director of Photography Steven Poster), a story-board to screen featurette, the Director's cut theatrical trailer, They Made Me Do It Too ,The Cult of Donnie Darko and the #1 Fan: A Darkomentary.

  • Menu and intro: 00:01.....1:15
  • Donnie Darko Production Diary: 01:15.....54:12 [IMDB]
  • "They Made Me Do It Too" - The Cult Of Donnie Darko: 54:13.....1:22:16
  • Storyboard-to-Screen Featurette: 1:22:17.....1:30:15
  • #1 Fan: A Darkomentary: 1:30:16.....1:43:32 [IMDB]
  • Director's Cut Theatrical Trailer: 1:43:33.....1:44:36
Included as a bonus feature on the Director's Cut edition of "Donnie Darko," the 'Production Diary' will interest both fans of the movie and film school wannabees. The footage appears to have been gathered by a crew member (Michael Hoy) without much else to do and with no crew but his lonesome. The sound is strictly camera mike and talking to the lens is kept to a minimum. The structure mimics the countdown format of the film as each days sequence moves closer to picture wrap.

The 'diary' maintains a fly-on-the set perspective that is sometime tedious unless one chooses to view this extra with the extra extra commentary track of cinematographer Steven B. Poster. In this mode, the piece truly comes alive as Poster walks the audience through the 28 day shooting schedule. 28 days was also the time Donnie is told by Frank that the world will end. Poster comments are heavy on camera department inside baseball which makes for a fascinating break down of the rigors of a difficult production on a low budget.

The most revealing insight here is that the crew had no idea what director Richard Kelly had in mind as they slaved away through all night shoots to gather the pieces for a puzzling film. Nevertheless, all seem to rise to the occasion to give their best and the results show in the finished product. Another interesting angle is how a young Jake Gyllenhaal flips from cast clown to on screen disturbed teen, a performance Kelly reveals in the films commentary track the actor based on the director himself. Watching Kelly work as a new filmmaker with quiet confidence while hiding an internalized terror of failure makes this choice increasingly clear.

Finally, it is a joy to see Drew Barrymore as herself, a testament to her professionalism and good heartedness. No diva here!

Life of Pi (2003)

I Once Caught a Bengal Tiger This-s-s-s Big.

With over 1250 reviews already registered for LIFE OF PI, I first thought there could be nothing more to say about this marvelous novel. But after scanning the most recent 100 reviews, I began to wonder what book many of those reviewers had read. Had I relied on 98 of those reviews, I would have expected a far different book than the one I actually read.

Let's begin with what LIFE OF PI isn't. It's not a Man against Nature survival story. It's not a story about zoos or wild animals or animal husbandry. It's not ROBINSON CRUSOE or SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON. It's not a literary version of CASTAWAY or OPEN WATER, and it's not a "triumph against all odds, happily ever after" rescue story. To classify it as such would be like classifying THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA as a story about a poor fisherman or MOBY DICK as a sea story. Or THE TRIAL as a courtroom drama, THE PLAGUE as a story of an epidemic, HEART OF DARKNESS as a story about slavery, or ANIMAL FARM as an animal adventure.

Martel's story line is already well-known: a fifteen-year-old boy, the son of a zookeeper in Pondicherry, India survives a shipwreck several days out of Manila. He is the lone human survivor, but his lifeboat is occupied by a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, an injured zebra, a hyena, and an orangutan. In relatively short order and true Darwinian fashion, their numbers are reduced to just two: the boy Piscene Molitor Patel, and the tiger, Richard Parker. By dint of his zoo exposure and a fortuitously positioned tarpaulin, Pi (as he is called) manages to establish his own territory on the lifeboat and even gains alpha dominance over Richard Parker. At various points in their 227-day ordeal, Pi and the tiger miss being rescued by an oil tanker, meet up with another shipwreck survivor, and discover an extraordinary algae island before finally reaching safety.

When Pi retells the entire story to two representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Transport searching for the cause of the sinking, they express deep disbelief, so he offers them a second, far more mundane but believable story that parallels the first one. They can choose to believe the more fantastical first one despite its seeming irrationality (Pi is, after all, an irrational number) and its necessary leap of faith, or they can accept the second, far more rational version, more heavily grounded in our everyday experiences.

LIFE OF PI is an allegory, the symbolic expression of a deeper meaning through a tale acted out by humans, animals, and in this case, even plant life. Yann Martel has crafted a magnificently unlikely tale involving zoology and botany, religious experience, and ocean survival skills to explore the meaning of stories in our lives, whether they are inspired by religion to explain the purpose of life or generated by our own psyches as a way to understand and interpret the world around us.

Martel employs a number of religious themes and devices to introduce religion as one of mankind's primary filters for interpreting reality. Pi's active adoption and participation in Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity establish him as a character able to relate his story through the lens of the world's three major religions. Prayer and religious references abound, and his adventures bring to mind such Old Testament scenes as the Garden of Eden, Daniel and the lion's den, the trials of Job, and even Jonah and the whale. Accepting Pi's survival story as true, without supporting evidence, is little different than accepting New Testament stories about Jesus. They are matters of faith, not empiricism.

In the end, however, LIFE OF PI takes a broader view. All people are storytellers, casting their experiences and even their own life events in story form. Martel's message is that all humans use stories to process the reality around them, from the stories that comprise history to those that explain the actions and behaviors of our families and friends. We could never process the chaotic stream of events from everyday life without stories to help us categorize and compartmentalize them. Yet we all choose our own stories to accomplish this - some based on faith and religion, some based on empiricism and science. The approach we choose dictates our interpretation of the world around us.

LIFE OF PI bears a faint resemblance to the movie BIG FISH, also a story about storytelling and how we understand and rationalize our own lives through tales both mundane and tall. Martel's book is structured as a story within a story within a story, planned and executed in precisely 100 chapters as a mathematical counterpoint to the endlessly irrational and nonrepeating value of pi. The book is alternately harrowing and amusing, deeply rational and scientific but wildly mystical and improbable. It is also hugely entertaining and highly readable, as fluid as the water in which Pi floats. Anyone who enjoys literature as a vehicle for contemplating the human condition should find in LIFE OF PI a delicious treat. By Steve Koss

De Brug (1990)

Het verhaal - ontleend aan een boek van Anton Coolen

Met de serie De brug, uitgezonden door de KRO in 1990, werd het nieuwe decennium op televisie ingeluid. De serie, grotendeels opgenomen in het Limburgse Stevensweert, gaat over dokter Anton Meerdink die met zijn vrouw Loes eind jaren '30 in het fictieve dorp Weerde komt wonen. De bewoners van het Brabantse plattelandsplaatsje moeten wennen aan hun nieuwe dokter en zijn stadse manieren. Tegelijkertijd is de aanleg van een brug over de Maas bij Weerde inzet van een strijd tussen aannemer Brenner en Jonker van Weerde-Lawieck. Ook Anton wordt geacht zich hiermee te bemoeien, maar hij heeft andere dingen aan zijn hoofd. Een van zijn patiëntjes blijkt zwanger te zijn van haar eigen broertje. Anton vraagt hierbij hulp van Ruth Oldenzaal, die hij kent van een congres. Daarmee zet hij zijn huwelijk op het spel.

Hoofdrollen in deze achtdelige serie waren voor Marc Klein Essink (hij verliet hiervoor de serie Medisch Centrum West), Carine Crutzen (Pleidooi, Oud geld), Tom Jansen (Zwarte sneeuw), Lou Landré (Flodder), Frederique Huydts (GTST), Rik van Uffelen (De geheime dienst), Cor van Rijn (De Zevensprong), Barbara Feldbrugge, Hugo Haenen (Switch, Wij Alexander), Marco Bakker, Jaap Stobbe (Poppenkraam, Baantjer) en Freark Smink (Spijkerhoek). Credits: KRO.

Foto's van een andere bron

Meer info op: Neerlands Filmdoek


Miss Potter (2006)

Because you are fond of fairy tales . . .

... Beatrix Potter wrote to one of her favorite children in 1901, "I have made you a story all for yourself, a new one that nobody has read before."

Now, a century later, "Miss Potter" (directed by Chris Noonan, starring Rene Zellweger) has a new story to tell, and quite a fairy tale it is, too, with all the delightful magic of one of Beatrix Potter's own stories: winsome characters, luscious settings, strong period details. I was charmed by this film (viewed on DVD, with all the extras), and spent an enchanted evening watching it. As a movie, it is fine family entertainment--something that's hard to come by, these days.

But the film has been widely billed as a biopic, and if you were looking for a story that's true to Beatrix's life, this one might mislead you. Richard Maltby (who wrote the script and spent some 10 years trying to get it produced) and Chris Noonan have teamed up to give us a lovely fairy tale, but one that is based on some fairly fundamental misrepresentations of Beatrix's real life.

Take that elaborate Christmas party, for instance, in a festooned Potter mansion. This dramatically pivotal event could never have happened, for Rupert and Helen Potter were Dissenters who did not celebrate Christmas--much to Beatrix's disappointment, as a child longing for a tree and the trimmings. (In life, both the Potters seem to have been much more dour people than their on-screen representations.)

Or take those childhood visits to the Lake Districts, which never happened either. The Potters holidayed in Scotland until Beatrix was 16. Which means that she could not have met Willie Heelis, who was nearly five years younger than Beatrix, anyway (not older, as the film portrays him). Oh, and Willie was the son of a rector and the Heelis family belonged to quite a different social class from the one in which Willie is placed in the film. More misrepresentation (although the on-screen Willie is a real charmer.)

But the most unfortunate distortion of all is the decision to collapse the eight years it took for Beatrix to become independent enough to leave her parents. The film portrayed Norman's death as the lever that pried her from the Potters' grasp. Not so. Beatrix bought Hill Top a few months after Norman died in 1905, but did not leave her parents until 1913, when she married Willie. For eight long, difficult years, Beatrix commuted from her parents' home or holiday residence to Sawrey. During that time, she could get away only five or six times a year, sometimes for a few days, sometimes for as much as a fortnight. Norman's death was indeed the prod she needed to make a change, but it wasn't until Willie offered her another choice that she was finally able to free herself. Compressing this long-running family conflict into a matter of months and hinging the whole thing on Norman's death distorts Beatrix's character and makes her seem more decisively "modern" than she was in real life.

As a novelist engaged in creating historical fictions (some of them featuring Beatrix Potter), I am always aware of the challenges of representing real people in fictional contexts, and worry when real lives are seriously distorted to make a story more entertaining. I enjoyed this film as a film, and give it five stars for its entertainment value. As a biopic, I'd give it a two, three to be generous. Putting the two together, a four-minus.

Oh, and for the real story of Beatrix's life, you'll want to read Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature by Linda Lear.

Susan Wittig Albert is the author of The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter: The Tale of Hill Top Farm (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter), The Tale of Holly How, The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood (Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter Mysteries), The Tale of Hawthorn House: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and four other forthcoming novels in the series.

Miss Potter trailer

Summer (2008)

Heartwarming and real

Summer is the story of a man of intelligence and promise struggling to reclaim his life. Shaun has had twelve years to reflect on an intense summer of love, sex and loyalty, but his best friend’s imminent death forces him on a journey to confront his past. Starring Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, Carla’s Song, The Full Monty) as Shaun, Steve Evets as Daz, and Rachael Blake (Lantana, Derailed) as Katy, the film also introduces a cast of exciting and fresh young talent to play the lead roles as the narrative moves through three separate eras in the characters’ lives

Robert Carlyle (28 WEEKS LATER, FLOOD) stars as Shaun, a down-on-his-luck petrol station worker in SUMMER, the compelling drama by Scottish realist director Kenneth Clenaan. Shaun also acts as unofficial carer to his wheelchair-bound friend Daz (Steve Evets, LIFE ON MARS), with the pair sharing a Derbyshire council house with Daz's teenage son. Shaun's mundane life leaves plenty of room for nostalgic reflection, with one heady youthful summer playing heavily on his mind. The film moves between three separate time frames; the grim present, that same coming-of-age summer spent with childhood love Katy and a then able-bodied Daz, and the mysterious events surrounding Daz's disability. When devastating news in the present threatens to change Shaun's life forever, he is forced to confront his past, track down Katy (Rachael Blake, CLAPHAM JUNCTION), and reclaim his future.


Funny Lady (1975)

How Lucky Can You Get

When Barbra Streisand played Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, she brought to life a sympathetic yet strong-headed performer of stage and radio. In the sequel, Funny Lady, Brice comes off as a harsher woman, slightly bitchy, without the tremendous charm she possessed in the first film. Herbert Ross takes over as director (William Wyler oversaw Funny Girl), and the film just seems to get away from him. This sequel picks up during the Great Depression, when even the great star Fanny Brice is suffering. Along comes Billy Rose (James Caan), a small-time hustler who's out to make it big in show biz. The two pair up, both professionally and romantically, although things are uncertain when her first husband, Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif), reappears on the scene. Much to the movie's detriment, Funny Lady concentrates more on Brice's professional life than on her personal life, as the first film does. The songs are elaborately staged numbers that Brice performs in the theaters, and while they are visually lush and spectacular, they lack conviction. Caan is solid in his role as the bumbling producer, but overall, the film is a disappointment. If you want more Barbra and Brice, rewatch Funny Girl. --Jenny Brown

Barbra Streisand doesn't talk about FUNNY LADY that much. She did not include any songs or references to it in her 1992 CD collection "Just For The Record". (The FUNNY LADY soundtrack was not recorded for her record label - another possible reason why it was not included).

Several of the Streisand biographies "quote" Streisand as saying that Ray Stark (the producer behind the successful FUNNY GIRL) would have to drag her to court in order to make FUNNY LADY. It is also said that Streisand's burgeoning love affair with former hairdresser Jon Peters sustained her during the filming of FUNNY LADY - as if the the romance made up for the fact that the work on a FUNNY GIRL sequel was unfulfilling.

Whatever the true story is, we now have a brand new FUNNY LADY DVD from Columbia Pictures. For people like me who made the jump from VHS to DVD (and skipped the laser disk revolution in the 90's), it is wonderful to finally view this film in all its WIDESCREEN glory! James Wong Howe (no relation, although I'm proud to share his surname) photographed FUNNY LADY, and it looks good! The color palette utilized by the film's designers is a bit bawdy for my tastes. In some scenes, though, the design is wonderful - especially in the "Clap Hands" musical number with Ben Vereen.

As for FUNNY LADY, the movie, it has held up well. Some Streisand fans jokingly refer to the Fanny Brice character in FUNNY GIRL as "good Fanny" and the character in FUNNY LADY as "evil Fanny". The script for FUNNY LADY completely changes the character. Fanny, grown up, is shrewd, cynical, and curt. She calls everyone "kid". After not having seen this film for several years, I think Streisand does a great job! "Fanny Brice" in FUNNY LADY is a true character that Streisand plays with an edge. She's not a particularly attractive character - a little annoying - but, nonetheless, a fully realized character. I think some FUNNY GIRL fans want the melodramatic Fanny back for FUNNY LADY. They want more suffering and torch songs and romance. The love affair in FUNNY LADY is not combustible. James Caan (as Billy) is a schmuck. Fanny sings a song called "Isn't This Better?" One of the lyrics says: "Passion is fine, but passion burns fast. Passion's design seems never to last." FUNNY LADY, I think, is about Fanny's decision to love again, but in a different, "safe and serene" way than she loved Nick in FUNNY GIRL.

Pictures are from another source.

Clip from Funny Lady

Monday, June 22, 2009

Knowing (2009)

Strictly By the Numbers.

"Knowing" achieves a level of greatness so few science fiction films ever achieve. It's not merely an engaging mystery--it's a deeply thought-provoking fable that's just as frightening as it is intelligent, and it ultimately makes a statement so profound that I was left completely awestruck. I don't often have an experience like that at the movies, and for that, I'm indebted to director Alex Proyas and writers Ryne Douglas Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, and Stewart Hazeldine. They've successfully crafted one of the year's most stimulating films, taking the audience on a suspenseful, emotional, and ultimately (albeit unconventionally) redemptive journey that poses interesting questions on the nature of things. A movie like this could have easily placed technical achievement over character development, and thankfully, that didn't happen; we care just as much about the people as we do about the spectacular special effects.

The story begins in 1959, when an elementary school class is asked to draw pictures of what the world will look like fifty years later. What they draw will be put into a time capsule, which will be reopened in the year 2009. Rather than draw a picture, the quiet, disturbed Lucinda Embry (Lara Robinson) writes out a series of numbers on both the front and the back of a piece of paper.

Flash forward to the present day. We meet an MIT astrophysics professor named John Koestler (Nicholas Cage), who teaches his students that two theories on the nature of the universe have been proposed. On the one side, we have the determinist view, which states that everything happens as the result of a predetermined--and more importantly, a predictable--sequence of events. How, for example, could the Earth be located at just the correct distance from the sun to sustain life? On the other side, we have the random view, which states that absolutely nothing can be predicted, that life, the universe, and everything happened as the result of cosmic coincidences. What exactly does Koestler believe? Here are some clues: His wife died some years earlier, and he's openly stated that the existence of Heaven can't be proven.

As it so happens, John's young son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), goes to the same school that Lucinda Embry attended fifty years earlier. The day comes when the time capsule is unearthed and opened, and lo and behold, Caleb gets the envelope containing the numbers Lucinda wrote. He then takes it home, thinking the numbers might mean something. John initially thinks nothing of it ... until he places his wet glass of hard liquor on it and leaves a ring. Was it a predetermined act or a random act that led to a ring being formed around very specific numbers (the significance of which I won't reveal)? More important, was it a predetermined act or a random act that landed Caleb with the page of numbers in the first place? While I won't say what the numbers refer to (and this is in spite of the many ads that give plenty of hints), I will say that what John discovers changes him forever, forcing to consider ideas he never thought he would be able to consider.

To describe more of the plot would do you and the film a great disservice. Much of the story thrives on an engrossing mystery that only gets more unsettling with every passing scene. Visual motifs, such as shiny black pebbles, burning landscapes, and silhouetted figures emerging from the forest add great psychological weight. The same can be said for a house so old and ramshackle that, under different circumstances, it would be mistaken as being haunted. It ties in wonderfully with the psychological states of the characters inhabiting it. John is a solemn, broken man, estranged from his father, often detached from his son, occasionally dependent on a bottle of alcohol to drown his sorrows. Caleb is expectedly precocious but surprisingly fragile, always yearning for that which has been lost somewhere along the way. For the first time in a great while, we have a story that can actually support such characters; were it not for the awesome nature of the final fifteen minutes, John and Caleb would be nothing more than melodramatic clichés.

There are two more characters of great importance. One is Lucinda Embry's daughter, Diana Wayland (Rose Byrne), who enters John's life in a way that reaffirms the notion that nothing happens randomly. The other is Diana's daughter, Abby (also played by Lara Robinson), who, like Caleb, has been contacted by the creepy silhouetted figures, eventually called the Whispering People. Watch John and Diana as they search through Lucinda's abandoned home in the middle of the woods--the fear they express is disturbingly convincing.

Like last summer's "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," "Knowing" is one of the best cinematic surprises of recent memory, a meaningful and absorbing allegory made with intention of challenging the audience in matters of spirituality. It's difficult to say whether or not this film takes a religious stance; that would depend on your own view of the nature of the universe. There are, however, a number of religious implications, the least subtle of which is revealed in the final shot. This might account for some early reviews, where words like "overwrought" and "preposterous" came up. From my perspective, those who feel that way have failed to look any deeper than what was presented in the ads, which only scratched the surface. Contrary to what trailers and TV spots have been promising, this is not your average science fiction thriller. Serious time, effort, and thought went into "Knowing," one of the best films I've seen so far this year. By Chris Pandolfi

Knowing (2009) Movie Trailer

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Spion van Oranje (2009)

"Leuk stofje, daar zou je een vestje van moeten maken"

Als Nederland wordt bedreigd door de terroristische tweelingbroer van de onhandige couturier Francois van Vliet, is Francois de enige die ons kan redden. Francois moet de plaats van zijn broer, Bruno, innemen om hem te stoppen. Bruno beraamt plannen om Nederland te vernietigen en Francois moet zich ontpoppen tot redder des vaderlands.Hij wordt in deze missie bijgestaan door geheimagenten Mustafa en Lena. Het is echter nog maar de vraag of Francois zelf niet meer schade aanricht dan zijn broer."

Met in de hoofdrollen: Paul de Leeuw, Najib Amhali en Jennifer Hoffman en daarnaast rollen voor Nelly Frijda, Plien van Bennekom, Fred Goessens, Hans Kesting en cameo's van veel bekende Nederlanders.

Jammer dat de film zo afgekraakt wordt, ik vind em leuk!

Hokjes? Oliehoek is er niet bang voor. Zijn bioscoopdebuut Vet Hard (2005) was ook al een gitzwarte actiekomedie. Maar: ‘Het zijn nu eenmaal films die ik graag zie en graag wil maken’. Bovendien is Spion van Oranje géén Vet Hard 2, benadrukt hij. Het is iets minder duister, iets cartoonesker. ‘Ik droom ervan een James Bond-film te maken, maar met Nederlandse budgetten lukt dat natuurlijk niet. Dan maar soort een anti-James Bond, dacht ik.’

In Spion van Oranje is dat de homoseksuele modeontwerper François (Paul de Leeuw), een geheimagent tegen wil en dank. Zijn kwaadaardige tweelingbroer Bruno (ook Paul de Leeuw) wil een aantal typisch Nederlandse doelwitten opblazen en François moet dat zien te voorkomen. Verder valt er uit de opmerkingen van de acteurs tijdens deze 39ste draaidag op te maken dat bruiningskabines, sokken, het Paleis op de Dam en vetafzuigmachines belangrijke delen van het verhaal uitmaken.

Het schema van de draaidag leest als een jongensdroom. ‘Superauto stopt abrupt’. ‘De ontploffing’. ‘Water knalt huizenhoog’. Maar vooralsnog worden er simpele rijshots opgenomen langs Amhali, Jennifer Hoffman en Fred Goessens. ‘Dit is materiaal voor de trailer’, roept Oliehoeks vaste cameraman Rolf Dekens spottend. Het enige gevaar is dat hij van zijn karretje kan tuimelen bij een plotselinge stop – wat ook gebeurt.

Ook Amhali en Hoffman – beiden van top tot teen koperbruin gespoten – zijn inmiddels anders gewend. ‘Het is lastig hoor’, benadrukt Amhali. ‘Én acteren, én op de juiste plaats in het shot draaien, én ook nog oppassen dat je die kabels niet in je gezicht krijgt. Zie je dit? Hier?’ Hij wijst naar zijn nek waar een dikke laag make-up elke blessure verdoezelt. ‘Nee? Geen striem? Verdomme! Heb ik iets, zie je het niet!’ Hoffman houdt wel een litteken over aan haar echte acteerdebuut in de bioscoop. Ze is een moedervlek kwijtgeraakt, vanochtend. ‘Ik doe voorlopig alleen nog maar hemdjes aan. Als mensen dan vragen wat ik daar heb, kan ik nonchalant zeggen, ‘Oh, niets. Een stunt. Bij filmopnames.’

Voor Oliehoek is de actie inmiddels dagelijkse kost. ‘Tijdens het draaien zit je wel in een adrenalinekick, maar dat is omdat je zoveel moet doen in één dag. Dus je kunt nog niet echt genieten van de dingen die je laat ontploffen. Pas als je thuis zit en aan het verwerken bent, denk je godsamme, wat hebben we nu weer allemaal gedaan?’ Toch is het geen moment gevaarlijk voor de acteurs; als er echt risico’s zijn, nemen stuntmannen hun rol over.

Bij Oliehoek gaat het niet alleen om stunts, ook om de knipoog. ‘De uitdaging is geloofwaardig maken dat de karakters die stunts echt uitvoeren. Dat je bij een achtervolging gelooft dat Paul de Leeuw in de auto zit. De grootste kick is mensen voor de gek te houden.’
Dat lukt aardig als een crewlid aan komt lopen met Nelly Frijda over de schouder. Althans, zo lijkt het. Het is een pop die naar haar gemodelleerd is. Paul de Leeuw krijgt de pop omgedrapeerd terwijl hij moet spelen dat hij met een parachute naar beneden zeilt. Hij flapt wat met zijn armen. Een repetitie van zeker een uur; een take, en het zit erop. Niet voor niets roemen de acteurs Oliehoeks goede voorbereiding, snelle beslissingen en zijn samenwerking met Dekens.

‘Het trekt wel een spoor op mijn 46-jarige leven’, verzucht De Leeuw, weer op de grond, met gespeelde dramatiek. Met zijn dubbelrol heeft hij het wel écht zwaarder dan de rest. Maar hij is zelf medeverantwoordelijk voor dat idee: hij bedacht het concept van de film samen met Oliehoek tijdens een na-borrel van zijn programma. Oliehoek had net Vet Hard gemaakt, en De Leeuw was zeer enthousiast. Oliehoek: ‘Ik dacht: ik grijp meteen mijn kans en vraag hem of hij de hoofdrol wil spelen.’ De Leeuw had wel wat spijt achteraf. ‘Ja, waarom doe ik dat nu weer, zo’n dubbelrol? En zou de vergelijking niet komen met Bob en Annie? Nee, het is geen ijdelheid. Misschien omdat ik de lat weer hoger wil leggen, en dat kán ook.’ Hij lacht: ‘Ik heb trouwens nog wel geprobeerd er onderuit te komen, een paar weken voor de opnames.’ Maar hij is nu zeer tevreden. Het zijn echt twee verschillende karakters geworden, benadrukt hij. De terrorist is gek, François is liever en stiller. Hij putte voor de laatste uit zijn ervaringen met Alles is Liefde. ‘Juist het ingetogene van Victor heeft goed uitgepakt. Daarom vond ik ook dat François geen van-dik-hout-zaagt-men-planken-type moest worden. Dat is de film zelf al een beetje, met die vette stunts en ongeloofwaardigheden.’

Hoffman is daarom stiekem wel blij dat ze niet zo op de humor hoeft te spelen, zoals Amhali. De actiekomedie is volgens haar ‘een levensgevaarlijk genre’. ‘Het is een dunne lijn waar je op balanceert. Als je erover heen gaat is het flauw en als je ervoor zit, werkt de grap niet. Van wat ik nu al gezien heb, zitten we er precies bovenop.’ (

Spion van Oranje (Officiële Trailer)

Valkyrie (2008)

Many saw evil. They dared to stop it.

Forget all the negative hype surrounding Valkyrie, because I assure you it is false. Bryan Singer has made a well-crafted thriller that kept me and my family on the edge of our seats until the end - even though we all know what the story's unfortunate outcome. Also, many tabloids were making this out to be the movie that would permanently cripple the career of Tom Cruise. This is entirely false. Cruise delivers a fine performance, and this hatred I can only assume is related to his rather odd personal life. Tom Cruise is as strong of an actor as he ever was, and I won't let something like turning Oprah's couch into a playground deny the fact that the man has talent, and is a truly passionate actor (and seriously, he does have a slight resemblance to Stauffenberg).

The movie is based on the last of fifteen known attempts on the life of German dictator Adolf Hitler (I'm sure everyone will have him in a nice "Five Most Evil People" list), and has Tom Cruise playing Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who of course was the key player in the assassination attempt. Ultimately this attempt failed (as we all know Hitler would die by suicide nine months later), but that doesn't keep Valkyrie from being an addictively engaging film.

Every member of the cast does their part well, not jockeying for superiority in any way. More importantly Cruise does not grandstand in this movie, fading in with the rest of the cast, rather than trying to stand above them like you'd expect, given his past films. Cruise gives a performance similar to 2005's War of the Worlds, where he does a good performance, but he never tries to overpower the other members of the cast. In Valkyrie Tom Cruise is a being a good team player, not trying to steal any glory, and never once does he overact the part.

Using very little CGI Valkyrie is also a wonderful film to look at. The vintage automobiles and aircrafts make this film have a distinct authentic flair that few other war films have (CGI looks like it was only used for the climatic assassination attempt). You can look at this and tell that this is the real deal, with the production team putting careful care into how they want this film to look, unlike most Blockbuster films that try and inflate every aspect of the film rather than aim for reality. Like the performance by Tom Cruise they don't try and overpower the audience with special effects, they simply let the characters slip into the realistic settings.

Also, the complaints about the accents I truly feel are desperate attempts to bash Cruise's performance. It was director Bryan Singer's concept to not use false German accents, and not that of Cruise, or the primarily British cast. I agree with Singer's concept that if feels false, and inaccurate to have people speak in English, but with foreign accents. I know several Germans in real life, and they do not sound very "German" when they speak in English, because the accent is not intended for the English language. I personally feel the desire for English being spoken in German accents comes from decades of WWII films where we've categorized every-single member of the German army, and by them speaking in that accent only is to cliché them and separate them from American audiences. They can speak in German accents, but only if they're speaking in German, because if they aren't it seems to be a tool to keep your common American moviegoer from relating to the characters.

Don't go into Valkyrie expecting to be greeted with a horrifically bad film that you will be able to poke fun at with friends. The movie has been released, and I feel the rumors, and negative hype of been proven decisively false. This isn't a movie to kill Cruise's career, but it won't help him regain love in the American community either (as previously mentioned he doesn't shine so much as mix in with the rest of the cast). It is a very enjoyable dramatization of a true event, and I don't think the material could have been handled much better, even with a full German cast, because Singer's style and method of conveying this story are all very well-done.

Go out and enjoy this dramatization of one of the darkest periods of human history. It is worth every second of your time, and all though it isn't Oscar-worthy it is certainly worth two-hours of your time.

Valkyrie | Movie Trailer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Milk (2008)

The Gay Struggle Personified

When a famous person, like the nation's first openly gay male city supervisor, inspires an acclaimed book (The Mayor of Castro Street) and Oscar-winning documentary (The Times of Harvey Milk), a biopic can seem superfluous at best. Taking over from Oliver Stone and Bryan Singer, Gus Van Sant, whose previous picture was the more experimental Paranoid Park, directs with such grace, he renders the concern moot. Unlike Randy Shilts' biography, which begins at the beginning, Dustin Lance Black's script starts in 1972, just as Milk (Sean Penn, in a finely-wrought performance) and his boyfriend, Scott (James Franco, equally good), move from New York to San Francisco. Milk opens a camera shop on the Castro that becomes a safe haven for victims of discrimination, convincing him to enter politics. With each race he runs, Harvey's relationship with Scott unravels further. Finally, he wins, and the real battle begins as Milk takes on Proposition 6, which denies equal rights to homosexuals. He does what he can to rally politicians, like George Moscone (Victor Garber) and Dan White (Josh Brolin). While the mayor is willing, the conservative board member has reservations, and after Milk fails to back one of White’s pet projects, the die is cast, leading to the murder of two beloved figures. If Van Sant’s film captures Harvey in all his complexities (he was, for instance, a very funny man), Milk also serves as an enticement to grass-roots activism, showing how one regular guy elevated everyone around him, notably Cleve Jones (Emile Hirsch), the ex-street hustler who created the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial. Released in the wake of Proposition 8, California’s anti-gay marriage amendment, Milk is inspirational in the best way: one person can and did make a difference, but the struggle is far from over. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Milk Trailer 2008 trailer

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