Thursday, July 31, 2014

Trailer: The Maze Runner (2014)

From 20th Century Fox comes The Maze Runner, based on the dystopian young adult novel by James Dashner. Yeah, I know, yet another dystopian movie adapted from a young adult novel. But this one stars Dylan O'Brien (MTV's Teen Wolf) along with Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Game of Thrones, Love Actually), and Will Poulter (We're the Millers).

From the official release notes:

When Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys, he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape. Based on the best-selling novel by James Dashner.

The film hit theaters September 19th.

Trailer: Into the Woods (2014)

Disney has released a teaser trailer for Into the Woods, a movie based on Stephen Sondheim's musical starring Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Johnny Depp, and more. From the official release notes:

“Into the Woods” is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

It's just a teaser trailer with no actual singing, but it provides a sense of the film's flavor.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Trailer: Horns (2014)

Daniel Radcliffe, who received a Cosmo Best Actor nomination last year for Kill Your Darlings, stars in the upcoming thriller Horns, to be released in November. From the studio's description:

In the aftermath of his girlfriend's mysterious death, a young man awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples.

Check out the trailer released at ComicCon.

Trailer: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (2014)

Earlier we posted the teaser trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. Now at least we have a full trailer:

Trailers: The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)

It's here at last, the teaser trailer for the final Hobbit film: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Last year's film, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, was the top-nominated film at the 2013 Cosmique Movie Awards, and together with The Lord of the Rings films, the franchise has earned more nominations and awards than any other film franchise in Cosmo history.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Trailer: Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler, Jake Gyllenhaal's crime drama that some critics are calling his creepiest movie since Donnie Darko, now has a trailer.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trailers: 50 Shades of Grey (2015)

The film adaptation of E. L. James' 50 Shades of Grey is scheduled for release, appropriately enough, on Valentine's Day. Still hoping for a redband trailer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Movie Trailers: The Imitation Game (2014)

Coming in November, The Imitation Game is the Weinstein Company's biopic of Alan Turing. From the official synopsis:

In The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Turing went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal.

Last year, Cumberbatch was one of the most-nominated individuals at the 2013 Cosmique Movie Awards, winning Best Male Villain and sharing the Sexiest Cast ensemble award for Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as being nominated individually for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and sharing the ensemble nomination for August: Osage County.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Industry Tidbits - July 17, 2014

Teen Wolf actor Ryan Kelley shows some skin. [The Backlot]

Elaine Stritch, best known for her work on Broadway as well as for playing Alec Baldwin’s cantankerous mother on 30 Rock, has passed away at the age of 89. [The New York Times]

Bryan Cranston will reprise his Tony-winning Broadway performance as President Lyndon Johnson in HBO’s adaptation of All the Way. [Variety]

Bengal Mangle Productions has filed a lawsuit against Seth MacFarlane, claiming that he stole the idea for Ted. [Entertainment Weekly]

Dustin Lance Black, who wrote the screenplays for Milk and J. Edgar, has signed on to adapt A. Scott Berg’s biography Lindbergh for Paramount Television. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Who's Jon Snow's mother? Even Kit Harrington, the actor who plays him on HBO's Game of Thrones, doesn't know. But here's a well-researched very spoilerific theory. [Vulture]

Eleanor Roosevelt's lesbian love letters exposed in Hick: A Love Story at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco. [The Bay Area Reporter]

Elaine Stritch (1925 - 2014)

1925 - 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trailers: Big Hero 6 (2014)

Disney has just released the trailer for Big Hero 6, their first collab with Marvel Comics, which Disney acquired in 2009. The animated sci-fi film is set in the futuristic city of "San Fransokyo," which should look fairly familiar for most Cosmo voters.

Industry Tidbits - July 16, 2014

Universal Television has optioned the rights to openly gay soccer player Robbie Rogers’ life, and plans to develop a fictionalized version of the story as a TV sit-com. [Deadline]

Brooks Wheelan fired from Saturday Night Live, joining Robert Downey, Jr., Billy Crystal, and Jenny Slate as one-season alums. [Queerty

Canadian-born actress Ellen Page, recently of X-Men: Days of Future Past who came out as a lesbian earlier this year, has sold her Studio City home to purchase a new place in very-gay West Hollywood that was formerly owned by Venus Williams. [Just Jared]

Lionsgate is developing a feature film about Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings who lost both of his legs and helped identify the attackers.  [The Hollywood Reporter; Variety]

Actors Kyle Mac and Craig Henderson experience some naked bondage in Netflix’s Hemlock Grove. [OMG Blog - NSFW!]

Ron Howard to direct a documentary about The Beatles – and has the cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon, and Olivia Harrison. [Billboard]

Ansel Elgort, nominated for a Cosmo last year for Carrie, says he’s not a model and please take that shit off of Wikipedia. [Socialite Life]

Sandra Bullock came face-to-face with a stalker who broke into her own home. [E! Online]

Movie Trailers: Credence

#Credence is an indie gay science fiction film that's seeking IndieGoGo crowd-source funding to cover post-production costs. From their website:

#Credence tells the story of a family torn apart during the last evacuation on earth after violent storms have made survival impossible. Hope has been found in the form of new worlds that support human life, however due to limited rocket capacity and life expectancy only children are permitted to evacuate, and even then – only the rich have ended up getting tickets. Our short film follows 2 fathers’ decision to make the ultimate sacrifice to give up all their possessions to ensure the survival of their daughter, and the entire human race.

The trailer looks good. Check it out!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Movie Reviews: Pompeii (2014)

No warning. No escape.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Writers: Janet Scott Batchler, Lee Batchler (screenplay), Michael Robert Johnson

Stars: Kit Harington, Emily Browning, Kiefer Sutherland, Carrie-Ann Moss, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Synopsis: The story has some redeeming qualities, but overall what it gets right, historically, is outweighed by a weak story that’s mostly not enough.

You know nothing, Jon Snow Kit Harrington.

Nothing about picking good films, at least.

In fairness, on paper Pompeii probably looked like a good bet: an action/adventure star-crossed lovers’ romance with the backdrop of a painstakingly recreated historical event, albeit with a few Hollywood flourishes.

Harrington plays a Celtic slave forced to fight as a Roman gladiator who catches the interest of Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of the city’s ruler. Cassia is pursued by Corvus, a Roman Senator who just so happens to be the same person who slaughtered Harrington’s parents and entire Celtic tribe, and now wants Harrington dead, too ... all as the volcano looming above the city belches ominous smoke. As with Titanic, audiences might know the fate of the doomed city but will nevertheless root for the unknown fate of the fictional characters set inside it.

And as with Titanic, director Paul W. S. Anderson takes great pains to recreate ancient Pompeii with great historical accuracy – in some regards, at least. Special effects artists relied on photographs and recent video footage of other volcanoes, and while the lightning strikes might seem like a Hollywood embellishment, but vulcanologists have praised the lightning’s accuracy and other details. And historians have praised the meticulous recreation of the city of Pompeii which accurately contours to the excavated ruins.

Anderson admits to taking certain other liberties for the sake of the story, including condensing the timeline of the eruption and allowing women more freedom than the ancient Roman Empire would have allowed. Audiences will forgive such alterations if they make the story better. Unfortunately for Pompeii, they don’t.

Visually, Pompeii is sumptuous, especially Harrington’s sculpted body which audiences will be forgiven for assuming (incorrectly) is another CGI effect. But the story is weak and predictable. Harrington and Browning have virtually no chemistry and their romance, based on a few seconds of screen time, isn’t believable. (Titanic may have taken three hours, but that’s at least in part because James Cameron needed to properly develop his characters.) Kiefer Sutherland’s villain is one-dimensional, cartoonishly cropping up whenever more tension is needed, somehow magically always knowing where our protagonists will be.

The story has some redeeming qualities, but overall what it gets right, historically, is outweighed by a weak story that’s mostly not enough.

Rating: 2 ½ stars

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Trailer: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

The Hunger Games franchise has been popular with Cosmo voters, with both The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire each earning seven Cosmique Movie Award nominations.

So some voters will be excited about this teaser trailer for the upcoming sequel: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1).

Friday, July 4, 2014

Movie Reviews: Jezebel (1938)

The South's Greatest Romance!

Director: William Wyler

Writers: Clements Ripley, Abem Finkel, John Huston (screen play); Owen Davis, Sr. (play); Robert Buckner, Louis F. Edelman (uncredited contributors to treatment)

Stars: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent, Donald Crisp, Margaret Lindsay, Fay Bainter

Synopsis: Although Gone With the Wind, the other Southern belle drama of the 1930s, is overall a superior film, Bette Davis’ performance in Jezebel is not to be missed.

Jezebel helped make Bette Davis a box office superstar, for which she won her second Best Actress Oscar, and costars Henry Fonda in the prime of his dashing youth.

Davis plays Julie Marsden, a Southern belle in New Orleans who loses her fiancĂ© because of her rebellious petulance, then seeks to win back his favor. She is labeled a “Jezebel” by her aunt (in an Oscar-winning performance by Fay Bainter) for her attempts to meddle and manipulate others, and like the Jezebel of The Bible, an undue amount of her scandal comes from her brazen attire.

Modern audiences may be a bit startled by the moralizing, the degree to which Bette Davis’ Julie is punished for her willfulness and for wearing the wrong clothing – though in fairness, her harshest criticisms come from manipulating others with tragic consequences. And like Gone With the Wind, the film is a casual apologist for racism, whitewashing the atrocities of slavery by having Davis sing with the well-kept, happy plantation slaves.

Jezebel is the first Bette Davis film I’ve seen of her in her youth, being far more familiar with her raspy, throaty performances in All About Eve, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Death on the Nile, and – my first Bette Davis film – Return From Witch Mountain. I knew her as a talented actress, but I was unprepared for her beauty and her melodic voice. It no longer seems surprising to see her cast as an ingĂ©nue. But even then, the power of her acting is apparent. Witness, for example, the range of emotions her expressive face conveys during her first meeting with Amy.

Though it is widely reported that Jezebel was offered to Bette Davis after she failed to win the role of Scarlett O’Hara for Gone With the Wind, it was filmed long before Gone With the Wind finished casting, and David O. Selznick apparently never seriously considered her for Scarlett despite her being the audience’s favorite in a radio poll. But the two films have striking similarities, albeit important differences. Both show the ravages of the American South, one through the Civil War, the other through an epidemic outbreak of yellow fever nearly a decade before the war. Both feature willful Southern belles who need to be “put in their place” and taught a lesson. Both heroines seek to redeem themselves of their childish selfishness, one through achieving personal independence, the other through self-sacrifice. And both went on to win the Best Actress Oscar.

In the end, Gone With the Wind is overall a superior film, but Bette Davis’ performance in Jezebel is not to be missed.

Rating: 3 ½ stars

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Aquaman has always been one of my favorites

Okay, random post apropos of nothing (except I hear Aquaman has a cameo in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," and there are rumors of a spin-off movie), but Aquaman has long been one of my favorite DC superheroes. I always loved him in the 1970s "Super Friends" television series, and I never understood why other people always gave him such a hard time.

This handy infographic helps explain why:

His powers are pretty bad-ass in the right environment. A summary from the infographic:

  • He can breath underwater
  • He can survive at the bottom of the ocean
  • He has enhanced super senses
  • He's as strong as Superman
  • He has powerful telepathic abilities
  • He can command all aquatic life -- whales, sharks, dolphins, and more.
Oh, sure, he needs to be in the ocean or a great sea for his powers to be particularly useful. But since water covers over 70% of the earth's surface, most of that in oceans, I think that gives him a pretty damn big territory to work with.

I'm not entirely thrilled with the casting of Khal Drogo as Aquaman. Too big and barbarian-like, in my opinion. If I were doing the casting, I'd make him more like a Santa Cruz surfer dude. And I'd tweak the costume: yes to speedos, no to tights. The makers of "Smallville" made a pilot for a potential "Aquaman" series that I was fortunate enough to see, and it did an excellent job capturing my own vision. I think it would have been awesome if it had become a full-fledged series. Sadly, it wasn't picked up.

But regardless, it's plain to me that Aquaman gets a bad rap. His powers are pretty bad-ass.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Movie Reviews: Neighbors (2014)

Family vs. Frat

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Writers: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O'Brien

Stars: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Brian Huskey, Ike Barinholtz, Carla Gallo, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Synopsis: Though a bit mean at times, and Efron’s character is fairly unlikable for parts of the movie, the humor in Neighbors works, albeit at a juvenile level. Rogan and Efron play off each other with a lot of chemistry.

Zac Efron has two bromantic comedies out this year, Neighbors and That Awkward Moment. Of the two, Neighbors is more low-brow but perhaps has broader appeal.

Efron plays the President of a college fraternity that moves next to new parents (Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne) and then wages war on the couple after they call the police to quiet one of the fraternity’s rowdy parties.

Dave Franco (along with Christopher Mintz-Plasse, who costarred with Franco in several “Funny or Die” skits) plays another fraternity brother and gets his career’s breakout nude scene. Efron won the Cosmo two years ago for Actor’s Character You Would Most Like to be Intimate With for The Paperboy, which Franco won the year after for Now You See Me. Will they face off against each other for the award this year?

Though a bit mean at times, and Efron’s character is fairly unlikable for parts of the movie, the humor in Neighbors works, albeit at a juvenile level. Rogan and Efron play off each other with a lot of chemistry in ways that I suspect are largely improvised.

Rating: 3 stars

Movie Reviews: That Awkward Moment (2014)

So ... where is this going?

Director: Tom Gormican

Writer: Tom Gormican

Stars: Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas

Synopsis: That Awkward Moment won’t be for everyone. Like a chick flick, it can be satisfying in the moment but rarely memorable. But it will probably make my list for Best Use of (Gratuitous?) Nudity, and for that reason alone it was worth it.

That Awkward Moment, a film about three guys committed to being single, appears to be targeting guys for their audience. But unlike other buddy films that tend to be hybridized with other genres – like road movies, westerns, and especially action cop films – That Awkward Moment seems to be more of a romantic comedy for guys. A chick flick for dudes. A bromantic comedy.

But surprisingly, it works. Well, it worked for me. It may work for a lot of gay guys happy to finally see Zac Efron’s naked ass – and once again see Miles Teller’s, too. Does it work for straight guys? I honestly have no idea. But if straight girls go to see it to see Zac Efron naked and end up dragging their boyfriends along, I suppose in many ways it’s exactly like a chick flick.

Zac Efron has actually attempted a surprising amount of variety in his young career, from musicals (High School Musical, Hairspray, The Lorax), coming of age films (17 Again, Charlie St. Cloud), period pieces (Me and Orson Welles, Parkland), and romantic dramas (The Lucky One, The Paperboy). This year, this film along with Neighbors appears to be his stab at dude comedies. He received a Cosmo nomination for Actor’s Character You Would Most Like to be Intimate With at the 2012 awards for Charlie St. Cloud, and won the award the following year for The Paperboy (dancing with Nicole Kidman in the rain in his tighty whiteys).

The film also costars Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole, 21 & Over) and Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, Fruitvale Station), both of whom will be in the upcoming reboot of The Fantastic Four. The three guys have good chemistry and are believable as friends – more natural, in fact, than the romance between Efron and  Imogen Poots.

That Awkward Moment won’t be for everyone. Like a chick flick, it’s satisfying in the moment but rarely memorable. But it will probably make my list for Best Use of (Gratuitous?) Nudity, and for that reason alone it was worth it.

Rating: 2 ½ stars