27 February 2006

Spiderman Is Black

Hey guys, it's Donnie...So by now this picture has disseminated all over the internet and Max Fischer was kind enough to point it out on Friday, but I feel like I should weigh in on our first real bona fide look at Spider-Man in his third go around. To the right is the image that Sony released last week, along with the disclaimer that it is NOT a black and white picture but is, in fact, Spidey in his infamous black suit. This is the closest we've come to an actual confirmation from Sony that Topher Grace will actually be playing Venom, the symbiote creature who breifly inhabited Peter Parker's black suit until Parker rejected him and went back to the good old red and blues.

First off...yes, that picture is badass. There's really no getting around that. Sony claims that it is not actually the teaser poster and is merely a promotional image, but, honestly, they could start plastering this up in theaters tomorrow and it would be a pretty great way to introduce the film. The tone, the shot composition, the emotion in this one image is incredibly powerful.

Now, about that suit...I have to agree wit most fans/critics that if what we're seeing here is really the final version of the black suit, I think that Raimi and company have really missed a huge opportunity here. Rather than stick with the traditional comic version of the black suit, they seem to have merely taken the red and blue suit and made it black and white. I guess I can understand the various thematic and practical (CG effects) reasons why they'd do that, but I still say that they could have stuck with the classic design and it would have been just peachy. To the left is a fanmade photoshoped version in which the suit is a pretty damn impressive reflection of the comic suit, most notably the lack of raised webbing, the large chest logo and the white eyes.

But who knows...perhaps there are good reasons that have yet to be contemplated. Maybe they're reserving that design solely for Venom. Maybe this is still a work in progress. Who knows. They're still fairly early on in production and Sony is being more than a little tight-lipped about releasing any info on the film. I say it's too early to pass final judgements. Besides, it still looks worlds better than the crappy Rent-esque X3 posters...

26 February 2006

Perfect Attendance with Max Fisher

Hey guys, it's Max.....

Yeah, that's right. Introducing me: The first ever featured writer in the Movie Booth. Now Donnie gets someone to fellate him while screening these crazy things we call movies. But only if he buys the popcorn...

What I have in store for you is a weekly jabbering of crazy movie related things and what I think about them. Call me the David Spade of The Movie Booth. I would, but he doesn't get as much play as I do...at least, fuck, I hope. So let's start.

So that's the kind of stuff you have to look forward to. Hopefully it gets funnier and not mentioned before on this site (this info may or may not be posted already) but for now I have to go pack for my trip to Aruba, where I can do my own investigation into the Natalie Halloway murder. Me and my trusty metal detector, we will do the job...................what are you, a lawyer?

*The views in Max Fisher's Perfect Attendance are inspired by a comedic mind. Max's views do not express the views of the Movie Booth, DonnieDarker, or anyone who loves Spider Man.

24 February 2006

Running Scared Is Flat Out Awesome. Seriously.

Hey guys, it's Donnie...I know, I know, you're thinking "Donnie, you've finally lost it. You've gone completely 'round the bend."

And before you ask, yes, I am aware that Paul Walker is in this movie. And guess what? He doesn't suck. He's actually pretty damn good.

This is probably the best directed movie to be released so far this year, which is obviously not saying much at this point, but nonetheless...This flick has got BALLS like you wouldn't believe. It keeps you guessing throughout, at no point does it pull it's punches and there is one moment about 2/3 of the way through the film that had one of the greatest, most unified audience reactions I've ever witnessed. It's fun, it's violent, it's gritty as all hell, and I loved it.

"Urban fairytale" is definitely the best way to describe this movie, and if you don't know exactly what that's supposed to mean, don't worry...you will. I defy you to go see this movie and not spend at least 20 minutes talking about it when it's over. Oh, and make sure you watch the closing credits. It's got one of the best closing credit sequences I've seen in a good long while.

I was going to write a full out review, but I don't think I want to, at least not at this point. I'd rather you just go to see it secure in the knowledge that, as mediocre as it may appear, there's something truly fantastic going on here. You're going to remember the name Wayne Kramer from now on, I can assure you that.

22 February 2006

Review: The Black Dahlia Disappoints...To Say The Least...

Hey guys, it's Donnie...I just got back from a screening of Brian DePalma's newest, The Black Dahlia, over in Sherman Oaks. Let's get straight to the point: This movie, while FAR from finished, is a disaster of tremendous proportions.

First off, I know nothing about the true story of the Black Dahlia nor have I read James Ellroy's novel. I had heard about the movie some time ago and knew basically what it was about, and, being a bit of a DePalma fan (love The Untouchables...but then again, who doesn't?) I REALLY wanted to like this movie.

I'm not going to give away any plot stuff, but the gist of it is a 1940s LA detective noir (think LA Confidential, but without making nearly as much sense) about two detectives (Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart) who are investigating the death of a a young wannabe actress (from Medford MA!) that the newspapers dub The Black Dahlia. Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank also co-star as various female love interests. That's all you really need to know, and probably just about all that really makes too much sense.

The first 45 minutes or so are actually pretty damn good, but as soon as the body of the Dahlia is discovered, the movie quickly grinds to a deathly slow pace. It's full of supporting characters that have far moe screentime than they deserve, subplots that don't really pay off, and abrupt and complete 180 degree shifts in character for seemingly no particular reason. Swank doesn't show up until halfway through the movie (I had completely forgotten she was even in it by the time she arrived) and, unfortunately, DePalma's direction isn't really any kind of return to greatness. There are a number of bizarre and ridiculously self-indulgent choices strewn throughout the film.

The most painful thing, without question, is that there are "clues" to the mystery strewn throughout the movie and everytime something significant happens, it's painfully obvious that it's going to be important later on. And yet, DePalma constantly reminds us of all these little "clues" through voiceover and visual flashbacks. At one point, there's a scene between Johansson and Hartnett and when the scene is over it cuts to Hartnett alone in a room and we hear a voiceover of the conversation that litterally took place 15 seconds ago. (I'm not embellishing at all here, and 15 seconds might even be generous.) So you've got two sort of plot arcs going on throughout the film, with "clues" for both and then in the last 10 minutes we get about five times more information than we've recieved in the last hour and 45 minutes. The two arcs are then strung together by a VERY tenous thread and the explanation for what happened comes almost totally out of left field. The score was also terrible, but they assured us that the titles and score were all temporary.

So what's good? Well, the production design is great. The sets, costumes, props...they all really help to provide the proper 1940s noir atmosphere. The dialogue is all pretty good and I feel like at one point there was probably a pretty good script involved. Most of the performances are actually very good. Hartnett and Eckhardt are excellent, (probably Hartnett's best work to date, although that's probably not saying much) and Mia Kirshner is AMAZING as Elizabeth Short, aka the Black Dahlia. We only really see her through a series of black and white "screen tests" but she's utterly fantastic. Scarlet Johansson is more than a little disappointing, although she isn't given too much to work with here. I feel like recently she's been given alot of very underwritten characters and been unable to elevate her characters off the written page. Hilary Swank also plays an extremely bizarre character with a downright silly accent. who I never really liked, but then again I've never really been blown away by Hilary Swank to begin with. But nothing compares to the totally batshit crazy character played by Fiona Shaw. She...there are really no words. It has to be seen to be believed. One of my favorite characters actually ended up being the LAPD lieutenant played by Mike Starr (or, as everyone sitting around me referred to him when it came time to fill out the surveys, "The guy from Dumb And Dumber who has an ulcer"). He's got a smaller supporting role, but he really commits to it and turns in some fine, fine work, probably the best non-comedy work of his career.

Bottom Line? The movie is probably about 30 minutes too long and needs to be SERIOUSLY re-edited. The direction leaves a lot to be desired, although there are a number of really great performances here. Unfortunately, I feel like even after they make all the changes they need to make, the movie is still gonna fall short of it's potential. Make no mistake, this could have been truly, truly great, but my feeling is that without some serious reshoots, the movie is broke beyond repair.

Too bad.

02 February 2006

Penn & Hirsch Go Into The Wild...

Hey guys, it's Donnie...Variety is reporting that Sean Penn will direct his adaptation of John Krakauer's true story Into The Wild. Emile Hirsch (The Girl Next Door) will star as Christopher McCandless, a young man who, after graduating college in 1992, gave away all of his possessions and went to Alaska and hiked up onto Mt. McKinley to live in the wilderness. His decomposed body was found four months later by a moose hunter.

Penn hasn't directed anything since 2001's The Pledge, starring Jack Nicholson. I haven't seen his first effort, but I'm curious to see what Penn does as a director. He's certainly got a talented young actor in the form of Hirsch, who might even be described as a young Penn himself. He absolutely blew me away in Lords of Dogtown. We'll certainly be paying attention to this project in the future...

The Coens Like Old Men

Hey guys, it's Donnie...Someone recently told me that they know someone who works for National Lampoon, to which I replied, "That's too bad. Remember when National Lampoon equaled funny?"

Hey, remember when the Coen Brothers equaled awesome?

Well, it seems that the Coens might be making a return to form with their next project, No Country For Old Men. Adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, the story centers on a Vietnam vet in the Texas desert of 1980. He stumbled upon the remains of a drug deal gone bad, and decides to split with the drugs and the money, only to find himself being hunted down by a pair of assassins and cranky old Texas sheriff. Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem are set to star, and I have to say that I really like where this is going. Throw in some Turturro, some Goodman and some Frances McDormand and I'll be there.

Hell, I'll probably be there anyway, just out of the desire to see a halfway decent Coen movie...

Who Are The Fanboys?

Hey guys, it's Donnie...The long in development project Fanboys may have found it's cast.

The project centers on four life long friends and Star Wars fanatics in 1998, before the release of Episode I. When one of the friends is diagnosed with terminal cancer and realizes he probably won't live to see the theatrical release of the new Star Wars film, the four friends embark on a cross country quest to get into the Skywalker Ranch and watch the film before it's released and one of them falls over. Still no word on whether or not the titular fanboys are as disappointed as the rest of us were at the time.

Anyway, Kevin Spacey's Triggerstreet Productions and The Weinstein Co are in final talks to sign Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Jay Baruchel (Undeclared, Almost Famous), Chris Marquette (Eli from The Girl Next Door) and Sam Huntington (Detroit Rock City and Jimmy Olsen in Superman Returns). My impression up to this point was that the characters were older, more like middle age, but if we're going with the mid-twenties thing, then I couldn't really imagine a much better group of talented geeks.

The screenplay is either brilliant or God-awful, depending on who you talk to. I haven't read it yet, but I must say that I have high hopes.
Little Giant Ladder