Posts Tagged ‘ewan mcgregor’

Film Reviews!: I Love You Phillip Morris

January 7, 2011

I Love You Phillip Morris is so good it’s hard to remember what type of movie you are watching.  That isn’t some hyperbolic statement intended to garner curiosity or to make the author (moi) seem wiser than reality would hold true, one actually comes away from Phillip Morris in such awe of the story just told that it merits a reminder that what the audience just viewed was a comedy.  A fabulous, fully-functioning comedy, but a comedy, nonetheless.

Based on a fantastical, too-good-to-be-true story, Phillip Morris revolves around a con-man’s (Carrey) life as he continually commits insurance fraud, breaks out of jail, and pursues the man he is so wildly in love with, the titular Phillip Morris (McGregor).  Carrey and McGregor fill the screen so fully throughout the entirety of this movie that there is hardly any room for anyone else onscreen.  And the amazing outcome is that it absolutely works.  Spending over 100 minutes with the hyper-dynamic couple of McGregor and Carrey is not only feasible, it’s preferred.  Short of a select few incredibly minute supporting roles that do help to push the story along, McGregor and Carrey’s frenetic entanglement of a relationship and life together creates an environment so perfect and exciting that you need nothing more than their own excellent camerawork.

Carrey and McGregor’s performances truly are what make this endeavor the brilliant outing that it is.  Not only do they perfectly capture the comedic timing and comical minutiae that make the story work so well, they also manage to create two entirely lovable, relateable characters, also.  Carrey brings Steven Russell to life with relative ease while Ewan McGregor makes a Morris into an equally versed, yet fragile romantic foil for Carrey’s Russell.  One of the biggest accomplishments of the stars (and certainly the screenwriters as well) is their ability to produce a comedy about a homosexual love affair in prison without once making the relationship feel cheap, trite, or cliche.  While the entire movie is incredibly funny, it never gives in to any cheap material about homosexuality or even the gay community, at large.  The story evolves at the perfect pace and never has any need or space to fit any banal, pedestrian humor about the couple’s sexual orientation into the grand scheme of things.  Instead, the couple feels absolutely fitting as the hectic world that they have built around themselves speeds by them.  Carrey and McGregor are adorable together and have you rooting for them as a team from the very get-go.  The chemistry that they share and the duo that they so quickly become is what gives the film such an intense feeling of charm, without which the movie would certainly be lost.

The score and cinematography both ring true to the story at hand and guide everything along to create the perfect atmosphere for Carrey and McGregor’s basically two-man show.  The true masterpiece of Phillip Morris‘ technical expertise, however, is the script.  The writing team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have created an airtight screenplay that never lingers or moves too expediently.  Instead, Ficarra and Requa’s screenplay moves at just the right pace to pack year’s worth of action into a movie under two hours leaving you wanting more while simultaneously tying up each and every possible loose end or tangential piece of the narrative.  And while it would be easy to credit the story’s perfect pacing to the original book it was based off of, that simply is not the case.  What Ficarra and Requa have accomplished is a story perfectly, succinctly, and genuinely told in the language of the cinema.  Their story fully utilizes the cinematic medium, utilizing brilliant quick cuts, and edits to bring everything together.  One of the best moments of the film occurs while the camera lingers on Carrey and McGregor, slow dancing in their cells while their neighbor cellmate gets beaten, offscreen, by a battalion of cops to beautiful music.  It is an absolutely brilliant moment that is perfectly encapsulated through the meeting of imagery and sound.  Something that the pages of a book simply cannot deliver.

I started this review out by stating that Phillip Morris makes the audience forget the type of movie they’re watching.  While true that the audience may forget, I want to clarify that the movie itself NEVER forgets.  I Love You Phillip Morris never stops succeeding as a superior comedy, it just ALSO succeeds as a genuine film.  Phillip Morris is funny, touching, passionate, fulfilling, exciting, and extremely well put-together.  Great acting and great writing come together to tell a great story in one of the best entries of 2010.

Score/Soundtrack:  70/100

Performance/Direction:  94/100

Script:  93/100

Cinematography/Aesthetics:  82/100

Overall:  90/100

Top 10 of 2010!

January 5, 2011

 

And here we are again!  Another year down and another slew of movies to comprehend and compare.  Unlike the last few years, 2010 brought a cavalcade of competent cinema that was absolutely unprecedented.  I was fully unprepared for the likes of the last few months and the intense entries into the Oscar season that began to give way as the year came to a close.  Now, as always, I’m certain that this list will be viewed as juvenile and haphazard (story of my life) but these are MY top 10 movies of the year.  I wish I could watch all of these entries over again to more properly gauge my level of enthusiasm and their prowess, however, I will stand by every one of these entries and will fight you to the death for any of them!  (Though I will admit, I give major kudos to originality and ingenuity in form over traditional cinematic bravado)  Let the ranking begin!

10.  127 Hours


Danny Boyle does so much with so very little.  In this masterful retelling of the infamous expedition-gone-wrong of Aron Ralston, Boyle makes the story of a man trapped in the desert for five days into a life-affirming, absurdly inspirational tale.  Boyle deserves immense credit for taking  a cinematically antithetical story and turning it into one of the most captivating of the year.

9.  Never Let Me Go


Mark Romanek made a big splash on the screen this year with this film, which delves into themes of humanity, fate, and despondency at the hands of one’s own demise.  All against the backdrop of a beautifully filmed, beautifully performed script.  Never Let Me Go reaffirmed Andrew Garfield’s, Carey Mulligan’s, and Keira Knightley’s prowess all in one fail swoop.

8.  True Grit


Being the second Coen brothers movie I have ever ACTUALLY enjoyed, True Grit put multiple stereotypes of mine to rest.  I was concerned about ANOTHER overly hyped Coen flick, I was concerned about another update of a classic western, and I was concerned about a story with a cliche, precocious, young female protagonist who comes across as seemingly unflappable.  But when you realize that the Coen’s entire body of work details the lives of larger-than-life characters that are seemingly unflappable, you begin to forgive this mini masterpiece for its very few flaws.

7.  The Kids Are All Right


Easily one of the best pieces of acting this year, the raw talent in this film makes me question how more fuss wasn’t made over it.  Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are irreplaceable in this comedy about the inner-workings of family and the importance of love, understanding, and functionality in the face of adversity, stress, and life’s constant ambiguity.  Did I mention that the performances are incredible?

 

6.  The Social Network


One of my more traditional choice for the year, Fincher’s techno-epic about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is truly as efficient as the hype made it out to be.  With a spot-on score produced by Trent Reznor, and cinematography that would make lawn-mowing a fascinating, IMAX-worthy venture, the film is almost incapable of NOT delighting audiences.

5.  I Love You Phillip Morris

Ironically, this may be the most contested movie on this list, as it does have its fair share of tonal anomalies and inconsistencies, however, Phillip Morris simply cannot be overlooked as one of the most adventurous and insightful picks of the year.  It takes risks and utilizes techniques just as well as 127 Hours and The Social Network, both.  It merely uses them in different regards and for different outcomes.  Not to mention that the performances are absolutely fabulous.

4.  Kick-Ass

Again, this film can be RIDICULOUSLY tonally inconsistent at times.  It can even leave viewers borderline disenchanted and at a loss.  But for fans of the genre, and just movie geeks in general, Kick-Ass lives to deliver both a send-up of the entire superhero canon, as well as overtly-indulgent entry in and of itself.

3.  Toy Story 3

If you would have told me that a three-quel to one of the biggest Disney franchises of all time would make my top 3 of ANY year, I would be forced to furrow my brow at you in extreme doubt, but Toy Story 3 is one of the most adroit offerings that Pixar has put out since…well, I guess since Up.  Still, it speaks incredibly highly of a studio that is capable of making sequels to films without losing any of the magic and without giving in to any sense of pandering or desperation.  Pixar should literally be a class that all film executives at EVERY studio should have to take.

2.  The Fighter

Going into this movie with little to no expectations of what I was about to see gave way to easily one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of this year.  David O. Russell truly knows how to make an incredible film, both critically and for mainstream audiences.  Visually arresting, with performances that are EASILY Oscar-worthy (I’m looking at you, Christian Bale and Amy Adams) this entry came out of nowhere and proved to be my second favorite of the year AS WELL AS my technical #2.  The film simply cannot be denied as a masterpiece on multiple fronts.

1. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

If you ever wanted to confirm my absolute geekiness, look no further than this #1 pick.  Is it a stereotypical selection?  Sure.  Is it a smidge over-praised by moi?  Perhaps.  But I simply don’t care.  Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World was easily my favorite movie of the year and easily one of my top 10 favorite films of all time, as well, perhaps even top 5 (I told you I was willing to acquiesce that I may be a bit blind to this movie).  Everything about this movie takes the extravagances of previous cinematic treasures and expounds upon them.  I challenge you to find a faster-paced, funnier, better-choreographed film that speaks so directly to an entire culture and properly adapts six graphic novels into a story under two hours long.  Did that sentence just blow your mind?  Well that’s how you feel for the entirety of the movie, even after the tenth viewing.  I know from experience.

P.S. And to be fair, here is a list of the most-talked-abouts that I have yet to see:

_The King’s Speech

_Shutter Island

_Waiting for Superman

_The Town

_Fair Game

_Mother

_Tangled

_Despicable Me

_Catfish

_Blue Valentine

_Animal Kingdom

The Top 5 Hardest Working Actors in Show Business

November 10, 2009

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It’s easy to mock celebrities, actors in particular, who stress to the public how difficult and important their lives are and how much fame belabors those facts. Especially when we see them living such pampered and extravagant lives. I’m here to discuss five men in Hollywood who actually DO live rather industrious existanses and yet fail to ever complain about them. In fact, most are as hard-working as they are due to their love for what they do, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, check all your false pretenses at the door, this list takes NO monetary statistics into account to tabulate this list. I’m simply conducting an opinionated grouping of five actors who I feel have taken on more than most men can handle in the show biz…biz, and I’m compiling this list in relation to this point in time, Autumn of 2009. Yes, Seth Rogen has appeared in MULTITUDES of films over the last five years, but after Funny People and Observe and Report of this year, the guy has been laying pretty low. This list tabulates the mainstreamers who have been racking up leading role credits in muliple expansive flicks. So, without further ado…

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5. Johnny Depp

To say that I respect this man would be an intense understatement. His acting prowess is some of the best of our time, so it makes me EXTREMELY happy to see him inundated with work. If you’ve been living under the sea (visions of The Little Mermaid just popped into my head. Walt Disney prevails) for the past year then you probably haven’t heard of Depp’s numerous forays into film he has recently undertaken. Public Enemies was the only work he appeared in that was released in ’09, however, he has been fast at work on massive cinematic staples of the 2010 movie-going season that will almost-assuredly dominate the market. The first being Tim Burton’s reiteration of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Depp plays The Mad Hatter in Burton’s CGI-laden could-be-wonderful-could-be-terrible still up-in-the-air retelling of the classic story. Headlining next to Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Matt Lucas, and Alan Rickman, the film has all the makings of a complete cinematic win, the screenshots and trailers, however, leave doubt in my mind, as CGI-laden, as I said before, is putting it nicely. Time will tell. Depp also was involved in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, filling one of the three roles created after lead actor Heath Ledger’s passing. Depp, along with Colin Farrell and Jude Law, will stand in for Ledger as alternate versions of Ledger’s character, to help the stroy along despite the events that took place prior to the film’s completion. The next chapter in the Hunter S. Thompson chronicles, The Rum Diary, is also in post, in which Depp will reprise his role as the gonzo-journalist.
In addition to these films that Depp has finished, the newest film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is slated for a 2011 release date and is currently in the earliest stages of pre-production. Sin City 3, which Depp has been rumored to be involved with basically from its inception, is also geared up for a 2012 release (funny considering Sin City 2 is still stuck in developmental hell).
And here’s the kicker. IMDB lists Depp as in development with FOURTEEN new titles, as well. Among them, a Dali biopic and The Lone Ranger. Wow, simply wow. While these developmental deals can fall through at any time, they can also usually indicate desire and co-involvement between the parties of the actors and the producers. It will be interesting to see where Depp’s career goes looking towards these titles.

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4. Brad Pitt

Here’s another guy with developmental deals in spades. The ‘ole rusty, trusty IMDB has Pitt pegged with sixteen deals, the most I could find. In addition to being attached to The sequel to Downey Jrs Sherlock Holmes vehicle, Pitt is also listed with World War Z and a Steve McQueen biopic. Goo.
Pitt tore up the screen in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds this summer, and has currently been attached to the fledgling project Moneyball, which is listed as being in the earliest stages of production, despite the fact that it has no director. Pitt is further attached to The Tree of Life and The Lost City of Z, as well as providing a voice to the upcoming animated flick Oobermind. He’s also rumored to be apart of 2012’s upcoming The Odyssey and The Sparrow.

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3. George Clooney

The former Sexiest Man in America has never slowed down since his rocket-propelled rise to fame in the mid-to-late 90’s as well. Clooney most recently has released The Men Who Stare at Ghosts, a loosely based adaptation of the book of the same name which regards a 1970’s to 1980’s military experiment that documented telepathic phenomena. In addition to this recent film, though, Clooney finished up providing voice work for the titular role in Wes Anderson’s upcoming The Fantastic Mr. Fox, alongside Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, and Jason Schwartzman, as well as polishing off his role in the Jason Reitman-helmed Up in the Air, which is also currently in post. These are merely his acting credits for 2009, though, the man also executive produced the Matt Damon vehicle The Informant! and Playground, a movie I honestly couldn’t find too much on. As far as his queue list goes, IMDB has him cited with ten in-development deals.

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2. Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey is a man of many faces. The actor became famous for his rubber-faced persona that landed him a slew of comedic work in the mid-to-late 90’s and a career launching pad that ANY actor would be proud of. By the turn of the century, however, Carrey was becoming far more versatile as an actor. Already dabbling in the dramatic with The Truman Show, Liar Liar,, and the INCREDAMAZING Andy Kaufman biopic, Man on the Moon. Carrey then went on to tackle the serious side of life full-tilt in Charlie Kaufman’s magnificent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, opposite Kate Winslet, The Majestic, and the box office blunder The Number 23. He has returned to comedy in recent years, however, and, as always, has fully immersed himself in his roles. Recently released is the Zemeckis-penned adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in which Carrey provided the movements and voices to Scrooge at all ages of life AND the three spirits that visit him! Encompassing multiple accents, multiple ages of life, and multiple SPIRITUAL BEINGS, Carrey tackled the project head-on while keeping busy with multiple other projects, such as I Love You, Philip Morris, the tale of an escaped homosexual convict who goes on a quest to find his lover that was released from prison before he was. The film has been receiving stellar reviews and co-stars Ewan McGregor opposite Carrey in this bold and self-titled dark comedy. All the while that these two flicks have been in post, Carrey has both been bulking up and studying up to play Curly Howard in the upcoming Three Stooges revamp with Paul Giamatti and possibly Benecio Del Toro. This was all considered fact for the longest time and was referenced multiple times by Carrey’s apparent weight gain in the tabloids and public citings, but, as of late, Carrey has been described as withdrawing from the project. It doesn’t negate the fact that the man was taking on multiple roles immediately after finishing his previously mentioned two. Further, IMBD.com has Carrey listed in FOUR different upcoming development deals. Which may seem normal for a star of his status, but when you consider the work load he will indefinitely take on with these upcoming roles, it makes a profound statement on his desire to never be bored.
In addition to his films and the launch of a fully-functioning personal website that has actually made the rounds and received a warm/geeky reception from the film/internet blogosphere, Carrey and his wife Jenny McCarthy have consistantly maintained their involvement in the charity Generation Rescue, which strives to find alternative ways to treat autism in children. Not bad for a man who was talking with his butt a little over 10 years ago.

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1. Nicolas Cage

Go ahead and laugh (you’ve earned it) but the man has yet to produce a dull movie (I said ‘dull’ not ‘bad’) and his work output is something for ANY actor to admire, regardless of how badly he phones roles in. Before I continue, most of you know, but for those who don’t, everything I joke about Nicolas Cage comes from a place of sincere reverance. Yes, the man takes part in AWFUL movies (which, given his current economic situation could just be to keep the lights on) but in each film he’s in he is always FULLY committed to the story being told. And I’m sorry, but I’d rather watch Cage run around in a Bear suit any day FULLY EMBRACING THE ROLE than see Tom Hanks win ANOTHER Oscar for appearing in some adaptation of a story set in the 1940’s. ALL TANGENTS ASIDE, Cage has kept himself QUITE stacked as of late. In early 2009 the CGI-Fest known as G-Force dropped with Cage providing a voice as well as Cage’s vehicle Knowing, in which he played the lead. Throughout the remainder of the year he has worked on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, Season of the Witch, and Werner FOOKING Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Did I mention the voice that he provided for Astro Boy? No? Well, lump that in there as well.
IMDB has him attached to 4 deals in development, one of which being (GET READY!!!) Ghost Rider 2! Which creators have said will distance itself from the original as a revamp, not a sequel. Yet, it still stars Cage as the lead. Oh, how I LOVE this man! It simply amazes me what Hollywood will greenlight.

And speaking of hard working, (and by hard-working, I mean shameless self-promotion!) visit my sketch troupe’s Youtube or Facebook and comment/subscribe/hate/love/befriend/never talk to us again/enjoy our attempts at making you laugh!

2009-2010 Must-See List

September 15, 2009

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After a lackluster-at-best summer movie season, we have all been (strangely) blessed with an incredible 09-10 season to look forward to.  I seriously haven’t been this jazzed about movie-going in a few years.  It seems that an amazing new debut is announced weekly at this point, which is really cutting in on my Hollywood bitching time.  Below, I’ve created a haphazard, make-shift rundown of what I am absolutely chomping at the bit to see in the upcoming season:

ROAD MCCARTHY FILM 2
The Road-Cormac McCarthy’s novel’s big screen adaptation was recently pushed back to Thanksgiving, frightening me all the more as I fear that studios are losing faith in its bankability.

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Sherlock Holmes-Robert. Downey. Jr.

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Alice in Wonderland-Tim Burton’s CGI-fest update of Lewis Carrol’s classic.  Though I am EXTREMELY skeptical, Depp as the Mad Hatter with Matt Lucas, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Michael Sheen, Crispin Glover, Stephen Fry, and Alan Rickman are keeping my cries of “CGI-FOUL!” at bay.

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Iron Man 2-I’m intrigued to see Downey fight Mickey Rourke.  Intrigued enough to include this entry on this list.  Past that, to be honest, I don’t see this film panning out much differently than its predecessor, but, as long as they deliver on some great Downey/Rourke headbashing, I’ll be content.

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The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus-This is, hands down, the crown jewel of this list.  Terry Gilliam’s fantasy epic starring the late Heath Ledger had to improvise with its script as Ledger passed away during filming.  So what is one of the most revered directors in Hollywood to do when he loses his lead actor?  Simple, he calls in Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Ferrell to replace him.  All in one movie.  Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Ferrell, and Heath Ledger all play the same role.  I was trying to come up with a new word to describe this event, but I simply can’t.

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Zombieland-I’m not even a self-professed zombie-buff like many of my co-horts, but the trailers for this endeavor look too astounding to pass up.  Watching Woody Harrelson annihilate zombies while taking the less-than-menacing Jesse Eisenberg under his wing is all I wanted over the summer ’09 movie season.  Was that so much to ask?

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I Love You Philip Morris-Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor in a dark comedy about an inmate who breaks out of jail once his lover is released from the same prison.  I love Jim Carrey.  I love Ewan McGregor.  I love the premise.  I Love You, Philip Morris.  (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

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A Christmas Carol-Robert Zemeckis retells Dickens’ classic utilizing Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three ghosts.  Need I say more?

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Fantastic Mr. Fox-Wes Anderson helms this Roald Dahl retelling with a cast the likes of Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson.  CAN. NOT. WAIT.

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Inception-Christopher Nolan’s first at-bat (no pun intended) since The Dark Knight.  A sci-fi/thriller starring Leo DiCaprio.  How many good things can we combine into a single movie? 

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Youth in Revolt-Michael Cera adopts an alternate persona all in the hopes of wooing a love interest.  My description doesn’t do the title nearly as much justice as images of Cera with a faux mustache. 

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Bronson-Having been called A Clockwork Orange of our time, Bronson chronicles the true story of Charles Bronson, the prisoner, who attained superstar status from simply being an unruly inmate.

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(Untitled)-An art flick commenting on the absurdity of art flicks and art in general.  Seems to be everything Art School Confidential promised to be but failed to deliver on.

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Gentlemen Broncos-Jared Hess’ latest directing forray is a surreal fantasy about a down-on-their-luck sci-fi writer who steals a young boy’s manuscript and profits greatly.  I was sold upon reading “A surreal fantasy.”

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The Box-Richard Kelly (who I’m STILL giving credit for Donnie Darko) directs James Marsden and Cameron Diaz in a thriller about a married couple who discover an obscure box left on their doorstep.  Try to forget Southland Tales for just a minute and remember: James Marsden.

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World’s Greatest Dad-This could very well be the role that brings poignancy back to Robin Williams’ career.  Williams plays a failed poet father who finds his son dead due to auto-erotic asphyxiation.  To lull his son’s unfortunate fate, he writes a beautiful suicide note that gets absurd publicity and paints his son as a genius.  Williams then must decide whether to out himself as the genius or maintain his son’s newfound celebrity.  Did I mention that Bobcat Goldthwait is helming the project?

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The Vampire’s Assistant-All production stills simply do not do this flick justice, you HAVE to check out the trailer.  Otherwise it just looks like John C. Reilly attempting a recreation of Nic Cage’s The Magician’s Apprentice, and that isn’t even out yet!  This quasi fantasy-quasi comedy-quasi drama seems to be perfect for John C. Reilly who stars in the lead role. After pulling schlock duty at the Apatow-Factory for the last few years, it will be good to see him be able to stretch again and actually play with something with some meat to it.

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Where the Wild Things Are-Spike Jonze’s adaptation of everyone’s favorite children’s book looks amazing and I’m very curious to see how good/bad it pans out.

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9-Back to John C. Reilly!  This voice cast is amongst the best I have seen in years.  Christopher Plummer is a catch in any medium. 

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The Lovely Bones-The trailers all look AMAZING and have kept my appetite satiated for this neo-fantasy thriller involving a young girl slain before her time and her attempt to reach out from beyond the grave.

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Big Fan-Patton Oswalt has put down a show-stopping dramatic performance that has stunned and stupefied most critics with its un-abashedly powerful and sincere dramatic intent.  Oswalt steps out of the image he has been stereotyped with and fully explodes on the scene with a (hopefully) attention grabbing portrayal.

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Not Quite Hollywood-A documentary (which I am usually a sucker for) about the explosion of the Australian film market in the ’70’s.  Pure.  Genius.

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Kick-Ass-Michael Cera and Nick Cage star in Mark Miller’s adaptation of his own graphic novel in which an everyday kid takes on the mantel of the superhero.  Miller’s graphic novel has a die-hard, monstrous fan base while being a relatively new title.  Plus, Nic Cage.

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Cold Souls-Paul Giamatti plays himself in a Being John Malkovich sort of drama, in which Paul, a successful actor, takes part in a breakthrough soul-removal-procedure.

This entire effort seems fairly frivolous, because, while this is all I can think of now, as soon as I finish writing this article, fourteen more trailers will be released and will stupify me.  I’m FAR from complaining, however, as it has been years since I’ve been anywhere near this excited about anything Hollywood has done. Happy movie-going everyone!

Shameless self-promotion, everyone!
Bears With Sparklers