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The Latest in ShowBiz News

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/24 at 12:00am

Gael García y Diego Luna ready to show "Rudo y Cursi" in December

Gael García y Diego Luna ready to show "Rudo y Cursi" in December

Leading Mexican heartthrobs Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna will be releasing ‘Rudo y Cursi’ December 19th in Mexico. The dramedy was written and was directed by Carlos Cuarón, who with brother Alfonso co-wrote Y tu mamá también, which also starred the two actors.

Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) co-produces with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, director of last year’s Oscar-winning Babel and Guillermo del Toro.

Rudo y Cursi, which broadly translated as “Rough and Corny,” is a tale of love and hate between professional soccer-playing brothers played by Luna and Garcia Bernal.

Inarritu, Alfonso Cuarón and fellow Mexican Guillermo del Toro, who directed last year’s Pan’s Labyrinth, recently formed a production company that will make five films in a $100 million deal with Universal Pictures. Rudo y Cursi is the first film in the package.

Filming took place in the small coastal town of Cihuatlan, close to a banana plantation owned by the Cuarón family that the brothers visited as children.

Alex Florez

By

2008/08/21 at 12:00am

Death Race

Rated: R for strong violence and language.
Release Date: 2008-08-22
Starring: Paul W.S. Anderson
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country: USA
Official Website: http://www.deathracemovie.net/index.php

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Death Race

A remake of Roger Corman’s 1975 cult action film starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone, Death Race pumps even more adrenaline and senseless gore into a film that seems more like a video game adaptation than a ‘B’ movie remake.

Set in the not so distant future, Death Race tells the story of Jensen Ames (Jason Statham), a former speedway champion turned blue collar worker who is framed for a gruesome murder.  He soon realizes however, it’s all been part of a plot to coerce him into participating in the world’s most popular televised sport: a car race set in a maximum security prison in which the inmates must brutalize and kill one another in order to win. If they are lucky to finish the race alive and in first place, then they’ll also gain their freedom.

Despite all the action, the film attempts to make its subtle satirical jabs at our culture – the one that can’t enough reality television, extreme fighting competition, and violent video game titles.  One in particular, ‘Twisted Metal’ certainly comes to mind as a game which essentially shares the same premise as the movie.  But like those video games, Death Race’s plot is thin and lacking the emotion necessary to really push a story forward.  In this film, its all about outfitting cars with weapons you pick up along the way and blowing up your competitors off the tracks.

For Statham, its a no brainer role, as he slowly turns into the Jean-Claude Van Damme of our era, funny accent and all. For Joan Allen however, this might be her worst mistake as a professional actress.  Allen playing the role of the Warden who organizes the race is as believable as the film’s own premise.  One pleasant surprise is the addition of Natalie Martinez, the rookie cuban american actress, who teams up with Statham playing ‘Case’, his ‘navigator’.  Giving the film its sexiness, I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of her in these Angelina Jolie/female action star type roles.

Although a case can be made that these days, video game have evolved with much more complex story-lines, there will always be a great appetite for the ‘shoot em up’ types games where users can’t wait for the next level to keep smashing the buttons on their controllers.  For those type of people, Death Race is must.

 

Alex Florez

By

2008/08/21 at 12:00am

The House Bunny

Rated: PG-13 for sex-related humor, partial nudity and brief strong language.
Release Date: 2008-08-22
Starring: Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country: USA
Official Website: http://www.thehousebunny.com/

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The House Bunny

From the get-go ‘The House Bunny’ wants you to believe it’s a post-modern fairy tale comedy set on a college campus. Only when it nearly forgets what the moral to its story is, it almost becomes the ‘makeover’ episode from a daytime talk show.  In fact, I’m inclined to say it turns the word ‘makeover’ into a genre.

Leading the way is Anna Faris (Scary Movie), who steps into Shelley Darlingson’s pumps as a stereotypical blond Playboy bunny who is kicked out of Hugh Hefner’s mansion. But soon enough she finds a new home at an awkward sorority where the girls are dull, unpopular and desperate for pledges in order to keep the dean from taking away their house.  Predictably however, Shelley takes it upon herself to transform the girls into beauty queens and become the most coveted group to be around.

The ‘girls’, played by stars on the rise, Emma Stone (Superbad), Kat Dennings (Charlie Bartlett), Katharine McPhee (American Idol), Rumer Willis (Bruce and Demi’s eldest) and a few others, are so surprisingly likable during their pre-makeover stage that you’d almost wish they didn’t undergo any treatment.  Emma Stone in particular, works the ‘bookworm’ role so charmingly well, she steals more than one scene clearly meant for Faris to carry, who can’t seem to hide how hard she tries for every laugh. 

The pitfall here is that for too long a period, the film paints vanity in such a great light, that it sends mixed signals to the audience about the message the filmmakers want to convey. Is being beautiful on the outside really that important to get ahead in life? Well, for most of the film, they make you think so.  Of course, that’s no message for a fairy tale to send – Shelley must learn that what boys really like is what’s on the inside. And so begins a mad and sloppy dash during the second half of the film to make things right.  

One opportunity that the filmmakers certainly missed was to demystify the famous Playboy mansion. It does nothing to change or add to the widely held and fixed idea we all have of the estate.  Instead we’re limited to some Hugh Hefner cameos and a thinly put together subplot involving Shelley’s banishment.

Nevertheless, this female driven comedy has its appeal as screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde) take parts from ‘The Revenge of the Nerds’ lore and attempt to make it their own. 

 

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/21 at 12:00am

The 10 Latin filmmakers to watch

The 10 Latin filmmakers to watch

Two years after Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu took the year-end awards circuits by storm with “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Babel,” and a year after they inked a $100 million deal with Universal to produce five films under their Cha Cha Cha banner, opportunities for other Latino filmmakers — both veterans and those relatively new to the scene — have been on the rise.

And while some are using those opportunities to address issues dear to Hispanic moviegoers, others are more concerned with impressing audiences of all kinds.

“You have to make a film that’s universal, that touches people,” says director Alfredo De Villa. “It doesn’t necessarily have to announce its Latino-ness.”

Even the most quintessentially Mexican of filmmakers, writer-turned-director Guillermo Arriaga — who began his career working alongside Inarritu telling stories unique to life in Mexico City — is making a film about a non-Latino mother and daughter working through their family issues in his directorial debut, “The Burning Plain.” When Arriaga speaks about stepping into the director’s role, he doesn’t talk about making a grand social statement, but about “the chance to collaborate and bring people together, and share the communal experience of having a common goal.”

Following are 10 filmmakers who, through the quality and vision of their work, are expanding the definition of what it means to be a Latino filmmaker, in Hollywood and beyond.

Marilyn Agrelo (director-producer)

Though Agrelo’s sleeper hit documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” brought her attention upon its 2005 release — it finished second to “March of the Penguins” on the list of highest-grossing docus of the year — the Cuban-born director didn’t commit to another project until this year, when she signed on to direct two features, including an adaptation of Aimee Bender’s young adult novel “An Invisible Sign of My Own,” for Capitol Films. She’s also in the early stages of several documentary projects and plans to move back and forth between fiction and nonfiction throughout her career. “Documentary is always going to be really special to me,” she says. “Because sometimes real life is much more interesting.”

Guillermo Arriaga (writer-director-producer)

Arriaga is already well-known as the writer of Inarritu’s first three feature films (2000’s “Amores Perros,” 2003’s “21 Grams” and 2006’s “Babel,” for which he received an Oscar nomination) and for 2005’s “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” (for which he won the best screenplay prize at Cannes). But having turned 50 earlier this year, Arriaga has taken to directing Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron in 2929 Prods.’ “The Burning Plain.” The drama, which Arriaga describes as “the most wonderful experience of my professional life,” has been accepted into the competition lineup at the upcoming Venice Film Festival, and features the jumbled narrative structure that’s become Arriaga’s signature. “I think that’s the way we tell stories in real life,” he says. “We never go in chronological order.”


Luis Alejandro Berdejo (writer-director-editor)

Born in San Sebastian, Berdejo apprenticed in the Spanish film industry and has made a number of acclaimed shorts in different genres, from sci-fi to romance. He’s currently in postproduction on his first feature-length project, the New Line thriller “The New Daughter,” with Kevin Costner. Berdejo says the jump from shorts to features hasn’t been that tough. “Artistically speaking, I treated ‘The New Daughter’ like a short film — but two hours long, in English and with Kevin Costner,” he says with a laugh.

Alfredo De Villa (writer-director-producer)

Still in his mid-30s, De Villa has already made two well-received independent features about Latino life in New York (2002’s “Washington Heights” and 2007’s “Adrift in Manhattan”) and one splashy, semimusical star vehicle for Puerto Rican actress Roselyn Sanchez (2006’s “Yellow”). “Nothing Like the Holidays,” his upcoming dramedy for Overture Films starring Alfred Molina, Freddy Rodriguez, John Leguizamo and Debra Messing, tells the story of a family reuniting to welcome its youngest son back from Iraq. It’s intended for a wide audience, De Villa says. “The Latino audience doesn’t want to be pandered to — or else they’ll turn off.”

Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (writer-director-producer)

Fresnadillo’s entree into the world of filmmaking began auspiciously: His first short film, “Linked,” received numerous international awards and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1997. From there it’s been an upward trajectory for the Spanish director. His 2001 debut feature, the mind-bending sci-fi thriller “Intacto,” was an international success, leading to Fresnadillo directing the well-received horror sequel “28 Weeks Later.” He’s currently in preproduction on the DreamWorks-distributed “Wednesday,” a Los Angeles-set car chase movie packed with twists.

Rodrigo Garcia (writer-director-producer)

The son of famed Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Garcia’s reputation in the film industry sits squarely on his own shoulders. In between making the sprawling indie features “Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her” (2000) and “Nine Lives” (2005), Garcia has become the go-to guy at HBO, helming episodes of the original series “In Treatment,” “Six Feet Under,” “The Sopranos” and “Big Love.” Garcia will direct Anne Hathaway in his next film, Sony’s “Passengers,” in which she plays a grief counselor who tries to unravel the mystery of a plane crash.

Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego (writer-director-editor)

His short films garnered attention for their offbeat style, but Lopez-Gallego’s international breakthrough came with last year’s relatively straightforward festival favorite “King of the Hill,” which chronicles the lengths a man and woman must go to in order to evade a mysterious sniper. Next on his plate is Gold Circle Films’ “Solo,” which Lopez-Gallego describes as a romantic thriller, combining elements of 1980’s “The Blue Lagoon” and 1990’s “Misery.” After working with other scribes on “King of the Hill” and “Solo,” Lopez-Gallego says he’s discovered a preference for collaboration, making ideas his own by “twisting and turning the formula, and making it unpredictable.”

Jose Antonio Negret (writer-director-cinematographer)

Born in Colombia to a South American father and British mother, Negret traveled the world as a boy, “met a lot of people, and wanted to tell their stories.” Following last year’s well-received kidnapping thriller “Towards Darkness,” he has been developing a remake of the 1994 German film “Mute Witness” for Universal and the missing-person actioner “Transit.” He’s focused on making “smart, visceral thrillers” and strives to bring the kind of “outsider’s point of view” that comes from spending time in a lot of different cultures.

Franc. Reyes (writer-director-producer)

Self-taught songwriter-turned-filmmaker Reyes sees John Leguizamo becoming the Robert De Niro to his Martin Scorsese. “I’d work with him any day of the week,” he says of the actor, who starred in Reyes’ debut film, “Empire,” in 2002, and will soon be seen in his upcoming cop drama “The Ministers.” (Wanda de Jesus was the lead in Reyes’ 2007 film “Illegal Tender.“) In the pipeline is a horror film Reyes describes as a “cross between ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Amityville Horror,'” and he’s also developing a pilot for an HBO series about the ins and outs of running a hot New York nightclub.

Patricia Riggen (writer-director-producer)

Thanks to the warm reception “Under the Same Moon” received — Riggen’s immigration tearjerker was one of 2008’s few indie success stories — Riggen is “reading a ton of screenplays, engaging in a few development deals” and intends to adapt one of her favorite novels, Isabel Allende’s “Daughter of Fortune.” Courting a Latino audience — and reaching them at the multiplex, not just the art house — is high on Riggen’s list of priorities. “I had immigrants in mind as my audience, and I know they came out to see (‘Under the Same Moon’). I’m thrilled about that,” she says.

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/20 at 12:00am

Guillermo del Toro & Peter Jackson to pen ‘Hobbit’ script

Guillermo del Toro & Peter Jackson to pen 'Hobbit' script

Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro‘s search for writers for “The Hobbit” and its companion film has ended, with the filmmakers deciding that no one is better suited for the task than they are.

Del Toro, who is directing the movies, will team with the “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker and “Hobbit” executive producer Jackson to adapt the J.R.R. Tolkien book and write its follow-up. Also joining them in the writers room are Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, both of whom collaborated with Jackson on the “Rings” trilogy.

The news caps off an eight-month search for a scribe to tackle the coveted task of bringing the literary classic to the big screen. When Jackson and New Line resolved their differences over profit participation in the “Rings” films, Jackson said he would not be writing the “Hobbit” movies because of other commitments, though he does have approval over creative elements in his role as exec producer.

Later, when del Toro came aboard, the deal was that the two would oversee the search for scribes and the writing. In the interim, three factors came into play: 1) The filmmakers saw their schedules open up, 2) During the general discussions about the films, they realized how much affection they had for the material, and 3) They also realized that in order to make the release dates, the process required people intimate with Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. All led to the decision that they would do the honors themselves along with Walsh and Boyens.

“Hobbit,” written by Tolkien for his children years before the “Rings” trilogy, follows a young Bilbo Baggins, who finds his comfortable life turned upside down when the wizard Gandalf takes him on a journey for a hoard of treasure that involves trolls, humans, Gollum and his ring of invisibility and a dragon named Smaug.

“Hobbit” and its sequel are being co-produced, co-financed and co-distributed by New Line and MGM, with New Line managing production and handling domestic distribution through Warner Bros. and MGM distributing internationally.

The films will be shot simultaneously, with principal photography tentatively set for a late-2009 start. New Line and MGM hope to release “Hobbit” in 2011 and its sequel the following year.

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/20 at 12:00am

‘A Serious Man’ – Coen brothers’ new film is cast

'A Serious Man' - Coen brothers' new film is cast

The Coen brothers have tapped a pair of relative unknowns to star in their next pic, “A Serious Man.”

Michael Stuhlbarg, a Tony-nominated actor with little experience in front of the cameras, and Richard Kind, a character actor best known for his role on ABC’s “Spin City,” will star as brothers in the period black comedy.

Set in 1967, story centers on Larry Gopnik (Stuhlbarg), a Midwestern professor whose life begins to unravel when his wife sets out to leave him and his socially inept brother (Kind) won’t move out of the house.

Shooting is set to start at the beginning of next month in Minneapolis.

Working Title is producing, and Focus Features will distribute.

Joel and Ethan Coen, whose George ClooneyBrad Pitt starrer Burn After Reading will open next month, penned the screenplay for “A Serious Man” and are sharing producing duties. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner exec produce.

Stuhlbarg, who has made guest appearances on “Law & Order” and “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” was nominated for a Tony for his role in “The Pillowman” and starred in the title role of this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “Hamlet.”

He is repped by manager Lisa Loosemoore.

Kind’s credits include “For Your Consideration,” “The Station Agent” and “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” and the TV series “Mad About You.”

Mack Chico

By

2008/08/19 at 12:00am

Street Kings

Rating: 1.0

Rated: R for strong violence and pervasive language.
Release Date: 2008-04-11
Starring: James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer, Jamie Moss
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country:USA
Official Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/press/

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Mack Chico

By

2008/08/19 at 12:00am

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Rating: 2.5

Rated: PG-13 for some partial nudity and innuendo.
Release Date: 2008-03-07
Starring: David Magee, Simon Beaufoy
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country:UK
Official Website: http://www.filminfocus.com/focus-movies/miss-pettigrew/synopsis.php

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Elena Calvo

By

2008/08/19 at 12:00am

The Life Before Her Eyes

Rating: 3.0

Rated: R for violent and disturbing content, language and brief drug use.
Release Date: 2008-04-18
Starring: Emil Stern
Director(s):
Distributor:
Film Genre:
Country:USA
Official Website: http://www.lifebeforehereyes.com/

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Alex Florez

By

2008/08/19 at 12:00am

Natalie Martinez talks about her new film ‘Death Race’

Natalie Martinez talks about her new film 'Death Race'

Natalie Martinez, the beautiful cuban american actress joins Jason Statham, Joan Allen, and Tyrese Gibson in ‘Death Race‘ – a film about an ex-con named Jensen Ames (Statham) who is forced by the warden of a notorious prison (Allen) to compete in the post-industrial world’s most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.

Watch Natalie talk about the race, working with Jason Statham and playing the role of ‘the navigator’.

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