Warm Bodies – First Four Minutes
Directed by Jonathan Levine (50/50) based on the book by Isaac Marion, the zom-rom-com follows an unlikely relationship between the handsome-but-undead R (Nicholas Hoult) and the very-much-alive Julie (Teresa Palmer). The promos we’ve seen so far suggest a movie that’s equal parts sweet and funny. Now the first four minutes have come online, giving us a better look at R and the grim, gray world he inhabits.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Breaks Box-Office Records
As if there was any doubt that it could repeat the success of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has surpassed the $500 million benchmark at the worldwide box office. To date, the blockbuster has earned an estimated $179.7 million in the USA, in addition, it is a record-breaking release in Australia, the biggest Boxing Day opening of all time. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has grossed an estimated $344 million internationally, for a staggering global total of $523.7 million, and still steadily climbing. The joint announcement was made by Toby Emmerich, President and Chief Operating Officer, New Line Cinema; Gary Barber, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios; Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution, Warner Bros. and Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, President of International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.
Bad Guys… by Robert M. Ball
Awesome artwork depicting various ‘Bad Guys’ through the cinematic ages… by Robert M. Ball
Shane Meadows (born 26 December 1972) is an English film director, screenwriter, occasional actor and BAFTA winner.
Meadows grew up in the Westlands Road area of Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. His father was a long distance lorry driver and his mother worked in a fish and chip shop. He attended Picknalls First School, Oldfields Hall Middle School and Thomas Alleyne’s High School. At weekends, he sold fruit and veg on a market stall in Uttoxeter market. His love of cinema was fostered by regular trips to the Elite Cinema.
Meadows left school shortly before reaching his GCSEs, and soon turned to petty crime. He moved to Nottingham when he was 20; while living there, he made roughly 30 short films with the friends he met there. He could not show these films to anyone because there were no film festivals in his area. His friends started one in the local cinema which became popular within the city.
Meadows enrolled on a Performing Arts course at Burton College, where he first met friend and future collaborator Paddy Considine. Amongst other things, they formed the band She Talks To Angels (inspired by a Black Crowes song of the same name), with Meadows as vocalist and Considine as drummer.
The vast majority of Meadows’ films have been set in the Midlands area. They recall the kitchen sink realism of filmmakers such as Ken Loach and Mike Leigh. Much of the content of his films is semi-autobiographical and based on his experiences in Uttoxeter: Twenty Four Seven was inspired by his youth, both at a boxing club, and also playing in a local football club. A Room for Romeo Brass was also inspired by his youth after his best friend, neighbour and future writing partner — had a bad accident and was bound to his bed for two years, Meadows instead hung around with some of the town’s more undesirable characters. Dead Man’s Shoes is based on the more unpleasant side of his youth in Uttoxeter. It was inspired by a close friend who had been bullied, developed a drug problem and then committed suicide. He said “I couldn’t believe that, going back ten years later, he had been totally forgotten in the town — it was as if he had never existed. I was filled with anger against the people who had bullied and pushed the drugs on him, and with despair at what drugs had done to that small community”.
His second feature-length film, Twenty Four Seven, won several awards at film festivals, including the Douglas Hickox award at the British Independent Film Awards and Best Screenplay at the Thessaloniki Film Festival. Dead Man’s Shoes, his sixth film, and third starring Paddy Considine, was nominated for a BAFTA for Best British Film. His seventh film This is England, won the British Independent Film Awards 2006 for best British independent film, and also won a BAFTA for Best British Film. Five of Meadows’ films were shown at the 2007 Flourish Festival, held annually in Uttoxeter, to mark the release of This is England (a film set in 1983).
The film has since had a series of sequels adapted into television serials, the first being This is England 86 (set in 1986 aired on Channel 4 in September 2010). A second series, This is England 88 (set in 1988) was aired in December 2011. A third and final series, This Is England ’90 (set in 1990), was originally due to be broadcast in December 2012, but in July 2012, Shane Meadows announced that the production had been put on hold in order for him to complete his documentary about Stone Roses, and the actors were still waiting for confirmation as to when filming would start.
His shortest film, The Stairwell, was shot on a mobile phone and is just 40 seconds long. It consists solely of a man and woman, played by Meadows regulars Andrew Shim and Vicky McClure, violently bumping into each other on a stairwell.
He is widely regarded as a big fan of Notts County F.C., with several references included in his films by way of imagery and background shots… always interesting, he’s the face, and future of British Independent Film.
The Walking Dead – Season 4 News
AMC has announced that it has renewed flagship drama The Walking Dead for a fourth season. But Glen Mazzara, who had served as showrunner following the abrupt departure of creator/original showrunner Frank Darabont early into the second season, is leaving. Speculations about Mazzara’s future on the show started when AMC didn’t follow its regular routine of giving The Walking Dead an early pickup despite the record-breaking ratings performance of the show’s recent fall portion of Season 3. There had been rumors that Mazzara was not happy on the show and may follow the slew of other showrunners who have departed AMC series. Darabont tapped Glen Mazzara as an executive producer and his No. 2 heading into Season 2, after Mazzara wrote a freelance script in Season 2. Mazzara was quickly elevated to showrunner when Darabont left.
“Both parties acknowledge that there is a difference of opinion about where the show should go moving forward, and conclude that it is best to part ways,” AMC and Mazzara said in a joint statement. “This decision is amicable and Glen will remain on for post-production on season 3B as showrunner and executive producer… AMC is grateful for his hard work. We are both proud of our shared success.” Here are individual statements from Mazzara and The Walking Dead executive producers Robert Kirkman, on whose comic the series is based, and Gale Anne Hurd:
My time as showrunner on The Walking Dead has been an amazing experience, but after I finish season 3, it’s time to move on. I have told the stories I wanted to tell and connected with our fans on a level that I never imagined. It doesn’t get much better than that. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. – Glen Mazzara
I am in full support of both AMC and Glen Mazzara in the decision they have come to and believe the parties came to this decision in the best interest of the future of the show. I thank Glen for his hard work and appreciate his many contributions to The Walking Dead and look forward to working with him as we complete post production on Season 3. I am also excited to begin work on another spectacular season of this show that I know means so much to so many people. This show has always been the result of a wide range of extremely talented men and women working tirelessly to produce their best work collectively. I believe the future is bright for The Walking Dead. Thank you to the fans for your continued support. – Robert Kirkman
I am appreciative and grateful to Glen for his hard work on ‘The Walking Dead.’ I am supportive of AMC and Glen’s decision and know that the series is in great hands with one of the most talented and dedicated casts and crews in the business. I look forward to the show’s continued success. – Gale Anne Hurd
The Warriors – Gang Figurines
Awesome gang figurines from the classic movie, The Warriors, by Benjaminography…
Samuel Leroy Jackson
Samuel Leroy Jackson (born December 21, 1948) is an American film and television actor and film producer. Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with his mother, Elizabeth Jackson, and his maternal grandparents and extended family. Initially intent on pursuing a degree in marine biology, he attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. After joining a local acting group to earn extra points in a class, Jackson found an interest in acting and switched his major. Before graduating in 1972, he co-founded the “Just Us Theatre”.
Jackson began acting in multiple plays, appeared in several television films, and made his feature film debut in the blaxploitation independent film Together for Days (1972). After these initial roles, Jackson proceeded to move from Atlanta to New York City in 1976 and spent the next decade appearing in stage plays. Throughout his early film career, mainly in minimal roles in films and various television films, Jackson was mentored by Morgan Freeman. After a 1981 performance in the play A Soldier’s Play, Jackson was introduced to director Spike Lee who would later include him in small roles for the films School Daze (1988) and Do the Right Thing (1989). He also played a minor role in the 1990 Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas as real-life Mafia associate Stacks Edwards.
After gaining critical acclaim for his role in Jungle Fever (1991), he appeared in films such as Patriot Games (1992), True Romance and Jurassic Park (both 1993). In 1994, he was cast as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction, and his performance received several award nominations and critical acclaim.
Directed in a highly stylized manner by Quentin Tarantino, who co-wrote its screenplay with Roger Avery; the film is known for its rich, eclectic dialogue, ironic mix of humor and violence, nonlinear storyline, and host of cinematic allusions and pop culture references. The film was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture; Tarantino and Avary won for Best Original Screenplay. It was also awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. A major critical and commercial success, it revitalized the career of its leading man, John Travolta, who with Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman, received Academy Award nominations.
Pulp Fiction connects the intersecting storylines of Los Angeles mobsters, fringe players, small-time criminals, and a mysterious briefcase. Considerable screen time is devoted to conversations and monologues that reveal the characters’ senses of humor and perspectives on life. The nature of its development, marketing, and distribution and its consequent profitability had a sweeping effect on the field of independent cinema (although it is not an independent film itself). Considered a cultural watershed, Pulp Fiction’s influence has been felt in several other media.
Jackson has since appeared in over 100 films including Die Hard with a Vengeance, The 51st State, Jackie Brown, Unbreakable, The Incredibles, Black Snake Moan, Shaft, Deep Blue Sea, Snakes on a Plane, 1408, as well as the Star Wars prequel trilogy and small roles in Tarantinos’ Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Inglourious Basterds.
More recently, he played Nick Fury in the Marvel films Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers, the first five of a nine-film commitment as the character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Jackson’s many roles have made him one of the highest-grossing actors at the box office. Jackson has won multiple awards throughout his career and has been portrayed in various forms of media including films, television series, and songs. He is next up in another Tarantino movie, Django Unchained, and in the ever-delayed remake of Robocop.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a 1937 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released by RKO Radio Pictures. Based on the German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, it is the first full-length cel animated feature in motion picture history, the first animated feature film produced in the United States, the first produced in full color, the first to be produced by Walt Disney Productions, and the first in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series.
The story was adapted by storyboard artists Dorothy Ann Blank, Richard Creedon, Merril De Marais, Otto Englander, Earl Hurd, Dick Rickard, Ted Sears and Webb Smith. David Hand was the supervising director, while William Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, and Ben Sharpsteen directed the film’s individual sequences.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs premiered at the Carthay Circle Theatre on December 21, 1937, followed by a nationwide release on February 4, 1938. It went on to gross a total of $8 million in international receipts in its opening release. The film was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 1989. It was one of two animated films to rank in the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest American films of all time in 1997 (the other being Disney’s Fantasia), ranking number 49. It reached number 34 in the list’s 2007 revision, this time being the only traditionally-animated film on the list. The AFI named the film as the greatest American animated film of all time in 2008.
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American Christmas drama film, that was based on the short story The Greatest Gift, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, and privately published by the author in 1945. The film, produced and directed by Frank Capra is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season.
Released on December 20, 1946, the film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born.
Despite initially being considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has come to be regarded as a classic and is a staple of Christmas television around the world. Theatrically, the film’s break-even point was actually $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. An appraisal in 2006 reported: “Although it was not the complete box-office failure that today everyone believes … it was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were.”
The film was nominated for five Oscars and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 Best American films ever made, placing number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, and would also place number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time.
I love this film, it never fails to make me feel good, and more importantly, to appreciate what I have. Merry Christmas.
A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol is a novella by English author Charles Dickens, first published by Chapman & Hall on 19 December 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebeneezer Scrooge’s ideological, ethical, and emotional transformation resulting from supernatural visits from Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim.
The book was written and published in early Victorian era Britain, a period when there was both strong nostalgia for old Christmas traditions and an initiation of new practices such as Christmas trees and greeting cards. Dickens’s sources for the tale appear to be many and varied but are principally the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.
The tale has been viewed by critics as an indictment of 19th-century industrial capitalism. It has been credited with restoring the holiday to one of merriment and festivity in Britain and America after a period of sobriety and sombreness. A Christmas Carol remains popular, has never been out of print, and has been adapted to film, stage, opera, and other media multiple times.
Julius “Jules” Dassin (December 18, 1911 – March 31, 2008) was an American film director, with Jewish-Russian origins. He was a subject of the Hollywood Blacklist in the McCarthy era, and subsequently moved to France, where he revived his career.
One of eight children of Berthe Vogel and Samuel Dassin, a barber in Middletown, Connecticut, Dassin grew up in Harlem and went to Morris High School in the Bronx. He joined the Communist Party USA in the 1930’s and left it after the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939. He started as a Yiddish actor with the ARTEF (Yiddish Proletarian Theater) company in New York.
Dassin quickly became better known for his noir films Brute Force, The Naked City, and Thieve’s Highway in the 1940’s, which helped him to become “one of the leading American filmmakers of the postwar era.”
In 1937 he married Beatrice Launer, with whom he had three children. In May 1955 he met Melina Mercouri at the Cannes Film Festival; at bout the same time, he discovered the literary works of Nikos Kazantzakis; these two elements created a bond with Greece. He divorced Launer in 1962 and married Mercouri in 1966. The couple had to leave Greece after the colonels’ coup in 1967. In 1970, they were accused of having financed an attempt to overthrow the dictatorship, but the charges were quickly dropped. Dassin and Mercouri lived in New York City during the 1970’s; then, when the general’s dictatorship in Greece fell in 1974, they returned to Greece and lived out their lives there. While Mercouri became involved with politics and won a parliamentary seat, Dassin stayed with movie-making in Europe but found time in the U.S. to make another movie, the racial drama Up Tight!, which would be his last American film.
After he was blacklisted from Hollywood, Dassin found work in France where he was asked to direct Rififi. Despite his distaste for parts of the original novel, Dassin agreed to direct the film. He shot Rififi while working with a low budget, without a star cast, and with the production staff working for low wages. It was to become his most influential film; Rififi (Du rififi chez les hommes) is a 1955 French film adaptation of Auguste le Breton’s novel of the same name. The film stars Jean Servais as the aging gangster Tony le Stéphanois, Carl Möhner as Jo le Suédois, Robert Manuel as Mario Farrati, and Jules Dassin as César le Milanais. The plot revolves around a burglary at a jewelry shop in the Rue de Rivoli, Tony, Jo, Mario, and César band together to commit the almost impossible theft. The centerpiece of the film is an intricate half hour heist scene depicting the crime in detail, shot in near silence, without dialogue or music. The fictional burglary has been mimicked by criminals in actual crimes around the world.
Upon the initial release of the film, it received positive reactions from audiences and critics in France, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The film earned Dassin the award for Best Director at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival; it was nominated by the National Board of Review for Best Foreign Film. Rififi was re-released theatrically in 2000 and is still highly acclaimed by modern film critics as one of the greatest works in French film noir. It inspired later heist films, such as Ocean’s Eleven and Mission: Impossible; another piece it inspired was Dassin’s own heist film Topkapi, filmed in France and Istanbul, Turkey with Melina Mercouri and Oscar winner Peter Ustinov.
Dassin died aged 96, in 2008 from complications from a case of flu; he is survived by his two daughters and his grandchildren.
Bates Motel – First Trailer
Check out the trailer for A&E’s upcoming series Bates Motel, which serves as a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic Psycho. This first trailer for the series, which is rolling out in movie theaters nationwide, introduces Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and young British actor Freddie Highmore as her son, serial killer-to-be Norman Bates. It provides first glimpses at their complex and twisted relationship as they move into the infamous Bates Motel. The trailer includes commentary from the show’s cast and producers, including former Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights), who co-wrote and executive produce the 10-episode series.