The studio-confirmed running time on Iron Man is 126 minutes, for those wondering. And yes, I’m hearing the same good things you are, and will have firsthand evidence one way or another shortly…
The trailer for Step Brothers — starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly, and releasing July 25 from Sony — is online, and it totally works as a territorial pissing match/slice of locked-horn competitiveness between two oblivious man-children. A reunion of sorts between Ferrell and Talladega Nights co-writer-director Adam McKay — who also teamed up for the smash web short “The Landlord,” which was probably seen by more folks than saw Semi-Pro — the movie centers on two oafish fortysomethings who live at home with their respective parents (Richard Jenkins and Mary Steenburgen) who are then forced to coexist when their folks get married.
It’s good that that the movie seemingly pivots from being a thing of straight-up competition into, however ramshackle and loosely formed, an exercise in shared doofishness. Reilly and Ferrell both exude a certain affability, and their carefully constructed relationship was a good part of Talladega Night‘s success. Though the trailer is noncommittal in this regard, the studio-peddled logline seems to indicate the film is basically a re-do, on some level, of The Parent Trap, which could be great. The trailer also has the good sense to end with a great visual gag.
Yes, Jenna Jameson is known for pictures like this one, sure (and much more), but she’s a thinking woman too — one who has strong feelings about the current administration, and one who built and ran a successful company (unlike our current president) that she sold to Hugh Hefner for eight figures two years ago. So in a recent one-on-one interview, I mixed in some politics, getting her take on the race for the Democratic presidential nomination between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
While everyone — well, OK, mostly hardcore boosters and her own advisors — seemed to believe that women would feel empowered by the possibility of a female major party presidential candidate, and that Clinton could ride that enthusiasm, and the country’s, umm, considerable Bush fatigue, all the way to the White House, I always thought there was a dormant, hyperactive competitiveness and double standard that women might apply to Hillary, so I asked Jameson if her experience in the adult industry — which surely featured some of that — lent, in her opinion, any credence to my theory.
“That’s an amazing point. I think you’re right,” says Jameson, who makes her legit cinematic debut with the tongue-in-cheek horror-comedy Zombie Strippers, releasing this week in select markets. “It’s hard for women to accept another female, period. Even though we want that, we want that power, I think on some level there would be a competition, like, ‘Oh, that bitch don’t know what she’s doing.’ You know what I mean? ‘We should have a man in office, I knew I was right.'”
“But whether female or male, I think everybody wants a change,” continues Jameson, “and I’m voting [for Hillary or Barack] not necessarily just because she’s female or he’s black, but because we need a Democrat in office, period — because they’re better for society. The bottom line is we don’t want any more war.”
More on Zombie Strippers, Jameson and the latter’s battles with the Bush administration in the coming days. Wow: coming. See how I did that? Total zing.
The concept of urban ownership is born of the latter half of the civil rights movement, and predicated upon notions and concepts of self-empowerment that Dr. Martin Luther King and others strived hard to impart in a generation of African-American youngsters. As those leaders have come of age and continued King’s work, they’ve begun to focus on providing to kids in their neighborhoods the encouragement and the same hand up that many of them never received. Winner of the Best Documentary prize at the Boston International Film Festival, The Pact is a stirring documentary account of the big, local difference that can be made through such efforts.
Directed by Andrea Kalin, The Pact tells the gritty, provocative true story of three best friends from the tough streets of Newark who made it out of their neighborhood to become doctors and returned home as men. By high school, Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins already knew too much about the drugs, crime and grinding poverty that colored their world, but they pledged to help each other make it to both college and medical school. All three young men beat the statistical odds — which saw only a handful of minorities from their school go on to four-year colleges — became doctors, and then decided to return to their communities to practice medicine. Authoring a book together on their word-is-bond uplift, the trio have turned their focus — despite grueling personal workloads — on inspiring others to stay off drugs, stay away from gangs, stay in school and focus on achievement.
Nicely photographed by Bryan Sarkinen, The Pact unfolds in a highly personal and anecdotal style, with plenty of interview material, and proud, cackling, devotional bragging from the boys’ third grade teacher, Viola Johnson. Davis (above left) talks movingly about the completeness he feels working at Beth Israel Medical Complex, the hospital where he was born, and overall the movie plays as a brisk, booster-shot infusion of positivism and inspiration, with the three subjects holding forth on their “three Ds” of self-betterment — dedication, discipline and determination.
Housed in a regular Amray case, The Pact is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with 15 chapter stops. Unlike many other WGBH releases, there’s a brief bonus featurette included here, a three-minute mini-trailer of sorts, featuring words of praise from Bill Cosby. In addition to links to The Pact‘s web site, there is also a downloadable DVD-ROM guide highlighting the doctors’ “3-D principle.” To order the DVD, or any release from WGBH, phone (800) 949-8670 or visit their web by clicking here. For more general information, click here. B+ (Movie) C (Disc)
Classic texts endure in part, I suspect, because their adaptations to stage, screen and film provide a training ground for young actors, and they’re also easier to finance and sell (i.e., a known commodity) than some original script by an author who may or may not be heard of. So it’s a cycle of production and re-exhibition, all of which in turn reinforces the original book or play’s elevated status. All of this and more came to mind while watching this very so-so 2007 Masterpiece Theater version of E.M. Forster’s classic love story A Room with a View, directed by Nicholas Renton.
Opening in Florence, Italy in 1912, A Room with a View centers around Lucy Honeychurch (Elaine Cassidy), a young woman who is eager for adventure but finds herself stuck in a safe haven of English tourists, spinsters and clergymen. After she makes the acquaintance of socialist Mr. Emerson (Timothy Spall, most recently of Enchanted) and his son George (Hot Fuzz‘s Rafe Spall, Timothy’s real-life son), she finds herself intrigued. Sparks fly between Lucy and George, but Lucy does her best to ignore them. After an astute observer purposefully mistranslates her request for “the good men” (clergymen) and sends her into the arms of “a good man,” Lucy receives a passionate kiss from George in the middle of a field of poppies. Both profoundly shocked and excited, Lucy is whisked away to Rome by her concerned chaperone before much else can come of this situation.
It’s there that Lucy meets the most suitable Cecil Vyse (Inspector Lewis‘ Laurence Fox), a staid and proper chap whom Lucy’s brother Freddy (Tag Stewart) derides as a straight arrow, and not someone with whom he can “muck in or muck about.” Cecil courts Lucy with high-falutin’ language and labyrinthine compliments, calling her not straightforward beautiful, but possessing of a beauty that is “the embodiment of eternal female mystery.” Meanwhile, back in England, George reappears just as Lucy is on the brink of marriage to Cecil; determined to sop the marriage, he declares his love for her. How will Lucy choose between them? Or is she destined for a life of spinsterhood?
Cassidy makes for a fairly appealing Lucy — she seems tremulous and excited at the same time, which is at the core of Lucy’s being. The rest of the acting is fairly solid too, though the movie is howlingly over-scored, with dubious compositions drowning out the dialogue in many a scene — dialogue that is frequently poorly dubbed, it must be said. It’s also a bit silly that the bare buttocks of men (George and Freddy go swimming in a creek in one scene) are blurred out in a couple wide shots; either shoot around it or not, but don’t stoop to this ridiculous level of editorial censorship. Overall, though, while the story certainly carries its own weight, director Renton does little to shape the material in a favorable light. He just points, shoots and relies on curious insert shots to save him on various edits. Thumbs down on the construction and arrangement, then.
Housed in a regular Amray case, this production of A Room with a View is presented in 16×9 anamorphic widescreen, and divided into eight chapters. As with most other WGBH releases there are no on-disc special features, which is a shame since the closing credits indicate the existence, on the PBS web site, of an interview with Emmy-winning classic adaptation specialist Andrew Davies, who wrote the screenplay here. To order A Room with a View or any release from WGBH, phone (800) 949-8670 or visit their web by clicking here. C+ (Movie) D+ (Disc)