Thursday, November 1, 2007

American Gangster Opens This Weekend

The first weekend of November means it’s getting closer to Oscar season and this weekend is no different at the cinema. American Gangster is opening, starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe (who dons a pretty on point New York accent…at least from what I’ve seen from the previews).

This true story follows underground gangster, Frank Lucas, played by Washington, who comes to rule the inner-city drug trade in 1970s Manhattan. He begins to be targeted by Officer Richie Roberts, portrayed by Aussie actor, Russell Crowe.

According to the synopsis on IMDB:

“Both Lucas and Roberts share a rigorous ethical code that sets them apart from
their own colleagues, making them lone figures on opposite sides of the law."

The movie runs almost 2 and half hours and we shouldn’t expect any less from director Ridley Scott, who has directed such gems as Alien, Gladiator and Thelma and Louise.

The film is getting rave reviews and early Oscar predictions are hovering around it. According to one reviewer on IMDB:

“I think Ridley Scott has already booked a spot in the best director contest. He can control the camera like no other and you can get every teeny tiny detail from what you are watching thanks to him. He managed to the details about a very critical period of American history using a very descent manner of focusing on drugs and

Although some critics are embracing the film, others have delved deeper into its background and real life history and have labeled it seemingly unreal. Manohla Dargis, a film critic at the New York Times said the film, or more so, the director embraces the violent man we are supposed to hate too much and makes him the focus and seemingly, the "hero" of the film.

"Like many moviemakers (and watchers), Mr. Scott loves his bad
guy too much. And by turning Lucas into a figure who seduces instead of repels,
an object of directorial fetishism and a token of black resistance, however
hollow, he encourages us to submit as well."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Welcome to a day filled with ghouls and goblins, witches and well...playboy bunnies if you're in college. But as a big fan of both this wonderful holiday and the delicious treats that come along with it, I found this post on with movie related candy to hand out to the kiddies (or in my case, college aged boys dressed as women) who come to the door.

Of course, we are all advocates of product placement in films. How else would they get financed? But there have been some great candy placements in the most popular films of this generation. I think the most obvious comes from E.T: The Extra Terrestrial., where Eliot finds the little creature using Reese's Pieces candy.

According the site:

"Originally Spielberg had wanted M&Ms in the film, but the candy's manufacturer, Mars, declined. Then, Spielberg contacted Hershey about using Kisses, but the company offered its fairly new Reese's Pieces instead. And the rest is history. The film showcases the product as the specific lure for getting E.T. out of the shed. And the until-then unknown and unpopular candies saw an 80% rise in sales because of the product placement"

Very intriguing. I'm sure M&M's and Mars kicked themselves in the behind a lot after that film came out and its popularity soared.

Other candies to hand out include Babe Ruth bars, which were a prominent feature in the film The Goonies, again another classic children's movie.

Another recent addition comes from the famed Harry Potter collection. Jelly Belly beans that have flavors such as throw up, booger and rotten egg. Gross! These jelly beans came out after the success of the movie, as most products do. I have seen them available at Hallmark stores and CVS if you are looking for a gross, yet fun treat.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Next Stop for the Movies? iTunes...

Clearly, the film industry is a hard place to break into. Even veteran filmmaker and actor, Edward Burns has had a rough time. He spoke to the New York Times about the difficulties he has had, even as well known as he is, in bringing his films to the theaters and to film festivals.

His new film Purple Violets, which stars known actors Debra Messing, Selma Blair and Patrick Wilson will be released on November 20 solely to iTunes. According to the article Burns and his partner, Aaron Lubin hope that the release of their full length feature on the download site will bring more promotion for the film than if they had released it in a handful of theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

iTunes itself has had problems in the movie distribution ring. Their competition includes Netflix's watch it now category, where those with a Netflix account have the ability to watch several hundred titles for free right on their computer screens, instead of waiting for them in the mail. However, iTunes does offer older titles, for a small download fee, similar to downloading mp3 music files off of the site.

iTunes was actually the promotion vehicle for Wes Anderson's new flick The Darjeeling Limited. Anderson's prequel to the film, Hotel Chevalier was first featured on iTunes, where those who wanted to could download the 13 minute film for free. More than 400,000 people downloaded the short, which acted as a huge promotion for Darjeeling.

iTunes is becoming the distribution center for a lot of short films and documentaries not usually seen in the public sphere. For instance, during the Academy Award ceremonies, I always decide to take a shower or go make food when they being giving out the awards for Best Feature, Short Subject or Best Animated Short. I haven't seen these movies, nor do I care who wins them because I am not familiar with any of the titles. However, now that they are becoming more available on iTunes, I will have the opportunity to check them out before the Oscars and can make predictions as to who will win. It is also good for those filmmakers who will now have the opportunity to reach a wider audience. It also makes it easier for them to push their films in the festival ring as well.

According to the New York Times:

“We’re really at the beginning stage in the movie space,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president for iTunes, adding that iTunes had sold more than four million movie downloads — including shorts — but still had fewer than 1,000 titles for sale. Of course we want all of the Hollywood movies,” he added. “But we do like the fact that we can be a great distribution vehicle for the little guys.”

Check out iTunes and see what they have available for movie downloads!