Friday, November 26, 2010

Daniel Day-Lewis to Play Abraham Lincoln in Biopic

Talk about a look-a-like.

Steven Speilberg's biopic of President Lincoln has been simmering in Hollywood development hell for a few years now. For most of that time it was known that Liam Neeson was set to play President Abraham Lincoln in said biopic.

For many years, it seemed as if the film was always in pre-production, never to see the light of day. Then in August Neeson dropped out of playing the President, which left the film's future in doubt yet again. Doubt no more.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Academy Award-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis has signed on to play the iconic President for Spielberg's film, which will begin filming next fall.

The story will be based on the best-selling Doris Kearns Goodwin book "Team Of Rivals," but renamed "Lincoln."

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner ("Angels in America") has penned the screenplay. In a press release, DreamWorks said the film will focus on “the political collision of Lincoln and the powerful men of his cabinet on the road to abolition [of slavery] and the end of the Civil War.”

Of Lewis, Spielberg said: "Daniel Day-Lewis would have always been counted as one of the greatest of actors, were he from the silent era, the golden age of film or even some time in cinema's distant future. I am grateful and inspired that our paths will finally cross with Lincoln."

Day-Lewis is known for his commitment to roles, as well as the fact that he doesn’t take on too many of them. He recently starred in the musical "Nine" and before that took home his second Best Actor nomination for Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood." Day-Lewis played oil man Daniel Plainview, turning in one of Hollywood's all-time best performances.

Although I had previously though Neeson was the perfect actor to portray Lincoln, this matchup is even better. Day-Lewis is easily the best actor of this generation and his commitment to his work is unbelievable. While on the set of his films the man doesn't break character, so anyone who is on the crew of this up coming film should be prepared to see the most realistic version of the iconic President as they probably ever will.

The film is scheduled to begin filming in the fall of 2011, with an anticipated release in the fall of 2012.

Here's a super duper early Oscar prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis wins one for this role. You heard it here breezers.

Trailergasm of the Day

Today's trailergasm goes straight out to my boy Dillion Tedesco holding it down in the nation's capital, much like Daniel Criag holds down some aliens in this bad ass trailer.

Directed by Jon Favreau this film looks to be one of the most enertinaing of 2011 and the trailer does not disappoint. The film clearly wants to hold true to its Western roots, and while it won't be the gritty variety of lets say "Deadwood", the film is as much a Western story as it is a science fiction one.

The film has an absolutely stellar cast including Harrison Ford as the harsh town leader as well as Sam Rockwell, the super hot Olivia Wilde, Clancy Brown and Paul Dano. Oh, and it's exec produced by Steven Spielberg, so get your six shooters and laser ready.

The invasion begins July 29, 2011.

DiCaprio's J. Edgar Hoover Flick Begins Filming Early Next Year

After a year in which he gave two of his best career performances, Leonardo DiCaprio literally is in a place where he can take on whatever role he pleases. Early on, he gave one of his best in "Shutter Island" before dizzying audiences in Christopher Nolan's "Inception" over the summer.

Around that time came news that DiCaprio would be starring in Clint Eastwood's biopic about J. Edgar Hoover, but there was no word on when that would actually begin. But now we have confirmation from the actor himself. Filming on the project will start early next year.

Word comes from DiCaprio through Coming Soon, who commented on the project on Sunday during a Q&A presentation titled "Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese in Conversation."

Legendary actor-director Clint Eastwood will direct DiCaprio in the role of Hoover, while screenwriter Dustin Lance Black penned the screenplay. Black of course won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for penning the screenplay for "Milk."

Said DiCaprio at the event: “I will be working with Clint very soon on the Hoover project. I think it's going to start very soon, maybe January or February.”

Since Black had previously written "Milk" and is openly gay, many in the industry think the script could focus on Hoover's rumored homosexuality and cross-dressing. Eastwood, has confirmed that that's at least partly true, but still hasn't divulged much.

Said Eastwood: "He was a very complex person. The homosexual aspect is just one of many. I would say that's the least of his problems. But he was also very clever, whether rightfully or wrongfully, he was very clever about keeping himself in a certain position in life, so it is an interesting study."

Hoover vehemently denied he was gay, but willed his estate to Clyde Tolson, his alleged lover. The two men also worked together, Tolson landed the plum post of associate director after only three years at the agency, and frequently socialized together. Other evidence that Hoover was gay includes the fact that many of his closest friends were closeted men. Rumors that Hoover was a crossdresser persist to this day.

Whether they focus on the homosexual aspect or not, this film is shaping up to be a supreme awards contender whenever it is released. With talents like Eastwood, DiCaprio and Black all collaborating together, the sky is the limit when it comes to quality. I'm sure no one would be surprised if the three ended up landing Oscar nominations for their work.

Filming should kick of early next year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Classic Album Review: DMX, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot

In the mid-90s the hip-hop community was reeling. Everyone was still dealing with the tragic deaths of both 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G. and the industry was entering one of its toughest periods it had ever known. People were angry, people wanted answers.

Hip-hop was waiting for something to happen, for someone to take the flag from those fallen stars and continue to bring hardcore rap into the new century. Whether it was out of anger, frustration or timing, DMX was that man.

Soon after those tragedies DMX came along, his Ruff Ryder crew in tow, and brought on some inner-city toughness and machismo that the industry was looking for. While he had done some guest work and had released some lesser known tracks, Earl Simmons, aka DMX was still looking for his breakout.

That breakout came in May of 1998 with his debut album, the aptly titled "It's Dark and Hell is Hot". The album introduced DMX to the masses, and unlike most other hardcore rappers who had more bark than bite, he had the physical presence to go along with his aggressive rapping style.

Filled with barking, growling, and snarling, the album had a personality of its own, personified by the man who made it. Produced in parts by Swizz Beats, Irv Gotti, and Dame Grease, the album is filled with some great tracks including "Stop Being Greedy", "How's It Goin' Down", "X-Is Coming", "Get at Me Dog", "For My Dogs", and of course the "Ruff Ryders' Anthem".

The album itself helped throw the spotlight back on hardcore rap, and showcased that DMX was more than just a growling machine, with him bringing so much emotion to the album while portraying different characters and mindsets throughout, including on the track "Damien".

"X-Is Coming" is one of the most interesting but also dark tracks on the album. The beat a sort of horror or gothic sound to it, referencing the film "A Nightmare on Elm Street" throughout the track as well. DMX delves into some serious lyrics, involving issues such as violence, murder and rape. The beat is haunting, and DMX is fierce on the track as he raps: " And ask you seriously what you wanna do?/Frustratin isn't? Wanna kill me but I'ma kill you!/Now watch me f**k, just a little while longer, please will you?/This is revenge, know that before you die,/Despite how much I hate to see a grown man,/ I'ma make you suffer,/See yo' ass in hell motherf**ker!"

"How's It Goin' Down" was the third single off of the album and could be considered a bit less hardcore than the rest of the tracks. The lyrics go over DMX meeting a girl and eventually carrying on an affair with her, which leads to the girl's current boyfriend attacking a man he believes is DMX. By the song's end, DMX decides that carrying on the relationship would be wrong and tells the girl she should go back to her boyfriend. I actually think this is one of DMX's most underrated tracks because of his ability to change up from his usual hard delivery into a smoother rap style.

One of his best verses on the track comes at the end as he spits: " Aiyyo this chicken got me digging her moves, 'cuz she smooth/Wanna lose, whoever she choose, it's the dues/Respect is not expected but it's given 'cuz it's real /Being neglected and all, expect it, the deal/Lie, cheat, and steal for me/Putting something in a nigga's wig if you squeal for me/Kill for me, you still with me/'Cuz we get down like what."

"Stop Being Greedy" has one of the best beats on the album hands down. It samples a part of a Diana Ross track and from the second the track starts you can see how ferocious DMX is, starting off barking and spitting some fast rhymes. One of the most interesting aspects of the track is something DMx does throughout the album, showing two sides of his voice. He uses the smooth voice to represent no trouble while the angry voice represents hostility and trouble. Lyrics on this track are focused on violence and stress which represents DMX's anger towards greedy people not wanting to help the one who needs it.

The "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" is easily the most recognizable tracks on the album and is also one of the best. Produced by uber-producer Swizz Beats, the repetitive and pounding beat is impossible to ignore. Whether you liked it or not, the song was catchy, and showed off DMX's skills as a rapper as well as his penchant for humor.

DMX brings it full force on this track as he sets the tone and raps: "Niggaz wanna try, niggaz wanna lie /Then niggaz wonder why, niggaz wanna die/All I know is pain/All I feel is rain/How can I maintain, with madd shit on my brain/I resort to violence, my niggaz move in silence/Like you don't know what are style is/New York niggaz the wildest."

While many may not think of this album as one of the best of all time, looking back over ten years down the line, there's no doubt it is. DMX makes his voice a character like no other rapper can, and throughout the album he intelligently battles with the good and evil sides of himself.

On top of that, unlike most of the hardcore rappers of that time, DMX makes his lyrics meaningful and symbolic, rather than just about material issues. He raps about inner strength, as well as qualities like survival, wisdom, strength, respect, and faith, while also maintaining his hard edge.

While DMX may have slipped off in his later years, there is no doubt that "It's Dark and Hell is Hot" is his best work, and easily a classic hardcore hip-hop album.

Soderbergh Helms "Man From U.N.C.L.E."

Over the years, Steven Soderbergh has consistently impressed me with his selection of films. He has proven to be one of the most versatile directors of all-time, seamlessly directing such varied films as "Traffic," "Ocean's 11," "Erin Brockovich" and "The Informant."

Soderbergh now looks to add another film to his already lengthy and impressive resume, with Heat Vision reporting that the director is in line to direct the film adaptation of classic 60's NBC TV series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." for Warner Bros. Pictures.

U.N.C.L.E. aired on NBC from 1964-68, during a Cold War period that saw numerous spy shows hit the airwaves. James Bond author Ian Fleming was a creator of the show, which focused on the adventures of American and Russian members of a secret agency called the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

Robert Vaughn and David McCallum starred in the original spy drama as two agents from U.N.C.L.E. who fought the forces of Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity (T.H.R.U.S.H.).

David Dobkin ("Wedding Crashers") was most recently attached to direct and while that's no longer the case, Dobkin will remain onboard as producer alongside John Davis and Jeff Kleeman.

Scott Z. Burns, who wrote the Soderbergh films "The Informant" and the upcoming "Contagion," will likely join to do a rewrite of Max Borenstein's latest script draft.

Soderbergh has kept himself busy lately with projects, including "Haywire," his first foray into action territory, with Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and Michael Douglas, and is currently shooting "Contagion," a thriller with another all-star cast, this one featuring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Kate Winslett.

Obviously, only time will tell on what tone or style Soderbergh will take on the film, but he could go either way, making things a bit more comical and light, or more serious and realistic. Either way, I'm excited for this project mainly because of the director. I think "Traffic" is one of the most under appreciated films of all time, and "The Informant!" was pure genius.

The director will aim to shoot U.N.C.L.E. at the end of next year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Marvel Moves "The Avengers" To the West Coast

Marvel's upcoming film "The Avengers" is easily the most anticipated film of 2012, and while it's sure to make a boatload of money, the company is looking to cut corners when it comes to production.

At first, Joss Whedon's film was to be shot largely in New York City and Manhattan, but according to Bleeding Cool the production is looking to scale back tat part of the production, and move things mainly to Los Angeles.

The New York filming will focus mostly on exterior establishing shots with the rest filmed on sound stages or CG-enhanced select locations around Southern California. Many other productions have used this tactic to represent New York, including "Castle," "Mad Men" and the final season of "24," which did a fantastic job of representing the city.

Not only is filming cheaper than shooting on location in New York, but the move significantly reduces the cost of transporting and accommodating much of the film's talent as most reside in the Los Angeles area.

While this could be seen as a negative move, I really don’t think a change of location will hurt the film creatively, which really is most important thing. In addition, I don't think there's anything wrong with keeping the production close to home at Marvel studios, as well as the fact that most of the cast and crew live in the area.

Production is still slated to kick off in February.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg Move Into "Neighborhood Watch"

When Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg take on a script, hilarious things happen--take "Superbad," for example.

So, its welcome news that the duo are set to do a re-write on the upcoming comedy film "Neighborhood Watch," according to Heat Vision.

The story, initially conceived by studio exec John Fox, concerns a suburban "neighborhood watch" group, which is actually a front for dads to get some male bonding time away from the family. Things go awry when the group accidentally uncovers a plot bent on destroying the world. In their somewhat over-enthusiastic approach, they stumble upon supernatural evil afoot on their block.

Shawn Levy will produce the film, in which Will Ferrell was originally slated to star, but no actors are currently attached. The project has jumped around a bit, having once had Levy and David Dobkin attached to direct.

Rogen and Goldberg recently finished "The Green Hornet," which is set for a release in January.
I think this is the perfect type of script for these two take on, considering how successful they have been with writing suburban comedies. From "Superbad" to "Pineapple Express," they have shown that the suburban setting is perfect for their brand of comedy.

Rogen would even be a nice fit to star in the film, but even if he just stays on as a writer this project should be better for it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Track of the Day: November 12th

Brandon Flowers, front man of my favorite band "The Killers" is just a gangsta in his own right. Here's his track "Crossfire". He's playing in New York in December, and I will be there. The man knows how to cut a track.

Whoa 500 posts! heyyy

Trailergasm of the Day

Say what you will about all the alien invasion movies coming out these days, but this one looks to be amazing. The combination of "Black Hawk Down"-realism with "District 9"-documentary style shooting looks to be working perfectly. Aaron Eckhart is still an underrated actor, and this movie looks to be one of the dopest of 2011.

The invasion begins March 11, 2011.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Track of the Day: November 11th

Kid Cudi, "Mojo So Dope"
Man on the Moon II: Legend of Mr. Rager

Couldn't help but throw this bad boy up. The 'kid' is back.

DeNiro, Pfeiffer, Swank Ring In Garry Marshall's "New Year's Eve"

Admit it, somewhere inside you is a soft spot for ensemble romantic comedies. While no one will argue that they ever are Oscar-worthy, they can be fresh and fun, and just pure movie entertainment. In them are usually a nice group of stars we all know and enjoy, mucking it up together in some sort of situation we all wish we could get into.

Following "Valentine's Day," director Garry Marshall is working on a follow-up entitled "New Year's Eve" and is attempting to pull in some big names to take part.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer are in negotiations, while Hilary Swank and Ashton Kutcher are circling key roles in the ensemble project.

The movie tells intertwining stories of a group of New Yorkers as they navigate their way through romance over the course of New Year's Eve.

De Niro will play a bitter dying man in a hospital, while Pfeiffer will be a frustrated secretary who decides to take on her unfulfilled resolutions. Swank would play a producer of the famed Times Square New Year's Eve show, while Kutcher would play a guy who hates New Year's Eve. Obviously.

Lea Michele and Abigail Breslin are already set to star in the project, while "Army Wives" creator Katherine Fugate, writer of the "Valentine's Day" script, has written the film.

Marshall has shown over his career that he is one of the most skilled comedic directors, and after assembling the cast he did for "Valentine's Day," I'm sure he won't have a problem handling all the stars on this film. With De Niro joining, this certainly he has kept himself busy, having appeared in "Machete" and in the upcoming "Little Fockers."

The project is set to kick of filming in mid-December in New York.

Steve Carell to Play a Rock Star’s Love Child

Although Steve Carell is set to depart "The Office" after this season, it hardly means he won't be working. In fact, he is doing the exact opposite, attaching himself to a litany of projects, including a new one set to be penned by Dan Fogelman.

Carell already has worked with Fogelman on his upcoming film "Crazy, Stupid, Love," and according to Vulture, the two will team up again for the Warner Bros. comedy titled "Imagine."

Fogelman (the writer of Pixar’s "Cars" and Disney’s "Bolt") is set to make his directing debut on the film, in which a 60-something Bruce Springsteen-type rocker discovers a long-unopened letter addressed to him from John Lennon. After reading it, he’s shocked to learn that he actually fathered a son, who will be played by Carell.

In my eyes, Michael Scott---I mean Steve Carell--- can do no wrong. He is a bonafide comedy star and this film could potentially be hilarious, especially with the interaction between Carell and his rock star father.

No dates have yet been set for the film, but once production on "The Office" comes to a close for the season, Carell will have all the time in the world to get the ball rolling.

Better "Tintin" Photos Emerge

One of the most anticipated projects in the industry right now has to be Steven Spielberg's motion capture feature "The Adventures of Tintin." Whether you know the character or not, as the release of the film comes closer, be prepared to hear the name a lot.

Tintin is the star of the famous comic strip created by French artist Georges Herge Remi, and the films will encompass three of the stories from the strip including "The Crab with the Golden Claws," "The Secret of the Unicorn" and "Red Rackham's Treasure."

A few photos leaked out recently from the film, showing off how great it will look, but they really didn't do it justice. Now, scans of three more photos from "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" have come out, truly showing how amazing this film would be. See them below.

Whether you know Tintin or not, the photos have to make any film fan excited, especially considering that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are both heavily involved in the production.

In the shots we see a first look at twin detectives Thomson and Thompson, the roles Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are set to play, as they question Silk, who is played by Toby Jones, a pickpocket with kleptomania who has been lifting wallets all over town. Another shows Barnaby, played by Joe Starr, delivering a warning to Tintin.

The most revealing shot and easily the coolest is the shot of the bunch which looks like a direct panel recreation from "The Crab with the Golden Claws," with Tintin and Haddock stuck in the Sahara desert after a plane crash.

While I am not the foremost expert on Tintin, just from the look of the characters and the settings, it's clear that Spielberg wants to be as respectful of the source material as possible, which is great for any big fan of the strip out there.

The cast of the film is truly fantastic, with Pegg and Frost joining Jamie Bell as Tintin and Andy Serkis as Haddock. This film is going to be something truly special, and from the looks of it will be one of the most interesting looking animated films audiences have seen in a long time.

The film is set to be released October 26, 2011.

Paul Haggis Works In The "Third Person"

Writer-director Paul Haggis has been working on quality projects throughout his entire career, so anytime he dips his hand into a new one, my ears perk up.

Early in his career he worked on TV, on solid shows such as "thirtysomething" and "LA Law," before breaking out big time by writing the features "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash," which was one of the most polarizing Best Picture winners in recent memory. The film about a diverse group of people from Southern California pulled no punches in its focus on race, and either you were a big fan of the story or felt it was way to melodramatic to be a winner.

Personally, I was a fan of the film, especially how Haggis was able to bring the characters together and paint an honest portrait of the difficulties people can face. With that in mind, its welcome news to hear from The Los Angeles Times that Haggis is set to work on another ensemble drama along the same lines as "Crash."

Titled "Third Person," the story will follow three different couples living in different countries. This time around, his film explores issues of romance rather than race. To allow for a deeper exploration of each character, the film will follow only the three storylines rather than the six or so employed in "Crash."

Haggis wants to do a serious story about modern relationships set against scenic locales, two of which will be New York City and Rome. The tone will be much darker than current romance ensembles such as the comedy "Valentine's Day," and one of the characters will be a writer.

Haggis hasn't taken the project to a studio yet and hopes to do the project without one, but either way, this will be an award contender once the time comes. After seeing the cast he assembled for "Crash," Haggis should have no trouble attracting stars to this project.

Haggis has shown that he is apt at capturing the reality of romance and relationships including in "Crash" and also on the film "The Last Kiss." No matter who ends up being cast in the film, it seems as if Haggis has another winning idea on his hands.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Classic Album Review: Boogie Down Productions, "Criminal Minded"

Hip-hop and music fans could argue till the end of time about where "gangsta rap" really originated from, but one thing that is certain in the debate is that KRS-One was heavily involved in the process.

When Kris Parker (KRS-One) met social worker Scott Sterling (Scott La Rock) while homeless and staying at a group home, neither could have known how far their collaboration would go, and the impact on the game they would leave. After running into each other a few weeks later the two eventually formed a crew, later recruiting D-Nice as well.

Originally comprised of the trio (KRS-One, D-Nice and DJ Scott La Rock), Boogie Down Productions helped lay down the foundation of what would become true gangsta rap on their debut album, "Criminal Minded".

Released on March 3, 1987, the album was controversial for many reasons, including the cover of the album, which showed Parker and Sterling surrounded by an arsenal of weapons, and was hip-hop’s first major release to feature members holding firearms. While this is significant, what's even more important were the blunt, realistic descriptions of life in the South Bronx.

The album is filled with some amazingly crafted tracks, including "South Bronx", "9mm Goes Bang", "The Bridge Is Over", "Criminal Minded", and "Poetry". And although there's some matter of dispute over who the true musical architect of the album was (some say Ced Gee of the Ultramagnetic M.C.'s was a "ghost producer" on the album) there's no disputing that it was a game-changer.

"Poetry" is the opening track on the album, and on top of just showing the pure rhyming skills of KRS-One the track emphatically sets the tone for the rest of the album. In our current 'playlist' era many fans forget that in the past some artists actually wanted people to listen to tracks in a certain order---this was one of those times. He rhymes about how hip-hop is poetry and I think KRS-One sums things up perfectly when he spits "If this meaning doesn't manifest put it to rest/I am a poet."

He spits one of the best verses on the entire album as he raps: "So tell me what is this?/See I come from the Bronx so just kiss this/Boogie Down Productions is somewhat an experiment/The antidote for sucka MC's and they're fearin it/It's self-explanatory, no one's writin for me/The poetry I'm rattlin is really not for battling/But if you want I will simply change the program/So when I'm done you will simply say 'damn'."

One of my personal favorite tracks is "Word From Our Sponsor," which I think is an underrated piece on the album. The group does an excellent job of being honest about the hood mentality, bringing together the culture of the system with an ethical code of the streets.

There's another fantastic verse on the track, perfectly illustrating where the group is coming from and what they stand for: "So go ahead and consume/A new era, KRS-One comes better/Bite another lyric? Never/Cos I'm too clever, however/ I own my own label/Partners with Scott LaRock, he's on the turntable/And partner Lee Smith/I'm exercising a true gift just to uplift."

The most recognizable track on the album is probably "The Bridge is Over", but it's also one of the best. The group gained some notoriety for their feud with MC Shan, Marley Marl, the Juice Crew and rappers from Queens, and this track is considered to be a diss song classic, aimed at that crew.

The beat is great, and the simple chorus of "I say, the bridge is over, the bridge is over, biddy-bye-bye!/The bridge is over, the bridge is over, hey, hey!/The bridge is over, the bridge is over, biddy-bye-bye!/The bridge is over, the bridge is over" is one of the most recognizable of all-time.

The track is filled with memorable lines, my personal favorite being: "Tell them again, me come to te-ell them/Manhattan keeps on makin it, Brooklyn keeps on takin it/Bronx keeps creatin it, and Queens keeps on fakin it."

One thing that makes the track so unique is how the group gives a slight nod to Billy Joel, with the song's lyrics at the end set to the tune of the famous song "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me." The track is one of the group's most significant, and one of the best out there.

In 1987, things were on the cusp, and "Criminal Minded" represented a seismic shift in hip-hop and illustrated a blueprint for the genre’s next decade. Basically it established the prototype for East Coast gangsta rap, and its effects can still be felt today. Sadly, DJ Scott La Rock was murdered on August 27, 1987, months after the release of the debut album, and ironic twist of fate for the group and the album.

Either way the album was a benchmark in hip-hop, and is most assuredly a classic.

Trailer Obsession: TRON: Legacy

I have only seen bits and pieces of the original "Tron" film, and I'm still pumped as hell to check out this movie. Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Sheen, and Olivia Wilde with Daft Punk scoring the soundtrack? Count me in.

And all the trailers have been effing dope. Especially this new one:

"TRON: Legacy" beams into theaters December 17, 2010.

Track of the Day: November 9th

Neon Trees has much more to offer than just "Animal". This tune is catchy as sheeeeeet.
Track 1
Album: Habits

Monday, November 8, 2010

James Bond Will Be Back In 2012: Movie News

The financial saga and uncertain future of MGM and James Bond continues, but perhaps not for much longer.

With the studio finally having officially having filed for bankruptcy in preparation for its next phase of existence, MGM has begun making big plans for the return of James Bond, according to Bloomberg News.

The studio plans to shoot the next 007 film in the next two years with a release date of November 2012 being targeted. Further, MGM is reportedly planning to release a new 007 film at regular two-year intervals thereafter.

Focusing on the financial side, the studio will retain 50 percent of the rights to the 2012 film, while an equal partner will cover all production costs. Further Bond sequels will be fully owned and funded by MGM itself.

The biggest question swirling through all of this, though, is whether Daniel Craig will retain his role for the next film and for further installments.

One reason he might not come back is due to the long layoff until the next film. The other problem is whether Craig can take on the role while also being committed to all three installments of the Millennium Trilogy, which is currently in production with the first installment of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." If not, another Bond would obviously have to be cast, making that actor (maybe Tom Hardy? Hmmm?) the seventh official Bond.

In my opinion, there is no need for that move, at least not yet. While I think Pierce Brosnan was a worthy Bond, Craig brought a gruff, rugged and yet classic quality to the role that had been missing since the Roger Moore days. Craig revitalized the franchise, and while "Quantum of Solace" was a disappointment with critics, Craig was a disappointment with no one.

Clearly, only time will tell with what happens to this long-running series and also what will happen with Craig and his future commitments. That said, I see no reason why, with all this time leading up to production, that MGM can't figure out a way to keep their star while he also works on the hotly anticipated "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo."

Although nothing is set in stone, director Sam Mendes has long been rumored to be tapped as the director of the next Bond film, so imagine in two years if we get Craig back in the role and Mendes behind the lens? It's almost too good to be true.

Marc Webb Reels in Martin Sheen, Sally Field to Look After "Spider-Man"

Anyone who doubted how good the new "Spider-Man" reboot would be ought to start changing their minds. As the cast for Marc Webb's new franchise-starter grows, so does the confidence that it will be a success.

Legendary actors Martin Sheen and Sally Field are in talks to play Uncle Ben and Aunt May, respectively, in the upcoming reboot at Sony Pictures, according to Heat Vision. While Sheen is in final negotiations, Field still is in early talks for the part.

Nevertheless, I honestly can’t think of two actors who could be better than these two to play Uncle Ben and Aunt May. In the first three films, actress Rosemary Harris took on the role, and while I know she's a legend in her own right (and also looks a lot like Aunt May), I hated her. There was something that never seemed quite right to me about her in the part, so its welcoming news to see Oscar-winner Field in talks for the role.

Even better is the addition of Sheen. Uncle Ben is supposed to epitomize what Peter Parker is fighting for and I can already see him spewing the line, "With great power comes great responsibility."

The characters are, of course, the parental figures who look after Peter (Garfield)--and Ben's death has a major impact on his decision to slip on the webbed spandex.

The pair will join Emma Stone and Rhys Ifans, who have previously been announced as playing Gwen Stacey and The Lizard, respectively. As I said, this cast is starting to round out nicely.

While Garfield might not be the most recognizable name to the masses, to the better-informed, he is one of the best young actors out there right now. Have you seen "The Social Network" yet? Go, because he's one of the best in it. Have you seen "Never Let Me Go" yet? His performance is wonderful.

Shooting on the reboot kicks off next month, so keep your eyes open for more casting news and hopefully some set photos in the coming weeks.

Judi Dench & Johnny Depp Get It On

One of the most anticipated sequels is adding a bit of class to its cast. According to The Daily Mail, Dame Judi Dench is set to make a cameo in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," the upcoming fourth film in the franchise.

Director Rob Marshall has almost completed shooting on the film, but before wrapping it, he has been able to convince the actress to pop up in the film's opening sequence.

If you're hoping to stay totally fresh going into the new film once it comes out, avert your eyes--spoilers ahead, mates!

The film apparently opens with Captain Jack on trial for piracy in London's Old Bailey before he escapes in a chase sequence through the city’s streets. Dench is to play a noblewoman in a carriage who is "ravished" by Captain Jack as part of his attempted escape.

Dench and Marshall previously worked together on last year's musical adaptation "Nine," while she joins a cast that includes Geoffrey Rush, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Stephen Graham, Richard Griffiths and Keith Richards.

While the anticipation surrounding this film is great, it seems to have taken a back seat to some other franchises over the past year, such as the superhero films "Thor," "Captain America," "Green Lantern" and "The Avengers."

Either way, I think this film has potential to be great. After taking a break for a few years, I am totally ready to see Depp suit up again as Captain Jack. Anyone who doesn’t think he's one of the most memorable characters of the past decade is crazy in my eyes, and Depp's performance is nothing short of genius in how funny it is.

Marshall has surrounded himself with talent on this one, and bringing in Dench will only add to the prestige and anticipation of this film, which is set to anchor down in theaters on May 20, 2011.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leonardo DiCaprio Kills For "Devil in the White City"

With both "Shutter Island" and "Inception" hitting theaters in 2010, this was yet another big year for one of America's favorite leading men, Leonardo DiCaprio. The next year looks to be just as big.

With his feet already dipped into the film "Prisoners" (in development) and Clint Eastwood's Hoover biopic on the horizon, DiCaprio has added another very interesting option to the mix.

Through his production company Appian Way, the actor is set to star and produce the film adaptation of Erik Larson's bestselling book, "The Devil in the White City," according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The nonfiction book, which spent three years on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold 2.3 million copies in 17 languages, is set against the backdrop of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and tells the interweaving stories of two men--fair architect Daniel H. Burnham and serial killer H.H. Holmes.
In a short amount of time, Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair's construction, was forced to overcome immense obstacles to construct the famous "White City" around which the fair was built.

The other man, Holmes, was a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor who is believed to be responsible for scores of murders around the time of the fair. Holmes devised and erected the World's Fair Hotel near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims to their death.

Armed with a gas chamber and a crematorium, Holmes would murder his victims and strip them to their skeletons to sell for medical and scientific study. Holmes killed at least 27 people, though some say the number was closer to 200.

Aside from the fact that the story is amazingly interesting, DiCaprio is to play the "villain" of the film--the murder-minded Holmes rather than Burnham the architect.

The project has bounced around Hollywood since the book was released, with Tom Cruise's production company having picked up the rights to the book in 2003 (but let the option lapse), and once having Kathryn Bigelow attached to direct and produce.

DiCaprio's Appian Way, along with Double Features, acquired the screen rights to the book, and should soon be hiring a writer and director before making a deal with a larger studio.

It was rumored that David Fincher was interested in directing, but with him now on the adaptation of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," scheduling may not allow it. While a Finer-DiCaprio pairing would be almost too-good-to-be-true, I think any competent director could craft this story into an interesting film. DiCaprio has played such a wide variety of roles throughout his career that I have confidence in him taking on anything.

Not much is known to the public about Holmes, and I think it shows great range by DiCaprio to take on a character who is intelligent and charming--and also a mass murderer.

Depending on who they get to helm the film, this one could start moving quickly.

Baz Luhrmann Needs A "Great" Woman for his "Great Gatsby" Adaptation

Back when the news first dropped last year that Baz Luhrmann would be helming a new adaptation of the classic American novel "The Great Gatsby," I admit it, I was unsure of how to react.

Not that I think Baz is a bad director, but I hold the novel in such high regard (it is no doubt my favorite book all-time) that I really hoped that if a new adaptation would go into production, it would be with someone like Martin Scorsese or Joe Wright (who I think, after seeing "Atonement," could handle any period piece anywhere). And after seeing how authentic "Boardwalk Empire" looks, a guy like Martin would be perfect.

But after my initial reaction, I let things set in for a while. Then the news on the film started coming out, and suddenly, I was a believer.

I hate to state rumors as fact, but these are just too hard to pass up. According to The Wrap, a few weeks ago longtime friends Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire were in New York workshopping scenes for Luhrmann's planned adaptation. Of course, reading for a role does not necessarily mean an actor is signed for it, but why would such high-profile actors spend time workshopping if there wasn't at least a CHANCE they'd be signing onto the film?

On top of that news came out this week courtesy of Deadline that actress Rebecca Hall, most recently seen in "The Town" as well as in Christopher Nolan's underrated "The Prestige," is supposedly the top choice to play the immortal role of Daisy Buchanon in the adaptation.

Luhrmann will audition numerous actresses before making a decision, with Keira Knightley, Amanda Seyfried, Blake Lively, Abbie Cornish, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson all making the wish list. Hall has the edge, especially considering that she participated in Luhrmann's workshop reading in the role with DiCaprio as Gatsby and Maguire as Nick Carraway.

Numerous filmmakers have taken on the legendary work, most recently a 2000 TV version starring Paul Rudd, Toby Stephens and Mira Sorvino, and the best-known adaptation being the 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. The 1974 film was written by Francis Ford Coppola, and while it's a pretty good movie, there always was the feeling that something was missing from it.

I'm trying my best not to jump for joy, because until the actors are actually signed on anything can happen, but I think Maguire and DiCaprio are absolutely perfect for the roles. The fact that they are friends means it makes even more sense, because for any "Gatsby" adaptation to work, the characters of Gatsby and Carraway will have to have some sort of chemistry.

The two have worked together before in both "This Boy's Life" and the little-seen indie "Don's Plum." And we all know DiCaprio and Luhrmann do well together--remember the artsy and interesting "Romeo and Juliet"?

In regards to Daisy, Hall was excellent in "The Town," so if she ends up wining the role, I have no beef with that. I also have no beef with Luhrmann's wish list, which is filled with some beautiful, talented actresses as well.

Luhrmann co-adapted the script with Craig Pearce, who worked on "Moulin Rouge." The book is considered to be one of the greatest American novels ever written, so why not make into one of the best American films of all time?

That's what I'm hoping Luhrmann can pull off, because if he can lock down that cast (and maybe someone like Jeffery Dean Morgan for Tom?), he is going to have one hell of a production on his hands.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Classic Album Review: Notorious B.I.G., "Ready to Die"

When writing about such an iconic album and artist it's hard to remember that there was a time that Notorious B.I.G. was at one time an up-and-coming rapper, unsure of how successful he'd become.

Biggie was only a kid, 21 years old when he started recording his debut album. He had been signed to Uptown Records by Sean "Puffy" Combs and started to make a name for himself, making numerous appearances on some of the labels' other artist's albums. But with anything great, some sort of uncertainly usually comes with it, so when Puffy was fired from Uptown, everything was stuck in limbo.

Biggie began to hustle, selling drugs again before he returned to recording with Puffy on the brand new Bad Boy Records label. By the time "Ready to Die" was released Biggie already had a large word-of-mouth following from his first full-length LP, but West Coast rap was still dominating the industry. "Ready to Die" was exactly what the East Coast was waiting for, and exactly what Bad Boy Records needed.

Released in September of 1994, "Ready to Die" thrusted Bad Boy and Biggie into the spotlight. While it was clear the album would be a hit, no one realized quite how significant the release was. Using his unique voice and sound, Biggie showed off his ample skills as a storyteller, which is what truly drives this album.

Every track on the album has something to offer, but in my eyes "Who Shot Ya?", "Ready to Die", "Gimme the Loot", "Juicy", and "Everyday Struggle" stand above the rest. Ironically, through most of the album there's a sense of dread hanging in most of his stories, with the fierce bandits on "Gimme the Loot", the hustler's girlfriend on "Me & My Bitch", and robbers out for his new money on "Warning" all falling in parades of gunfire.

"Juicy" is one of the most memorable tracks on the album, but also one of the best. Biggie spits with ferocity on this track, waving his hat ant anyone who ever doubted him along the way. He tells a story through this track while also bringing the bravado that made him the legend that he was.

The opening verse of the track is one of the greatest of all time: "It was all a dream; I used to read Word Up magazine/Salt'n'Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine/Hangin' pictures on my wall/Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl/I let my tape rock 'til my tape popped/Smokin' weed and bamboo, sippin' on private stock/Way back, when I had the red and black lumberjack/With the hat to match/Remember Rappin' Duke, duh-ha, duh-ha/You never thought that hip hop would take it this far/Now I'm in the limelight 'cause I rhyme tight /Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade"

The title track "Ready to Die" could be considered an anthem of sorts for Biggie, as he illustrates what things were like on the way up through the ranks. The track also comments on the material nature of culture and what drives some to do what they do.

Biggie paints a perfect picture as he raps: " Biggie Smalls the savage, doin your brain cells much damage/Teflon is the material for the imperial/mic ripper girl stripper the Henny sipper/I drop lyrics off and on like a lightswitch/Quick to grab the right bitch and make her drive/the Q-45, glocks and tecs are expected when I wreck shit/Respect is collected, so check it".

"Who Shot Ya?" is probably the most controversial track on the album, due to the fact that many thought it was a diss track aimed at Tupac. All feuding aside, I still the track is noteworthy and contains some of Biggie's most cleverly worked lyrics and one of the most solid beats on the album.

Biggie name drops Wu-Tang's C.R.E.A.M. and asserts that the East coast is where the best rap is at: "Fuckin with B.I.G. it ain't safe/I make your skin chafe, rashes on the masses/Bumps and bruises, blunts and Landcruisers/Big Poppa smash fools, bash fools / Niggaz mad because I know that Cash Rules/Everything Around Me, two glock nines/Any motherfucker whispering about mines/And I'm, Crooklyn's finest/You rewind this, Bad Boy's behind this."

Unquestionably Biggie is a legend now, but even before death and everything that occurred, this album was one of the best. Displaying an immense skill and flair for storytelling and a completely memorable vocal tone Biggie Smalls created one of the most enduring gangsta rap albums of any era.

Its significance is still felt in the industry today and is definitively one of the best hip-hop albums of the genres' entire history.