Archive for October, 2010

FLIFF celebrates its 25th year with several films and celebrity appearances

Posted in Festival/awards with tags , , , , , , on October 21, 2010 by Steve Mesa


  Starting tomorrow night, the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival (FLIFF) will kick off its 25th year with a variety of films and guests that will make their appearances from Oct. 22-Nov. 11.

  The FLIFF’s opening night film will be Edward Burns’ (The Brother McMullen) ninth film, Nice Guy Johnny, which is about a sports talk show host with an authoritarian girlfriend. The festival’s closing night film is director George Hickenlooper’s drama, Casino Jack, with Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey as Washington DC lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

  Among the interesting films that will be showcased at the FLIFF include: Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, about an established ballerina (Natalie Portman) whose rivalry with another dancer (Mila Kunis) turns into a twisted friendship; Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, the tale of mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) who got trapped in a Utah canyon for five days; and the Argentinean film Carancho, which is about a relationship between a lawyer (Ricardo Darin) and a doctor (Martina Gusman).

  Edward Burns, Michael Murphy (Manhattan) and Eric Stoltz (Pulp Fiction) are among the abundance of celebrities and filmmakers that will make their appearance on Friday night for the festival’s opening night. On Saturday night, controversial director Michael Moore will conduct a live Q&A session featuring clips from his films.

  For ticket information and a complete schedule of films, go to the festival’s website at


Opening Oct. 22-Hereafter and Paranormal Activity 2

Posted in Movie News on October 19, 2010 by Steve Mesa

  Last weekend, Jackass 3D made cinematic history when it set a new October opening weekend record and earned $50 million in the box office. With two films opening wide this weekend, Paranormal Activity 2 will try to topple Jackass 3D a weekend before Halloween approaches.

  A year after the success of Paranormal Activity, the sequel will focus on a family that is being terrorized by the same demonic apparition that haunted the ill-fated couple in the last film. Unlike the first movie where the story was told through a single video camera, the story of the sequel will be told through cameras including security cameras set up by the family.   

  Hereafter is Clint Eastwood’s latest film and his second collaboration with Oscar-winner Matt Damon. The film is about three people that have been touched by death, including a psychic (Matt Damon) who is trying  to have a normal life, a French journalist (Cecile De France) who survived a near-death experience and a British schoolboy (George and Frankie McLaren) looking for answers after the death of his twin brother. The film has great performances from Damon and De France, along with an interesting script written by Peter Morgan. However, the pace is very slow, the ending is weak and Eastwood’s score overwhelms the film.

JACKASS co-creators take 3D to a whole different level

Posted in Features with tags , , on October 18, 2010 by Steve Mesa

  Before You Tube and viral videos became popular, the only way to watch people perform crazy, funny and disgusting stunts was to watch the antics of Johnny Knoxville and his motley crew of stuntmen on MTV’s Jackass. The cancellation of the show did not stop these jackasses from performing more outrageous stunts as they took their antics to the silver screen in 2002. In their latest venture, the Jackass crew takes 3D to a new and disgusting level in Jackass 3D.

  A couple of weeks ago, I got the chance to watch a 7-minute reel of the Jackass 3D at Paragon Grove 13 in Coconut Grove. The reel itself featured the opening sequence of the film and a particular disgusting and gag-inducing stunt involving a bungee cord and a port-o-potty. After the reel was finished, I sat down and interviewed Johnny Knoxville and director Jeff Tremaine for a couple of minutes before they took pictures and signed autographs for Jackass fans waiting in line.

The Cinematic: How did you come to the decision to make the third Jackass movie in 3D?

Johnny Knoxville: This December, we decided to do it, right?

Jeff Tremaine: Well, yeah. We decided to do it in 3D in December, but the biggest hurdle was deciding to do a third movie.

Knoxville: That decision was made in June.

Tremaine: Yeah, it was in June. It was Johnny’s idea to finally do it. Everyone else was ready to do it, but…

Knoxville: I was the holdout. In June, I found myself watching Tom & Jerry cartoons, I started wearing my Chuck Taylor shoes and then I started writing down some ideas. I wanted to do it and I wondered if everyone else is with me.

Tremaine: Johnny came to me one day wearing is Chuck Taylor’s and then I was like “Oh, something’s up.” The second movie was my idea. I came to him with ideas to do a second movie. With the third movie, he came to me and said “Let’s do it.” To do it in 3D, we were really hesitant because we were scared of changing the cameras, changing the way we do things…

Knoxville: Bringing in outsiders.

Tremaine: Yeah. It took some testing and we had few 3D companies come in to show us their cameras. We make them shoot us and film Steve-O throwing up and Chris Pontius running around naked. We did a whole bunch of tests to see if they could handle us, but also to see if they can keep up with us to deal with the way we like to shoot. We found the perfect company.

Knoxville: The name of the company is Paradise, which is a great 3D company.

Tremaine: They didn’t make it feel any different and it really felt normal for the most part. We had a bigger crew this time, but beyond that, it felt like old times.

The Cinematic: What was your favorite stunt in the television series and the movies you have done in the last 10 years?

Knoxville: Oh man. In 10 years? It is really hard to pinpoint one favorite stunt because I like all of the stunts we do. In this movie, there is a whole bunch of stuff we did like The High Five and the Poop Cocktail Supreme

Tremaine: For the new movie, it’s hard to say what my favorite stunt. I love the opening and closing sequences of the movie. I don’t know, man. It’s been a fun 10-year ride.

  Jackass 3D is in theatres now.

RED is a fun action flick featuring Willis and Oscar-winners

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on October 15, 2010 by Steve Mesa


  Based on the DC Comic by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, Red has the greatest cast to be in an action film with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Oscar-winners Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman as a team of retired CIA agents.  

  Willis plays Frank Moses, a retired CIA operative who misses the action and gets so lonely that he develops a friendship over the phone with Sarah (Mary Louise-Parker), a woman who writes his pension checks. Things change drastically for Frank when a hit squad shows up at his house with deadly intentions, which Frank dispatches with ease. With a relentless government agent (Karl Urban) on Frank’s trail, he sets out to save Sarah from being killed by whoever is targeting him and enlist the help of his former Black Ops team.  

  Whether they are old or young, this year has been the year for groups of mercenaries with movies like The Losers, The A-Team and The Expendables coming out. Red is another addition to this genre makes this a fun movie is watching some of these actors not only flex their action muscles, but also showing that they can deliver comedic performances as well.     

  Bruce Willis returns to his action roots four years after kicking ass in his last action movie, Live Free or Die Hard. Whether it is fighting a younger man in an office or stepping out of a spinning police car while shooting at his enemy, this movie proves that Willis stills has the balls to play an action hero at the age of 55.

  Helen Mirren is great as Victoria, the weapons expert on the team who can’t control her urge to take the occasional hit contract every now. One memorable scene in Red is seeing this Oscar-winner fire a humongous machine gun at the Vice President of the United States while in a white dress.

  Nobody plays crazy like John Malkovich and in this film, he steals ever scene he appears in as the paranoid schizophrenic ex-spy.

  While Mary Louise-Parker and Morgan Freeman receive top bill in the film and their characters are established early on in the story, Louise-Parker and Freeman have less to do in the story as more characters are introduced.

  Best known as the director of Flightplan and The Time Traveler’s Wife, Robert Schwentke does a great job in directing the action sequences and mixing action with comedy.

  Being based on a comic book, Red contains over-the-top action that are intentionally laughable whether it is one character using a gun as a bat to swat a grenade or shooting s  single bullet to deflect a bazooka. The romantic chemistry that seems forced between Willis and Louise-Parker falls flat and it is as forgettable as the plot itself, which has certain twists and turns that can be seen from a mile away.

Red: 3.5 out of 5 stars  

Opening on Oct. 15-Jackass 3D and Red

Posted in Movie News with tags , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by Steve Mesa

  The last two weeks left in October will prepare moviegoers for Halloween as two horror sequels and a Clint Eastwood ghost story will come out in movie theaters.

  However, this week is all about comedy and action as Johnny Knoxville and his crew take their stunts to another dimension in Jackass 3D, while Bruce Willis teams up with Oscar-winners Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman to take on the C.I.A. in Red.

  The cast and crew of Jackass takes their inane stunts and antics to the silver screen once again, but this time, certain body parts and fluids will be coming to you in all its 3D glory. I have not seen this movie yet, but from the seven minutes of footage I saw three weeks ago, you will never look at 3D technology the same again.

  In the action-comedy Red, Bruce Willis plays a retired CIA agent who travels across the country to recruit other former and retired spies (Freeman, Malkovich and Mirren) in order to find out why they are the target of an attempted cover-up by the government. Red has the greatest cast ever assembled for an action movie (sorry The Expendables), which includes Mary-Louise Parker, Karl Urban and Oscar-winners Richard Dreyfuss and Ernest Borgnine.Even though this action-packed and funny film is PG-13, this movie is violent considering the rating it was given by the MPAA. This movie also puts to shame other action movies that have come out this year about teams of mercenaries (The A-Team, The Losers). 

Oscar-winning filmmaker tackles America’s public school system

Posted in Features with tags , on October 8, 2010 by Steve Mesa


  Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) tackles the subject of the public school system in America in his latest film Waiting for ‘Superman’.

  In the documentary, Guggenheim meticulously examines the problems with the education system in the United States. He also follows five children from different states as they progressed through the school system and their lives at home. The film ultimately culminates with the children’s future education on the line in a lottery. With hundreds of kids and parents showing up for the lottery, only a few children would get pick to go to a certain school that would guarantee them a chance to go to college.

  When he was in Miami promoting his film, Guggenheim said he has never put himself in his own movie and he will never do it again. In the film, he asks his questions on camera and provides narration for Waiting for ‘Superman’. He said he thought it was a necessity to talk about his own problems and how he betrayed his own ideals he thought he lived by.

  For Guggenheim, the hardest thing to capture on film is the sequence where the five kids he follows in the documentary have participate in a lottery in order to get a higher education

  “Most people don’t know that by law, you have to participate in a lottery in order to get accepted to an exceptional school,” he says. “It is excruciating and heartbreaking when you see families jumping for joy with one father holding his daughter up in the air because she has a future. On the other hand, you see other families that are heartbroken because the parents feel like they let their kid down when it really isn’t their fault.”

  When Guggenheim first heard about the lottery, which he calls a bingo game to get a great education, he felt that it will going to be a powerful way to end his movie. In order to film the lottery segment, he found five different children different parts of the nation that were participating in the lottery: Daisy from Boyle Heights in East L.A., Anthony from Washington D.C., Francisco from the Bronx, Bianca from Harlem and Emily from Silicon Valley.

  “It is heartbreaking because you know if they don’t win this lottery, their screwed,” Guggenheim says.

  Guggenheim feels that the biggest challenge in making this movie is to get enough people to see his movie in order to change things.

  “The big thing we have going on now is the film’s website that has information on what you can do to make a change,” Guggenheim says. “In every major city, we have campaign managers for the website. The website has the name and contact information of the campaign manager where you they will give you information on what is happening locally, which local schools are the best and who are the politician that rallying for improvement in the education system. It all starts with people going to see this movie.”

  Waiting for ‘Superman’ opens today at Regal South Beach Cinema and Sunrise Cinemas Gateway.

Opening on Oct. 8-Buried, Life As We Know It, My Soul To Take and Secretariat

Posted in Movie News on October 6, 2010 by Steve Mesa

  Unlike last week, this week’s movies that go wide are not interesting.

  The only exception is Buried, a movie starring Ryan “Green Lantern” Reynolds as a man trapped in a wooden coffin and do anything he can to look for help. Reynold’s performance is great and does not seem contrived as he displays a wide variety of emotions; however, the movie’s ending is predictable as the film progresses.

  The other two films (Life As We Know It and Secretariet) are not as exciting or entertaining as Buried. Katherine Heigl stars in another romantic comedy with Fergie’s hubby Josh Duhamel in Life As We Know It, where Heigl and Duhamel adopt a baby when a mutual friend of their dies. Yeah, it sounds exciting…not! I did not see the movie, but then again, I am not interested in purchasing a ticket for that film.

  Secretariat would be a good movie if anyone does not see the 2003 film Seabiscuit places . Set in the 1970s, the movie is about a housewife (Diane Lane) who takes over his ailing father’s (Scott Glenn) horse stables. With the help of an eccentric French-Canadian horse trainer (John Malkovich), she is able foster the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. I am sorry but I have already seen this movie before when it was called Seabiscuit. Lane and Malkovich’s performance are good, but it does save the movie from clichés and slow pace.

  The last movie is director Wes Craven’s new film, My Soul To Take, which has been delayed for two years. A serial killer returns to his hometown to cause murder and mayhem with the killer’s son (Max Theiriot) looking to save his friends from a grisly fate. This movie was not screened, which is never a good sign.