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Chicago – The DVD Round-Up has traveled the globe this week to bring you a diverse slate of under-the-radar titles received in the HollywoodChicago.com offices this holiday season. With so many major releases this time of year, it’s hard to cover everything, but we wanted to make sure you knew these were out there in case you have a gift card burning a hole in your pocket.
One quick note: We don’t usually inject opinion into the DVD Round-Up. It’s a recurring column merely designed for informational purposes regarding some lower profile titles new on shelves. We’d like to make a rare exception for “Sita Sings the Blues,” a simply wonderful animated film that we only wish we had more time to spotlight but that we wanted to make sure you knew was available before the end of the year. Don’t just go rent it. »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
London – There's an especially starry knight in Britain's latest round of royal honors.Patrick Stewart — "Star Trek: The Next Generation's" Capt. Jean-Luc Picard — becomes Sir Patrick in Queen Elizabeth II's New Year honors list, which also includes a knighthood for theater and film director Nicholas Hytner."This is an honor that embraces those actors, directors and creative teams who have in these recent years helped fill my life with inspiration, companionship and sheer fun," said 69-year-old Stewart, who recently returned to the British stage following a long career in Hollywood that included playing Professor Charles Xavier in three "X-Men" films.Erich Reich, a refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe who organized last year's 70th anniversary of the "Kindertransport," which brought 10,000 children to wartime Britain, also received a knighthood.A separate honors list in New Zealand bestowed a knighthood on the king of Middle Earth — "Lord of the Rings" filmmaker Peter Jackson. »
Although Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men received three Oscar nominations back in 2007 (none of which it ended up winning), the fact that the movie did not get a Best Picture nod caused a minor uproar at the time and even now seems like a pretty big oversight. Granted, there were a handful of other great films that were also overlooked that year, but much like The Dark Knight, the movie resonated with people so deeply that it inspired a grassroots fan campaign  to back it up (which obviously didn't help). Regardless, the movie has not been forgotten, and stands out as one of the true masterpieces of this past decade in film. Based on a novel by P.D. James, Cuarón's dystopian near-future is frighteningly familiar. It's a world full of poverty, political unrest, terrorism, and of course, a mysterious biological plague threatening to end the human race where it stands. »
There's help needed in the shire. Peter Jackson has put out word that he is accepting applications for extras for the upcoming "Lord of the Rings" prequel, "The Hobbit."
While a working-visa for Middle Earth won't be necessary, it helps to be a New Zealand resident. By law, local people must be hired first and will get priority over other applicants.
The application must also be sent by physical mail. It must include a casting video, a headshot, and a full-body shot which includes a profile. Extras must also be available for the entire shoot. The address to submit the "Hobbit" extras application is 3 Foot 7 Limited, Po Box 15104, Miramar, Wellington 6243.
"The Hobbit" will be directed by Guillermo Del Toro, who helmed "Pan's Labyrinth." "Lord of the Rings" trilogy director Peter Jackson will serve as co-writer and executive producer. It will begin filming in 2010 for a release in 2011.
There's been some talk of films that may follow. In March, Marvel announced it was planning to hire writers to work on film adaptations of lesser-known characters such as Black Panther, Cable, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Nighthawk and Vision.
Stan Lee, Marvel's former president and chairman, who turned 87 yesterday, has now chimed in with his own thoughts of what's coming next.
He told MTV: "The funny thing is, I think all of them will come to the screen sooner or later, because they're always looking for new properties, and Marvel has more than anybody.
- David Bentley
Omg guys. I think my head -- as well as those attached to the bodies of my fellow Lord of the Rings freakazoids -- just exploded, creating a massive blaze that shines brighter than the light of Eärendil. It looks like The Hobbit is officially accepting applications for actors hoping to land roles in the Lotr precursor. But before you prepare to slap on your finest coat of armor and grab your Sting swords, take note of some of the specific guidelines: 1) You have to apply by physical mail (Kids, ask your grandparents about that one), 2) You need to include a casting video, »
- Kate Ward
Do you have extraordinarily hairy feet that you never slip into shoes? Do you eat an unusual amount of meals throughout the day without putting on any extra weight to speak of? Are you just generally funny looking?
If you fit the bill for any of the aforementioned qualities, then maybe — just maybe — you're right for a part in "The Hobbit," the upcoming "Lord of the Rings" prequel produced by original helmer Peter Jackson and directed by Guillermo Del Toro.
The Noldor Blog has posted a set of instructions on how to apply for a role as an extra in "The Hobbit." Prospective actors are to submit "clear photographs of your head, straight on and profile" as well as full bodyshots (also straight on and profile pictures) to the following New Zealand address:
Hobbit Extras Application
3 Foot 7 Limited
Po Box 15104
"After that, just wait," writes Jack M. of The Noldor Blog. »
- Josh Wigler
It's not only nearly the end of the year but the end of a decade and, as a result, time to look back over the movies released during that period.
Over on Metacritic, a site that compiles reviews of films and other media, there is a list of the top releases of the decade, according to the scores of leading professional film critics.
The top overall movie was Guillermo del Toro's excellent fantasy horror film Pan's Labyrinth from 2006, which has an overall score of 98 out of 100. Made for $19million, it earned $83million worldwide which, although not the massive heights reached by Hollywood blockbusters, is definitely a success for a Spanish language project, especially since it was not on full release at all cinemas in the UK.
It's worth mentioning »
- David Bentley
We are leaving Kubrick behind and fast approaching Hyams. If you get that reference, go grab yourself a cookie. It is time for us to reflect back on the decade that was. On January 1st, 2000, Disney released Fantasia 2000. On Wednesday, December 30th, 2009, The White Ribbon is set to bow. Between the release of these two films, thousands of films came and went, and some of them were far more memorable than others. It was a long trek getting this list together, but here are our collective top 100 films of the past decade.
Quick Year-to-Year by the Numbers:
2009 – 11
2008 – 11
2007 – 7
2006 – 14
2005 – 12
2004 – 8
2003 – 7
2002 – 12
2001 – 10
2000 – 8
93. Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’S Stone (2001) – Chris Columbus
90. Tasogare Seibei »
- Movie Geeks
Best Films Of The Decade (aka The Naughties) From Alex & Terry
List # 1
By Alex Simon
When Terry and I initially discussed writing these lists, I had a tough time thinking back on 20 films over the past decade which I was really taken with, thinking that movies have sunk so low over the past ten years, that even choosing a dozen would be a short-order job. Thirty minutes into it, my list had nearly 60 titles! After much cutting, pasting, and re-cutting and pasting, here are my top 20 films (in no particular order) of the first decade of the 21st century, dubbed by many as “the naughties.” --A.S.
1.No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007) An elegiac blend of stark beauty and full-throttle despair from two of our finest filmmakers, set in the contemporary American West. Every frame is damn near flawless, and would have been an even more perfect vehicle for the late Sam Peckinpah. »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
The Story: "Atomic Robo: " by Brian Clevenger (W) an'd Scott Wegener (A) – Red 5 Comics
What It's About: Unveiled by Nikola Tesla in 1923, the automatic intelligence known as Atomic Robo receives full United States citizenship after completing a top-secret mission predating America's entry into World War II. After the war, Robo founds Tesladyne, a world-renowned think tank entrusted to stand against the kind of threats that personify speculative science fiction.
With a brilliant mind, near-invulnerable fists and a laser-sharp wit, Robo and his action scientists face down the impossible on behalf of all mankind.
Why It Works: "Atomic Robo" has the heart of a pulp and the head of a utopian sci-fi franchise, making it feel at home somewhere between J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" reboot, Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy" films and every Indiana Jones movie that doesn't involve crystal skulls.
Like Hellboy, Robo is an outsider who protects mankind »
- Caleb Goellner
The New Zealand newspaper Dominion Post is reporting that Peter Jackson, whose new movie The Lovely Bones made its limited U.S. debut Friday, is now at work on “secretly” adapting Phillip Reeve’s quartet of Mortal Engines fantasy novels for the big screen.
The paper reports the project is in early development, with work on a movie about the first of four books under way and Weta Workshops “believed to be” working on the giant mobile cities that populate the novels. None of this was given any further verification than “industry sources say,” and a spokesman for Jackson told the newspaper only “any comment should come from Peter.”
So, what are the books about? They take place in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by a nuclear showdown called the “Sixty Minute War.” To avoid the earthquakes left in its wake, the world becomes divided into immense mobile cities known as Traction Cities, »
- Keith Demko
With The Hobbit, Tintin, and Temeraire all on the pre-production slate, you'd think Peter Jackson would have enough to do. But perhaps he's feeling a need to compete with his Hobbit pal and co-conspirator Guillermo Del Toro, because he's reportedly taken on another fantasy epic. According to The Dominion Post, Jackson will adapt Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series. (I must note that in the U.S. they're called the Hungry City Chronicles. Pick whichever title you like best.)
Now, I'm not familiar with the series but the collected wisdom of the Internet informs me that the Mortal Engines books are best described as "post-apocalyptic steampunk." After the world as we knew it was blown to bits by nuclear holocaust and geological instability, cities took to the air. From what I understand, these "Traction Cities" barter resources and war with one another in a Mad Max-style scrabble. The only Traciton »
- Elisabeth Rappe
Now that Peter Jackson has The Lovely Bones out in theaters and pre-production on the two back-to-back Hobbit movies are well underway and in the capable hands of Guillermo del Toro, what's the Lord of the Rings director have next in his plate? According to an exclusive story broken by The Dominion Post, he's developing a movie based on another fantasy novel series.
The New Zealand newspaper is reporting that the project in question is a film based on Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines series. First published in 2002, the books are set in a post-apocalyptic future where cities have become mobile fortifications; towns, suburbs and bigger conclaves wander the English countryside looking for smaller civic structures to consume. It's a fanciful world ripe with imaginative characters, fantastic technology and strange sights, the perfect fodder to launch a fantasy film series. So far four books have been written by Reeve.
- Patrick Sauriol
Peter Jackson has come a long way since his 1987 debut Bad Taste, a shoestring-budget splatter film shot in his native New Zealand that went on to earn a cult following. Yet there's something of that film's inventive and playful spirit in almost everything he's done since, be it bawdy puppets (1989's Meet the Feebles), killer teens (1994's Heavenly Creatures) or ice-skating apes (2005's King Kong). The Lord of the Rings trilogy made him a household name and earned him Oscar acclaim, while he's currently producing the long-awated prequel, The Hobbit, with Guillermo del Toro directing. As Jackson's latest, the »
It's been taking rather a long time for the Creature from the Black Lagoon to re-emerge on to the big screen for the planned remake. And now it's evolving yet again...
The project has been in development at Universal for more than a quarter of a century and the studio has just hired a new director, Carl Rinsch.
Rinsch, whose previous work is mainly in commercials, was recently linked to the new Alien prequel (now being helmed by Ridley Scott) and will be in the hotseat for the samurai film 47 Ronin (starring Keanu Reeves).
Meanwhile, Breck Eisner - who had dropped out of the Creature remake earlier this year - is now directing a new version of The Brood, David Cronenberg's 1979 horror film about mutant children instructed to carry out violence through a psychic link with their mother.
The original Creature from the Black Lagoon, about an amphibious missing »
- David Bentley
Here's the perfect illustration of how critics and mainstream audiences don't always coincide. The site Metacritic has posted a list of the top-reviewed films of the past decade, and according to their data, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is No. 1 with a score of 98. Just below it is the Romanian drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (97). It's a great list, packed with terrific movies like The Hurt Locker (No. 5), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (No. 9), No Country for Old Men (No. 23) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (No. 42). But with the exception of a few titles — Pixar (duh) and The Lord of the Rings »
- Missy Schwartz
Metacritic has released their list of the best and worst reviewed films of the decade. Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth sits in the #1 spot. I've included the top 10 after the jump, as well as a list I've compiled of the top 20 best reviewed films of the decade from Rotten Tomatoes. Man On Wire ranks in at #1, the only film with over 100 reviews to have 100% fresh rating. Metacritic's Top 10 Best-Reviewed Movies of the Decade 1. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) 98 2. Ratatouille (2007) 96 3. Spirited Away (2002) 94 4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 94 5. Sideways (2004) 94 6. Wall-e (2008) 93 7. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) 93 8. There Will Be Blood (2007) 92 9. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 92 10. The Queen (2006) 91 Rotten Tomatoes: Top 20 Best Reviewed Films of the Decade (minimum 100 reviews) 100% Man On »
- Peter Sciretta
Surprised? Well, this is Metacritic, a site similar to Rotten Tomatoes that compiles reviews from the top critics, so it's not just someone picking their own favorites films. "Our film staff has been collecting reviews for each week’s new theatrical releases since the fall of 1999, and, as a result, we have a nearly complete database of films from the past decade: certainly every major release from 2000-09, and virtually all minor releases, including obscure titles that barely made an appearance on the big screen." They then ranked every film ever reviewed by their Metacritic score and Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth ended up on top. You can head over to thier The Best (and Worst) Movies of the Decade article to find out more information and see a complete list of the 100 best reviewed movies of the decade. While the official list includes indies and all kinds of »
- Alex Billington
New Delhi, Dec 18 (Ians) Oscar-winning Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, known for making films like “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy”, is all ready to spook the audience, but this time he is using his pen instead of the camera with his book on vampires “The Strain”. But he has no plans to make a movie on the subject.
“No, it is not a film. Cinema is far too compressed a form … I believe it would be ideal to create a limited cable series out of it and not to extend it into a network run, where characters die only. »
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