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'Diner' 30th Anniversary: 25 Things You Didn't Know About The Guys-and-Fries Classic

Sure, "Diner" is a landmark movie, one that launched numerous careers (including those of Kevin Bacon, Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, and director Barry Levinson). But is it really the most influential movie of the last 30 years? Vanity Fair seems to think so. According to an article in the March 2012 issue, "Diner" -- released 30 years ago today, on March 5, 1982 -- is indirectly responsible for "Seinfeld," "The Office," "Pulp Fiction," and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Such writers as Nick Hornby, Stephen Merchant, and Judd Apatow acknowledge its impact on the way they write scenes that others omit, scenes were guys reveal what matters most to them by chatting over coffee about things that don't matter at all. Like its trivia-obsessed characters, "Diner" is full of unspoken tales beneath the surface. Even fans may not know how closely life imitated art in the alliances, rivalries, pranks, and power games that helped make the movie
See full article at Moviefone »

Push Blu-ray Review

About midway through Push (2009), I lost interest in trying to figure out exactly what was going on with the ever growing roster of psychic characters and multiplying plot threads and turned my mental faculties off to wallow in the vibrant visuals and well executed action sequences. Director Paul McGuigan (Wicker Park, Lucky # Slevin) has attempted to capitalize on the comic book/super hero craze that has gained hold of Hollywood as of late seemingly taking inspiration from NBC's Heroes (the X-Men movies are another obvious influence). Unfortunately he also appears to have inherited some of the show's impenetrable plot and the notion that if a few participants are good, more must be better. The following is a high level recap though considering the amount of convolution, I very well may have gotten something wrong: Kira (Camilla Belle) is a "pusher" (able to implant memories in other's minds) and the only
See full article at TheHDRoom »

The 2008 Cyber Horror Awards

In the spirit of the recent Academy Awards, Brian Solomon from The Vault of Horror blog put together The 2008 Cyber Horror Awards ballot, which was sent out to the usual group of horror bloggers as detailed here.

Out of all of the nominated films, the only one I haven't seen is Martyrs (and some of Repo! - more on that in a bit). From what I've heard, I may have voted very differently had I been able to see this film. With this in mind, I suggested that the French film Inside (with it's 2008 DVD release in the U.S.) should be on this year's ballot and Martyrs (with it's U.S. DVD release coming up in a few weeks) should be on next year's ballot, but I was overruled.

With that, here are my selections, the nominees and the winners from the 2008 Cyber Horror Awards Ballot.

Ray Harryhausen Award
See full article at Fangoria »

Push

Release Date: Feb. 6

Director: Paul McGuigan

Writers: David Bourla

Cinematographer: Peter Sova

Starring: Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans, Camilla Belle

Studio/Run Time: Summit Entertainment, 111 mins.

Listless superpower flick can't sort out story

By turns frantic and somber, the resolutely convoluted thriller Push dashes from genre to genre in search of a reason to exist. Directed in a rush by Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin), the movie follows a vaguely superheroic clan of misfits pursued through Hong Kong by a government agency—American, of course—that seeks to assemble them into a dream army. Enter nominal dude protagonist (Chris Evans, pretty and vacant) as he teams up with a precocious teen (Dakota Fanning) after Uncle Sam comes calling for an escaped test subject (Camilla Belle) with the ability to control minds.
See full article at PasteMagazine »

Paul McGuigan on Push

Like all the modern day action movies, Push adopted a handheld style of shooting. It still appears steadier than other handheld movies, though some of the crew was the same.

Paul McGuigan Directs Push

"Actually, Stuart [Howell] who was our operator, he operated on the Bourne movies," said director Paul McGuigan. "We had Peter Sova who's my Dp, who shot all my movies for me, did Donnie Brasco as well and Good Morning, Vietnam. We were very conscious of not making it all like this [shaking]. I want you to still see Hong Kong. I want you to still enjoy where I was and let the audience see."

Perhaps McGuigan's style comes from a different point on the handheld spectrum than other filmmakers.
See full article at CanMag »

The Strangers

DVD Release Date: Oct. 21

Director/Writer: Bryan Bertino

Cinematographer: Peter Sova

Starring: Liv Tyler, Scott Speedman

Studio/Run Time: Universal, 88 mins.

Horror film doesn't hold up

Ever since the Coen brothers pulled one over on viewers with the blatant but joking falsehood, “This is a true story,” thrillers “inspired by true events”—as The Strangers claims to be—have held less water. As Fargo coyly pointed out, it’s a base qualifier, and when a filmmaker flashes that credential, viewers should be alert. I suppose The Strangers could’ve been inspired by true events, inasmuch as violent crimes do occur, and sometimes they’re random. But with the film’s posters and opening credits presenting the claim, it’s clear that first-time filmmaker Bryan Bertino really wants viewers to believe it. Alone, this cheap trick wouldn’t be a huge offense, but in the context of The Strangers, it feels
See full article at PasteMagazine »

Film review: 'The Proposition'

Film review: 'The Proposition'
While the premise sounds ripe -- a privileged '30s-era feminist writer pays a young man to sire her child, with the blessing of her sterile husband -- "The Proposition" (formerly "Shakespeare's Sister") is a ponderous slab of heavy-handed poetic justice dished out by unsympathetic characters in borrowed Merchant-Ivory attire.

Receiving its world premiere at the recent Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the picture will be a doubtful boxoffice proposition for PolyGram despite a high-caliber cast fronted by Kenneth Branagh, Madeleine Stowe and William Hurt.

Stowe is very much in her period element as Eleanor Barrett, the emancipated scribe in question who seeks guidance from the writings of Virginia Woolf as well as a child from her devoted, wealthy husband Arthur (hurt). When it's learned that he can't deliver the goods, the couple hires Roger Martin Neil Patrick Harris), a young, hesitant surrogate, to do the honors.

But when Eleanor becomes pregnant, said stud goes from awkward to arrogant to downright obsessed, threatening to scandalize the staid Beacon Hill establishment by revealing their little business arrangement.

Not wanting to reveal too much more, suffice it to say someone makes sure Martin goes away permanently, while the new Catholic priest (Branagh) mysteriously ducks the couple's repeated dinner invitations.

Screenwriter Rick Ramage lays the intrigue and malice on pretty thick, while director Lesli Linka Glatter ("Now and Then") gives everything the same claustrophobic, purposeful weight. Given the heady subject matter, a little irony would have been most helpful. Add the wrap-around, redundant narration (most likely added after the fact), and the picture goes from merely unsuccessful to quite irritating.

Try as they might to inject some warm-blooded humanity into their mopey, unappealing characters, the cast faces an impossible task. Even Blythe Danner, as the Barretts' dedicated secretary and confidante, can't do much to conceal the fact that her character is virtually a carbon copy of "Rebecca"'s Mrs. Danvers.

The same goes for the technical aspects, which while respectable have a hollow, imitative feel, from Peter Sova's meaningful camerawork to composer Stephen Endelman's string-pulling strings.

THE PROPOSITION

PolyGram Films

An Interscope Communications production

A Lesli Linka Glatter film

Director: Lesli Linka Glatter

Producers: Ted Field, Diane Nabatoff, Scott Kroopf

Screenwriter: Rick Ramage

Executive producer: Lata Ryan

Director of photography: Peter Sova

Production designer: David Brisbin

Editor: Jacqueline Cambas

Costume designer: Anna Sheppard

Music: Stephen Endelman

Color/stereo

Cast:

Father Michael McKinnon: Kenneth Branagh

Arthur Barrett: William Hurt

Eleanor Barrett: Madeleine Stowe

Syril Danning: Blythe Danner

Hannibal Thurman: Robert Loggia

Roger Martin: Neil Patrick Harris

Father Dryer: Josef Sommer

Running time -- 114 minutes

No MPAA rating

Film review: 'Donnie Brasco'

Film review: 'Donnie Brasco'
Being a wiseguy is not all fun and games -- offing people, squiring dames, wearing loud suits. Down in the grimy trenches it's actually unglamorous, and this well-wrought Mandalay Entertainment presentation captures the grunty insides of the Mob world.

Featuring splendidly muted performances from Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, "Donnie Brasco" should shake down some sizable initial loot. Admittedly, this decidedly nonglam glimpse inside Mobdom is not an overtly commercial vehicle, but it should nevertheless hold its own in intelligent neighborhoods of discerning viewers.

Depp is featured in the titular role of FBI agent Joe Piscone, a k a Donnie Brasco to the mobsters. The FBI's infiltration of the Mafia in the 1970s was one of the bureau's greatest anti-organized-crime triumphs, and this shrewdly balanced film takes us into two very different worlds. It presents us with two divergent lead characters: suburban family-man agent Brasco and, on the mean-streets side, family man Lefty Ruggiero (Pacino).

Screenwriter Paul Attanasio's adaptation of Joseph D. Pistone's book is a crisply colorful portrait of the underside of the underworld. Day-to-day life for Lefty is that of loud desperation. Like a gray suit in a corporate world, Lefty feels the heel of the organization's chain of command and, like today's white-collar midmanagement, he fears the up-and-comers. In short, although he's distinguished himself as a hit man (26 notches to his belt), he knows he'll never rise any higher. In short, he's vulnerable, and when young and ambitious Donnie befriends him as a "jewel man," he's more than eager to groom him as his protege. Most poignantly, a bond develops between the two men, and the ambitious FBI agent comes to see things in more than black-and-white, good-and-evil terms.

Roiling with some well-rolled paradox and goombah-gutted irony, "Donnie Brasco" is a complex portrait of honor as well as a kind and sympathetic depiction of a man who is truly at the end of his rope. While his performance is not heaped with the bantam-sized swagger of other roles, Pacino nails down probably one of his most gifted portrayals. We feel for his character, a man who realizes that his number has come up. Similarly, Depp's portrayal is rich, clueing us to his character's nearly debilitating dualities. In a supporting role, Michael Madsen is, once again, terrifically terrifying as a sadistic henchman, while Bruno Kirby's scaredy-guy performance as a rank-and-file nickel-and-dimer drills home the mundane reality of toiling for the crime bosses.

Well-produced, with a well-chosen cadre of technical talent, "Donnie Brasco" is a bit of a stylistic departure for director Mike Newell ("Four Weddings and a Funeral", "Enchanted April"), but his perceptive, robust direction makes us feel he is actually of that world. Special praise to cinematographer Peter Sova for the aptly grimy hues and to composer Patrick Doyle for the film's sorrowful score, a perfect texture for the hard psychological scars that the men of this world wear.

DONNIE BRASCO

Sony Pictures Releasing

TriStar Pictures

Mandalay Entertainment presents

a Baltimore Pictures/Mark Johnson production

A Mike Newell Film

Producers Mark Johnson, Barry Levinson,

Louis DiGaimo, Gail Mutrux

Director Mike Newell

Screenwriter Paul Attanasio

Based on the book by Joseph D. Pistone,

with Richard Woodley

Executive producers Patrick McCormick,

Alan Greenspan

Director of photography Peter Sova

Production designer Donald Graham Burt

Editor Jon Gregory

Costume designers Aude Bronson-Howard,

David Robinson

Executive producers Budd Carr, Allan Mason

Music Patrick Doyle

Casting Louis DiGiaimo, Brett Goldstein

Sound mixer Tod Maitland

Color/stereo

Cast:

Lefty Al Pacino

Donnie Johnny Depp

Sonny Michael Madsen

Nicky Bruno Kirby

Paulie James Russo

Maggie Anne Heche

Tim Curley Zeljko Ivanek

Running time -- 121 minutes

MPAA rating: R

See also

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