SEAN PENN REMEMBERS GOOD TIMES AT FAST TIMES

1-225The classic 1980’s comedy, Fast Times at Ridgemont High starred Academy Award winners, Nicholas Cage, Forest Whitaker, writer/director Cameron Crowe, and two time Academy Award winner Sean Penn (who played the loveable stoner, Jeff Spicoli). 

While the film came out 29 years ago, Penn still has good memories about the classic comedy. (Click on the media bar below to hear Sean Penn)

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Sean Penn can currently be seen in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which is now playing in theatres in limited release.
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IS ‘X-MEN: FIRST CLASS’ ACTOR MICHAEL FASSBENDER THE NEXT JAMES BOND?

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Michael Fassbender, who is receiving great word of mouth for his work as Magneto in X-Men: First Class (opening June 3rd), starred earlier this year in Jane Eyre (with Mia Wasikowska) and is currently working on the sci-fi epic Prometheus. Directed by Ridley Scott and co-staring Charlize Theron, Prometheus is set for a June 8th, 2012 release.

Fassbender may also get the chance to land a franchise outside the X-Men universe, as he has the chiseled looks and rugged persona to play James Bond.

During a recent press conference to promote X-Men: First Class, a journalist asked Mr. Fassbender if he would take over the 007 franchise once Daniel Craig had his fill.  Click on the media bar to hear his response (Fassbender says that Daniel is “doing a great job” as Bond):

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi

MARIA BELLO WEARS “DIFFERENT SIZE SHOES” THAN HELEN MIRREN FOR ‘PRIME SUSPECT’

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During a recent interview for her upcoming movie Beautiful Boy, Maria Bello was asked about filling Helen Mirren’s shoes for this fall’s NBC series Prime Suspect (Thursdays, 9 pm et/pt).  The project is based on the popular British series of the same name, and along with her Oscar winning role in The Queen, Prime Suspect is Mirren’s most popular work.

Bello, however, is not fazed about stepping into such a well known story.  “‘People say ‘how do you feel about filling her shoes’ and I say, ‘I think we wear different size shoes,’ said Bello, who plays Detective Jane Timoney.  “It’s a very different character, it’s set in New York City, very different.  The commonality is that she is strong and is trying to make it in a man’s world but it is a really exciting show and one of the favorite things I’ve ever done and I’m proud of it.”

The series, which also stars Aidan Quinn (Unknown) and Kirk Acevedo (Fringe), was developed by writer Alexandra Cunningham (Desperate Housewives) and director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights).  Click on the media bar and listen to Bello talk about meeting police officers for Prime Suspect

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Beautiful Boy, co-starring Michael Sheen, opens June 3rd.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi

‘THE HANGOVER PART II’ HAS $31.7 MILLION OPENING DAY

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In its first day for release The Hangover Part II took in $31.7 million, making it the biggest opening day take for a comedy.  During its midnight showings alone, the picture made $10.4 million.  Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. Pictures of President Domestic Distribution,” said in a statement that the film’s box-office numbers were “through the roof.”

During a press conference to promote the film, director Todd Phillips talked about the secret to the franchise’s popularity.  “It has a lot to do with the unapologetic nature of the comedy,” said Phillips. “I think a lot of American comedies tend to apologize for their bad behavior in the last ten minutes of the movie and The Hangover (films) doesn’t do that.  It’s like ‘f**k it, whatever, leave!’  It has an unapologetic tone that actually people responded because we are used to a certain way of these stories being told.”

Click on the media bar and listen to Justin Bartha (aka Doug) talk about the inclusive nature of The Hangover films. 

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi

‘THE TREE OF LIFE’ DELIVERS A RESONANT, AMBITIOUS TALE OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT

treelife1There are few filmmakers who have the guts to search inside the recesses of the human soul and deliver a story that doesn’t reek of pretension.  Terrence Malick reigns supreme on that list, and his latest picture, The Tree of Life, continues his exploration of the primal and emotional complexities of humanity.  At 138 minutes, The Tree of Life covers the birth of the universe, the fragmentation of a Texas family in the 1950s, a dispirited modern day architect (Sean Penn) haunted by his past, dinosaurs, and, for good measure,…the afterlife.

Detractors will complain about the film’s lack of dialogue, plethora of hushed voiceovers, and what they perceive as an arbitrary succession of nature shots.  Intellectuals will revere Malick’s brilliant and innovative mise en scene, which includes his work with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, collaboration with visual effects consultant Douglas Trumbull (2001, Blade Runner, and director of Silent Running), and his use of composers Gustav Mahler, Henryk Gorecki and Mozart (the score was composed by Alexandre Desplat).  Film, as with anything, is a subjective experience, and I approached the film mainly from an emotional vantage point.

Amidst these huge themes of creation, death, love, and inevitably, grace, Mr. Malick presents us with the theory that the universe actually begins and ends within the construct of our family (in the final moments of The New World, Pocahontas, as she chases her young boy amidst the grass, says in voiceover: ‘Mother, now I know where you live.’).

Brad Pitt is Mr. O’Brien, a stern family man who lords over his three sons as if they were his subjects.  He teaches them how to fight, believing sheer aggression, perseverance, and domination are the keys to a man’s success.  When his career languishes, Mr. O’Brien is presented with his own failures as a father and a man, and Pitt effectively captures a person burdened by his own grandiose notions (Mr. O’Brien had designs of becoming a musician). His wife (Jessica Chastain) is Malick’s true hero, a strong, loving person who is, like all great mothers, a true nurturer.  Newcomer Hunter McCracken is Jack, the eldest child who inherits the violent tendencies of his dad and takes out his aggression on the middle sibling.  Sean Penn plays the present day Jack, who is still torn apart by his brother’s passing (Malick never specifies which sibling dies) and is undergoing his own spiritual crises.  Intersperse a long sequence on the universe and you have a non-linear journey which will either confound or inspire moviegoers.

To love a Terrence Malick film requires viewers to see stories beyond a superficial level and enter a story with their eyes and hearts completely wide open.  We may never fully understand what drives Malick (he still refuses to do interviews), but maybe that’s not the point.  Every individual wages their own war of the human spirit, and like The Tree of Life, many of our questions go unanswered.  Someone smarter (and pithier) once told me that “the journey is the destination.”  One hopes that for Malick, with five sublime and transcendent films under his belt, that journey is far from over.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi