Tim’s Vermeer Celebrates The Beauty of Precision And Perseverance

Tim's Vermeer (Sony Pictures Classics)

Penn & Teller are illusionists who mix a bit of humor amidst all that delicious intrigue and misdirection. There are brief touches of levity in the documentary Tim’s Vermeer, but when you’re dealing with a Texas engineer/inventor who’s bent on replicating a painting from Johannes Vermeer, time is of the essence.

Since the pair are longtime friends of Tim Jenison, they had an all access pass to the entrepreneur’s painstaking yet creatively fulfilling journey in creating his own version of Vermeer’s “The Piano Lesson.” Jenison’s efforts include using what he believed were similar lenses Vermeer employed to create the photo realistic effect of much of his paintings as well as building a studio which attempted to mimic the Dutch painter’s own working conditions.

Although it took Jenison over four years to finish his project, (director Teller shot 2400 hours of footage), he’s pretty humble of his own accomplishments. “I was plagiarizing Vermeer,” said Jenison. “I can’t take credit for anything in that painting. I was just doing an experiment to see if this equipment would work. There is a painting that came out of that, but that’s Vermeer’s creation.”

To hear how Tim Jenison talk about the genesis behind his Vermeer project, click on the media bar below (he also elaborates on how he built his studio):

Tim’s Vermeer, which features Penn Jillette as one of the doc’s producers, opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, January 31.


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posted by Greg Srisavasdi

The Monuments Men Cast Reflect On Berlin Travels

The Monuments Men (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures)

George Clooney led a cast of thousands across Germany and to the English coast to shoot the World War II comedy-drama that opens on February 7th.

Directed, co-written by and starring Clooney, The Monuments Men (opening February 7) took Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett on a trip that began in Berlin, with stops at small German towns in the Harz region, to shoot the based-in-fact story about a team tasked with saving art during World War II. Production later hopped across the English Channel to film in Cambridge, and along the U.K. coast by the Medieval town of Rye.

Berlin plays particular importance in the tale, both thematically and for its trove of Third Reich leftovers like the abandoned Krampnitz military base. The complex on the city’s outskirts, also seen in the 2009 film Inglourius Basterds, has become something of an unofficial tourist attraction. A fence that’s easily circumvented surrounds a sprawl of crumbling barracks that are plastered with a mix of real Nazi regalia, Soviet stampings, movie props and modern street art.

Cate Blanchett
says of Berlin, “It did feel like one of the perfect places to shoot the film, [which] does deal with, ‘What is the importance of culture, and would you die for it?’ It is a country that’s absolutely had to, since the second World War, ask itself massive moral questions, and it’s reforged its identity based on culture. The amount of artists living and working in Berlin is unparalleled.” Damon adds, “I loved working there. I’ve worked there before on the second Bourne film. So I’ve spent a lot of time in Berlin. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world.”


More on Vagabuzz.com.

To hear Matt Damon talk about his love for Berlin, click on the media bar below:




American Idol Judges Praise Salt Lake City Talent

American Idol (FOX, CR: Michael Becker)

Salt Lake City has never really been considered a hotbed of talent, but maybe that’s because sometimes ignorance rules the day. The American Idol judges had only praise for the singers who auditioned during the show’s stop in the area.

“Yeah, I like performing anywhere, and I’ve always found that the people in Salt Lake were extremely hospitable, very welcoming, and then it just boils down to how good our show is at that point,” says Harry Connick Jr., who marks his first year as a judge on American Idol. “But the people, generally, have always been super nice, so, it’s a great place for us to visit.

To hear the American Idol judges talk about the talent in Salt Lake City, click on the media bar below:


So who are some of your favorite singers from this season’s auditions? Let us now and comment below!

A new episode of American Idol airs tonight on FOX (8 pm et/pt)

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi

Lizzie Borden Takes An Ax To DVD & Digital in April

Lizzie Borden (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Lizzie Borden Took An Ax, starring Christina Ricci in the titular role, hits DVD and Digital April 8 via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The picture, directed by The Sopranos and Laws of Gravity filmmaker Nick Gomez, also stars Clea DuVall as Borden’s sister and Billy Campbell (TV’s Helix) as the accused murderer’s lawyer.

The film, which runs 88 minutes, is based on Borden’s mysterious life, as she was accused and then acquitted of murdering her dad and stepmom with an ax. Stephen Kay, whose film directing credits include a remake of Get Carter starring Sylvester Stallone, and the Beat Generation drama The Last Time I Committed Suicide, penned the script for Lizzie Borden Took An Ax.

For its January 25 premiere on Lifetime, Lizzie Borden Took An Ax took in 4.4 million viewers.



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posted by Greg Srisavasdi

Review: Enemies Closer Features Rousing Work from Jean-Claude Van Damme

Enemies Closer (LionsGate)

If you’ve seen JCVD or such underrated actions flicks as Sudden Death and , you know that Jean-Claude Van Damme doesn’t mind hamming it up. He gets to chew his share of scenery (and I mean that in a good way) in director Peter Hyams’ rousing action flick Enemies Closer.

Van Damme, who previous worked with Hyams on Sudden Death and Timecop, is the villain this time out, a passionate vegan named Xander who, although he’ll kill without a moment’s hesitation, doesn’t want to leave too big of a carbon footprint.

Tom Everett Scott, who most fans remember from That Thing You Do but also had a memorable run on TV’s Southland, is Henry, a former Navy SEAL who’s now a hermetic forest ranger. His quiet life takes a turn when a stranger (Orlando Jones, who worked with Hyams in Beyond A Reasonable Doubt) shows up on Henry’s door looking for a bit of vengeance.

Their showdown takes a momentary pause, as they must reluctantly band together to defeat Xander and his crew. Since Henry’s an expert diver, Xander needs the ranger alive to grab 50 pounds of heroin that’s resting at the bottom of a lake.

Hyams, whose versatile filmmaking career includes such high points as Outland, Capricorn One, and the taut thriller Narrow Margin, doesn’t have a ton of money to work with in Enemies Closer, but thanks to his natural proclivities as a photographer (he’s the cinematographer in most of his films), Hyams brings a solid, visual dynamism to this action flick. Although the feature is set amidst the wilderness, the filmmaker shoots much of his action in confined spaces, making ample use of Van Damme’s martial arts skills. A violent encounter between Henry and the stranger, which occurs in the confines of the ranger’s cabin, is also shot in an arresting, visceral fashion.

I really enjoyed Enemies Closer, and at 85 minutes the story checks in as an engaging, bare knuckled feature. Van Damme also gets his share of funny one-liners as he ups the body count, and if that’s your cup of tea, then you shouldn’t be disappointed with this guilty pleasure.

Enemies Closer is now playing nationwide and is available On Demand. To check out my interview with director Peter Hyams, check out Deepest Dream.

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posted by Greg Srisavasdi