Movies

In Japan, 'Sliced-Up Actors' Are A Dying Breed

Mar 28, 2012

Japan is home to Asia's oldest and largest motion-picture industry, with its own unique genres and traditions. While every film industry has stuntmen, only Japan has a class of actors whose main job is to be sliced and diced by samurai sword-wielding protagonists. But the decline of period dramas means that this class of actors is literally a dying breed.

This summer, U.S. archer Khatuna Lorig hopes to return to the Olympic Games. But she's already helped put archery into The Hunger Games this spring — by training the film's star, Jennifer Lawrence, to shoot.

In the kill-or-be-killed competition in the film drawn from Suzanne Collins' book, Lawrence's character, Katniss Everdeen, relies on her ability with a bow. And Lorig worked with the actress to ensure she had proper form.

'October Baby' Tells A Story Hollywood Wouldn't

Mar 27, 2012

October Baby tells the story of 19-year-old Hannah, a first-year college student, who leaves home on a search for her birth mother. In many ways, it's a Hollywood-style road trip movie dealing with questions of identity, but at the movie's core is also a vigorous message about abortion.

In one scene, Hannah tracks down a nurse who worked at the health clinic where her birth mother had sought an abortion — one that failed when Hannah was born prematurely.

Hollywood is dominated at the moment by the upcoming release of The Hunger Games, the first film adaptation of a phenomenally successful series of young adult novels set in a dystopian, divided America, where teenagers from different regions are pitted against each other for survival.

21 Jump Street sits atop the box office this week. It is a reboot of the late 1980's television hit about cops going undercover in high schools.  Turns out there are real-life police officers on the high school hallway beat, and, as Slate reporter Will Oremus uncovered, there are specific strategies these fre

When 21-year-old Kevin Smith decided he wanted to be a filmmaker, his sister gave him some advice: "Don't say you want to be a filmmaker; just be one." So he did. He made his first film, Clerks, on a shoestring, shooting at the convenience store where he worked.

The film Mosquita y Mari — the first narrative feature by a Chicana director to screen at the Sundance Film Festival — is both the singular vision of writer-director Aurora Guerrero and a crowdsourced production that could not have been made without multiple communities coming together.

Robert De Niro's last outing with director Paul Weitz was less than auspicious: The comedy Little Fockers received terrible reviews. Being Flynn, their second collaboration, is a more serious affair about the estranged relationship between a fractious father and his son.

A new study from researchers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center found that the more movies teenagers watch with images of alcohol, the more likely teens will start drinking. The study also found that an increase in movie watching was a major risk factor for teens who already drink to start binge drinking.

The movie Act of Valor, which opened in theaters last weekend and earned nearly $25 million, was commissioned by the Navy's Special Warfare Command to drum up recruits for its elite SEALs program. But this is by no means the first movie made with the military's cooperation.

Before they made it to the Oscars, the nominated films — not to mention all the films that didn't make the cut — were viewed by some 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Many of those movies were shown in small, private, rented screening rooms all over Hollywood.

The studios have their own screening rooms, of course, but often directors want a more private place to screen works in progress — with no studio suits in sight.

A battered wooden skiff motors along the horn of East Africa. Onboard are a half-dozen men clutching AK-47s and debating whether they'll need to shoot. They are Somali pirates.

Or rather, they're actors playing Somali pirates in a short feature film titled Fishing Without Nets. It tells the story of piracy off the coast of Somalia — from the perspective of the pirates — and it won the jury prize for short filmmaking at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Photo by MacGuffin Podcast, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

This year’s list of Oscar nominees for best film is heavy on nostalgia The Artist, Hugo, Midnight in Paris. We go to the movies to escape talk of politics, foreclosures and the economy, after all. One exception is Margin Call, a smart, tightly-wound thriller nominated for best original screenplay. The film tracks the key players and catastrophic decisions made at a venerable investment firm over 36 crucial hours.

Blame Jar Jar Binks.

If George Lucas had never created that annoying, slapstick-prone CGI character in The Phantom Menace, history would be different. No amount of "meesa so sorry" can make up for this abomination. And to add insult to injury, Lucas is sending a 3D Jar Jar Binks into theaters on February 10th.

Too Bad to be True

Feb 2, 2012

Anyone who’s ever said reality is stranger than fiction… hasn’t seen too many movies about football. In football movies, losing your star quarterback doesn’t ruin your team’s season, it just means the backup guy pulls off last-second trick plays… and in the movies, your team’s chances of victory are less tied to players or strategy than to the coach’s inspiring locker room speech. Take Al Pacino’s half time talk, in the movie Any Given Sunday:

Photo by Tiny Glimpses via Flickr Creative Commons

The Academy Award nominations were announced this morning with some expected names – Meryl Streep and George Clooney, and a few surprises, Bridesmaids got asked to the party, for example…and who the heck is Demián Bichir?

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