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85th OSCAR® NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED

January 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards® were announced today (Thursday, January 10) by this year’s Oscar host, Seth MacFarlane, and actress Emma Stone.

MacFarlane and Stone announced the nominees at a 5:38 a.m. PT live news conference attended by more than 400 international media representatives. For a complete list of nominees, visit the official Academy Awards website, www.oscar.com.

Academy members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. In the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominees are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.

Official screenings of all motion pictures with one or more nominations will begin for members on Saturday, January 19, at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Screenings will also be held at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood and in London, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Active members of the Academy are eligible to vote for the winners in all categories.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
Hugh Jackman in “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
Denzel Washington in “Flight”
Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Alan Arkin in “Argo”
Robert De Niro in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”
Performance by an actress in a leading role

Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”
Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams in “The Master”
Sally Field in “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best animated feature film of the year

“Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
“Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
“ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
“Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore
Achievement in cinematography

“Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
“Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
“Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
“Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski
“Skyfall” Roger Deakins
Achievement in costume design

“Anna Karenina” Jacqueline Durran
“Les Misérables” Paco Delgado
“Lincoln” Joanna Johnston
“Mirror Mirror” Eiko Ishioka
“Snow White and the Huntsman” Colleen Atwood
Achievement in directing

“Amour” Michael Haneke
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Ang Lee
“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
“Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell
Best documentary feature

“5 Broken Cameras”
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
“The Gatekeepers”
Nominees to be determined
“How to Survive a Plague”
Nominees to be determined
“The Invisible War”
Nominees to be determined
“Searching for Sugar Man”
Nominees to be determined
Best documentary short subject

“Inocente”
Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
“Kings Point”
Sari Gilman and Jedd Wider
“Mondays at Racine”
Cynthia Wade and Robin Honan
“Open Heart”
Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern
“Redemption”
Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
Achievement in film editing

“Argo” William Goldenberg
“Life of Pi” Tim Squyres
“Lincoln” Michael Kahn
“Silver Linings Playbook” Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Dylan Tichenor and William Goldenberg
Best foreign language film of the year

“Amour” Austria
“Kon-Tiki” Norway
“No” Chile
“A Royal Affair” Denmark
“War Witch” Canada
Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

“Hitchcock”
Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane
“Les Misérables”
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“Anna Karenina” Dario Marianelli
“Argo” Alexandre Desplat
“Life of Pi” Mychael Danna
“Lincoln” John Williams
“Skyfall” Thomas Newman
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice”
Music and Lyric by J. Ralph
“Everybody Needs A Best Friend” from “Ted”
Music by Walter Murphy; Lyric by Seth MacFarlane
“Pi’s Lullaby” from “Life of Pi”
Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri
“Skyfall” from “Skyfall”
Music and Lyric by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
“Suddenly” from “Les Misérables”
Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil
Best motion picture of the year

“Amour” Nominees to be determined
“Argo” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
“Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
“Les Misérables” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
“Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
“Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
“Silver Linings Playbook” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers
Achievement in production design

“Anna Karenina”
Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration:    Katie Spencer
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Production Design: Dan Hennah; Set Decoration: Ra Vincent and Simon Bright
“Les Misérables”
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Anna Lynch-Robinson
“Life of Pi”
Production Design: David Gropman; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Lincoln”
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
Best animated short film

“Adam and Dog” Minkyu Lee
“Fresh Guacamole” PES
“Head over Heels” Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
“Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare”” David Silverman
“Paperman” John Kahrs
Best live action short film

“Asad” Bryan Buckley and Mino Jarjoura
“Buzkashi Boys” Sam French and Ariel Nasr
“Curfew” Shawn Christensen
“Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)” Tom Van Avermaet and Ellen De Waele
“Henry” Yan England
Achievement in sound editing

“Argo” Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
“Django Unchained” Wylie Stateman
“Life of Pi” Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
“Skyfall” Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
“Zero Dark Thirty” Paul N.J. Ottosson
Achievement in sound mixing

“Argo”
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia
“Les Misérables”
Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
“Life of Pi”
Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
“Lincoln”
Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
“Skyfall”
Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson
Achievement in visual effects

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
“Life of Pi”
Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott
“Marvel’s The Avengers”
Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams and Dan Sudick
“Prometheus”
Richard Stammers, Trevor Wood, Charley Henley and Martin Hill
“Snow White and the Huntsman”
Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson
Adapted screenplay

“Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
“Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
“Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
“Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
“Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell
Original screenplay

“Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
“Django Unchained” Written by Quentin Tarantino
“Flight” Written by John Gatins
“Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
“Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal

# # #

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards–in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners-the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

OSCAR® HOST SETH MACFARLANE JOINS EMMA STONE TO ANNOUNCE OSCAR NOMINATIONS

January 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards® will be announced by the show’s host, Seth MacFarlane, and actress Emma Stone on Thursday, January 10. This will be the first time since 1972 that an Oscar show host has participated in the nominations announcement.

MacFarlane and Stone will unveil the nominations at a 5:30 a.m. PT news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, where hundreds of media representatives from around the world will be gathered.

Since the first nominations announcement in 1964, the Academy president has been joined by one or more co-announcers at the event. This year the Academy will break with tradition when MacFarlane, who was named Oscar show host in October, joins Stone on Oscar nominations morning. Charlton Heston (1972) was the only other show host to participate in the nominations announcement.

Stone starred in the 2011 Best Picture nominee “The Help” and the summer release “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Her other film credits include “Superbad,” “Zombieland,” “Easy A” and “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Stone will be seen in “Gangster Squad” later this month and in “The Croods,” due out in March.

Nominations information for all categories will be distributed to news media in attendance and via the Internet on the official Academy Awards website, www.oscar.com.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre™ at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

# # #

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards–in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners–Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
www.oscars.org
www.facebook.com/TheAcademy
www.youtube.com/Oscars
www.twitter.com/TheAcademy

The Amazing Spider-Man (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Amazing Spider-Man” may not be the most faithful film when it comes to film adaptation from the original comic books, but then again, not many superhero films are.  Overall, the film turned out to be much more exciting, much more deeper than I was expecting.  And every ounce of skepticism that I once had, was no longer there.  I absolutely enjoyed “The Amazing Spider-Man” and I loved this Blu-ray release for its wonderful PQ, AQ and the special features galore!  There is no doubt in my mind that this is the best “Spider-Man” film yet! “The Amazing Spider-Man” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved. | Marvel, and the names and distinctive likenesses of Spider-Man and all other Marvel characters: ™ and © 2012 Marvel Entertainment, LLC & its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man

FILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 86 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Chinese, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Chinese (Mandarin Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), English (US), French (Canadian), French (Parisian), Indonesian / Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Latin Am), Thai

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (Sequences of Action and Violence)

Release Date: November 9, 2012

Directed by Marc Webb

Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, Alvin Sargent, Steve Kloves

Story by James Vanderbilt

Based on the Comic Book Series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

Producer: Avi Arad, Matthew Tomach, Laura Ziskin

Executive Producer: Kevin Feige, Michael Grillo, Kyla Kraman, Stan Lee

Associate Producer: Beatriz Sequeira

Music by James Horner

Cinematography by John Schwarzman

Edited by Alan Edward Bell, Michael McCusker, Pietro Scalia

Casting by Francine Maisler

Production Design by J. Michael Riva

Art Direction by Page Buckner, Michael E. Goldman, David F. Klassen, Suzan Wexler

Set Decoration by Leslie A. Pope

Costume Design by Kym Barrett

Starring:

Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man/Peter Parker

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy

Rhys Ifans as The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors

Denis Leary as Captain Stacy

Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben

Sally Field as Aunt May

Irrfan Khan as Rajit Ratha

Campbel Scott as Richard Parker

Embeth Davidtz as Mary Parker

Chris Zylka as Flash Thompson

Max Charles as Peter Parker (Age 4)

Jake Keiffer as Jack

Kari Coleman as Helen Stacy

Teenage social outcast Peter (Andrew Garfield) spends his days trying to unravel the mystery of his own past and win the heart of his high school crush, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). A mysterious briefcase belonging to his father, who abandoned him when he was a child, leads Peter to his dad’s former partner, Dr. Connors. The discovery of his father’s secret will ultimately shape his destiny of becoming “Spider-Man” and bring him face to face with Connors’ villainous alter ego, the Lizard.

For generations, many children, teens and adults have grown-up reading “The Amazing Spider-Man”.  The Marvel Comics series was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko back in 1963 and in December 2012, will end it’s run (the series will be temporarily replaced with a new series titled “Superior Spider-Man” as part of the Marvel NOW! line).

But many people have grown up with Spider-Man, may it be the comic books, video games, animated series, live action series and in the last decade, treated with three live -action films directed by Sam Raimi.

But one thing that Marvel Comics have done for new generation of readers was to create an Ultimate Line featuring a story that has little similarity to the original history of a character or group, but revised for a modern audience, with a modern storyline.

And while the three Sam Raimi films were blockbuster films that made a lot of money, it would end as a trilogy as the success of the films would set a pretty high price tag to retain filmmaker Sam Raimi and its main cast. also, the price tag for the original cast to continue in the films was quite high.  And the budget for the films were also quite high.

So, how to get away from that high price tag?  Reboot the film series and making it different from the original storyline using modern elements.

And so, we have “The Amazing Spider-Man”, a film directed by Marc Webb (“(500) Days of Summer) and a screenplay by James Vanderbilt (“Zodiac”, “The Losers”, “The Rundown”), Alvin Sargent (writer for “Spider-Man 2″, “Spider-Man 3″, “Unfaithful”) and Steve Kloves (“Harry Potter” films, “The Fabulous Baker Boys”).

The film would star Andrew Garfield (“The Social Network”, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”), Emma Stone (“The Help”, “Easy A”, “Zombieland”), Rhys Ifans (“Notting Hill”, “Anonymous”, “Little Nicky”), Denis Leary (“Rescue Me”, “Ice Age”), Martin Sheen (“The West Wing”, “Apocalypse now”, “The Departed”) and Sally Field (“Forest Gump”, “Brothers and Sisters”, “Mrs. Doubtfire”).

“The Amazing Spider-Man” begins with a four-year old Peter Parker, looking for his dad in his office.  But suddenly his father and mother are seen gathering their belongs, and his father, a scientist, gathering his work and taking young Peter to stay with his uncle Ben (portrayed by Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (portrayed by Sally Fields).

His parents leave with no explanation of where they are going.

Fast forward over a decade later and Peter Parker is a talented photographer and a smart student who excels in science.  But he’s not an athlete and is constantly bullied by jock, Flash Thompson (portrayed by Chris Zylka) and not popular with the girls at school either.

But one student recognizes his intelligence and compassion, Gwen Stacy (portrayed by Emma Stone), a girl that Peter Parker likes.

While living with his uncle and aunt, Peter accidentally finds a hidden bag in the house containing information left behind by his father, including a photo of his father with another scientist. Dr. Curt Connors.  But unfortunately, not much is known of why Richard and Mary Parker left.  But being the curious teen who wants to know what really happened to his parents, Parker’s investigation leads him to Oscorp Industries. where Dr. Curt Connors works and interesting enough, where Gwen Stacy works as an assistant.

He amazes Dr. Connors on his knowledge but is unable to talk to him and we learn that Dr. Connors is being pressured by Dr. Ratha to complete a serum that will cure a terminally ill Norman Osborn, the head of Oscorp Industries. But for Dr. Connors, he is more interested in regenerating his right arm, which he lost long ago.

As for Peter, Peter goes into a lab, where genetically modified spiders are kept. One of the spiders ends up escaping and crawling on Peter Parker and bites him on the neck.  Not feeling well, Peter Parker starts to learn that he has the ability to stick to things, has superhuman speed, strength and a heightened sense of danger.

When Peter tracks down Dr. Connors, he reveals himself to be the son of Richard Parker and Dr. Connors explains that the two were working on a project to combine genetics but Richard Parker left without the missing key.  But since Peter has found his father’s hidden work, he gives Dr. Connors the key.  And he begins to spend time helping Dr. Connors, unfortunately while disobeying his uncle and not following up on his responsibilities.

And during a night where he was supposed to pick up his Aunty May, he ends up working late with Dr. Connors, which upsets his Uncle Ben and leads to a heated argument.   His Uncle Ben explains how his father would talk about how his father would talk about the importance of responsibility.  But this infuriates Peter even more as his father didn’t live up to his responsibility of being a father.  The argument leads Peter to run out, while his Uncle Ben goes out to look for him.

While at a convenience store, Peter tries to buy some milk but is two cents short.  The convenience store owner denies in giving Peter a break and before Peter leaves the store, he sees the customer that was standing behind him, stealing money from the cash register.  As the thief runs away, he trips and his gun slides on the pavement.

Ben, who is looking for Peter, spots the gun and fights with the thief and during the altercation, the thief shoots and kills Ben.

Because of this incident, Peter uses his new skills to become Spider-Man and search for the criminal responsible for killing his uncle.

Meanwhile, Dr. Connors is under the gun to help develop the serum for Norman Osborn but has been focusing on regenerating his arm.  And because he refuses to help develop the serum, he is fired from his job.  But not long after, the regeneration of his arm seems to have worked as Dr. Connors has found a way to use a lizard to regrow his arm.

But unbeknown to Dr. Connors, by doing what he has done, his whole body has turned into a lizard.  And now, the Lizard is terrorizing the streets.

As for Peter Parker, he tries to learn about to know about his responsibilities with his new power, but also how he can use this power for good, not just for revenge in searching for the murderer of his uncle.

While Peter’s relationship with Gwen Stacy starts to grow, her father (portrayed by Denis Leary), a police captain is deadset in trying to capture Spider-Man who he regards as a vigilante and not helping the police.  And as the Lizard continues the rampage, Captain Stacy puts the blame on Spider-Man.

VIDEO:

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  And as one can expect, this film looks absolutely magnificent on Blu-ray.  Everything from the detail of Spider-Man’s costume, detail on the strands of webbing to the beautiful skyline and of course, character close-ups, the film looks absolutely gorgeous.  Even the shots from high above the city looking down towards Spider-Man and just the overall look and environment looks believable and breathtaking.  Black levels are inky and deep, skin tones are natural and if anything, videophiles will no doubt love how “The Amazing Spider-Man” looks on Blu-ray!

It is important to note that there is a 3D release of the film on Blu-ray (not included with the Blu-ray+DVD+UltraViolet version).

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is presented in English, French, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Chinese, Thai 5.1 Dolby Digital.  And as one can expect from this film, filled with many action-packed scenes, the lossless soundtrack sounds magnificent and is truly immersive.

The use of surround is done remarkably well.  From Spider-Man shooting out his web, swinging through the city to Peter Parker being thrown around by the Lizard to getting into a fight with Flash, the dialogue and special effects are crystal clear and good use of surround sound usage and LFE.

But also equally impressive is James Horner’s music for the film.  There are tracks that just captivate you, such as the wonderful “The Ganali Device” which showcases James Horner’s piano playing.  But you will also have the action-driven sequence  upbeat tracks such as “The Bridge”, “Lizard at School!”, “Saving New York” (which was an effective style of James Horner to use the piano in such a way).

For the most part, James Horner is a master in creating beautiful music, emotional music.  From his orchestral direction, his use of piano, voice utilization, the music for “The Amazing Spider-Man is original and manages to be different than Elfman’s “Spider-Man” compositions.

Similar to the film, the soundtrack for “The Amazing Spider-Man” is emotional and he builds upon each track that it begins to grow on you and you find yourself enjoying the soundtrack even more.

But I have to say that this is one of the most original soundtracks when it comes to how the piano is utilized.   But at the same time, aiming for beauty, aiming for emotion, there is not a score that  found that sticks out, a track that I found memorable.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Chinese (Mandarin Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), English (US), French (Canadian), French (Parisian), Indonesian / Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Latin Am) and Thai.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Amazing Spider-Man” comes with the following special features:

  • Amazing Spider-Man Second Screen App – On disc supporting content – You can watch the film at the same time on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Commentary with Marc Webb, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach – Insightful audio commentary by director Marc Webb, producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach.  Very informative!
  • The Oscorp Archives – Production Art Gallery – Featuring production art of Spider-Man, The Lizard and the Environments.  You can view each artwork via using your remote (or keyboard if viewing on a computer).
  • Rite of Passage: The Amazing Spider Man Reborn The Drawing Board: Development and Direction  - (1:49:49) An excellent seven part documentary which focuses on: Friends and Enemies: Casting, Second Skins: Spidey Suit and the Lizard, Spidey Goes West: Production – Los Angeles, Safe Haven: Production – Sony Studios, Bright Tights, Big City: Production – New York, The Greatest Responsibility – Post Production and Release and Iconic Poses and Digital Environments.  You can watch each as one featurette or individually.
  • Deleted Scenes – (16:21) Featuring eleven deleted scenes.
  • Pre-Visualization - (39:08) Featuring the storyboards and animated sequences for the following sequences: Revised Opening Sequence, Spider Room, The Subway, Birth of Spider-Man, Handstand, Roof Top POV, Overpass, Bridge, Love Swing, Lizard Sewer, High School, Lizard Ambush, Standoff, Crane, Oscorp Lab, Oscorp Finale.
  • Image Progression – Featuring various digital scenes and how they progress over time.   Featuring a total of five image progression reels with optional commentary by Sr. Visual Effects Supervisor Jerome Chen, Animation Supervisor David Schaub and Digital Effects Supervisor David Smith.
  • Stunt Rehearsals  – (12:01) Featuring eight stun rehearsal clips which can be viewed as one featurette or separately: Live Subway, Dave’s script, Spidey Luis Sequence, Escape Under Bridge, Sewer Fight, Big Liz Vs Spidey, Lizard Attacks SWAT, SWAT Attack – V3
  • Developing The Amazing Spider-Man Video Game – (3:30) A look at the development for “The Amazing Spider-Man” video game.

EXTRAS:

“The Amazing Spider-Man” comes with a cardboard cover case.  A DVD of the film is included with this release plus an UltraViolet code which allows people to stream or download the film to their Smart Phone or tablet.

As a child who grew up reading and enjoying Spider-Man fan, from being introduced to the comic books at a young age and having collected (and recently sold) decades of Spider-Man comic books and toys that I collected over the years, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical of a new Spider-Man film, especially a film not so long after the third film of Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy.

Being familiar with what Marvel Comics have done to modernize the character(s) for their films, especially to bring in a new generation of fans not so familiar with the comic books, let alone the ever changing storylines of the character, I look at this reboot as a way of meeting older and newer fans half-way with the classic Spider-Man and the new Ultimate version of Spider-Man, but with newer technology of today, bringing Peter Parker and Spider-Man to the modern age.

And while I know hardcore fans can easily get dismayed with how Hollywood tends to give their own version of super heroes and their origin, personally, I don’t think anyone should be too shocked by now, considering how different other superhero films have been compared to the comic books.   You’re just just not going to get a 100% faithful film adaptation.  And it’s best to come into watching a film based on popular superhero and just accepting that things will be different, while some things will be similar but most importantly, how effective the story will be be, especially the superhero itself.

“The Avengers” and even the recent Dark Knight (Batman) films have shown how these films could be exciting, well-written and enjoyable.  So, can “The Amazing Spider-Man” right?

For “Spider-Man” fans who are trying to forget the third Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” film, fortunately, “The Amazing Spider-Man” manages to incorporate a good balance between the old and the new.

First, let’s talk about the storyline.  The evergoing battle between Spider-Man and the Lizard has been ongoing for so long in the comic books. A good choice for antagonist but it’s also a good way to show a connection Oscorp Industries because of this Peter Parker/Gwen Stacy storyline.

But one thing that was never introduced in the original comic books was Peter Parker’s parents.  It became more of a bigger topic in the ’90s when Marvel introduced this nonsense of clones, but for the film, I actually enjoyed how they brought in the parents, made things a mystery and unlike the comic books, trying not to have this Weapon X connection.  While it’s too early to see how this plays out, I’m glad the subject was introduced into this film.

As a “Spider-Man” fan, while the Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson storyline (and their happiness as a couple to a married couple) will always be important in the life of Peter Parker, what is also important is the relationship between Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.

Before Peter Parker and Mary Jane, the story of Gwen Stacy has always been important in the Spider-Man universe because Peter Parker will truly learn about the great responsibility he has of being a super-hero.  While a lot of us who have read the comic book series, pretty much knows what will happen to Gwen Stacy, I felt that the writers did a good service for fans by making Gwen the counterpart to Peter Parker.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” is a film that tries to make compromises with both classic and modern versions.  While Peter Parker is seen as a non-popular guy in “The Amazing Spider-Man”, gone is the science nerd with glasses.  Also, modern technology plays a big part of the film.

I’ve always wondered how a high school student would effectively create powerful webs with the technology used back in the ’60s but at least with “The Amazing Spider-Man”, Peter Parker utilizing technology from Oscorp Industries, makes sense.

I actually like the costume design for “The Amazing Spider-Man” this time around and with the always change in technology, the special effects for “The Amazing Spider-Man” looks absolutely fantastic.  When you see Spider-Man swinging from building to building, you can feel the height and was quite pleased with how technology has improved since the release of the past “Spider-Man” trilogy.

But it’s the characters that really brought a lot heart and soul to the film.  Andrew Garfield may not look super nerdy but he played the part of Peter Parker quite effectively.  Different from Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of Spider-Man, I felt that Garfield brought a positive, cool vibe to the character that fans can sympathize for.

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy was fantastic!  Just the final scene alone with Peter Parker, just the look in her eyes and the smile she gives, is more than enough to make me feel that the right person was cast for the role!

And while Sally Field may not look like the elderly Aunt May that was portrayed in the comic books, to have Sally Field and Martin Sheen play Uncle Ben and Aunt May was another positive when it comes to casting.  Both also did a wonderful job.

And last, Denis Leary did a wonderful job of playing Captain Stacy.  You need a man with attitude to play the role and he nailed it!

As for the primary antagonist, while Rhys Ifans did a great job with Dr. Curt Connors, I was a little iffy when it came to the Lizard’s design.  I wanted to see more the protruding snout that was seen of the character in the comic books with the razor sharp fangs and hissing long tongue.  He looked more like an alien from out of space or swamp creature than the Lizard that I was hoping to see.

But I felt the writers did a wonderful job of separating this reboot from the Sam Raimi trilogy.    And because Gwen Stacy is the love of Peter Parker in this film, one can only wonder how things will playout in the second film.

But overall, I felt that Marc Webb was able to craft a different kind of Spider-Man film that although not 100% faithful to the comic book series, does a magnificent job in capturing those important elements and is able to take the plot and entertain audiences of today!

And with newer technology for CG and special effects, the film looks very fluid during the more action-intense sequences and it played to this film’s overall efficacy.

Speaking of technology, for the Blu-ray release, it’s important to note that there are two versions out on Blu-ray.  One includes the 3D version of the film, while this Blu-ray release features the film via Blu-ray, DVD and UltraViolet.

The Blu-ray is bundled with many special features and the picture quality and lossless audio is fantastic!  Video and audiophiles should be pleased with this Blu-ray release.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” was a risky film to reboot, not long after the original “Spider-Man” trilogy had ended.  But with over 60-years of comic book history, there is a lot of Spider-Man stories to be told.  And one of those most significant storylines involve Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.

While Spider-Man fans know how much of an impact Gwen Stacy had on Peter Parker’s life through the comic books, what better than to bring these two characters and put them in the forefront of this Marvel reboot.  Where the Sam Raimi films did a lot of experimentation of Spider-Man, the superhero, especially his relationship with Mary Jane Watson.

Also, “The Amazing Spider-Man” manages to take the character to a more modern setting and for the most part, the technology behind Peter Parker’s web shooters to the modern technology utilized in his suit, now makes sense.  But it was important to make that distinction of how Peter Parker, a science whiz, was able to incorporate this technology for Spider-Man.  You have to have that connection and that connection is with Oscorp Industries and if you have Oscorp, comic fans know what hopefully, the future of this film series will lead to.

“The Amazing Spider-Man” may not be the most faithful film when it comes to film adaptation from the original comic books, but then again, not many superhero films are.

Overall, the film turned out to be much more exciting, much more deeper than I was expecting.  And every ounce of skepticism that I once had, was no longer there.  Sure, I enjoyed “The Avengers” much, much more than “The Amazing Spider-Man”, but I have to admit that I enjoyed this film much more than any of the three Sam Raimi films.  I felt the way the characters were handled, was much more effective.

Especially the handling of the Peter’s parents but also this new, fresh and cool vibe with its characters utilizing modern technology and setting.  Everything seemed right!  The technology seemed right!  And with the solid performances by its characters with a much more entertaining storyline, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best “Spider-Man” film yet!

I absolutely enjoyed “The Amazing Spider-Man” and I loved this Blu-ray release for its wonderful PQ, AQ and the special features galore!

Highly recommended!

Emma Stone to Make First Oscar® Show Appearance Oscar Sunday, February 26

February 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Beverly Hills, CA – Emma Stone will present at the 84th Academy Awards® ceremony, telecast producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer announced today. It will be her first time presenting on the show.

Stone appears in the Best Picture nominee “The Help.” Her other film credits include “Crazy, Stupid, Love.,” “Friends with Benefits,” “Easy A” and “Superbad.” She will be seen next in “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Gangster Squad.”

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

# # #

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners—the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

FOLLOW THE ACADEMY
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The Help (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A powerful film with a magnificent performance by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. “The Help” is a moving drama that opens your eyes to the difficulties and challenges of Black maids during that era in time.   Heartbreaking and a story of inspirational hope, “The Help” is highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Dreamworks II Distribution Co. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Help

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 146 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHz/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: DreamWorks Pictures

RATED: PG-13 (For Thematic Material)

Release Date: November 29, 2011

Directed by Tate Taylor

Screenplay by Tate Taylor

Novel by Kathryn Stockett

Produced by Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Brunson Green

Co-Producer: Sonya Lunsford

Executive Producer: Mohamed Khalaf Al-MAzrouei, L. Dean Jones Jr., John Norris, Mark Radcliffe, Jeff Skoll, Tate Taylor

Music by Thomas Newman

Cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt

Edited by Hughes Winborne

Casting by Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee

Production Design by Mark Ricker

Art Direction by Curt Beech

Set Decoration by Rena DeAngelo

Costume Design by Sharen Davis

Starring:

Emma Stone as Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan

Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark

Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly Holbrook

Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson

Jessica Chastain Celia Foote

Ahna O’Reilly as Elizabeth Leefolt

Allison Janney as Charlotte Phelan

Anna Camp as Jolene French

The Help stars Emma Stone as the courageous Eugenia “Skeeter‟ Phelan, who goes against the beliefs of her family and friends to find her own voice. The critically praised, emotional performance of Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark, a woman who secretly dreams of one day having more than she has been given, offers a deep emotional storyline. The breakthrough performance of Octavia Spencer as Minny Jackson, whose sass and tough exterior disguise the pain and fear she faces every day, brings both drama and humor to the film. Bryce Dallas Howard breathes life into the catty Jackson socialite Hilly Holbrook and Jessica Chastain brings charm and humor as Celia Foote, a kind housewife living outside of town who longs to fit in. Sissy Spacek, Allison Janney and Ahna O’Reilly also provide vivacious performances that round out this all-star female ensemble. 



In 2009, Kathryn Stockett’s novel “The Help” was released and praised by book critics of major publications.

For a book that was rejected by dozens of literary agents, the book would eventually become a major hit in 2011 as five million copies of the books have been sold and it spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Kathryn’s childhood friend, Tate Taylor (director of the film “Pretty Ugly People), who grew up with Stockett in Jackson, Mississippi, gave Taylor the film rights and in 2011, the film adaptation of “The Help” was released and the film would receive rave review from film critics and the film which was budgeted at $25 million, would go on to earn over $196 million in the box office.

The period film would feature a talented cast which would include Emma Stone (“Easy A”, “Zombieland”, “Superbad”), Viola Davis (“Doubt”, “Solaris”, “Far From Heaven”), Bryce Dallas Howard (“Spider-Man”, “Terminator Salvation”, “The Village”), Octavia Spencer (“Spider-Man”, “Seven Pounds”), Jessica Chastain (“The Tree of Life”, “The Debt”, “Take Shelter”), Allison Janney (“The West Wing”, “Juno”), Cicely Tyson (“Sounder”, “Roots”, “A Lesson Before Dying”) and Sissy Spacek (“Carrie”, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”).

“The Help” takes place during the early 1960′s and we are introduced to a Black maid named Aibileen Clark (played by Viola Davis) who works for the Leefolt family and often leaving her own family to do her maid duties which include taking care of Elizabeth Leefolt’s young daughter.

We then are shown a moment in time where a journalist begins asking questions to Aibilieen about her life as a maid.

The film then goes back in time and focuses on Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (played by Emma Stone), a recent graduate who has applied for a major publication in New York but was rejected because she needed more journalism experience.  So, Skeeter returns back home to Mississippi to work at the Jackson newspaper.

While returning home, she reunites with her friends which include Hilly Holbrook (played by Bryce Dallas Howard) who leads a group of other fellow socialite, upperclass mothers from the area as part of the Junior League.  Hilly doesn’t care for the Black people that much and she tries to convince the other mothers to have their husbands build a bathroom so they do not have to share a toilet with the Black maids because in her words “black people carry different diseases” than white people. In fact Hilly has been working with the Governor of Mississippi in order to pass the “Home Help Sanitation Initiative” bill to prevent Black help from using the same toilets in their home.

We learn that Aibileen is often busy with taking care of the Leefolt’s children and that her daughter spends more time around the maid than the mother and that Elizabeth Leefolt can’t even take care of her young child.

Meanwhile, at Hilly Holbrook’s home, she often treats her maid Minny Jackson (played by Octavia Spencer) quite terribly and looks at the Black maids as lowly people. And she sets the tone for the other mothers who tend to follow her.

But Skeeter, she is the opposite because when she was younger, she was raised by a Black maid named Constantine Jefferson (played by Cicely Tyson) who literally raised her (similar to how Aibilieen is raising Elizabeth’s Leefolt’s daughter).

But while Hilly and friends are more interested in Skeeter finding a man and getting married, so she can start a family, Skeeter is more interested in pursuing her career as a journalist.  In fact, after seeing how her friends treat their maids, Skeeter gets an idea to write a book about “The Help” which she is submitting drafts to Miss Stein, the publisher in New York and hopes this will be the experience that she needs in getting a career for a major publication.

But the problem is that Skeeter needs to get the time to interview the maids but since discrimination is quite large in Mississippi, it is against the law for the whites and Blacks to be together and its even more problematic for Skeeter because her friends are the maid’s bosses and they rather not have their friend associating with the Black people.

Meanwhile, when Skeeter comes home, she keeps asking her cancer-stricken mother Charlotte (played by Allison Janney) of what happened to their longtime maid Constantine.  But for some reason, her mother and father will not tell her the truth.

So, Skeeter devotes her time by secretly meeting with Aibileen at her home to conduct the interviews.  And Aibileen, who was reluctant at first to tell her story to a White woman decides that perhaps telling her story to the public would be good.

Meanwhile, Minny is fired by Hilly for using her toilet and when Hilly tries to make it hard for Minny to get a job, she takes a job with Celia Foot, a kind woman but since she started dating Hilly’s former long-time boyfriend, she is branded as a whore by Hilly and since the other women follow’s Hilly’s lead, they tend to look down on her.  And not long after, Milly joins Aibilene in sharing their story with Skeeter.   But Miss Stein requires Skeeter to find at least 12 more people to document their story as “the Help”.

And as Skeeter gets deep into her story, she starts to learn how her friends are towards the Black maids and how they are mistreated.  And with the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of African American civil rights activist Medgar Evers, the Black maids know that their voices need to be heard and hope that Skeeter can document their experience.

VIDEO:

“The Help” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1).  The film looks absolutely beautiful on Blu-ray.  The film manages to capture the details of the South quite effectively, especially certain details that are much clearer such as the freckles on Emma Stone’s face,  the cut on Minny’s forehead or even cold sore on Hilly’s mouth.  If anything, the clarity and detail of this film is much more evident, especially during the closeup of the characters and the details of scenery, including the homes such as Aibilene’s home as we can see the paint gone from the old home.

Also, felt that part of the efficacy of this film was location and costume design.  Cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt (“Closer”, “Batman Forever”, “Lethal Weapon”) did a great job in capturing the look and feel of the 1960′s and it really helps to find a location such as Greenwood, Mississippi retain the look that the city of Jackson had a long time ago.  But costume/makeup and hair design was well-done and really made this film come alive! And it all looks great on Blu-ray!

I didn’t see any banding, edge enhancement, artifacts or any problems on this Blu-ray.  If anything, “The Help” looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Help” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA (48 kHZ/24-bit), English 2.0 DVS, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.  For this type of film, there is not much of action.  In fact, the film is primarily dialogue and music-driven.  While surround channels are mostly used for the ambiance of a crowded room or church area, I wasn’t expecting “The Help” to have an immersive soundtrack.  But for the most part, dialogue is clear and the music compositions by Thomas Newman (“WALL-E”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, “American Beauty”) sounds fantastic on HD!

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Help” comes with the following special features:

  • The Making of “The Help” From Friendship To Film – (23:29) Featuring interviews with director Tate Taylor, writer Kathryn Stockett, producer Chris Columbus and Brunson Green and the cast of “The Help”.  From the challenges of making this film and working among friends.
  • In Their Own Words: A Tribute To The Maids Of Mississippi - (11:51) Featuring a interview done by Tate Taylor and Octavia Spencer with Tate’s maid and also other maids (and their daughters) in regards to their memories of working during the turbulent ’60s.
  • Deleted Scenes – Five deleted scenes with introductions by Director Tate Taylor.
  • “The Living Proof” music video by Mary J. Blige - (5:08)
EXTRAS:
“The Help” comes with a slipcover case and a DVD.  The DVD is presented in 1:85:1, English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital and subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.

A powerful film with a magnificent performance by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, “The Help” is a moving drama that opens your eyes to the difficulties of Black maids during that era in time.

There is no doubt in my mind that in order for “The Help” to be as effective for its film adaptation, you’re going to need talent that can make viewers feel the raw emotion that these characters go through onscreen.  But also people who have experienced having a Black maid and also were passionate in giving a voice to those maids.

You have to give credit to author Kathryn Stockett and screenplay writer and director Tate Taylor for sticking to their guns for the making of this film because without this friendship, I’m not sure if the film would have been as successful as it was.

For one, these two grew up together.  Both came from broken homes and both were raised by their Black maids.  For Stockett, the novel was therapeutic to write about her past but also making her think about her maid Dimitri and how she was part of her family for over 30 years.  And while her book was being shopped with no success, as best friends with Taylor, she had always wanted Tate to direct the film, whether or not it was low-budget or high-budget.

And what is most remarkable is the dynamic among these best friends but also their close friends around them.  Actress Octavia Spencer worked with Tate Taylor as production assistants on the 1996 film “A Time to Kill” and both moved from the south to Los Angeles earlier in their career.  Octavia played a role in Stockett’s novel, giving her input (even her disdain at first but as a friend of Tate, she read it).  Also, a close friend was actress Allison Janney who was part of Tate’s circle of friends and producer Brunson Green and both worked with Tate in his smaller films.

But they faced major opposition because Tate was not a well-known director and when Hollywood told Stockett that she can use her friend to direct the film, she wasn’t going to budget.  And it goes to show you how close these best friends are.  And fortunately because Tate was friends with producer/director Chris Columbus (“Night at the Museum” films, “Fantastic Four” films, “Harry Potter” films) and his wife loved the Stockett’s novel and Chris knows Steven Spielberg (who co-founded Dreamworks), Spielberg gave the thumbs up to the project and Kathryn Stockett’s best friend Tate Taylor would eventually get this opportunity to direct this film.

And this is what I found to be magical about “The Help”.  It’s a film that features a close circle of friends who believed in the project but also a story that is so personal for both Kathryn Stockett and Tate Taylor and their love for the maids that raised them, that “The Help” was made possible.  And for the most part, the critics and viewers enjoyed this film.

Not only is it a powerful, honest and entertaining period film, “The Help” is an important film because it does give a voice for to those women who worked during those turbulent times.  Is the story perfect?  Probably not.  While the best-selling novel was loved by film critics and readers, it was also criticized by the Association of Black Women Historians for distorting and ignoring the experiences of Black domestic workers.  I know there are many stories of challenges and dangers that many other maids out there but at least “The Help” does give people the opportunity to talk about the past.  For surviving Black maids, their daughters to talk about stories from the past and if anything, giving America and people around the world a portrait of how things were at that time.

While the film focuses on the lives of Black maids, it was important for the film adaptation to put the mental image of how wrong these women were treated.  While the novel is much more darker than the film and even more heartbreaking, I do credit Tate Taylor for giving viewers some hope with this film, than giving the exact ending of what took place in the book.

But if there is one thing that brings Kathryn Stockett’s novel-to-life, its the performances.  Both Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have done a magnificent job in this film and I can only hope these two women are nominated for various film awards because their performance was outstanding!

You can sense the fear in Davis’ character of Aibelene as she doesn’t know if she can trust a white woman with her story.  You can see the frustration of Octavia Spencer’s character of Minny as she tries her best to keep quiet when her boss is often criticizing her and making her out as if she is nothing. It’s all in the eyes and the facial expressions and both women are able to effectively show those raw emotions onscreen.

As for Emma Stone, it was quite interesting to see her in a more serious role than the last films I have seen her in, especially actress Allison Janney as Skeeter’s mother Charlotte Phelan.   But as far as the antagonist goes, it was great to see actress Bryce Dallas Howard doing a good job playing such an appalling role of Hilly Holbrook.   In fact, my wife (who has watched this film several times) was often saying expletives each time Hilly showed up on screen and just loved the scenes that dealt with Minny’s pie.

And it was great to see Cicely Tyson in the film as well and see how her role as Constantine made a big impact in the life of Skeeter.  But also Sissy Spacek who plays Missus Walters and her jabs at her uptight daughter Hilly were effective in breaking down the seriousness of the movie with humor.

As for the Blu-ray release, it was great to have the “Making of the Help: From Friendship to Film” which goes into more detail of the friendship between Stockett and Taylor and their circle of friends that took part in this film, also to include “In Their Own Words: A Tribute to the Maids of Mississippi” included with the Blu-ray release but also deleted scenes which feature two additional scenes such as Hilly confronting Skeeter on the commode situation but also a deleted scene showing what happened to Minny after the book was released.  I do agree for pacing purposes, these deleted scenes were best left out.

I would have loved to hear a director’s commentary or even cast commentary included but still, are a few special features included with this Blu-ray & DVD combo release that were quite entertaining to watch.    Picture quality was very good, the lossless audio soundtrack was appropriate.

Overall, “The Help” is a fantastic film that takes a look back at the racism endured by Black maids back in the 1960′s.  Although there is more to the story of what other types of harassment or difficulties Black maids have had in the job, nor does the film focus on the lives that these women have when they do return back home after work, there are many scenes throughout the film that are heartbreaking but also inspirational.

“The Help” is highly recommended!

 

Friends with Benefits (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

“Friends with Benefits” is a charming, sexy and fun romantic comedy featuring a wonderful performance by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and a romantic comedy capturing both the beauty of love in New York City and Los Angeles by keeping things real!

Images courtesy of © 2011 Screen Gems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Friends with Benefits

FILM RELEASE: 2011

DURATION: 109 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (Widescreen 2:40:1), English, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish, English-Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean

COMPANY: Sony Picture Home Entertainment

RATED: R (For Sexual Content and Language)

Release Date: December 2, 2011

Directed by Will Gluck

Screenplay by Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Will Gluck

Story by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman, David A. Newman

Produced by Janet Zucker, Jerry Zucker, Liz Glotzer, Will Gluck, Martin Shafer

Co-Producer: Alicia Emmrich, Nicolas Stern

Executive Producer: Glenn S. Gainor

Cinematography by Michael Grady

Edited by Tia Nolan

Casting by Lisa Miller Katz

Production Design by Marcia Hinds

Art Direction by Bo Johnson

Set Decoration by Cindy Coburn, Alyssa Winter

Costume Design by Renee Ehrlich Kalfus

Starring:

Justin Timberlake as Dylan

Mila Kunis as Jamie

Patricia Clarkson as Lorna

Jenna Elfman as Annie

Bryan Greenberg as Parker

Richard Jenkins as Mr. Harper

Woody Harrelson as Tommy

Nolan Gould as Sam

Andy Samberg as Quincy

Shaun White as himself

Masi Oka as Darin Arturo Morena

Emma Stone as Kayla

Dylan (Justin Timberlake) is done with relationships. Jamie (Mila Kunis) decides to stop buying into the Hollywood clichés of true love. When the two become friends they decide to try something new and take advantage of their mutual attraction – but without any emotional attachment. Physical pleasure without the entanglements. Sounds easy enough for two logical adults, right? Not so much. They soon realize romantic comedy stereotypes might exist for a reason.

Filmmaker Will Gluck (“Easy A”, “The Loop”) is back with a romantic comedy titled “Friends With Benefits”.

Featuring a story by Harley Peyton, Keith Merryman and David A. Newman, the film would feature an all-star ensemble cast starring Mila Kunis (“Black Swan”, “That ’70s Show”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), Justin Timberlake (“In Time”, “Bad Teacher”, “The Social Network”), Bryan Greenberg (“Bride Wars”, “The Perfect Score”), Jenna Elfman (“Dharma & Greg”, “Keeping the Faith”, “Edtv”), Woody Harrelson (“Cheers”, “Zombieland”, “Natural Born Killers”), Richard Jenkins (“The Visitor”, “Step Brothers”, “Burn After Reading”) and Patricia Clarkson (“The Green Mile”, “Shutter Island”).

The film was well-received by film critics and the $35 million film would go on to make $149 million in the box office.

“Friends with Benefits” begins with Dylan (played by Justin Timberlake) meeting with his girlfriend Kayla (played by Emma Stone) in Los Angeles and Jamie (played by Mila Kunis) meeting her boyfriend Quincy (played by Andy Samberg) in New York.

The night takes a bad turn for both Dylan and Jamie as they are dumped.

And now it’s a new beginning.  Jamie, an Executive Recruiter of a job agency in New York City has been trying to land Dylan, an art director for an Internet company with GQ Magazine.  So, she recruits Dylan and tries to win him over with making the move from Los Angeles to New York City.

At first, Dylan is not too sure if he wants to move but when Jamie shows him around and he sees a flash mob of people dancing right before his eyes, he is sold and takes the job at GQ.

At GQ, he meets gay sports writer Tommy (played by Woody Harrelson), who keeps asking Dylan if he’s gay (expecting him to be gay because he is an art director) and as for Jamie, when she goes to meet with Dylan and have him sign a contract (that he is committed of staying at GQ for a minimum of one year and to also ensure she gets her commission for recruiting him), he asks her out for lunch, not a date but as friends.

And as the two develop a friendship and hang out with each other, after watching a love story on television, the two start discussing about sex and relationships and how their last relationships have ended badly.  Out of the blue, Dylan and Jamie start talking about what if they have sex together but no emotional attachment…  Friends with benefits.

And immediately both begin to have fun having wild sex with each other.

But over time, the two discuss about what if they start dating again.  And as she watches Dylan hit on a beautiful woman (who happens to be married), he watches as Jamie hits on a guy named Parker (played by Bryan Greenberg) and they both hit off and have a date.

While Dylan hooks up with a wild woman (that is a bit too wild for his taste), her dates go well with Dylan but she tells him she doesn’t have sex until she goes on five dates with the guy.  And sure enough, she spends more time with Parker and Dylan is left often thinks about her.  When she goes on her fifth date with Parker, the two have sex but the following morning, he tells her that he wasn’t looking for a relationship and Jamie is upset and feels used.

While Jamie tries to talk about her love life with her mother Lorna (played by Patricia Clarkson), Dylan feels bad about what happened to Jamie and invites her to come with him to California, so she can meet his father (played by Richard Jenkins), his sister Annie (played by Jenna Elfman) and her son.  But also to see how his father is doing as he is slowly losing his memories because of Alzheimer’s Disease.

As the two spend time in Los Angeles, both start to realize that they have an emotional connection…but will either admit it or will they still want to be friends with benefits without the emotional attachment?

VIDEO:

“Friends with Benefits” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1).  The picture quality of the film is very good.  Shot digitally, it is obvious that the goal of cinematographer Michael Grady (“Easy A”, “Notorious”, “Faster”)  was to capture the beauty of New York City and Los Angeles.  These scenes are absolutely beautiful and really capture the life of the city through the details of the city and the vibrant colors.

Skin tones are natural, black levels are deep and I detected no banding, artifacts or any problems.  “Friends with Benefits” looks fantastic in HD!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Friends with Benefits” is presented in English, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, English – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The film is primarily dialogue and musically driven as one would expect from a romantic comedy.  There are moments such as the airport scene giving more ambiance to the film but for a romantic comedy, this film sports crystal clear dialogue and bass thumping music ala Kriss Kross’ “Jump” and Foster the Parents “Pumped Up Kids”.

But for the most part, the lossless soundtrack works for this romantic comedy and the dialogue and music are crystal clear!

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Friends with Benefits” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Will Gluck, Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis - A fun and hilarious audio commentary with the two main stars and director Will Gluck.  Both have fun telling jokes, cussing and just having fun discussing the film.
  • Bonus Benefits: A Pop-Up Trivia Track - A Blu-ray exclusive.  While watching the film, you can have various trivia showing onscreen while watching the film.
  • Deleted Scenes - (8:49)  Featuring ten deleted scenes (Superheroes on Hollywood Blvd, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Creative Meeting, GQ Party, Let’s Stay Friends, Shower Cap, Hollywood Tour, Princess and the Pony, Dylan Tries to Call Jamie, and Twin Pythons) with optional writer and director commentary.
  • Outtakes - (6:40) Featuring outtakes from “Friends with Benefits”.
  • On Set With FWB - (5:39) A Blu-ray exclusive featurette featuring an interview with the cast and crew about working on the set of “Friends with Benefits”, shooting in New York City and Los Angeles.
  • In A Flash: Choreographing A Mob - (5:48) A Blu-ray exclusive featurette on how the flash mob scenes were created.

When it comes to romantic comedies, especially sex comedies…sometimes the storyline features bad breakups, rebound relationships but for the most part, comedies that you can sense how things will end right from the beginning.

And while the ending for this film fit the banality of other romantic comedies, its how the two protagonists get to that final point.  And for a film title such as “Friends with Benefits”, you expect a film to showcase quite a bit of sex.  For the most part, you get a lot of good scenes with both Timberlake and Kunis in bed (note: Justin Timberlake does do his first rear nude scene while Kunis used a body double) and experimenting with each other and having fun!  But fortunately, this is not the dominating factor of the film.

The film focuses on their emotional attachment to each other, knowing that they have feelings for each other but they are so scared about how their relationships have ended in the past, that being “friends with benefits” would alleviate them from having any emotional attachment.  And instead of rushing into those emotions that the two have with each other, we see the journey as the two try to have flings with other people and then of course, when Jamie (Kunis) goes to Los Angeles to meet with his family, things happen that separates the two.

And the chemistry between both Timberlake and Kunis was very well done!  In fact, I found the two much more believable onscreen than Timberlake had with Cameron Diaz on “Bad Teacher”.  The two looked right for each other and I was quite pleased to see how Timberlake has evolved as an actor and the same for actress Mila Kunis.  Both did a wonderful job!

And the supporting cast were also just as good, especially Patricia Clarkson as Lorna, the mother of Jamie but also a woman who has had a problematic sexual past.  Woody Harrelson as the gay co-worker named Tommy who is constantly asking Dylan if he is really gay, Richard Jenkins as Dylan’s father who has alzheimer’s and has a habit of pulling down his trousers and Jenna Elfman as Dylan’s sister Annie.  Even the short appearances by Jason Segel and Rashida Jones (who star on a cheesy Hollywood romance story), as well as Andy Samberg and Emma Stone were fun to watch!

But one thing I love about romantic films is when they can capture the city the characters talk so much about.  If you talk about New York City, I want to see New York City as much as they can show on the film.  The same with Los Angeles and the film manages to showcase both cities quite well. I also liked how the film’s storyline took a jab at the usual Hollywood romantic comedy and showing that although Hollywood romantic comedies tend to have the fairytale story, not all are realistic and “Friends with Benefits” is a film that tries to keep things real!  I dig that!

As for the Blu-ray release, there are two available on release date.  One with a DVD and Ultraviolet copy and the regular Blu-ray release with no DVD and UV copy.  The special features were entertaining especially the audio commentary which was hilarious as well as the included outtakes.  Also, it was interesting to learn about the challenges of shooting in NYC and Los Angeles and also choreographing the flash mob scenes.  The picture quality was vibrant and the on-location scenery shots of NYC and LA were awesome and audio quality was appropriate for this film.

Overall, “Friends with Benefits” is a charming, sexy and fun romantic comedy featuring a wonderful performance by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis and a romantic comedy capturing both the beauty of love in New York City and Los Angeles by keeping things real!

“Friends with Benefits” is recommended!

The”2011 MTV Movie Awards” Deliver Big Laughs, Big Moments and “FIRST LOOKS” OF THIS YEAR’S MOST HIGHLY ANTICIPATED FILMS

June 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Awards Celebrate Next Generation of Super Stars Including Justin Bieber, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ellen Page, Alexys Nycole Sanchez and Emma Stone

J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg Take the Wraps Off “Super 8”

Reese Witherspoon Honored with This Year’s “MTV Generation Award”

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - JUNE 5: Actors Robert Pattinson (L) and Kristen Stewart accept the award for Best Kiss onstage at the 2011 MTV Movie Awards at the Gibson Amphitheatre on June 5, 2011 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Scott Gries/MTV/PictureGroup)

Universal City, CA – MTV’s 2011 “Movie Awards” kept its tradition as Hollywood’s most atypical and irreverent awards show with surprise appearances, raunchy roasts, exclusive sneak peeks and even a few #laserboners.  The LIVE telecast got off to a hilarious and celeb-studded start with host Jason Sudeikis spoofing “The Hangover Part II” as he gets drunk with Justin Bartha, loses Taylor Lautner, wakes up to a tattooed Eva Mendes sleeping in a bathtub and receives some tough love from the straight-shooting Chelsea Handler.  Sudeikis then launches a no-holds-barred monologue in which no one and nothing is off limits – even himself — riffing on everything from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Justin Bieber to rumors the SNL star may soon be a “baby daddy.”

The show celebrated cinema’s next generation of talent with first-time winners Justin Bieber, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ellen Page, Alexys Nycole Sanchez and Emma Stone, as well as returning favorites Tom Felton, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, among others.

The fantastical set featured lush green landscapes, a glowing hillside and cascading crystals that turned the night into a psychedelic summer night’s dream. It was the perfect backdrop for MTV to give viewers “first looks” at some of the year’s most highly-anticipated movies, including exclusive footage from the super-secret “Super 8” presented by J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney; never-before-seen footage from “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1”; and a sneak peek clip from the concluding chapter of the most successful film franchise in movie history, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 2,” introduced by the film’s leading actress Emma Stone.

Fan favorite actress Reese Witherspoon was honored with this year’s “MTV Generation Award.”  Following toasts by former co-stars Robert Pattinson and Patrick Dempsey, and upcoming co-star Chelsea Handler, Witherspoon poked fun at her presenters but also gave a message of empowerment to young women.

Emma Stone became the second woman ever, after Reese Witherspoon, to win in the “BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE” category. Stone then took her humor from the silver screen to the stage when she joined Jason Sudeikis for a laugh-out-loud musical send-up that featured movie themed songs written by this year’s host and featuring Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl on the gong.

Kristen Stewart took home “BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE and “BEST KISS” for the third year straight, while Ellen Page grabbed “BEST SCARED-AS-S**T PERFORMANCE.” Winner Chloë Grace Moretz took home awards for “BEST BREAKOUT STAR” and “BIGGEST BADASS STAR,” and child actor Alexys Nycole Sanchez won the first-ever “golden popcorn” in the “BEST LINE FROM A MOVIE” category.

This year’s show took the funny to a whole new level as Jim Carrey – the star who has won the most “Movie Awards” ever – introduced the Foo Fighters while wearing a business suit made of green screen that projected images of landscapes, cities, explosions… and even a couple of humping dogs. The Foo Fighters brought down the house as they took the stage for an electric performance of “Walk,” the second single off their chart-topping album Wasting Light. Switching gears from rock royalty to rap and R&B’s rising stars, critically-acclaimed hip-hop superstar Lupe Fiasco was joined by R&B sensation Trey Songz for their first-ever televised performance of the single “Out of My Head,” off Lupe’s #1 album LASERS, into Lupe’s performance of his platinum-hit song “The Show Goes On.”

Justin Bieber made a surprise appearance that caused the hearts of teen girls everywhere to beat double time, as he was awarded “BEST JAWDROPPING MOMENT.” Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively from “Green Lantern” took the stage as “Jackass-3D” stars Steve-O, Chris Pontius and David England, along with “Twilight Saga” heartthrob Kellan Lutz, sported green #laserboners in the audience.

“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” took home the most golden popcorns of any film for a total of five awards in the categories “BEST MOVIE,” “BEST FEMALE” and “BEST MALE PERFORMANCE,” “BEST KISS” and “BEST FIGHT.”

Winners of the “2011 MTV Movie Awards” are:

BEST MOVIE

  • “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” – Director: David Slade, Producers: Wyck Godfrey and Karen Rosenfelt  (Summit Entertainment)

BEST MALE PERFORMANCE

  • Robert Pattinson – “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (Summit Entertainment)

BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE

  • Kristen Stewart – “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (Summit Entertainment)

BEST BREAKOUT STAR

  • Chloe Grace Moretz – “Kick-Ass” (Lionsgate)

BEST COMEDIC PERFORMANCE

  • Emma Stone – “Easy A” (Sony Pictures)

BEST LINE FROM A MOVIE (New Category)

  • Alexys Nycole Sanchez – “Grown Ups” (Sony Pictures)
    “I want to get chocolate wasted.”

BEST VILLAIN

  • Tom Felton – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 1” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

BEST FIGHT

  • Robert Pattinson vs. Bryce Dallas Howard – “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (Summit Entertainment)

BEST KISS

  • Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson – “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (Summit Entertainment)

BEST JAWDROPPING MOMENT

  • Justin Bieber – “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” Performance Spectacular (Paramount Pictures)

BEST SCARED-AS -S**T PERFORMANCE

  • Ellen Page – “Inception” (Warner Bros. Pictures)

BIGGEST BADASS STAR

  • Chloë Grace Moretz – “Kick-Ass” (Lionsgate)

The “2011 MTV Movie Awards” were available to a potential viewing audience of more than 1.2 billion people via MTV’s global network of more than 60 channels that reaches nearly 600 million households around the world as well as through syndication.  In addition, its convergent programming & content reached the entire interactive community, via MTV’s more than 200 digital media properties around the world.

Mark Burnett served as Executive Producer for the “2011 MTV Movie Awards.” Audrey Morrissey was the Executive Producer.  Garrett English served as Executive Producer and Executive in Charge for MTV. Jane Mun served as Supervising Producer.  For MTV, Wendy Plaut was the Celebrity Talent Executive and Amy Doyle and Joanna Bomberg served as the Executives in Charge of Music and Talent.

Official sponsors of the 2011 MTV Movie Awards included adidas®, Chevrolet, SNICKERS® Brand, Sprint, Starbucks Coffee Company, State Farm®, Taco Bell® and TWIX®.

About MTV:
MTV is the world’s premier youth entertainment brand.   With a global reach of more than a half-billion households, MTV is the cultural home of the millennial generation, music fans and artists, and a pioneer in creating innovative programming for young people.  MTV reflects and creates pop culture with its Emmy®, Grammy® and Peabody® award-winning content built around compelling storytelling, music discovery and activism across TV, online and mobile.  MTV’s sibling networks MTV2 and mtvU each deliver unparalleled customized content for young males, music fans and college students, and its online hub MTV.com is the leading destination for music, news and pop culture.  MTV is part of MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B), one of the world’s leading creators of programming and content across all media platforms.  For more information, go to www.mtvpress.com.

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SNL RETURNS WITH TWO BACK-TO-BACK SHOWS STARTING WITH EMMA STONE AND MUSICAL GUEST KINGS OF LEON ON OCTOBER 23

October 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW YORK – October 8, 2010 – SNL returns with two back-to-back live shows starting on October 23rd with actress Emma Stone and musical guest Kings of Leon.

Most recently seen in the feature film comedy, “Easy A,” Emma Stone is currently filming “The Help.” Stone can next be seen opposite Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” due out April 2011.

Kings of Leon will make their second musical guest appearance debuting new songs from their fifth studio album, “Come Around Sundown.” The album is a follow-up to their 2008 album “Only By The Night,” which won the group four Grammy’s including Record of the Year.

Jon Hamm will serve as host for his third time on October 30. Hamm is the star of the multiple Emmy award-winning series “Mad Men,” and currently can be seen alongside Ben Affleck, Blake Lively and Rebecca Hall in “The Town.”

Grammy award-winner Rihanna will make her second musical guest appearance with performances from her soon to be released fifth studio album, “Loud.” Rihanna’s singles continue to top the Billboard charts, including her latest single, “Only Girl (In the World).”

“Saturday Night Live” is produced in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.

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