Robert Downey, Jr. and Don Cheadle Talk About “Iron Man 3”

Posted on July 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm

One of the highlights of my time at Comic-Con was a press conference with Don Cheadle, Robert Downey, Jr., producer Kevin Feige, and Shane Black about “Iron Man 3.”  Black (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” “The Last Boy Scout”) co-wrote and takes over direction from Jon Favreau.  Just after their appearance before more than 6000 fans in the cavernous Hall H, they met with journalists to talk about one of 2013’s most eagerly anticipated films.

Asked about pressure to top the action scenes in the previous chapters and the blockbuster “The Avengers,” Downey said, “There is an idea about being big.  But for me it’s more about capturing and redoubling the intensity, like ‘The Avengers,’ that sort of lighting in a bottle, the thrills in a short space.”  “We’re not looking for bigness, necessarily,” said Black, “We’re looking for different and fresh and new and change.”  They talked about the “real, practical suit” — not CGI — that has made the “Iron Man” movies so mechanically satisfying.  “More uncomfortable for the actors, more satisfying for the audience,” Downey smiled.  And everyone agreed that most of the rumors and speculation online was wrong.  Black said he was surprised about “how much generous help was available to me.”  Favreau gave him “all kinds of tips and advice” and “the transitional feel I needed,” asking only for some salmon and blueberries. He also appreciated Marvel’s special effects help so he could “concentrate on story.  It’s as self-contained a story as we’ve done since ‘Iron Man 1.'”  They promised romance and some comedy, too.  And Black said he appreciated Marvel’s letting him take some risks.  “He’s a great story-teller, and he has a great relationship with Robert,” said Feige.  “We’re confident in the infrastructure we can provide.”

Downey said that even he was surprised at the success of “The Avengers” and was looking forward to exploring the relationship between Rhodey and Tony with more depth, as the comics do, and seeing Tony Stark reconsider his role “in a post-Avengers world, what sort of limitations might be placed on him and what threat would make him, as usual, ignore those limitations.”  “You have to find a way that the first two aren’t done yet, in other words, how has the story not yet been completely told, to make it feel organic and new,” said Black.  “We seriously dug into Tony’s world.”  “I do suit up,” Cheadle said, and promised some “additional iterations” for his character.  “I liked in the comic there was a bit of suit envy,” said Downey, pointing out the difference between a corporate and military approach.  “And for some reason or other, Tony is the one they trust!”  “This film has a lot of breadth to it.  There’s a way to enjoy all that kind of shadowy stuff” in Tony’s character.

“We’re not really going to China,” Black stage-whispered, though some scenes are set there.

Downey charmingly insisted on taking a question from a boy with a Sharpie Tony Stark goatee, who stood up, took a deep breath, and asked how it felt to be a hero.  “I think I speak for any of us who get to live in this world.  I take it as seriously as Shakespeare.”

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Actors Directors Superhero

Trailer: “Cloud Atlas”

Posted on July 29, 2012 at 10:43 am

Take an early look at what promises to be one of the most intriguing and ambitiously mind-bending movies of the year, “Cloud Atlas,” based on the novel by David Mitchell.  Six interlocking stories follow characters from the mid-19th century to the future, exploring themes of art, destiny, and the power of stories.  The film comes from Tom Tywker, the director of “Run Lola Run,” and the Wachowskis of “The Matrix” trilogy.   The cast includes Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, and Halle Berry.

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Trailers, Previews, and Clips

The Watch

Posted on July 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Yet another attempt to go for the “Ghostbusters” funny-scary vibe crashes and burns in the under-written “The Watch,” originally titled “Neighborhood Watch” until the Treyvon Martin shooting created uncomfortable associations with the idea of self-appointed suburban guys with guns.  But  the attempt the neutralize the title does not save the idea and the can’t-believe-that-got-an-R raunch does equal comedy.

Ben Stiller plays Evan, a gung-ho guy who loves his job as a manager at Costco and his community in the quiet suburb of Glenview, Ohio.  He is a one-man force for civic pride and improvement, starting up clubs and volunteer projects.  One night the Costco security guard is brutally murdered, dismembered, and skinned.  Even decides to start up a neighborhood watch to help find the killer and protect his community.

The only people who show up to help are Bob (Vince Vaughn), a contracter with a teenage daughter, Franklin (Jonah Hill), a guy who lives with his mother, resents failing the police academy tests, and likes to play with his knife, and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade of the British sitcom “I.T”), who is new in town and hoping to make friends, especially the kind who is willing to provide a very specific sexual favor.  That’s the basis for a cohesive crack team of operatives, right!  On to the stakeout and don’t forget the special jackets and the beer!

As the Watchers poke around, they begin to turn up in places were more bad things happen.  A skateboarding kid and a cranky old guy (R. Lee Ermy) are the next victims.  The Watchers start to do more than watch when they discover a mysterious orb that blows things up — and then the alien who is looking for it.

And all of this is an excuse for a lot of dumb destruction and vacuous verbal riffing, though once in a while there is a funny moment.  The aliens leave behind green slime.  There is a dumb and overlong discussion of the relationship of its properties to a particular male bodily fluid but also a nice underplayed reference to getting slimed at the Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards.  Despite a script credited to “Pineapple Express” scribes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg with Jared Sten, it feels like they were making it up as it went along.  It is always fun to hear Vaughn’s randomly attention-deficit commentary and Billy Crudup shows up for some nicely creepy moments, but Rosemary DeWitt is wasted in yet another example of the Our Gang (“No Girls Allowed”) school of film comedy.  The unfortunate truth is that changing the title just left us with exactly what audiences should not waste time doing .  They didn’t bother to write it; you shouldn’t bother to “Watch” it.

 

Parents should know that this film has very crude and explicit language and sexual references, comic but sometimes graphic peril and violence, drinking (including drinking while driving), smoking and drug use, explicit sexual situations (orgy) with nudity, potty humor, attempted sexual assault of a teenager, switchblade, stockpile of weapons

Family discussion: Which character was most responsible?  What surprised them the most about each other?

 

If you like this, try: “The Burbs” and “Attack the Block”

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Action/Adventure Comedy Science-Fiction

Song of the Month: How Ya Like Me Now

Posted on July 28, 2012 at 11:55 am

The Heavy’s song, “How Ya Like Me Now” is quickly becoming the go-to song in trailers and movie soundtracks, sort of the new “I Feel Good.”  This month, it appears in “Ted” and “The Watch.” Before that, it was in a Kia ad, “Entourage,” “Community,” “Horrible Bosses,” and the Mark Wahlberg movie, “The Fighter” (which led to a lawsuit).  Here’s the original:

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Music

Step Up Revolution

Posted on July 27, 2012 at 11:06 pm

A girl.  A guy.  A ragtag but devoted and immensely talented group of dancers with varied styles and talents.  Impressively toned bodies.  Breathtakingly athletic moves.  Even more breathtakingly sensuous moves. A conflict.  A misunderstanding.  A pep talk.  “We’re going to need a lot more people.”  More people.  Confrontation.  Apology.  More dancing!

There isn’t much new in this fourth entry in the “Step Up” series beyond the Miami setting and slightly older characters.  What began as a series about teenagers and with #3 took the characters to college is now about people in their 20’s.    The performers are different but pretty much interchangeable with the equally bland stars of the previous entry.  But why waste any energy on the script and performances when we’re really there to see the dancing?  Each new episode wisely devotes less attention to the story and more attention to the dancing.

And the dancing just gets better with every entry.  This one leads off with a cheeky flash mob on a busy Miami street that is so joyously kinetic even the cars leap up to get into the act.  Sean (Ryan Guzman) is a waiter at an upscale resort whose “Mob” is competing for the most views on YouTube.  If they can just beat out the cute cat video, they can win the $100,000 prize.  So they stage elaborate surprise dance numbers in hopes of attracting attention.  Another is a truly spectacular event staged at a swanky museum gala with dancers camouflaged as parts of the paintings and sculpture so that they seem to bloom out of some magical garden of art.

With a nod to “Dirty Dancing,” Sean meets Emily (Kathryn McCormick) at a bar on the beach that is off-limits for the hotel staff.  He thinks she is on the staff, too, and he asks her to dance.  With a nod to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and just about every movie about dancers, they challenge each other, show off a little, recognize how beautifully their rhythms synch, and are vastly more eloquent with their bodies than they are when they are talking.  One major departure from “Step Up 3:” in that one, the guy does not discover that the girl is from a rich, snooty family until 3/4 of the way through the movie.  In this one, he discovers it right away but does not let his friends find out until 3/4 of the way through.

When Emily’s father announces that he is going to build a fancy new resort that would displace Sean and everyone he cares about, Sean and his best friend Eddy (Misha Gabriel) decide “It’s not okay to make art for fun anymore.  Enough with performance art; it’s time to make protest art.”  Protest art turns out to look a lot like fun art and both apparently require equally determined facial expressions, pretty much the only facial expressions anyone seems to be able to muster.  But the dance numbers are brilliantly staged and filmed.  A protest dance with gas masks and faux tear gas inadvertently but eerily echoing last week’s “Dark Knight” shooting in Colorado.  It is thrilling to see Director of Photography Crash (yes, that’s his name) take full advantage of the 3D technology to amp up the energy and, yes, wit — especially the museum dance, a number with suits, fedoras, newspapers and coffee to mock the developers and politicians, and a rousing finale that brings back #3 star Adam G. Sevani (“Moose”) and Mari Koda of #2 and #3.  We sorely miss Alyson Stoner and the Lombard twins, perhaps one more reason to look forward to Chapter 5.

Parents should know that this film includes some sensual dance movies and brief strong and crude language (b-word, etc.)

Family discussion:  Who was right, Sean or Eddy?  Why?  What is the best way for the residents and the corporation to work together?

If you like this, try: the other “Step Up” movies and the documentary about competitive dancers, Rize

 

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3D Date movie Musical Romance Series/Sequel
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