Bruce Greenwood

commentary-startrek

The reboot of Star Trek in 2009 was a risky move for Paramount. However, it paid off, reinvigorating the franchise that had died with the poorly performing film Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002. J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek became one of the biggest hits of that summer and introduced a whole new generation to the classic franchise. Abrams was not a Star Trek fan before working on the film (and arguably even less of one after making the movie), but that didn’t stop him and his production team from making a solid science fiction update. Throughout the commentary with his writers and producers, recorded only a month after Star Trek came out in 2009, it’s clear that the Star Wars films had a greater impact on the production team’s childhood. Maybe the search for a Luke Skywalker in the character of James T. Kirk was what made the film work so well.

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Johnny Depp

What is Casting Couch? It’s a thing on the Internet that’s primarily concerned with which actors are going to be in what movies. Today it includes news regarding attractive folk like Colin Farrell and Lily Collins. For the last decade or so, Johnny Depp has largely been occupied with wearing makeup and putting on silly wigs, but once upon a time he used to play actual human beings in movies like Donnie Brasco and whatnot, and while it didn’t afford him the opportunity to use nearly as many crazy voices, things weren’t so bad. Things were so decent, in fact, that Cross Creek Pictures has announced [via ComingSoon] that they’ve cast Depp in another gangster story that’s based on real life events, just for old times’ sake. Depp will be playing infamous Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in director Barry Levinson’s (Toys, Jimmy Hollywood) new film Black Mass. Bulger, for the uninitiated, was a gangster who informed for and was later double-crossed by the FBI. Those cads.

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Flight

Flight has without a doubt the best opening scene of any film in Robert Zemeckis‘ career. Granted, that’s due more to the glorious and fully nude form of Nadine Velazquez walking around a motel room while audiences pretend to be watching Denzel Washington than it is to the director’s myriad skills. Eye candy aside though the scene makes a bold and immediate statement that this is not your niece’s typical candy-ass, motion-captured Zemeckis fluff. Instead, this is going to be a return to form for a talented director rediscovering the dramas, moral complexities and adult themes possible with live-action filmmaking. If only someone had shared the plan with the film’s writer. Whip Whitaker (Washington) wakes after an all-nighter with a naked stewardess beside him, finishes off a beer and a line of coke, gets dressed and heads to work. He’s an airline pilot, and his morning flight is full and ready for takeoff. A possible mechanical failure causes a loss of control shortly after they leave the tarmac, but Whitaker’s quick thinking leads to an extraordinary maneuver and a controlled crash landing that results in minimum casualties. He’s immediately hailed as a hero, but when a routine investigation threatens to reveal the condition he was in while flying and send him to jail for life he discovers this is one impending crash he may not be able to control.

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For anyone who has been clamoring for Robert Zemeckis‘s return to live-action, Flight should appease those fans of the director who haven’t embraced his recent motion-capture adventures. This isn’t exactly a triumphant comeback, but with Flight he mostly knows what buttons to push in order to please. It’s a true testament to Denzel Washington‘s performance that the blunt drama doesn’t fall on its face. Washington has major obstacles to overcome in making the character of Whip Whitaker as empathetic as he is. From frame one, Zemeckis and screenwriter John Gatins unflatteringly show us who this guy is: a bad father, an alcoholic, a coke addict. There is nothing to admire about him, not even his surface level charms, which are best showcased in scenes between Washington and John Goodman.

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Culture Warrior

A genre nearly as old as filmmaking itself, the western thrived throughout the years of the studio system but has zigzagged across rough terrain for the past forty or so years. For the last fifteen-ish years, the struggling, commercially unfriendly genre was either manifested in a neoclassical nostalgic form limited in potential mass appeal (Appaloosa, Open Range) or in reimagined approaches that ran the gamut between contrived pap and inspired deconstructions (anything from Wild Wild West to The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford). But last December, True Grit – a bona fide western remake that relied on the opportunities available in the genre’s conventions rather than bells, whistles, or ironic tongues in their respective cheeks – became a smash hit. Did this film reinvigorate a genre that was on life support, as the supposed revitalization of the musical is thought to have done a decade ago, or are westerns surviving by moving along a different route altogether? Three westerns released so far this year – Gore Verbinski’s Rango, Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff, and, as of this weekend, Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens – suggest mixed directions for the dusty ol’ genre.

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Meek’s Cutoff hit the festival circuit hard and received a strong amount of praise for its visual style and its look at lives on the line in the desert of 1845 Oregon. Michelle Williams leads a fantastic cast including Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Kazan, Neal Huff, and Will Patton in what appears to be Oregon Trail: The Movie if everything went wrong and you couldn’t trust the person you depended on the most. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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FSR

Kevin Carr reviews this week’s new movies: Star Trek and Next Day Air.

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startrek_crewbanner

Robert Fure wraps up his trifecta of Trek interviews with a chat with Bruce Greenwood, the new Captain Christopher Pike.

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star-trek-newimages-1

The folks at Paramount Pictures just won’t give up on this new Star Trek movie — it is as if they want this thing to make hundreds of millions of dollars or something.

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Star Trek: The Enterprise Crew

This evening our own Cole Abaius had the opportunity to join a small group of journalists in New York City for a special presentation by director J.J. Abrams. The footage: four big clips from Star Trek. The result: an “epic” and “awesome” experience. Check out the full report inside.

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Direct-to-DVD Showdown

The direct-to-DVD market is filled with mid-list action films, and more keep on coming. In the past couple weeks, three films have caught our eye. Let’s look at how they stack up against each other.

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Tiffany Thiessen in Cyborg Soldier

It has been a long time since I have seen the former Kelly Kapowski in anything significant. As well, it appears that she isn’t getting any help from the wardrobe department.

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