Laurence Fishburne

signal

A lot of independent sci-fi filmmakers aim to make feature-length episodes of The Twilight Zone with their work. Director William Eubanks has said this upfront about The Signal. This is not a flawed aim. But the problem is that none of these writers or directors are Rod Serling. They make films that read from their synopses like they could have come from the man, but their execution is often quite lacking. The Signal is no different in this regard. Brenton Thwaites, Olivia Cooke, and Beau Knapp play Nic, Haley, and Jonah, a trio of MIT students on a road trip to California. There is significant romantic friction between Nic and Haley, but all interpersonal concerns are tossed aside when the plot kicks in. When they take a detour to track down semi-legendary hacker “Nomad,” they get a billion times more than what they bargained for. Without dipping into spoilers, they have a catastrophic confrontation that ends in a collective blackout. Nic awakens in a sterile facility where all the staff refuses to remove hazmat suits. Scientist Damon (Laurence Fishburne) calmly interrogates him as to just what happened when they encountered Nomad. Twists begin to pile on as Nic seeks to escape and unravels what is going on.

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Brenton Thwaites in THE SIGNAL

Look, as much as we may want to we can’t possibly see every movie that plays Sundance or any other given film festival. Part of the problem is the sheer quantity of films playing, but even beyond that there will always be movies that slip beneath our radar. Also, if I’m being completely honest, sometimes sleep is far more appealing than the thought of trudging out into the snow for a midnight of a movie you’ve heard nothing about. So yeah. We missed The Signal at this year’s Sundance film fest, but while I’ve been okay with that for the past couple months the new trailer below has me regretting that decision. Director William Eubank‘s second feature (after the Angels & Airwaves film, Love) looks to be a sci-fi-tinged thriller about a trio of young people who are understandably terrified and confused after a close encounter with Laurence Fishburne. Check out the trailer for The Signal below.

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The Matrix Movie 1999

Want to feel old? Then consider the fact that The Matrix is 15 years old this month. This film was made before the turn of the century, before digital projection, before the 3D craze, and before any of the Star Wars prequels were released. It was a groundbreaking film, not just for its innovative action sequences but also for its brainy nature compared to many contemporary action films. One of the early releases on DVD, The Matrix was loaded with special features, including multiple commentary tracks. The original concept by The Wachowskis was to have two separate commentary tracks: one with philosophers who liked the movie, and one with film critics who did not. After wrangling with Warner Bros. a bit on this decision, those commentaries did not appear on the original release (though they are available on the Blu-ray and more recent DVDs for your listening pleasure). Two commentaries were recorded, including a music-only track commentary by composer Don Davis, and a traditional cast commentary, which has the most production information and trivia rather than analysis. This is what we’ll be covering here. However, I encourage fans of The Matrix to check out the additional commentaries on the Blu-ray for the philosophical and critical analysis that the Wachowskis originally intended.

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matrixtruth-1

Want to feel old? Consider that The Wachowskis‘ groundbreaking science fiction action film turns 15 years old this year. That’s old enough to start shaving and testing for a learner’s permit. Forget what you think about the polarizing sequels, The Matrix helped bridge the sometimes cheesy science fiction films of the 80s and 90s with the more modern, computer-dominated films of the 21st century. It wasn’t necessarily a new idea, but it was rather stunning how the Wachowskis presented it. It’s a staple of cyberpunk plots: man against machine. Still, as often as this device is used, watching the movie 15 years later got me thinking: Was the Matrix system even necessary?

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William H. Macy

What is Casting Couch? It’s a voice of truth and honesty in a sea of April Fools’ pranks and lies. Only real casting news here, including what’s next for screen legend Peter Fonda. Our first two bits of news are about actors becoming directors and then giving jobs to other actors. It’s the circle of life, and it moves us all. First up is some news regarding William H. Macy’s directorial debut, a drama with music at its core called Rudderless. THR is reporting that this story about a father who stumbles across some of his dead son’s musical compositions and decides to start a band has just hired the high-powered quartet of Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Selena Gomez, and Laurence Fishburne. They’ll be joining the already-cast Felicity Huffman, as well as Macy himself, as he plans on pulling acting and directing double duty. Do you think that means we could get to hear him sing too?

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The Colony

The world is frozen, Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton are arguing about whether to go on a suicide mission, but the men of The Colony have a bigger problem: there’s only one woman. Watching the trailer for the sci-fi flick, this is the question I couldn’t get out of my head. Will they broach the prospect that after working so hard to survive, the species is going to die out because they didn’t think to bring some more women along for Cowboy Larry’s wild ride? Or will the whole thing blithely play out as all movies like this do? Probably that second one because feral people threatening to bite into your cheek makes it hard to focus on the longgame. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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Drinking Games

This past spring marked the thirteenth year since the release of the groundbreaking cyberpunk actioner The Matrix. This seems a bit arbitrary, but if American Pie can have a reunion of sorts thirteen years down the line, why not take this opportunity to revisit one of the true game-changers in cinema history? If you’re brave enough, follow this white rabbit of a drinking game through all three films, though we don’t recommend you do them in quick succession. It’s going to be tough to get through that first Agent Smith playground battle in The Matrix Reloaded as it is. Still, it’s a great time to pull out your VHS, DVD or Blu-ray of the original The Matrix and enjoy watching it from the desert of the real. You just might start to believe that you are not in Los Angeles in 1999.

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The Avengers hits theaters this Friday, but we’re looking to the future. The not-too-distant future but further out than this coming Friday. May 3, 2013, to be precise, when Iron Man 3 hits. Naturally, it stars Robert Downey Jr., still the comeback kid whose A-list status may as well be written in Adamantium. But it’s also being written and directed by Shane Black, the amazing screenwriter who brought us Lethal Weapon, The Monster Squad, The Last Boyscout, and this week’s film on Commentary Commentary, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It was Black’s debut as a director, and it’s arguably his best piece of work in 25 years. This week we’re listening to what Black and Downey Jr. have to say about this “indie” action/comedy. Val Kilmer joins the commentary party, too, because any party with Kilmer is better than any party without him. He just loves to drop names, as is indicated by this very bit of audio. With these three in the room together, talking about this very entertaining film, you know a healthy dose of fun is about to be had. So here you have it. All 38 things we learned listening to the commentary for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: The Matrix (1999) The Plot: At the tail end of hacking being considered cool, a cool hacker is approached by other cool, smartly dressed hackers about fighting the man. But seriously now, Neo, a whipsmart hacker, is recruited by an underground movement only to realize his entire existence has been lived inside of a machine. Foreseen to be “The One” who will free humanity, Neo must master himself within the virtual world to topple the evil computer overlords.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads into the MMA ring to battle Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, after being trained by a strung-out Nick Nolte who looks like he’s ready to have an aneurysm at any moment. Then he is sent into a bird flu panic when someone coughs on him at the airport. Not wanting to suffer the same fate as Gwenyth Paltrow, he takes a road trip down to the Louisiana bayou where he runs into a hillbilly redneck alligator mutant. But at least he didn’t have to see Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star.

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A box just landed on my doorstep, and as the UPS man drove away, I opened it up to find a device that gets rid of germs on cell phones using some sort of UV light. Why would a marketing department send me that? Because inside was a USB drive containing the first trailer for Contagion – the forthcoming viral outbreak thriller from Steven Soderbergh. What better way to kick everything off? Plus, the trailer is gripping. Matt Damon brings the intensity, Laurence Fishburne brings the expertise, the rest of the cast (including Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Jude Law) bring anxiety, but behind every single performance is a major element of fear. Holy hell, this looks great:

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That headline should really say that Laurence Fishburne has been cast as the first non-white Perry White for Man of Steel, because it’s not like there’s been a Chinese or Puerto Rican version of the character either. The LA Times is reporting that the veteran actor will suit up (hopefully with suspenders) for Zack Snyder to play the iconic boss at The Daily Planet. Speaking of which, with a scoop this close to their doorstep, you think The Daily Planet would have broken it. Digressions aside, Fishburne brings years of dramatic experience to a cast that echoes his talents. In one way, it’s historic that this production (in a long line of television and film adaptations of Superman) will have the first African-American White, but in another it’s not such a big deal at all. The casting makes sense, no matter the actor’s race. Unless they put him in White Face, which would be horribly, horribly racist. Otherwise, there’s not much else to say beyond how over the top Fishburne could be in this role. Just don’t call him Chief.

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Junkfood Cinema

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema: shame is completely relative. In a world where only good movies get attention, one man decided to take the laws of taste into his own hands. Hi, I’m him. This is the movie column wherein I put a truly schlocky movie on trial only to see it get away with murder. As bad as these films may be, I will defend their greatness with a .44 caliber hand cannon. In an effort to exact vigilante justice against your physique, I will then pair the film with an unlawfully tasty snack food item. Last weekend, as research for an article I was writing, I watched 20 Charles Bronson films over three days. This undertaking, dubbed Bronsothon, not only filled me with renewed vigor for the violent artistry of one Mr. Charles Buchinsky (alias Bronson), but also allowed for the instantaneous sprouting of a lush, full mustache. Some of these films I had seen before and others were first views but one thing that remained consistent throughout was my steadily increasing level of aggression. I found that where I would normally solve small disagreements by engaging in civil dialogue, I suddenly shot five people and blew up a parked car. The worst instances of misplaced aggression came during the Sunday night marathon of all the Death Wish sequels. Today’s snack: Death Wish 2

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Trained assassin Columbus deals with a beautiful Italian woman, his usual case load of targets and the new sensation of having a price put on his head by a powerful unknown source who wants him dead.

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Fat Guys at the Movies

In spite of the fact almost nothing was screened for them this week, Kevin and Neil meet in the Magical Studio in the Sky to not talk about movies. Instead, they discuss Kevin being a near body double for Taylor Lautner, Neil’s homoerotic fantasies about Neil Patrick Harris and how to tweet in Klingon. tIv cha’!

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ActorsAvoidList

With Bill Nighy’s claim that he doesn’t like watching himself in movies, I figured I’d take the opportunity to suggest the practice to a few other actors. But it’s not exactly what you think.

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galactus01.jpg

Many thought Galactus’ appearance in FF2 was a cop-out, but Marvel has other plans for him.

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