The Good Life

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trailer Park

Behold! Some of the newest trailers for some of the most noteworthy upcoming releases.

By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

No more Schwarzenegger. No more Danny Glover. No more Alien collaborations (well, actually, there probably will be more of those). For this new incarnation of the popular sci-fi series, 20th Century Fox has gone the route of its face-hugger franchise by simply pluralizing the title to let you know there are a lot more nasties to contend with. Set on the Predators' planet (I'm assuming), "Predators" stars actual actors like Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne, which is a very good sign. Another good sign: it returns the series to the jungle, where it began and where it certainly thrived best. Not such a good sign: looks like it's one of those humans-as-live-bait-reality-show movies. Did we learn nothing from "The Condemned?"


Demi Moore and David Duchovny lead a family that's...not really a family. In "The Joneses," a faux family "unit" is paid big bucks by big businesses to tout products to their high-society friends and neighbors. They've got the home, they've got the cars, they've got the goods, they just don't have the blood ties. Cool idea for a comedy, and I love the under-the-radar indie work Demi Moore's been doing lately (see: "Happy Tears"). Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth co-star as the lead couple's fake children.


The Weinstien Company recently acquired this corporate-downsizing drama, directed by John Wells. Slated for release in late summer or early fall, the film stars Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello and Rosemarie DeWitt. And you know what? Since the trailer bravely and elegantly goes out of its way to sell you on images alone, those are the only details I'm divulging. See what you make of it -- I think it's best trailer I've seen in months.

Star to Watch


By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

Whether appearing in Calvin Klein's latest underwear ad campaign or starring alongside fellow pretty boys Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner in a modest little franchise known as "The Twilight Saga," 25-year-old actor and model Kellan Lutz's star seems to be ascending higher with every passing day. Now, I can't very well speak for the North Dakota native's acting ability (his role in the "Twilight" films is the sidelined vampire-of-few-words Emmett Cullen), but there's no denying the guy's got serious screen presence.

And his presence on screen is only set to gain prominence in the coming year. After making a small name for himself by appearing on such TV shows as "CSI," "Heroes" and the newfangled "90210," and movies like "Stick It," "Accepted" and "Prom Night," Lutz, whose involvement in "Twilight" indisputably opened many doors, will be appearing in the remake of "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "Warrior" with Cary Elwes and "Twilight" co-star Ashley Greene, "Love, Wedding, Marriage" with Mandy Moore and "Dawn of War," Tarsem Singh's Greek saga that casts him as sea god Poseidon.

And, of course, Lutz is set to reprise his role of Emmett Cullen in the forthcoming "Twilight" sequels "Eclipse" and "Breaking Dawn," the latter of which will be split into two parts, a la "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Lutz is reportedly quite close with his "Twilight" cast mates, especially Greene, whom he calls a good friend. Good to know he'll have some arm candy for all the red carpets he's bound to be hitting.

Kellan Lutz and Nikki Reed promoting "New Moon" on "The Today Show":

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

DVD Spotlight - March 16

Brief capsules on new DVDs worth renting.

By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic


What impressed me most about "Precious," aside from the astounding, Oscar-winning performance from Mo'Nique and the transformative, Oscar-nominated lead turn from debut talent Gabourey Sidibe, was the manner in which director and West Philly native Lee Daniels (also an Oscar nominee) chose to visualize Oscar winner Geoffrey Fletcher's bold adaptation of Sapphire's groundbreaking novel. One walks into this movie expecting to be shaken (the tremendous buzz took care of that over a year ago), but the rich texture of Daniels' accomplished filmmaking style -- the urban grit, the imaginative transitions, Precious's vivid fantasies -- make it a truly distinct and absorbing work. Daniels's artisitic point of view positions him as quite possibly the most noteworthy black American auteur since Spike Lee. (Now available)


At last, the oft-ingratiating Wes Anderson takes a break from fashioning live-action narratives into pretentious, hipper-than-thou, wannabe cartoons, and simply jumps right in and makes an animated film -- an excellent one, no less. Featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, "Fox," like "Precious," has an extraordinary texture -- this one so tactile you may find yourself compelled to reach out and touch the screen (take that, 3-D!). Made in a furry, herky-jerky stop-motion style, and bolstered by additional old-school creative touches like an ant-farm perspective, this weird and exceedingly whimsical adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's novel is a loopy laugh riot, eliciting the feeling of being drunk on harebrained joy. Well done, Mr. Anderson. (Available March 23)


Though it walked away empty-handed at the Academy Awards, writer/director Jason Reitman's beautifully mature and delectably witty adult dramedy "Up in the Air" is my favorite film of 2009. Featuring perfect perfomances from Oscar nominees George Clooney, Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga, this tragicomedy about a corporate axeman with no ties except the ones he wears while firing underlings across the country has unmatched relevance, but never shoves it down your gullet. I remember trying my hardest to keep up with the movie's brilliant wit in my notes, but was firmly defeated, so relentless is the greatness of its scenes. Few people realize how difficult it is to craft a film that so accurately and directly speaks to the time in which it's made, and fewer still, it seems, recognize how rare it is for an American comedy to lack a single dumb joke. With "Up in the Air," Reitman shows us how it's done. (Now Available)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trailer Park

Behold! Some of the newest trailers for some of the most noteworthy upcoming releases.

By R. Kurt Osenlund, The Good Life film critic

Over two decades after Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" comes this absurdly titled but undeniably intriguing sequel, the first Stone has ever directed. Aiming for timeliness, the movie focuses on the 2008 stock market crash, and the relationship between young trader Jacob (Shia LaBeouf) and his soon-to-be father-in-law, the famous Gorden Gekko (Michael Douglas, reprising his role). Co-stars include Oscar favorites Susan Sarandon, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella and Carey Mulligan, LaBeaouf's real-life squeeze. (April 21)

Directed by Atom Egoyan, the erotic thriller "Chloe" is a remake of the 2004 French film "Nathalie...," written and directed by Anne Fontaine. "Chloe" stars Amanda Seyfried as the title character, an escort who comes between husband and wife Catherine (Julianne Moore) and David (Liam Neeson). Seyfried has been on the rise for some time now, and this movie looks to be one that will truly display her range. (March 26)

Based on the first volume of the best-selling book series by Jeff Kinney, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" looks screamingly funny while still being kid-friendly -- a rare feat in modern cinema. Highlighting the misadventures of middle school student Gregg Heffley (Zachary Gordon), the movie, directed by Thor Freudenthal (how's that for a name?), also stars Robert Capron, Rachael Harris, Steve Zahn and Chloe Moretz. Try not to smile while watching this trailer. (March 19)

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