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Dramas that tackle the subject of cancer in an honest, non-cloying manner are exceedingly rare, and movies that infuse a load of humor into the expected somber tone of such a drama are far, far rarer, so it's worth nothing that 50/50 arrives in theaters today.  The film, which is based on the real experience of screenwriter Will Reiser, has racked up uniformly excellent reviews, and by all accounts manages to deliver a heartfelt story that is nonetheless funny and agreeably crass at times. 

In order to promote the film's release, Summit Entertainment has released a two-part video roundtable discussion ostensibly moderated by Reiser and including castmembers Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anna Kendrick, and Bryce Dallas Howard, along with producer and co-star Seth Rogen.  Both contain a funny, casual discussion.  In addition, there's also a brand spanking new red band clip, in which Rogen's character lives out the fantasy of every good buddy who absolutely loathes his friend's detestable ladyfriend.

Hey, SPOILER alert.  Most superhero sequels would just introduce a new and improved costume for their central figure, but 2008's The Dark Knight impressively incorporated the need for a more functional Batman outfit into its plot, allowing for a nice bit of continuity between the regalia worn by Christian Bale's cowled ass-kicker in Batman Begins and its sequel (neither involved wearing hockey pads).  We've been hearing for months now that The Dark Knight Rises will loop back into the first film in Christopher Nolan's trilogy, and a new rumor suggests that the trilogy continuity will be upheld by the appearance a member of Batman's rogues gallery will show up in the final installment.  Again: potential spoilers be here.

Imagine for a moment you've spent months hanging out at a remote Antarctic research base with a bunch of Norwegian guys.  If you heard that a paleontologist grad student who looked like Mary Elizabeth Winstead was headed to the facility, you'd probably be pretty thrilled about it.  Now imagine that your rare chance to flirt with a beautiful woman is ruined by an extraterrestrial that impersonates humans, leading to lots of grotesque horror and no end of paranoia.

There's no grotesque horror in the second clip from The Thing, but there is plenty of paranoia.  While the first clip showed a glimpse of the actual creature emerging explosively from a block of ice, this one sticks with the notion that anybody could really be an alien just waiting for a chance to jack you up.  Despite carrying the exact same title of John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing From Another World, this is not a remake, but a prequel that will apparently contain almost identical scenes.

It’s my birthday; I’m sitting in the bedroom I grew up in at my parent’s house in Massachusetts … and I’m waiting for Ron Perlman to call me. Does life get any better than this?

Last week while I was home visiting my family, I had the pleasure of spending the evening of my 36th birthday speaking with one of my all-time favorite actors. I first became aware of Ron Perlman’s immense talent as a performer from his work on the popular ‘80s fantasy series Beauty and the Beast, but it’s his impressive and vast resume of film accomplishments that has made me a fan. I loved his unique portrayal of characters in movies like The City of Lost Children, Alien Resurrection, and Star Trek Nemesis, but it is his collaborations with lifelong friend Guillermo del Toro (Cronos, Blade II, Hellboy, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army) that I think marks some of his finest work.

But recently it seems like Perlman’s career could not be hotter. For the past three seasons he’s starred as Clay Morrow on FX’s hit motorcycle gang series Sons of Anarchy, which just began airing its forth season. He is also currently getting rave reviews for his role as a crime boss in director Nicholas Winding Refn’s critically acclaimed movie Drive, starring Ryan Gosling. Not to mention that he was seen this past summer playing the father of Conan the Barbarian in Lionsgate’s big screen adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s beloved character. Now the actor once again plays a crime boss in the new film Bunraku, which opens in theaters on September 30th.

In my opinion, pound-for-pound, one of the best actresses working in the film industry today is Michelle Monaghan. After small roles in movies like Unfaithful, The Bourne Supremacy, and Constantine, not to mention a short stint on the TV series Boston Public, Monaghan finally gained national attention acting opposite Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in Shane Black’s fan-favorite buddy-comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But it was her role as Tom Cruise’s girlfriend in J.J. Abrams' Mission: Impossible III that made the actress a star. Since then she has gone on to appear in a string of popular films such as Gone Baby Gone, Eagle Eye, Due Date, and Source Code. Now the actress returns to the big screen once again with another outstanding performance in the new film Machine Gun Preacher, which opened September 23rd in limited release.

Machine Gun Preacher tells the true story of biker/preacher Sam Childers who after a life of crime devotes himself to God and becomes a defender of Sudanese orphans. Actor Gerard Butler (300) gives an Oscar worthy performance as Childers, while Monaghan plays his loving wife Lynn, who introduces him to his faith and supports him on his quest. The film is directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace) and features very strong supporting performances from Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) as Childers’ drug addicted best friend Donnie, Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands) as Childers’ mother, and Souleymane Sy Savane (TV’s Damages) as Deng, a Sudanese rebel that joins Childers on his quest to save the orphans.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of speaking with Michelle Monaghan about Machine Gun Preacher and her impressive career. The actress spoke candidly to me about the new film, portraying a non-fictional character on screen, meeting the real Lynn Childers, acting opposite Gerard Butler, Sam Childers’ amazing accomplishments, her next few film projects, and the possibility of a sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Rogue of the Week: Bryan Cranston

Thursday, 29 September 2011 14:24

Let's start with the blatantly obvious: Bryan Cranston is a flat-out great actor.  The 2004 marionette action-satire Team America: World Police – in which Cranston played no part whatsoever but bear with me here – acting jokingly depicted as an incredibly rare, potentially deadly, and endlessly applicable skill.  That's the kind of acting Bryan Cranston does, the kind of acting that's like a superpower could secure him a spot in the Justice League.  Cranston could act his way out of a bunker buried miles below the Earth's surface and emerge in daylight without a fleck of dirt on his person.  But it's not simply because Cranston is a fantastic thespian (and by all accounts, a really nice guy) that he's our latest Rogue of the Week, it's his smart selection of unshowy supporting roles since breaking big on AMC's Breaking Bad.

In the early 1990's, Mortal Kmobat became one of the first videogames to cause parents all over the country to go into an uproar and implore, "Won't somebody think of the children?!"  Now-antiquated graphics depicting blood splattering, dismembering, and decapitations added to the fun of an enjoyable fighting game for a bloodthirsty youth just waiting for the moment to freeze their friends' entire bodies then smash them into oblivion with a roundhouse kick.  This lead naturally a significantly less violent PG-13 Mortal Kombat movie, but the cinematic franchise has been dormant for the last fourteen years.  Now though, it looks like New Line Cinema is preparing a Mortal Kombat reboot, and the studio has hired a familiar webseries duo to get the job done.

This morning, we saw the cover of an upcoming magazine featuring the assembled cast of The Avengers all in one place, ready to stare at shoppers from the magazine racks at grocery stores all over America.  Now, mere hours later, we have a little batch of official images from the crossover ensemble movie towards which Marvel Studios has been building since just after the credits of Iron Man in 2008.  Unlike the awkward Photoshop job that stacked the familiar superheroes on the latest Entertainment Weekly cover, these new images are entirely more natural.  They include a shot of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. striking poses as Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner firing their respective weapons before a green screen as well as behind the scenes photo of Joss Whedon and Chris Hemsworth hanging out with Evans and Downey Jr.

After a lengthy delay caused by the drawn-out financial morass at MGM, the next globe-trotting adventure for Ian Fleming's mutable, everlasting secret agent is gearing up to actually begin production shortly.  The twenty-third installment in the James Bond franchise, currently known only by its appropriate code name of Bond 23, will start shooting this November with Daniel Craig once again killing many an unnamed enemy as Bond, James Bond.  For months now, if not years, two of the big questions have been just which international locations will get the Bond treatment, and which actresses will appear as leading ladies, getting a whole different sort of Bond treatment.  Now, there's official word that Bond 23's opening scenes will be shot in Istanbul, Turkey, and there's also unofficial rumor that a lovely French actress may be the next Bond Girl.

Of all the mysterious high-profile movies set for 2012, Prometheus might just be the most mysterious.  Unlike, say, a trilogy-capping superhero movie, Ridley Scott's first science fiction film in 30 years hasn't needed to film on any metropolitan streets, and the production has managed to keep story and shooting details well under wraps.  The "It's not really an Alien prequel but yeah it's totally an Alien prequel" movie has been playing a shell game for months, disavowing information from all over the place and, by some accounts, actively spewing disinformation online to throw spoiler-hounds off the trail. 

Famously verbose Lost co-executive producer and screenwriter Damon Lindelof, who rewrote Prometheus from previous drafts by Jon Spaihts, recently discussed the film at length, and while there are plenty of vague teases, Lindelof also verified some information and discussed story and characters, specifically those played by Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender.

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