Film Review: ZEROVILLE (USA 2018)

Zeroville Poster
Trailer

A young actor arrives in Hollywood in 1969 during a transitional time in the Industry.

Director:

James Franco

Writers:

Steve Erickson (novel), Paul Felten | 1 more credit »

James Franco has made a name for himself in pictures primarily as an actor.  He received an Oscar nomination for 127 HOURS and acted in hits like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and FREAKS AND GEEKS.  Though credited with 39 directorial credits, the films he has directed have been mediocre at best.

In ZEROVILLE, made a few years back and only just released, James Franco stars and directs himself as Vikar a wannabe Hollywood celebrity.  He more than meets his match in the form of outrageous characters such as Seth Rogen’s APOLCALYPSE-type director, Will Farrell’s producer, Megan Fox’s starlet and Jacki Weaver’s editor.  But it is though Dotty, the editor that Vikar learns the game.  “Fuck continuity.  It is the passion that is the editing.” is what Vikar believes after watching how the kissing scene between Elizabeth Tylor and Montgomery Clift was edited in A PLACE IN THE SUN.

ZEROVILLE requires one to have sufficient knowledge of old movies to fully appreciate what director James Franco intends.  One such movie is the 1951 George Steven’s film A PLACE IN THE SUN that starred Montgomery Cliff and Elizabeth Taylor.  Vikar (Vikar with a K is what he called himself) has a shaved head and ridiculous moustache.  He loves Montgomery Cliff and Elizabeth Taylor so much that he has both Taylor and Clift tattooed on his shaved head.

Franco must totally believe the spill on continuity as his film does not pay much attention to continuity.  One scene had him break a car widow.  No blood shown, nothing and another has his hand in a bandage.  Though his film aims high, it is a mess without much direction with the characters shouting all over the place a lot of the time.  The Vikar character in contrast just broods along with a sullen look.  But the film contains isolated hilarious bits.

The film funniest segment has what is supposed to be the filming of the Arthur Hiller 1970 film LOVE STORY based on the Erich Segal novel.  Ali McGraw cannot distinguish between the lines “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” and “Love means never ever having  to say you’re sorry” which requires so many takes that she storms out in frustration.  Another one that matches is the one where Vikar is interrogated by the cops, being a suspect in the Sharon Tate murders.  The film has shades of ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD.  Both films are set in 1969, Hollywood.

Of the classics, these must be Franco’s favourites, as their names keeping popping up. They are A PLACE IN THE SUN, THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER, SUNSET BOULEVARD, CASABLANCA, JOAN OF ARC and THE SEARCHERS, even though Vikar considers John Wayne as a hontytonk racist pig.  The film has clips from John Ford’s MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, JOAN OF ARC and a 3 Stooges clip.

ZEROVILLE ends up a pretty bad movie.  It just wanders around just as its protagonist Vikar with a little aim but loses purpose on its way.  At least it is good for a few laughs.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fw72WrOrlA

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Film Review: THE LION KING (USA 2019) ***

The Lion King Poster
After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.

Director:

Jon Favreau

Writers:

Jeff Nathanson (screenplay by), Brenda Chapman(story) | 3 more credits »

Not only a large portion of moviegoers familiar with the story of THE LION KING (from not only the original animated feature but from the hit musical) but the songs as well.  Disney needs something fresh.  So with the new live-action animated version, new songs have also been added, written by Sir Elton John and sung by Beyonce.

As in the original animated feature, THE LION KING 2019 is set in Africa where a pride of lions rule over the animal kingdom of Pride Rock.  When the film opens, King Mufasa’s (James Earl Jones) and Queen Sarabi’s (Alfre Woodard) newborn son, Simba (Danny Glover), is presented to the gathering animals by Rafiki (John Kani) the mandrill, the kingdom’s shaman and advisor. Mufasa shows Simba the Pride Lands and explains to him the responsibilities of kingship and the “circle of life”, which connects all living things.  This is, of course, the cue for the “Circle of life” song reminding audiences that they are watching Disney.

As far as animal eats animal in the wild, the violence of the jungle is toned down several notches.  The only animals that get eaten on screen are the disgusting maggots and worms, being at the bottom of the food chain.  Plants are victims too.

THE LION KING is a magnificent looking CGI feature with all the animals and background looking so real that one can hardly tell that it is special effects.  Simba can be made cute as a cub and fierce like a lion king with all the details like face frowns, fur movements and tail wags.  But its is almost a compete copy from the hit animated feature of the same title. It is fortunate that quite a few years have lapsed since, so that audiences can only vaguely remember all the scenes from the original.  Still, entertaining and stunning that the CGI LION KING is and looks, originality is clearly absent.  Racism is present in the form of hyenas who are looked down by the lions and seen with no redeeming qualities.  All this is hidden by Disney’s seemingly innocent portrayal of nature as evident in the film’s initial scenes – a morning sunrise in the African continent; a flight of birds rising from the trees and a horde of elephants making their path through the plains.

Regarding voice characterizations, James Earl Jones with his signature deep voice is the obvious choice for King Mufasa while Chiwetel Ejiofor does a menacing villain, Scar.  Comic relief is provided by Seth Rogen who steals the show as the common slow-witted warthog.  Yes, and there are fart jokes from him.  Pop star Beyonce provides the voice of Nala, Simba’s love interest.

Despite the familiarity of the material, Disney’s hard work shows and proves that old material can still be entertaining given a a few fresh twists.  And this is the strength of Disney.  Disney always uses tested formula in their film projects.  Expect record box-office takings in the opening weekend.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TavVZMewpY

Film Review: LONG SHOT (USA 2019) ***1/2

Long Shot Poster
Trailer

When Fred Flarsky reunites with his first crush, one of the most influential women in the world, Charlotte Field, he charms her. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter and sparks fly.

Director:

Jonathan Levine

Writers:

Dan Sterling (screenplay by), Liz Hannah (screenplay by) | 1 more credit »

Movie Review: Neighbours 2 (USA 2016) ***1/2

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

bad_neighboursNEIGHBOURS 2: SORORITY RISING (USA 2016) ***1/2
Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Dave Franco, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Clara Mamet, Selena Gomez

Review by Gilbert Seah

NEIGHBOURS the Seth Rogen comedy with Zac Efron as a frat neighbour was one of the best comedies of 2014. It featured the funniest sequence in a comedy that year – the Robert De Niro segment in which Efron, Dave Franco and gang all dress up as De Niro to taunt Rogen and wife for calling the cops the night before to lodge a complaint about their party.

NEIGHBOURS 2 has tough shoes to fill. But thanks to good writing from a script credited to 5 writers, the sequel makes it. Jokes like the air bags and the Dean Carol Gladstone character (Lisa Kudrow) from the first film are brought back into the sequel. If a few jokes do not work, one can be sure another couple will in a few minutes. With hardly any time for the audience to take a breather, NEIGHBOURS 2 comes across as intense as the dressed up clown that shows up at a tailgate party, a segment that is almost as funny as the De Niro sequence.

The success of this film lies a great deal on the comedic potential of both Efron and Chloe Grace Moretz. Efron plays the older frat member, now graduated and unable to find a decent job and living space while Moretz plays his younger female version looking to party all the time. Teddy Sanders (Efron) helps her at first in renting her sorority house that just happens to be next to the house that Mac (Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) is selling. But Teddy switches to Mac’s side to help him evict the sisters sorority. It is a fairly simple plot but with plenty of comedy potential, with the setups well staged. Efron has proven his mettle in comedy as in the first NEIGHBOURS and the recent DIRTY GRANDPA. Efron can even be funny in moments demanding the audience to show sympathy for his character. Teddy, for example, shows genuine puzzlement on why eggs get hard whereas pasta gets soft when dunked in boiling water, Moretz, however, has the straighter role. Her character serves to anchor the story. Her sorority sisters, Beth (Dope’s Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) and other sorority members are left with the task of providing the laughter.

NEIGHBOURS 2 also lifts comedy to a level of political correctness. The gay jokes are largely positive, with Teddy’s best friend, Pete (Franco) coming out and getting married to his new husband. On the female side, the sisterly bond fosters positive feminism while male chauvinism (such as in the depiction of girls as whores in colleges) is frowned upon. There is also a comedic discussion on the difference between a male teen vs. a female teen losing his or her virginity.

While NEIGHBOURS 2 is funny enough, its desperation to top the original is obvious. The film grabs at any opportunity for a joke, even to have didoes dressed as princesses to get a laugh. The result is the film looking a bit ‘all over the place’ compared to the more focused original despite the almost equal high to hit miss laughter ratio.

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Happy Birthday: Seth Rogen

sethrogenHappy Birthday actor Seth Rogen

Born: Seth Aaron Rogen
April 15, 1982 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Read reviews of the best of the actor:

ANCHORMANAnchorman
2004
dir. Adam McKay
starring
Will Ferrell
Christina Applegate

ConstantineThe 40 Year Old Virgin
2005
dir. Judd Apatow
starring
Steve Carell
Rogen

KNOCKED UPKnocked Up
2007
dir. Judd Apatow
Starring
Rogen
Katherine Heigl

SUPERBADSuperbad
2007
dir. Greg Mottola
Starring
Jonah Hill
Michael Cera

Pineapple ExpressPineapple Express
2008
dir. David Gordon Green
Starring
Rogen
James Franco

Kung Fu PandaKung Fu Panda
2008
Directed by Mark Osborne
John Stevenson
Voices by
Jack Black
Dustin Hoffman

Zack and Miri Make a PornoZack and Miri Make a Porno
dir. Kevin Smith
Starring
Rogen

Elizabeth Banks

Horton Hears a Who!
2008
Directed by Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
Voices by
Jim Carrey
Steve Carrell

tv POSTERARRESTED DEVELOPMENT SEASON 4 TV SHOW PILOT
2013
Creators: Mitchell Hurwitz

FANBOYSFanboys
2009
dir. Kyle Newman
Starring
Sam Huntington
Kristen Bell

OBSERVE AND REPORT Movie PosterObserve and Report
2009
dir. Jody Hill
Starring
Rogen
Anna Faris

FUNNY PEOPLEFUNNY PEOPLE
2009
dir. Judd Apatow
Starring
Adam Sandler
Rogen
Leslie Mann

MONSTERS VS ALIENSMonsters VS Aliens
dir. Rob Letterman
Conrad Vernon
Voices by
Rogen
Reece Witherspoon

The Green HornetThe Green Hornet
dir. Michel Gondry
Stars:
Seth Rogen
Jay Chou

PaulPAUL
dir. Greg Mottola
Stars:
Simon Pegg
Nick Frost

KUNG FU PANDA 2KUNG FU PANDA 2
dir. Jennifer Yuh
Stars:
Jack Black
Angelina Jolie

movie posterDONNIE DARKO
2001
dir. Richard Kelly
Starring:
Jake Gyllenhaal
Jena Malone

MOVIE POSTER50/50
dir. Jonathan Levine
Stars:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Seth Rogen

MOVIE POSTERFOR A GOOD TIME, CALL
2012
dir. Jamie Travis
Stars:
Ari Graynor
Lauren Miller

MOVIE POSTERTHE GUILT TRIP
dir. Anne Fletcher

Stars:
Seth Rogen
Barbra Streisand

MOVIE POSTERTHIS IS THE END
2013
dir. Evan Goldberg
Seth Rogen
Stars: James Franco
Jay Baruchel

MOVIE POSTERNEIGHBORS
2014
dir. Nicholas Stoller
Stars:
Seth Rogen
Zac Efron

MOVIE POSTERYOU, ME AND DUPREE
2006
dir. Anthony Russo
Joe Russo
Stars:
Kate Hudson
Owen Wilson

Movie Review: KUNG FU PANDA 3 (2016)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

kung_fu_panda_3KUNG FU PANDA 3 (USA/China 2016) ***
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni

Starring: Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, J.K. Simmons, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

Review by Gilbert Seah

The third of the KUNG FU PANDA animated features provides more of the same. However, being family fun entertainment, critics should not be too hard on the filmmakers. As long as KUNG FU PANDA delivers a safe product, everyone especially a less discerning audience should not complain.

The first one in the series that is a Chinese co-production, Fox obviously has an eye for the large Chinese market. There is a Chinese version with Chinese dubbed voices. The previous two films grossed more than $600 million each and this $120 million production should beat those records. To be super safe, the script by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger have added many more pandas into the film – in the form of a secret panda sanctuary.

Po finally gets to meet his real biological father in this film. The segment of their meeting, as shown in a promotional clip before is the funniest of the film. Of course, his adoptive father, Mr. Ping (James Hong) the goose who wants to open his own dumpling stall is incredibly jealous. Po is brought to a Panda sanitary where he trains panda students in martial-arts. Po also meets Mei Mei, an overly eager panda, who had been promised to Po through an arranged marriage when they were children. But the main plot involves an evil ancient supernatural spirit called Kai begins terrorizing China and stealing the powers of defeated kung fu masters. Now in the face of incredible odds, Po must learn to train the village of clumsy, fun-loving pandas to become a band of Kung Fu Pandas.

Added to the film are new characters like Po’s (Jack Black) biological father, Li Shan (Bryan Cranston) and Mei Mei (a brilliant Kate Hudson), a female panda who has the hots for Po. Hudson does a marvellous job resulting in the audience wanting to see more of Mei Mei. The villain of the piece is Kai (Oscar winning J.J. Simmons) who adds a some humour to his role. His voice is easily recognized from the low tones. The usually Po gang is still present. So, for those KUNG FU PANDA fans, Viper (Lucy Liu), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross) and even Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) are back.

The climatic fight between Po and Kai is ok but nothing too exciting nor out of the ordinary. But the antics of Po is enough to entertain despite the relatively weak plot.

The Chinese influence in this entry is clearly evident. There is more oriental folklore, more oriental colours and more oriental architectural drawings. This entry is also the most colourful of the three with the animation at its peak. The ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ song is also given a Chinese slant. Hans Zimmer hits with the overall musical score.

KUNG FU PANDA 3 should be a big hit. At the end of the promo screening, kids can be seen in front of the screen imitating the martial-arts moves of their hero, Po.

 

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com