2010 Los Angeles Film Festival Audience Award Winners 

Before screening the Closing Night film ("Despicable Me"), Film Independent has announced its 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival audience award winners. According to HollywoodNews.com:

The 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival screened over 200 feature films, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 40 countries. This year, the Festival received more than 4,700 submissions from filmmakers around the world. The final selections represent 28 World, North American, and U.S. premieres, which more than doubled from 2009. The number of films competing in the narrative and documentary competition categories also increased this year from 13 to 18, of which half are World premieres.

Here's the complete list of winners of the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival audience awards:

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

Winner: Four Lions directed by Christopher Morris
Writers: Christopher Morris, Jesse Armstrong, and Sam Bain
Producers: Mark Herbert, Derrin Schlesinger
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Arsher Ali, Nigel Lindsay, Kayvan Novak, and Adeel Akhtar
Film Description: (England) Never one to shy away from taboo subjects, celebrated British satirist Christopher Morris tackles modern jihadism in this comedy of terrors about four bumbling suicide bombers in training.

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature

Winner: Thunder Soul
Director: Mark Landsman
Producers: Keith Calder, Mark Landsman, Jessica Wu
Featuring: The Kashmere Stage Band, Conrad O. Johnson
Film Description: A high school band unlike any other, the Kashmere Stage Band was a worldwide sensation in the ‘70s. Thirty-five years later, the band reunites to pay tribute to the man who made it all possible.

Audience Award for Best International Feature

Winner: Presumed Guilty
Directors: Roberto Hernández and Geoffrey Smith
Producers: Layda Negrete, Roberto Hernández, Martha Sosa, Yissel Ibarra
Film Description: (Mexico) In Mexico, where 92 percent of convictions are not based on any physical evidence, two lawyers use the documentary lens to expose an abominable justice system and free one innocent man.

Audience Award for Best Short Film

Winner: Dock Ellis & the LSD No-No
Director: James Blagden
Producers: Christopher Isenberg, Donnell Alexander, Neille Ilel
Description: Dock Ellis’ legendary LSD-fueled no-hitter is revisited by the man himself.

Audience Award for Best Music Video

Winner: This Too Shall Pass
Directors: James Frost, OK Go, Syyn Labs
Producer: Shirley Moyers
Music: OK Go

More information can be found at LAFilmFest.com

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"X-Men: First Class" Enlists Michael Fassbender as Magneto 

Michael Fassbender, who played the Canadian spy Archie Hicox in "Inglourious Basterds," has been cast to play baddie Magneto in "X-Men: First Class" to be directed by Matthew Vaughn ("Kick-Ass").

Fassbender will join James McAvoy, who is set to play Professor Xavier.

Here's the logline of the film:

"X-Men: First Class, following the classic Marvel mythology, charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga. Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men."

The film is set to go on production late summer and is set for release June 3, 2011.

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Watch "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" Movie Review 

Find out why I'm calling this film the best of the franchise so far, plus see interview snippets with Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner about the series' characters. (to read my full "Twilight Saga: Eclipse" movie review, click here)

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Weekend Movie Round-Up: "Knight and Day," "Grown Ups" Movie Reviews 

"Knight and Day" and "Grown Ups" are set to battle for box-office supremacy with "Toy Story 3." But from the looks of it, the Disney/Pixar threequel will take the crown.

"Knight and Day," which opened last Wednesday, comes with a great pedigree. Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, and director James Mangold, the guy who gave us "Walk the Line" and "3:10 to Yuma" among others.

How can you go wrong right? Well, "Knight and Day" is a fun, entertaining film, that's just a wee bit short on logic.

Here's the plot: Diaz is June Havens, who suddenly finds her daily routine interrupted by being entangled with a secret agent named Roy Miller played by Cruise. He has a latest mission that he instinctively feels he's not supposed to survive.

Soon, the couple find themselves in a globe-trotting adventure in an attempt to avoid capture by the feds. But the big caveat -- Cruise's secret agent is not who he says he is...or is he?

"Knight and Day" is one of those movies that makes its plot so unnecessary complicated as a cover for its brainless and illogical narrative. But much like this summer's "The A-Team," "Knight and Day" is thoroughly charming though its lacking in the brains department.

But thanks to Cruise, yes, Cruise, and his palpable chemistry with Diaz, "Knight and Day" is fluffy fun with lots of action scenes thrown in. Just check your brains out the door in order to enjoy this movie.

"Knight and Day" :25k

If "Knight and Day" is illogically entertaining, then "Grown Ups" is immaturely annoying. When I first heard about this movie's cast, I thought it was brilliant!

Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, heck even Maya Rudolph, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn and Tim Meadows make appearances.

But wait, there's more! Maria Bello and Salma Hayek even show up.

You expect more from a powerhouse cast like that. But sadly, "Grown Ups" is immature and unfunny.

The plot? Five friends, Sandler, James, Rock, Spade, Schneider, reunite at the funeral of their high school basketball coach and decide to reminisce about the good old days while spending a wild 4th of July weekend together.

"Grown Ups" tries so hard to be this year's "The Hangover" but fails miserably. You see, "The Hangover" knew what it was -- a raunch-fest with a heart, a big heart -- while "Grown Ups" has an identity crisis. It so wants to be a raunch-fest but also courts the young kids (it's PG-13). It doesn't work, and never will work.

Co-written by Sandler himself and directed by Dennis Dugan, the guy who gave us the horrible "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," "Grown Ups" never quite matched the "awesomeness" of its great cast -- lots of funny people.

Saddled with a lazy script, lazy plotting and lazy direction, you will not want to spend your Independence Day weekend with this crew.

The one thing the movie did miraculously? David Spade is the funniest part of the movie and that's not saying much.

"Grown Ups" :15k

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Peter Jackson to Return to Middle Earth, May Direct "The Hobbit" 

It has come full circle for Peter Jackson. The director is in talks with Warners/New Line to direct the two "Hobbit" movies according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"The Lord of the Rings" director has been developing the J.R.R. Tolkien masterpiece as producer of the planned two-film adaptations. Guillermo del Toro was initially set to direct until when the director left in March citing MGM's shaky financial future as an excuse.

Since del Toro's departure, Warners/New Line has been paging Jackson, more like begging him, to helm "The Hobbit." And why not? Jackson created one of the best trilogies in cinematic history with "Lord of the Rings" and he can spread his Gandalfian wizardry to the project.

So please return to Middle Earth Mr. Jackson, it would be quite magical!

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