"Up in the Air" Movie Review -- Definitely One of the Best Films of 2009 


I’m still flying high from watching “Up in the Air.” It’s an emotionally satisfying film that will lift you up amidst dramatic turbulence. “Up in the Air” is definitely one of the best films of 2009.


Director Jason Reitman has a knack for making anti-heroes the center of his films. There’s the tobacco lobbyist character in “Thank You for Smoking,” and a pregnant teenager in the Oscar-winning “Juno.” Now, meet Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) in “Up in the Air,” a corporate downsizer who fires people for a living. Read More...

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Which "Lord of the Rings" Stars Will Return for "The Hobbit?" Peter Jackson Says... 


Peter Jackson, promoting his latest flick "The Lovely Bones," caught up with MTV News to reveal that three -- only three! -- of the "Lord of the Rings" actors will be returning for "The Hobbit."

Jackson is hard at work preparing the prequel to the J.R.R. Tolkien-written saga. He told MTV,

"Gandalf, being a 2,000-year-old wizard, is still around and plays a major role in 'The Hobbit,' and we're having Ian McKellen reprise," explained the filmmaker, who is executive-producing the flick and writing the screenplay. "There's a couple of other characters: Elrond, who was played by Hugo Weaving [in the original films], and there's a possibility of Galadriel, who was played by Cate Blanchett."


So I hate to break it to you LOTR fans but Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin, Dominic Monaghan, Viggo Mortensen or John Rhys-Davies will not return for any flashbacks or flash-forward sequences.

Jackson further revealed,

"Guillermo Del Toro is the director of 'The Hobbit' — we're producing it for him — and I'm involved in the scriptwriting, which I love," he explained. "Screenwriting is my favorite part of the whole process. I'm very happy being one of the writing team on 'The Hobbit,' and we've written the first script. It's two movies, and we've written the first script, which the studio responded well to. And we're now halfway through the second script."


Jackson is targeting the first half of 2010 to begin shooting.

I love the LOTR franchise, so this is great news! I can't wait!

For further reading, visit MTV News right here.

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Josh Brolin to Join "Men in Black 3?" 


After "No Country for Old Men," Josh Brolin's star has been rising! The actor is now known as the hardest working man in show business (sorry Nicolas Cage). After "Milk" and "W," Brolin will be next seen on "Jonah Hex" and the sequel to "Wall Street" from Oliver Stone.

Now, he may be zapping aliens in "Men in Black 3."

The LA Times told us that:

The actor is being considered for a role that would have him donning the black suit and shades for the third installment of the sci-fi comedy franchise. His exact part is a matter of discussion, but in recent days there's been chatter in Hollywood development circles of a few possibilities: He could play a new single-monikered government agent, with Tommy Lee Jones' Agent K passing the baton to Brolin's character. Or he could play Agent K as a young man. Or something else entirely.


Will Smith is expected to return, as well as Tommy Lee Jones. Director Barry Sonnenfeld may come back to helm the script written by "Tropic Thunder" writer Etan Cohen. Once greenlit, Sony may put the production start date sometime in 2010.

Sony is currently contemplating a production start for the picture in 2010 (though it has yet to be greenlit). The film, which is based on a script by "Tropic Thunder" writer Etan Cohen and which tentatively has Barry Sonnenfeld coming back to direct, could shoot at least partly in New York.

With the Coen brothers' remake of "True Grit" and the Mafia flick "Cartel" still in pre-production, Brolin will continue to be busy as one of Hollywood's most sought-after actors.

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Jennifer Aniston to Play "Pretend Wife" to Adam Sandler 


Columbia Pictures is developing "Pretend Wife," a romantic comedy to star Adam Sandler. Jennifer Aniston is in talks to star opposite Sandler.

Dennis Dugan, Sandler's directing partner on "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry," and "Happy Gilmore," is expected to helm.

Sandler's Happy Madison is producing.

Once upon a time, the script by Allan Loeb and Tim Dowling was known as "Holiday in Hawaii." Though the plot is being kept under wraps, we can perhaps conclude that Aniston will play the pretend wife to Sandler, and they will be vacationing in Hawaii!

The Hollywood Reporter told us that Columbia is planning a shoot early next year and eyeing a release on Feb. 11, 2011, the Friday before Valentine's Day.

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My Mini-Movie Reviews of "The Lovely Bones," "Invictus," "Nine," and "It's Complicated" 


I've been a busy movie warrior lately! Cramming for our deadline to vote for the Critics' Choice Awards (deadline -- Dec. 11th, YIKES!), I've been watching movies non-stop!

So without further adieu, here are my quick mini-movie reviews for "The Lovely Bones," "Invictus," "Nine," and "It's Complicated." I will post my full reviews for each film soon, but for now, here's the shorter, leaner version.

"The Lovely Bones"

Based on the popular novel by Alice Sebold, "The Lovely Bones" tells the story of Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a 14-year old who is raped and murdered and must protect and look after her family from the afterlife.

Peter Jackson ("Lord of the Rings" films) teamed up with his perennial writing partners, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyen, to adapt the touching and heartfelt text.

The film version is entertaining yet it's lacking the weight of the novel. "The Lovely Bones" the movie becomes more of a suspenseful thriller than a meditative study on death, dying, and the afterlife.

I enjoyed the performances especially by Ronan (she's an accomplished actress-in-the-making -- check out her scene-stealing and Oscar-nominated turn for "Atonement"), Stanley Tucci as the serial killer (Oh I'm not giving this away -- it's not a big secret!), and Susan Sarandon as the booze-drinking grandma.

If you want to see a great thriller, then watch "The Lovely Bones." RATING: :35k

"Invictus"

I felt underwhelmed after watching "Invictus." It's not a bad film, but director Clint Eastwood has raised the quality bar of filmmaking, that watching his Academy Awards-baiting films is now an event! So what happens when your high expectations were not matched?

Based on John Carlin's book "Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation," "Invictus" revolves around the 1995 Rugby World Cup where first term South African President, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman), unites his apartheid-torn country by enlisting a national rugby team, Springboks, headed by Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon).

The first part of the film is slow and repetitive in tone, but hang in there, "Invictus" culminates into a feel-good, people-power conclusion. The ensemble is great, especially Freeman. Music by Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens is memorable and becomes part of the storyline. I really want to love this film, but for now, "Invictus" gets :35k

"Nine"

Speaking of movies that I really want to love but couldn't, "Nine" is one of them. What's not to love? There's a great cast based on a great Broadway musical which was based on a Federico Fellini 1963 film called "8 1/2" or "Otto e mezzo."

But in adapting Fellini's magnificent film, "Nine," the musical, falls flat. Much like "8 1/2" refers to Fellini's eight and a half film as a director, "Nine" (apparently the music adds the 1/2 part of the title), is about famous film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) who is having a professional and personal meltdown.

Guido is having a mental block and in order for him to move forward, he must revisit his relationships with his wife, Luisa (Marion Cotillard), his mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz), his Costume Designer Lilli (Judi Dench), his muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman), and his mother (Sophia Loren). Kate Hudson as Vogue writer Stephanie and Stacy Ferguson (Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas) as the prostitute Saraghina complete the cast.

"Nine" is a movie within a movie that talks about the trials and tribulations of filmmaking. I like how the musical production numbers weave in and out of the narrative as seen and heard within Guido's imagination.

I also like the fantastic first half where we meet all the characters. But the film failed to give Guido a likeable arc (even though Day-Lewis did his best, but give the actor credit for trying to sing and dance!), and so the result was a half-baked, half-hearted second half.

Predictably, the actors whose characters have satisfying arcs steal the show namely Cruz and Cotillard. I am boldly saying these two actresses saved the film!

Bottomline? Director Rob Marshall, who gave us the far superior musical "Chicago," failed to make us care for his main character in "Nine," and it's a shame because this is the last film co-written by the great Anthony Minghella. All I'm asking and praying for right now is I hope the viewers get to re-discover Fellini's "8 1/2" because of "Nine." Rating: :3k

"It's Complicated"

I'm still laughing days after watching "It's Complicated." Writer-director Nancy Meyers ("Something's Gotta Give") gave us one of the best romantic comedies of 2009.

Meryl Streep stars as Jane, a divorcée who suddenly finds herself falling in love with her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin). To complicate matters, Jane is also falling for her architect, Adam (Steve Martin in a deliciously understated turn).

What makes the film work is the chemistry between the cast. Streep's charisma matches Baldwin's and Martin's. I also like seeing fifty-something characters falling in and out of love and cavorting in and out of bed.

Yes, Streep appears semi-naked, gets drunk, and smokes pot! Oh, and Baldwin appears semi-naked (booty shot), gets drunk, and smokes pot!

But the film is tender during its tender moments, funny during its LOL scenes, and sweet during its Hallmark-ready sequences. I love Streep's performance here more than her turn in "Julie and Julia." In "It's Complicated," the greatest actress of her generation was not imitating, but improvising a character made from scratch.

Baldwin is funny as always, and he allows his co-stars to shine. Martin's character, on the other hand, calls for a subdued performance, and the actor decidedly gave a tempered representation.

I enjoyed "It's Complicated" and you will too! Rating: :35k

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