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I Am Legend ~ Alternate Ending Video (Official)

I Am Legend Alternate Ending (Official) - I love how Neville handles his last encounter with the "Darkseekers." Totally different from the original ending and, to my mind, a bit better.

Youtube video was removed. Here's another source.

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The Art Of War - History Channel Documentary

YouTube - The Art of War PART 1
Superb! I learned so much by watching this History Channel documentary as it analyzes certain wars and battles through history (Vietnam, Invasion of Normandy, Battle of Gettysburg) using the principles of Sun Tsu's treatise, The Art of War. So much clearer than reading the book alone.

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Across The Universe - Beatles Musical with Evan Rachel Wood

Jude and Lucy
Jude and Lucy
Across the Universe

Across the Universe - Directed by Julie Taymor, Across the Universe is a classic "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl" story--all presented as a musical containing 33 class Beatles songs. I'm not usually drawn to musicals, but the familiar and catchy Beatles tunes quickly got my attention. From there, the ensemble cast of young actors/singers (including Evan Rachel Wood from King of California) brought something genuine and earnest to the often psychedelic storyline that knitted together lyrics from Dear Prudence to Why don't we do it in the road.

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Ben Stein Gets Expelled - Commentary

Ben Stein
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Ben Stein hosts a documentary called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I have not seen the film yet, and at first I was quite critical about the film's position, as I saw it, of supporting creationism. But as I read more, I realize that while I don't agree with Stein's position on creationism, I do agree that those who support the hypothesis should not be persecuted--IF indeed they are exploring a hypothesis of intelligent design scientifically and not simply foisting or promulgating religious beliefs.* But if people, scientific or not, want to explore the idea that there is an intelligence behind the creation of the universe, more power to them. It's an hypothesis worth exploring scientifically. However, it is not dogma that should be accepted without evidence...or taught in our schools. As dogma, such a belief is personal and/or religious. As a hypothesis, it's worth exploring.

Regarding the film's production, I've heard accounts that some of the scientists who criticize creationism (Dawkins, etc.) were mislead by producers as to the film's intent and how their participation would be used. If true, that's really offends me and greatly reduces my interest in seeing the film.

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Joaquin Phoenix Interview on Shootout - Peter Guber and Peter Bart

Heard a fascinating interview with Joaquin Phoenix on AMC's Sunday Morning Shootout with Peter Guber and Peter Bart. Phoenix was there with director James Mangold promoting their movie Walk the Line. I heard somewhere that Phoenix had been odd and uncooperative in his interviews. However, in this one he was great, giving sensible, insightful answers.

Here are some highlights.

NOTE: Just heard that Phoenix has decided to quit his acting career...to pursue his music career?

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Jessica Alba - "Good Luck Chuck" Poster

It's like a Got Milk? ad ... but it's not :)

Jessica Alba Poster for Good Luck Chuck

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Killer Bean Forever - Animated Movie by Jeff Lew

Killer Bean Forever - Jeff Lew has spent most of his waking hours over the last four years making his new, full-length feature 3-D animated film, Killer Bean Forever. With the movie almost done (after Lew spent his entire life savings and maxed out his credit cards), he's published this preview/trailer for Killer Bean Forever. This actually looks very good. Here's to following your dream!

NOTE: Jeff Lew was lead animator on Matrix: Reloaded, so this guy knows his...3-D animation. Below is the trailer/preview for directorial debut on a full-length animated film: Killer Bean Forever.

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"I Don't Believe in Happy Endings"

"I Don't Believe in Stories with Happy Endings"

I heard director Todd Field say this on AMC's Shoot Out program while promoting his film Little Children. The statement has stuck with me like an irritating thorn ever since. It certainly doesn't encourage me to see any of his films (I don't seek out stories with unhappy endings), but is he right? Or perhaps a better question: Is that perspective useful?

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Miss Potter - Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter

Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter

Miss Potter - Renee Zellweger as Beatrix Potter - Wonderfully charming, touching, and emotional biographical film of the famous children's author Beatrix Potter. But this is not a childish film, though it starts out quite sweet as it sets up the Victorian period, Potter's family, and her personality as an imaginative artist and writer.

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Domino Movie - The Domino Harvey Story?

Domino Harvey - Bounty Hunter

Domino - Watched Tony Scott's film Domino and was thunderstruck. From a cinematography perspective, this was a huge risk. Lots of experimentation with film processing, hand cranking the camera, double exposures, etc. From DVD extras, it sounds like poor Director of Photography Daniel Mindel lived in fear every day that footage would be lost in the experiments.

But those risks in cinematography reflect the risks of the story and its main character, the real-life beauty, model, and bounty hunter Domino Harvey, portrayed by Keira Knightley.

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A.I. - Spielberg Directs for Kubrick

A.I. Movie poster

AI - Artificial Intelligence - Haley Joel Osment portrays a "mech" (robot) child who forms a unique, unbreakable obsession (love?) for his human "mommie." Steven Spielberg directed this emotional sci-fi story. Stanley Kubrick co-produced the film, but died before shooting started. Heard a rumor Kubrick was slated to direct; not sure that's true. Surely, it would have been a different story with Kubrick at the helm.

Frances O'Connor plays Osment's "mommie." It's a terribly emotional role. Programming a machine to "love" a human is one thing. But will the human love the machine? What happens if the human can't?

These are the questions posed in this film. I was quite stirred up by the end. Is love between a human and machine possible? Is hate? Are we prepared for such relationships?

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Bridge to Terabithia - A REAL Children's Story

Bridge to Terabithia

An enemy is one whose story we have not heard.
~ Gene Knudsen Hoffman

Bridge to Terabithia - What a wonderful and deep children's story - a real children's story. I say real because the story illustrates how relationships and people change and are not set in stone. This is so refreshing.

Most kids stories -- most stories in general -- seem to follow a rigid formula where the good guys remain good, and bad guys remain bad. In contrast, in the Bridge to Terabithiam some of the bad guys (or gals) turn out to be real people; real people who changed and who turned out to have the same vulnerabilities as anyone else. Try to find that in a typical TV show, movie, or novel. So refreshing!

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Snow Falling On Cedars - Cinematography Masterpiece

Snow Falling on Cedars

Saw an absolutely beautiful film last night, Snow Falling on Cedars. The cinematography by Robert Richardson is simply exquisite -- every frame a fine photograph. And masterful editing by Hank Corwin knitted the abstract poetry of images into a compelling storyline, which included many flashbacks and dream sequences. It could have been a disaster, but the level of craftsmanship on this film was extremely high. Director Scott Hicks (Shine) orchestrated a nuanced work of art that deserved its 5 Oscar nominations and many other awards.

The acting in this movie was equally magnificent, with delicate, subtle performances by Max von Sydow, James Cromwell, Richard Jenkins (Six Feet Under), Ethan Hawke, and Yauki Kudoh (Memoirs of a Geisha). I particularly like Kudoh's performance, and that of Anne Suzuki who played her Hatsue character at a younger age. Sydow was also fantastic, and I love Richard Jenkins -- would like to see more of this guy.

Adapted from the international bestselling book Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, the film is an experience in itself. Definitely worth viewing.

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Pan's Labyrinth - The Purpose of Myth

Director Meets Myth

Watched Pan's Labyrinth by Mexican director Guillermo del Toro. The hype about this film is deserved. It's truly an adult fairy tale. Truly a work of art. Truly mesmerizing.

As I think over my experience of watching Pan's Labyrinth, I am struck by tone of the acting, the set and costume work, the story...and the purpose of myth.

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Children of Men

Clive Owen - Children of Men

Children of Men - Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), the film seems to be shot almost entirely with a hand-held camera, and most scenes play out without any cuts (single shot sequence), so you get the feeling your walking through the events as a participant or observer. Very cool. That climactic scene at near the end looks like it's entirely one shot, no cuts, and it goes on for many minutes, all with bullets, sfx, movement, action, dialog...amazing accomplishment for a single shot...though it turns out they did use CGI to blend some cuts and elements, but still...the impact is substantial. You feel like you're right there.

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What Movie Rating Would You Give Your Life?

What Movie Rating Would You Give Your Life? - If you had to assign a movie rating to your life, what would it be? Is your life R rated? G rated? Do priests live G rated lives?...I guess some have NC-17 sins.

As recipes for life, the movie rating system takes on a whole new meaning...

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Review of Panasonic PV-GS320 3CCD MiniDV Camcorder

Panasonic PV-GS320 3CCD MiniDV Camcorder

Panasonic PV-GS320 MiniDV Camcorder - After playing with the Panasonic PV-GS320 MiniDV Camcorder for a good while, I have to say I'm impressed.

The 3CCD processors (one for each primary color range) make an enormous difference in recorded color.

The OIS (optical image stabilization) is excellent; seems as good as Canon, which I think of as the image stabilization standard bearer. (I think Sony, for example, has an inferior image stabilization system to Canon).

The revered Leica lens further adds to the quality of the image. The camcorder's buttons take some getting used to, but I can't say I find it that complicated, though I don't think my hand/finger size is quite right for their arrangement.

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Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine - Not what I expected. Not a real comedy--my God, the movie opens with a sister (played by Toni Collette) heading to the hospital to pickup her brother (played by Steve Carell), who just failed a suicide attempt. It's the kind of film you almost feel strange about laughing at. What you are laughing at is objectively quite sad, but you laugh in spite of that. AND it's not because the characters are making fun of the situation--NO! The acting performances in this film feel amazingly genuine and real; the performances are top notch from the entire cast.

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Review-lets - Movies I've Seen

Running With Scissors - Quirky, weird, bizzaro...and true. It's like a cross between Royal Tenenbaums and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Based on Augusten Burroughs Running with Scissors: A Memoir, the film portrays the eccentric (often disturbing) teen years of Burroughs. Annette Bening, who plays Burroughs' biological mother, gives an authentic, daring performance, as does Brian Cox and the rest of the cast. Odd film, but worth watching.
The Fifth Element - Luc Bresson directs this quirky sci-fi flick with Bruce Willis and the totally adorable Milla Jovovich as Leeloo. Gary Oldman plays the evil nemesis. And Chris Tucker adds to the comedic weirdness of the film as the effeminate, flamboyant DJ Ruby Rhod. Strange, strange, strange...but it all works. Enjoyed it a lot.
Brothers Grimm - Terry Gilliam film NOT based on the true Brothers Grimm, but a mashup of their story elements. Visually very interesting and I liked Heath Ledger's performance. Kept my interest, but not a favorite film. Gilliam is quite creative, and I respect his vision. It just didn't draw me in very deeply. Worth seeing for the visual elements.

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David Duchovny - House of 'D'

House of D

House of D by David Duchovny - Just watched a marvelous film written and directed by David Duchovny titled The House of D. It tells two stories: one of a 13 year-old boy coming of age in New York in the early 70's; the second of a 40-something man trying to remember his painful past and share it for the first time with his wife and his own 13 year-old son.

It's a wonderful, touching film, though I was left wanting in one respect. I wanted to know more about the struggle of Tommy, the man. How had his past affected him as an adult? We only see the result after 30 years.

But if telling that story meant taking anything away from the story of 13 year-old Tommy...then I accept the gap. That storyline hooked me to the core.

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Keisha Castle-Hughes - From Whale Rider to Virgin Mary

Keisha Castle-Hughes

Keisha Castle-Hughes got an early start in her professional life. At 12, she was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award (Oscar) for her wonderful portrayal of Paikea in Whale Rider. Four years later, she's in the holiday feature film The Nativity Story playing the Virgin Mary. In a strange parallel with the film, the 16 year-old Keisha has admitted to being pregnant with her first child.

Not an immaculate conception, the father is long-time boyfriend Bradley Hull. The couple are not currently married. Indeed, Keisha's own parents never married, so perhaps we should expect the same with Keisha and Bradley. Whatever the case, both are said to be "happy and excited" about the coming child -- though Vatican officials certainly are not. They reportedly uninvited Keisha from the The Nativity Story's world premiere being held at the Vatican.

I dearly hope Keisha remains proud and true to herself amidst this political storm. I also hope she and Bradley finds great joy in the birth of their child. As with The Nativity Story...

...it's the child that matters, not the political posturing of the Catholic Church.

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Whale Rider Movie

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Thank You for Smoking Movie - Truthful Satire?

We don't sell Tic Tacs, we sell cigarettes. And they're cool, available, and *addictive*. The job is almost done for us.
~ Budd 'BR' Rohrabacher

Just watched Thank You for Smoking, starring Aaron Eckhart as Tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor. Director and screenwriter Jason Reitman adapted the film from Christopher Buckley's novel of the same name.

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We Were Soldiers

Mel Gibson as Lt. Col. Harold Moore

We Were Soldiers - Based on the book We were Soldiers Once...And Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed The War In Vietnam by Lt. Col. Harold Moore (ret.) and journalist Joseph Galloway, the movie We Were Soldiers reminds us that the Vietnam War produced many heroes.

I was so moved by this film. Mel Gibson's performance felt right on, as did the performances of all the cast. My feelings were confirmed by a few who should know (read the reviews below).

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Pride and Prejudice - 2005 Version Review

I'm an unusual man, at least in one sense: I love movies adapted from Jane Austen novels.

Note, I've never actually read a Jane Austen novel.

I just like the movies...Well, most of them.

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Band of Brothers

I'm awed by the opening theme of Band of Brothers. Composed by Michael Kamen, it's haunting, uplifting...it expresses the emotional range of the nine-plus hour film in just a few minutes. The story goes that Kamen was working on the score for some piece of shlock (can't remember what), couldn't get anywhere, and was approached or referred by Hanks to do Band of Brothers. Hanks knew Kamen from the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, which Hanks produced and Kamen scored.

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Tristan and Isolde

Sophia Myles

Watched Tristan and Isolde recently, and have to say I was disappointed. It's such an important and seminal story in literature, I really hoped for a wonderful treatment from producers Ridley and Tony Scott. But with Kevin Reynolds directing, it turned out a bit too much like Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves (another Reynolds film).

Sophia Myles was wonderful, but I wasn't much impressed with the portrayal by James Franco. He was great in the fight scenes, but the rest of his performance seemed rather one dimensionally sullen. In short...

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Spielberg's Munich

Ayelet Zorer

Recently watched Steven Spielberg's Munich with Eric Bana. It's a long film, about 2 hrs. 45 min. Eric Bana was great, as were all the other actors, but I was particularly mesmerized by the woman who played Bana's wife, though she was in only a few scenes.

Turns out she's a very well respected Israeli actress. I get it. She was perfect, communicating the whole/soul of her character in seconds. Her name...well, she seems to go by a few. The movie credits her as Ayelet Zorer, but I've seen Zurer and variations of Ayelet too. Her middle name seems stable and is "July." Maybe it was because she was one of the few women who appeared in the film, but I found her performance right on, rich and textured. All in probably less than five or ten minutes of screen time.

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Lord of War

Lord of War - What a bizarre film. Lord of War tells the story of an arms dealer, played by Nicolas Cage, whose business begins modestly with the sale of a single Uzi. Then comes the fortuitous fall of the Soviet Union and his business opportunities quickly expand. The film makers claim the situations depicted in the film were inspired by actual events. Indeed, a follow up documentary included on the DVD contains interviews with think-tank types and NGO administrators that claim as much. But I found this film perplexing.

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Timothy Treadwell Grizzly Man

Timothy Treadwell & Grizzly Bear

Timothy Treadwell Grizzly Man - I recently watched a commercial-riddled presentation of Grizzly Man on the Discovery Channel. Aside from the fact commercials interrupted the flow of the film every five minutes at times, this documentary about “grizzly man” Timothy Treadwell remained powerful and intimate.

For 13 summers, Timothy Treadwell communed with Alaskan grizzly bears. During his last five summers, he videotaped his experiences, structuring the footage for a documentary. However, he was not able to finish the project because during his last visit he and his girlfriend were killed and eaten by a grizzly.

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