Director Kathryn Bigelow and co-screenwriter Mark Boal's follow-up to The Hurt Locker — an Oscar winner in the categories of Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture, among others — is, depending on your interpretation, a gritty, almost journalistic dramatization of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, or a propagandistic endorsement of torturing detainees. One thing is for sure: Zero Dark Thirty is the only movie newly available On Demand this week to have elicited criticism from actual lawmakers. (Better luck next time, Bilbo.)
1. The Barden Bellas ft. The Treblemakers, "Riff Off: Mickey/Like A Virgin/Hit Me With Your Best Shot/S&M/Let's Talk About Sex/I'll Make Love To You/Feels Like The First Time/No Diggity" (Pitch Perfect)
Pitch Perfect, Kay Cannon's comedy about college a cappella groups, has quickly established itself as a cult hit worthy of sitting alongside slumber party classics like Bring It On, Empire Records, and Grease. Personally, even the best a capella rendition of a song just makes me want to listen to the actual song. Of the various medleys and covers in Pitch Perfect, the sex song medley from the "Riff Off" sequence is the clear standout. And let's all just agree to put Rebel Wilson in everything from now on, OK?
Best YouTube Comment: "idk about anyone, but I got really excited when Ester Dean (Cynthia Rose) sang S&M…considering it's her song that she wrote for Rihanna" — Kaylaa1DAllstar
The Hobbit wasn't quite the only gig in town this weekend, but it sure felt like it. (Note the first seven lines on Fandango's 'Now Playing' list: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 3D, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — An IMAX 3D Experience, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — An IMAX Experience, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey HFR 3D, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey HFR IMAX 3D, The Hobbit: We Play It in Reverse and See If It Syncs Up With Side B of LMFAO's Sorry for Party Rocking). And so, as one might have imagined, the movie did quite well for itself in its opening stretch — oh, we're just talking about a little thing. A thing called the best! December opening! Ever! It pulled in a whopping $84.4 million, which now makes I Am Legend’s $77.2 million, from December of 2007, look like so many Pogs and Pogs slammers.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Peter Jackson's first trip to Middle-earth since his three-part, Oscar-winning Lord of the Rings sojourn, makes its long-awaited debut today. As you may or may not have heard by now, the visionary director is shooting this new Tolkien trilogy in "High Frame Rate" 3-D, utilizing a 48-frames-per-second speed that is double the usual 24 fps presentation you're used to seeing on a movie screen. It's impossible to discuss The Hobbit without trying to describe the unfamiliar, potentially deal-breaking High Frame Rate effect to potential audiences, and so our nation's critics have been tasked with trying to evoke the unfamiliar experience of watching the movie in this novel, exciting, and amazingly divisive way. Below are selected blurbs about the The Hobbit's bold new look so that you can decide whether to seek out one of the few theaters projecting it as Jackson intended, or opt for the less-jarring, 24 fps version that will play on the vast majority of multiplex screens. And oh yeah: We may have made some of these up. The answer key follows the pull quotes.
No matter how mixed (or just plain nauseated) the early reviews for the film are, the release of The Hobbit this weekend really just means the return of Gollum, one of the more memorable non-human characters in recent film history. Add at least one dragon into the fray and more dwarves than you can throw an ax at, and The Hobbit could very well end up being reminiscent of the old-school creature features of (some of our) youths. Join us as we take a look back at some of our favorite film and TV beasties, in all their lo-fi, animatronic, puppeteered, fur/glue/latex glory.
It is now being reported that Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz suffered a "mini-stroke" last Friday in Arizona — he was rushed to the hospital by friends after reportedly "acting really weird" and having difficulty speaking and understanding words. The cause of the stroke is still unknown, and Muniz is currently undergoing several tests. "Have to start taking care of my body! Getting old!" Muniz tweeted today. Meanwhile, at the Fountain of Youth, fellow 26-year-olds Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes be chillin'.
Scarlett Johansson Is Depressed: "She was totally out of control in Moscow recently" at a champagne brand's promo event. "She was drinking nonstop and barely slept. It was obvious that she was trying to numb her feelings." She's sad about her breakup with ad exec Nate Naylor. "She's not used to going home alone — it's a shock to her system. The fact that Ryan Reynolds is happily married while she's single again has done a number on her. And the drinking is taking its toll — she's been crying because she feels so fat." She got a lucky horseshoe tattooed on her ribcage "because she's feeling a bit unlucky." A rebound with ex-boyfriend Jared Leto quickly went south. "She thought a fling with Jared would make her feel better, but since it was only a hookup, it only made things worse." Time for Lost in Translation 2? I know I'd pay good money to watch Scarlett be sad in Russia.
The hometown nostalgia survived longer than the turkey hangover on the Hollywood Prospectus podcast. To kick off the holiday movie season, Chris Ryan and I invited fellow Philadelphian (and Grantland's resident Cinemetrician) Zach Baron to talk about one of the best films of the year, Silver Linings Playbook (2:50). We three former Friends School League rivals dug deep into why SLP is a sports movie for non-sports fans, why its optimism matters (particularly for Eagles supporters), and why we loved it for reasons beyond its inclusion of the Llanerch Diner (try the snapper soup!) and Jennifer Lawrence in spandex. Lest the gushing cause the Schuykill River to flood, we also talked a bit about the rest of the big releases coming in December, including Killing Them Softly, The Hobbit, Zero Dark Thirty, and the inevitable juggernaut that is Les Misérables.
All American-owned airlines should cease operations immediately. The New Zealanders are now dominating us so thoroughly in the safety-video space that we may never catch up. And even if we try, you just know that Delta is going to charge extra for its red-eye Gollum attacks.
And yes, Peter Jackson shows up. Of course he does.
I don't know what it's like where you grew up, but in Boston there's only like four places open to eat 24 hours, and two of them are drive-through McDonald's, so if you're feeling peckish in the later hours and you'd like some waiter service, you're pretty much at the IHOP. Now, if you're at an IHOP in the middle of the night, chances are you are not in the soundest of mind-states for decision making. If you've ever seen anything along the lines of someone slumped in a comfy IHOP booth demanding an order of the coconut shrimp at 4 a.m. — despite the waiter aggressively, nearly frantically attempting to shake him off the coconut shrimp — you know what I'm talking about. Which brings us, in a roundabout way, to Denny's new Hobbit-based promotional offerings.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — Trailer no. 2 (December 14)
Silver: My geekdom regarding the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit films was quite well-documented when I gratuitously picked apart the first trailer back in December, so stating my overwhelming excitement for An Unexpected Journey is unnecessary. I will say this, though: My one concern about The Hobbit now seems to be dissipating. In the first three LOTR films, Frodo, Sam, Aragorn, Gandalf, and the rest of The Fellowship were battling to save their world, but The Hobbit, as written, doesn't contain the same lofty stakes. Although it takes place in Middle Earth and contains some of the same characters of LOTR, The Hobbit is a much simpler and more straightforward adventure tale. So my unease with The Hobbit was, put simply: How was Peter Jackson going to transfer the dramatic weight from LOTR to The Hobbit? His solution was hinted at in December’s teaser trailer, but is established much more clearly here. By sprinkling in Tolkien’s appendices, The Hobbit will act as a direct lead-up to the events of LOTR. It’ll be a ... dare I say ... prequel trilogy (gulp). I have faith in Peter Jackson that his prequel will be something more than the toy commercial George Lucas put together. And if all else fails, at least we get Ian McKellen as Gandalf for three more films.
My dude Martin Freeman turned in one of the all-time great TV performances in the original British version of The Office, and that show went on to be a springboard for an international franchise. That didn't necessarily mean Hollywood glory was in Freeman's future; I mean, his American doppelganger can't even get steady movie work, and that guy's like 6-foot-4. Freeman did land a plum role alongside the future Yasiin Bey in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy back in 2005, but then sort of drifted back to the U.K. to knock out critical darlings like Sherlock.
On Monday, Peter Jackson made a highly unlikely announcement (via Facebook, of course): The two movies he is currently directing based on The Hobbit are about to become three. Jackson explained, "It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently … we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie — and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together … all of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved 'yes.'" So how the hell did that just happen?
Last week a bit of an uproar broke out over the advance footage of The Hobbit that Peter Jackson screened at CinemaCon. The issue in question is that The Hobbit — the adaptation of the Tolkien classic that Jackson is splitting into two movies — is being shot not in the standard 24 frames per second, but in a revolutionary, groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind 48 frames per second. As E! helpfully explains, “Despite his declaration that the new frame rate would offer up hyper-real visuals with a clarity and depth audiences don't get at 24 fps, providing a richer, more immersive big-screen experience, several film exhibitors and bloggers felt 48 fps wasn't ‘cinematic’ enough in the vein of his Lord of the Rings trilogy, comparing it to the crisp imagery people find on a hi-def television set.” A round of preemptive griping and groaning ensued, and a nation of Tolkien obsessives waited, hopefully, for Jackson to bow down to their technical expertise and remedy the error of his ways. But nope. Uh-uh. Petey Jackson ain’t having it.