The Proposal

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The Proposal sees a welcome return of Sandra Bullock’s signature flair for comedy and know-it-all cuteness in a romantic comedy that shares shades of Peter Weir’s Greencard(1990) and the 1990’s hit TV series, Northern Exposure.

Bullock plays no nonsense book editor, Margaret, whose job is put in jeopardy after she finds out her work visa is about to run out and she will be deported back to Canada. Lucky for Margaret, her assistant is the ambitious and hansom Andrew, played with equally comedic flair by Ryan Reynolds (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), whom she forces into accepting her wedding-of-convenience proposal. 

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Government employee, Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) instantly smells a rat, leaving Andrew no option but to invite the boss into his family home in Alaska. Hollywood loves fish out of water stories and Bullock is in fine form as the city girl forced to go native while struggling to hide her small town vulnerability. Reynolds gives as good as Bullock and their onscreen chemistry and gift for comedy plays well off one another. 

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Year One with Jack Black

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Taking a wander through early civilization and biblical times is Year One, starring Jack Black and Michael Cera (Superbad). Zed (Black) is an accident-prone hunter exiled from his village after eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge. Accompanied by Oh (Cera), the pair travel over mountains and time to bare witness to various well know biblical events, such as the slaying of Abel by Cain. Year One ultimately questions religious superstition and the less than accurate interpretation of past down knowledge.

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Comparisons of Year One with Monty Python’s classic and hilarious, Life of Brian, stop short of the latter films superior intelligence and irony. Yet Black still delivers his trademark high-octane comedic hilarity and buzzed enthusiasm like a Neanderthal who has drunk too many Red Bulls. Harold Ramis (Animal House, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day) directed and co-wrote the screenplay and shares producing credits with new comedy king, Judd Apatow (Superbad, Knocked Up). Further more, many of Apatow’s favorite actors make up the supporting roles, including Paul Rudd (Knocked Up) andChristopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad).

Sean Penn drops out of the Stooges

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Oscar winning actor of Milk, Sean Penn, has backed out of two films this week in order to spend more time with his family. Penn has rescinded divorce proceeding with his actress wife, Robin Wright Penn, for the second time. He was set to play Larry in the Stoogesalongside Jim Carrey as Curly and Benicio del Toro as Moe. Penn also dropped out of Cartel, which follows the story of a man who protects his son after his wife is murdered by Mexican drug cartels.

Harrison Ford is Hollywood’s top earner

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Forbes Magazine named Harrison Ford the highest earning Hollywood actor of the last 12 months after the actor accumulated $64.95m in profits from his starring role in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The 66 year old actor rose to super stardom as Han Solo in George Lucas’s Star Wars (1977) and went on to further Hollywood success with box office hits, Witness (1985), The Fugitive (1993), andAir Force One (1997). Ford’s twenty-first century output has been less than thrilling in forgotten pictures such as Hollywood Homicide (2003) and Firewall (2006).

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Additionally, Ford’s reign as Indiana Jones also looks to be on the down side. Hints thatShia LaBeouf will take over the role were less than subtle towards the end credits of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In the final scene, LaBeouf as Indiana’s long lost son dares to try on his father’s beloved hat for size and the hat fits. Moreover, in a BBC interview this week, LaBeouf practically let the cat out of the bag when he mentioned Spielberg was putting a story together in time for the next installment.

LaBeouf stars in the sequel of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, released next week.

Up is Disney-Pixar’s latest hit

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Normally I would have to be dragged kicking and screaming before I spend good money on watching an animation on the big screen. It’s not that I have anything against the genre. I just don’t feel that the big screen adds anything to the picture. But I’ve been wrong before. Which brings me to Disney-Pizar’s Up, the story of an old codger’s journey to the wilds of South America in a house propelled by thousands of balloons. The widower (voiced by Ed Asner) is unwittingly accompanied by an over enthusiastic and pudgy eight-year-old Boy Scout. The pictures genuine warmth and respect between the two generations alone make it a must-see. Highlights such as talking dogs with voice translators; the goofy rare bird Kevin; and the zeppelin-like air ship sequence should have you flocking to see the 3-D version. 

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Friday the 13th out on DVD

 

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Never underestimate the earning potential of formulaic slasher movies. The originalFriday the 13th movies of the 80’s and 90’s pulled in half a billion dollars for Paramount worldwide. This years sequel follows on the back of other successful horror franchises that have risen like the dead in the last couple of years and include the 2003 and 2006 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and new kid on the block, Saw.

The 2009 sequel follows a group of sex starved and pot-loving campers at Camp Crystal Lake where the hockey-masked Jason sets about his machete-wielding killings with abandon.

Sex Positive and Richard Berkowitz

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Sex Positive examines the life work of safe sex advocate Richard Berkowitz. In the early 1980’s Berkowitz fought an uphill struggle in the gay community as he tried to persuade gay men to use a condom. He was often ridiculed or seen as a hypocrite. As an ex-hustler, Berkowitz became all to aware of the dangers of unprotected sex in the early 80’s and of the epidemic that would wipe out a generation and ultimately change forever the sexual practices of the gay community. The Grand Jury Prize winner at L.A. Outfest, this documentary gives praise where it is due and reveals a time in history that was once freer but ultimately deadly. 

Sam Rockwell in Moon

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In Moon, Sam Rockwell plays astronaut Sam Bell who is nearing the end his contract with mega company Lunar. His three-year solo mission to mine Helium 3 is put in jeopardy when his mind starts playing tricks on him. There are obvious comparisons here to

Andrei Tarkovsky’s, Solyaris (1972) and Steven Soderbergh’s remake, Solaris (2002), the latter of which starred George Clooney.

Travolta and Washington in The Taking of Pelham 123

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Billboards for The Taking of Pelham 123 omit the first names of Travolta and Washington; maybe this will start a trend. Denzel and John star in the remake of Joseph Sargent’s 1979 gritty New York thriller that faced off Robert Shaw’s cold-blooded hijacker against dispatcher Walter Matthau. The New York of thirty years ago, at least on the big screen, was a melting pot of street violence and political tension and contrasts nicely with the modern day New York of high tech and trendy lifestyles.

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Travolta plays the hijacker of a New York train, holding passengers hostage in return for a ransom. Washington is the dispatcher Walter Garbe whose ordinary day is turned upside down. Ridley Scott directs with the usual speed and excitement. The trailer looks terrific and the reviews have been just as good.

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True Blood is vampire heaven on DVD

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Cashing in on the success and popularity of Twilight is HBO’s True Blood. The series was created by the executive producer and writer behind Six Feet Under and American Beauty, Alan Ball, and sheds a unique and contemporary twist to the vampire myth by dealing with huge yet every day issues, such as homophobia, racism, and sexism, and dealing with them in a fun and light hearted way.

Balls adaptation of the original novels, Dead Until Dark by author Charlain Harris,started from the stories premise that it sucks to have a vampire for a boyfriend. Anna Paquin (X-Men) is Sookie who falls in love with vampire Bill, played by British actorStephen Moyer. Bill is turned into a vampire at the age of thirty when he is on his way home from the Civil War to reunite with his wife. Bill carries with him this moral dilemma where he wants to live with humans, not against them. Sam Trammell is Sam and makes up the third lead in their romantic love triangle. He is in love with Sookie but he’s too good a guy to play dirty for her affections. Other cast member include, Nelsan Ellis as the fabulous and gay Lafayette, Ryan Kwanton as Sookie’s brother Jason, who views the world as his bedroom and has rather a sexual compulsion, and lastly, Rutina Wesley as Tara, a black girl named after a plantation.

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The story is set in a small town in northern Louisiana where vampires “come out of the coffin” and are known to all the humans. Here we step in a world where the supernatural is a part of every day life and vampires are treated as sexy, scary, romantic, and other. Vampires lobby for civil rights and drink a synthetic product called “Tru Blood” that serves as sustenance to counteract urges to kill and are ordered from the local drinking bars. Parallels to gay life are omnipresent such as when Sookie watches the news where she sees Evangelicals bash vampires and prohibit mixed marriages.

True Blood: The Complete First Season is out on DVD.