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THE RUNAWAYS (2010) (***)

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, September 1, 2010 at 1:01am

Young teens dream of rock 'n roll stardom. They make it. Drugs and egos fuel their spiral down. Sounds like every music biopic and you're not going to get much more here. But what you will get is three fine performances that lift up the material to a more compelling level.

As the film proposes, Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart, TWILIGHT) wanted to form an all-girl rock band to prove that the girls can rock as hard as the boys. At a club, she meets Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon, REVOLUTIONARY ROAD), a notorious record producer who trolls the clubs looking for the next it act. He introduces Jett to Sandy West (Stella Maeve, BROOKLYN'S FINEST), a drummer who has the same all-girl rock 'n roll dream. To Fowley's great surprise, they can rock. So he gets the idea to put the ultimate jailbait in the lead. He finds Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning, WAR OF THE WORLDS), a Bowie-obsessed 15-year-old and transforms her from a pussycat into a tigress.


Blu-ray Buzz – Blu-ray Rides Red

With a great deal of TV dominating the new releases for the week, this is a very light week. The Pick of the Week is it. It's part recommend and part Buzzed About.  You'll see what I mean.

Pick of the Week
Red Riding Trilogy
This BBC film series is a trilogy based on David Peace's novel. The trio went streaming last week on Netflix from IFC and I caught the first film and I'm eagerly awaiting the chance to catch the others. The story follows the murder investigation of murdered girls. When an investigator looks into the killings, he finds a cover-up that reaches every level of power. Julian Jarrold (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED) directed the first film and brings a bleak, ominous feel to the material. James Marsh (MAN ON WIRE) helmed the second and Anand Tucker (SHOPGIRL) the third. Of the first film, I was impressed with the screen presence of Andrew Garfield, the young actor selected to be the new Spider-Man. The rest of the cast is no less impressive — Sean Bean, Rebecca Hall, Eddie Marsan and David Morrissey. And that's just the first film. The following two include Paddy Considine, Mark Addy and Peter Mullan. This kind of corruption is a daunting thing to fight against; the corrupt have more resources. The first film only scratches the surface. On its own, it stands as a disturbing look at the extents those in power will go to hold on to it.


RED RIDING: IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1974 (2010) (***1/2)

This is the first film in a trilogy based on David Peace's novel, which was produced for the BBC. The first installment of this crime drama series was directed by Julian Jarrold (BRIDESHEAD REVISITED). He brings a somber ominous tone to the material that puts an increasing weight on the shoulders of the viewer as it's central character gets more and more bogged down in the corruption that surround the case he is investigating.

Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield, upcoming SPIDER-MAN reboot) is a young reporter digging into a string of child murders that have gone unsolved. His friend Barry Gannon (Anthony Flanagan, STATE OF PLAY) takes him to meet the mother of one of girls, Paula Garland (Rebecca Hall, VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA) at first she throws him out for being insensitive, but over time she comes to realize that he might the only person truly dedicated to finding the killer. Barry gets an ominous warning that he's in danger for his investigation into the murders from the mental ill wife of powerful businessman John Dawson (Sean Bean, LORD OF THE RINGS). When Barry turns up dead, Eddie begins to see the cover-up that surrounds the child murders.


Getting Buzzed - RFP’s 30 Most Anticipated Fall Films

Every season a take a look over the release schedule and compile a list of the films I'm most excited about seeing. As it is for most serious movie fans, the fall is the most exciting time for movie going. This fall is no exception with new films from a host of major and up-and-coming filmmakers. Because the fall is so jam-packed with films I've also included an Honorable Mention list and an On the Look Out list, which features titles with no firm dates that could easily sneak into the fall schedule. So lets get going.

Must-See List
CATFISH (Sept. 17)
This is the story behind this documentary — filmmakers Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman saw Ariel's brother Nev developing a relationship with a family over the Net and decided to film it. When he goes to meet them, what he finds is shocking. The trailer really hooked me and I had to see what happens and let me tell you it's astonishing. I was lucky enough to see this one really early and let me tell you it's the best film I've seen this year so far. There is nothing like it. The only way I could describe it is to say it's like an Errol Morris documentary filtered through a modern cyber thriller that provides unbelievable twists. It's the kind of film I want to take different people to just to witness their reactions to it.


Fall and Spring Animation Festivals

If you are getting your festival schedule together for Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 here are some festivals that you might want to consider sending your film to or visiting.   They are all festivals that I have attended or will be attending and can recommend as very good.

10 to 28 September 2010 – KROK International Festival of Animation - Russia or the Ukraine on alternate years

15 – 19 September 2010 –KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

8 – 17 October 2010 – Animest  Animation Festival - Bucharest, Romania


The ASIFA-Hollywood Annies

The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educators Forum Student Animation Film Festival is quickly approaching. This event is open to all and will be a full day of film screenings, panels and portfolio reviews, culminating with an awards ceremony and reception for the winning filmmakers. The first place winner will receive a STUDENT ANNIE AWARD, a new award to be presented at this year's Annie Awards. There are prizes for all the top filmmakers provided by our sponsors as well. The deadlines to submit your film are September 1st (soft deadline) and Oct 1st (final deadline). The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educators Forum Student Animation Film Festival will take place Saturday, November 6th at Cal State Long Beach.


Times changes and people and workplaces change along with them.

Do we have as much fun making films now as we used to? I really don't think so although we do make a better, slicker more polished product, without doubt. As animation revenues have risen so has the serious aspect of what we do and how it is accepted. Perhaps the hijinks and pranks of passed days aren't appropriate any longer with so much money on the line for the studios, but it sure was a fun ride while it lasted.


Blu-ray Buzz – Classic Thriller Smiles on Blu-ray

This week seems like one dedicated to British films. Some classic thrillers and a cult classic for the U.K. A new version of a classic tale from Britain. We also have a new thriller from Down Under. Additionally, there's another zombie flick from the master of the zombie flick and a trio of classics from Josef Von Sternberg.

Pick of the Week
Mona Lisa
I had seen Bob Hoskins in films like WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and MERMAIDS before I saw this film. After seeing his performance here I have never been able to think of any other performance of his since when I first hear his name. He plays a lower-level thug who has just been released from jail. His gangster boss, played villainously by Michael Caine, sets him up as the driver for a high-class prostitute (Cathy Tyson). The relationship between the con and call girl is unique. Hoskins’ George comes to care for the vulnerable young woman, who desperately needs his help with her abused friend. It twists and turns all along the way as we try to get to know the secretive leads. One of the best thrillers with a shocking conclusion that left me reeling.

Kids Blogs

The Younger the Audience, the More Obvious the Performance

By Ed Hooks | Monday, August 23, 2010 at 8:27am

Most major animated feature films today are designated “Family” films. But a family is comprised of a number of individuals of different ages and life experiences. Is there really such a thing, really, as a “Family” film? After all, Walt Disney did not make “Family” movies like those we see today. He made movies for kids, and then charmed the adults into coming also. Ed Hooks takes a look at these issues and how they impact on performance animation.


Idiots’ Diary #7: Cinema Mixup

So things are going smoothly – I'm setting up a number of signings and showings in LA and NY. Then I'm talking on the phone to Tom Akel of MTV who's setting up a new animation web channel (he even wants to bring back Liquid Television) and wants to do some interviews and maybe show some of my shorts, when I get this panicked call from my NY press agent; the dynamo Phyllis Bishop.


THE TILLMAN STORY (2010) (****)

When the news first broke that Pat Tillman left behind millions of dollars to join the Army, I made assumptions about what kind of person he was. After seeing Amir Bar-Lev's wonderful documentary, I learned what it makes you and me when you assume. However, I do take consolation in the fact that it seems most people thought about the same thing. But the real problem is that the people who knew otherwise and had the responsibility to tell everyone the real story made another one up.

So who was Pat Tillman? He was a low-key sort of guy who hated talking about himself. He married his high school sweetheart, but only after he and his brother Kevin decided to enlist for three years. As a defensive football player, he loved to hit the opponent as hard as he could. On the other hand, Tillman graduated from Arizona State early and summa cum laude. Following his college football success, he signed with the Arizona Cardinals where he broke team records. While his teammates drove luxury cars to practice, he rode his bike. After 9/11 he did enlist, but never publicly told anyone his reasons.

Animation Blogs

Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 16

The Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum hits Hollywood this week as they kick off their exclusive and elusive star-studded six week podcasting tour of the west coast animation dynasty. It's FFAFLA 2010! Join Alan, Joel, Computer, and Sam Olschan as they tinkle and toast their way into the hearts of the industry's most influential celebrataunts and debuties. Special guest and International Manimator of Mystery, Mike Overbeck, gets things going as he discusses his commercial work, personal films, unemployment animation time-fillers, and interrogation spy techniques.


Idiots’ Diary #6: Mailing Lists

This week my goal is to compile a master contact list of friends, associates and acquaintances. Since the film “Idiots & Angels” is opening on the 6th of October at the famous IFC Center in NY and on October 29th at the Laemmle Sunset in LA, I need a groundswell and a firestorm of publicity. I want to get packed audiences; I have to have big long lines of people eager to see my new animated feature stretching around the blocks. I've sworn to do anything possible to pack the houses, as long as it's legal.



Photos Courtesy Wojtek Wardejn, Animator Festival
When Nik and I were invited to ANIMATOR 3rd International Animated Film Festival, July 12 through 17th in Poznan, Poland, we were told that it was an animation and music festival.  The description doesn’t do justice to the emphasis that the festival organizers place on the marriage of animation and music.

Along with two competition screenings each day and a myriad of special programs, every night there were screenings of animation with live music.  There were also two screenings for young people each day and workshops for children of all ages.  Because I had the privilege and honor to be on the jury, my days were fully taken up with watching the 82 films in competition and then with jury meetings.


Blu-ray Buzz – The Classics Come to Blu-ray

After some busy weeks of releases, this week is a little more before a monster release week next week. Classic tales on film come to Blu-ray this week, as well as an Emmy nominated TV movie and a 1960s French classic.

Pick of the Week
William Shakespeare’s HAMLET has been adapted for the screen dozens of times. The tragedy won Sir Laurence Olivier an Oscar for Best Actor and Picture. However in many ways Kenneth Branagh’s version of the domed prince’s tale is superior. At just over four hours, this 1996 rendition feels better paced. The natural approach to the material certainly makes it more accessable to a modern audience. The all-star cast includes Branagh, Richard Attenborough, Julie Christie, Billy Crystal, Judi Dench, Gerard Depardieu, John Gielgud, Rosemary Harris, Charlton Heston, Derek Jacobi, Jack Lemmon, John Mills, Rufus Sewell, Timothy Spall, Robin Williams and Kate Winslet. It puts the whole play on film with an Oscar nominated screenplay, Art-Set Direction, Costume Design and Musical Score. Branagh’s performance is especially interesting – is his Hamlet mad or just pretending? It’s hard to say.



This documentary about California's Prop 8, which defined marriage in the state as between a man and a woman, has a specific point of view. Director Reed Cowan sets out to paint the Mormon Church as bigots who campaigned to take the rights of gays to marry away after it had been granted by the State Supreme Court. A point of view is fine, but are Mormons or other anti-gay marriage proponents going to read or watch past this point? So in the end, the film is preaching to the choir. But for those in the pews, the song can be moving.

Narrated by Oscar-winning MILK screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the film begins with a retelling of the events that led up to Prop 8 being passed. It uses the hook of a gay couple who were married on the first legal day in California to set the emotional stage. Then it goes to tell how the Mormon Church organized its followers and other religious organizations to help get the Prop passed. The tone is like a shocked whisper when nothing revealed is all that shocking. It's based on secretly obtained internal documents from the church and treats them like they are the Pentagon Papers. There is no doubt from the way the details are told that it still hits a raw nerve for the filmmakers.


BLACK ORPHEUS (1959) (***1/2)

Director Marcel Camus takes the Greek tragedy of Orpheus and Eurydice and transplants it to 1960s Rio de Janeiro. Driven by an ever present bossa nova beat this tragic love story takes place during Carnival where the poor and the rich mingle in the streets in celebration. But Death is lurking in every corner.

The innocent Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn, SWEET MOVIE) flees to Rio to escape from a mysterious man (Ademar Da Silva) she believes wants to kill her. She turns heads as she roams the streets trying to find her cousin Serafina (Lea Garcia, ORFEU). She particularly catches the eye of Orfeo (Breno Mello), a poor trolley car conductor who is known throughout the slums for three things   his guitar, samba group and playboy status. The problem with him finding true love with Eurydice is that he’s engaged to the loud Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira).

Design Blogs

Transformational Learning for the Conceptual Age

Delving into specifics programs, curricula, institutions and methods, it’s important to review the breadth of the issues we face. Every progressive, generative and future-focused learning framework (whether personal, corporate or institutional) MUST be designed, build and assessed as an interdependent system of connections among people, the environment and the process of acquiring skills and knowledge.


Miyazaki – no, not that one – directs 'Tales from Earthsea'

By Joe Strike | Thursday, August 12, 2010 at 3:57pm

Fathers and sons – both onscreen and off – figure in Studio Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea. Onscreen, a teenage prince kills his royal dad and makes off with the man’s sword; offscreen, Goro Miyazaki, the son of Japan’s best-known animation director takes over a project his dad initiated but never found the time to direct. Wish fulfillment or mere coincidence? Does a sword equal a man’s career? You be the judge…

Comedy Blogs


Best videogame adaptation ever! Wait, but it's adapted from Bryan Lee O'Malley's graphic novel. This send-up of videogame culture is frantic and funny. It uses videogames as a style with wit and ingenuity. Director Edgar Wright, the maker of SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ, has taken a simple, quirky love story and blown it out into a grand cinematic spectacle that had me smiling form the moment the 8-bit version of the Universal logo came up on the screen.