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The NATIONAL TREASURE trio of star Nicolas Cage, director Jon Turteltaub and producer Jerry Bruckheimer come together to try and strike magic again. But with a title SORCERER'S APPRENTICE, the film actually has little magic. There are a lot of pyrotechnics and visual effects, but none of it brings the whimsy or awe that the title suggests.

In one of those opening voice over sequences that quickly explains the mythology of the world, we learn that Merlin (James A. Stephens, SHERLOCK HOLMES) had three apprentices to help him protect his sorcery secrets from archenemy Morgana (Alice Krige, TV's DEADWOOD). Balthazar (Cage) and Veronica (Monica Bellucci, THE MATRIX RELOADED) were Merlin's faithful servants, but Horvath (Alfred Molina, AN EDUCATION) betrayed him to Morgana. In a move of self-sacrifice, Veronica bonded herself with Morgana, forcing Balthazar to lock her in a nesting doll called the Grimhold, where he later imprisons other Morgana followers like Horvath. Before Merlin dies, he tells Balthazar to search the globe for the Prime Merlinean (really?), a sorcerer who would inherit all the abilities of the great one.

Blogs When is building a shopping mall like making a television game show?

The Mouse Factory is under attack having lost a major Jury decision regarding their accounting practices. Having claimed that "Who wants to be a Millionaire" was kept in the Red despite its tremendous success was too much for a Jury to stomach, awarding a huge settlement to the game's creator.

Blogs Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 14

Special Guests: Signe Baumane & Isaac Short. On this episode of the Forum, Joel and Alan prognosticate the future of cinema and how podcasts are this century's booming artform. Then, independent animator and bunny-lover, Signe Baumane, presents her perspective on animation as art, art as animation, sex ed, the animated short vs. feature, how to finance your independent animation career, animation as a drug-habit, and how not to be a lonely rapist. All are then joined by 6-year old Isaac Short as he works through his unhealthy obsession with early pioneers of animation.

Blogs Core Competencies - A solution for academia and production

The use of standards serves to free educational and training organizations from unnecessary duplication of effort in curriculum development, makes them accountable for quality of instruction and learning, and frees them to concentrate on the development of story, art direction, character performance, cultural and personal expression and the ability to create globally competitive content

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – Altman Rarity & Underrated Gem in Spotlight

This week I've selected a Blu-ray and DVD Pick of the Week. One is a little seen Robert Altman film starring HAROLD & MAUDE star Bud Cort and an underrated gem of a dark comedy actioner for a few years back. There is also a quad of releases that I'm interested in checking out and hope to hear more about from fellow fans who have seen them.

Blu-ray Pick of the Week
In Bruges
Martin McDonagh followed up his Oscar-winning short film, SIX SHOOTER, with this action-packed dark comedy. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play hitmen who have been sent by their boss, played by Ralph Fiennes, to Bruges, Belgium after Farrell's Ray botches a job. Gleeson is happy to take in the tourist spots of the medieval city, while Farrell fears he will lose his mind from boredom. Even though they are there to keep a low profile, the duo gets wrapped up with local drug dealers, a movie production and a dwarf. At times this pitch-black satire is gruesome, but it all serves the story and complex characters well. Don't miss it.

Blogs Movie Review & Director Interview – 'Despicable Me'

Many people battle for world dominance, but what about villains? Gru is the anti-hero with a long, pointy nose and a grey and black scarf that he wears all seasons, in Universal’s first animation feature premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. I rate this movie 4 starfish, it’s “Perrific.”


Based on the international bestseller from Stieg Larsson, this murder mystery thriller from Sweden does something that few murder mystery thrillers ever do — center its story on its main characters. We are compelled to find out the solution to the crime, (more so the why rather than the who), but we are even more compelled with the investigators and how the case affects them. Again the why is the most important part.

Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist, DOWNLOADING NANCY) is a disgraced journalist, who has just been convicted on libeling a powerful businessman. Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) is a gothic hacker who has been hired by the powerful businessman Henrik Vanger (Sven-Bertil Taube, THE EAGLE HAS LANDED) to look into whether Mikael is really guilty or not. It seems Mikael has been set up, but is too beaten down by the power structure to fight against the set-up. While Mikael waits the six months before this jail sentence begins, Henrik wants to pay him to look into the 40 year old disappearance of his beloved niece Harriet. She disappeared after a family party and Henrik is convinced that one of his family members is the killer.

Blogs 50 YEARS OF ANNECY 7 through 12 June 2010

The first hint of trouble came when I received my envelope with the invitations for special screenings and parties for the week.  There was no invitation to the opening night ceremony or the party.  I was looking forward to seeing the opening night film The Illusionist but was told that this year no journalists had been given tickets because they were just too many people and 150 seats had been relegated to non-industry VIP’s (which translates to money people).  Journalists were told that there was no problem, that our names had been placed on a request list and we should just keep checking back with the press office to get our passes.  To make it even worse, two hours before the ceremony we were finally told that there was no possibilities for us to get tickets.  I finally managed to get a ticket from my friend and fellow journalist Olivier Cotte, who had gotten two tickets from someone who didn’t want to see the film.  Both Olivier and I wasted a good part of Monday afternoon looking for tickets instead of seeing films.

Blogs THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (2010) (***1/2)

This Sundance favorite is an interesting take on the modern family. A lesbian couple used the same sperm donor to each conceive one of their two children. When the children turn 18 they can request information about the donor. Their son is so eager to find out about the male side of his genetics he convinces his college-bound older sister to contact him. This is the set-up for this character-based dramedy about long-term relationships and raising kids.

Nic (Annette Bening, AMERICAN BEAUTY) and Jules (Julianne Moore, BOOGIE NIGHTS) have been together since Jules was an undergraduate and she went to the hospital where Nic was doing her residency. First they had Joni (Mia Wasikowska, ALICE IN WONDERLAND), followed by Laser (Josh Hutcherson, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA). Together, without the moms' knowledge, they go to meet Paul (Mark Ruffalo, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME), an easy-going restaurant owner who donated sperm when he was a struggling college student. Of course Nic and Jules find out and want to meet him as well, which begins the changing their family dynamic.

Blogs OUT OF THE BOX July 30 and 31st Zimbabwe’s First Animation Festival

ASIFA Egypt is happy to announce Zimbabwe’s first animation festival.  The Zimbabwe Festival of African Inspired Animation (ZIMFAIA) organized by the Joint Afrikan Animation Group (JAAG) with the support from the Alliance Francaise, and the partnership of ASIFA Egypt, will take place July 30th and 31st at the Alliance Francaise in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Festival Director Soloman Maramba invites both students and professionals from around the world to submit their work.  The theme of the festival is Out Of The Box with a focus on regional African content.   Work in an array of areas fields such as advertisements and architectural visualizations as well as animation will be presented as well as digital content, motion graphics, digital videos and special effects.

Blogs DESPICABLE ME (2010) (***)

In this animated world, villainy is a corporate venture. Master criminals live among the average citizens, clearly out in the open. The gothic mansion of baddie Gru sticks out in the same row of suburban family homes. To fund criminal ventures, the villains apply for loans from the Bank of Evil (formerly known as Lehman Brothers).

Blogs DESPICABLE ME (2010) (***)

In this animated world, villainy is a corporate venture. Master criminals live among the average citizens, clearly out in the open. The gothic mansion of baddie Gru sticks out in the same row of suburban family homes. To fund criminal ventures, the villains apply for loans from the Bank of Evil (formerly known as Lehman Brothers).

Gru (Steve Carell, GET SMART) wants to be the top criminal mastermind, but he has competition in the newcomer Vector (Jason Segal, I LOVE YOU, MAN), who just stole the Great Pyramid, which he has stowed in his backyard, painting it blue so that it blends in with the skyline. Gru; along with his mad scientist cohort Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand, GET HIM TO THE GREEK) and hundreds of his minions, yellow pill-shaped sidekicks who get giddy over troublemaking; go to the Bank of Evil to get the funding for his biggest caper yet — steal the Moon. But before he can get to the Moon, he has to build a rocketship and steal a newly created Chinese shrink ray. The key to getting the ray — three orphans named Margo (Miranda Cosgrove, TV's ICARLY), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).

Blogs Blu-ray Buzz – Kino + Keaton = Great Blu-Ray Release

I'm excited about this week's lineup of releases. Kino brings a classic Buster Keaton film to Blu-ray. In brand new releases, film fans get an Oscar-nominated performance from an actor long overdue for one, and a Swedish thriller that's on many critics' list for one of the best of the year. Moreover, there's a classic fantasy flick arriving on Blu-ray.

Pick of the Week
Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The story goes Buster Keaton had access to a steamboat, so he made a movie about one. Even those who have never seen a Buster Keaton film have probably seen the famous shot from this one. The conclusion takes place during a violent windstorm and the side of a building is torn off with Keaton standing directly underneath. Lucky for him, he's standing right where an open window is. No one today, not even Jackie Chan or Tony Jaa, does stunts as crazy as that. As a daredevil or as a comedian, Keaton had impeccable timing. In this film, Keaton plays a prissy college boy who has fallen in love with the daughter of his father's riverboat rival. The tour de force ending makes everything worthwhile in this endearing comedy.

Blogs Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum (podcast) x 13

Special Guest: J.J. Sedelmaier

The future is now on this week's episode of the Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum as Computer plugs Joel and Alan into the 21st century with their first ever Skype interview! Skyperview! Special Guest J.J. Sedelmaier "phones it in" about such subjects as comic books, graphic novels, and how to build and maintain an independent animation production company. Then, in the first ever Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum sing-song-story-telling-open-microradiophonic-sound-experience, Joel shares his latest therapy ballad about some extra baggage that he's been carrying around. And make sure to stay tuned through the very end of the episode for a special FFAF out-take of Joel and Alan testing out their new technology with one of the biggest names in cinema history!

Blogs More from Bloomfield, New Jersey and the Incubator Studio with MIMI AND GACK and the Day to Day Grind

Life on the road can be challenging! As the Studio headed into the its last week a familiar cadence ensued. It began with me awakening each morning at 5:30 am

Blogs Annecy 2010: Celebrating 50 Years

By Dan Sarto | Friday, July 2, 2010 at 4:49pm

I took the train to Annecy full of excitement and great expectations for the 50th Anniversary of the festival. According to the festival press release, they were expecting 6,700 participants from 66 countries, 1,647 companies crowding into MIFA, 300 journalists and 230 international buyers. For a festival to pull off such a grand event with minimum problems would be a miracle indeed. When people tried to get tickets for events, however, it felt like there were twice as many people in attendance.

Blogs BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! (2007) (***1/2)

If you've ever seen a Guy Maddin film than you remember his style. If you don't remember his style than you're lying and have never seen a Guy Maddin film. For those who haven't seen his work he creates modern silent films with all their excesses and devices. More so than THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD (a very funny film) and DRACULA: PAGES FROM A VIRGIN'S DIARY (a blood-sucking ballet), this film delves deep inside the filmmaker's own Id.

The main character is named Guy Maddin (Erik Steffen Maahs). At the start of the film, he heads back to his family orphanage inside a lighthouse to give it two fresh coats of paint. He wants to make it nice for his mother (Gretchen Krich, HENRY FOOL) who has had a pull over him ever since he was a boy (Sullivan Brown). As a youngster, he and his older sister (Maya Lawson) lived among the orphans, notably Savage Tom (Andrew Loviska), who gives all the younger kids lessens in primal urges. Guy and Sis' mother kept tabs on them with a strange telescope device that could find anyone you loved no matter where they were. This allows her to keep tabs on her blossoming daughter. Guy was a captive witness to the sexual hysteria his mother wields toward his teenage sister.

Blogs The educational value of getting your hands dirty

I have yet to properly introduce myself here, and I'm not sure what sort of impression I'm making with these somewhat impulsive posts. Today I introduce you to Veronica, the deceased ostrich, and Mike Taylor, the scientist who is getting to know her. Mike is a paleontologist, meaning he researches extinct animals. I introduce you to him here, because of a specific quote and a general energy that I feel is essential to learning