Tuesday, April 26, 2011

African Cats

Disney’s “African Cats” tells a somewhat universal tale for African
wildlife and will remind most adults of the Sunday nights and the
“Wonderful World of Disney.”

The setting is Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve and follows the lives of
two female cats – a cheetah named Cita and a lioness named Layla.

While the setting is far north of Mbabne, Swaziland (one of Fort Worth’s
Sister Cities), there are some similarities in wildlife and terrain.

I realize the danger in saying Swaziland is like Kenya. It’s like saying
Houston is like Dallas/Fort Worth and El Paso.

But for me, the most important parallel is educating others about wildlife
and ecological conservation across Africa. My oldest son, age 5, was
mesmerized – as was my mother-in-law. And that is perhaps the best part of
this documentary. It can galvanize across the generations.

Beautiful cinematography and an interesting storyline are melded together
in this film. It also comes with educational materials that can be
downloaded from the Disney Nature website.

Swaziland is home to cheetahs, lions, elephants, hyenas and many other
animals featured in this film.

Swaziland too is home to several species that are threatened. The Black
Rhino is critically endangered (the species is in imminent risk of
extinction in the wild.). Marley’s Golden Mole and the African Wild
Dog/Painted Dog are two Swazi animals listed as endangered (the species is
facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.).

For information about Swaziland nature reserves, visit the Swaziland
National Trust Commission web site.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This Just in … 4.19.2011

This week’s DVDs & Blue-ray. If we can’t watch ‘em in the theater, we’ll
watch ‘em at home. Look for them at Amazon, Netlfix, RedBox, Blockbuster
and CDUniverse.

Gritos de muerte y libertad
Directors: Gerardo Tort, María Fernanda Suarez; Starring: Diego Luna, Lumi
Cavazos, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Cecilia Suárez
Synopsis: Prominent historians, writers, directors and leading actors come
together to produce the historical miniseries to commemorate Mexico's
bicentennial. Gritos de Muerte y Libertad depicts Mexico's struggle for
independence against Spain in 13 half-hour episodes. With a star-studded
cast and lavish set and costume design, the miniseries is the definitive
portrayal of Mexico's prominent heroes and key historical moments integral
to winning the country's freedom.


Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster
Director: Wilson Yip,  Starring: Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Simon Yam, Sammo
Hung, Darren Shahlavi
Synopsis: International superstar Donnie Yen reprises his iconic role as
the real-life kung fu Grandmaster Ip Man, widely known as the man who
brought Wing Chun to the world with the help of his star pupil, Bruce Lee.
Master Ip, a new arrival in British-occupied Hong Kong, wants to open a
martial arts academy to teach his unique Wing Chun style. A corrupt group
of martial arts masters, led by Master Hung (Sammo Hung) refuses to allow
him to teach in peace until he proves himself as a kung fu master. Ip s
troubles continues when he is forced to enter a brutal King of the Ring
boxing match against Twister, a Western-style boxer who insults the Chinese
locals, in a East versus West knock-down, drag-out fight to the finish.


The Princess Blade
Director: Shinsuke Sato; Starring Yumiko Shaku, Hideaki Itô, Yôichi Numata,
Shirô Sano, Kyûsaku Shimada
Synopsis: In the near future, Japan is ruled once more by a monarchy. But,
rebels opposed to this rule seek to overthrow the government. The House of
Takemikazuchi, a band of assassins is hired by the government to suppress
the rebels. As a conspiracy from within signals the shadowy organization's
impending demise, Yuki, the last of the Takemikazuchi bloodline befriends
one of the rebels and seeks revenge against the group's leader.


Tokyo Gore Police
Director: Yoshihiro Nishimura; Starring: Eihi Shiina
Synopsis: In the near future, the Tokyo Police Corporation is locked in a
bloody war with the "engineers." These genetically modified super-criminals
can bio-fuse their open wounds with weapons, turning self-mutilation into a
combat form. Ruka, the daughter of the police chief's murdered right-hand
man, is now the top engineer hunter. With cold-blooded efficiency she cuts
through the psychotic engineers and tracks down their home base, a truly
bizarre fetish club. Nothing keeps her from her sworn duty, even when she
finds out the truth behind her father's death.


Vision - From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen
Director: Margarethe von Trotta , Starring: Barbara Sukowa
Lushly shot in original medieval cloisters of the fairytale-like German
countryside, Vision is the profoundly inspirational portrait of Hildegard
von Bingen, a woman who has emerged from the shadows of history as a
forward-thinking and iconoclastic pioneer of faith, change and
enlightenment. A visionary in every sense of the word, this famed
12th-century Benedictine nun was a Christian mystic, composer, philosopher,
playwright, poet, naturalist, scientist, physician, herbalist and
ecological activist. Reuniting with recurrent star Barbara Sukowa, New
German Cinema auteur Margarethe von Trotta brings the story of this
extraordinary figure to cinematic life. In a staggering performance, Sukowa
portrays Hildegard's fierce determination to expand the responsibilities of
nuns within the order, even as she fends off outrage from some in the
Church over the visions she claims to receive from God. She was truly a
woman ahead of her time.


Directed by Kazuaki Kiriya
Snyopsis: Crafted with over 2500 visual effects, the director of Casshern
weaves action with Japanese history and folklore into a moving masterpiece
evocative of the classic Robin Hood tale.

Once a lethal ninja, Goemon put down his sword to master the art of robbing
the nobility to share the stash with the less fortunate. On one such
escapade, he swipes an artifact that, if opened, will unleash misfortune of
a massive scale. Hunted by an infamous henchman and former ally, Goemon
tears a torrential path to assassinate the king. With a conscience clouded
by conspiracy, Goemon struggles to save his friends—and an entire
nation—from the grips of poverty and corruption.


Claymore: Complete Series Box Set
Directed by Todd Haberkorn
Synopsis: A brutal scourge stalks the land. Yoma, monsters driven by a
hunger satisfied by only one quarry – Humanity. The dark breed knows but a
singular foe: Claymore. Human-Yoma hybrids of extraordinary strength and
cunning, the Claymores roam from skirmish to skirmish delivering salvation
by the edge of a blade.

Thus begins the twisting tale of Clare, one such sister of the sword driven
by pain in both victory and defeat. A child silent and suffering hidden in
her past, Clare’s march toward vengeance unfolds along a path marked by
violence, solitude and scorn. In a land where even the predator is prey,
the haunted hearts of hunter and hunted alike wear the scars of the age.


Darker Than Black: Complete Season One (Classic)
Directed by Tensai Okamura
Synopsis: A new and deadly breed of covert agent walks the streets. Known
as Contractors, these assassins and spies wield bizarre supernatural powers
to carry out the dirty work of others. They thrive in the underworld,
between rumor and reality, their loyalties always in question. One among
these operatives is more mysterious than the rest - The masked killer
BK201, the Black Reaper. His true identity and intentions remain unknown,
but as his path weaves through the shadows and alleys of Tokyo, blood is
spilled on both sides of the law. It's a new age of confusion, and the
rules of engagement have changed.


Monday, April 18, 2011

30th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards

The film "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" won six awards at the 30th Hong Kong Film Awards on April 17, but the Best Picture Award remained elusive and instead went to "Gallants," a tribute to kung fu films of the '70s.

Detective Dee nabbed the Best Director Award for Tsui Hark, Best Actress Award for Carina Lau, plus awards for art direction, sound, visual effects, costume and makeup design.

"Gallants" won awards Best Supporting Actor for Teddy Robin Kwan, Best Supporting Actress for Susan (Yin Yin) Shaw, and best original film score.

Nicholas Tse won Best Actor for his role in "Stool Pigeon," pulling off an upset over front-runner Chow Yun-fat in "Confucius."

The best Asian Film Award was presented to Japanese Director Tetsuya Nakashima's "Confessions."

Friday, April 15, 2011

'Even the Rain' at the Modern

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth hosts "Even the Rain," starring Mexican Actor Gael Garcia Bernal. The film is by Spanish Director Iciar Bollain.

In the film a Spanish crew has landed in Bolivia to shoot a movie about Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas and the following impact on natives. As the shoot unfolds a water crisis develops. We learn that little has changed in the exploitation of others.

The film shows at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, April 15; 5 p.m. Saturday, April 16; noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 17.

The cast includes Luis Tosar, Karra Elejalde and Cassandra Ciangherotti.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bernal and 'Miss Bala' off to Cannes

Gael Garcia Bernal happily announced he and the folks behind Director Gerardo Naranjo's action film "Miss Bala" are off to Cannes Film Festival.

Bernal, who welcomed his second child recently, Tweeted "Nos vamos a Cannes!" (We're going to Cannes!) earlier this morning.

The film will be screened in the Un Certain Regard portion of the fest.

Bernal and Diego Luna own Canana Films, the Mexican production company for "Miss Bala." Bernal and Luna co-starred in the breakout film "Y Tu Mama Tambien" in 2001.

Bernal's daughter, Liberty, was born to him and his girlfriend Dolores Fonzi. They have a son named Lazaro, who was born in 2009.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

This Just in 4.12.11

This week’s DVDs & Blue-ray. If we can’t watch ‘em in the theater, we’ll watch ‘em at home. Look for them at Amazon, Netlfix, RedBox, Blockbuster and CDUniverse.

Ga Rei Zero: Complete Series - Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack (Limited Edition)
Directed by Zach Bolton
Synopsis: The creative team behind the Full Metal Panic! trilogy is back with a nightmare-inducing series about teenage exorcists forced to draw swords against bloodthirsty creatures of unholy origins.

Kagura and Yomi may look like ordinary school girls as they walk the streets of Tokyo clad in short skirts and knee-high socks, but they’re the heroes you scream for when monsters creep out of the darkness. These sword-totting sisters are part of an elite counterattack unit that specializes in suppressing outbreaks of supernatural activity. They train together, live together, eat together, and spend their nights disemboweling demons with sacred blades. Tragedy strikes when Yomi is possessed by a dark spirit, and Kagura must choose between raising her weapon against the eerily familiar face of ultimate evil – or watching her flesh and blood slaughter innocent citizens. In a life or death battle that pits sister against sister, survival may be the greatest agony of all.

Directed by Francisco Laresgoiti, Starring: Miguel Couturier, Sandra Echeverría, Alonso Echánove, Luis Ernesto Franco , Raúl Méndez, Genaro Hernandez, Claudio Lafarga, Marco Antonio Treviño
Synopsis: The year 2033 has arrived to Mexico City, re-baptised as Villaparaiso (Paradise City). The mechanical, caothic and hot megacity is ruled by a military and tyrant government. It is an oppressed society with its religious faith and liberty of expression stolen. Pablo, the main character, is a young finantial yuppie that gets shelter in drugs and alcohol. He leaves his privileged life in order to help the unprotected and destroy the system that controls the human being. Pablo meets Lozada, a hidden priest, Father Miguel, that will eventually transform his life. Pablo lives with the needy and helps sick people that suffer due to chemical products they eat sold by the main company of Villaparaíso. Addictive products that make them work for long hors. Pablo fights with other believers in order to destroy the regime. On his way, he meets Lucía, a girl that gives a higher sense to his life.

Love a la Carte (Adua e le compagne) 1960
Director: Antonio Pietrangeli, Starring: Simone Signoret, Sandra Milo, Emmanuelle Riva, Marcello Mastroianni
Synopsis: This Italian effort from director Antonio Pietrangeli, reminiscent of neorealism, stars Simone Signoret as one of four prostitutes trying to go legit. When a new law closes Rome's brothels, the quartet pools their resources to open a cafe, but they can't get a license. A shady ex-client helps them out, but insists they conduct their former pursuit upstairs while paying him an exorbitant monthly fee.

Desde La Tumba
Directed by Raul Trujillo; Starring: Fernando Saenz, Valentin Trujillo Jr., Celia Huertas, Alfonso Munguia, Leslie Rano, Roberto Munguia
Synopsis: A Mexican native gets a rude welcoming upon returning to his home country after an extended trip abroad. Years ago, Hilario left his ranch in Mexico to work in the United States. Before leaving, he asked his best friend Augustin to make sure that his ranch didn't fall into disrepair in his absence. Upon returning home years later, Hilario is targeted for harassment by powerful drug lord Antonio Meza, who insists the rancher give up his land. When Hilaro refuses, their bitter dispute quickly erupts into all out war.

El Plebe Chakaloso
Director: Eleazar Garcia Jr.; Starring: Eleazar Garcia Jr., Max Hernandez Jr., Max Hernandez "El Butcher," Fabian Lopez, Roberta D'Nero, Pedro Quintero, Isidoro Rojas, Alejandro Raygoza.
Synopsis: In the tradition of "The Departed" and "Carlito's Way," this is a story of corruption and greed between two deadly cartels and the police, whose job it is to stop them. Uriel has been the number one Lieutenant for El Tejano, however his need for power and his own cartel has caused him to betray the cartel. Pacheco is a corrupt cop who works for the Lieutenant in charge of the capture of the cartel leaders. Each seemingly wants what they cannot have and in the end, the same corruption , power, and greed will ultimately force someone to pay the ultimate price.

Vida Por Mi Barrio
Cast: Agustin Bernal, Luis Gatica, Bernabe Melendrez, Alfonso Zayas Jr., Amador Granados, Carlos Perez, Xochitl Violeta.
Two best friends fall into a life of crime while struggling to build a brighter future in this tense crime drama from Mexico. El Roy and El Tio will do whatever it takes to escape poverty. Upon encountering three aspiring drug kingpins with the power to make all of their dreams come true, El Roy and El Tio find themselves hopelessly drawn into the dangerous worlds of drug trafficking and black market organ smuggling. Later, when the two friends realize just how much of their moral codes have been compromised, their treacherous struggle for redemption begins.

Good Year for Grant

Swazi actor Richard E. Grant is on a roll this year with eight productions in the works including the new BBC drama “The Crimson Petal and the White” and “The Iron Lady” starring Merrill Streep as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Grant’s other projects include the Italian thriller “Sotto il vestito niente - L'ultima sfilata,” “First Night,” “Foster,” “Zambezia,” “Horrid Henry: The Movie” and “How to Stop Being a Loser.”

I’ll try to keep track of his films as they premier and make their way into US theaters or onto TV screens

The Telegraph offers this article on Grant and Crimson/White.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

This Just in ... 4.5.11

This week’s DVDs & Blue-ray. If we can’t watch ‘em in the theater, we’ll watch ‘em at home. Look for them at Amazon, Netlfix, RedBox, Blockbuster.

Arabesque (1966)
Sophia Loren (Actress), Gregory Peck (Actor), Alan Badel (Actor) | Rated: Unrated | Format: DVD
Product Description
Filmies says: There’s a reason this sounds like “Charade.”
Legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren joins actor Gregory Peck in this 1966 film. Enter the world of Arabesque – a high-speed high-class tale of international intrigue. In this exciting romantic thriller an American hieroglyphics professor (Peck) is hired by a mysterious Arab oil magnate to decipher a secret message. When the hidden meaning is revealed the chase is on as he and the oil magnate’s exotic yet unpredictable companion (Loren) find themselves caught in the middle of an assassination plot. Produced and directed by Stanley Donen (Charade) and filled with the stylish music of Henry Mancini Arabesque is an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.

Wallenberg: A Hero's Story (1985)
Richard Chamberlain (Actor), Kenneth Colley (Actor) | Rated: Unrated | Format: DVD
Product Description
Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story is an incredibly riveting, Emmy award winning fact based story about a hero who helped over 100,000 Hungarian Jews escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Hero Tales: Part One (Limited Edition)
Directed by Tyler Walker
Product Description
For citizens of the Xian Empire, justice is a myth. Lord Keiro, the deranged Shogun of the Imperial Army, blazes a trail of terror across the countryside in search of the sacred sword that will make him a god. Standing in his way is Taito, an omnipotent star reborn in human form – a young hero who vows to use his celestial strength to avenge those slaughtered by the villainous Shogun. Taito’s mystical powers steer him toward a violent showdown with Keiro, and if used recklessly, his newfound abilities could shred the very fabric of his being. To master the art of control and become a heroic martial artist, Taito must seek the guidance of others like him: the seven star-born warriors with the strength to shatter a corrupt empire.

Hero Tales: Part Two
Directed by Tyler Walker
Product Description
Darkness settles over the Xian Empire, and Taito – an omnipotent star reborn in human form – is drawn into a cosmic clash with Lord Keiro, Shogun of the Imperial Army. Though blessed with the celestial strength to extract vengeance upon the Shogun, Taito’s heroic journey is wrought with peril. The undead minions of a villainous demon haunt his every step, and a shocking betrayal shakes the fellowship of noble star-warriors to its very core. As Keiro’s lust for power transforms him into a bloodthirsty monster, Taito will realize that his strength alone is not great enough to defeat the Shogun. With the prophesized final showdown between good and evil looming, Taito must draw upon the combined powers of his star-born comrades to defeat Keiro and shatter a corrupt empire!

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Part 4 [Blu-ray]
Directed by Yasuhiro Irie
Product Description
Edward and Alphonse Elric’s reckless disregard for alchemy’s fundamental laws ripped half of Ed’s limbs from his body and left Al’s soul clinging to a cold suit of armor. To restore what was lost, the brothers scour a war-torn land for the Philosopher’s Stone, a fabled relic which grants the ability to perform alchemy in impossible ways.

The Elrics are not alone in their search; the corrupt State Military is eager to harness the artifact’s power. So too are the strange Homunculi and their shadowy creator. The mythical Stone lures exotic alchemists from distant kingdoms, scarring some deeply enough to inspire murder. As the Elrics find their course altered by these enemies and allies, their purpose remains unchanged – and their bond unbreakable.

Dragon Ball: Season One
From Funimation
Product Description
The greatest adventure of all time begins now! pGoku may be small, but this fearless warrior packs a punch as powerful as any on the planet. Left alone after his grandfather’s death, this unusual boy is happy to spend his days hunting and eating and eating some more. But everything changes on the day he meets Bulma – a bossy, blue-haired beauty with boys on the brain. Together, they set out to track down the seven magic Dragon Balls and make the wish that will change their lives forever.

And that’s just the beginning! Goku also spends some time on Turtle Island where he and Krillin study martial arts under the legendary Master Roshi. The old hermit may not look like much, but if his new pupils can find him a woman, he’ll make sure they’re ready to rumble at the upcoming World Martial Arts Tournament!

The Secret of the Urn (1966) Tange Sazen: Hien iaigiri (original title)
Director: Hideo Gosha
Product Description
Loyal samurai Samanosuke is attacked, mutilated, and left for dead while carrying out a mission for his clan. He recovers but has lost an eye and an arm. Taking a new identity as Tange Sazen, he searches for a stolen urn which has hidden significance to his clan. But Tange Sazen has his own reasons for seeking the urn.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Done Deal? Boneta may take 'Rock of Ages' lead

Actor Diego González Boneta is slated to audition for the coveted role of Drew Bowie in Adam Shankman's film version of "Rock of Ages." Many media outlets are saying it's a done deal, but Shankman tweeted that Boneta "is auditioning" and for everyone to hold their horses.

The film is based on the Broadway musical, which starred Constantine Maroulis and features music by classic '80s rock bands like Journey, Whitesnake, Styx and Bon Jovi.

According to Playbill.com, "The film will also feature Alec Baldwin as Dennis, Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, Julianne Hough as Sherrie Christian, Mary J. Blige as Justice, Russell Brand as Lonnie and Paul Giamatti as the manager of the rock band."

The movie is slated for a June 2012 release.

Boneta was born in Mexico City in 1990 and after appearing in a Mexican music competition he shot to fame. He's appeared in American productions of the new "Beverly Hills 90210," "Mean Girls 2" and "Pretty Little Liars." In Mexico, the teen heart throb has appeared in "Rebelde," "Don Darvelio's Secret" and "Misión S.O.S. aventura y amor."