Archive for November, 2010

“Empire” Director Irvin Kershner Passes Away

This isn’t easy for me to say publicly, but I’m a Star Wars nerd. I’ve kind of denied it for years, playing it off like I was just a “fan.” But like it or not, it’s a part of me. He-Man, Transformers, GI Joe, WWF wrestling, these things came and went in my youth, but Star Wars stuck with me, even in the dormant years between 1984 and 1996. I painfully watched not one, but two horrible made-for-tv Ewok movies (one even starred Wilfred Brimley!), read the first two trilogies of the expanded universe and even bought a few “Insider” magazines to hear about upcoming projects (that was pre-internet, before information moved at lightning speed.)

So, it was tough to hear about the passing of director Irvin Kershner. And one might be saying, “Well, this isn’t George Lucas!” No, that’s true. But, for me anyway, he may have been even better. Yes, Lucas created the universe, but Kershner gave it a soul in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Kershner allowed the actors’ performances to dictate the pace, style and heart of the movie, then flooded it with special effects, instead of doing it the other way around. That’s what makes “Empire” so special.

Specifically, Kershner changed several things in the original script and not all the changes were welcomed by Lucas. Check out these clips below, the rigid acting in this deleted scene shows just how important directors can be to film making and the interview illustrates his creativity and humor.

Even though the entire trilogy has been a good “friend” over the years,  “The Empire Strikes Back” has always been my best “friend.” Whenever I was sick or feeling low, I would pop in “Empire.” For whatever reason, it gives me comfort like a warm blanket or a re-heated piece of pizza on a lazy Saturday afternoon (probably a bad analogy for anyone who didn’t grow up getting pizza every Friday night.)

The more I see and read about Irvin Kershner, the more I like him. This quote that he told his son in the months leading up to his death is one of the more inspirational things I’ve heard. “You have to throw yourself into things. There is no second way. Passion gives you energy.”

Or “Do or do not. There is no try.”  Yoda to Luke in “The Empire Strikes Back.”

Thank you Irvin Kershner for creating something that will be with me forever.

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Star Wars and have Comments (2)

Help Wanted: Batman Seeks Leading Ladies is reporting that director Christopher Nolan is interviewing six high-profile actresses for two big parts in the third “Batman” movie, titled “The Dark Knight Rises.” One role is a love interest, the other a villain. So who’s on the short list? Let’s take a look.

1. Natalie Portman

With roles in “Black Swan”, “No Strings Attached” and “Thor” all being released within the next year, Portman has blasted back onto the movie scene after staying out of the limelight for quite some time. While, I’m excited about Portman’s potentially Oscar-winning role in “Black Swan”, I feel like she fits best in art-house films. One only needs to look at her horrible performances in all three “Star Wars” prequels to see that she does not do blockbusters well. Plus, she’s already starring in “Thor” another superhero movie. But, the thought of her as Harley Quinn (the Joker’s girl)…may work.

2. Blake Lively

Lively is coming off a fairly strong performance in Ben Affleck’s “The Town” and is also starring alongside Ryan Reynolds in next year’s “The Green Lantern.” So, she is also a hot commodity in Hollywood. However, Lively seems a bit young to be a love interest for Christian Bale or the rumored villain of Catwoman. But, could she be playing Talia al Ghul, the daughter of the first movie’s villain Ra’s al Ghul? This comic book version of Talia from DC Comics looks an awful lot like Lively, so maybe.

3. Anne Hathaway

Hathaway doesn’t have too much in the pipeline right now, so this could be a good fit for her. I’ve really enjoyed both Batman films in this series, but both incarnations of Rachel Dawes, I could take or leave. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Katie Holmes were mostly filler. I think Hathaway might be able to bring something to the table. She would be a little foolish in the Catwoman role, but I could see her as a love interest.

4. Keira Knightley

Knightley is obviously good-looking and talented, as are all the women on this list, but of the six, this seems like the worst fit. I really hope it doesn’t happen.

5. Naomi Watts

I’ve never been a fan of the Catwoman character, but this seems like it could work. Watts is probably the strongest actress on this list and can play “dark.” She played a delusional actress in “Mulholland Dr.”, a drug addicted mother in “21 Grams” and an upper-class wife tortured by insane teens in “Funny Games.” (If you haven’t seen the “Funny Games”…don’t. Way too disturbing.) So, I could see her as a criminal. She is actually older than Christian Bale, so for her to be cast alongside a younger man in Hollywood would be rather unprecedented and frankly, refreshing.

6. Rachel Weisz

Weisz is in one of my favorite movies “The Fountain”, so automatic points there. Her other work is a tad more spotty ranging from the good “About a Boy” to the bad “The Mummy Returns.” That being said, I could see her in the world of “Batman” maybe as Poison Ivy? Another rather goofy female villain in the Batman comics. It should also being noted that Weisz does have several projects lined up right now, meaning contractually she may not even be able to fit it in.

So, with two spots available and these being the apparent choices, I vote for Naomi Watts as Catwoman and Anne Hathaway as his love interest. Although, the storyline I like the most would Ra’s al Guhl’s daughter Talia. Just makes sense to connect the first film with the last one, instead of having another random villain pop up.

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Batman,Comic Book Movies and have Comment (1)

New Band Choices…

Haven’t heard a ton of great new music lately, but a few bands have tickled my musical fancy in the past few weeks. The first is Mumford and Sons. They’re an English band who sound like they should be Irish. Lots of twangy banjos. Not usually my thing, but they have a good alternative feel to them. The ones that top my list are below, “Little Lion Man”, “White Blank Page” and “Winter Winds.” There’s a lot of raw emotion in their songs and I like that. However, occasionally Mumford and Sons stumble when they teeter toward jug band status on a few tunes. Take a listen to my top picks below.

Another band I’ve been listening to is “Yeasayer.” Again, they definitely have something to offer, but fall short of an album that offers a cover to cover listen. Top tunes, “One”, “Ambling Alp” and “Madder Red” (Just do yourself a favor and do NOT watch the official band video for this song, it stars Kristen Bell, but is too weird for words. It may not leave you for some time. Anyway, you’ve been warned.)

And finally, this band seems to be becoming more mainstream by the minute, but “Florence & the Machine” deserves to be noticed. The lead singer sounds like a variety of singers from Poe to Tori Amos to Enya. Great voice. My top four “Cosmic Love”, “Dog Days Are Over”, “Two Lungs” and “Heavy In Your Arms” (another video that’s very creepy.)

posted by Seth Szilagyi in Great Tunes,Music News and have No Comments