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Ask 411 Movies for 01.07.13: The Tigers Come at Night!

January 7, 2013 | Posted by Leonard Hayhurst

What Leonard Recently Watched
I spent a quiet New Year’s Eve watching Brave with my nieces. I’d give it 6 out of 10, and that would make it the worst of the Pixar features in my estimation. The animation felt tired and flat. The characters and storyline were very slight and predictable. It spent a lot of set up time to get to the main plot and theme. When they did get to it, they rushed through it to keep the movie at a child acceptable 90 minutes. It lacked the magic and charm of Wall-E, Up and the Toy Story trilogy. You want a real insult? It felt like a DreamWorks Animation film. Ooo…burn!

My friends Dan and Ron have told me Godmonster of Indian Flats is pretty much the worst movie they’ve ever seen. When they say that, I tend to believe something is pretty bad. I finally got around to watching it and they weren’t wrong. It was boring and nothing happened. The mutant sheep monster basically served as a B-plot to the story of a mine company representative looking to buy up a mining town and being railroaded by the mayor and other rough characters. The monster shows up about three-quarters in. It looks like an overgrown tree sloth with mange. As a tip, if your monster looks that bad don’t show it in full view in broad daylight.

Les Miserables was so-so for me. I think I would give it out 8 out 10 though, because the great stuff was really great, but the awful stuff was really awful. Director Tom Hooper’s decision to record all the singing live proved a mix bag. Russell Crowe’s performance was horrible. Not only were his vocals bad, but I found his portrayal of Javert flat, when I think he was going for strong and steely. Hugh Jackman was hit or miss, but he nailed the key moments he needed to. The supporting cast was really strong with Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” being chilling and Samantha Barks stole the movie with her version of “On My Own” and her overall performance. If there’s any justice she would earn a best actress Oscar nomination, but Hathaway will probably pick one up, not that she’s undeserving. Ultimately, if you’re familiar with the musical then you should enjoy this. Even those who like Hollywood musicals might be turned off here because of the heady subject matter and the fact that’s it’s sung throughout with scant spoken dialogue. Replace Crowe with a stronger voice and I probably give this 10 out of 10.

Q: Chances for Michael Caine at this oscar season´s???

A: I assume you mean for his performance in The Dark Knight Rises and not for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. While I personally thought Caine was great as Alfred in his few key emotional scenes, I would say his chances of earning a best supporting acting nomination is zero percent.

Caine has received no nominations to date for the part in any of the preliminary awards announced, including the Golden Globes. The movie overall has not garnered a lot of awards buzz. It was named one of the American Film Institute movies of the year, swept the Golden Trailer Awards for its marketing and is up for some People’s Choice Awards.

The academy would never admit it, but part of the reason they expanded the best picture category past five nominations was because of the further from fans that movies like The Dark Knight and Star Trek didn’t get best picture nods for the presumed reason that they were action blockbusters. That same stir isn’t happening this year. Look for The Dark Knight Rises to get the same technical Oscar nominations The Dark Knight did.

Q: Last Man Standing was under performing so the format was tinkered a bit but why was the actress who played the oldest daughter recast?

A: According to TVLine in June, Alexandra Krosney as Kristin was released from Last Man Standing for creative reasons. No more has been said about the matter. Amanda Fuller took her place. Also replaced on the show were twins Luke and Evan Kruntchev as Kristin’s son Boyd. He was aged from two to five and is played by Flynn Morrison. His dad, who was played in one episode in the first season by Nick Jonas, is now played by Jordan Masterson.

The cast changes were due to Tim Doyle of The Big Bang Theory and Rules of Engagement coming on as the new show runner. Creator Jack Burditt was in charge for the first 13 episodes of the first season, but was replaced by Kevin Abbott of The Golden Girls and Reba. Abbott left to take over his old friend Reba McEntire’s new show, Malibu Country.

Originally a half season of 13 episodes were ordered for season two and that’s been increased to 18 episodes. The program finished 50th overall in the Nielsen Ratings for its first year with an average of about 9 million viewers. The second season debut Nov. 2 had around 8 million viewers, down from the series premiere of nearly 13 million, but up from the first season finale of 6.6 million.

Tim Allen stars in the show as a marketing director for a sporting good store surrounded by women, including three daughters, one of whom is a single mom, and his wife, played by Nancy Travis.

Q: Mr. H,
I know officially the last Dirty Harry movie is The Dead Pool however I just re-watched The Rookie with Clint and Charlie Sheen.  It has a feel of one of the earlier Dirty Harry movies, I think the Enforcer w/ Tyne Daily as his rookie partner.  Was The Rookie supposed to be a Dirty Harry movie but then at some point the character name for Clint was changed to Pulvoski.

BTW, I am pumped for the Man of Steel because of Michael Shannon. I saw him in a 13 as the twid referee you could call him (really creepy in that movie) and the only saving grace of Premium Rush.  Is this guy on the cusp of breakout status? Could General Zod be that push to get his name mainstream

A: The Rookie was being developed independently of Clint Eastwood starring, so I doubt it was ever intended to be a Dirty Harry movie. There are some similarities between it and The Enforcer, but there are plenty of grizzled veteran detective teams up with a green rookie movies out there.

The film went into pre-production in 1988 with Gene Hackman and Matthew Modine set to star, according to IMDB. The Screen Actors Guild strike derailed the production. When it resumed, Hackman and Modine were contracted to other projects. Eastwood and Sheen were then brought in. The 1990 movie sees the pair tracking German car thieves, played by Raul Julia and Sonia Braga. Interesting to mention, Julia is Puerto Rican and Braga is Brazilian.

Michael Shannon, 38, has been bubbling underneath A-list for awhile. He earned an Oscar nomination for his work in Revolutionary Road in 2008 and is currently a regular on the hit HBO series Boardwalk Empire. The Kentucky native has also appeared in Pearl Harbor, 8 Mile, Vanilla Sky, Kangaroo Jack, Bad Boys II, World Trade Center, Let’s Go to Prison, The Runaways, 13, Jonah Hex, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, Take Shelter and Premium Rush.

Most of the trailers and commercials for Man of Steel are focusing on Clark Kent discovering his powers and how to deal with them. It looks more like a family drama, that a big superhero action film. I don’t think I’ve seen any preview even showing the Kryptonian villains. Most of the focus in the acting has been on Henry Cavill in the starring role and Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe in the father parts. The movie being a hit, of course, would be good for Shannon, but I don’t know if it will break him out big. He’s not the focal point, so his performance would really need to be scene stealing. I think Shannon is probably where he’s going to be as a strong character actor with the occasional starring role on television or in independent films.

Q: I just realized something, when did movie trailes stop using the narrator? It seems like they used to all have the “In a world…” guy, but now they let the scenes from the movie set the stage.

A: For starters, the narrator known for starting trailers with “In a world where…” died. Don LaFontaine passed away Sept. 1, 2008, at the age of 68 from a pneumothorax. Nicknamed Thunder Throat and the Voice of God, LaFontaine is credited with more than 5,000 movie trailer voice overs.

He was one of the most popular movie trailer narrators and his death left a big void, but he’s not the only narrator out there. However, it does seem like the trend of using less narration in trailers started around the time of his death.

I couldn’t find anything definitive, but I think it’s just the cycle of things. Narrators are used to explain things to an audience they wouldn’t know otherwise. Currently, the style of film trailers is to show a lot of the actual film with a good bit of the plot and characters communicated. So, it’s about letting the movie stand on its own and showing the audience more than they were shown in the past. Yet, some think that’s bad, because you wind up seeing too much, sometimes with key elements and even endings of movies given away.

Q: Got a couple of questions about Bio Channel’s “I Survived . . .”
1. At the beginning of the segments, text describes the situation while footage of the area where the crime occurred is shown. Do the show producers actually send camera crews to these people’s homes to film the footage shown, or is it just stock footage?
2. At the end of the segments, they usually say who (if anyone) was found guilty of the crime and sometimes show a mugshot to go with the name. Other times, however, no mugshot is shown. Why are they not consistent with the mugshot inclusion?
-Curious Cat

A: I Survived… is in its fifth season on The Biography Channel. Episodes feature two or three true life stories of people who survived harrowing circumstances. The people tell their stories in their own words without dramatic reenactments. However, insert shots of where the crime took place, sometimes with titles on screen, are used to help bridge the storytelling.

I couldn’t find any site that answered your questions, but from the scenes I watched, I would guess the series shot all of the inserts you see. As for the mugshots, those are usually public record, but there are different laws governing their release from state to state. It’s also easier to get mugshots from local police and sheriff departments than state and federal agencies with all the additional red tape. So, it comes down to what state the crime took place in and who handled the case as far as how easy mugshot are to get or even if they are available for a series like I Survived… to use.

Q: I’ve been rewatching The Shield on DVD and something always bugged me. Tavon Garris is added to the Strike Team in the middle of the 2nd season and while it seems like he will become a regular cast member, early in the 3rd season he is abruptly off the team and the show. I hated to see him leave because he brought a different element to the team and I like Brian J. White as an actor. Was there any reason he left the show? Or was it always just a short run to move the story?

A: I couldn’t find anything if Brian White and his character of Detective Tavon Garris was dropped for any specific reason. It seems like his storyline was always meant to play out the way it did. The fact that White was brought back for an episode in the final season would seem to demonstrate everyone was on good terms.

In general, Harris was added to the Strike Team on the advice of a consultant that they should have a minority member. Harris is well liked by Lem and Vic, with Vic looking to groom Tavon as a protege. This enrages the jealous and racist Shane. Shane hurts Tavon so bad in a fight he goes into a coma and Shane also injures Tavon’s wife. Vic and Lem convince Tavon that he hurt Mara in order to protect Shane. The theme here being the loyalty Lem and Vic have to Shane as an original Strike Team member, even though Tavon proved to be a valuable member of the team.

Q: I think most people would agree that the Rock is the best wrestler turned actor.
Who is the best pro football player turned actor? (Fred Dryer; Alex Karris; Carl Weathers; OJ?)
Pro Basketball player? (Michael Jordan; Kareem, Rick Fox; Ray Allen?)
Pro Baseball player? (Bob Uecker?)
Soccer player? (Vinnie Jones?)
Olympian? (no clue)

A: Whether you like the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or not, you have to admit he’s the guy to have equal big success in the ring and on the silver screen. After him I would put Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. I actually think Piper is the best actor of the three when he applies himself and doesn’t just play the Roddy Piper character. I’ve found a few of his direct to DVD movies, like 1995’s Jungleground, to be surprisingly good.

For the football player to have the most success on and off the field, I’d probably go with Fred Dryer. He was drafted in the first round in 1969 and played 13 seasons for the New York Giants and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams were the most dominant defense of the 1970s and got to the Super Bowl, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, after the 1979 season. Sacks weren’t an official statistic during Dryer’s playing days, but had more than 100 in his career and is the only NFL player to have two safeties in one game.

After retirement, Dryer was a runner-up for the part of Sam Malone on Cheers. He was paired with Julia Duffy as Diane, but they lost out to Ted Danson and Shelly Long. Dryer did have a few guest appearances as Sam’s sportscaster friend. This led to him landing the title badass cop in Hunter on NBC for seven seasons. A few TV movies and a short-lived revival in 2003 followed. He also had the syndicated series Land’s End for 21 episodes from 1995-1996. I would also give honorable mentions to Fred Williamson and Carl Weathers.

A surprising candidate for best football player and best wrestler turned best actor is Woody Strode. Strode was one of the first blacks to play in the NFL, for the Rams starting in 1946. He also won Canada’s Grey Cup in 1948 as part of the Calgary Stampeders. He retired in 1949 due to injuries and entered the world of professional wrestling. He tagged with Bobo Brazil and went against legends like the original Gorgeous George. In 1962 he was listed in Ring Magazine as the Pacific Coast Heavyweight Wrestling Champion and the Pacific Cost Nego Heavyweight Wrestling Champion.

Strode earned a Golden Globe nomination for his brief role as a gladiator going against Kirk Douglas in Spartacus and played John Wayne’s hired hand in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. His friendship with John Ford also got him roles in Two Rode Together, Seven Women and the title part in Sergeant Rutledge. He was also in The Last Voyage, Once Upon a Time in the West and The Quick and the Dead among other films.

When it comes to basketball players, you have a lot of one hit wonders like Ray Allen in He Got Game and Alex English in Amazing Grace and Chuck who received good notices for their roles. Shaquille O’Neal did okay in Blue Chips, but was panned for the flops Kazaam and Steel. Kareem Abdul Jabbar is the pro basketball player with the longest filmography having done several appearances as himself in movies and television shows, other TV guest spots and his memorable roles in Airplane! and battling Bruce Lee in The Game of Death.

For baseball, Bob Uecker is a good one. Even though he didn’t have a great baseball career, Johnny Carson dubbed him Mr. Baseball. He played for four teams over six seasons and was known as a solid defensive backup catcher and good guy in the clubhouse. He even won a World Series with the Cardinals. After retirement he became a broadcaster for his hometown Milwaukee Brewers and did some beer commercials. This led to his memorable announcer role in the Major League series and six season as the dad on Mr. Belvedere.

However, I’ve got you a guy who counts for baseball and basketball who had a solid acting career, Chuck Connors. Connors played for the Boston Celtics from 1946 to 1948 and for the Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Dodgers from 1949 to 1951. He was also drafted by the Chicago Bears, but never joined them. In 1952, Connors was demoted to the minor league Los Angeles Angels. Realizing he would never make it in pro sports, he tried to land acting jobs. Early roles were opposite Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in Pat and Mike and Burt Lancaster in South Sea Woman. Connors’ biggest success was the television series The Rifleman. He played a rancher good with a rifle, who was raising his young son alone. It lasted five seasons, being number four in the Nielsen Ratings its first year and number 13 the following two seasons.

For soccer player I would go with Vinnie Jones. He played soccer from 1984 to 1999 for various clubs. He was known for being one of the toughest, most penalized players in the game, which led him to tough guy on screen parts. After being in Guy Ritchie’s Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, he went onto Gone in 60 Seconds, Swordfish, EuroTrip, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Condemned, Midnight Meat Train and more. He’s slated to be in The Tomb this coming year with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Back in the old days, Olympians were much more sports icons and American heroes than they’re viewed as today. Going back to the 1930s and 1940s, several Olympians went into acting. Johnny Weissmuller was the Michael Phelps of his day, earning five gold medals at the 1924 and 1928 games in swimming. In 1932, he starred in his first Tarzan movie. He did 12 Tarzan films and followed that as a jungle explorer in the Jungle Jim franchise.

Buster Crabbe won a gold medal in the 400 meter freestyle in 1932. He also played jungle guy roles, but was most famous for being Flash Gordon in several serials. Below, he wrestles a lion in King of the Jungle.

Sonja Henie won three gold medals for figure skating in 1928, 1932 and 1936. Starting in 1936, she made 13 films with most casting her as an ice skater. A personal favorite of mine is Sun Valley Serenade featuring the Glenn Miller Orchestra and Milton Berle.

Next week, we’ll look at television stars that couldn’t follow up their hit series, the biggest flops of 2012 and the top movies not yet out on DVD. But don’t think that lets you off the hook in sending more questions. You guys responded well with the plea last week, so keep sending more.

Don’t die.
“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.”


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Leonard Hayhurst

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