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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Disney Re-Releasing Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D

Nightmare Before Christmas
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Disney has decided to re-release the 1993 film The Nightmare Before Christmas back into theaters in 3D technology.

The film, created by Tim Burton, will hit theaters on October 20th in the updated version. The Hollywood Reporter adds Nightmare marks the second film being released in 3D after last year's Chicken Little; and it did well for the Mouse at the box office. In 81 locations, the total was a reported 3-1 higher at the 3D theaters.

Disney will start releasing The Nightmare Before Christmas in theaters October 20th.

Starring: Chris Sarandon, Danny Elfman, Catherine O'Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Ed Ivory, Susan McBride, Debi Durst, Greg Proops, Kerry Katz, Randy Crenshaw, Sherwood Ball, Carmen Twillie, Catherine O'Hara

Synopsis: When the king of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington, gets bored of his job preparing for Halloween every year, he discovers Christmas Town and is inspired to take control of Christmas season for a change. Unfortunately his ghoulish subjects have difficulty getting the festive holiday quite right.

Meanwhile, Sally, a pretty maid who takes care of her creator, Dr. Finklestein, is trying to escape from her confines. She worries for Jack and foresees his plans will end in ruin.

This is a re-release of the 1993 film -- digitally scanned and converted into 3-D.

Nightmare Before Christmas Nightmare Before Christmas
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Review from 1993: If you were to lop off the top of Tim Burton's head and take a peek inside - not something I'm in any way advocating by the way - I like to think the contents would look something like 'The Nightmare Before Christmas'.

This animated masterpiece is the full embodiment of the worlds hinted at in previous Burton projects such as 'Beetlejuice', 'Edward Scissorhands' and the first two 'Batman' movies. But it's also much more than that. It's the antidote to every overly-sugary Chrimbo-flick ever made. It's the number one example of how good quality animation can be used to make any stretch of the imagination seem real. And, like so many of Burton's movies, it's macabre and morbid, but also surprisingly uplifting.

Chris Sarandon is the voice of Jack Skellington, the spindly-legged resident of the ghoulish Halloween Town. While walking in the woods one day, he discovers a doorway to Christmas Town, where he's overcome by the spirit of goodwill shown by the cheery residents with their decorated trees and snow-covered streets. In fact, so taken is he by the idea of Chrimbo, that upon returning home he convinces his fellow townsfolk to abandon Halloween and start preparing for yuletide instead.

The only trouble is, his plans - which include having "San-dee Claws" kidnapped - aren't entirely appreciated by the rest of the world. Particularly when small children discover severed heads and giant snakes in their stockings instead of the usual array of pressies.

Nightmare Before Christmas
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Director Henry Selick (you can also see his work in 'James and the Giant Peach') is the man behind making Burton's vision come true, using the stop-start animation technique to brilliantly create a world packed with creepy characters.

Danny Elfman, meanwhile, chips in with a string of marvellous songs with razor-sharp lyrics to turn this into a dark musical from the same file as 'Little Shop of Horrors'. Elfman also supplies several of the voices, including that of Jack himself when it's time for another song.

Coming in at a short 76 minutes, you needn't worry about kids losing interest. Every scene is both a visual and a musical treat, and there's so much going on in the shadows that you'll be happy to watch it over and over again. But be warned - although it's a PG, you can bet that some kids (and quite possibly some adults) will find it just a teensy-weensy bit too scary. Personally, that's just another one of the many things I love about it.

DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, animated sequences, behind-the-scenes featurette, storyboards and image gallery, an audio commentary, and some excellent original trailers.

*Review by Review by Gary Panton, Movie Gazette


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Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Queen

Starring: Helen Mirren, James Cromwell, Michael Sheen

THE QUEEN, an intimate, revealing and often humorous portrait of the British royal family in crisis immediately following the death of Princess Diana, stars Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, James Cromwell as Prince Phillip and Michael Sheen as Tony Blair. The film is written by award-winner Peter Morgan and is produced by Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward, and executive produced by Francois Ivernel, Cameron McCracken and Scott Rudin.

Synopsis/Preview: In a year already riddled with modern benchmarks in U.S. history, Stephen Frears now enters the deal with a reenactment of a worldwide tragedy: the death of Princess Diana and the subsequent rupture in public faith in the Royal Family. It's a tricky proposition: where most portraits of the Queen and her brood are either overly-stiff (for comedy's sake) or drab-as-death (for drama), Frears tries to show the family as no-bull normal people with dabs of sarcasm, sass and humor that could rub viewers the wrong way.

It begins with the landslide election of Prime Minister Tony Blair (a shockingly good Michael Sheen) and moves to the car accident that led to Di's death. Frears then meditates on the decisions and the struggle between modernism and tradition that Queen Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) and her family must consider in the wake of not just a familial, but worldwide, day of mourning. For those who don't remember, after the death, there was major pressure for the family to mourn in public, to show their grief and prove that even though Di wasn't part of the family anymore, they were still in a state of solemnity.

1997 was a whole nine years ago but we were already seeing the death of the handle-yourself emotional vibe, the tradition of not sharing ones emotions in any public matter. The Royal Family embodies tradition, so the fact that the family and most certainly the Queen didn’t come out of hiding for an entire week seemed perfectly okay with them. Only Prince Charles (a solid Alex Jennings, dealing with the film's most uneven character) shows his face to the public for his ex-wife and for the sake of his sons. The fight for a modern emotional reaction seems to be at the heart of The Queen, and screenwriter Peter Morgan expertly uses metaphors and a fascinating sense of humor to deal with his characters and their core issues.

Stephen Frears has always been a wildly versatile director, but The Queen might end up being his swan song. He blundered, hard, last year with the disastrous Mrs. Henderson Presents, but films like Dirty Pretty Things, My Beautiful Laundrette, and his ridiculously rewatchable rendering of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity show a fearless director who never binds himself to a genre or a particular style. Here, he uses archival footage of the events and the repercussions and blends it with Affonso Beaty's stunning camera work that recreates some television moments and lets others speak for themselves. Where many would have expected dry, straight drama, Frears boldly asks us to accept these people as humans: flawed and ill-advised but ultimately with good reasons.

Then there's Mirren. Oscar talk has already been touted from every mouth that saw the film and her win at the Venice Film Festival didn't exactly quell that clamor. Mirren, always the classiest one at the table, has the foresight to see Elizabeth as the hard nut she is. When her old car finally breaks down (metaphor!), she looks at the problem and simply shouts "bugger!" It's in these deliveries that Mirren has truly mastered her character and found the bigger-than-life persona, but has also worked hard to bring such a huge character down to the level of humanity. It's nothing but ecstasy to see her plain expression as her husband (priceless James Cromwell) calls her "cabbage" as they get ready for bed. Much like the film, she's a class act from beginning to end.

"No, we don't have Prince Albert in a can. Why do you ask?"

Reviewer: Chris Cabin,

--Wizard's Note: I just saw The Queen and was most impressed with all the acting. The movie tugged at my heartstrings as it played out. I believe that The Queen and especially, Prince Phillip were portrayed as much more crass and unfeeling than the impression I got when Diana died. Overall a great flick!


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