Archive for November, 2014

Watch: Star Wars trailer goes viral

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That didn’t take long. On Friday – when the first trailer for “Star Wars:  The Force Awakens” was released to select theaters – it was simultaneously released on line.

At the 9:45 screening in the Marcus Majestic Bistro auditorium, nine out of ten in attendance were there to see “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.” I was the tenth, there for the 88-sec0nd “Star Wars” trailer, only to come home and learn that it had already drawn 5 million views on YouTube.

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WITI poised to win tight 10 p.m. news ratings race

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With one day left in the November sweeps, WITI-TV (Channel 6) is poised to win the 10 p.m. news ratings race by .2 of a ratings point.

WITI earned a 6.4 rating, WISN-TV (Channel 12) and WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) are tied for second with a 6.2 rating. Fourth ranked WDJT-TV (Channel 58)  earned a 5.1 rating.

The sweeps period runs through Wednesday and the ratings could, although unlikely, be affected on the final night.

WISN won the 6 p.m. news race with a 7 rating, followed by WTMJ with a 5.2 and WITI with a 4.8.

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‘Birdman,’ ‘Boyhood,’ ‘Jimi’ get Spirit Award nominations

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The awards season is upon us.

And the Oscar race began in earnest Tuesday, with the release of the Spirit Awards nominees.

The Spirit Awards are the independent film world’s equivalent of the Academy Awards, and since many of the same films and performances are honored by both, the Spirit Awards are considered an Oscar season early predictor.

In  Spirit nominations announced Tuesday, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” and “Boyhood” tied with eight nominations each, including best picture. Other best picture nominees included “Love Is Strange,” “Selma” and “Whiplash.”

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Where to see “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer

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“Star Wars” fans will rub shoulders with early Christmas shoppers Friday, when the trailer for the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer is shown in select theaters nationwide.

The announcement was posted on the official “Star Wars” site.

In Milwaukee the trailer will be shown at the Marcus Majestic in Brookfield. It will show before ALL movies.

In Chicago, it will be shown at the Regal City North. The trailer is expected to be released nationwide the following week, and no doubt  will become available on the internet about the same time, if not sooner.

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Ten years before “Theory,” Cumberbatch played Hawking

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This year’s Oscar race may include two men who have played Steven Hawking, the physicist with ALS.

In “The Theory of Everything,” he is played by Eddie Redmayne who may get an nomination for the role.

But in 2004, Benedict Cumberbatch played him in “Hawking” a similarly-themed drama about the physicist’s early life at Cambridge, and his relationship with his wife Jane. The 90 minute made forTV movie aired on the BBC.

You can stream it on Amazon and iTunes.  Cumberbatch is in this year’s Oscar discussion for “The Imitation Game,” another biopic, this one about mathematician Alan Turing, who broke the Nazi Enigma code during World War II.

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Watch: Tribute to late Marquette alum & journalist James Foley

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Freelance journalist James Foley, a 1996 graduate of Marquette University, was beheaded by the Islamic terrorist group ISIS in Syria, in August of this year. “Bearing Witness,” a video tribute to him, in which he talks about the importance of frontline journalism, screened last night in Ottawa before a showing of “War Photographer,” about James Nachtwey.

Watch the Foley tribute here.

My Brain Hurts a Lot

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I recently heard Bowie’s song “Five Years” and it made me wonder how much time I have spent at the movies.

Especially the part where he sings, “My brain hurts a lot.”

In my head, it feels as long as the song title. By a back of the envelope estimate – and rounding down to a conservative 100 movies a year over 30 years – I’ve spent 360,000 minutes, or 250 days of the past three decades at the movies.

That is surely an underestimate.  At points, during festivals for instance, I’ve seen as many as 30 movies in ten days. And, this does not count the early years when I freelanced, all the movies I saw before getting into this line of work, or the fact that many of the movies I saw during that period ran longer than two hours.

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I have a “Theory” about “Everything”

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I have a theory. The more significant a person’s life, the less interesting the biopic.

“The Theory of Everything” proves the point. Few people have had a more amazing life than Stephen Hawking, the most well known physicist of our generation. He even appeared on “The Big Bang Theory.”

But before he became a household name he was a student at Cambridge University, during which time he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive degenerative disease which robbed him of his motor skills.

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Zapruder: The most powerful film ever made

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That the Zapruder film gets 7.9 stars on IMDB.com raises several questions, not the least of which is why it’s on there in the first place.

And why not ten stars? I’ve always called the 26 seconds of footage shot by Abraham Zapruder of the assassination of JFK, the most memorable film I’ve ever seen, and many of my generation probably feel the same.

Tomorrow  Sunday is the 51st 52nd anniversary of the assassination.

Zapruder was one of reportedly seven witnesses with home-movie cameras in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 whose footage  gave birth to a thousand conspiracy theories.

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Muted ‘Mockingjay’ lacks clarity, momentum

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Do I need to add “spoiler alert” to a review of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” if I warn that “nothing happens?”

One has to be truly invested in the trilogy of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, or the two previous films based on them, to be mildly entertained by this placeholder.Like the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” franchises the producers double down on the final entry, turning the final book into two films and exploiting the fan base in the process. The result is quantity at the expense of clarity and momentum.

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