Monthly Archives: May 2010

Films join work of three great Kates

Three of cinema’s most acclaimed Kates are coming together for one epic series.

Films starring Katharine Hepburn, Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett will headline the “Kiss Me Kate: Three Great Actresses, Seven Classic Films” series beginning Sunday at Gateway Film Center.

The “Kiss Me Kate” series is designed “to talk about great women, great female actresses, in movies that kind of could appeal to anyone,” said Kelly Gingery, series programmer.

The series is presented by the newly-formed Ohio State University Theatre and Friends Film Discussion Group. The group was founded by Gingery, film critic for MIX 107.9 FM, and Clay Lowe, an associate professor emeritus in OSU’s Department of Theatre.

“Kiss Me Kate” kicks off Sunday at Gateway Film Center with its first film, “The Philadelphia Story,” starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Melissa Starker, sales and marketing manager for Gateway Film Center, and Carolyna Bradford, an actress and producer, will be guest speakers for the screening of “The Philadelphia Story.”

Hepburn, winner of a record four Academy Awards for Best Actress, was chosen because of her iconic status as one of cinema’s great actresses, Gingery said.

“We chose (Hepburn) because she was greatly popular,” she said. “She made comedies, drama. She’s kind of an icon obviously that everyone knows.”

The other two featured actresses – Winslet and Blanchett – were chosen because of their award-winning versatility.

“Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett are two current day women that are very well-regarded Oscar nominees who make comedies, drama, biopics, whatever,” Gingery said. “They can do it all so nobody has really pigeonholed them.”

Along with “The Philadelphia Story,” the series will screen “Pat and Mike,” “The African Queen,” “Heavenly Creatures,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Elizabeth: The Virgin Queen” and “I’m Not There.”

Each screening will feature a discussion afterward led by two guest speakers chosen by OSU Theatre and Friends Discussion Group.

“We wanted to pick people that kind of have their finger on the pulse of the arts here in Columbus, not necessarily just film,” Gingery said. “We tried to match them up and talk with them and find out maybe if there are movies that they have an affinity for more than others.”

One of the goals of the series is to strike down the notion that a female lead correlates to a “chick flick,” Gingery said.

“Women today have such a hard time being the sole lead of the film because Hollywood thinks if you have a woman in the lead, it’s not going to do great (in the) box office,” she said.

The series will run every Sunday for the next six weeks at Gateway Film Center, though a special screening will be held at 7:30 p.m. June 1 for a restored presentation of “The African Queen.” All other screenings begin at 2 p.m. and admission is $5.

[This story ran in The Lantern on May 6, 2010. Click here.]

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‘Toy Story 3’ sneak peek at Gateway tonight

Woody, Buzz and the “Toy Story” gang are coming back to theaters next month, and Ohio State students will have the chance to preview their newest adventure ahead of its release.

The “Toy Story 3” Cliffhanger Screening will be at Gateway Film Center tonight.

“Disney basically wanted to reach out to the college audience for this one,” said Melissa Starker, sales and marketing manager for Gateway Film Center. “I think that’s really smart of them. All of the Pixar films just play so well for all ages.”

The screening will be of the first 65 minutes of the film and is “unfinished,” Starker said.

The “Cliffhanger Screenings” will be taking place on college campuses across the country. According to The New York Times, Disney is bringing the screenings to 84 colleges in 18 of the top 20 markets in the United States and college towns.

Though the film deals with the fate of the toys as their owner, Andy, goes off to college, the goal of the screenings is to appeal to “the Andyites,” Disney’s term for the age 18-24 demographic that grew up with the “Toy Story” films, according to The New York Times.

Viral fliers have been appearing across campus saying, “Now hiring drivers!” in reference to the Pizza Planet restaurant in the films. The ads have rip-off tabs linking to buzzcampusOSU.com, which redirects to Pixar’s Facebook page for the Gateway Film Center screening.

The 65-minute screening will cover all but the ending to the film, something new to sneak peeks. The latest big sneak preview was for “Avatar,” when a free 15-minute preview of the film was offered in August at select theaters.

The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. and is open to college students with a valid student ID.

[This story ran in The Lantern on May 6, 2010. Click here.]

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‘Iron Man 2’ a disappointing course in mediocrity

When it comes to silver screen mediocrity, nobody does it on a more consistent basis than Marvel. “Iron Man 2,” the brand’s latest film venture, is more of the same.

Though the original “Iron Man” wasn’t anything particularly fresh – especially in the new, bold climate of the gritty superhero films led by “The Dark Knight” and “Watchmen” – it provided solid entertainment value and a killer, back-from-the-dead performance by Robert Downey, Jr.

“Iron Man 2,” on the other hand, is just a barely-passing collection of paper-thin storylines, action pieces just a few frames away from legitimate greatness and gratuitous close-ups of Scarlett Johansson’s lady regions.

“Iron Man 2” picks up with Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) being pressured by the United States Government to turn over the technology behind the Iron Man suit for military use.

Now enter the villains: the corporate wuss Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) and mean Russian guy, Ivan Vanko/Whiplash (Mickey Rourke). Hammer wants the technology behind the Iron Man suit to create his own suits for his company and sell them to the military. Vanko just wants Stark dead.

On the allied side, Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow) returns, but here, Potts is given quite a substantial boost in her role. Also appearing are Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Stark’s old buddy, Lt. Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), who’s trying to coax Stark into handing the Iron Man technology over to the government.

Despairingly, “Iron Man 2” feels like a rushed project. Side stories, such as the incorporation of Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., are so fleeting that they hinge on contrived, though S.H.I.E.L.D. in particular certainly served as a nod to fans of the source material. Action pieces wither and die quickly — too quickly for a budding franchise that hangs its hat on action.

That’s not to say “Iron Man 2” doesn’t satisfy on some counts, as it certainly does. Downey is back in top form as the narcissistic and sarcastic Tony Stark, carrying the film on his shoulders with another bravado performance. CGI in the action scenes are satisfactory, despite the fact that the pieces quickly dissolve into their punch lines.

Oh, and Scarlet Johansson provides plenty of eye candy. Front-to-back.

“Iron Man 2” has no qualms being a shallow, harmless piece of summer popcorn fun, but even so, the flick is bogged down by supplanting characters, boring development of story and character arcs and exposition that has no business anywhere near Marvel movie.

In the end, while “Iron Man 2” misses its marks, it provides enough one-liners and explosions to satisfy. “The Dark Knight” it ain’t, but for a summer tentpole flick, “Iron Man 2” gets by – barely.

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