VOTD: A Retrospective of Woody Allen Surrogates

Woody Allen famously has a habit of casting a stand-in for himelf in his comedies, and you can usually tell which one it is — while neuroses and Judaism aren’t requirements, they’re often indications that you’re looking in the right direction. But in case there’s any doubt, Film Drunk‘s Oliver Noble has Woody Allen surrogatism (which is not a real word, but you know what I mean) down to a science. He’s put together a supercut of the director’s stand-ins over the years, from John Cusack in 1994′s Bullets Over Broadway to Owen Wilson in this year’s delightful Midnight in Paris, and pinpointed the essential qualities that mark these characters as Woody Allen surrogates. Jesse Eisenberg*, I hope you’re taking notes. Watch the compilation after the jump.

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Buy It

ORPHAN
This movie is balls-out insane, in the best way possible. I remember watching the trailer several months back and shaking my head, wondering when we’d finally escape the overused “evil child” horror formula. Having now seen the film, I’m happy to admit that I judged too soon: This may be the best entry in the genre yet. That’s not to say it’s perfect; I could’ve done without the obligatory jump scare tactics, and many of its plot points will feel very familiar if you’ve seen this type of movie before (it was especially jarring for me, having recently saw Joshua, in which Vera Farmiga once again played the mother to a psychotic child… I take it Vera Farmiga is pro-choice?). Put aside those minor issues though, and you’re left with one of the weirdest, ballsiest, most uncomfortably funny (perhaps unintentionally so?) horror flicks to be released by a major studio in quite some time. I’m not surprised that critics were split on it, because it’s not the easiest film to categorize. The first half of the movie is mostly slow-burn drama with moments of eerie intrigue foreshadowing what’s to come. The events play out more like a psychological thriller than your typical horror film. Just when you’re getting comfortable with the film’s ominous tone and pace, the crazy kid factor kicks into full gear, and the movie transforms into a heart-pounding exercise in sadism and glorious absurdity. Some may be disappointed to find the film devolve into unapologetic B-movie trash (albeit extremely well done trash), but given that so much of the movie’s effectiveness is due to it taking the time to build to the insanity instead of just using it as a starting place, you can’t exactly fault the film for choosing that method to unveil its true intentions. And why would you want to? So much of what makes the film unique and rewarding is a result of the crazy directions the story eventually takes. I don’t want to spoil what some of those directions are, but let’s just say that there’s a reveal toward the end of the movie that’s guaranteed to make you reevaluate everything that’s come before it. There’s also a strong focus on the two other children, a risky choice that generates a number of arm-rest-clawing moments of intensity. Deserving much of the credit for these scenes is Isabelle Fuhrman, who gives a fantastic performance as the psycho-girl Esther. Somehow, Fuhrman is fully believable in a role that calls for her to be far more intelligent than every other character in the film, and equally as sinister. With the entire movie basically hinging on a young actress being capable enough to handle the part, it’s impressive that Orphan managed to be anything other than a disaster, let alone the wonderfully deranged horror/thriller that it ultimately became.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – Additional scenes and an alternate ending. Blu-ray – Everything on the DVD, as well as a Mama’s Little Devils: Bad Seeds, Evil Kids and Orphan featurette, and a digital copy of the film.

BEST DVD PRICE
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BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
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$25.99 $25.99 $24.77
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Whatever Works
Sony Pictures Classics has released the official movie trailer for Woody Allen‘s latest comedy Whatever Works. The film stars Larry David as an eccentric New Yorker who abandons his upper class life to lead a more bohemian existence. He meets a young girl from the south, played by Evan Rachel Wood, and her family and no two people seem to get along in the entanglements that follow.

I had a chance to see this film at ShoWest, and while it wasn’t as good as Vicky or Match Point, it was a thrill to see Allen’s cinematic return to New York City. David is great at playing the typical Allen neurotic cynical male protagonist, and Wood is perfect as the impressionable southern belle. I’m surprised that the trailer gives away the “punchline” of the movie,  even out of context it seems a bit odd. Check out the trailer after the jump, and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Video Blog: ShoWest 2009

[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/showest-1.flv 400 236]

I just got back from ShowWest in Las Vegas. ShoWest is a convention for theater owners where, among other things, Hollywood previews some of their upcoming movies. You’ve seen some of my ShoWest overage on the site over the last week, but there was so much going on that I couldn’t get to it all. Frosty from Collider joins me in this video blog wrap-up, where we take a look at nearly everything that we saw over the course of the four day convention. We broke it into two parts because it runs a little bit long. Here is some of the stuff we talked about:

Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, Tron 2 3-D, Beauty and the Beast in 3-D, Angels & Demons,  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Woody Allen’s new film Whatever Works, The Hurt Locker, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, The Hangover, Terminator Salvation, Robert Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, The Proposal, The Princess and the Frog, Men in Black 3, Spider-Man 4, Ghostbusters 3, The Ugly Truth, Julie and Julia, and The Year One.

In the last 5 minutes of the video, George (El Guapo) from Latino Review, Alex from First Showing, Ed from Coming Soon, and Katey from Cinemablend make a cameo appearance and briefly discuss their favorite things from the con. A big thanks goes to Katey Rich for producing this segment. She did the camera work and helped us organize the talking points. Without her, we would have been babbling even more than we did. Part 2 is after the jump.

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Academy Award’s 2009 Movie Preview

sherlock holmes oscars

During the credits of the 81st Academy Awards, video clips were shown for many of the films that will hit theaters in 2009. You might have turned off the television after Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture and missed everything. Or maybe you just want to see the awesome Terminator Salvation footage or the first look at Public Enemiess again. If so, don’t worry, we have the whole 3-minute clip embedded after the jump.

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First Look: Woody Allen’s Whatever Works

VOIR has the first production photos from Woody Allen‘s new film Whatever Works. The movie stars Larry David as a highly eccentric character who runs into a girl from the South named Melodie, played by Evan Rachel Wood. The two of them, joined by Melodie’s Mother and Father, “get into a series of highly improbable, far out, romantic entanglements.”

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