Hot Rod - Needle Drops in Movies

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, Patrick (H) Willems provides a guide to pop music needle drops in movies, from The Graduate to Boogie Nights and many more in between. Plus, stuntmen react to impressive fights and action sequences in movies like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Red Cliff, Warrior, and more. And finally, Casey Affleck takes a look back at his most memorable characters, including Manchester by the Sea and Gone Baby Gone. Read More »

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

Fantastic Mr. Fox is as attuned to Wes Anderson’s filmmaking idiosyncrasies as any of his past work, and yet somehow it’s never felt more appropriate. Stranger still, he manages to stay true to the spirit of the book, despite Roald Dahl having his own offbeat brand of charm and quirk. It seems though that Dahl’s story gave Anderson exactly the starting-off point he needed, and he used the decidedly more simple and focused narrative to fashion a movie uniquely his own, in the best way possible. Anderson’s symmetrical framing and artful use of color translate perfectly to the animated world, and the rough, makeshift design of the sets and character design add an imperfect appeal that most animators wouldn’t even consider exposing audiences to in this day and age. If there’s one area that might’ve benefitted from an update it’s the faces of the characters, because though the old-school models fit nicely with the rest of the film’s stylistic approach, they come dangerously close to looking like dead-eyed puppets. This would probably be more of an issue were the voice acting not so perfect, and were the pace of the movie not so delightfully fast and fun. In a year filled with spectacular animated films, Fantastic Mr. Fox manages to stand out amongst them as the most interesting and original of the bunch.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – Two featurettes (“From Script to Screen”, “Still Life (Puppet Animation)”), and A Beginner’s Guide to Whack-Bat. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as 4 documentary featurettes (“The Look Of Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “The Puppet Makers”, “The Cast”, “Bill And His Badger”), a Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World Of Roald Dahl featurette, a DVD copy of the film, and a digital copy.

Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $19.99 $16.77
Amazon – $17.99

Target Best Buy Fry’s
$24.99 $26.99 $24.77
Amazon – $24.99

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John Woo’s Red Cliff U.S. Movie Trailer


It seems like it’s taken forever for the U.S. release of John Woo’s epic Red Cliff, but now it’s finally scheduled for a November release — and we have the U.S. trailer to prove it. Even though it’s taken us so long to get the film domestically, we’re still getting screwed over since we’re receiving the condensed version of Woo’s original vision. Red Cliff was originally released in China (and other Asian markets) as two films totaling 4 hours. Outside of Asia, the film was edited down to 2 1/2 hours.
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When you’ve got a slate of niche films, sometimes coming up with an umbrella label to market them all as one package is the best way to go. Magnolia / Magnet tried this to good effect last year with the Six Shooter Film Series, which packaged international genre films like Let the Right One In, Big Man Japan and Timecrimes for release On Demand and in theatres. The idea is that if viewers like one film in the series, they’re more likely to check out the others. Now the second ‘season’ of films is all packaged up, and Magnet has sent out a tidy press release to announce them. Read More »

New Photos in MTV’s 2009 Fall Movie Preview


MTV has published their Fall 2009 movie preview, which includes 24 new photos from movies due out in the next four months. Its one of those really annoying page-at-a-time slideshows, so I thought I’d feature a few of the photos. . Above is another look at Peter Jackson‘s version of “Heaven” in The Lovely Bones, featuring Saoirse Ronan.

After the jump, photos include: George Clooney and Anna Kendrick in Jason Reitman‘s Up in the Air, John Woo‘s Red Cliff, James McTeigue‘s Ninja Assassin, and Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Matt Damon in Steven Soderbergh‘s The Informant. You can head on over to MTV to see many many more

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Movie Trailer: John Woo’s Red Cliff 2

Twitch has the first trailer for the second a part of John Woo‘s massive epic period war film Red Cliff, based on the The Battle of Red Cliffs in 208 AD. Looks pretty intense. The most expensive film in Chinese film history. The first part broke box office records in China.

9 Minutes of John Woo’s Red Cliff

John Woo's Red Cliff

Over the weekend a 9-minute Cannes promo reel for John Woo’s Red Cliff showed up online. The 4-hour 2-episode $80 million epic adaptation of The Battle of Red Cliffs is the biggest budget Chinese film ever to be greenlit. Red Cliff stars Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen, Hu Jun, Lin Chi-ling and Zhao Wei. The first of the two films is scheduled to be released in July in select territories. I’m not exactly sure when the movie will be released in the States or if it will be cut down into one release. We’ll keep you updated. Watch the video footage after the jump. Looks pretty epic if you ask me.

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Chow Yun-fat

Chow Yun-fat has dropped out of John Woo’s 4-hour $75 million adaptation of The Battle of Red Cliff (titled Red Cliff) three days into shooting, according to Variety. The producers don’t know what to do, and are doing the best they can to reschedule the production around the scenes and shots that don’t involve the leading man. That’s right, Chow Yun-fat was the lead.

According to the producers, the move was made “since the bond company CineFinance would not approve his agreement.” But we believe there is more to the story. The agency claims that Chow had made “unreasonable demands.” While Chow claims he didn’t receive a final script until a few days ago and “was not sure he would do justice to the character.” I don’t know who to believe.

Chow is not the first to depart from the project. Tony Leung Chiu-wai (Bullet In The Head) quit a few weeks back over time commitments (He claimed that he could not make a commitment to the six month-long production).

Red Cliff, the biggest budget Chinese film ever to be greenlit, is the big screen retelling of the Battle of Red Cliffs, a decisive battle during the period of the Three Kingdoms in China. According to, the battle took place in the winter of 208 C.E. between the allied forces of the southern warlords (Liu Bei and Sun Quan), and the northern warlord Cao Cao. Liu and Sun successfully frustrated Cao’s effort to conquer the land south of the Yangtze River and reunify China. It is also distinctive for being one of the most lethal battles in world history. Despite being one of the most famous battles of Chinese history, descriptions of the battle differ widely on details; in fact, even the place of battle is still fiercely debated.