Deathly Hallows set to be dark end to Potter movies

After three months of waiting, we finally have another trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, the first half of the last installment of the Harry Potter movies.  And the trailer certainly doesn’t disappoint – it looks as dark and ominous as the book, and although there are clearly a lot of special effects (as one expects from a movie about magic), there also seems to be a lot of focus on the story, so that’s a positive sign.  I’m a little disappointed that they’ve split the movie into two, but that’s just because I’m cynical and I think the only reason they’ve done it is to milk profits out of us for another year.  If they manage to keep the audience engaged throughout an entire two-part feature, then I’ll withdraw my complaint.  It kind of makes you wonder, though, if they’ve forgotten that the original target audience was supposed to be children.  The new, full-length trailer: Harry Potter trailer

Joaquin Phoenix shaves, apologizes to Letterman for 19 months of stupidity

At long last, Joaquin Phoenix has made a public appearance to tell his version of what that whole hip-hop documentary mess was about. Appearing clean-shaven and back to normal on Letterman Wednesday night, Phoenix apologized to Letterman for any offense caused by his previous interview in February of 2009. In that interview, Phoenix appeared in character as a mumbling, monosyllabic drug user who had apparently given up his acting career to pursue life as a hip-hop artist. As was revealed earlier this week, it turned out the entire 19-month ruse was a stunt to promote Casey Affleck’s mockumentary about Phoenix’s invented alter-ego.

Now, the two-time Academy Award nominee says that the awkwardness of that interview should have been a tip-off, and in a thinly veiled insult he told Letterman, “I assumed that you would know the difference between a character and a real person.” Ouch.

Check out last night’s interview:

Sure enough, Joaquin Phoenix was faking it

As we all suspected, the official word has finally come out:  the whole “I’ve given up acting and I’m now a hip-hop star” weirdness from Joaquin Phoenix was all part of something he calls “performance art” and the rest of us call “being a jackass for no reason.”  Casey Affleck, younger brother of Ben Affleck, directed the film I’m Still Here, documenting Phoenix’s alleged transformation into a king of the hip-hop lifestyle.  The film got a lot of negative criticism, and even more people worried that Joaquin Phoenix was in need of an intervention.  Affleck now says that he assumed people would have known the movie was a fake, but claims that it was not a hoax, it was just actors doing their job – acting.  Joaquin Phoenix is due to be on Letterman tomorrow night, and after having shown up as his hip-hop character for a previous Letterman interview, Phoenix has quite a lot of explaining to do tomorrow.

Michael Douglas shows up for his premiere

Last night was the premiere of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in New York, and Michael Douglas showed up on the red carpet, but declined to speak to reporters.  Douglas announced in August that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.

As anyone who has been through chemo or radiation can tell you, it’s amazing that Douglas managed to make it to the premiere at all, and although he looks understandably tired and a little on the frail side, he seems to be in good spirits.  It’s lovely to see Catherine Zeta-Jones beside him, as I think their marriage was one everyone expected to fail, but she’s clearly his strongest supporter.

Ben Affleck finally does something right

After many years of poor decision-making, both professional and personal (*cough*J-Lo*cough), Ben Affleck finally seems to have done something worthy of his talent and skill, if this weekend’s box-office charts are anything to go by.

His new movie, The Town, debuted in the top spot ahead of high school comedy Easy A and M. Night Shyamalan‘s latest attempt at repairing his own damaged reputation, Devil.  I have to admit, when Affleck was talking about his movie the other night on Leno, it sounded pretty good to me, and I’m eager to see it.  It’s been a long, hard road back from Gigli for him, and I hope now that he’s got something good going on in his professional life he manages to hang onto it.

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem preparing to spawn

There seems to be another celebrity baby craze happening at the moment, and the latest participants to catch the baby-rabies are actors Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.  Cruz has confirmed through a representative that she is indeed 4.5 months pregnant, which finally lays to rest the rumors that had already been floating around for some time.

It’ll be interesting to see how this issue is handled in the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, as Cruz has been pregnant during the filming, and according to some sources, is already noticeably showing.  On the other hand, I suppose any special effects are possible these days – if they can make Sigourney Weaver look eight feet tall and blue, I guess they can probably make Penelope Cruz look un-pregnant.

Quentin Tarantino responds to accusations of nepotism

Director Quentin Tarantino led the jury at the Venice film festival this year, and critics have pointed out that his position of power may have presented a serious conflict of interest regarding the films that won awards.  Tarantino says that the jury selected the winners based on the merits of the respective films themselves, and the fact that those winners included some of Tarantino’s closest friends was mere coincidence.

Tarantino’s ex-girlfriend Sofia Coppola won the award for best picture, and his close friend Alex de la Iglesia won both best director and best original screenplay.  The jury even invented a new career achievement award that was then given to Monte Hellman, whose work Tarantino cites as a primary influence.  Critics in Italy have publicly criticized the jury’s decisions, claiming that there was never any way Tarantino could have made impartial choices with his friends up for awards.  Tarantino says the accusations are nonsense and that he would never let himself be swayed by favoritism.