Tuesday, April 29, 2014


FINALLY! After months and months of leaks and speculation we finally have the official word from Star Wars on the casting of Episode VII, due out in theaters the end of next year. Here's the official announcement from StarWars.com:
"The Star Wars team is thrilled to announce the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.
Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.
Director J.J. Abrams says, "We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud."
Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015."
The cast includes most of the key members of the original trilogy (Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, C-3PO, R2-D2 and Chewbacca) being joined by a new crew of Indie TV and Movie favorites. The closest thing to a "name" actor in the new bunch is Andy Serkis, famous for his motion-capture work as King Kong in Peter Jackson's King Kong, Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and the ape Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We can only hope he's not playing some new incarnation of Jar Jar Binks or one of his relatives. Please lord, NO BINKSES!!!
At first glance, this cast looks like it belongs more on the set of a new Coen Brothers or Alexander Payne film, but overall I really like the looks of this new group. The producers clearly went for actors who could actually act, versus simply going for big name movie stars. The newbies include Inside Llewyn Davis' Oscar Issac, HBO's Girls star Adam Driver, About Time's Domhnall Gleeson, Attack the Block's John Boyega and The Exorcist himself, Max von Sydow.
I love the fact that Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay with Director J.J. Abrams as well, as he wrote both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, which were the two best written Star Wars of the bunch. And the fact that eight-time Academy Award nominee Kathleen Kennedy (Steven Spielberg's longtime producer at Amblin' and current LucasFilm president) is producing the film, alongside J.J. Abrams frequent collaborator Bryan Burk, bodes well for the quality we should expect to see from this new crop of films.

Are you excited about the new cast and crew of Star Wars Episode VII? Leave your comments blow or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks

Saturday, April 26, 2014


One of the great cinema-going experiences of my life happened last night, as I was finally able to attend a Lebowski Fest! I was especially looking forward to this event because "The Dude" himself, Jeff Bridges, was going to be in attendance. It's not every day that you get to see an Academy Award winning actor dress up like their most iconic character and rattle off a few famous lines before introducing a film. The whole evening had the feel of a ComicCon type event, except instead of Trekkies and Star Wars and Dr. Who and Game of Thrones fans all mingling together, everyone at Lebowki Fest L.A. at The Wiltern was there to show their devotion to one single film that united them all, The Big Lebowski.

(NOTE: My apologies for the some of the blurry, dark, camera-phone pictures to follow.)

Each bar was serving White Russians (of course), dubbed "Wiltern Caucasians", and featured an advertisement complete with a famous line of dialogue from the film.

Available for sale were T-Shirts (Bowling and standard), event posters, and giant inflatable bowling pins.

Costumes were encouraged! Here we see a nihilist in full regalia, with giant scissors and German accent included.

I'd say about a third of the crowd dressed as their favorite character, while another third wore Lebowski inspired T-Shirts.

Lu "this is a family restaurant" Elrod, along with a few other bit-part character actors were in the lobby, available for pictures or autographs.

One of John Goodman's iconic lines from the film, almost all of which the crowd knew by heart.

The Kyle Gass Band (the other, non-Jack Black half of Tenacious D) opened up the show in Lebowski-inspired outfits with a hilarious and amazingly rockin' set. These guys were not only great entertainers, they were actually great musicians, with shredding guitars, top-notch vocals, and a drummer capable of hitting some pretty tough Freddy Mercury notes on their cover (and his lone lead vocal) of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now". If you ever get a chance to see them in concert, DO IT! They were the perfect choice to get the evening started.

Before Jeff Bridges and his band (the aptly titled "The Abiders") came out for their headlining set, the real life inspiration for "The Dude", Jeff Dowd, was introduced to the crowd.


Jeff Bridges and company played a solid 45 minute set featuring a few songs featured in Lebowski (Bob Dylan's "The Man in Me", The Rolling Stones "Dead Flowers" and Credence Clearwater Revival's "Lookin' Out My Back Door"), a couple tracks from Crazy Heart (Fallin' and Flyin'' and "I Don't Know"), as well as a few others (including a stellar version of The Byrds' "So You Want To Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star").

Overall the crowd seemed to dig the Roots-Rock vibe of the set.


For the first time in the twelve year history of Lebowski Fest, "The Dude" came out and introduced the movie. So cool to be there for this moment.

"I am not Mr. Lebowski. I'm The Dude. So that's what you call me, you know, uh, that or His Dudeness, or Duder, or you know, El Duderino, if you're not into the whole brevity thing."

Then it was on with the show...

One of, if not THE highlight of the night for me was when the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman first hit the screen. The crowd literally ERUPTED! What a goosebump-inducing moment. Everyone sort of knew it was coming and so once it came the crowd let out an enormous, simultaneous explosion of emotion.

The ovation went on for about fifteen or twenty seconds, getting louder as it went on, by the end of which virtually the entire crowd was standing and cheering. It was so loud in fact that you could no longer hear the movie over the sound of the adoring crowd. I shed a couple tears, and I know I wasn't the only one. I'll never forget that moment. What a night.

Overall this was a happy night though, and even though I've probably seen the film eight or ten times, it still makes me laugh just as hard each time.

Thanks to everyone at LEBOWSKI FEST for putting on such a great night of entertainment!

Were you there? What was your favorite moment? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks 

Thursday, April 24, 2014



"The Dude" himself, Jeff Bridges, will be there live and in person, playing with his band "The Abiders".
If you're going to be at The Wiltern tomorrow night, I'll see you there!

NOTE: Tomorrow nights concert/movie is sold out but tickets ($25) are still available for the Lebowski Bowling Party on Sunday night. Click HERE to buy tickets.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014



Here's a few flicks that in one way or another connect to the concept of Earth, nature, atomic fallout, our depleting natural resources, global warming, rising oceans, space junk and other man made environmental catastrophes.
And penguins. Cute little penguins.

Monday, April 21, 2014


This years Cannes Film Festival official selections have been announced and it is going to be quite the star-studded field. Directors with films competing for the Palm d'Or include Oliver Assayas, David Cronenberg, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Atom Egoyan, Jean-Luc Godard, Michel Hazanavicius, Tommy Lee Jones (yes, THAT Tommy Lee Jones), Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Bennett Miller. WOWSERS! The big name directors don't stop there as both Ryan Gosling (yes, THAT Ryan Gosling) and Wim Wenders both had films selected in the Un Certain Regard category as well.

A rather strange addition to the lineup will be a special screening out of competition of How To Train Your Dragon 2, not your typical International Film Festival fare to say the least. The festivals poster was released as well, featuring a close-up of 1960's Italian icon-slash-heartthrob Marcello Mastroianni, looking dapper in the classic 1963 Federico Fellini film 8 1/2.

The Grand Jury, last year overseen by Steven Spielberg, will this year be helmed by The Piano Director Jane Campion, who is the only female Director to ever win the Palm d'Or. It should be noted that fifteen films selected this year were directed by women, including two (Naomi Kawase and Alice Rohrwacher) that will be competing for the festivals top prize. This 67th festival, the most glamorous and prestigious in the film world, will take place May 14th to the 25th. Look for more Cannes updates right here, as they happen.

Here's the list of official selections...

Which film(s) are you most looking forward to seeing? Leave your comments below or tweet me @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks