Die Hard 5 Hires a Director

The only thing holding Die Hard 5 from hitting the screen soon was hiring a director. As Movie Fanatic previously reported, Die Hard 5 is a go, with a script written and Bruce Willis ready to be John McClane once again.

Bruce Willis at the Golden Globes

Die Hard 5 now has a director in John Moore. The man behind Flight of the Phoenix starring Dennis Quaid and Behind Enemy Lines with Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson has been tapped to bring Willis’ franchise back to the big screen for the first time since 2007’s Live Free or Die Hard.

The first Die Hard made Willis an international superstar when it premiered in 1988.  Although a script from Skip Woods is complete, no word as to plot points or where in the world audiences will find McClane in 2011.

Eddie Murphy to Host the Academy Awards?

After Eddie Murphy let his displeasure be known for not winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 2003 for his role in Chicago, it now seems funny that it appears the Academy is wooing the actor to host their 2012 show.

Eddie Murphy Pictures

Yet, given its track record of hosts of late, maybe this news is not all that surprising. Last year, Oscar decided to give two actors the duties — James Franco and Anne Hathaway — to questionable results, according to some. Movie Fanatic didn’t find their performance all that bad, particularly Hathaway we thought shined.

Earlier this year, news started buzzing about Billy Crystal saying he was thinking of putting his hat back in the ring of people considered to be hosts for the 2012 awards. After appearing on the 2011 broadcast and witnessing the standing ovation welcome he received, Crystal said he got the hosting bug again.

But, Oscar needs new blood — that much is obvious. In Murphy they get a performer unlike any they have ever had as host. In fact, he possesses the perfect recipe of talents that could make an Oscars host for the ages. Murphy can sing and dance yes, but he has the stage presence and impeccable comic timing to make Oscars 2012 a night to remember.

Oscar producers Brett Ratner (who directed Murphy in Tower Heist, due in November) and Don Mischer could make an announcement before Hollywood heads to Canada for the Toronto Film Festival beginning September 8.

Contagion Movie Review: Catch It!

Contagion is not Outbreak. One, the latest film from Steven Soderbergh produces a much more real version of how an international virus outbreak could cripple the entire world. And two, Contagion catches a fever with audiences in how Soderbergh can craft a mystery movie under the guise of a global catastrophe film.

Matt Damon in Contagion

The cast — and director — of Contagion is top notch. Oscar winners Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard and Soderbergh are involved as are Oscar nominees Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne. Any film from the director of Traffic with a larger cast and an even larger international scope would have us intrigued. With Contagion, film viewers go on a journey from the get-go that is equal parts ensemble film, thriller, international espionage and medical movie.

Paltrow’s character comes back from a business trip to Asia with what she believes is jet lag like she’s never felt. Within 24 hours, she is ill beyond all help. Damon portrays her husband. When he takes her to the emergency room it is too late. A Contagion has killed her. That is no spoiler, the fact of Paltrow’s death is a given from the film’s trailers. But what makes the moment extraordinarily powerful is Damon’s performance upon hearing the news.

Gwyneth Paltrow in Contagion

But then again, the trifecta of Paltrow, Damon and Law previously created cinematic gold in The Talented Mr. Ripley. In Contagion, Law is much more distant to the Damon-Paltrow storyline, yet equally as central to moving the plot. Contagion features Law as its voice of reason and in many ways, its narrator. Even though they are on separate sets, in one scene with a Sanjay Gupta interview featuring Law and Fishburne, Law manages to out Fishburne the Matrix actor in leveling the audience’s perception of how a scene is expected to go with a stroke of their talent.

Like Traffic, Contagion should get the Oscar race moving in early fall. Let the Oscar buzz begin with Damon, Soderbergh, Fishburne, Jennifer Ehle, Law and Winslet. Is it a best picture contender? Time will tell how the fall films land. As Movie Fanatic heads to the Toronto Film Festival to see the best that film has to offer in 2011, that “one of the best of the year” moniker possibly will multiply.

In the shadow of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, one point to Contagion resonates. A decade after terrorists unleashed fear in the United States unlike this country has ever seen — even fictionally — it is good for us to witness a “how would we react to an international disaster” film in order to get a gut check as to where we stand on the important anniversary of the very real disaster.

Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet in Contagion

Soderbergh has often turned his camera into a mirror on society and Contagion is no different. Movie Fanatic believes it is reflective of how the United States would react to a threat that is of human or biological means. Contagion’s weapon of mass destruction is not man made, yet its fictional powers are spot-on in the catastrophe code of conduct as to how the human race would react to such a disaster.

DVD Release: Hanna sizzles, Will Ferrell Gets Serious

The DVD and Blu-Ray new releases this September 6 feature quite the drama from Will Ferrell’s dramatic turn in Everything Must Go to Saoirse Ronan establishing herself as a star in Hanna.

Hanna: A little girl (Saoirse Ronan) is brought up by her father (Eric Bana) in the middle of a desolate European forest. Near her sixteenth birthday, she decides it’s time for her to re-enter the world. This isn’t simply a story of an overprotective father not wanting his teenage girl to feel the world’s harshness. This sixteen-year-old girl is a trained assassin being pursued by a government henchwoman (Cate Blanchett) bent on her destruction before exposing some kill or be killed secret. Hanna pulsates with action, intrigue and firmly places Ronan on the A-list of talented young actresses we want to see more from.

Hanna Blu-Ray.

Everything Must Go: Will Ferrell turns in a dramatic performance as a man who loses everything in one day. He is fired. His wife leaves him and he is locked out of his house with all his possessions strewn across the front yard. Instead of taking stock of his life immediately, he goes on a bender. The drama is top notch and Ferrell does get to be funny on occasion, but overall his dramatic chops are on full display in this sensitive and powerful film.

Everything Must Go Blu-Ray
Vidal Sassoon The Movie: This documentary looks at the first hairstylist celebrity, Vidal Sassoon. Sassoon took the fashion world by storm in the 1960s and Vidal Sassoon: The Movie takes audiences on the most unlikely journey of a man who rose from squalor to splendor while changing how we as a society think of hairstyles.

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie Blu-Ray

The Help Scores Box Office Win for Third Straight Week

The Help earned a title for itself that no other summer release can hold. The movie took the top spot at the box office for the third week in a row, the first film of summer 2011 to achieve such a feat. Kathryn Stockett’s film version of her bestselling book earned $14.2 million over the last weekend of summer.

Emma Stone Viola Davis The Help
It was a grown-up weekend at the box office as The Debt arrived in second place. The film about Nazi hunters from post-World War II Israel starring Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain and Sam Worthington nabbed over $9 million in ticket sales bringing its total since it opened August 31 to $11.6 million.

The third and fourth place finishers were new releases, Apollo 18 and Shark Night 3D. Both bucked bad reviews to sell $8.7 and $8.6 million in tickets respectively. The fifth most popular movie this Labor Day weekend was the film that hasn’t left the top five since its premiere, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The biggest news to arrive out of this weekend’s box office numbers was that Hollywood could pat itself on the back for out-grossing the summer of 2010.

Stay with Movie Fanatic for our Top 10 Movies of the year (so far) arriving later this week, sure to include some summer sizzlers.

Box office:
1. The Help, $14.2 million
2. The Debt, $9.7 million
3. Apollo 18, $8.7 million
4. Shark Night 3D, $8.6 million
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, $7.8 million
6. Colombiana, $7.4 million
7. Our Idiot Brother, $5.2 million
8. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, $4.9 million
9. Spy Kids 4, $4.6 million
10. The Smurfs, $4.0 million