Friday, July 31, 2009

Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox Trailer


Wes Anderson seems to have taken a much-needed change of direction in his newest offering, a stop-motion take on the classic children's novel Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach). Many of Anderson's usuals are here, including Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray, with George Clooney and Meryl Streep added to the mix. See the trailer here. Looks like it could be a fun departure.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

"A Serious Man" Trailer

Looks a little bit crazier than I expected, a lot more Burn After Reading than No Country for Old Men. Still looks fantastic.

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Summer Movie Releases - 7/31/09

Funny People

If the 30 minute HBO special playing all week is any indicator, writer-director Judd Apatow hasn't turned down the raunchy stuff in his 3rd feature. Adam Sandler plays a successful film star going back to stand up who is stricken with disease. Seth Rogen is an upcoming comic who becomes his assistant. Leslie Mann plays Sandler's object of desire. Aziz Ansari appears to do some crazy stand up. What do you do if you're supposed to die and you don't? "What do you do if your real life surpasses your wildest dreams?" "Keep it to yourself."

Thirst

A young priest turns into a vampire after he volunteers to receive an experimental vaccine. The typical crappy horror film with pseudo-religious mumbo jumbo? Maybe, but I'll give Korean director Chan-Wook Park the benefit of the doubt. After 5 years, Oldboy's still seared on my cerebral cortex, for better or worse. Can't wait for the crappy American remake.


Aliens in the Attic

Some kids fight some aliens in the attic. Parents are stupid. Kids are awesome. Non-Pixar kid movies suck.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

HBO Sunday Night - 7/26/09

Hung: Episode 4 - The Pickle Jar

Ray, the lead character (Thomas Jane) may be a prostitute, but the series is turning into much more than cheap jokes and posterior male nudity. Perfectly timed for 2009, Hung is about difficult times, struggling, and getting by. The key moment in the latest episode came from an unexpected place: Ray's son Damon admitting that "life is sometimes just too much." And later, toward the end, as Ray decides if he's actually going to go through with his new profession, the show becomes about persistence and preserverance. It's amazing what series writers Collete Burson and Dmitry Lipkin have been able to accomplish in four 30 minute episodes. The weakest part of the show (Ray's kids) are starting to matter and the best parts of the show (Ray and Tanya) continue their interesting, poignant, and hilarious interactions. Alas, there wasn't enough Tanya (Jane Adams) in this episode to get an A-. B+

Entourage : Season 6, Episode 3
"One Car, Two Car, Red Car, Blue Car"

Unlike Ray Drecker and his kids, the guys in Entourage aren't even close to living in the real world. Turtle has a tough 30th birthday because his friend Vince buys him a Ferrari and his hot girlfriend (Jamie Lynn Sigler) only buys him a Porsche. Am I supposed to feel sorry for him because he has no career? At least Drama (Kevin Dillon) is still providing some funny rapid-fire one-liners and Lloyd is getting some good material ("Mr. Turtle"). Best of all, Ari's scenes giving advice to Eric and Turtle are perfectly written and amusingly performed. The show may not add up to much and Vince may not have much to do, but it's still pretty good TV, led by the writing, Dillon, and Jeremy Piven. B

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Monday, July 27, 2009

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 7/28/09

Angel of Death
Bad Lieutenant
Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.5 - #
Dollhouse: Season 1 - #
Dragonball Evolution - #
Fast & Furious - #
Knight Rider: Season 1
Miss March - #
Repulsion – (Criterion) - #, *
Streets of Blood

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

12 Monkeys - *
2 Fast 2 Furious
Battlestar Galactica: Complete Series
Champions of Faith
The Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Green Lantern: First Flight
Harvard Beats Yale 29-29
The Inglorious Bastards
A River Runs Through It - *
This is Spinal Tap - *# - Also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Advertainment

1. Dr. Dre in a Dr. Pepper ad. Weirdest sell-out move ever.

2. Oasis in a Jaguar commercial. Pretty cool, actually.

3. Very effective ad for the Palm Pre - it was integrated into the Jimmy Fallon Show - he showed how to use it and talked about it. I would have never paid attention before, but did because I couldn't tell if it was a bit or what was going on. I've seen this on a couple of other shows. An interesting development, obviously a response to TIVO. Ad men are like cockroaches.

PS - Rewatching Miami Vice (A). Could watch this on a neverending loop.

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Weekend Box Office - 7/24-26/09

Talking guinea pigs took out the 2nd week of Harry Potter 6, which may receive a bump next week with added IMAX screens. G-Force also took part of the Ice Age audience. Transformers 2 is now #10 all-time, and The Hangover and The Proposal just keep on rolling. Bruno is down another huge percentage.

Weekend total / % Change / Cumulative total

1. G-Force: 32 mil / (-)
2. Harry Potter 6: 30 mil / (-61%) / 222 mil
3. The Ugly Truth: 27 mil / (-)
4. Orphan: 12.7 mil / (-)
5. Ice Age 3: 8.2 mil / (-53%) / 171 mil
6. Transformers 2: 8.0 mil / (-41%) / 379 mil
7. The Hangover: 6.47 mil / (-21%) / 247 mil
8. The Proposal: 6.42 mil / (-23%) / 140 mil
9. Public Enemies: 4.2 mil / (-46%) / 88 mil
10. Bruno: 2.7 mil / (-67%) / 56.5 mil
11. 500 Days of Summer: 1.6 mil / (+95%) / 3 mil
12. Up: 3.1 mil / (-29%) / 280 mil
13. The Hurt Locker: 1.5 mil / (+97%) / 4 mil

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

2 Quick News Items

If you like the sensibilities of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, you'll enjoy Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's TV series Spaced. It became availabe on hulu.com a couple of days ago and the jokes come fast, multi-layerd, and furious. Check it out here.

Another Where the Wild Things Are trailer is up here. There's also a feauterette with the book's author Maurice Sendak who obviously likes the film. The visuals look amazing.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

The Answer Man - C

In limited theatrical release today. Premiered on HDNET on 7/22.

Arlen Faber (Jeff Daniels) wrote Me and God in which he claimed to have direct communication with the Almighty. His book became a cultural milestone. But with the book's 20 year anniversary coming up, Faber has become withdrawn, reclusive, belligerent, and intolerable. He gets an opportunity to engage in life with 2 chance encounters: one with Elizabeth, a single mom chiropractor (Lauren Graham) and the other with Kris Lucas, an alcoholic bookstore owner (Lou Taylor Pucci). The movie catches fire for several scenes in the middle when Faber answers questions from Lucas about the meaning of life and gives him advice. Faber's relationship with Elizabeth's son has similar appeal, especially when he describes what he loves about kids.

But while first-time writer John Hindman has some pretty good insightful dialogue and structures the film soundly (if a bit predictably), first-time director John Hindman can't keep a handle on the wildly shifting moods and scene transitions. The great cast was obviously attracted by a script written by someone who's read alot of self help books (like The Love Guru) and as someone who's never read any, some of the "answers" and insights were borderline profound, but as Faber gets ready to give his last speech, the script (thus, the film) falls incredibly flat.

Daniels carries the film well and has pretty good chemistry with Graham. But Pucci's apperance (facial hair, piercings) are too distracting - he seems to be a good enough actor to portray the character's troubles without all the props and gimmicks. Tony Hale (Buster Bluth) and Nora Dunn provide some great supporting work. All in all, a mixed bag - a good script brought down by too much slapstick, bad visual jokes, and so-so editing.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer Movie Releases - 7/24/09


The Ugly Truth

An idealistic TV show producer (Katherine Heigl) is forced to work with a rude sexist on-screen personality (a suspenders-less Gerard Butler) who drops all kinds of insightful nuggets about how men and women really work. Looks like it might be good for awhile until they inevitably fall in love.


In the Loop

The American President and British Prime Minister start an unnecessary war because of a miscommunication. Lots of dramatic Iraq movies have flopped, but this one takes a comedic approach. James Gandolfini shows up as a US general trying to stop the invasion. It’s a tricky thing to make work, but early reviews are very positive.


Orphan

The loss of their unborn baby devastates Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard. They decide to adopt a baby who turns out to be a devil-child. Good actors and an interesting premise with lots of stuff under the surface – if you like horror movies. I might give it a chance on cable – love Farmiga and Sarsgaard.

G-Force

A bunch of guinea pigs save the world – in 3D! Sam Rockwell, Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, and Tracy Morgan provide voices. No doubt there will be some wire-fu, clich├ęd musical cues, and lots of flatulence jokes.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Shutter Island Poster

Looks great. I hope I'm not building this up too much.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Few Reviews


Up B+

I must slightly dissent from Lawyer’s review here. The opening and closing sequences of this film are breath-taking both in their emotional heft and their subject matter, plowing new ground for an animated film. Beyond that, this is a a good if not great kids film. Unlike Toy Story, The Incredibles, and Wall*E, all of which are as fun for adults as children, the middle of this film feels like kiddie entertainment first and foremost. It just doesn’t hold-up with the adult frame (which children really can’t fully appreciate) involving grown-up dreams and disappointments, including the inability to have children. A very good film, but not among Pixar’s best. B+

Chinatown A

AFI named this Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston 1974 gumshoe masterpiece from the hands of Roman Polanski the greatest mystery movie ever made. Jack Nicholson as hard-boiled dick Jake Gittes in 1930’s L.A. is hired to look into an affair that turns into murder that at first blush appears to pull Jake into a political scandal. Faye Dunaway is the daughter of a millionaire married to his murdered ex-partner who Jake in turn suspects and loves. Meanwhile, John Huston as Dunaway’s father Noah Cross steals every scene he’s in as a cold-blooded capitalist beast. The film is neo-noir and draws heavily from the film that launched Huston’s directorial career, The Maltese Falcon, especially the character of Sam Spade, the spiritual father of Jake Gittes. However, unlike Falcon which has a hard-boiled morality at its core, Chinatown, as its name ultimately alludes to, has an unbeating nihilistic heart. Great film. A

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix B


In preparation for the newest film I went back and watched its immediate predecessor and the fifth film of the series, The Order of the Phoenix. This is Yates (the eventual director of the remaining films) first time at the helm and it shows. Similar to the first two films, he’s too scared to cut anything out and more interested in dazzling with CGI than with character development or emotional wallop. That’s a shame, because Harry’s godfather Sirius Black’s (a magnificent Gary Oldman) death should be devastating and, instead, is a little confusing. Still, Maggie Smith as pink-loving McCarthy-ist Minerva McGonagall is perfect, Evanna Lynch as space cadet Luna Lovegood is far better than the book, and the final battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore is everything a war between grand wizards should be. At just over two hours, it should have been longer, especially since it contains all the conflicts and clues that drive the final three films. B

The films as I rank them are as follows:
Half-blood Prince (#6) A-
Goblet of Fire (#4) B+
Prisoner of Azkaban (#3) B+
Order of the Phoenix (#5) B
Sorcerer’s Stone (#1) B-
Chamber of Secrets (#2) C+

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HBO Sunday Night - 7/19/09

Hung: Episode 3 - "Strange Friends"

Tanya's phone conversation with Lenore toward the end of the episode was filled with sight gags (the pen, the shoplifted dress), revelations (Lenore's admission and motivation), and funny lines that had the writing finally reaching the level of the acting. Even the title of the episode is equally interesting and satisfying. Jane Adams's Tanya is becoming the most fascinating character on TV - her tics, hesitations, stuttering, and gestures (in nearly every scene) cover up just how troubled she is. And Adams nails all of it - she's capable of going head to head with both sensitive and aggressive men. For his part, Thomas Jane continues to slowly unravel his dumb jock character Ray beautifully. (Their "worst pimp ever" scene was another great one). Even Anne Heche finally got a terrific scene - finally reaching her children with a dying, diseased, arthritic dog who really should be put out of its misery. Its the first great episode of the new series. A-

Entourage - Season 6, Episode 2 - Amongst Friends

Unfortunately, Entourage has devolved in some kind of 90210 relationship show, where everyone pairs off and you're supposed to care if E and Turtle will make it work. Even Ari struggles with his best friend (Gary Cole) and his infidelity. The show is still interesting enough (with the quick pans to Lloyd, Turtle and Drama's one-liners) to be working. And the characters are still much more likable than in recent seasons. B

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Monday, July 20, 2009

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 7/21/09

Coraline - #
The Great Buck Howard - #
Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Criterion)
Watchmen - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases.

300: The Complete Experience
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Midnight Express - *
Prison Break: The Final Break
Pushing Daisies: Second Season

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doc's pick of the week

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekend Box Office - 7/17-19/09

Mr. Potter dominated and Bruno fell a whopping 73%. The battle for 4th, 5th, and 6th place is interesting with only 80 grand or so separating the 3 films. So Bruno could fall out of the top 5 when the final numbers are released tomorrow – but who cares about those? Transformers 2 is now #13 all time, probably on its way to #9. And The Hangover (and The Proposal) just keep on rolling.

Weekend total / % Change / Cumulative total

1. Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince 79.5 mil / (-) / 160 mil
2. Ice Age 3: 17.7 mil / (-36%) / 152 mil
3. Transformers 2: 13.8 mil / (-43%) / 364 mil
4. Bruno: 8.37 mil / (-73%) / 49.6 mil
5. The Hangover: 8.32 mil / (-16%) / 235 mil
6. The Proposal: 8.29 mil / (-22%) / 128 mil
7. Public Enemies: 7.6 mil / (-45%) / 79.5 mil
8. Up: 3.1 mil / (-29%) / 280 mil
9. My Sister’s Keeper: 2.8 mil / (-28%) / 34 mil
10. I Love You Beth Cooper: 2.7 mil / (-46) / 10.3 mil

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

R.E.M. - Five Best from the 80s

1. You Are the Everything
R.E.M. and specifically Michael Stipe were coming into their own toward the end of the 80s. For this song, the first track off their 1988 album Green, Stipe finally laid down some lyrics that were worthy of his vocal lines and his voice. Being happy in the moment is a beautiful thing and should be recognized. I love the set of lyrics beginning with “Here’s a scene”- a retelling of a perfect moment as if life is a movie.

2. Superman
The last track on Life’s Rich Pageant is kind of a stalker song along the lines of The Police’s Every Breath You Take. But Stipe, Mike Mills, Peter Buck, and Bill Berry hit all the right notes and harmonies. It’s been hijacked on youtube by Superman Returns montages but a so-so live version with the song's writer will have to do.

3. Fall On Me
The lyrics make no sense at first; until someone tells you or you realize it’s about pollution and acid rain. Pretty depressing stuff compared to the more common inspirations of love and sex. Of all of R.E.M.’s great vocal overlaps, this is one of the best and Stipe is really reaching and holding those high notes for the first time.

4. (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville
A fairly straightforward song that’s hypnotic in its simplicity. Small town America, lost dreams, loneliness, and so much more is covered with so very little.

5. Talk About the Passion
Another simple, folksy song which encourages people to take the time to discuss important things.

Alternate: Hairshirt
A terrific mandolin riff and an interesting bass line blend beautifully to mask some pretty bad lyrics. Stipe and company would take over 2 years off before their next album, Out of Time (1991). The break did him some good since that album probably has the best lyrics of any of their albums.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince A-


In Theatres, PG, 153 minutes

At the point when most film series are running on fumes, the sixth in the Potter series slams into high with Half-Blood Prince. Director David Yates’ second turn at the helm (2007’s Order of the Phoenix was his first) finds him more comfortable trusting the characters and story and less interested in dazzling with CGI. That’s all to the best since the three leads—Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Rupert Grint as Ron, and Emma Watson as Hermione—have grown into actors that can hold their own with the stellar cast of English stage actors which have hitherto done the bulk of the heavy lifting. Grint shows his chops at physical humor and the year or two on the stage have really paid off for Radcliffe who seems for the first time fully in charge of his character. Emily Watson has meanwhile developed into a stunning young women who still seems to be the best and smartest wizard of the bunch. Of the supporting cast Alan Rickman as Snape continues to be a standout. His droll line delivery has never been better. Helena Bonham Carter is also spectacular fun as the evil/destructive Beatrix Lestrange. Finally, the addition of Jim Broadbent as the name-dropping potions professor Horace Slughorn is providential. He brings significant emotional depth to the film and works to round out our understanding of Harry’s mother, Lily.

In the three months that have passed since Voldemort’s re-emergence at the end of The Order of the Phoenix, his death-eaters have become more brazen, openly attacking non-wizard muggles in London. Hogwart’s re-convening is filled with fear and talk of open warfare between the dark and white wizards. With violence on the rise, Dumbledore has taken to leaving for long periods searching for clues to Voldemort’s past and potential weakness. If that doesn’t seem like much of a plot, it isn’t. The film serves primarily to bridge the first five with the final, decisive battle of the last two (based on one book).

The magic in this film is that, for the first time, this film manages to catch one of my favorite aspects of the books: life at Hogwarts. The pace this time is decidedly slower, with all extraneous sub-plots removed, leaving time for meetings in the library, discussions about snogging, moments of heartbreak, dinner parties, and consultations with professors. The real terrain of the film is relationships, especially those of the romantic nature between the young cast as Hermione pines for Ron while he’s exploring other options and Ginny Weasley dates around waiting for Harry to make his move.

The weaknesses of the film include Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley who is simply too young to fit in with Harry and his crew and lacks anything near the dynamic spark we assume would be necessary to woo The Chosen One. Furthermore, there isn’t any indication that awful things are going on outside Hogwart’s or that it would be particularly difficult to wage an assault on her, making the final scene a little difficult to comprehend. But these are small trifles in a sly film that is the most comic and most poignant in the series. A-

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jack White's Dead Weather New Video Up

News that Jack White is involved in yet another side project is so common place it barely illicits a yawn, so, when I heard he'd formed ANOTHER super group The Dead Weather, I was hardly ecstatic. But first single "Treat Me Like Your Mother" is greatness and the corresponding video, looking like something Tarantino might have shot, is the coolest I've seen in forever. The girl is Kills lead singer (and oh-so-hot) Alison Mosshart, who provides lead vocals for most songs on the album.
The Dead Weather - Treat Me Like Your Mother


The entire album (Horehound) is streaming here.

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Emmy Nominations

I typically do not care about the Emmys, but this year has lots of love for DLP fave Flight of the Conchords. Click here for the full list of nominations.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Movie Releases - 7/15-17/09

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I thought this was the 5th entry in the series, but it's the 6th. Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix merged in my head. I've heard good things about the costumes and cinematography, but I didn't see the first 5 in the theater and I'm not starting now just because Emma Watson is finally legal. At least Daniel Radcliffe is not making it with a horse in this one - I hope. Google "Equus" for help with that.


500 Days of Summer

The trailer was OK, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel trying to make young, modern love work. Deschanel is finally starting to work for me and Gordon-Levitt is a talent, despite his recent perf in Killshot. Priest has called this and I look forward to his thoughts.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Whatever Works - C

In theaters. Rated R, 92 minutes. Trailer.

Writer/Director Woody Allen has been on a commercial and critical hot streak of late, with Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point (B+) both faring well in both arenas. Whatever Works will end the streak on both fronts, despite starring one of my favorite people, Larry David as Allen's stand-in (the closest you can possibly get to Allen himself). David is Boris Yelnikov, a brilliant but negative older New Yorker with an EXTREMELY pessimistic worldview with a history of suicide attempts. Click below for more on WW:

The film follows a normal Allen arc - older male meets, enlightens and falls in love with a much younger naive but beautiful woman who ultimately disappoints and leaves him. David is spot on in the role, which is essentially a more cerebral and less likeable version of his Curb Your Enthusiasm character. He spouts off lots of different takes on his view of the world (not entirely unfamiliar to this writer) involving chaos theory and a dim view of religion. Those parts worked, but the film lacks an interesting plot or enough interesting characters. Patricia Clarkson is great in her role as the mother of Evan Rachel Wood's character that goes WAY off the deep end in New York.

Allen's thesis is the ultimate in moral relativism, basically the opposite of any religious teaching - that is, whatever works to make you happy and to fulfill yourself is what you should do, and that religion and 'southern' values only serve to repress your true self. Uh, okay, that works for all of the different wealthy, unmarried and childless adults in New York City, but not for the continuation of the species and a meaningful society. The final scene of the film sees each character happy and all of the southern rubes having been transformed by the NYC relativism pixie dust into happy adults, each relationship representing a worldview. But Allen doesn't include anyone that is in a normal, moral relationship and that is the most glaring problem with the film.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

HBO Sunday Night - 7/12/09

Entourage: Season 6, Episode 1: Drive

The last couple of seasons have worn thin with stories of Vince struggling over and over and over again. So it was a nice turn at the end of last season when Vince was cast in Martin Scorsese’s version of The Great Gatsby. This season picks up several months later with the premiere of that film coming up. Vince’s hot streak continues as he gets his driver’s license to prepare for an Enzo Ferrari movie. Eric is having the most success of his life with women, Turtle is still dating Jamie-Lynn Sigler (yeah-right), and Drama is still successful on his TV show. The show is called “Entourage” but everyone seems to be going their own ways . . .
It’s nice to see Vince succeeding again – the show works much better as a comedy with flashes of drama than vice versa. Vince returning home to an empty house at the end with The Verve’s “Lucky Man” was the best ending of any episode in recent memory. After his troubles last fall with mercury and what-not, you’d think Jeremy Piven would show some shame or retreat, but thankfully does neither - his Ari Gold is still one of the best supporting characters in all of TV – maybe best of the decade since he gives a jolt of electricity every time he’s on screen. His relationship with his gay assistant Lloyd has made the show watchable the past couple of seasons. In this episode, his deal to promote Lloyd (providing Lloyd does everything he says for 100 days) sets up the season for possible greatness. With the economy the way it is (and shout-outs to Leno’s Tonight Show and the cancelled My Name is Earl), the show feels dated. It’s strange to see the guys behaving as if it’s 2005, spending money they don’t have on stuff they don’t need. But they are growing up and going their separate ways, which is an improvement over the redundancy over the past couple of seasons. B+

Unlike the guys in Entourage, the writers of Hung (Episode 2 – “Great Sausage or Can I Call You Dick”) know the economy is a wreck. Teachers are getting fired and our hero Ray (Thomas Jane) needs money so badly, he’s turned to prostitution (He need Bret McKenzie to sing him a song). The second episode has Ray taking on (screwing) his first real client – to mixed success. Jane’s reactions and awkwardness dealing with the situations are great but Anne Heche’s reach-out to their kids is boring. The relationship between Ray and Tanya (Jane Adams), his pimp, is working in spades – for now. Phallic jokes never last – and this show needs another character or more inspired storylines if it’s gonna make it. So far, not even actors as terrifically talented Jane and Adams can save writing that has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the balls. B

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases 7/14/09

The Edge of Love - #
For All Mankind (Criterion) - #, *
Grey Gardens
The Haunting in Connecticut
Horsemen
Mad Men: Season Two - #

Click below for this week's Blu-Ray releases

The Black Crowes: Warpaint Live
Cheap Trick: Every Trick in the Book
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon/Curse of the Golden Flower/House of Flying Daggers - *
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
Jose Feliciano: The Paris Concert
The Towering Inferno (1974)

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend Box Office - 7/12/09

Bruno made a ton of money ($14 mil) Friday night but fell precipitously throughout the weekend. Word of mouth must have been horrible. Transformers 2 is now #16 all-time.

Weekend total / % Change / Cumulative total

1. Bruno: 30.4 mil / (-) / 30.4 mil
2. Ice Age 3: 28.5 mil / (-32%) / 121 mil
3. Transformers 2: 24.2 mil / (-43%) / 339 mil
4. Public Enemies: 14.1 mil / (-44%) / 67 mil
5. The Proposal: 10.5 mil / (-18%) / 114 mil
6. The Hangover: 9.9 mil / (-12%) / 222 mil
7. I Love You Beth Cooper: 5 mil / (-) / 5 mil
8. Up: 4.7 mil / (-29%) / 274 mil
9. My Sister’s Keeper: 4.2 mil / (-28%) / 36 mil
10. The Taking of Pelham 123: 1.6 mil / (-37%) / 61.5 mil

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Bruno - C-

In theaters. Rated R!, 87 minutes. Trailer.

I really liked Borat (B+) and enjoy pretty much all of Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy. I found the Bruno sketches that were part of the Ali G Show to be some of my favorite. But with the film version of Bruno, SBC has blown it. Whereas Borat was somewhat realistic and was used to prod multiple cultural issues in a semi-intelligent manner, Bruno is a dumbed down and raunchy for-the-sake-of-it bomb. Click below for more from a disappointed Lawyer:

Maybe I'm overly sympathetic to folks who aren't comfortable with homosexuality or just southerners in general, but 90% of the film just doesn't resonate or produce any laughs or worthwhile social commentary. The other 10% is pretty funny, and I laughed out loud during the military scenes (HELLO!), the baby model parent interviews, the charity interviews with the twins and the cage fight at the end. The film is overly reliant on nudity and raunchiness for laughs and is doesn't work. I almost left 30 minutes in because it was so boring and uninteresting. To the right is the flyer that baited the people in Fort Smith, Arkansas to come to the cage fight. Boo-hissssssss.

Saturday update: Anthony Lane at the New Yorker comes to the same conclusion much more eloquently here.

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Pearl Jam Tour

Not exactly geographically friendly, though. Dates below:

Ben Harper and Relentless 7 will open all dates, except for the Spectrum Theater shows.

September 21, 22 - Seattle, WA Key Arena
September 30, October 1, 6, 7 - Los Angeles, CA Gibson Amphitheater
October 9 - San Diego, CA Viejas Arena
October 28, 30 - Philadelphia, PA

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

More Odds and Ends

1. I rewatched Harold and Maude recently. Count me as a huge late breaking Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam - he wrote the songs for the film and was essentially an additional character. "Trouble", which plays over the closing scene, is exactly what I need during my "spells" of distress during the day (lyrics after the jump). Here's an excellent cover of the song by Eddie Vedder. Here's Elliot Smith's version. Here's a write-up of Yusuf's performance from Cameron Crowe of the recent tribute to HM director Hal Ashby.

2. I like Garrison Keillor...here's his take on state fairs (including Texas') for National Geographic.

3. Life Magazine recently put their entire archives online in a great searchable database. A vast number of the photos have never been published. Beautiful pictures and lots of great gift ideas.

4. Can't wait for the new Ken Burns series: The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Reminds me of Wyoming. Great preview here (forward to when there are 19:50 minutes left (the start of the Episode 4 preview) for the Tetons portion). Watch out for John Muir quotes.


Trouble
Oh trouble set me free
I have seen your face
And it's too much too much for me

Trouble
Oh trouble can't you see
You're eating my heart away
And there's nothing much left of me

I've drunk your wine
You have made your world mine
So won't you be fair
So won't you be fair

I don't want no more of you
So won't you be kind to me
Just let me go where
I'll have to go there

Trouble
Oh trouble move away
I have seen your face
and it's too much for me today

Trouble
Oh trouble can't you see
You have made me a wreck
Now won't you leave me in my misery

I've seen your eyes
and I can see death's disguise
Hangin' on me
Hangin' on me

I'm beat, I'm torn
Shattered and tossed and worn
Too shocking to see
Too shocking to see

Trouble
Oh trouble move from me
I have paid my debt
Now won't you leave me in my misery

Trouble
Oh trouble please be kind
I don't want no fight
And I haven't got a lot of time


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Summer Movie Releases - 7/9/09

Bruno

Sascha Baron Cohen takes another character from his Ali G Show to the big screen, this time the gay Austrian fashionista. Borat made us take a hard look as racial stereotypes; maybe this will do the same for gay ones. But something tells me that this won’t be the smash success that Borat was – people are just not that comfortable with really, really gay people in their personal space.



I Love You, Beth Cooper

A nerdy valedictorian professes his love for Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) while he’s giving his graduation day speech. He’s surprised when she later shows up at his door for a date. All kinds of worthless and horrible high school shenanigans are sure to follow. Pass.



Humpday

2 old college friends meet up a decade later and somehow dare each other into making an amateur gay porno with each other. This is supposedly the best of the “mumblecore” movies - whatever that means (cheap, poorly acted, bad lighting, etc.). With that set-up, I don’t care what the reviews are – I’m out.

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Hung

A new HBO series premiered last night starring Thomas Jane as Ray, a former high school and college sports star ruined by an injury whose hard times have continued to increase. His wife left him for a dermatologist, his son is in the goth scene, and his daughter is dating someone named Hammer. He teaches gym at the local high school and his uninsured house just burned down. In desperation, he decides to go to a seminar to unlock his inner entrepreneur. He comes to realize his only “tool” for success in this world is, well, look at the name of the series.

Jane is believable and portrays the inner struggles and difficult decisions well. This is a pretty good move for him - his film career was stuck with crappy scripts since he probably insisted on being the lead. (No one will ever take away his genius turn in Boogie Nights, however). His seminar co-attendee and occasional lover Tanya (Jane Adams – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) is terrific as a self-proclaimed poet and future pimp with a knack for marketing. Likewise, a fiery Anne Heche and a slick Eddie Jemison are great in short scenes as his ex-wife and her new man.This pilot episode was directed by Alexander Payne, whose last feature film was the excellent Sideways. He keeps things interesting with abrupt changes in mood, but mostly lets the actors and writers do their thing. There are some nice flashbacks and voice-over narration. It’s a good set-up for the series and it will be interesting to see where it goes. B

Programming note: Entourage returns next Sunday July 12

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Odds and Ends

A thought-provoking and funny case for Ghostbusters being the best movie ever is made here.

As if http://www.hulu.com/ couldn't get any better, ABC has joined.

It looks like Will Forte's SNL spoof character MacGruber may get his own movie. Hopefully, this is a joke.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 7/7/09

Clipping Adam
Coco Chanel
Five Fingers
Flying By
Knowing - #
Push - #
The Unborn - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

The Deep
Grumpy Old Men
Torchwood – 2nd Season
The Universe – 2nd Season

# - also on Blu-Ray

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekend Box Office - 7/5/09

Ice Age 3 and Transformers 2 ended in an estimated tie for the top spot. Transformers 2 has fallen off $46 million off of The Dark Knight at the same time during its run but still has a good chance at 400 mil. Public Enemies did well but critics and word of mouth are mixed.

Weekend total / % Change / Cumulative total

Ice Age 3: 42.5 mil / (-) / 67.5 mil
Transformers 2: 42.5 mil / (-61%) / 293 mil
Public Enemies: 26.2 mil / (-) / 41 mil
The Proposal: 12.8 mil / (-31%)/ 94 mil
The Hangover: 10.4 mil / (-39%) / 204 mil
Up: 6.6 mil / (-49%) / 264 mil
My Sister’s Keeper: 5.3 mil / (-58%) / 26 mil
The Taking of Pelham 123: 2.5 mil / (-54%) / 58.4 mil
Night at the Museum: BotS: 2.1 mil / (-42%) / 168 mil
Year One: 2.1 mil / (-65%) / 38 mil

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Public Enemies A-


In Theatres, 140 minutes, Rated R

You’ve never seen a period piece that looks anything like Public Enemies. Technically, that’s because the film is shot 100% on digital cameras, with a good chunk appearing to be handhelds. Thematically, it’s because director Michael Mann isn’t interested in wowing with gorgeous reproductions of yesteryear, a la The Untouchable. He’s interested in immediacy and shooting a universal story like something I might put together on my Mac. He uses the look to shrink the distance between the audience and Dilinger’s America. To emphasize the dirt, the grain, the flash of gunfire, the crimson black of blood, the unflattering hard light and the lines on the face and forehead it betrays. In so doing, he tells again his favorite story—of two men on a crash course with the other, each attempting to be true to himself and his code in a society bent on destroying both. In this case the two men are bank robber John Dilinger (Johnny Depp) and FBI man Melvin Pervis (Christian Bale). And, as is the case with Mann, there’s a woman that ties them together—that keeps Dilinger from walking away from the society that would un-make him, allowing Pervis to reel him in—and what a woman. Marion Cotillard (Oscar for La Vie en Rose) burns as Dilinger’s love Billie Frechette. She and Depp bring an intensity to their brief romance that makes sense of the risks the take. If the American movie-going mind only has room for one French actress at a time, Audrey Tautou’s time is over (as Juliette Binoche’s was before her).

The plot is straight-forward simple. During the Depression, Dilinger and his ilk (Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson) steal from the banks that are themselves acquiring swaths of treasure through foreclosure, making them folk favorites. After busting his gang out of prison, Dilinger sets to hitting as many banks as possible, meanwhile falling for the half-French/half-Indian Frechette. J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) names him public enemy number one in an attempt to squeeze funding from congress and sets his favorite bulldog Pervis on his scent. History sealed the outcome long ago, but Frechette new from the beginning how the story would play out, even as she loved John all the more for his blindness. But the plot’s beside the point. Who gets to determine right and wrong? Is it better to be a man of principles acting outside the law or a man without inside? Do you live life by your rules or kowtow to society’s? And, in the case of Billie, do you love a man who’s completely alive today knowing there’s hell to pay tomorrow?

Some are complaining about Depp, but he hits it perfect. This is no psycho-analysis; it’s a man who knows what he wants, takes it, and isn’t thinking too much about tomorrow. He’s a little too cocksure, but he’d have to be to think he could keep hitting banks, and has the perfect charismatic veneer over an intellect that’s not quite as strong as he thinks. Bale is solid as a basically decent G-man not interested in asking existential questions while he hunts his man. The supporting cast is excellent, with Giovanni Rabisi turning in a solid minutes. The digital shooting makes the gunfights explode, as it did in Mann's Miami Vice, with Mann keeping the cameras a little closer to everything than we’d like. Mann continues to wrestle with what it means to be a man, the violence that seems inherent in the search, and situational ethics. If he’s asking the same questions over and over again, it’s because no one is providing convincing answers. A-

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Major Trailers

1. Couples Retreat. Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman star. Do you need to know anything else?

2. The Informant. Corporate comedy from Director Steven Soderbergh starring Matt Damon, The Soup's Joel McHale, and Buster Bluth. Maybe - looks Coen-y.

3. The Invention of Lying. Ricky Gervais, Christopher Guest, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Jeffrey Tambor star in this comedy about a man that invents lying (Gervais). Written, directed and starring Gervais means its compulsory.

4. The Box. Concept/Horror film from writer/director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales) starring Cameron Diaz. A family receives a box with a button - if they push it, someone dies and they get a million dollars.

5. Amelia. Biopic of the famed aviatrix starring Hilary Swank. Looks pretty. Maybe.

6. The Last Airbender. New film from M. Night Shyamalan. Not my bag.

7. 500 Days of Summer. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in this Gen Y romcom that actually looks pretty good. Priest alert.

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Comedy = Tragedy + Time


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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Eddie Vedder - Atlanta - June 24th, 2009

[Guest Review - Dentist]
Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre; Concert Date: 6/24/09

Though he’s not quite as universally revered as Bob Dylan or Neil Young, Eddie Vedder rivals or exceeds both pound for pound in terms of vocal tonality and delivery. The chance to see him sans Ament, Gossard, McCready and Cameron in an acoustic setting was one that I jumped at. The location was the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, a 2,700-seat capacity venue in Atlanta, GA , that was the perfect intimate setting for Vedder’s haunting vocals and sometimes hilarious commentary. Click below for more Vedder:

At 8:45 the curtain was drawn and Eddie came onto the stage in a very unassuming manner, clad in jeans and a cool Dickies-esque jacket and took his position center stage with an acoustic in hand. After a generous round of applause he very matter-of factly said “So, I think we should all just let it all f**king hang out!”and his set began with a trio of covers from Cat Stevens to Floyd and a brilliant version of Girl From the North Country. One of the highlights for me was a stunning version of Betterman played on a smaller guitar/ukulele that Vedder introduced by saying “this might be one that some of you recognize”. The night would not have been complete without the requisite douche-bag, drunken frat-guys heckling Eddie song after song until he finally stopped, called them out and said “I barely heard what you said, but f**k you. I came here in a good mood and I’m not going to let you ruin it. I don’t come to Kinko’s and tell you how to do your f**king job”, which was met with thunderous cheers.

Best of the show for me was the cover of I Won’t Back Down, complete with Eddie going into the higher register on the chorus and the show closer Hard Sun, performed with the house lights on and Liam Finn with supporting vocals (close second was an absolutely stunning version of Bobby Jean, apparently an extremely rare cover, that Priest would have salivated over). It’s worth noting that for a frontman of a rock band, Eddie Vedder is the exception to the rule in that he can absolutely play a guitar about as well as anyone I’ve seen. This talent was one that I was not formerly aware of and really struck me as particularly exceptional. As I alluded to before, as good as Vedder’s voice is layered over full rock band armamentarium, it is phenomenal in this setting. As bad as he sounded on Conan a few weeks ago, the timbre and vibrato that have defined his sound were on perfect, glorious display here. He was talkative, very laid back, and delivered a varied set that had something for hard-core PJ fans and neophytes alike. Do yourself a favor and see Eddie or Pearl Jam if at all humanly possible. In the meantime, buy this.

Set list: Don't Be Shy (Cat Stevens), Brain Damage (Pink Floyd)/Sometimes, Girl From the North Country (Bob Dylan), Betterman (Lullabye Version), Untitled->Gone, No Ceiling, Rise, Far Behind, Guaranteed, Driftin', Millworker (James Taylor), You've Got to Hide Your Love Away (Beatles), I Won't Back Down (Tom Petty), Bobby Jean (Bruce Springsteen), Small Town, Wishlist, Porch

1st encore: Society (Jerry Hannan, w/ Liam Finn), Throw Your Arms Around Me (Hunters And Collectors, w/ Liam Finn), 'Till the Rivers All Run Dry (Don Williams, w/ Liam Finn), The Golden State (John Doe, w/ Eliza-Jane Barnes), The End (New Song)

2nd encore: Hard Sun (Indio, w/Liam Finn & Eliza-Jane Barnes)

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