Thursday, March 31, 2011

Song of the Day - Country Song, Seether

Lawyer fave Seether is back this Spring with a new album. The first single, Country Song, is a catchy rock song but I'm still making my mind up.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Song of the Day - Shake Me Down

By Cage the Elephant

This one is a throwback to mid-90s grunge greatness - one part Nirvana, two parts Tripping Daisy, one part Smashing Pumpkins, one part Flaming Lips, and a dash of Bush. Love his voice on "even on a cloudy day . . ." at 2:29-

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 3/29/11

All Good Things - #
Apocalypse: WW II - #
Black Swan - #, *
Evangelion: 2.22 - #
Fair Game - #
Mad Men: Season 4 - #, *
Made in Dagenham - #
The Resident - #
Tangled - #
Treme: First Season - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

Against All Odds
All Dogs Go to Heaven
All Dogs Go to Heaven 2
Charlotte's Web
Greatest Story Ever Told
The Long Kiss Goodnight
King of Kings
The Mikado (Criterion)
Scream 2
Scream 3
Secret of NIMH
Sherlock Holmes: Complete Collection - *
Soylent Green
Teen Wolf
The Ten Commandments
The Time of Harvey Milk (Criterion)
Topsy-Turvy (Criterion)

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Monday, March 28, 2011


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Animal Kingdom - B-

On DVD and Blu-ray
Rated R for language, violence and drug abuse

After his mom dies of a drug overdose, Joshua, a 17 year old Australian (James Frecheville), reaches out to his maternal grandmother (the Oscar-nominated Jacki Weaver) for help. But then he quickly finds out his 3 uncles are violent thugs who deal drugs. Things get worse when they kill 2 young cops. Enter Detective Nathan Leckie (Guy Pearce) who sees Joshua as a way to bring the crime family down . . .

Frecheville is in nearly every scene as his dullness and timidity provide little to no interest. You can see why he'd behave in such an uninteresting manner, having been beaten down by life the way he has. But it doesn't make it accessible or noble. The uncles' murdering of innocent young people is nearly unwatchable and is another way the film stays at arm's length. The film comes alive when Pearce shows up (at around the 40-minute mark). His interrogation of Joshua immediately recalls the interrogation of the Nite Owl suspects in LA Confidential by Ed Exley. But that LA Confidential scene had urgency and panache, advanced the story, and was brilliantly acted. Besides the fascination of hearing Pearce's native Australian accent, there's little else there since the script falls hopelessly flat.

The title refers to people finding their place in the world. But by the time Joshua discovers where he belongs, it is far too little, way too late. As the quietly evil matriarch, the excellent Weaver manipulates everyone around by smothering everyone with kindness. The film does create tons of tension by taking it's time with certain scenes and having an unusual sound design. Dialogue and natural sounds drop out unpredictably in favor of a suspenseful score. It's not a bad film, but without any likable characters or potential heroes, lots of talent feels wasted. If only Ed Exley was around to take the film over. B-

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Song of the Day - Life is Beautiful, Vega 4

Sappy song but anthematic enough to get my attention. Great chorus.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Switch - B-

Best friends Wally (Jason Bateman) and Kassie (Jennifer Aniston) get along great in NY until her biological clock revs up and she chooses artificial insemination. This creates envy in Wally but he can't express how he feels. At her pregnancy party, Wally (in a drunken stupor) accidentally ruins the donor's specimen and is forced to provide his own. Years later, she returns to NY with her son who forms an immediate bond with Wally. But the presumed donor Roland (Patrick Wilson) is now divorced and making his move . . .

Bateman is excellent during the first half as he sarcastically deals with the clueless and pretentious. I particularly enjoyed his response after Roland says he teaches feminist literature. Bateman and Jeff Goldblum (as a workplace colleague) are hilarious together. Goldblum's syncopated rhythms are memorable as usual. During the second half, Bateman is surprisingly touching as he discovers his paternal instincts. Aniston and Wilson fare much worse, mostly since their characters are woefully underwritten. But the main problem with the movie is that it becomes painfully predictable during the last third. Wally has to tell Kassie the truth but he keeps getting interrupted. Again and again. The film limps across the finish line after starting pretty good. Bateman fans will like it better than most. B-

Medical mistake: The kid has brown eyes while Bateman, Aniston, and Wilson all have blue eyes. This is genetically impossible.

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Weekend Box Office: 3/25/11-3/27/11


1. Diary of Wimpy Kid 2: 24.4 mil / NEW
2. Sucker Punch: 19 mil / NEW
3. Limitless: 15.2 mil / -20% / 41.3 mil
4. Lincoln Lawyer: 11 mil / -17% / 29 mil
5. Rango: 9.8 mil / -35% / 106 mil
6. Battle: LA: 7.6 mil / -48% / 72.6 mil
7. Paul: 7.5 mil / -43% / 24.6 mil
8. Red Riding Hood: 4.3 mil / -40% / 32 mil
9. Adjustment Bureau: 4.2 mil / -27% / 55 mil
10. Mars Needs Moms: 2.2 mil / -59% / 19 mil
11. Beastly: 2.2 mil / -32% / 25 mil
12. Hall Pass: 1.8 mil / -32% / 42 mil

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Greatest Sketch Ever

This one's for Doc:

In Freak Accident, 34 Katherine Heigl Films Released At Once

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Eddie Vedder Album + Tour

Eddie Vedder is releasing a new album "Ukelele Songs" this Spring and is going on a super-awesome acoustic tour with Glen Hansard (from Once). After the jump is the list of tour dates (really, nothing in the Sunbelt?)

June 15 Providence, RI Providence Performing Arts Center (PAC) Tue 3/29 8am PST
June 16 Boston, MA The Wang Theatre Tue 3/29 8am PST
June 18 Hartford, CT The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts Tue 3/29 9am PST
June 21 New York, NY Beacon Theatre Tue 3/29 9am PST
June 22 New York, NY Beacon Theatre Tue 3/29 9am PST
June 25 Philadelphia, PA Tower Theatre Tue 3/29 11am PST
June 26 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre Tue 3/29 11am PST
June 28 Chicago, IL The Chicago Theatre Tue 3/29 12pm PST
July 1 St. Louis, MO Fox Theatre Tue 3/29 12pm PST
July 2 Minneapolis, MN Orpheum Theatre Tue 3/29 12pm PST
July 5 San Diego, CA Copley Symphony Hal Tue 3/29 1pm PST
July 6 Long Beach, CA Terrace Theater Tue 3/29 1pm PST
July 8 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern Tue 3/29 1pm PST
July 9 Santa Barbara, CA Santa Barbara Bowl Tue 3/29 1pm PST
July 11 Oakland, CA The Paramount Theatre Tue 3/29 2pm PST
July 14 Portland, OR Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Tue 3/29 2pm PST
July 15 Seattle, WA Benaroya Hall Tue 3/29 2pm PST

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Song of the Day - Dog Days Are Over, Florence + The Machine

Cool song with a little soul and an interesting mix of sounds. Kicks in really well at 2:01. Reminds me of Annie Lennox and PJ Harvey (in a good way).

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 3/22/11

Battle of Los Angeles - #
Devolved - #
Firebreather - #
How Do You Know - #
Skyline - #
The Tourist - #
The Vanquisher - #
Yogi Bear - #

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

Against All Odds
Alpha Dog/Assault on Precinct 13
Awakenings - *
Because of Winn-Dixie
The Bible: In the Beginning
A Brady Bunch of Movies
Dr. Dolittle
Elizabeth/Elizabeth: The Golden Age - *
Ernest Goes to Camp/Ernest Goes to Jail
Friday Night Lights / The Express
Garfield Double Feature
Mercury Rising & Jackal
Our Hospitality - *
Random Hearts
Riddick Collection
The Sandlot
Scary Movie 4
Spy Game/ State of Play
Stand By Me - *
The Times of Harvey Milk

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Song of the Day - The Cave, Mumford & Sons

Cool song. Lilting banjo, epic lyrics and a sweeping, layered crescendo at the end. Thanks to bride for this one - it was the soundstrack to our recent trip to the Texas Hill Country. "I'll find strength in pain...."

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Box Office: 3/18/11-3/20/11


1. Limitless: 19 mil / NEW
2. Rango: 15.3 mil / -32% / 92.6 mil
3. Battle: LA: 14.6 mil / -59% / 60.6 mil
4. The Lincoln Lawyer: 13.4 mil / NEW
5. Paul: 13.2 mil / NEW
6. Red Riding Hood: 7.3 mil / -48% / 26 mil
7. Adjustment Bureau: 5.9 mil / -49% / 49 mil
8. Mars Needs Moms: 5.3 mil / -23% / 15.4 mil
9. Beastly: 3.3 mil / -35% / 22 mil
10. Hall Pass: 2.6 mil / -48% / 40 mil
11. Gnomeo and Juliet: 2.4 mil / -34% / 94 mil
12. Just Go With It: 2.3 mil / - 43% / 98 mil
13. King's Speech: 2 mil / -44% / 132 mil

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 3/15/11

The Fighter - #, *
Hereafter - #
Hidden Love
Sharktopus - #
A Shine of Rainbows
The Switch - #

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

Au Revoir Les Enfants (Criterion)
Battle of the Warriors
BMX Bandits
Yi Yi (Criterion)

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Snap Judgments - a Quick Review of 5 Movies

Never Let Me Go

In the 1970s-90s, kids are farmed for their organs to keep the real population alive longer. Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, and Andrew Garfield are 3 who only exist to provide body parts. A ghastly premise in a dystopian alternate universe very effectively explores humanity, fate, memories, and purpose and the film is summed up quite nicely by Mulligan in a closing speech. But a major flaw is no character ever expressing the desire to escape. The overly despondent atmosphere, grim visuals, and dreary weather makes this a difficult sit. Think The Road - just supplant cannibalism with forced organ donation. B

Morning Glory
Rachel McAdams is the new executive producer of a low-end national morning show. Her new host (a curmudgeonly Harrison Ford) doesn't want to be there and hates everyone. Her other collaborators (including Diane Keaton) is a rag-tag group who must eventually pull it together to raise ratings and prevent cancellation. The film wants to be a slapstick, witty, rapid-banter romantic comedy but fast only works if you're funny or interesting. The whiplash tonal shifts and impossible plot contrivances hamper the all-star cast, who are all great - Jeff Goldblum and Patrick Wilson included. C+

The Next Three Days

Russell Crowe's wife (Elizabeth Banks) is incarcerated and he alone believes her innocence. After a strong meeting with Liam Neeson, Crowe spends over half the movie scheming (and planning, and maneuvering) to get her out. The breakout and chase scenes that fill the second half are exciting. Crowe is great as he smartly thinks things through. And Brian Dennehy is superb as his father-in-law - he's able to convey so much without speaking. But Banks doesn't have the dramatic weight to balance everything out. The uneven pacing and meandering plot could have been tightened by writer-director Paul Haggis. C+

After the success of Seabiscuit, this film was inevitable. This Disney-fied version plays it straight down the middle and a rich white woman (who lucks into the greatest racing horse ever) comparing herself to Job is hardly endearing. But a spirited Diane Lane and a colorful John Malkovich make up for the predictability of Randall Wallace's film. I'd be lying if I didn't admit the ending had me engaged and the use of "Oh, Happy Day" was great. B-


Five strangers are trapped in a skyscraper elevator - and begin to be murdered one by one. Turns out one of them is the devil, but which is it? Cops try to figure it out through security cameras. M. Night Shyamalan supplies the story but everything else is left to younger, hungrier talent. This includes the no-name cast whose anonymity serves the story well. The film wisely clocks in at a scant 80 minutes. The message of forgiveness is refreshing and the most religious character is respected. (A Priest follow-up would be appreciated.) B

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

SNL - Zach Galifianakis Returns

Zach Galifianakis hosts the best SNL show for the second year in a row.

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Weekend Box Office: 3/11/11-3/13/11


1. Battle: Los Angeles: 36.2 mil / NEW
2. Rango: 22.8 mil / -40% / 68.4 mil
3. Red Riding Hood: 14 mil / NEW
4. Adjustment Bureau: 11.4 mil / -46% / 38 mil
5. Mars Needs Moms: 6.8 mil / NEW
6. Beastly: 5 mil / -49% / 16.9
7. Hall Pass: 5 mil / -43% / 35 mil
8. Just Go With It: 4 mil / - 38% / 94 mil
9. King's Speech: 3.6 mil / -42% / 129 mil
10. Gnomeo & Juliet: 3.5 mil / -52% / 89 mil
11. Unknown: 3.3 mil / -49% / 58 mil
12. I am Number Four: 2.2 mil / -61% / 50 mil

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hall Pass - B+

In theaters. Rated R, 98 minutes. Trailer.

Owen Wilson (Rick) and Jason Sudeikis (Fred) are typical 40ish men in long term stable marriages. They are faithful to their wives, but prolific lady gawkers to the point that their wives get sick of it and give them a "Hall Pass". A Hall Pass is a week off of marriage to do what you want - granted by Rick and Fred's wives (Jenna Fischer and Christian Applegate, respectively) to try and cure them of their lust and wandering eyes. The film is only a B if you aren't married, but if you are married and have a good relationship, the film will be right up your alley. Click below for more on Hall Pass:

The initial days of the weeklong hall pass are predictable and largely unfunny - the biggest weakspot in the film. The ensemble guy scenes are not funny, which is surprising with Leon from Curb Your Enthusiasm and Stephen Merchant. As they zero in on potentially using the hall pass, the film gets better, escpecially with the arrival of middle-aged lothario Coakley (a hilarious Richard Jenkins). The film ends somewhat predictably, but refreshingly.

As with any Farrelly Brothers film, you get a healthy dose of raunch, but in this film most of it is funny. The dialogue is funny throughout and there are lots of quality wife/sex/kids jokes and and amazing number of inappropriate sexual references. Worth your time, especially if you're married.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

2 New Shows - Portlandia and Onion News Network

On IFC (Independent Film Channel)

Portlandia is a sketch comedy show written by and starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein that skewers Portland, indie-ness and extended hipster adolescence. I was skeptical initially, but it is really funny. Armisen has created a host of funny characters that really nail a large swath of Gen-Xers. My favorite sketch is when 3 hipsters are all trying to outread each other - here is the "did you read" sketch (this one hits a little close to home).

The Onion News Network successfully brings the biting genius of The Onion to television. The tone is just right and the many sketches that do work more than make for the 20% that don't. Here's a sketch on "Mexting" , here's one on Black History Month, and here's one on teen 'toping' - worth your time.

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8.9 (Updated -> 9.1)

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Link of the Day

My favorite new toddler is here.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 3/8/11

Every Day - #
A Film Unfinished
Four Lions - #
Inside Job - #
Jackass 3 - #
The Man from Nowhere - #
Morning Glory - #
The Next Three Days - #
The Walking Dead: Season 1 - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

Excalibur - *
Exit Through the Gift Shop - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend Box Office: 3/4/11-3/6/11


1. Rango: 38 mil / NEW
2. Adjustment Bureau: 21 mil / NEW
3. Beastly: 10 mil / NEW
4. Hall Pass: 9 mil / -33% / 27 mil
5. Gnomeo & Juliet: 6.9 mil / -48% / 84 mil
6. Unknown: 6.6 mil / -47% / 53 mil
7. King's Speech: 6.5 mil / -11% / 124 mil
8. Just Go With It: 6.4 mil / -38% / 88 mil
9. I am Number Four: 5.7 mil / -48% / 46 mil
10. Justin Bieber: 4.3 mil / -54% / 69 mil
11. Take Me Home Tonight: 3.5 mil / NEW
12. Big Mommas 2: 3.3 mil / -57% / 33 mil
13. Drive Angry: 2.1 mil / -58% / 9 mil

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Sunset Limited - B


A white college professor (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to commit suicide from a subway platform but is saved by a black ex-con (Samuel L. Jackson). They then go back to Jackson's apartment and have a long philosophical discussion about life, death, and God. Based on Cormac McCarthy's 2006 stage play, you'll know who "wins" the argument if you've read or seen No Country for Old Men or The Road. But not so fast - the last 2 lines give the audience plenty to consider - your interpretation will depend on what you bring to the film . . .

Jones also directs and achieves a nice claustrophobic atmosphere. Neither actor really develops an actual character (though Jackson comes closer) - you never forget you're watching "Tommy Lee Jones" and "Samuel L. Jackson". But McCarthy is the real star anyhow. The film isn't the obvious future Emmy-winner that Taking Chance and Temple Grandin were in years past. But if you're in a self-reflective and thoughtful mood, this is well worth the 90 minutes. B

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Faster - C+, Get Low - B

Both on DVD and Blu-ray

In Faster, Dwayne Johnson plays a recently released convict hellbent on revenge for the murder of his brother. He goes about murdering a list of 5 guys one by one while 2 cops (Billy Bob Thornton and Carla Gugino) are hot on his trail. He's also being pursued by a contract killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) who wants to settle down. There are some nifty twists and turns and the last part of the film has a nice spiritual feel as one of the last targets has become a preacher . . .

It's nice to see Johnson return to the action genre rather than wallowing in kiddie crap like The Tooth Fairy, but he's humorless and impenetrable - leaving the audience cold. Thornton is slumming as bad as Joan Allen in Death Race - next stop -> CBS. It's shot and edited similar to any modern action film and is good enough for action fans. C+

Early on, Billy Bob does a slo-mo walk to Kenny Rogers's "Just Dropped In" which immediately reminds you of the classic hallucination scene in The Big Lebowski. Get Low makes a similar misstep when it uses, "If I Didn't Care" which played during the opening scene of The Shawshank Redemption. There are thousands of unused songs - at least use one in a film not regarded as a classic. Come on, people.

In Get Low, it's the mid 1930s and Robert Duvall plays a self-imposed hermit who wants to throw a funeral party for himself - before he dies. He enlists Bill Murray, a funeral director, to arrange everything - including a raffle which will give the winner Duvall's land upon his actual death. But, things get confusing when money is involved and Murray's assistant (Lucas Black) finds himself coming of age. The film builds up to a huge speech - given by Duvall at his party - where he will admit past wrongs. But this is all known early on - leaving the film predictable.

Black is hopelessly outmatched by Murray, whose unusual and hilarious line readings keep the most perfunctory scenes interesting. Duvall displays his usual range of naturalism and depth, carrying the film effortlessly. The ending is terrific, but it takes awhile to get there and there isn't enough plot to elevate it beyond a one-and-done viewing. B

Both The Rock and Duvall find their redemption in very different ways. And it's nice to see respectable preachers (in both films) doing and saying the right things.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Another New Malick Movie....

Here is a still from the forthcoming Terrence Malick film set in the Tulsa area. It is rumored to be a love story.

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Song of the Day - F**ckin Perfect, Pink

Love everything about this song.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Song of the Day - Only Girl (In the World)

by Rihanna

Great vocal performance and beat - infectious, really. Must stop listening, but can't.

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