Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Praise for Rushmore

A great film analyzed by the great AO Scott:

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9/11 - 10 Years Later

We've all compartmentalized the emotions from 9/11/01, but the 10 year anniversary demands that we honor that day by remembering all the uncomfortable details. Hopefully Doc and Priest will join me in adding documentaries and shows they learn about and think are worth viewing. The first for me is George W. Bush - The 9/11 Interview on The National Geographic Channel (click on the link for episode times). This is a poignant remembrance of that day in the life of George W. Bush - very well done. Certainly lends a little credence to the "Miss Me Yet?" billboards.

And here is the rest of it.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Captain America - B-

In theaters. Rated PG, 125 minutes. Trailer.

I'll say this for Captain America - they know who the good guys are for once. It is refreshing to see such a jingoistic pro-American film even if it is written on a 5th grade level. Chris Evans is World War II era Captain America, a runt of a man with a lionheart that gets transformed into a superhuman supersoldier with a serum developed by a nutty german professor (Stanley Tucci). The Nazis are fighting in the dark arts of the supernatural, and Tommy Lee Jones rolls out his crusty guy with a heart schtick as the general utilizing Captain America to win WWII. Click below for more on CA:

This film was sold in the trailer as a grittier, more complex film than your standard comic film. There are some interesting moments, but it isn't made for adults. The little guy with a big heart is pleasant to watch and Chris Evans is decent as the earnest Captain trying to do what he can. The best part of the film was the Howard Stark (Iron Man's dad) character, played ably by Dominic Cooper (can't wait to watch him in Devil's Double). Great for a father/son movie when the son is about 10 years old, but not for a jaded, cynical adult looking for a complicated meditation on the meaning of life.

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Adele Classes Up VMAs

I fast forwarded through most of last night's MTV Video Music Awards because it seemed like a really long Idiocracy outtake. The one shining moment was when Adele outclassed everyone in the room with a simple, elegant black dress, a microphone and a piano. Watch last night's performance of the year's (decade's?) best song, Someone Like You.

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases - 8/30/11

Bereavement - #
5th Quarter - #
Forks Over Knives - #
In a Better World - #
The Perfect Host - #
Prom - #
Scooby Doo & the Ghosts
Scooby Doo & the Pirates
Scooby Doo & the Robots
Scooby Doo & the Zombies
Skateland - #
Wonders of the Universe - #
Wrecked - #

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

Cougar Town: 2nd Season
Desperate Housewives: 7th Season
House MD: Season 7 - #
Nikita: 1st Season - #
90210: 3rd Season
Parenthood: Season 2
Sons of Anarchy: Season 3 - #
Vampire Diaries: 2nd Season - #

Blood Simple - *
Coen Brothers Collection - *
Complete Jean Vigo (Criterion) - *
Final Destination 2
Final Destination 3
Good Will Hunting - *
If . . . (Criterion)
Madea's Big Happy Family
Miller's Crossing - *
Nightmare Before Christmas
Orpheus (Criterion) - *
Raising Arizona - *
Strike - *
Top Gun - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekend Box Office: 8/26-8/28/11


1. The Help: 14.3 mil / -28% / 97 mil
2. Colombiana: 10.3 mil / NEW
3. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark: 8.7 mil / NEW
4. Rise of Planet of Apes: 8.7 mil / -46% / 149 mil
5. Our Idiot Brother: 6.6 mil / NEW
6. Spy Kids 4: 5.7 mil / -51% / 22 mil
7. Smurfs: 4.8 mil / -39% / 126 mil
8. Conan the Barbarian: 3.1 mil / -69% / 17 mil
9. Fright Night: 3 mil / -61% / 14 mil
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love: 2.9 mil / -39% / 70 mil
11. 30 Minutes or Less: 2.6 mil / -59% / 32 mil
12. Final Destination 5: 2.5 mil / -68% / 38 mil
13. One Day: 2.4 mil / -53% / 9.6 mil
14. Harry Potter 8: 2.4 mil / -48% / 371 mil
15. Cowboys & Aliens: 2.3 mil / -45% / 93 mil
16. Captain America: 2.2 mil / -48% / 169 mil
17. The Change-Up: 1.2 mil / -56% / 35 mil

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Friday, August 26, 2011

HBO Sunday Night - 8/21/11

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Bi-Sexual
Series 8, Episode 7

Larry meets a lady (Amy Landecker - A Serious Man) at an art show and finds out she is also interested in Rosie O'Donnell. They start a competition to win her over and the baseball metaphors start flying - especially when Larry starts equating Viagra with steroids. Larry also has issues with a Japanese restaurant. And Leon moves out to NY to mooch off of Larry some more. Just looking at O'Donnell wears me out and her voice is even worse. The baseball metaphors were frequently heavy-handed. Larry's interactions with the Japanese characters were hilarious but the whole episode felt forced. Weird how much Landecker looks like Cheryl Hines. B-

Entourage: Motherf*cker
Season 8, Episode 5

Vince gets interviewed by a Vanity Fair journalist (Alice Eve) and immediately falls for her. Johnny finally decides to join Dice on strike. Ari messes up his family situation again. And Eric sleeps with Sloan's ex-stepmother. The series verged into soap opera territory yet again with another rinse and repeat episode. Not much happened - let alone anything interesting. There were no laughs and no drama. But with only 3 episodes left, it looks like I'll stick with it to the bitter end. C

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases - 8/23/11

August & Everything After - #
The Beaver - #
Blitz - #
Greatest Movie Ever Sold - #
Henry's Crime - #
Little Big Soldier - #
Poetry - #
Secret Sunshine (Criterion) - #
Sympathy for Delicious
Trollhunter - #
Win Win - #

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

Brothers & Sisters: 5th Season
Gossip Girl: 4th Season
NCIS: 8th Season
NCIS: Los Angeles: 2nd Season

Bambi II
Ernest Goes to Camp
Ernest Goes to Jail
Ernest Scared Stupid
Holy Matrimony
Last Dance
Miami Rhapsody
Play it to the Bone
Scenes from a Mall
Swingers - *
The Tie That Binds

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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My New Favorite Website

If you feel the Bruce Willis portion of Pulp Fiction is the weakest section, I've agreed with you for almost 17 years. But the following video analysis sheds a blinding amount of light on what exactly QT was up to.Part 2 after the jump.The Big Lebowski and Full Metal Jacket video analysis by Rob Ager on Collative Learning are also mind-blowing.

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Song of the Day - Walk, Foo Fighters

Great grunge anthem from Dave Grohl and Co. I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary about the band "Back and Forth" (directed by Oscar winner James Moll). The song and film are worth your time.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Songs of the Day - Guilty Pleasures...

1. Friday Night, Katy Perry. Great song about having illegitimate fun - I can't relate, but sounds great.

2. Edge of Glory, Lady Gaga. After a few misses, Lady Gaga is back. Both this and Friday Night violate my strict 'no saxophone' rule for pop songs.

3. I Like It, Enrique Iglesias. Indefensible, but I like it.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Talihina Sky - B+

Coming on DVD (now on Showtime). Rated R, 85 minutes. Trailer.

An origin documentary about the band Kings of Leon, this film is a warts and all look at one of the most successful (if dysfunctional) current American rock bands. After I witnessed their infamous meltdown last month, this project has really interested me. The band is comprised of 3 brothers and a cousin - the 3 brothers are the sons of a southern preacher that traveled constantly doing revivals in Pentecostal churches. The facade of Christianity cracked (surprise) when they found out that their father was drinking and their parents got divorced. As a result, the band's soul searching is interesting to me, not to mention their Pixies/grunge inspired sound. Click below for more on TS:

The film focuses on a Followill family reunion in Talihina, Oklahoma (near McAlester) and the origins of the boys. The best parts are when they are talking about their upbringing, especially Caleb's discussion of being poor. Their are also some astounding screaming matches and arguments that KOL should be commended for allowing to be aired. Caleb is the lead singer and true leader of the group, and he is clearly still conflicted on what path he should take and whether he should be guilty about the way he attained his success (and his wife...). Worth your time.

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Song of the Day - Better Days, Eddie Vedder

A good folk-rock ballad from West Memphis 3 benefactor Eddie Vedder. You'll have to ignore the fact that this was on the Eat, Pray Love soundtrack.

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Weekend Box Office: 8/19-8/21/11


1. The Help: 20.5 mil / -21% / 72 mil
2. Rise of Planet of Apes: 16.3 mil / -41% / 134 mil
3. Spy Kids 4: 12 mil / NEW
4. Conan the Barbarian: 10 mil / NEW
5. Smurfs: 8 mil / -42% / 118 mil
6. Fright Night: 7.9 mil / NEW
7. Final Destination 5: 7.7 mil / -57% / 32 mil
8. 30 Minutes or Less: 6.3 mil / -53% / 26 mil
9. One Day: 5.1 mil / NEW
10. Crazy, Stupid, Love: 5 mil / -30% / 64 mil
11. Harry Potter 8: 4.4 mil / -39% / 366 mil
12. Cowboys & Aliens: 4.2 mil / -46% / 89 mil
13. Captain America: 4.1 mil / -43% / 165 mil
14. The Change-Up: 2.9 mil / -54% / 32 mil
15. Glee 3D: 1.8 mil / -69% / 10 mil
16. Horrible Bosses: 1.3 mil / -46% / 113 mil

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Song of the Day - Sail, AWOLNATION

Eclectic rock/rap song with lots of cool sounds and cadences.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Conspirator - C

On DVD. Rated PG-13, 122 minutes. Trailer.

Directed by Robert Redford, The Conspirator tells the story of the trial of Mary Surrat, Lincoln assasination co-conspirator. This seemed very promising, but the stilted direction and most boring script ever combined to make this worse than anything on the History Channel. James McAvoy is fine as Frederick Aiken, the Union war hero that is forced to take the case of Ms. Surrat (Robin Wright Penn). The whole thing has a masterpiece theater feel - which you would think Redford would try to avoid given the 19th century setting. Click below for more on the most boring movie of 2011:

Justin Long, Rachel Evan Wood, Tom Wilkinson, Kevin Kline, and Colm Meaney all prance around in costume without anything interesting going on. The film feels like a terrible version of The Scarlett Letter or To Kill A Mockingbird. There are tons of overlit 'dusty' scenes and overly staged scenes and this was a total waste of an interesting story.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DVD and Blu-ray Releases - 8/16/11

The Conspirator - #
Dexter: 5th Season - #
The Grace Card
Hoodwinked Too - #
Jane Eyre - #
John Carpenter's The Ward - #
Priest - #
Something Borrowed - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

Armed and Dangerous
The Big Lebowski - *
Cul-de-sac (Criterion)
David Holzman's Diary (Criterion)
Demolition Man
The Killing (Criterion) - *
Muppets from Space
Muppets Take Manhattan
The Specialist

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - B

In theaters. Rated PG-13, 110 minutes. Trailer.

As a sci-fi hater, I was surprised that this trailer was so appealing to me. A prequel to Planet of the Apes set in modern times, the film provides a plausible explanation for the leap in simian intelligence. James Franco portrays a geneticist on the verge of the discovery of a drug that will reverse alzheimers disease by allowing the brain cells to repair themselves. The drug has a stronger effect on chimps, and after an accident Franco takes home the offspring of one of the test chimps to raise. Click below for more on ROTPOTA:

The film hums along at a great clip for the first hour, and then bogs down before the escape of the apes. There are about 20 sluggish minutes but then the escape begins. The escape itself works pretty well, although I found the violence and explosions amateurish. The performances from Franco, Freida Pinto and Brian Cox are fine, although Pinto is totally wasted in a throwaway role. John Lithgow keeps his overacting mostly under control, although I had a few Harry and the Henderson flashbacks with all the hairy interactions.

This one is just a good fun summer film. The script is decent and is, as I said, plausible. Much better than the original Planet of the Apes or the recent update with Marky Mark.

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HBO Sunday Night - 8/14/11

Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Hero
Season 8, Episode 6

The show picked up right where the last one ended - on the plane from LA to NY - where LD trips on his shoelaces and inadvertently becomes a hero. After arriving in New York, he runs into Ricky Gervais, who will insult Larry, steal his girl, and take some of his money. If I actually liked Gervais, I might have enjoyed the episode more. He has never worked for me outside of Extras and the UK version of The Office. His arrogance and constant condescension during his standup routines and talk show appearances have ruined him . . .

As for the show, it verged into to frustrating territory this week with implausible occurrences (the dinner party seating arrangement) and annoying characters (mainly the waiter) wasting great performances from David and Susie Essman (Jeff's wife). Gervais is no substitute for Super Dave or Richard Lewis. B

Entourage: The Whiz Kid
Season 8, Episode 4

Vince has to take a drug test and turns to Billy for help. Ari uses Dana to get back at his wife. Nora Dunn's marriage counselor returns to gang up on Ari. And Scott Caan uses a fake fifth appendage as a telephone. The bulk of the short episode (less than 20 minutes without credits) was spent on Vince's urine test - an uncomfortable issue and an unusual place for the show to go with so few episodes left. Turtle whined the whole time. Rob Morrow was underused. At least a paranoid Johnny was good for a couple of smirks. And the great Rhys Coiro came through again. B-

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Morning Glory - C-

On DVD (2010). Rated PG-13, 107 minutes. Trailer.

Perhaps I should've heeded the unintentional warning in the synopsis on the back cover of this film "from the writer of The Devil Wears Prada and 27 Dresses". This film stars Rachel McAdams as a plucky and perky (of course) morning television show producer. After she gets fired from a decent job, she lands a job on a network morning show (IBS, no less, which I certainly had by the end of the movie) and finds a way to hire a pastured Dan Rather type newsman (Harrison Ford) to fill the morning anchor role. He considers himself too good for the show (who wouldn't?), but (surprise) has a heart of gold underneath that rough exterior. Click below for more on a movie that was less a narrative than a long series of montages with annoying music:

I must be getting soft in my old age to think this might have been good. The trailer shows a taciturn Ford giving McAdams some life lessons about ignoring his family....that scene is decent, but almost the only one I enjoyed in the film. McAdams reprises her recurring role of the flawed but fun gal, and Ford messes around being a cranky primadonna. Rounding out the cast are Dianne Keaton (Annie Hall is annoying as an older woman) and Priestly Jeff Goldblum. Some of Ford's snarly lines are funny, but the predictability and soundtrack slowly drowned my soul. The first 15 minutes are worth watching just to be amazed at the horrifying music selection, volume and number of montages. I swear there were 12 throughout the film. Beating.

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Worth Posting

From The Onion: Low-Budget Film Panders Just As Shamelessly As Big Studio Feature

NEW YORK—Moviegoers were reportedly impressed this weekend by the ability of an independent feature produced on an $80,000 budget to be just as shamelessly pandering as any blockbuster from a major studio. "Wow. Between its cloying indie soundtrack, quirky animated title sequence, and tangential subplot ending in a failed suicide attempt, I felt every bit as patronized as I did watching Transformers 3," viewer Samantha Holmes, 26, said of the latest release from IFC Films, which stars Kat Dennings and, in a few key scenes in which emotional truths are revealed, Paul Dano. "Maybe even more so, since at least Transformers 3 wasn't pretending to be something it's not." Audience members confirmed the movie ends on a bittersweet note before credits roll to the whistling of a catchy melody accompanied by ukulele.

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Song of the Day - Young Blood

By The Naked and Famous

An ode to the fecklessness of youth, simultaneously hopeful and a wee-bit depressing. Fantastic guitar work and epic vocal work from Alisa Xayalith, a New Zealander of Asian descent. Sounds like a female Perry Farrell.

We're only young and naive still
We require certain skills
The mood it changes like the wind
Hard to control when it begins

The bittersweet between my teeth
Trying to find the in-betweens
Fall back in love eventually
Yeah yeah yeah yeah

Can't help myself but count the flaws
Claw my way out through these walls
One temporary escape
Feel it start to permeate

We lie beneath the stars at night
Our hands gripping each other tight
You keep my secrets hope to die
Promises, swear them to the sky

The bittersweet between my teeth
Trying to find the in-betweens
Fall back in love eventually
Yeah yeah yeah yeah

As it withers
Brittle it shakes
Can you whisper
As it crumbles and breaks
As you shiver
Count up all your mistakes
Pair of forgivers
Let go before it's too late
Can you whisper
Can you whisper
Can you whisper
Can you whisper

The bittersweet between my teeth
Trying to find the in-betweens
Fall back in love eventually
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
The bittersweet between my teeth
Trying to find the in-betweens
Fall back in love eventually
Yeah yeah yeah yeah

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Weekend Box Office: 8/12-8/14/11


1. Rise of Planet of Apes: 27.5 mil /-50% / 105 mil
2. The Help: 25.5 mil / NEW
3. Final Destination 5: 18.4 mil / NEW
4. Smurfs: 13.5 mil / -35% / 102 mil
5. 30 Minutes or Less: 13 mil / NEW
6. Cowboys & Aliens: 7.6 mil / -52% / 81 mil
7. Captain America: 7.1 mil / -45% / 157 mil
8. Crazy, Stupid, Love: 6.9 mil / -42% / 55 mil
9. Harry Potter 8: 6.9 mil / -45% / 357 mil
10. The Change-Up: 6.2 mil / -54% / 26 mil
11. Glee 3D: 5.7 mil / NEW
12. Horrible Bosses: 2.4 mil / -47% / 110 mil
13. Friends with Benefits: 1.8 mil / -62% / 53 mil
14. Transformers 3: 1.4 mil / -56% / 347 mil
15. Zookeeper: 1 mil / -54% / 76 mil

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Song of the Day - The Funeral, Band of Horses

Enjoyed these guys (and this song) immensely before the now infamous Kings of Leon aborted show last month. This song is (was) an instant classic.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Just Because

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Song of the Day- Why We Fight, The Decemberists

Enjoyed this one immensely while touring the Sierra Nevadas. Kind of a muscular Keane or rock roll Shins.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

HBO Sunday Night - 8/7/11

Entourage - One Last Shot
Season 8, Episode 3

Vince tries to reach out to a narcotics anonymous colleague; Ari goes on his first date in years; Turtle loses his job and his girl; and Dice stands by his threat to quit without a pay raise. Immediately after a brief exchange about Ari getting his groove back, the series actually does when Ari turns on a blues song in his car and then calls an old friend. The show would go on to feature a depressed Billy Walsh in a hoodie, a Jamie Kennedy self-parody, and a ballsy, stunning ending. Vince's earnestness is growing tiresome and definitely less engrossing than his previous cocksure swagger. Kevin Dillon remains the consistently best actor of the main four, reacting believably to all the bad news around him. Now that they've completed the laborious set up for the season, let's hope they can continue the surprising turns. B

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Vow of Silence
Season 8, Episode 5

Jeff and Susie are moving to New York for the summer while their dog Oscar is on death's door. Larry has issues with people who park their car outside the lines and those who "chat-and-cut". He's got even bigger issues with Tessler (Michael McKean) - who wants Larry to participate in a fundraiser for special needs kids. And then there's Vance (Michael Hitchcock), who's taken a vow of silence and will no doubt break it at some point due to Larry's shenanigans . . .

Larry getting caught in a lie is always hilarious and it happened several times this episode. Also memorable was Larry's quick dismissal of Eat Pray Love and the stylized Pinkberry flashback. David has had 3 co-writers this season for the first time and they seem to be following his patented story structure (perfected on "Seinfeld") with multiple, seemingly unrelated, topics brilliantly brought together. Some have complained that it makes the show less real, but I prefer a well-thought out premise over ideas that go nowhere. And it never hurts to end an episode on an exasperated, dejected Richard Lewis. A-

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Weekend Box Office: 8/5-8/7/11


1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes: 54 mil / NEW
2. Smurfs: 21 mil / -41% / 76 mil
3. Cowboys & Aliens: 15.7 mil / -57% / 67 mil
4. The Change-Up: 13.5 mil / NEW
5. Captain America: 13 mil / -49% / 143 mil
6. Harry Potter 8: 12.2 mil / -45% / 343 mil
7. Crazy Stupid Love: 12.1 mil / -37% / 42 mil
8. Friends w/ Benefits: 4.7 mil / -49% / 49 mil
9. Horrible Bosses: 4.6 mil / -36% / 105 mil
10. Transformers 3: 3 mil / -51% / 344 mil
11. Zookeeper: 2.2 mil / -50% / 74 mil
12. Cars 2: 1.1 mil / -52% / 185 mil
13. Midnight in Paris: 1 mil / -14% / 48.5 mil

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Friday, August 5, 2011

HBO Sunday Night - 7/31/11

Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Smiley Face
Season 8, Episode 4

Larry's new girlfriend (Hung's Rebecca Creskoff) is the hostess at his favorite restaurant and their inevitable breakup will force him to find a new joint. Meanwhile, LD's assistant has been spending time with her sick father which is hurting his workplace organization. And Larry's office kitchen is under siege by a new tenant. David's curmudgeonly charm was firing on all cylinders again - even as he unapologetically offended his assistant, her mom, his hostess girlfriend, her roommate, and his dermatologist. I particularly enjoyed the multiple S-bombs at a wake . . .

The show's use of 80s TV icons is an interesting choice (with Harry Hamlin and Michael Gross this week joining Curtis Armstrong from 2 weeks ago). They're playing real characters - a new CYE producer must be a classic TV fan. There seemed to be too many plot threads this week and the later scenes seemed rushed. But I'd rather have TV trying too hard than just going through the motions. B+

Entourage - Out With a Bang
Season 8, Episode 2

Which brings us to the lethargic, tired, redundant Entourage. Almost nothing happened this week that you didn't either know already or couldn't care less about (I'm looking at you, Sloan). Andrew Dice Clay has worn out his welcome in just a few minutes - becoming an unnecessary burden on Johnny. At least Dice pointed out the ridiculousness of Turtle having hot girlfriends. Maybe the vanished Alex doesn't like Turtle's new cachexia. As Billy Walsh, Rhys Coiro seems to be the only one with any real energy, trying to bring each scene to life. I still love the Ari-Lloyd scenes, but now that they're dealing with infidelity, they're considerably less fun. C+

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Unstoppable - B-

On DVD (2011). Rated PG-13, 98 minutes. Trailer.

Formulaic to the point of insanity, Unstoppable is nevertheless a lot of fun to watch. Denzel Washington as the grizzled veteran trainman with a heart of gold works with Chris Pine's rookie with more than meets the eye. With muscular direction from longtime Denzel collaborator Tony Scott, the film stylishly lays out the story of a runaway train and the two heroic train conductors that took a dangerous chance to stop the runaway befor e a major explosion. The film is a solid B until the last 10 minutes when the syrupy and unfunny wrap-up nearly killed me. Chris Pine is pretty good and it was nice to see H.M. Tilford get another role (he is also in PTA's next film, The Master).

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