Saturday, July 31, 2010


Dentist sends along this cool short/ad from Orbit starring Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Parks and Recs' Audrey Plaza. Funny.

Classic commercial. Gets me every time.

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Eagle vs. Shark - B

On DVD (2007). Rated PG, 88 minutes. Trailer.

For me, Jemaine Clement can do no wrong. In the New Zealand independent film Eagle vs. Shark, he stars as the love interest of the film's protagonist, Lily. Each are equally socially awkward and classicly nerdy. After they become involved at a very nerdy 'animal party', they travel to his family's house in rural New Zealand so that he can confront a bully from his high school days. While there, Lily learns about his family and he finally embraces Lily. Click below for more on EVS:

The film is basically the New Zealand Napoleon Dynamite starring Jemaine Clement. There are also some elements of Greenberg and the Australian film The Castle. Lots of laugh out loud moments and for the Conchord fan, you will see lots of Jemaine's character traits (creation of a watch/wallet) and mannerisms, which is a good thing. He is especially funny as he 'trains' for the fight and then the actual 'fight' with the bully is classic. This film is likely one that gets funnier with each viewing. Lily is a good character (I love that her fighting name was "Dangerous Person") and the writing is well done, but the film is extremly indi-fied and has a hard time getting out of that rut. A must for Jemaine fans.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine - C-

On DVD (2010). Rated R, 99 minutes. Trailer.

With a promising cast featuring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, and Craig Robinson and a stupid but possibly hilarious premise, HTTM seemed like a good time. Unfortunately, the film fails to create any interesting characters and plays more like a middle-aged American Pie 4. A group of old friends heads up to a ski resort to relive their glory days (a mancation, if you will) and get transported back 20 years to when they were 20. While there, they try and do exactly what they did 20 years ago so as not to alter the course of history - they do deviate, and of course, learn that its okay. Click below for more HTTM:

There are some decent bits from the always dependable Craig Robinson and some decent 80's fish out of water jokes and some shreds of an interesting relationship between John Cusack and an interesting reporter in the 80's. Other than that, it is stupid, stupid unclever and unfunny jokes and lazy writing. SKIP IT.

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Tender Mercies - B+

On DVD (1983). Rated PG-13, 89 minutes. Trailer.

"I don't trust happiness. I never did, I never will." As a major fan of living legend Robert Duvall, I felt compelled to watch his Oscar winning performance in Tender Mercies. The film is like the grandfather of Crazy Heart. Duvall is Mack Sledge, a washed up country music singer that finds a place in the world at a filling station in Texas. After waking up from a 2 day drunk, he stays with a woman and her son to work off the price of the room and ends up staying a long time and marrying the woman. His past catches up with him when a reporter finds him and writes a story, igniting his interest in his long abandoned daughter (a very young Ellen Barkin) and his pained ex-wife. Click below for more on TM:

Duvall tentatively reaches back to his new world, but his interactions drive him to the brink of his sobriety and his new idyllic and simple life. He writes songs and slowly connects with his new son, only finding pain with his old life.

Written by Horton Foote, the film won Oscars for best screenplay and best actor. I should've watched it before Crazy Heart, its natural progeny. Duvall's understated and soulful performance is very good and different than his usual bombast or humor. He wears his character's years throughout the film and creates a truly resonant character.

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HBO Sunday Night - 7/25/10

Entourage: Tequila Sunrise
Season 7, Episode 4

Turtle goes to Mexico for a business venture, Eric bonds with Scott, and Drama meets with John Stamos for his new TV show. The ping pong scenes worked due to Kevin Dillon's enthusiasm and Stamos's terrific, frustrated jerk performance. Given all the Bob Saget appearances over the years, one wonders when the Olsen twins will show up. The Eric-Scott plotline and Turtle's plotline are both taking interesting turns, but Ari's part is straining credibility and his manic, yelling shtick is growing tiresome. Very nice guest appearances by Gary Cole, John Heard, Miguel Sandoval, Beverly D'Angelo, and William Fichtner. B+

Hung: Sing it Again, Ray
Season 2, Episode 4

Ray confronts Lenore about influencing his ex-wife, Ronnie keeps pressuring Jessica for a baby, and Damon is acting out against his father while he starts bonding with Tanya. The language and sex has always been strong, but was distractingly so this episode, even though it was done (unsuccessfully) for laughs. There are a surprising number of continuity errors on the show (also distracting). Every scene with Ronnie wears me out (especially when he begs), and he had a lot of them this episode. But the show is getting stronger with its directing and cinematography. And the acting by the regulars continues to be great. Thomas Jane's reactions are priceless and Jane Adams's quirks are endearing. I'm really liking the lengths Ray goes to to reach his son. B

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mad Men: Public Relations

Season 4, Episode 1

I caught up with Mad Men's first 3 seasons earlier this year and was sufficiently impressed to commit to another hour per week. At the end of last season, the agency had dissolved due to outside controlling interests. The major money men and talent reassembled to form a leaner, more creative, and more productive agency. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) was humbled, not only by being forced to apologize and explicitly state his admiration for his underlings, but also by his divorce. Season 3 ended in late December 1963 and Season 4 picks up in November 1964 . . .

In the interim, the new Sterling Cooper Draper Price ad agency has grown from 6-7 people working in the same hotel room to dozens of people in an office building. This is mostly due to Draper's creativity, but he doesn't know how to turn his developing fame into big bucks. The agency is still struggling to keep its clients which has Peggy and Pete developing unique ways to attract business. Betty is now married to Henry, but his mother does not approve.

The show is way out in front of the viewer which is challenging and rewarding. It forces you to catch up with the characters' entire last year while moving the "current" events at a breakneck pace. The humor is perfectly understated and stressed in the first half while the drama gets heavy in the second. Amazingly, the show finds the perfect balance. Newer viewers might be frustrated, only recognizing the impeccable recreation of the era. But those familiar with characters will find much to enjoy and ponder. One of the most complicated shows on TV got even more so in its stellar season premiere. A-

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inception Music - Edith Piaf and The Smiths?

Composer Hans Zimmer oversaw the music for Inception and worked with Johnny Marr, the guitarist for The Smiths. Read about the collaboration and Zimmer's take on the music as well as its link to Edith Piaf. Here's another link exploring the Piaf connection. P.S. Don't forget that Cotillard portrayed her in 2008's La Vie En Rose.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 7/27/10

Batman: Under the Red Hood - #
Clash of the Titans - #
Ip Man - #
Jesse Stone: No Remorse
Repo Men - #

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

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - *
GI Joe: A Real American Hero
Johnny Handsome
Lock Up
Puppet Master
Rambo (Extended Cut) - *
Rambo: The Complete Collection

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Salt - C

In theaters. Rated PG-13, 100 minutes. Trailer.

Its been a long time since I was more disappointed by a film than I was by Salt. Directed by storied action director Philip Noyce (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and starring Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the film was originally supposed to star Tom Cruise as the main spy, but Jolie came in when he left. She is Evelyn Salt, a CIA agent with a murky past and murkier motivations. When a surly Russian defector identifies "Evelyn Salt" as a sleeper Russian agent, Salt escapes to protect her husband and leads the US government on a wild chase. Click below for more on the hollowest movie of the summer:

She evades them skillfully and then moves forward with actions that don't clearly identify which side she really is on. The film follows several of these issues climaxing with a by the numbers resolution that was telegraphed from the first few minutes. And, really, thats it.

There is absolutely no story or character development in the film and my bitterness toward the film grew minute by minute. The writing relies solely on good old US/Russian animosity and that wasn't enough in 1985 and it certainly isn't enough now. The film isn't funny or insightful, only a series of about 4 long action scenes/chases. The film jumps so quickly into its first 20 minute action scene I almost thought our print of the film was missing the intended introduction. Jolie is disappointing scowler reprising pretty much every role she's ever had. The action sequences are mostly good, but several are unrealistic.

A lazy film with no story. At least in Lara Croft you expected it and Jolie didn't hide the goods. BOO HISSSSS

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House by the Railroad

by Edward Hopper

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Weekend Box Office: 7/23-7/25/10

Inception's drop was small enough to remain in the top spot, but the Philip Noyce-Angelina Jolie action film wasn't a complete wipeout. The Kids are All Right expanded well in limited release.


1. Inception: 43.5 mil / -31% / 144 mil
2, Salt: 36.5 mil / NEW
3. Despicable Me: 24 mil / -27% / 161 mil
4. Sorcerer's Apprentice: 9 mil/-45%/42 mil
5. Toy Story 3: 9 mil / -25% / 380 mil
6. Ramona and Beezus: 8 mil / NEW
7. Grown Ups: 7.6 mil / -23% / 142 mil
8. Eclipse: 7 mil / -48% / 280 mil
9. Last Airbender: 4 mil / -46% / 123 mil
10. Predators: 2.8 mil / - 59% / 47 mil
11. Kids are All Right: 2.6 mil / +149% / 5 mil
12. Knight & Day: 1.7 mil / -53% / 73 mil

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Kids Are All Right - B+

In theaters. Rated R, 104 minutes. Trailer.

As the least spiritual member of the DLP team, I am oddly the most socially conservative. So, for me, this liberal wet dream of a film featuring a 'stable' upper middle class suburban family with 2 moms wasn't an obvious choice. The always substantial Mark Ruffalo and mostly glowing reviews drew me to the theater in spite of myself. Julianne Moore is the flighty "girl" in the relationship while Annette Bening is the Type A "man". Both are the "moms" to a 15 year old boy and a newly minted 18 year old girl. When the kids secretly reach out to their sperm donor father (Ruffalo) that they have never met, the family undergoes a substantial transition. Click below for more TKAAR:

The exploration of the lesbain relationship was extremely off-putting to me because I don't agree with the premise of the film that that is normal and even remotely possible without massive complications, especially when kids are involved. For that reason, the first 30 minutes or so were terrible for me. Once Ruffalo gets involved and the film gets out of the girls dorm and back into reality it starts to work. The film really takes off as the drama and fallout from the family's upheaval takes root. Cholodenko uses an excellent guitar-based score set against lots of understated dramatic cinematography to achieve some great scenes. She also gives us great adult dialogue and several genuinely funny scenes and lines, along with several tender moments along the way. If only there could have been less lesbian sex set to gay mens porn! And less lesbian baths, candle lighting and navel gazing!

The exploration of the donor/child relationship was very interesting, and Ruffalo predictably pulls it off without a hitch - infusing his character from You Can Counton Me with a little bit of success. Ruffalo's character is kind of a lesbian's construct of what a single, heterosexual male is - aloof, dumb and always on the prowl. Given that writer/director Lisa Cholodenko's body of work reads like a lesbian honor roll, its not surprising that each of the male characters in this film are written like barely advanced simians.

This film is probably an A- for someone that buys and appreciates the moms' relationship.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

"Go long with Extenz.....I do"

Jerry Jones is laughing somewhere:

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Young Victoria - B+

On DVD (2009). Rated PG, 105 minutes. Trailer.

The toothy Emily Blunt stars as England's Queen Victoria as she comes of age, assumes the crown and finds love in the 1830s. Director Jean-Marc Vallée provides the requisite stunning and opulent costume and set designs for the film, which certainly earned its Oscar win for Costume Design and nomination for Art Direction and Makeup. The film touches on typical royal/high society themes of loneliness, alienation, love and deceit. Click below for more on YV:

I am apparently a sucker for romantic British costume dramas because I love the sets and the scenes of love restrained. The director really brings home the loneliness of Victoria amongst the sycophants and schemers. The love story with Prince Albert is great until it hatches, and then the film gets really boring and uninspired for about 20 minutes. Blunt is fine in the role, but really nothing special. Her bizarre teeth cap situation certainly takes her out of a 'period' look. Worth your time if you like this type of film.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

HBO Sunday Night - 7/18/10

Entourage: Dramedy
Season 7, Episode 3

Vince bonds with Scott further, Turtle's financial woes continue, and Drama gets on the fast track for his own sitcom. Jeff Garlin was terrific as an exuberant, gay screenwriter. The show got all meta as Kevin Dillon protests how funny he is. This episode will no doubt the one they submit to Emmy voters for Dillon, who was hilarious (especially the way he said "Stamos!?"). The Ari part was lazily written (how many times did we need to hear about his wife busting him with the other woman - we saw it last week), but the worst scene (which was coincidentally the most obviously written) featured Sloan and Eric having dinner, which is a momentum-killer if I ever saw one. I am loving the Scott-Eric rivalry though. B+

Hung: Mind Bullets
Season 2, Episode 3

The heartless Lenore keeps winning mind games over the sensitive Tanya until Tanya loses it. Lenore immediately replacing her dog gave a great visual and was a perfect representation of the difference between the 2. Lenore finally meeting Jessica was another great moment. But the horny Patty scenes weren't funny, just disgusting. I'm liking the way Ray is trying to bond with his kids and their development this season. And Charlie is a great addition to the ensemble. B+

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Inception Week Continues

Christopher Nolan has been fascinated with memories, dreams, and stealing since his first film Following. In Inception, he combines all of his favorite themes and ideas into one beautifully woven jolt to the brain. By fusing parts of many films, Nolan himself is like Cobb in that he steals ideas from other people's brains. He also takes shots at critics who don't find his work original by claiming that artists don't know where an idea comes from - frequently the subconscious, sometimes in a dream. I feel he's also part Ariadne because with a blank piece of paper, the screenwriter can experience "pure creation".

Elements of Vanilla Sky, The Matrix, Planet of the Apes (the uninhabited post-apocalyptic beach), and Where Eagles Dare (the snow-fort assault) are seamlessly fused as are elements of The Dark Knight - Hanz Zimmer's pervasive, threatening score, Wally Pfister's dark but opulent cinematography. The end result is wholly original and unforgettable - especially the zero-gravity scene. At the end of that astonishing scene after the white van lands on its wheels, Yusuf asks to his sleeping passengers, "Did you see that?" It's almost as if Nolan is asking the same of his audience. Yes, I did, Mr. Nolan. Thank you.But to what end? Since one of Cobb's kids is named Magnus Nolan in the credits, is it possible that Nolan forgets his kids' faces when he's on long film shoots out of the country? Or wishes he had them turn around one last time before he had to catch a plane? This is definitely Nolan's most personal film to date. You could easily transfer the troubled story of Nolan's brother (Matthew Francis Nolan) who has been charged with murder and kidnapping as well as bank fraud to Cobb's wife Mal ("Matt" and "Mal" are pretty close after all). Does Nolan feel guilty about some moment or experience with his brother in the past? Does he feel responsible? This is the essence of the film to me. Dealing with your past and present guilt and trying to get the things you did wrong before - right.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Favorite Celebrity Mugshots

In honor of Lindsay Lohan, who actually ended up with the best mugshot ever, I thought I'd put together a list of some celebrities who are not having their finest hour.

12. Andre the Giant

I just love imagining the cops trying to cuff him, stuff him the back seat, and take his fingerprints. In jail, "Anyone want a peanut?" has a whole new meaning.

11. Hugh Grant

The personification of embarrassment, embodied on Grant's handsome mug. It's almost like he's sitting on something already. Never noticed the glasses until today. A very British touch.

10. Mel Gibson

Not exactly a bad photo for someone with an alcohol level of 40%, but the glazed over look is priceless. I try not to go a day without using "sugartits" in a sentence. Thanks, Mel.

9. Paul Reubens

Another mugshot that's really not that bad (he's well groomed at least), Pee Wee makes it merely for rubbing one out at a porn house. The first of 3 straight Tim Burton alumni.

8. Jeffrey Jones

This one would be much higher if he were a little more famous and the charge (pedophilia) wasn't so utterly reprehensible. (Most of the others are drunk driving or drunk barfights).

7. Johnny Depp

The indefatigable, uncompromising, defiant Depp. It's hard to look like a badass with that frosted long blonde hair though.

6. Madonna

This has to be photoshopped, right? Right? Probably should have spent more time on the makeup and less time on the hair, which, let's be honest, protests too much.

5. Vince Vaughn

Before Vince had 4 chins, had 2 which puts us at a late 90s barfight. I bet he's a great drunk and a hilarious inmate.

4. Glen Campbell

A country singer who's not quite as famous as the others, but a priceless picture.

3. James Brown

I love the hair and the 5 o clock shadow, but the bathrobe is what placed JB this high.

2. Rip Torn

Not exactly ready for his close-up. He genuinely looks homeless and ripped.

1. Nick Nolte

No one will ever top this. Torn may have his face beat and may have beat Nolte on hair if he had more. But Nick wins for actually going in public with that shirt.

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Inception A

In IMAX, 148 minutes, Rated PG-13

With Inception Christopher Nolan proves he’s dreaming bigger than anyone else in Hollywood (I’m looking at you, Charlie Kaufman), and let there be no mistake, Inception is HUGE. From locations spanning Asia, India, Paris, London, and hybrids built from old James Bond video games; to a cast including Michael Caine, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (great here), Marion Cotillard, Ellen Paige, Tom Berenger, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, and Tom Hardy; to a multi-layered plot that plays with time, fate, the past, reality, and family; to special effects sequences and mind-bending action sets to make the Wachowski’s blush, Nolan’s colossus is built to stagger. And stagger it does, as much because he pulls it off (HE PULLS IT OFF) than from the sum of its elephantine parts. Still, a nagging question remains: is there a point to all this hubris and high-wire tomfoolery, or is this only (and it would be enough, honestly) mental masturbation for smarties and cinephiles? I’ll wager there are way bigger things here, but part of Nolan’s artfulness is that I’m not positive if he’s dealing with them or if this is a massive Rorschach test.

The Premise: Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a freelance thief of intellectual property who breaks into people’s minds via their dreams (with the help of a sedative, a couple thin wires, another dream raider, and a computer in a briefcase) and tricks them into giving him their secrets. The trick is that Cobb must create a dream architecture (place, building) and invite the victim into his dreamed locale so that he can control what is going on within the dream. On particularly difficult cases DiCaprio creates a dream inside this initial dream, the point of which is to make particularly paranoid individuals that may be aware of the possibility of Cobb’s brand of thievery comfortable, thereby more likely to give up secrets. It is also theoretically possible, although never believed to have been successfully carried out, to go into someone’s dreams via the same process and imbed in their unconscious the seeds of an idea. The theory is that the victim will believe the idea to be their own original notion when they awake. This process is known as inception.

The Logistics
: Time seems to move at a different pace while dreaming, so time in these dream states moves at about 1/60th (I think. Actually, I’m not sure about this number. The point is, much slower) the speed of the “real world”. Example, if a person is asleep for 4 hours, the thieves would have about 240 hours of dream time within which to extract the information. In a logical problem, in my opinion, within the film, in a dream within a dream, time slows down that much more again, meaning, in the above scenario, the second dream would last 14,400 hours (600 days). Much like in our dreams, things that happen in the outside world are often incorporated into the dream itself, including sounds and sensations. Furthermore, in a nifty nod to the common feeling of falling as we wake-up, the way to wake from a dream is by a “push”, or a scenario that would give the dreamers the sensation of falling. So, jumping off a building would allow the dream thieves to wake up. If a thief is several layers down, they must have a push at each layer, so they must wake-up from the second dream before they can wake from the first one. Finally, the thieves carry an object that only they know the physical properties of (weight, etc…) so that they can always know whether they are in the real world or in someone’s dream by handling this object (the idea is that the dream architect might be able to make a visual replica but wouldn’t know that it was hollow or was a loaded dice).

The Plot: Cobb has been forced into his illegal activity and to flee the States because his legitimate work with dreams came to an end when he was charged with crimes he claims not to have committed. His primary desire is to get back with his children in America. His now-dead wife Mal (the stunning Marion Cotillard, La vie en rose) continues to haunt Cobb within his dream states, showing up in any moment to wreck havoc. A client, Saito (Ken Watanabe, The Last Samari), claims he has the connections to get Cobb back to his children if he completes a successful inception. A team is assembled and a strategy is developed that will take them into three levels of dream to complete the inception. Needless to say, things don’t go as planned.

If that all seems confusing, it is, although I didn’t think it was as difficult to follow as some articles I’ve read indicate. The direction and editing here are spot on, with the cuts back and forth between three levels of dreams (and three cliff-hangers) working perfectly to increase suspense while allowing the audience to keep up. The action sequences, especially the one(s) done in weightlessness, are ingenious and groundbreaking while conforming to the rules of the world Nolan has created.

If there’s a flaw in this picture it’s that the main male characters, especially Cobb, aren’t that sympathetic. This should be no surprise. Nolan’s male characters generally aren’t. They tend to be strong men with some admirable characteristics that bend in high-pressure situations. Consider Memento, The Prestige, and even both Nolan’s Batmans. When the rubber meets the road, his male leads often put their own needs before justice or the good of the many. This isn’t as true of his Batman, but even then, his is dark knight is much darker than the other iterations. His women here are more sympathetic, especially Paige who does a fine job with a fairly one-dimensional character. But it’s Cotillard who brings heart and soul to this film. Her Mal is at turns wrathful, loving, broken-hearted, and jealous. She is, at least most of the time, a projection of Cobb, so she is how he remembers her or as he hopes or is scared she will be. It’s a role that would destroy a lesser actress, but illuminates Cotillard.

As often is the case with Nolan, he toys with religious categories and concepts while never taking a firm stance one way or the other. Here he toys with the concepts of limbo (in some Catholic thought, the outer limits of hell or the place where unbaptized infants go) and eternity. Furthermore the name “Cobb” is said to be an illusion to the Biblical patriarch Jacob, who meets God in a dream as angels ascend/descend a staircase (and from whom the nation of Israel takes their name). Further, Yosef (one of the team) is the Hebrew pronunciation Joseph, Jacob’s son and an interpreter of dreams in the book of Genesis.

There are a variety of themes explored, but the two that are most interesting and constant are parenthood and reality. Cobb will do anything to get back to his children, **SPOILER** even give up the memory of his wife, but why? Is it for them, as he claims, or for himself? And when did losing children, such a personal loss, become the driving force for so many films? In a dangerous and random world is the loss of our children our individual and collective greatest fear? But larger still, Nolan really wants to examine the questions that will mark the next half Century. In a time when we are painfully aware of our perspectivalism (the fact that we cannot escape having a perspective through which we filter reality) and increasingly aware that technology and chemistry leave us in a place where we can’t trust what we see or hear or even touch, how do we know what reality is ? and, maybe more to the point, if we have a choice, do we really want it anyway? If these films sound familiar to DiCaprio fans, it’s because they are similar to ones found in his Scorcese-directed Shutter Island from earlier this year. When a great filmmaker chooses to cover difficult themes, it’s good to sit-up and pay attention. When two as great as Nolan and Scorcese cover the same material six months apart, it’s imperative. The masterwork of a visionary. A

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DVD and Blu-ray Releases 7/20/10

Cop Out - #
The Losers - #
Mother - #
The Runaways - #
Tin Man - #

Click below for this week's Blu-ray releases

Black Narcissus - Criterion - *
Forbidden World
Galaxy of Terror
The Red Shoes - Criterion - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New Richard Ashcroft (the Verve) Album

Listen to it for free here - actually sounds really good. New band name is Richard Ashcroft and the United Nations of Sound.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Inception - A-

In theaters. Rated R, 140 minutes. Trailer.

Astonishing, amazing, breathtaking. Writer/Director Christopher Nolan's Inception has several instant classic action scenes that demand to be seen on the big screen. The film is a visual marvel from start to finish with a heavyweight score to match. The cast is excellent, especially Leonardo DiCaprio, Marion Cotillard and Tom Hardy. Unfortunately, the film is not the sum of its amazing parts. The visuals and direction earn a rare A+ while the story and screenplay are B to B+ quality, resulting in the spotty A-. Priest is writing the 'review of record' for DLP on this film, but I know Doc and I will also want to get something down as well. Click below for more on Inception:

The film follows Cobb (DiCaprio) as he plies his trade of inhabiting and stealing dreams. His 'crew' includes Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, each with a job inside the dreams. Ken Watanabe shows up as an all powerful generic energy executive that promises to reunite Cobb with his children if he can pull off an 'inception', the planting of an idea inside the mind. Obviously Cobb accepts and the film follows this process as the crew moves throu amazing landscape after amazing landscape to accomplish their task.

The film is a joy to watch and the mechanics of the dreams and the inception is very interesting and well thought out. The limitation of the film is that it lacks enough of a soul. I didn't feel like Watanabe's character was developed enough to make me pull for him and against Cillian Murphy and Pete Postlewaithe. The relationship with Cobb's children is obvious, and the film gets closest to being complete through the soulful performance of the always great Marion Cotillard as Cobb's wife.

I need to watch it again to finalize my opinion. The film is refreshingly challenging and leaves you pondering the deepest of concepts. I'll leave it to Priest to more thoroughly explore the multitude of themes in the film.

The snow military scenes and the shifting gravity scenes are among my favorite of the past decade, maybe longer. The visuals reminded me of Kubrick.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend Box Office: 7/16-7/18/10

Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated, high concept project took the weekend. I plan on catching it early this week. The latest Nicolas Cage film took 3rd. I plan on catching it early in Obama's second term. Predators dropped like Brody's post-Oscar career.


1. Inception: 60.4 mil / NEW
2. Despicable Me: 32.7 mil / -42% / 118 mil
3. Sorcerer's Apprentice: 17 mil / NEW
4. Eclipse: 13.5 mil / -57% / 265 mil
5. Toy Story 3: 11.7 mil / -44% / 363 mil
6. Grown Ups: 10 mil / -37% / 129 mil
7. Last Airbender: 7.4 mil / -55% / 115 mil
8. Predators: 6.8 mil / - 73% / 40 mil
9. Knight & Day: 3.7 mil / -52% / 69 mil
10. The Karate Kid: 2.2 mil / - 59% / 169 mil

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Miscellaneous - 2010 Gets Better Edition

1. The Town Trailer - Directed by Ben Affleck, who showed great promise with Gone Baby Gone. Crime/Love drama set in Boston looks awesome - great cast - Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Chris Cooper and Pete Postlewaithe.

2. New trailer for Social Network - First few seconds are amazing. This year is looking better all the time. Directed by David Fincher about the origins of Facebook. First critical look at the millenials could be genius.

3. Listen to David Lynch's collaboration with Modest Mouse and Sparklehorse (and read an article about it) here.

4. New Criterion version of Thin Red Line comes out September 28, 2010here.

5. Trailer for Biutiful - Directed by Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel) and starring Javier Bardem. A Lawyer must-see.

6. Trailer for Due Date - New Todd Phillips (Old School, The Hangover) comedy with Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx and Zach Galifinakis. Obviously looks funny. "I once ate a footlong corn dog on a nude beach."

7. Trailer for It's Kind of a Funny Story - From Deborah Fleck and Ryan Boden (Half Nelson and Sugar) and starring Zach Galifinakis.

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HBO Sunday Night - 7/11/10

Entourage: Buzzed
Season 7, Episode 2

Vince shows self-destructive proclivities by cutting lots of his hair off before he's done with his latest film. Then, he bad mouths his own film and decides to jump out of an airplane. Meanwhile, Ari meets with the NFL (including Jerry Jones) and hopes to represent them. Eric begins to represent Drama and Turtle slowly turns into a stalker. Shauna (Debi Mazar) made a good return but Lloyd has been completely wasted since becoming an agent . . .

As Eric's rival, Scott Caan continues to provide excellent smarmy support. Vince's skydiving trip was superb not only technically (ripping off Point Break - thank you, Ms. Bigelow), but also symbolically - showing Vince in free fall physically as he tries to shake up his boring, perfect life. The episode also diminished the screen time of Eric and Turtle which helped make it the best episode in years. B+

Hung: Tucson is the Gateway to Dick
Season 2, Episode 2

Not to be outdone, Hung came through with a well-structured, well-executed episode about everyone's comfort zone and what people do to rationalize and justify their lives. Ray has difficulty sleeping, uncomfortable with his activities. His next door neighbor gives him a new mattress - which he initially refuses. His best client (who's still pregnant) is being pursued by her estranged husband and Ray wants to get them back together. Meanwhile, Lenore and Tanya try to out-pimp each other and Jessica tries to connect with her and Ray's kids. It's rare that a show will build on its themes from scene to scene. A lot of thought and effort is being put into these scripts and many of the lines are hilarious (with Jessica's Polish mom and Lenore getting the choice lines this episode). Not everything worked (the bowling scene teetered toward the obvious). But with a foundation laid so well, there's room for minor misplacements. A-

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Single Man, C+

Rated R, On DVD, 99 minutes

First things first: this movie’s gorgeous. Pretentiously so, really. Every camera angle, every scene, every cut, is perfectly weighted, perfectly framed. The interiors of the homes, perfect. Considering that this is the labor of love of Tom Ford, the re-energizer of the House of Gucci and potentially the most important designer of his generation, the clothes are certainly perfect. Perfect like one of Ford’s series of print ads, with every minimalist piece in place, burnished and shiny. That, coupled with an Oscar-nominated performance from Colin Firth, is enough for the opening third, but at about that point a person does begin to ask if there’s anything going on here besides beauty and sadness? The answer, alas, is not much.

The plot: Colin Firth is George, a middle-aged, college literature professor and the single man of the title. He is single in two ways: 1) He’s a gay male in the U.S. in the 1960’s, so marriage is not an option for him and 2) his partner of 16 year, Jim (Matthew Goode, Match Point), recently died in an automobile accident. This death has all but incapacitated George, leaving him a cool shell of a man moving through his expected last day making detached, tragic double entendres. He has decided to teach a final class, meet up with old friend and one-time fling Julianne Moore, then blow his brains out. Firth does all this brilliantly. If we don’t see inside George, we’re told we won’t, that he must construct a facade every morning as he dresses. Problem is, this movie already plays too much like an ad campaign, all shiny veneer and atmosphere with no substance. And so, while we don’t really want to watch a bullet exit anyone’s brain, in the end it seems as likely—and unlikely—as anything else, because we never actually get to know anything about George besides his intellect and his sadness. That, after awhile, starts feeling like a super-depressed, super-smart guy down the hall in college. You’d like to say you knew him, but you don’t really want to hang out with him.

Speaking of college, there’s a student in one of George’s classes (Nicholas Hault, Marcus from About a Boy!) that takes a shine to him, in more ways than one it appears, and looks him up after hours (Spoiler Alert!!), eventually bringing him out of his stupor and, apparently, convincing him that life is indeed with living. This is where I really began to have significant problems with this film. Firth is 50 and Hault is 20 and plays his student. Maybe it’s because I’m in the academic world, but come on! This is how Colin gets his groove back? Getting naked with one of his students, talking about doing drugs with him, and getting him drunk? I don’t want to call reverse discrimination, but could a heterosexual man making a heterosexual-themed film get away portraying all this in a positive, yea salvific, light?

Finally, on the subject of homosexuality, this movie is homoerotic in a way a movie like Brokeback Mountain never was. While the scenes in Brokeback were more explicit by far than anything in this film, they were also shot with a matter-of-fact quality that never romanticized or eroticized the subject matter. This film is the opposite. While the physical contact is limited to an occasional pretty chaste kiss, the camera isn’t nearly so chaste, repeatedly zooming in on abs and backs and butts. Goodness knows there are plenty of straight movies that have done the same and worse, but I didn’t expect it in a movie with these aspirations that takes itself this seriously. On a side note, while the film is ultimately too vacuous and homoerotic, it’s a solid first film from Tom Ford. If he can figure out what he wants to say with all the beauty he can capture, he could make a fine filmmaker. C+

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 7/13/10

8: The Mormon Proposition
The Bounty Hunter - #
Caught in the Crossfire - #
Chloe - #
Greatest - #
Greenberg - #
How to Make Love to a Woman - #
MIddle of Nowhere - #
The Only Son/There Was a Father
Our Family Wedding - #
Parasomnia - #

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

Alpha Dog
Assault on Precinct 13
In Bruges - *
Insomnia - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Link of the Day

Here are some great (and occasionally rare) black and white pictures from one of the all-time greats.

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Weekend Box Office: 7/9-7/11/10

Adrien Brody bulked up and pretended to have a Y chromosome, but an animated film led by some Steve Carell voice-work scored huge. There were some surprising holds throughout the top 10, including Grown Ups. And Mel Gibson might be over, but Tom Cruise isn't yet.


1. Despicable Me: 60 mil / NEW
2. Eclipse: 33 mil / -49% / 237 mil
3. Predators: 25 mil / NEW
4. Toy Story 3: 22 mil / -27% / 340 mil
5. Last Airbender: 17 mil / -58% / 100 mil
6. Grown Ups: 16 mil / -14% / 111 mil
7. Knight & Day: 8 mil / -25% / 62 mil
8. The Karate Kid: 6 mil / - 29% / 165 mil
9. The A-Team: 2 mil / -44% / 74 mil
10. Cyrus: 1.4 mil / +178% / 3.5 mil

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Youth in Revolt - B-

On DVD. Rated R, 89 minutes. Trailer.

Michael Cera has got to be close to the record for portraying alienated and awkward teens. In Youth in Revolt he plays his normal sensitive/smarmy character, but adds a bad boy alter ego named Francois to the repertoire. Cera stars as Nick Twisp, a lonely virginal teenager in California. His mother is an aging beauty shacked up with an idiotic truck driver played (underwhelmingly) by Zack Galifinakis. On a chance trip to the beach, Nick meets Sheeni and falls in love immediately only to have several obstacles thrown up between the two. He develops an alter ego named Francois that prods Nick to be more aggressive and reckless to achieve his goals. Click below for more on YIR:

As Nick starts breaking the law and his own conventions, he gets closer to Sheeni, but further from reality. Steve Buscemi, M. Emmett Walsh and Justin Long make quality appearances along the way, each providing decent support to the film.

There are several funny sequences and smart lines in the film (I laughed out loud at the reference to John Muir). The film also does a decent job capturing what it is to be an adolescent male. The film is extremely uneven, ranging from hilarious to boring to unbelievable. It felt like it was written by 5 people.

Skip it unless you can find a Francois highlight reel.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Shyamalan, Bay, and Gibson

Lethal Weapon will never play the same.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Song of the Day- The Mermaid Parade

Euroappraiser introduced me to Phosphorescent several years ago with a song called Wolves (look it up). They've got a new album out with this tale of the dissolution of a marriage. A little Neil Young, a little alt-country, it's greatness. Check it here.

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Monday, July 5, 2010

DVD and Blu-ray Releases 7/6/10

Brooklyn's Finest - #
Continental Divide
Eyeborgs - #
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - #
A Single Man - #

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

Funny Farm/Spies Like Us
Jason and the Argonauts
Jimmy Hollywood
The Last Boy Scout/Last Man Standing
Love and Other Disasters
Practical Magic/The Witches of Eastwick
Steamboat Bill, Jr. - *

# - also on Blu-ray
* - Doctor approved

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy July 4th!

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Weekend Box Office: 7/2-7/4/10

The 3rd installment of the Twilight series set records for a Wednesday opening. M. Night Shyamalan tried out his first adaptation which resulted in the worst reviews of his career. Cyrus expanded pretty well.


1. Eclipse: 69 mil / NEW / 161 mil
2. The Last Airbender: 40.6 mil / NEW / 57 mil
3. Toy Story 3: 30 mil / -49% / 289 mil
4. Grown Ups: 18 mil / -54% / 77 mil
5. Knight & Day: 10 mil / -49% / 45 mil
6. The Karate Kid: 8 mil / - 49% / 151 mil
7. The A-Team: 3 mil / -51% / 69 mil
8. Get Him to the Greek: 1.1 mil / -62% / 57 mil
9. Shrek 4: 0.8 mil / -74% / 232 mil
10. Cyrus: 0.8 mil / +156% / 1.5 mil

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Saturday, July 3, 2010


1. NY Times article about Chris Nolan and Inception....don't miss the multimedia link regarding Nolan's influences (including Stanley Kubrick and Michael Mann).

2. A film nerd only link about the best recent cinematography in film is here.

3. Listen to the new Eddie Vedder song "Better Days" here (available on iTunes).

4. New Pearl Jam song and video here.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

HBO Sunday Night - 6/27/10

The season premiere of HBO's Entourage and Hung began this past Sunday and repeat viewings are available for the next several days. No new episodes will air until 7/11 so you have a few days to get it together.

Entourage: Stunted
Season 7, Episode 1

Vince (Adrien Grenier) is back on top and filming an action movie where the director (Nick Cassavetes) wants him to do his own stunts. His masculinity is put into question while his agent Ari (Jeremy Piven) and best friend Eric try to get him out of it behind the scenes. Meanwhile, Drama (Kevin Dillon) is having trouble landing a TV deal and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) has started a limousine service . . .

The best episodes of Entourage always centered on Vince's celebrity status and how others reacted to it and used it. It helped when all of the 4 principles could bounce off each other. Since seasons 5 and 6, we have less interesting characters (Turtle and Eric) eating up valuable minutes and every character essentially separate from the others, bringing in more and more tertiary characters. It's too much to deal with in 30 minutes. Only Dillon and Piven (as in seasons past) breathe life into their underwritten roles (although Piven isn't quite as spunky since his serum mercury level has dropped). The first episode of the season is admittedly a tough one, setting up character arcs and a plot that extends through 10-12 episodes. Let's hope the guys will have more scenes together and the writers stop pretending Turtle and Eric are interesting, let alone poonhounds. B-

Hung: Just the Tip
Season 2, Episode 1

Speaking of poonhounds, high school gym teacher (and part-time ho) Ray (Thomas Jane) has been thinking about his ex-wife Jessica (Anne Heche) since he was hired to satisfy her (ultimately declining) at the end of last season. He still has one too many pimps: the hilariously aggressive Lenore (Rebecca Creskoff) and the hilariously self-conscious and quirky Tanya (Jane Adams). Meanwhile, Ray's kids are struggling in high school and Jessica's new dermatologist husband (Eddie Jemison) is cheating on her (with his patients).

This episode was cluttered in the first 10 minutes with viewers who missed out on Season 1 probably lost. There was a lack of flow and fluidity (remember when TV shows had establishing shots?), but by the time Tanya sat down at a donut shop with an actual pimp for advice, the show settled down nicely doing what it does best: showing desperate characters doing what it takes to survive and get what they want for themselves and their families. This perfect pace continued to the very end when Ray and Jessica meet at a bowling alley. The show gave its characters room to breathe and the actors time to act.

The Detroit-based show nails the current recession atmosphere and Ray's speech to his baseball team was quite inspiring. There was more nudity than usual (Ray's neighbor goes full frontal), but looking past all the sex and nudity, you'll find lots of heart, guts, and soul. B+

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