Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Catching up with some news and clips

Many of these things may have indeed happened while I was on vacation with mi hermano in New York and Philly, but they're all fascinating to me, so if you want to, please feel free to read on.

Easily the best news, and fresh I think, is that HBO has set the return dates for two of my favorite TV comedies, and is in fact packaging them back to back this September. "Bored to Death" and "Eastbound & Down" will indeed premiere as a block beginning at 10 p.m. Sept. 26, and I can only say bring it on.

If you've never seen "Bored to Death," and I'm sure there's many more than a few of you who haven't, I really can't recommend many TV comedies higher. The show from novelist Jonathan Ames (if you haven't read his "Wake Up, Sir!", do so right away) is about a struggling writer (Jason Schwartzman) who decides to list himself as a private eye on Craig's List. As he goes on various misadventures in New York City, he's often joined by co-star Zach Galifianakis and, even better, Ted Danson, who steals every minute he's in as a crazed magazine editor.

"Eastbound & Down," from the Southern-fried comedy shop of Jody Hill and friends, is a more bitter pill to swallow, but in its own way almost as funny. At the end of season one, Danny McBride's Kenny Powers had burned all his bridges in his pathetic attempt to return to the big leagues as a pitcher, and if I'm not mistaken, the new season will at least in part have him hurling in Mexico. That should be a hoot, so if you've never seen this little odd show, give it a chance.

In another bit of TV news, though I'm now thoroughly convinced there will never be an "Arrested Development" movie, two of its funniest actors will be reuniting on creator Mitch Hurwitz's new show, "Running Wilde," starting Sept. 20 on Fox.)

In the show, Gob Bluth plays a rich callow dude (sound familiar?) who falls in love with a crusading environmentalist played by Keri Russell. And now comes word that in a casting change, the extremely funny David Cross will play a radical environmentalist who competes for her affections for at least seven episodes. Nothing but funny there (or at least here's hoping, because Hurwitz's last show, "Sit Down, Shut Up," was just a flaming turd.)

And finally, both because this is nominally supposed to be about movies and because I love Sam Raimi at his best, he's attached to direct something that could be all kinds of fun (and I'm not talking about that "Oz" prequel, which even with Robert Downey Jr. as the wiz himself should just be terminated with extreme prejudice.)

After that, I suppose, Raimi has set his sights on adapting the graphic novel "Earp: Saints for Sinners," from a script by the novel's author, Matt Cirulnick. As the title implies, this would indeed be about the Western hero Wyatt Earp, but transport him into a future in which he takes on outlaws in a ravaged society where the only boomtown left is Las Vegas. Now, having sat through "Spider-Man 3" I know Raimi can fall as much as anyone, but this just sounds like fun to me.

OK, from here on out it's all about clips, the first two of which come directly from Roger Ebert's newsletter, which really is a must-read if you love movies (and at $4 a year, it's a real steal too.)

First up comes the first proof that this fall and winter are going to be all about James Franco, and as a devoted "Freaks and Geeks" fan, that's just fine by me. Later, in December (I think), he'll star in Danny Boyle's next flick, "127 Hours," as mountain climber Aron Ralston, who became trapped while climbing in Utah and had to go to desperate measures to survive. You can count that as one of the very few flicks I'm most looking forward to for the rest of the year, but before that, on Sept. 24 if you live in one of America's bigger cities, you'll be able to see him as the poet Allen Ginsberg in "Howl." Here, courtesy of the Ebert crew, is the first trailer I know of. Enjoy.

I thoroughly enjoyed Ben Affleck's directing debut with "Gone Baby Gone," so you can certainly count me as psyched for his sophomore effort, "The Town," based on the novel "Prince of Thieves" by Chuck Hogan and set to come out Sept. 10. The rather stellar cast includes Gossip Girl Blake Lively, Jeremy Renner, Reel Fanatic fave Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm and Chris Cooper in a Boston flick about a bank robber and his contacts with the FBI, amorous, contentious and otherwise (sounds more than a little like "Out of Sight," which is fine with me.) Enjoy the first trailer I know of.

Next up comes the first American trailer for Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," which, even with the awful narration that also was the only blemish on his sublime "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," looks like it should be another winner. The cast includes, Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, Antonio Banderas and the simply stunning Freida Pinto, so we at least know there will be a lot of pretty people, hopefully doing very funny work when this comes out (and hopefully everywhere) Sept. 22. Enjoy the trailer.

And where better to finish up today than with more silliness from the Muppets? We'll have to wait until Christmas 2011 for the new Muppet movie, "The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made," being cooked up by Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller and James Bobin. In the meantime, thankfully, Jim Henson's creations keep popping up in new YouTube creations like this latest clip of the Swedish chef cooking up some popcorn shrimp, with predictably disastrous results. Enjoy the clip, and have perfectly passable Wednesday. Peace out.

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