Thursday, October 06, 2011

Thursday fun, of Clint Eastwood, baseball and Marilyn Monroe, too

Actually, before we get into any of that, Fox really knows what it's doing with "The New Girl," the only new sitcom I've committed to watching every episode of (though I caught No. 2 of "Suburgatory," and that was pretty wickedly funny, too.)

I'm not talking about replacing "the black guy" after only one episode with another one, but instead realizing that the reason people tune in is to see smart, funny women clearly having a lot of fun.

It starts with Zooey Deschanel, of course, and she's been a trooper so far, and now they're wisely adding "Party Down" star Lizzy Caplan for a three-episode arc, hopefully beginning very soon.

She will, of course, play the love interest of one of Jess' seriously douchetastic roommates, but having her back on TV at all is indeed reason to, if you'll excuse me for saying it, "Party Down" (especially since that show is truly dead and gone ... forever.)

But the best news I came across this morning was that with the, well at least relative, success of "Moneyball," there's going to be at least one more potentially great baseball movie coming, which will hopefully continue that welcome trend.

Clint Eastwood said his turn in front of the camera in "Gran Torino" would be his last acting gig, but it seems he's taken to that retirement vow about as well as Brett Favre did the first few times. As for "Gran Torino," I really didn't get it the first time I saw it, but despite it's almost thorough lack of subtlety (even by Eastwood's standards), it's a pretty darn fine little flick.

And now, perhaps as a favor to his longtime assistant director, Robert Lorenz, Eastwood is set to star in Lorenz's full directing debut, "Trouble With the Curve." The baseball flick will be about a baseball scout (Eastwood) who is losing his vision with his age. He and his daughter take a final road trip to Atlanta to check out a prospective talent.

That, frankly, sounds like a heck of a lot more fun than Eastwood's upcoming directing effort, "J. Edgar" on Nov. 9, and the world is certainly a better place with more baseball movies in it, so stay tuned for more on this whenever I can find it.

And finally today, in an admittedly short report, where better to leave things than with Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in the upcoming movie "My Week With Marilyn"? Even in this trailer, you can tell that, along with nailing Marilyn's look just about perfectly, this will, not surprisingly, be another nuanced performance from Williams. The movie, set in England during the filming of "The Prince and the Showgirl," tells the story from the perspective of her lovestruck young assistant as Marilyn worked with Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) in the movie and also happened to be on honeymoon with her husband, Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott), at the time. Juicy stuff, so if you're lucky enough to live in a "limited" market, keep an eye out for this one on Nov. 4. Peace out.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Three crazy - and potential great - things that caught my eye this morning

Actually, I should probably make that four, since the rather sweet photo above is one of a series at NextMovie to welcome in the new season of "South Park," actually the second half of - amazingly - season 15, which opens tonight.

Never ones to shy away from anything, if I have things right, tonight's episode, titled "Ass-burgers," will indeed poke fun at something no one ever should, Asperger's syndrome, and almost certainly with no mercy. I can't wait.

And, being of course a tribute to the Dude, it's also a segue into the first wild and potentially great thing I noticed this morning, the Coen brothers making the trip into TV. I'd probably just dismiss this as a waste of their time and considerable talents, but the project sounds just about perfect for them and apparently won't really take up too much of their time.

The duo has collaborated with "Cedar Rapids" scribe Phil Johnston to co-create "HarveKarbo," an upcoming hourlong comedy for Fox on which the Coens will serve as executive producers. The show, which will be written by Johnston, will follow the title character, an ill-tempered LA private investigator whose cases frequently involve the depraved doings of the Hollywood elite, and his deadbeat friends in Los Angeles’ El Segundo.

That certainly sounds like it has some Dude-esque potential, and if you've never seen "Cedar Rapids," I count it as one of the better big-screen comedies of this year, a sweet little flick starring Ed Helms and John C. Reilly that had just enough funny and knew exactly when to quit. This is definitely one to keep your eyes on.

And speaking of potentially great TV, but something I still think is much less likely to happen, there's a new development in the "Arrested Development" saga, aka "The Longest Tease."

After Jason Bateman once again relit the movie/return to series fuse on Sunday at the New Yorker Festival's "Arrested Development" full cast reunion, there was word that Netflix and Showtime were both at least slightly interested in bringing the show back for 10 episodes or so to lead in to a movie.

You can still count me as a doubter, but what would make this more likely than a good, old-fashioned bidding war, right? Well, we may just get one, according to the always-reliable Vulture, as Netflix and now streaming rival Hulu are apparently very interested in at least the new episodes.

I promise not to bring up every single tiny development in this already rather ridiculous tale, but this one sounds promising, so stay tuned ...

And thirdly (or fourthly) today, the best album I've heard this year (at least in Adele's considerable wake) has to be "Rome," by DJ Danger Mouse and the Italian composer Daniele Luppi. The album, which just trust me is fantastic, is a tribute to the music of spaghetti westerns, and features vocals from Jack White and Norah Jones. Now comes word that video director Chris Milk, who has done great work with Arcade Fire, among other bands, wants to turn the album into a movie somehow. More on that in a sec, but first enjoy this audio-only clip from "Rome," "Season's Trees" featuring Norah Jones.

I love that song, and the whole album is just the perfect thing for a lazy Sunday morning. As for the movie itself, while apparently at least underpinned and inspired by the album, it will also be based on the science-fiction/horror novel "The Reapers Saw the Angels" by Alden Bell, which I have not read but is apparently about a girl living in a post-apocalyptic world.

I've frankly had enough of those types of flicks, but the involvement of the Danger Mouse stuff in this somehow makes me think this could turn into something fantastic.

And, finally today and as a little treat for anyone who made it this far (and because still being almost a thorough Luddite, I'm still amazed that it's legal to put complete movies on the Internet), enjoy the full movie "Synecdoche, NY," embedded here for the pleasure of anyone who happens to find it. The Charlie Kaufman oddity is really just the perfect thing for a Wednesday, and it looks great imbiggened to full screen, so enjoy. Peace out.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Arrested Development ... the rumor that still won't die gets new life

'It's true. We will do 10 episodes and the movie. Probably shoot them all together next summer for a release in early '13. VERY excited!"

Jason Bateman sets things in motion this weekend with that comment at a full-cast "Arrested Development" reunion arranged by the New Yorker Festival, but why in the world should fans of the show, who have been let down so many times in the past, believe any differently this time?

Well, we probably shouldn't. but this is the first time that I've heard talk of both an "Arrested Development" movie and some new episodes, too, so we should perhaps look a little closer. And in doing so, it seems there's some interesting financial backing, according to Deadline, that could really make it happen.

Per the website, which granted isn't always right, 20th Century TV, which co-produced "Arrested Development", has had talk with both Netflix and Showtime about bringing back the show, as Bateman teased, for 10 episodes that would eventually lead into the long-promised movie.

Still a remote possibility, but lord knows Netflix could use the good publicity along with some original programming, so we can at least file this in the keep-hope-a-little-more-alive file and keep our fingers crossed.

Except for that today, there's news about two of my very favorite directors, so let's just get right to it.

Actually, it's probably a bit strong to call Martin McDonagh one of my favorite directors since he's only made one movie I've managed to see (and two in total), but when that movie is "In Bruges," I think it's a fair leap to make.

If you haven't seen that extremely dark and equally funny little gem, I really can't recommend rentals much higher. The tale of two hitman uncomfortably hiding out on vacation stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, and "In Bruges" is the first movie I bought on Blu-ray.

And now comes word that CBS Films is in negotiations to co-finance and distribute another McDonagh film that would also star Farrell, "Seven Psychopaths," which sounds like it should be a lot of wicked fun.

Per, in the film, Marty (Farrell) a screenwriter struggling for inspiration for his script, 'Seven Psychopaths,' gets unwittingly drawn into the dangerous dog kidnapping schemes of his oddball friends Billy (Sam Rockwell) and Hans (Christopher Walken). And once the beloved Shih Tzu of the psychopathic gangster Charlie goes missing, Marty finds he's going to get all the inspiration he needs, as long as he can live to tell the tale...

I'm laughing at that already. Sounds like it's got more than a little Elmore Leonard thrown in, and with shooting apparently set to start this fall, definitely stay tuned for more on this as soon as I can find it.

There's also news about another of my favorites who's putting together his second film as a director, Charlie Kaufman. The first for which he didn't have Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry as a counterweight, "Synecdoche, NY," was a wonder that spun way out of control by the end, but still managed to be spellbinding.

This time out, he's just added Kevin Kline to a cast that already included Jack Black, Steve Carell and Nicolas Cage for "Frank or Francis," which definitely plays on themes of "Adaptation," for which Kaufman wrote the script.

This time out, per Variety, the "satire of Hollywood set to music" will "chronicle the back-and-forth between a movie director and an online blogger who delights in berating his cinematic talent."

Also per Variety, Black will play Francis, a blogger who reviews movies online. Carell is playing Frank, a filmmaker who is cheating on his wife, while Cage plays The Emcee, an actor famous for "commercial, high-concept films." Kline will play both Richard Waller, the brother of director Jonathan Waller, whose fictional film Hiroshima is the highest-grossing movie of all time, as well as Richard's Head, an animatronic head that helps Jonathan make a product that will have "the broadest possible appeal and zero artistic integrity."

Charlie Kaufman's mind is exactly my kind of twisted, and it seems like this time out he's keeping it slightly more conventional but probably more fun than with "Synecdoche," so I'm in for sure. Shooting for this starts in January.

And I'll leave you today with two tv-related videos, the first being the first five minutes of "American Horror Story," the new FX series from "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy that's set to premiere Wednesday at 10 p.m. The almost certainly campy haunted house tale stars the truly great Connie Britton (aka Tami Taylor), Dylan McDermott and somehow Jessica Lange too. I'm on the fence about whether or not to watch this one, but I'll at least watch the pilot, and perhaps like a few people who happen to stop by here today, will watch the first five minutes as soon as I finish this post. Enjoy.

And finally, here's the best clip from the first episode of "Saturday Night Live" I've bothered to stay up for and watch live in at least 10 years, starring Melissa McCarthy. They came up with several skits in which she shined, but this TCM spoof in which she played vaudeville bombshell Lulu Diamonds was the best. To say any more would just spoil it in case you haven't seen this yet, so I'll just say it's comedy bliss and leave it at that. Peace out.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Baseball still on the brain, with Bennett Miller's next and more

It may be a slight exaggeration to say, as my friend Bob Connally did very well, that Wednesday night was "The Greatest Night of Sport You Will Ever See" except that for fans of certain baseball teams, it really was.

Even if you had no dogs in that fight, the final American League playoffs spot being decided in two dramatic games finishing three minutes apart showed just why baseball is not just America's pastime, but also its greatest sport, even if football is king for the moment.

And really, there's no better way to follow up that glorious night (especially for fans of one seriously cursed team from Charm City) than by going to see "Moneyball" if you missed it in week one, since it's the best baseball I've seen in many years, and one that thanks to Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and just some whip-smart writing will appeal just as much to people who somehow don't understand the allure of baseball as it will to diehard fans.

There's a solid chance that, though personally I'll be giving my money to "50/50" with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, "Moneyball" could finish in the top slot in week two given the baseball buzz, and that would certainly be well-deserved.

And I tell you all that to tell you this: "Moneyball" director Bennett Miller has just signed Steve Carell to star in his next movie, which will tell one of the truly odd stories to come out of my old and now new again corner of the world, that of John du Pont.

That name may not mean anything to lots of people, but certainly the Du Pont chemical company does. John, the heir to its sizable fortune, was a rather serious amateur wrestling fan, to the extent that he built a training facility called Foxcatcher on his Pennsylvania estate that attracted many of the country's top wrestlers. Until, that is, Du Pont, a paranoid schizophrenic, shot and killed Olympic gold medal-winning wrestler David Schultz (Du Pont died last year in a Pennsylvania prison at age 72.)

Just as with "Moneyball" and baseball, this is clearly an intriguing tale even if you don't care at all about wrestling (as a never terribly good former high school wrestler, I do, and coincidentally, Thomas McCarthy's wrestling movie "Win Win" still stands as my favorite movie of 2011 so far - rent it now.)

I have to assume that Carell would be playing Du Pont, but there's no confirmation on that just yet ... stay tuned.

There's also news out there about two of my other favorite filmmakers, Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, who also coincidentally enough happened to make another of my favorite baseball movies, 2008's "Sugar." After that they made "It's Kind of a Funny Story," which while more than a bit uneven, was exactly the kind of human story that I look for in small-scale movies, and either one is well worth a rental.

For their next movie, the duo will direct (and I assume, as with their past movies, write, too, but not certain of that yet) something described as a "character drama" and titled "Hate Mail." It will be about the interweaving stories of several New Yorkers who receive said types of deliveries, and while that doesn't sound like the most intriguing of premises, they haven't let me down yet, so I'm in.

And finally today, before I close with one video clip, think of all your dream candidates to play James Bond. Daniel Craig is indeed pretty good, and he should be great as Mikael Blomkvist in Fincher's take on "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," but just think how amazing it would be if the role were to go to Stringer Bell.

That's apparently an old rumor, but being a now fairly old dude, I heard it for the first time this week as Idris Elba was making the promotional circuit for season two of "Luther," which premiered on BBC America (and my DVR) this week. Far from simply the first "Black Bond," which Elba rightly dismissed the significance of in interviews, what he would instead be, as fans of "The Wire" know, is someone who would give the character even more of an edge than Craig did, and a welcome boost of new energy.

In the meantime, police procedurals don't get much better than "Luther," in which Elba plays the titular lead detective. Season one is available now streaming from Netflix, and it's well worth tracking down.

And I'll leave you today, before I go swimming, help my dad spread some gravel for a greenhouse and then go see "50/50," with this clip for Roman Polanski's "Carnage," definitely one of the movies I'm most looking forward to for this fall/winter. Having seen the play it's based on by Yasmina Reza, I can tell you that it's one seriously wicked war of words, and with the movie starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly, it should be just as great. Enjoy this clip of Reilly describing his past experience in a "gang," and have a perfectly pleasant weekend. Peace out.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday fun, of "Walking Dead," Bill Buckner and more

If you're not a Baltimore Orioles fan, I should first say you're rather lucky, but also that you can be excused for thinking the celebration after last night's season-ending game was a bit much for a team that, once again, finished in last place in the American League East.

Except for it wasn't. When all you can enjoy with a team is schadenfreude, you have to take what you can get, and since the O's aren't headed to the World Series anytime soon, there is at least pleasure in knowing the Boston Red Sox won't be this year either. Especially when your team had everything to do with it.

And in honor of that, and since my father reminded me of it this morning via the New York Times, I give you a scene from easily the funniest half-hour of TV to appear this fall, the return of Bill Buckner on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Coincidental timing? I think not, but either way, seeing him be dressed down by the extremely foul (I warned you) Susie Essman just adds to the pleasure of this glorious day. Enjoy.

If you don't get HBO, you can watch much more of Buckner's stuff on "Curb" at Youtube, and it's all really funny. And moving on, before we get to all kinds of zombie stuff, Twitch, which is very rarely wrong, has the goods on a remake that's quickly shaping up to be potentially worthwhile (and no, I'm not talking about "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," for once.)

The news that Mandate has hired Spike Lee to direct an English-language remake of the rather fantastic Korean revenge saga "Oldboy" is old news by now, but still welcome since it means the return of the often-great and never boring Mr. Lee to feature films. The perhaps even better news now is the cast that might be coming together for this.

Josh Brolin has definitely signed on to play the lead, a man who is mysteriously locked away in a hotel room for 15 years and then methodically takes his revenge after being just as mysteriously released. I could tell you more, but you really need to see this Chan Wook Park gem for yourself, which you can watch on Netflix streaming right away, if you haven't given up on them completely yet.

And in the fairly solid rumor mill, Christian Bale is apparently being sought for the role of Oh Dae-su's (in the Korean version) tormenter, and perhaps even better, Rooney Mara, aka the new "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (ack, I just can't get away from it) is being eyed for the female lead, a waitress who helps Dae-su (again, at least in the original version.) This is quickly coming together as one remake I'm definitely in for.

And after that today, it's all about zombies, because, let's face it, they're just o much fun. And though "The Walking Dead" should really today apply to the Boston Red Sox (ha!), it's also the name of AMC's sophomore series formerly led by Frank Darabont and set to return Oct. 16.

If you watched the short but seriously entertaining season one, you saw the closest that mainstream TV has come to real horror in as long as I can remember, plus a show that almost perfectly combines genuine humanity and suspense. The former may suffer a bit with the departure of Darabont, but I'm still betting the second season will be great.

In the meantime, AMC is filling the gap with a series of short webisodes, which will all appear starting Monday. They will tell the story of Hannah, a.k.a "Bicycle Girl," the legless zombie taken down by Rick Grimes in the first episode. It will tell the backstory of her pre-zombie life and how she tried to save her family before becoming one of "The Walking Dead" herself.

Look for them beginning Monday at 2 p.m. at, and in the meantime, enjoy this new promo for season two, and then stick around for something that really needs no explanation beyond its title, "Zombinladen."

Finally today, and courtesy of, comes a grindhouse trailer that, well, you really have to watch because no words from me will really do it justice. Enjoy, "Zombinladen," and have a perfectly pleasant Thursday. Peace out.

ZOMBINLADEN The Axis Of Evil Dead

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday thoughts, of "Moneyball," Katherine Heigl (yes, really) and more

Considering the first poster for Bruce Robinson's "The Rum Diary" was just a picture of Johnny Depp in a fedora (probably enough to market a movie), the one above is certainly an improvement, and hopefully visual proof that Robinson's big comeback will play everywhere once it finally opens on Oct. 12.

Why should you care? Well, Robinson, before pretty much disappearing from the face of the Earth, managed to direct at least one perfectly entertaining movie with "Withnail and I," an oddity well worth tracking down if you've never seen it. After about 10 years off from directing any kind of feature films whatsoever, I'm thinking he'll have a winner on his hands with this one, starring Depp as a rather debauched American journalist in Puerto Rico and based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson.

Can't wait to see how all that turns out, but in the meantime I can tell you, as many critics already have, that this weekend's "Moneyball" is a pretty great little flick and one of a definitely dying breed: The grand baseball movie. It combines enough of a rah-rah story with what's essentially an action movie in which the words are the weapons (thanks to Aaron Sorkin) and a buddy movie in which Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill are just extremely funny.

So, why isn't that enough to knock "The Lion King" from the top of the box office? It still might, but the tracking I saw has "Moneyball" coming in a fairly close second. Please, people, just trust me: Even if you're not a baseball geek like me, this movie is just thoroughly entertaining.

And word has come down this weekend that Pitt is now being courted for something else that could be a lot of fun. Doug Liman, who way back in the day directed "Swingers" and much more recently "Fair Game," is set to helm a flick based on the Japanese novel "All You Need is Kill," with Pitt in his sights to play the lead. So, what's it about? Per

There's one thing worse than dying. It's coming back to do it again and again. ... When the alien Gitai invade, Keiji Kiriya is just one of many raw recruits shoved into a suit of battle armor and sent out to kill. Keiji dies on the battlefield, only to find himself reborn each morning to fight and die again and again. On the 158th iteration though, he sees something different, something out of place: the female soldier known as the B*tch of War. Is the B*tch the key to Keiji's escape, or to his final death?

Sounds like pretty trippy stuff, and Pitt hasn't made a bad movie (at least that I'v bothered to see) in quite a while now, so stay tuned.

OK, on to a short clip show, starting with "60 Minutes," which I only bother to watch when I know in advance they have something I'll be interested in, and tonight that should certainly be the case. As you'll see from the clip below, tonight's show will feature "South Park" creators Trey Park and Matt Stone, giving a glimpse of how they put together (and voice just about all the characters for) what is still one of the most scathingly funny shows on TV, now rather amazingly about to enter the second half of its 15th season in early October. Enjoy this preview clip.

Next up, a slew of clips from what should be the silliest movie of this fall season, but hopefully one that will be as fun as any movie apparently based on the Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots game should be, "Real Steel." That alone should tell everyone all they need to know about this, which stars Hugh Jackman and somehow the great Anthony Mackie, too. Enjoy these clips courtesy of Collider, and keep an eye out for the movie, which will definitely dethrone "The Lion King" on Oct. 7, if nothing else has accomplished that feat in the meantime.

What's the worst thing you could say about the trailer for a Katherine Heigl movie? Not that it looks awful, because that would at least be something we could mock without mercy. Instead, it just looks incredibly generic, essentially a rehash storyline-wise of any number of movies I didn't bother to see. In "One for the Money" (get it?), she plays Stephanie Plum, the heroine of Janet Evanovich's 16-book mystery series, who this time out becomes a bounty hunter and, naturally, ends up in pursuit of a former flame who dumped her in high school. If you really want to know more than that, here's the trailer (remember, I'm just the messenger), and you can keep an eye out for the movie itself if you want to in the movie wasteland known as late January.

OK, finally today, and to quickly wash away the memory of that, there's been a ton of "Star Wars"-related stuff released to pimp the blu-ray release of the entire series, which I wouldn't spring for even if I could afford it, but I can assure you that none of it has been as funny as this, with the qualifier that to enjoy it you have to be a fan of Kenny Powers. Pretty much putting his "Eastbound and Down" character into the persona of Darth Vader, Danny McBride gives extremely foul (I did warn you!) voice to the dark lord's inner thoughts. Enjoy, keep an eye out for the new (and most likely final) season of "Eastbound and Down" early next year, and if you haven't, please go see "Moneyball" this weekend. Peace out.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday, fun, including an extended look at Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"

First up, however, and apropos of really, nothing but my mind, the truly great Michael K. Williams revealed, in an interview with Shadow & Act, that he read for the lead in Quentin Tarantino's next flick, "Django Unchained," before just losing out on the role. Read on:

“The rumors of me being considered for the lead role in ‘Django [Unchained]’ is very true. I was in meetings with Quentin, QT as I call him. It came down to Jamie and I. Wow… what a person to lose to. It’s not official yet but there’s a lot of talk that there may be a role coming back ‘round my way.’ ”

So, just who in the world is Michael K. Williams? Well, if you were a fan of "The Wire," and if you like great police procedurals, you certainly should be, you'll know him better as Omar, or as QT would certainly put it, a truly bad mother ...

Had he landed the lead role of Django, which instead went to Jamie Foxx, the flick, which on paper (you can find the script online, trust me, and it's a great read) is already a wild ride, would have been elevated to potentially amazing. As it is, you can still see Omar on the second season of "Boardwalk Empire," which I believe begins Sunday night, and also tonight on "Community," as a biology teacher at Greendale. Count me as solidly in for that, so enjoy this four-minute preview of the new season.

And in one more bit of TV sur-reality (which really should be a word, if it isn't already), former President Bill Clinton revealed on Rachael Ray's show (one of the many, many great things about this whole interwebs thing is that I don't actually have to watch the show to know this) that he was contacted to appear on "Dancing With the Stars." Had he accepted, it would have been enough to finally get me to tune in, but he apparently said no, not out of any sense of dignity in the office of the presidency, but simply because he couldn't take the workout. Read on:

"This is interesting. Actually, they contacted me once about this. And I told them I didn’t have the time to train for it. You know, you actually have to go out there and train -- you really work at it -- so I had to pass."

Wow. That, at least, shouldn't be a problem for Barack Obama ...

And now on to the videos, with a couple of other things that caught my eye before the main event, the promised four-minute trailer for David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Sitting on my DVR is the season three premiere of "Glee," but as of yet, I just haven't been able to bring myself to watch it. I'm really not sure when, or if, I will, because for tonight at least I've got the entire James Dean oeuvre (three movies) courtesy of TCM, plus "Community," "Parks and Recreation," "The Office" and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on the way. So it may just sit there for another week or so, but in the meantime, I'll always have time for a "Sesame Street" clip, especially this one which highlights exactly why "Glee" can often be thoroughly annoying. Enjoy.

By way of introduction of this next one, an apology of sorts to Joe Carnahan. While I still think "Smoking Aces" is nothing but a flaming bag of shite, I finally beat down my inner snob enough to watch "The A Team," and it was rather sublimely entertaining as a mindless weeknight rental. Just a fun action fest, and never trying to be anything more. I tell you that to tell you this: Below is the trailer for Carnahan's next flick, "The Grey," which is essentially "Liam Neeson Dances With Wolves" (or at least fights them.) The flick, about a bunch of oil roughnecks who get stranded in Alaska and do battle with some lupine natives, could be at least a little fun, as it is to see a clearly blottoed Neeson get ready to square off with one in the trailer. Enjoy, and if you want to, keep an eye out for the flick beginning Jan. 27.

And now, finally, on to the the main course, the first extended trailer for David Fincher's take on "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," starring Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander and Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, both extremely familiar characters to the many people who have read the fairly great novels by Stieg Larsson. Even I'm tired of hearing me question the reason for this even happening, so I'll just say take a look and decide for yourself what to make of it. As for me, I'm off to go swimming and do some grocery shopping. Peace out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Wednesday clip show, with the Swell Season, J. Edgar and more

Actually, before we get into any of that, there's a bit of news out there this morning, starting off with an "Arrested Development" reunion of sorts ... but no, of course not the one fans have been waiting for.

I'd certainly advise not, if you ever were, holding your breath for any kind of "Arrested Development" movie any time, well, ever, but the entire cast is apparently coming together at the New Yorker Festival for "A Bluth Family Reunion."

If you're lucky enough to be in in NYC, definitely try and snag a ticket for this Oct. 2 event (they go on sale at noon today at the New Yorker's website) that will indeed feature Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, David Cross, Portia de Rossi, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter and series creator Mitchell Hurwitz. Color me jealous.

And along with an "Arrested Development" movie, another thing that I'd like to see that now probably won't happen, or at least not in any form worth watching, is a "Bad Santa 2." I'd think more antics involving Billy Bob Thornton's truly foul Father Christmas, the even funnier Tony Cox and hopefully Lorelai Gilmore too would be an easy sell, but writers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have apparently spurned an offer to do that for something else that could be a lot of fun.

Jumping on an idea from Steve Carell, they've apparently, according to Moviehole, already written the script for "one of these three friends from college, but now they’re in their 40s, movies. They’re going on a European backpacking trip that they never did. And it’s filled with all this middle-aged fun.”

Actually, sounds like exactly the dreadful kind of dreck that would star John Travolta and Tim Allen, but these are some seriously funny writers, so I'll keep an open mind. Stay tuned ...

And in the last bit of news, you can always sell me on Jeremy Renner in a good heist movie, so here's hoping this will be another one. In "King of Heists" (the movie's got to be better than that title, at least), based on the nonfiction book by J. North Conway, he's set to star as the mastermind of "the greatest bank robbery in American history," which took place on October 27, 1878, when thieves broke into the Manhattan Savings Institution and stole nearly $3 million in cash and securities — around $50 million in today’s terms.

OK, now on to the clips, and there's certainly no better place to start than with the first and only trailer I know of for what should be a truly sweet little music documentary about the Swell Season, aka the duo of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. If those names sound at least vaguely familiar to you, they should, since they were the stars of John Carney's thoroughly charming little romance "Once," which you should rent immediately as soon as you can find it. The doco charts their own path from true-life romance to the Oscars and more, and it should be well worth watching if you're lucky enough to catch this when it comes out in October. Enjoy the trailer.

Next up indeed comes the first full trailer I know of for "J.Edgar," director Clint Eastwood's upcoming biopic on the first FBI director with the rather colorful personal life. I've made my distaste for many of Eastwood's directing efforts clear in this space before, so I can't help but thinking in watching this that it's going to be plenty broad, but not much more than skin deep. And besides, with that aging makeup, Leo DiCaprio just looks creepy. It does, however, have a script from "Milk" scribe Dustin Lance Black, so I'd love to be proved wrong when this comes out Nov. 9. Enjoy the trailer.

Coincidentally enough, I have "Rumble in the Bronx" sitting on my DVR, probably for watching tonight. That's the last Jackie Chan movie I can remember just loving unconditionally, and really the last one in which he hasn't seemed to play some silly form of spy/babysitter/supercop hybrid. The trailer below, on the other hand, for a movie titled "1911" which he apparently co-directed, promises something more serious and hopefully still fun, too. A historical epic about the founding of the Republic of China, it's set to open in at least some American cities on Oct. 12, so keep an eye out for it, and enjoy the trailer.

OK, shifting a bit to TV, the MTV Movies site has a short interview with "Games of Thrones" producers D.B. Weiss and David Benoiff from the Emmys red carpet, and while it doesn't reveal much about season two, I'm certainly jonesing for it, so I'll take what I can get. Since season one was so entirely, but still very entertainingly, by the first book by George R.R. Martin, I've avoided reading any more of the books so I can be surprised from here on out. When will we get a season two on HBO? All I know is next spring, but hopefully by March or so. Bring it on already!

And finally today, though I haven't watched "Today" in any form except on "The Soup" for about 25 years or so, I'm a sucker for any interview with the truly inspiring Roger Ebert, so enjoy this interview he did with Matt Lauer to promote his new memoir, "Life Itself." There's not much I can say about this that Roger himself doesn't say much better, so I'll just leave it at that. Enjoy the clip, and have a perfectly passable Wednesday. Peace out.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

P.S.: If you really made it this far, you certainly deserve a reward, so here goes: NPR is streaming the new Wilco album "The Whole Love" here, and it's well worth a listen.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Yes, Zooey Deschanel can charm her way through anything: Watch "The New Girl"

Actually, the poster above, of course, has nothing at all to do with Zooey Deschanel, but like her it is, in its own way, rather beautiful. In case you couldn't guess, it's a teaser poster for David Fincher's take on "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," and though I'm still skeptical that there's any reason at all for that to even be happening, the poster designed by graphic artist Neil Kellerhouse and shot by Jean-Baptist Mondino, at least, is pretty friggin' fantastic.

But the main event here today is indeed the new Fox sitcom "The New Girl," starring Zooey Deschanel and set to premiere Tuesday on Fox after "Glee" but, courtesy of Hulu, also fully embedded here today.

When I first saw the promos for this, my first two thoughts were "what in the world is she doing in this?" and "man, does that look awful." Well, having watched all of the pilot, it turns out to be a heck of a lot better than I was expecting, almost entirely because of Zooey herself and also due to some much-better-than-expected writing.

One definite word of warning: The show really doesn't need a "douche bag jar" (watch it to find out), because the three guys she decides to move in with seem to have that pretty much nailed 24/7. That said, the landscape of new shows looks pretty bleak right now. In fact, the only ones I'm now planning to watch are:

"Up All Night," mostly because it stars Gob Bluth and Kelly Bundy, and because the pilot was indeed pretty wry for broadcast TV.

"Two Broke Girls," because I like Kat Dennings (sensing a trend here?), and because packaged with "How I Met Your Mother" it should make for a perfectly mindless hour block of TV after a Monday workday.

"Ringer," because though it's entirely not anything close to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the pilot was intriguing enough to make me tune in to find out what happens to Sarah Michelle Gellar this time out. And

"Terra Nova," because, well, dinosaurs.

And now, "The New Girl." It's far from perfect, but if you're a fan of Zooey Deschanel, it's also a heck of a lot better than most of what's on TV now. Enjoy the pilot below (which looks great full screen), tune in on Tuesday nights at 9 for more if you do, and stick around here today for some Muppets silliness just to bring the "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" theme full circle.

If Jason Segel's and James Bobin's "The Muppets" somehow sucks, it's gonna mean the waste of an already pretty epic marketing campaign, but I'm betting that's not going to happen. Already, we've been inundated with a number of trailers, a cover album of favorite Muppets tunes and more than a few parodies. But I'm an admitted Muppets addict, so as long as they're funny, as this "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" clip clearly is, I'll gladly continue to be a cog in the machine. Enjoy the clip, have a great rest of the weekend, and if you somehow haven't yet, go see "Drive" already. Peace out.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall/winter movie preview

Before I jump right into this, a couple of notes.

First off, though I've recently moved from Macon, GA., back to Salisbury, MD., I still only get movies that open in the widest possible release, so that's what will be included. Although I'm fairly certain Roman Polanski's "Carnage" and Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" will play wide enough to reach my little corner of the world, I couldn't be sure, so they didn't make the cut.

And second, of course, these are only my picks, so please do feel free to add any at the end that you think I may have snubbed. And with that, let's get right to it, starting with what should be a great one today.

Today: "Drive"

I couldn't tell you what exactly a Nicolas Winding Refn is, but the marketing machine is certainly in full force for what will be the first of his movies I've managed to catch, and why not? Arthouse faves Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan in a movie about a stunt driver who just happens to double as a getaway car artist? I'm there. Enjoy this trailer.

Sept. 23: "Moneyball"

When it comes to sports movies, my two favorite genres are boxing and baseball. In the former (well, MMA, actually), "Warrior" is already a real winner (see it already, people, sheesh), and I'm betting "Moneyball," starring Brad Pitt as Oakland A's bean counter Billy Beane with a script by Aaron Sorkin, will be too. Enjoy this trailer.

Sept. 30: "50/50"

On paper, this one should be pretty dour, and some early reviews I've seen have pegged it as exactly that, but based on the cast I'm thinking I'll still really dig it. In this flick based on writer Will Reiser's battle with cancer, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the character based on Reiser, Seth Rogen is his best bud, and definite Reel Fanatic fave Anna Kendrick, who I'll watch in anything without the word "Twilight" in it, plays a shrink. Enjoy this trailer.

Oct. 7: "The Ides of March"

If it's fall, it's the season of George Clooney, and he stars in (and directs) this one and also stars in the aforementioned "The Descendants" too. Clooney has an underappreciated flair as a director, and even though this tale of political operatives and dirty tricks (in which Clooney plays a candidate for president, natch) apparently takes a pretty jaded view of our world, I do too right now, so bring it on. Enjoy this trailer.

Oct. 7: "Real Steel"

If you're going to make movies based on video games, why not Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots? That seems to be exactly what director Shawn Levy has done here for this flick starring Hugh Jackman about, yes, boxing robots. Silly? No doubt, but I'm still betting on a ton of fun too. Enjoy this trailer.

Nov. 4: "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas"

Though the rest of October looks pretty bleak, things will light up again (pun fully intended) as John Cho and Kal Penn return for their third adventure as America's favorite stoners. This time out, Harold (Cho) appears to finally be too old for all this nonsense (though I hopefully never will be), being happily married with children until Kumar (Penn) shows up to drag him away for more ganja-fueled games. And yes, of course, NPH comes back from the dead. Enjoy this trailer.

Nov. 11: "Immortals"

Of all the movies on this list, this one has the biggest potential to simply be awful, but I still have a lot of time for Tarsem, so I'll take a chance on it. If you've never seen his "The Fall," it's a true visionary wonder, and there are few rentals I can recommend higher. This time out, things are a lot more epic as Mickey Rourke (yes, really) plays a king ruling Greece with an iron fist until Theseus (Henry Cavill) leads an uprising against him. Keep your fingers crossed for this one, and enjoy this trailer.

Nov. 11: "J. Edgar"

A complete stranger to subtlety, Clint Eastwood is just a maddeningly uneven director in my book, but there's no denying the pedigree of this grand biopic. With a script from "Milk" scribe Dustin Lance Black, one Leo DiCaprio will play the FBI founder and longtime director who just happened to enjoy wearing dresses. The only trailer I could find for this was a short teaser in which Leo just lights a cigarette, and all the clips I could locate (with funny effect) laid a fart track over it, so no trailer for this one.

Nov. 23: "Hugo"

Even though he's shortened the title from "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" and filmed this in surely unnecessary 3-D, I still can't wait to see what Martin Scorsese comes up with from one of my favorite books, by Brian Selznick. Asa Butterfield stars as our hero, a young boy who lives in the walls of a train station and discovers one of Georges Melies' amazing automatons. Definite Reel Fanatic fave Hit-Girl Chloe Moretz co-stars. Enjoy this trailer.

Nov. 23: "The Muppets"

Everyone who is, like me, of a certain age, remembers Jim Henson's beloved puppets with nothing but fondness, and has probably (also like me) been lapping up everything that's been released already by the Disney marketing machine. The key to a great Muppets movie is an entirely fun spirit, and everything I've seen so far indicates that writer Jason Segel and director James Bobin have just about nailed it, so here's hoping. Enjoy this trailer.

Dec. 9: "The Sitter"

Though as mentioned above I have nothing but love for a good stoner flick, director David Gordon Green proved with the simply awful "Your Highness" that, if you try hard enough, you can certainly make one of those that just sucks. This time out, however, he's playing it much more safely, pretty much combining "Superbad" with "Pineapple Express" for this flick starring Jonah Hill as quite possibly the world's worst babysitter. I'm a sucker for movies starring foul-mouthed kids (the vastly underappreciated "Role Models" gets me every time), so I'm hoping this will be very funny. Enjoy this red band trailer (and be warned, it's plenty foul).

Dec. 9: "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

Director Tomas Alfredson's "Let the Right One In" is easily one of my favorite movies of the last 10 years or so (and definitely the best one with vampires), so you can count this follow-up as the one movie I'm most looking forward to seeing this fall. For his take on John Le Carre's novel about the hunt for a Russian mole who has infiltrated Britain's house of spooks, he's assembled a cast that somehow includes Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds and even Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch. Enjoy this trailer, and let the spy games begin.

Dec. 16: "Young Adult"

Director Jason Reitman has yet to make a movie that I haven't mostly loved, and for this hopefully very dark comedy he's reunited with scribe Diablo Cody. In it, Charlize Theron, who proved on "Arrested Development" that she can be extremely funny, plays a writer of teen novels who returns to her small hometown to try and pitch woo with her now happily married former high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson). No trailer for this one either yet, but keep an eye out for it soon, most likely right here.

Dec. 21: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Having been burned once already recently by Matt Reeves' extremely by-the-book and just as unnecessary remake of "Let the Right One In," you can color me extremely skeptical about this one, but it certainly fits right in director David Fincher's wheelhouse. Rooney Mara will attempt to step into the shoes of hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander, already perfected on screen by Noomi Rapace in the Swedish original, as she aides Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig, this time) as he tracks down Nazis and other unseemly happenings. Enjoy this trailer.

"Dec. 23: The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn"

What are the odds that even Steven Spielberg can release two movies in the space of six days that are both real winners? Not likely, but this year, on paper at least, it looks like it could happen. In this first one, Hergé's beloved young Belgian detective looks more than a bit odd with the modern touch, but I'm still hoping this will be an old-fashioned tale at least in spirit. Enjoy this trailer.

Dec. 23: "We Bought a Zoo"

After what seems like at least 10 years off, director Cameron Crowe is back this year in a big way, with, first, his documentary about Pearl Jam and then this tale that seems tailormade to his very humanity-heavy style of storytelling. Matt Damon and no-longer-never-nude Scarlett Johansson star in this flick with easily the most "Snakes on a Plane" title of the fall season. Enjoy this still very new trailer.

Dec. 28: "War Horse"

Spielberg's second entry of the week is just the kind of epic movie you'd expect, telling the story of a boy and his horse and their adventures in World War I. And with that, finally, there you have it. Enjoy this final trailer and, as stated above, please feel free to add any movies you're looking forward to that I have somehow snubbed. Peace out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wish I was there: Docs that are rocking the TIFF

Actually, before we get into any of that, and trying to stick to some kind of theme after taking more than a week off (living without the Internet, no matter what you might be thinking, really isn't a return to some kind of low-tech paradise, believe me), let's start with news about three things that, at least in my mind, "rock."

First up, a pipe dream, but as with diehard fans of "Arrested Development," the small cult of people who thoroughly appreciated Starz's equally short-lived "Party Down" (of which I'm certainly a member) are new being teased occasionally with the promise of some kind of movie to wrap things up. And though I'm hesitant to get in on that cruel game, I love "Party Down" enough to pass on what the great Adam Scott had to say about the possibility while promoting "Friends with Kids" at the Toronto International Film Festival:

"We're like 90% there, we're hoping to do it maybe next summer, if everyone's schedules work out and the guys get time to write a script. They have kind of a skeleton of a story worked out so we know where it's going to go but we just have to kind of cross the t's and dot the i's, or something. But Starz are being super cool and they're going to let us do it, and we're all excited, we all want to do it."

Like I said, not holding my breath too hard, but I can't imagine Starz has much else to do, so let's just keep hope alive. And moving on to the next thing that caught my attention this morning, and about something much more likely to happen, there's news about Quentin Tarantino's next flick, "Django Unchained."

The latest is that Samuel L. Jackson and Gerald McRaney (Major Dad, yes really) have officially joined the cast, and in even better news, Jackson let slip that filming will begin in January in New Orleans. The movie itself is set to drop as a Christmas day gift in 2012.

And having read the script for this (it's the Internet, folks, you can easily find it), I can say that on paper it's easily Tarantino's most challenging movie, and possibly his best yet, too. The story is about a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) and a freed slave (Django, Jamie Foxx, odd) who join forces to take revenge on slave owners and liberate Django's wife, Broomhilda (again, yes really, and to be played by the truly great Kerry Washington, hopefully). Broomhilda is owned by mandingo fighting ranch owner Calvin Candie, to be played by one Leo DiCaprio.

Sound crazy? It surely is, and thoroughly incorrect in every way, but what else would you expect from QT? Due to the content, I still have some doubts that he can really pull all this off, but here's hoping for sure. Stay tuned ...

And finally, before we get to the TIFF trailers, there are few people I'd rather see return to TV than "Pushing Daisies" creator Bryan Fuller, and it seems he's hard at work on a comeback that should be just about perfect.

The hourlong show would examine the relationship between one Hannibal Lecter and FBI profiler Will Graham, with the action taking place before the story in the "Red Dragon" novel. No idea who would play the roles or what network wants this (I foresee a bidding war if it's not yet settled), and it would certainly be just about the polar opposite of the wonder-filled and wonderful "Pushing Daisies," but I can still only say bring it on!

OK, now on to the main attraction today, with a final clip of what should be the craziest movie at this year's TIFF, and possibly the best thing too for people like me.

Though I've yet to see any of them, given the quantity and potential quality of the rock docs coming out now, we certainly seem to have entered a golden age of sorts. Martin Scorsese, no stranger to the genre, has a new one on George Harrison, and Cameron Crowe is beginning his comeback with a look at the career of Pearl Jam (always much too earnest for my tastes, but I'd still love to see the movie as soon as I can.)

And at the TIFF, there are at least three others that look very promising. First up, from "An Inconvenient Truth" and "It Might Get Loud" director Davis Guggenheim comes "From the Sky Down," about a certain band known as U2. Heresy, I know, but those guys have never been among my favorites either. The movie, however, judging at least from this trailer, looks to be a lot more fun than the band itself often is. Enjoy.

Next up comes, I believe, Jonathan Demme's third movie about the truly great Neil Young. For this one, "Neil Young Journeys," Demme (coincidentally enough, the director of the Lecter movie "Silence of the Lambs"), followed Young as he returned to his hometown of Toronto for a concert. One I really want to see, so enjoy the trailer.

And last on the strictly rock menu, though Paul McCartney is clearly just a pop kind of guy, comes "The Love We Make," in which McCartney offers his own reflections on 9/11, a day on which he happened to be in NYC. Kinda heavy for a rock doc, but since this comes from the great Albert Maysles, I'm betting on something worth catching if you can. Enjoy the trailer.

And finally, clearly saving the oddest for last, the title of this next one, "Juan of the Dead," obviously gives away what it's about. A Cuban zombie movie that looks as funny and simply wild as that notion should be, this is one I want to see ASAP. And on a slightly different subject, mi hermano and I managed to catch "Attack the Block" while on vacation recently in Charm City, and I can't recommend any movies that have come out this summer higher than that gem produced by Edgar Wright. And with that, I say thanks to anyone who happened to stop by for this return to my vanity project, enjoy the "Juan of the Dead" trailer, and have a perfectly endurable Wednesday. Peace out.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

"Community" wins an early Emmy ... and it's a great one

It's still a pretty major - though thoroughly unsurprising - bummer that "Community," easily one of the funniest shows on TV right now, wasn't even nominated in any of the major categories at this year's Emmys, but this early award is well-deserved and certainly honors a bright spot in the network TV landscape.

If you managed to miss last year's Christmas episode, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas," you missed a real winner. It was, as usual, fun, funny and completely irreverent, but also, as you can see above, was rendered in rather glorious stop-motion animation.

And for that, character animator Drew Hodges has won one of the Emmys for Individual Achievement in Animation. Huzzah, kudos, bully and anything else you can think of to that!

In other news, and in keeping with animation, one of my favorite animation studios, Laika, is coming back with what should be an entirely fun project. The studio has just optioned "Wildwood," the children's novel written by Decembrists frontman Colin Meloy (a band that every smart person I know tells me I should listen to, but that I juat haven't gotten around to yet.)

According to, "the first book in an epic middle-grade fantasy series full of magic, wonder and danger set in an alternate version of modern-day Portland, tells the story of Prue McKeel, whose ordinary life is changed forever when her younger brother is abducted by a murder of crows and taken to the Impassable Wilderness, an enchanted and forbidding forest on the edge of the city."

Bring it on for sure. And though Laika may have lost stop-motion mastermind Henry Selick to the behemoth known as Pixar, what they can do with the medium is still very impressive, so stay tuned for more on this as soon as I can find it.

And in other movie news, if you managed to miss Jacques Audiard's "A Prophet," I'd recommend you correct that oversight ASAP with a rental. While it's not quite the French "Godfather," as many people have called it, it is an engaging tale about one man's encounter with the mafia as he searches for his own identity while in prison. A can't-miss pick.

And now comes word that Audiard is ready to get back to work, and he's bringing the thoroughly beguiling Marion Cotillard along with him. The French charmer will star in Audiard's next movie, "Rust and Bone," to be based on a short story collection by Craig Davidson.

In the book, also according to, Davidson "conjures a savage world populated by fighting dogs, prizefighters, sex addicts and gamblers. The 27 bones of the title story are the bones in a boxer's hands; once broken, they never heal properly, and the fighter's career descends to bouts that have less to do with sport than with survival: no referee, no rules, not even gloves. In "A Mean Utility" we enter an even more desperate arena: dogfights where Rottweilers, pit bulls and Dobermans fight each other to the death."

A savage realm indeed, and if you saw "A Prophet," you know Audiard will be up to the job.

And finally, I'll leave you today with a nifty featurette for probably the single movie I'm most looking forward to seeing this fall, Tomas Alfredson's take on "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." The novel by John Le Carre is about George Smiley's (this time out, Gary Oldman) attempts to ferret out a Russian mole in the ranks of Britain's spooks. With the cast also featuring Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds and even Sherlock himself, Benedict Cumberbatch, I can't see anyway this will be anything but a sure winner when it comes out Dec. 9 in the USA (and early festival reviews have confirmed it as exactly that.) Enjoy the featurette, and have a perfectly pleasant Thursday. Peace out.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Rev your engines: the "Sons of Anarchy" ride again starting tonight

Obviously, the poster above has nothing at all to with "Sons of Anarchy," but as a way to announce a new movie, it's a real doozy, made even better by the fact that it's for one by Jason Reitman.

So far, I've pretty much loved all of his movies I've managed to see, "Juno," "Up in the Air" and "Thank You for Smoking," so a new Reitman movie is certainly reason to celebrate, even if it isn't coming until Dec. 16.

And in case you didn't know, that's Charlize Theron passed out in the poster above. In the movie, according to THR, she plays "an alcoholic writer of young-adult novels who, on a whim, decides to return to the small town that she left behind years ago to aggressively pursue her ex-boyfriend from high school (Patrick Wilson) - only, now he is happily married and the father of a young child, which certainly complicates matters, and leads her to another high school classmate (Patton Oswalt), and no shortage of trouble."

Sounds like juicy fun to me, and since this is being written by "Juno" scribe Diablo Cody, this should be a real winner (and yes, I'm well aware that I had a truly painful experience sitting all the way through "Jennifer's Body," which was also penned by Cody, but let's just keep hope alive here.)

And in even better movie news, Studio Ghibli apparently has not one but two movies in the works, and one of them will be from the master himself, Hayao Miyazaki.

I was really hoping that, as he had announced, Miyazaki would do a "Porco Rosso 2," but what he's turning to instead could be even more amazing: An autobiographical movie (although he didn't specify if it would be his autobiography or someone else's.) Here's hoping it's his, because he's certainly had one fascinating life, but also that this doesn't signal that it will be his last movie.

Also, according to Twitch, "Grave of the Fireflies" director Isao Takahata is “reportedly working on a new film based on the classic Japanese tale about a princess who was discovered as a baby inside the stalk of a bamboo plant.”

I'm sure I'm far from alone in thinking that the world is a much better place with more Studio Ghibli movies in it, so bring them on ASAP!

OK, now, finally on to the main event, and I well may have missed one fall premiere of a show that I love, but tonight's season four premiere of "Sons of Anarchy" does indeed seem rather early, though certainly welcome in this little corner of the world.

The FX show about the motorcycle gang with (almost) a heart of gold may not be the deepest of entertainment, but it does have engaging story lines and keeps the smart action coming fairly quick.

The best thing about season four, however, may well be the guest stars, who are of a strong enough caliber that they might well overshadow stars Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman. Here's who's on board.

Georgia's Ray McKinnon, easily one of my favorite actors, will play the new fed determined to bring down SAMCRO. Perhaps even better, another Reel Fanatic fave, Rockmund Dunbar, most recently late of my favorite recent one-season wonder "Terriers," will play the new top cop in Charming, who apparently has no love for the SAMCRO posse. And finally, as you'll see from the preview below, Danny Trejo will join the cast as some kind of biker, I'd assume a rival to the SAMCRO gang, but that's not too clear yet.

But that, of course, is why you tune in, though Trejo apparently doesn't join the cast until episode two. If you're a fan, ride with "Sons of Anarchy" again beginning tonight at 10 on FX, and have a perfectly pleasant rest of your Tuesday. Peace out.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Reel Fanatic, the return: A brief but fun clip show

I can't imagine that, with me having taken two weeks or so off from this, even more than a few people will stop by, but I still like doing it when I get the time, so here goes:

Looking at the fall TV lineup this year, I'm struck by the shear number of scripted fare coming to the airwaves, a welcome respite from the usual onslaught of reality crap in my book. Even if the majority of these shows are terrible, just the fact that more writers get paid for anything these days is enough to make me smile.

And here today, it's going to be at least partly about two of my favorite returning shows, both NBC sitcoms, "Community" and "Parks and Recreation." What could make "Community" more fun? Well, Dan Harmon and his crew have shown that they're rarely short of fun ideas, but a cutthroat Greendale badminton team, as the above picture implies? Yeah, I'd watch that. Click here to visit Collider for their full set of on set photos, and keep an eye out for the return of "Community" on Sept. 22.

The one sitcom I enjoy even more than "Community" is "Parks and Recreation" which in its two-and-a-half or so seasons has managed to develop the best ensemble comedy team on TV and some of the sharpest writing, too. And if, like me, you tune in for this, I have to assume you love Ron Swanson (if not, why in the heck do you watch?)

Well, in season four, also returning to NBC on Sept. 22, we meet Tammy One, poor Ron's first ex-wife, to be played by Patricia Clarkson in what should just be a hoot. In the preview below, cast members describe her as "ice cold" and "dangerous," and since Tammy Two fears her, you know it must be true. And on top of that, we'll also apparently encounter "Tammy Zero," Ron's mom. Just what did this government-hating guy do to deserve all this haranguing? Enjoy this season four preview, and then stick around for some actual movie stuff I also found today.

There are always a lot of good movies to look forward to in the fall, and now that I've moved back to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I'll probably make the trip to Washington, DC, some weekend soon to catch a few of the more arthousier ones. One flick I'm definitely looking forward to is "Margaret," which will mark the return of Kenneth Lonergan after a long hiatus.

If that name sounds vaguely familiar to you, that would be because, before disappearing for the past 10 years or so, he managed to write and direct easily one of my favorite movies with "You Can Count on Me." If you've never seen this charming little flick starring Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo as a pair of estranged siblings, track it down asap (and it shouldn't be hard to find.)

Since then, Lonergan managed to shoot "Margaret" about five years ago, but then promptly got in a nasty legal battle with Fox Searchlight about his inability to end the movie. That explains the long time off, but the first trailer for the movie, set to open in at least a few markets on Sept. 30, is below.

As you'll see, it's sort of about a young women, played by Anna Paquin and presumably named Margaret, who is instrumental in causing a horrifically fatal bus accident involving bus driver Ruffalo. There's surely a lot more than that going on, and I can't wait to see this if I ever get the chance. Enjoy.

OK, finally today, I certainly don't need to tell you that Jessica Chastain is having about as good a year in 2011 as an actress could possibly have. So far already, she's played the female lead in Terrence Malick's astounding "Tree of Life" and also Helen Mirren's younger model as a Mossad agent in "The Debt," but my favorite performance of hers this year was easily as Celia Foote, the comedy relief in "The Help" (and guys, even you should see that winner as soon as you can.) Below, just because it's a good interview, enjoy her talk with Drew McWeeny of HitFix, mostly about "The Debt," but some other things, too, and have a perfectly pleasant end to your Labor Day weekend Peace out.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What's next from Pixar? Dinosaurs, the human mind and more

There's really no way Pixar can be expected to make the best animated movie released every year (in fact, for me, already "Kung Fu Panda" was better than "Wall-E" and "Rio" was a good bit better than "Cars 2.") If they simply get back to making some movies based on fresh ideas - and wild ones at that - they will still, however, have a starting-out leg up on all the competition.

But just before we get into all that, and some big announcements at this week's D-23 Disney event, the photo above released at the confab shows Chris Cooper, who plays the big bad in "The Muppets," finally set to come out Nov. 23. Bring it on, already!

Also at D-23, the Pixar arm of the animation giant added details to its upcoming slate that fleshes out what the studio will have to offer for its next four flicks, and there's definitely some interesting stuff in the pipeline.

Next up will be "Brave," starring definite Reel Fanatic fave and "Boardwalk Empire" star Kelly Macdonald as the voice of the young Scottish princess Merida. What's been described as Pixar's "first fairy tale" will, of course, since its set in Scotland, also by force feature the voices of Billy Connolly and Colin Ferguson, and be released June 22, 2012.

Unfortunately, after that Pixar will get back into the sequel (well, actually prequel) game with "Monsters University," which brings back the voices of Billy Crystal and John Goodman, and adds Dave Foley, for a follow-up to "Monsters, Inc." The new movie will focus on Sully and Mike's early days at the University of Fear, and is set to come out June 21, 2013.

It's after that, however, that things start to really get interesting, with two new movies announced at D-23.

The first one, to be helmed by "Up" co-director Bob Peterson, is about dinosaurs, and is described by the following question: "What if the cataclysmic asteroid that forever changed life on Earth actually missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct?" Hopefully with echoes of my single favorite animated movie, "The Iron Giant," this one will be about a particular young boy and his dino friend, and is tentatively set for Nov. 27, 2013.

So, two Pixar movies in 2013? Bully. And after that, things should really get fun, as fellow "Up" co-director Pete Docter will "take you to a place that everyone knows, but no one has ever seen: the world inside the human mind." It's coming May 30, 2014.

For a long time now, when it comes to quality animation, it's really been Pixar's world, and we're just visiting, but at least (with the possible exception of "Monsters University) for the next few years it should be a world full of interesting flicks that will make it worth the trip.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday morning funnies, with Louis CK, Ricky Gervais and Warwick Davis

Speaking of funny, for men (and women, of course) of a certain age like me, "Moonlighting," for the five seasons or so it ran on ABC, was pretty much the very definition of it for TV, so the return of Glenn Gordon Caron to the realm of private eyes can only be good news.

Among other things since "Moonlighting" went off the air in 1989, Caron has developed the series "Medium," but now he's getting back to something that should be more fun, a series based on real-life private investigator Pamela Slaton, who specializes in reuniting clients with long-lost loved ones.

So, not quite the same thing, but I'm still betting on something worth watching coming from all this.

And comedy of a very different - and much darker - sort will surely come with Roman Polanski's "Carnage," and will hopefully even come to my little corner of the world when this opens Dec. 16. Having seen Yazmine Reza's great play, on which this is based, in Minneapolis, I can tell you that it is indeed savagely funny, and with Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz all starring in the movie, it should be a real treat. Here is the first trailer I know of for it:

Next up today comes the first teaser trailer I've come across for "American Horror Story," the new series that "Glee" and "Nip/Tuck" creator Ryan Murphy has developed for FX. Delivering solidly on its "Snakes on a Plane"-style title, the show is indeed about an American family that moves into a house that is rather haunted. The fairly phenomenal cast features definite Reel Fanatic fave Connie Britton, Dylan McDermott, Francis Conroy and even, oddly enough, Jessica Lange. Keep an eye out for the show on Oct. 5, and enjoy the trailer.

OK, now on the promised Saturday morning funnies, starring for my money two of the funniest people in the world. In fact, though I'd still put Bill Murray No. 1, with what he's doing on his "Louie" sitcom of sorts, also on FX, Louis CK has vaulted into the second slot for me. If you've never seen it, you're really missing out. Granted, his humor isn't for everyone, since, as you'll see from this clip in which Conan O'Brien wisely just lets him riff, he's the kind of person who, like me, finds children auditioning for "Shindler's List" or (as in the clip he shows from "Louie") dressing up in black face to be very funny. Enjoy the interview.

And finally today, there are very few things I enjoy watching more than Ricky Gervais and the Muppets, so why not combine the two for some sadistic humor? Gervais' humor is indeed more than a bit mean, and his latest foil, Warwick Davis, is clearly in for some punishment on their mockumentary series "Life's Too Short," which will hopefully be coming to HBO sometime soon. To say any more would spoil this, so just enjoy it, and have a great rest of the weekend. And anyone considering seeing the "Fright Night" remake, know that it was written by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" vet Marti Noxon, and while never close to as funny as that, it's much better than the average horror movie remake. Not a ringing endorsement, I know, but it's at least worth a Saturday afternoon matinee. Peace out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Women and the power of word of mouth, plus a short Friday clip show

It may well be just coincidence, but I at least find it very interesting that three of the movies which have benefited most from good word of mouth this summer are all movies about and primarily starring women.

First up came "Bridesmaids," which had a very big opening and then just kept going as more and more dudes got the word that this isn't just a movie you have to be dragged to: It's so genuinely funny you can just go and enjoy it it thoroughly. And that has led to a seriously healthy domestic box office take of more than $167 million, and made genuine stars of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy.

Next up came "Soul Surfer," which had a built-in audience from the start as a Christian flick, but slowly expanded beyond that as the word spread that the story of one-armed wonder Bethany Hamilton was inspiring no matter how you look at it, and the movie itself is just flat-out entertaining (I've seen it twice now, and it's again in my Netflix queue, so you can certainly count me as a champion of it.) "Soul Surfer" rode that wave to an outsized domestic box office take of more than $43 million (I actually thought it was a bit more than that.)

And now comes word that "The Help," the new movie about Southern maids in the '60s starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Octavia Spencer, is expected to remain atop the box office in its coming second week. Granted, its four new competitors - "Fright Night", "Conan the Barbarian", "One Day" and "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World" - are all pretty pathetic entries. Of them all, I might go see "Fright Night," only because the reviews so far are promising a fun and funky little flick, and Colin Farrell should be a hoot.

And as for "The Help," if you're worried about it at all, please let me reassure you: It is indeed a very faithful adaptation of the very definition of an Oprah Winfrey book club selection, but it's also genuinely moving and even more importantly, just very funny from start to finish. And on top of that, it's packed with first-rate performances from all the leads, plus a scene-stealing gem from Jessica Chastain, who is just a brilliant ball of comic energy as the delirious Celia Foote (and Chastain, who can be seen in the upcoming movie "The Debt" and, as you'll see from the trailer below, also "The Texas Killing Fields," is just having one heck of a good year.)

So, what is it about women and word of mouth? Perhaps they just trust each other more than us dudes do. I have no idea, but if it leads to more movies written and directed by, plus starring, women, I'm certainly all for it. 'Nuff said.

OK, that went on longer than I had intended, but it's a subject that fascinates me, so forgive me. After that today, there's just a bit of news about two people I always like to see, and then just a couple of clips.

First up, buried in a truly unfortunate report that Tony Scott, bereft of anything approaching an original thought, now has his sights set on remaking "The Wild Bunch," was word of something much more interesting he wants to cook up with The Dude.

Apparently before he butchers Sam Peckinpah's great Western, he has plans to make "Hell's Angels," a narrative history of the notorious motorcycle gang. Normally I'd kind of just say meh to that, but the movie, to be based both on the book by founding Angels member Sonny Barger and also incorporate aspects of Hunter S. Thompson's tome on the gang as well, would - if Scott gets his way - apparently star Jeff Bridges as Barger. Now you've got my attention. Stay tuned for more on this as soon as I can find it. ...

And finally today, before a couple of clips, Sarah Silverman has found a home at NBC, for a show that surely won't be as delightfully crude as her much-missed (at least by me, though I'm the only person I know who watched it) Comedy Central show, but should still deliver plenty of funny.

No idea if this will be in the fall lineup or be a midseason replacement, but the good news is that the show, starring Silverman as a woman readjusting to single life following a decadelong live-in relationship, will be co-written by the very funny comedienne and two of her "Sarah Silverman Show" co-conspirators, Dan Sterling and Jon Schroeder. Keep your fingers crossed that something genuinely funny comes from all this (I'm betting on yes.)

OK, now on to the clip show, starting with the first trailer I've seen for an upcoming true crime movie titled "Texas Killing Fields." With a name like that, I suppose it doesn't need too much of a plot description, but the flick starring Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chastain and definite Reel Fanatic fave Chloe Moretz, is about two cops who are on the trail of a prodigious serial killer who dumps his victims in the titular marsh dubbed the "killing fields." Moretz plays his latest potential victim, and though I suppose this could all somehow suck, I'm a sucker for this kind of thing, so I'm in. Keep an eye out for it in at least some American cities (though why in the world something like this would be limited is beyond me) in October, and enjoy the trailer below.

Finally today, though he's made one movie I just can't stand (and in fact couldn't even finish), "The Killer Inside Me," Michael Winterbottom has made many, many more that I love, chief among them "24-Hour Party People" and "Tristram Shandy." I missed his earlier entry this year, "The Trip," which just looked like a comedy treat with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, but now he's got another movie coming out just in time to be shown at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

As you'll see from the trailer below, "Trishna" stars the simply ravishing Freida Pinto in Winterbottom's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the D'Urbervilles." Not sure when this will have a U.S. release or when I'll ever be able to see it, but here's hoping it will be soon, because it looks fantastic. Enjoy the trailer, and have a great weekend. Peace out.