Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can Sony right a serious superhero wrong ... and are you ready to laugh?

I've railed in this space far too many times on just why I hate the movie "Spider-Man 3" so much, but now Sony is about to take a chance on fixing perhaps the flick's biggest mistake (among many.)

Even if they are doing it only because they mistakenly believe that the box-office bonanza that is "The Dark Knight" (which is worthy of every penny it's earned and more, in my book) guarantees that America wants more superhero flicks where the villains take center stage, it does owe "Venom" a serious apology and some proper screen time.

By the time the character was introduced in Raimi's rather dismal flick it had already lost its charms for more than an hour or so. However, in the hands of a good writer, a better actor (though you really can't blame Topher Grace for what happened to "Spider-Man 3") and a director who cares more about the franchise than Raimi seemed to in the third Spidey installment, a "Venom" flick could be really, really good. And, frankly, possibly even better than the "Spider-Man 4" that Sony is also developing for 2011.

And, in the only news that really made me laugh out loud this morning, it seems that Freddie Prinze Jr., a k a Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar, has joined forces with World Wrestling Entertainment. However, for all of those who - like me - were hoping this would mean him climbing into the ring to get pummeled by a 400-lb. steroid-gobbler, I have to break the bad news that this will be a strictly behind-the-scenes kind of gig. Vince McMahon, a longtime master of professional wrestling's art of hyperbole, had this to say about his latest acquisition:

"Freddie Prinze Jr.'s passion, energy and creativity make him an excellent fit for WWE. Bringing on board an experienced Hollywood writer, actor and producer like Freddie Prinze Jr. will only increase the level of entertainment to millions of viewers and passionate WWE fans every Monday on USA."

Ha! I'd have to say he's at least got the first sentence in that gush just about right, and hopefully the movies coming next will be somewhere near as funny as that (though, I have my doubts.)

August: A month to laugh?

If I'm not mistaken (though I too often am), my favorite comedy of 2007, "Superbad" (by just a nose over "Hot Fuzz") came out last August, but I'm not sure this year's late-summer laughers - though there are a lot of them - will come close to that standard.

Here's what's coming (and, oddly enough, all on Wednesdays):

Pineapple Express: Aug. 6
Even if it is just a stoner movie, I have fairly high hopes for this one. Just the redband trailer in which James Franco shows what really happens when you try to kick out the windshield of a moving car was enough to get me laughing rather hard.

"Tropic Thunder": Aug. 13
I'm still holding out hope that this one will be a very funny spoof of full-blown action spectacles, but there are some ominous signs. The fact that just about the only thing they show in most trailers I've seen is Robert Downey Jr. in black face (which, I must admit, really is rather funny) can't be a good omen.

"The Rocker" : Aug. 20
Apparently the director of "The Full Monty" just really likes making movies about naked dudes. More than 10 years after unleashing that on the world, director Peter Cattaneo is back with this tale of Rainn Wilson as "the naked drummer." I have my doubts this will be the vehicle to make the very-funny Mr. Wilson a big-screen star, but here's hoping I'm wrong. It does have a "Superbad" link in Emma Stone, Jules from that flick and one of Rainn's young bandmates in this one.

And, there is a possible wild card out there. For months now, always-welcome visitor Jeremy has been on me to watch "The Wackness," but the groovy comedy hasn't played anywhere near me - until maybe now. If my TV didn't lie last night, it will indeed be playing "everywhere" soon, and just might turn into the little summer flick that becomes a surprise hit. Wait and see ... and feel free to me know if you have any hope at all for the comedies of August. As a parting gift, enjoy this seriously cool "Empire" magazine cover starring some of the "Watchmen." Peace out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I kinda wish this was a joke, but ... the trailer for Oliver Stone's "W"

Before I go any further, let me just state for the record that I used to like Oliver Stone quite a bit, and I want to again. Earnestly. But this trailer ...

Wow ... I didn't expect Stone to make a movie that treats the W. presidency with any respect, but the hard-living Bush part (with the choice cut from Delaware's own George Thorogood .. now, really, how tough can you be when your band is actually called the Delaware Destroyers?) looks funny for a second until it just makes you cringe.

It is kinda cool to see all the fairly A-list actors in their Bush bunch garb, and Thandie Newton indeed looks on the verge of tears just as Condoleezza Rice does whenever I catch her on TV. I'm sure Josh Brolin will be great in this, but I can't see how in the world it can have any positive effect whatsoever on the coming U.S. election (it will drop on Oct. 29.) But, since I'm too lazy to do anything but post video clips for the second day in a row, enough from me. Enjoy the trailer and try not to laugh too hard. Peace out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Video dispatches from ComicCon: "The Office," "Heroes" and "Pushing Daisies"

First things first, even if it really didn't answer any questions, the return of "Mad Men" last night was simply sensational. We're still waiting to see what Peggy did with that pesky baby, but the new domestic arrangement between Don and Bertie and her encounters with the party girl and the mechanic were just wicked fun.

And while I did go see "X-Files: I Want to Believe" this weekend (scroll back one post for my rather lukewarm review), it's all about ComicCon here today (even though, of course, I'm not lucky enough to be there) and more specifically about some of my favorite shows. (But I do also get movie dispatches from the floor from Movie Mom Nell Minow, who just loves to geek it up, so I'll share anything she has to pass along too.)

First up is "Pushing Daisies," which I'd have to call my favorite show that falls into the odd category of fairy tale. Showrunner Bryan Fuller apparently teased lucky audience members that the show may soon do an all-musical episode (I know it's been done before, but so what), but as for the facts, they are these:

- The sometimes funny David Arquette will be joining the cast as Ned's new buddy.

- There will be kiddie versions of Olive and Emerson to go along with young Ned and young Chuck.

- Chuck moves out of Ned's place and into Olive's - "And there's a bit of a catfight," says Anna Friel.

- Chuck's aunts (Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz) come to the Pie Hole and complicate Ned's life.

- Olive and Lily (Kurtz) find themselves in a nunnery ... with a pig.

- The character Mary Ann Marie Beetle, apparently seen in the "Muffin Buffalo" episode of Fuller's canceled Fox series "Wonderfalls," will appear in a crossover episode.

I didn't have the sense to watch "Wonderfalls" before it was canceled so quickly, but I can't wait to see the rest of what Fuller has in store for us this fall. In the meantime, enjoy this ComicCon clip of the great Kristen Chenoweth belting out a little "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

"The Office"

Why would you want to hear me try and predict what's going to happen on TV's second-best comedy (after only "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") when you can see what the fine folks who toil there had to say at ComicCon? Here, in two takes, are Ryan, Kelly and a bunch of other players (including "Freaks and Geeks" vet Paul Feig, I believe, who's taking a big role in directing/writing season 4.)

Returning to "Heroes"

Though "Heroes" was one of the few shows that managed to cobble together something approaching a full season during the writers' strike, I can't say it was a terribly satisfying one. Despite the very welcome addition of Kristen Bell, they just gave way too short shrift to Hiro's adventures in Japan and spent way too much time with the simply boring Maya and Alejandro.

That said, things really started to pick up there at the end, and I'm rather excited for the return of Tim Kring's show for Vol. 3 this fall. Here's a Q&A with some cast members from ComicCon to get you back in the "Heroes" groove:

And finally, some Pixar

And what's better to brighten up a dreary Monday than a teaser look at Pixar's next flick, "Up." With Ed Asner providing the voice of septuagenarian superhero Carl Fredricksen, I have my doubts that this one will be as wildly creative as "Ratatouille" or "Wall-E," but I still don't expect Pixar to deliver anything that won't at least be lots of fun in 2009. Enjoy the teaser trailer for "Up," and have a perfectly bearable Monday. Peace out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"X-Files": The truth is ... well, a mixed bag at best

In trying to concoct my assessment of "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," I couldn't help but - fairly or not - compare it to "The Simpsons Movie" of 2007.

And, if you bear with me, I think my reasoning is fairly valid. Rather than one of the slew of '60s TV shows that have been "adapted" with none of the original creators involved, these are both actually made by the folks who came up with the concept in the first place (imagine that!) And they both indeed have the feeling of a single episode of the series stretched out to fill about two hours in your local multiplex.

But whereas "The Simpsons Movie" used all the show's best writers and voice cast to produce something better than the show has been in many, many years, what writer-director Chris Carter and writer Frank Spotnitz have come up with for this second "X-Files" movie is more like an average-at-best episode from the late '90s, before Annabeth Gish and Robert Patrick arrived to steer the show completely off the track, but after it had lost a lot of it's geek-cool edge.

The plot starts out on a promising note with a truly creepy Billy Connolly (if you've somehow managed to miss any images of him in this role, you may not even know who it is) in the role of a pedophile priest who has psychic visions about a case involving the disappearance of a female FBI agent. I'll try not to tell you too much more about the plot, but of course, former agent Scully (Gillian Anderson) is called upon to track down fellow former agent Mulder (David Duchovny.) And, the best thing about this "X-Files" flick is that Anderson and Duchovny still work great together as a team. They fall naturally into the roles of believer and skeptic and make it a welcome return for all their fans.

The problem, however, is that the case they're called in to help with - while suitably creepy enough for a "X-Files" episode - isn't nearly enough to fill a nearly two-hour movie. It's never terribly suspenseful, and a hackneyed attempt to tie it to the medical career Scully has pursued since leaving the FBI just falls flat.

In the supporting cast, Callum Keith Renee of "Battlestar Galactic" fame makes the most of his role as the "2nd abductor," but to tell you any more than that would just spoil things too much. It's with the FBI agents that have followed in Mulder and Scully's footsteps, however, that Carter and Spotnitz really missed the mark. They try to reverse the believer/skeptic vibe that Mulder and Scully used to make the show work for so many years, but while the reliable Amanda Peet comes across earnest enough as the believer, rapper and car pimper Xzibit just looks angry about having to be there at all as his sole facial expression through the whole affair. There are definitely some rappers who can act - Mos Def chief among them - but you, my friend, certainly are not yet one of them.

So, the bottom line is if you liked the show, there's enough fun touches - including a late cameo from one of the series regulars that will just make you smile - to make this fitfully enjoyable, but really not enough to justify it as more than a rental for even the most diehard fans. And, according to the box-office projection I saw, not even enough to lift this to any better than a fourth-place finish behind, in reverse order, "Step Brothers" (which I might see today), "Mamma Mia!" and - of course still on top - "The Dark Knight." Not a terrible movie by any stretch, but still more than a bit of a letdown. Peace out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Midyear report card: The 10 (well, actually 11) best movies of 2008 (at least so far)

I thought about not doing this because I wasn't sure I'd be able to get to 10 movies I at least mildly liked this year - especially given just how rotten the year started out - but I ended up getting to 14 that were in the running. (UPDATE: I somehow left off Iron Man, which an alert reader brought to my attention, hence the reason this list now goes to 11!)

The biggest surprise was that "Wall-E" didn't end up at or even that near the top, but rest assured that that doesn't mean I love it almost unconditionally. And, yes, the No. 1 spot is held by the movie I've seen most recently, but if you've seen it I'm almost certain you'll agree with me.

So, with only the further proviso that I certainly haven't come close to seeing all the movies that have been released so far this year, here goes:

10. "Hellboy II: The Golden Army"
Just a fun ride from the start, I consider this really to be pulp movie-making, if there is such a thing. Guillermo del Toro clearly just threw at us as many of the magical things he could think of and cooked up a wild story for them, making for a flick almost as good as the original.

9. "Cloverfield"
I almost avoided this one completely because I was so afraid of a "Blair Witch"-style hoax, but I was thankfully wrong (which does seem to happen from time to time.) With a surprisingly steady camera, it really is Godzilla-meets-Youtube, and even though that sounds awful on paper it somehow just works.

8. "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"
People will surely scoff at me for including this one over, say, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," but I just have a soft spot for the Narnia tales and this one just improves on "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" in almost every facet. The dialogue is smart and funny, and the final battle - while ultimately enough to numb your senses - is just a blast.

7. "Be Kind Rewind"
I wanted to put Michel Gondry's goofy little flick higher on the list, but just couldn't bring myself to do it. If you missed it, you can see it on DVD now, and I think you'll enjoy this silly movie that's all about the love of movies.

6. "The Bank Job"
For once, a heist movie that's at least as much about the characters and the caper as it is the gadgets. This "true" story just keeps getting wilder as it unfolds, and if you like heist flicks, I recommend this one very highly.

5a. "Iron Man"
I don't know how in the world I managed to leave this one off when I first compiled this list, other than that I do it when I first wake up in the morning. Although I loved what Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. did with Iron Man, I'm even more amped to see what happens when the great Terrence Howard dons his own metal suit and Samuel L. Jackson gets in on the action next time.

5. "Wall-E"
Like I said at the outset, I'm surprised this one ended up so low on this list, but looking back it's just been a stronger year thus far for flicks than I thought. Pure magic in its first half hour dedicated to silent robot love, it loses its way just a bit in the middle but still manages to be another Pixar winner (I'd rank it third behind "Ratatouille" and "The Incredibles," respectively, but then I guess I'm just a Brad Bird partisan.)

4. "Son of Rambow"
I really thought this might catch on as the little indie hit of the summer, but it never quite got there. As the titles implies, this is just a smart and funny flick about two English boys who try to create their own version of "Rambo," and it's very well worth a rental when it finally hits DVD (I was surprised to find it wasn't there already.)

3. "The Fall"
Tarsem's second feature film is as much about the power of storytelling as it is about the touchingly odd relationship that develops between an injured stuntman (the great Lee Pace of "Pushing Daisies" fame) and a young girl he meets in the hospital (Catinca Untaru.) It's visually stunning, and even if the story he concocts for her induces some unintended guffaws, this is one I just love.

2. "Under the Same Moon"
Perhaps it's because we had a private screening of this one after it somehow lingered at one of my local multiplexes for six weeks or so, but Patricia Riggen's little movie about immigration and family ties has just lingered with me for a long time. Yes, it's sometimes as sappy as it sounds on paper, but spring for a rental and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

1. "The Dark Knight"
Was there really ever any doubt that this one would clinch the top spot? I've seen it twice in the theater and will surely spring for it one more time before it leaves some time in September. If all the hype has you skeptical, just give in and believe it, because this one is just pretty darn amazing.

So there you have it. And, for the record, here are the four flicks that almost made the 10-movie cut: "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns," "Kung Fu Panda" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."

With plenty of fun stuff coming later this summer and fall - including new flicks from David Fincher, the Coen brothers and Spike Lee, among others - I'm sure this list will look a lot different when I revise it in January. Please feel free to chime in with anything you might think I've just gotten wrong, and of course let me know if there are any 2008 flicks I just overlooked. Peace out.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's going to happen under "Friday Night Lights"

"The Dark Knight" has, thankfully, knocked the wretched "Spider-Man 3" from the perch of opening-weekend champ with a take of $155 million, but in its shadow another Hayao Miyazaki movie (huzzah!) has also apparently opened in Japan to strong box office numbers.

"Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea," which is about a five-year old boy, Sosuke, and the Princess goldfish, Ponyo, who wants to become human, had scored 83 percent of the first day total of Miyazaki's 2001 megahit "Spirited Away" as of 3 p.m. Saturday. "Spirited" went on to earn $284 million in Japan - an all-time BO record for the Japanese market. Here's hoping "Ponyo" gets an American release very soon, with or without the usual English dubbing that goes with the Western versions of his flicks.

And, in one more bit of movie news before we dive into "Friday Night Lights," it seems that if Wes Anderson ever does manage to make his first animated flick - based on the Roald Dahl work "Fantastic Mr. Fox" - Jarvis Cocker of Pulp fame will be doing much of the music (and, just for the record, the IMDB does indeed have a November 2009 release date set for "Mr. Fox.") I like Jarvis Cocker even more than I do slightly twisted movies for kids, and Pulp's "Different Class" is a record I just keep going back to again and again, so that should just be tons of fun.

From here on out, however, I promise it's all about "Friday Night Lights." To find out more than was recently revealed by TV scribe Michael Ausiello, unless you have DirecTV, you'll have to wait until January or so, but here's what we know so far, with some commentary from me. As far as current, hour-long serials go, I'd put "Friday Night Lights" behind only "Battlestar Galactica" and "Mad Men," so here's hoping they don't just completely screw it up before I get to see it again.

Here goes:

* It's already been revealed that Tim Street and Smash Williams will be fazed out in the first four episodes or so (since they're not in high school, after all), but now comes news that Tim Riggins, Tyra Collette, Lyla Garrity and Matt Saracen will all be graduating seniors when the show returns. Is it just me, or wasn't Matt at some point younger than all the others? I would have assumed this makes Landry and Julie seniors too, since I thought they were in the same grade as Saracen, but perhaps not.

* In dishier news, once the new school year starts, Tim and Lyla will once again be a couple, but Tyra and Landry will not. I have a feeling that Tyra and Landry will be together again by the end of the season (if it gets another full run), but it only makes sense that - for now at least - she would break his heart once again (and that cute geek girl that Landry dumped for her - Brea Grant - will be Hiro's new sidekick on the new season of "Heroes," so a hearty huzzah to that!)

* Tami Taylor, played by the simply fantastic Connie Britton, will get a serious boost in pay when she goes from guidance counselor to principal of Dillon High. Doesn't sound terribly realistic to me, but that should still make for some real tension on the Taylor homefront and for some great TV.

* A new hot-shot, freshman quarterback named J.D. McCoy will challenge Saracen for the starting job. I'd imagine that, with so many of the regulars graduating this year, he'll be the first of a big new wave of characters if the show is going to have a life beyond this year. Going in the opposite direction, "Gilmore Girls" veteran Matt Czuchry (Chris, the rival for Lyla's affections) and Benny Ciaramello (Santiago) will not be back.

So there you have it. Even if I do have to wait quite a long time to see this on NBC again, I'm glad to hear that the creators are still putting a lot time into one of my favorite shows.

And we'll close with something that's sure to brighten up even the dreariest of Mondays. The "Watchmen" trailer that preceded "The Dark Knight" was easily the best of the bunch, and even better is this Varga-esque painting of Carla Gugino as Sally Jupiter by artist James Jean that turned up on It had the ring of something rather exclusive, but since my love for Carla Gugino knows no bounds, I decided to swipe it anyway and share it here. Peace out.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"The Dark Knight": Chaos under control

Before I dive into discussing Christopher Nolan's often-sensational "The Dark Knight," a brief word of thanks to everyone who turned out for the midnight event at the AmStar Cinemas 16 in Macon. With the crowd lined up so deep it almost stretched out of the parking lot, a radio van playing really bad slow jams at a thoroughly unnecessary volume and folks decked out in their best Joker attire to hand out free pizza in the lobby, it was just the biggest geekfest I've been to in many years, and a thorough blast.

And as to the movie itself, I'll get my one or two minor quibbles out of the way first before I shower it with praise. The opening sequences involving Christian Bale's Batman were just a letdown and could easily have been cut without me missing anything at all. Did we really need to see the Scarecrow again or see Batman go all James Bond in pursuit of a mob money man in Hong Kong?

Even though the latter was surely sweet eye candy (and must have been rather amazing in IMAX, which I just can't justify driving 2 1/2 hours to experience), these set pieces just detract from what Nolan is going for here, the first movie I can think of in a long time that so successfully creates a feeling of chaos from (almost) start to finish. And - thankfully and paradoxically enough - Nolan establishes this mood not by shaking his camera all over the place but instead keeping it under tight control even as Gotham is just melting down all around him.

As you well know by now, Heath Ledger's Joker is Nolan's main co-conspirator in wreaking this havoc, and the best thing I can tell you about his amazing performance is to believe all the hype you've heard about it and expect to find even more to draw you into his weird world. It's the most uncomfortable I've felt while laughing at the screen in many years, because what Ledger and Nolan clearly understand is that - despite his name - Joker isn't a jester or a clown, but just a really sick and twisted f***. You'll hear no morbid speculation from me about whether Ledger let this madness consume him, but he clearly threw himself into the role completely, and for that we can only say thanks.

And he also delivered what, for me, was one of two signature shots from Nolan's flick, when he's driving down the street in a police car, head out the window and clearly reveling in what he's just unleashed. The other came when Maggie Gyllenhaal (who makes the most of not much to do as Rachel Dawes) looks at Bale's Batman with a look of horror/relief/exhilaration after he's managed to save her life from the Joker's grasp. Those two will stick with me for a long time.

What I wasn't ready for, however, was that - as much as this is the Joker's show - the character that really gets to have a real arc as far as character development is Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent, making this also the first flick I can think of in a long time in which the two characters who matter most aren't the "hero."

Bale's Bruce Wayne and Batman - and this isn't a knock of any kind - are just very static characters in "The Dark Knight," as Nolan and co-screenwriter brother Jonathan invest all the ideas they've honed through the years about identity and the obfuscation of it in the story of Gotham's crusading D.A. Much of the fun of "The Dark Knight" comes in seeing how much they've progressed as a team since concocting "Memento" while still exploring similar themes. And the only time their hi jinx just left me scratching my head this time came in the saga of Gary Oldman's Lt. James Gordon, which you won't hear any more about from me just in case you're the last person in America to actually see this flick (if I have my calculations right, it made a rather whopping $60 million Friday alone, and is hopefully now well on its way to eclipsing the first-weekend record set by the simply dismal "Spider-Man 3.")

I've seen "The Dark Knight" twice already, and I'm glad I did, because there's a lot to take in in Nolan's bleak but often blissful ode to chaos. I must confess, however, that I was also happy to hear the strains of ABBA's "Dancing Queen" coming from the screening of "Mamma Mia!" next door as I was lined up to use the restroom afterward. A much-needed dose of levity which brought a smile to my face. Peace out.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm way too old for midnight movies, but ...

If you happen to be going to see "The Dark Knight" at 12:01 Friday morning at the Grand cinemas in Macon, you might see me there, 'cause I just bought the golden ticket!

And despite my rather mixed recent history with midnight movies, I'm severely stoked about it. Since I've moved to Macon, I've only bothered to turn out for two midnight flicks before this one.

"The Simpsons Movie" was the perfect midnight entertainment for me, just a 90 minute riff that was funnier than the actual show has been in more than a few years, but I was one of about six people there, so you'd certainly have to call that a nonevent.

"Spider-Man 3," however, was an entirely different animal. It was showing on four midnight screens, and all shows were sold out. I had never seen so many geeks running wild in a movie theater. All of which created a great buzz for what turned out to be - if I may rather hypocritically engage in some of the very hyperbole I'm about to knock - easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen. It just made me want to cry as much as poor Peter Parker was made to, and not for anything possibly approaching the right reasons.

"Spider-Man 3" did, however (as you may well already know), have the biggest opening weekend of all time, just ahead of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Here, courtesy of the great Boxofficemojo site, are the top 11 opening weekends of all time (yes, it goes to 11 so I could get in this year's two biggest openings):

1. Spider-Man 3: $151,116,516
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: $135,634,554
3. Shrek the Third: $121,629,270
4. Spider-Man: $114,844,116
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: $114,732,820
6. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith: $108,435,841
7. Shrek 2: $108,037,878
8. X-Men: The Last Stand: $102,750,665
9. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: $102,685,961
10. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: $100,137,835
11. Iron Man: $98,618,668

So-called box office experts (how in the world do I get that job?) are forecasting "The Dark Knight" to finish somewhere between "Spider-Man 3" and "Iron Man" (way to go out on a limb, guys!) Given the buzz about Heath Ledger and the just astoundingly positive reviews, however, I seriously think it might just have a shot of finishing north of $150 million to knock that awful flick out of the top spot (I don't, by the way, hate all "Spider-Man" flicks; the first one was perfectly pleasant, and if you force me to pick one I'll name "Spider-Man 2" as my favorite superhero flick of all time.)

And, assuming I'm as amped up as I think I'll be after watching "The Dark Knight," I'll try to put up a few hopefully coherent sentences very early tomorrow morning when I get home. I will, however, strive to avoid the hyperbole attained in the lead for this rather rapturous review that appeared at

Forget the great things you’ve heard about The Dark Knight. No matter how lavish the praise or how determined the hyperbole, it’s all understatement. The Dark Knight is I suppose the greatest superhero movie ever made, but it’s so far beyond the limited men in tights genre that attempting to compare it with movies like Spider-Man, Superman, or even Batman Begins is almost laughable. Director Christopher Nolan’s film trumps everything and everyone, including himself. It’s not just the best superhero movie ever made, it’s one of the best movies ever to show up in a theater.

Wow. Here's hoping I like it nearly that much, and that you all do to. Peace out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The fine art of satire .. and going way past the line

For the record, I'm a rather big fan of satire, and I was fairly certain there was nothing left in the world that would offend my sensibilities. And I certainly never thought it would be the rather urbane "New Yorker" magazine that would be the culprit. (That "South Park" joke about the woodland critters searching for someone with AIDS to piss in the eye sockets of Strawberry Shortcake, for example, still just makes me laugh out loud every time I see it.)

Just in case you (mercifully, I would think) live in a realm that's not invaded almost constantly by the buzz of 24-hour news, I've included a picture of the magazine cover that - I will admit - made me laugh for a second before it made me just want to vomit.

Now, I try to keep politics out of this as much as possible, but I'm on the record to anyone who knows me as a pretty big supporter of Barack Obama, having given his campaign a rather sizable chunk of my time already and planning to offer plenty more before this rather fascinating race comes to a close.

And I'm not really sure where to start in criticizing the "New Yorker" cover by artist Barry Blitt. In discussing it at work yesterday (and the fact that I work with very literate and often very funny people almost makes up for the fact that I'm paid on the scale of a 16th-century peasant), the thing that struck us as the most offensive - among many things to choose from - was the way they made Michelle Obama look like Pam Grier in "Coffy."

My bottom line beef with the caricature, however, is that it's not satire. When you just take every hateful rumor you can find and put it into one drawing, you're at best simply out to garner attention (mission accomplished, obviously), and at worst feeding the prejudices you're trying rather unsuccessfully to ridicule.

Now, I've come down from the ledge I was on yesterday of thinking about cancelling my "New Yorker" subscription (to be honest, I'm fairly certain it was a Christmas gift anyway, so I don't even pay for it), and - ironically, I think - I'm rather looking forward to reading the two articles about Mr. Obama that come inside this rather tawdry package.

I just wanted to get a little bile off of my chest before starting the day, so thanks for letting me vent (if you bothered to make it this far), and now - I promise - I'll move on to a couple of much more enjoyable subjects.

More "Mad Men" hype for the Emmys

I have no idea who writes the Hollywood Reporter's "Past Deadline" blog (I couldn't find a name on it anywhere), but I'm extremely jealous of that lucky scribe. Whoever it is managed to get her or his hands on the first two episodes of season two of the simply brilliant "Mad Men" (returning to AMC on July 27) and had this to say:

I just got through watching the first pair of episodes from season two of AMC's "Mad Men," which premieres on July 27. My first observation is one of surprise - not because the quality is still there, but because it actually builds on the breakout promise of season one without painting its vivid characters into caricatures. This is a huge credit to the show's creator, showrunner, head writer and chief neurotic, Matthew Weiner, who clearly hasn't allowed the buzz that's transformed his series into an iconic weekly must-see to go to his head. Indeed, he seems to have pulled back significantly on the soapy elements to guard against that very pitfall. It's more than admirable; it's also rather brilliant.

If it's possible, now color me even more stoked for season two to begin (and I'm certainly going to ask the Telegraph's TV Guy if he managed to get his hands on those episodes and is willing to share.)

The "Past Deadline" blog went on to predict that, when the nominations are announced Thursday, "Mad Men" would walk away with 16 or 17 nominations. That may be wishful thinking, but if it doesn't at least snag a nod for best dramatic series and one for the rather remarkable Jon Hamm it will be a high crime.

"Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"

I can't count this as an endorsement since I don't have a computer capable of watching such things at home, so just take this as a heads up that the first of three installment's of Joss Whedon's "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" is online for free here.

So, what is this rather oddly named creation? Well, all I know so far is that it's a rather silly little Web-only creation by Whedon and his brothers that stars both Doogie Howser and Captain Mal Reynolds. I'll know more after I get to work and finally get to watch this (rather than, of course, working.) Enjoy, and have perfectly pleasant Wednesday. Peace out.

Monday, July 14, 2008

This just in: School will rock again!

First off, a hearty huzzah to Guillermo del Toro and "Hellboy II," which managed (just barely) to hold off Will Smith and win the box-office weekend with about $36 million. Personally, I found it to be almost as fun as the first "Hellboy," even if it did eventually just reach creature overload, and I was just happy to see a superhero with almost no baggage at all to impede his principal duty of just kicking all kinds of ass.

Besides, there's a plenty moody enough superhero on the dock this week, and since I'm now off on Fridays, I'll definitely be there at midnight Friday morning to see "The Dark Knight" finally take flight (after what seems like three years of hype.)

But, in what in my odd little world is even better news, there's word this morning that Richard Linklater, Jack Black and Mike White will indeed be back for a "School of Rock 2." I've tried hard not to call a movie as silly as "School of Rock" great, but since I've probably seen it at least 10 times on DVD and it just makes me smile broadly every time, I think I'll just have to give in and admit that I love it unconditionally.

And the plot for the White-penned sequel just sounds like tons of fun. Who doesn't have great memories of elementary school field trips? For us in Salisbury, Md., the highlight was a trip to Washington, D.C., to act up on the National Mall. In Linklater's "School of Rock 2," the lucky kiddies will get to instead go on a rock 'n' roll odyssey across America with Mr. Black as their guide to the history of American music. Simply cool.

And congrats indeed to Mike White, who's taken his lumps after falling out with the Judd Apatow crew. Here's hoping "School of Rock 2" captures all the magic of the original and comes quick enough to rock hard next summer!

A Bush-style frat boy brawl?

I'd imagine there's probably not a whole lot to do at night in Shreveport, La., but even so this story about Josh Brolin, Jeffrey Wright and the "W" crew is just too funny not to pass along.

Things apparently went awry at the Stray Cat Bar (love that name) when a "W" lighting technician was arrested for fighting and Brolin, Wright and four others decided to jump into the battle. (Shown here are the mug shots for Brolin and Wright.)

Felland was charged with resisting arrest, public intoxication and entering and remaining. Brolin, Wright and the others were slapped with the interfering charge.

After arriving at the police station, Brolin, Wright and the others were booked and told they'd have to post cash bonds to be released. Brolin and Wright had to shell out $334 each, while Felland had to fork out more than $700.

I have no way of knowing, of course, but this just sounds to me like a perfect scene from the movie for W's wild days before he somehow encountered Jesus. And, obviously, I pity the poor cop who had to tangle with Josh Brolin, who's clearly just a bad mutha.

And it's worth looking at, if I can find it, the now fairly complete cast list for "W." Here, as best as I can tell, goes:

Elizabeth Banks: Laura Bush
Josh Brolin: George W. Bush
Thandie Newton: Condoleezza Rice
Ioan Gruffudd: Tony Blair
Ellen Burstyn: Barbara Bush
Richard Dreyfuss: Dick Cheney
James Cromwell: Herbert Walker Bush
Scott Glenn: Donald Rumsfeld
Noah Wyle: Don Evans (rumored)
Jeffrey Wright: General Colin Powell
Jason Ritter: Jeb Bush (rumored)
Toby Jones: Karl Rove
Rob Corddry: Ari Fleischer

I'm still more than a little worried about the effect "W" will have on the elections this fall, since it's set to be finished and released by October, but it will still be a heck of a lot of fun watching what all these talented folks can do with the saga of Dubya, especially Toby Jones as Karl Rove.

First Look at "The Dark Knight"

There's probably more out there this morning, but who am I kidding? It's all about "The Dark Knight" here and everywhere else this week, so I'll just wrap it up with HBO's "First Look" at the Christopher Nolan flick. It covers about 14 minutes in two clips, but if you know of a better way to waste some of your workday today, I'm certainly not aware of it. Peace out.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Going Back to Philly - and going to see Hellboy II!

OK, I admit it. Because I have the pleasure of going to see "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" this morning (man do I love movies on Friday morning!), I'm doing nothing at all here except being a shill for F/X and what is - in my opinion - the funniest show on television (with "The Office" a very close second.)

As I was watching "Hellboy" last night on F/X to get back in the spirit, my plan to DVR through the commercials was constantly foiled by some familiar and friendly faces popping up at the end of each commercial break. Sure enough, it was the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" crew, which shared time in F/X's promotion for fall with some kind of motorcycle show called "Sons of Anarchy" (that may be the wrong title, but except for the odd fact that it stars Charlie Hunnam of "Undeclared" fame, it just looks bloody awful.)

But back to the point at hand. To promote the very welcome return of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" for a fourth season on Sept. 18, the boys and girl have made this fairly funny promo video with music by Jeru the Damaja. The last thing I'll say before just getting to it is - this being the "Sunny" crew - yes, that is a dick in those shorts, so be careful while you watch this one at work! Definitely go see "Hellboy II," and have a perfectly pleasant weekend. Peace out.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cohen pranking across America again as "Bruno"

Maybe its just me, but being pranked by Sacha Baron Cohen as his alter-ego Bruno sounds at least as fun as watching an evening of "extreme fighting" in Arkansas, especially when you throw in $1 beers!

Lest anyone be thinking I'm nuts, allow me to explain. According to the almost-always reliable The Smoking Gun, Cohen is again actively turning his revealing camera on America as he did as Borat, but this time as Bruno for his next flick. Bruno, another creation from "Da Ali G Show," is a rather flamboyant fashion reporter for Austrian TV.

And, judging from what he set up for the unsuspecting folks of Texarkana and Fort Smith, "Bruno" may well turn out to be at least as outrageous - and hopefully nearly as funny - as "Borat."

As the poster shows, the poor dupees were lured by not only $1 beer, but also the promise of "hot chicks" and "hardcore fights," but instead got a vintage dose of Cohen's shenanigans. After what attendees who bothered to comment at The Smoking Gun confirmed were a "pathetic" card of fights, each card ended with two male grapplers - one named "Straight Dave" - in their underwear and kissing each other up and down the chest.

To me, that's funny enough already, but I suppose unsurprisingly the folks in Fort Smith took the bait and pelted the ring with chairs and probably anything else they could get their hands on. Now that's some blue collar brawlin'!

Sherlock Holmes battle taking shape

Speaking of Sacha Baron Cohen, he's now got some serious competition as rival flicks set out to tell tales of the supersleuth Holmes and his partner Watson.

Cohen is set to play Sherlock himself, with Will Ferrell as his sidekick Watson (thank God it's not in the reverse order!), for Judd Apatow and company.

Now, however, in a rival production expected to get started first, Robert Downey Jr. has signed on to play Holmes in what one can only assume would be at least a slightly more serious version for director Guy Ritchie.

I used to have a lot of time for Guy Ritchie, but "Revolver" was just a nonsensical mess. Even so, two multi-flick projects (with "Iron Man," of course) starring Mr. Downey just makes my world a little bit more enjoyable, so here's hoping this brings Ritchie back to top form.

"Mad Men" has five-year plan

With "Mad Men" thankfully set to return for its second season on AMC July 27, show creator Matthew Weiner has been making the rounds to promote it and letting out some intriguing details about just where the great show is headed.

According to TV scribe James Hibberd, Weiner revealed at the Television Critics Association press tour that he envisions the show running for five seasons, with enough time lapsing between seasons to cover about 10 years in the lives of ad executive extraordinaire Don Draper and associates (man, I can't wait to see what in the world Peggy has done about her new baby since we last saw her!) And Weiner's reasoning in using this technique makes perfect sense:

"I can start the story fresh, and at the same time there will be all these events that happened in between that will provide additional storytelling energy," he said.

I love it when showrunners are bold enough to set their own time table, as the "Battlestar Galactica" folks did at Sci Fi. That life span is, of course, dependent on people continuing to tune in, but I can't see AMC giving up on its flagship show before its allotted run finishes. If you somehow missed the first season of the smartest show on TV, you can now either buy or rent the first season on DVD or catch all 13 episodes in a marathon catch-up block July 26 to prepare for the season 2 debut the following night.

One other programming note: If you're as amped as I am for "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" and want to watch the original flick again before seeing the sequel, F/X is airing Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy" tonight at 8, so set your DVR. And now I have to go to the paying job I somehow still have. Peace out.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Whedon's "Goners" a goner, so what now?

If you like reading about movies, which I do way too much, the MTV movies blog is - rather surprisingly - a must-read. They may not do the the hardest-hitting interviews but, being MTV, they can and do talk with anyone they choose.

This week, the subject was Joss Whedon, who is about to get back in the news in a big way with - finally! - a new show called "Dollhouse" with Eliza Dushku coming to Fox this fall. As a little aside on that, I saw a report from Horizon Media stating that three sci-fi shows - Fox’s “Fringe,” CBS’ “11th Hour” and ABC’s “Life On Mars” - should be the biggest frosh hits this fall, which totally discounts both "Dollhouse" and "Battlestar Galactica" brain Ronald Moore's "Virtuality." (UPDATE: According to MTV, "Dollhouse" has been pushed back to January, new but bad news to me!) Even so, throw "Heroes" back into the mix and it sure is going to be a fun time to watch TV (unless, of course, all the actors go on strike before any of it gets rolling.)

But the more interesting portion of MTV's piece, all of which you can read here, focused on Whedon's movie career or - recently, at least - the complete lack of one. Universal has for years now been kicking around a script he wrote for something called "Goners" which - shockingly enough - would have been about a young woman who gains some powers (well, I guess you should stick with what you know.)

With that going nowhere, however, he does seem to think there will be some real action on another script he wrote with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" alum and "Cloverfield" scribe Drew Goddard called "Cabin in the Woods" (if you haven't seen "Cloverfield," by the way, I found it to be surprisingly fun and can recommend it as well worth a rental.) Assuming this moves forward as quickly as he's hoping, Whedon would also be a producer and, perhaps, the director too. Here's how a rather unmodest Mr. Goddard described it to MTV:

“It’s genius, it’s funny, It’s got a harder and darker edge, but it’s also got classic Whedon qualities. It’ll rip your heart out and be heartfelt at the same time.”

“There’s a reason the title is so straightforward. It’s its own sub-genre, the cabin in the woods, and this is sort of our take on it. It’s fresh and new.”

Sounds cool enough to me if Whedon can manage to keep focused on it long enough to follow through, which doesn't exactly seem to be his strong suit. And, just in case you just can't get enough Whedon, he's also doing something really silly with Doogie Howser and Captain Mal Reynolds called "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." As far as I can tell, this is some kind of upcoming Web-only silliness that Whedon and his brothers cooked up during the writer's strike (airing July 15, 17 and 19, but I'm not sure exactly where .. more to come on that.)

A three-part musical, it stars Doogie as a supervillian trying to get into the "Evil League of Evil," Captain Mal as his archnemesis, and Felicia Day (a former "potential" on "Buffy") as the girl of his dreams. Goofy? Surely, but hopefully pretty fun too.

That certainly seems like a whole lot for a man who hasn't seemed to actually finish much of anything lately (except for the still-great "Buffy" comic books), but here's hoping he's able to concentrate long enough to deliver both "Dollhouse" in winter and "Cabin in the Woods" as something great for next summer.

A new dose of "Blindness"

After a surprisingly strong summer for movies, this fall should be even more fun, with Spike Lee, David Fincher and the Coens all getting back into the game. Add to that mix Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, who's about to come back with his third flick, a take on the novel "Blindness" by Jose Saramago (which is on my to-read-very-soon list.) It promises to be a rather bleak affair, and I'm not sure I care much for the deliberately bleached out look you find in the trailer, but with Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Alica Braga and Gael Garcia Bernal all on board I'm betting it will be pretty fantastic. Enjoy the newest trailer, and have a perfectly pleasant Tuesday. Peace out.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

"Hancock": A tale of three movies, none of them any good

Well, I guess it had to happen eventually. After a summer in which I've liked just about everything I've seen since "Iron Man" (with the caveat that I simply skipped several flicks on general principle), I've finally found a true stinker in "Hancock."

I mean, even M. Night's "The Happening" kept me laughing throughout at just how bad it is in stretches and therefore, I must confess, made me enjoy watching it a lot more than I could have possibly expected, but this one is just a lifeless - and pretty much soulless - creation.

I suppose my opinion doesn't matter too much since Will Smith+the Fourth of July still=mad money in the bank ($41.3 million BEFORE the actual holiday), but that doesn't mean I won't sound off anyway.

So, who's to blame for making this an almost singularly unwatchable mess? There's plenty to go around, but it has to start at the top with Mr. Smith himself this time.

I've had my bones to pick with him through the years, but I never really thought it would come down to him not being enough of an asshole to make a movie work.

However, after spending his entire career crafting his image as the black guy so nice that even the late Jesse Helms (sorry, but he's on my brain after reading his obituary) might invite him home to dinner, he simply doesn't have the edge - no matter how hard he tries - to play a character as innately unlikable as the seriously flawed hero "Hancock." So what you get is Will Smith walking around looking surly for 90 minutes or so, telling all the jokes you've already heard in the trailer and no more of any note. What a waste.

I suppose I would have been able to forgive this if director Peter Berg and writers Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan had been able to choose which direction they wanted to go in with this one. Either unable or unwilling to turn the once-promising premise into a real satire on the nature of heroes and our expectations of them, they instead let the movie just get more and more boring as Hancock is rehabilitated, until it reaches a "twist" ending that will just make you want to scream "wtf!" at the screen (I managed to refrain, but it took a whole lot of self-control!)

It certainly felt like they just reached a point where, after putting together 70 minutes or so of footage that goes absolutely nowhere, they all huddled and came up with the most ludicrous way possible to bring this to its mercifully quick end (though sequels are definitely already on the way.)

Jason Bateman does his best to wrest some laughs from his part as Hancock's PR man, and indeed succeeds at a few points, but he's just fighting a losing battle here. Charlize Theron, however, just looked even more confused by this maddening flick than I was.

And, as much as it pains my heart to say it, Berg's direction here is almost as bad as the story itself. Unsure where to point his camera at many points, he simply lets it spin around at least 360 degrees, never for any apparent reason. And lest anyone who's never been here before think I just had it in for "Hancock" from the start, that's simply untrue. I have nothing but love for Berg's "Friday Night Lights" and even more so the nearly perfect TV show that followed in it wake. But "Hancock" is simply an awful movie from start to finish.

Even so, there are surely great things to come very soon in superhero land, with Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" coming next week and then a little movie you may have heard of called "The Dark Knight" right after that, so keep hope alive. Peace out.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Demko's DVD shelf: TV's smartest show out this week

AMC is going to be airing the entire first season of "Mad Men" back-to-back-to .. well you get the idea on July 26 to prepare for the very welcome start of season two July 27 (wow .. new TV in the summer that doesn't involve someone doing a face-plant into a giant rubber ball!)

If you can't wait that long, and I certainly can't, you can pick up the seriously great first season now on DVD, making it easily my pick of the week.

The two things that set "Mad Men" apart from anything else on TV now are the writing and the simply first-rate acting. Creator Matthew Weiner and his writers don't just embrace the world it's set in, the "golden age" of Madison Avenue advertising in the early '60s, they revel in it. The term political correctness wouldn't be invented for another 30 years or so, so "Mad Men" gleefully dives into all the -isms you can think of and soaks them all in a vat of gin.

And the actors, from Emmy winner Don Draper (ad executive Jon Hamm) on down, just embrace the spirit of the era. The ladies of "Mad Men," especially Elisabeth Moss and January Jones, often outshine the hard-charging dudes around them. I can't recommend this one highly enough, just in case you couldn't tell! There are, however, a few other picks out there this week too, one I've seen and two I will very soon ...

City of Men
This one is not so much a sequel to "City of God" (often listed as my favorite movie of all time, if I'm forced to choose), but more as a follow-up to the great Brazilian "City of Men" TV series.

That series has been out on DVD for a while now, and is very well worth a rental. The movie that's out this week, produced but not directed by "City of God" helmer Fernando Meirelles, focuses on two friends growing in the rather rough world of Rio de Janeiro. With their eighteenth birthdays fast approaching, Laranjinha (Darlan Cunha) sets out to find the father he never met while Acerola (Douglas Silva) struggles to raise his own son.

I haven't seen this one yet, but the series that preceded it is just epicly good television, so the movie's coming this weekend from the Netflix.

Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns
The rather prolific Tyler Perry was clearly coasting a bit with this one, but it still has its charms, mostly due to the always-welcome Angela Bassett. Here she plays a single mom suffering through really tough times in Chicago when she's called to Georgia for the funeral of the father she never met. At that point it turns into mostly a showcase for two of Perry's favorite stage performers, David and Tamela Mann, and - of course - Bassett finds love in the arms of former Laker Rick Fox (this is a Tyler Perry movie, after all, so I'm really not giving too much away here!) And, be warned, Madea does indeed turn up at the end of this one.

My Blueberry Nights
For his journey to America, Chinese director Wong Kar Wai - who has created some lushly beautiful movies in his homeland - surrounds himself with plenty of beautiful people.

Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, Jude Law and even Cat Power (Chan Marshall) are along for the ride in this American road flick that (as far as I can tell) is all about love. The reviews I saw for this were mixed at best, but I've loved the few Wong flicks I've managed to see thus far, so this one's definitely on my rental list too.

And that's it for today. If you happen to go see "Hancock," please let me know what you thought. I'm gonna see it tomorrow morning, but my hopes aren't terribly high. Peace out.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

An "Arrested Development" movie? The stars seem to think so

I still won't believe this one until - and probably after - there's solid confirmation in the trades, but two of the stars of Fox's best sitcom in many, many years certainly seem to be sure there's an "Arrested Development" movie in the works.

First comes word from Jeffrey Tambor, a k a George Bluth, from the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of "Hellboy II" (via Entertainment Weekly): “After months of speculation, I think we have finally figured out for sure that we are indeed doing an Arrested Development movie. I am very excited about that. I love that cast and crew and I felt like we had more to say."

Sounds pretty definite, right, but as far as I know Tambor doesn't have any actual power to make this happen. Still, just to get your hopes up even higher (and hopefully not just to have to dash them later), here's more from Jason Bateman, a k a Michael Bluth (via Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog) hinting there indeed may already be a script ready to go: "It's typically bent and twisted," Bateman said of the story concocted by series mastermind Mitchell Hurwitz. "He's got a really, really good idea for the movie version that would not be just simply the equivalent of four episodes back to back to back. It's actually something that would be specific to the medium of film."

None of this, of course, means this is ever going to happen (especially with the SAG strike just about a certainty now), but there are several reasons why it would make good sense.

First, look at "Sex and the City." Now, I understand that the "Arrested Development" cult isn't as large as Carrie Bradshaw's following, but I'd argue we're probably at least as devoted. You'd have an obvious built-in audience, and given how much the stars want to do it, I can't imagine the budget for any "Arrested Development" movie would be terribly high.

And unlike all the other TV retreads we've seen lately (I've heard some surprisingly good things about "Get Smart," but I just really can't go there), this would instead be an idea that springs from the minds of the people who actually created the show and know and love what it's all about.

As always when it comes to an "Arrested Development" movie, just keep hope alive!

A funny take on Sherlock and Watson?

On paper this could certainly work, and I think they've got the casting just about right.

Anyone remember "Talladega Nights"? There's really not much reason to except that Sacha Baron Cohen managed to walk away with every scene he was in as the French Formula "Un" driver and make Will Ferrell funnier in doing so.

So it's a bit surprising but very welcome news that for this new Sherlock Holmes comedy from scribe Etan Cohen ("Tropic Thunder"), Cohen will take the lead as Sherlock and Ferrell will be the sidekick Watson. Sounds like fun to me, but this being Hollywood, no idea (good or bad) ever comes by itself. Warner Bros. is apparently also prepping a Holmes drama to be directed by Guy Ritchie.

My money's on the funny guys in this one, but we'll just have to wait and see.

A rather uber-cool new "The Dark Knight" poster

I've got to wrap this up and get to the job that still pays me, so I'll just leave you with rather wickedly awesome "The Dark Knight" poster. If you stare at it long enough I think it might turn into one of those hidden sailboat paintings, but I can't guarantee it. Peace out.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Bond, James Bond ... and possibly even better spy games to come

Yes, I may be more than a couple of days behind because of my fascination with "Wall-E," but I have indeed finally figured out there's a trailer for "Quantum of Solace" out there that promises all kinds of cold-blooded fun come November.

But first comes news this morning about my favorite currently unemployed (as far as I can tell, but it's hard to keep track these days) director, Aussie Phillip Noyce.

How in the world can a guy go from directing the nearly flawless "Catch a Fire" in 2006 (easily one of my favorite flicks from that year, so see it on DVD!) to not doing much at all since? I've seen his name attached to a flick of Philip Roth's "American Pastoral," which would be sublime, and to one based on the Aussie novel "Dirt Music," which I'm not familiar with, but neither of those seem to have really gotten going.

But this morning comes word that, with the help of Tom Cruise, Noyce may be about to get back to something he does extremely well: spy games. Along with directing two Tom Clancy movies ("Clear and Present Danger" and "Patriot Games"), Noyce also made one of the best remakes I've seen in many years with his take on Graham Greene's "The Quiet American" in 2002.

And now he's about to sign on to direct Mr. Cruise in something called "Salt," a project that has been kicking around for a few years about Edwin A. Salt, a CIA officer (Cruise, natch) who's accused by a defector of being a Russian sleeper spy and has to fight to clear his name.

Peter Berg and Terry George have been attached to this in previous attempts that clearly didn't pan out, but here's hoping this finally comes together, 'cause Mr. Noyce could clearly use the work!

And, oh yeah, about that Bond trailer. I still have no friggin' clue what "Quantum of Solace" means, but this teaser trailer indeed promises enough to get me back in the Bond groove anyway. Enjoy, and have a perfectly bearable Tuesday.