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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Cape: Kozmo

Here we are with episode three of "The Cape," and perhaps it's time for a bit of credit where credit is due. The series was conceived by writer/producer Tom Wheeler and realized by action director Simon West among others. Either way, this is Tom's baby, and quite an adventure. He's built a continuity from the ground up, and inspired by the heroes of the pulps rather than anything contemporary, so far so good.

This episode in particular is notable, to me at least. It caught the attention of my mom-in-law, who liked it. She's about as far from the comic book genre community target audience of this show as you can get, so extra points to Tom Wheeler and crew for nailing that elusive mainstream audience. Unlike "Heroes" before it, "The Cape" just might have a longer shelf life, especially if it continues like this.

I couldn't wait for this episode because of the title. I remembered from the pilot that Kozmo was the name of the man who used the 'magic' cape before Vince Faraday. Come on, we all knew he'd come lurking back into the picture, for the first time, sooner or later.

It starts well, Gregor the Great, escapes from a Russian prison, establishing himself as a little bit Houdini, a little bit evil Mister Miracle, and we just know where he's headed. Next comes the animated credit sequence, some of which seems to have been lifted from the online graphic novel, but it's not, rather a montage of the actual The Cape comic book used in the show. When a bridge confrontation follows, right out of the beginning of Alec Baldwin's The Shadow, I am once again hooked.

I am surprised when Gregor shows up and calls Max Malini Kozmo. It seems that Kozmo is a legacy, much like the Dread Pirate Roberts, and an identity that is passed down for decades. Max, after seeing what Gregor was capable of with the cape, decided to cut the legacy short. There is much made in this episode that the cape may really be magic, and that there may be more to this world than we thought.

Other highlights this time around include Orwell finally meeting the Carnival of Crime, which is interesting, especially seeing The Cape's two worlds come together. There's also the much un-subtle and too obvious reveal of who Orwell really is. I wish it had been done better.

Also on the side of not-done-well is the set-up for the duel of the cape between The Cape and Gregor. It is sudden and clichéd. I thought we were finally going to get to see the Carnival perform, and was looking forward to it too actually, and it becomes awkwardly a fight scene. There was definitely some clunky writing here, and I was disappointed. There's still enough here to bring me back, hopefully this was just a fluke.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Charlie Callas 1927-2011

Comedian Charlie Callas passed away Thursday. I remember him most for his role as Sinestro in the infamous TV special "Legends of the Superheroes," and with Green Lantern film so hot right now, Sinestro also appearing in it, and the aforementioned special finally on legal DVD, it might be what many folks remember him for.

But that's not all Callas was famous for. His motormouth delivery, impersonations and sound effects made him a favorite on talk shows and variety shows of the 1960s and 1970s. As well as being one of the funniest roasters on the Dean Martin Roasts, Callas was notoriously banned from "The Tonight Show" for shoving Johnny Carson.

With a colorful career, as well as the first actor to portray the renegade Green Lantern, Charlie Callas will be missed.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

RIP Wizard Magazine

This week Wizard Magazine called it quits. In this, the internet age, it certainly is a case of internet killed the magazine star. In a world where you can get all the latest comics news in just a few seconds, and also seconds after it happens - magazine that specialize in such are as much dinosaurs as the newspapers are. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not ringing the death knell for the newspapers yet, but the comics audience is predominantly a computer savy audience. A monthly magazine ain't gonna do it any more.

That said, Wizard had its time. There was a time when folks fought to get the first copies on the shelves. Everybody wanted to see the new interview, the new preview, the new poll, the latest who'd win, the photos from the latest film or even the letters column with the latest feud. Like I said, it had its time, but sadly those days are gone, lost to the much faster satisfaction of the immediate Twitter/Facebook world. Rest in peace, Wizard, you'll be missed.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Green Hornet

I have been waiting for this movie for a long time. And by long time, we're literally talking almost two decades, as that's how long this property has been floating around Hollywood. At different times George Clooney, Jet Li and Kevin Smith have all been involved in its production in one capacity or another. I'm just happy it finally got made. And despite my trepidation at this Seth Rogan action comedy version, I still couldn't wait to see it, and the four days I had to wait since its release until I saw it were far harder to wait than the twenty years before it. Thankfully, the wait was worth it, this was a terrific surprise and a great flick.

For those not in the know, you might want to check out my article "Re-Introducing the Green Hornet" over at the All Things Fun! Blogs. If nothing else, it should hip you to the love I have for the character and the mythology. Yeah, this flick was pretty important to me.

My fears about this being an action comedy were somewhat relieved when I read an interview with co-writer and title star Seth Rogan. Despite his obvious slob comedy background, the guy has a pure and hardcore love for the Hornet, and while it does descend to the usual Rogan jokey depths, the quality and integrity of the mythos is upheld in my opinion.

The plot, slightly altered from the original has Britt Reid an irresponsible rich boy partier whose father is slain for writing an anti-crime editorial. Britt is forced to straighten out as he inherits his father's multi-million dollar newspaper. Accompanied by his father's mechanic, Kato, played by Taiwan pop sensation Jay Chou, he decides that he wants to do something with his life - that being a covert superhero believed to be a villain.

Now Rogan and director Michael Gondry are no fools, they have seen the 1960s "Green Hornet" TV series and they know that the Black Beauty, the badass car, is the real star here. There is much care put into the concept mixing contemporary and retro that make the Black Beauty just as cool now as it was in 1966. I don't know about you, but I always liked the Black Beauty better than the Batmobile, and still do.

The Green Hornet and Kato have a very unique relationship in the world of superheroes, they are partners rather than hero and sidekick, and this is explored well here, as it would be in the beginning of such a partnership dynamic. Even when it deteriorates into foolish and comedic combat, it rings true.

Seth Rogan toned up for the role and looks good, and when things get serious, he is right on top of it. I love the tie and the vest, both nods to the TV series. Jay Chou, much like Bruce Lee before him, steals the show. He's the reason to see this, and he'll be big after this. Christoph Waltz, Oscar winning Nazi from Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, is an intriguing take on the super-villain. Meek, middle-aged, sand oft spoken but still a dangerous sociopath, he is subtlety incarnate here. Another prize performance. Cameron Diaz and Edward James Olmos are lost here in my opinion. Hopefully there will be a sequel to make better use of their talents.

It's not a perfect movie, and I do have some fanboy nitpicks that did bother me. I wish we had seen the Hornet Sting, and I wish we had heard more of the theme song "Flight of the Bumblebee." I mean we heard more of it in Kill Bill in homage to the Green Hornet than we did in the actual Green Hornet film. And of course the whole final chase/fight at the climax of the flick could have been avoided had the Black Beauty had wireless. I mean, really, it's got rocket launchers, machine guns, even a record turntable, but no wireless?

My big problem was of course the identity of the main villain. It hurt me deep. Really, having him be the big bad is the same as having Commissioner Gordon revealed as the main villain in the Batman films. It just doesn't work. Again, I should say it does work. I don't like it but it works.

All in all, this was a great flick, and has done better than I think folks thought it would have. The Green Hornet is the best flick I've seen so far this year, and heartily recommended. See it.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Noms 2011

Well, better late than never, right?

The Oscar nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were announced early this morning. There were a few surprises, but not many. Here are the main awards...

Best Actor - Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth and James Franco.

Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale, John Hawkes, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo and Geoffrey Rush.

Best Actress - Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams.

Best Supporting Actress - Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld and Jacki Weaver.

Best Animated Film - How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Toy Story 3.

Best Foreign Film - Biutiful, Dogtooth, In a Better World, Incendies and Outside the Law.

Best Director - Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

Best Film - Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter's Bone.

Hmmm... now let's not always see the same names, shall we? I can't really make official guesses at this point, having not seen all the films and performances nominated yet, but I do have some thoughts. I was fully unimpressed by both True Grit (other than Hailee Steinfield) and Inception, so I doubt they will get much more beyond the noms. I liked Hailee quite a bit. It's time for a win for Colin Firth. And I wouldn't underestimate the dark horses like The Kids Are All Right and 127 Hours.

Speaking of horses, where was Secretariat? Where was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the foreign category? Where were Waiting for Superman and Despicable Me for documentary and animated film? Major snubs here, folks.

Check out the complete nominations here, folks, and I'll be back with my predictions in a while, once I've caught up on all the flicks.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

And Here's Your New Spider-Man...

Hmmm... I'm not sure what to think...

Here's our first shot of our new Spider-Man from the reboot of the film series starring Andrew Garfield. He's not an actor who was on my radar but apparently he's had roles in The Social Network, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, the Red Riding trilogy, "Sugar Rush" and even one in "Doctor Who." Honestly though, other than the kid taking on Spidey, I never heard of this American-born British rising star before.

Garfield might be a suitable Peter Parker, if he can pull an American accent, but I think he might be too scrawny for Spider-Man. This is also our first look at the costume, which I'm sure geekier fanboys than I will be dissecting more ably. The suit looks like it's been through a fight, and through the mud, but still details come through that are needlessly different from the original. Hey, Columbia, what's wrong with letting Spider-Man look like Spider-Man?

This is of course the first of many photos to come. The new reboot, which will reputedly be following the continuity of Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis, also stars Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Uncle Ben and Aunt May, along with Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy. Supposedly, it's coming to theaters in July of 2012.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Cape: Tarot

I have always believed that what was wrong with so much of the superhero genre in other media like television and film is the seeming need to retell the hero's secret origin. Most times, unless the origin is part of the story told, it's not needed. All you need is the understanding that this is the hero, he can do this, and here he is, roll with the story.

In running the second episode "Tarot," immediately after the pilot and origin story of The Cape, I think NBC is hedging their bets and giving the audience the supposed best of both worlds. Here's the secret origin, and here's the first adventure. I'm down, or rather, seeing how much I liked the pilot, I'm still down.

The episode starts with a bang. The Cape visits Chess and runs afoul of a new villain guarding the big bad called Cain, with a tarot tattoo and a poisoned knife. Our hero barely escapes with his life and a little help from the beautiful Orwell, played by Summer Glau. She drops him off with the Carnival of Crime then runs. Shame, I was hoping to see them interact.

Max Malini, the ringleader of the circus, thinks Faraday has been reckless and careless, and so revokes the 'magic' cape from him. What follows is an amazing montage sequence where Faraday hones his abilities and continues his training. It's not only the kind of thing you figure Batman does in between issues, but it shows the determination of our hero. I like it a lot.

There's a lot to like here. This show just keeps getting better. There are hints of a larger hyper-reality mythology happening here, not only the concept of a ring of assassins called Tarot, but also the thinking that maybe The Cape isn't the first superhero in this world. I also like the title cards that accompany each scene. I love Rollo played by Martin Klebba, who I had previously seen in a non-dramatic reality role as Amy Roloff's friend in "Little People, Big World." He's rocking it here in "The Cape." Summer Glau as well kills in this episode.

That's two in a row, looking forward to more.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The End of the Western

When I heard that they were remaking True Grit I was very conflicted. The original True Grit - the one with John Wayne's first Oscar, Kim Darby playing much younger than usual, and nowhere near as annoying as usual, non-actor Glen Campbell and his terrific title song, along with Robert Duvall and the late Dennis Hopper - that movie is a classic, and I love it. It's in my top twenty movies of all-time, and my favorite western, period. There's no way a remake could do it justice.

And then I heard who was doing it. I also love the Coen brothers. Ethan and Joel are among the best filmmakers of our time. The problem is that as absolutely brilliant as they are, the Coen brothers unfortunately can be hit or miss. For every Big Lebowski and O Brother, there's a Ladykillers and Burn After Reading. While I can't think of anyone better to remake it if it had to be remade… it still bugged me. Why did it need to be remade anyway? I just bet if they released the original to the theaters, it would be doing just as well as this new one.

The story, based on the novel by Charles Portis, in which the lead character was incidentally based on John Wayne, has young girl Mattie Ross seeking revenge on Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father. To this end she hires Marshall Rooster Cogburn and Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. Fourteen year-old and age-appropriate to the story, Hailee Steinfeld shines as Mattie Ross. I might even see an Oscar nod in her future she's so good, and a far cry from Kim Darby. The problem is that's about the only advantage this remake has over the original.

The number one problem is that the Coen brothers have clearly forgotten what makes a western a western. The western is a great American artform which has over the last three or four decades been forgotten in favor of the grim, gritty realism of what the old West may have really been. Like the concepts of cyberpunk, and rocketships and rayguns, this may have not been how it was, it is how it is done. Westerns have sweeping panoramic landscapes, big orchestral soundtracks, hokey country title songs and reasonable hygienic cowboys who are easily identifiable as the good guys and the bad guys. The new True Grit has none of these things.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing realism, nor am I dissing terrific stuff like "Deadwood" or Unforgiven, it's just that not all westerns have to be like that. One critic said of Unforgiven that it was a proper eulogy for the American western. If that's so, then the Coen's True Grit is the final nail in that coffin. Any of the old timey brightness mentioned above that signify the westerns of old could have saved this flick in my opinion.

The movie is also very slow, a cardinal sin when it comes to action flicks of any genre, but that's not where the rest of the problems lie - that would be in casting. As I said, Steinfeld is fine, and may yet be headed for Oscar-land, and Josh Brolin almost makes up for Jonah Hex as Tom Chaney, but the two male leads are near disastrous.

Matt Damon's LaBoeuf is two-dimensional and boring, and when he does break free from the cardboard, he is more than a little bit creepy, especially in his interactions with his fourteen year-old employer. It was just a touch too much "To Catch a Predator" for me. Jeff Bridges is most unsatisfying filling the Duke's shoes as Rooster Cogburn. He is neither heroic nor charismatic, or even interesting. He also mumbles and grumbles throughout, as if he had taken Batman lessons from Christian Bale. Honestly, if he had done The Dude in this flick like he did in Tron: Legacy, it would have been more tolerable.

I am stunned that this is on several folks' top ten lists for 2010. I can only imagine they haven't seen the original. I can only recommend this new True Grit as a curiosity or to see Hailee Steinfeld's performance. I did not like it. See the original version, it's far superior.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Cape: Pilot

NBC has a lot invested in this mid-season replacement. A lot of the comic book community, the core target audience for NBC's failed "Heroes," laid the blame for its failure on the one missing element that makes superheroes superheroes - costumes. Almost in retaliation, along with the continuing successes of comics properties like "The Walking Dead," "Human Target" and Marvel's Avengers cartoon and movie franchise (so far at least), NBC wheeled out "The Cape," a series whose very concept revolves around a superhero costume. The pilot first aired last night, along with the second episode, and both will re-air tonight. Here are my thoughts on the pilot.

We start in the hyper-reality of the fictional city of Palm City, part Miami Beach, part Los Angeles, but all comic book gimmick with a real world spin. Yep, it's "Heroes" with costumes. Or rather at its start, super-villains with costumes - as a masked baddie, known as Chess, blows up the chief of police in a blast of special effects that our yet-to-be hero survives.

The title sequence is hardcore comics, paneled pages similar to the original "Wonder Woman" series with a darker edge. The music by Bear McCreary is very heroic, a close cousin to both Danny Elfman's Batman and John Williams' Star Wars, leaving no doubt as to what kind of television event we are watching - this is a superhero show.

Our hero, Vince Faraday, played by Australian actor David Lyons, seems to be the only honest cop in Palm City. With the death of the chief of police, the police force is taken over by the ARK Corporation - running into cliché number one. Evil corporations are so 1980s, especially in the comics. Cliché number two is not so bad, The Cape is actually the comic book hero idol of Faraday's son. An inspired concept sprinkled into a set-up we can see coming a mile away. He's going to take on this identity to impress his son, right?

As the secret origin story of our hero progresses, I found myself getting more involved despite my objections. There's the mysterious and invasive blogger called Orwell. And a rogues gallery is being constructed, other than Chess, there is also the near-mutant Scales with reptilian skin. I don't want to, but my fanboy groove is getting on.

My fanboy groove was so on that when the Carnival of Crime showed up, an old comic book gimmick that was old when Stan Lee drenched it up in the early days of Marvel Comics, and was ancient when it killed the last story arc of "Heroes," I didn't mind at all. Faraday is now believed dead, worse than that, the public believes him to be Chess, and he's saved by this Carnival of Crime - led by Max Malini, played by Keith "I'm cooler than Samuel L. Jackson" David.

They are a little bit Circus of Crime in their prime, a little bit "Carnivale" and a whole lot of fun. I love these guys, and would watch the show just for them. It's twenty minutes in, and I am hooked. When Faraday takes a cape and contrives to become The Cape, it's a bit much, but I follow where I'm led. Then Malini gives him a 'magic' cape and trains him in the use of it, and I see Batman Begins flashbacks. Have I mentioned I'm hooked?

Faraday takes on Scales, sort of a Killer Croc light, played by Vinnie Jones, on his first mission, and runs into Orwell, played by genre favorite Summer Glau. With her addition to the cast, the team is complete, we have our players and Faraday becomes The Cape. The end of the show gives us a taste of how things will work to whet our appetite for the rest of the series.

I gotta say I was hesitant when I started watching, but now hope "The Cape" stays around for a while. Let's hope the ratings are up and the quality only gets better. Check it out.





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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Shutter Island

Shutter Island ~ This film is an anomaly for me. It looked good in previews but it also appeared to give everything away in the previews as well. I shouldn't have worried. Martin Scorcese is a film god after all. Even if the script might be lacking, it would still be visually stunning and shot perfectly. And it is.

I have to say I like the skinny kid Leo DiCaprio much better than the beefy man Leo. The kid is just more believable to me. I don't know how to explain it any other way. Leo's character, Teddy, is very complex, both engaging and enraging at once. It may have changed my mind about young Leo vs. older Leo. His partner in this one, Mark Ruffalo, actually reminds me a lot of a young Robert Blake here. Him I like.

In the 1950s a dangerous patient escapes from an island prison hospital and federal officers (DiCaprio and Ruffalo) come to investigate. Everyone involved is less than cooperative. Sitting squarely in the villain roles, the head doctors are played by two of Hollywood's finest - Max von Sydow and Ben Kingsley.

A great cast, twisted plotting, stunning visuals and an appropriate and menacing score by various make Shutter Island a surprising flick for me. It's not what you think. Recommended.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Quickies 1-8-2011

Me and Orson Welles ~ This is essentially about Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater's production of Julius Caesar in 1937. An aggressive young high school kid and wannabe actor gets hired into the play and unfortunately involved in a romance with an older woman on set. Much like Orson Welles' personality in real life, his character, so much larger than life, also takes over this kid's story. Great stuff.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ~ For a movie based on a limited graphics videogame from the early 1980s, this flick has a good premise, lots of potential, but little was aspired to. Some nice special effects, some interesting plot twists and frequent nice nods to the old Sinbad movies of the 1960s and 1970s, this is worth a watch if it's on television. Good popcorn flick.

Whip It ~ Drew Barrymore's direction of this film based on the book "Derby Girl" by Shauna Cross is very good. Great drama, great comedy, and all with a heart as well. It has the feel of a contemporary After School Special, and that's a good thing. One of my favorite flicks of the year.

Formula 51 ~ This is mindless shoot-'em-up fun that is carried chiefly by the charisma of Samuel L. Jackson as chemist Elmo McElroy who has created a superdrug. Robert Carlyle from The Full Monty is also fun here as the Jackie Chan to Sam's more talented Chris Tucker. Turn your mind off, put your feet up and enjoy an hour and a half of action thriller fun.

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Best of 2010, In My Opinion

Movies ~ I tried to limit this list to movies that came out in 2010 as opposed to movies that I had first seen in 2010. If it were the latter, I would definitely include things like Suck, Gran Torino, Whip It, Big Fan, Me and Orson Welles and the best flick I saw this year, which is in fact from 1999 - Cradle Will Rock.

Nevertheless, here's my top ten or so (fourteen actually) for 2010: Julie & Julia, HBO's multiple Emmy Award winning Temple Grandin, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Despicable Me, the Danish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Shutter Island, The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, should-be Oscar contender Secretariat, the surprising Megamind, the equally surprising Hot Tub Time Machine, The Runaways, Tangled, from the Cartoon Network Firebreather, and my favorite film of the year Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World

Among the worst I saw this year, again, of those movies that came out this year, would be Dinocroc Vs. Supergator, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and the second and third installments of The Twilight Saga.

Television ~ My favorites on the TV this year are pretty predictable, sadly enough, but at least there's a quorum. The top three for me are obviously "Mad Men," "The Walking Dead," and "Boardwalk Empire," that's easy. I was also a sucker for "Doctor Who," "Misfits" and "Castle" this year, caught on to the amazing "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" better late than never, and I got my comic book geek groove on with "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes."

Still hanging in there with my favorites, but a bit on the decline in quality would be "Chuck," "Glee," "Entourage," "True Blood" and as much as I hate to say this, "Dexter." Here's hoping they improve in coming seasons. This is not to say these are bad series, mind you, they are all head and shoulders above most of the stuff out there.

Music ~ While I was still riding high with Lady GaGa and "Glee" from 2009, 2010 will go down as the year I discovered nerdcore. I spent a lot of my time listening to MC Frontalot, MC Chris, Beefy, Schaffer the Darklord and especially Adam WarRock. As a matter of fact, "The War for Infinity" and the West Coast Avengers Mixtape from Adam were among my favorite albums of the year. Also in there I would put "Something for Everybody" by DEVO and just to make it an even nostalgic choice, the just released "All You Need Is Now" by Duran Duran. I also kinda dug the soundtrack to "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" by Joseph LoDuca.

Songs that I loved this year would have to include that song by Cee Lo Green, edited or unedited version, it was great. The Human League had a nice comeback with "Night People," I also liked some stuff by Arcade Fire, Ke$sha and Florence + the Machine, but my real favorite of 2010, for both all the wrong and right reasons would have to be "Miracles" by ICP.

Everything Else ~ My favorite books this year were "Pandemonium" by Daryl Gregory and "Heart-Shaped Box" and "20th Century Ghosts" by Joe Hill. Comics by Paul Cornell, Gail Simone and Jim McCann were the best this year. My favorite podcasts included "Tom Vs. Aquaman" and the excellent "Better in the Dark." My favorite blogs included "The Age of Reasonable Doubt" by Fran Metzman and "The Aquaman Shrine" by Rob Kelly.

Here's to a great 2011!

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Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Amateurs

The Amateurs ~ When I first heard about this film, I thought, isn't that essentially the plot of Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno? I was even more surprised to find it was made in 2005. Of course it couldn't possibly be as good as the Smith flick, but it does take a slightly different slant.

Here, Jeff Bridges is a small town entrepreneur who convinces his neighbors to make an amateur porno to make money. This is a film powered by its quirky characters that is reminiscent of old school things like the old Don Knotts films or Norman Lear's Cold Turkey. Ted Danson is especially amusing here.

The flick has a certain naïveté and charm that the Smith film lacked. This aspect is refreshing and adds to the comedy. Imagine Andy Griffith meets Kevin Smith. Yikes. Ahem, well, imagine it if you can. Check it out, it's a feel good, fun watch, if a bit predictable in parts, but fun.

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

Michael Jackson's This Is It

Michael Jackson's This Is It ~ Compiled by High School Musical wizard Kenny Ortega, these are the dress rehearsals for the concert tour that would have been had Michael Jackson not died. All told, other than some amazing dancing, music and showmanship - it's a glimpse inside the mind of a genius at work.

I'm not going to give the man sainthood like some folks have since his death, or dismiss any of the evil he may or may not have perpetrated on children and the media, but there's no denying the talent of Michael Jackson.

There are some very electrifying sequences in this disjointed film/documentary that must be seen to be believed, as well as intriguing background footage. It shows that there was indeed more to the man's soft-spoken media persona than we saw, or were allowed to see for all those years. Worth seeing.

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