Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy new year!

I don't spend a lot of time on YouTube, typically, but it's freaking slow here at work today and this made me giggle. So maybe if you're bored today too, this will put a smile on your face.

Happy new year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Iron Man 2" and "Clash of the Titans" trailers

I wish I knew how to embed this on my blog, but since I don't, please click here and enjoy the first footage from this coming May's Iron Man 2. I liked the first Iron Man, but I hope the sequel will really achieve greatness like fellow Marvel sequels Spider-man 2 and X-Men 2 did.
And to paraphrase Will Ferrell in Zoolander: "That Robert Downey Jr. is so hot right now!"

And while we're looking at trailers, check out the new trailer for the forthcoming Clash of the Titans. Looks like a good time!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I can't say I'm a Jane Austen fan, although I take pride in the fact that I at least did my homework a few years back in the much-missed book club and read the entire Pride and Prejudice. (I think I was the only male in the book club to do it.) I even watched the entire BBC miniseries, although if I have to watch Jane Austen going forward, I much prefer Keira Knightley in a lead role. Having said this, I doubt I will ever read any Jane Austen again of my own free will...I think it must have been the Twilight of the 19th century.

Recently I started hearing about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a silly retelling of Austen's novel involving, yes, flesh-eating zombies. I've seen the book in bookstores recently and chuckle every time I look at the cover. I even picked it up a few times, thinking that my love of all things zombie might overshadow my boredom of all things Austen. But no, I read a few passages and most of them seemed obsessed with Mr. Darcy's vanity and condescension. The book needs less chat, more splat.

Now comes news that Natalie Portman (Mrs. Darth Vader in the Star Wars prequels) will star as Elizabeth Bennett in the upcoming film adaptation of the zombie/Austen novel, which just might push me over the edge in terms of my interest in the film. Zombieland was a silly, guilty treat, and of course I love the corny Resident Evil movies and video games. I'll be very interested to see how this movie turns out...could be a lot of fun.

So while we're at it, has anyone read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Surely there's an Arnett girl out there that can chime in?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

"Prince of Persia" trailer

Disney's next big-budget adventure is 2010's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. It's produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, and that's clearly the spirit they are trying to capture in the trailer below:

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Trailer Park | MySpace Video

Not sure quite what to think yet. Jake Gyllenhal with a British accent seems bizarre to me...who cares what his accent is, when either way he's speaking a language that is inaccurate for the time period/setting? Why not just let him speak in his normal American voice? (Kevin Costner's botched Robin Hood accent comes to mind...) And some of the banter in the trailer is pretty lame as well.

That said, the look (sets, visual effects, costumes, etc.) is fantastic, and should help contribute to what Disney clearly hopes will be a big new popcorn-franchise for them. I won't be too picky going forward, just so long as it's the big, fun adventure that the Pirates movies have been.

What do you think? Are you ready for Jake Gyllenhal in full-beefcake mode?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"24" Season 8 trailer

When we last saw Jack Bauer, he was on his death-bed being watched by a vigilant (and repentant) Kim Bauer, who had agreed to offer her DNA for a controversial and risky procedure that could possibly heal Jack from the effects of the deadly virus that afflicted him through much of Season 7. Fade to black...

Well I guess the procedure worked, because here comes Season 8, with Jack Bauer front-and-center. I have embedded the trailer below:

Looks exciting, and I'm ready for another day of espionage, explosions, and everlasting-cellphone-battery-yielding heroes. This season looks to be set in NYC, which will make a great setting for what could be Jack Bauer's last season of 24. At least we have something to look forward to in dreary January!

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Toy Story 3" trailer hits web

The long-awaited Toy Story 3 released its first full trailer today, which you can see here. The toys look great, the story hints are vague but promising, and best of all: this is the version of Toy Story 3 that Pixar wanted us to see (as opposed to the rogue version that the Pixar-less Disney tried to put into production a few years ago).

I've already devised a plan to indoctrinate Lily with Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in the months ahead so that she'll be ready for this when it arrives next June. Anyone else psyched about another Toy Story?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize for...

It's not very often that Saturday Night Live will dare to mock President Obama, but in honor of his astounding award of the Nobel Peace Prize, I thought I'd offer SNL's observance of just what Obama has done so far in his term.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I don't hate President Obama. I haven't even taken to complaining about what he has or hasn't done so far in his presidency, because it's an uphill battle and I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. But this timely clip did make me giggle, mocking both the left (for whom Obama can do no wrong) and the right (for whom Obama can do no right) in equal parts.

Well done, SNL.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"The Amazing Race 15" starts Sunday!!!

It's time again for a new installment of TV's best reality show, The Amazing Race. Believe it or not, this is the 15th edition of the show, which recently won its 7th consecutive Emmy for Best Reality Competition. Many of you know that this is probably my favorite show (depending on the current state of 24 or Lost), and this Sunday we get a two-hour season premiere. I can't wait.

I found this sneak peek (click to make bigger) of the route the racers will be following this year, courtesy of While I'm bummed they won't be hitting any South American or Caribbean destinations, reading my grandpa's personal history has increased my interest in Scandinavia. I'm sure it will be good times no matter where in the world they go.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stephanie Meyer's "The Host" coming to theaters

I haven't read Stephanie Meyer's first "adult" novel, The Host, but the very concept seems like a little obscure for a big-screen adaptation. Something about a friendly alien who attempts to take control of a friendly human's body, and together they fall in love with the same man (I'm doing this from memory of Wendy's synopsis two years ago). I remember the reviews were generally kind; much more so than for Meyer's polarizing Breaking Dawn. Still, it's not really my cup of may just be how I feel about all things Stephanie Meyer (bless her heart).

Regardless, the author has apparently finally agreed to sell the rights for her novel, which will be written for the screen and directed by Andrew Niccol, director of the sci-fi classic Gattaca and screenwriter of the terrific The Truman Show. Again, the story itself doesn't really appeal to me, but the talent involved at the very least raises my level of interest just a bit. I'm curious to get casting news, although I'm assuming it will be several months before we get any details.

What about you? Does a big-screen version of The Host get you all tingly like you do about Twilight?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Monday, Jacob-philes

Though there is an off-putting abundance of shirtless men, I'll be the first to admit that the new trailer for New Moon makes the movie look a lot better than the previous two trailers did. Whether or not this translates into me actually paying money to see it remains to be seen.

What do you think? Are you "squealing with delight" as my female coworkers are?

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Pirates 4" gets a title and release date

This isn't much by way of news, since we knew it was on its way, but Disney today officially announced that the fourth Pirates film will be called Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, with a scheduled release in summer 2011. Johnny Depp is the only one confirmed to be on-board, but rumors are that Geoffrey Rush will reprise his role as Captain Barbossa.

Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"State of Play" review

I'm terribly behind on reviewing the movies that I have seen in recent months, so I'll quickly recap: HP6 was terrific, and one of my favorites from the series. Julie & Julia was breezy and cute, and made me hungry. 500 Days of Summer was a really interesting movie; an equally funny and painful look at what makes relationships begin and end. And Race to Witch Mountain was a harmless adventure for kids that was almost worth the cost of the rental. Almost.

Last night Wendy and I watched State of Play, a suspenseful and intelligent conspiracy thriller set in the intriguing backdrop of the current (dying) state of print journalism. The ensemble cast is fantastic: Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Jeff Daniels, Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, all of whom are given a moment or two to shine. It's a terrific little mystery and one that--despite a couple of obligatory Hollywood cliches--doesn't insult our intelligence. If you haven't seen it already, it's definitely a nice way to spend an evening.

When all was said and done, what lingered with me the most was what appears to be the pending death of the newspaper industry, which is losing relevance admidst the almost-instantaneous (and free) news currently available via the internet. I've often spoken of my favorite TV critic, USA Today's Robert Bianco. Though he seems to be reluctantly embracing the electronic transition of print journalism, he never misses an opportunity to remind his readers to pony up the $.75 to buy a printed copy of the paper.

I love a good newspaper. I love the smell, the way the print smudges on my fingers, the way I can hide behind its pages and educate myself. But I'm also a pragmatist: I don't like the clutter of having a stack of newspapers that needs to be recycled, and I don't like having to pay for something I can get for free online. And therein lies one of the many conundrums of our modern-day, information-rich generation: we want as much information as we can get, and as quickly as possible (Twitter, anyone?), but we don't want to pay for it. It's a wonder that any newspapers (or magazines, for that matter) are still in business.

Within the context of last night's movie, the real, quality journalism only occurred with the marriage of the traditional vs. the electronic media. But it makes me wonder: is there a price that our society is paying for all the free information we now have access to? Is the product becoming diluted or less trustworthy? Or has the push for urgency made the information the same or even better than it once was?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Dimitri, the ladykiller

I don't normally post stuff like this, which may or may not be made up. It's the type of thing your annoying cousin or almost-friend from junior high would forward to you by email. But because I love my readers (you know who you are), I'll give you the option to listen to the following answering machine messages, which are allegedly real (though I can promise that you will laugh):

Dimitri, wherever you are, I hope you find the elegant woman you so clearly deserve.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spielberg & Crichton's final collaboration

USA Today is reporting that Steven Spielberg plans to reunite with the late Michael Crichton for one last collaboration, the adaptation of the as-yet-unpublished final novel of Crichton, Pirate Latitudes. Described as "an adventure story set off the coast of Jamaica in 1665," Spielberg is set to produce and possibly direct the film adaptation of the novel, which is set for release in November.

Spielberg and Crichton have worked together several times, most notably on 1993's Jurassic Park and its first sequel. They also co-produced the massive TV hit, ER, and 1996's Twister.

Though far from perfect, I have very fond memories of Jurassic Park, both as a movie and a book. I distinctly remember reading the book the first time as a young teenager and being fascinated by it; it remains one of my all-time favorite reads. The movie was disappointing when compared to the book, but had some then-groundbreaking visual effects and some terrific set-pieces. (The Lost World was disappointing on almost every level.)

I was just talking about Crichton the other day with my friend John, and we agreed that Crichton's later novels grew progressively profane and dull. But some of his earlier novels, including Congo and Sphere, were fantastic books. I didn't care for Timeline or Prey, and never read Next or State of Fear. That said, Crichton was clearly a brainy talent, and I'm encouraged that Spielberg has found some promise in the author's final novel. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day, ladies

Before you watch this quasi-trailer for the upcoming New Moon movie (coming out in November), just remember that the actor who plays Jacob is only 17. Yes, one year older than my oldest nephew. Adjust your reaction accordingly.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Calling all book club members...

Well I finally did it. After a loooong reading drought, I finally finished reading two books over the past couple of weeks. I probably shouldn't boast of this accomplishment; it's probably been over a year since I read a book all the way's like the English major in me shriveled up and died. But thanks to our deadly-dull summer TV season, I recently completed Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

It was really only a coincidence that the two books happened to both be fairly heady and dark. I can't decide which of the books is darker. The Road follows a man and his young son across a desolate, post-apocalyptic countryside fighting off cold and starvation, all the while being persued by savage cannibals. Not light reading. The Lovely Bones, in contrast, displays a lot more color and personality, even some humor. But it's set against the brutal murder (of a young teenage girl) so disturbing that even I had nightmares the first night I read it. Again, not really popcorn literature.

Both of the novels are apparently among the more acclaimed books of our day, and both were #1 bestsellers. The Road even won a Pulitzer Prize. Film versions of both movies are headed to theaters this fall, and I'm mildly curious to see how they'll turn out. I realize I'm a bit out of the loop when it comes to literary accomplishment, and both books clearly offer much to admire. But I can't really see myself recommending either book to anyone, and will certainly not be re-reading them. The Road, while captivating and ultimately touching, is just too bleak and disturbing overall for me to revisit. And The Lovely Bones, which presents some fascinating ideas and even a few memorable characters, just felt a little uneven and unfocused to me to be "the next big thing."

I'm glad that I read them both, but I really wish I had my book club (may it RIP) friends to tell me what I'm missing about these two "modern classics." So tell me, book clubbies, what did you think about The Road and/or The Lovely Bones?

Friday, July 31, 2009

"Alien," "Pirates" updates

I just need a quick break from work, so I'll give a very brief update on two very popular film franchises:
  • First, Variety reported today that Ridley Scott--director of the original Alien--has agreed to return to the franchise for a prequel to his original film. This is bizarre news, because it is rare for an A-list director to return to a franchise that has pretty much gotten worse with every successive installment. I can't wait to see what he does with this.
  • Second, rumor has it that Disney is apparently trying to woo Rob Marshall (director of Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha) to direct the upcoming fourth Pirates of the Carribean film. While I don't really have any opinion about Marshall as a director, I am excited for a new Pirates movie, which the studio is aiming to make smaller and more character-centric than the most recent sequels. Johnny Depp is for sure coming back, but we will not likely be seeing Keira Knightley or Orlando Bloom in this installment. Most of this is unconfirmed by the studio, but I do believe they have said that they are aiming to start filming next spring for a tentative 2011 release. I'll post more info as it becomes available.
Should give us something to look forward to!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Here comes the bride...

My friend Aaron tipped me off to this YouTube hit: a couple who decided to have an unconventional entrance to their wedding. Looks like something straight out of Runaway Bride or the like.

If Wendy and I had tried the same approach at our wedding, I'm pretty sure we would have seen Jennie doing the running man, Fast Eddy doing the worm, and Ammon dancing to High School Musical.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Will John Williams return to score HP7?

Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows how much I have enjoyed the Harry Potter films. In some ways, the films just keep getting better and better. I think that I would still rank the movies in the same order I did a couple of years ago (with Prisoner of Azkaban as my favorite and Chamber of Secrets as my least favorite). And there are only two days before I get to see Half-Blood Prince and report how I would rank it with relation to its predecessors (stay tuned). But one of my only complaints about HP4 and HP5 is that the accompanying scores have been forgettable. They did very little to expand the magical canvas that was being painted on-screen for the boy wizard. The missing link? Legendary composer John Williams.

Anyone who knows me will tell you what a huge John Williams fan I am. You all know his music (Star Wars, Jaws, Indiana Jones, Superman, E.T., Jurassic Park, Home Alone). Less well known are his more subtle (but no less satisfying) scores for artsier films like Memoirs of a Geisha, Schindler's List, or Catch Me if You Can. And while his Harry Potter music (he did the first three films) isn't necessarily his most acclaimed, I can't help but hear it in my mind any time I read the books.

Today comes exciting word from Harry Potter producer David Heyman that John Williams has been approached to finish out the Harry Potter film saga by scoring one or both of the installments for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I believe the official quote was "If we can make work, and that's a big if, for his schedule and ours then yes." That's far from a confirmation of this happening, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

Let's all hope this works out, as having John Williams return to the series after a three-film break would be a lovely bookend to this fantastic franchise. I can't wait to see what he'd do with the broomstick battle in the skies, or the escape from Gringotts bank, or the battle at Hogwarts, or Harry's final confrontation with Voldemort, etc. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Roger Ebert vs. "Transformers"

Roger Ebert is certainly the most well-known film critic in the United States, although I sincerely doubt it is because of his impeccable taste in identifying good and bad movies. Case in point: he gave this year's end-of-the-world travesty, Knowing, a full four stars (did he actually stay through the last 30 minutes?). Likewise to 2005's Flightplan, which he says "delivers a frightening thriller with an airtight plot" (I agree with everything there except "airtight").

That said, the man sure can write an entertaining article, as humorously evidenced by his recent skewering of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which you can read in its entirety here. Needless to say, he hated the movie (an opinion he shares with most of the nation's critics). But at least he hates it with flair. My favorite line from his review: "If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination."

The irony here is that I'll still go see the movie, along with the rest of the male population of the world. I'm just too much of a boy at heart to resist the sight of ginormous talking machines crashing and exploding before my very eyes. Director Michael Bay has never been known for subtlety (or anything, really, except for explosions), but when he blows things up, the dude BLOWS THINGS UP! And even though no reputable critic will admit to liking this movie, we'll all still plunk down our money to see it. So if no one actually heeds the advice of movie critics, why do movie critics even exist?

If Roger Ebert is any indication, I think it's because sometimes we just like a good read. And like a good explosion, who doesn't love a good read?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Trailer for "2012"

Ok, I'm not officially a fan of Roland Emmerich, the director of such cheesy disaster trash as Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, and 10,000 B.C. Sure, his Independence Day was the eye-candy benchmark for its day, but feels pretty dated anytime I catch a few minutes of it on TV (which seems to be every weekend). After all, most of his movies look fantastic, but are usually paper-thin when it comes to plot or character-development. (One of my favorite moments from The Day After Tomorrow is when Jake Gyllenhal's character actually outruns cold air...yes, AIR!!!)

Having said all this, the latest trailer for 2012 looks pretty exciting, even though I think we all know what we're in for.

What do you think? Will you shell out $10 to see Mr. Emmerich destroy the world again?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Just another reason why we love Pixar

Wendy and I saw Pixar's latest, Up, in 3D a few weeks ago and couldn't have enjoyed it more. It is sweet, colorful, imaginative, and warm...not to mention funny. If you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and see it on the big screen (The 3D was nice, but not necessary.)

Today I read the heart-wrenching true story of a bed-stricken, terminally-ill 9-year old girl whose final wish was to see Pixar's latest film. Just read this story and tell me if you're able to make it through without crying. I wasn't.

Seriously, how great is Pixar?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Indiana Jones 5" in the works?

Some of you will groan at the very title of this post, but you'll forgive me if I still get the chills just thinking about the possible future adventures of Indiana Jones & Co. It's no surprise to you that I am a self-professed Indiana Jones freak. Let me list a few examples:
  • One of my favorite gifts of the past few years was my Indiana Jones Legos kit (although it's sure hard to put together with Lily constantly on the prowl)
  • A brand-new Indiana Jones adventure was just released for the Wii last week, and I can't wait for my copy to arrive in the mail (I sure pre-ordered it like four months ago).
  • My visit to Petra, Jordan in 2000 was almost entirely consumed by thoughts of walking where Indiana Jones once walked. (Later research revealed that there was also a group of people called the Nabateans who may have lived there 2000 years ago.)
  • The only thing that could take me away from the hour-long wait for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland last month was my sister's phone call with some very exciting baby news.
  • The music--especially the "Raider's March"--is an all-time favorite, and makes me feel like a little kid each and every time I hear it. At one point it was even my ringtone.
Additionally, Wendy (bless her heart) and I rewatched Kingdom of the Crystal Skull again over the weekend, and I've got to say that at least the first 90 minutes or so of the movie is pretty darn good. I didn't mind Shia LeBeouf as Indy Jr. (monkeys notwithstanding), loved seeing Karen Allen again, and didn't even mind the CG ants. I concede that the finale is messy and incomprehensible, but it sure looks great, especially on blu-ray.

Now comes news from both Shia LeBeouf and Frank Marshall (one of the original producers from the series) that a script is in development and that all major parties (George Lucas, Spielberg, Harrison Ford) are interested in continuing the franchise. I realize that they all said the same thing a few years after The Last Crusade, and it ended up taking 19 years before we saw another Indy film. But something tells me the huge global box office receipts for last year's Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($750+ million) will play a factor in how quickly we see another one. And you know what? I'm perfectly fine with Lucas, Ford, and Spielberg making a huge pile of money if they can take us on another fun ride with this character.

Tell me I'm not the only one who gets excited for a new Indy movie?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Oh for the love...

Forgive me a rare political commentary, but is it just me, or does Sarah Palin just need to shut her pretty little mouth and move on with life? Ever the publicity hound, the way she has turned this David Letterman non-fiasco into her return to the limelight is an ugly, opportunistic overreaction. Obviously, Dave's joke was unfunny. Worst case, it was tasteless and inappropriate. But he's a comedian, and when a comedian makes a bad joke, you don't laugh or you stop listening. But for crying out loud...that Palin has gotten a week full of publicity out of a bad Letterman joke is a terrible, shameful way to stay in the public eye. It's hardly the first time a politician's family has been mocked on late-night TV. And yes, I agree that there's a double-standard in the way that Obama and his family have been spared any cruel jokes. But is this really the dialogue Palin wants to be remembered for?

We already know that we don't expect tact or taste from the entertainment industry. But surely we conservatives should expect more from our prospective leaders, right?

Monday, June 01, 2009

"New Moon" trailer debuts

Wendy and I fast-forwarded through the crass MTV Movie Awards last night to catch a peek at the debut trailer for New Moon. Needless to say, her reaction was significantly different than mine (although to be fair, both reactions included smiles). Let me know what you think by watching it yourself below:


Friday, May 29, 2009

Final "Pushing Daisies" episodes begin this Saturday

Those of you who have never watched the show won't care, but those of you who have will be thrilled by the reminder that the final three unaired episodes of the late, great Pushing Daisies will begin airing on Saturdays starting tomorrow. It's a shame that this clever, colorful mystery-comedy never caught on with a wider audience, but as USA Today's Robert Bianco reminds us, a little Daisies is better than none.

One suggestion: why not watch Saturday's episode with a delicious piece of pie?

Friday, May 01, 2009

"Wolverine" review

Let me start by saying that I have been pretty indifferent about this movie ever since I heard it was being made. While X-Men: The Last Stand wasn't as terrible as some think it is, the whole cinematic X-Men universe really peaked at X2, and sadly, Wolverine does little to recapture the magic. That said, it's not a terrible movie (especially if you're paying a matinee price), so I can comfortably give it a mild recommendation to anyone who enjoys Hugh Jackman and/or the Wolverine character.

I do have a few gripes: The special effects look sub-par...especially, for some reason, Wolverine's metal claws, which don't look like real, tangible weapons but rather a digital add-on. (Seems like producers would splurge to get that one effect right, seeing as how it's pretty much the most important trait of Wolverine's character.) The romance between Wolverine and his lady-friend just happens--no build-up, no development--suddenly it was just there. And yet the romance plays a huge part in what happens to Wolverine's character. (Seems like producers would have allowed a few more minutes to make that relationship seem more genuine.)

Finally, my biggest complaint is that this movie doesn't really cover enough new ground so as to warrant its existence in the X-Men movie canon. I mean, we already know this story (at least with the Star Wars prequels, we didn't know how or why Anakin went to the dark side...). And with the exception of a few new faces that helped make Wolverine into the Wolverine we know, the whole movie itself feels superfluous. Didn't producers notice that their entire production is simply a lengthier retelling of something we already saw onscreen just a few short years ago?

It's really great to have the summer movie season upon us, and Wolverine definitely isn't the worst movie ever to open the summer season (an honor that goes to another Hugh Jackman film, the laughable Van Helsing). But even as harmless as this movie is, I can't imagine that moviegoers will be lining up for Wolverine: Episode II anytime soon. (**1/2 out of four)

Monday, April 20, 2009

New Dan Brown book coming in September

Dan Brown is a great popcorn novelist. I've read three of his four books, and found that the structure and twists of each are reliably unpredictable, if that makes any sense. I wish I knew how to craft a page-turner as well as he does. Today comes news that Brown has apparently finished his next novel, which will be published in September. The novel will feature The DaVinci Code's Robert Langdon character (played by Tom Hanks in the film and in the upcoming Angels & Demons), although it is unclear where the mystery will be set (at one point it was rumored to revolve around U.S. history and/or the Masons). The new book will be called The Lost Symbol (a rather dull and ambiguous title if you asked me).

Update: Columbia Pictures has apparently already begun preliminary work on a film adaptation of The Lost Symbol, weeks before they know if Angels & Demons will be as lucrative to the studio as was The DaVinci Code.

I don't comment about books as often as I should, but I've been in a bit of a reading rut lately. I have at least four abandoned books sitting on my nightstand, just waiting to be finished (including Corman McCarthy's The Road and John Grisham's The Appeal). Last week Wendy and I decided that we'd reserve Tuesdays as a TV-free zone, and I actually got into a new book called The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It has been whimsical and creepy so far; I hope it doesn't end up in the wasteland that is my nightstand anytime soon...

If The Graveyard Book doesn't do it, what book would you recommend to break me of this literary drought?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Final "Harry Potter 6" trailer

I know I've posted a bunch of these, but this appears to be the official final theatrical trailer for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I'm curious to know how this movie got away with a PG rating, considering all the dark stuff covered in the book. Everything I've seen so far looks fantastic, so I'm really hoping the movie will capture the creepy/emotional tone of the book's final third.

It was announced a few days ago that HP6 will be released in theaters on July 15, two days earlier than its previous release date. By my calendar, that's less than three months away!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"24" heads to NYC next year

It's been a great year, overall, for 24. Even last night's return of Kim Bauer didn't ruin the season for me (although the twist at the end of the episode makes absolutely no sense). We've still got six hours left in the current season, but details are already emerging about Jack Bauer's next horrific day. According to, 24 is headed to NYC. I think it makes perfect sense, since the show has found a renewed energy this year in large part to its new location in Washington D.C. (all previous seasons had been set in Los Angeles). To have a series of potential terrorist attacks take place in NYC is a no-brainer. The article also reports that Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) will be back as Chloe (yeah!).

So if Jack will live to see an 8th terrible day, I guess this means the "experimental procedure" worked...

Monday, April 13, 2009

"New Moon" casting news; "Friday Night Lights"

Although I sincerely doubt that anything could make me want to watch the Twilight sequel, New Moon, I am curious about some of the casting that has recently been announced. I previously reported that Dakota Fanning had been cast as Jane, but now comes news that acclaimed British actor Michael Sheen (Tony Blair from The Queen, David Frost from Frost/Nixon) has been cast as Aro. Either there is some unseen substance to this teeny-boppy vampire saga, or these actors are looking for a paycheck. In any case, their casting elevates the sequel ever-so-slightly above the original. Let's hope producers get a larger visual effects budget this time around.

Now for the bait & switch: I'd like change the subject to declare that I'm a bit of a closet fan of NBC's critically-acclaimed Friday Night Lights. I bought the first season DVDs when I found them in a bargain bin a year or so ago, and recall watching them during late-night Lily feedings when she was first born. While the show isn't always as squeaky clean as I would like, I am blown away by the first-rate acting and thematic depth from a show that I once blew off as a cheesy teen soap.

I realize it's a tough show to market, but NBC's marketing has completely mischaracterized Friday Night Lights. If I had to categorize the type of show it is, I'd say it's 20% sports drama, 10% high-school soap, 50% family drama, and 20% small-town drama. As funny as it sounds, it often reminds me of a modern-day Little House on the Prairie with a better-looking cast (with the caviat that it is grittier than Little House, but then what isn't?) That may be the oddest selling point I've ever made for a show I'm recommending, but I tell you, FNL gives me the chills almost every week.

FNL ended its stellar third season last Friday. I won't give anything away, in case any of you actually starts watching the show as a result of my recommendation. But let's just say that the show does a masterful job of respectfully sending off some of its beloved characters while setting up some interesting conflicts for the remaining cast. It's such an authentic, easy-going show that it's hard to believe the Dillon Panthers are an imaginary team, and that Coach Taylor and his family are fictional. It's really just great TV.

The best news here is that NBC and DirectTV have worked out a deal to continue their unprecedented partnership that funds the low-rated show for an additional two seasons. So while we get a more abbreviated season (13-episodes) than we're accustomed to from network dramas, at least we're getting more of this terrific show. I own the first two seasons, so if you'd like to RedBox them from me, just let me know; it would be great to have someone to talk about it with when the show returns next season.

I think I can authoritatively say that even Edward Cullen himself would be a fan of Friday Night Lights.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Lost "Pushing Daisies," "Eli Stone" episodes get airdate

Although ABC has canceled the low-rated (but beloved) shows Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone, the network will air the remaining new episodes of those shows on Saturday nights starting in the summer. Pushing Daisies returns on May 30 for three weeks, followed by Eli Stone on June 20 for three weeks.

By the way, Pushing Daisies' complete second season (all 13 episodes) will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 21. I bought the first season a few weeks ago, and it looks fantastic on Blu-ray. May it rest in peace.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An unbiased opinion

I finally gave in and watched Twilight with Wendy on Friday night. Before we started the movie, she made me promise that no matter what I thought about it, I wouldn't review it on my blog. So in honor of my sweet wife's wishes, and the tender feelings of Twilighters worldwide (who undoubtedly make regular pilgrimage to my blog), I'll simply say this: Twilight was not the worst movie ever made.

Read that however you'd like.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Where the Wild Things Are"

Finally, something worth posting about:

Can't say I really get the choice of music for the trailer, but I've got to admit that I'm fascinated to see how this will turn out.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Trailers for some of May's big releases

There are quite a few new trailers out there that I haven't posted here, including some nifty ones for Star Trek and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. But since I'm lazy, and these were the only ones I could actually embed into my blog, you get the newest from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Angels & Demons, and Terminator: Salvation, all three of which are set for release in May.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Fox renews "The Simpsons" through its 22nd season

I'm not really surprised by the news, but find it exciting nonetheless: Fox has renewed its animated institution, The Simpsons, for a record-breaking two more years. Currently in its 20th season, The Simpsons is now tied with Gunsmoke as the longest-running show on television. With at least two more years guaranteed, it will officially break the long-standing record.

I can remember when The Simpsons premiered. It was outlawed by most parents, and thought by many to be the end of civilization as we know it (an honor that now belongs to the gays, apparently). While the show is certainly not reverent, it feels tame compared to many other shows on television today (such as its raunchy Fox cousin, Family Guy), and often continues to have a "moral of the story" narrative that endears it to me even today. While I seldom catch the brand new episodes that air on Sunday nights, last year's The Simpsons Movie had enough charm and humor to make me believe that there's still life in Springfield even after all these years.

Any other shows you'd like to see last 22 seasons?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Critics are digging "Lost" and "24" this year...are you?

I'll be the first to admit that this hasn't been my favorite season of Lost so far (time travel is a fickle friend), although I'm still watching religiously and will do so to the bitter end. Some people, though, are really loving it, to which I'd like to note that their brains are likely much more developed than mine.

24, however, has been fantastic from the get-go. True, several of the expected plot contrivances remain (ever-present moles, terrorists with unlimited resources, etc.), but the new location and mixture of faces (both fresh and familiar) has made for another wild ride with America's favorite action hero. If you're not watching it yet, tune in on Monday...don't worry about everything that happened in the first nine hours and just enjoy the rest of Jack Bauer's latest crazy day. (Or catch up on

My favorite TV critic, Robert Bianco from USA Today, comments today on the creative resurgence of both Lost and 24, and calls them "the two best shows on TV." While my enthusiasm for Lost's current direction pales to his, I would agree that 24 and Lost are among the best shows on TV, maybe only rivaled by another great installment of The Amazing Race (flying cheese wheels...brilliant!).

What do you think? Are you as committed to 24 and Lost as I am?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Transformers 2" trailer

Michael Bay is the king of explosions and bigger-is-better action sequences. His Pearl Harbor was a visually-arresting disappointment, and Armageddon still gives me motion sickness, but I thought the original Transformers was a great roller-coaster ride, because I wasn't expecting Shakespeare from a movie based on action figures.

Now comes the trailer for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which frankly looks like a bigger, louder version of the original. And I can't wait. Watch the trailer (as well as the shorter clip that aired during the Super Bowl) here.

By the way, as hinted in the trailer, word is that producers were actually given permission to film on the pyramids near Cairo, which had better be amazing. Revenge hits theaters on June 24.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


He was brilliant as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line and creepy in Gladiator, but I think his performance on last night's Letterman show was right up there with the strangest. Watch portions of it for yourself:

It was David Letterman at his best...makes me want to start staying up late to watch him more often. (Thanks to Aaron M. for telling me about this.)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"We could be going to BROADWAY!"

Waiting for Guffman fans, click here. NOW.

The very idea of this makes my head spin. Like we needed another reason to be planning a trip to NYC...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Coraline" trailer

I have posted this trailer here for Wendy, who saw this advertised with Twilight a few months ago. I love the creepy, artsy look of it, and think it's great that some people are still doing animation in other forms than just CG these days.

So will you shell out $10/ticket (or more if you see it in 3D) to see Coraline on February 6?

Monday, January 26, 2009


Here are a few random things I felt were worth mentioning on a slow Monday morning:
  • Contrary to some reports, 24 has not announced any plans to end its run after next season. Although Kiefer Sutherland is not formally under contract beyond next season, he says, ""I love making the show, so I'm leaving my options open. And in all fairness, I think the audience will dictate that more than anybody." So don't lose hope, 24 fans! By the way, I'm digging the new season so far, although the President's husband subplot is a dud.
  • The new edition of The Amazing Race starts on Feb. 15, and the new contestants include the race's first deaf contestant, a couple of stuntmen/almost-midget brothers, and of course several more good-looking dating couples. See all of the teams here.
  • Wendy and I caught up on a couple of movies over the past couple of weeks, including Ghost Town (pretty funny and more layered than you would have expected), Speed Racer (brainless but breathtaking on Blu-ray), and Prince Caspian (predictable but better than expected). We also saw Marley & Me at the theater, and though it's not really a kid movie, was warm, touching, and funny.
  • Tom Hanks has "apologized" for his criticisms of Mormons' support of Proposition 8. While I appreciate that he decided to be a little more measured in his disagreement with Prop 8 supporters, sometimes I wonder why self-centered celebrities like Hanks think they have more of a right to shoot off their mouths publicly than normal Americans do at the ballot. I always knew that most of Hollywood disagrees with my political views, but it's really starting to affect my interest in enjoying their talents on the big and small screen.
  • Finally, for the Twilight fans, Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds, I Am Sam) is reportedly being courted for the role of Jane in the upcoming film version of New Moon. I don't know anything about the character, but Fanning is a good actress and would add just a tiny dash of credibility to an otherwise corny (in my humble opinion) franchise. Does she meet your vision of Jane?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Oscar nominations; "Lost"

Oscar nominations were released this morning, to which I'd like to offer a big-fat "who gives a crap?" As you have probably noticed over the past couple of years, my interest in Hollywood's most prestigious award show has waned over the years (may my Oscar party RIP...) as the Academy increasingly chooses to honor the obscure and radical films and talents over the more mainstream fare. This has never been more apparent than this year, where the Academy inexplicably overlooked the critically praised and commercially unstoppable force that was The Dark Knight. Just because it's a comic-book movie or a sequel should have no bearing on its merits as an influential and important piece of filmmaking. I'm happy to see Heath Ledger honored, and not surprised to see the film picking up nominations in the technical categories, but the Academy's choice to ignore the film as a whole (or its visionary director/screenwriter, Christopher Nolan) is a travesty.

Instead we get major nominations for Milk, Frost/Nixon, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Reader? I'm sure these are all very well-made films, and maybe even excellent ones. But with the exception of Button, which is a moderate commercial hit, none of these films has yet been embraced by a mainstream audience. I'm not arguing that awards should be granted based on a film's commercial success, but I sometimes wonder if films like The Dark Knight or Wall-E (two of the most critically-acclaimed and commercially successful films of the year) are snubbed solely because of their mainstream appeal. Could it be that the Academy is a group of elitists that don't feel like they can legitimately honor a "populist" film?

Either way, it's just one more year where I think I'll be skipping the ceremony and reading about it afterward. With the Academy Awards telecast increasingly losing viewers (and arguably, relevance), it's clear that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

In other news, I watched the Lost season premiere last night and had mixed feelings about it. As excited as I am to see things moving quickly on the show, and as great as it was to reconnect with Hurley, Jack, Locke, Kate, etc., I'm tired of feeling constantly confused by the show. Yesterday's two hour episode was action-packed and good-looking, but almost completely incoherent. I couldn't remember who half the characters were, what they'd been doing, or why I cared. At one point I think we were jumping between 10 different characters/settings/time just all gets a little overwhelming.

Lost will never lose me as a viewer--I'll stick with it until the bitter end next year--but I would love it if they would try a little harder to keep me engaged without requiring a textbook of notes on previous seasons or a bottle of Motrin for the incomprehensible time-jumps and space-time-continuum ripples. It's a delicate balance, I know: either we're complaining that too little is happening, or we're complaining that too much is happening. And I realize that I'm basing my complaints on one two-hour block, which had the uneviable task of reintroducing the world to the complex universe of Lost without trying to recap four previous seasons of content. So of course I'll be there with bells on next week. I just hope I understand what I'm watching.

Did anyone else feel this way about last night's Lost?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Harry Potter 6" gets a PG-rating

This isn't really the most exciting of news, but it's been fairly dead lately with everyone on holiday breaks, so any news is good news. Yes, for the first time since Prisoner of Azkaban, the next film installment of the Harry Potter series (Half-Blood Prince) will get a PG rating for "scary images, some violence, language and mild sensuality." It's a bit of a surprise, given some of the book's darker elements and scenes, but I guess I don't really care what it's rated as long as it stays true to the spirit of the book. The last film, Order of the Phoenix, got a PG-13, but wasn't nearly as dark (in my mind) as Goblet of Fire, which also received a PG-13.

I suppose the best result of this news is that some of my nieces and nephews will get to watch this movie before they turn 13, which should give us plenty to talk about at Sunday dinners next July. Can't wait!