Monday, January 29, 2007

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 1/29/07

Can you feel it? It's the weekend box office, released today, Monday 1/29/07

1. Epic Movie
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $19.2 million
Total Gross: $19.2 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Remember when I said that I hoped Stomp The Yard wouldn't be here last week? Perhaps I spoke too soon. I remember the original Scary Movie, it was a funny if not stupid take on Scream and such. Then it became a quadrilogy of stupidity. Then there was Date Movie. And now this. It lambasts tons of big budget films, each of which is 10 times more worth your time than seeing this.

2. Smokin' Aces
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $14.3 million
Total Gross: $14.3 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: The movie that probably deserved #1 over Epic, but is getting some bad reviews. Still it looks interesting but the overwhelming cast is probably too much for the film to handle. Plus, who doesn't want to take out a hit on Jeremy Piven?

3. Night At The Museum
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $9.5 million
Total Gross: $216.7 million
Weeks Out: 6
Musings: Taking forever to fall down the rankings, it's amazing how much legs this movie has. At least it isn't another stupid performance from Stiller in the vain of Dodgeball or such. Also, is he legally allowed to make a movie without Owen Wilson in it? He must have some kind of crazy clause in that contract.
[AE's Note: Owen Wilson wasn't in Dodgeball, so there's one movie.]

4. Catch And Release
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $8 million
Total Gross: $8 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: The film is a romantic comedy, something Jennifer Garner would like to think she's good at, but she's not really. Heck I don't know what's she's good at (Alias?) but so far, it isn't movies. Some people might have gone to see this because Kevin Smith is in it. Don't let that excuse be your reason. Just use that for why you go to see Live Free or Die Hard.
[AE's Note: Garner was good in Alias. But then again, it wasn't really a show to display her acting talents. They had other serious actors in the series to act, like the engineer of The Titanic and the voice of the Martian Manhunter from JLU]

5. Stomp The Yard
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $7.8 million
Total Gross: $50.7 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Finally starting to fall and hard, this romper stomper should be gone within the next week or two. Also, Scotland Yard does not appreciate all that stomping. Some of those guys are trying to sleep, you know.

6. Dreamgirls
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $6.6 million
Total Gross: $86.7 million
Weeks Out: 7
Musings: The Golden Globes gave it life and the Oscars took it away. Alright so it was likely going to fall no matter what, but no Best Picture nod, regardless of pulling in the most nominations, knocks it down a peg. I just hope the Academy doesn't do something stupid like give Eddie Murphy an Oscar. There's just too many reasons to list here why.
[AE's Note: I think at the top of that list should be Norbit. It is coming out right around when the awards will be given out.]

7. Pursuit Of Happyness
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $5 million
Total Gross: $152.9 million
Weeks Out: 7
Musings: This week, I am thankful that Will Smith has managed to get involved with some of the better actors of our time. Including but not limited to: Gene Hackman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sir Ian McKellen. However, he has also been involved with Martin Lawrence, Kevin James, as well as Jeff Goldblum AND Bill Pullman in the same movie. This is slightly redeemed however, by being even associated with Alan Tudyk.
[AE Note: Wow, I had to look up the McKellen reference. Kudos.]

8. Pan's Labyrinth
Last Week Rank: 7th
Weekend Gross: $4.5 million
Total Gross: $16.3 million
Weeks Out: 5
Musings: Managing an impressive 6 Academy Award nominations, the question is how many people out there are willing to take a weird film journey. Not many it seems, they'd rather be entertained by pure stupidity the likes of Epic Movie. Having not seen either film, even I can tell which is better.

9. The Queen
Last Week Rank: 9th
Weekend Gross: $4 million
Total Gross: $41.2 million
Weeks Out: 18
Musings: Making slightly more than it did last week and holding this spot firmly, I don't really know much of anything about Helen Mirren, except that I shall pretend she is Dame Judi Dench. Being a female Brit is grounds for almost automatic nomination, especially when it's about Britain. But winning hasn't been their strong suit in a while.

10. The Hitcher
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $3.6 million
Total Gross: $13.4 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Already at the bottom by the second week, good thing this movie looks like it had little budget but even then I can't see it making it back. I would ask Hollywood to stop remaking movies, especially ones that aren't that good to start with, but they will seem to never learn.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Simpsons: "Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Three Times" Review

It's time for a Simpsons mainstay: an episode divided into three parts, with three separate stories. Usually, this format is used in the Halloween episodes, but the last few years have had a Spring time counterpart to this Fall tradition. "Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Three Times" is such an episode, with Marge, Lisa and Bart trying to convince Homer that revenge isn't the way to go when The Rich Texan cuts him off in traffic.

"The Count of Monte Fatso" is a Simpsonian take on the classic revenge story "The Count of Monte Cristo". Like the Hamlet parody they did a while back, Moe eliminates Homer from the rest of his family. While in jail, Homer plots his revenge and kills Moe when he escapes. The twist is, even though he got his revenge, Homer's family rejects him. That's the plot, now the fun jokes: Homer and Marge snoring in French, Moe only have a door in his name, Homer's escape, and his Uncle Scrooge-like swimming in his new riches. This opening stanza had me in laughter and started the episode off great.

Unfortunately, the next tale, Lisa' "Revenge of the Geeks" was poor. It was the standard story about absolute power corrupting absolutely, with Milhouse seeking revenge on the bullies with a glvoe that grants him power. Milhouse then turns his powers on his friends, finally getting punished by Nelson with Nelson's own use of the glove. There really wasn't anything I found particularly funny in this second act, save for maybe a cardboard cutout of Hitler urging the kids to read and Bart's brief cameo in Lisa's story.

Luckily, the last revenge saga, Bart's "Bartman Begins" perfectly made up for Lisa's section. "Bartman Begins" is the reimagining of Batman's origins and adventures with Bart in the lead role. He seeks revenge against Snake, who killed Homer and Marge. He trains with Grandpa with old-timey activities (throwing a medicine ball, the classic vibrating belt) and dons the Bartman costume. To get to snake he has to go through visual and punny villains like The Toker (Otto as The Joker), The Diddler (Flanders as The Riddler) and Poison Lenny (Lenny as a tranny Poison Ivy). When he finally gets Snake, now called The Serpent, he actually feels good about his revenge. Bart's moral? Revenge is certainly sweet. Of course, by this time, Homer has caught up the Texan and they find they have a lot in common. The episode ends with a completely random memoral for all those who died in the Star Wars movie. The End.

I found this episode entertaining and amusing. Unless I am not as savvy as I think I am, Lisa's tale was not a homage/parody as the other two were, and I think that messed with the flow and storytelling of the ep. Either way, it seemed slightly out of place. Still, it was sandwiched inbetween two quality acts that more than made up for its shortcomings. This season has steadily improved and each new episode brings something new to laught at.

4 Silly French Jokes out of 5.

Another Simpsons Trailer

I just found this new Simpsons Trailer on YouTube. It has the same opening as the previous one, with the 3-D animation and Moe, but it has a new clip from the movie.

I can't wait for it!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Retro Movie Review: An Inconvenient Truth

Previously, I have said that I do not like politics posing as entertainment. I, however, have no problem with politics being presented as being politics and it being entertaining. An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary that was released in summer 2006 and focuses on Al Gore and his presentation about Global Warming, is such an event: an entertaining political fare.

I am not going to go over what he presented and pick out all the points I agree or disagree with. I will however state that the way he presented his concerns is visually stunning and the former VP does not appear to be talking down to anyone. Mr. Gore uses a wide array of media in his slideshow to illustrate his point, from static pictures, to animations, to even a scene from Futurama. He is surprisingly hip and charismatic and more than once, he illicits laughs from the audience. It was often said in the reviews of this film that if this was the public face the Mr. Gore presented in 2000, he would easily have been the President now. I can't help but agree.

The film is a documentary that focuses on Global Warming, but it also has a few scenes away from the slideshow to present Al Gore, the man. He revisits the farm he grew up in, talks briefly about the 2000 election, and other odds and ends that paint a more complete picture. I would say the film is 90% about the environment and 10% about Gore. Again, this is a side of politics and politicians we don't often see.

The film was only 98 minutes long so it has a pretty quick pace. There is no Q&A session in the movie or on the extras on the DVD, which I find a little weird. IF not included in the movie, I would have thought for sure it would be an extra. The movie does urge individual responsibility to help combat the rising temperatures. It is a good issue film and I would recommend a viewing if you are interested in Mr. Gore or his policies.

4 Lockboxes out of 5.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lost Parody

This is a funny little parody of Lost, done by Disney (which owns ABC). It was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and was taped live, so the quality isn't the best and there are crowd reactions. But it was nice to see Kate and Sawyer again and my new favorite comedic pairing of Sayid and Ben.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dreamweaver: The Legend of Zelda

Video game movies often get a bad rap and rightly so. Many are adaptations of what I call “propel plot” games, games that have an opening story but little else in way of plot. These games just use a story as an excuse for the action, not the other way around. Some good examples of this type of game/movie are Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil. However, I believe it is possible to make a good, if not great, video game movie if the right game is chosen. That is what I am proposing in this entry: a movie based off one of the best series of games ever, The Legend of Zelda.

Nintendo has held tightly on its game adaptations ever since the Mario Brothers movie. But before then, it ruled the 80s and 90s, with many Saturday morning cartoons based on its characters and the movie The Wizard, which was essentially an hour and a half commercial for Super Mario Brothers 3. Now Nintendo does have Pokemon on its systems, and there are movies and shows based on that franchise, but I would categorized that phenomenon as a cross-media success, not a video game one. Meanwhile, game movies such as Silent Hill and Alone in the Dark get made. These movies suffer because they are in two genres that rarely get rave reviews or big box offices, video game movies and horror. For a video game adaptation to succeed, it needs to be in a genre that’s recently come into its own: fantasy.

That’s where The Legend of Zelda franchise comes in. Each game in the series is a different iteration on the same tale: a great evil, embodied by the foe Ganon/Ganondorf comes over a medieval like society (Hyrule) and it is up to a young hero named Link to save the land and the lovely Princess Zelda. The newer games have Zelda taking an active part in the saving of her land, downplaying the damsel in distress aspect (see the Mario Brothers game and movie). Although it may seem like a simple plot, these games have presented interesting twists. Although the names stay the same, it is implied that each character is actually a descendant or reincarnation of the previous owners of the name. Sometimes the world in which the hero inhabits in completely covered in water, sometimes it has vast deserts and mountain ranges. Sometimes the Master Sword is the item Link needs the most and is the catalyst for most of the game, sometimes it is gotten within the first few hours of game play. The Triforce that was so important in the first few games? Barely mentioned in the newer games. Bottom line is the simple plot is actually just an excuse to tell a larger tale. Think of the Lord of the Rings movies: the plot was basically the ring has to be destroyed before evil can reclaim it. Not the most intellectual of plots, but played out over three movies, the greatness laid in the storytelling.

Talking off LOTR, I think Peter Jackson and his special effects company Weta would be perfect for a Zelda movie. Jackson is currently going through a viscious fight with New Line Studios over making The Hobbit, and what better way to show the studio that he is the go-to guy for fantasy then to make this movie? Jackson’s home country of New Zealand is a perfect backdrop for Hyrule (well, the one that isn’t underwater). Jackson has also shown the ability to adapt original pieces of work and put a different yet faithful spin on things. Peter Jackson is not adverse to adapting video games either, as he was recently involved in making a Halo, a shooter game (Halo is another one of the games that I would classify as a “propel plot”, though it does it very well).

In terms of casting, this is a tricky assignment. Most video game adaptations suffer from either having too many recognizable faces in it (see Bloodrayne, though that movie had many problems) or not enough (Silent Hill). It would be easy to cast Orlando Bloom as Link, but that would be a mistake. I think the role of Link should go to someone with a lower profile. I don’t have anyone in mind, but it would have to be someone relatively young and not too exposed. I do have some ideas on who to cast for the main villain, Ganon or Ganondorf (his name changes depending on the story being told). Both Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Clancy Brown (Carnivale) have the physique and growling voice to play the King of Thieves and chief instigator. Both should be older than the person playing Link and Zelda. For the princess, who I think should be the more active version than the more helpless one, either Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) or Bryce Dallas Howard (Lady in the Water) are my current picks. Mind you, Princess Zelda is blonde so both would have to dye their hair or wear a wig (Howard will actually be blonde in the upcoming Spider-Man 3). Zelda should look dainty and breakable to make it even more shocking when she transforms herself into butt-kicking mode.

In addition to the fantasy world that The Legend of Zelda games inhabit, there are also some sci-fi elements. Link has traveled to the future, visited parallel and alternate dimensions, and even fought an evil version of himself. There is a romantic subplot throughout each game concerning Zelda and Link, which I would recommend not playing up to much, but still acknowledging. There is comedy to be had in the other people who live in Hyrule, as characters of all shapes and sizes exist. As long as the movie strikes a balance between these points and not make it too campy or sappy, the feel of the games would come across.

There is a potential problem though in the translation of the game to the silver screen: Link often goes to numerous dungeons to collect items needed for his quest and defeats numerous monsters. This is the interesting and fun part of the games, but it would probably not be as exciting on the big screen. Perhaps the movie could have one of these mini-adventures near the end of the first act or start of the second then have a quick montage showing the rest of Link’s similar adventures. Since in the game franchise these dungeons often have puzzles that need to be solved, the section of the movie detailing this endeavors could be similar to the end of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, where Jones had to cross many barriers to get the Holy Grail.

In my directing mind’s eye, I see the climax of the film as Link and Ganondorf facing off over the fate of Hyrule. Link is dressed in his trademark green tunic and is welding a big impressive sword, The Master Sword. Ganondorf is cloaked in shadows, with his eyes glowing menacingly. They battle. Both wear each other down, but out of nowhere Ganondorf strikes Link and Link dies. Ganondorf turns away from the battle, eyeing what the land that he thinks is now his. All of a sudden, a sword comes from behind and defeats Ganondorf. We see Link, a fairy (which we learn earlier in the film can revive the dead) flying away from him, as the owner of the sword. Zelda, who was previously captured by Ganondorf after trying to defeat him herself, is now freed and tells Link that the evil over Hyrule is now dissipating. Roll credits. Over the credits, play some scenes of Link returning home.

I do hope that one day a Zelda movie is made and made right. It shouldn’t be campy like Super Mario Brothers was and it should not try to equate big stars with legitimacy. It should be made in the model of LOTR and Harry Potter, not Eragon or Kingdom of Heaven. The beauty of The Legend of Zelda franchise is that there isn’t one set story, so it allows the filmmakers room to interpret. However, they should not forget what stories have been told and draw upon them for inspiration.

Just leave out that annoying talking fairy from Ocarina of Time…

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Oscar Nominees and Initial Thoughts

Oscar Nominees were announced this morning and the following is a short list of the nominees in the major categories. Also my thoughts on the nominees (not who will win).

Best Motion Picture of the Year


Babel (2006):
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Steve Golin, Jon Kilik

The Departed (2006):
Nominees to be determined

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006):
Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Robert Lorenz

Little Miss Sunshine (2006):
Nominees to be determined

The Queen (2006):
Andy Harries, Christine Langan, Tracey Seaward

AE's Take: Big upset here as it seems Little Miss Sunshine takes the spot that everyone was giving to Dreamgirls. Dreamgirls did score the most number of noms this year, but to get shut out of the Best Picture race is a shock

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role


Leonardo DiCaprio
for Blood Diamond (2006)

Ryan Gosling
for Half Nelson (2006)

Peter O'Toole
for Venus (2006/I)

Will Smith
for The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Forest Whitaker
for The Last King of Scotland (2006)

AE's Take: I am surprised that Leo got nominated for Blood Diamond and not The Departed. Like I said in my Golden Globes recap, I thought that The Departed was more of a lock for a Leo win. Also, my pick for a dark horse candidate, Sasha Baron Cohen for Borat, seems to have not come to fruition. It is sad that the Academy continues to ignore straight comedies.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role


Penélope Cruz
for Volver (2006/I)

Judi Dench
for Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Helen Mirren
for The Queen (2006)

Meryl Streep
for The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Kate Winslet
for Little Children (2006)

AE's: Nice to see that Ms. Winslet continues to shine as a performer, but this has to be the most boring major category.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role


Alan Arkin
for Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Jackie Earle Haley
for Little Children (2006)

Djimon Hounsou
for Blood Diamond (2006)

Eddie Murphy
for Dreamgirls (2006)

Mark Wahlberg
for The Departed (2006)

AE's Take: Who would have thought that the former Marky Mark and star of Planet of the Apes would ever be nominated for an Oscar? I enjoyed Alan Arkin's performance in Little Miss Sunshine (anothe surprise nominee!), and while I would have liked to see Steve Carrel in this slot, I acknowledge that Arkin's character had more of an impact on the plot.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role


Adriana Barraza
for Babel (2006)

Cate Blanchett
for Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Abigail Breslin
for Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Jennifer Hudson
for Dreamgirls (2006)

Rinko Kikuchi
for Babel (2006)

AE's Take: Another surprise nominee concerning Little Miss Sunshine. Abigail Breslin was a delight in the movie, and I did predict an Oscar nom for her. Ok, it was a tongue-in-cheek statement, but still.

Best Achievement in Directing


Clint Eastwood
for Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

Stephen Frears
for The Queen (2006)

Paul Greengrass
for United 93 (2006)

Alejandro González Iñárritu
for Babel (2006)

Martin Scorsese
for The Departed (2006)

AE's Take: It's good to see that Paul Greengrass slipped in here for his work on the stellar United 93 (which, again, I haven't seen, but it got great reviews). Of course, the big story is whether or not this will be Scorsese's year. I would say it may be, but the Oscars has a tendency to shock, so it could really be anyone on this list.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen


Babel (2006):
Guillermo Arriaga

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006):
Iris Yamashita, Paul Haggis

Little Miss Sunshine (2006):
Michael Arndt

Laberinto del Fauno, El (2006):
Guillermo del Toro

The Queen (2006):
Peter Morgan

AE's Take: The second-to-last movie listed is also known as Pan's Labrynth. The writing categories always interest me, as I fancy myself a writer. I thought the writing on LMS was average at best, and the rest of the movies listed have more dramatic weight, so once again, this race is up in the air. Paul Haggis, who wrote Letters from Iwo Jima, also won last year for Crash.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published


Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006):
Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, Dan Mazer, Todd Phillips

Children of Men (2006):
Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby

The Departed (2006):
William Monahan

Little Children (2006):
Todd Field, Tom Perrotta

Notes on a Scandal (2006):
Patrick Marber

AE's Take: The joke in this category is Borat being nominated for adapted screenplay. I guess they considered the movie adapted from The Ali G Show? Hopefully, Borat and Cohen win, so we can get another hilarious speech.

So that's it. Those are the nominees for what are considered the major categories of the Academy Awards. With the inclusion of Little Miss Sunshine to the top race and the supporting categories, I am actually interested in the show this year. Let's see if it can live up to my expectations.

The Academy Awards will air on February 25th.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 1/22/07

Here we go, the weekend box office, released today, Monday 1/22/07

1. Stomp The Yard
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $13.3 million
Total Gross: $41.6 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: What? Are you kidding me? How is this the #1 movie in the country two weeks in a row? I'm not against the culture of stomping, but that does not mean it's a good idea to make it into a movie plot. I'm not sure what will knock this out but I hope this isn't up here next week.

2. Night At The Museum
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $13 million
Total Gross: $205.8 million
Weeks Out: 5
Musings: Well it hit $200 mil, which is not a good thing. Just goes to show again there's almost nothing out there for moviegoers and it's about the only thing they've been flocking towards. Man we need some new movies.

3. Dreamgirls
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $8.7 million
Total Gross: $78.1 million
Weeks Out: 6
Musings: What a surprise, using the power of the golden globes, Dreamgirls rises up another spot. Oh how awards have that affect on people. What's that? That doesn't sound interesting. It won some awards you say? Well, now I HAVE to see it.

4. The Hitcher
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $8.2 million
Total Gross: $8.2 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Along comes one of the first horror/thrillers of the year, though it's apparently not that thrilling. Gotta be honest, the concept of a deadly hitchhiker is not a new one. Although Ford Prefect mostly got Arthur into deadly situations moreso than creating them, I think. Anyway, next week's rank prediction: 42.

5. Pursuit Of Happyness
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $6.7 million
Total Gross: $146.5 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: This week, I am thankful that Will Smith no longer makes horrible films like Wild, Wild West. Seriously, Will, what the hell? What the hell?

6. Freedom Writers
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $5.6 million
Total Gross: $26.9 million
Weeks Out: 5
Musings: Still holding on, Freedom Writers is about an unlikely girl who learns the ways of the martial arts, from an old schooled teacher named Mr. Miyagi. Wait no, that's the plot of The Next Karate Kid...which starred Hilary Swank. Yeah, not such a big Oscar winner now, are you?

7. Pan's Labyrinth
Last Week Rank: 18th
Weekend Gross: $4.5 million
Total Gross: $9.9 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Don't be confused, this film went to wide release this weekend so that's why it's been out so long and suddenly on the top ten. Still not a very notable debut but it's getting some rave reviews. Seems a little weird for my taste but hey, at least it's not a Rob Schneider comedy, and we can all be thankful for that.

8. Children Of Men
Last Week Rank: 6th
Weekend Gross: $3.7 million
Total Gross: $27.5 million
Weeks Out: 5
Musings: Still clinging to box office life, if you want to feel depressed, woo boy does Alfonso Cuaron have a movie for you! It's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. In it, Harry and his female compatriot mysteriously steal a plot device from Back To The Future Part 2, where they go back in time and have to fix the past (that shows signs of them already having done this before) without bumping into their past selves. God I love originality.

9. The Queen
Last Week Rank: 24th
Weekend Gross: $3.7 million
Total Gross: $35.9 million
Weeks Out: 17
Musings: There's something ridiculous to be said for going from rank 24 to rank 9 in one weekend. Out 17 weeks no less and suddenly people realize it's out (couldn't have been in limited release that long, right?). Amazing, the Golden Globes can make any movie a star but Heroes isn't good enough for them. Hrmph.

10. Arthur And The Invisibles
Last Week Rank: 9th
Weekend Gross: $3.1 million
Total Gross: $9.3 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Ahahahaha, oh man, talk about a bomb. Sure this movie got almost no marketing, but look at the voices that are in this film: David Bowie, Snoop Dogg, Robert De Niro, Mia Farrow, Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, Harvey Keitel, and Emilio Estevez. And they wonder why it flopped? Here's a better one, it's directed by Luc Besson, who has done nothing of interest since the Fifth Element.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Golden Globe Recap and Thoughts

Below you will find the list of nominees and winners of the Golden Globes. I did watch the ceremony last night (which was on at 8 not 9 like I posted. Sorry!) and found it somewhat more entertaining than the Oscars. The Globes have shorter intros to categories and almost no skits, but still managed to run 3+ hours. There was almost no upsets the entire night and it made for some boring TV.

Anyways, on to the results!

Best TV Drama Series

Big Love
Grey's Anatomy - Winner

AE's Take: I wasn't surprised that my fave Lost, er, lost. It has been derided a little lately. I was surprised that Grey's won though. To me, Grey's is just Melrose Place in a hospital and on a more respected TV station. It's a soap opera and all the pros and cons that come with that.

Best Actress in a TV Drama
Patricia Arquette (Medium)
Edie Falco (The Sopranos)
Evangeline Lilly (Lost)
Ellen Pompeo(Grey's Anatomy)
Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer) - Winner

AE's Take: You might be thinking that I am disappointed that Lilly didn't win, but you'd be wrong. Lilly is not quite yet a strong dramatic actress. Edie Falco didn't win and she and The Sopranos are usually award show darlings. Can't say much about Mrs. Kevin Bacon though as I don't watch The Closer and have no intention to do so. She does have a funny accent on the show though, the rare times I have flipped past it.

Best Actor in a TV Drama
Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy)
Michael C. Hall (Dexter)
Hugh Laurie (House) - Winner
Bill Paxton (Big Love)
Kiefer Sutherland (24)

AE's Take: You would think that Kiefer was the shoe-in considering he won the Emmy. But Hugh Laurie took the award and had the first funny acceptance speech of the night. And it is always a little perturbing to hear a British actor accept an award for playing an American character.

Best TV Comedy
Desperate Housewives
The Office
Ugly Betty- Winner

AE's Take: Again, I would have thought that The Office would take home a Globe considering it took home an Emmy this year. The show's only gotten better in quality in Season 3. However, between this win and America Ferrera's win, I think I might pick up and watch Ugly Betty on DVD over the summer.

Best Actress in a TV Comedy
Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives)
Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives)
America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) - Winner
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine)
Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds)

AE's Take: As noted above, the combined win for Best Comedy and Best Actress in a Comedy has me interested in Ugly Betty. It seems like a sweet little show with some slapstick and "sitcomy" humor thrown in. ABC must be happy that the Golden Globes certainly did it's job with awarding this show and getting people (me) interested.

Best Actor in a TV Comedy
Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)- Winner
Zach Braff (Scrubs)
Steve Carell (The Office)
Jason Lee (My Name is Earl)
Tony Shalhoub (Monk)

AE's Take: While I would have loved Steve Carell to win again and have another signature funny speech moment, I can't argue with this call. Alec Baldwin is hilarious as a pompous, somewhat dimwitted boss on 30 Rock. He's what kept me watching the first few episodes of 30 Rock and allowed me fully appreciate the show and root for it. Also, how must NBC feel that 4 out of the 5 nominees in this category all have their own show on its Thursday Night? Must-See TV is back!

Best TV Miniseries or Movie
Bleak House
Broken Trail
Elizabeth I - Winner
Mrs. Harris
Prime Suspect: The Final Act

AE's Take: I don't watch miniseries or TV movies, but considering all the awards that people associated with Elizabeth I received at the Globes, this was not surprising. Also, Helen Mirren seemed to be everywhere in these sorts of categories.

Best Actress in a TV Miniseries or Movie
Gillian Anderson (Bleak House)
Annette Bening (Mrs. Harris)
Helen Mirren (Elizabeth I) - Winner
Helen Mirren (Prime Suspect: The Final Act)
Sophie Okonedo (Tsunami: The Aftermath)

AE's Take: See? They should have seated Ms. Mirren closer to the stage.

Best Actor in a TV Miniseries or Movie
Andre Braugher (Thief)
Robert Duvall (Broken Trail)
Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell: American Terror)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Tsunami: The Aftermath)
Ben Kingsley (Mrs. Harris)
Bill Nighy (Gideon's Daughter) - Winner
Matthew Perry (The Ron Clark Story)

AE's Take: Like I said, I don't watch these sorts of programming so I can't say who was or wasn't the best actor, but I am happy with Bill Nighy's win. I enjoyed his work in the last Pirates movie, in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and in Love Actually. By the way, if you actually watched the ceremony and saw Sienna Miller present this award, I have to ask you: is that it? That's the girl Jude Law cheated on? She did not look good last night.

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Miniseries, Movie or Series
Emily Blunt (Gideon's Daughter) - Winner
Toni Collette (Tsunami: The Aftermath)
Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy)
Sarah Paulson (Studio 60)
Elizabeth Perkins (Weeds)

AE's Take: Well, Ms. Blunt is having a good year between this award and critical acclaim for her role in The Devil Wears Prada. Another British actor/actress winning.

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Miniseries, Movie or Series
Thomas Hayden Church (Broken Trail)
Jeremy Irons (Elizabeth I) - Winner
Justin Kirk (Weeds)
Masi Oka (Heroes)
Jeremy Piven (Entourage)

AE's Take: This is the one result I am disappointed in. There is no doubt in my and many people's minds that Masi Oka was the breakout star of the television season. He should have been rewarded as such. Did you hear the loud applause for Oka when he was announced as a nominee? This category shows the weakness of the Globes awarding television awards: it lumps everyone into the supporting roles, no matter the project. Plus, the British keep on winning.

Best Motion Picture — Drama
Babel - Winner
The Departed
Little Children
The Queen

AE's Take: Eh, haven't seen any of these films, though I want to see The Departed. Babel strikes me as a film made in the style of Crash and Traffic in that to discuss a certain topic in the world it exchanges one great plot for a number of smaller, less significant plots that become entangled and are really only there to serve to put the issue at hand in big flashing neon lights. Basically, these types of movies are meant to repeatedly bludgeon the viewer over the head with it's topic du jour. Crash rode it to win Best Picture last year at the Academy Awards, can Babel do the same?

Best Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The Devil Wears Prada
Dreamgirls - Winner
Little Miss Sunshine
Thank You for Smoking

AE's Take: Yawn. Dreamgirls is riding the critical raves wave, blah, blah, blah. Might be a good movie, but I am with Gonch here in that it does not interest me.

Best Director - Motion Picture

Clint Eastwood (Flags of Our Fathers)
Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima)
Stephen Frears (The Queen)
Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel)
Martin Scorsese (The Departed) - Winner

AE's Take: Scorsese is from that Old School of directors, the ones whose artistic vision is unparalleled. He accepted this award from another Old Schooler: Spielberg. I do hope this is the year that Scorsese finally wins a Best Director Oscar, because as made apparent by his speech here, he does love movies so much.

Best Perfomance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama
Penélope Cruz (Volver)
Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (Sherrybaby)
Helen Mirren (The Queen) - Winner
Kate Winslet (Little Children)

AE's Take: Helen Mirren should never sit down at this ceremony. Didn't see any of these pictures, so I can't say if she deserved it or not, but the critics think so.

Best Perfomance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical
Annette Bening (Running with Scissors)
Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine)
Beyoncé Knowles (Dreamgirls)
Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada) - Winner
Renée Zellweger (Miss Potter)

AE's Take: I used to have a low tolerance for Streep. I thought she was basically playing the same dramatic character in all her movies, just with different accents. I came around a few years ago, around the time of Adaptation, and now fully enjoy her. It doesn't hurt that her speech was hilarious (and non-British!). Once again, the Globes do their real job and made me interested in The Devil Wears Prada. To Netflix it goes!

Best Perfomance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama
Leonardo DiCaprio (Blood Diamond)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed)
Peter O'Toole (Venus)
Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness)
Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) - Winner

AE's Take: Not shocking at all. Whitaker has been sweeping around the awards lately and is pretty much a lock to win the Oscar. Too bad for Leo though, but he shouldn't have been nominated twice split the vote as The Departed is clearly the better movie when compared to Blood Diamond.

Best Perfomance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical
Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan) - Winner
Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest)
Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking)
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots)
Will Ferrell (Stranger than Fiction)

AE's Take: Though I have yet to see the cringe-inducing Borat yet, I am very happy that Cohen won. The movie has been greatly debated and raved about and it would have been anti-climatic if he had lost. He is now a strong dark horse candidate to get nominated for an Oscar, though he has no chance of actually winning. Of course, I have to be cliched and say that this moment for Cohen must be very niiiiice.

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Adriana Barraza (Babel)
Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal)
Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada)
Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) - Winner
Rinko Kikuchi (Babel)

AE's Take: Once again, the Globes lumps everyone together in a supporting category. Good for the former American Idol contestant to win though.

Best Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Ben Affleck (Hollywoodland)
Eddie Murphy (Dreamgirls) - Winner
Jack Nicholson (The Departed)
Brad Pitt (Babel)
Mark Wahlberg (The Departed)

AE's Take: Wow, Eddie Murphy? Maybe he is finally going to get back some credibility. Wait, what's this Norbit I hear coming out? Damn you Eddie and your multiple personality disorder!

Best Foreign Film
Letters from Iwo Jima - Winner
The Lives of Others
Pan's Labyrinth

AE's Take: I think it is weird when a foreign film movie is made by an American film director.

There was also winners for best original song (Prince for Happy Feet. He was stuck in traffic and didn't arrive till after he won), nest original score, and best screenplay. These categories usually interest me, but once again, lack of movies I had seen put me at a disadvantage.

Cars won for best animated film, in the first year The Globes gave out such an award. Pixar pretty much will always win this sort of category due their stunning output. Now, if only they could get nominated for the big prize, Best Picture at the Oscars (though I am not saying Cars should). I believe Beauty and The Beast was the last animated movie to be nominated in that category, though I may be wrong. Still, it is time for the Academy Awards to start to recognize the other genres of films other than drama in the Best Picture race.

For the Oscars, I might try to live blog it or at least write down my thoughts as the show unfolds and upload it later. Hopefully, I will actually care about the movies by then.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 1/15/07

Get ready, cause here's the weekend box office, released today, Monday 1/15/07

1. Stomp The Yard
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $22 million
Total Gross: $22 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: We've got a new champ this week and here's hoping it falls faster than Stephen Hawking down a flight of stairs. Seriously, I'm no fan of any kind of dancing pretending to be a movie, but stomping? I mean it's not even Stomp! Now if this had some relation to Super Mario, then I might be interested, but this is about one dance step away from You Got Served 2: Electric Boogaloo (go cliche go).

2. Night At The Museum
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $17.1 million
Total Gross: $185.8 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Finally this cliche-ridden family film fell out of the top, but it's still moving very quickly towards a staggering $200 million. Clearly the studio should be quite proud of this but let's face it, there was nothing even close to being as interesting for the majority of holiday-goers this season. Stiller's still got the BO gold.

3. Pursuit Of Happyness
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $9.1 million
Total Gross: $136.5 million
Weeks Out: 5
Musings: Each week, I'll say what I'm most thankful about Will Smith until this film falls out of the top ten. This week, I am thankful that Will Smith no longer raps about "Cruisin'" or his "Willenium". There's only so much Fresh Prince we could take and he thankfully knew when to stop.

4. Dreamgirls
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $8.1 million
Total Gross: $66.9 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Looks like this one has some legs (har har). Your typical word of mouth, nominated for Golden Globes and likely going to get Oscar nominated for something movie spreading. Not a surprise if this sticks around or even climbs one spot higher.

5. Freedom Writers
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $7.1 million
Total Gross: $19.9 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: What? People are still going to see this? C'mon now, just go see better versions of this with To Sir, With Love or my personal favorite teacher-saves-troubled-students film Stand And Deliver. Mr. Holland's Opus is in it's own category, especially in the director's cut where the shark actually eats Dreyfuss.

6. Children Of Men
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $6.4 million
Total Gross: $21.4 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Making about the same as it did last week although it will likely fall fast if it keeps that up. As always never enough sci-fi films, unless it's the summer.

7. Alpha Dog
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $6.1 million
Total Gross: $6.1 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Ahhh! It's Justin Timberlake, run! Hmm he helps kidnap some kid, holds for "ransom" and suddenly realizes that he and accomplices may actually get in serious trouble for that. Timberlake goes to prison? It's no Arrested Development but it's on the right track. Now how do we get the rest of N'Sync into space again?

8. Primeval
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $6 million
Total Gross: $6 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Whether this film is good or bad matters not. This one is all Disney's fault as the marketing was totally atrocious for this movie. Need proof? It was marketed as based on true events about a serial killer still at large who has claimed over 300 victims. So what's the problem? It's actually about a giant killer crocodile in Africa with warlords. Yeah, that's a twist even Shyamalan can't come up with.

9. Arthur And The Invisibles
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $4.3 million
Total Gross: $4.3 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Bad movie-making sign #1: You debut at 9th in the box office, at a time where there isn't a large amount of competition in the field and some kids are still on winter break. Bad movie-making sign #2: You actually try to copy a concept like the Ant Bully and expect people to see it. Sigh.

10. The Good Shepherd
Last Week Rank: 8th
Weekend Gross: $3.9 million
Total Gross: $54.3 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Likely on it's way out this week, Matt Damon will just have to wait for the Bourne Supremacy to make some big bucks this year. That or...god help us all, Ocean's Thirteen. Do your best not to flock to the latter.


Golden Globes Pre-Hype

The Golden Globes are tonight, airing at 9 PM on NBC. As per usual with these sorts of award shows, I have not seen a majority of films nominated. As per unusual, the Golden Globes also has categories for TV Shows, many of which I have actually seen.

The Golden Globes are often unpredictable, if not in who wins what, but in the actions of the winners. The Globes is a dinner affair, with lots of alcohol flowing. So you get some funny and real moments. I will have the show on, if not directly watching it then in the background. Hopefully some funny stuff goes down.

Tomorrow I will have a run down of who won what in the major categories and a brief opinion on it. The Globes are often a predictor concerning nominations and winners of the Oscars. Hopefully, the entertainment world starts off the new year on a good foot.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Movie Review Double Shot: "Bubba Ho-Tep" and "Little Miss Sunshine"

Due to a mini-movie marathon, I am going to review these two different, but equally good movies!

Bubba Ho-Tep-This movie stars Bruce Campbell as Elvis and Ossie Davis as JFK (at least they both thnik they are those people) in a retirement home. Said retirement is being haunted by a mummy in cowboy boots. The movie embraces its B-movie roots and is a rolling good time. Campbell gives a good performance with a spot on Elvis impersonation. Also, he plays old very well. The plot is ridiculous, but the fun is not.

3 1/2 Banana and Peanut Butter Sandwiches out of 5.

Little Miss Sunshine-This movie is typical of other "indie" movies in that the sum of its parts is greater than the whole. There are some great performances by the entire case (Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Paul Dano, and Abigail Breslin). Carell is understated and Arkin plays crazy well. Special kudos goes to Abigail Breslin, playing Olive, a young girl entered into a beauty contest. Breslin had to wear a fat suit to portray Olive, which in today's Hollywood (which loves "ugly transformations"), must mean she will be nominated for an Oscar. The plot though is thin and at times the movie is more like a collection of scenes and predictaments. The movie isn't particularly uplifting, as most small films are not, but it does have its moments.

3 1/2 Yellow VWs out of 5.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wicker Man: Comedy?

This has been flaoting around the internet and various blogs the past few days, so let me help spread this viral video.

Nic Cage starred in the critically panned remake Wicker Man this past summer. It's a horror movie. But maybe with the right editing it could have became a smash comedy hit.


Office Party

Season Two of the NBC show The Office was certainly a good season for the comedy. It saw an uptick in ratings, Steve Carell winning a Golden Globe for Leading Male in a Comedy, and the show won an Emmy for Best Comedy. It is also the year where the show clearly separated from, and some would say surpassed, the hit British version it was based on. I recently finished watching this season on DVD and would like to comment on it.

I watched the pilot of The Office when it first came on. I was interested in the show based off of Carell's involvement. I tried to get my friends to watch it with me, but halfway through the pilot, they walked off, citing that the show was boring and unfunny. I too stopped watching the show after a few episodes, only to return about a quarter of the way through the second season. Watching the entire season, catching the episodes I had missed and revisiting the ones I had caught, was a very funny experience.

The genius of the show is not in the lines that are read, but how those lines are read and how people react to them. Steve Carell, as oblivious boss Michael Scott, gleefully announces many things that probably sounded better in his head. John Krasinski's Jim is the Everyman in the series, with his bemused smirks and sideway glances directed to Jenna Fischer's Pam. And as dysfunctional as Michael and Rainn Wilson's Dwight appear to be, you don't have to scratch the surface too deep to realize everyone working a Dunder-Mifflin is slightly skewed. Even Jim and Pam and their unrequited dynamic is dysfunctional. And it is all realistic. It is exaggeration based on fact. Everyone has worked with a Michael or a Dwight or even a Toby, Michael's perceived archnemesis.

I watched a few episodes while doing other things, and one misses a lot of humor by not paying attention. The reactions, the long, awkward pauses, mean nothing if one isn't watching. But even the over-the-top moments are hilarious because they are so rare. You feel the show lurching and powering to that moment where everything explodes, and it does with hilarious moments. Michael is set up to say something incredibly dumb, or racist, or sexist and Carell takes a few long moments to get there. Michael Scott and Dwight are often the source of these moments, but it fits in perfectly with their characters that the exaggeration comes from them. The rest of the office just sits there and ignores them.

It can not be said enough that although the opening credits only list five “stars”, the rest of the cast is excellent. Many of them play characters that share the same first name. In fact, one actor, Creed Bratton, plays Creed Bratton, and the character is somewhat based off his real life. Angela Kinsey plays uptight Angela Martin to perfection, often drawing upon her own office experiences (Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey have remarked in interviews that before they became actresses, they were essentially stuck in the world The Office paints). Also, the cast often writes episodes. Mindy Kaling (Kelly), B.J. Novak (Ryan), and Paul Lieberstein (Toby) all have written or co-written episodes. In fact, Novak is a producer and Kaling is a story editor.

The friendship of the cast and crew comes across clearly in the commentaries. They pal around and point out who wrote what and how they couldn't stop laughing at certain scenes. Sitcom commentaries are always more fun than drama commentaries because they often include a lot more of the cast. In the commentary for the episode titled “The Secret”, Jenna Fischer threatened to reveal the secrets of everyone in the commentary. She keeps on delaying the reveal until the end credits, where she starts to reveal her own secret, only to be cut off by the finishing of the track.

The other extras on the DVD set are hilarious. There are the PSAs that aired with such gems as Dwight giving advice on how to avoid bears to Jim saying it is ok to call a foul in basketball. There are also promos for The Office that appeared during the Olympics. Of course, there are the requisite blooper reel, with Carrell mainly cracking up and causing other people to crack up. Also, about half the episodes have commentaries and all of them have deleted scenes.

Imagine viewing your every day life through a slightly cracked looking glass. That is The Office. The dialogue is the most natural I have ever seen, with it appearing natural and not “read”. I watched an Office episode then a Seinfeld episode, and while both were funny, Seinfeld felt really “sitcomy” when compared to The Office. There has been many times while I was watching the show that I felt the need to cover my eyes or change the channel because of the level of awesome akwardness. The show is a critical fave and is a cult hit and it is safe to say that it is the funniest show on TV and in the space between new Lost episodes, my personal favorite show.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Book Review: "The Zombie Survival Guide"

A while ago a I reviewed the book World War Z by Max Brooks. That book was a "true" oral history of a zombie war. Before Brooks wrote that book, he wrote a survival guide to combat zombies. That book is, obviously, The Zombie Survival Guide.

Like WWZ, ZSG is a "realistic" look at how one can survive a zombie attack. He gives advice on dealing with zombies whether you are running from them, defending your home, or going on the offensive. He even has a chapter on what you should do if zombies take over the world. There are illustrations that give visual aid and at the end of the guide, there is a section for you, the reader, to write in as a pseuo-journal as you monitor suspicious, zombie-like behavoir.

Before all of that, Brooks goes into the science behind the what and how of zombies. He states the zombies are created by a virus known as Solanum. He lists how a zombie works (there is no blood pumping) and how they use their senses. He also "debunks" the myth that zombies are super in strength or other abilities, stating that zombies merely use their senses differently than the living. This nuts and bolts science is one of the most interesting parts of the book. The other interest part is the Appendix at the end that lists all the historical zombie attacks recorded. This section reminded me a lot of what Brooks would write about in WWZ.

However, the parts in between were only ok. The actual survival sections of the book, save for the Zombie Apocalypse, were fairly pedestrian. Granted, that's how various guides are written in the real world, but I still found these parts boring. Descriptions of terrain and how to properly defend yourself from zombie attacks were interesting the first time he discussed them, but he has to cover all situations, and it grows a little tedious. I also found some of the illustrations as superfluous.

Also, again akin to real survival guides, Brooks' writing style were short sentences and generally very plain. A nice touch though was the further subdivision of each chapter into mini-sections, and even having those mini-sections have subdivisions. The inherent limitations of a survival guide are clearly highlighted in Brooks' book and while the actual material is staid, the creativity behind the project is outstanding. That is the aspect of the book I was most impressed with. That Brooks' could think of reasonable defenses and offensives against something that doesn't even exist is fascinating. Unfortunately, the only way to truly present this creativity is in the format used here.

Even Brooks' himself may have realized the trouble of writing a survival guide, as in World War Z, a character he is "interviewing" slams a zombie survival guide as being blatantly false and misleading. While I didn't enjoy this Max Brook zombie book as much as the first one a I read, it is still an interesting piece of alt-fiction. The creativity and originality of the book lifts it to high esteem. I recommend picking up this book after reading World War Z to see the genesis of Brooks' obsession with zombies.

4 Bitemarks out of 5.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Simpsons: "The Wife Aquatic" Review

Hmmm, an episode focused on Marge and her trying to relive a childhood memory doesn't sound like an exciting time on the surface, but this episode actually had some humorous moments.

After the Springfield movie nights goes awry and having Patty and Selma show home movies to the town, Marge remembers the good times she had at Barnacle Bay, an paradise island. Of course, Homer finally gets a clue (after transfering the home movies to DVD format and trying to transfer that to Marge's iPod) and takes the family to the vacation spot. However, the once booming town is now in ruins due to overfishing. Homer tries to cheer up Marge, and does so briefly, only to set the town on fire. Forced to repay this transgression, Homer has to help hish the barren waters.

Though the part about Homer and fishing seems to be a ripoff of Family Guy and Peter fishing, the episode does make it clear that this part of the plotline is a homage "The Perfect Storm" (the ads touting it as such certainly helped). There are other homages I picked out, including The Ring (though I don't know if it was intentional). There is also some creepy piano music that plays when Marge thinks about the island or the island is talked about. I don't know what the music is from but it sounded very familiar.

The only gripe I had about this episode is how Homer and Bart survived the perfect storm. They were picked up by Chinese Fishermen, but this has scenario has already been done before on The Simpsons! The first time it was Otto The Bus Driver who was saved by the Chinese way back when the school children got stranded on the Lord of the Flies Island. The explanation took me out of the episode for a second, but luckily it was the end of the show anyways so it didn't sour my viewing.

This was no classic episode, but it still was pretty darn good. The Simpsons remain one of the few shows that I laugh out loud at.

3 Yum Yum Fish out of 5.

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 1/8/07

AE Note: This is a new weekly feature, written by Gonch, that will analyze the weekend box office. In addition to give you, the reader, the hard numbers, Mr. Gonch will also give a short opinion on the movie or anything related to the movie. So sit back and enjoy.

Here's the weekend box office, released today, Monday 1/8/07

1. Night At The Museum
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $24 million
Total Gross: $164,097,000
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Well I've already reviewed this film and didn't much care for it. But as I said, family viewership wins out around the holidays and the many kids still on their break from school. It's sad I'm really hoping something can knock this out soon, so that we dare not incur ourselves a terrible sequel.

2. Pursuit Of Happyness
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $13 million
Total Gross: $124,159,000
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Will Smith continues to try to slowly get away from his action and comedic side with this heart warming tale of the man who has little but his son while trying to make something of himself. Smith seems to be doing a good job with this but the story itself is not a big draw.

3. Children Of Men
Last Week Rank: 22nd
Weekend Gross: $10,295,000
Total Gross: $11,902,000
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Expanding from limited to wide release, this film climbed very far up the rankings and caught some attention with the public. A view of a dystopian future where man is dying out and offers up tons of violence and harsh acts on the screen, probably not my cup of tea but at least its something different.

4. Freedom Writers
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $9,705,000
Total Gross: $9,705,000
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: How terribly original. A white teacher comes into an urban/street school to teach these less fortunate African-American students that there's more to life than thuggin' and buggin'. If you're going to keep making this movie, at least have the decency to bring back Gangsta's Paradise and Catwoman (the good one).

5. Dreamgirls
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $8,825,000
Total Gross: $54,484,000
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Doing well since this is a possible Oscar candidate, I'm guessing it only really has a shot at lesser awards like Best Song, but that's something at least. Doesn't interest me but doesn't look horrible either.

6. Happily N'ever After
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $6.8 million
Total Gross: $6.8 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Opening at 6th should be the first sign that this was a weak weekend for movies (and many more to come) and this one has no real staying power. If you haven't seen the preview, let's just say I've seen better CG animation in 5 seconds of a Futurama episode.

7. Charlotte's Web
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $6,610,000
Total Gross: $66,975,000
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Anyone remember this when it was called Babe and it was actually up for Best Picture? Yeah I don't know what the Academy was smoking either.

8. The Good Shepherd
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $6,536,000
Total Gross: $48,434,000
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Matt Damon goes for some more Oscar consideration but this is no Departed. Subject matter is intriguing enough but it doesn't have nearly the star power or the excitement behind it.

9. Rocky Balboa
Last Week Rank: 6th
Weekend Gross: $6,268,000
Total Gross: $60,892,000
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Message to Sylvester Stallone. Ahem. STOP MAKING MOVIES. That is all.

10. We Are Marshall
Last Week Rank: 8th
Weekend Gross: $5,135,000
Total Gross: $35,425,000
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Preparing to fall out of the top ten, an inspiring sports film (no, really?) but this one's true at least and different from most, in attempting to replace a team that was mostly killed. Matthew McConaughey continues to be too hard to spell, so I copied and pasted it, but kudos for including Dr. Jack if nothing else (the Better Shepherd).


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Classic Movie Review: "The Boys From Brazil"

Ah, Nazis. Is there a more reliable movie villain then these goose-stepping men? The Boys From Brazil (1978) is a twist on the usual Nazi-villain films, with it taking place 30 years after the end of WW2 and with a thriller twist.

Dr. Josef Mengele, played by Gregory Peck, is the real life person portrayed as the antagonist. Dr. Mengele is notorious in history as the "Angel of Death" of the Nazi Party, as he performed extensive genetic experiments on human beings during the war. This is fact. He often performed surgeries without pain killers and peformed other medical atrocities. He sruvived the war and lived the rest of his life in exile in Brazil. It is interesting to note that this man was still alive when the film was released.

The film ponders what he was doing in Brazil for all those years. In the film's universe, it is not for the faint of heart. He articifically dyes a boy's eyes to blue to better emulate the Aryan race. He also organizes a group of Nazi ex-officers and sympathizers to carry out a nefarious plot. The plot concerns killing men of a certain age all because their sons share a disturbing connection. I won't reveal what the connection is, but the movie is pretty famous and you have probably heard of the twist by now.

Sir Laurence Olivier plays the protaganist, the Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman. Sometimes Sir Olivier's Austrian accent comes across a bit thick and is hard to understand what he is saying. Otherwise it is a fine perfomance as the horror slowly unfolds, the once stoic Lieberman becomes more and more determined to get to Mengele. Lieberman jets all over the world, following the clues, with the audience only being one step ahead of him.

Of course, the movie ends with a confrontation between the two men, but how it is resolved is a nice little detour from the norm. There is definitely a darkish ending, but I realized that it had to turn out that way half way through the movie. Though the movie isn't necessarily realistic, I could see how in 1978 it had the potential to disturb people. There are some graphic, scientific scenes and the idea of the Nazi party still thriving in secret, ready to strike, is not a pleasant thought.

The movie got off to a slow start, but once the conspiracy started to unravel, the train sped down the tracks. This is one classic movie that I enjoyed and seems to stand up to the test of time.

3 1/2 History Channel Subjects out of 5.

The Late, Great Mitch Hedberg

Recently, I purchased Mitch Hedberg's Comedy Central CD Mitch All Together. The CD came out in 2003 and, unfortunately, Hedberg passed away in 2005. Before his death, he was the college comedian. Think of Dane Cook without the overexposure and mainstream appearances.

Hedberg's style was a redefinition of the term "stoner comedy". His stand-up had him as the stoner and the audience as the sober element. Hedberg had a lot of nonsequitors and actually told jokes, and not the stories with a punchline that most modern comedians use now. Like Steven Wright before him, Mitch was more like one line, one joke. One of my favorite jokes is his commentary on gambling: "I am not addicted to gambling, I am addicted to sitting in a semicircle." He is not for young kids, as he does swear, but the comedy isn't reliant on it. He uses the words to punctuate the humor, not bring the laughter.

He also had an acting career, with appearances on That 70's Show and in the movie The Lords of Dogtown. The roles were basically extensions of his on-stage persona, playing the stoner. I believe that if he had lived, he would have become more and more mainstream. It would have been interesting to see if he could have capitalized on his growing popularity. He was notoriously shy in real life, so who knows if he wanted to be on movie posters?

Unfortunately, he did die, due to drug related problems. Here is an article on Mitch by EW. It is very accurate to describe Mitch as the Kurt Cobain of comedy. Both lived fast and died young. Both had an impact on the younger generation. Hopefully, Mitch has the long lasting impact that Kurt continues to have.

Now excuse me, I am going to give my CD another spin.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy 2007 everyone. Forgoing the usual tradition of thinking up resolutions for celebrities, I will instead mention some things I think we will be discussing one year from today.

- Britney Spears's career reached a dead end.
If she releases her comeback album this year, I doubt it will pull down any respectable numbers. It might be number one the week it comes out, but takea severe dip the following week. See Jay-Z and his comeback album for a similar situation. If she doesn't release any album, that will focus attention on her personal life, and that is not a good thing.

- Brad and Angelina adopted 2 new kids.
The Pitt-Jolie clan will expand in 2007. I do feel that perhaps this is the year the shine starts to come off a little and either Brad and Angelina have some sort of public blowout but remain together, or the media finds a new couple to obsess over.

- Steve Carell won Best Comedy Actor and The Office won Best Comedy at Emmys again.
There is no denying that is comedy is a critical favorite. I think this is the year that Steve Carell wins the acting award for the first time.

- Movie box office had the best year in the last decade.
With the release of SPider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Carribean 3, two summer blockbusters, the box office will reap the financial benefits. Though neither movie will beat Titanic's box office record, both will crack the top ten and probably top 5 office receipts.

Well, that is just a few of the predictions/stories I think we will be tlaking about on New Year's Day 2008. Everyone have a healthy and happy one!