Monday, September 10, 2012

Is there anybody out there?

As the former writer of this blog, and perhaps one day reviver of it, just curious if anyone who's not selling a way to enlarge a part of your anatomy or some other such nonsense still ever comes here. Namaste

Thursday, October 06, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 03, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 30, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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