Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Sunny September

F/X announced return dates for three of its successful series, most important of which is the fifth season of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." The premiere will air Sept. 17, and the season will run 12 weeks.

Fall TV season, you seem so far away.

To get you through the rest of "Sunny's" hiatus -- and in honor of the fast-approaching celebration of our nation's independence -- I give you this.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Bay 1, America 0

Sometimes, the Associated Press hits it right on the head:

After just five days, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is halfway to $400 million domestically, a box-office milestone only eight other movies have reached. If it climbs that high, the “Transformers” sequel will be by far the worst-reviewed movie ever to make the $400 million club.

"TF2" is currently tracking at 20 percent on RottenTomatoes.com. Yikes.

The other $400 million movies, in case you're wondering, are:

"The Dark Knight"
"Star Wars"
"Shrek 2"
"Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace"
"Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Again for the first time

Caught the last half-hour of "The Usual Suspects" on cable the other day, and it got me wishing that I could see the brilliant, boffo ending again for the first time. That amazed, baffled and satisfied feeling you get when you see a fantastic movie -- especially one with an unexpected twist -- is just magical. I want it back, dammit!

A look a couple movies I'd love to see again for the first time (here is the requisite SPOILER ALERT tag):

The Usual Suspects: The aforementioned inspiration for the blog post has one of the best twist ending final sequences EVER. Watching in the comfort of my parents' living room, I think my mom and I actually gasped in unison at the big reveal. And for that, I will always kind of give Bryan Singer a free pass, no matter how crappy the Superman reboot was.

The Sixth Sense: Didn't know a thing about this movie when I went to see it with my parents (in fact, it was their suggestion; having spent the entire summer selling books door-to-door in New Hampshire, I didn't see a lot of movie trailers). That made the experience even more enjoyable. I love watching trailers and reading reviews, but sometimes knowing absolutely nothing about the movie before you see it is awesome.

The Shawshank Redemption: Another one enjoyed with my parents in the living room (my parents like some cool movies, huh?). When Norton ripped the poster off the wall, my jaw just dropped. I still watch Shawshank almost every time it's on TV -- which is often -- and it's still enjoyable, but oh, to forget about "fuzzy britches" little secret for one day? That would be spectacular.

The Empire Strikes Back: Remember when you didn't know Vader was Luke's father? You do? Well, I don't. See, I wasn't born when this came out, so by the time I saw it (and was old enough to understand what the eff was going on), I already knew about the ol' father-son relationship.

Amelie: A friend of mine who lived in France when this movie came out recommended I see it at the art house theater in Omaha over Thanksgiving break. I asked him what it was about, and after a quasi-convoluted summary -- to which I said, "Sounds kinda lame" -- he said, "Just go see it. It will change your life." Talk about hyperbole. So I went. And I think it did change my life. And I saw it four times in the theater, taking someone different each time with the hopes of changing their lives. Quite simply, a beautiful movie that makes me feel good to be alive.

The Matrix: The special effects were so incredibly ground-breaking at the time, and now, they don't seem so special. My only real question: Why on earth didn't I go see this in the theater?!

28 Days Later: I don't even like horror movies, but this one blew my friggin' mind. Fast zombies? A movie made solely with digital cameras? Scared the living hell out of me, while also fascinating me from a production standpoint. A rare feat, indeed.

Your turn: Which movies do you wish you could see again for the first time?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

Thought I'd join in on the Michael Jackson tributes today. A couple MJ-related personal anecdotes:

* My older brother and sisters pinned me down to watch the "Thriller" video (still probably the best video of all time) because I was terrified of it. I was 4. Watching this video then caused me to have an extremely vivid, recurring dream where MJ would come to our house to eat dinner with us, then would turn into a zombie and dance around our living room while I hid behind the couch. Also, I used to pick up the needle and skip over the Vincent Price speaking part on the record because that scared me, too.

* I used to imagine parts of the sidewalk lighting up as I danced over them, a la "Billie Jean."

* The first cassette tape I ever bought with my own money was "Bad."

* I tried for weeks to learn how to do "the lean" from the "Smooth Criminal" video. No success.

* My siblings and I watched the world premiere of the "Black or White" video, on Fox (!), at my grandparents' house. Needless to say, it got a little awkward when he went on the crotch-grabbing, car-smashing tirade. But the song was -- and is -- still boss. My sister Tracy used to blast it in the mornings when she'd drop me off at school.

* My college volleyball coach pretty much hated me, but the only time I got into her good graces was when I flawlessly performed choreography from "Beat It" and "Thriller" one day after practice as the songs blared over the PA at the DakotaDome.

* Someone once asked me this fun icebreaker question: If you could have one song played every time you enter a room, what would it be? My answer: "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough." That song was my ringtone for about 2 years.

We'll miss ya, MJ.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hot Sauce Committee Part 1

That's the name of the Beastie Boys' new album, set to be released on Sept. 15. (No word on when Part 2 will come out.) Here's the track listing:

1. Tadlock's Glasses
2. B-Boys In The Cut
3. Make Some Noise
4. Nonstop Disco Powerpack
5. OK
6. Too Many Rappers (featuring NAS)
7. Say It
8. The Bill Harper Collection
9. Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win (featuring Santigold)
10. Long Burn The Fire
11. Bundt Cake
12. Funky Donkey
13. Lee Majors Come Again
14. Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament
15. Pop Your Balloon
16. Crazy Ass Shit
17. Here's A Little Something For Ya

First impressions: Funky Donkey sounds like the sequel to Brass Monkey. ... I didn't know NAS was still around. Huh. ... Bundt Cake is delicious.

Also, to go along with reissues of Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head, they're releasing reissues of Ill Communication (coming very soon) and Hello Nasty (out Aug. 25). Read their entertaining presser here.

And by the way, Ad-Rock is 42, Mike D is 43 and MCA is 44.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Babysitting Blues

While channel surfing -- well, technically, I was digital channel guide scrolling, but whatever -- I happened upon one of my favorite offerings from the '80s: "Adventures in Babysitting." And wouldn't you know it, I turned it on just in time for the iconic scene when Elisabeth Shue et al. sing in the blues bar. Consequently, I have had "The Babysitting Blues" in my head for three days solid.

Where I remain puzzled is why the edit-for-TV folks decided to cut out a full verse of the song when it's aired on basic cable. There's no cussing, and if they're editing for time, it's just silly to do it there, in what is arguably the most entertaining scenes in the film. The other best scene? The gang fight on the train, which does feature cussing, so alas, it is edited, too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer movie update

In an earlier post, I told you about the summer movies I was pumped to see. Well, I have seen the first five on the list (in that order, even), so now I shall report back with mini reviews for each.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
RATING: Wait for Netflix (or don't, meh)
REVIEW: Again, in an earlier post, I indicated that it pretty much sucked. It had a few too many bad action movie cliches and the effects weren't even that eye-popping (unless you count Hugh Jackman shirtless, which, well, I don't). I very much enjoyed the opening credits sequence and the supporting cast had its bright spots, but overall, not a great 2 hours at the movies.

Star Trek
RATING: Highly recommend it
REVIEW: In JJ Abrams I trust. I've never seen an episode of any incarnation of the "Star Trek" TV shows, nor any of the previous "Trek" films. But this movie didn't require its audience to know a thing about the franchise to enjoy it, and yet, it didn't completely shirk the diehard Trek fans. Stellar casting (especially loved Simon Pegg as Scottie), great visuals and a taut storyline kept things moving. I even enjoyed the requisite childhood flashback scene involving James Kirk's rebel-rousing. (What can I say? I'm a sucker for car chases in cornfields while the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" is blaring.)

Terminator Salvation
RATING: Recommend it
REVIEW: Let's get something straight here: It's a "Terminator" movie. We're not curing cancer. So, for a "Terminator" movie, it was good. Tons of homages to the previous films in the franchise (i.e. "You Could Be Mine" playing on a boom box), but it definitely separated itself as a different sort of film. The camera work -- in particular, a single shot when Christian Bale is crash-landing a helicopter -- and cinematography were compelling. The storyline worked for me. And I was able to overlook a couple moments of cheesy dialogue because, let's be honest, T1 and T2 had their cheese-fest moments, too.

RATING: Highly recommend it
REVIEW: Dammit, Pixar, you guys know how to make 'em. When a film can move me to tears, not once, but three times, a high rating is in order. While it wasn't as complete a movie as "Wall-E," it had the necessary pieces of a successful family film: decidedly adult themes and references, accompanied by lively, kid-friendly animal characters and evil villains, thrown together with impressive animation and a spirited score.

The Hangover
RATING: Recommend it
REVIEW: It has a tried-and-true buddy comedy formula from the creators of "Old School," but it somehow resonates even more strongly. Perhaps it's because most of us have had that "what the hell happened last night" experience after a night of drinking. And if you haven't, well, it can be both hilarious and dread-inspiring, which is what "The Hangover" shows us -- times 10. The movie stays funny throughout, and perhaps the most priceless part of the movie is the end credits. There's something you don't see every day.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

One-girl track show

The Rochelle High School girls' track team won the Class A (small school) Texas state title Saturday. Oh, by the way, the girls' track team is ONE PERSON. And this is the second straight year she has single-handedly led the Rochelle Lady Hornets to the state championship.

From the AP:

The best small high school track team in Texas is once again a freckle-faced girl named Bonnie Richardson.

Valedictorian of her 14-student senior class in the tiny farming town of Rochelle, Richardson won the Class A girls team state title by herself for the second consecutive year Saturday by single-handedly beating 56 other schools.

Her reward was a second state championship trophy she won’t have to share with anyone – there are no other girls on the Rochelle High School track team.

“It’s great. It’s over. It’s done,” Richardson said. “It’s nice that I can relax now.”

The daughter of a Rochelle High teacher and a rancher, Richardson won four individual medals in five events: gold in the long jump and high jump, silver in the discus and bronze in the 200 meters. She also finished fourth in the 100 meters.

Since becoming the first girl in state history last year to win a team title solo, her celebrity has put her in national magazines and gotten her a Texas A&M track scholarship. It may even lure more than one girl next year to replace Richardson on the Lady Hornets team.

Good for her. But seriously, how demoralizing would that be for the other 56 teams she beat?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pssst! Quasi-secret B-boys shows

Every musical act in the Western Hemisphere is making its way down to Tennessee for Bonnaroo next week. On the way, a couple are making pit stops for warm-up shows. (Wilco and Lucinda Williams will play in Cincinnati next week, for example.)

So I suppose it should come as no surprise that the Beastie Boys are going to do the same thing. Except they just announced their shows today and tickets go on sale at 4 p.m. tomorrow for their performances in Baltimore on Tuesday and Asheville, N.C., on Wednesday. Get 'em while they're hot, folks.

Speaking of the Boys, I caught them on Jimmy Fallon the other night, pimping their reissue of "Check Your Head" and announcing the name of their next studio album, "Hot Sauce Committee," which is set to drop in September. (Side note: I can't believe I just wrote that an album is going to "drop.") It was not a very good interview, truth be told. Fallon still hasn't quite gotten the hang of his new gig, though I do wonder if he was especially nervous because he truly is a big Beastie Boys fan. Anyway, the highlight of their appearance was performing "So What'cha Want," yet another instance where having The Roots as the "Late Night" house band really pays off. Ch-check it out here.