Monday, September 26, 2016

Recommended Reading

With tonight's debate one of the last remaining chances to really fundamentally alter the trajectory of what's turning out to a far tighter race than it should be, The New York Times' editorial board makes a pretty sterling case for why Donald Trump absolutely must not win the presidency. Say they:
It is time for others who are still undecided, and perhaps hoping for some dramatic change in our politics and governance, to take a hard look and see Mr. Trump for who he is. They have an obligation to scrutinize his supposed virtues as a refreshing counterpolitician. Otherwise, they could face the consequences of handing the White House to a man far more consumed with himself than with the nation’s well-being.
Read more here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

From The Onion...

Man, if this doesn't sum up my morning...
Relaxing Tea Better F***ing Work 
SMYRNA, DE—Saying he needed to be transported to a tranquil, untroubled state of calmness pronto, local man Pete McCartin, 29, told reporters Thursday that a fresh-brewed mug of purportedly relaxation-promoting tea had better fucking work. “This shit better soothe the fuck out of me and quick,” said McCartin, adding that the box of Hungarian chamomile blossom and lemon myrtle tea was making some pretty lofty promises with its soft light-blue hues and lotus flowers plastered all over the place, so it sure as shit needed to step the fuck up and put his mind at ease. “I need to start feeling utterly blissful and placid as hell. I want all my cares melted away fucking yesterday. If I’m not fully at peace by the time I finish sipping this cup, I’m going to be so goddamn pissed.” At press time, a scowling McCartin was steeping a second teabag in his mug in an effort to get the feelings of serenity and quietude to hurry the fuck up.

Still Spartacus

In the 1950s, when actor Kirk Douglas as at his absolute peak of power as a Hollywood star, he leveraged that influence to help writer Dalton Trumbo overcome the blacklist finally get work again by recruiting him to pen the sword-and-sandals picture Spartacus

Douglas will be 100 in a few months, but his drive to stand up for the right thing hasn't been dulled by time even a little bit, as evidenced by a new column wherein he uses his own long experience to point out the seriousness of potentially electing a damaging force like Donald Trump to lead this country. Says Douglas:
In my lifetime, American women won the right to vote, and one is finally the candidate of a major political party. An Irish-American Catholic became president. Perhaps, most incredibly, an African-American is our president today.  
The longer I’ve lived, the less I’ve been surprised by the inevitability of change, and how I’ve rejoiced that so many of the changes I’ve seen have been good.  
Yet, I’ve also lived through the horrors of a Great Depression and two World Wars, the second of which was started by a man who promised that he would restore his country it to its former greatness.
Even now, this many years later, he is Spartacus. Read the rest here.

Nostalgia Theater: At Long Last, MacGyver

Looking back at '80s fave MacGyver here in Nostalgia Theater is one of those things I've kept in my back pocket on the off chance that they ever ended up reviving the property for TV or turning it into a movie, so I'd have something to tie it in with. Well, that patience finally paid off with this past Friday's premiere of the MacGyver reboot starring Lucas Till (which I've yet to see, so no comment on that from me, though the early word isn't great), it looks like the time has finally arrived to shine the spotlight on the mulleted man of action from the '80s who could turn chewing gum, a paperclip, and pocket lint into a license to thrill.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Sully, Snowden, and The Magnificent Seven

With fall movie season upon us, Brian and Zaki are back to offer quick takes on a whole host of new releases, including Clint Eastwood's Sully, Oliver Stone's Snowden, and the new Antoine Fuqua- Denzel Washington pairing, The Magnificent Seven. In addition, get our thoughts on the trailers for the upcoming films Live By Night and Passengers, and listen in as we discuss the passing of director Curtis Hanson and other headlines out of Hollywood, plus check out Zaki's interview with the filmmakers behind the clever new mockumentary Operation Avalanche. It's fun, it's freewheeling, it's about ninety minutes, and you can catch it all via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Closer Look

While I think newly-minted Emmy winner John Oliver is the true heir to Jon Stewart's Daily Show legacy (a legacy that, sadly, current host Trevor Noah hasn't done as much with as I'd have liked), Seth Myers of NBC's Late Night comes closest to Jon in the current crowd of nightly talkers. He's been nailing the longform political humor for awhile now, but this "A Closer Look" segment from Monday night's show trashing Donald Trump's treasure trove of birther lies might well be one of his strongest ever. Watch:

Out Now with Aaron & Abe Podcast: Snowden & Blair Witch

Click on the embed below to play my guest shot on the latest episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe, as I join host Aaron Neuwirth and guest Peter Paras for a fun and far-ranging conversation covering new releases Snowden and Blair Witch, plus lots of other tangents and digressions. I had a blast recording with them, as always, and I'm sure you'll enjoy listening as well:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Recommended Reading

Even though the first one is scheduled for Monday evening, Bill Moyers says there's no point in having a debate based on the current model of debate moderation.

Left Shew Politics Podcast, Vol. 1 / Ep. 2

Click below to check out my appearance on the second episode of the all-new Left Shew Politics Podcast, hosted by my bud Rick Shew. And if you're digging the show, click over to iTunes and show some love by hitting subscribe and/or leaving a review!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Diffused Congruence: Cavalcade of Annoyance

We’ve hit the big 4-0! Zaki and Parvez return after a summer hiatus to ruminate on the ISNA Convention, Eid-ul-Adha and animal sacrifices, and the Presidential Election. Expect all of the “unpacking”, analysis, and fun banter you’ve come to enjoy from the show! It’s a rare occurrence for the show that the two of us just get a chance to catch up and share some reflections. We hope you enjoy these episodes as much we do recording them! Listen via the embed below, and as always, send any questions or comments to diffusedcongruence@gmail.com, or at our Facebook page.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: How'd You Do Your Dole Today?

For some reason I woke up this morning with the "How'd You Do Your Dole Today?" jingle from the Dole Food Company during the early '90s rattling around in my head. I have no explanation. Luckily, thanks to the age of Internet wonders in which we live, I was able to find the specific spot online after a hard-target YouTube search of about thirty seconds. Lyrics for this one are by Jeff Nicosia, who also did the world the great service of posting it to the web. The spot aired in pretty regular rotation in '92 during weekday morning and afternoon kidvid hours, which would account for my being exposed to it, and also for why it's taken up permanent residence in the deep recesses of my amygdala. Anyone else remember this?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Zaki's Review: Sully

The 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson" that saw pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger land his US Airways commuter plane on the Hudson river with no fatalities after both of his engines failed is one of those stories where, as soon as it happened, you braced yourself for the inevitable movie version. Worst case scenario was that it would end up on Lifetime or one of the networks for some kind of schlocky movie-of-the-week. By contrast, director Clint Eastwood's Sully, starring Tom Hanks in the title role of the hero pilot, is probably the best case version of how we should see this story on film.

Unlike Robert Zemeckis' gin-soaked, drug-addled Flight from a few years ago, which tackled a similar story but amped up the flaws of its lead character, Sully takes a nonlinear approach to the events up to and after the famed crash (or rather, "water landing," as the characters take pains to point out). This in turn allows for one of the more complex and layered performances from its star, depicting the pilot not only dealing with the sudden onrush of fame and adulation by New Yorkers in desperate need of a hero, but also his own lingering self-doubts as to whether he made the right call following the engines' failure.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Star Trek 50th Anniversary Commentary Track!

Star Trek month continues here at Nostalgia Theater! This week I'm joined by Star Trek comic writer and novelist Glenn Greenberg for a fun and far ranging commentary track conversation as we watch the second pilot of the original Star Trek series, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," which ended up selling the series to NBC. In addition to offering our observations and analyses of what's onscreen, we also cover a lot of our own personal Trek history and examine what it is about the franchise that's made us fans for so long.

You can either pop in your blu-ray or queue the episode up via streaming to watch along with us, or just listen as we chat. Either way, you'll find a lot of fun and interesting info, so settle in, hit "play," and get ready to boldly go! Listen the show via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play (and remember to leave a review!). As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Path to Victory

Ed Kilgore has looked at recent polling data, and makes a comforting observation at New York Magazine:
Those who have laughed off Donald Trump’s chances while believing his election would represent a turn for the worse in their own lives should be nervous right now.
Read more here.

Welcome Back, Keith

It's been more than four years since Keith Olbermann engaged in the kind of political commentary that was so powerful during its mid-'00s heyday that it upturned the entire editorial direction of his then-home network MSNBC. After departing MSNBC for a brief, ignominious detour at the now-defunct CurrentTV, Mr. "Special Comment" has doled out political talk 140 characters at a time on Twitter.

That changed yesterday with the debut of his new web series via GQ, the first episode of which decries the Donald Trump candidacy in ways that make his condemnations of the Bush administration feel restrained in comparison. If history is our guide, this series too won't be long for this world, but for now check out the first installment below, and here's the text version of the piece with links to all the claims inside.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Deplorable Discourse

This past Friday Hillary Clinton made reference during a fundraiser to the "basket of deplorables" that constitutes much of Donald Trump's base, specifically saying that it's important not to lump in voters with genuine concerns and genuine worries with the racists, bigots, misogynists who the candidate has both courted and done little to distance himself from.

(As it happens, my garage band in high school was also called Basket of Deplorables.)

Anyway, people naturally pounced on the "deplorables" part of the comment, with many calling this Clinton's equivalent of Mitt Romney's infamous "47%" comment four years ago. I don't see it as comparable. To be clear, I think the way she spoke was clumsy and not helpful. However, the underlying assessment wasn't wrong. Were I one of her writers, I probably would have phrased it as something like this:

Zaki's Retro Review: Labyrinth

It’s easy to forget now, given how much of a beloved cult artifact it has since become, but director Jim Henson’s genre-bending fairytale Labyrinth was a sizable disappointment upon its theatrical release thirty years ago. Despite advanced puppet effects, a story shaped with an assist from Star Wars guru George Lucas, and global superstar David Bowie headlining the cast, Labyrinth not only failed to recoup its then-lavish $25-million budget; its failure proved so painful for Henson that the man behind the Muppets would never again step behind the camera before his untimely passing in 1990.

And yet. Thanks largely to Bowie’s visually striking Goblin King Jareth, an appealing performance by future Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly, and the charming use of puppets and practical effects to visualize its fantasy landscape, Labyrinth has not only endured, but become exactly the kind of shared multi-generational experience that one would expect from both Henson and Lucas. And with the film returning to theaters for a brief run marking its thirtieth anniversary, there’s never been a better time to retrace some steps along its road to becoming a cult classic.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Nostalgia Theater: Losing The Devlin Connection

As you know if you've followed Nostalgia Theater long enough, I have a particular affinity for the "gimmick" detective shows that populated the TV landscape during the 1980s. Obviously some were more successful than others, but that didn't stop the nets from keeping on shaking the trees to see what might fall out. One example of an also-ran in this genre is the short-lived skein The Devlin Connection, which was notable for being the return to series TV for actor Rock Hudson after six seasons on McMillan & Wife in the '70s.

Airing on NBC from October to December of '82, The Devlin Connection was created by John Wilder (who also developed the excellent Centennial miniseries a few years prior), and really it had one of those premises that only makes sense in a TV writer's mind. Hudson was Brian Devlin, a former military officer who's become director of the Los Angeles Performing Arts Center. When he's reunited with son Nick Corsello (Pointman's Jack Scalia), a racquetball pro, the two decide to solve mysteries together. Sure, makes sense to me. Here's the intro:

Friday, September 09, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Summer Movies in Review, From The Jungle Book to Ben-Hur!

Continuing an annual post-Labor Day tradition at the MovieFilm show, me and Brian reunite after a brief hiatus to look back at the summer's crop of releases big and small. From April's The Jungle Book to last month's Ben-Hur, and almost everything in between, we reexamine the hits, the misses, the should've-been-bigger, and the understandably-flopped from the summer season just ended. But that's not all: Before the main events, we also pause to pay tribute to the late, great Gene Wilder, acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, and offer our quick takes on some of our recent viewings. You can hear it all via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

INTERVIEW: Adam Nimoy on For the Love of Spock

This month marks fifty years since the original Star Trek television series premiered on NBC, inaugurating not only one of the greatest TV series of all time, but one of the most expansive and successful multimedia franchises. To help celebrate this auspicious occasion, director Adam Nimoy, son of the legendary Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock himself, has created an engrossing and emotional new documentary, For the Love of Spock, which pays tribute by examining the world’s relationship with the character—and the filmmaker’s relationship with his dad. Opening today in limited theatrical release and streaming as of Friday, the film features archival footage and rare photographs, plus commentaries and remembrances from William Shatner, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and many more. I had the opportunity to speak with Adam Nimoy about the film and its production, and what follows are some highlights of that chat.

Continue reading at Fandor...

Five Decades in the Final Frontier

It was fifty years ago today that an odd curio entitled "The Man Trap", the debut installment of a brand-new science-fiction series, aired on NBC to little acclaim and even fewer viewers. I wasn't due to arrive on this plane of existence for another decade-and-change, so I can only begin to imagine how the thing was received at the time. No doubt the mix of futuristic spacemen and forbidding monsters seemed to be pointing the way towards something in the mold of recent sci-fi pic Forbidden Planet, while borrowing liberally from the monster-of-the-week formula employed by TV's The Outer Limits which itself had aired (and ended) not too long before.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Left Shew Politics Podcast, Vol. 1 / Ep. 1

I was honored to be asked by my friend Rick Shew of the Batman-on-Film Podcast to join him for the debut episode of his new show looking at politics from a left-ward perspective. I had a blast and I'm looking forward to joining him for a future episode! Click below to give a listen to the show:

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Space Rangers Crashes and Burns

The early '90s were an interesting time for televised science-fiction. The through-the-roof success of Star Trek: The Next Generation in syndication -- garnering ratings that often had it beating a lot of network programming in many markets -- meant that other studios were on the hunt for their very own space series that they could boldly go into the mass-merchandising stratosphere with. Sometimes this paid off, but just as often it didn't, as evidenced by today's focus: The short-lived CBS series Space Rangers. Here's the intro:

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Random Thought

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Oh, God...

In proof positive that the Almighty has a pretty wicked sense of humor (or is actually a Democrat?), former congresswoman and perpetual googly-eyed nutbar Michele Bachmann has declared that God himself chose Donald Trump to be the GOP's nominee. You can't make this stuff up sometimes.

From The Onion...

This isn't really even satire, right? Pretty much cold, hard fact?
Aunt On Facebook Casually Advocates War Crime 
WILLIAMSPORT, PA—Arguing that it was time to deal decisively with the threat of terrorism, local aunt Deborah Massey casually advocated a war crime Monday in a brief Facebook post, sources confirmed. “Any city that has ISIS people hiding out in it needs to be bombed to the ground. That will send a message that they can’t hide from us anywhere,” wrote Massey, who, in a paragraph-long comment below a news article about the crisis in Syria that her niece had shared, offhandedly proposed several ideas that stood in stark violation of the Geneva Conventions and international law, including imprisoning all Middle Eastern refugees indefinitely until they could prove they weren’t terrorists. “If Obama would go back to waterboarding the ones we capture, we could stop attacks from happening. We have to protect ourselves.” Massey is said to have immediately followed up her call for breaching globally agreed-upon humanitarian principles by sharing a recipe for frosted lemon bars and liking all eight of her niece’s newly posted photos of her cairn terrier.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nostalgia Theater Podcast: Adam Nimoy on Star Trek and For the Love of Spock

It's Star Trek Month at Nostalgia Theater, as we celebrate fifty years of one of the greatest TV shows -- and franchises -- of all time! My special guest this episode is director Adam Nimoy, son of the legendary Leonard Nimoy -- Mr. Spock himself -- to discuss his emotional new documentary For the Love of Spock, which pays tribute to the late, great Mr. Nimoy as well as his iconic character, examining the world’s relationship with Spock and Adam’s relationship with his dad.

The film features commentaries and remembrances from such Trek luminaries as William Shatner, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, JJ Abrams, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, and many more, and will be available on VOD starting September 9. You can catch the show via the embed below, or subscribe at iTunesStitcher RadioTuneIn Radio, or Google Play (and remember to leave a review!). As always, send all questions or comments our way via MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com, and don't forget to hit "like" on our Facebook page.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Team Thor!

If you watched Captain America: Civil War last May and were wondering why Marvel Studios' heavy hitters Thor and Hulk weren't a part of the superhero smash festivities, here's a short film that helpfully fills in some of those narrative gaps. The very funny short, which debuted at the San Diego Comic-Con a few weeks, ago is directed by Thor: Ragranok helmer Taika Waititi and stars the Odinson himself, Chris Hemsworth. It also features a cameo by Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. Check it out below:

Nostalgia Theater: Super Nintendo -- Paul Rudd Plays With Power. Super Power!

This past Tuesday marked twenty-five years to the day that Nintendo's Super Nintendo Entertainment System made its debut in North America. And so, I thought there was no better time to wheel out this vintage TV spot hyping the 16-bit gaming platform's debut starring future superhero Paul Rudd. He was twenty-two at the time, and he appears not to have aged at all in the interim, so chalk one up to good genes, I guess. Anyway, I never did own a Super NES (or any NES, actually, other than a first generation Gameboy), so my memories of the system revolve more around seeing this ad in constant rotation than any actual games that I played on it. Enjoy:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

INTERVIEW: Tika Sumpter & Parker Sawyers Talk Southside With You

The new film Southside With You, now in theaters, presents a novel twist on the tried-and-true "date movie" genre by presenting a fictionalized account of the first date between Barack and Michelle Obama as imagined by writer/director Richard Tanne.

Long before entering the White House for two terms was even a blink in either of their eyes, they were two bright and vivacious up-and-comers in the Chicago legal scene, and the film's charming tale of two people discovering they're perfect for each would be engaging even if we didn't know the real world history that was to unfold following the end credits.

Playing the future First Couple are actors Tika Sumpter (who also produced the film) and Parker Sawyers, and they're easy chemistry both onscreen and off helps make Southside With You such a pleasing diversion. I had a chance to talk to the pair during their recent swing through San Francisco, and here are some excerpts of our conversation:

Friday, August 26, 2016

Annals of Derp

Trump's surrogates must not want this story to go away. That's the only reason to keep bringing it up again and again.

Extreme Vetting

A little late on the draw with this one, but I wanted to make sure I shared this vid from The Daily Show last week with correspondent Jordan Klepper putting folks at a Trump rally through the same kind of "extreme vetting" of ideologies that the candidate himself wants to subject immigrants to. It's exactly as hilarious/scary as you'd expect:

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Things That Make You Go "Huh?"

Whoever wrote this headline should take early retirement, because they've accomplished all they need to in life.

Steven Hill, RIP

Sad news this morning with the passing of veteran actor Steven Hill at the age of 94. Hill is probably best known for his time as District Attorney Adam Schiff on the original Law & Order, a role that he played for the show's first ten seasons. Many DA's followed in Hill's wake (including his immediate successor, Oscar-winner Dianne Wiest, and Fred Thompson, who himself passed away just under a year ago), but all labored under the considerable shadow that he cast. Before that, the actor also made his mark on the 1960s Mission: Impossible series, playing IMF leader Dan Briggs on the iconic series' first season, before the late Peter Graves stepped in as his successor, Jim Phelps. Of course, both of these roles are part of a long and prosperous career that spanned more than half a century, and included both film and television work. While he'd been off-camera for the latter part of his life, he's left behind a legacy that ensure his work will be watched and appreciated for years to come.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dealbreaker

Trump to Black Voters: "What do you have to lose?"

So Mr. "Art of the Deal" is now the guy at the bar just trying to hook up before close.

Nostalgia Theater: Space Precinct -- Star Trek Meets Law & Order Meets Muppets

Space Precinct was a British-made series that aired briefly in US syndication in the 1994-'95 season. It starred Dallas and Knots Landing's Ted Shackleford and soap star Rob Youngblood as a pair of deep space cops, and was the final production of legendary sci-fi TV producer Gerry Anderson (whose Space: 1999 I previously discussed here). While he'd originally dreamed up the idea (under the title "Space Police") in the mid-'80s, it wasn't until the American market for syndicated hour-longs opened up in the '90s (thanks to Star Trek: The Next Generation, which had just wrapped its run a few months earlier) that he was able to get the thing sold. When it debuted, it looked like this:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The MovieFilm Podcast: Suicide Squad Winds Down the Summer!

The MovieFilm boys are back with their thoughts on the late summer smash Suicide Squad! Find out what we thought of the latest DC Comics adaptation as we offer our takes on what worked and what didn't. In addition, Zaki discusses why the fourth time may not be the charm when it comes to Matt Damon in Jason Bourne. But that's not all! Hear our interview with Parker Sawyers & Tika Sumpter about the charming romantic dramedy Southside With You, as well as fast talk on the latest headlines out of Hollywood, and our reactions to the second trailer for the upcoming Star Wars spin-off Rogue One. Listen to it all via the embed below or at iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play. As always, please hit "like" on our Facebook page, and send any questions or comments to MovieFilmPodcast@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Adderly's Miscellanous Affairs

Adderly is one of those shows that's managed to remain lodged in my memory despite the fact that it's rather stubbornly unmemorable. One of the outgrowths of spending ten years of my childhood in Saudi Arabia was watching pretty much whatever they chose to show on Saudi TV (this was before satellite TV became a fixture in the Kingdom). And so we'd end up getting a lot of short-lived oddities that were otherwise forgotten stateside, and one of those selfsame oddities was this Canadian-produced espionage series which I have no idea why I still remember.

The title character, played by the late Winston Rekert, is a lifelong government agent who's reassigned to "Miscellaneous Affairs" after an incident where a baddie disables his right hand with an old-timey mace. Of course, Adderly being a go-to Canadian man of action, a bum hand and desk duty aren't enough to keep him out of trouble, and so it went for forty-four episodes between 1986 and 1988. Although produced in Canada, Adderly aired in the US on CBS during the late night slot that would later be occupied by David Letterman.

Like I said, almost entirely unmemorable, but I kinda dug the theme music. Watch the first episode below:

Friday, August 12, 2016

Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game

Random Thought

Recommended Reading

My good friend and fellow Geek Wisdom author Eric San Juan has a piece up at his site where he really takes a frying pan to the whole Donald Trump mystique, and it's quite a masterful deconstruction that really needs to be seen. Here's a highlight:
Tragically, Trump doesn’t even need to be elected to do damage to this country. He already has. His rhetoric has already helped poison the well (and it’s not the first time over the years he’s been accused of that). He has made bigots comfortable with being bigots again for the first time in decades. Bigotry and racism never died, of course — if you think black Americans don’t live by a different set of rules in this country, you’d give Helen Keller a run for her money — but at least we had reached a point where we all agreed that it was shameful to be a racist. Bigots were encouraged to shut their damn mouths, their poison shared only in private or with knowing glances and nods. Yet now, Trump is making bigotry mainstream again. The damage is done and it’s getting worse by the day.
There's much, much more over at Eric's site, and I highly recommend jumping over there and giving it all a read.

New Rogue One Trailer! Sweet!

With summer movie season pretty much winding down, it's already time to start looking to the end of the year's crop of blockbusters. And very near the top of the pile for most folks is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first of Disney's "spin-off" movies that will keep the franchise fires lit between "episodes" (as you know, this one is set just before 1977's original Star Wars, a.k.a. A New Hope).

The second trailer for the Gareth Edwards-directed film (which had some last-minute reshoots and tinkering supervised by writer/director Tony Gilroy that had some nabobs nattering a little while ago), dropped last night, and it looks just as exciting as the one we saw previously in April. Check out the new assemblage below, and then bide your time in anticipation of the film's December debut:

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Ghostbusters‬ Sequel "On Ice"?

I liked the Ghostbusters reboot from Sony and director Paul Feig well enough when it hit theaters in July, and while I fully expected that it would do just fine in the long rung, guess I was in the minority. Based on how the tale of the box office tape ended up, the movie -- which spent more than two decades in development hell -- has failed to meet its $145 production budget, and the projected global total of $225 million falling well short of the $300 mil that would have signaled a break-even for the spook spectacle. Presumably this means all the high-falutin' sequel and shared universe talk from Sony before the movie even came out will all be for naught, adding the new Ghostbusters to the same "promised sequels" pile that Superman Returns and Green Lantern are currently occupying. Check out this piece at The Hollywood Reporter that lays out all the nasty math.

Saw This at Barnes & Noble...

In the "Things to Give Your Kids If You Secretly Hate Them" section:


Sunday, August 07, 2016

Nostalgia Theater: Weekday Mornings With Bozo!

I'm in my old hometown of Chicago right now, and that has me reminiscing about watching The Bozo Show weekday mornings on WGN-TV during my childhood. Created way back in 1946, Bozo the Clown (the obvious inspiration for The Simpsons' Krusty the Clown) was later licensed to local stations across the country to create their own variety shows for kids. But of all of these, it's the Chicago version that's considered the gold standard, and is the most successful and longest-landing productions of its kind in TV history. Because in Chicago that's just how we roll. Go big or go home.

The show (which began its life in 1960 as Bozo's Circus before being re-christened in 1980) was a fixture for a lot of kids during that era. Featuring skits, cartoons, and games, you watched while eating breakfast and getting ready to go to school. While Bozo was played by actor Bob Bell from the '60s, it's the second Bozo, played by Joey D'Auria beginning in 1984, who I'm most familiar with. His sidekicks included Cooky the Clown (Roy Brown), Wizzo (Marshall Brodien), and musician Professor Andy (Andy Mitran).

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Out Now with Aaron and Abe Podcast: Jason Bourne

Click "play" on the embed below to hear my guest shot on the latest episode of Out Now With Aaron and Abe, featuring a lot of fun banter, plus an in-depth discussion on Jason Bourne (which you already know I wasn't crazy about). Click here to download at iTunes.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Zaki's Review: Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad is the fifth superhero spectacle to hit theaters this year, and the second set within Warners' DC Comics universe. That feels like a lot even for a dyed-in-the-wool comic book buff like me. Still, arriving mere months after Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice ran headlong into a wall of critical castigation and box office stagnation, it feels like this project has been tasked with accomplishing more than it was really intended for. Not only does it need to play like a blockbuster, it also needs to justify the impending, unending fusillade based on the DC library to compete with Disney's bulletproof Marvel Studios brand.

As a result, Suicide Squad is a noisy, disjointed, borderline incomprehensible mess of a movie that's pretty much a textbook example of the kind of tonal disconnect that can occur when studios enlist independent-minded directors in service of the latest blockbuster-of-the-week. And yet, I kind of loved it. It's not DC's best, but it's also far from the worst. And while it might sound incongruous given how much scorn I heaped on Batman v. Superman for many of the same failings, Suicide Squad manages to work almost despite itself, and precisely because it doesn't bear the weight of its outsized mega-franchise ambitions on its back.