Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No Laughing Matter


With the semester just having wound down, I'm currently chilling in Chicago for the holidays. And by chilling I mean chilling. Seriously. It's freezing. Anyway, posting might be even slimmer than usual through the new year, though I'll certainly try to keep up, but I did want to make sure I stopped in and posted the new Joker-centric teaser for The Dark Knight. Based on everything I see here, I'm still on board for this one. Looks like Chris Nolan and Co. have done it again.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Man in the Hat, Part II


The publicity roll-out for Indiana Jones IV continues, with the first teaser poster, painted by Drew Struzan, whose work you might remember from the previous Indys, as well as the Star Wars movies. I'm sure we'll get a more standard "collage-style" poster as the release gets closer, but this should tide us over for now.

Also, jump over to USA Today to get a hint of the plot (be aware of spoilers, if that kind of thing bothers you).

Lies Our Presidents Tell Us

I meant to post this last week, but better late than never. Last Thursday's Countdown saw Keith Olbermann give a Special Comment discussing last week's release of the NIE estimate which nicely scuppers the Junta's lies about Iran. It's a powerful indictment of Team Bush from Keith, and Crooks & Liars has the video and transcript.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Coming Home

For the past 14 month my friend Paul Shirey was serving in Iraq, and he would blog about his time there whenever he got the chance. His tour in Iraq recently ended, just in time for Thanksgiving, and he's now back stateside, safe and sound. He recently had the opportunity to write about the experience of coming home to the relative safety of hearth and home, and it's worth a look for a perspective on the war that we might not get that often. This isn't about politics or leaning right or left or whether you support this thing or not, it's about the actual lives that are being put on the line over there, and what goes through their minds day-in and day-out.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Man Who Laughs

And here's our first clear full-body shot of Heath Ledger as Batman's archfiend, The Joker, in next summer's The Dark Knight. I had some initial reservations from the first leaked photos, but based on this pic, consider me on board. It's certainly a far cry from the Jack Nicholson version of the character, but it fits right in with the world that director Chris Nolan set up in Batman Begins. I like it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Man in the Hat

Wow, I'm living in my very own time-warp. Harrison Ford is a lot older and lot greyer, but if there was any doubt that he could still wield Indiana Jones' bull-whip, check this out:

It's a bit of a wait until (long breath) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, henceforth to be referred to as Indy IV, hits theaters next May, but you can see more pics up at AICN.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jack & Tony's Day Off

The team at Mr. Boy Productions is back with a follow-up to their extremely well-received 24 parody from last Spring. This time out, Jack Bauer and Tony Almeida ponder how to spend all their free time now that the series' seventh season has been indefinitely postponed.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Olbermann on the Attack

It's been awhile since we've heard one of Keith's Olbermann's Special Comments. If I were to guess, I'd say his ire was raised by last Friday's news that so-called Democrats Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein had capitulated to the Junta yet again, and okayed Michael Mukasey for the AG post, even as he refused to state unequivocally that waterboarding constituted torture. Sadly, that's about what we expect from the Dems, but it's a good one from Keith. Crooks and Liars has nicely posted the video and transcript here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spidey-Sense Tingling

With its release on DVD yesterday, and since the wife hadn't seen it, I ended up re-watching Spider-Man 3 last night. My thoughts? Watch this:



In the movie's defense, I didn't dislike it as much the second time, for whatever that's worth.

(Special shout-out to your friend and mine, Brian Hall, for sending this my way.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

No such thing as 'Islamofascism'

Paul Krugman explains why, and also tells us why the Junta's current run-up to a war with Iran is a bad, bad, bad idea.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

UPDATED - Phoning It In

You can practically set your watch to it. Another week rolls around, and with remarkable predictability, the Democrats in Congress talk a big fight and then scamper away like scared rabbits. This week the talk has been the battle with BushCo to restore some semblance of privacy and accountability to Americans by way of the RESTORE act, which aims to roll back some of the spying powers Congress simply handed over to Team Bush this past summer (because he said please, I guess).

One of the biggest sticking points coming from the Figurehead was his frankly ridiculous demand that any bill he received contain immunity for any telecommunication companies that might have allegedly done anything illegal (not that they did), such as, say, handing over their private caller records to the government without a warrant or just cause (not that they did). In other words, Bush wanted retroactive immunity for any potential crimes that might have been committed, all the while maintaining that they did nothing illegal.

Seems this was an easy fight for the Dems to put up, right? Not so, says Glenn Greenwald, as he lays out how the so-called opposition has sold us out yet again.

UPDATE: Looks like there's at least one lion among the lambs, with Senator Chris Dodd placing a "hold" on any FISA legislation that includes amnesty for the telecom companies. Good for him, and make sure you fill out Dodd's petition here.

Friday, October 12, 2007

UPDATED - Beam me up, Shaunnie

And continuing our Star Trek news-train this week, Simon Pegg, the British comedian of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame has been cast as constantly-beleaguered Enterprise engineer Montgomery "Scotty" Scott. To be honest, Pegg would never even have occurred to me for Scotty, and I'd figured the role would go to Stargate: Atlantis doc Paul McGillion, but I can dig it.

Oh, and Harold (as in "& Kumar") is the new Sulu. Oh my.

Read all about it here.

UPDATE: And here's a nice compare-and-contrast of the new actors and their TOS forebears, with two rather large "Kirk" and "McCoy" sized holes yet to be filled. Click the pic to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Letters From Limbaugh's Legions

In case you didn't think Rush Limbaugh's standing could sink any lower following last fall's shameful attack on Michael J. Fox, last week saw the Right Wing blowhard dismiss military servicemen or veterans who stand in opposition to Bush's war as "phony soldiers." Once his comments hit the mainstream, what followed in lieu of an apology was instead a display verbal gymnastics worthy of any Olympic athlete as he hemmed and hawed and tried to make out like the poor victim of a vast conspiracy who dared to, you know, quote his exact words in context.

Anyway, following Limbaugh's comments, the group VoteVets.org, founded by some of those very same "phony soldiers," took him justifiably to task. In retaliation for daring to criticize Limbaugh and The War (presumably in that order), here are some of the letters VoteVets received from the brave, noble Americans who Limbaugh numbers among his faithful fanbase. He must be very proud.

From THE ONION...

Cost Of Freedom At All-Time High

WASHINGTON, DC—According to a report released Monday, the cost of American freedom has soared from its previous 1779 high of bravery, sacrifice, fighting for what's right, and 25,071 human lives, up to a record bravery, sacrifice, fighting for what's right, 321,932 human lives, personal privacy, peace of mind, honor, liberty, comfort, and $14.2 billion. Even as it reaches unprecedented levels, most Americans have no choice but to pay for the intangible commodity.

"I suppose you need freedom," said Nancy Holstrom, who was forced to send her two eldest sons to Iraq last month to help defray rising freedom costs.

Government officials said they are committed to exploring all viable alternatives to freedom, including converting to a military dictatorship.

Green-skinned to Green-blooded

The news on the latest big screen Star Trek production has slowed to a crawl since the announcement awhile ago that both Leonard Nimoy and Heroes' Zachary Quinto would be playing Spock. Yeah, there came word that that the roles of Chekov and Uhura had been filled, and that auditions are ongoing for the part of Scotty, but nothing big casting-wise has come out until yesterday's word that the villain has been cast, and they're this close to having the 2008 issue Captain Kirk signed and delivered.

Playing the villainous Nero is Aussie actor Eric Bana, late of Marvel's Hulk movie franchise and last seen in May's blink-and-it's-gone Lucky You. While we don't know a whole lot about the plot, indications are that Bana's character is a time traveling Romulan (the green-blooded, pointy-eared cousins of Mr. Spock's Vulcan race) out to do no good by mucking with the timeline of Trek standbys Kirk and Spock.

Next up is actor Chris Pine, whose dubious claim to fame up to this point is playing himbo to Lindsay Lohan in last year's floptastic Just My Luck (maybe these guys should just stay away from movies whose titles involve the word "luck"...). Pine is in negotiations to suit up as James Tiberius. Not having seen him in anything up to this point, I can't say anything about the guy's acting abilities, but if he has director JJ Abrams' confidence, that goes a long way with me.

More, of course, as it develops.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Conceding Conscience

From the New York Times:

Democratic Concessions Are Expected on Wiretapping

Here, yet again, is your Democratic opposition at work.

Since the Dems took the reins of congressional power in last year's midterms, powered largely on the promise of a much-needed change of direction both internationally and domestically, the story of this Democratic majority has been disappointment after disappointment as they accede to the administration's wishes on issue after issue after pressing issue. It'd be one thing if they actually went to the mat and got taken down, but more often than not they either don't even try.

Such is the case with the recent update to the FISA law, which would give the government expanded legal powers to wiretap and eavesdrop on citizens. Before the summer recess, congress largely folded once again for fear of being labeled soft on terror and gave the administration everything they wanted (and then some). Still, despite all this, they promised -- promised! -- that once they returned from break they'd fight to have the newly-minted law repealed and restored to its previous restrictions. Well, based on today's news we can already see how well that's working out.

Rudy's 9/11 Response(s)

It's become fascinating in a car-wreck kind of way to see how many different ways Rudy Giuliani will incorporate mention of September 11th into the most seemingly-unrelated queries or discussions. Here's a list of some of the most extreme examples.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Highly Recommended Reading

Over the past few weeks, the neo-cons in the Bush Junta and their enablers in the media (i.e. Fox News) have begun to really ramp up the propaganda as they try to ensure the inevitability of a military confrontation with Iran. For those of you who think such a thing couldn't possibly happen after the catastrophic quagmire of Iraq, Sy Hersh pulls back the curtain to give us a peek inside the Administration's plans to sell yet another illegal war to the docile Dems and the public at large.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Nostalgia Theater: Star Trek Edition

For many folks in the US, it was twenty years ago on this very day that a different kind of U.S.S. Enterprise took to the syndicated airwaves. That's right, we're twenty years on from the television premiere of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I may have celebrated a birthday earlier this week, but this is what really makes me feel old:

Friday, September 21, 2007

"Get back behind that line, Mr. Bush"

Keith Olbermann had been sidelined since the beginning of the week due to appendix surgery, but he was back in fine form last night with a new Special Comment excoriating the Figurehead for his usual cowardice and hypocrisy, this time as it pertains to his use and abuse of the military for whatever political ends suit him. Check out the video here.

JUSTICE For WB

There've been rumors of a live action movie based on DC Comics' Justice League, which unites superhero mainstays Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, etc. for about as long as there's been an Internet. Up to this point I've mostly dismissed these rumors as the wishful thinking of fevered fanboys, but they took a huge step toward reality today with Variety's announcement that director George Miller, he of Mad Max and Babe fame, has signed on the dotted line to bring DC's seminal super-team to the big screen.

In anticipation of impending strikes, Warner execs are rushing this one to the screen, which is generally not a good sign, as whenever studio execs are more worried about release dates than the actual story, we wind up with things like 2001's Planet of the Apes, and last year's X-Men 3. Another point of concern, this movie will stand separate from the still-ongoing Batman and Superman big screen franchises, so no Christian Bale and no Brandon Routh playing their respective alter-egos.

Who will step into their heroic roles, who will be joining them on the team? More news when and if it develops.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Recommended Reading

Fred Kaplan on the Figurehead's Iraq address last night:
President Bush's TV address tonight was the worst speech he's ever given on the war in Iraq, and that's saying a lot. Every premise, every proposal, nearly every substantive point was sheer fiction. The only question is whether he was being deceptive or delusional.
More at the link.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's not the years, it's the mileage.

For years now, it's been know simply as "Indy IV." Now, finally, we know what to call it:

Unfortunately, that's all we know...so far.

Advanced Iron

Here it is, the first teaser trailer for next summer's Iron Man. There's been some bootlegged footage from the San Diego Comicon all over the web for the past month, but I've been waiting for something official to come out before I posted, and clearly it was worth the wait. This one keeps looking better and better.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tobey Takes 'TECH

A couple of years ago, the successful relaunch of beloved '80s property G.I. Joe (on September 12, 2001, as it happens) hurled the comic book industry into a nostalgic buzz that saw updated versions of Transformers, Thundercats, Masters of the Universe, and Japanese/American hybrid Robotech all hit shelves in rapid succession. Most of these relaunches were unsuccessful, with really G.I. Joe being the only one to go the distance (though the Transformers license recently landed at IDW -- a relaunch of a relaunch). Now history seems to repeating itself in Hollywood.

The stunning (though, if you asked anyone who grew up back then, inevitable) success of the Transformers feature has already led to the recent announcement of a G.I. Joe movie, helmed by Mummy/Van Helsing director Stephen Sommers, and today comes word that Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire will produce and star in a big budget redo of Robotech. Presumably Maguire will play the lead character Rick Hunter (Rick Imata in the original Japanese version, Macross -- and yes, I'm that big of a geek).

Now, there's a world of difference between a project being announced and a project actually happening, so who knows if this thing even gets made, but it'll be interesting to track its progress, as well as that of all the other nostalgia-infused lemmings that are sure to follow in Transformers' considerable wake. MASK, anyone?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Post-Gonzo Planning

Glenn Greenwald on what the so-called opposition party need to do in the wake of Fredo's departure if they hope to restore a semblance of accountability to this government. Will it happen? Based on the the Dems' valiant history of caving, caving, and caving some more (and that's just since they've had the majority!), computer says "no."

Gonzo is Gonzo

Embattled Attorney General Resigns

Given both Gonzales' and Bush's obstinate "Ain't goin' nowhere" stance in the face of ever-increasing scrutiny over the past few months, I have to admit that this too, like Rove's resignation, caught me off-guard.

That being said, let's hop in the Wayback Machine and look at what I wrote when former AG John Ashcroft resigned in '04:
I have a feeling a lot of people are going to be rejoicing over this news, but I'm a little leary of who BushCo is going to pull out of their hat to fill in the ranks. Forgive my pessimism, but this administration's history can be summed up in various permutations of bad and worse.
We all know how that shook out, so here I sit waiting, again, for that other shoe.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Recommended Reading

Fred Kaplan of Slate breaks down Rudy Giuliani's recent foreign policy manifesto for Foreign Affairs magazine, and gives us yet another reason why "America's Mayor" is about the worst choice possible for the next president.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Smile.

Say hello to the Joker, 2008 model, as played by Heath Ledger, and as seen in next summer's The Dark Knight. All I can say is that it's certainly a switch from the popularized Cesar Romero/Jack Nicholson version of the character that most people are probably familiar with, and while I don't have have any strong feelings either way, I can definitely see this getting under the skins of the more dedicated fanboys out there. I'm just curious as to what the in-story explanation is for his pasty complexion. Guess we'll all find out next year.

For a boatload of production stills from the flick, jump on over to Dark Horizons and check 'em out (unless the lawyers at WB have had 'em pulled by the time you read this...).

Monday, August 13, 2007

Recommended Reading

Jonathan Alter, columnist for Newsweek and a regular contributer to Countdown with Keith Olbermann, sums up what precisely it means to you, me, and Joe Blow, that Congress, with the willful acquiescence of the Democratic so-called opposition, last week authorized a revision to the FISA domestic surveillance law, effectively taking a whiz on the Constitution in the process.

Out of the frying pan...

Just when you think world opinion of the US can't sink any lower, here comes Joe Conason at Salon to break it down for us:
In his rhetoric, the president usually seeks to distinguish the religion of Islam, which he has honored in the White House on many occasions, from the murderous perversion of that faith. And in his best moments after 9/11, he has defended the rights of Muslim Americans to live here without suffering persecution or prejudice.

Perhaps Bush's efforts deserve to be dismissed as little more than lip service, but semantics matter. The Republicans most likely to win their party's presidential nomination constantly use language that is meant to inflame anger against Muslims for political advantage.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm shocked -- shocked -- that Republicans would stoop to such tactics.

Flushed Turd

Karl Rove to Resign At the End of August

Wow. I genuinely can't say I saw this one coming. Not sure what it portends for the junta one way or the other, but there it is.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Chicagoing

The soup, as they say, is on. I know posting has been a little infrequent this summer, mainly due to my hectic course load, but it's gonna be just about non-existent for the next two weeks, as I head to the Midwest to visit the family and for some much-needed R & R. I may not be in until the 23rd, but feel free to hang out. Just remember to turn the lights out when you leave.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Recommended Reading

If it wasn't so darn serious, it'd be comical how Alberto Gonzales manages to stay in his job after his (take your pick) lying, incompetence, malfeasance, and just general obstinacy, all in violation of his oath to the Constitution, and all mandated by his buddy from Texas. Well, if you're wondering why the heck he's still around as A.G., look no further than this article from Sidney Blumenthal that lays bare the elaborate machinery at work here, and why Gonzales' presence at its center is so integral for BushCo.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A New Trek

Some big announcements came out of the San Diego Comic Convention this past weekend, including some word on Thursday on director JJ Abrams' reboot of the dormant Star Trek franchise. First up, the first teaser poster...

As you can see, just Star Trek. No roman numerals, no colons. And, based on the "classic" font, we have a good sense of when the movie is set. Next, meet the new Mr. Spock, played by Zachary Quinto of TV's Heroes, flanked by the man who originated the role, Leonard Nimoy.

Possibly the biggest news is that Nimoy, who is quite enthusiastic about the project and the script, will return to the role in what is presumbly a framing sequence. One of the biggest mysteries about this project has been whether it's a ground-up redo or whether it fits into what's come before, and I'd say Nimoy's presence pretty much clears that one up.

Still undecided at this point is whether or not William Shatner will reprise his role as Kirk, and who will fill "Young Kirk"'s Starfleet issues. I'm sure there'll be plenty of new to trickle out between now and the movie's Christmas '08 release.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Whence Impeachment?

Okay, time for a political rant.

It's just one thing after another for the junta these days -- as evidenced by their latest attempt to subvert democracy. It's reached a point now where there are basically two things happening in the White House at any given point: Either the Figurehead is insanely defending his disastrous Iraq policy against all facts and evidence to the contrary, or his team of cronies is actively taking a whiz on the concept of constitutional accountability.

Speaker Pelosi famously (infamously?) took impeachment off the table when she assumed her new role, and I have to ask, what was she thinking? What has this administration done that could remotely justify the one means of actually, maybe, giving us some oversight being removed from consideration? Am I missing something here?

You know something is seriously awry when Senator Russ Feingold, who has consistently been on the right (as opposed to Right) side of this war, won't even consider impeachment. This is something that is constitutionally mandated so as to prevent the exact abuses of power that are happening right now, yet the so-called opposition party would rather act in the interests of their own political expediency.

When will enough finally be enough for this spayed-and-neutered Democratic congress before they actually start, you know, doing something to protect the interests of the people who put them there?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Continuing the Quagmire

The situation in Iraq, succinctly summarized by Kevin Drum:
Both the American public and the Iraqi public want us to leave Iraq. However, both the American government and the Iraqi government want us to stay. So we're staying.

This is called "democracy promotion."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Zaki's Review: Transformers

Peter Cullen is Optimus Prime.

Even when I was a kid, when the names of voice actors didn't mean much of anything to me, I knew. Peter Cullen is Optimus Prime.

And now, he is again. But we'll talk about that in a second.

It seems a safe bet that anyone who grew up at anytime past the 1980s pretty much knows the basic concept at the core of Transformers, the splashy summer entertainment from director Michael Bay and exec-producer Steven Spielberg: Giant alien robots show up on Earth. Some are good, some are bad. Property damage ensues. It's funny, I've taken the whole "Transformers" thing at face value since I was a wee one, so it wasn't until I saw the movie try to make sense of the storylines laid out in the various cartoon shows and comic books that I realized that, y'know, this stuff is hard to take too seriously.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Tricky Dick Redux

There's a line in The Simpsons' where Mr. Burns is described as having "crossed the line from normal, everyday villainy to cartoonish super-villainy." Based on Dick Cheney's recent pretzel-like attempts to do an end-run around any semblance of Constitutional accountability, it looks like the Dark Lord has now crossed over that very threshold. How should he be impeached? Conservative commentator and former Reagan deputy A.G. Bruce Fein counts the ways.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Indy On-Set

I've been hearing about a new Indiana Jones movie almost since the last one came out back in 1989, so I've understandably been leery whenever a new bit of purported news emerged about this long-gestating project. And while all the casting news of late has lent an aura of validity to all the rumors, there's nothing like the photographic proof below for that final, definitive confirmation.

Yes, Virginia, it is Indiana Jones. And he's coming soon to a theater near you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Recommended Reading

Steven Grant's thoughts as he walks us through twisty-turny courtroom escapades of convicted perjurer Scooter Libby and convicted moron Paris Hilton:
What it comes down to, though, whether your name is Hilton or Libby, there is now considered to be a class of people in this country - the rich, powerful and connected - for whom the application of the law in the same way it is applied to all the rest of us is considered to be a gross miscarriage of justice. Not that there hasn't always been, but there haven't ever before been quite so many voices with access to the media howling to make it an acknowledged standard.
That about says it, doesn't it? Read the entirety of Grant's piece here (scroll down past the comic book stuff).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Suit Makes the Bat

This pic has been out across the web for a few days now, but I've been waiting for a higher-res version to surface before I posted it. It's our first (relatively) clear shot of the Batsuit in next summer's The Dark Knight, the second in director Chris Nolan's new series. I have to say, while I like the streamlined shape they've given the cowl, I'm not especially crazy about all the gew-gaws they've got on the suit. My preference would've been for something more streamlined and a little less...I dunno, Tron-like, I guess.

Still, the could be worse. They could've put nipples on the thing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rolling Out

Here's the sweet new poster for the upcoming Transformers, due to hit theaters in mere weeks:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Random Comment of the Day

Seen on an Internet blog, regarding the Paris Hilton re-sentencing:

"I don't think I've felt the nation this united since 9/11."

Friday, June 08, 2007

Taking Bets

Paris Hilton has been sent (back) to jail. Kicking and screaming, I might add.

Oh, and there's gonna be a no-confidence vote for Alberto Gonzales on Monday.

Hmm, wonder which story will be getting coverage come next week.

Legendary.

Richard Matheson's novella "I am Legend" is one of those stories I read at just the right age for it to stick with me in every unsettling detail. The story tracks Robert Neville, the lone survivor in a world where some unknown plague has left the population as vampires. "Legend" is a perfect example of what I like to call "Idea Horror," that is, it's less focused on gore and viscera than it is on the underlying feeling of suspense and the slowly unfurling tension of its situation (no surprise, given Matheson's Twilight Zone pedigree).

It's always been surprising to me that Hollywood never got around to doing a good movie version of the story. I emphasise the word "good," as they've tried twice already with mixed results -- a low-budget '60s Vincent Price shlocker called The Last Man on Earth, and a more well-known Charlton Heston starrer from the '70s entitled The Omega Man. Though each has its interesting point, especially the Heston one, neither version quite got what made the Matheson story work.

An updated adaptation of the project has been kicking around Hollywood for several years now, with Ridley Scott, Michael Bay, and Arnold Schwarzenegger all attached at various points, all ultimately dropping out for one reason or another. The version of I Am Legend that finally hits screens at the end of the year is directed by Constantine helmer Francis Lawrence and stars Will Smith as Neville, with a script from Da Vinci Code and Batman & Robin scribe Akiva Goldsman (uh oh...).

Based on this just-released teaser, I can't say for sure whether this version will get Matheson any better than the others, but here's hoping.

Zaki's Review: Ocean's Thirteen

After two prior capers, one above-average, one mediocre, I'm sure it elicited more than a few eye-rolls when it was announced that director Stephen Soderberg and star George Clooney would once again re-assemble their Hollywood who's-who cast for one more dip into the Ocean's well.

Following on the heels of Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, and the inexplicably-popular Pirates, Ocean's Thirteen marks the fourth three-quel to hit theaters in just over a month, and it's probably the one that most had to justify its existence. Happily, Soderbergh and Co. return to fine form in this third entry, making for a crackling summer entertainment that far eclipses this year's other sequels for sheer enjoyability.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Random TV Thought, Part II

...However, very soon you will be able to catch this on NBC in lieu of Studio 60.

And people say there's no audience for intelligent television.

Random TV Thought

I'm sitting here watching the first of four final episodes of Aaron Sorkin's impressively-pedigreed, impeccably-acted, ratings-starved Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and I'm realizing that I'm really gonna miss this show.

Watch it while you can.

Three more weeks.

One Less Jones For INDY

Bummer.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Recommended Reading

Another good one this week from Frank Rich, on the Bush Administration and the general "can't wait 'till it's over" feeling it's engendered all across America.

"America's Mayor"

When you take a look at some of the characters lining up on the Republican side to fill the Figurehead's clown shoes, you start to give serious consideration to whether you'd prefer a punch in the face or a kick in the crotch.

I have a feeling that a great many blog entries between now and when the party's nominee becomes apparent will be spent looking at one or the other candidate and pointing out why they're a horrible, horrible, horrible choice. First up, it's Rudy Giuliani's turn, and as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibi makes clear, this self-styled "hero" (lower-case and in quotes) could turn out to be even worse than the guy currenty sitting in the big chair:
Yes, Rudy is smarter than Bush. But his political strength -- and he knows it -- comes from America's unrelenting passion for never bothering to take that extra step to figure shit out. If you think you know it all already, Rudy agrees with you. And if anyone tries to tell you differently, they're probably traitors, and Rudy, well, he'll keep an eye on 'em for you. Just like Bush, Rudy appeals to the couch-bound bully in all of us, and part of the allure of his campaign is the promise to put the Pentagon and the power of the White House at that bully's disposal.
It's funny, Brian Hall made mention a few posts back about what a cliche it is that "Republicans are stupid," and that's a fair cop. On the other hand, what does it say about the party and where its collective head is at that a deceitful, corrupt snake-oil salesman is the apparent frontrunner based entirely on an hallucinatory record of being the Big Bad Terrorist Fighter?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Up-Hil Climb

Arianna Huffington sums up for me why I can't bring myself to support Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House. Her campaign's Orwellian recasting of herself from a black-and-white supporter of the Iraq War into a someone who is now and was always a vigorous opponent of this president and his policies leads one to ask what difference there is, really, between her and the Junta currently in charge.

That, plus I'm not crazy about our presidential timeline going "Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton."

Divorce Papers

Once again we interrupt this blog for a special word from your friend and mine, Brian Hall:

******

May 21, 2007

Dear The Simpsons,

I’ve always explained my relationship with The Simpsons like a marriage. It was a torrid romance during the 90’s - one where we grew together and I learned much from my beloved bride. Then, in early 2000, my wife developed a ‘drinking problem’ and would start spouting weak imitations of her normally insightful and witty observations. She became an embarrassment at parties and friends of my wife - or ‘fans’ if you will - began to stop hanging out with us. I supported my wife through her rocky struggle because I had invested so much time into our relationship and was not yet ready to give up on her.

Every now and then she would show signs of recovery but it was last night’s 400th episode that proved to me that her problems run too deep, her disease at this point is incurable and that we must divorce for irreconcilable differences. It makes me sad thinking back on the early years of our relationship. Every night, reruns act as a photo album showcasing the joy that once was.

My wife, The Simpsons, was smart, funny, and had her pulse on the state of the country and even the American family. Cynicism mixed with satire and sentiment is a damn-near impossible feat to pull off but she did it and she did it well. Now she settles for Homer getting poked in the eye, among other very tired and very unfunny violent circumstances, and Marge saying something that rhymes. Remember when Itchy & Scratch used to be the sole receivers of cartoon violence on the show, reminding us that they were ‘fake’ and the Simpsons were ‘real?’

Don’t get me started with her take on politics. Having Homer repeatedly saying the word "liberals" with disdain (over and over, waiting for it to be funny), Flanders putting papers that say ‘Jesus’ onto windshields and taking digs at the Fox Network is not ‘important commentary,’ it’s lazy, it’s rehashed and it’s embarrassing. Republicans-are-dumb jokes are about as insightful and fresh as men-leaving-the-toilet-seat-up gags. My current mistress, South Park, has fortunately picked up the ball on this one. Hell, they even handled the 24 parody better.

I can’t believe I have stuck around for 400 episodes but I think it was necessary for me to see that it is time for us to part ways. I can never discredit you for all the good you’ve done for me and will always visit reruns to remember the good times. Scratch that, the great times.

I will miss you and truly do wish you the best of luck.

Your Former Husband,

Joey Joe Joe Shabadoo

******

It's a shame these kids couldn't make it work.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Recommended Reading

Here's, of all people, Pat Buchanan, dissecting the media-spin around one of the definitive moments in last week's Republican candidate debate in South Carolina. More and more you start to realize that our electoral process is less about choosing the best man for the job than it is about selecting from a list of several pre-fab, pre-approved candidates. How very depressing.

Spread the Word

Alberto Gonzales needs to get gone. Here's why, here's why, and here's why:



Sign the petition here.

Joker's Wild

Click here to see your first glimpse of Heath Ledger as the Joker in next year's The Dark Knight, the sequel to Batman Begins.

Pleasant, no?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Rambo Rambling

Here's our first look at cut-together footage from the upcoming John Rambo, the fourth film in Sly Stallone's other franchise. Not so much a trailer, but a work-in-progress assemblage to show exhibitors. That said, I gotta say, as much as I'm looking forward to this, and hoping it's good, I really am not blown away by this.

The long-and-short of the story is that the aged Rambo comes out of retirement to rescue some Christian missionaries from Burmese pirates. Yeah, I know, riveting. Now, it's no secret that my favorite film in the series is the first one, First Blood, and I was hoping that this would get back those dramatic roots.

Unfortunately, from this footage it looks like exactly what I feared it would be -- a too-old Stallone traipsing running around the jungle dispatching various foes in ways both gory and cliched. That, plus the shaky-cam, HD-video feel betrays the movie's low-budget roots.

Anyway, check out the clip and decide for yourself. Oh, and for you Angel & Buffy watchers, that's Julie Benz (Darla) as the blonde aid worker.

The Blair Wish

As you may have heard last week, British PM Tony Blair, who spent most of the past six years effectively serving as George W.'s sock-puppet, announced his resignation effective next month. While there is some good that Blair no doubt accomplished during his tenure (something which we really can't say about Dim Son), there's also little doubt that it will be for his willful tethering to failing and failed policies of the Bush Administration that Blair will forever be associated in the annals of history. To reflect on Blair's tarnished and tattered legacy, here's British journalist Robert Fisk.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

SPIDER-MAN 3 - Open Thread

Well, I've been trying to set down for over a week now and get some thoughts together regarding Spider-Man 3, and with every day that goes by it's looking less and less certain that it'll happen, so thought I'd do something a little different with this one and open it up for discussion.

My thoughts in a nutshell: Too many villains, too long, and far, far too much Kirsten Dunst. Thomas Hayden Church turned in a great performance as the conflicted Sandman, and I would've loved to see more of him. Venom (never referred to by that name) shouldn't even have been in the movie for the short shrift they gave him. And what the heck was Gwen Stacy doing in this thing? Overall, just a tired, weak ending to what had been an exemplary series up to this point.

But hey, enough from me, what did everyone think? Leave comments below and I'll expand on my thoughts as well.

Recommended Reading

Frank Rich has another can't-miss column up that examines the spectacle of the first GOP presidential debate from a week-and-a-half ago.

Farewell Falwell

Evangelist icon Jerry Falwell is dead at 73.

Over the years, I haven't had many kind things to say about him, which should come as no surprise given the unkind things he's had to say about others. But a life is a life, and there'll be time to revisit that ground later.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Bill Moyers Returns

Bill Moyers has always been an especially welcome journalistic presence, bringing more nuance and subtlety to complex discussions than we're perhaps used to in the rapid-fire talking head world that unfortunately so characterizes television news today. Moyers recently made a welcome return to the public airwaves after a brief sabbatical, and started out the gate with a doozy of an investigative piece -- an hour-plus documentary entitled "Buying the War," which casts its gaze squarely at the complacent and complicit media that allowed the Bush Junta to roll-out its pie-in-the-sky war plans in '01, '02, and '03, with barely a question mark raised in dissent.

Naturally this doco has caused much consternation from those who accuse Moyers of finger-pointing (i.e. Bill O'Reilly and Fox News), and while I certainly believe it's agenda-driven (as any documentary would be), I don't think one can accuse Moyers of being partisan, as it's more a mentality he's taking aim at, one that exists irrespective of affiliation or leaning. This is some real riveting stuff, and I've been meaning to post this for more than a week now, but as is often the case, life tends to get in the way. Regardless, you can view the documentary in its entirety at the PBS website here. It's truly not to be missed.

While we're on the subject of Bill Moyers, also worthy of a look is this installment of his weekly Journals show, featuring his in-depth sit-down with Daily Show host Jon Stewart. One need only watch Stewart's nightly faux-newscast to know that he's obviously an intelligent guy with a sparkling wit, but it's nice to see him get the chance to be intelligent and witty in a non-comedic setting. Not only does Jon offer some insights into the process that goes into the nightly creation of his show, but he also comments on his recent interview with John McCain that saw the Republican senator have to answer some far tougher questions than he's faced on "real" news shows. Again, not to be missed.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Adaptations

It seems like the run-up to Friday's release of Spider-Man 3 (expect my review this weekend, by the way, assuming other things don't come up baby-wise) has seen our cup runneth over with all kinds of comic book movie-related news. First up, you can see the final trailer for June's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer here, courtesy of Apple. I wasn't blown away by the first one, and the industry buzz around the sequel doesn't exactly have me jumping for joy, but, I gotta admit, they shore did make the Surfer look purty.

Moving on, last year Warner Bros. announced that it was inaugurating a new line of comic-based direct-to-DVD animated features. Well, that roll-out begins this fall with Superman: Doomsday, based on the celebrated "Death of Superman" storyline from the halcyon days of 1992. Cast includes Adam Baldwin (late of Firefly/Serenity) as Superman, James Marsters (late of Buffy/Angel) as Lex Luthor, and Anne Heche (late of Ellen Degeneres/women) as Lois Lane. Check out a behind-the-scenes featurette here, and the trailer here.

Lastly, but most definitely not leastly, here's our first full look at the very nice Mark III armor for Iron Man, by way of Entertainment Weekly.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Stark.

We saw our first glimpse of Iron Man's armor two weeks ago, and now here's the first official snap of Robert Downey Jr. as millionaire-turned-superhero Tony Stark, courtesy of USA Today. No complaints here. This one keeps looking better and better.

Bottoming Out

The Figurehead's slide down the ladder as one of the most unpopular presidents in history continues, with the most recent poll showing him at a record-low 28% job approval rating. To put this in some kind of perspective, that's almost 50 points lower than Bill Clinton's job approval back in '98 -- after he was impeached by Congress.

And, just to be fair about this, it doesn't look like folks are happy with anyone right now. And who can blame 'em, really?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"How dare you, sir."

It's been awhile since we've had some of the trademark eloquent outrage that Keith Olbermann has become so well known for, but he certainly made up for lost time with this "Special Comment" from last night's Countdown, in which he assails Rudy Giuliani and his GOP ilk for attempting to further their electoral ambitions by once again employing the tired "Vote Democratic at your own risk" canard.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Nostalgia Theater: Anti-Drug Edition

I never cease to be amazed by the things I see turn up on YouTube. I don't know what's worse, that someone took the time to upload it, or that I took the time to search for it. Regardless, I have a feeling the following PSA will be well familiar to anyone who spent any amount of time watching Saturday morning TV in the mid-'80s...

Norton Goes Green; Bana Gets Bounced

I think I'm one of the few people on Earth who actually liked Ang Lee's dark, introspective take on a comic adaptation with 2003's Hulk. That said, I knew opening day that it wouldn't have legs based on its, well, dark and introspective take. That, plus the fact that it took almost an hour to see any random violence of the big and green variety. In the end, Hulk opened big, but it's second-week drop was equally large, and the movie ended up with a domestic gross of around $137 million.

Obviously this was a disappointment for Universal and Marvel, who were no doubt hoping for X-Men/Spider-Man numbers, and got something a little short of that. Then again, it sold plenty of toys, and the Hulk is still a pretty big kid in the Marvel sandbox, so it shouldn't come as any great surprise that they're going back to the well once again to see if they can't get it "right."

This time Lee's moody take has been jettisoned in favor of a more "comic book style" (interpret as you will, for good or for ill). Transporter director Louis Leterrier is at the helm of this one, so right there you know there'll be a considerable tonal shift. Also, leading man Eric Bana has been replaced by the surprising (though not unpleasant) choice of Edward Norton, who will step into the tattered purple trousers of tormented physicist Bruce Banner.


I'm a pretty big Hulk fan, due largely to the considerable influence of the '70s/'80s Bill Bixby-Lou Ferrigno Incredible Hulk TV series on my formative self, so it's good to hear that the new film, not really a sequel, not really a reboot, will pay homage not only to the comic books, but also to the show (most visibly with its title, The Incredible Hulk).
As always with these things, I'm cautiously optimistic, especially with early word that the movie's villain will be one of the Hulk's comic book baddies, The Abomination, but the fact that the script is the handiwork of writer Zak Penn, he of Elektra and X-Men: The Last Stand fame (or infamy, if you like) is definite cause for concern. The Incredible Hulk is due to smash theaters June of next year, so for now it's just going to be a lot of wait-and-see.

Well, duh...

Pew Survey Finds Most Knowledgeable Americans Watch 'Daily Show' and 'Colbert'

Recommended Viewing

Bill Maher from last Friday's Real Time, on the net result of the junta's prizing blind loyalty over even the appearance of competence from its political appointees.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Iron-ic


Well, boy howdy, looka dat, it's the first shot of Tony Stark's ironclad underoos from next summer's Iron Man motion picture, courtesy of Ain't It Cool News. From the look of things, it sure seems like director Jon Favreau has gone out of his way to preserve the comic book aesthetic, while updating things ever-so-slightly for the 2Ks. Now, this isn't the final armor, mind you, but rather the initial suit first created by Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) while being held in captivity as a means to escape. Presumably the design of the later, more-streamlined armor is being held in publicity reserve for later, but this shot sure is cause for optimism.

The Imus Effect

Well, Don Imus has lost his job. That's the end of that. Not having ever listened to Imus and not being all that familiar with him, really, I don't have much to add, except that I'll bet Alberto Gonzales is a little pissed the whole brouhaha is coming to a close.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Contemplating Keith

These days, MSNBC's Countdown, hosted by Keith Olbermann, is pretty much the only news program I watch with anything resembling regularity. Given Olbermann's well-known political bent, as well as the anti-establishment slant the program usually takes, I sometimes wonder if I'm basically filtering out opposing sides and hearing the news I "want to hear," something I accuse the people who rely solely on Fox News of doing. I don't really have a solid answer to that, but there's no question that Olbermann's mannered, eloquent justified outrage at the current status quo makes for a far cry from the usual shock-and-awe brand of punditry that passes for journalism over at the home of the Fair & Balanced. On the subject of Olbermann himself, New York magazine has an in-depth feature on the man that's unflinching but ultimately complimentary. Check it out here.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

"The past is always a rebuke to the present."

The above quote is by Robert Penn Warren, and it seems eerily appropriate when viewing the following, bereft of context:
The war, far from being the last critical test for the United States, is in fact weakening our position in Asia and around the world, and eroding the structure of international cooperation which has directly supported our security for the past three decades. . . . All this bears directly and heavily on the question of whether more troops should now be sent--and, if more are sent, what their mission will be. We are entitled to ask--we are required to ask--how many more men, how many more lives, how much more destruction will be asked, to provide the military victory that is always just around the corner, to pour into this bottomless pit of our dreams? But this question the administration does not and cannot answer. It has no answer--none but the ever-expanding use of military force and the lives of our brave soldiers, in a conflict where military force has failed to solve anything yet. . .
Those are the words of the late Robert F. Kennedy speaking to us from beyond the grave, from a speech almost forty years ago, on a war all too similar to the one we currently find ourselves embroiled in. For the entirety of Kennedy's speech, visit this post by RFK, Jr.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Catch and Release

In a follow-up from yesterday's post, the Iranian government has agreed to release the British sailors. I still feel like there's a story we're not getting here, but I suppose that'll have to wait for another day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hardly Dying

Rocky Balboa already came back for a final encore, John Rambo is gearing up for a Christmas comeback (and, lest you doubt me, here's photographic proof), and Indiana Jones is eyeing Memorial Day of '08 for his much-ballyhooed (decade-too-late) return. Meanwhile, sandwiched in between all this franchise resurrection (or excavation, if you like) is none other than Bruce Willis' triumphant return as beleaguered officer John McClane in this summer's Live Free or Die Hard, the Len Wiseman-directed fourth installment of the Die Hard action franchise that began in 1988. It's been twelve years since last McClane graced the silver screen, but as the new full trailer shows, Willis can still "Yippee-ki-yay" with the best of 'em.

Hostage Drama

As is often the case in life, there's what actually happens and there's what he hear happened. Such seems to be the case with the developing drama currently playing out between Iran and "the West." What we "know" is that British sailors are being held by the Iranian government for, ostensibly, straying into Iranian waters, while the British, meanwhile, are arguing that they did no such thing.

Regardless of the various whys and wherefores, we still end up with Iran Hostage Crisis II: Mad Ahmedinajad, with the usual idiotic bluster and bravado from the knuckleheads on every side. Of course, all this is merely the public face of the brewing brouhaha, but according to Britain's Independent, there may be a whole other side to the story that we haven't gotten.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Spider-rific


Check out the brand-spanking new final trailer for Spider-Man 3, courtesy of Comcast, now with even more Venom.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Overlooked Oversight

One of the main reasons the founding fathers instituted the whole "separation of powers" thing was to make sure that no one branch of government excercised greater power over another. To make sure there was always oversight. That oversight is generally the purview of the legislative branch (congress), and is usually maintained over the judicial branch (the president). When that oversight is neglected, the inmates pretty much take over the asylum, which we've seen for the past six years in the White House. As the past few weeks have shown, with everything from the Walter Reed VA scandal to the ongoing fracas over Alberto Gonzales trying to decide whether he serves President Bush or the American people, the results of that lack of oversight are now bearing some poisoned fruit for the junta. Ronald Brownstein of the LA Times lays the blame for much of the Administration's -- and the country's -- woes squarely on the porch of the congressional Republicans, who signed off on Bush's blank check.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Wag the Dog

Just when you think we've got a congressional state of affairs that'll bring about some real change, the Dems drop the ball once again, as evidenced here.

The relevant bit:
Top House Democrats retreated Monday from an attempt to limit President Bush's authority for taking military action against Iran as the leadership concentrated on a looming confrontation with the White House over the Iraq war.
And a little further down:
Conservative Democrats as well as lawmakers concerned about the possible impact on Israel had argued for the change in strategy.
Ah. Of course.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Colbert on Cap Controversy

You know that the media buzz surrounding the death of Captain America has reached pop culture critical mass when Stephen Colbert makes it the subject of his nightly "The Word" segment. So he did, and so it has. Check it out here.

(By the way, I had the opportunity to read the issue in question yesterday, and it certainly measures up the hype. Thanks to the supremely talented creative team of writer Ed Brubaker and penciller Steve Epting, this is one not-to-be-missed storyline. Highly recommended.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cap-veat

It's always interesting to see how the mainstream media reacts to comic book death.

Back in fall of '92, they were abuzz with the latest shocking news from DC Comics. Superman, the Last Son of Krypton, the Man of Steel, beloved idol of children and adults everywhere -- was dying. Yes, dying! You couldn't flip past the network news without some commentator or other breathlessly, even mournfully, intoning that the iconic superhero was about to breathe his last.

"What were the implications of this?" they asked. "What does this say about us?" they pondered. And people bought the comics. They bought lots of 'em. They lined up for blocks. They packed them away for safekeeping. After all, surely the issue where SUPERMAN DIES would be worth a small fortune in a few short years.

Then, a few months later, something funny happened. Something that any comic fan worth his salt could have told you was coming from a mile away. See, death in comic books means about as much as truth in politics. You use it to get people's interest, then you ignore when it's no longer convenient. Thus, the immediate question you ask when a character is killed off is always, "When is he coming back?" And so it was, like a foregone conclusion, that Superman got better. The epilogue to the great "comic book rush" of '92 is that these days you can find copies of Superman #75 (the death issue) four for a dollar.

It's been about thirteen years since last this all played out, and now it appears history is repeating itself, only this time it's DC Comics' crosstown rival Marvel that's playing puppet master to the willing media. Everywhere you turn, folks are talking about the cataclysmic happenings in Captain America #25 (released today), which itself comes on the heels of Marvel's year-long epic event Civil War (a pretty on-the-nose parallel of our post-9/11 socio-political landscape set in the Marvel Comics Universe).

I'm not going to divulge spoilers, but the preceding portion of this post should give you a sense what to expect -- if the picture up-top hasn't clued you in already. Suffice it to say, anyone looking to cash out quick on a copy of Cap #25 might want to think twice (though don't let it stop you from reading it, as Captain America has consistently been one of the best books Marvel is publishing).

I don't believe for one second that this is meant, in any way, shape, or form, to be permanent, but it sure is nice to see some mainstream attention showered on the comic book world that focuses on the actual books as opposed to some media adaptation thereof.

So, when is he coming back?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Getting Webby

Seven minutes worth of Spider-Man 3 footage, including our first blink-and-it's-gone look at Venom (screen-capped above), is now online courtesy of NBC and Sony Pictures. The catch is that the Quicktime download is HD, so some of you with slower Internet connections may miss out, and it's gonna be gone after 24 hours, so...those of you with slower Internet connections may miss out. Catch the lower-res YouTube rip of the clips here, for as long as it'll be online, because I have a feeling someone somewhere is going to have it pulled. Not a bad way to prime the pump for the Spider-wave that's going to hit early May, and unlike last summer's abysmal X-Men: The Last Stand, it looks like the third time may well be a charm for the Spider-Man series.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Recommended Reading

David Shribman on why it matters to you that former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Abrams Officially Trekking

I first talked about the rumoured relaunch of Paramount's Star Trek franchise here back in April, and now comes official word from the studio that Lost-honcho JJ Abrams has signed on the dotted line to bring new life to Gene Roddenberry's hallowed franchise after its ill-fated big screen flameout with 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis. Here's Par's press release:

“Star Trek,” one of the most popular and successful franchises in the history of movies and television, returns to the big screen under the creative vision of J.J. Abrams, the force behind “Lost,” “Alias” and “Mission Impossible III” for Paramount Pictures.

The team behind the film will include Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (‘Mission Impossible III”) who wrote the screenplay and will executive produce with Bryan Burk. JJ Abrams and “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof will produce. The film will begin shooting this fall for a Christmas Day 2008 release.

One of the most popular film and television franchises of all time, “Star Trek” has encompassed 726 total episodes for television in six different series, beginning with the original 1966-1969 series created by Gene Roddenberry. The 10 “Star Trek” films have grossed in excess of $1 billion at the worldwide box office. The original characters have been named among the 50 greatest TV characters of all time and the Enterprise has lent its name to two proposed spacecrafts.

"If there's something I'm dying to see, it's the brilliance and optimism of Roddenberry's world brought back to the big screen,” said Abrams. “Alex and Bob wrote an amazing script that embraces and respects Trek canon, but charts its own course. Our goal is to make a picture for everyone -- life-long fans and the uninitiated. Needless to say, I am honored and excited to be part of this next chapter of Star Trek."

Brad Grey, chairman and CEO, Paramount Pictures, said, “We could not be more thrilled to be back in business with J.J. Abrams. The revival of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise is an important part of Paramount’s turnaround.”

Since last June, scuttlebut has focused on Matt Damon playing a young Jim Kirk (even though Damon, at 36, is already older than William Shatner was when he first played the role in 1966). In addition to the Damon rumours, IGN has added Oscar winner Adrien Brody and Oscar nominee Gary Sinise to the mix as candidates for Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy (played originally by Leonard Nimoy and DeForrest Kelley, respectively).

While the IGN piece assures us that these picks are on the level, it has the suspicious whiff of baloney to me. My gut tells me that they're going to go with unknowns for this, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see how this all pans out.

See, Naomi believes!

We now interrupt this blog for a special word from your friend and mine, Brian Hall:

*******
Unfortunately this isn't an article talking about how beautiful Naomi Watts is, rather how sad Naomi Campbell is:
"I threw a cell phone in the apartment. The cell phone hit Ana," Campbell said at her court appearance. "This was an accident because I did not intend to hit her."

In exchange for her guilty plea, she was ordered to pay Scolavino's medical expenses of $363, do five days of community service and attend a two-day anger-management program.

"I do therapy every day," Campbell tells "Extra," adding that she's also partaking in the healing powers of crystals: "I think they bring great energy. ... You should see how many I travel with."
I am not one to knock anybody's anything, but any person over the age of 9 who believes that a magic rock can prevent them from being a jerk and throwing phones at people needs to be shipped to the sun.

*******
And that's how we learn. Thanks, Brian!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Wrap

Maybe it was my lack of interest in the nominees, maybe it was my straight-up dislike of Ellen DeGeneres' comic-stylings, or maybe it was because I'm just getting old, but after fifteen straight years of never missing a show, I skipped last night's Oscar-cast. And, I gotta tell ya, it felt pretty good.

Anyway, some thoughts on the aftermath: I was glad to see Alan Arkin take home an Oscar (for Supporting Actor, beating out Eddie Murphy and Mark Wahlberg), if only because he gave the commencement address at my college graduation, so in a weird "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" kind of way I feel "connected" to him.

As expected, Al Gore got his Oscar moment(s), which you can watch here, and one of the great Oscar injustices of all time was finally righted, with Marty Scorcese taking Best Picture for The Departed, and his Best Director award presented (or anointed) to him by the "Holy Trinity" of Spielberg, Lucas, and Coppolla (watch the clip here). I have a feeling that once folks saw that particular trifecta walk onstage, it was all but assured that the award would go to Scorcese.

I have yet to see The Departed, though it's currently sitting (sealed) by my DVD player, so I can't comment on its value as a film, but it is good to see Scorcese get his statue. Took thirty years, but at least he got one (as opposed to, say, Hitchcock and Altman, both of whom went unrewarded during their lifetimes).

Sadly, the same could not be said for poor Peter O'Toole, who lost out to Forrest Whitaker and also earned the dubious distinction of most Oscar nods without an actual Oscar (not including the Honorary "Pity" Oscar he got back in '03).

Highly Recommended Reading

The New Yorker's Sy Hersh lays out how things are going in our ongoing schema for unending war, including the steady drumbeat towards US v. Iran. According to Hersh, it's an unpleasant prospect that seems frighteningly near. Don't miss this article.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Doggone Good Discs

Ah, is there anything sweeter than nostalgia? How about justified nostalgia? When it comes to classic animation, they just don't make 'em like Tex Avery anymore, and what a crying shame that is for all of us who've ever had to endure the spastic, seizure-inducing fare that passes for children's entertainment these days.

This is one of those DVD releases that's been a Holy Grail of mine for as long as I can remember, and it's great to see that it'll finally hit store shelves come May. Apparently this Droopy release is something of a trial balloon to test the market for more Avery classics coming to the platter format, so do your part and pre-order now!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Face the Face

The word is out. After months of extended speculation that included everyone from Ryan Phillippe to Jamie Foxx, actor Aaron Eckhart has landed the plum role of crusading DA Harvey Dent in the upcoming Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight. As any student of Bat-Arcana is aware, the doomed Dent is one unfortunate acid bath away from becoming the duo-toned villain Two-Face.

While there isn't any indication that the Face appears in Dark Knight, Dent's prominent placement in the cast of characters seems to signify some place-setting for the inevitable third installment. Then again, those of you with long memories may remember the last time a good guy Harvey Dent made an appearance in a Bat-film, he was played by a post-Star Wars Billy Dee Williams in Tim Burton's '89 original. Of course, we never did get to see ol' Lando become a villain. Instead, two movies and one race-change later, we got stuck with this:

For all our sakes, I hope things turn out better this time out.