Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: The Rest of the Reviews

While I picked out my faves of the year in my last post, there were plenty of other flicks that I did write-ups on. Here's a rundown of the full-length movie reviews I did this year, with a small capsule accompanying each. Click through the individual links to get the full skinny:

The Cinema Year That Was: Zaki's Flick Picks 2013

True stories, high stakes, big spectacle, and big funny won the day with this year's movie offerings. Here's a countdown of my top cinematic experiences for the year now closing:

10 & 9 - This is the End/The World's End

Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg's directorial debut and Edgar Wright's third teaming with Simon Pegg & Nick Frost both offered humorous takes on apocalyptic themes, so it seemed appropriate to discuss them together. This is the End, while ostensibly set in the aftermath of the Rapture (comedy gold!), was really a sly jab at the self-obsession of outsized Hollywood personalities (and, by extension, all of us who idolize them) which manages to somehow survive even in the face of cannibal gangs, giant demons, and just general chaos.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Recommended Reading

The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins looks at the much-ballyhooed "autopsy" undertaken by the RNC after last year's electoral losses, and examines how good a job the Grand Ol' Party has done in following the policy prescriptions contained therein: Spoiler: Not so well.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nostalgia Theater Extra: Year in Review 2013

Well, the first of January is barreling towards us at a fast clip, and that means we've got 52 new Nostalgia Theater entries to add to the ol' archives. So, just as we did last year, let's take a look back at the most popular entries of the year that's now coming to a close. Only this time, instead of limiting it to five, we'll expand things out to look at the top ten as we count down to the big number one...

Gun Nuttery

Media Matters lists just some of the horrible things said by the NRA and its appendages in the media during 2013. Sad to say, while on the one hand this stuff is shocking and sickening, it's also pretty much par for the course with this bunch.

Nostalgia Theater: Revealing The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty

James Thurber's 1939 short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is currently the recipient of a new screen adaptation now in theaters, starring Ben Stiller. And while the story of a daydreaming wallflower had been brought to the screen in a 1947 feature starring Danny Kaye, my first exposure to Thurber's celebrated novelette came in a somewhat sidelong fashion, while I was a kid living in Saudi Arabia and watching Filmation's live action/animated series The Secret Lives of Waldo Kitty.

Airing on NBC in fall of '75, Waldo Kitty took its cues from Thurber while updating it for the kidvid crowd. Each ep would start with live action intros and outros where put-upon pussycat Waldo finds either himself or his girlfriend Felicia teased by neighboring bulldog Tyrone. From there, Waldo would wish himself into that week's fantasy, a riff on Batman, Robin Hood, the Lone Ranger, Tarzan, or Captain Kirk (most of whom had either already gotten, or would soon get, the Filmation treatment, as it happens). Here's the intro:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Recommended Reading

Edwin Lyngar, one-time Ron Paul delegate, explains why he considers himself a former libertarian. Here's a particularly relevant bit:
The best parts of the America I love are our communities. My libertarian friends might call me a f***ing commie (they have) or a p***y, but extreme selfishness is just so isolating and cruel. Libertarianism is unnatural, and the size of the federal government is almost irrelevant. The real question is: what does society need and how do we pay for it?
Read more here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Recommended Reading

Thanks to a last-minute extension, today is the last day for consumers to select a health insurance plan through the federal exchanges that will kick in on the first of the year (though they'll still be able to buy plans that kick in a bit later). For those of you who are still hesitant about purchasing, former insurance exec Wendell Potter lays out some of the upsides you might potentially have waiting for you.

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 37

Due to a combination of extreme fatigue, extreme illness, and various other extenuating circumstances, I missed recording the MovieFilm show for the very first time. I know. Tragic. But have no fear, because my dedicated cohorts from Mr. Boy Productions, Sean and Brian, didn't miss so much as a single step, filling the breach with all the expected aplomb, and cranking out a very fun mini-episode where they catch up on some of the latest Hollywood headlines (Paul Rudd is Ant Man!), and casting a wistful eye backwards at their favorite Christmas-themed flicks. Listen below, or download or stream at iTunes or Stitcher. And you know the drill, make sure to write a review and let us know how we're doing!

From The Onion...

Awesome.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Re-telling Tales of the Gold Monkey

Roddy McDowall (left) and Stephen Collins (R) get ready for adventure
In 1981, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's first Indiana Jones opus, Raiders of the Lost Ark hit theaters and brought joy to the hearts of critics and paying audiences alike. What followed in the wake of Indy's success was like a reprise of what happened when Lucas's Star Wars saga first launched '77: All manner of imitators attempted to bring a similar flavor to big screen and small, hoping to catch some of that mojo. The Star Wars fad is what led Glen A. Larson to inflict the original Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers on the TV-watching public, and Raiders of the Lost Ark is what allowed Tales of the Gold Monkey, an ABC series created by Donald P. Bellisario, to air briefly between 1982 and 1983.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Zaki's Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Martin Freeman is back for more in The Desolation of Smaug
Read my 2012 review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey here

A little over eleven years ago, on the eve of the theatrical release of The Two Towers, the second leg of director Peter Jackson's epic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, I was jittery with anticipation. By then I'd watched the first installment, The Fellowship of the Ring, an embarrassingly high number of times in the theater, and a few more times on home vid. And as the clock wound down to the saga's continuation, I. Could. Not. Wait. I tell that story partly to reminisce, but mainly to mark a contrast with my state of mind vis-a-vis Jackson's current Hobbit trilogy, in whose release history we now find ourselves at a comparable point.

I had an enjoyable enough experience with part one, An Unexpected Journey, last year, but I pretty much left it in the theater after I watched. It didn't stay with me past that, and I didn't go out of my way to seek out a repeat viewing. More perplexing (to me, anyway) was how, as the impending screening for the follow-up, The Desolation of Smaug, bore down on me, I found myself greeting it not with the anticipation and expectation I felt for The Two Towers but rather the fatigue-in-advance that comes from the thought of sitting through a three hour story with no beginning and no end.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Apes Trailer Teases New Dawn

Next summer's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes marks the first honest-to-gosh Apes sequel since Battle for the Planet of the Apes in 1973. I realize that little nugget means absolutely nothing to anyone but me, but I think it's pretty cool all the same. Still, with the second life the prequel/reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes gave the brand in 2011, it's no shock that Fox is taking full advantage, positioning the follow-up as one of the studio's big tentpoles for the summer, occupying the plum mid-July slot recently vacated by Universal's postponed Fast & Furious 7. Check out the first trailer below to see how new director Matt Reeves (replacing Rupert Wyatt) is advancing the story of sympathetic simian Caesar as we march inexorably toward the status quo of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mark of the Beast!

I was looking at the number of Facebook followers on this site, and I just realized that I've reached a momentous non-milestone milestone that I figured I should screencap and preserve for posterity:
Do I hear Damien calling in the distance? Anyway, to ensure that this status quo doesn't last for too long, make sure you hit "like" on the link at the right!

Peter O'Toole, RIP

Last year, legendary actor Peter O'Toole announced his retirement from the beloved craft that had defined his entire life, saying, "The heart for it has gone out of me: it won’t come back." For a man like O'Toole, Oscar-nominated for his title turn in 1962's David Lean's timeless epic Lawrence of Arabia, who was well known in the industry for working hard and living even harder, I can only imagine that this realization was as difficult for him to arrive at as it was for those of us who admired his work to believe. Thus, while today's word that O'Toole has passed away at age 81 following a long illness isn't especially surprising, it's sad news all the same for everything it represents.

While his Lawrence role is the unquestionable highlight of a long, distinguished career, the stage-trained O'Toole had the kind of run that few actors achieve, appearing onscreen nearly every year from his debut on a 1956 TV production of The Scarlet Pimpernel to this year's Katherine of Alexandria (for which he briefly broke his brief retirement). In between, he did everything from mentoring Helen Slater as one of the few bright spots in the otherwise execrable Supergirl (1984), to leveraging his considerable accrued gravitas as King Priam in 2004's Troy. More than anything, his passing marks yet another loss in the increasingly shallow pool of larger-than-life talent from Hollywood's bygone era of larger-than-life epics.

Nostalgia Theater: The Disney Afternoon Dominates Weekdays

Think of today's Nostalgia Theater as a tease for things to come. After making some headway during the late '80s in syndicated animation with offerings such as Duck Tales and Chip 'n' Dales Rescue Rangers, the Disney company went all in, selling four animated series as one two hour chunk to air on local stations in after-school slots. This block, known as The Disney Afternoon, first aired in fall of 1990, and I'm willing to wager that anyone who came of age during that era has fond memories of these shows.

With the aforementioned Duck Tales and Chip 'n' Dale occupying the middle hour in that initial lineup, Disney's Gummi Bears had the lead-off slot, and Tale Spin (a new twist on characters from Disney's Jungle Book) closed the afternoon out. While the Mouse House would switch the shows out every year between its debut and when the block was retired in 1997, we'll spend some time in coming weeks looking at the individual offerings. In the meantime, take a trip back in time with the intro from the very first iteration of The Disney Afternoon:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Not the Same Thing.

In the wake of Nelson Mandela's passing, we've seen a passel of entirely inappropriate comparisons being made by our political right equating Mandela's struggle to overcome the racial inequality that ruled South Africa for most of his adult life, and the Republicans' struggle here at home against a subsidized health insurance policy that they kind of disagree with. Here's Jon Stewart from yesterday's Daily Show, clarifying what should really be obvious:

Godzilla Returns! (And I Don't Care)

The first trailer dropped today for Warner Bros.' upcoming reboot of Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olson, Aaron Johnson, and one very big, green lizard. While there's a fair amount of excitement for this flick on the interwebs, especially among the geek set, I haven't really been able to muster much enthusiasm, and I can't say there's anything in today's assemblage that really has me jazzed either. I mean, it looks...fine. Great cast, I'm sure great effects, and some great talent working behind-the-scenes to make Japan's biggest export live up to his larger than life rep. Nonetheless, I'm not blown away.

After all, it wasn't that long ago (okay, fifteen years is kind of a long time ago) that Sony unleashed their big budget Godzilla flick with a degree of pomp and anticipation completely disproportional to the actual quality of what we ended up with. And take this from one who was there opening night for Godzilla '98 (the much-anticipated follow-up to Independence Day by the filmmaking team of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin). Needless to say, size really didn't matter. After that, maybe it's understandable I'm not getting a tingle from what we see so far of the new one. Watch the trailer below, and then watch the eerily similar trailer for the '98 version after the jump.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 36

This week, Zaki and Brian find themselves holding down a Sean-less fort but, unsurprisingly, still manage to pack in a full episode's worth of MovieFilm goodness. Join in as they ruminate on the recent announcement of Gal Gadot as the soon-to-be first silver screen Wonder Woman, talk up the trailers for Noah and The Amazing Spider-man 2, as well as discuss J.J. Abrams' long-coming admission that Zaki was right all along about the Star Trek Into Darkness marketing strategy. The boys also take a moment to remember the all-too-soon passing of Paul Walker, and think about what's come before and what's up ahead with The Fast and the Furious franchise.

Then, it's a veritable Review-a-Palooza when an odd twist of fate finds Brian as the only person who has seen a bevy of new releases, including All is Lost, Dallas Buyers Club, Frozen, and Saving Mr. Banks. There's also Listener Letters, Star Wars news, and a shout out to Zaki's Overlooked & Underrated movie of the week so take a listen either through the embed below, or download or stream at iTunes or Stitcher. As always, make sure to write a review and let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Defrosting Mattel's Demolition Man Action Figures

One of my favorite sidelights here in Nostalgia Theater is looking back at children's toylines based on entirely inappropriate, R-rated subject matter. One assortment that's entirely forgotten is Demolition Man. For those who don't have the displeasure of remembering the film from its fall '93 release, it stars Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes as, respectively, a cop and a criminal from the late 20th century who are put on ice (literally) for thirty years, after which they resume their rivalry in the utopian future world of "San Angeles." Here's the trailer:

Friday, December 06, 2013

Diffused Congruence: Episode 3

It's the first Friday of the month, and that means it's time for a new Diffused Congruence podcast! Our special guest for this episode of the show is Hollywood writer-producer Kamran Pasha, who's spent more than ten years working in the film industry on projects such as Sleeper Cell on Showtime and Kings on NBC, and also authored the acclaimed novels Mother of the Believers: A Novel of the Birth of Islam and Shadow of the Swords: An Epic Novel of the Crusades.

With the depth and breadth of his experience as one of the few Muslim writers in Hollywood, Kamran discusses the importance of Muslim engagement in non-traditional fields such as media production, and also shares some of the life lessons he's picked up during his time in the Hollywood trenches. You can download or stream the show below, as well as via iTunes (don't forget to leave us a review!). Send any questions and concerns our way at diffusedcongruence@gmail.com.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spins First Trailer

I thought Sony's 2012 reboot The Amazing Spider-Man was a lot better than it probably had any right to be -- especially given that no one was particularly asking for a reboot for this series. As such I've been monitoring casting and production news on the upcoming sequel, again directed by Marc Webb, with a fair degree of interest. With the film due to drop next year in the traditional "Marvel" slot the first weekend of May, it's understandable that we're now starting to see the marketing campaign kick in. To wit, here's the teaser for The Amazing Spider-Man 2:

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The War on "The War on Christmas"

Welp, it's December, and that must mean it's "War on Christmas" time in Right Wing World. Exactly one year ago I posted a bit from Jon Stewart spinning comedy gold out of this phenomenon's reliable reoccurrence on Fox News, and now here's the lead segment from last night's Daily Show doing much the same over much the same. See part one below, then click past the jump for part two.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Khan Don't

As you know if you read this site, last May's Star Trek Into Darkness wasn't exactly a home run for me. Beyond the sloppy storytelling and generally listless nature of the thing, what irked me the most was the way legendary Trek villain Khan was shoehorned in seemingly for the sole purpose of the producers getting to say they "did" Khan. And while actor Benedict Cumberbatch was fine in the part, he also would have been fine if the character wasn't Khan. And given the superfluous ways they utilized his backstory, he might as well not have been Khan.

An observation I made on the MovieFilm Podcast a few months ago was that the filmmakers' desperate desire to preserve the supposed "twist" of Cumberbatch's identity (a twist that had long since been spoiled by the Internet doing what the Internet does) hampered the ability to tell a compelling story with a compelling character. The result was a big "meh" that did well with critics and at the till, but still felt like a missed opportunity. Still, with director JJ Abrams now departing for that other "Star" franchise, it seems he feels a bit freer to speak his mind, and with the benefit of hindsight it looks like he's come around to the same point-of-view as me (and others). Here's what he told MTV recently:

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Archie Grows Up

One look at the TV ratings/box office is enough to make clear how much comic book properties have come to dominate our cultural discourse. But with all the characters making their transition to screens big and small of late, one four-color icon who's never quite managed that magical jump to live action is one Archie Andrews, the eternal teenager who's been in continuous publication since his debut in 1941. Well, "never" isn't entirely true. For a brief instant in 1990, there was To Riverdale and Back Again, an NBC TV movie that tried to turn everyone's favorite checkerboard-headed kid into a primetime soap. Here's a trailer for the flick (which was released theatrically overseas under the title Return to Riverdale):

Paul Walker, RIP

The news of this broke yesterday across social media via TMZ, and I guess it's a testament to the age we live in, where Internet "death hoaxes" propagate so easily, that folks were chasing around trying to find something, anything, that said this too was just a terrible, terrible mistake. Sadly, such was not the case, and confirmations soon began to roll in via his publicists that Paul Walker, the 40-year old star of Universal's long-running Fast & Furious franchise, perished yesterday after an automobile accident outside of LA while riding as a passenger in a friend's car.

While I doubt anyone would confuse Walker with Laurence Olivier, as the actor got older he did grow into his own, finding a comfortable niche for himself while also seeking out new ways of pushing the limits of that niche. More than that, he was known not only for the relatively modest life he lived (considering the global stardom he enjoyed), but also the philanthropic causes he supported (he died leaving an event for Reach Out Worldwide, a charitable organization he founded in 2010).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Worse Than "Nothing"

Some thoughts from Robert Reich, via his Facebook page:
To call the Congress that enters its final weeks of the year a "do-nothing" Congress is far too generous. Not only has it done nothing to reform the nation's obsolete immigration laws, or our absurd and unfair tax system, or the government's heinously intrusive methods of spying on its own citizens. But in failing to extend unemployment benefits to 1.3 million jobless people who are about to lose them, or enact any climate legislation, or renew the ban on plastic guns, or end the draconian budget "sequester" that willy-nilly cuts spending on defense and on the poor and needy, it has done worse than nothing. As the year reaches a close, America is worse off than it was when the 113th Congress began. I don't mean to draw a false equivalence. It is the Democrats who have accomplished nothing. Republicans, by contrast, have accomplished exactly what they intended.
'nuff said.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shop Amazon and Support This Site!

Folks, Amazon has a veritable plethora of Black Friday deals up with plenty of Cyber Monday deals on the way as well, and you can shop to your hearts content without worrying about having to wake up early to find a place at the head of the line. Plus, bonus, by clicking through via this link or the graphic below, you help support Zaki's Corner by sending a percentage of everything you purchase my way. Shop away...and thanks in advance for the love!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Recommended Reading

If you've followed domestic politics for the past few years, you know how the increasingly bitter, take-no-prisoners brand of politicking in Washington can be tied to the rise of the Tea Party and the calls for ideological "purity" on the right. What you may not be aware is the role of right wing think tank the Heritage Foundation (from whence the infamous "individual mandate" originated) in this process, and more specifically its lobbying operation, Heritage Action.

While former Senator Jim "Waterloo" DeMint, who famously vacated his seat to head up Heritage earlier this year, has been the most public face, its young president Michael Needham has been just as integral in propagating the kind of fire-breathing rhetoric that's made the job of day-to-day legislating so fraught. As this in-depth piece by Julia Ioffe over at The New Republic makes clear, you can pretty much draw a straight line between last month's government shutdown and Heritage's increasingly stringent purity standards. A long one, but well worth a read.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 35


The MovieFilm gang is joined once again by friend of the show Paul Shirey, newly-minted editor-in-chief of Joblo.com. And he couldn't have picked a better show to add his voice too, as we've got conversation on the latest installments of the long-running Die Hard and Mad Max franchises, potential titles for the much-anticipated Superman/Batman team-up pic, and the possible sequel to It's a Wonderful Life that was briefly being discussed last week.

In addition, we mark the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of President John F. Kennedy with a lengthy Movies That Matter discussion on Oliver Stone's seminal courtroom drama JFK. In addition to the good and the bad, listen as we go back and to the left with a lengthy digression on whether Lee Harvey Oswald did, in fact, act alone. All that, plus the usual Listener Letters, MovieFilm Quiz, and a special Overlooked & Underrated pick you won't want to miss. Stream it below, or listen via iTunes or Stitcher (and be sure to leave us a review once you do!). As always, make sure to hit up our Facebook page to let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Airwolf Edition

Clockwise from center: Alex Cord, Ernest Borgnine, Jean Bruce Scott, Jan-Michael Vincent
During the 1980s, there were three "super vehicle" shows that only briefly peppered various primetime lineups, but have cast a long shadow in our memories all the same. Once I'd tackled Knight Rider and Street Hawk here in Nostalgia Theater, it became inevitable that I'd get to Airwolf before too long, and here we are. Created by Donald P. Bellisario (who we just talked about last week), Airwolf debuted on CBS in January of 1984, the same month that Street Hawk first raced to the air on ABC.

While Knight Rider focused on a souped-up car, and Street Hawk centered on a snazzy motorcycle, Airwolf was a helicopter outfitted with all manner of new-fangled stealth and capabilities. Though it's commissioned by a shadowy government org called "The Firm," the titular 'copter is piloted by one Stringfellow Hawk (played by Jan-Michael Vincent), who secrets it away in a hidden lair known only to himself and his partner Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine). Here's the intro, with memorable theme music by Sylvester Levay:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Recommended Reading

Robert Reich echoes (with no prompting from me, natch) the point I was making a few days ago about the moral component in health care reform:
Even a clunky compromise like the ACA between a national system of health insurance and a for-profit insurance market depends, fundamentally, on a social compact in which those who are healthier and richer are willing to help those who are sicker and poorer. Such a social compact defines a society.
The rest of that thought, plus two other key fundamental truths in favor of the Affordable Care Act (for all its flaws) can be found here. Give it a read.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Recommended Reading

And here's Jonathan Bernstein on yesterday's filibuster action may well have been the endgame for some of the so-called "dealmakers" in the Republican caucus, as a way to escape the brick-a-bats being hurled their way by some of the Senate's far-right crazies (i.e. Ted Cruz and his fellow travelers).

Colbert on Senate's Nuclear Moves

Stephen Colbert has a suitably sedate response to yesterday's filibuster-breaking moves in the Senate:


The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Health Scared

I have a friend who recently posted on Facebook that his health insurance costs were looking to go up somewhere in the neighborhood of 300% during the next year, and that his options on the insurance exchanges aren't much better. He seemed pretty peeved, and not knowing the specific details of his situation, I'm certainly not going to impugn the righteousness of his situation or his frustration. However, one thing he said later in that thread, when someone countered with how the health care law was benefitting them, did catch my attention: "What your budget and financial burdens are none of my business. Just like reducing anyone's cost for a medical plan is not my responsibility by me having to pay more."

And right there we see the fundamental ideological divide that characterizes this debate. Between the folks who support health insurance reform and those who don't. It's illuminating, a little sad, and also far too common. By all accounts, the website is working better, enrollments are increasing, and I'd expect that come election time the Affordable Care Act won't be quite the albatross Reince Priebus, et al. are hoping for. But even so, comments like the above illustrate just what a steep breach we still need to cross. Not a political breach, but a breach of conscience. Look, no one likes to pay more, especially for a service they may not even need. It sucks. I get it. But until we arrive at a place where we can at least be amenable to the idea that we share a stake in each other's continued existence, I don't know that we'll ever be where we need to be.

The Filibuster Gets Nuked

As longtime readers know, I've spoken out about the use and abuse of the filibuster several times over the years. While the parliamentary tool, with its 60-vote requirement, has its uses, its repeated, sustained deployment during the Obama administration demonstrates why the maneuver has long since exhausted its utility. Well, this morning, after yet another Republican blockade threatened to scupper three of President Obama's judicial nominees, the filibuster went bye-bye (at least as it pertains to judicial and cabinet-level positions).

No shock that I'm in favor of this move. And while it preserves the rights of the minority party to oppose legislation and Supreme Court nominees, I'm willing to bet it's only a matter of time, either in this congress or an eventual one, that those restrictions fall by the wayside as well. In big picture political terms, today really did mark the end of an era. While whether that's a good thing or a bad thing in the long run relies greatly on your particular political leanings, congressional scholar Gregory Koger lays out how this happened and what it likely means going forward.

From The Onion...

Apparently a lot of folks are having this problem.
Terrified Obama Trapped Inside Healthcare.gov Website
From the piece...
“Please, if anyone can hear me, I need help!” said Obama, his voice reportedly echoing endlessly in the distance as he carefully stepped along a green grid of individual and family enrollment information. “Is anyone there? Can anyone hear me? I’m Barack Obama, President of the United States of America! I need to get out of here!” 
“Oh, dear God, there has to be a way out,” continued Obama, ducking as several lines of text guaranteeing coverage for preexisting conditions flew just inches above his head. “There has to be.”
Read the rest here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Magnum, P.I. -- The Secret of the 'Stache

I've discussed in previous installments of Nostalgia Theater how CBS in the 1980s had created for itself a pretty indomitable lineup of "gimmick" detective shows (many of which intertwined with each other). For Simon & Simon, the gimmick was to take two mismatched brothers and pair them up as detectives. For Murder, She Wrote, the gimmick revolved around having a mystery writer solve murders in her spare time. For Magnum, P.I., the gimmick was simply Tom Selleck. Well, Tom Selleck and his magnificent mustache.

Created by Glen A. Larson (yep, him) and Donald P. Bellisario, it went like this: Private detective Thomas Magnum (Selleck) lives on the Hawaiian estate of author Robin Masters (unseen, but voiced by Orson Welles), for whom he provides security in exchange for room and board. While he occasionally locks horns with Masters' assistant Higgins (John Hillerman), Magnum mostly spends his days racing around the island in his Ferrari, and chilling with war buddies Rick (Larry Manetti) and T.C. (Roger E. Mosley). Oh yeah, he sometimes pursues some private detective work too.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Steel Barbs

Man of Steel hit home vid this past Tuesday, and while my initial positive appraisal of the Superman reboot hasn't changed, there's also no doubt that the film is far from perfect. The folks at Screen Junkies have just released another in their series of "Honest Trailers" that lays out just a few of the flaws. The bit about dubstep had me rolling.

Recommended Reading

For all the stumbling about that's characterized the launch of the Affordable Care Act until now, the central issue beyond the functionality of the website remains what the law itself offers, which is a marked shift from the pre-ACA status quo. This used to be a status quo that Republicans and Democrats alike were united in opposition to, but it's now become a stark partisan breach, the differences of which are cleanly broken down by Jonathan Chait:
Here is the basic ideological division. Obama wants the health-care system to do more to pool risk — which is to say, to shift the burden of covering the sick onto the healthy. Republicans want it to do less to pool risk, so that healthy people can be free of the burden of subsidizing the costs of those less medically fortunate.
In other words, let social Darwinism do its thing. I'd say "'nuff said" here, but there's actually plenty more to say, and you can read it here.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Recommended Reading

By any objective measure, this hasn't been a great week for President Obama in general, and his health care law in particular. With a raft of policy cancellations making the news, coupled with the continued fumbling of the ballyhooed Healthcare.gov website, Democrats on the Hill have gotten predictably antsy. Antsy enough that the Prez had to hit the mics this morning to announce a "quick fix" solution that, as Brian Beutler notes, "combines a clever p.r. stunt, a stalling tactic, an act of retribution, the genuine possibility of transition assistance for some, and a large political and substantive gamble." That said, Beutler also points out that it "just might work." Click here to read how and why.

"Racist or Not Racist?"

While we're talking Key & Peele, the two also showed up on last night's Daily Show for this segment analyzing the media's propensity for self-analysis on a particularly pressing question:

Keying in on Key & Peele

For the past few years, I've championed Comedy Central's sketch-com Key & Peele as one of the smartest comedy programs on television today. Week after week, the endlessly-elastic leads manage to spin clever characters and cogent commentary into comedy gold. Rolling Stone mag calls it "TV's funniest show," and they may well be right. Here's their interview with stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele as the pair through some of their show's highlights thus far. And after the jump, watch one of their best recurring bits:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Keepin' it Loki

As expected, Thor: The Dark World blew the doors off the box office this past weekend. I had a chance to see it again, and I think it holds up pretty well. That said, as critics from across the Nine Realms have been noting, one of the film's biggest selling points is Tom Hiddleston as scheming baddie Loki. Making his third appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor's wayward foster brother manages to steal the show right out from under The Dark World's actual villain, the evil Malekith, played by Christopher Eccleston.

While Eccleston is himself no slouch in the acting department, there's just something about the Marvel Studios machine that manages to take great actors (Hugo Weaving, Tim Roth, Ben Kingsley, etc.) and turn them into merely adequate villains. I've enjoyed all the above actors' turns as Marvel baddies, but there's no denying that none had the staying power (and burgeoning fanbase) that Hiddleston's Loki commands. Here's Katey Rich at Business Insider (by way of Cinemablend) making much the same point, and also positing how the studio can remedy this going forward.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 34

It's hammer time for the MovieFilm gang! After discussing some of the latest news on the next Star Wars flick and dishing on the new trailers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past, Sean, Brian, and I break through the spoiler wall and offer their thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly about the latest opus from Marvel Studios -- Thor: The Dark World (and you can read my full review here). But that's not all, there's also the usual Listener Letters, Hollywood Headlines, and a MovieFilm Quiz to top things off. As usual, you can stream it below, or listen via iTunes or Stitcher. Make sure to visit our Facebook page so you can let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Toxic Crusaders Brings Troma to TV

One of my favorite sub-categories here in Nostalgia Theater is animated kidvid adapted from R-rated movies. We've already discussed Rambo and RoboCop, but one entry that has to deserve some kind of prize for sheer audacity is Toxic Crusaders. Unlike those examples, which at the very least had public awareness before making the leap to animation, I doubt much of the target audience had seen the Toxic Avenger pictures put out by noted schlock factory Troma. The first film, released in 1984, cost half a million bucks and grossed slightly more than that. To get a sense of what the horror/comedy/superhero flick is about, watch the trailer below:

Friday, November 08, 2013

Zaki's Review: Thor: The Dark World

Read my 2011 review of Thor here
I enjoyed the first Thor quite a bit when I saw it in '11, referring to the Kenneth Branagh-directed film as, "a master class in brand management." And I didn't mean that in a bad way. As I said then, it had "the cool confidence that can only come from a studio that's danced this jig already and knows all the beats." Back then the Marvel Studios operation had already become something akin to an assembly line, and that machine-works has only become more practiced and precise in the wake of the senses-shattering success of 2012's team-up opus The Avengers.

As such, while Thor's second solo feature (with star Chris Hemsworth back in armor as the hammer-wielding Thunder God) swaps in director Alan Taylor (HBO's Game of Thrones), the edifice that Branagh helped build last time is so sturdy that any changes are akin to changing the drapes. This is franchise filmmaking at its most efficient. It's either a good thing or bad thing depending on where you sit on the dividing line between "art" and "commerce," but like the James Bond series, the Marvel films are beholden to their own particular producer-driven aesthetics, regardless of who's calling the shots behind the camera.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

New RoboCop Trailer Hits

I offered my thoughts about the first trailer for MGM's upcoming RoboCop remake when it dropped last September. To sum up, I was intrigued but not necessarily engaged -- yet. After watching the latest assemblage from the Lion, just out today, I can't say my thoughts on the Jose Padilha-directed actioner have changed substantially. We see a little more Michael Keaton, a little more Gary Oldman, and a little more Sam Jackson, but not much more Joel Kinnaman, the man they have standing in for Peter Weller as the titular titan. With this thing due to hit screens in February, I'm sure the studio hard sell will really start kicking in by Christmas, but for now we have the new poster to the left, and the trailer below.

Marvel Sends Daredevil & Co. to Netflix

The Marvel Studios brand has already conquered movie theaters (look for my take on Thor: The Dark World tomorrow morning), and is attempting to make inroads on TV (Agents of SHIELD is still doing its thing on ABC), but now it looks like the Disney superhero factory is also looking to tap into the burgeoning marketplace of online original content. In a deal just announced this morning, Marvel will produce four interlinked, serialized dramas specifically for Netflix: Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and superhero P.I. Jessica Jones.

I'd been hearing whispers of something like this being in the offing for a few weeks now, but to see the details of the deal all laid today has me pretty jazzed. All four characters are more "street-level" than the cosmos-spanning, world-beating stuff we get from The Avengers and its appendages. The goal, per the press release, is to create an "epic [that] will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix members deep into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell’s Kitchen."

The Wolverine Returns -- Again

While the domestic reaction to last summer's Hugh Jackman starrer The Wolverine was decidedly sedate (it took in $132 mil against a $120 mil budget -- no small potatoes, but still the lowest of the six X-Men flicks), it clawed its way to a mighty $413 mil worldwide (second highest in the series). Personally, I was of mixed opinion on it, but you can't argue with those numbers, so it's no surprise that movement has quickly begun on another escapade for Jackman's superhero alter-ego. This would be his seventh starring turn, for those of you keeping score. If you're Fox, this makes all the sense in the world.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

From The Onion...

It's good to keep striving.
Paul Hogan Admits He’s Still Searching For That One Career-Defining Role

SYDNEY—Australian character actor Paul Hogan, 74, told sources in an exclusive interview Tuesday that he’s “still searching” for that one career-defining role. “I’m proud of my work, but despite acting in a variety of different films, I’ve yet to find that one iconic, unforgettable character with whom everyone identifies me,” said Hogan, who has been appearing in motion pictures for more than a quarter century. “When people hear the name Paul Hogan, there isn’t any particular performance that comes to mind, but rather a broad range of many diverse roles. I just have to keep working, and hopefully something great will come along eventually.” Hogan then reportedly opened up about his divorce from his wife of 23 years, an actress he met while working on a film in 1986.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Halloween Horror

As he's done for the last two years, Jimmy Kimmel asked the parents in his audience to play a prank on their kids this Halloween. Here's what happened:

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Word Association

Way back here, in my piece marking the passing of groundbreaking comedian Richard Pryor, I noted the seminal skit he appeared in on Saturday Night Live, wherein he and Chevy Chase engage in a word association game during the course of a job interview that rapidly escalates into the kind of uncomfortable tension that creates comedy gold (check out the vid after the jump). In an excerpt posted at Salon from their new book (on shelves Tuesday) about the late comedian, authors David Henry and Joe Henry lay out the sequence of events leading up to that legendary skit.

Nostalgia Theater: The Secret Force of Pole Position

In car racing terms, "pole position" refers to where a car is placed in the starting lineup, something that can in turn determine said car's chances of winning. In video game terms, Pole Position was the title of a racing game from Namco in the early '80s -- one of the most popular of the genre. When the decade's gaming boom led to various media adaptations of arcade properties, the notorious crap-mavens at DiC had a Saturday AM take on Pole Position ready to race. Airing on CBS from September to December of 1984, I don't remember much about the show beyond the catchy theme, which you can check out (along with the closing) below:

Friday, November 01, 2013

Diffused Congruence: Episode 2


For the second episode of our all-new podcast examining the many fascinating conversations to be had within the American Muslim community, my co-host Parvez Ahmed and I are joined by Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco-Bay Area chapter of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), for an in-depth conversation on the goals, history, and criticisms of the venerable civil rights organization (it marks its second decade next year), and her own efforts to bridge interfaith understanding both before and after becoming a part of it. You can download or stream the show below, as well as via iTunes (don't forget to leave us a review!). Also, many thanks for all the feedback and comments on our first episode! Please keep them coming! You can send any questions and concerns our way at diffusedcongruence@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

From The Onion...

Won't be seeing Ender's Game until later this weekend, so we'll see just how true-to-life this is...
Harrison Ford Begs Agents To Just Let Him Die Now 
LOS ANGELES—Saying that “it’s time,” a visibly weary Harrison Ford pleaded with his agents Thursday to simply stop this and let him die, sources confirmed. “Please, you’ve had your fill. Just let me go quietly into the night,” the 71-year-old Ender’s Game star reportedly said, later imploring his agents not to hand him any more scripts and to just “let [him] go to sleep forever.” “I’ve spent my entire life doing this for you people. We had a good run, but it’s been a long journey and I’m very tired now. Please don’t talk about any more projects or how the director will work around my schedule. And don’t try to convince me that this is how I get my Oscar. It’s over. I just want to close my eyes and never wake up.” Reports confirm that Ford’s agents then mentioned a new script set during the Cold War in which he’d play Robert McNamara, which prompted Ford to sigh, shake his head, and say, “Okay, let me take a look.”

Recommended Reading

Alex Pareene examines the current mess surrounding the Affordable Care Act and offers a set of prescriptions for how those who'd like to see it work (as opposed to those rooting for its failure) can make that happen.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Good/Bad = Ugly

On yesterday's Daily Show, Jon Stewart zinged CNN for a particularly egregious (and seemingly mandated from on high?) strategy to boil down nuanced discussions of complex issues into the most binary, easily-digested soundbites possible. Watch this:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New X-Men Trailer Goes Back to the Future

Building off a tease in the closing moments of last summer's The Wolverine, Twentieth Century Fox is getting ready to return its entire brigade of Marvel mutants to the screen in next June's X-Men: Days of Future Past, which also brings director Bryan Singer back to the director's chair after more than a decade away. The time-tripping tale, starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender, uses the comics' classic "post-apocalyptic future" storyline of the same name as a means to bring the together the original trilogy's cast with their younger First Class-era selves. Our first look at the film (which also brings Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, and others back into the fold) arrived today via the teaser trailer from Fox. Given that this is just a teaser, the focus seems more on showing the characters and scope rather than the specifics of the plot. And on that score, consider me sufficiently teased.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: Sectaurs -- Icky Bug Guys Doing Battle

In 1985, yet another toyline emerged that attempted to wrest valuable mindspace of kiddies away from the He-Man-G.I. Joe-Transformers trifecta that dominated most of the decade. This time out, the erstwhile contender was toymaker Coleco (which had made a big splash in the girls' market a few years earlier with Cabbage Patch Kids), and the product on offer was Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion. While their action figures were packed with articulation, accessories, and features, what I remember most is how...icky the whole thing was.

With a mythology steeped in mysticism and magic, Sectaurs was a pretty transparent riff on Masters of the Universe, with the big twist being that all the characters were a bizarre insect-humanoid hybrid (the result of some experiment gone awry or some such). Whatever the whys-and-wherefores, the end result was that the heroic Sectaurs of the Shining Realm, led by the noble Prince Dargon, did heavily toyetic battle with the denizens of the Dark Domain and their evil leader General Spidrax. Yeah, the He-Man rip-off factor was pretty obvious even to five year-old me. Here's a TV spot for the line:

Friday, October 25, 2013

INTERVIEW: Writer-Director J.C. Chandor on the Brilliant All Is Lost

When J.C. Chandor was looking for a project to follow up his acclaimed 2011 film Margin Call, a true-life chronicle of 36 hours on Wall Street, he went in completely the opposite direction, finding his muse in All Is Lost, a gripping tale that relies on silence and introspection in much the same way Margin Call relied on its lightning fast dialogue to build drama. The film stars Robert Redford as a lone seafarer (who we only ever know as "Our Man") in a damaged boat, struggling to stay alive against a seemingly ceaseless elemental onslaught.

At its core, this is a tale of what it takes to survive, and while there are certainly thematic ties to Cast Away or Life of Pi, this is very much its own thing. Thanks to Chandor's masterful construction of the story, All Is Lost is equal parts gripping, tragic, and hopeful. The fragility and quiet strength that Redford, still matinee idol handsome even into his late seventies, manages to embody through an almost entirely silent performance is absolutely revelatory.

Without a doubt, this is one of the best movies I've seen all year, something I've been declaring loudly to anyone who'll listen (as you well know if you've got the last month's worth of MovieFilm Podcast shows), and something I declared once again to Chandor when I had a chance to discuss the film with him. What follows is the transcript of that chat, as he takes me from the film's conception to completion, including how he approached his star, and what it was like directing the Sundance Kid himself.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recommended Reading

As we've been talking about the past week, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act's web-based enrollment program has hit some snags . And the Republicans in congress couldn't be happier. Er, I mean, they couldn't be angrier. Actually, I'm not exactly sure how they feel. Maybe Ezra Klein can straighten this out for us...

New Captain America Trailer Soldiers On

The Marvel Studios assembly line keeps chugging along! Thor: The Dark World opens two weeks from today, so look for my review of that one soon, and I've got lots to say about their TV skein Agents of SHIELD I'm hoping to type up soon, but in the meantime we've got our first look today at the upcoming Captain America sequel, The Winter Soldier, directed by Anthony & Joe Russo. As a huge fan of not just Cap in general but the specific comic arc this one is based on, I'm trying very hard to keep my expectations in check, but I'm loving what I see so far. When the Marvel powers-that-be (Kevin Feige, et al) promised a techno thriller in the Tom Clancy vein, they weren't messing around:

Crying Over Spilt Coffee

Back in 1992, the case of Stella Liebeck v. McDonalds gained a fair degree of notoriety in the mainstream media for what many deemed its exorbitant outcome. After trial, a jury found the fast food giant liable to the tune of nearly $3 mil after a customer dropped some of their coffee on her lap and got burned. This is actually one of those cases I've used in my Argumentation & Debate classes for awhile now as an exemplar of how arguments play out in different spheres.

To wit: The legal argument was built on Ms. Liebman being so severely burned that she required skin grafts. Plus, the jury's recommended award was reduced quite a bit by the time the judge actually got around to determining the final amount. However, both of those extenuating factors kind of got lost in the mix by the time the pundits and the comedians had their say, and the story became "Idiot spills coffee, sues for millions." In this terrific vid by the New York Times looking back at the Great Coffee Spill of 1992, we get a good sense of what actually transpired, and how it was eventually spun:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Extreme Takeover

If the shutdown drama of the past month proved anything, it's just how blindly ideological the Tea Party wing of the GOP is, to the point of willing self-immolation. Jon Stewart made this point with his usual aplomb on last night's Daily Show. I especially like his calling out of a certain former presidential nominee senator from AZ for his opening of Pandora's Box (or, as I've referred to it in the past, releasing the Kraken) vis-a-vis his veep pick. Check out part one below, and part two after the jump.

Something to Think About

From Robert Reich, via his Facebook page:
For those of us who have been arguing for years that the best way to provide comprehensive health insurance to Americans would be to graft it onto Social Security and Medicare, and pay for it through the payroll tax, Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act has been deeply ironic. Republicans were the ones who initially demanded it be based instead on private insurance, and be paid for with a combination of subsidies for low-income purchasers and a requirement that the younger and healthier sign up. A Republican President (Richard Nixon) came close to enacting such a plan. A Republican think tank provided the details. A Republican governor (Mitt Romney) did a trial run (in Massachusetts). Yet now that the essential Republican plan for comprehensive health insurance is being implemented nationally, Republicans are apoplectic. Had Democrats stuck to the original Democratic vision and built it on Social Security and Medicare, it would have been cheaper, simpler, and more widely accepted by the public. Maybe, someday, we'll get there.
Yeah. Maybe.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

From The Onion...

Meanwhile, The Onion also gets its licks in...
New, Improved Obamacare Program Released On 35 Floppy Disks

WASHINGTON—Responding to widespread criticism regarding its health care website, the federal government today unveiled its new, improved Obamacare program, which allows Americans to purchase health insurance after installing a software bundle contained on 35 floppy disks. “I have heard the complaints about the existing website, and I can assure you that with this revised system, finding the right health care option for you and your family is as easy as loading 35 floppy disks sequentially into your disk drive and following the onscreen prompts,” President Obama told reporters this morning, explaining that the nearly three dozen 3.5-inch diskettes contain all the data needed for individuals to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace, while noting that the updated Obamacare software is mouse-compatible and requires a 386 Pentium processor with at least 8 MB of system RAM to function properly. “Just fire up MS-DOS, enter ‘A:\>dir *.exe’ into the command line, and then follow the instructions to install the Obamacare batch files—it should only take four or five hours at the most. You can press F1 for help if you run into any problems. And be sure your monitor’s screen resolution is at 320 x 200 or it might not display properly.” Obama added that the federal government hopes to have a six–CD-ROM version of the program available by 2016.

Failure to Launch

Jon Stewart has some issues with the less-than-auspicious start for the much-ballyhooed health care exchanges at the center of the Affordable Care Act. Observe:

Monday, October 21, 2013

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 33


The gang reconvenes this week to talk up the latest TV news, including the quickie cancellation of NBC's Ironside, and the Peacock's slow descent to seventh (!!) place in the ratings. In addition, we also discuss the skyrocketing success of AMC's The Walking Dead, the latest news on Jurassic World, and the major floppage of Julian Assange bio The Fifth Estate and the long-awaited (or not so much) Sylvester Stallone-Arnold Schwarzenegger team-up flick Escape Plan at the box office. Then, after a brief conversation about Tom Hanks' new film Captain Phillips, we dive into a Movies That Matter unpacking Tom Hanks' seminal space pic Apollo 13 from 1995.

But that's not all, this episode has two -- count 'em, two! -- interviews as I chat up the spellbinding sea epic All Is Lost (one of his faves of the year) with director J.C. Chandor, and then delve into the many meanings of the Carrie remake with director Kimberly Peirce. There's much more than that as well, including a MovieFilm quiz administered by Brian. This one is super-sized, so don't miss a minute! You can listen via the embed below, or download or stream at iTunes or Stitcher. Also, be sure to visit our Facebook page and let us know how we're doing!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lou Scheimer, RIP

While Lou Scheimer's face is probably unknown to many, the singularly impressive body of work the veteran animator, who died last week at age 84, racked up during his several decades in the industry is likely unknown to very few. As co-founder of Filmation Associates in 1963, Scheimer was instrumental in bringing several beloved pop culture properties to TV for the very first time, with Superman, Batman, Aquaman, and a host of other DC Comics heroes getting the Filmation treatment, not to mention Archie, the Lone Ranger (which I discussed here), Zorro, Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and so, so, so many more.

Although the rampant budgetary restrictions were a bit too obvious at times, with Filmation skeins (such as the animated Star Trek) legendary for their use and reuse of stock animated expressions, poses, and movements, Scheimer did what he could to keep much of his studio's production stateside, giving work to a variety of

Nostalgia Theater: Street Hawk -- A Man Named Mach and his Magic Motorbike

Rex Smith rides Street Hawk
Like The Phoenix from a few weeks ago, Street Hawk is a series whose level of awareness and recognition is completely disproportionate with how long it actually ran. Premiering on ABC in January of 1984, Street Hawk lasted a mere thirteen episodes, and yet you can still find people who speak wistfully of the short-lived skein. In fact, just like The Phoenix, I've gotten several e-mails requesting a Nostalgia Theater spotlight on the show, so here we go.

Obviously aiming to capitalize on NBC's success a few seasons prior with Knight Rider, Street Hawk (also produced by Universal) pretty much lifted that show's format wholesale, teaming a lone hero with a souped-up super vehicle, resulting in a spate of TV-safe adventures. The saga sell below lays out the mission statement pretty thoroughly, but I especially love the fact that our hero (played with earnest charm by Rex Smith) has the totally unlikely/entirely appropriate name Jesse Mach. Here's the intro (plus exposition by go-to voiceover guy Ernie Anderson):

Friday, October 18, 2013

INTERVIEW: Director Kimberly Peirce on Remaking Carrie

Writer-director Kimberly Peirce burst onto the film scene in 1999 with the gut-wrenching docudrama Boys Don't Cry, which also netted star Hilary Swank the first of her two Academy Awards. For her latest directorial effort, Peirce has entered genre territory by tackling MGM's new adaptation of Carrie, the seminal Stephen King novel that was first brought to the screen in 1976 by director Brian De Palma (and which has been remade and sequelized a few times since).

For Peirce, the decision to mount a new remake such an iconic film (with Chloë Grace Moretz stepping into Sissy Spacek's shoes as the troubled teen with the TK) came not from a desire to step over De Palma, but rather to pay homage to King's prose. As she explains in our lengthy chat, she put a lot of thought and effort into making her version of Carrie (which also stars Julianne Moore) stand out and stand apart. Check out the transcript below (but be aware that there may be some spoilers about the film's climax, so tread lightly):

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

From The Onion...

Not sure this even qualifies as satire.
Tea Party Congressman Listens To Constituent Who Wears Thomas Jefferson Costume Everywhere 
WINNSBORO, SC—At a town hall meeting Monday sponsored by Tea Party affiliate FreedomWorks, sources confirmed that Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) seriously listened and responded to several points raised by a constituent wearing a Thomas Jefferson costume complete with brass-buttoned waistcoat, velveteen breeches, and tricorn hat. “You make a great point, sir, and I am here to fight for people like you,” the congressman said to the man in a powdered wig who was carrying a giant Declaration of Independence poster board and who wears his Thomas Jefferson costume not just to political meetings, but every time he leaves his home. “When I get out of the D.C. bubble and come back to South Carolina and talk to voters, that’s when I remember the folks like yourself who sent me to Washington.” Following the meeting, Mulvaney spoke for 45 minutes with a local business owner and his wife, both of whom said the government shutdown was a good thing, and both of whom were dressed as Paul Revere.

Facts About the Kaaba

This week is the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage all practicing Muslims are required to undertake at least once in their lives wherein they travel to Mecca and pay homage to the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure at the center of the grand mosque. While most folks all over the world are broadly familiar with the image and iconography of the Kaaba, thought of as the first mosque in Muslim history, they probably don't know much else about it. To that end, check out this fascinating list of ten factoids about the Kaaba, most of which I didn't know either!

(Source: Muslim Matters)

New Short Celebrates Superman's 75th

This is pretty sweet. As any reader of this site should well know, this year marks seventy-five years since Superman first appeared on the cover of Action Comics #1. To mark the occasion, animation impresario Bruce Timm, the man behind just about every DC Comics animated offering all the way back to Batman: The Animated Series, teamed with Zack Snyder, director of last summer's Man of Steel (as well as its impending sequel), for a short film that attempts to sum up the character's vast history in two minutes (and change) of bravura animation.

Per Timm, "The idea was to start with [Superman creators] Siegel and Shuster and end with Henry Cavill, stopping at all the high points and iconic moments in between." I'd say they accomplished their mission quite well, with George Reeves, Chris Reeve, and Smallville all getting checked (though Lois & Clark is left hanging yet again -- as is poor Brandon Routh). I also have to give them credit for the seamless segue from John Williams' iconic Superman theme to the 2013 Hans Zimmer model. Jump over here to check out the short, which will also end up on the Man of Steel home vid release next month.

UPDATE:

And DC has now offered up an embed via YouTube, which you can watch below, after the jump: