Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recommended Reading

Bruce Bartlett offers some thoughts on income inequality and political inequality, and the unfortunate intersection of the two.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Steven Spielberg's Obama

The laugh quotient at last night's White House Correspondents' Dinner, with an especially weak comedy monologue from Conan O'Brien, was pretty low, in my opinion, but this did give me a chuckle:

Nostalgia Theater: Cadillacs & Dinosaurs -- Where the Rubber Meets the Roar

Continuing my on-and-off theme of the last month of examining the omnipresence of dinosaurs in kidvid (as opposed to the limited presence of Dinosaurs in primetime), this week I look at Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, which briefly aired on CBS during fall of '93 as adventure 'toons aimed at young boys were garnering renewed attention by the broadcast nets thanks to the recent, stratospheric success of both Batman: The Animated Series and the animated X-Men over on Fox Kids.

When those skeins rocketed Fox to the top of the Saturday AM ratings heap, CBS, which had been the longtime ratings leader until it was deposed by this upstart, hit the development trail to seek out similar untapped action/adventure fare. They found

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hammertime! First Thor 2 Trailer Arrives

You wouldn't know it, but the next Thor movie is due out this November -- just a few short months away. With Iron Man 3 hitting theaters next week, much of the Marvel hype has understandably focused on Mr. Stark's opus, but we're now starting to see some of that spotlight shine on Asgard's favorite son, starting with the teaser poster to the right, and the trailer below for Thor: The Dark World.

As you can see, most of the heavy hitters from last time are back, with Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston alongside Chris Hemsworth as the titular titan. Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor, stepping in for Kenneth Branagh, seems to have infused the proceedings with an approach that's certainly appropriate to the title. As you know, I dug the first Thor, and I dug The Avengers, so I see no reason to think this won't be in the same vicinity qualitatively. Check out the vid after the jump:

From The Onion...

Tips For Passing Gun Control Legislation
Geez, they make it sound so easy...
- Write gun control legislation. Pass gun control legislation. 
- Before voting on gun control bill, try, if you can, to remember any recent examples in which guns - have been used to kill innocent people. 
- Acknowledge that it’s going to be hard to buck the pressure of the high-powered gun lobby, but not that f***ing hard, dumbass. 
- Consider if overwhelming public support for a particular measure is something you want to be associated with or not. 
- Inform your decision by researching whether guns are good or bad when placed in the wrong hands. 
- Muster everything that’s left in your black, desiccated heart to do something that might actually be of service to someone other than yourself. 
- Carefully assess the other side of the argument wherein mentally unstable people can buy weapons at a gun show with no problem whatsoever, and then realize there is no other side of this argument. 
- Put on your stupid little suit, run a comb through your greasy hair, go to the U.S Capitol building, pick up your fancy little gold pen, and pass a f***ing gun control bill.

Recommended Reading

Dean Obeidallah explains how it is, in fact, possible to be a Muslim and also hate terrorism.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 20

When it came time to record the big 20th episode of the  MovieFilm Podcast, Brian was too busy earning a living to join us, but Joblo.com News Editor Paul Shirey gamely jumped in at the last second to pinch-hit, joining Zaki and Sean for an in-depth discussion on the estimable ouvre (however that's pronounced...) of one Thomas C. Mapother IV, a.k.a. Tom Cruise. In addition to talking up Cruise's newest opus, big budget sci-fi'er Oblivion, they also delve deep into his catalog of successful and not-so-successful entries, and attempt to divine how (and why) the one-time Jerry Maguire has had such a consistent track record at the global box office for more than thirty years. The gang also goes gaga over the extended trailer for much-anticipated Superman reboot Man of Steel, wonder if there's an audience for the newest iteration of The Lone Ranger, and asks what the heck is going on with Amanda Bynes. There's plenty more than just that, though, but you'll have to stream or download the show via the link to catch it all. Also, as always, remember to write a review or rank us on iTunes, and hit "like" on our official Facebook page!

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: The Brief Rise and Immediate Extinction of Dinosaucers

As we know, the 1980s was a time when G.I. Joe and Transformers ruled the roost when it came to boys' kidvid, but that didn't stop a whole lot of challengers to the throne from popping up and attempting to dethrone the co-kings. For example, there was M.A.S.K. and C.O.P.S., not to mention Bionic Six and Centurions, all of which found some degree of success with their piece of the pie. Another, less successful example, which came and went briefly between fall of '87 and spring of '88 was Dinosaucers.

Combining kids' well-established love of dinosaurs with the toyetic "good guy team vs. bad guy team" dynamic that pretty much typified most boys' fare of the era, Dinosaucers was a marketer's dream come true. But what probably sounded like a great idea at the pitch stage (conceived by Michael Uslan & Ben Melniker, the duo whose biggest claim to fame is a producing credit on every single Batman feature from the '80s on) faltered a bit when it came to actual execution (by animation house DiC -- yep, them again):

Friday, April 19, 2013

Recommended Reading

In the wake of this week's breakneck news out of Boston, from Monday's bombing to today's arrest of the alleged culprit, we have a helpful list of "10 Essential points about the Boston Marathon bombers, Islam, and America" from Omid Safi, Professor of Islamic Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Well worth your time.

Broken Bad

Jon Stewart played whack-a-mole with the Senate's disgraceful vote on gun control on last night's Daily Show, devoting three segments to the issue. Not really much I need to add beyond my piece from yesterday, but check out Jon's take in part one below, and the other two after the jump:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Senate's Gun Fail

It says something extraordinarily shameful about our polity when even a toothless, watered-down attempt at gun legislation such as the one that went before the Senate yesterday couldn't even get a vote. This legislation, featuring as its centerpiece a wishy-washy, "better than nothing" attempt at expanded background checks negotiated by two conservatives (Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Pat Toomey), was foiled -- like so many bills before it -- by a Republican-led filibuster, this one joined by four Dems and powered by a disinformation campaign from, who else, the NRA.

I don't know if this defeat signals the death knell for some meaningful attempt at addressing this very real problem, but it sure does make it a lot harder to feel like our so-called representatives are truly representing us when something like expanding background checks for gun buyers, which has better than 90% support

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Man of Steel Trailer! Mind = Blown!

I saw the latest trailer for director Zack Snyder's Man of Steel last night on my phone while waiting in line to get into a screening of Oblivion. It blew my mind on a little handheld thingie, so I can only imagine how it'll play on the silver screen. I will say that, with each new assemblage we're getting from this flick, I'm feeling more and more confident that the WB has a winner on its hands. Lots of new footage here, with plenty of dialogue from Russell Crowe's Jor-El, and a genuinely poignant exchange between young Clark Kent and Kevin Costner as his foster father Jonathan.

Also, while I'm not 100% certain, I'm pretty sure this trailer gives us our first real taste of composer Hans Zimmer's new Superman theme, which has the unenviable task of standing in for John Williams' iconic score. And, I gotta say, not bad! As you know, I was initially reticent about getting yet another depiction of Superman's origins to add to the multitude of tellings it's already gotten, but seeing this, it becomes clear why the filmmakers felt it necessary to go back to formula and re-ground this most iconic of heroes for the modern generation. They already had my money, but this makes me even more willing to hand it over:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Recommended Reading

Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel has been detained at Guantanamo without charges since 2002. He documents his experiences in an emotional op-ed, written via his lawyer, for the New York Times.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Smith for Sale

Nearly ten years after the Matrix sequels hit theaters and killed off almost all interest in that franchise (but not by me, dammit!), Hugo Weaving reprises his iconic Agent Smith persona for this TV spot singing the praises of GE technologies. Given Smith's role in the films ("Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet"), I'm struggling a bit with the subtext when he talks up the lifesaving advances GE has made in hospitals. But hey, the Wachowskis did sign-off on this, so maybe they're having a private larf while they cash that fat check:

(Source: Bleeding Cool)

Nostalgia Theater: Crazy Like a Fox -- Like Father, Unlike Son

Jack Warden (L) and John Rubinstein (R)
Crazy Like a Fox ran on CBS from 1984 to 1986, and it typifies the by-the-numbers, "programmer" style of TV we saw too much of in decades past. That said, it's not without its charms. Near as I can figure, the pitch went something like this: Crusty old school P.I. Harry Fox (multiple Oscar and Emmy nom Jack Warden) teams up with his wiener of a lawyer son Harrison (John Rubinstein) and they have wacky hijinks every week as they solve crimes. That's pretty much it. Hey, it was the '80s, when you could get an entire series out of "William Shatner as a cop." Presumably, the combination of logline-plus-star were enough to not only get the show greenlit, but also make it a decent-sized hit -- at least initially.

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Yada Yada"

As we talked about last month, the realization has slowly dawned on the GOP's current power brokers that, thanks to the changing demographics of the modern day electorate, they can no longer shrug their shoulders at the various minority groups they've made it their business to marginalize for the past, oh, fifty years or so. In an attempt to begin some of this outreach, Senator Rand Paul hit up historically black Howard University to make the case for why African-Americans should mark "R" on their ballots. As Jon Stewart explains, it didn't go particularly well:

Man of Steel Leads the Way to JLA

With Man of Steel counting down to its mid-June bow (just two short months away!) we're now getting more info on the much-anticipated Superman reboot, with WB prexy Jeff Robinov talking up its place as the lynchpin for a shared movie universe for the DC heroes to inhabit a la Disney's Avengers movie-verse across town. Say Robinov to EW (for the cover story in this week's big "Summer Movie Preview" ish):
“I think you’ll see that, going forward, anything can live in this world...[Nolan’s] Batman was deliberately and smartly positioned as a stand-alone. The world they lived in was very isolated without any knowledge

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Zaki's Review: 42

Chadwick Boseman as baseball legend Jackie Robinson
42 is an exceptional story told unexceptionally. As a depiction of the trailblazing story of Jackie Robinson, who shattered the color barrier for professional baseball (and really for all pro sports), its subject matter is worthier than its execution. Then again, that's not necessarily a fault of the movie, per se. Jackie Robinson is a revered figure (and rightly so), thus it has to be some kind of a crime that the last time his life was given a filmic translation was more than sixty years ago, when Robinson was not only alive, but young enough to play himself.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Paper Tiger

A few months ago I railed at the the Senate's toothless attempt at filibuster reform, which really did nothing more than preserve the same broken status quo that we've been dealing with for several years now. While Harry Reid as given assurances by Mitch McConnell that yes, his people had changed, and they'd only deploy the filibuster in extreme circumstances, that all turned out to be so much Charlie Brown v. Football.

And so, after an unabated string of 'busters in the new session has threatened to gum things up even more than usual, Reid is now threatening to deploy the so-called "nuclear option" -- a rules change mid-session -- to dispatch the filibuster once-and-for-all. Do I think anything of the kind will actually happen? Nah. Don't make threats you don't intend to follow through on, Harry. And we all know this is one threat you don't intend to follow through on.

Monday, April 08, 2013

The MovieFilm Podcast: Episode 19

In this episode of MovieFilm, the gang share their thoughts on the global blockbuster G.I. Joe: Retaliation and lionize the late Roger Ebert. In addition, we use the occasion of Jurassic Park's twentieth anniversary re-release to reminisce about Steven Spielberg's modern classic, opining on why it still matters even after all these years. But that's not all. You'll also hear the varied reactions to the first trailers for the upcoming The Wolverine and 2 Guns, plus the usual batch of Listener Letters and Hollywood Headlines and more. You can stream the episode below, or download at the link if you prefer. Like we remind you with each new ep, make sure to write a review or rank us on iTunes, and hit "like" on our official Facebook page!

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Nostalgia Theater: The Lost Land of the Lost

With Jurassic Park back in theaters, I thought I'd dig up a different artifact from the early '90s that saw humans interacting with prehistoric monsters, though admittedly without the added "oomph" that cutting edge CGI technology offers. But first, a little context. Back in the early '70s, kidvid producers Sid & Marty Krofft served up Land of the Lost, a live-action NBC Saturday morning series about the Marshall Family who, while on "a routine expedition" are spirited to an alternate dimension populated by dinosaurs and other creatures. Catch the intro below:

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Maher on Libertarianism

Whenever I post a clip of Bill Maher, I always have to couch it by saying that I tend to disagree with the outspoken comedian just as often as I agree with him. With that disclaimer out of the way, I do think he totally bullseyed it on the final segment of last night's Real Time while discussing his ongoing beef with Libertarianism, a political philosophy that's gotten some renewed face-time lately thanks to the prominent advocates like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul.

I've often spoken on this site of how I had some initial enthusiasm for Libertarianism in my younger years (I even flirted with voting for Harry Browne in '00). But like Maher I've moved to the opposite side of the issue as I've seen the reality of what the movement -- which has long since been swallowed up a by a coarser version of Ayn Rand's Objectivism (as opposed to a less coarse version?) -- would end up meaning in real terms for actual people. Here's the vid of the segment:

Ebert: "I Do Not Fear It"

Here's Roger Ebert from fall of 2011, at that point almost a decade into his long struggle with cancer, acutely aware that he was nearing the end of his journey:
I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
And later in the piece:
“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
More here. One only hopes to face the end with such serene clarity at the moment the inevitable occurs.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Zaki's Review: Jurassic Park 3D

When director Steven Spielberg's dinos-on-the-rampage blockbuster Jurassic Park first hit the screen twenty years ago (I'll let you process that number for a second, along with the resultant reality of how much older you are since you first saw it) it was a legitimate phenomenon. A true game changer. To everyone but me, that is.

My clearest memory of sitting in that theater two decades ago as a know-nothing thirteen year-old is of watching for the first time and being...unimpressed. No, seriously. Now, part of that is because I waited until the movie was playing in second-run theaters before I finally saw it, so the hype machine had long since built it up into something it could never hope to measure up to, but part of that was just from being an adolescent know-it-all trying to be cooler than the cool kids.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Roger Ebert, RIP

Yesterday morning I read that Roger Ebert was scaling back his regular reviewing output due to a recurrence of the cancer he'd been battling off-and-on for the past decade-and-change. While the longtime Chicago Sun-Times movie critic (the first to ever win a Pulitzer Prize) assured us the words would keep flowing as they had for more than four decades now, we learned this afternoon that the illness had claimed him, robbing us of one of our most important voices in film analysis. It's hard for me to fully express how much his work has meant to me, but what I wrote in a post from three years ago still applies:

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

From The Onion...

One assumes that history has already reached its verdict on Dick Cheney...
History Licking Its Chops To Judge George W. Bush
From the piece:
Telling reporters it practically salivates at the thought of critically examining the two-term president law by law and executive order by executive order, the all-encompassing compendium of human achievements said that when the time is right, nothing will be able to stop it from producing a single overarching assessment of the Bush legacy that will be learned and accepted by future generations of Americans for ages to come. 
History added that while it often takes decades for it to accurately parse the accomplishments and shortcomings of a presidency, it’s “good to go on this one” and vowed to jump at the first chance it gets to take a definitive position on the former commander-in-chief’s leadership abilities and the substance of his policies in light of readily available data on the U.S. debt, the environment, citizens’ standard of living, and outcomes of foreign conflicts.
Read the rest here.

It's Official: Jay's Out, Jimmy's In For Tonight

As you know from my discussion of this for the past month, the headwinds had been moving in this direction for awhile already, so today's big announcement may come off as a bit anti-climactic. Nonetheless, NBC has made official their second Tonight Show transition of the last five years. As of Spring 2014, Jay Leno will cede the late night throne he's held for more than two decades, and hand it off to Jimmy Fallon, who entered the late night scene only a few short years ago, and is really benefiting handsomely simply by being in the right place and the right time(slot).

Assuming this all pans out as they say, with the promise of the Fallon-ized Tonight moving to/staying in New York, that makes the big winner in all this shuffling not Fallon, but rather Saturday Night Live impresario Lorne Michaels, who's stewarded

Recommended Reading

As the question of what kind of gun legislation will make it through congress drags on and on, with the status quo solidifying yet again with each passing day, David Sirota underscores the core, bizarre questions the answers to which will determine the outcom of the debate.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Third G.I. Joe On the Way

As you know, I really dug last week's G.I. Joe: Retaliation, feeling it pretty much rescued the brand's big screen prospects after the creative dead-end it was forced to recover from. Thus, I was eagerly awaiting word of a follow-up, and after a global bow of more than $130 million for its opening frame -- vindicating Paramount's snap-decision last summer to delay the flick by more than nine months -- it turns out that wait was a short one.

From Variety comes confirmation that work is now in the initial planning stages for the eventual third Joe, presumably picking up on the plot-threads Retaliation left dangling. No word on whether the Rock or Bruce Willis will be back in the camo for the follow-up, but given that the two action heroes are being given much of the credit for Retaliation's high-powered launch, I'd be shocked not to see them both return. The real question, of course, is whether they find some way to get the supernova that is Channing Tatum in there. My money is on "yes," though I have no idea how they'd pull that off. Let's see what happens.

(Source: Variety)