Thursday, July 31, 2008

Christian the Lion

Grab yer kleenex, ladies... and pass the whole box right over here.

Say it with me, please: awwwwww...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lost: New Dhamra Video Shown at Comic Con

This year's installment of the Dr Marvin Candle/DHARMA videos, teasing the next season of Lost, was shown yesterday at Comic Con.

The implied bottom line: looks like the Losties are gonna have to figure out a way to change history so that the Dharma purge never takes place. Hmmmmm...

In related news, on Friday HBO elected not to renew Tell Me You Love Me, co-starring Lost's Sonya Wagler, for a second season. This could mean we'll be seeing more of Penelope Widmore.

Alan Dale, who plays her father, Charles Widmore -- who is quite possibly the show's Big Bad -- has been locked down as a recurring player for Season 5 with an option to bump him up to series regular for Season Six, which is the show's last.

Producers made the same deal with John Terry, who plays Jack's (dead) father.

Lost Season 5 premieres in early 2009 (probably late January or early February).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brooklyn Bound!


What will I call myself if I no longer live in the E.Vill???

UPDATE: It's official. Lease signed. (Where is that terrible death whinney when you need it?)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dark Knight Sets Box Office Record

'Dark Knight' sets weekend record with $155.344Million

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Batman has sent Spidey packing as king of Hollywood's box office superheroes.

"The Dark Knight" took in a record $155.34 million in its first weekend, said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which released the "Batman Begins" sequel.

That topped Hollywood's previous best of $151.1 million, set by "Spider-Man 3" in May 2007.

"We knew it would be big, but we never expected to dominate the marketplace like we did," Fellman said. The movie should shoot past the $200 million mark by the end of the week, he said.

Factoring in higher admission prices, however, "Spider-Man 3" may have sold slightly more tickets than "The Dark Knight."
Don'tcha love when a movie THIS good hits big? So rare. . .

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight (SPOILERS)

So much more than what you expect from even a good great superhero movie (i.e., X-Men 2, Iron Man), Christopher Nolan's tremendous Dark Knight mixes and matches the conventions of several genres--superhero, action/adventure, thriller, crime drama--to fuel an exploration of the fear and chaos of urban life in the post-9/11 period... with, y'know, tights & capes. I'm not sure how surprising it should be that the two go together so well. I mean, does Osama bin Laden resemble anything so much as a stock supervillain?

Hard to pick a favorite moment, but if I had to it would probably be the ferry sequence. The Joker has put explosives on 2 ferries evacuating Gotham City -- one packed with commuters, the other with mob prisoners taken earlier in the film. Joker has the detonators for each delivered to the captain of the other ship, and he puts it to them: if one of you decides to push the detonator, blowing up the other, the remaining ferry goes free. At midnight, he will detonate both.

We sweat bullets with the passengers as democracy fails them. Votes taken on each ferry come down on the side of saving themselves at the expense of the others. At one minute to midnight, a very large, very scary prisoner gets up and tells his jailer to give him the detonator so he can do "what you should have done 10 minutes ago."

He could even say the prisoner attacked him. He doesn't have to admit he gave it up willingly.

This is the true climactic moment of the film, a film in which the city itself is the most important character. Gotham has already endured so much by this point. You know that if either boat turns on the other, the entire city will erupt irrevocably into chaos... The pretense of civilized society will fall by the wayside. (You can see where the comparisons to Scorsese and especially to Michael Mann's Heat are coming from.)

So the jailer turns the detonator over -- and the prisoner throws it right out the window. It's the single ray of hope in the whole film -- and it packs quite a wallop. Gotham chooses life -- though just barely. Fitting that an imprisoned gangster -- one of those Batman declared war on in the last film -- ends up being the one to put his finger in the dam.

We realize, and so does Wayne, that there's a larger threat to the city than organized crime: disorganized crime. Terrorism... The whirlwind personified by the Joker. Batman has met the enemy... and it's him. In his attempt to save the city, Wayne has unwittingly infected it with his own compulsion. Civilization in Gotham still hangs by a thread at the end of The Dark Knight, and now the outbreak of costumed vigilantism (predicted by Gordon at the end of Begins) is upon them. If even Harvey Dent, the best of them, is susceptible, then who is immune? An epidemic is on the horizon.

This is why Batman convinces Gordon to brand him an outlaw, and why Gordon reluctantly agrees: Batman may be Gotham's last, best chance, but he's also part of the problem. Alfred summed it up nicely: "It was always going to get worse before it got better." Not for the first time, Alfred seems to have Batman's crusade better thought out than Wayne himself.

And finally a note on the superb cast: overshadowed by all the--well-deserved--adulation for Ledger is the performance of Aaron Eckhart. Ledger will certainly get a posthumous Oscar for his Joker, but Eckhart at least deserves a nomination for his absolutely perfect Harvey Dent.

Cillian Murphy's cameo at the start was also much-appreciated. Too bad he didn't have more to do. Maybe he'll have a larger role next time -- I'm sure Bruce will need a good shrink after all this.

And, clearly, a new love interest. Bring on Catwoman! (And the Riddler?)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Doctor Horrible Act 2: "The Freeze Ray Takes A Few Seconds To Warm Up."

Act 2 of Joss Whedon's latest went live today.

Go there now. Please. It's even better than Act 1, whcih you can view here.

The third and final act goes live on Saturday, 7/19... and the whole thing disappears behind a pay-per-view wall at midnight on the 20th.

For uber-geeks (like me) who are still smartin' over the cancellation of Whedon's Firefly and countless other "brilliant but cancelled" cult classics, please -- spend the 4 bucks to legally download Dr Horrible... and down the road, buy the DVD... Help change the paradigm, kids, so the *next* Firefly or Freaks & Geeks has other economically viable platforms besides broadcast TV.

The Watchmen Trailer

is here.

Many recognizable visual elements (the creation of Dr Manhattan, his tick-tock citadel rising out of the martian landscape, the Comedian on a battlefield) but that's the style... the easy part.

I refuse to believe that they got the substance right (but secretly hope they did).

2008 Emmy Nominations

I gotta start with the writing categories... Actor and Show categories are below.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series
30 Rock • Rosemary's Baby • NBC • Broadway Video, Little Stranger Inc., in association with Universal Media Studios
Jack Burditt, Written By

30 Rock • Cooter • NBC • Broadway Video, Little Stranger Inc., in association with Universal Media Studios
Tina Fey, Written By

Flight Of The Conchords • Yoko • HBO • Dakota Pictures and Comedy Arts in association with HBO Entertainment
James Bobin, Written By
Jemaine Clement, Written By
Bret McKenzie, Written By

Pushing Daisies • Pie-Lette • ABC • Living Dead Guy Productions, The Jinks/Cohen Company in association with Warner Bros. Television
Bryan Fuller, Written By

The Office • Dinner Party • NBC • Deedle Dee Productions, Reveille LLC, Universal Media Studios
Lee Eisenberg, Written By
Gene Stupnitsky, Written By

Wow--What a strong category!

Two absolutely brilliant episodes of "30 Rock" -- "Rosemary's Baby" guest-starred Carrie Fisher as an old-time comedy writer naively idolized by Liz Lemon. "Cooter" was a wickedly funny satire of Bush-era patronage appointments to vital Federal agencies guest starring Matthew Broderick.

The "Dinner Party" episode of "The Office" was their take on "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" (with Michael and Jan as George and Martha) -- IMO, far and away their best episode last season. When the strike hit, showrunner Greg Daniels announced that they'd just had the table read for this ep, and called it "the best script we've ever done," which may be exaggeration -- though maybe not.

Flight of the Conchords' "Yoko" guest-starred the brililant NY musical theater star Sutton Foster as Coco, who comes between the bandmates. Cool, off-beat show--Great ep.

And Bryan Fuller's Pushing Daisies pilot -- sorry, "Pie-lette" -- was, of course, pure joy from beginning to end... though I'm not sure putting it in the comedy category does it justice.

My pick... So hard to choose, but I'll have to say Tina Fey's "Cooter." The actual winner? Equally hard to say. Flight of the Conchords is probably out -- but the other four are all pretty strong contenders.

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series
Battlestar Galactica • Six Of One • Sci Fi Channel • Universal Media Studios in association with R & D TV
Michael Angeli, Written By

Damages • Pilot • FX Networks • FX Productions and Sony Pictures Television
Todd A. Kessler, Written By
Glenn Kessler, Written By
Daniel Zelman, Written By

Mad Men • Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Pilot) • AMC • Lionsgate Television
Matthew Weiner, Written By

Mad Men • The Wheel • AMC • Lionsgate Television
Matthew Weiner, Written By
Robin Veith, Written By

The Wire • 30 • HBO • Blown Deadline Productions in association with HBO Entertainment
David Simon, Teleplay By/Story By
Ed Burns, Story By

Another really strong category. Two brilliant episodes of Mad Men, the best new show of last year. Battlestar again cracks the genre stigma in this category --Ron Moore's fantastic "Occupation/Precipice" was nominated last year -- with one of the strongest episodes of this season. The Wire's series finale was excellent, even to someone who's only seen a handful of episodes. And though I didn't see Damages, the pilot was highly regarded.

My pick? The Mad Men pilot. The winner--Ditto. Mad Men got more nominations than any other show, and there's a reason why. HBO must be kicking itself for so arrogantly passing on this show.

Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special

Bernard And Doris • HBO • Trigger Street Independent Productions in association with Little Bird and Chicago Films and HBO Films
Hugh Costello, Written By

Cranford (Masterpiece Theatre) • PBS • A BBC and WGBH/Boston co-production
Heidi Thomas, Written By

Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale • HBO • BBC and HBO Entertainment
Ricky Gervais, Written By
Stephen Merchant, Written By

John Adams • Independence • HBO • Playtone in association with HBO Films
Kirk Ellis, Written By

Recount • HBO • Spring Creek/Mirage Productions in association with Trigger Street Productions, Everyman Pictures and HBO Films
Danny Strong, Written By

I only saw three of the five here, and though Buffy actor Danny Strong's Recount script is a good effort, it doesn't belong here. The "Independence" episode of John Adams was strong, but not as strong as the premiere -- which was the high-point of the series. It was all downhill from there.

My pick? The Extras Christmas Special. The winner? Ditto. Emmy loves Gervais and Merchant -- with good reason.

Boston Legal," ABC
"Damages," FX
"Dexter," Showtime
"House," Fox
"Lost," ABC
"Mad Men," AMC

My pick? Mad Men. The winner? Mad Men. (re: Boston Legal--What IS it with Emmy and David E Kelly shows?)

"Curb Your Enthusiasm," HBO
"Entourage," HBO
"The Office," NBC
"30 Rock," NBC
"Two and a Half Men," CBS

My pick? 30 Rock. The winner? 30 Rock. It was the best comedy of the year, hands down. IMO.

Gabriel Byrne, "In Treatment"
Bryan Cranston, "Breaking Bad"
Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"
Jon Hamm, "Mad Men"
Hugh Laurie, "House"
James Spader, "Boston Legal"

Jon Hamm.

Glenn Close, "Damages"
Sally Field, "Brothers and Sisters"
Mariska Hargitay, "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit"
Holly Hunter, "Saving Grace"
Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"

Glenn Close probably has it all sewn up, but I don't have a horse in this race. Too bad Mary McDonnell didn't make the cut -- best she does next year.

Christina Applegate, "Samantha Who?"
America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty"
Tina Fey, "30 Rock"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "New Adventures of Old Christine"
Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds"

Tina Fey--Hands down.

Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"
Steve Carell, "The Office"
Lee Pace, "Pushing Daisies"
Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men"

Alec Baldwin. He's doing the best work of his career on this show.

Jon Cryer, "Two and a Half Men"
Kevin Dillon, "Entourage"
Neil Patrick Harris, "How I Met Your Mother"
Jeremy Piven, "Entourage"
Rainn Wilson, "The Office"

All really strong actors. I'd have to pick Rainn Wilson... No idea who will win, though.

Ted Danson, "Damages"
Michael Emerson, "Lost"
Zeljko Ivanek, "Damages"
William Shatner, "Boston Legal"
John Slattery, "Mad Men"

Again--Incredible actors. Zelijko Ivanek blows me away in everything he does (he was the one good thing about the last Broadway production of Mutiny on the Bounty). John Slattery was a revelation in Mad Men.

But I gotta give it to Michael Emerson, and I hope he actually wins it. He sure as hell deserves it--It was a tour de force year for Ben.

Candice Bergen, "Boston Legal"
Rachel Griffiths, "Brothers and Sisters"
Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy"
Dianne Wiest, "In Treatment"
Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy"

Rachel Griffiths and Dianne Wiest are my favorites in this category, mostly based on their past work -- though I *did* see quite a few episodes of In Treatment, and Wiest was fantastic.


Kristin Chenoweth, "Pushing Daisies"
Amy Poehler, "Saturday Night Live"
Jean Smart, "Samantha Who?
Holland Taylor, "Two and a Half Men"
Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty"

Amy Poehler is nominated for SNL?! Wow. She deserves it -- She *more* than deserves it.

Then agian, so does the brilliant Kristin Chenoweth for Pushing Daisies... but I gotta route for Poehler.

What are everyone else's picks?

The 60th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will air live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, September 21 on ABC.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Joss Whedon's Dr Horrible

Act 1 of Joss's new superhero musical comedy project is live--and god damn, is it good. Check it out here before they "monetize" it. Yes, that means eventually you'll have to pay.
Dr. Horrible is good!

And that’s exactly his problem. The title character of the landmark new Web musical, “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” played by the lovable and unmenacing Neil Patrick Harris, dreams of gaining admission to the vaunted Evil League of Evil, home of the baddest baddies in the land. But he’s kidding himself. Dr. H. is too skittish to harm innocents or wreak much havoc. The ray guns he invents never seem to work that well, and his cackle is so wimpy he’s hired a voice coach....

The first of the show’s three 15-minute episodes went live Tuesday at midnight and immediately, international viewers were screaming that they couldn’t watch it (the Hulu video player they were using didn’t work overseas). And those of us who tried to pay $1.99 to download the show from iTunes couldn’t do that either. Still, those were the least of “Dr. Horrible’s” problems: by the time U.S. viewers woke up yesterday, so many people were clamoring to watch the show that its web site crashed completely, sending the makers scrambling to find more bandwidth.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dark Knight Hysteria

The Dark Knight doesn't open for another week, but the reviews are starting to come in. The trades--Variety and The Hollywood Reporter--basically came all over each other.

Variety excerpt:
Having memorably explored the Caped Crusader’s origins in “Batman Begins,” director Christopher Nolan puts all of Gotham City under a microscope in “The Dark Knight,” the enthralling second installment of his bold, bracing and altogether heroic reinvention of the iconic franchise. An ambitious, full-bodied crime epic of gratifying scope and moral complexity, this is seriously brainy pop entertainment that satisfies every expectation raised by its hit predecessor and then some.

THR excerpt:
"The Dark Knight" is pure adrenaline. Returning director Christopher Nolan, having dispensed with his introspective, moody origin story, now puts the Caped Crusader through a decathlon of explosions, vehicle flips, hand-to-hand combat, midair rescues and pulse-pounding suspense.

Nolan is one of our smarter directors. He builds movies around ideas and characters, and "Dark Knight" is no exception. The ideas here are not new to the movie world of cops and criminal, but in the context of a comic book movie, they ring out with startling clarity. In other words, you expect moralistic underpinnings in a Martin Scorsese movie; in a Batman movie, they hit home with renewed vigor.

None of this artistic achievement denies the re-energized Warner Bros./DC Comics franchise its commercial muscle. Those bags of money in the movie's opening bank heist are nothing compared with the worldwide boxoffice haul "Dark Knight" will take from theaters. Repeat viewings are a certainty.

Repeat viewings might also be a necessity. That adrenaline rush comes at a cost: With the film's race-car pace, noise levels, throbbing music and density of stratagems, no one will follow all the plot points at first glance. Not that the story with its double crosses and ingenious plans isn't clear, but to enjoy the full glory of these urban battlefield strategies, multiple viewings are required.

"Enthralling... bold... bracing... ambitious... moral complexity..." Favorable comparisons to Scorsese... "Satisfies every expectation and then some." Bear in mind, this is not USA Today, or some random website. This is from the trades. I've never seen such orgasmic endorsements of a superhero flick from the trades. It'll be interesting to see what the NYTimes has to say.

Speaking of the Times, just when I was starting to think, "better order my tickets," I came across this article: Many Movie Theaters Decide to Leave the Bat Signal on Till Dawn.

Apparently, the now-traditional midnight screenings the night before a tent-pole picture opens were selling out across the country leading many theaters to add 3AM showings... which were also selling out. Apparently, there will now be *6AM* screenings, too.

Now, I bow to no one in my geektasticness--obviously--and I love Batman as much as any thirtysomething comic book nerd, but 6AM??? That's just ridiculous. I would *never* do that. ( far as you know.)

What I *did* do was go immediately to Fandango to check whether the Lincoln Center IMAX was sold out on Friday the 18th. There were only *two* screenings left: 10AM and 3PM. My company closes at noon on Summer Fridays, so I quickly sent an email to my friends. In the half hour it took them to get back to me, the 3PM had sold out. :(

We ended up with tickets to a 3:45 screening at Union Square. Meh. But at least we'll get to see it on the 18th. Round 2 can be at the IMAX.

Anyway, all this hysteria -- after Batman Begins failed to meet expectations at the box office, no less -- is starting to remind me of the lead up to Tim Burton's Batman in 1989. Feels like this will be *the* monster hit of the summer... And if the reviews are to be believed, it will actually *deserve* to be. How cool would that be?