October 2009

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Woody Harrelson in Zombieland

Some movies are art. They exist to enrich culture, to inspire thought, and influence their viewers. Zombieland is not one of those movies. It’s about two things: making you laugh and making you go “OOOOOOHHHHH!”. And it does both of them. Very well.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Remember a while back when I posted the first trailer for James Cameron’s Avatar? I was confused and underwhelmed. Well there’s a new trailer out, and it’s much longer and give much more insight into the plot. Take a look and we’ll discuss:

So, what have we learned? It’s about humans invading another planet to steal their natural resources. When the natives won’t just give us the resources we decide to destroy them all. Is this a sci-fi movie or a criticism of Bush-era foreign policy? Anyway, this trailer does show off the film’s special effects, and they are very good. But overall it just doesn’t do anything for me. What do y’all think?

Inglourious Basterds bar sceneJust in time for Christmas, Quentin Tarantino’s masterful Inglourious Basterds is coming to DVD and Blu-Ray. And it’s not some sort of slapped together, bare bones, rush job either. It’s a two-disc edition, with all sorts of bonus material. It comes out December 15th, but you can pre-order it 50% off at Amazon. Mom, if you’re reading, you don’t need to ask what I want for Christmas…

Let’s shift from movies coming out on DVD to movies getting ready to made. If you’re a fan of Chuck Klosterman’s writing you’ll be happy to know that his book Fargo Rock City is getting made into a movie. That, in and of itself, is kind of interesting. But what makes it more interesting is WHO is making the movie: Craig Finn, lead singer of The Hold Steady, and Tom Ruprecht, a writer for Late Night with David Letterman. No word on a release date yet, but you can bet I’ll be there.
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Halloween, the day where kids turn into beggars, it’s socially acceptable for men to be cross-dressers and women to dress like sluts, and people feel the strange need to scare themselves silly. Here are a few thematically-appropriate videos in honor of this wholly silly, yet irresistable holiday.

If you were asked to think of one song that sounds like Halloween to you, what would it be? For me it would be Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Cryptkeepers’ classic “Monster Mash”. It’s a little goofy, but it works for me:

I know that since his death this summer you’ve probably heard Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” 17.2 million times. But I just can’t think of another video that’s more appropriate for Halloween. So here you go:

Former NBA referee Tim DonaghyRemember Tim Donaghy? NBA commissioner David Stern sure does. See, he’s the referee who was convicted of accepting large sums of cash from gamblers in return for providing inside information on games he was working. He served 15 months in prison for the conviction, was released, then was sent back for violating his parole. Now, to top it off, he’s written a book detailing his transgressions, and the transgressions of the referees he worked with during his NBA tenure. That’s right, he wasn’t alone.

In his book he explains in detail how referees would conspire to keep games close to keep ratings up, make bets amongst themselves about calling fouls, and even swing the tide of playoff games to force longer series (and therefore keep the sponsors happy). Basically the worst possible things you could allege referees in any sport are doing. The sorts of things that call the league’s competitive credibility into question. The sorts of things that make you wonder what the difference is between pro basketball and pro wrestling. The sorts of things that could bring a league to its knees. And make me very, very happy.
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This might be the most random of the Random Covers of the Week. It’s a choir of ventriloquists, on Hungarian television, singing The Beatles’ “Yesterday”. Seriously. Apparently these guys were big on Conan back in the day, but apparently I missed it. This thing rocked my world and shook my faith in humanity. Think about it for a second. Think about the skills involved here. You have to be a proficient ventriloquist. You have to be able to sing. And you have to be able to bear making a complete fool of yourself. I’m amazed there were enough people with this skill set to form a group this size. And it seems like they managed to assemble pre-internet. Can you imagine the bulletin board posting? “Singing ventriloquist seeking similar to form cover choir”.

Now, the premise here is hilarious all by itself. But the fact that they’re really good ventriloquists, really bad singers, and incredibly goofy looking people really pushes it over the top. For me it went from Stunned Silence to Uncomfortable Laughter to All-Out Guffawing and back. That’s a lot of emotions for one short song. Well, without further ado:

via BoingBoing

If you liked the Matt Damon in the Bourne movies you’re gonna love this trailer for Green Zone. Damon plays an Army warrant officer in Iraq, hell bent on finding someone and willing to kick ass along the way. That’s pretty much all you need to know. Oh, plus this: it’s directed by Paul Greengrass, who also directed the last two Bourne movies. Awesome.

Green Zone comes to theaters March 12th, 2010.

Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are

My anticipation for Where the Wild Things Are wasn’t based on my love for the classic book. While I’m sure my mom read it to me as a child, I don’t have any specific memories of it. It wasn’t based on the prospect of a well-crafted fantasy world. That, by itself, isn’t enough to get me excited about a movie. It wasn’t based on the special effects. Those are rarely a reason for me to want to see a film. It wasn’t any of these things that piqued my curiosity about this movie; it was what director Spike Jonze could do with all of them. Jonze has guaranteed my interest in his project with his unique and creative vision in Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and scores of classic music videos. But would his quirky sensibilities work with a children’s story? Would he be able to capture the wonder within Sendak’s book? Or would he end up making it something that inspires awe in adults, but children can’t appreciate? Or, even worse, would the film simply be uninteresting to all parties?
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The term “Modern Vintage” is obviously an oxymoron. But it’s an effective one. When you apply it to music you get an updating of old musical styles. In the case of Miss Tess that old musical style is Prohibition-era jazz, and the Maryland native updates it with bits of country and pop to make something distinctly modern.
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Yesterday I saw a story on CNN about a Russian circus worker being killed by an ice skating bear. After reading that, a co-worker sent me this video. Apparently she couldn’t find one of an ice skating bear, but no worries, she found monkeys on skates. Doing tricks. In bad winter clothing. If there’s anything funnier than monkeys doing human things, I’ve never seen it:

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