Thursday, September 29, 2011

NBC's Prime Suspect - TV Review

Never saw an episode of the Helen Mirren series. This US version still has the same basic premise of a tough female cop being good at her job while dealing with the boys-club mentality at the precinct. It has a great cast (Maria Bello, Aidan Quinn, Brian F. O'Byrne, etc.) but it suffers from the female lead actually, yeah, being one of those aggressive types that I can see why others don't want to work with her. Add to that the department rumor that she got to her position by sleeping with a superior, and there you have it. By the end, she starts to recognize she needs to earn their respect, but there's not enough here to make me want to watch episode 2.

And lose the hat.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cinematically Speaking 9/26

Old Movie I Finally Saw

WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY? (1966) - Figured I needed to see Woody Allen's directorial debut. And it's dated, very dated. I'm sure it was pioneering for its humor in 1966. But MST3K has since refined what this movie is going for, so let's just say it's of its time, and it has a couple funny spots, but I'd rather listen to Crow and Tom Servo riff this movie. I was also interested to read afterwards that the inserts of the Lovin' Spoonful's songs were against Woody's wishes.

Old Movie I've Never Seen

BRUBAKER (1980) - I've been curious about this Robert Redford flick. I enjoy the corrupt-system melodrama the 1970's produced. This has Yaphet Kotto, Jane Alexander, Morgan Freeman, David Keith, and bonus points for character-actor icons M. Emmet Walsh, Wilford Brimley, Noble Willingham and Everett McGill. (If J.T. Walsh was in it, that would've sealed my deal to see it a decade ago.) I know it's from the director Cool Hand Luke. Is it worth hunting down now?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Moneyball - Movie Review


Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright and Chris Pratt.
Directed by Bennett Miller.

First we got a very long Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trailer. There's a 3 min-45 second one floating around the internet now, but the one we had was at least 5 minutes long. Looks very well done, more alive and expensive than the original.

But then we get the movie. It's an interesting twist on the sports film, in that it's not about the usual lessons that need to be learned. It's doesn't end in the ninth ending of the Big Game. It's about Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), a former baseball prodigy who never lived up to his potential and went into management. He's GM for the cheapest team in MLB, the Oakland Athletics. In 2001 they came close to toppling the mighty rich New York Yankees, and that off-season they lost their three best players. They can't afford to keep them. What is a team to do?

They're to try something different. Enter Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an economics major who's developed a system of calculating the worth of a player. They find those players they believe are undervalued and affordable, and so, statistically speaking, this hodge-podge of misfits should make a winning team.

Billy is a driven man. He's kind of a jerk, but still one where we want him to succeed. I can see why Pitt fought so hard to get this movie made. It's a great script from Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, and I really enjoyed many of the decisions director Bennet Miller (Capote) made.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is an effective grump as Art Howe, the manager who completely disagrees with Billy's approach. Robin Wright has one good scene as Billy's ex-wife.

Billy's A's may not have won the World Series, but his approach changed baseball forever.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

AMC's Breaking Bad - 'Salud'

This season is really expanding the universe. We earlier got to see more of Gus's backstory, and now we see him, Mike and Jesse flying to Mexico to face the Cartel, the giant organization that Gus cannot defeat. Or can he? This episode was full of tension, and as much as I love Aaron Paul's work this year as Jesse, I'm falling in love with the calculating, menacing Gus as played by Giancarlo Esposito.

So Jesse flies down south to teach the Cartel how to cook the crystal blue. Jesse's been helping Walter long enough that he should know how to do it by himself. When the Cartel's cook find out he's not even a chemist, I like how Jesse shifted into cocky bad-guy mode, confidently staring the guy down and telling him how it's done. And the shot of Gus's ever-so-subtle proud smile was priceless.

Yes, but what about Walter? He's recovering from the beating he got from Jesse, and Walter Jr. shows up, worried. Here we see Walter break down and apologize for everything, even if the "everything" is his "gambling." But the next morning, Walter hardens up, puts on the Heisenberg mask, and relates to Junior how he does not want to be remembered as weak. Junior however points out that it had been the first time in a year he'd felt real.

Will Walter take the lesson? Even in the first season, if there's one thing Walter had, it was pride. He may have been a mild-mannered chemistry teacher, but he was offended at the thought of taking money from his rich friend to pay for his medical bills. He'd rather cook meth, make a ton of money, and provide that way. Now that Walter's cancer is in remission, does it slow him down? Will he realize his family is the most important thing to him, or will he realize his family is not the most important thing to him? He's resigned to staying separated from Skyler; his double-life is easier to live when she has no idea when he is or isn't home. But where is he on his kids?

TV Reviews - The Secret Circle, New Girl, The Playboy Club

CW's THE SECRET CIRCLE - It really is a lot like The Vampire Diaries with witches. It's strictly aimed at teens. Britt Robertson is the new girl in town, a small town in Washington. She eventually learns a group of teens there are witches, and she's a witch too. All fine and dandy but it had no cross-over appeal for me.

FOX's NEW GIRL - Zooey Deschanel has found just the right vehicle for her first series. She plays a dorky free spirit who's been crushed by guys one too many times, mostly because she has no idea how they operate. She moves in with three guys in need of a roomate who decide to give her a chance. I'm hoping the guy character flesh out as promisingly as Zooey's Jess.

NBC's THE PLAYBOY CLUB - Ratings-wise, I know this show's only going to last a couple months, but I wanted to see one episode to see what attitude it struck. Its soapy-sixties set is fine, but Eddie Cibrian does this hilarious Jon Hamm impression. Can you really center a series around a guy doing an impression of another guy? If Hamm's Don Draper met Cibrian's Nick Dalton, he'd punch him in the face and tell him to grow up.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Siskel & Ebert's old stuff

On one hand, I'm really enjoying the classic episodes that Ebert Presents At the Movies are showing each week. We've seen Gene & Roger discuss trends, like the "Women in Danger" films, or "Films That Changed the Industry" from the 1970's, and we got their Best & Worst from 1978. But it's been a while since Christy & Ignatiy reviewed anything new. Since this is the only show on TV that discusses current movies (intelligently anyway), it'd be nice if they'd mix in original reviews. Or how about an hour-block on PBS? Half-hour of classic Gene/Roger and then a half-hour of Christy/Ignatiy?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Everything Must Go - DVD Review

ll 1/2

Starring Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Laura Dern, Michael Pena, Christopher CJ Wallace, Stephen Root and Glenn Howerton. Directed by Dan Rush.

Will Ferrell is impressive in his first beginning-to-end straight role. I know he had Stranger Than Fiction and Melinda & Melinda but those were still basically comedies. Here, he's an alcoholic having the worst day of his life. He gets fired from his job and returns home to find he's locked out of his house with all his stuff on the front lawn.

The movie says it's based on a Raymond Carver story. The actual story is only four pages long. Thus this has the familiar trappings of many a low-budget independent film. The character is established, the movie takes its own sweet time of not much happening, and then we end on a final note that could hopeful or tragic. I won't say which direction this one chose to go, but neither would have surprised me, and that's not a bad thing. Ferrell seems willing and able to go as dark as the filmmakers dare.

I didn't mind taking the journey with Ferrell, even if it's a journey from A to B instead of A to Z.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Box Office

1. The Lion King 3D - $29.3 million - 1 wk (BV)
. . . 2330 screens / $12,575 per screen
2. Contagion - $14.48 ($44.19) - 2 wks (WB) -35.4%
. . . 3222 / $4494
3. Drive - $11.02 - 1 wk (FD)
. . . 2886 / $3818
4. The Help - $6.44 ($147.37) - 6 wks (BV) -27.9%
. . . 3014 / $2136
5. Straw Dogs - $5 - 1 wk (SG)
. . . 2408 / $2076
6. I Don't Know How She Does It - $4.5 - 1 wk (Wein)
. . . 2476 / $1818
7. The Debt - $2.95 ($26.54) - 3 wks (Fox) -38.2%
. . . 1831 / $1609
8. Warrior - $2.77 ($9.91) - 2 wks (LG) -47.2%
. . . 1883 / $1471
9. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $2.63 ($171.62) - 7 wks (Fox) -32.5%
. . . 2340 / $1122

Disney took advantage of the lack of family films this fall by putting their 1994 success back in theaters, and it overwhelmingly paid off.

2011 Emmy Award Winners

BEST COMEDY - Modern Family
BEST ACTOR DRAMA - Kyle Chandler, Friday Night Lights
BEST ACTRESS DRAMA - Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
BEST ACTOR COMEDY - Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory
BEST ACTRESS COMEDY - Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR DRAMA - Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS DRAMA - Margo Martindale, Justified
BEST ACTOR MOVIE/MINISERIES - Barry Pepper, The Kennedys
BEST ACTRESS MOVIE/MINISERIES - Kate Winslet, Mildred Pierce
BEST WRITING DRAMA - Friday Night Lights
BEST WRITING VARIETY - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
BEST DIRECTING DRAMA - Martin Scorsese, Boardwalk Empire
BEST DIRECTING COMEDY - Michael Alan Spiller, Modern Family
BEST DIRECTING VARIETY - Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live

Saturday, September 17, 2011

CW's Ringer - TV Review

Not bad. Enough to make my viewing cycle? Doubtful. Some of its CW-ness comes through when she's supposed to be in a boat at sea and the green-screen effect is laughable. It makes me appreciate the quality of AMC.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is pretty good as Bridget, stripper on the run, and Siobhan, rich girl with a secret. When Siobhan dies, Bridget assumes her place, only to learn her sister was having an affair, among other things. Then it turns out Siobhan faked her death in hopes Bridget would take her place. The mystery thickens. I liked Ioan Gruffudd (Fantastic Four, Amazing Grace) as Siobhan's husband. I don't know. Maybe I will watch Episode 2 and see if it hooks me.

Kevin Costner drops Django Unchained

Kevin Costner has dropped out of Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. He was to play Ace Woody, right-hand man to evil plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). The movie stars Jamie Foxx as freed slave Django, with the help of a German bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz), seting out to free his wife from Candie. Samuel L. Jackson also has a role.

I was looking forward to seeing Costner unleash in QT's world, so who should replace him? I would enjoy seeing QT alum Kurt Russell (Death Proof) or Michael Keaton (Jackie Brown) come back. Maybe Woody Harrelson, who did Natural Born Killers which was written by but not directed by QT. Who's someone who would not be an obvious choice but might be able to let loose in QT's world? Anthony Edwards? Anthony LaPaglia? Ed Harris? Colin Farrell? Brian Van Holt? Bryan Cranston? Andrew McCarthy? Powers Boothe?

Friday, September 16, 2011

CW's H8R - TV Review

This TMZ-esque show lured regular people in who thought they were auditioning for a reality show. The producers questioned them to find out if there were celebrities they hated. Then they confront the actual celebrities. First episode focussed on Jersey Shore's Snooki and The Bachelor's Jake. So not really celebrities. Reality-show stars. It rattled off future celebs that'll be on: Charles Barkley, Ron Artest, The Miz, Kim Kardashian, and two or three other people I'd never heard of. I assume they're reality-show folks.

Snooki managed to win over her hater. She had a meal at his family's house. Jake failed to win over his. He took her on a helicopter ride and to the Bachelor house, but she kept insisting he's still conceited and fake and full of himself.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Last Night's TV Ratings

Channel - Title - Viewers (in million) / 18-49 demo

NBC - America's Got Talent - 14.37 / 3.6
CBS - Survivor: South Pacific - 10.74 / 3.4
ABC - The Middle (r) - 4.31 / 1.2
- The Middle (r) - 4.38 / 1.3
FOX - Buried Treasure - 2.8 / .8
CW - H8R - 1.29 / .6

ABC - Modern Family (r) - 4.9 / 1.8
FOX - Buried Treasure (r) - 3.06 / .9
CW - America's Next Top Model - 1.96 / .9

CBS - Big Brother 13 - 7.78 / 2.9
ABC - Modern Family (r) - 4.65 / 1.8

NBC - Up All Night - 10.95 / 3.7
- Free Agents - 6.12 / 2.1
ABC - Primetime Nightline - 4.08 / 1.2

America's Got Talent's finale did great numbers for NBC, weakening the season premiere of Survivor. NBC also has to be happy with retention for the new Christina Applegate / Will Arnett series Up All Night.

CW's H8R is DOA, and America's Next Top Model's first all-star season failed to bring back viewers.

Random Movie News 9/15/11

- Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton will star in The Big Wedding, about a long-divorced couple who are forced to pretend they're still happily married at their son's wedding. It co-stars Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Ben Barnes, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams. It's slated to open October 19, 2012.

- Hugh Grant has joined the ensemble Cloud Atlas, starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Ben Whishaw and Bae Doona. It's about people from different time periods, narrators that "hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history."

- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) will join Jessica Chastain (The Help, The Debt) in Mama, a horror movie from producer Guillermo Del Toro.

- Director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later) is close to signing on for the remake of Highlander.

- Seth Rogen will co-write, co-producer, co-direct The Apocalypse with longtime partner Evan Goldberg. It'll star Rogen as well as James Franco, Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel, playing themselves locked in a house while the apocalypse happens outside, but the longer they're holed up, the more they get on each other's nerves.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Passion Play - DVD Review

l 1/2

Starring Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox, Bill Murray, Kelly Lynch, Rhys Ifans, Rory Cochrane and Robert Wisdom. Directed by Mitch Glazer.

The writer of Scrooged and The Recruit makes his directorial debut with this arthouse oddity that aspires to be David Lynchian but misses the mark by a wide, wide mile.

Mickey Rourke plays Nate Pool, a trumpet player on the run from a mobster named Happy (Bill Murray) that wants to kill him. One of Happy's henchmen takes Nate into the middle of the desert to kill him, but the henchman is gunned down by some Indians wearing all-white who say nothing and run off. And that's the last we see of them.

Nate wanders through the desert for hours and happens upon a carnival. Love those carnivals in the middle of nowhere. Alas it is not led by a dwarf named Samson; it's run by a mustache-twirling barker played by Rhys Ifans. As he wanders the grounds, he finds Lily (Megan Fox), a woman on display because she has angel wings, literally.

Nate rescues her, but Happy is hot on his trail, and once he learns of Lily's wings, he wants her for himself.

Glazer has some obvious talent, and the quirky cast does what they can, but what the freak is this movie trying to do? How can you have a plot like this and try to play it as straight as The Wrestler? It held my interest for a while, but it meanders halfway through until it sputters and dies with a laughable climax.

CBS's Big Brother - TV Review

The way the producers manipulate the outcome of this show is shameless, but I guess the house-hamsters are all aware of that when they come in. It was obvious they wanted a veteran to win, so they introduced Pandora's Box on the week that Porsche won HoH, and then made the next HoH competition physical in a week when Porsche can't play. Nice. Meanwhile, Adam has replaced Cowboy as the most useless BB player in history. I'm rooting for Porsche to win and I never would have guessed I'd feel that way in Week 1. I'd say I'm rooting for them in this order:

1. Porsche
2. Rachel
3. The house falls through a crack in the ground after a giant earthquake
4. Adam

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

HBO's Entourage - series finale

The series finale felt rushed. In fact, the season felt like a bit of a waste. I liked Ari unravelling without Mrs. Ari, but Vince suddenly getting married? Turtle suddenly a millionaire? Sloane suddenly pregnant? I enjoyed Scott Caan sticking around, but this series limped into the sunset. Best to remember the earlier years. And there's the possibility of it becoming a big-screen movie. I am not encouraged.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fall TV Preview - Odds

Last year, there were 23 new shows on the networks. Six of them got a second season (Hwaii Five-0, Mike & Molly, Raising Hope, Blue Bloods, Nikita, Shark Tank). Three new midseason shows (Body of Proof, Harry's Law, Happy Endings) managed a second season as well.

This year, there are 27 new shows. This is the order I'd put them in for odds that they last a second season. Based on buzz, potential, early reviews, schedule and my own hunches.

1. The X-Factor
2. Person of Interest
3. 2 Broke Girls
4. Suburgatory
5. Ringer
6. Terra Nova
7. Pan Am
8. New Girl
9. Unforgettable
10. Prime Suspect
11. Up All Night
12. Allen Gregory
13. Last Man Standing
14. A Gifted Man
15. How to Be a Gentleman
16. The Secret Circle
17. I Hate My Teenage Daughter
18. Charlie's Angels
19. The Playboy Club
20. Whitney
21. Free Agents
22. Once Upon A Time
23. Man Up!
24. Grimm
25. Revenge
26. Hart of Dixie
27. H8R

Trivia: Of the 24 shows that debuted five years ago, only 30 Rock remains. Although The Game managed to become a hit by moving from The CW to BET.

Fall TV Preview - Sunday

Once Upon a Time
Desperate Housewives
Pan Am

The Amazing Race
The Good Wife
CSI: Miami

Sunday Night Football

The Simpsons
Allen Gregory
Family Guy
American Dad

New Shows:

ONCE UPON A TIME (ABC) - Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla) continue to battle in modern-day Storybrooke, Maine. Robert Carlyle co-stars as Rumpelstiltskin.

PAN AM (ABC) - Christina Ricci and Kelli Garner are swinging stewardesses in 1963.

ALLEN GREGORY (FOX) - Animated show about a precocious 7-year-old (voiced by Jonah Hill) forced to endure the indignity of public school after his gay dads decide to stop home-schooling him.


Allen Gregory should fit in fine as long as it's funnier than Bob's Burgers or The Cleveland Show, which isn't that hard to do. Meanwhile I see Pan Am being a hit and Once Upon A Time struggling. CBS disrespects its critical hit The Good Wife by moving it again, but it should still do well between two other established hit shows in The Amazing Race and CSI: Miami. I see Pan Am breaking out.

Fall TV Preview - Friday


Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Shark Tank

A Gifted Man
Blue Bloods

Dateline NBC

Kitchen Nightmares


New Shows:

A GIFTED MAN (CBS) - Patrick Wilson plays a neurosurgeon whose late ex-wife (Jennifer Ehle) appears to him in ghost form to inspire him to be a better doctor. It co-stars Rachelle LeFevre (Twilight), Margo Martindale (Justified) and Julie Benz (Dexter).

GRIMM (NBC) - A descendant of the brothers Grimm possesses their gift for detecting the supernatural. TV Guide called it a combo of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-Files, but said the hero (David Guintoli) was bland.


You don't need good ratings to stay afloat on Fridays, but with weak lead-in Chuck (I'm a fan, but this is its final 13 episodes), I don't see Grimm lasting long. Plus it is on against Fringe and Supernatural. A Gifted Man might succeed because it seems like CBS can do no wrong.

Fall TV Preview - Thursday

Charlie's Angels
Grey's Anatomy
Private Practice

The Big Bang Theory
How to Be a Gentleman
Person of Interest
The Mentalist

Parks & Recreation
The Office
Prime Suspect

The X-Factor

The Vampire Diaries
The Secret Circle

New Shows:

CHARLIE'S ANGELS (ABC) - Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor and Annie Ilonzeh are the three new Angels for this reboot.

HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN (CBS) - David Hornsby plays the etiquette columnist for a genteel man's magazine that suddenly gets a Maxim-like makeover, so his new roommate (Kevin Dillon) offers to teach him how to be a guy.

PERSON OF INTEREST (CBS) - Lost's Michael Emerson plays a billionaire who invented a survelliance system for the US government, but now on his own he uses it to predict and track down possible criminal acts before they happen, with the help of Jim Caviezel and Taraji P. Henson.

WHITNEY (NBC) - Stand-up comeidienne Whitney Cummings gets her own sitcom, based on her stand-up.

PRIME SUSPECT (NBC) - Maria Bello stars in this rework fo the UK hit (that starred Helen Mirren). She's a homicide detective fighting to earn the respect of her male co-workers in New York City. Aidan Quinn and Brian F. O'Byrne co-star.

THE SECRET CIRCLE (CW) - Picture Vampire Diaries, except it's about witches.


Person of Interest is getting rave reviews and has been given CSI's old timeslot, a sign CBS has a lot of faith in this show. How to Be A Gentleman has the same threshold of the cancelled $%&! My Dad Says. be funny, and ratings will come. Otherwise... I expect Charlie's Angels to tank, and Whitney, which'll get replaced by 30 Rock at midseason.

Fall TV Preview - Wednesday

The Middle
Modern Family
Happy Endings

Survivor: South Pacific
Criminal Minds

Up All Night
Free Agents

Harry's Law
Law & Order: SVU

The X-Factor
I Hate My Teenage Daughter

America's Next Top Model

New Shows:

SUBURGATORY (ABC) - Jane Levy is a big-city teen girl who moves with her single dad (Jeremy Sisto) to the suburbs and gets a rude awakening to the Stepford-like quirks of her new neighborhood.

REVENGE (ABC) - Story of a young woman who integrates her way into high society where she can get close and then destroy the family that ruined her father 17 years ago. Stars Emily VanCamp, Madeleine Stowe, Gabriel Mann and Henry Czerny.

UP ALL NIGHT (NBC) - Will Arnett and Christina Applegate are new parents who didn't anticipate what sleepless nights would do their lifestyle. Maya Rudolph plays Applegate's boss, and Nick Cannon's in there too.

FREE AGENTS (NBC) - Divorced Alex (Hank Azaria) and widowed Helen (Kathryn Hahn) are co-workers and cynical about love, but nevertheless decide to give love another go with each other.

THE X-FACTOR (FOX) - Simon Cowell is back, as is Paula Abdul, in this new singing competition with the age limit of 12-99, and group acts are allowed.

I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (FOX) - Jaime Pressly (My Name Is Earl) and Katie Finneran (Tony winner) are two single moms dealing with their mean-girl teenagers.

H8R (CW) - Mario "I'll host anything" Lopez oversees this show where "celebrities" like Snooki and Kim Kardashian hunt down and confront their fierce, anonymous online critics.


Suburgatory should do nicely between The Middle and Modern Family. I'm actually surprised ABC is leaving Happy Endings in the plum post-Modern spot. Curiosity should be through the roof for X-Factor. I've read good about Up All Night and bad about Free Agents and I Hate My Teenage Daughter.

Fall TV Preview - Tuesday

Last Man Standing
Man Up!

Dancing with the Stars results
Body of Proof


The Biggest Loser

New Girl
Raising Hope


New Shows:
LAST MAN STANDING (ABC) - Tim Allen returns to network TV as a manly man who owns an outdoors store who still has to deal with his wife and daughters. ABC really hopes he restores that old Home Improvement magic to their line-up.

MAN UP! (ABC) - Dan Fogler (Take Me Home Tonight), Christopher Moynihan (100 Questions), and Mather Zickel (The Cape) play three video-game-playing dorks trying to figure out how to be real men in the 21st century. Sounds like a dumber Big Bang Theory.

UNFORGETTABLE (CBS) - Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) as a homicide investigator with a perfect memory.

NEW GIRL (FOX) - Zooey Deschanel in her first TV series, as a quirky gal who moves in with three guys.

RINGER (CW) - Sarah Michelle Gellar plays twins. One is Bridget, an ex-stripper hiding for the mob and the FBI by posing as her sister Siobhan, whom she thinks is dead, but turns out, she isn't.


Tim Allen's show should debut high, but will the quality be there? I've read dreadful reviews of Man Up! and expect it to fail. New Girl benefits from the Glee lead-in, but there's also the direct competition of the Dancing with the Stars results show and NCIS: LA. Unforgettable should do well if it's a good show.

Fall TV Preview - Monday

Dancing with the Stars

How I Met Your Mother
2 Broke Girls
Two and a Half Men
Mike & Molly
Hawaii Five-0

The Sing-Off
The Playboy Club

Terra Nova

Gossip Girl
Hart of Dixie

New Shows:
2 BROKE GIRLS (CBS) - Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs are two mismatched friends trying to make it in New York.

THE PLAYBOY CLUB (NBC) - Soapy 60's set drama about a lawyer (Eddie Cibrian) who hooks up with a bunny (Amber Heard) who accidentally killed a mob boss.

TERRA NOVA (FOX) - Colonists from 2149 go back in time 85 million years to start over on Earth. Features Jason O'Mara (Life on Mars) and Stephen Lang (Avatar). There will be dinosaurs.

HART OF DIXIE (CW) - The O.C.'s Rachel Bilson stars as a New York doctor who relocates to Alabama.


If it's remotely good, 2 Broke Girls should succeed; Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide named it one of the five best new shows of the fall. NBC's had trouble with Monday night for a while, and I don't see The Playboy Club turning it around, hype notwithstanding. My hunch is Dancing with the Stars beats The Sing-Off, and therefore Castle (and Hawaii Five-0) will win in 10/9. Terra Nova's a risk, but by making it the lead-in for House, Fox is giving it every opportunity to find viewers. Hart of Dixie is D.O.A.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Friday's Box Office

For Friday September 9.

1. Contagion - $8.03 million - 1 day
2. The Help - $2.67 ($131.07) - 31 days
3. Warrior - $1.8 - 1 day
4. The Debt - $1.45 ($18.54) - 10 days
5. Colombiana - $1.17 ($26.94) - 15 days
6. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $1.1 ($165.06) - 36 days
7. Shark Night - $1 ($12.27) - 8 days
8. Apollo 18 - $.88 ($12.96) - 8 days
9. Our Idiot Brother - $.84 ($19.49) - 15 days
10. Crazy Stupid Love - $.7 ($76.95) - 43 days
11. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark - $.68 ($19.51) - 15 days
12. Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star - $.54 - 1 day

Steven Soderbergh's all-star Contagion looks like a hit (for September). Should get about $22 million for the weekend. Despite glowing reviews, Warrior's tanked, and Bucky Larson, co-written by Adam Sandler, is best left forgotten.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Of Gods and Men - DVD Review

lll 1/2

Starring Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Jean-Marie Frin and Loic Pichon.
Directed by Xavier Beauvois.

This movie takes the time to appreciate the quiet reflections in a monastery. It gives the subject matter the reverance and respect it deserves, and in the cold, clear air out in North Africa, it's quite refreshing.

Inspired by a true story, this is about a handful of monks who react with pacifism when Islamic extremists take over their town. Lambert Wilson, who's played some cartoonish villaisn in American movies, is their leader, and you can see the responsibility and conflict all over his face.

X-Men News

As far as the X-Men universe goes, plans are still in the works for The Wolverine, a more stand-alone movie than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Producer Lauren Shuler Donner said a lot of it depends on Hugh Jackman's schedule. They also still plan to do a Deadpool movie with Ryan Reynolds, and she acknowledged that X-Men Origins: Wolverine did wrong by his character but they'd fix that for his own movie. Also, they plan on a sequel to X-Men: First Class and hope to get Matthew Vaughn back as director.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

AMC's Breaking Bad - 'Hermanos'

I've been impressed with the way this series has let the supporting characters expand and grow. While Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) has been a menacing yet level-headed drug lord, we've never been able to learn about what makes this man tick. 'Hermanos' gave us a lengthy flashback to a less confident Gus, a budding drug dealer looking to bring in the Mexican cartel so he and his partner could expand their business.

So while Walt keeps wondering when Gus is going to kill him, Gus has similar wonders about when the cartel is going to come after him. Oh, Gus enjoys visiting and rubbing it in the face of the now-incapacitated Hector, but Hector still has some powerful connections.

I like that Hank is becoming a real cop again. He's looked foolish swallowing everythign that Walt feeds him, but when it comes to everyone else, Hank displays great instincts.

AMC has announced that next season will be the last, and that's a good thing. Yes, it's a great show, but the DEA and the cartel seem like they're on a collision course, and I'm pretty sure at least one opening credit regular is going to meet their demise, and then next year, we'll get the final repercussions. I can't help but wonder: between Gus and cancer, how can Walter White possibly survive?

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Beaver - DVD Review

ll 1/2

Starring Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence and Cherry Jones. Directed by Jodie Foster.

This film looks at the effects of deep depression, and it does so in a way that you'd think it would be a comedy. It takes its subject matter more seriously than that.

Mel Gibson is Walter Black, the CEO of a toy company. (Oh, great. Another rich-people-with-problems movie.) But Walter is suicidal. One day he sees a discarded beaver puppet in the trash, and he picks it up and puts it on his hand. He starts talking to himself through it.

His estranged wife (Jodie Foster) and angry son (Anton Yelchin) don't know what to make of it. I really liked the family dynamic and the tension. I also liked the subplot where the son develops a relationship with the popular girl who's secretly hurting. She's played by Jennifer Lawrence, pre Winter's Bone/X-Men: First Class/Hunger Games fame.

What made my thumb go from up to sidways was the third act where Walter becomes a national sensation, turning his toy company around and landing on the cover of every magazine in America one week. Really? Really?

The four main performers are good. I just wish it hadn't gone there.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Debt - Movie Review


Starring Helen Mirren, Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington, Marton Csokas, Tom Wilkinson, Jesper Christensen and Ciaran Hinds. Directed by John Madden.

There are three Mossad agents in 1965 known as Rachel (Jessica Chastain), David (Sam Worthington), and Stephen (Marton Csokas). Their mission is to capture a Nazi war criminal named Fogel (Jesper Christensen), now posing in East Germany as a harmless gynecologist. They plan to take him to Israel and try him for his crimes.

Flash-forward to 1997. Rachel (Helen Mirren), David (Ciaran Hinds), and Stephen (Tom Wilkinson) are still dealing with the repercussions of that mission, and new light is shed that may have a dramatic impact on them.

(Although I have to pause here and say I thought that Hinds looked more like an older Csokas than Wilkinson did; it threw me off a bit. Anyway...)

This is a tense thriller than jumps back and forth between the time periods with ease, and Mirren and Chastain do remarkable jobs as Rachel. Chastain especially demonstrates that she has a bright future ahead of her.

This was at 3-1/2 stars for me until the last five minutes. I'll leave it there.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday's Box Office

For Friday September 2.

1. The Help - $3.63 million ($108.03) - 24 days
2. Apollo 18 - $2.84 - 1 day
3. Shark Night - $2.83 - 1 day
4. The Debt - $2.61 ($4.51) - 3 days
5. Colombiana - $2 ($16.56) - 8 days
6. Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $1.85 ($154.08) - 29 days
7. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark - $1.45 ($12.89) - 8 days
8. Our Idiot Brother - $1.42 ($11.66) - 8 days
9. Spy Kids 4 - $1.04 ($25.44) - 15 days

Labor Day weekend is notorious for weak box office, and so The Help is the beneficiary of uninteresting competition.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Priest - DVD Review


Starring Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Maggie Q, Cam Gigandet, Lily Collins, Stephen Moyer, Christopher Plummer, Brad Dourif, Alan Dale and Madchen Amick. Directed by Scott Stewart.

I like dystopian adventures as much as the next guy. I also recognize this mishmash is far from a good movie, but it's not without its guilty pleasures.

Take, for instance, Karl Urban. In a world where vampires are eyeless sabretooth goblins, he becomes the first human vampire, and the man likes his powers. He also gets to do a few slow glances back over his shoulder, from under the brim of his hat. That is a man who knows he's playing a mean s.o.b. and having fun with it.

Like most movies, it kept reminding me of other movies. Here's a little Judge Dredd, there's a little Matrix, throw in some Doom, a pinch of Blade Runner, a whiff of The Searchers, a hint of Wild Wild West, a dash of any steampunk flick that had Jack Palance, and voila, we get Priest.

This is a world where the church controls the humans, and naturally the church is led by a council of robe-wearing smirkers who sit in a semi-circle and just wait for people to enter their hall and genuflect. The High Monsignor of Smirk is Christopher Plummer, who can only go the way of ham with his cliched dialogue. The church believes the vampire menace has been eradicated, but when one Priest's niece gets kidnapped by them, that Priest (Paul Bettany) must defy the church to save her.

I think this puts the wooden stake in the undead heart of the idea that Bettany can be an action star. The movie's mercifully short at 80 minutes, so we don't get bogged down by too much plot; it's more of a series of action sequences. And yet, it leaves things open for a sequel. Based on its box office, that notion may have its last rites read.