Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Bright Lights, Big City Redux

April 26, 2009

brightlightsbigcitytadpicConfession time… My all-time favorite book is Bright Lights, Big City written by Jay McInerney. I think I first read it during my first year of college, maybe two years after it was originally published. It’s one of the few books that I’ve read more than once, and I’ve bought multiple copies after loaning it to friends to read. Alright, here’s another confession… I even liked the movie Bright Lights, Big City that starred Michael J. Fox and Kiefer Sutherland. Sure, the movie was flawed — most of the cast and crew involved with the production have admitted as much. The production was troubled, to say the least, and it showed on the big screen. In the end, the film was pretty much considered a bust — but I liked it. My fondness for the film is probably related to my deep love and admiration for the source material, I’ll admit it.

If you’re not familiar with the novel Bright Lights, Big City it was published in 1984 and written in the second person. The main character, who is not given a name in the book — thus essentially making the reader the main character, is a disillusioned writer that spends his days as a fact checker for a New York magazine. At night, he uses alcohol, drugs, and the ’80s party scene to shake off the thoughts of his failed marriage, life back home, and the inability to be the writer he dreamed of becoming.

According to Variety, it now appears that MGM is going to give Bright Lights, Big City another shot at the big screen. This time around, the co-creator of Chuck, Gossip Girl, and creator of The O.C., Josh Schwartz has been tapped to write and make his feature directorial debut with a “fresh take” on McInerney’s novel. My concern is that Schwartz isn’t sure if he’ll set the movie in the original time period of the 1980s or a more contemporary setting.  I’m hoping for the former — the time period is a character all in its self in Bright Lights, Big City. But having created such shows as The O.C. and Gossip Girl, it looks like this next cinematic take on my all-time favorite novel is in capable hands with Josh Schwartz.

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Wild Reason That I Wish I Had A Kid Thing

April 11, 2009

wherethewildthingsare200x200My all-time three favorite books from my childhood are Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, and Where the Wild Things Are — also by Maurice Sendak.

In October a live-action motion picture adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are is being released. The film is directed by Spike Jonze (who early in his career directed the brilliant Beastie Boys music video for “Sabotage”). From what I’ve seen in the trailer, I am already sold. The Wild Things look fantastically real — with an emphasis on the “fantastic.” Whenever one of your beloved aspects of your childhood emerges into your adult life as a “remake” or “adaptation” or “re-imaging” you can’t help but have at least a slight sense of dread that it’s just not going to turn out as well as you remember it. I strongly believe that this will not be the case with the Jonze directed Where the Wild Things Are.

The Where the Wild Things film has a vibe to it that has me feeling that if I had a kid, this would be the movie that we would share the experience of seeing together. Sure, I’ll be certain to introduce my kid to the other classic films — such as the Original Star Wars, Trilogy (IV, V, VI), King Kong (1933), To Kill A Mockingbird, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp), The Iron Giant, and the movies by Pixar (except maybe Cars). But, dammit, if Where the Wild Things Are doesn’t look like the perfect movie for a parent and kid to hit the cineplex for.

Of course, my kid would already have a familiar knowledge of the works of Maurice Sendak, having owned dogeared copies of much read and much loved Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen books.

This is one time that I’m truly jealous of my friends that are parents who have kids that they can take to go see this film. I’m sure I can talk at least one set of parents to loan or rent me their kid to take to go see Where the Wild Things Are — but it won’t be the same.

And, my kid will definitely wear Max’s footie/hoodie wolf type pajamas. If not, dad will — so damn cool.

Counting Down To Star Trek

April 8, 2009

startrekcountdowntpbIf I was excited about seeing the new Star Trek movie directed by J.J. Abrams — which is warping onto the big screen next month — then my former colleagues (as well as a few newer individuals that have joined the team since my departure) at IDW publishing have only amped the anticipation with the release of Star Trek: Countdown.

I’ve got a month’s wait — May 8th — for the release of the latest Star Trek flick. I have eagerly awaited the release of each and every Star Trek movie since the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture back in 1979 — three decades ago… Wow! And sure, not every Star Trek film has been exactly stellar, but for the most part they have been enjoyable. And, there’s no denying that the anticipation of each release was always exciting for Trekkies and/or Trekkers like myself.

Now, when I first heard that the eleventh Star Trek movie was going to be a sort of a “re-imagined” or “re-tooled” of the original series featuring such iconic characters as Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, et al. there was some uneasy concern that they messin’ with the wrong guy’s favorite science fiction franchise. But, the more I saw by means of photos and trailers, and the more I read via web sites such as TrekMovie.com, the more I began to realize that, “Hey, maybe I won’t be heartbroken after all.”

What IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: Countdown — story by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman,  script by Tim Jones & Mike Johnson, and art by David Messina (who I miss receiving regular deliveries of fresh art in my inbox from) — was able to do was cast aside any concerns that I might have had by neatly and smartly tying Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek movie into the already well-established, and heavily ladened with years of canon, continuity. IDW’s Star Trek: Countdown is really as much of a Star Trek: The Next Generation story as much as it is a prequel to the upcoming movie. Yeah, the new movie will have a different “glossier” look than the original series. Yeah, my beloved Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov will be played by a cast of fresh faces that would seem to be at home in a United Colors of Benetton ad. But, you know what? It’s still Star Trek.

Thirty days to go — and counting down…

Major Matt Mason To Soar Again

March 26, 2009

majormattmasonsoarsBefore there was G.I. Joe (Adventure Team), before there was Big Jim, before there was Action Jackson… There was Major Matt Mason — the very first action figure that I ever owned. I couldn’t have been more than three or four years old, but I remember the day that Major Matt Mason first soared into my life. I had just awoke from a mid-day nap (wish I could still take those) and staggered out into the living room to find just about every Major Matt Mason and the “The Men In Space” action figure and accessory strategically and carefully laid out on the floor. An older kid that lived in the same apartment complex was moving and he was leaving all of his Major Matt Mason toys to me. Score! And thus begun my long time addiction to action figure. (If only I still had every action figure I ever owned. I have to admit that I don’t own many nowadays.)

But, why am I bringing up Major Matt Mason now? On Tuesday, Variety reported that Universal will be developing Major Matt Mason, a live-action motion picture to star Tom Hanks.

If you’re not in the know (or haven’t clicked on the Major Matt Mason link above), Major Matt Mason was one of the first action figure toy lines. Created by Mattel, the line was based on an astronaut and his crew and their adventures on the moon. Who better than Tom Hanks, who starred as astronaut and commander James Lovell in Apollo 13 and served as executive producer, co-writer, and co-director of From the Earth to the Moon?

Now, if there were only a Major Matt Mason comic book…

majormattmasonadpanels

Wrong Turn On The Way To The Land Of The Lost

February 4, 2009

landofthelost200x200Alright, let’s get this out of the way… I’ve seen the Land of the Lost Super Bowl XLII TV spot. Though, I’m glad that I didn’t actually see it that day. It could’ve — No, it would’ve ruined what was generally a pretty good day spent with friends.

Anybody that knows me knows that I’ve been a fan of the original Land of the Lost since I was the age of six. Way back in the day, when Saturday morning children’s programming really meant something. They’d preview the upcoming Saturday kid fair with a prime time special. And, it was during the the NBC preview that I got my first glimpse of Grumpy — the terrifying tyrannosaurus rex that would relentlessly torment the Marshall family for three seasons. It scared the crap out of me — but I was hooked nonetheless. During my early days of elementary school I’d struggle through the grind of learning my three Rs — reading, writing, and arithmetic — just to get to Saturday and another episode of Land of the Lost. I also dug Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (not so much when Rip Taylor showed up), Super Friends, and Star Trek: The Animated Series.

I’ve kept it no secret that over the last number of years I’ve wanted to adapt (and even update) Land of the Lost as a comic book. When I heard there was going to be a big-budget motion picture based on the Land of the Lost I had high hopes for something glorious. Then I heard it would be starring Will Ferrell — and a piece of my childhood died. Then I heard it would be a “comedy-adventure” and another piece of my childhood chipped off and fluttered away in the wind. Then online I saw the commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. My heart “plunged a thousand feet below…”

If you haven’t seen it yet… Well, here it is…

Sigh. It looks like the only thing they did get right was the raft plunging down a thousand feet below. The original material was so ripe with possibilities and all kinds of probabilities. Instead, we’re apparently getting a hundred thousand dollar budgeted spoof of a true Saturday morning television classic. Sid and Marty Kroft… I hate you.

December 19

December 19, 2008

The following events all occurred on December 19th throughout the years…

324 – Licinius abdicates his position as Roman Emperor.
1154 – Henry II of England is crowned at Westminster Abbey.
1490 – Anne of Brittany is married to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor by proxy.
1606 – The Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery depart England carrying settlers who, at Jamestown, Virginia, found the first of the thirteen colonies that became the United States.
1776 – Thomas Paine publishes one of a series of pamphlets in the Pennsylvania Journal titled The American Crisis.
1777 – American Revolutionary War: George Washington’s Continental Army goes into winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
1828 – Nullification Crisis: Vice President of the United States John C. Calhoun pens the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, protesting the Tariff of 1828.
1835 – The first issue of The Blade newspaper is published in Toledo, Ohio.
1875 – Carter Woodson, American historian and author, founder of Black History Month, is born.
1902 – Sir Ralph Richardson, English actor, is born.
1907 – A group of 239 coal miners die during a mine explosion in Jacobs Creek, Pennsylvania.
1912 – William H. Van Schaick, captain of the steamship General Slocum which caught fire and killed over 1,000 people, is pardoned by U.S. President William Howard Taft after three-and-a-half-years in Sing Sing prison.
1916 – World War I: Battle of Verdun – On the Western Front, the French Army successfully holds off the German Army and drives it back to its starting position.
1920 – King Constantine I is restored as King of the Hellenes after the death of his son Alexander I of Greece and a plebiscite.
1924 – Gary Morton, second husband of Lucille Ball, is born.
1924 – The last Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost is sold in London, England.
1927 – James Booth, English actor and screenwriter, is born.
1929 – Howard Sackler, American screenwriter, is born.
1932 – BBC World Service begins broadcasting as the BBC Empire Service
1933 – Cicely Tyson, American actress, is born.
1935 – Barbara Bostock, American actress, is born.
1941 – Maurice White, American singer and songwriter (Earth, Wind & Fire), is born.
1941 – World War II: Adolf Hitler becomes Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army.
1946 – Robert Urich, American actor, is born.
1958 – Limahl, English singer (Kajagoogoo) , is born.
1960 – Mike Lookinland, American actor, is born.
1961 – Reggie White, American football player, is born.
1961 – India annexes Daman and Diu, part of Portuguese India.
1963 – Jennifer Beals, American film actress, is born.
1966 – Chuckii Booker, American singer, musician and producer, is born.
1966 – Robert MacNaughton, American stage and screen actor, is born.
1967 – Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt is officially presumed dead.
1967 – Criss Angel, American illusionist, actor, and musician, is born.
1967 – Dan Taylor, American would-be comic book writer, is born.
1969 – Kristy Swanson, American actress, is born.
1969 – Villano IV, Mexican professional wrestler, is born.
1971 – Tiffany Towers, Canadian adult film actress, is born.
1972 – Alyssa Milano, American actress, is born.
1972 – Apollo program: The last manned lunar flight, Apollo 17, crewed by Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans and Harrison Schmitt, returns to Earth.
1972 – Warren Sapp, American football player, is born.
1974 – Jake Plummer, American football player, is born.
1975 – John Paul Stevens appointed as a justice of The United States Supreme Court.
1980 – Jake Gyllenhaal, American actor, is born.
1981 – Sixteen lives are lost when the Penlee lifeboat goes to the aid of the stricken coaster Union Star in heavy seas.
1983 – The original FIFA World Cup trophy, the Jules Rimet Trophy, is stolen from the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro.
1984 – The Sino-British Joint Declaration, stating that the People’s Republic of China would resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and the United Kingdom would restore Hong Kong to China with effect from July 1, 1997 is signed in Beijing by Deng Xiaoping and Margaret Thatcher.
1985 – Lady Sovereign, English musician, is born.
1986 – Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev releases Andrei Sakharov and his wife from internal exile in Gorky.
1994 – Rolls-Royce announces its future cars will feature V12 engine which will be produced by BMW.
1995 – The United States Government restores federal recognition to the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indian tribe.
1997 – SilkAir Flight 185 crashes into the Musi River, near Palembang in Indonesia, killing 104.
1997 – Titanic is released in theaters. This movie would become the most financially successful movie in U.S. history, grossing approximately $1.8 billion worldwide.
1998 – Lewinsky scandal: The United States House of Representatives forwards articles I and III of impeachment against President Bill Clinton to the Senate.
2000 – The Leninist Guerrilla Units wing of the Communist Labour Party of Turkey/Leninist attack a Nationalist Movement Party office in Istanbul, killing one person and injuring three.
2001 – A record high barometric pressure of 1085.6 hPa (32.06 inHg) is recorded at Tosontsengel, Khövsgöl Province, Mongolia.
2001 – Argentine economic crisis: December 2001 riots – Riots erupt in Buenos Aires after Domingo Cavallo’s corralito measures restrict the withdrawal of cash from bank deposits.

Kristy Swanson (you’ll always be “Buffy” in my book), Alyssa Milano (we can talk baseball — even if you are a Dodgers fan), and Tiffany Towers (we need at least one Canadian with cerulean eyes) are all welcome to join me for drinks in celebrating our birthdays. Chriss Angel — you’re not invited.

Unveiling The New Enterprise

November 11, 2008

It seems as if Entertainment Weekly has the inside scoop with all things related to J.J. Abram’s new Star Trek movie due out next May. Over at their Pop Watch Blog they’re offering up an exclusive first look at all new U.S.S. Enterprise. I know the look of the Enterprise is bound to generate a plethora of debates among the Star Trek united — but, I for one, am digging it. I feel that it definitely retains the “classic look” of the original Enterprise, while at the same time upgrading her to today’s standards while remaining a bit retro sixties-kitschy. Can’t wait to see it on the big screen.

enterprise579_l-440

Serenity (Or Lack There Of)

August 17, 2008

I caught Serenity on HBO the other evening (Friday I believe), and besides providing relief from some rather boring Olympic events, it reminded me of something…

That I miss Serenity and/or Firefly, dammit. I’m not alone. There are plenty of Browncoats out there that feel the same. Last Wednesday MTV Movies Blog posted about Will There Ever Be a “Serenity’ Sequel?. Unfortunately, that’s not the whole title of the post. It goes on to read Joss Whedon Puts The Rumors To Bed.

“There’s been no movement,” he said. “Those rumors are just rumors, and I don’t think they’re going to stop, no matter how many times I say, ‘No, it’s not happening.’ Because somebody will say, ‘He said yes. His eyes said yes. His nose said yes. There was a yes-iness about him.’ Because people want it.”

Alright, I get it. I understand. There’s not going to be another Serenity movie. That’s how gorram Hollywood works. As loyal, passionate, and hungry that the Serenity/Firefly fan base is, it just doesn’t add up enough to make the numbers work for those that sit in the big white tower on the Universal lot. I have resolved myself to accept that I’m not going to see the further adventures of Captain Malcolm Reynolds and crew on the big screen. And, as shiny as it would be to even get a direct-to-DVD or made for television movie — I’m looking at you SciFi Channel. it just ain’t going to happen.

But, Serenity is still alive in my favorite medium of comic books. But, is it alive and kicking? There have been two mini series out so far. Those Left Behind was a three issue series that came out in 2005. Three years later Better Days, another three issue series was released. That’s six issues in over three years. Serenity deserves and can do better than that.

Now, before any Whedonites swoop down on me, I do know that there is another three issue series in the works — A Shepherd’s Tale, a series focusing on the mysterious history of character of Shepherd Book. This is fantastic news and I eagerly anticipate its release. Also, MySpace Dark Horse Presents #13 features Serenity: The Other Half. I’m thankful for that as well, but we get only seven pages.

In a Publishers Weekly post — Whedon Can’t Get Enough Serenity — the creator reveals why there aren’t more Serenity comic books and novels. I can’t call out Whedon for being over protective and stingy with his baby, it is his creation after all to do with as he deems proper. But, the whiny fanboy in me just can’t let it go.

The Serenity ‘Verse is chalk full of material to expand, explore, and extricate. I’m not going to plea with Whedon to give us more Serenity comic books — that’s someone else’s job. That’s right Scott Allie, Dark Horse Comics Editor, I’m looking at you. It’s your job to turn the thumbscrews on Joss and get him to commit to giving us more Serenity comic books. Start turning them screws.

I’m Going To Forgo The Clones

August 15, 2008

At least for now. I was ready to head over the the cineplex to immense myself into the latest chapter — which actually falls somewhere between Episode II and Episode III — of the Star Wars lore, and catch a big screen viewing of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Now, before you take my geek card away, let me once again reiterate that I am in fact a Star Wars fan. Again, the license plate on my truck refers to the spaceship of a certain notorious bounty hunter from a galaxy far, far away. But, my admiration for the franchise is much more entrenched with the original trilogy — A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. That’s not to say that I disdain the prequels, but they didn’t live up to my expectations. Now, were my expectations set too high. I don’t think so. After not having a new Star Wars film (outside of a few somewhat forgettable Ewok movies made for television) for some sixteen years I was plenty hungry for more. The Phantom Menace was enjoyable enough. Attack of the Clones just fell flat. And Revenge of the Sith just reminded me of how much I miss the original trilogy as it crept closer in chronological terms to A New Hope.

The reviews for The Clone Wars haven’t been stellar, to say the least. But, that’s not what is keeping me from committing myself to the 98 minutes (and $12 popcorn/soda combo that I’d end up purchasing) of sitting in a darkened theater for the seventh theatrically released Star Wars installment. It’s just that I don’t feel that “the force is strong with this one.” (There, can I keep my geek card with that reference?)

So, I’m thinking that maybe Star Wars: The Clone Wars wasn’t made for me. It’s an animated movie made for the kids that grew up on the prequels. And that’s fair. I have “my Star Wars” and they can have “their Star Wars“. But, this movie is serving the purpose of a “curtain-raiser” to the upcoming Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV series. Perhaps this chapter of Star Wars lore is best served as 22-minute vignettes on the small screen.

Sorry, Ahsoka Tano. It’s nothing personal. You seem like an alright plucky Padawan. But, it looks like I’ll just be meeting you on the small screen.

Bernie Mac 1957-2008 / Isaac Hayes 1942-2008

August 10, 2008

We lost two talented individuals over the weekend — Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes.

On August 9th it was announced that Bernie Mac had passed away due to complications from pneumonia, which was unrelated to his sarcoidosis. Mac was first known as a stand up comedian, and along with comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and D.L. Hughley, was featured in The Original Kings of Comedy. He gained popularity starring in his own sit-com The Bernie Mac Show (2001-2006), and motion pictures such as Mr. 3000 and the remake of Ocean’s 11 in 2001 and it’s sequels. Bernie Mac was 50.

Isaac Hayes was found motionless next to a still running treadmill in his home on August 10 by his wife. Hayes was pronounced dead an hour later at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. Hayes was one of the originators of disco and earned an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the theme to Shaft. In the late nineties, Hays became a fan-favorite as the voice of Chef in South Park.

Here’s to the both of them making the afterlife a little bit funnier and a little bit funkier.