Friday, September 28, 2007

Tragic Kingdom

Starring Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman, Peter Berg’s The Kingdom is a smart, if somewhat misguided action thriller.

The movie, about the American response to a devastating terrorist attack on an American military housing compound in Saudi Arabia, begins with an accomplished and informative graphic prelude that details the history of oil that plays over the opening credits.

What is presented appears to be accurate, and sets the tone for what is about to unfold on screen: a story about what people do to us and what we do them in return, and why (to a degree).

But The Kingdom’s is a fictional story that takes its cues partly from the memory of the Sept. 11 attacks. Although enjoyable, it is sort of shameful that Hollywood has delivered a movie that borrows from such a real event for the sole purpose of entertaining moviegoers, for the plot is – yikes! – a spin-off of the tragedy.

An event happened in real life, and it elicited a real response – we know that. This wasn’t it – so boy some popcorn and enjoy?


The movie would have been better served had screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan left out that dose of exploitative reality. He’d had shown some restraint and, more importantly, some respect.

But – yikes again! – the movie isn’t bad.

Foxx & Co. play members of a U.S. response unit chasing after the mastermind of the bombing. Their investigation is thwarted by lots and lots of red tape upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, though, as their presence there is perceived by Saudi leaders as arrogant and unnecessary.

Ah, but the agents soon make an ally in a like-minded Saudi colonel Al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhoum), who helps them navigate royal politics and unlock the secrets of the crime scene, and thus, finally, the action of The Kingdom hits a high in the third act.

And in the end, it becomes clear that in spite of all of our differences, we are all governed by the same instinct to protect that which we hold dear.

Now, if we could have gotten to that conclusion sooner and with less politicalese, then what a terrific an action thriller this would have been.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Universal Pictures.
Accepted

Madonna is among those up for consideration for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The reigning, undisputed Queen of Pop first burst into the New York City music scene as a cult figure in 1982.

Since then she has traveled a path toward true icon status, pushing buttons and ruling dance floors around the world with a sound and style all her own along the way. She has been imitated, but never been duplicated. And she has re-invented the notion of “staying power” over and over.

There are nine artists being considered for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2008, including the Beastie Boys, John Mellencamp, and Donna Summer.

The final five honorees will be announced in January – and you know who had better be on that list.

Photo: Madonna-Connexion.com.
The Pursuit of Happiness

The trailer for Feast of Love would have you believe Robert Benton’s film is nothing but a sentimental comedy of errors, yet nothing could be further from the truth.

It is in fact a welcome relief from the bombastic excesses of summer blockbusters – a film that boasts the greatest special effect of all: the cinematic restoration of a belief in love in these over-stimulated, exhausted, cynical times in which we live.

Yes, the film’s all about love and cute meets, but no, not everyone lives happily ever after.

Feast of Love, with is whims about romance, is a film that is fairly grounded in the harsh realities that, say, the Greek gods would have chosen to throw the characters’ ways.

Morgan Freeman stars as Harry Stevenson, a wise professor in a tightly knit Oregon community who dispenses advice when asked (and on occasion when he isn’t), and Greg Kinnear as die-hard romantic Bradley, the unlucky in love owner of a local coffee shop.

Both Harry and Bradley are grieving; Harry the death of his son, Bradley the end of his marriage. But Harry can see that life goes on – he just needs to catch up.

He sees Bradley pick a second wife whom he knows isn’t right for him. He sees a young couple defy fate in the name of love. And he sees his wife, Esther (Jane Alexander), and he struggles to reconnect with her.

As their stories intertwine, these people become broken, befuddled, and delighted by love. It is in the air, after all, and they can’t escape it, so enjoy this rarest treat of the season.

And keep an eye on Alexa Davalos (TV’s Angel and Reunion), who plays Chloe, one half of the young couple. She’s the breakout star of this Feast of Love.

My Rating ***

Photo: MGM.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Fall is so going from 0 to 60 in three point five, have you noticed?

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about Feast of Love and The Kingdom, but today I want to tell you about a smaller film you may have missed at the movie theater: Julie Delpy’s 2 Days in Paris.

It follows a couple who has been together for two years, French photographer Marion (Delpy) and American interior designer Jack (Adam Goldberg).

They live in New York, but have been on holiday through Europe in an attempt to relight the fire of romance in their relationship. After a week in Venice, which really didn't go as planned, Marion and Jack arrive in Paris for the last two days of their trip.

Soon, though, the combination of Marion's sweetly offbeat and overbearing non-English speaking parents and the inappropriately still-flirtatious nature of her relationships with her ex-boyfriends, and Jack's continuing photography obsession and neurotic American tourist malaise, don't make for a good time.

2 Days in Paris, with its Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?-inspired repartee, explores the peaks and valleys of Marion and Jack’s relationship.

Do they want the same things? Do they respect each other? And, more importantly, is it even love what they feel for each other?

These are the questions that arise while they are in the City of Lights – and the answers to which they arrive will be most illuminating.

In the necessarily confronting end, Marion and Jack will have to make a decision, through honest and mature conversation. It is uncharacteristic of the couple, and like the film, a real breakthrough.

My Rating ***

Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Flip, a Flop

Following 11th-hour negotiations that can only be described as nail-biting by fans of Saturday Night Live, Maya Rudolph (pictured at right, on the right) will return for the show’s 33rd season on Sept. 29.

Rudolph quit the show on Monday after having renewed her contract on Sept. 21.

She is one of only three female cast members (the other two are Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig) on SNL – so her absence would have been absolutely noticed and felt.

I’m so so glad the Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, and Whitney Houston impersonator isn’t going anywhere; I would’ve had to channel her Donatella Versace and go all “Aaaaahhh!” otherwise.

Photo: Wikipedia.com.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Little Indie That Will

Earlier this month, Jason Reitman’s Juno achieved something extraordinary at the Toronto Film Festival: it became the little indie to watch this season.

Juno’s about a pregnant teen (Hard Candy’s Ellen Page) who decides to give up her baby for adoption to a troubled couple (The Kingdom co-stars Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman).

It will open in theaters on Dec. 14.

Want to buzz, too?

Then I now invite you to watch the trailer for Juno, and read a candid interview with Garner and Bateman.

Photo: IMDb.com.
Promise to Try

Gatecrasher reported today that Lindsay Lohan “is set to leave rehab this weekend.”

The write-up goes on to quote a pal of the actress as saying L2 doesn’t know where she’s headed on her release.

All I know is there’s the line, Linds: Walk it!

Photo: VanityFair.com.

Update: Soon after Gatecrasher's report was published, Dina Lohan sent Access Hollywood an e-mail, saying succinctly, “Not true, staying in Utah.” (L2 currently is in the Cirque Lodge rehab program in Utah.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

They’re Coming Out; They Want the World to Know

The women of Sex and the City are baaack.

Photo: People.com.
Bang Bang (He Shot ’Em Down)

Shoot ’Em Up begins with a mesmerizing close-up of Clive Owen’s green eyes, an intense and quiet prelude to a film that, as its title reveals, will not let up for the next 93 minutes.

Owen plays a man simply known as Smith. He is, as co-star Monica Bellucci’s character describes him, “the angriest man in the world.”

Smith is minding his own business at the beginning of Shoot ’Em Up, waiting for a bus on a dark street of a nondescript city, when he sees a terrified woman in a hospital gown running away from a gunman.

Soon, Smith cannot help but get involved in the situation. Shortly thereafter, our skilled (anti-) hero finds himself entrusted with protecting the woman’s newborn baby boy, whom he delivered in the middle of the first of many gunfights to come, no less.

The baby’s welcome into this world? A big ol’ bull’s eye, for he now is the target of a shadowy force that has sent a team of mysterious and endless assailants, led by Hertz (a madly and restlessly trigger-happy Paul Giamatti).

Amid a hail of bullets and facing every conceivable permutation of gunfight (including one during sex and one while skydiving), Smith teams up with a prostitute (Bellucci) to protect the baby and sort out who wants him dead – before the unlikely family ends up on the wrong side of a bullet.

Shoot ’Em Up is, without a doubt, perhaps the more hyperactive we’ll have seen this year – and happy to be so. The violence is so absurd anyone would have to be a nut-nut to take it seriously.

This is an audacious movie, one that is quite fun from beginning to end. For an actioner, it is quite the comedy, and vice versa; it’s great.


I can guarantee you it’ll be the most fun you’ll have watching a violent movie this fall. Trust me.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: New Line Cinema.
Don’t Judge Me

I totally “XOXO” The CW’s Gossip Girl.

Photo: IGN.com.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

In the new David Cronenberg thriller Eastern Promises, a moody rattler that is so shockingly violent at times you should approach it carefully, a London midwife innocently looking into the death of a young woman finds herself in the dangerous sights of a Russian mobster associated with the Vory V Zakone criminal brotherhood.

This is not the kind of film to which you go on a date, but this is a film that you must watch if you are willing to appreciate it for its tone, if you like film.

At its strong center lies the mysterious and charismatic Russian-born Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), the driver for one of the English capital’s most notorious organized crime families of Eastern European origin.

Headed by the deceptively warm Semyon (Academy Award nominee Armin Mueller-Stahl), the family's fortunes are tested by Semyon's volatile son, Kirill (Derailed’s Vincent Cassel), a clumsily ambitious sheep who relies exceedingly on Nikolai to clean up his messes.

The driver's carefully maintained existence is jarred, however, when Anna (Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts), resolves to trace the lineage of her patient’s baby. The task sends her directly into a terrifying London underground inhabited by immigrant sex slaves and the people who profit from them.

With Semyon and Kirill closing ranks, and with Anna pressing her inquiries, Nikolai unexpectedly finds his loyalties divided.

Several lives – including his own – hang in the balance as a harrowing circle of murder, deceit, and retribution tightens around him. Who can, or should, he trust?

You know what to do to find that out.

All I will say is when Cronenberg and Mortensen get together to make a film, the results can be outstanding (see: 2005’s A History of Violence), and incredibly challenging at the same time.

The actor delivers a devoted and nuanced performance that reveals the many layers of his character and will help you digest Eastern Promises more easily. For some the violence will prove gratuitous, but trust me, the film is not exploitative. This is a violent world we live in. Eastern Promises shows us there is hope in the bleakest of places.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Focus Features.
The Ballad of Jude & Lucy

Julie Taymor’s visually stunning Across the Universe is a romantic musical told mainly through numerous classic Beatles songs performed by the characters that populate the film.


There’s Jude (newcomer Jim Sturgess, whose voice, rich in sensitivity, reminded me of that of Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge!), a young lad from Liverpool, who comes to the United States during the Vietnam War to find his father. And there’s Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), an American girl who has grown up sheltered in the suburbs, with whom he eventually winds up in New York’s Greenwich Village, where they fall in love.

Together, Jude and Lucy experience the sweeping changes of America in the late 60s; he the torture that comes from being a budding artist, she to anguish and confusion that follow having lost somebody she loved to the war.

Across the Universe takes a sharp turn into surreal territory in its second act – complete with a cameo by an actress Taymor directed to an Academy Award nomination in 2003 (I refuse to tell you who it is, for I’d hate to spoil the surprise, but this actress played somebody with a famously unkempt eyebrows). It is a risky and bold choice that may loose some of the audience, but it is a delight to behold.

The film is a mesmerizing anti-war cry, which, aided by the best soundtrack it ever could have, also is a testament to love (by golly if those Beatles didn’t write perfect universal songs, by the way).

I’d like to think Across the Universe echoes the sentiments my generation feels toward the current war in Iraq.

Rather, it waxes nostalgic for a force that appears to be absent today…for a interest infinitely more invested on the battle of the words between The Hills’ LC and Heidi.

Alas, in the end all you need love, and this film has plenty of it and of inspiration. “It’s easy.”

My Rating ***

Photo: Sony Pictures.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Simply Irresistible, Pt. 21

The Sex and the City movie began shooting in New York City yesterday, and here’s a first look at the action.

Reporting to the stylish set for Day 1 were stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth – and from the looks of it, Carrie and Mr. Big just might be “abso-f---ing-lutely” happy in the movie.

Most of the HBO show’s cast will return for the movie.

I. Love. It. The movie opens on May 30.

Photo: People.com.

Update: Some other pictures on the blogosphere show one of the women playing pregnant. Get on the Google to find out who, if you want to be spoiled. They are going to have trouble keeping plot points a secret....

Better Late Than Never

Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales finally will open in theaters, in limited release, on Nov. 9.

In the movie, set in L.A. in 2008 during a three-day heat wave just before a huge 4th of July celebration, an amnesia-stricken action star meets up with an adult film star developing her own reality television project and a police officer who holds the key to a vast conspiracy.

It stars The Rock, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, former SNL MVP Cheri Oteri, Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, and Miranda Richardson, among others.

Let’s just it now: The long-delayed Southland Tales is gonna cult it out.

Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films.
A Funny Thing Happened at the Funeral

In the farcical Death at a Funeral, a dysfunctional British family gathers for the patriarch's funeral, only to see old conflicts between two estranged brothers resurface, and new ones arise when a mysterious guest arrives claiming to be the dead man's gay lover.

Frank Oz directs the movie with an amusing touch that tints it a few shades of black comedy, but does not make it a dark one.

This serves Death a Funeral well considering it draws a lot of its humor from the many things one should not do a funeral, like accidentally drop acid…or drop the casket on its side.

It has its broad moments, as well as its more intimate breakthroughs, especially for the feuding brothers (played by Matthew MacFadyen of Pride & Prejudice and Rupert Graves).

You definitely should pay your respects to Death at a Funeral, but don’t expect anything less than a classy affair, or you will be quite disappointed.

My Rating ***

Photo: MGM.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fall’s So Good

Couches will be warmed tonight as the premiere of Gossip Girl on The CW tonight ushers in a brand new TV season.

Some series will premiere, others will return, and although some that should – cough, cough, Veronica Mars, cough – won’t, there still we be plenty to buzz about with your pals (especially on Thursdays).

I already have issued TiVo Season Passes to NBC’s Chuck, Journeyman, and Bionic Woman. (On Mondays, the first two will sandwich Heroes. I trust it won’t get any better than that.)

Now, Chuck I know I probably will like because it looks like of geeky fun.

Journeyman has been added on to my list because of Kevin McKidd (HBO’s Rome), and because I’m too lazy to individually add episodes. If I decide I don’t like it, I’ll cancel its Season Pass, and that’ll be that.

Bionic Woman I will like because I just have a thing for badass chicks. But this Wednesday show is up against Gossip Girl, which I’ll watch on another TV, and ABC’s Private Practice, a.k.a. the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off starring Kate Walsh.

Conflict. Private Practice I’ll check out if I get around to it…at a friend’s…on the weekends. Something’s gotta give.

Also on Mondays, Fox’s Prison Break has been demoted – although I will watch the season premiere before next week. And I’ve been reading good things about The CW’s Aliens in America.

Tuesday, up until this year a very crowded night, has eased up. Tuesdays will be all about Fox’s Bones, returning to my lineup after a spotty second season (due to scheduling, not quality), The CW’s Reaper and NBC’s Law & Order: SVU. Easy.

I will begin Wednesdays with Pushing Daisies and finish it with Dirty Sexy Money, both on ABC, and you know I’ve already chosen between the Bionic Woman and the Gossip Girl (again, sorry, Kate Walsh).

NBC – the Peacock again! – definitely has regained its footing with its night of comedy done right, indeed. So I’ll TiVo ABC’s Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy, and watch My Name Is Earl,
the Emmy-winning 30 Rock, The Office, and the final season of Scrubs.

I’ll give ABC’s Big Shots a shot, but I’m not making any promises (the show doesn’t have the greatest buzz).

Fridays will be all about Friday Nights Lights.

And finally, Sundays, of course, I’ll visit Wisteria Lane – because Marcia Cross is back from maternity leave, and because I keep hoping Desperate Housewives will have gotten its bite back – and check in on the Walkers – because Brothers & Sisters just got better and better last season.

All of this begs the question: What will I do when I have to factor in cable and 24 and Lost, which will return in the winter, not to mention mid-season replacements?

I know I watch too much TV. Don’t judge me.

Photo: NBC.com (Chuck).
Happy Birthday, :-)

File this under Bet You Didn’t Know This: :-) turns 25 today.

Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman says he was the first to use the horizontal smiley face in a computer message.

To mark the anniversary of the emoticon, Fahlman and his colleagues have started an annual student contest for innovation in technology-assisted, person-to-person communication.

The Smiley Award, sponsored by Yahoo Inc., will carry a $500 cash prize.

Neato.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So Hearting NBC Now

The Peacock has signed former Gilmore Girl Lauren Graham to a seven-figure development deal.

“After having spent so many years representing the frog on the WB,” the actress told Variety, “I am especially comforted to be part of the only other network with an animal mascot.”

NBC better develop one heck of a show for this dynamic MVP, that’s all I have to say.

Photo: Universal Pictures (Because I Said So).
Little Bit O Love

This is why I heart Mika so, so much.

Learn it. Live it. Love it.

Photo: iTunesFestival.com.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Emmys Rock It Out

As one of the show’s “dozens and dozens of viewers,” as creator Tina Fey put it, I was beyond thrilled to see 30 Rock win the Best Comedy Series Emmy last night.

The low-rated NBC laugher needs all the help it can get, that’s for sure, but really, it deserved to win because it was easily the most humorous comedy of the past season. (It will return for its second season on Oct. 4.)

I also was happy to see America Ferrera cap a triumphant season playing her titular role on ABC’s Ugly Betty (she already has a Golden Globe and a SAG Award).

Another couple of highlights: ABC’s Lost’s Terry O’Quinn and NBC’s My Name is Earl’s Jaime Pressly first wins for Supporting Actor in a Drama and Supporting Actress in a Comedy, respectively.

To find out who else won an Emmy, click here.

Photo: EW.com.
Everybody’s Doing It

Evan Handler has joined the cast of the Sex and the City movie.

Handler played Charlotte’s (Kristin Davis) divorce attorney-turned-husband Harry Goldenblatt for three seasons on the show, but the actor says his character “doesn’t feature that prominently” in the movie, which begins shooting this month.

The movie’s four leading ladies – Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Davis, and Cynthia Nixon – already are on board, as are Chris Noth, a.k.a. Mr. Big, and Jennifer Hudson.

“Myself and others, you know we haven’t signed on officially yet, but yeah, I think everybody’s onboard,” Handler told People at a pre-Emmy party this weekend. “We’ve all sort of knuckled under and agreed to terms in one way or another.”

Photo: HBO.com.

Friday, September 14, 2007

So Let's

I really am hearting Bon Jovi’s “(You Want To) Make a Memory” like a two-dollar whore.

Photo: BN.com.
Let’s Be Friday Night Lights

I heart New York.

It is a fun, great, strong city, and it always offers me everything unexpectedly.

I was walking around Rockefeller Plaza a few days ago when it started pouring. I didn’t have an umbrella (ella ella eh eh eh) with me, so I walked into the NBC Experience Store and stumbled onto the rack of DVDs.

I’ve been hearing amazing things about Friday Night Lights – so I bought a copy.

The drama, which follows the goings-on of a Dillon, Texas, football team, I understand, was the best show of the past season – and its stars, Chandler and Connie Britton, I understand, too, definitely should have been nominated for Emmys this year.

Well, guess what I’m doing this weekend in preparation for the show’s sophomore season kickoff on Oct. 5. You should do it, too.

I’m going to score my first touchdown, that’s what, and I’m going to be Friday Night Lights.

Photo: BN.com.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

J. Hud Gets Sexed Up

And now, from the Old News Vault….

Do we like the casting of Jennifer Hudson as the assistant to Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw in the upcoming Sex and the City movie?

Is J. Hud appropriate for the role, or is she – yes, yes, yes, yes way – just too big for the part?

And no, I don’t mean big as in big, but as in she does have an Oscar.

I think they should’ve cast someone a little less recognizable, but hey, I’m happy the Dreamgirl will buck the trend and have a career so soon after winning her Best Supporting Actress trophy.

She’s stayin’.


Photo: Style.com.

Update: It’s a date! Sex and the City will kick its heels in movie theaters on May 30.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

For the Love of…

I’m back from New York – and happy to find out that the incomparable Kathy Griffin finally has won an Emmy and been a guest on Ellen DeGeneres’show (Note to self: I gotta TiVo the repeat of that).

But I also have learned that Griffin come under fire for joking about Jesus at the Creative Emmy Awards on Saturday night.

The comedian – hello! – claimed the Outstanding Reality Program prize for her show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. She reportedly upset Christians by making fun of other Emmy recipients who thanked Christ for their golden hardware.

In her totally-her acceptance speech, Griffin quipped, “A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. This award is my God now.”

Now her taped acceptance speech will be heavily censored when it airs at the official Emmy Awards on Sunday, Sept. 16, and officials at the Catholic League, a U.S. anti-defamation group, have called on Emmy bosses to “denounce Griffin's obscene and blasphemous comment” at the ceremony.

People can be sooo touchy.

I mean, it was clearly a joke – a joke she absolutely has the right to crack. When are people going to learn that there’s humor and there’s offense?

Urgh.

Photo: CBC.ca.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Stick a Fork in It, Already

I’m in New York for Fashion Week until Wednesday, but everywhere I went until last night, talk inevitably, predictably, turned to Britney Spears and her VMAs performance.

Of course, I watched it. And of course, I hate it.

What a lazy cow.

The styling was awful (the bloated look – not sexy; the blond extensions – ratty; the blue contacts – fug).

She wasn’t even trying.

MTV should be ashamed. The performance negated all the hard work that went on in putting the show together in the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas – a logistical nightmare for the busy bees behind the scenes, I’m sure.

The saving grace of such a pitiful display of artistry was Sarah Silverman, who followed the erstwhile pop star on stage and nailed it, in spite of the comedian’s humor being betrayed by the audience’s tentative laughter. (Google or YouTube that later.).

But then again, here I are talking about the whole thing. So I guess Spears’ performance did what it was supposed to do: It got us talking.

Photo: MTV.com.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Shark Tale

Rob Stewart’s true-life docudrama Sharkwater sheds light on the decline of the world’s shark population and its effect on the environment.

This is a must-see for anyone who is fascinating by one of the world’s most intriguing creatures. (I heart sharks – from a distance. Although I enjoy the beach, I’d sooner jump into a pool. Thank the oceans summer’s over.)

The film reveals that shark attacks are few and far between – and even when they do occur, wounds tend to be superficial. Yeah – I know…then how come we only hear about the more tragic attacks? Well, CNN & Co. have news to sell, and people to scare, so what do you expect.

As it turns out, sharks happen to be the ocean’s most important predator, the top of the food chain; their presence is ecologically vital to maintaining the sea’s balance.

And on this level, sharks – and humans as well – are facing environmental catastrophe.

Sharkwater opens in Florida on Sept. 28 and goes wide on Nov. 2.

Photo: Sharkwater.com.
This Beat Is For the Clubs

Perhaps I’m the only one, but I think Jennifer Lopez is red-hot again.

La Lopez is doing her own thing, and since she has reclaimed that touch of mystery that stars should embrace, I think, she has remapped her own path.

And her new single, “Do It Well”? I likey a lot – it’s a definite club banger.

Photo: JenniferLopez.com.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

To Toronto and Beyond

Well, I’m not going to the Toronto International Film Festival this year – it kicks off tonight – but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep up with it.

Click
here to find out what movies will be at the top of attendees’ lists.

Among the hot tickets are The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Atonement, starring Keira Knightley and James McAvoy; Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding; and Rendition, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Photo: Paramount Vantage (Margot at the Wedding).
Everything Is Connected

There are at least nine other pictures I could have picked to illustrate this post about
John August’s The Nines – but that wouldn’t have been that much fun (Ryan Reynolds, how I love you).

August, the screenwriter of Go, the Charlie’s Angels movies, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, makes his directorial debut with this indie consisting of three short stories following a troubled actor, a television showrunner, and an acclaimed videogame designer who find their lives intertwining in mysterious and unsettling ways.

The Nines also features Hope Davis and Melissa McCarthy (TV’s Gilmore Girls). It is out on limited release now. Look for it.

Photo: Newmarket Films.
It’s Getting Spicier

The Spice Girls have hired Jamie King to direct their upcoming reunion tour.

King is a great guy to have on your corner. He’s like, major, as Posh would say, having worked with Madonna on her last three tours.

I’m going to be sooo totally bummed out if I don’t get tickets for this show.

Photo: StarMagazine.com.
R.I.P. Bravo Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti, the Italian tenor who helped bring opera to the masses, died today in his home in Modena after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 71.

Although I’ve never been known to be a fan of the genre, it saddened me to find out watching Today that he was gone.

I’ve been aware of Pavarotti all my life, especially since he partnered with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras to form The Three Tenors in 1990.

He had a great presence and a greater voice. He put on one heck of a show, and now he rests.

Photo: Britannica.com.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Lively Girl

No one could ever make me forget Kristen Bell or The CW’s Veronica Mars, but someone just might help me forgive the network for canceling the show.

That someone could very well be Blake Lively, who has upgraded her Traveling Pants for the more sophisticated look of a Gossip Girl.

As the star of one of the new shows exec produced by Josh “The O.C.” Schwartz (the other is NBC’s Chuck), Lively is on the brink of super stardom. You’ll understand why when the buzzed-about Gossip Girl debuts on Sept. 19.


Another major thing this show has going for it? Bell has taken on voice-over duties. It’s a show after my own heart.

Photo: USAToday.com.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It’s Kelly, Bitch

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, Kelly Clarkson will soar once again this fall when she embarks on a North American tour beginning Oct. 10 in New York.

The news follows a sort of walkabout in the name of artistic integrity that saw the pop star firing her longtime manager, clashing with music mogul Clive Davis over the direction of her latest album, My December, and canceling her summer tour.

Clarkson will hit Miami on Nov. 29 – and you know I’ll try my best to be there to sing my new favorite, “Sober,” with her.

Photo: FresnoBeehive.com.