Monday, June 30, 2008

The Heart of A.I.

Disney and Pixar have done it again – they’ve totally outdone themselves: WALL-E is an outstanding achievement, and quite easily the best film I’ve seen so far this year.

Set 700 years in the future, in a world in which a corporation called Buy ’n Large owns just about everything there is to own, our featured protagonist, WALL-E, is Earth’s sole inhabitant.

The planet has been overtaken by waste produced by BNL Corp., and WALL-Es – Waste Allocation Load Lifters, Earth-class – are cleaning up the mess while humans orbit space aboard BNL’s Axiom, a state-of-the-art cruise-line ship designed to cater to their every need while Earth recovers.

WALL-E is the only robot of his type doing to the hard work, though – all others seem to have stopped working.

Directed by Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo), WALL-E is mostly silent film. (WALL-E’s sole companion is a resilient cockroach.)

We see him pick up waste.

We see him sort through mountains of rubble in search of items he collects and displays at home as invaluable treasures.

We see him watch Hello, Dolly! through his binocular eyes, and yearn, with humanlike, palpable emotion, for a hand to hold, for, you see, he is, inspite of all his bolts, a …small bundle of love, and his is a a love story.

The arrival of EVE, a gleaming white probe dispatched from the Axiom (her name stands for Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) literally sends WALL-E out of this world in love.

The film, already gripping in its first act, gets even better in its second thanks to their tender, simmering connection – and to the on-the-mark commentary it makes on consumerism, corporate greed and (ir)responsibility, and, of course, the type of love that transcends it all.

WALL-E is what you can all a new classic. You have to watch it.

My Rating ****

Photo: Disney/Pixar.
007 Wants It

Revenge, that is.

The trailer for Quantum of Solace, due out on Nov. 7, is out, and it looks like James Bond’s latest adventure will be your average revenge tale.

Since the Sexiest Man Alive Daniel Craig is once again suiting up – and shedding his shirt – to star, though, Quantum of Solace will be anything but average.

Take a look-see (I’m so excited I learned how to do this):

There Is a Movie…In…the Making

Jason Bateman confirmed in February that an Arrested Development movie was in the works, and now his TV dad, Jeffrey Tambor, has confirmed that as well.

Marry me!

“After months of speculation,” Tambor told EW.com at the premiere of Hellboy II: The Golden Army yesterday, “I think we have finally figured out for sure that we are indeed doing an Arrested Development movie.”

Best. News. Ever.

Marry me twice!

Photo: IGN.com.

Update: It’s probably going to be a while before we see the Bluths on the big screen.

“They are trying to decide if they can make [the movie] for the money they need,” Jason Bateman has told Entertainment Weekly in response to Jeffrey Tambor’s comments.

I don’t understand the comment and I won’t respond to it.

Gaga For This Lady

South Beach hipsters were in the zone last week because someone by the name of Lady GaGa was scheduled to perform at a party at the Miss Sixty store on Lincoln Road.

“I’m sorry – Lady who?” I asked.

“Uh – you don’t know Lady GaGa?” they said.

“No, I don’t,” I said. “Do you know how to say ‘I’m a tool’ in French?” (Alright, I didn’t say that, but the look I shot their way definitely did.)


I know Lady GaGa now, though, and I kind of like her. She’s making me want to “Just Dance” – and wish I hadn’t left the party before she went on.

Photo: Interscope.com.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Release Me

David Beckham, this is getting silly.

You got me begging you for mercy,” don’t you know, don’t you know.

Photo: People.com.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Weapon of Mass Destruction

This summer, Angelina Jolie is going to kick some butt.

Screeeeeech! No, this isn’t 2005 or 2003 or 2001. It’s 2008, and the actress is co-starring alongside James McAvoy (Atonement) and Morgan Freeman in Wanted, an action movie from Russian-Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov (Day Watch, Night Watch).

Wanted follows the rise to arguable greatness of Wesley Gibson (McAvoy), a paper-pusher ridden by anxiety trapped in a boring desk-job existence.

All Wesley wants is a life that means something. But Wesley is a sheep. His boss is constantly on his case, ditto his girlfriend, who is cheating on him with one his co-workers, and what is he doing about it? Nothing.

Do you know what whips a sheep into shape but good, though? A fox – a lady named Fox (Jolie) in this case.

Fox finds Wesley one night and tells him that his father, whom he thought dead, was in fact done in the day before, that he was one of the greatest assassins who ever lived, and that the man who killed his father is now after him.

And that’s how Fox recruits Wesley into the millennia-old Fraternity, a secret society that trains him to avenge daddy dearest by unlocking his dormant talents. See, he is one of the few people in the world who can shoot the wings off a fly. His father could, and so can he.

As our drone learns to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, he also learns the ancient, unbreakable code that governs the so-called “weapons of fate” that make up the Fraternity: Kill one man. Save a thousand.

Slowly, though, Wesley realizes there is more to his deadly associates than previously revealed, especially when it comes to their enigmatic leader, Sloan (Freeman).

By the time he gets to the bottom of it – and Wanted delivers the ol’ switcheroo – you will have had just about enough of the movie’s ballistic, disconnect kinetics.

I enjoy a good shoot ’em up. In fact, I did when Shoot ’Em Up hit movie screens last year.

Wanted has elements of that Clive Owen vehicle, and of Crank, too. But unlike those movies, this one’s a little too dense, mythology-wise, for its own good.

As for McAvoy. Is it too soon for him to take on such a plum role? The Scot’s American accent is flawless, but is he just too unknown for audiences to connect with him? I say yes, but he pulls it off. This could be his breakthrough. (Sorry, Atonement.)

More off-putting, though, was how distractingly thin Jolie was during production. Girlfriend, you’re not a starletbot. You’re supposed to be the sexiest woman on the planet, the one for which several of your fellow H-town actresses would make the switch. Look the part.

Wanted is only so…if you really want it.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Universal Pictures.
What a Girl Wants Is Your Vote

Christina Aguilera has enlisted the help of her 5-month-old son Max to urge Americans to vote in November.

The “Beautiful” singer discussed her upcoming Rock the Vote PSA, last night on CNN’s Larry King Live.

“It was really important for me to get involved and get excited about this election in particular, being such one of change and new development for our country and for the future of my son, she said.”

Aguilera’s PSA, a takeoff on a 1992 Rock the Vote commercial with Madonna, features her holding Max wrapped in the American flag – which had some in a bit of a huff – and singing “America the Beautiful.”

Photo: LATimes.com.
Will You Deny This Over There, Liz Rosenberg?

Can someone, anyone get Madonna’s publicist on the phone so she can deny what the London Times reported yesterday?

The paper said “[Madonna] is understood to be seeking legal advice [from Fiona Shackleton, Paul McCartney’s divorce lawyer] on a possible divorce from her husband of seven years, the film director Guy Ritchie,” and that “Madonna’s spokesman refused to comment on the claims [on June 25].”

Liz…Ms. Rosenberg, put on your tiara and come out and say something, already. Stage a photo op – can’t M take Guy to the gym instead of Gwyneth Paltrow? Leak a recent sex tape that shows the two do not “live like brother and sister.” Do something definitve.

Photo: Babble.com.

Update 1: On a happier note, click here to read about what’s going on during rehearsals for the “Sticky & Sweet Tour.”

Update 2: On June 27, the Today show said that Liz Rosenberg issued a “No comment” statement when they asked if the rumors are true. I hope “No comment” doesn’t end up meaning, “Yes, they’re getting divorced,” and that this is just a case of people talking liberties.
The Re-invented Ms. Richie

And she continues to surprise us….

Former reality TV star Nicole Richie (The Simple Life), will guest star this fall on an episode of NBC’s Chuck.

Richie, who has left her wilder ways behind for motherhood and philanthropy, has been tapped to play a “snarky and spiteful girl who tortured” Yvonne Strahovski’s character (Special Agent Sarah Walker) in high school. In the episode, Sarah must face her fears when she is forced to attend her 10-year high school reunion for a mission with costar Zachary Levi’s Chuck as her date.

“Nicole auditioned for the part and was very funny,” said Chuck executive producer Josh Schwartz. “This role is a great opportunity for her to show off her comedic skills and be diabolically evil and kick some butt. It’s going to be really fun.”

I bet.

Photo: People.com.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When You Try Your Best But You Don’t Succeed

According to the New York Daily News, Coldplay’s free Madison Square Garden show last night left a few in the audience…well, cold.

“Coldplay [were] gingerly finding [their] way through the new material, and through a whole new show as well,” said the newspaper’s music critic. “[Frontman Chris] Martin had trouble finding the right chords for one song, and forgot the lyrics to another (‘Fix You,’ ironically)…Such gaffs and hesitancies were hardly the most disappointing aspects of the evening.”

Here’s to hoping the band can pull it together by the time they hit the road for their summer-fall tour.

They will – right?

They better do by the time they hit South Florida in November….

Photo: NYDailyNews.com.

Update: This hiccup and mixed-to-negative buzz on the Internet aside, Coldplay still got it going on. Their Viva La Vida sold 721,000 copies on its first week out.
Just a Girl

Madonna may have called “Ur So Gay” her “favorite song right now” in May, but Katy Perry has been a favorite singer-songwriter to many for quite a while.

The tell-off song, in which – and this is a brilliant line – Perry tells her boyfriend she hopes he hangs himself with his H&M scarf, has been available since November.

For the record, I don’t think “Ur So Gay” is homophobic. I think it’s hilarious. She’s just telling off a boyfriend for being so prissy.

Perry’s first official single “I Kissed a Girl” is burning up radio (and risking overplay, IMHO), but that just goes to show everyone irreverence is It, It, It when it comes to music – and who doesn’t like that.

Her album One of the Boys features a bunch tracks ready to follow suit, such as “If You Can Afford Me” and “Hot ’N Cold” (co-writer Max Martin, who has worked with Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson, has a fruit basket coming his way).

A dead ringer for actress Zooey Deschanel, Perry has style, she has flair, and she can sing and write, but she’s not just a girl. She’s just, period.

Photo: BandWebBlogs.com.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Destiny’s Child-Bear

I finally saw Kung Fu Panda over the weekend – and I hearted it.

It’s been a long time since I’ve made it a point to go see an animated film on the big screen – I used to take my little sister when I lived at home.

It took me a little while (the movie opened on June 6), but you know the saying: better late than never. Strong word of mouth shall not be denied, I guess. Plus, panda bears are like, the new penguins….

Kung Fu Panda follows big, clumsy, but thoroughly enthusiastic panda bear Po (vividly voiced by Jack Black), quite literally the biggest fan of kung fu to be found in the ancient Chinese town of The Valley of Peace.

Po lives with his dad and works in the family noodle shop, but as it is the case, he yearns for more than that.

When he’s unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy and become the Dragon Master, Po’s dreams become reality as he joins the exciting world of kung fu to study, under the tutelage of legendary Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), at the Jade Palace.

There he meets his lifelong idols, Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Tigress (Angelina Jolie) – a.k.a. the Furious Five – who do not appreciate Po’s arrival.

Before they know it, though, the vengeful snow leopard Tai Lung (Ian McShane) is headed their way, and it’s up to Po to defend everyone from the oncoming threat.

Kung Fu Panda takes us on a journey of self-realization. We see Po take charge of his destiny, save the day with a simple and inspired “Skadoush!” – all the while reminding us that no matter who you are and no matter where you come from, you can always change…become a better version of yourself.

It’s a great lesson to learn or be reminded of, especially because this big, clumsy, but thoroughly enthusiastic panda bear makes it so much fun.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: DreamWorks Animation.
Yeehaw!

A Manhattan federal judge has ruled that Robert Burck’s case against Mars Inc. may go forth.

Wait – who, what, huh?

Burck, o.k.a. Time Square’s very own Naked Cowboy, is suing Mars Inc. for trademark infringement, claiming the candy giant’s blue M&M was dressed to look like him, thus allegedly constituting a false endorsement.

The street entertainer won his right to take his case to trial, the Associated Press reports. Mars says it was merely exercising its First Amendment right, and that the costumed candy was a parody.

“Sounds like I’ve got $4 million coming my way,” Burck told The New York Post after hearing of the judge’s decision yesterday.

No, man – it sounds like your days of walking around Manhattan in your briefs are done.

Photo: People.com.
The Teacher Is In

This fall, as you may have heard (unless you live under a nice big rock), The CW will premiere a remake of Beverly Hills, 90210.

The new 90210 stars a cast of young newcomers, as well TV veterans such as Rob Estes (Melrose Place), Lori Loughlin (Full House), and Jessica Walter (Arrested Development).

Among the new faces is bright-eyed Ryan Eggold (FX’s Dirt), who will play Ryan Matthews, a fresh-out-of-college teacher at West Beverly High.

Eggold recently told TVGuide.com that Mr. Matthews is “kind of a kid himself. [There are] a lot of options there.”

One of those “options” will play out in the show’s pilot (which will feature original 90210 cast members Jennifer Garth and Tori Spelling).

“There is some tension between a student and myself,” Eggold said. “I’m not sure where they’re going to go with it. I do have a love interest, [but] I can't say [who] yet.”

Can class begin already?

Photo: DayLife.com.

Monday, June 23, 2008

When Keira Met Sienna

Once upon a time, Keira Knightley was supposed to co-star with Lindsay Lohan in The Edge of Love, but L2 felt she had better troubl…uhh…things to do, and dropped out, and in stepped Sienna Miller.

Knightley and Miller premiered the film – about two women and a rivalry that became a friendship – at the Edinburgh Film Festival last week, and according to GQ, they deliver “the best performances of their lives.”

Lohan, meanwhile, began to reclaim her career by starting production on a new project.

Check out the trailer for The Edge of Love, co-starring Matthew Rhys (TV’s Brothers & Sisters) and Cillian Murphy, here.

Photo: TheSun.co.uk.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nostalgia, Pt. 22

Madonna and Guy Ritchie are currently facing rampant rumors of a split.

We all know the media who report on this sort of thing need to say or write something – even if it’s not true.

And let’s face it, she’s Madonna. The media, whether they admit it, are obsessed with her every move.

We don’t know what happens in the Ciccone-Ritchie household, but we definitely know this: Madonna understands it’s not easy having a good marriage.

Not too long ago, she and Ritchie interviewed each other on the occasion of the release of Swept Away, and their rapport was evident.

Here’s hilarious proof, in Part I and Part II of that sit-down, that the two loved and cared for each other then – and still do, I’m sure – and that the little-seen 2002 remake wasn’t all that bad.

Photo: Screen Gems.
Playing with Fire

Clooney. McDormand. Malkovich. Swinton. And Pitt.

Those are the bright marquee names that light up the Coen brothers’ latest film, Burn After Reading, due out on Sept. 12.

Check out the teaser trailer. It’ll leave you asking, “What is it?”

Photo: Focus Features.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I’m Onto M’s Game

The summer solstice got me thinking: Does Madonna have a Song of Summer in Hard Candy’s “Spanish Lesson,” after all?

I gotta say I’ve dismissed the track as a rather silly one in the past, but it’s playful and quite cheeky – just like the Queen of Pop.

I’m just going to say it: “Yo soy loco” for “Spanish Lesson.”

Photo: DailyMail.co.uk.
Secret Agent Man

The beloved 1965-’70 show Get Smart is the latest TV property to make the jump to the silver screen for our summer enjoyment – and the word on it is… it’s good.

And “Phew!” goes Hollywood….

Peter (Anger Management, 50 First Dates) Segal directs Steve Carell as bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in Get Smart, an action- and humor-packed movie about phone-shoes, espionage, and being all you that you can be.

I’ve never seen a single episode of the show, so Carell is, to me, Maxwell Smart. He’s an Everyman – one that shouldn’t be dismissed as unremarkable, for he is, in spite of his apparent shortcomings (he’s not especially strong, fit, or agile, and has been stuck behind a desk for many years), quite…well, smart. Carell is a natural fit for this role.

Smart’s not handsome or suave like James Bond, and he can’t handle a gun like Jason Bourne, but he’s a consummate and thorough old-fashion throwback, and that sets him apart. The movie may be a bit too standard, but it pulls all the right moves.

More than anything, he wants to prove himself as a CONTROL field agent.

That’s precisely what Smart gets to do after something bad goes down at CONTROL’s secret headquarters. The Chief (Alan Arkin), having told him he is too valuable an analyst to sent out into the world, reconsiders when Smart is left as the only agent whose identity hasn’t been discovered by the evil forces of KAOS.

Partnered with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway), whose identity hasn’t been compromised, either, because she recently – oh, that’d be telling – Smart’s mission is to thwart KAOS’ latest plot for world domination.

As he and 99 get closer to unraveling KAOS’ evil master plan, and each other, thy discover KAOS operative Siegfried’s (Terence Stamp) plot to deliver a blow to the United States.

Get Smart is, thankfully, witty and funny and clever enough to play the shades of Sept. 11 in the script for laughs by focusing on Maxwell Smart’s enthusiasm – and by mercilessly mocking the current administration-inspired politicos who just can’t get it together the way he can.

The movie, which co-stars Dwayne Johnson as Agent 23, makes badasses out of Carell, Hathaway, and Arkin.

It’s a rich-in-quick-double-entendres, guileless time at the multiplex, and to boot, plays Madonna’s “4 Minutes” over the end credits. Does it get any better than that?

This one’s a winner “by that much.”

My Rating ***1/2


Photo: Warner Bros.
Will You Be There for Him?

Matthew Perry has found a friend in veteran producer Peter Tolan (The Larry Sanders Show, Rescue Me), and the two are teaming to produce a Showtime pilot titled The End of Steve in which TV’s onetime Friend will star.

Perry will play the host of a local talk show who, thoroughly embittered whenever the cameras are off, strives to find professional and personal happiness – and that includes attempting a romantic relationship with a co-worker.

Could you be more excited about this? I know I couldn’t.

Perry always was my favorite Friend, and I’ll be glad to see him back on the tube since Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip shut down after just one (uneven) season.

Photo: Channel4.com.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not to Advocate Drug Use, But…

Pineapple Express looks good.

In the Aug. 8 vehicle, a stoner (Seth Rogen) and his dealer (James Franco) are forced to go on the run after the pothead witnesses a cop commit a murder.

Oh yeah, this is a comedy. But as directed by David Gordon Green (Snow Angels), I expect it will have some depth.

The movie’s title, by the way, refers to the weed Rogen’s character purchases from Franco’s – a rare new strain called…Pineapple Express.

All aboard.

Photo: Columbia Pictures.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Brüno’s Summer Bow

Sacha Baron Cohen will follow up his 2006 hit Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, with Brüno, due out on May 15, 2009.

The comedy, based on a character Baron Cohen introduced to U.S. audiences with his acclaimed HBO comedy series Da Ali G Show, is likely to once again feature the actor conducting in-character interviews with people who are supposedly unaware he’s pulling their leg – this time as a flamboyant Austrian fashion reporter.

Brüno will go up against the in-(troubled) production-as-I-type Da Vinci Code prequel, Angels & Demons, when it opens next summer.

Photo: EW.com.
Just Because, Pt. 15

Hey, David Beckham, nice new photo from your new Emporio Armani Underwear campaign.

Good for you. And us.

Photo: EmporioArmani.com.

Update 1: Renowned fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott shot Becks on the beaches of Malibu. You did us a solid, guys. I thank you.

Update 2: So I Beckhamania a summer thing? (You remember last year, right?) Because I really don’t have a problem with that...not when it comes with goodies such as this.

Tentative Greatness

OMG – an unconfirmed set list of Madonna’s upcoming “Sticky & Sweet Tour” has leaked, and it looks like the Queen of Pop is thinking up one heck of a crowd-pleasing show.

And I love it.

M, of course, is going to perform several songs off Hard Candy, but it seems girlfriend wants to boogie-woogie to some classic tunes, including “*p** Y*** ****t,” “*o**e*l*n*,” “***ss *** U*,” “*ai*,” and even “*****ay,” which she wasn’t sure she could sing again – unless the price was right.

Remember – this is a tentative set list, and an unofficial one at that, too.

I heard and “Don’t Tell Me” and “Jump” also are possibilities, as well as “Forbidden Love” and “Nothing Fails.”

Note to self: Nov. 26 is around the frakkin’ corner. Tickets must be gotten.

Photo: Last.fm.
Hollywood on Strike: The Sequel?

Ominous Reports are beginning to surface really, seriously warning of the worst: another possible strike, this time an actors strike.

“Talks between the Screen Actors Guild and the studios [are] at a stalemate,” says TVGuide.com, “and unlikely to gain ground by the June 30 expiration of SAG’s current contract.”

Say it isn’t so.

No, really – say it isn’t so. I need my Pushing Daisies.

Photo: TVJab.com.

Update 1: Sandra Oh (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) has gone to bat for SAG. Last week, James Cromwell (Babe) did the same for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

And just like that, negotiations are heating up.

Hopefully tempers – and egos – will stay in check, though, and fairness – and my stories (I gotta have my stories) – will prevail.

Update 2: Tom Hanks is urging AFTRA members to ratify their proposed contract, adding that “if this contract doesn’t pass, it will set us back to a place from which we may not recover.” SAG is campaigning against ratification of the tentative AFTRA deal.
As If

According to People, Mario Lopez is the Hottest Bachelor of 2008.

As Cher Horowitz would say, I don’t think so.

I mean, what makes him the hottest of them all?

Perhaps it’s his unreal body or his annoyingly cute dimples, but it’s definitely not his rumored cheating on ex-girlfriend Karina Smirnoff.

Way to lower the bar, People.

A more eligible choice would have been Hottest Bachelor of 2008 list finalist and 300 star Gerard Butler, who, reported cheesy pickup lines aside, is quite fine, or Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. Now that’s a hot mofo.

Photo: People.com.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Captain Sparro

Australia has produced another (sexy) artist to be aware of, and his name is Sam Sparro.

Funky and irreverent – Google his images and see how he styles himself (hipsters, meet your new idol) – the Aussie’s self-titled album, in stores on June 24, features what ModernTonic.com calls “old school jams like ‘Hot Mess,’ a Goldfrappian glam-slam (U.K. smash ‘Black & Gold’), even an eco-conscious skit (‘Recycle It’).”

I just listened to “Black & Gold” – and I likey. I likey a lot.

The dance revolution just got another force on the floor. And he’s a keeper.

Photo: LASplash.com.
Robyn Hits the Sweet Spot

Madonna’s going on a world tour this summer – and she’s taking Robyn with her when she goes.

Music’s It Girl – her self-titled latest is in stores now (get it, get it) – will open select European dates of the Queen of Pop’s hot-ticket “Sticky & Sweet Tour,” beginning on Aug. 26 in Nice, France.

“Having been a fan of Madonna since I was a little girl, I’m very excited about sharing a stage with her and playing to her audiences,” the Swedish pop singer-songwriter said. “I’m thrilled.”

For a taste of Robyn’s live sound, click here and check her out doing it “Cobrastyle.”

Photo: ShowClix.com.
Simply Irresistible, Pt. 31

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, you’re a hero.

And a handsome one at that.

Photo: Salon.com.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Seeing Green

“If at first you don’t succeed….”

That has got to be the saying that inspired Marvel Studios to commission another Hulk movie, considering the box office and story dud Ang Lee’s The Hulk, starring Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly, was, don’t you think?

Nevertheless, The Incredible Hulk opened last Friday to boffo numbers – to the tune of $54 million – and even better, to positive word of mouth. And that’s priceless...and what studios really like.

There was some behind-the-scenes drama that seemed to point to failure for director Louis Leterrier’s reboot, but, as the Great Comic Book Adaptations Gods would have it, success was achieved instead.

Edward Norton stars as Bruce Banner, a scientist desperately seeking a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells and unleashes the unstoppable force of rage that lies within him otherwise known as The Hulk.

Removed from his life and from the woman he loves, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), hiding in a Brazilian favela, he struggles to avoid Gen. Ross’ (William Hurt) obsessive pursuit, and the military machinery that seeks to capture him and exploit his power.

As all three grapple with the secrets that led to The Hulk’s creation, they are confronted with a monstrous new adversary known as The Abomination (Tim Roth), whose destructive strength exceeds even The Hulk’s own.

To stop it, one scientist must make an agonizing final choice: accept a peaceful life as Bruce Banner or find heroism in the creature he holds inside – The Incredible Hulk.

Leterrier may not have Lee’s esteemed pedigree, but he knows how to deliver a crowd-pleasing summer blockbuster.

Working from a script by Zak Penn (whose credits include the X-Men sequels), the director of Transporter 2 gives our fantastic hero something fantastic to fight – and something fantastic worth fighting for, too.

This isn’t some heavy-handed meditation on I don’t know what. (Hey – Lee’s Hulk movie came out in 2003. And it was a snoozer. Do you remember it?)

There’s action in The Incredible Hulk, natch, but there also is a tenderness to it that is rather straightforward and effective.

And that’s why this version works, and that’s why it rocks. At long last, Hulk, welcome. May you do the Hulk Smash for many movies to come.

My Rating ***

Photo: Universal Pictures.

Need a Correspondent, Gossip Girl?

Dreamboat Chace Crawford, a.k.a. Nate Archibald on The CW’s Gossip Girl, has confirmed that the show, which begins production on its sophomore season later this week, will shoot some scene in the Hamptons.

Serena van der Woodsen & Co. do the beach? Sounds like a fun, sexy time.

“There will be some beach scandal,” Crawford said. “Some OMG moments for sure.”

I “XOXO” it.

Photo: TV.Yahoo.com.
The Spotlight on Broadway

What is it about the Tony Awards?

Although the live telecast isn’t at the top of my Must Watch List, it just pulls me in every year.

I haven’t watched the entirety of yesterday’s 2008 show, but I quite literally dreamt of the show last night – and I’d only seen the opening number, a performance by the cast of The Lion King. TiVo’s saving the rest for me at home, but YouTube just treated me to a preview of what else is to come.

Whoopi Goldberg hosted the show – and showed a little leg (good for her) – but the evening was memorably marked by a goose bump-inducing performance by the original cast of Rent. Their
encore appearance, alongside the current Broadway cast, celebrated the show’s run, which will come to an end on Sept. 7.

Somewhere, Jonathan Larson smiled last night. And with mighty good reason: his “Seasons of Love” have proven everlasting.

For a complete list of winners, click here.

Photo: NYTimes.com.
R.I.P. Tim

A heart attack claimed the life Tim Russert, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, suddenly and prematurely on Friday, June 13.

Russert, a beacon of journalist integrity and strength, was remembered on the Today show this morning by his son Luke, who said he and his mother are “hanging in there, [we] take it day by day.”

Russert was only 58. He will be missed, particularly as the presidential election heats up. His was a voice that beckoned attention, respect, and action.

Photo: StarMagazine.com.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Living La Vida

Coldplay’s Viva La Vida arrives in record stores on Tuesday, and Entertainment Weekly has chatted up the band, who in turn give us an in into their process, their new sound, and what it feels like to be both loved and hated.

For the record, I heart them.

But you knew that....

Photo: EW.com.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Unhappy Earth Day

It was a rainy day in Miami, and I was off from work, so I decided to take myself to an afternoon movie, which I haven’t done in forever and a half.

I had three choices: The Strangers, The Happening, and The Hulk. Curiosity got the best of me and I chose the second, a.k.a. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest.

I should’ve chosen The Strangers (apologies go out to Scott Speedman). Nothing against The Hulk, but clearly, I was in the mood for a little spine-tingling.

But back to The Happening….

It stars Mark Wahlberg as a high school science teacher who leads his wife (Zooey Deschanel) and colleague (John Leguizamo) from the big city (Philadelphia) into the country as an inexplicable and unstoppable event ravaging the Northeast threatens their lives.

FYI/hint: The movie was originally titled The Green Effect.

Shyamalan hasn’t been able to generate the sort of post-movie buzz he did with The Sixth Sense with any of his follow-ups. This isn’t the exception.

Sure, he peaks the audience’s interest before his movies open, but not since his much-appreciated 1999 breakthrough has he not made this audience member feel like he got his money worth.

What I’m saying is watching The Happening is an exercise in indulging a director’s tired ol’ shtick. A shtick with really wooden, implausible dialogue (there’s a scene midway through the movie that is quite embarrassing – Wahlberg and Deschanel really deserved a lot better).

There are tense moments in the movie, but they don’t amount to anything.

At least the allusions to Sept. 11, terrorism, and, paramount to the plot at hand, the deterioration of Mother Nature’s health and its effects are made palatable by Shyamalan’s wisest choice: he did not write himself his traditional part of the Man with the Answers.

He really should try something new, though, like directing a Marvel property. There’s a few of those in the pipeline.

My Rating **

Photo: 20th Century Fox.

You Can’t Stop Him Now

Taylor Kitsch is going to be a superstar.

Kitsch, savvy TV watchers know, plays Tim Riggins in the little-watched NBC drama Friday Night Lights – did you catch up, already? – and appeared in the craptastic Snakes on a Plane and The Covenant a couple of years ago.

Come next summer, though, he will dazzle audiences as Gambit in the X-Men prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

All together now: Mmm…Taylor Kitsch.

Photo: Twinkees.Blogspot.com.
Another Day, Another Villain

24’s Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) has a new foe, and that foe will be played by Jon Voight.

Angelina Jolie’s dad – alright, he’s more than that…. Voight will spend a few hours on the new season of 24 as the man behind a new terrorist threat.

He will be introduced in the 24 two-hour prequel airing this November, and will be featured heavily in the second half of the show’s seventh season, which debuts next January.

Photo: BlueStarChronicles.com.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Girls Gone Loco

Leaving behind London, where Match Point, Scoop, and Cassandra’s Dream were set, Woody Allen traveled to Spain to film Vicky Cristina Barcelona, due out on Aug. 29.

If the enticing trailer is any indication, Allen has produced the perfect late-summer season offering: a breezy, emotional, and sexy sort of film.

In it, two American women, sensible and engaged-to-be-married Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and emotionally and sexually adventurous Cristina (Allen muse Scarlett Johansson) head to Barcelona on summer holiday.

There, they’re drawn into a series of unconventional romantic entanglements with Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), a charismatic painter who’s still involved with his tempestuous ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz).

A funny and open-minded celebration of love in all its configurations ensues.

Photo: InStyle.com.
Queen D

Don’t think that after three seasons and a much-deserved Emmy Award win Kathy Griffin is moving on up.

“[Just when] I think I might be a strong C-lister, I hear someone say, ‘I loved her when she used to be on TV,’” the comedian told TVGuide.com in anticipation of tonight’s fourth season premiere of her hit Bravo show, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.

Among the highlights of the nine-episode season are Griffin’s à-la-Oprah opening of a leadership academy for girls in Mexico and her poorly received performance at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Watch what happens, indeed.

Photo: BuzzSugar.com.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Need Me to Take Care of That, Daniel?

People are saying the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, is cursed.

A series of unfortunate events has plagued production seemingly since Day 1, and today comes word that star Daniel Craig has sliced off the top of his finger during filming of an action sequence.

Craig was taken to hospital for treatment, but this accident comes just one week after his handsome face reportedly was cut in the middle of another scene – requiring eight stitches.

Alright, back it up. The line to kiss that boo-boo begins here.

Seriously, though, someone get the cast and crew some good luck pronto.

Just last weekend, an outdoor set was damaged when a fire broke out at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England, and in April, a stuntman suffered serious head injuries after losing control of a vehicle and slamming into a wall in Northern Italy.

This followed yet another mishap when an Aston Martin sports car had to be fished out of Lake Garda, Italy, after it skidded off a narrow road in torrential rain and plunged into the water.

Best to all at Quantum of Solace…and Daniel, I’m serious.

Photo: JustJared.BuzzNet.com.
An It Girl Too Soon

It may not have multimillion viewers (yet), but The CW’s Gossip Girl has just as many rumors.

Spotted (not really): Producers of the sleeper hit show in a conference room, texting…furiously texting one another ideas for a spin-off, one that will revolve either around Jenny (Taylor Momsen, pictured at right with on-screen brother Penn Badgley) or a new, yet-to-be-introduced character.

The cult Gossip Girl books on which the show is based at one point split off Jenny on her own adventures, in the It Girl series, after one too many humiliations force Little J to leave for boarding school.

Ahh, Hollywood: You really do like your too much too soon, don’t you?

You’ve got a good thing going. Gossip Girl has just finished its first season, and it’s great fun to see Jenny go up against Queen Bee Blair (Leighton Meester). Let’s leave well enough alone for a couple more seasons, OK?

XOXO

Photo: TVGuide.com.

Update: Goody goody gum drops! In response to today’s report, Gossip Girl creator Josh Schwartz says, “We have no plans right now for a TV spin-off.”
CB Radio

I’ve never given Chris Brown much thought.

I enjoy his music – but it’s not like it’s my favorite – and it’s quite obvious he has charisma.

But by golly if I haven’t been thinking about him lately….

Brown is releasing a new album, Exclusive: The Forever Edition, and the lead single “Forever” is driving me mad – in a good way – because it reminds me of…well, that’s what I don’t know.

Beyond catchy, “Forever” was produced by Polow da Don (Fergie’s “London Bridge”), and blends dance, pop, and R&B. It’s got a little “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay and a little…what?

By the Hammer of Thor, I have it on the tip of my tongue.

Photo: StarPulse.com.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

L’année Jolie

You can say Angelina Jolie is having quite the year.

The Oscar winner’s voice currently can be heard in the animated box office hit Kung Fu Panda, and this summer, she and partner Brad Pitt will add twins to their international brood and she will star in Wanted (due out on June 27) – although not necessarily in that order.

Come fall, Jolie will headline Clint Eastwood’s Cannes-adored The Changeling, the true story of a single mom in 1920s Los Angeles whose son went missing, and what happened when she insisted the boy the police returned to her was not her son.

Let’s see here: Two crowd-pleasing movies plus double the Jolie-Pitt baby joy plus a buzzed-about turn in an Oscar-bait film…. Yeah, you definitely can say Angelina Jolie is having quite the year.

Photo: JustinRossetti.com.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Next Best Things

In its latest cover story, Entertainment Weekly analyses Dwayne Johnson’s career re-invention (you can still feel free to call him “The Rock” – but not really).

The magazine goes on to wonder just who will be Hollywood next A-Listers, and proposes, among others, Shia LaBeouf as the new Tom Cruise, Amy Adams as the next Nicole Kidman, and Johnson’s Get Smart co-star Anne Hathaway (pictured at right) as the second coming of Julia Roberts.

For more on the actors and actresses gunning for Adam Sandler-, Jodie Foster-, Russell Crowe-type careers, click here.

Photo: Warner Bros.
Two Cowboys Ride Into an Opera House…

“Love is a force of nature,” said the tagline to Brokeback Mountain, and come 2013, we shall feel its power, tenor-and-soprano-style.

The New York City Opera has commissioned Charles Wuorinen to compose an opera based on the Academy Award-winning film Brokeback Mountain that will premiere in the spring of 2013.

“Ever since encountering Annie Proulx’s extraordinary story [on which the film was based] I have wanted to make an opera on it, and it gives me great joy that Gerard Mortier and New York City Opera have given me the opportunity to do so,” Wuorinen said in a statement yesterday.

Does this idea grab hold of you, or do you wish people knew how to quit it?

Photo: Focus Features.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

To the Left, to the Right

This is what the cover of Madonna’s second single off her hit album Hard Candy, “Give It 2 Me,” looks like.

Photo: Confidential Source.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

You Mean The Sex Could’ve Lasted Longer?!

Sex and the City writer-director Michael Patrick King has revealed a few production secrets, and among one of them is the edited-out return of Carrie’s former fiancé Aidan, played by John Corbett (pictured at right).

Say it isn’t so, already.

Although I’ve come to embrace Mr. Big, Aidan was…perfect.

He was earthy, and funny, and, yes, sexy.

He really loved Carrie. He wanted to make her happier and her life – and floors! – better.

I can’t fault Carrie for loving whom she loves, but it would have been just so swell to see Aidan again.

Photo: CodeForFood.com.
Great Expectations

Next week, Lindsay Lohan will begin production on Labor Pains, a comedy about a young woman who, fearing she is about to lose her job, lies about being pregnant.

The maneuver effectively turns her luck around, but comes with unexpected complications, natch.

“It is a very different role for me and I look forward to the challenges it will present,” L2 told Variety. “And I love working on comedies.”

Whatever you say, Linds. Knock this one out of the park and I’ll refer to you as “La Lohan” once again.

Labor Pains co-stars Friday Night Lights’ Connie Britton and Chris Parnell (TV’s SNL, 30 Rock).

Photo: Celebrity-Gossip.net.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Who That Dog!

Spring in Miami was marked by one major event: the arrival of the cast and crew of Dec. 25’s Marley & Me.

Stars Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, and Eric Dane (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) definitely kept tongues wagging as they ate, drank, and hung out in town for several weeks.


Wilson rekindled his on-off-on-now off romance with Kate Hudson, and partied on South Beach (I spotted him one night…and told all about it, naturally), while Aniston and Dane became regulars at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in the Miami Design District. And oh yeah – Aniston also took public her romance with John Mayer here.

But the real reason the three were in town was Marley & Me, so with that firmly back in perspective, you should know the movie’s teaser trailer is out.

There is nothing more adorable than a puppy running on the beach....

Photo: NatashaWescoat.com.

A Show That Will Ask, “What If…”

Dollhouse isn’t the only new show on FOX I’m anticipating next season.

Starring Joshua Jackson, Anna Torv, and John Noble (pictured at right), J.J. Abrams’ latest, Fringe, will explore self-contained mysteries of the paranormal, as well as the relationships between the three leads.

The show’s trailer can be viewed here. Now.

Photo: TVGuide.com.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Gone to Pot

In The Wackness (opening in limited release on July 3), Josh Peck (Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh) stars as a troubled teenage drug dealer who trades pot for therapy sessions with a drug-addled psychiatrist (Ben Kingsley) intent on living his life to the fullest.

It’s New York, in the summer of ’94, and the two form an unlikely friendship, but – there’s always a but…or in these case, a bud (ha!) – things get complicated when the kid falls for the doctor’s step-daughter.

You may have previously heard about The Wackness. Before it drew raves at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it drew gasps as it became known as the movie in which Mary-Kate Olsen makes out with Kingsley.

So…save you a seat?

Photo: Sony Pictures Classics.