Saturday, July 30, 2011

How the West Was Won

Daniel Craig don
’t say much in Cowboys & Aliens, and that
’s because director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) and his team of screenwriters (which includes a few veterans of TV’s Lost) have created a reluctant hero for the man o.k.a. James Bond to play in this kinda-exciting-kinda-not cinematic gamble.

Based on a graphic novel published not all that long ago, the movie mashes up two quite-different genres – the cowboys movies my grandpa and I used to watch on Saturday afternoons and the aliens-attack movies I came to love going to the multiplex to watch growing up – and delivers a promising premise, with a matching first half to boot.

It’s the second half that underwhelms, but I’ll get to that in a sec.

Craig plays Jake Loner...well, he plays a man who doesn’t know who he is.

He wakes up in the middle of the desert, beaten and badly bruised on his side. He’s bleeding and shoeless. When three men on horseback find him and threaten to take him in, he quickly dispatches them. He may be hurt, but he’s still to be reckoned with, y’ see.

Oh, and he’s also wearing a strange metal bracelet. And he don’t know how it got on his wrist or what it does, or how he got there. All he really knows for sure is English.

With not memory of anything, the man heads to the town of Absolution. It’s 1873 Arizona, and the town folk don’t take too kind to strangers. But this man has a certain way about him...and he’s quickly caught the attention of a pretty, and mysterious, lady named Ella (Olivia Wilde), but more about her in a hot sec.

Absolution is under the so-called protection of the iron-fisted Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), a man who is all gruff and to be feared, alright, for he straddles the law something wild. Meanwhile, the man, we find out, is named Jake Lonergan, and he’s wanted for all kinds of crimes, including murder. Oh, and Dolarhyde wants him, too, and what Jake took from him. The rub is the cowboy doesn’t see it that way at all since he can’t recall any of it (perhaps, he, too, caught a glimpse of – Self-ref Alert! Ryan Gosling’s abs?)

The bigger problem Jake, Dolarhyde et al. have is Absolution is a mark for aliens from space. These “demons” are attacking the town, creating chaos and snatching people up and flying away with them, and the strange man with the even stranger bracelet is the only one who can defend them.

Ella, at least, seems to know this very well, so she tries to help Jake remember so he can save not only himself but humankind. He is the key to survival. But why? (Like heck if I’m gon’ tell you.)

Little by little, we see Jake remember bits and pieces. The flashbacks offer mesmerizing shots of Craig’s piercing blue eyes deep in thought. The actor may not say a lot in Cowboys & Aliens, but he sure looks fine in ’em leather chaps...and rolling in the dirt...and saving the day.

Only thing is I wish there had been more action in this one.

It’s a bit of a hoot and a half to see what amounts to incongruity – although why would aliens ever attack us only in modern times? – on screen, but what’s rather not that much fun is to spend what feels like a looong horse ride in between battles.

The shots of Craig in various stages of western studliness can only do so much (and they are the reason for my rounded-up rating). Sometimes, it seems it might be best to leave genres very well alone...or, at the very least, have a clearer blend.

Cowboys & Aliens is a bit murky.

My Rating ***

Photo: DreamWorks Pictures.

Large and In Charge

I. Heart. Beth Ditto.

The I Wrote the Book” singer is such a little Madonna fan how could I not?

Ditto recently paid tribute once again to the one and only Queen of Pop by performing “Vogue” at some party, in her undies, sans shoes, with nothing but a lot of joy on. M herself is said to have thought the gal was great:

I love how friggin’80s the whole thing looks, don’t you.

I lkey. I really, really likey.

Friday, July 29, 2011

That Thing They Do

’s a good 10 minutes or so of Crazy, Stupid, Love that I just don
’t recall.

Well, I can remember the basics of the scene, but there are about, mmm, six sexy, finely sculpted, oh-so-good reasons for my distraction, and they’re all on Ryan Gosling’s tummy. The actor does look Photoshopped he looks so freakin’ amazing.

Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling star in this dramedy written by Dan Folgeman (Cars) and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris), as Cal Weaver and Jacob Palmer, a middle-aged man facing divorce and the young lothario who gives him his groove back, respectively.

Jacob Palmer – even that name sounds outstanding....

Oh, yeah, this review could very well be a one-man ode to Ryan Gosling, but he’s but one of the things there is to love about this deeply lived-in movie.

There’s also Carell, who as Cal, schlubby, bad-slacks-and-sneakers-wearing accountant Cal (I believe he was an accountant), delivers yet another subtle and superb performance in the great tradition he began building with Little Miss Sunshine and Dan in Real Life. His work here isn’t showy or in your face like it was in, say, Evan Almighty. There are not high jinks, y’ know, just a grounded emotion, an Everyman-ness that pulls you in and makes you feel like, yeah, you, too, would jump out of a moving car after your significant other announces they’ve strayed and they think they want a divorce.

Cal’s wife, Emily, is played by Julianne Moore. She’s cheated on Cal with a co-worker, who’s a bit of a pill and played by Kevin Bacon. She’s feeling pretty lousy about the whole thing, too (ergo the blurted-out confession right there in the opening scene), but mostly about how she can’t figure out when she and Cal stopped being an us.”

Neither can he. And Carell plays that confusion and that hurt beautifully. So what does a guy like him do when his world comes crashing down? Evidently, he takes himself to the swankiest bar in town.

That’s where he meets Jacob, the super-suave ladies’s man/king of L.A.’s nightlife. Jacob’s a god, and I really am not just saying that because Gosling plays him (although that factors in). He. Is. The s--- in his three-piece (colorful!) suits and precise haircut. He’s got the lines and the moves.

He's got the conquistador thing down to a science, and he’s exactly what Cal needs to snap out of his funk. And what a funk it is. It’s actually the reason Jacob takes him in, becoming the Cher to his Tai. Cal needs a makeover double-pronto, not just because he could use it but because Jacob has had to up to here listening to his whining night after night. He feels sorry for the guy in every sense of the word.

So he makes him up, teaches him some game, gets him laid (Marisa Tomei plays one of his conquests).... And they bond, more or less. He becomes a Miyagi and a pal.

Elsewhere in Crazy, Stupid, Love is Hannah (Emma Stone), a young, systematic law school grad studying for the bar who hopes her colleague-ish paramour will pop the question. She’s recently met Jacob, but she hasn’t fallen for his shtick (she kinda sees right through it). But she’s met him, though, and eventually, as it would happen, their paths will cross again. Just go and check out the link to the trailer at the top to see where I got that Photoshop line.

And still elsewhere is Cal and Emily’s son, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), a thoughtful 13-year-old with a crush on his and his little sister’s babysitter (Analeigh Tipton), who refuses his advances, for she has a secret crush of her own.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is not a groundbreaker, but here’s what it is: It’s true.

It’s about who we are before we fall in love and who we become after we fall in love, and our conviction in the whole crazy, stupid thing. The road ain’t always pretty or easy, but it’s one heckuva journey. As, trust, is this movie (plus, Gosling!).

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Warner Bros.
The Dealmaker

Summer Man Jason Bateman is gon
’ look to go legit in one of his upcoming movies.

The Horrible Bosses star has nabbed the lead in a long-in-the-making comedy titled We’re the Millers, playing a small-town pot dealer who wants to quite the biz but has to go to Mexico to smuggle a major haul of Mary Jane back to United States.

High jinks ensue.

(See what I did there?)


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stud with Designs

Kellan Lutz is going the designer route.

The Twilight Saga hunk of studness has joined forces with Danny Guez, the founder of Dylan George, to create a new fashion line called Abbot + Main, which he, of course, is modeling himself, leaving little to the imagination, thankyouverymuch.

Some of the oh-so-provocative shots feature Lutz with the beyond-sexy Anne V, no stranger to skimpy-looking photos herself.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Look of Gale and Peeta

This week Entertainment Weekly continues its official countdown to The Hunger Games.

Just as it did with Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen, the magazine has an exclusive look at Peeta (The Kids Are All Right’s Josh Hutcherson) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), the principal males in Gary Ross’ adapation of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy.

My Hungerhead is starting to spin.

From the Lab to the Practice

Welcome back to TV, Mike Doyle.

The fallen Law & Order: SVU forensics tech is coming back to TV via the upcoming CBS drama A Gifted Man.

The cutie-patootie will play a doctor opposite Patrick Wilson, who stars as an ultra-competitive surgeon whose life is turned upside down after his dead ex-wife starts visiting him from the great beyond.

I’m really into this casting because I think Doyle needs to be on the screen, small or big (he popped up in Green Lantern this summer) as much as possible.

I mean, look at the guy.


I’ve never played Battleship, but, by golly, do I want to see the movie based on that game.

Two words: Taylor. Kitsch (with short hair!).

Two more words: Alexander. Skarsgård.

Three more words: Liam. Freakin’. Neeson.

Check out the trailer for Peter Bergs Battleship...and then count the days until its release next summer, and wish you had a time machine that could take ya to that hotness now:

Battleship also features Brooklyn Decker, Josh Pence, and Rihanna.
The Idealistic One

I’m in love with Ryan Gosling.

I think the guy’s like, the next Hollywood movie star, in the most proper sense of the phrase, and one heckuva an appealing leading man (just you wait until you see this weekend’s Crazy, Stupid, Love).

One of his upcoming projects, The Ides of March, George Clooney’s take on Farragut North, Beau Willimon’s 2008 off-Broadway play, the young actor playing the idealistic staffer of an Obama-like presidential candidate (Clooney) – Obama-like in that enthusiasm is the name of his game who gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.

Cool poster, wouldnt you say?

The Ides of March, co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood, is set to open the Venice Film Festival at the end of August, and then debut stateside in the fall.

So looking forward to it.


Update 1: Click here to see more pics from the set of The Ides of March, which also features Paul Giamatti, Max Minghella (The Social Network), and Jeffrey Wright.

Update 2: Now click here to check out an intense-looking trailer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Robyn Does Coldplay

She’s done it again.

Not happy with putting her own stamp on Alicia Keys’ “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart,” Robyn has now turned to Coldplay’s Every Tear Is a Waterfall.”

Click here to have a listen.

Pretty neat, huh.

The Haunted Man

Come fall we
’ll get our first glimpse of what married life is like for newlyweds Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz.

Well, kinda.

That’s when Jim Sheridan’s Dream House is set to be released. Check out the seemingly spoiler-rich trailer here – and feel free to pause at the 1:55 mark (you’ll know what I mean):

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Other New Snow White Gets Her Huntsman

Lily Collins is not the only Snow White on the block anymore.

Alright, I know I should be sharing the first look at Kristen Stewart as the fairest of them all...but, I mean, take a look at Chris Hemsworth as her Huntsman.

Nice ax, huh.

Snow White and the Huntsman is set to co-star Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides star Sam Claflin as the raven-haired princess’ maybe-charming-maybe-not prince.

Production is set to begin next week for a June 2012 release. Click here to take a look-see at what the rest of the cast look like in their costumes.

R.I.P. Beehived One

The music world lost one of its most talented forces when Amy Winehouse passed away over the weekend. The Grammy Award winner was found dead on Saturday afternoon in her London home. She was 27.

It’s a sad testament to her persona, so deeply haunted by addiction, that the news didn’t exactly come as shock.

It’s not that we, or I, actually, expected her to die – I was rooting for her to come out of the dark at some point (I was fond of her talent and her voice, not of her image). Folks certainly had cause for concern – I mean, all you had to do was look at the woman to know her demons were quite mighty.

I’d even recently said to someone Winehouse was a bit like Lauryn Hill...that she’d put out a great record and that that, unfortunately, would probably be the last we heard of her if she didn’t get the help she so obviously needed. (She reportedly had fallen of the wagon recently, but no signs of drugs were found around her when she died.)

Too bad she didnt want it, though...that she said no, no, no” to it. Perhaps we’d one day know what else was in store. This 27 Club is one she need not have joined.


Update: An autopsy performed on the singer-songwriter today was deemed inconclusive.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Just for One Day

The new Andrew Niccol thriller In Time sure looks like it gave
’em som’in’ to talk about when it made its debut at Comic-Con earlier today – check out the trailer here to have your own look-see.

Starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, the movie follows a group of people fighting for another day to live, in a world in which aging halts at 25 years old, and time has become the currency du jour.

Co-starring Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, and Olivia Wilde, In Time is due out on Oct. 28.

Something Amazing This Way Comes

The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, is coming soon-ish (click here to see the two getting thisclose), and now we have a trailer to totally make us wish it were next summer, already:

Looks like (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb is really going in for some gravitas, huh.
Substitute for Love

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis are a couple of hotties – what...a big Duh! statement – and in Will Gluck
’s new comedy (a sex-com rather than a rom-com), Friends with Benefits, the pair simply scorches the screen with their, humor, good looks, and chemistry.

The movie shares a plot with last winters No Strings Attached, which, for the record, I actually liked.

That Ivan Reitman-directed offering, starring the equally attractive Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman as friends who kept things simple by taking care of each other’s...needs without letting feelings get in the way (how modern!), was just fine, but, since we gotta compare ’em, Friends with Benefits is slightly better.

That’s because it dares to be more than just another comedy.

Gluck’s follow-up to last fall’s Easy A tries and, for the most part, succeeds at breaking the mold of the genre by taking everything it requires and winking at it knowingly. He doesn’t strive to debunk clichés but rather, to acknowledge their existence and make them his own.

As producer and co-writer, the young director has created a world in which we can not only buy that Timberlake and Kunis could get dumped – by silly, silly people played in a smart casting move by Gluck’s Golden Globe-nominated Easy A leading lady Emma Stone and Timberlake’s stellar partner in SNL crime Andy Samberg – but would have to resort to find arranged comfort in no one else but each other. Like they couldn’t get with anyone they wanted as soon as they hit the street.

It’s preposterous, but you pick up what he’s putting down because Timberlake and Kunis sell it and make it real. She’s a driven New York headhunter who has recruited him for a dream job at GQ; he’s new in the city, having just left his life in L.A. And they’ve totally hit it off, as friends, because, but, yeah, they don’t like each other like that.

Which is good. Sure, they’re attractive, but they’re buddies, y’ know.

When they both get to talking about how they have an itch they can’t quite scratch for themselves, though, and how post-break-up they don’t want to start up anything, they decide to go there, knowing full well that that’s all it’s gon’ be (they swear it on a Bible iPad app!).

It would’ve been easy for Friends with Benefits to have only one of them fall for the other and have everything shoot to s--- from there, but the movie allows for a most authentic, oft-unexplored option, and it lets both characters – Dylan and Jamie, btw – developed into real people who are deeper than they otherwise might be in a different world.

That’s a testament to the script, and to the talent and commitment both actors bring to the table.

Kunis is a delight, and Timberlake is at his strongest yet (I dare say this is his true breakthrough). Together, they are super-fun, to look at (cute butts, you guys!) and to spend time with, so the real benefit of this one is to see them go in one way and come out another: wiser and, maybe...just maybe, in love.

My Rating ***1/2

Photo: Sony Pictures.
How to...Make It on Broadway

Wanna how to keep your star shining bright in this business they call show?

Follow in the footsteps of one of the world’s biggest entertainers in a critically and commercially viable vehicle on one of the world’s biggest stages, of course.

That’s what Darren Criss is looking to do as he considers replacing Daniel Radcliffe in the Broadway hit How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.

The Glee breakout would take over the role of corporate ladder-climber J. Pierrepont Find for three weeks beginning on Jan. 3 if everything can be work out with his schedule on the show (he would miss an episode and a half, though).


Thursday, July 21, 2011

The New Snow White

Well, it looks like the battle of the upcoming Snow White movies is heatin
’ up, with Tarsem Singh taking the edge over that other Kristen-Stewart-fronted project that’s due to start production soon.

Behold the first shot of Lily Collins as the raven-haired princess in the as-yet-untitled movie o.k.a. Brothers Grimm: Snow White.

The movie co-starring Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer is due out next March.

I s’ppose we can expect more previews to come out of this weekend’s Comic-Con, so let’s stay tuned....