Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Fass Surfs!

So Michael Fassbender is Down Under (shooting The Light Between Oceans) – and thank goodness it’s getting to be summer down there because that has given the Fass an opportunity to go surfing at Bondi Beach.

And to go around town looking like this, which is just what he did earlier today.



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Re-Invented All Over Again

More and more is slowly trickling down to us, the people, concerning what is next, musically, for the Queen of Pop.

Madonna is already said to be including two tracks titled “Heartbreak City” and “Two Steps Behind Me,” in her upcoming 13th album, the tentatively, popularly titled Rebel Heart. And – in a bit of a Thanksgiving weekend miracle – we have gotten another taste of what she’s been cooking for release in the new year.

Earlier this week, a snippet of a song actually titled “Rebel Heart,” leaked, and now, a full track by the name of Wash All Over Me” is out there, ready to be heard. It is presumed that M worked on the former with Avicii and on the latter with Stuart Price, her Confessions on a Dance Floor collaborator. You should really hit the Web and look for it, yo.

Oh, who am I kidding. It’s right here! Have a listen (before the powers that be take it down):

Now, I am liking “Wash All Over Me.


I think the song has an daringly charming and adorable chorus...but that my Queen – as good as she has gotten, vocally, in the past decade – would be hard-pressed to hit some of those notes live on tour.

#nohate – that’s just a reality.

This is just a tad out of range for her. Madonna should be singing song in the Drowned World/Substitute for Love” ballpark, knowwhatImean?

Still, though: I. Cannot wait! For some new M-usic.

How Pan Was

So the Hugh Jackman-as-Blackbeard look is quite a look.

Check out the first teaser for the upcoming Pan if you don’t believe me.

Jackman plays the pirate-overlord of a magical realm – Neverland! – in Joe Wright’s upcoming Peter Pan origin story that also stars newcomer Levi Miller as a young P2, Garrett Hedlund as Hook, Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, and Amanda Seyfried as Mary Darling.

Pan is due out on July 17.


Friday, November 28, 2014

R.I.P. Chespirito

An era in the lives of many – including yours truly’s – has officially ended with the passing of the iconic Roberto Gómez Bolaños.

The Mexican artist and entertainer o.k.a. as Chespirito – the man behind beloved-throughout-the-world characters such as El Chavo del Ocho and El Chapulín Colorado – died today, of heart failure in Cancun. He was 85.

Gómez Bolaños’ actress-wife, Florinda Meza, the erstwhile Doña Florinda from El Chavo del Ocho, reportedly was by his side at the time of his death.

Of course, the sad news has prompted an outpouring of remembrances by the lot of the actor’s fans from all around the world, including some of his old co-stars, like María Antonieta de las Nieves, a.k.a. La Chilindrina, and Édgar Vivar, a.k.a. el Señor Barriga and Ñoño.

And while this is heartbreaking for me as well, I am comforted by a lifetime of memories watching Chespirito doing his thing on TV, by his having kept me company during my early years (and, no lie, as an adult, too), and for the knowledge that, thanks to reruns, I will never have to wonder, “Oh, y ahora quién podrá defenderme?


In Fighting Shape

Hot dayum, Jake Gyllenhaal!

The Gyllen-yum is back in Prince of Persia territory, shape-wise, to play Billy “The Great” Hope, a left-handed junior middle weight champ who loses it all in a personal tragedy and then is forced to fight his way to redemption, in Southpaw.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film was written by Kurt Sutter (FX’s Sons of Anarchy) and is due out for release next year.

Jakey-bear reportedly packed on 15 lbs. of muscle for the part, so, you know...Awards Bait Alert!


What Happened to Mann

Still feel like you need more info on Interstellar, especially on some of the film’s backstory?

Well then you are in luck.

Director Christopher Nolan has put pen to paper to write a new comic book that zeroes in on Dr. Mann, the character that – Spoiler Alert! – an unbilled-on-screen Matt Damon played in the mind-boggle of a blockbuster.

Titled Absolutely Zero, the seven-page comic book is featured in the Nov. 25 issue of Wired magazine, and chronicles some key points of Dr. Mann’s experiences with his robot KIPP on the icy planet on which they landed as part of the film’s much-discussed Lazarus missions.

Click here to read what happened to Mann.


Boarding the Last Ship

Sting is bound for Broadway.

See, the singer-songwriter has answered the SOS of the musical The Last Ship – which was inspired by his experiences growing up in the shipbuilding industry of Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, and for which he wrote the music and lyrics – and will join the show for a month-long limited engagement on Dec. 9.

Ergo his appearance with the cast during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Obviously, the idea is to boost the show’s so-so box office receipts by giving audiences more of a reason to buy tickets.

But Sting cautions it’s not, “like I’ve flown in from Planet Rock Star to save the day,” for this is a show he’s been working on for five years that he loves and that he wants to not only honor but also see thrive.

Break a leg then, dude!


The Force Has Awoken, Yo!

Now this...this should break the Internet, alright.

There has been an awakening, people – just in time for Black Friday.

Yes! The first teaser for next December’s J.J. Abrams-directed Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens has hit the Web.

And it. Looks. Fan-friggin’-tastic.

Soundtracked by John Williams’ iconic score, the previews features both the Dark Side and the Light Side of things. There are stormtroopers, a new kind of droid, X-wing fighters, a new kind of lightsaber, and even the Millennium Falcon, kids. And, also, our first look-see at franchise newcomers John Boyega (his is the first face we actually see), Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, and, just perhaps, Adam Driver.

Check it out:

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens will be in theaters on Dec. 18, 2015.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another Epic Fail

They’re baaack...and shes at it again.

They would be Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day, a trio of funnies that hit it big when they played these bumbling buffoons trying to get even with their Horrible Bosses (Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey among them) in 2011 (you killing em). And she would be LAniston herself, a survivor of the sleeper original black comedy who – thank goodness! – lived to see another day as a horny D.D.S. from hell who still very much would like nothing more than to get into Day’s character’s pants.

They all have reprised their roles for Horrible Bosses 2, a just-alright follow-up to a quite-original and energetic raunchfest.

This time, though, the trio’s characters – Nick, Kurt, and Dale – find themselves in a position of power, in a place where they can behave in deplorable ways. Not that they weren’t in the first movie; murder is not cool, kids. And not that they would (to their employees), anyway.

Directed by Sean (Sex Drive) Anders, who took over for Seth Gordon, the sequel sees them kinda-pathetically trying to make it on their own, as their own bosses, as the inventors of a novelty attachment for the shower called the Shower Buddy (think of the mechanics of a carwash...but for the bathroom!). They are so gung-ho about succeeding that they forget that they are, essentially, a bunch of dummies, and they fall for the too-good-to-be-true offer they get from a wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing investor portrayed by two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz. Handsoming up things is Chris Pine, who steps into the role of Waltz’s spoiled son, Rex, a rotten man-child in a good suit who desperately wants to impress his careless dada.

Once Nick, Kurt, and Dale realize they’ve been tricked into an unforeseen ruin, they decide to reassemble as this makeshift comeuppance crew and get even with Waltz’s character by kidnapping Rex and holding him for ransom. Just so they don’t go bankrupt and s---.

Things don’t go as planned, though; this, in spite, of the trio having ironed out their plan with their crime consultant, Motherf---er Jones (an also-returning Jamie Foxx), and NicKurtDale – say it three times fast (this is one of the funnier, wrongest jokes in the movie) – soon are saddled with a Rex who wants in on their plan.

Which, of course, spells out doom for them. ’Cause he is hella unhinged.

Horrible Bosses 2 is more of the same, I’m afraid. And while it can be a hoot to watch, I did wish they’d left well enough alone. I mean, yeah, the movie is lots of Bateman serving up that deadpanned frustration he does so incredibly well. It's Sudeikis being a not-so-smart smart aleck, and Day being a frenzy ball of emotion.

And, once again, it’s a great showcase of Aniston’s underappreciated comedic knack; gf can get fan-f---in'-tastically nasty...and I likey.

But, ultimately, you can't help but feel that the money the powers that be spent on Horrible Bosses 2 could have been better spent in something more creative.

Would I welcome a Horrible Bosses 3? Sure, if it must come to that, and it just might. But I will expect a fresher take on things.

My Rating **1/2

Photo: Warner Bros.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Black Merlin?

Charlie Hunnam is gonna have one hot mentor in Guy Ritchie’s Knights of the Round Table.

Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Blood Diamond) reportedly is up for said part – that of a mentor-type (Merlin?) to Hunnam’s King Arthur – in the first of a proposed new six-film franchise.

Ritchie & Co. had been talking to Idris Elba about taking the role, but, I guess, that didn’t pan out.

Jude Law was also circling a part in the movie. That of the villain.

Knights of the Round Table is scheduled to come out in July 2016.

Up next for Hounsou, though, is Seventh Son in February and Furious 7 in April.


Queen of Pain

And Jennifer Aniston’s first serious Oscar-contending turn is just about ready to be seen.

Cake, L’Aniston’s latest vanity-free project, will get an Academy Award-qualifying run next month. For it, America’s favorite Friend eschewed the trappings of traditional movie hair and make-up to play a pills-addicted accident victim experiencing chronic pain who becomes morbidly fascinated by the suicide of a member (Anna Kendrick) of her chronic pain support group.

Sam Worthington portrays Kendrick’s character’s widower, a man with whom Aniston’s Claire forms a sort of bond.

Check out the trailer for the film, which already has proved quite the polarizing subject matter for the good ol people of the online community. Som’in’ about how talk of L’Aniston potentially getting a nom is like, silly stuff.

Which I disagree with: Girlfriend can act. She has a Golden Globe and an Emmy that proves, albeit, yes, for a comedy project.

But we all know how much harder than drama comedy can be.


The New Desperate Housewives

So it has come to this is happening: Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are doing TV.

The two Academy Award winners are set to headline the adaptation of the Liane Moriarty comic novel, Big Little Lies, a project that once was meant to go the way of the big screen.

Or, at least, it was originally reported that way.

David E. Kelley is now involved, too; he is writing what is now being shopped around as a limited series à la True Detective, about a trio of suburban moms whose picture-perfect lives tailspin into murder.

Clearly, since Kelley is involved, there is only one natural suggestion for the third actress to join the fun: his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer.

Make it happen, Hollywood!

Photos: (Nicole Kidman); (Reese Witherspoon).

The Park Is Open!

Twas a nice, fun day for those of us who enjoy a nice trailer leak.

Oh, let’s face it. We may not approve of the practice, but we still watch ’em.

Case in point: The first full preview for next summer’s Jurassic World, which was supposed to debut on NBC during some football game on Thanksgiving night...until someone went and uploaded it to the Internet today.

It’s like, really? We can’t even wait two days to see something we probably were going to regardless?


But, whaddya gonna do? Cry over spilled milk a leaked trailer?

Nah. Not when you can all excited and s--- about the return of the dinosaurs – here are three key words you need to imagine what is coming: “genetically modified hybrid – and about Chris Pratt’s latest opportunity to play the hero. (Hey, are those raptors not chasing Pratt while he rides his motorcycle? What is going on over there?)

Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins (Iron Man 3), Judy Greer, Jake Johnson, Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi), Omar Sy (X-Men: Days of Future Past), a returning BD Wong, and Vincent D’Onofrio co-star in the Colin (Safety Not Guaranteed) Trevorrow-helmed blockbuster, which is set 22 years after the 1993 Steven Spielberg original, on a fully functioning Isla Nublar that is now an essentially trouble-free destination theme park.

That is, until this movie gets going, of course.

Without further ado then, here’s the trailer for Jurassic World.


Inside the Mind of the Actor on the Comeback Trail

So I finally saw the the Alejandro González. Iñárritu-directed Birdman today.

Make that I finally saw the 2015 Independent Spirt Award-nominated Birdman, the latest from writer-director Iñárritu (Biutiful, Babel), who like, actually titled the film Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), OKRRR.

And I gotta say: What are people talking about?

Allow me to elaborate.

Michael Keaton stars as Riggan Thomson, a has-been Hollywood-blockbuster star who used to sit on top of the world as the bankable lead of this seminal franchise based on this Birdman superhero, right. Like Keaton himself (you remember he was Batman before Ben, Christian, George, and Val, yeah?), Riggan decided to hang up his cowl and wings in the early ’90s to do...som’in’ else. Anything other than Birdman.

Now, this is but one of the most meta elements about this big-screen proposition. Birdman is a massively meta film, one that concerns itself with an actor attempting a comeback more than 20 years after his heyday by mounting a Broadway adaptation of Raymond Carver’s short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Ambitious doesn’t even begin to cut, and it immediately becomes evident that Riggan is in over his head.

One of the biggest gripes I’ve heard about the film is that, for a project set in the world of the New York stage, it is rather quite out of touch with the intricate ins and outs of the behind-the-scenes drama it engenders.

The thing is I don’t think that Iñárritu necessarily meant to deliver an exposé of the busyness of Broadway. See, I cannot help but believe that he was going for something more cerebral and surreal, and that he succeeded excellently, especially when it comes to the latter aspect of it all. Birdman haunts Riggan. Meaning, the memories of what the character represents – how it was...the good ol’ times – are inescapable: he is consumed, not only by regret, since he’s not amounted to everything he’d hoped for after calling it quits and coming out (in his mind) as an actor ready to work on his craft, but by his ego as well.

And that haunting is both figurative and, as you can see in the pic here, literal.

Birdman has affected Riggan’s every relationship: he has an ex played by Amy Ryan (they have managed to stay friendly to each other, even though it’s clear he was an ass to her back in the day), a fresh-outta-rehab somewhat-resentful daughter (Emma Stone) who works as his assistant (and hates it), and a lawyer (Zach Galifianakis) who stands in as a sort of BFF-enabler (you know that he cares, but you also get the vibe that he cares about his commission more). Whats more, Riggan is having a tumultuous affair with one of his leading ladies (Andrea Riseborough; Naomi Watts portrays another, an insecure sort), and his new leading man (Edward Norton) is a difficult Great White Way artiste who may or may not have just gotten fired from a high-profile gig.

Oops. I forgot to give ya a Meta Alert! for that one.

There is a lot going on in Riggan’s universe, as you can imagine, and Iñárritu and his Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity) place us in the thick of it since they shot the film in one seemingly continuous long take. The effect, when combined with jazz drummer Antonio Sánchez’s percussion-happy score, is frenetic, yet super-immersive.

Birdman, which is also up for several Gotham Independent Film Awards, is, at its core, a insightful meditation on modern-day fame, and serves as imaginative commentary on the debate and mutual exclusivity between being an actor and being a star.

Thanks to Keaton (with special judos to Norton and Stone), the film soars, even if its flights of fancy sometimes prove a bit too much.

My Rating ***

Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Apocalypse Found

You know the big bad that was teased at the end of last summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past?

Well. He is going to be played by Oscar Isaac.

Indeed, the A Most Violent Year star has signed on to play Apocalypse in the Bryan Singer-directed 1980s-set May 2016 blockbuster.

Apocalypse, btw, is an ancient immortal mutant who is dead-set on conquering the world.

Isaac is poised to have a massive end of next year-beginning of the following year, huh. Why? Oh, I dunno – perhaps, because dude is also going to be featured in a little movie known as Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Good going, Miami boy!


Female Dick

It’s like, a Thanksgiving miracle!

See, at long last, HBO is making things a wee bit more official where casting for the second outing of its True Detective series is concerned.

Rachel McAdams is definitely on board and will be sharing the screen with Colin Farrell and Taylor Kitsch as one of three detectives involved in the story of the second season of the Nic Pizzolatto joint. She will play an uncompromising Ventura County Sheriff Department’s detective who finds herself constantly at odds with her colleagues, like Farrell’s character, an officer who is absolutely morally compromised at work.

Kitsch will be portraying a war vet and California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer trying to get away from his past and from the unwanted attention that began chasing him in the wake of a scandalous something that never actually happened.

Meanwhile, Kelly Reilly (TV’s Black Box) will take on the role of Vince Vaughn’s wife, a former D-List actress who is very much in bed with his husband when it comes to his illegitimate dealings.

The next outing of the anthology series is tentatively scheduled to debut next summer. I’ll bet just in time to get into the mix for Emmy consideration.