Tuesday, August 31, 2010

IT'S HURRICANE SEASON

So there has been plenty of coverage about the fifth anniversary of Katrina in the press lately, with everyone looking back at all the death and destruction that went on when the levees failed in New Orleans.

Well, guess what. It is five years later, and we have -- surprise -- ANOTHER hurricane to worry about.

Hurricane Earl is category 4 and threatening the mid-Atlantic coast of the United States. It could even make it up to Canada! Plenty of coverage can be found at WRAL.com and at MyFoxHurricane. Have fun storm-chasing, folks.

VINCE CHASE GOING DOWNHILL FAST

Can you believe that we only have one episode left this season for Entourage? This season has flown by. I dunno if all the fans like the way the season has gone -- it's been a really dark, downbeat season. For one thing, lots of people hate Vince Chase's new porn-actress girlfriend Sasha Grey. Among other things, people are complaining she's not attractive and not even a good actor on the show.

For another, Vince Chase has a serious drug problem. At a party, Lloyd discovered a big bag of cocaine in the house -- apparently belonging to Vince. Clearly Vince is going downhill fast and it seems his harried manager E can't do a darn thing to stop it. Vince is just not listening to him and partying like it's 1999 all the time. I think all indications are there is going to be a serious intervention happening.

And I see a serious divorce happening in the Ari Gold household. Am I the only one fed up with Mrs. Ari? What a b****!!! I don't know if I could stay married to such a high-strung woman. She's telling Ari Gold to give up the blackberries to spend more quality time at home, yet he needs that darned device to do his job! In fact, Mrs. Ari has been doing a lot of interfering with Ari's work life, telling him who to fire (Lizzie Grant) and otherwise not being very supportive of him. She needs to butt out and let Ari be Ari, he has enough of his own problems at work to deal with.

Oh, and that therapist of theirs needs to go. If Ari's marriage goes down the tubes, as it looks like right now, then Ari should sue the marriage counsellor for malpractise! What a waste of money.

I can't wait to find out what transpires in the finale in two weeks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

2010 EMMYS ARE ON

The latest here. Oh, and Conan lost.

Friday, August 27, 2010

THE TERRORIST NEXT DOOR

Wow. Am I ever surprised by the latest Canadian terrorist arrests.

Not because I didn't think terrorism could happen here -- no, it's because one of those arrested was a contestant on Canadian Idol! 

It's a good thing he lost, then, or Canada would really have embarrassed itself.

I wish I were making this one up. See for yourself:

MY REVIEW OF PIRANHA 3D IS UP

Read it here --  the first movie review I've done for at least a couple of years. And I was paid for it, too. Outstanding.

I didn't give Piranha 3D a star rating during the review, but if you really wanted to know -- I'd give it three out of four stars. Turned out the biggest problem with the movie was the 3D itself -- otherwise, my grade would've been higher.

Be warned: members of the PTA, judges, civic officials and other upstanding members of society might be too uptight an audience to like this movie.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MISS UNIVERSE PAGEANT IS TONIGHT IN LAS VEGAS

Darn it! Here it is, Miss Universe pageant night, and once again my work gets in the way of my real priorities in life. Tonight, I must go report on yet another city council meeting, and I'll miss the pageant on TV.

I guess the big question tonight is whether this woman, Miss USA Rima Fakih (pictured), who happens to be of Arab-American descent, will make it as far as the interview question-and-answer round. No doubt if she does, some judge will ask her whether or not it will be okay to put an Islamic Center up near Ground Zero, and all heck will break loose.    

You can follow the pageant coverage at pageant website Global Beauties. Sorry, folks, but I just had to vent.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

PIRANHA 3D GETS EATEN ALIVE AT BOX OFFICE

It was yet another sad weekend at the box office. Nobody went to the movies, again, and The Expendables ended up winning for the second weekend in a row, even though it lost a whopping 62 percent of its audience from last weekend!

This weekend has been the exclamation point to what has been a lousy summer at the box office so far. July saw business rebound a bit thanks to Eclipse and other movies, but we are now well into August and it has been back to lower attendances and flop movies at the cinemas.

God help us when September rolls around, folks, if this trend continues -- September is usually one of the worst months of the year for movie attendances.

The new movies this weekend rolled out to particularly pathetic box office performances. Vampires Suck made only about $12 million this weekend, Lottery Ticket made only $11 million, and Piranha 3D made only $10 million for a sixth-place finish! Talk about a bad weekend: the flick opened Friday in fourth place with $3.6 million! It was all downhill from there.

Well, at least Piranha 3D beat Nanny McPhee Returns at $8.3 million, and The Switch, which only made $8.1 million. Jennifer Aniston may be a hit in the tabloids, but at movie houses it's a different story.

When I watched Piranha 3D on the weekend, it was inside a very empty cinema with very few paying customers there. In fact, the whole multiplex was empty, period, for all the movies playing there. It was a sorry sight. And I had actually been worried, going to the theater, that the movie might end up selling out before I got there! I was actually worried I might not get a seat! Boy, do I feel stupid. 

I thought Piranha 3D would play well with the college crowd, but then again, what do I know? People are now pointing the finger at the excessive 3D prices and saying those put a lot of people off.  I wouldn't be surprised -- a lot of movie fans feel the 3D prices are a cash grab. The subject matter also didn't attract an audience. This was no "four-quadrant" movie to begin with, but the horror crowd, normally reliable for at least a $20 million haul, didn't show up -- possibly because they were turned off by the idea of a movie that played less for frights and more for laughs. I'm sure there were other reasons people passed on Piranha 3D.

As I see it, this movie basically was the second coming, in style and tone, of 2006's Snakes on a Plane. That was another campy animals-eating-humans movie, and had a huge Internet buzz going for it that Piranha 3D did not have to the same extent. Nobody went to Snakes on a Plane either, so really, what did you expect? It's too bad for Piranha 3D, but when a movie is made to attract cult audiences, you shouldn't be too surprised if the only people who show up are members of cults. Period.

A LOOK BACK AT GREAT MOMENTS FROM THE BALCONY

It's our first weekend without At the Movies on the air. Rather than wallow in misery about it, I've decided to link to this article from the IFC website from earlier this week, celebrating the top ten favorite reviews from the entire history of the show.

There were plenty of nods to Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert in that post. You know, the thing I will remember about their show is not just the great fights they had and the hilarious put-downs of bad movies -- but also the times when they would really go out of their way to champion a movie that wasn't getting a lot of attention. Their two thumbs championed the works of filmmakers like Spike Lee, and gave national recognition to movies like Fargo or Hoop Dreams (reviewed below) that otherwise wouldn't have gotten the exposure they deserved. That's probably what I'll remember most about the old show.

All we have now are the memories. Enjoy.

IN PIRANHA 3D, KELLY BROOK IS GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT

Well, this is shaping up to be a big weekend for girl-watchers. The Miss Universe pageant is on Monday, but for those folks who can't wait until then to see women in bikinis, Piranha 3D is in theaters, too. I've seen the movie and plan to have a review of Piranha 3D posted for the newspaper, soon.

Hey, someone in my community has to warn all the upright citizens about this flick -- it's absolutely filled with gore and naked women.

It's set during Spring Break in Lake Victoria, Arizona, a venue which is totally made up. No doubt Arizona, already in the doghouse over their stance on illegal immigration, will now do even less tourist business now that this movie is out.

Piranha 3D is made in the best tradition of schlock B-movies, based on the original Piranha movies made some three decades ago. You can read more about the making of the movie and the inspiration behind it in this piece over at Entertainment Weekly

As everyone knows by now Kelly Brook (pictured) is in the movie, playing a sexy "Wild Wild Girl" in an obvious takeoff of Girls Gone Wild. Jerry O'Connell is even more hilarious as the Joe Francis imitator. There's even a phony Wild Wild Girls website up. They really went whole hog with it.

Of course Kelly is having a big month already after posing for her hot Playboy spread, now on newsstands. The pictorial can be summed up by this famous line once uttered in a Seinfeld episode: "They're real, and they're spectacular."

What I didn't expect was for Kelly to also get naked in Piranha 3D! I knew she was going to be wearing a bikini for most of the movie, but she also has a hilarious underwater nude scene with co-star Riley Steele, with these two babes kissing each other on the mouth!

Some girls have all the luck. More on Piranha 3D to come.

Friday, August 20, 2010

ENTOURAGE GOING DARK (IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE)

So "The Year of the Cancellations" continues. HBO announced a couple of weeks ago it is going to be wrapping up Entourage with a six-episode run next season. "Noooooooooo!! The show is getting good again, and they want to kill it"! Fear not, though, I'm sure there will be a movie. Or even spinoff series.

There has been much talk so far this season about the darker tone the series has taken, with Vince's hard partying and cavorting with Sasha Grey getting him into trouble with the studio for his next flick. The studio thinks he's on drugs! As well, agent Ari's usual berating of employees got splashed over Deadline Hollywood, blowing up his NFL bid and no doubt leading to yet more trouble at home. I have to wonder how he manages to stay in a marriage, it truly is a marriage on the rocks. It's a quick slide down the greasy pole for both of them. I could see Vince ODing or even being thrown in jail, and I could see Ari's wife filing for divorce and Ari maybe even having a big heart attack in his office!

You want to know where I think this is leading to, eventually? I think this is leading to that long-stonewalled project I Wanna Be Sedated being rescued from the vault and Vince getting the leading part -- and that is how the series will wrap up. I just see that as the appropriate end point, because Vince is certainly making himself look perfectly suited for some role like that with his latest antics.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. 

BLAGO GETS A BREAK

So the big legal story this week is that Illinois ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich's farcical trial ended in a hung jury on 23 counts, with Rod found guilty of one count: lying. Apparently on several counts Gov. Rod was saved by a single juror on the panel who saved him from a conviction. I dunno about this one, this sounds like the kind of verdict a guy like O.J. Simpson might get. In any event, Blago's jury consultant deserves a big bonus for succeeding in hanging the jury. Blago is now going around acting like a guy who's just been acquitted.

Anyway, I don't know about trials or the justice system in Chicago. Wasn't Conrad Black convicted there, and didn't he get a conviction overturned by the appeals court, and now he's out of jail? Something's funny over there in the land of Lincoln.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

NEWS FROM NOWHERE IS BACK (BUT JAMES BOND IS NOT)

It is late August and after a bit of a hiatus News from Nowhere is back. It sure looks as if James Bond is not back, though. Production of his latest movie is postponed and we have no idea when the financial problems of MGM will be settled. So now we are getting the usual freakout "Bond is dead" headlines from people who want to scare the public with misinformation about what is really going on.

Bond is the subject of this grim Entertainment Weekly cover and headline on newsstands this week. The article basically states we may never see a Bond movie again for years, and by then Daniel Craig might be too old and might not come back. What nonsense! A lot of folks think this is the usual sensationalism we are accustomed to seeing. We are assured the problems and issues surrounding the big MGM bankruptcy will be resolved and we'll see James Bond again -- eventually. So don't panic 007 fans.

In other entertainment news -- have any of you bothered to watch the new reality show The Bachelor Pad, featuring all these ex-Bachelor contestants under one roof? I haven't bothered, but if you want to get caught up on the happenings here is what the host Chris Harrison has to say.

Those of you CNBC-watchers out there are no doubt aware that BHP - Billiton is attempting a hostile takeover of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. Even Jim Cramer is saying something about it. Saskatchewan hasn't had so much press since the time CNN ran that piece about how Saskatchewan was booming. Anyway, there are some rumblings now about PotashCorp looking for a White Knight. We'll see.

It must be a slow day at CNBC because they also ran a piece about how naked vacations are becoming more popular. Wow, they must be desperate for news over there.

Movies from Clint Eastwood and John Carpenter are among some of the offerings coming up at the star-studded Toronto International Film Festival. 

A study has concluded that going to NASCAR races makes you deaf. No kidding. I went to a recent NASCAR race in Saskatoon and should have brought earplugs -- it was so loud there.

Good news for UFC fans in Ontario, finally -- Ontario government approves entry of mixed martial arts.

The year of the retirements continues. Say bye bye to Stan Chambers, who retired last week at age 87 after 63 years at KTLA Los Angeles. I also heard Dr. Laura quit last night. Something to do with the N word.

And Brett Favre announced the other day that he is also retiring -- next year. Apparently for real. This year, though, he is back with the Vikings.

Finally, a sad farewell to Steve Kouleas of The Score, who according to this post at Toronto Sports Media fell victim to yet another of the layoffs over there this week. Frankly, I am in shock over this news. I was at the channel as an intern and had met Kouleas a few times. Not only was Kouleas a good broadcaster with a distinctive style, but he was basically the heart and soul of the station. Viewers will miss him, but people at The Score will miss him even more.

That's all for me for now.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

AT THE MOVIES: IT'S A WRAP

Well, it's a sad day, because At the Movies, the show that started with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert and then continued with Richard Roeper before it went straight downhill with Ebert's health-related departure, is over. Current hosts A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips are all finished; their last show was aired this weekend.

So what do we movie fans do now every weekend when we need that movie fix? Well, don't worry, because there are other options -- like the Internet.

For Roger Ebert's website, click here.
For Richard Roeper's site with his Starz TV reviews, see here.
For Michael Phillips at the Tribune click here.
For  A.O. Scott at the NY Times, click here.
For plenty of other movie critic opinions, see Rotten Tomatoes.
And for the link to the At the Movies site and all the old reviews in the archive, see here.

Adios, At the Movies.

SCOTT PILGRIM VERSUS THE ENTIRE MOVIEGOING PUBLIC

So the big story at the box office is that the guys have spoken. They want their entertainment, as evidenced by their vote with their wallets this weekend for The Expendables to the tune of $35 million, easily outdistancing the $23 million of Eat Pray Love.

The big loser at the theaters was the new Michael Cera flick Scott Pilgrim vs the World, with a fifth-place $10.5 million haul behind the previous box office champs The Other Guys and Inception. Again, Cinema Blend has this article on how badly it flopped, noting that the internet buzz for the movie seemed to be through the roof. The problem is that a lot of the Internet buzz is generated by and read by a small group of people -- the usual geeks. We saw exactly this kind of thing before with Snakes on a Plane and other movies.

This movie also supposedly took Comic-Con by storm. Well, so much for that convention. Honestly, I don't see much appeal for this movie beyond the fanboy crowd and assorted younger folks who are into this sort of thing. Forgive me for saying this, but I am absolutely sick and tired of fanboy-and-comic-book movies. It's getting more and more obvious to me that my own taste in entertainment breaks rank with much of the prevailing "fanboy" opinion about movies and about life in general.

In fact it's gotten to the point where I am almost ready to boycott any and all "fanboy" entertainment -- just so Hollywood studios get the message that people are sick of these comic book adaptations and want some movies aimed at grown adults again. You know, ones with spies and action and stuff.

Even Jeffrey Wells, who I figured would be absolutely beside himself over the fact that a Neanderthalish movie like The Expendables finished in first place, actually seemed pleased with the box office results -- in particular the Scott Pilgrim box office results. "This weekend will henceforth be referred to in the record books as The Great Scott Pilgrim Slapdown -- i.e., a clear-cut verdict in which the rank-and-file sampled and rejected a film that had been celebrated and recommended by the elite geek-dweeb set."

I'm with Wells on this one. I don't even care if this was a good movie or not -- I have no interest in the subject matter, period. And neither does the rest of North America or anywhere else. Scott Pilgrim joins what has proven to be quite a scrapheap of a summer at the box office. The scrapheap is quite a pile by this point (Knight and Day, Sex and the City 2, The A-Team, Jonah Hex, etc.).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

THE EXPENDABLES: MAN'S LAST STAND

Folks in the film press are playing up this weekend's box office battle between The Expendables and Eat Pray Love (starring Julia Roberts) as a classic Men-versus-Women battle at the cinemas. Personally, though, I don't give a rat's carcass about how Eat Pray Love does -- I have no interest in the tired old battle of the sexes that media folks want to perpetuate. If Julia Roberts is a hit, fine, but all I want is for The Expendables to do well. 

Why? Because it is the kind of movie we used to get at the theaters but don't anymore -- a real honest-to-goodness testosterone-filled action movie with real men in it shooting at things. It doesn't have some four-quadrant storyline aimed at the masses and it's obviously not some comic-book movie with superheroes in it, the likes of which have taken over the movie theaters in the past few years. This is a movie that is a throwback to the action-filled Eighties, with a true Eighties cast of all-stars -- Stallone, Rourke, Willis, Arnold, and the like.  

I don't give a hoot whether this movie is good or a piece of junk -- but I do hope it approaches "good". I just want it to do well because I want to see the major studios go back to making more of this action genre stuff. We guys aren't getting nearly enough of this sort of thing at the movies lately -- instead, we're getting superheroes, CGI cartoons, Twilight and Seth Rogen shoved down our throats constantly. Not that there's something wrong with Seth Rogen movies, but guys are getting sick of the usual selection at the theaters. Instead, we guys must shell out for video games and pay-per-view UFC fights to get our "toughness" fix, and that just isn't right, people.

I agree with this Cinema Blend article from Josh Tyler about the movie -- this is truly Man's Last Stand, an ode to toughness. You sure have to wonder if Hollywood is ever going to give us movies like this ever again.

TICATS IN TROUBLE IN HAMILTON

So by now CFL fans have all heard about the raging controversy in Hamilton, where Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young is threatening to pull the team out of Hamilton in the wake of the city council's refusal to hear his pleas to put the stadium somewhere other than the West Harbour site, which the team says wouldn't be viable for them. So what did council do? They ignored him and put the stadium there anyway. I have no
idea why the city is refusing to compromise with the Ticats owner on the stadium issue. The Ticats are supposed to be the anchor tenant, but what point is there to building a stadium if it will have no team? The other thing that bothers me is that the city only wants to put 15,000 seats in there. How the heck do they expect to support a CFL franchise if the stadium is that small?!

I'm also not liking some of the rhetoric I am hearing out of Hamilton -- there seem to be a lot of "why should we support a losing team" comments floating out there. Yet when Jim Balsillie tried to get an NHL team there, they were bending over backwards to accomodate him! I guess they'd rather have the NHL there than the CFL.

Anyway, there's a lot of talk now that the team will either end up in the Quebec City area or move to the nearby suburbs - Burlington, Milton, somewhere like that. I agree with Glen Suitor's view that Hamilton city council did absolutely nothing for the Tiger-Cats, and it really is a shame. I hope this gong show of a council figures out some way to come to its senses soon on this issue, because I don't want to see the Tiger-Cats moving.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

MARY HART IS LEAVING ET!!!

I am back in town after being on the road during my vacation -- and as usual I turn on the computer and find out some more big news over at ET!   

Wow, this has really turned into the Year of the Retirements. First Oprah Winfrey, then Larry King and CTV's Lloyd Robertson, and now this news today about Mary Hart leaving Entertainment Tonight after the show's upcoming 30th season.

Who's next to retire -- Brett Favre? (Ha ha ha.)

I guess I shouldn't be surprised Mary is quitting, since everyone is dropping like flies at every TV show imaginable. This really has turned into a landmark transition year for TV. Look at American Idol -- everyone is leaving that show, too. First Simon Cowell quits, and then we got word that another judge, Ellen DeGeneres, has quit, too. She claims she's quitting because she didn't feel comfortable with the gig. I say she's quitting because she knows Idol is a sinking ship and she might as well get out while the getting is good. They cancelled a bunch of tour dates because nobody wants to see these lame-o Idol acts anymore. American Idol has had it. 

Speaking of TV entertainment news, Mary isn't the only host to leave her gig, either - Nancy O'Dell up and quit over at Access Hollywood late last year. And I notice host Jessi Cruickshank left The After Show on MTV Canada to move to the States, and because she left the show MTV is just going to cancel it.  Who knows where she is going -- it could be to Entertainment Tonight, for all I know.

I guess it makes sense for Mary to retire now -- she is getting a little long in the tooth, and the show is totally different from what it once was. ET used to be about serious coverage of the entertainment industry, but these days it is just a tabloid-fest with non-stop stories about scandals and the like. Personally, I think Mary has way too much class to be associated with what TV "entertainment" news has become, which is more about "celebrity" coverage these days. Mary is a throwback to an earlier, better era -- the pre-TMZ, pre-Perez Hilton era.

Rumor is that Lara Spencer from the sister show The Insider will move over to take the ET job. Given the content on The Insider these days, she ought to fit right in at ET.