I reviewed NBC's "Awake" yesterday, and since the pilot has been available online and On Demand for a couple of weeks, many of you have already offered your thoughts on it. But since I figure at least some of you still watch TV on TV, and on a more traditional schedule, here's one last opportunity to discuss the first episode. Did you find the shifts between worlds easy to follow? Did you prefer one world (or partner, shrink or family member) to the other? Given the subject matter, did it feel too depressing? And do you plan to watch more?
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"The Berwick Discovery" sounds like the Dan Brown book, but it's actually a very cool new find that would make me even happier if I had stupid amounts of money laying around waiting for me to spend it on pre-Code movie posters.
On March 23, Heritage Vintage Movie Poster Auctions will evidently be putting around 30 very rare movie posters on the block, all part of the same incredible find last fall. I didn't hear about it then, but reading the details now, I'm blown away and, more than anything, it reminds me how much I love the evolution of the movie poster and how random and strange and occasionally wonderful the world of the hardcore collector can be.
When I was writing "Cigarette Burns" with Scott Swan, we talked to print collectors and memorabilia collectors and we collected way more stories than we could use. One of the things that seemed to run in common between all of them though is that the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of the accidental discovery is a big part of what compels them. If you could just go to the store and buy a pristine 35MM print of "Suspiria," it wouldn't be special, but when Quentin Tarantino tracked down a gorgeous IB Technicolor and screened it at the original Drafthouse and Tim League cranked the soundtrack so loud it made my fillings shake, part of what was magical about that night was knowing how rare that experience is.
Tonight we have an avant-garde challenge, which is either a chance for the final five to let their freak flags fly fabulously or allow them to hang themselves with their whackadoo ideas. I always find these avant-garde challenges a bit hard to judge, simply because the intersection between innovative and wearable can be so very, very small. More than anything, though, I think the judges usually look for stuff that's more wearable than avant-garde, regardless of what they may claim -- which seems patently unfair. It's not as if truly avant-garde designs don't have a home in fashion, either. After all, no one thinks Commes des Garcons is a crap label, but Kawakubo has sent some weird ass stuff down the runway (hunchback dresses!) and no one gives her a hard time.
I'm not sure I'd make too much of the news that Disney has signed a deal with James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller to start development on a sequel to "The Muppets" without Jason Segel attached to co-write.
First, even last year, when I visited them on the set of "The Five-Year Engagement" (and we'll have more on that this weekend), Stoller and Segel said they'd already brainstormed ideas for a sequel. Those guys make great collaborators, and I have no doubt that at this point, Stoller would be able to take those ideas that they'e discussed and execute them quite ably.
The big news here is that Disney feels good enough about the performance of "The Muppets" to officially start development on a sequel. I think it's amazing that the characters have finally made their pop culture comeback in a way that stuck, and I hope this is the beginning of a real return to the sort of omnipresence they had when I was a kid in the '70s.
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I eat egg salad with Colin Powell...
Bruce Springsteen’s 17th studio album, “Wrecking Ball,” comes out March 6 and The Beat Goes On is blatantly stealing a page from our colleague Kris Tapley’s “The Lists” concept. In anticipation of the new set, we’re ranking The Boss’s Top 7 albums. Take a look at our gallery and let the debate begin.
Springsteen’s canon of work dates back more nearly 40 years to 1973’s “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” While there was a major shift with his third album, 1975’s “Born To Run,” in terms of transforming from a proud Dylan wanna-be who crammed as many words as possible in to a song to someone who found his own identity and voice, what hasn’t changed has been his commitment to his craft and his live show.
At 62, Springsteen has become the chronicler of our times. Or as he says, it has always been his job to write about the distance between the American dream and American reality. Unlike many other artists whose songs aren’t rooted in any specific geography, Springsteen’s narrative spans from sea-to-shining-sea. He is a product of New Jersey and the U.S.A. and the lyrical territory he roams in song seldom extends beyond our shores (despite the fact that he is now a bigger concert draw in Europe than he is here).
But to concentrate on Springsteen’s role as social commentator only shows one part of the story. Over the last several decades, Springsteen has delivered some of the goofiest, most joyous songs ever committed to record, whether it be the rollicking “Ramrod,” the double entendre-filled “Pink Cadillac,” the giddy “So Young And In Love” or the purely jubilant “Rosalita.”
It felt like a cheat to include live albums on here, so I didn’t. (I also chose not to include any bootlegs). However, any Springsteen fan’s collection is incomplete without two sets: “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Hammersmith Odeon London 75” and “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Live 1975-1985.” The Hammersmith set, which wasn’t officially released until 2005, captures a moment in time: Springsteen's first U.K. show that has now become the stuff of legend. Springsteen was freaking out beforehand as Columbia’s hype machine was in full effect and he wanted the music to speak for itself. The loose-limbed, sped-up “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” is a frenetic frenzy, and the 13-minute “E Street Shuffle” feels like it traverses space and time. It’s nothing less than revelatory to hear a 25-year old Springsteen, still so early in his career, at such command of his stage craft.
“Live 1975-1985,” if nothing else, shows the tremendous range of the E Street Band and serves as a de-facto greatest hits. It was also the first album to capture the wide-ranging magic of Springsteen's show including such chestnuts as his covers of “Raise Your Hand” and “War” and songs that lay flat on vinyl, like “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” but came alive in concert.
There are high notes on every album released, even the ones I would rank toward the bottom of a list should I have included the full catalog, such as 2009's “Working On A Dream” (though I’m hard pressed to find anything good to say about “Queen of the Supermarket”). As with all such lists, this one is totally subjective. For example, though I find them among his most cinematic works, I find myself seldom returning to largely acoustic, solo albums like “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and “Devils & Dust”
Before you flip to the gallery, if you aren’t a Springsteen fanatic (yet), watch this video, and see what joy he brings millions of us (plus, there are wonderful shots of dearly departed members Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons):
Werner Herzog's new documentary mini-series, "On Death Row," got even more real yesterday when interview subject George Rivas was executed by lethal injection in Texas. Rivas, who was 41-years-old, was known as the ringleader of the Texas 7 gang, which organized the state's biggest prison break. While on the run, the group committed a robbery that led to the death of a police officer. All of the escapees were ultimately sentenced to death, including another man Herzog features in the program.
We're two weeks away from "Community" returning to NBC's airwaves — and fans attending Saturday night's PaleyFest panel in LA (or watching the feed in New York) will be able to see a new episode even earlier than that(*) — but I pledged to keep these posts about why I miss the show going until it returned, and so I gladly shall.
It's Results Night on "American Idol."
Over the next TWO hours, we're going to find out which Semifinalists received America's seal of approval and which three singers will be rescued by the judges.
For the purposes of this live-blog, I've decided that Heejun Han is making the Top 13. I don't know if it's gonna be via America's vote or via the judges, but if Heejun doesn't make it, I'm gonna be both sad and surprised. But still, I'm using his picture as a guess. It doesn't spoil anything, at least not anything I know about.
Anyway, click through and follow along. Last year's equivalent of this show was actually a really good, jam-packed two hours. Hopefully this year's won't be bad either...
It is an unenviable task to adapt the work of Dr. Seuss from page to screen, and for the most part, I think his work has resisted full-length feature adaptation with a vengeance.
I mean, when you look at a film like "Cat In The Hat," it's hard to imagine that the source material is any good at all. It's a coarse, gross, vulgar fart joke of a movie, and it should have, by any conventional wisdom, killed the idea of making Dr. Seuss movies. But "Horton Hears A Who" seemed to be a major course correction, and their expansion of the world that Seuss created felt like a fairly organic way to approach his work.
With "The Lorax," Illumination Entertainment has done a solid job of trying to preserve the most important parts of the book and its themes, and there is a lot of it that honors Seuss. I think kids will enjoy this film, and my own kids, who have been raised as Seuss-faithful as possible, liked the way the story expanded to fill out a feature running time. I had more issues with the new material, and I think adults will be less likely to just accept the film as a whole.
You know, you should never count the Weitz brothers out.
Both Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz made their names early. "American Pie" put Paul on the map as a director, and they seemed to indicate that their careers were headed to a more personal and heartfelt place with 2002's lovely "About A Boy," which they co-directed. Since then, they've both had some pretty big creative misfires, although no one could accuse them of being anything less than ambitious. I may not like "The Golden Compass" as a movie, but I can see what drew Chris Weitz to it, and I respect the effort. For Paul, the nadir of his film work so far would have to be the one-two punch of "Cirque du Freak" and "Little Fockers," both movies that felt corporate and calculated.
Last year, Chris made the piercing "A Better Life," featuring an amazing performance by Demian Bichir, and it felt to me like he had roared back to life as a filmmaker, besting whatever his own high-water mark was so far. While I don't think Paul's new film, "Being Flynn," reaches the same beautiful heights as "A Better Life," it strikes me as authentically observed and deeply felt, and a huge step in the right direction for him as a filmmaker.
Now that the Oscar dust has settled and the early-year dumping ground has come to a close, studios are beginning to float materials for their (hopeful) moneymakers out there. Two trailers have dropped this week, for "The Avengers" (opening May 4) and Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie" (which doesn't hit until October).
On the former, I have to say, I'm on board. I have a built-in sense of caution when it comes to Joss Whedon, though, and I have to admit, as much as I don't mind seeing her face in, well, anything, Scarlet Johansson seems incredibly pointless to that enterprise. Nevertheless, my fingers are crossed Marvel pulls this off.
Robert Downey Jr. called it the real "most ambitious film" of the Hollywood system at Comic-Con two years back (amid similar talk surrounding "Avatar" at the time). Marrying these properties together, getting it to come off without an ego hitch, it's daunting. And there are money shots in the trailer that have me stoked. It should be an awesome way to kick off the summer movie season.