The Top Ten Films of 2010

December 28, 2010 at 12:15 am (Movies)

It’s that time of year again. 2010 has been a year of some pretty awesome films, a handful of “ok” movies, and a slew of awful ones. Here’s my Top Ten List for 2010, along with a few other awards.

1-True Grit-Seeing the trailer for the Coens’ True Grit my expectations skyrocketed, and I was almost certain there was no way the film would live up to them. While the movie isn’t the fast-paced pedal to the metal Western some of the TV spots make it out to be, it’s still a perfectly made Western with a handful of moments that will stay with you for a while. Jeff Bridges, Barry Pepper, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Hailee Steinfeld all commit 100% to their performances with impressive results, which accompanied by a “couldn’t get any better” script and cinematography, make this one a film for the ages. I would say it’s the best Western of the past decade, but it has some fierce competition from No Country for Old Men from 2007. Considering that film is also by the Coen Brothers, that really says something about these filmmakers. While it was an incredibly hard decision to make, True Grit is a film I can’t quite describe. Much like Inception, I can only point you in the direction of the nearest theater so that you can go see this modern masterpiece. On your way home, rent Inception, and you’ll have the perfect day of movie-going experience. Inception gave me goose bumps, but True Grit is very much a “wow” film, and on top of being a perfect western, I can’t ignore it as the best of the year.

2-Inception-When a film like Christopher Nolan’s Inception come along, it becomes a cultural phenomenon on the tips of everyone’s tongues. Whenever the film was shown at my college in October, you could just feel the buzz in the air. For weeks on end there were hundreds of debates as to what the film (and more specifically its ending) means, and many marveled at the performances, phenomenal practical effects, and a creative story that will not soon be forgotten. There will always be those that find something to hate with greatness like Inception and a lot of Nolan’s other work, but films like Despicable Me and Alice in Wonderland are made just for them. It was an incredibly hard decision deciding between True Grit and Inception as my favorite of the year, and they’re both phenomenal films. In fact, they’re probably going to be interchanged a few times in the years to come. While True Grit is right now my favorite of the year because of its obvious lasting effect and darn fine filmmaking, Inception is a film that I’m going to continue to remember just because it made me think. Inception isn’t my second favorite film of the year just because of the long list of things Nolan nailed right on the head, what the film means for the science fiction and creative community, not just because of the late night debates I’ve had with others about the film, but the effect the film has and will continue to have. Years from now Inception will remain a milestone for the independent filmmaker’s great creative idea that they think will never get made, will be the basis of a few hundred movie nights with the guys, and overall will be a darn fine milestone of ground-breaking storytelling.

3-The Social Network- Who would have thought that “The Facebook Movie” would be one of the best films of the year? Maybe that’s part of the reason David Fincher’s The Social Network is such a darn fine film. It’s almost like a dream film, putting one of the best filmmakers of our time on what was one of the most potentially awful projects out there. My hat goes off to Jessie Eisenburg, Andrew Garfield, and especially Armie Hammer for bringing their A-Game, and the crew behind the camera going full force with the phenomenal dialogue/script, design, and overall cinematography to make this a film for the ages. Many of us went into “The Facebook Movie” with our doubts, but by the time it was all said and done Fincher and his team made one heck of a compelling film that’s going to be hard to forget.

4-Scott Pilgrim vs. the World- Although it was one of, if not the biggest box office bombs of the year, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World deserved far more credit than it got. There’s something about Edgar Wright that it seems American audiences have trouble latching onto. Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead are two of the best action/comedies out there, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a fine addition to Wright’s small filmography. Michael Cera is one of the many “love him or hate him” actors out there, but I find myself firmly planted in the former category. The film is immensely watchable and thoroughly entertaining, has a sense of humor all it’s own, and earns it’s place on my end of the year list by just how much fun it continues to be. I could definitely say I’m in lesbians with this movie.

5-Shutter Island- Shutter Island was firmly planted as my number one pick of the year until the summer, and just thinking about the film now I continue to marvel at it. As many know there’s one huge twist at the end of the film that changes the film’s entire meaning, and to my benefit, I had no idea it was coming. I was floored by the monumental twist, and it benefits the film each and every time I re-watch it. Any other film would rely on the twist alone, but Martin Scorsese fills his film with flourishes of filmmaking prowess. There’s a gorgeous design to the costumes and sets, a well-developed script to back it up, and a number of deeply disturbing moments that only continue to increase in impact. When it comes to twisty thrillers, they don’t get any better than this.

6-Get Him to the Greek-There are films that make me chuckle, and then there are films that make me cry in laughter, almost falling to the floor. Get Him to the Greek fits into the latter, and it’s one of the few films of the year I made the point of seeing twice in theaters, something I rarely do. I’ve been a fan of Jonah Hill since Knocked Up, and it’s awesome to see him play a completely different character as the “straight man” to Russell Brand, who’s never been as funny as he is as Aldous Snow. The music is hilarious but still catchy, there’s a huge laugh every 5 minutes, and by the end of it all your heart feels very full seeing these characters at work. Maybe it was the crowd I saw it with, but I can’t ignore any film that entertains me as much as Get Him to the Greek did.

7-Toy Story 3/How to Train Your Dragon 3D-Although these are two very different movies; I felt it was appropriate they share the same spot on my list. Toy Story 3 shattered the third-movie-in-a-trilogy curse and simultaneously proved Pixar was the master of the game. All of the characters we knew and loved returned after 11 long years with a tear-jerking, hilarious masterpiece that exceeded all of our expectations. I can only hope they Disney doesn’t run the franchise into the ground. How to Train Your Dragon 3D is DreamWorks Animation’s best film since Shrek, combining a great story and a handful of breath-taking flight scenes. Getting to see Toothless take flight in the theater a few months ago was a once in a lifetime experience. Even seeing the movie without the 3D the film still holds up, which is just a testament to how incredible this film is. Both films are monumental for the two studios, and thus they share a spot here.

8-The Town-The Town is a film full of tense gunfire and fierce interrogations, but part of what makes the film so great is the fact that the moments where there’s not a single firearm present are just as pulse pounding and riveting. Jeremy Renner, who broke out last year for role in The Hurt Locker, is unstoppable in his performance in the film, and it’s going to be a real crime if he’s snubbed from the Oscar’s. If you love heist films and fast-paced action, The Town is the film for you. If you love romances with a cloak of macho action, The Town is the film for you. If you’re in the market for a fascinating, well-made action/drama that does a thousand things right, The Town is one of the films that you’d be a fool to miss.

9-Kick-Ass-Although it did differentiate a little from the comic, Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Kick-Ass was a surprisingly great movie, and even beat out one of the biggest budget films as the best superhero movie of the year in my book. The style of the world and how Vaughn uses color is really something to see, and Nicolas Cage uses his crazy powers in the way they should be used as a character that really is insane. Chloe-Grace Moretz also got her head start in this film by slicing a few heads open as Hit Girl. The moments of action are amazing; they’re some of the best-choreographed pieces of work I’ve ever gotten to see in my movie-going life. It’s hilarious, truly exciting and surprising at how audacious it can be. I can’t wait to see more from this director and this awesome crew.

10-Due Date-I got a chance to go see this one again with my family on Thanksgiving, and that’s when it really sank in that this really was one of my favorites of the year. Robert Downey Jr. gets to show off his comedic muscle and Zach Galifianakis only continues to impress. It’s a worthy successor to the Steve Martin/John Candy classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and kept me interested from start to finish, just waiting for the next big moment. On second viewing the film’s emotional moments also work a lot better, even bringing me to tears a few times. It’s surprising how heartwarming this raunchy comedy can be at times, and other times, you’re just glad to be a part of this hysterical buddy road-trip story.

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True Grit Review

December 27, 2010 at 12:21 am (Movies)

If you had asked me a month, maybe even a couple of weeks ago what my favorite film of the year was going to be, without hesitation I would have said Christopher Nolan’s Inception. I knew that Tron Legacy and True Grit were coming up, and I had a feeling that the latter had a good chance of making my top ten or even my top five, but I had no idea it had this great of a chance. In fact, it might just be giving Inception a good run for its money. This is one of my favorites of the year, and with a flawless script, unrivaled performances, cinematography beyond compare, and unsurpassable action to boot, it’s what I and many others might call a perfect film. The film takes place shortly after the Civil War in the Mid-West, where Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a 14-year-old girl out for revenge for her father’s murder by the coward John Chaney (Josh Brolin), enters a dangerous world of murder and betrayal in order to avenge his death. She enlists the help of Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), a frequently inebriated and trigger-happy marshal, and local Texas Ranger Labeouf (Matt Damon) who is out to bring Chaney in dead or alive for his own reward. Few films are blessed with casts like True Grit is given to work with here. A lot of Oscar buzz is going around about newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, and it’s well deserved. The best part of her performance isn’t just how she reads her lines or how she could very well be the best cinematic role model for pre-teen girls in the past decade, but just how she fearlessly takes on Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, two acting legends, throughout the movie. Steinfeld plays the part to perfection, reading each line in such a fluent way it seems like she was born to do it, and excellently complimenting the Coens second to none interchange. Made all the more amazing by the fact she’s a first-timer, anything less than an Oscar nomination would be a disgrace. Steinfeld’s performance on its own would make the film, but she’s accompanied by a surplus of awesome performances. Matt Damon does a grand job at playing the part of Labeouf and carries some of the movie’s best comedic moments, and Josh Brolin (with what screen time he’s given) gives the role of John Chaney all he’s got, infusing humor and an often times darker, scarier, quick-to-violence side to his character. Barry Pepper, who’s been known for smaller parts like in The Green Mile, is 100% unrecognizable as Ned Pepper, the disfigured leader of Chaney’s gang. This best way I can describe the guy is the film’s Darth Sidious. He’s literally behind every evil deed of the film. From the first moment he steps on screen the combo of the actor’s demeanor and the script lets evil ooze out of each of his pores. Even in his first few seconds of screen time when you’re not quite sure who he is or what he’s up to, you know he’s the embodiment of evil, and you’re just wishing for him to get on the wrong end of Rooster Cogburn’s six shooter. Speaking of the one-eyed marshal, Jeff Bridges’ performance for the film was the main draw to bring me into the film, and it’s the acting glue that not only holds the film together but also puts it over the top. Jeff Bridges brings so much experience to the part to give Rooster Cogburn a 100% genuine feel. There’s not a second that you doubt anything that comes out of Cogburn’s mouth. His at-times incomprehensible drawl did cause me to miss a few things that he said, but he carries so much of the film’s action and drama on his shoulders so perfectly, it’s impossible for me to explain how brilliant his performance is. There are also a number of smaller roles thrown in seemingly just for fun by the Coens. Even though they’re 3-5 minutes (at most) at a time, it’s almost like a time trial to see how rich of a character they can create.There are films that I can enjoy based off how technically proficient the film is or how well the films works as a comedy or an action film. It’s rare that a film works perfectly as both like True Grit. Back during the development of the film the Coens encouraged the cast to not watch the original John Wayne film, and having seen small pieces of the original, it obviously benefits the movie, as it’s almost an entirely different feature. The script is one of the main things about the film that really sets it apart. Just hearing Rooster Cogburn and Lucky Ned or Labeouf and Ross exchange dialogue is one of the film’s most entertaining aspects by a long shot. The Coens wrote the film in such an engaging and beautiful way it’s almost Shakespearean. The old-timey dialogue gives you such an indication of the world that they live in, something incredibly rare to see in a film. Just like in the Coens’ modern classic No Country for Old Men, my favorite film from 2007 and a Best Picture winner, it has that true Coens vibe, deftly mixing wit, surprising humor, and at the same time each and every line benefiting the story in some way. Each conversation, with a couple special scenes in particular like the “pony deal” at the beginning of the film, can be as exciting and genuine as 3/4 of this past summer’s biggest action scenes. I love this script so much I want to read it to my kids as a bedtime story. Complimented by the first-rate script, the film’s pacing is considerably adept. The movie starts a little slow, but after the first 20 minutes takes off with each scene either ending in an instantaneous gunshot or some capacious discovery. The film also looks exceptional. Each and every one of the scenes has either a pain-staking level of detail in it or looks as if there was no better location for the shot. The towns, the cabins, not to mention the costumes of the characters, all have a remarkable look and feel to them. Although it sounds minor, there are also a few camera angles and neat ways that the Coens frame a shot that’s definitely unexpected. There’s one shot that’s seen briefly in the trailer in a snowy wood that’s one of, if not the most impressive shots of the year. As if the script and cinematography that dances on the border of perfect wasn’t enough, the movie also works on an astounding level as a hardcore action film. Westerns sort of catch a bad name, as most of the time you either do it really well or no one will remember it ever existed. Plus, it’s pretty darn hard for one to make any money at the box office, thus discouraging studios from making them. 3:10 to Yuma and the previously mentioned No Country for Old Men are two Westerns from the past decade that set a standard for greatness. Much like how the Coens shot their action in No Country for Old Men, True Grit has some out of this world moments of action. Like No Country, there are a few moments of action you don’t see coming, shocking you by how quick it starts and just how quick it’s over. These are some of the film’s most terrifying moments mainly involving Rooster’s itchy trigger finger, and it’s hard to shake. The other moments where the film utilizes suspense work entirely, rest assured you’ll be on the edge of your seat. At its heart though, True Grit’s a Western through and through, and it’s never afraid to show off its guns, literally. Unlike a lot of other films each time a bullet leaves the chamber it really means something, and each action set piece is meticulously constructed and gloriously executed. There’s one massive shootout at the end that, without me spoiling it, puts one main character’s life in danger many times, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout hoping they were ok. Obviously based on my reaction you can tell it’s easy to get attached to the characters thanks to the superb writing and time taken to build each of the three main characters, along with the film’s message as to what it really means to have “true grit”. It’s also surprising how funny this movie is. While by no means would I call the film a comedy, a lot of the scenes including Rooster Cogburn’s drawl and inherent racism, how he interacts with others including Labeouf, and Mattie Ross’ boldness with the most frank of adults is hilarious. As I start to close here, I can only hope this film finds a huge audience. As I’m writing this, reports have already come in for its Christmas weekend haul, and it’s definitely been a successful weekend pull, practically making its budget back in 5 days. While the film is a little mis-marketed (it’s not as much of a fast-paced action film as the trailers make it out to be), it’s still a unbelievably great movie deserving of your support. The Coen Brothers’ True Grit is a very special kind of movie. It’s not often you get to see a film that perfects the writing, cinematography, and action that blend so well with this genre, only making it better. I honestly couldn’t imagine True Grit being any better than the final product we were given, and I can’t wait to check it out again. Just when you think the film’s done enough, the Coens keep pulling back curtains. There’s always another inspiring piece of dialogue, another dramatic moment that makes you think, or a 1 vs. 4 shootout that’ll make you want to rise to your feet. True Grit is in part a comedy, in part a Western, in part a drama, in part a revenge story, but in all parts it’s one heck of a perfect film. There’s just so much to love here, and if you’re a cinematic prodigal, True Grit might just make you love movies again.

5 out of 5

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Tron Legacy Review

December 24, 2010 at 11:11 am (Movies)

This time last year, almost to the day, James Cameron’s Avatar was released to fantastic reviews and an accolade of awards, leaving just as many viewers saying “meh” as there were praising it as “the best movie of all time”. I’ll admit I was one of the viewers in the middle. It’s not a bad film, in fact its visual flair and ambition are the best things about it, but it’s not a film I would consider a front runner for Best Picture, an award it came very close to winning. Avatar was a film I left the theater pleased with, but unlike Avatar, Tron Legacy (arguably this year’s Avatar) is a film I truly can’t wait to see again. Remarkable visual design, a strong direction including some strong action set pieces and a memorable story make for a film that I believe will stand the test of time and be a film I get to show my grandkids some day. The film takes place a long time after the original Tron, where Neil Flynn (Jeff Bridges/Star of the Original Tron) has been missing for some time, and no one’s quite sure why. Some say suicide, some say he just ran away from his company’s problems. Almost 20 years later, his son Sam Flynn (Garret Hedlund), is led back to his father’s old arcade, and through a series of events becomes trapped in The Grid, his father’s own creation. Entering the virtual world, Sam soon realizes the world isn’t quite what his father originally envisioned. CLU, one of Neil’s creations, has overtaken The Grid as a dictator, and has forced Neil into hiding. The performances in the film range from the surprisingly good to the reanimated corpse with soul-less eyes creepy. I can see how many would strongly dislike Garret Hedlund’s performance in the film, and to be honest, it’s a hard performance to describe. It’s almost like Sam Worthington’s physical demeanor with the accent and physical demeanor of Jack Nicholson. I personally dug the way he interpreted that character, but at the same time he generally sticks to the basics throughout the movie. Olivia Wilde as Quorra, Neil’s assistant, is fun to look at, and does the best she can with the script. There were a lot of possibilities for the character and Wilde is obviously a talented enough actress to pull it off, but what time she is on the screen she’s one of the film’s best surprises. Michael Sheen has another equally complained about performance in the film, but I can honestly say I enjoyed him while he was on the screen, even if his character came off a little bit as an after thought. Jeff Bridges plays both protagonist Neil Flynn and the main baddie CLU. Much like Wilde he’s not given much by the script so he’s left scrambling a little, but you can’t complain when an actor as talented as Bridges is bringing dude-isms and a respectable performance to his role. For CLU the visual effects team pulled a “Polar Express” and made the character 100% CGI, including the face that is supposed to look like a 30-year-old Jeff Bridges. In the context of the bright and flashy it looks great and it’s almost unnoticeable, but there are a few times (especially when compared against obviously real actors) that it comes off a little unsettling. For the most part, the characters of the film are either simple enough to be just purely enjoyable or are two-dimensional on purpose. I respect the idea that they’re really just exploring the idea these people really are just acting two-dimensional because they’re programs and don’t know any different, but at the same time I would have appreciated a little more thought put it into them and their back story. What back-story is given though (whether it’s on a couple of characters or the film itself) is done it a well enough way that makes it respectably approachable to both and old fans alike. Whereas a lot of people nag at James Cameron’s Avatar for being a re-tread of Dances with Wolves or Fern Gully, Tron Legacy tells what I consider to be a more interesting/original story, if not equally flawed. I loved the concept of Sam having to save his father from his own creation, CLU, and that father/son dynamic, while not really fleshed out, was a neat idea that oddly enough I connected to. I would be lying if I said my heartstrings weren’t tugged at during the film’s big finale.There’s also something about the idea of an Internet world that’s been stuck in time for almost 30 years. The people of the world are barbaric in nature, and it’s easy to think of The Grid as an 80s society stuck in time with a hit of neon shot into its veins. Needless to say, none of this is really given to the audience; it’s all my interpretation. Once again it comes back to the films more ambitious than its script will allow it to be. By the ending credits it’s pretty clear that the film was sort of rushed into production, especially in the writing department. The writing is by far the film’s biggest weak spot, in fact it almost feels like, in a rush to get the film made, they went ahead with the first few ideas they had for a script in a first draft. I can almost imagine the writing room. “Hey, right here we should put in a light cycle chase, and over here we’ll put in a big neon airplane and a fight inside of a club, that would be so rad!” There are a handful of plot holes that are kind of hard to ignore, there are lines of dialogue that come off just painfully in desperate need of cutting, and a rewrite could and should have been in order.

But who has time to focus on plot holes or poor writing when there are so many pretty lights flashing on the screen!? Obviously if you’ve seen any of the trailers or posters, you can see that the film has a phenomenal artistic design. There are basically two colors in the entire film, blue or orange; Blue represents the good guys, and orange represents the bad guys. All of the sets that look like they’ve been drowned in neon blue look fantastic, and the costumes (especially some of the more daring designs of CLU’s and Neil’s capes/gowns and the sirens that assist Sam) obviously got the more focused end of development, and it becomes the film’s defining aspect. The film is so gorgeous as it was becoming apparent that the film was drawing to a close, it was hard to accept the fact I was going to have to leave that world. I’d only be retreading ground if I spent too much time praising the film’s 3D. Maybe this will explain it well enough. Better than most films, but not How to Train Your Dragon masterful. It even goes to benefit the film’s four major action pieces, without a doubt the film’s finest moments, which utilize both the 3D and the Visual Design in a commendable way. In retrospect it’s odd that the film is basically structured as action, action, exposition, action, and then action, but each of the main action set pieces are equally terrific. Even during the long stretch of action in the middle there’s always that looming threat of a big action scene waiting to (and many times eventually) happening. The light cycle chase alone is worth the price of admission. It’s especially amazing that all of the fantastic action scenes are all paced and set up in such a great way by a first time director. This guy has a great hold on how to shoot, choreograph, and successfully make action scenes interesting, and I can’t wait to see more from this guy. Daft Punk (who make a cameo in the film) put together a terrific score for the movie that you’ll have stuck in your head for a long time. When you start to compare Tron Legacy to many other recent live action Disney tent pole films (National Treasure 2 for example), it’s actually a pretty nice addition to the repertoire. It’s fun, short, and both kids and adults can enjoy it. Most importantly, it leaves plenty of opportunities for Disney to make money off of it. Count me in. If the sequel(s) to this one were half as entertaining and twice as well written, I’d be there for the film-opening weekend and first in line for the rollercoaster and/or gift shop. Where Tron Legacy slips up in its script and a handful of underdeveloped ideas, it perfectly executes what great things can come of 3D technology and a few awesome ideas in the creative field. I can give it a solid recommendation for any family looking for a generally pleasing film after all the presents are unwrapped, which should mean even more considering the infamously steep 3D surcharges. It may not have met its full potential, but it’s definitely a strong start to what could very well be Disney’s “next big thing”.

4 out of 5

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The 19 Days of Christmas Recommendations-Day #19-Underrated Recent Christmas Movies

December 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm (Weapons of Mass Enjoyment)

Okay, I’ll admit I forgot about a Christmas countdown this year. A couple of years back I did a countdown of the Top 10 Christmas films, one year I counted down the top Christmas songs, and now, although quite frankly I’m a little dry on ideas, I’m doing another countdown, simply giving 19 Christmas-themed recommendations to hopefully make your Christmas a little bit better. Obviously I’ll be starting today and running through Christmas Day. Hopefully I’ll be able to still post a recommendation on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but don’t hold me to it. Today for my first recommendation I’m recommending two underrated Christmas comedies. Last night my university had a screening of the Will Ferrel Christmas classic “Elf”, and while it is by no means underrated (it’s one of my favorites to this day, and it’s one of the few movies I can watch over and over again), it reminded me of two other films that don’t quite get the respect they deserve in my book. The first is Fred Claus, a 2007 comedy starring Paul Giamatti and Vince Vaughn. The movie did pretty well financially, but was lauded by critics, who said the movie was “A slew of talent is wasted in this contrived and overly sentimental Christmas film…” according to Rotten Tomatoes. I, on the other hand, love the movie, even though I haven’t gotten to watch it in a while. It is by no means a perfect movie (it’s not the most well-made film ever and the romance is kinda sloppy), but when it comes to good-natured and well-intentioned comedies, Fred Claus is propelled quite a bit by both Vaughn and Giamatti’s charismatic and fun performances. The other Christmas film I’ll recommend is the 2008 more adult Christmas comedy, Four Christmases. I actually remember vividly when this one came out, and I recall one of my high school teachers saying she hated it. However when I got around to renting it last Christmas, I had a great time with it. I laughed quite a bit, I connected surprisingly enough with the movie’s message (although it was a little on the nose), and I really liked how they executed the idea of the four different Christmases they had to go to. It was neat how they structured the film around it, and they built up some really fun comedy set pieces thanks to it. (Tim McGraw and Jon Favreau wrestling Vaughn is probably my favorite part of the movie.) Once again, the movie’s not perfect, it has its flaws, but like a lot of Christmas movies, people just hold too high of a standard. If your family is having a movie night this Christmas, or you’re looking for a great gift, you could do a lot worse than these two very enjoyable Christmas films. In fact, I’m gonna have to rent these both as soon as I get home for the holidays…

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Down with Munn, Up with Bailey!

December 7, 2010 at 12:13 am (Television)

One of the shows I don’t talk about too often on here just so happens to be the show I watch the most. G4TV’s Attack of the Show is consistently entertaining, even if some of their sketches are a little hit or miss. Covering the tech world, the best in viral videos, interviewing new movie stars, and reviewing new DVDs and Games with the help of X-Play host Adam Sessler and Film Junkie Chris Gore. There’s so much the show covers, fully encompassing the motto “The One-Stop Source for all the Stuff You Care About”. Recently however former co-host Olivia Munn began appearing less and less on the show as more and more movie and television roles came up for her, and pretty soon it seemed like she was done with the rinky-dink nerd show. No offense to Munn, she was fantastic on the show, but it was disappointing to see her appearing less and less. The question soon came up as to who was going to replace Olivia, as it became more and more apparent they were trying out different hosts. Some of them were pretty awful, but others were great potentials (Haislip and Bailey). On tonight’s show, recurring guest host Candace Bailey (who got her start on Nickelodeon oddly enough (she’s stalking me)) has been announced as the new co-host for the show. It’s awesome to see such a spunky, funny, cute, and charismatic co-host to adapt Olivia’s shoes and make the part her own. She works perfectly with Kevin, and I can’t wait to see what happens for the show when a new look and new layout of the show comes in on January 11th, 2011. Check out the show, weeknights at 6:00 Central on G4TV.

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Who’s That At the Door?!

December 7, 2010 at 12:01 am (Television, Video)

Although I’m usually not a huge fan of late night talk shows, I can’t resist the off-beat humor and “in your face” attitude of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Airing weeknights on CBS from 11:35 to 12:35, I highly recommend you give the show a look. Craig is often defying the standards of the regular late night talk show, incorporating puppets, improv music videos, awkward silences, harmonica playing, and even a robot sidekick into his show. Below is one of the samples of my new favorite part of the show, where Craig welcomes a special guest.

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Mr. Parker, Van Atter, and Another Goblin? Oh My!

December 3, 2010 at 5:48 pm (Movies)

In an interesting bit of casting news, Peter Parker’s parents, along with a second villain, have been cast in Marc Webb’s Spiderman reboot. To recap, Andrew Garfield of course has been cast as Peter Parker, Martin Sheen is going to be Uncle Ben and Sally Field is going to play Aunt May. Dennis Leary (pictured at the very bottom set on the left) of Ice Age and Rescue Me fame is going to play the father of Gwen Stacy, who is being played by Emma Stone. Rhys Ifans has been confirmed to play the Lizard, and Chris Zylka (pictured two over from Leary) has been rumored for some time now to be locked in for the role of Flash Thompson.

Campbell Scott (Music and Lyrics, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) (pictured left) will play Peter’s father, and Julianne Nicholson (Law and Order, Ally McBeal) (pictured middle left) will play Peter Parker’s mother. It’s being reported that the parents won’t play a huge role in the film, but possibly in a prologue or a flashback of some kind. The next casting bit is where things get interesting. Irrfan Khan (The Bad Guy from Slumdog Millionaire) (pictured middle right) has been cast as the film’s second villain, Van Atter, and Annie Parisse (Rubicon, National Treasure) (pictured right) will play his wife. For those unfamiliar with the comics (like me), Van Atter is one of the scientists at Oscorp who is tested with one of the preliminary Green Goblin serums. The formula isn’t anywhere near perfection, and it ends up mutating Atter and turning him insane, morphing him into the Photo-Goblin.

Now while I’ve been a full supporter for Webb thus far, this casting bit throws me on my head just a bit. First off, just as a disclaimer, it’s not confirmed that Khan’s character Van Atter is going to become the Proto-Goblin, but it is confirmed he is going to be a villain and he is going to be playing Van Atter. We’re also not sure if it’s going to be a matter of if Van Atter will be a full-fledged villain like Lizard, or have a smaller part more like what Chris Nolan did with Scarecrow in The Dark Knight. Assuming they don’t go the route of the Photo Goblin, the actor did a great job in Slumdog Millionaire and I’d love to see him stretch his legs here. If they did go the route of the Photo Goblin, although I’d still love the actor and would be happy they’re introducing a lesser-known character, I’m not sure if I see that going well. While it may be easily confusable for Norman Osbourne from Sam Raimi’s Spiderman, it seems to me like it may be an awkward way to introduce Oscorp, and possibly leading up to the Green Goblin in a later film. Or maybe Webb doesn’t even plan on doing the Green Goblin and he just wants to get that plot thread out of the way with a side villain here, I could see that easily happening with great success. Either way, as long as Webb’s getting his due creative freedom here and they don’t over cram it like so many superhero movies have been doing lately, I feel like Webb’s risks here with the characters might just pay off. And honestly, as long as all future goblins aren’t in snowboarding gear, I think we’ll be ok.

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Why I Love “Blazing Saddles”

December 3, 2010 at 5:47 pm (Movies, Video)

(Warning-Some offensive language, including a few uses of the n-word. They’re not using in the offensive way though, Mel Brooks was making a statement when he made the film.)

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Me and Mr. Phirman

December 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm (Weapons of Mass Enjoyment)

Ok, so I’ll admit this isn’t a huge deal, and it’s not like I got to meet the guy, but this is a site dedicated to my thoughts, and this just so happens to be one of those thoughts. The other day I was working on my project for my Development of American Music course, and I decided that I was going to use Mike Phirman’s single “One for Them and One for Me” as one of the tracks for a playlist that I was going to play for the class. The assignment was to play 10 songs that mean something to you, and that was one of the first few that came to my mind. So just joking around I tweeted about using his song and included his name. This ensued in a brief back and forth that is still sort of going on. Like I said, it’s not like I had coffee with the guy, but it was cool to actually get feedback from an artist that I definitely respect (he’s played with Weird Al before, and he’s a recurring guest on my favorite podcasts). Below is the actual “conversation”.

@jakewilbanks-It’s a good day when I get to use a @phirm song for my presentation in American Music class.

@phirm-“!” Which of my songs is “presentable”!?!

@jakewilbanks-haha I’m using “One for Them and One for Me” for my playlist assignment, have to cite why the song is important, any insights?

@phirm-Why is it important? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?! It was only recorded in the UNITED STATES, THAT’S ALL!! #itsactuallynotthatimportant

@jakewilbanks-And that good sir, is what sets it apart. It’s an awesome album btw, really enjoyed it. #semiimportantretorts

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