Monthly Archives: December 2008

Enya: “And Winter Came…”

OK, I know I can’t be the only Enya lover out there…I mean, the woman has four Grammy’s and an Oscar Nomination for God’s sake. But in our circle of friends and family (barring my Grandma Romero and my Dad), I am the only hard-core lover of all things Enya.

It’s not that Christine doesn’t appreciate some fine Celtic songsmithery now and again, because she does, but, for some reason…she’s just not that into Enya. Sad, huh? All I know is that before our little girl arrives on March 8th, my goal is to have her hooked on Enya…big time!

Enya "And Winter Came" #1

Seriously, I’ve been blasting those New Age Irish jams in the general direction of Christine’s belly every chance I get. And though our baby girl had no reaction to speak of when I played her Enya’s dreamy 2005 release “Amarantine”, she did kick up a storm to Elvis a few nights later. So…I have the sinking feeling she shares her mother’s feelings towards my beloved songbird.

Either way, Enya has a new CD out this year and for New Age Christmas music fans, it’s a doozy! Yep, that’s right, she may have put out a couple of holiday singles over the years, but 2008 marks the first time the fair maiden from Gweedore, County Donegal has released a full-fledged Christmas album.

And lemme tell ya, this record delivers on all fronts. Casual fans will love it, Enya haters will gag on their eggnog and true, dyed-in-the-wool Enya lovers from way back will be in weepy tune heaven. Seriously, there are some beautiful, shimmery Christmas jams here, amigos. Really lovely stuff…

Enya "And Winter Came" #3

Enya "And Winter Came" #2

Working once again with longtime-producer Nicky Ryan and his wife, lyricist Roma Ryan, Enya belts out some amazing songs here, and even if they weren’t composed in the haunting Loxian language Roma Ryan and Enya invented for “Amarantine”, they do the trick. I mean, hey, if you dig the music, does it really matter what language the gal is singing in? Hell no!

So, if you’re in the mood for some sweet, Middle-earth-friendly Christmas tunes, pick this album up, pronto. I promise you, it’ll be the talk of the Shire…every Hobbit you know will be dying to burn it off you.

5 Comments

Filed under Hear

“Olive, the Other Reindeer” Pop-Up Advent Calendar

Christine and I got this rocking advent calendar as a gift last Christmas and have seriously been counting down the days till we could use it. So, even though we haven’t mailed a single Christmas card yet and just put up our beautiful, fake tree last night, we eagerly cracked open our “Olive, the Other Reindeer” Pop-Up Advent Calendar at the stroke of midnight on December 1st! Yay!

Olive Advent Calendar #1

Unlike other advent calendars, where you gradually build towards something cool on Christmas day, this Olive calendar is fun the minute you crack it open. Vivid, colorful, and just as insanely cool as the illustrations in the kick-ass book by J. Otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh, the moment you break the seal, the pop-up calendar unfolds into a beautiful Santa’s Castle scene.

And if you thought the book and super cute, animated movie were packed with cool characters and imagery, the 3D version of the story is even more fun.

Not only are the little paper characters almost painfully cute, but the details seriously rock! Aside from a helicopter landing pad on the ceiling of one of the buildings, there is a little workshop for the elves under one roof and a reindeer barn under another…awesome!

Olive Advent Calendar #2

Olive Advent Calendar #3

So, while I know it’s too late to pick one up for this year, I highly recommend snapping up an Olive advent calendar now for use in December, 2009. And if you have kids, forget about it, they’ll love it!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we haven’t figured out how to put the little paper people back in their number slots for next year, so, this might be a one-time-use advent calendar…but, either way, it rocks!

Go, Olive!

3 Comments

Filed under Do

“Last Chance Harvey”

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Christine and I see lots of movies this time of year — at last count we’ve seen 16 since Halloween, crazy! — and though most of them are awesome and totally award-worthy, they are also almost uniformly serious. So, when we see a funny, well-made romantic comedy this time of year, they usually stand out…big time.

One such movie from year’s past was “Miss Congeniality” — which we still love, despite the constant heckling from our friend’s Matt and Wan — and this year’s stand-out is the sparkling romantic comedy, “Last Chance Harvey”.

"Last Chance Harvey" #1

Starring Dustin Hoffman and a luminous Emma Thompson — seriously, beneath her frumpy, every-woman costumes, Thompson has star power to burn in this flick! — the bulk of “Last Chance Harvey” takes place over a 24-hour period in a beautifully-shot London, England.

I know it’s kind of cliche to say that “the city itself is a character” in a movie, but, I swear to God, London has never looked more vibrant and sunny than it does here. Even if you’re not big old UK geeks like us, this movie will make you want to visit London like never before. All burnished orange sunsets and crisp, yellow foliage, merry old England looks absolutely gorgeous here!

And the performances in “Harvey” are just as lovely and delicate as the setting. Playing two of the saddest, loneliest characters ever put to screen, Hoffman and Thompson are pitch-perfect as the star-crossed couple who “meet cute” and then spend the rest of the movie literally walking and talking around London.

I know, could be a total snoozefest, right? Well, trust me, it’s not. Working at the top of their game from a touching, often-hilarious script by director Joel Hopkins, the stars imbue every word they say with a depth and longing that is positively heartbreaking.

"Last Chance Harvey" #2

"Last Chance Harvey" #3

And that music…wow…the score, by composer Dickon Hinchcliffe, calls to mind the gloriously giddy work of Badly Drawn Boy’s killer “About a Boy” soundtrack. If you haven’t heard that score, or seen that movie, stop reading now and rent them both. Amazing!

But, back to “Harvey”. While on the surface it may sound like your classic boy-meets-girl romantic comedy, in reality what the filmmaker’s have crafted here is a wistful, Baby Boomer “Before Sunrise”. And if you knew how much Christine and I loved “Sunrise” and it’s arguably-better sequel “Before Sunset”, you know that is high praise indeed, amigos. Those movies were all about character and dialog and they made you laugh as much as they sometimes tore your heart out. Well, same thing goes for “Harvey”…this movie rocks!

So, if you’re looking for some holiday cheer this season, skip the bloated “Benjamin Button” and see “Last Chance Harvey” instead. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and, hand to God, you’ll walk out of that theatre smiling…

4 Comments

Filed under See

Christmas Wishes on KOST FM

OK, I know I sound like a broken record going on and on about the all-Christmas playlist at KOST 103.5, but, seriously, the only thing Christine and I love more than their non-stop Christmas jams are the sad-ass Christmas Wishes that the station grants their listeners every holiday season.

I’ve never called in a wish myself, but it works like this: from Thanksgiving through Christmas day, anyone with a hard luck story and a truly dramatic Christmas Wish can call into KOST at 818-520-2035 and possibly have their wish granted on the air. I know, awesome, right? And as gratifying as it probably is to have your wishes granted by the big-hearted DJ’s at KOST, listening to those teary-eyed phone calls is even better!

Christmas Wishes on KOST FM #2

Christmas Wishes on KOST FM

I swear to God, the stories these people tell will break your heart. And if the wishes don’t move you, than Michael Gore’s classic “Terms of Endearment” theme, which they play in the background during every segment, surely will.

I can’t tell you how many times Christine and I have sat in the car openly weeping to these sobby Christmas Wish segments. And from what we’ve gathered from our many KOST FM-loving friends and family in the Southland, we are not alone.

A favorite wish of ours from a couple year’s back was from the Grandmother who’s grandchild’s bedroom had been infected with toxic mold. Not only was her grandchild sick from the mold, but all of her favorite books and toys were ruined. Like they always do, KOST swept in with a whopping triple digit gift card from Target to replace everything and give that family back their Christmas. So cool!

And while most of the calls involve someone wanting airfare to visit a sick relative or something like that, two of our favorites this year involved something much more simple…

The first was from a woman who’s mother recently passed away. Her sister is the sole caregiver for their ailing father and since they have no money for extras of any kind this year, the woman drives a totally beat-up car with crappy tires. So, the Christmas Wish this lady asks for are new tires for her sister’s car so she can drive Dad to his doctor’s appointments. OMG…I was blubbering so hard I couldn’t even hear everything that KOST offered this poor woman. Sad!!

But, the best one I’ve heard so far this season came from an emotional gentlemen named Rick whose wife is dying of stage four breast cancer. Already, that’s enough to make anyone cry…but rather than one last trip around the world or a fancy vacation, all Rick wanted for his beautiful, long-suffering wife was a new mattress so she could sleep better at night. Gulp…

If I wasn’t crying so hard, I woulda called in and offered to buy that dude a mattress myself. Seriously, what a tearjerker! And, as always, KOST was quick to grant Rick’s wish with a fluffy new mattress from Living Spaces. You go, KOST!

If you’d like to hear some of these touching and insanely-sad Christmas Wishes yourself, check out the live internet feed here. I can’t get it to play on my Mac, but, since every radio in the house is tuned to KOST right now, it’s not a problem. Happy listening, amigos…

36 Comments

Filed under Hear

Bettie Page (1923-2008)

You’ve probably already heard the news by now, but, after being hospitalized earlier this week with pneumonia, 1950’s pin-up queen Bettie Page died yesterday in Los Angeles at the age of 85. Now, I’m not the world’s foremost authority on Miss Bettie Page, but all I know is that every cool girl at Harbor High School wanted to be her and every dude I knew wanted to, well, let’s just say “date” her.

Bettie Page #1

Though she gave up her modeling and acting career in the late fifties, Page’s ginormous resurgence in the 1980’s coincided with my teenage years and let me tell ya, she made a huge impact on me and my brother. Aside from her obvious physical “gifts”, the thing we really dug about Page is that she was so freaking “girl next door” cute.

Even in her most lurid bondage pics Page had that cutie pie smile that told you she was in on the joke and that as soon as she finished spanking or whipping her playmate on the couch she was gonna cook you up a mean meatloaf or something. And best of all, Page was a real woman, with real curves, who looked like she enjoyed the car-hop window at Bob’s Big Boy almost as much as I do. Seriously…how could I not love the woman?

Like I said above, I don’t know much about Page’s personal life — and no, I haven’t seen that “Notorious Bettie Page” biopic, but that’s mostly because I can only stomach Gretchen Mol in very small doses — so, maybe Page’s life off-camera was a train wreck. But based on her iconic pics, I gotta say, the lady had it going on, big time.

And if I had a nickel for every hip, rockabilly chick in high school and college who stole Bettie’s style, well, shit, I’d have a lot of frigging nickels. Simply put, if Greta Garbo was “The Face” of the 20th Century, then you can bet your ass that good old, cornfed Bettie Page was “The Bod”.

Rest in peace, Bettie Page, we’ll miss you…

5 Comments

Filed under See

2009 Golden Globe Nominees

Barring any last-minute drama by the fractured Screen Actors Guild — who just announced that they are presenting a strike authorization vote to their membership on January 2nd — this year’s Golden Globe Awards should play out a little better than last year’s lame, strike-addled affair.

Seriously, ask anyone who sat through last year’s Golden Globe “press conference” and they’ll you that that thing was a total disaster. If I never have to sit through Mary Hart and the rest of those old leathery gasbags reading names off a list again, I’ll die a very happy man indeed. Yikes…

"Rachel Getting Married" #1

"Rachel Getting Married" #2

But…I digress. This year’s crop of nominees are a pretty cool bunch. Sure, there are way too many nods for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Burn After Reading” (which we both kinda loathed), but I was seriously stoked to see “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Frost/Nixon” and “Milk” sneak in there in some pretty major categories. Those movies rocked hard, so, congrats to everyone involved.

Was really bummed to see Rosemarie DeWitt overlooked for her heartbreaking turn as Globe-nominee Anne Hathaway’s sister in “Rachel Getting Married”. Sure, Hathaway had all the big, “crazy girl makes a scene” moments in the movie, but DeWitt, playing the good, normal sister, stole every scene she was in. So, this is a huge oversight in my book.

I was stoked to see James Franco nominated for “Pineapple Express”. We haven’t seen the movie yet, but he kicked ass in “Milk”, so I’m rooting for him! And to have practically the entire cast of “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” score acting nominations is kind of awesome too. Especially that dreamy Rebecca Hall, who is almost supernaturally hot in both “Vicki Cristina” and “Frost/Nixon”. Yowza!

Penelope Cruz in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona"

Javier Bardem and Rebecca Hall in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona"

Seth Rogen and James Franco in "Pineapple Express"

But I think the thing I’m most upset about today is Anna Faris being totally shut out for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy forĀ  “The House Bunny”. Laugh if you must, but Faris was hilarious in the kind of role that category was made for! For shame, Hollywood Foreign Press, for shame…

And finally, speaking of “The House Bunny”, I’m also very glad to know that poor, beleaguered Rumer Willis will finally get to fulfill her long-delayed role as Miss Golden Globes at this year’s show. You go, Rumer!

To see a complete list of all this year’s nominees click here.

2 Comments

Filed under See

“Not Forgotten” to premiere at Slamdance Film Festival

Found out earlier today, just hours before a rocking cast and crew screening at Raleigh Studios, that my movie “Not Forgotten” will have it’s world premiere at this January’s Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Yay!

Long considered sort of the spunky, younger sibling of the Sundance Film Festival — which is also held in Park City every January — Slamdance has come into it’s own in the past couple of years and is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year with all sorts of special events and screenings.

"Not Forgotten" movie poster #2

And, as luck would have it, “Not Forgotten” is going to premiere at one of those special screenings on Saturday, January 17th, 2009. As you probably know by now, the movie stars Simon Baker (“The Mentalist”), Paz Vega (“Spanglish” and the upcoming “The Spirit”), Claire Forlani (“Meet Joe Black”), Chloe Moretz (“Dirty Sexy Money”), Ken Davitian (“Borat”) and a slew of other cool actors. I’m not sure who all is coming out for the premiere, but it should be fun!

Christine and I haven’t started making travel plans yet — still kind of reeling from the shock of it all, I guess — but I will be attending the Festival for sure. In fact, I’ve already agreed to speak at a Screenwriting Fireside Chat sponsored by the WGA’s Indie Film Department, on January 20th at noon. Crazy, huh? I guess no one else was available to speak that day…ha!

Sadly, Christine might not be able to fly out for the Festival — she will be well into her third trimester by then, so, our doctor may put the kibosh on travel plans — but I will be there in my snowy weather finest. So, if you happen to be in Utah in January, come on down to Slamdance, amigos!

To see a full list of the movies screening at Slamdance this year, click here. And if you wanna check out the groovy new “Not Forgotten” website, click here.

6 Comments

Filed under Do, See

“The Christmas Shoes”

OK, if you read my last post, you have some idea of how much Christine and I love Christmas music — at last count we had upwards of 50 Christmas CD’s in our collection! — and as far as holiday tunes go, the cheesier the song, the better!

And our favorite cheesy Christmas song ever is the crazy-sad “The Christmas Shoes” by NewSong. If you haven’t heard the song, it hinges on a little boy meeting up with a stranger at a department store on Christmas eve. The boy is trying to buy some shiny Christmas shoes for his dying mother, who has hours to live, so that she looks pretty when she meets Jesus later that night in heaven. I know…sad, huh? Well, grab some Kleenex, amigos, because it gets way better…

THE CHRISTMAS SHOES #1

So, the kid is paying for the shoes when he realizes he doesn’t have enough money. At this point in the song, a choir of angelic children’s voices chime in as the boy asks the stranger in line behind him if he can borrow some money to buy the shoes. His heart breaking, the stranger ponies up the cash and the boy hurries off to give the shoes to his Mom.

Now, if you’re not crying by the end of this song, well, maybe you just don’t cry. But, as far as Christine and I are concerned…bring on the waterworks! Seriously, we tear up every time it plays on KOST, and they play that thing day and night during the holidays, so we do a lot of weeping around here.

Anyway, while we have been huge fans of the song for a couple of years now, Christine and I recently learned that there was a CBS TV movie made from the song back in 2002. And when we heard that our favorite TV movie hambones, Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams were the stars, well, how could we miss it?

So, last week we finally caught the movie on Lifetime, and, well, let’s just say it pales in comparison to the song. I mean, Rob Lowe is OK and a wheezing, coughing Kimberly Williams acts her pretty little heart out beneath a ton of “sick lady” make-up, but the rest of the cast is downright awful.

Peppered with a C-level supporting cast — apparently the producers blew all their cash on Lowe and Williams — the movie is painfully bad, even by Lifetime movie standards. Our Tivo missed the first hour of the movie, but since all we were concerned with was seeing the song brought vividly to life onscreen, and that all happened at the end, we were cool.

But, wow, the way they dramatized the song was just plain lame. I mean, God bless him, Rob Lowe tries him damnedest to give his lifeless, boring character some flava, but the boy playing Williams’ kid is one lousy little actor. Sorry, but, man alive, I can cry better on cue than that kid! Yikes…

THE CHRISTMAS SHOES DVD cover

The real kicker to the climactic scene, however, is the actor playing the department store cashier. This dude is so mean to the little boy that it almost ruins the good memory of the song. I mean, hello, I don’t remember any lyrics about the cashier being a prick! But in the movie, he belittles the kid — actually barking out the words: “Do I stutter?” when the kid asks him to repeat the price — for not having enough money and then tells him to come back after Christmas when “We’ll be giving [the shoes] away”. Huh? I know he didn’t just make fun of that boy’s dying momma shoes! Mean!

I think our biggest complaint, however, was the fact that they didn’t play the song nearly enough for our tastes. The song is the reason the movie was made, and a few wimpy refrains here or there is not enough, man. If I was directing that thing, that song would be all over the last few minutes of the movie.

Of course, we both still totally cried when the boy slipped the shoes on Williams’ giant feet — no kidding, that chick has clown feet, they’re huge! — but, overall, this movie sucked big time. Shockingly, CBS actually made a sequel in 2005 entitled “The Chistmas Blessing”. Wow…who knew?

In the sequel, Neil Patrick Harris plays the now-adult kid and Rob Lowe reprises his role as the money-lender with the Christmas spirit. Normally, we’d be all over that shit, but, having suffered through the first movie, I don’t know if we can stomach a sequel…sorry, Doogie.

So, if you’re craving some weepy, classic holiday cheese this season, I’d say stick to “The Christmas Shoes” song instead. Or better yet, check out “The Christmas Shoes” music video here. Using footage from the movie, the video is the perfect way to experience this song in all it’s awesomely sad glory. Enjoy!

1 Comment

Filed under Hear, See

Griffith Park Festival of Lights

The giant Christmas trees at The Grove and The Americana at Brand aside, there are two things that make Los Angeles the coolest place to be at Christmas time. The first is the rocking, month-long Christmas-only playlist on KOST 103.5, and the second is the Griffith Park Festival of Lights.

Griffith Park Festival of Lights #1

Sure, other towns might have festive tree lighting ceremonies in the town square or whole neighborhoods festooned with twinkling holiday cheer, but only L.A., the epicenter of car culture, has a drive-thru Festival of Lights. Yay!

Sponsored by the Department of Water and Power, the Festival of Lights has been an L.A. tradition for the past 13 years and I’m happy to report that Christine and I have yet to miss a Festival.

We’ve found that the best time to visit the Festival of Lights is in mid-December, right before closing time at like, 9:45 or so. The Thanksgiving crowds have died down by then and the Christmas rush hasn’t really peaked yet, so there is usually way less traffic. Emphasis on the word usually.

But, hey, what’s a little traffic when you’re winding through Griffith Park at night looking at pretty Christmas lights? Oh, and did I mention that the lights are timed to music? Yep, you guessed it, the folks at KOST 103.5 pipe in kick-ass Holiday jams from speakers in the trees and bushes all along the Festival route.

Griffith Park Festival of Lights #2

Griffith Park Festival of Lights #3

And even though the cold and the exhaust fumes are a killer, we crank up the heat every year and roll down our windows to experience the Festival of Lights in all its glory. We call this tradition the “cold maker” as inevitably one or both of us will have the sniffles afterwards, but, wow, what a way to get sick!

This year, the Festival went green by including an entire week of Vehicle Free Nights (which we sadly missed!) but there is a walking lane at the Festival as well, so, not having a car is no excuse for missing the Fest!

As you can see from these pics from last year’s Festival, the light displays offer super cool depictions of L.A. landmarks and traditions, celebrating everything from the ships at “America’s Port” in San Pedro to the spanking-new Griffith Observatory just a short jog uphill.

And though all the light displays are awesome, I think my favorite is the LAX display with the miniature towering light pylons changing colors to the music behind the iconic Theme Building. So cool!

Griffith Park Festival of Lights #5

Griffith Park Festival of Lights #4

Griffith Park Festival of Lights #6

So, if you happen to be in the L.A. area in the next couple of weeks, set your dial to 103.5, crank the volume way up and make your way towards Griffith Park at nightfall. You might freeze your ass off, and you might catch a wicked seasonal cold, but you won’t be disappointed!

1 Comment

Filed under Do

Starbucks Doubleshot Coffee + Energy

OK, I have had some seriously bad coffee on road trips over the years, but never in my life as a coffee drinker have I had anything as strangely disgusting as the latest Starbucks canned coffee beverage…the Doubleshot Energy + Coffee. Yikes!

It was late Wednesday night, the day before Thanksgiving and after crawling up Highway 5 from Los Angeles, we stopped for gas as we always do at our favorite truck stop/gas station in Gustine. Knowing that we might hit more horrendous traffic over Hecker Pass and beyond on our last leg to Santa Cruz, I decided I’d better caffeine it up a bit.

Starbucks Doubleshot Energy + Coffee #1

So, rather than get some of the truck stop’s notoriously awful hot coffee, I opted for a Starbucks canned coffee instead. Normally I would get the Starbucks Doubleshot, which is very small and very expensive — I’ve seen it for as much as $3.99 in some places! — but totally worth the price, because aside from giving you just the right jolt, that shit is pretty tasty.

However, this time I saw something new in that refrigerated section…shiny, gigantic cans of something called Starbucks Doubleshot Energy + Coffee. It even came in three flavors: Mocha, Coffee, and Vanilla. Cool! Twice the size of the traditional Doubleshot and fifty cents cheaper with Guarana, Ginseng and B Vitamins to boot, how could I not try this thing? So, I grabbed myself a Coffee flavored can of Energy + Coffee goodness and headed to the register. And that, amigos, was my first deadly mistake…

This drink was bad. Really, really bad. I’m not a fan of energy drinks in general and this crap tasted like the worst energy drink you ever had combined with the worst day-old coffee you ever had and a buttload of sugar. Seriously, I gagged on my first sip…it was hideous.

Of course, having already slapped down my cold hard cash, I drank the whole thing. Yes, I am that cheap, and after almost eight hours on the road, I needed a pick-me up regardless of the taste. So, what are you gonna do?

Starbucks Doubleshot Energy + Coffee #2

In hindsight, what I should have done was stopped drinking immediately. By my third sip I had the rumblings of some serious coffee stomach, and by the time we reached Gilroy a half hour or so later, I felt like my heart was gonna explode. It didn’t help that Christine kept laughing at me for cheaping out and going large instead of sticking to a drink I knew and trusted. Urgh…what a disaster.

So, I guess the moral of the story is to stick with what you know on road trips, and for the love of God, stear clear of this toxic Starbucks concoction! Yuck…

4 Comments

Filed under Eat

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

I should start by saying that I absolutely love almost everyone associated with this movie, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, David Fincher, hell, even the writer of the source material himself, F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the movie that this extraordinarily-gifted crew has cobbled together is just plain bad.

BENJAMIN BUTTON #1

I won’t go into detail because I know a lot of people who are seriously dying to see “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, and I was too. I mean, that teaser trailer rocked! But, sadly, trailers are not movies, amigos…

I think the kindest compliment I can give this syrupy-sweet, butt-numbingly long movie — seriously, it makes “Australia” look like a short film — is that if you liked “Forrest Gump”, you’ll love “Benjamin Button”.

And if you hated “Gump”, like Christine and I did (sorry America), then you will probably hate this movie too. Brad Pitt’s hokey, ever-shifting accent aside, there are so many Gump/Button similarilities that you could do a scholarly work on it.

Just to give you an idea of how liberally “Button” borrows from “Gump”, there is a sassy Momma character, a crazy sea captain best friend, a legless man, a thwarted longtime love born in childhood, and even a lame ongoing joke that rivals that annoying “shrimp this, shrimp that…” sequence from “Gump”.

BENJAMIN BUTTON #2

BENJAMIN BUTTON #3

And yet all that said, I gotta tell ya, “Gump” is a much better movie. Yep, it seems that that old hambone Robert Zemekis has Fincher beat in the epic crowdpleaser department. And since I am not one to ever shower Bob Zemekis with compliments of any kind, you know I must have really hated “Button”. Yikes…

So, come Christmas, save yourself a little hard-earned dough and rent “Forest Gump”, or better yet, check out a truly great movie like “Frost/Nixon”, “Milk” or “Slumdog Millionaire” instead…

6 Comments

Filed under See

“Frost/Nixon”

Saw this bad-ass movie over the long weekend and all I can say is…wow, Ron Howard rocks, baby! As a director I have loathed (“The Da Vinci Code”) just as many of his movies as I have loved (“Cinderella Man”) over the years, but with “Frost/Nixon” it’s like Opie has finally found his voice as a serious director. And man, what a thrill!

FROST/NIXON #1

I have to admit, as much as I was looking forward to seeing this movie, I was also a little skeptical that a film based on a Tony-winning play about a legendary television interview between David Frost and Richard Nixon would be, I dunno, kind of stagy and plodding. But, man alive, was I wrong!

In opening up his play for the movie, writer Peter Morgan, as he did so beautifully with “The Queen” and “The Last King of Scotland” has made politics absolutely riveting. And when you couple his crackerjack script with Howard’s whiz-bang directing and the towering performances of Frank Langella as Nixon and Michael Sheen as Frost, well…how can you lose?

Seriously, in lesser hands, “Frost/Nixon” could have been a tedious series of close-ups and cramped interiors, but this movie could not be more cinematic. Big, open, sweeping, the camera is everywhere all at once and with Hans Zimmer’s incredible, slow-build score leading the way, the film has a sense of drama that is just breathtaking.

FROST/NIXON #5

FROST/NIXON #2

FROST/NIXON #6

And the fact that the production filmed in many of the real-life locales only ads to the gravitas. I can only imagine how much that helped the actors bury themselves in their roles, because bury they do, amigos!

Reprising his Tony-winning performance, Langella doesn’t exactly look like Nixon, but man, he has the strange tics and sad sack mannerisms down pat. And Tony-nominee Sheen — who, if you ask me, was robbed of a Supporting Oscar nod for his stellar turn as Tony Blaire in “The Queen” — more than holds his own as a man finding his voice as a journalist during the course of the interviews.

But perhaps even more exciting than the leads are the amazing supporting performances by Kevin Bacon as Nixon loyalist Jack Brennan, and Sam Rockwell and Oliver Platt as Frost’s hard-working researchers, James Reston Jr. and Bob Zelnick, respectively.

All working at the top of their game, the three workhorse actors lend “Frost/Nixon” a boxing movie element that is entirely unexpected. And watching them quickly move in to clean up the figuriative blood when Frost and Nixon have finished a “round” before the camera is beyond awesome.

FROST/NIXON #3

FROST/NIXON #4

In fact, Howard structures the entire movie like one big showdown, and though it might sound a bit heavy-handed, it works like gangbusters. Yes, I said gangbusters…sorry, but it really is that good.

“Frost/Nixon” opens nationwide this weekend, so, check it out! And if you’re interested in seeing the real life “Frost/Nixon: Watergate Interviews” for yourself, they have just been re-released on DVD as well. Cool, huh? I can’t wait to see how they compare to the movie!

4 Comments

Filed under See

Radiohead rocks the Grammy nods!

OK, I know what you’re thinking, the Grammy’s haven’t been cool or relevant since, well…never. But that said, I was still very excited to hear that Radiohead scored a whopping five Grammy nominations for their lush, rocking “In Rainbows” album yesterday.

3082426561_74501959ac

Also glad to see Coldplay in the running for so many awards and Eddie Vedder scoring a surprise Best Solo Rock Vocal nomination for his soaring song “Rise” from the “Into The Wild” soundtrack. Right on, Eddie!

But still, my boys from Radiohead cracking the Album of Year category is still the highlight of my day. There’s no way in hell that they’ll actually win that award, but just the fact that they got in there with a “pay what you want” album initially released solely on the internet is pretty damn cool. And who knows, maybe they’ll even get to play at the actual award show, which would kick ass!!

Wow…seriously, I’m so freaking happy right now that even the total Grammy-tastic nomination of the Jonas Brothers for Best New Artist can’t dampen my joy today. Go, Radiohead!

To see a full list of this year’s nominees, click here.

1 Comment

Filed under Hear

Graceland pic on “Ribs Paradise”

A couple months back we got a Flickr e-mail from a producer at the Travel Channel asking if he could use one of our Graceland pics on an upcoming special on the best ribs in America. Thinking nothing would come of it, I said yes and signed the release he forwarded me a few days later.

Well, guess what? Last week the picture I took of the bright blue sign in the Graceland parking lot (below) was featured front and center on the Travel Channel special “Ribs Paradise”! Cool, huh?

Graceland pic used on "Ribs Paradise"

My picture appears about 19 minutes into the show, just before the segment on Memphis’ rocking Rendezvous dry-rub ribs. If you’re a huge nerd, like me, and wanna see the pic onscreen for yourself, check your local listings and set your Tivo’s accordingly.

The Travel Channel has been playing “Ribs Paradise” pretty much non-stop since last week’s original airing, so it shouldn’t be hard to find, but make sure you eat something before you watch, because that crazy-ass show will definitely leave you jonesing for some sweet, spicy ribs!

Que viva la Travel Channel!

3 Comments

Filed under See

“Rosie Live!”

Judging from the ratings, I think Christine and I were the only losers who actually watched this train wreck of a TV special last week. And considering that Christine stopped watching after the opening number with Liza Minnelli, I guess that means I’m the only loser who watched it all the way through. And, let me tell ya, it was God-awful…

3080446861_3dc0ceaf38_o

No offense to mis hermanos at Telemundo, but “Rosie Live!” was like a Mexican variety show minus the subtlety. Not only was Rosie herself spectacularly unfunny, but the line-up of guest stars was beyond unholy.

Of course, I expected NBC stars like Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, and even Conan O’Brien — who appeared just long enough to have a pie thrown in his face by Baldwin! — to show up to shamelessly promote their own shows. But who in their right mind thought of inviting Rachel Ray to wordlessly trot across the stage with a giant fake turkey?

And trust me, Ray was on the normal end of the spectrum. The rest of the show reads like a laundry list of bad ideas: Clay Aiken chatting Rosie up in his full-on “Spamalot” togs, Harry Connick Jr. playing Santa, Ne-Yo cheesing out with the “Solid Gold” dancers, Alanis Morisette going totally goth, a troupe of acrobats spinning to a crazy techo remix of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, Gloria Estefan singing with dancing Thanksgiving food, and last, but not least, Kathy Griffin inexplicably dressed as (and lamely spoofing) that old CNN harpie, Nancy Grace.

Seriously, NBC, who thought any of these things were gonna pull in the big numbers? I think the funniest thing about this whole debacle is now that the show has reportedly been canceled after one airing, NBC is retroactively referring to “Rosie Live!” as a “special”. Ha!

How a show widely-touted as a new series one week is downgraded to a one-off special the next is beyond me, but no matter what they call it, “Rosie Live!” was jaw-droppingly bad television. And I watched every lame minute of it. Yikes…

4 Comments

Filed under See