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Posts Tagged ‘Entertainment’

Discount humor or comedic find of the year?

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2009 at 3:40 am

page10discounthumorObserve and Report, brought to you by director/writer Jody Hill, is not for the feint of heart, but is an interesting look into the psyche of a mall security guard who tries too hard to be the best at what he does. Any psychology majors may want to watch this movie to answer one simple question: how many mental diseases does Ronnie Barnhartd (Seth Rogan) have?

Ronnie, being the head of mall security, battles many foes, including skateboarders, shoplifters, and a menacing flasher who manages to catch the love of his life, Brandi (Anna Faris), off guard by flashing her his goods. After this devastating incident, it’s up to Ronnie and his team of mall warriors- Charles (Jesse Plemons), the Yuan twins (who play themselves, John and Matt Yuan) and Dennis (Michean Pena) – to catch the pervert and put an end to his flashing days once and for all.

For his second film, Jody Hill does a great job at writing and directing what I thought was a hilarious film with a few heavy flaws. It is not slapstick humor nor is it black humor, but an interesting hybrid which hasn’t been seen for quite a long time. If you don’t attempt to understand what is going on in each character’s mind, then you will not get a lot of the jokes. This may turn many people off to watching the film, as it can’t be categorized as smart or stupid humor: it just is what it is.

The amount of violence and obscene images placed in this movie are surprising, but add to the laugh factors. Simply put, this film is not for everyone. Some may find it hilarious, some may find it offending, and others may think it is foolish. This is one of those films which is difficult to tell what kind of people will enjoy it.

Ray Liotta shows he still has what it takes to be a badass as Detective Harrison, in a way we haven’t seen since the 1990 blockbuster Goodfellas. Seth Rogan, unlike his last few films, actually acted instead of playing himself for this film. Instead of coming off as the slightly intelligent good guy, he’s a mentally incapable fool who does what he wants, which leads to many conflicts and the viewer may find himself wanting to guide him along the right way. Anna Faris actually acts a little better than she did in the Scary Movie films (which isn’t saying much). Don’t expect any Oscar winning acting in this film, but as a whole it was well done for what it needed to be.

For only his second motion picture, Jody Hill brings a surprisingly funny film which may not appeal to everyone, although the last ten minutes of the film might be worth it to watch regardless. It has its flaws, mainly in the acting and pacing of the story, but overall it is a film that you might want to check out, although guys may not want to bring their dates as it’s a very testosterone-driven film. I give it 3 out of 4 stars.

Page 11, Entertainment

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2009 at 3:38 am

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Entertainment, Page 11

Metallica makes the Hall of Fame

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2009 at 3:35 am

page11metallicaMetallica made music history by being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 4. They blew the roof off of the Public Auditorium in Cleveland. The rap group Run-DMC was also inducted. Frontman-guitarist James Hetfield who co-founded the band in 1981 said “Dream big and dare to fail, because this is living proof that it is possible to make a dream come true.” After accepting the award, Metallica played a couple of their biggest hits, including “Master Puppets” and “Enter Sandman”. This marked the first time the tickets sold were open to the public. Eminem presented the honor to Run-DMC’s Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and Joseph “Rev-Run” Simmons. He called them “the baddest of the bad and the coolest of the cool.” After the death of founding member Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell, the band retired in 2002. McDaniels said, “The music that we made then didn’t just impact friends, it impacted a generation. So I guess that’s what rock ‘n’ roll does.” Run-DMC is the second hip-hop act to be inducted after Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It was a great and proud night for musicians and music fans everywhere of the legendary acts.

Page 6, Entertainment

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 4:36 am

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Entertainment, Page 6

Never Compromise

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 4:35 am

page6watchmen“Who Watches the Watchmen?” On its opening weekend I’d say a whole bunch of people.  The movie based on the iconic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons opened this Friday to packed houses all across the nation.  At the helm of the project is director Zack Snyder (300) and his high gloss style.  Since the mid-nineties the rights to Watchmen have been traded between studios the project given to different directors and at one time almost canned for good.  After months of hype and protest from disgruntled Watchmen purists the film finally hit theaters.

The biggest gripe about a Watchmen movie has always been the novels huge and twisting scope.  Each character gets a good chunk of time for both back story and recent history as well as insight into personal affairs of course.  Watchmen lovers also had a problem with condensing own Moore’s work into a movie because the novel takes time to develop the urgency of Nixon’s tyrannical rein in an alternate 1985.  The good news is Zack Snyder does a much better job with Watchmen than he did with 300.

Unlike 300, Snyder invests serious time in each of the Watchmen and through a Bob Dylan soaked opening montage does a great job of showing the plight of the masked heroes before them, The Minutemen.   Snyder follows Watchmen page-by-page and word-by-word at points but indulges a little by elongating fight sequences and upping gore, both of which end up working for the movie. The film’s opening scene, a fight between a masked intruder and the 60 something former Watchmen Edward Blake aka The Comedian is just as brutal as anything in 300 and yet feels like a panel right out of Watchmen.  With the doomsday clock at five minutes to midnight and the world on the bring of nuclear annihilation Snyder takes the audience through the flaws of human nature, the scarred life of former heroes and the view one never compromising right wing vigilante.

Stealing the show is Oscar nominated actor Jack Earle Haley as Rorschach.  Haley not only looks like the Rorschach in the book but also almost comes to embody him; his acting chops really show through as the unwavering fighter.   Another good performance came from Billy Crudup (Almost Famous) as Dr. Manhattan.  Out of touch with humanity and Earth itself Crudup does a great job of pulling emotions from the emotionless and showing the depth of Dr. Manhattan.  With Haley and Crudup as the cast’s big names (or not so big) the lack of star power may come off as a problem but it doesn’t, just see the sex scene between Night Owl II and Silk Spectre II for justification.

Though Watchmen has what it takes to please audiences Snyder does falter from time to time with his directorial choices.  Most elite fans will argue about the absence of the books within Watchmen, “The Curse of the Black Freighter” and “Under the Hood” both of which add significantly to the Watchmen experience.  With the movie running a little under three hours it already feels long at times making Snyder’s cutting of the two books both a good and bad idea.  The biggest issue Watchmen runs into is the slight alteration of its ending.  Snyder ops to omit SPOILER ALERT the books thrashing monster replacing it with a cataclysmic explosion END SPOILER.  While is does detract for fans, Snyder’s choice is legitimate, reworking the ending only slightly to make it more relevant to people today.

If you’re a fan of Watchmen or graphic novels for that matter go see the film.  Zack Snyder is the first director to bring one of Alan Moore’s books (read V for Vendetta then watch the movie) to life the right way, though he strays slightly the overall feeling is correct. Stylistically Watchmen the film is a translation of the book, dark, brutal, and heavy.  If you aren’t a fan of Watchmen read up before you see the movie.  This isn’t Spider-Man 3 and with its ping-ponging story lines, length, and graphic nature Watchmen can easy become a hassle for a viewer looking for Toby McGuire swing dancing.  So read the novel, take a little breather to get pumped, and go check out a movie that doesn’t really compromise but rather condenses what Lost creator J.J. Abrams calls “The greatest piece of popular fiction ever written.”

Sean Penn wins big with Milk

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 4:33 am

page6milkSean Penn won the 2009 Best Actor Oscar for his performance of the first openly gay politician Harvey Milk.  Milk was slain in 1978 by former city supervisor Dan White (a quietly desperate Josh Brolin, No Country for Old Men).  Director Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, My Own Private Idaho) weaves the movie around Milk tape-recording his will in the event of his assassination.

The movie begins in 1970 with a closeted Milk finding his love Scott (Spider-Man’s James Franco, deftly playing both charming eye candy and serious adult) in a Manhattan subway station.  Scott and Milk go to San Francisco to begin their lives.  They open a camera shop and essentially build Castro Street into a gay neighborhood full of free love.  When the police continue random brutality for no reason, Milk decides to run for county supervisor to make civil rights changes.

By the 4th election, Milk has gained political victory, devoted followers, a strong campaign staff, and a voice to try and quiet the Anita Bryants of the world.  Proposition 6 is particularly focused on among his many passionate battles, and it was basically a gay teacher witch hunt begun by California Senator John Briggs.  The measure didn’t pass, but it’s an interesting coincidence that Proposition 8 was currently passed in California to ban gay marriage.  1978…2008…the fight for equal recognition is still going strong 30 years later, but what would have happened if Harvey Milk was still alive and passionately fighting in his radical and theatrical way?

Van Sant mixes documentary and news footage into the scenes which gives the movie a proper gritty 1970s vibe.  Writer Dustin Lance Black (HBO’s Big Love) won a 2009 Best Original Screenplay Oscar, and it’s justified as his characterization of Milk is honest and flawed, yet passionate and joyful.  Harvey Milk is not a man often in general American history books, but it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the documentaries or read the book The Mayor of Castro Street as Sean Penn absolutely embodies his spirit.  He didn’t need those facial prosthetics as his portrayal of Milk’s hope, courage, tenacity, and need to be loved saturates the screen for two hours.

Penn and Franco’s chemistry was palpable from the moment they met each other on the subway stairs, and Van Sant immediately established that this is not a closeted movie by having them immediately kissing and ending up in bed five minutes after the opening credits.  There is a lot of focus on Harvey and “his men.”  Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer) plays Cleve, a student and sometime hustler who became a very vocal activist for Milk.    Scott left Milk before the successful election but remained an active part of his life.  Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) plays Jack, the new clingy and dramatic lover who ended up hanging himself.

Brolin doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but his conservative ex-policeman character of Dan White is extremely frustrated by Milk and all the change going on around him.  By the time he pulls the trigger, he has slowly disintegrated into a broken down man.  It’s to Brolin’s credit that he can bring sympathy to a man who committed two acts of murder but got off with manslaughter.  He and Penn have extremely tense filled scenes that build up to eventually make the ending even more harsh and climactic.

Milk is a film that demands to be seen.  Harvey Milk didn’t just want to give civil rights to homosexuals, he wanted to ensure that the elderly, poor, disabled, and misfits all had basic human rights.  He said, “This is not just jobs and issues, this is our lives we’re fighting for here.”  Penn and Van Sant have helped to keep this fight alive through art.

Page 7, Entertainment

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 4:32 am

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Enter the Zone, the Killzone

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 4:30 am

page7videogame When the Playstation 3 hit shelves in November of 2006 frenzied consumers ran out to get the newest and most powerful home gaming system ever.  Unfortunately the truth of the matter is Sony’s big black box came out with a huge price tag and an under achieving set of games.  At the 2006 E3 expo Sony needed to show what the PS3 could do if they were going to be able to put a dent in the sales of the mighty and tenured Xbox 360.  A midst a wave a controversy, Sony showed off Killzone 2, the sequel to the lukewarm Playstation 2 title Killzone.   The short video showed no actual gameplay but from the rendered footage consumers got to see some of if not the most impressive graphics to ever hit a game console.  Developer Guerilla Games was pelted by the public due to the games already lofty bar of excellence, three years and a horde of dropped- jaws later Killzone 2 finally hit the PS3.

Before the release of Killzone 2 Sony gave gamers a taste of the PS3’s power with games like Uncharted, Heavenly Sword, and Resistance 2.  Each game had those certain “Wow” moments, Killzone 2, on the other hand, is a game chock full of them.   The stunning opening cut scene shows off facial movements and lighting effects that are hands down (and I mean hands down) the best in a home console game up to this point.  The opening scene is rendered and even in its early stages at E3 gamers knew the cut scenes would pack a punch, which makes the actual gameplay graphics that much more outrageous.

Set in an alternate world the campaign of Killzone 2 takes the gamer through the second conflict between the ISA forces and the Nazi like Helghast.  The fighting takes place on the Helghast home planet of Helghan a dark, grim, industrial world.  Guerilla Games did everything possible to make the lighting, shadows, and colors as close to perfect as they could.  For example, in one scene a group of Helghast ambush Sev, the game’s main character.  The ambush takes place in a dark warehouse, when the Helghast suddenly break through a wall the light comes rushing in glaring and reflecting off of everything it would in normal everyday life.  The character models are also amazing; when a bullet hits an enemy in the leg or the shoulder the enemy twitches and falls like a human being.  Killzone 2 pushes the PS3 further than any game thus far, but even the mind blowing graphics can’t mask a lacking single player.  The game is overly difficult and somewhat short.  The single player does offer one new and interesting idea being one of the only first person shooters to implement a cover system.  The system works by ducking behind cover and then using the left stick to peek over and around the object of cover.  The design is great but with the games fast pace and skirmish type fire fights, it takes a bit to master.

Stepping out of the single player campaign the true gem of the Killzone 2 universe comes to fruition.  The game features one of the most deep and chaotic multi-player experiences on a console.  Taking parts of Halo and Call of Duty, Killzone 2 may be the exclusive title Sony needs to take the lead in the console war (excluding the Wii of course).   The game takes the speed of Halo and attempts to meld it with the precision of Call of Duty. The result is a game with a tough learning curve but a rewarding online experience.  Guerilla took a lot of time working on an interesting system of customization by making classes with perks and in game achievements called ribbons and badges.  Each class has certain abilities; a medic for example can revive downed allies and drop health packs to help damaged ones.  After the player completes certain challenges with a class they are given the ability to combine them for instance an engineer who can drop health packs.  This gives the player numerous ways to play.  Another plus is how smoothly the online works.  Most people complain about the weakness of the Playstation Network as compared to Xbox Live, but Killzone 2 runs without a hitch plus the ability to play each game mode in succession makes sessions seem shorter than they really are.

Killzone 2 is a work of art.  The game looks like nothing else out there and yet feels like a legitimate first person shooter.   Most importantly it gives gamers a real reason to step out and get a Playstation 3.  The black box is looked down on for its price tag, but with a killer exclusive title and the ability to play Blu-Ray the PS3 makes total sense.   Some are calling it the “Halo killer”, the game casual enough for the every now and then gamer and hardcore enough for the most devoted. Killzone 2 has its very polished sights set on topping the futuristic shooter genre.  With tons of downloadable content on the way Killzone 2 is looking to stick around for a while.  Lock, load, and get ready to be blown away.

Late Night Comedy Switch Ups

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2009 at 4:29 am

page7comedianOn February 20, Conan O’Brien record his last show as host of NBC’s Late Night. Taking his place was somewhat less of a comedian than O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon. It’s not really anything personal towards Fallon, well actually after seeing Fever Pitch, maybe it is. Just to get everything straight, O’Brien is no longer the host of Late Night because he will be taking over Jay Leno’s position as host of NBC’s other late night mainstay, The Tonight Show. Conan is scheduled to have his first day as host of his new show on June 1, Leno’s last show will be on May 29.

O’Brien had an excellent run as host on Late Night, building the show to a dominant position in its time slot over the years. With his unique style of humor that was able to create popular skits like the Walker Texas Ranger Lever, he was able to create a very loyal following for his show (if you don’t know about the Walker Lever, get yourself on Youtube and track it down asap).

In the meantime, there is a late night talk show void that needs to be filled. I will say that after watching a couple of episodes with Jimmy Fallon as host, I am pretty skeptical of what Fallon can do. The skits and jokes he tells tend to fall flat more often than not, and you can tell the audience is stretching its enthusiasm to keep the laughs coming. I will say the one thing Fallon does do well is his interviews. Although interviews can usually be the more boring part of late night television, Fallon is really able to get into it with his guests, even going so far as to have a dance-off with Cameron Diaz.

I think if Fallon needs anything it is a Andy Richter type cohort to move his jokes along. Having watched him since his career at Saturday Night Live, I know that Fallon is likable, but I don’t think he ever really made me laugh like any of the greats such as Sandler, Ferril, or even the emerging star of Adam Samberg. Let’s face it, there’s a reason why Fever Pitch sucked other than the fact that it was about the Red Sox.

Until Conan comes back on the air, I probably won’t be watching as much late night TV as I used to. Leno is stale and Letterman is boring. Outside of CBS’s Late Late Show with Caig Ferguson, it just doesn’t seem like there enough laughs on late night. Until then I’ll be waiting for Conan’s triumphant return and probably the overdue retirement of Leno. Jay, it’s nothing personal, but between Conan’s hair and your chin, there’s only room for one of you during late night.

Page 6, Entertainment

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2009 at 5:18 am

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Entertainment, Page 6