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Entourage: Season Five Preview

No matter how disappointed you may have been with the fourth season of “Entourage,” there’s not a fan in the world that isn’t counting down the days until the show’s season premiere on September 7th. A victim of the writers’ strike, the HBO comedy series hasn’t aired a new episode for an entire year, so it’ll be nice to finally see what Vince and Co. have been up to since “Medellin” tanked at the Cannes Film Festival.

You might even want to check out season four as a refresher before diving in to the new season. Not only will it prepare you for the year to come, but you’ll also notice that, despite some minor faults, it really isn’t as bad as you remember. Sure, Eric and Walsh’s bickering got rather annoying at times, and Drama and Turtle actually took a step backwards in terms of character development, but the overall mood of the series has remained the same since Day One: chicks, celebrities and cannabis.

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The biggest problem with the fourth season was that the whole “Medellin” plot failed to be as interesting as the writers hoped it would be. Thankfully, it looks as if the film is but an afterthought in the upcoming season, which finds Vince living the life of a beach bum in Mexico after “Medellin” flops at the box office. The whole “Medellin” fiasco will no doubt be mentioned early on, but aside from that, I think Doug Ellin has learned his lesson about creating storylines that are overly ambitious.

So what about the rest of the guys? Well, HBO isn’t spilling the beans, but from the few publicity shots that have fallen into my hands, it appears Eric will be getting a new client in the form of rapper-turned-actor Bow Wow, while Turtle will be hanging out with Vince in Mexico; at least for the short term. No word on whether Bow Wow will be playing himself or a fictional character, but at least it shows that Eric’s career plans haven’t been completely thwarted since getting canned by Anna Faris. Additionally, one of the clips over at Dailymotion has confirmed that Drama’s French lover, Jacqueline, is now his girlfriend, so that should give him a little more to do this year other than playing the group jester.

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As for guest stars, season five is looking pretty good. Both Mark Wahlberg and Martin Landau are returning, while Tony Bennett, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Pollack and Fran Drescher will also appear. Giovanni Ribisi and Lukas Haas are also tapped for recurring guest roles as a pair of up-and-coming screenwriters that sign with Eric, so look for Kevin Connolly’s plotline to dominate most of the season. That’s all we know for now, but that alone is enough to indicate the writers are planning to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. It’s exactly what the series needs, and I can’t wait. In the meantime, check out this “Viking Quest” web game, which is sure to get you in the mood for the new season.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Greetings to the New Series: “Raising the Bar” (TNT)

For someone who’s contributed so much to television, it’s rather surprising just how quiet Steven Bochco has been for the past few years.

Bochco is the man responsible for executive-producing such classic dramas as “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” and “NYPD Blue,” as well as short-lived but highly regarded series such as “Murder One,” “Brooklyn South,” and “Over There.” After 2005′s well-intentioned but sketchily-executed “Commander in Chief,” however, Bochco’s name stopped appearing in the credits for any new shows, and in a 2007 interview with Newsday, he admitted that he had decided to take a step back from the broadcast networks, saying, “I don’t think there’s a big appetite for the stuff I like to do. You’re looking at 400-year-old cops and detectives who are vampires. . . . It’s fine. I don’t have any disdain for it. It’s just not what I do.”

Thankfully, Bochco has found a new home on cable with TNT, who seem to be welcoming him with open arms…and when he’s offering up a series like “Raising the Bar,” why wouldn’t they?

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Doctor Who – Timelash

It’s a fairly well known fan joke that “Timelash” is an accidental anagram of “lame shit.” The story has the reputation of being the nadir of the already dodgy Colin Baker era of “Doctor Who,” but it’s a reputation that may not be entirely deserved. Thing is, “Timelash” is the sort of fare that’s so bad it manages to swing back around into the “can’t take your eyes off the car wreck” arena. It’s gaudy, weird, over the top, and has probably three too many elements thrown into a mix that’s already failing to gel. The Doctor and Peri (Nicola Bryant, wearing the classiest attire she was given during her time in the TARDIS) arrive on the planet Karfel. A political coup is in progress, led by Maylin Tekker (played by Paul Darrow, late of “Blake’s 7,” at his hammiest) and orchestrated by a deformed dictator known only as the Borad. The Karfelons are at war with the Bandrils – cobra-like creatures, clearly high on something and achieved via a rubber hand puppet (only one is ever shown). Like many a classic “Who” story, Karfel looks to be less of a planet and more of a confined citadel; the sets are brightly overlit and the cheap costumes came from the back of the closet. Into all this garishness are thrown green androids who’ve seemingly inhaled ample doses of helium, brontosaurus-like creatures called Morlox, and a young, idealistic writer from 19th century Earth named Herbert, who is transfixed by the Karfelon Vena (um, “Weena”…stop me if you see where this is going…) The Borad at one point actually says, “Choose your next words carefully, Doctor. They could be your last!” As I watched, my wife, much to my amusement, asked if they were saying “Borat.” Sacha Baron Cohen’s antics would indeed have been an amusing addition, although they couldn’t possibly have made the proceedings any more surreal. Yup, “Timelash” earns the honor of being the absolute best of bad ‘80s “Doctor Who”…and the disc includes a doc called “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” that pretty much confirms this review.

Click to buy “Doctor Who: Timelash”

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Postal

The last person that should be making political satires is Uwe Boll, a man that doesn’t even understand the concept of failure, let alone the lines that can and should be crossed in political incorrectness. Loosely based on the video game of the same name, “Postal” opens with the most inappropriate joke of the 21st Century: a view from within the World Trade Center as a plane crashes into it. That image alone is enough to guarantee an immediate boycott by most Americans, and it’s probably a good place to stop watching the film. In fact, even though the scene leading up to the crash is actually quite funny (two Islamic hijackers discuss the veracity of the 100 virgins theory, only to discover it’s not true), the rest of the movie is so amateurishly incoherent that the joke would have been better left to someone who could actually pull it off in good taste. Starring Zack Ward as the nameless protagonist, the movie follows the down-on-his-luck loser as he teams up with his cult leader uncle (Dave Foley) to rob a German-themed amusement park before Osama Bin Laden gets there first. One is looking to steal a shipment of hard-to-find plush dolls, while the other wants the vials of avian flu concealed within them. Can you guess which is which? It doesn’t really matter, since Boll is less concerned about a story than he is with jokes about Verne Troyer getting gang-raped by monkeys and Dave Foley showing his junk. You heard right, and that’s not even the worst of it. Just wait until he takes a dump with his junk still exposed…

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Bullz-Eye’s 2008 Fall Movie Preview

The mercury’s falling, sports fans are turning their attention from baseball to football, and twerpy kids across the country are back in school where they belong. Fall is here, and for the movie lover, that means it’s time for Hollywood to begin its annual turning away from substance-free popcorn movies and toward thoughtful dramas and Oscar hopefuls.

Between early September and Thanksgiving, the studios will be working overtime to get you into the theater – Lionsgate, just to give one example, has more movies coming out than some companies release in an entire year. To help you cut through the clutter, Bullz-Eye has assembled a list of the 20 most-anticipated films of the season, including the latest Bond flick (“Quantum of Solace”), Guy Ritchie’s return to the crime caper genre (“RocknRolla”), and Oscar bait like “The Soloist” and “The Road.” Check out the list (complete with trailers), and then come back to discuss what fall movies you’re most looking forward to seeing.

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DVD Spotlight: “The Eastwood Jazz Collection”

Today, we take jazz too seriously for its own good. There was a time, though, when jazz was at least as edgy and disreputable as rap and rock and roll were not so long ago. Four recent DVD releases raid the Warner Brothers library — and borrow the name of our nation’s best known movie tough-guy and jazz lover — to give us a fascinating but decidedly uneven look into the low down past of what we now call “America’s classical music.”

Directed by skilled journeyman Anatol Litvak, 1941’s “Blues in the Night” is a tale of hard-luck late-depression era musicians on the run and features enough young talent on hand to fascinate any film geek. Writer Robert Rossen would go on to directing and become one of Hollywood’s most successful realists with classics like “The Hustler,” while supporting actor Elia Kazan would go much further, becoming by far the most influential American theater and film director of his generation with “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “On the Waterfront”; then-editor Don Siegel is credited with the film’s enjoyably wacky montage sequences and eventually became one of America’s greatest action filmmakers (“Dirty Harry,” the 1956 original of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”) and the primary directing mentor to Clint Eastwood. On its own, however “Blues in the Night” is a lot more “interesting” than actually “good.” It’s an intriguing attempt to set the socially conscious early Warner Brothers aesthetic to a jazz beat, but the story isn’t strong enough, leading man Richard Whorf isn’t much of a screen presence, and the corn-level is excessive. On the other hand, this disc also has some nice extras, including one of the very many Warner Brothers cartoons to include the song “Blues in the Night,” which was written specifically for the film and netted an Oscar nomination for Tin Pan Alley greats Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer.

Balancing out the lefty, pro-FDR agenda of “Blues in the Night” is a film from the height of the McCarthy era, 1955’s “Pete Kelly’s Blues” – best known to the friends of my youth as “that weird twenties jazz movie with Jack Webb.” Webb, who also directed, had only recently forged an onscreen tough-guy person as super-dick Joe Friday of the L.A.P.D with the “Dragnet” radio series and a 1954 film version. This widescreen, color epic attempts to blend Webb’s hatred of all things criminal with his love for the early days of jazz.

It’s a fun but uneasy mix. Though the plot makes little sense and the music sometimes sounds more 1956 than 1927, the pace is a model of Dragnet-style efficiency and, Webb aside, it’s got quite a cast. The lovely and talented Janet Leigh shows up as Kelly’s main squeeze, none other than Lee-Freaking-Marvin is around as the second banana musician-tough guy, and an Oscar-nominated performance by singer Peggy Lee (“Is That All There Is?”) as an abused moll is touching. It also includes a musical appearance by jazz and pop great Ella Fitzgerald, who couldn’t really act but who could sing better than any human before or since. The almost fatal flaw here is that Webb himself simply lacked the charm and presence of a strong romantic lead. Maybe that’s why Joe Friday never seemed to go on a date.


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Desert Punk: The Complete Series

If there’s one thing the Japanese aren’t afraid of, it’s expressing their inner pervert – especially when it comes to anime. A typical series features several buxom beauties, sexy schoolgirls and devilish demons scattered throughout, but “Desert Punk” needs just one: Junko, a dangerous femme fatale who uses her basketball-sized breasts in order to make her way to the top of the food chain. Her greatest admirer also happens to be Desert Punk, the titular anti-hero who spends his days dreaming about nestling in between a nice pair of boobs when he’s not earning a quick buck. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where Japan has been reduced to an impoverished desert country, “Desert Punk” follows the young mercenary as he acquires a bratty little apprentice, makes new enemies, and even forms a few alliances along the way. As the show’s tagline (“Get the job done. Collect the money. Repeat.”) suggests, the job-of-the-week format quickly gets old, and though the series eventually moves in a new direction at the midway point, once the death of a major character occurs in episode 20, the series stops dead in its tracks. The remaining four episodes try to right the ship before the big finale, but by then, it’s too late. There’s a reason the show never became more than a cult hit, but for those that enjoy a little crude humor with their action, “Desert Punk” is a treat.

Click to buy “Desert Punk: The Complete Series”

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902whatthehell?!?

Just got this update from the publicity department of The CW:

The CW and our studio partner CBS Paramount Network Television have made the strategic marketing decision not to screen ’90210′ for any media in advance of its premiere. We’re not hiding anything . . . simply keeping a lid on ’90210′ until 9.02, riding the curiosity and anticipation into premiere night, and letting all our constituents see it at the same time.

I’m calling “bullshit.” I hear what they’re saying, but given all the controversy over Tori Spelling dropping out of her appearance in the show, can you blame me for being skeptical about this announcement? I could’ve accepted an excuse of the screener not being ready yet before I could accept the claim of “simply keeping a lid on ’90210.’”

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Blue City

One of these days, I’m going to pull together a feature about the forgotten films of the Brat Pack, and when I do, you can count on “Blue City” meriting inclusion. It’s not that the flick necessarily deserves rediscovery, but it’s definitely an interesting curiosity of the mid-1980s, if only because of the parties involved: it stars Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, David Caruso, Scott Wilson, and Paul Winfield (Best Actor Oscar nominee for 1972′s “Sounder”), features a soundtrack by Ry Cooder, is based on a novel by Ross MacDonald, and features a script that was co-written by Lukas Heller (“The Dirty Dozen,” “Too Late the Hero,” “Monte Walsh”) and Walter Hill (“The Getaway,” “The Warriors,” “48 Hours”). Nelson stretches his acting range by playing a bad boy who returns home after a five-year absence to find that his father – the town’s mayor – has been murdered. The description on the back of the DVD box, which refers to Nelson as “a wisecracking hero who isn’t afraid to bust a few heads to get the information he needs,” reveals that this was just one of the many “Beverly Hills Cop” rip-offs which were hitting theaters at the time, and for all of the talent involved, it’s still no more than an average action film, with the biggest laugh coming not from Nelson’s purported wisecracks but, rather, from the idea that someone with Sheedy’s figure could be hired as a dancer at the local strip club…especially when she’s not even that great a dancer!

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The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior

I’m not exactly sure anyone was clamoring for a follow-up to 2002’s “The Scorpion King,” but with the release of the third installment of the once-popular “Mummy” franchise in theaters, someone over at Universal clearly found it beneficial to dump this low-rent prequel onto DVD and Blu-ray at the same time. The story begins decades before the first film, where a young Mathayus has just witnessed the death of his father at the hands of a traitorous Arcadian named Sargon (UFC fighter Randy Couture). When he returns several years later after being sent away to train with the royal guard, Mathayus (Michael Copon) discovers that his land is now under Sargon’s rule. Determined to exact revenge, Mathayus embarks on a dangerous journey to the underworld to recover the only weapon capable of destroying his enemy. If you thought watching the spin-off of a sequel to a remake was bad enough, try watching the direct-to-DVD prequel to that same film. “The Scorpion King 2” is oozing with bad production values, even worse acting, and some of the dumbest dialogue you’ll hear all year. It’s like a shitty episode of “Young Hercules,” but with a villain that has cauliflower ear and knows mixed martial arts.

Click to buy “The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior”

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