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Cinephile alert: Denmark’s harrowing new tourism ads directed by Lars von Trier

Via Christy Lemire comes word of a new series of commercials from the aging enfant terrible of Nordic cinema and the director of “Dancer in the Dark,” “Breaking the Waves,” “Dogville” and this year’s genital-mutiliation smash-hit, “Antichrist.”

Denmark Introduces Harrowing New Tourism Ads Directed By Lars Von Trier

How do you say “The Onion is freakin’ awesome” in Danish anyhow?

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American Idol: Do you see what I see?

Last night began the rounds of “American Idol” in which we as Americans have our turn to vote on the talent, and specifically which twelve contestants go home over the next three weeks, and which twelve make up the finalists. And what I saw last night was a case of the judges having done a bad job of delivering us talent. Because there weren’t many women who stood out from the twelve that performed on Tuesday, and yet the judges kept going on and on about how loaded this year’s crop is. Um, not really. At least not where the female contingent is concerned. Let’s recap what we saw, and let’s say that I agreed with almost everything Simon Cowell had to say….

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Mid-week movie blips and bleeps

Another night under the Klieg lights.

* Nikki Finke is obviously in a nasty mood over it, but Rachel Abramowitz at the L.A. Times has a fairly interesting piece on Angelina Jolie‘s upcoming portrayal of best-selling mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta. Even though this will be character’s first appearance on film, they’ve decided to preboot the character by starting with an new “origins” story for the medical examiner character. (Was she bitten by a radioactive pathologist, perhaps?)

* You may think Sundance has been over for a few weeks now, but Anne Thompson details hows it’s not even close to being so simple as she describes how the indie film world is doing its business. One takeaway point: though indie filmmakers are making the most of new media with VOD and slightly older media with DVD, you still need “robust” theatrical to be in the mix if you’re hoping for significant bucks. (H/t Mr. Ebert’s Amazing Twitter feed.)

* The Coen’s have found the young, female lead to play opposite Jeff Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn in their sure-to-be interesting nouveau “True Grit,” and it’s 13 year-old Hailee Steinfeld. Mike Fleming has the scoop.

* Pulp loving writer-director Shane Black of “Lethal Weapon” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” is going to be helming a new cinematic take on Doc Savage writes Renn Brown of CHUD, via Variety. Brown admits to not knowing his Doc Savage, but I myself went through a pulp phase and read several of the good doctor’s adventures as a youth. I can tell you that “Scooby Doo” is not really the first thing that comes to mind. He’s really more of a non-superpowered Superman, or a much more clean living and nonviolent James Bond, but with the mental faculties of an Indiana Jones and a touch of Jesus Christ. (He has hangs out with a bunch of somewhat more flawed guys who help him to do his various earth-shattering good deeds. He’s so tough, however, he only needs five of them.) Buckaroo Banzai owes his very existence to Doc. Pretty much the only thing Doc couldn’t do was to get through a day’s work without ripping his shirt into shreds. In the world of pulp heroes, he was definitely the daylight yin to the dark yang of “The Shadow.” The character has foiled filmmakers before, but I think Black may be the man for the job.


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Lost 6.5 – Lighthouse

I’ve never been a big fan of the Jack Shepherd character (neither as the heroic leader or the depressed drunk), but tonight was probably one of my favorite Jack-centric episodes. Though it might have seemed a bit lame to give him an estranged teenage son, it was a good way of showing just how different Jack is from his own father. Sure, it may have taken him awhile to recognize just what he was doing wrong in the relationship (that kind of ignorance can rub off on somehow who hasn’t exactly had the best parenting experience), but at least he was able to mend the relationship between him and his musical prodigy son before it was too late. With that said, however, I hope we never have to see that moody brat ever again.

Of course, while that subplot took up a majority of the Earth-2 action, there were a few other tidbits that caught my attention as well. First, it’ll be interesting to see how the discovery of Claire’s name in Christian’s will is going to play out further down the road, because I don’t remember that information getting out in the Earth-1 timeline, and I’d be curious to see how Jack’s mom takes the news. I also thought it was pretty sneaky of the writers to slip that small conversation about Jack having his appendix taken out when he was kid, because he clearly doesn’t remember it. Is that scar really from a childhood operation like his mother says, or a remnant of his Earth-1 life? And if it’s the former, then why would she lie?


As we’ve all come to expect by now, the Earth-1 portion of the episode was infinitely more interesting, with Hurley playing a large part in Jack’s storyline. Let it be said that if you die on “Lost,” you’re never really dead, because even if the writers don’t bring you back in a flashback, a flashsideways, or even as a completely new character (see: Terry O’Quinn), they always have Hurley as back-up. After all, the dude can see ghosts (no wonder he gets along with Miles so well), so it’s as easy as a character visiting him from the afterlife to resurrect them – even if it’s only temporary. Hurley has been seeing quite a lot of Jacob lately (his latest appearance no doubt squashes the rumor that he’s taken over Sayid’s body), and this time around, he wants Hurley to go with Jack to a lighthouse near their old stomping grounds to help a forthcoming visitor find their way to the island.

This mysterious figure (who I’m guessing is either Desmond or Charles Widmore) isn’t going to find it any easier now that Jack has smashed the mirror inside the lighthouse. Okay, so that was probably a bit rash on his part, but seeing as how he could see a reflection of his childhood home in the mirror when the dial was turned to his personal number (yep, the names and numbers are back in play again), it wasn’t exactly out of character. Jack used to be pretty freaked out about the idea that it was destiny that brought him to the island, and now that he’s finally warming up to the possibility that it may be true, he discovers that Jacob has been spying on him all this time. Jacob in turn tells Hurley that he needed Jack to see the reflection in order for him to understand how special he is, but I can’t imagine Jack would ever agree to help Jacob after this debacle. I’m guessing he thinks it’s worth the risk, because he admits to needing Jack and Hurley away from the temple before someone bad arrives.

He’s probably referring to Smokey, but he could just as well be talking about Jungle Claire, who helps Jin out of the bear trap and sews up his leg at her camp. She also brings along the surviving Other that she just shot to interrogate him about the whereabouts of Aaron, who she believes was kidnapped by his people. Jin tries to tell her the truth (that Kate took him off the island three years ago), but she’s so far off the reservation that there doesn’t seem to be any hope of saving her. And I love it. They took the most innocent character on the show and turned her into a squirrely psycho who doesn’t so much as hesitate to swing an axe into her enemy’s torso. That’s what happens when you make friends with Smokey.

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Soul Eater: Part One

It would be easy to discount “Soul Eater” as just another quirky shonen for the kiddies, but despite the show’s decidedly immature sense of humor, there’s a lot more to the anime than silly pratfalls and goofy faces. Set at the Death Weapon Meister Academy in Death City, the series follows three teams of students as they battle supernatural forces in an attempt to collect the souls of 99 evil beings and one witch, thus making them powerful enough to become one of the Grim Reaper’s personal Death Scythes. Each team consists of a Meister and a Weapon, and while Maka and Soul (who transforms into a razor-sharp blade during battle) could be considered the main protagonists, they’re also joined by friends like Black Star and Tsubaki, as well as Grim Reaper’s son, Death the Kid. It’s a concept that could have easily fallen victim to a monster-of-the-week formula, but thankfully, it has an overarching story that holds your interest beyond just the fight sequences. The show does take some time to get going (it spends four episodes introducing its large cast of characters), but once all the niceties are out of the way, “Soul Eater” moves at such a brisk pace that you’ll be left wanting more. It’s still mostly targeted towards the teenage set, but thanks to some Tim Burton-esque aesthetics (think “A Nightmare Before Christmas”), there’s no reason you won’t enjoy it as well.

Click to buy “Soul Eater: Part One”

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Of course, it’s really “The Kung Fu Kid”

But I still like this second trailer for the China-set remake/update of 1984′s “The Karate Kid,” featuring tiny-but-tough 12 year-old Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, that’s making the rounds today at places like Screencrave and Cinemablend. Aside from a gruffer Chan, director Harald Zwart shows some visual chops I wouldn’t necessarily expect from a guy with his resume.

Though I loved Pat Morita, I never got around to seeing the original film. I make no promises on this one, but it’s got my attention.

Fun fact: Jaden Smith is eleven years younger than Ralph Macchio was in 1984. This “kid” is actually a kid.

You can see the earlier trailer (and some rather similar comments, I must admit) here.

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Watch “The Ricky Gervais Show”

This should go without saying for fans of the original version of “The Office” or “Extras,” but Ricky Gervais is back on HBO in “The Ricky Gervais Show.” The show is based on a series of podcasts that Gervais and Stephen Merchant (co-creator of “The Office” and “Extras”) did with Karl Pilkington, a weird little man with a round head and a bunch of strange ideas.

The show premiered on Friday, and I was laughing so hard I was literally crying during the opening segment, where Karl explains his idea for how death and birth should proceed. Check out this clip from “The Late Show.”

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“Two & A Half Men” (Funny Version)

I’m not a fan of the show, but I’m a fan of the guy who meticulously removed the laugh track from this scene and inserted his own reaction to the show’s “comedy.” Thank you, College Humor.

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

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Blu Tuesday: The Informant!, The Damned United and The Vampire’s Assistant

There haven’t been many great Blu-ray titles released recently (at least, not enough worth discussing anyway), and while today’s selection is just as lackluster as those in past weeks, it’s been so long since my last post that I’ve finally decided to write one anyway After all, while many of these week’s releases likely won’t end up in your library, there’s a good chance you’ll want to catch them at least once before making up your mind.

“The Informant!” (Warner Bros.)

I’ve never been a very big fan of Steven Soderbergh’s work, so I was bit surprised at how much I enjoyed his latest effort. Though it didn’t get the attention it deserved during its theatrical release, “The Informant!” is the kind of whimsical dark comedy that Joel and Ethan Coen have been making for years. Granted, the lead character isn’t quite as memorable as anyone in their rogue’s gallery, but Matt Damon still delivers one of the best performances of his career as a schlubby biochemist who turns informant on the agricultural megacorp he works for. The supporting cast isn’t as strong as you’d hope, but between Damon’s hilarious turn as the real-life snitch, the whip-smart script from Scott Z. Burns, and the memorable score by veteran composer Marvin Hamlisch, there’s more than enough to love about this movie. Warner Bros. hasn’t included much in the way of special features, but the director commentary is definitely worth a listen, and the deleted scenes are fairly amusing.

“The Damned United” (Sony)

It may have only received a limited theatrical run in U.S., but for those looking for a solid drama with yet another great performance from Michael Sheen at the center, look no further than “The Damned United.” Based on the novel by David Peace about real-life football manager David Clough, the film follows Clough’s (Sheen) rise to the top of the English First Division with provincial side Derby County, only to see it all fade away due to a jealously-fueled rivalry with Leeds United manager Don Revie (an underused Colm Meaney). Though fans of the sport will likely enjoy “The Damned United” for the history lesson, football is merely the background setting to what is ultimately a very character-driven story. The actor-writer team of Sheen and Peter Morgan can seemingly do no wrong, because while it might be their first movie not to focus on politics (at least, not in the traditional sense, anyway), “The Damned United” is every bit as good.

“Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant” (Universal)

Yet another movie based on a series of young adult novels, “The Vampire’s Assistant” is certainly no “Harry Potter,” and from a purely vampire-themed angle, no “Twilight” either. Though the story, about a teenager (Chris Massoglia) who becomes indebted to a mysterious vampire (John C. Reilly) after he saves his friend’s life, is actually rife with potential for a continuing franchise (especially when you factor in the cast that makes up the titular Cirque Du Freak), the movie is hampered by a remarkably bad performance from its young star. I’m not exactly sure what director Paul Weitz saw in the kid, because he’s so dull and unappealing that he sucks the life out of nearly every scene. Reilly at least makes the movie watchable, and Willem Dafoe has good fun in his brief role as a fellow vampire, but unless they plan on recasting the lead, this is one book-based franchise without much of a future.

Also Out This Week:

“Sorority Row” (Sony)
“The Box” (Warner Bros.)
“Nurse Jackie: Season One” (Lionsgate)
“Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” (Warner Bros.)

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24 8.9: I’m not the man I used to be

All season, I’ve been looking forward to the episode where Dana Walsh kicks some felon dirtbag butt, just so I could name one of these entries “And if you don’t look now, then you’re gonna get Starbucked,” which is a lyric from a great little pop tune by the little-heard UK band Bond. Tonight, the moment finally came…and it was Buffy pulling the trigger. Damn. Worse, there is no video for “Starbucked” on YouTube. It clearly wasn’t meant to be.

Ah, but what a small price to pay to have this year’s most annoying subplot vanquished. Yes, Starbuck and Buffy will have some ‘splaining to do, but so what? I’m just glad the rednecks are gone.

Which gets us to this blog’s actual title. Man, they just don’t make those organized crime figures like they used to. Sark betrays father Wolfhausen by stealing the nuclear rods, and killing the two men charged with guarding them in order to do it, and then minutes later he agrees to bring the rods to the authorities. Granted, they portrayed Sark as more of a lover than a fighter from the beginning, but for God’s sake, man, do you have a cause or what? That’s just wishy-washy. Likewise, Jason Schwartzman is willing to knife one of his government’s security guards in the neck in order to escape and launch his insurrection, and have Sark killed in order to keep from having to pay for the rods, but using the rods against the Americans is suddenly a deal-breaker? Who did he think he was going to use them on?

“So tell me how this process works.” “Well, you lie down in front of the bus, and then we run you over with it. We may even back over your lifeless body and run it over again, just to be sure. Any questions?”

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