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A movie for manly men who are male: “The Expendables”

Rob Bricken of Topless Robot (over)shares that this gave him an “action movie boner.” Not one to be outdone, AICN’s Merrick promises a “Mangasm.”

Whats making geek bloggers make with the Freudian/homoerotic badinage?

Well, apparently working on the logic that big male stars, including action stars, aren’t necessarily driving huge numbers into the movie theaters, Lionsgate is taking a safety-in-numbers approach. Which established and once-established super macho-stars, both super- and not-so-super, appear in “The Expendables”? It might be easier to list who doesn’t — though the bald guy and the wildly unpopular governor are cameos, I think. What weapons and forms of fighting, do they use and how many people will they kill? I didn’t see any boomerangs or gymkata in the trailer, and I’m still alive, but other than that, it’s hard to be sure. Just take a look.

I’m thinking Detective Batista from “Dexter” is going to learn he chose the wrong day to go into the power-mad Latin American dictator business.

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What Else Ya Got? “Toy Story” & “Toy Story 2″

Conveniently timed Blu-ray reissues bring out the cynic in us, especially when it comes to a title that has already received the Special Edition treatment in the previous format of choice. But we must give credit where credit is due: the Blu-ray releases of “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2″ are so well worth the upgrade that we kind of hate them for it. Fine, damn it, take our money. Again.

The best thing about these Blu-ray/DVD combo sets is a small thing, but an important one: All of the new bonus features appear on both types of media. Some studios only give the goods to the Blu-ray converts, but Disney clearly realizes that for many families, buying the latest technology is not their top priority, so good for them for making all of the new extras available on both formats.

And man, are those extras fun. There are two new features created for these sets. “Paths to Pixar” highlights the efforts of people on the technical side and what it was that led them to doing what they do for a living, but the “Studio Stories” bits are the crown jewels. Various Pixar staffers tell stories about the studio’s early days (our favorite is the one involving the scooter races), put to simple but highly amusing black & white animation. Each movie also has its own sneak peek into the upcoming “Toy Story 3,” though the feature on the “Toy Story 2″ set which highlights the new characters is the superior of the two.

Both sets feature newly recorded audio commentaries. The commentary for “Toy Story” features the Pixar All-Stars, namely John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter (Oscar winners all). The commentary for “Toy Story 2″ includes Lasseter, Stanton and Lee Unkrich, who makes his directorial debut with “Toy Story 3.” There is a heartbreaking piece dedicated to Joe Ranft, who passed away during the production of “Cars” in 2005, but the one extra that will have people buzzing is the Black Friday piece, where Lasseter introduces the rough version of “Toy Story” that nearly killed Pixar. It’s fascinating to watch because, well, there’s no other way of saying it: it’s mean.

Lastly, the Blu-ray editions include all of the DVD extras from the 2005 reissue of the “Toy Story” movies, so anyone who bought those versions does not need to keep them. These sets were thoughtfully considered and well done, but that’s what one would expect from the best movie studio in Hollywood.

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The Biggest Loser: curveballs flying just in time for baseball season

“The Biggest Loser” has a history and a tendency to throw curveballs at us. But last night they took things to extremes. First, host Allison Sweeney started off live by telling us there would be a weigh in at the end of the episode, but not of a current contestant. Instead, it would be a viewer of the show who has been inspired to lose a lot of weight. Then, the nine contestants were ushered into the gym, where they would be congratulated for getting this far, and given their individual colors back since there would be no more blue team vs. black team.

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American Idol: finalists realize what’s on the line

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you, a competition. Last night was the first time that the “American Idol” finalists actually sang like they gave a damn. As if there was a prize attached to them performing well. Imagine that. Of course, the show was still two hours long despite now only having ten performers, meaning, lots of fluff and filler. The guest mentor this week was Usher, as it was R&B/soul week, and let’s just say the guy was much more credible than Miley Cyrus. Here is the recap as we saw it….

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Lost 6.10 – The Package

I know that I’ve been a little overly critical with my weekly analyses recently, so let me just begin by saying that tonight’s episode was nothing short of amazing. There was about two shows’ worth of information crammed into a single hour, and although the writers introduced some interesting subplots along the way, they weren’t nearly as good as the complementing stories featuring Jin and Sun. I love these two so much, and yet they seem perpetually stuck as secondary characters who only get their time in the limelight once a season. Nevertheless, their Earth-2 storyline has been one of the best so far, particularly because it marks the first time that one character’s alternate reality overlaps with another. I speak, of course, of Sayid’s discovery of Jin (bound to a chair and locked in Keamy’s walk-in fridge) at the end of “Sundown.”

The events that led to Jin’s rescue, however, weren’t exactly unforeseen. While the reveal that Jin and Sun weren’t married was a bit of a surprise, you’d be crazy to think they weren’t still romantically involved. The playful nod to the button during Sun’s seduction scene was a great callback to the first season, and though Sun wants Jin to run away with her using a secret bank account that she set up in her name (much like she originally planned to do on her own on Earth-1), Jin is worried that her father will disapprove of their “forbidden” affair. As it turns out, he was right, because the confiscated $25,000 that was stashed away in Jin’s luggage was actually payment for his assassination. Luckily for him, Sayid took out Keamy and his right-hand man before they could carry out the death sentence, although that didn’t stop Sun from still taking a bullet to the chest, courtesy of Keamy’s translator, Mikhail, who quite unluckily becomes the One-Eyed Russian in this reality as well after Jin shoots him in self-defense.

lost_6-10

Of course, when it comes to bad luck, no one has had it worse than Jin. He’s been kidnapped by the Tailies, nearly blown to pieces in a freighter explosion, shot by Crazy Claire, and then kidnapped again in two different realities. On Earth-1, it’s Widmore’s crew who has done the abducting, presumably to use Jin’s desperation as a tool against Smokey. They know he’s a potential candidate and only interested in being reunited with his wife and child, so if they can convince him to join their team, they’ll have a major leg up in the impending war. How they plan to use Jin, however, is still unclear, but it obviously has something to do with some maps he drew while working for Dharma that details the electromagnetic areas of the island. And for anyone who thought that Richard’s scene with his wife at the end of last week’s episode was a tear-jerker, then you must have been positively balling over Jin’s emotional reaction to seeing his daughter for the first time. Talk about tugging at the heart strings.

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Here, have some movie news with your left over brisket

If you’re noticing that film bloggers and journos seem to grasping at news straws, blame the Passover/Easter spring break slow down. Anyhow, as folks work off all that schmaltz and matzoh at the gym, let’s nevertheless briefly consider a few items of some interest.

* For starters we have the kind of “breaking news” that isn’t really news at all. It’s looking like “The Hangover 2″ is going to be a lot more expensive than the first because, you know, the cast would like to be paid a lot more this time and there was a lot of haggling. Can’t blame them . However, as much as I liked the first movie, it did not in any way cry out for a sequel. As the first commenter at Deadline|New York says, lightning doesn’t strike twice — except, of course, when it does. We’ll see.

* More sequel news  — well, rumor reported as news — Will Smith is supposedly “locked in” for “Independence Day” sequels. (H/t Anne Thompson.) Momentum may be building here and the story could be true. Director Roland Emmerich dropped a hint or two about it in a recent interview with our own David Medsker recently. We’ll see.

* And, you know how I always make a big deal about not prejudging movies. The E*Trade talking baby movie is sorely tempting me to make an exception. No. We won’t see.

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* Three brief items from THR. First, pretty Kaley Cuoco of “The Big Bang Theory” will be going cinematic in a partially animated flick comedy that involves Russell Brand voicing the Easter Bunny; it’s called “I Hop.” Also, LeBron James‘ next coach might be director Malcolm D. Lee. And, finally, two comedy writers who apparently enjoy bowling have been hired to work on the “Baywatch” movie, Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka. Tanaka has the kind of cross-ethnic name that, I think, could influence a guy to go into comedy, though I’m thinking “Kazuhiro Saperstein” would have been even better.

* I’m late to the viral video party, but the “Scarface school play” vid isn’t nearly as funny as it sounds. I guess thinking it was “real” could help, but how could anyone think it was real?

* The new film from master documentarian Errol Morris (“The Fog of War,” “Standard Operating Procedure“) sounds really interesting and potentially even more controversial than any film he’s made because it’s apparently lighthearted. Some might not agree that’s appropriate given the main character’s crime. Read the Playlist’s description and see if you agree.

http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2009/etrade-babies-in-2009/etrade-baby-golf

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Great moments with Mr. Godzilla

Anne Thompson writes today of a new film based around Toho studios’ director Inoshiro Honda’s most famous creation, Godzilla. Though the series was rebooted very unsuccessfully back in 1998 by Roland Emmerich, Drew McWeeney reassured an understandably skeptical Ms. Thompson via Twitter that this is more of a passion product.

Now, there are those who hearken back to the serious — actually rather grim and laborious — tone of Honda’s first “Godzilla.” Personally, though, the nine year-old in me has never really stopped loving the more playful and genuinely silly later films as exemplified below.

Godzilla engages in a productive dialogue with a fellow monster.

Godzilla expresses himself.



Finally, Godzilla channels his inner Jet Li.

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United States of Tara 2.2 – Baby, I’m Your Man

Okay, I admit it: when I ended last week’s blog by suggesting the possibility that there might’ve been sparks between Buck and the bartender, I’d already seen Episode 2.2, so I knew full well that it was going to be kicking off with a shot of the two of them in bed together. I have to imagine that many a viewer laughed at the sight of Tara offering up a “what died in my mouth?” face, given the obvious implications, but in my case, that quickly gave way to surprise over the fact that it wasn’t Tara. It was Buck. Have we ever seen Tara wake up with an alter in control? If so, I can’t remember it. I have to presume that this is an occurrence of note, as opposed to simply being an excuse to let Buck look proud of himself. Either way, Tara quickly took over again, returning home to find Charmaine unabashedly flashing her new engagement ring.

It’s so hard to maintain excitement for Charmaine, given Tara’s history of fucking up everything in the lives of her family, but her enthusiasm is so freaking infectious. Still, the idea of Charmaine staying at Casa de Gregson is clearly going to make for some rough going particularly given that Tara can’t even remember what lies she’s spinning about her past whereabouts. Also, in Charmaine’s hesitation to believe that she’s actually found a good man who truly loves her, she offered up a comment that struck me as possibly relating to Tara’s condition: “We were raised to believe we should eat dog shit, so you get used to dog shit.” This is presumably a metaphor rather than a description of their actual childhood, but it strikes me as telling. It may, however, not have anything to do with Tara at all. It may just mean that Charmaine’s so used to expecting the worst from her relationships that she’ll end up sabotaging this one because she can’t believe she’s good enough for it…and I thought that before she started obsessing over the engagement ring to an unhealthy degree.

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Nurse Jackie 2.2 – There Goes God

Every episode of “Nurse Jackie” brings a new reminder of how far a drug addict can sink, but, c’mon, Jackie, hiding your pills in the Easter eggs? Really? Wow.

You can’t say the set designers haven’t come up with a realistic looking garage for the Peyton family, and as soon as I saw the shot of the electrical outlets, I knew it was going to play into the storyline in some capacity, but I didn’t expect that it would involve the ever-paranoid Grace going around and unplugging all of the appliances in the house every night so as to avoid possible house fires. Good lord, the child has been saving her allowance to buy the safest possible smoke detector for the house…? That’s a whole new level of paranoia, so I figured it wouldn’t be long before the child entered therapy on a full-time basis, and, of course, I was right: Jackie was looking into it before the end of the episode. And speaking of that particular discussion, Akalitis’s comment about how the psychiatrist “was extremely helpful with my boy” is, unless I missed something last season, the first actual clarification as to why she was so enamored of the baby last season. She used to have a son, it seems, and the fact that there’s been no mention of him up to this point leads me to suspect that the boy in question is no longer among the living, though given Akalitis’s age, I suppose it’s equally possible that he’s now grown up and out in the world somewhere.

So Eleanor “partied like a 20-year-old last night,” scored some Ecstasy, and admits that she’s still high. I’m watching this, and I’m thinking with all due sarcasm, “Oh, no, that’s not going to come back into play. Never!” Well, at the very least, it didn’t come back into play this episode, which truly surprised me. I guess it’s just part of the overall “I miss Mummy” arc, along with Eleanor’s recurring demand that Jackie inform her daughters that they now have a godmother with a crisp British accent, but the end result was that, on second viewing, I could just sit back and enjoy Eleanor’s hysterical run / dance down the hallway (and the resulting scream from Zoe) and her unabashed flirtation with and up-and-down admiration of Sam without fear that it was all going to be tainted by Eleanor screwing up on the job while still under the influence. To be momentarily melancholy, though, I must mention one bit about Eleanor’s mourning of her mother that really hit home for me: her uncertainty about how to remove her from the list of contacts on her cell phone. Having witnessed someone have a breakdown when they accidentally stumbled upon their deceased parent’s number on their phone, I can say with 100% seriousness that this is a very valid point of concern.

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Blu Tuesday: The Lord of the Rings

Okay, so this doesn’t technically come out until April 6th, but seeing as how I’m already planning to cover a much bigger release that week (hint: it shares the same title), it’s probably as good a time as any to discuss the Blu-ray release of Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 film, “The Lord of the Rings.” Although it once held the honor of being the only cinematic adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famous text (and hence the reason why it still has its share of supporters), Bakshi’s animated version isn’t even remotely deserving of having the word “classic” appear on the cover.

In fact, there are so many things wrong with this movie that it’s hard to believe anyone actually likes it. The biggest problem is with Bakshi’s decision to incorporate rotoscoped live action footage alongside the traditional cel-shaded animation, because while it might have seemed ambitiously artistic at the time, it comes off looking incredibly hokey. It’s also quite distracting, often making the animation look worse than it really is. Then again, I’ve never really been a fan of Bakshi’s work, so his reputation as an artist is completely lost on me.

Of course, even if you can get past the shoddy animation, Bakshi’s version only encompasses the first two books in the trilogy, abruptly ending after Gandalf saves the day at Isengard with no real concern for the fact that there’s still more story left to tell. Fans eventually did get to see the finale to the animated tale in 1983’s equally disappointing “The Return of the King” (albeit without Bakshi’s involvement), but it doesn’t make its absence in “The Lord of the Rings” any less bewildering. Obviously, it’s easy to criticize the film when the only thing you can compare it to is Peter Jackson’s award-winning trilogy, but how can you not? After all, the only reason people put up with Bakshi’s film in the first place is because it was the only one available. And now that Jackson’s movies are being released on Blu-ray as well, you’d probably be better off just forgetting this edition ever existed. Heck, I just watched it a few hours ago and I already have.

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