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The “Paranormal Activity 2″ trailer: This time, there’s a dog and a baby! (updated)

Uhm, I really don’t think that’s going to do it, guys. Even as a teaser, this doesn’t even hint at raising the stakes or going into some new area that was unexplored in the first non-film film. Back to the drawing board, maybe?

I was scared by and impressed with “Paranormal Activity,” but let’s agree that, like “The Blair Witch Project,” it was more of an entertaining stunt than an actual film in the traditional sense, and therefore extremely difficult to repeat or top. On the other hand, the budget for this kind of thing is so low that I suppose a nice profit is guaranteed, so go for it, Paramount.

UPDATE: Nikki Finke reports that this trailer was pulled from Cinemark theaters because of complaints in Texas that it was too scary. And I thought I was a scaredy cat. Jiminy.

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Starz cancels “Party Down”

Here’s another one for the brilliant-but-canceled pile.

Party Down” had been in a holding pattern for months. The second season finished filming late in ’09, and new Starz president Chris Albrecht – who was not with the network when the show was developed, and who was at HBO back when that channel passed on an earlier iteration of the series – wasn’t in a hurry to order a third, even though all the actors were on one-year contracts and available to take other jobs that would prevent them from returning to the show. (It had already happened with Jane Lynch, and it happened this year with Adam Scott and Ryan Hansen.)

Albrecht said in January that he wanted to see how the show performed when it came back and… it did not perform well. “Party Down” was one of the funniest comedies on television, but it was also one of the least-watched. The season finale drew an average of 74,000 viewers, according to TV By the Numbers. That is not a good total.

74,000 viewers? That is just criminally — CRIMINALLY — underrated.

“Party Down” was hilarious, especially this season, and the entire run should be available for Netflix subscribers as part of its streaming service.

Sigh.

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Hell’s Kitchen: making short work of Season 7

The producers and suits at Fox are annoying me. I am and have been a fan of “Hell’s Kitchen” for several years now, but I don’t need to see 2 hours of it every Tuesday night. It just seems like they are trying to get the season over with. I mean, we started on June 1 and now there are just 8 contestants left, meaning this season will wrap up way before the fall TV slate is close to beginning. I’m not sure what they’re thinking, but they probably have their reasons. Anyway, I’m committed to this blog, so here we go….

EPISODE 1

This episode began with Chef Ramsay introducing a couple that was about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, Sal and Marcy. Hell’s Kitchen would be catering the party, and the chefs would have to update the menu that Sal and Marcy had for their wedding reception–chicken Kiev, steak Diane, and trout almondine. So far, Ben, new to the red team, was getting along with his teammates. So far.

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Los Angeles Film Festival Recap: The Movies, part 2

Following on from last night’s post, here are some more reactions to the movies I saw at the recently wrapped Los Angeles Film Festival…

Johan Hill in * “Cyrus” — This played early in the festival and was pretty much concurrent with it’s opening in theaters. I’ve already said in passing elsewhere that I enjoyed the film quite a bit despite some flaws and, by now, you’ve probably heard something about this oddball romantic comedy of gently Oedipal horrors. It first cameĀ  up on my radar some time ago when I interviewed Mark Duplass, one half of the directing Duplass Brothers.

About the worst thing I can say about “Cyrus” is that, unlike the similarly improvised film Mark stars in, “Humpday,” which also involved a woman caught between two problematic men, the female role here is relatively under-developed. The fact that that movie was written and directed by a woman, Lynn Shelton, is, I’m sure, not entirely coincidental.

There’s also been something of a cinephile backlash to the Duplass’s camera work, among other issues, which may interest you wonks. You can read about that via Glenn Kenny, Bill Ryan (my further thoughts are in comments at his place) and Jim Emerson.

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“Strangers don’t last long here.”

It appears that there was so much consternation in response to a cleverly odd online teaser trailer for Paramount/Nickelodeon’s “Rango” that the original video disappeared from YouTube within hours a couple of weeks back. Well, now it’s back (you can see it at the link above) and we also now have this more conventional, but still very clever trailer for the CGI animated film starring the voice of Johnny Depp and an impressive all-star supporting cast as well as the very good writer John Logan on board.

It might be just my love of westerns talking, but I completely dig this trailer. That’s interesting because up to now director Gore Verbinski hasn’t been on my radar very much — I’m not a “Pirates of the Caribbean” fan, to put it mildly. This little varmint oater with a surreal edge, however, has me expecting good things.

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