American Idol: two go home

That sound you hear is me patting myself on the back, but more on that in a minute. Last night’s “American Idol” results show was a bit different than usual, as they had contestants perform in small groups rather than in those larger, pageant-type numbers. And I liked it.

They kicked off with the two country singers, Lauren and Scotty, performing “I Told You So,” and it was really, really good. Then Ryan Seacrest told them that they were both….safe!

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Weekend preview: Will star power and geek mega-hype translate into a box office dream for “Inception”?

Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt wisely keep their guard up in

A confession: I probably won’t even get a chance to see it for a few more weeks, but I’m already a little tired of Christopher Nolan’s latest blockbuster-in-waiting. Hailed as an instant classic in some quarters, including over at Bullz-Eye by our own David Medsker, the science-fiction brain-caper, “Inception,” is also reviving some rather tiresome movie geek and cinephile controversies left over from “The Dark Knight.” If you’re not aware of it and want to be know all about the cine-annoyance, Jim Emerson does a great job of boiling it down and, earlier in the week, Dennis Cozzalio did an interesting takedown one of the worst abusers over at the L.A. Times.

All I’m going to say is that it’s only a movie and we’re all allowed to react to it however we like. If you find yourself loving it beyond all reason and agree with David that it’s time to consider Nolan with the greatest directors of all time or if you think he’s nothing more than a Michael Bay with a literature degree, please do not assume that anyone who thinks differently is putting on some kind of show. No doubt, there are fools and pretentious twats aplenty in this world, but most of us come by our moviegoing opinions honestly.

Of course, all of this means almost nothing to your ordinary rank and file moviegoer — the kind who don’t care what the movie scored on Rotten Tomatoes and who don’t read posts like this one — and commercially speaking, that’s really the question here. Can a hard-to-describe premise of the Phillip K. Dick school be counterbalanced by the promise of amazing action and visuals, brain candy, and a stunning all-star cast headlined by Leonardo di Caprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Cillian Murphy and even a part for promising newcomer Michael Caine?  Perhaps.

The Warner Brothers awareness machine is working over time on this one and there’s certainly no way this film doesn’t win the weekend.  How the movie does beyond that is pretty much up to the whims of the public. Lacking a well known marketing hook, it’s really anyone’s guess whether the film enjoys a modest reception and goes into Nolan’s “one for me” file, or whether it breaks out into becoming the kind phenomenon that will  really justify it’s no-longer-unusually-enormous $200 million budget. Checking in with jolly Carl DiOrio over at THR, he’s calling it at between $50-60 million, though I personally can see the movie making nearly half as much or twice as much as that. It just sort of depends on what people are in the mood for right now.

Nicholas Cage and Jay Baruchel in
Now, there is another movie that will be doing battle with last week’s #1 holdover for the family/tweenage, and that’s Disney’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” which has Nicholas Cage doing his eccentric-guy act as the sorcerer and Apatow-alum Jay Baruchel stepping into some literally big shoes in taking over a part originated by Mickey Mouse in the most popular episode of 1940’s “Fantasia.” Attempting to get a couple of day’s jump on the PG-13 “Inception,” Disney released “Sorcerer” on Wednesday but, as per Nikki Finke, there’s no reason to expect this film to make huge numbers and she guesses it will gross roughly $30 million for the entire five days. Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if it came in at the #3 for the Friday-Sunday contest after last week’s box office winner, “Despicable Me,” given that it’s a strong family film which made $56 million and has every reason to suffer only a very modest decline in its second week.

On the limited release circuit, “Standing Ovation” will be on over 600 screens and is aimed at the same family/tween demographic that goes gaga for “High School Musical” style movies. However, lacking any big names or marketing muscle and getting very bad reviews from the few critics who’ve even bothered to see it, I don’t see how this film stands a chance. On the other hand, the two probable indie hits of the summer will be expanding significantly across the country, so stand by for Sunday for news on “The Kids Are Alright” and “Cyrus.”

John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, and Marisa Tomei whoop it up in

  

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American Idol: another surprise and a big finale

Last night’s season finale of “American Idol” had a bit of everything. It even had another somewhat surprising ending, at least from where I sit. Ryan Seacrest promised that there would be a few tributes to outbound Simon Cowell during the night, and there were. But here is how the rest of the show went down, and we’ll sum it up as quickly as we can:

The Season 9 Top 12 sang Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” and once we saw the school kids dressed like Alice Cooper we knew the man himself would make an appearance and he did. But he didn’t sound very good.

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American Idol: going home is good

For the contestants who have made it this far on “American Idol,” going home has a different meaning than being eliminated. That’s because the top three finalists get to go home and enjoy a special day in which they perform in front of fans in their city, appear on radio and TV and usually have the mayor of said city give them a “key” to said city. Pretty heady stuff. But as always, it took the producers an hour to tell us the result that they could have delivered in a few seconds. And without DVR, it would have been excruciating.

To kick things off, Season 3 champ Fantasia performed her new single, “Bittersweet.” It was pretty good and she no doubt has a remarkable voice, but other than that, the performance was sort of bland.

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American Idol: Chastize me over Elvis Presley’s grave

As guest blogger, I will open in the only way I should: by offering my sincerest apologies for not getting the blog for last night’s “American Idol” completed in a more timely fashion. I’ve been battling an allergy attack since yesterday (the result, I feel certain, of all the dust I kicked up in my office while scouring the joint for tax receipts), and, quite frankly, I feel like crap. But I know Mike’s got a lot going on these days, what with his big move and all, so I was always going to do this for him. I just had to build up my strength, which I have now done, so with my cup of hot lemon tea with honey sitting by the keyboard, let’s get to talking about who got the boot.

Things kicked off last night with a medley of Elvis Presley songs – “Burning Love,” “Teddy Bear,” “Return to Sender,” and “Viva Last Vegas” – which neither did damage to the reputation of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll nor did it any favors. The best part about “Burning Love” was the cute moment where we saw Katie working her knees for all they were worth, and Lee’s vocals on “Teddy Bear” sounded like those of a lounge singer, but I actually kind of dug it. Otherwise, though, I was pretty underwhelmed by the performances, and when “Viva Las Vegas” kicked off, all I could think of was how much better the Dead Kennedys did the song.

From there, the program went green for a minute or so as we were treated to a Ford-sponsored commercial with several of the contestants performing a version of…wait for it…the Polyphonic Spree’s “Light and Day / Reach for the Sun.” How completely and utterly surreal, but it sounded a damned sight better than any of those Elvis covers.

Moving on to the first of the night’s departures, Cap’n Seacrest narrowed down the playing field to three contestants:

* Casey, whose version of “Lawdy Miss Claudy” Mike described as “not bad at all vocally, but just a so-so rating on the entertainment meter.”
* Aaron, who offered a take on “Blue Suede Shoes,” which Mike called “cheesy but not horrible.”
* Andrew, who Mike buried in the Not So Good column last night, saying, “It wasn’t awful, but not at all star quality and easily the worst of the night.”

So long, Andrew…and, really, was there ever any doubt that you’d be one of the two players leaving the game tonight? But, hey, at least we got your version of James Morrison’s “You Give Me Something” as a farewell, which served to remind us that, all things considered, America probably made the right decision.

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