Avatar-mania, Oscar possibilities, the Obamas’ guest list, and cinegeeks bossing Stephen King around

I had a nasty case of food poisoning yesterday. Not that you care, but a lot has been happening while I spent a day catatonic before TCM and IFC.

* There’s a new “interactive” trailer for “Avatar” that you can download if you don’t mind also downloading some new Adobe software (at least I had to on the computer I’m using right now). The reason “interactive” is in quotes is that the only thing unusual about this longer trailer is that it pauses and allows you to watch additional short promotional films based around the various characters and some of the hardware, etc. It also allows you to buy tickets early.

I’m not sure what “interactive” really means because just about everything is interactive to some degree and this does not particularly impress me as anything new or different. Maybe we can think of a new buzzword.

Avatar movie image (3)

* And’s that’s not all. Anne Thompson has the scoop that “Avatar” may premiere at Harry Knowles’ annual, 24-hour invitation-only Butt-Numb-A-Thon despite some issues between Knowles and Fox. Also, you’ve probably heard about/seen this already, but the movie and writer-director James Cameron got the “60 Minutes” treatment Sunday night. Nothing earth shattering in the arguably slightly puffy Morley Safer piece, though it’s nice to hear Cameron admit that when it comes right down to it, amazing CGI/3-D or not, it all comes down to the story and what’s happening in the actors’ eyes. On the other hand, I really don’t need or want to see 3-D news stories. Will I will wind up doing so anyway?

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Inglourious Movie Moments #1

A series of clips inspired by guess which movie, starting with my favorite sixties war flick, Robert Aldrich’s brilliant, deeply cynical “The Dirty Dozen.” Here, mega-man-among-men Lee Marvin gets his first look at his new charges and shows John Cassavettes a little tough love.

  

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Silly time in movie land

Still in the midst of a busy day, so I’m keeping it short…

* In the “haven’t we seen this item already” category, it seems that Warners is now planning a movie based on Legos. Apparently, they have run out of video games and dolls and now they are basing a movie on a toy building material. Hey, I’m not saying it will necessarily be bad, but what next: “Lincoln Logs: The Movie”? And, coming soon, the R-rated comedy for adults: “Drywall.”

* The good kind of silliness, from my friends, ‘net superstars the Perry Boys of “Retarded Policeman” fame. This may seem familiar.

For more of the Perry Boys’ exploits, click here.

  

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Dallas – The Complete Eleventh Season

With each new “Dallas” release, I expect the show to finally start sucking, and this was the first set where it seemed like that might actually be the case. Picking up (as soaps are wont to do) where we left off, Pam has been burnt to a crisp in a fiery explosion, because Victoria Principal wanted off the show. But Pam lives – bandaged up and looking an awful lot like Karloff’s Mummy, inert in a hospital bed. Why not just kill her, fer chrissakes? Apparently, after the dream season fiasco, the producers were simply not going to kill off a major player for good, and the first third of the season revolves around this nonsense. Will she live or won’t she? What will she look like beneath the bandages? Will Bobby ever let little Christopher see his mummy again? Is it possible Victoria isn’t gone after all? The first ten or so episodes of the thirty presented here are some of the silliest “Dallas” I’ve ever seen. (Even the producers seem to think it’s all a joke – one of the episodes is actually titled “Mummy’s Revenge.”)

Alongside the Pam drama, the show also presents a lengthy plotline involving Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) meeting an old drunk named Dandy (Bert Remsen) who reminds him of his father, Digger. This tediously goes on and on and on, until it reaches a logical conclusion, which in turn leads to a scene between Barnes and Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) that’s one of the most pivotal, moving scenes in the entire series. No, it doesn’t justify hours of watching Cliff hanging with an old drunk, but it does make some sense of it all. It’s somewhere around this point that the season gets back on track and turns into some pretty decent “Dallas.”

Also at the end of Season 10, J.R. (Larry Hagman) lost Ewing Oil completely, thanks to the government and Jeremy Wendell (William Smithers), the head of Westar. He spends all of Season 11 deviously plotting to get it back, and it’s a major highlight to watch this unfold, one sleazy step at a time. There doesn’t seem to be anything J.R. won’t do, or anyone he won’t trample, in order to get his daddy’s company back. As is usually the case, J.R.’s antics keep the series centered, regardless of how numbing some of the proceedings may be. At the same time, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) is busy furthering her lingerie company with the help of high-powered business consultant Nicholas Pearce (Jack Scalia). For the first half of the season, Pearce is one of the most grating, annoying characters ever seen on this series…and then he suddenly becomes hugely likable, with a pretty damn interesting backstory as well. It’s one of the coolest “Dallas” flip-flops I’ve ever experienced.

In other news, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) finds potential love – not once but twice – after losing Pam, as well as going after something J.R. covets dearly. Clayton (Howard Keel) falls in love with a painting, and Bel Geddes gets to play a ridiculous drunk scene that must be seen to be believed. Ray (Steve Kanaly) and Jenna (Priscilla Presley) finally tie the knot, which leads to endless problems for the couple, including Charlie (Shalane McCall) acting up at school and messing around with a boy – but not just any boy. No, the object of Charlie’s teenage lust in no less than Brad Pitt! He’s got maybe one scene in each of four episodes, and has very little to do, but nevertheless it’s freakin’ Brad Pitt, some 20 years before he became an Inglourious Basterd.

And just in case anyone might think the show is becoming less and less “Dallas” with each passing season, in the penultimate episode, “Things Ain’t Goin’ So Good at Southfork Again,” Lucy (Charlene Tilton) returns to the fold after a three season absence. And she is lookin’ mighty fine.

Click to buy “Dallas: The Complete Eleventh Season”

  

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Tarantino’s “Basterds” gets its big debut

Those wondering if Quentin Tarantino would complete his latest film (the WWII epic “Inglorious Basterds”) in time for the Cannes Film Festival (and perhaps more importantly, its late August release date) need not worry. Yahoo! Movies has officially released the teaser trailer on the internet today, and from the looks of things, it’s farther along than I imagined. Though it seems to be more traditional than the usual QT project, the film shows immense promise – notably Brad Pitt, who seems to be channeling his inner George Clooney for what may be his best role to date.

In the film, Pitt stars as the leader of a group of Jewish-American soldiers who invade Nazi-controlled France to give Hitler and his army a taste of their own brutality. The film also features “Freaks and Greeks” star Samm Levine, “The Office” star B.J. Novak, and horror director Eli Roth. Check out the trailer below, and then let us know what you think.

  

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