Saturday, July 5, 2008
by Howard Reich
The Chicago Tribune
6 July 2008
1. If the trumpet stands as the symbol of New Orleans jazz—thanks largely to native son Louis Armstrong—the tenor saxophone holds a similar stature in Chicago. Why the tenor sax and not the piano or the drums, instruments that have catapulted uncounted Chicagoans to musical glory? For starters, the seminal jazz tenorist Bud Freeman was a Chicagoan (he learned by listening to New Orleans musicians who migrated here early in the century). Freeman's coolly eloquent style, forged in the late 1920s and '30s, represented an alternative to the magisterial style of Coleman Hawkins and influenced generations of players, from Lester Young onward.
2. The sound of the tenor saxophone—big, brawny and aggressive—to many listeners reflects the character of the city itself. A flute or a violin simply wouldn't cut it as an icon of Chicago jazz (even if such formidable Chicagoans as Eddie South and Ray Nance helped put jazz fiddling on the map). And though Chicago has been home to many leonine pianists, dating to Jelly Roll Morton's deeply influential tenure here in the Roaring '20s, there's something about a lone saxophonist heroically unleashing a storm of sound that aptly represents the profile of Chicago jazz.
3. The honor roll of Chicago tenor saxophonists could fill pages, but suffice it to say that the city has produced giants for every jazz epoch and style. If Freeman's work epitomized early-period jazz (annoyingly stilled dubbed "Dixieland"), hypervirtuoso players such as Von Freeman, Johnny Griffin, Clifford Jordan and Ira Sullivan became bebop masters; Eddie Harris explored soul, crossover and what-not; and John Gilmore, Fred Anderson, Joseph Jarman, Ari Brown and Roscoe Mitchell plunged headlong into the avant-garde (though Mitchell in recent years has been more closely linked to the soprano saxophone).
4. With such a deep well of tenor history, Chicago jazz not surprisingly has produced new generations of formidable artists. They may not be as famous as their forebears—the legendmaking machinery for jazz isn't quite what it used to be—but their musical achievements are indisputable. From the swing-era aesthetic of Eric Schneider to the powerhouse style of Frank Catalano to the "free jazz" experiments of multi-instrumentalists such as Ken Vandermark and Dave Rempis, the tenor is in remarkably good hands—and lips—in Chicago.
5. One of the great primers on Chicago tenordom came out last year: "The Best of Von Freeman on Premonition" (Premonition Records). This boxed set includes two landmark Freeman CDs, "The Improviser" and "The Great Divide," plus a DVD of Freeman in performance; at $27.98, it's a steal.
A tip of the fedora to my Nubian Vixen friend!
Who thought this was a good idea! I’d reather stick a needle in my eye than buy a ticket to this pairing. Do people actually think these guys are funny – I don’t get it.
According to Variety, a Sherlock Holmes comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell is set up at Columbia Pictures with Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) scripting for producers Judd Apatow and Jimmy Miller.
The Apatow-produced Holmes pic will feature Cohen as Arthur Conan Doyle's famous London gumshoe and Will Ferrell as his trusty partner Watson, reuniting the two Talladega Nights co-stars.
This project should in no way be confused with Warner Brothers' more action-oriented Sherlock Holmes feature, which is expected to be directed by Guy Ritchie from a script by Anthony Peckham (now there’s a take on Holmes I can’t wait to see)..
Well over a dozen actors who have played the Holmes character on the big and small screen, a group that includes Peter Cushing, Rupert Everett, Ronald Howard, Jeremy Brett, Christopher Lee, Robert Stephens and, perhaps most iconically, Basil Rathbone.
Cohen will next be seen in next summer's Bruno.
Ferrell has Step Brothers coming out later this summer and recently completed production on Land of the Lost.
The reshaping of Life on Mars is continuing at ABC. I loved the original British version of this show, but I’m getting anxious the American translation is following the American versions of Cracker, Viva Blackpool (Viva Laughlin), and others into the disaster zone.
Life On Mars, which has already undergone a change in location and with its executive producers, has now added a new member to its cast. Former "Sopranos" star Michael Imperioli has joined the ensemble as a tough, crude detective, the showbiz trade papers report.
Life on Mars stars Jason O'Mara as Sam Tyler, a present-day cop who's transported to the early 1970s after being hit by a car. Imperioli will play Detective Ray Carling, one of his new colleagues in the '70s, who's distrustful of Sam's unorthodox methods and believes Sam took a position that was rightfully his.
The series is based on a BBC show of the same title. Dean Andrews played Carling in the British version.
Imperioli's casting is the latest of a number of changes the show has undergone since being picked up. David E. Kelley, who wrote and executive produced the original pilot, has stepped away from the show, which will now be run by the "October Road" team of Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg. Some recasting and reshoots are also expected.
Production has also shifted from Los Angeles, where the pilot was shot, to New York.
Imperioli won an Emmy in 2004 for his work on The Sopranos. He starred in the ABC movie For One More Day last season and recently finished working on The Lovely Bones for director Peter Jackson.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Somehow, I missed this great independent film during its very limited theatrical run. But after being tipped to it by a friend, I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone who is a sucker for a good sports film. Yes, we’ve seen this all before, but Believe In Me is lovingly rendered – people cared about the making of this film – and it delivers exactly what fans of this genre demand. You will be move to tears, you will be inspired, you will be uplifted.
While it's not a classic high school basketball film such as Hoosiers (mainly because the story isn’t as well known), Believe In Me tugs at the heartstrings with vigor. Jeffrey Donovan (who is currently tearing up the television screen in the great spy series Burn Notice) stars as Clay Driscoll, a shy high school boy’s basketball coach double-dribbled into taking over a girl’s team in mid-60s Oklahoma. The foul is committed by the tyrannical Ellis Brawley (Bruce Dern) – the grandson of the founder of Middleton, a tiny farm community, who now runs things and thinks he has found someone better to coach the boys.
Driscoll balks at first, then listens to reason from his wife, Jean (Samantha Mathis). Hoping the job is only temporary, Clay uneasily accepts the position. Now, he’s faced with turning a losing school team into something presentable, or he can kiss his dream of ever working as a head coach for a boys' team goodbye.
Unfortunately, the girls' team is off the school board and even the town radar. They don’t win games. They don’t draw crowds. Which means they don’t generate any money. Forced to wear hand-me down warm-up suits, and uniforms that are shabby and tattered, an with an overall sense of low self-esteem the team gives Driscoll little with which to work.
By the beginning of their second basketball season, Driscoll learns he is more than a coach to many of the girls on his team. Unable to generate support from the school board, he becomes an apparent thorn-in-their-side as he dedicates his time, money and skills in hopes of taking his Lady Cyclones to the State Championship game.
Donovan’s performance as an often humble, insecure and yet determined Clay Driscoll was amazing, and believable. Although you only get to know a small handful of the players on his team, the lives Driscoll effects is powerfully moving.
Mathis provides an excellent performance as Driscoll’s foundation. She portrays the supportive wife with individuality and creativity. And by the end of the film you so strongly dislike Ellis Brawley that you can’t deny Bruce Dern’s outstanding performance.
Like Hoosier, Believe in Me has a charm and innocence all its own. Written and directed by Robert Collector, this clumsiness-to-confidence tale is based on the novel Brief Garland, penned by Harold Keith about his nephew, Jim Keith, who built a dynasty as an Oklahoma girls' basketball coach.
If you go to the movies with any kind of regularity, chances are you've seen a similar story. The fact that they are out there — especially the ones based on actual events — is enough to keep me coming back for more.
See this great movie and help cheer the Lady Cyclones to winning games. You will find it an evening well spent, uplifting with a lot of heartfelt feelings.
''Do not scorn a weak cub,'' reads a proverb at the start of Mongol. “He may become a brutal tiger.''
Genghis Khan, the legendary 13th century Mongol conqueror, who controlled a fifth of the world at the height of his power, was more than brutal. In this magnificent film, Russian filmmaker Sergei Bodrov illuminates the life and legend of Genghis Khan through a stunning historical epic.
Based on leading scholarly accounts and written by Bodrov and Arif Aliyev, Mongol delves into the dramatic and harrowing early years of the ruler who was born as Temudgin in 1162. The film features an all-Asian cast and was rightfully nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year.
As it follows Temudgin from his perilous childhood to the battle that sealed his destiny, the film paints a multidimensional portrait of the future conqueror, revealing him not as the evil brute of hoary stereotype, but as an inspiring, fearless and visionary leader. Mongol shows us the making of an extraordinary man, and the foundation on which so much of his greatness rested: his relationship with his wife, Borte, his lifelong love and most trusted advisor.
Filmed in the very lands that gave birth to Genghis Khan, Mongol transports us back to a distant and exotic period in world history; to a nomad's landscape of endless space, climatic extremes and ever-present danger. In a performance of powerful stillness and subtlety, celebrated young Japanese actor Asano Tadanobu captures the inner fire that enabled a hunted boy to become a legendary conqueror.
Asano's achievement is matched by those of his co-stars, including the radiant newcomer Khulan Chuluun as Temudgin's courageous, spirited wife Borte, and the Chinese actor Honglei Sun as the Mongol chieftain Jamukha, Temudgin's dearest friend and deadliest enemy.
Masterfully blending action and emotion against some of the most arresting terrain on earth, Bodrov delivers an exciting and awe-inspiring tale of survival and triumph, with the thunder and fury of an old-school Hollywood epic, and a love story for the ages.
CAMARILLO ART AND JAZZ FESTIVAL!
The Camarillo Art & Jazz Festival will take place in Old Town Camarillo on Ventura Boulevard, as well as the Farmer's Market area and Dizdar Park.
• 8:00 AM ~ Farmer's Market
ALL DAY ART & JAZZ
This day-long free to the public event features local professional artists and a range of musical guests. A juried art walk on the sidewalks along Camarillo's historic Old Town district, including art displays in various participating shops and restaurants.
Music performances will be highlighted on two outdoor stages throughout the day. Terrific jazz from swing to Latin jazz to smooth jazz styles of music and entertainment will be presented. There will also be a local battle of the bands which will conclude with the victorious band opening up later that evening for the headliner Dave Koz.
• 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM ~ VIP Tent
• 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM ~ Old Town
Dizdar Park Stage
Palm Street Stage
Fir Street Stage
The conclusion of the day's activities brings the evening's featured ticketed Evening Under the Stars Concert and Art Display at Pleasant Valley School at 2222 E. Ventura Blvd. outdoor grounds in Old Town Camarillo.
Guests will be immersed in a spectacular convergence of art and music. The evening begins with a private VIP reception with food and beverages for sponsors and their invited guests.
It will continue with artist's exhibits and live music from the stage, and conclude with Dave Koz and Friends.
• 4:00 PM ~ Gates Open
• 4:30 PM ~ VIP Reception Begins
• 5:15 PM ~ Battle of the Jazz Band Winner
• 6:15 PM ~ Royal Crown Revue
• 8:15 PM ~ Dave Koz & Friends
Ticket holders are welcome to bring picnic baskets. An area for sponsors to exhibit is also provided as part of special sponsorship benefits packages.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
The film Dirty Harry turned 37 in June of this year. A just released collector’s edition has been stirring up a lot of comment and intrest in the film again.
Eastwood has been interviewed again and again about his iconic portrayal of the rogue cop, but a recent MTV interview included the following exchange.
MTV: You were not the only big name attached to Dirty Harry. Frank Sinatra very nearly played the part.
Eastwood: I guess they tried to get a lot of people for it. They tried Frank Sinatra and Robert Mitchum and Steve McQueen. Then they finally ended up with Frank Sinatra. I was in postproduction (on Play Misty for Me), and they called up and asked, "Are you still interested in Dirty Harry?" I said, "What happened to Frank Sinatra?" And they said, "Frank Sinatra's got some problem with his hand and he can't hold a gun." That sounded like a pretty lame excuse, but it didn't matter to me. I said, "I'll do it." But since they had initially talked to me, there had been all these rewrites. I said, "I'm only interested in the original script."
It’s enough to make you wonder exactly what ‘Ol Blue Eyes would have done with the role. And as far as Sinatra not being able to hold a gun, he certainly did so in such films as The Detective and Tony Rome – however, in those films he carried a snub-nosed .38. It could be he couldn’t handle the massive Magnum .357 as required for the character. On the other hand, I think it would have been kind of cool to see Sinatra, through clenched teeth, delivering the line, “Go ahead, punk. Make my day!”
For me Sinatra’s best turn as a cop character was in 1980’s The First Deadly Sin based on a terrific novel by Lawrence Saunders.The image at the top of this post is from a trade ad which appeared in the Nov. 9, 1970 issue of Boxoffice magazine, promoting the then In Production Warner Bros. release Dirty Harry, and offers a rare glimpse of Sinatra's Harry Callahan.
England’s tabloid newpaper The Mirror (www.mirror.co.uk) reports British rockers DURAN DURAN are planning on teaming up with superproducer MARK RONSON to record a second BOND theme - 23 years after releasing the title track to A VIEW TO A KILL.
The band recently chose Ronson to remix a string of their hit singles and will be performing a one-off gig with Ronson in Paris, France on Wednesday (02Jul08) night, and keyboardist Nick Rhodes insists they are keen to collaborate with the 32-year-old again - on a theme tune for forthcoming James Bond movie Quantum of Solace.
He says, “We’d love to collaborate with Mark on a single for the next Bond film. With him we may even surpass A View To A Kill.”
Speculation about who will sing the title track to the new 007 movie has been rife - with rumours that Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis and Beyonce Knowles are all being considered for the job.
ULTIMATE JAMES BOND EDITION MONOPOLY - SNEAK PEAK!
MI6 (www.mi6.co.uk) has an exclusive first look at the new customisable "UIltimate James Bond Edition" of the classic board game Monopoly due out later this year...
Back in July 2006, USAOPOLY released a '007 Collectors Edition' of the popular board game Monopoly to tie-in with the release of "Casino Royale". With Daniel Craig's next adventure as James Bond looming, the company is back with an 'Ultimate James Bond Edition'. What's the big difference? The silly use of film titles on the board in the first version have been replaced with locations from the film series - including the upcoming 22nd adventure.
The set will include tiles for 51 different locations from the films, from "Dr No" to "Quantum of Solace", giving players over one billion different ways to set up the board. The board comes complete with removable and reusable labels, so you can give the game a new spin anytime by selecting which 22 property squares to feature.
Instead of the traditional houses and hotels, 007 themed properties can now be equipped with Guards and Security Systems in incrementally increase their value. The four trains squares are also from the Bond Universe: Orient Express (From Russia With Love), Janus’ Armored Train, Octopussy’s Train (Octopussy), Pendolino Train (Casino Royale). The cards have been renamed Bond Allies and Bond Enemies, and players use a decoder to decipher the directives. Even the board design has had an overhaul, now sporting the iconic gun barrel in black along with images from the films screened in the background.
Made by USAOPOLY under license from Hasbro Properties Group, this edition features six new collectible pewter tokens: Moonraker Shuttle, Octopus, Casino Royale Poker Chip, Zorin’s Airship, Q-Boat, and the Moon Buggy.
Monopoly "Ultimate James Bond" Edition is expected to hit stores in September 2008.
Complete Locations List
Le Cercle, London - Dr. No, Crab Key Dr. No’s Island - Dr. No, SPECTRE Island - From Russia With Love, Gypsy Camp - From Russia With Love, Royal St. Marks Golf Course - Goldfinger, Kentucky Stud Ranch - Goldfinger, Fort Knox - Goldfinger, Palmyra (Largo’s Estate) - Thunderball, Disco Volante – Thunderball, Ninja Training Facility - You Only Live Twice, SPECTRE Volcano Base - You Only Live Twice, Mark Ange Draco’s Estate - On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Piz Gloria - On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Whyte House - Diamonds Are Forever, Fillet of Soul - Live and Let Die, Kananga’s Lair - Live and Let Die, Scaramanga’s Island - The Man With the Golden Gun, Hai Fat’s Kung Fu Academy - The Man With the Golden Gun, Stromberg’s Sardinia Base - The Spy Who Loved Me, Liparus Tanker - The Spy Who Loved Me, Atlantis - The Spy Who Loved Me, Drax’s Chateau – Moonraker, Amazon Temple HQ – Moonraker, Drax Space Station – Moonraker, Gonzales’ Estate - For Your Eyes Only, St. Cyril’s Monastery - For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy’s Palace – Octopussy, Khan’s Palace – Octopussy, Ascot Racecourse - A View To A Kill, Zorin’s Mine - A View To A Kill, Zorin’s French Estate - A View To A Kill, Kamran Shah’s Desert Fortress - The Living Day Lights, Rock of Gibraltar Base - The Living Day Lights, Whitaker’s HQ -The Living Day Lights, Republic of Isthmus Villa - Licence To Kill, Olimpatec Meditation Institute - Licence to Kill, Severnaya Bunker – GoldenEye, GoldenEye Control Station – GoldenEye, Wai Lin’s Secret Warehouse - Tomorrow Never Dies, Sea Shadow (Stealth Ship)- Tomorrow Never Dies, Carver Media Group Network - Tomorrow Never Dies, Los Organos Gene Therapy Clinic - Die Another Day, Graves’ Plane - Die Another Day, Ice Palace- Die Another Day, Maiden’s Tower - The World Is Not Enough, King Industries Nuclear Facility - The World Is Not Enough, Dimitrios’ Villa - Casino Royale, Casino Royale, Montenegro- Casino Royale, Mr White’s Estate - Casino Royale, Bolivian Desert- Quantum of Solace, Perla De Las Dunas - Quantum of Solace.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
The first American version of "Cracker" went stale pretty quickly, but TNT is hoping it can give viewers something better to chew on.
The cable network has bought rights to the show, about a chain-smoking and heavy-drinking but dogged detective from Granada America, the U.S. arm of the company that produced the original version. Actor Robert Duvall will be among the executive producers of the new version.
Cracker starred Robbie Coltrane as Eddie Fitz Fitzgerald, whose messy life and abrasive style masked a brilliant investigative mind. ABC produced a version of the show starring Robert Pastorelli in the 1997-98 season, but it lasted only 11 episodes. In this year of the remake, though, the strength of the source material caused TNT to give it another look.
"It was such a success in the U.K. and around the world -- such a great character and also a great procedural," Granada America's Julie Meldal-Johnsen tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We thought the timing was right and that American cable, edgier and more open, would be a better venue for it than broadcast."
Jason Horwitch ("Medical Investigation," FX's movie "The Pentagon Papers") will write the script for TNT's pilot and serve as a co-executive producer. Duvall and Robert Carliner ("Broken Trail") will exec produce.
Also, Steve will be on Jay Leno's Tonight Show on Monday July 7th performing What the World Needs Now is Love. Please check it out!
The multi-award winning movie TELL NO ONE, based on the book by our buddy Harlan Coben, opens today in the USA!
TELL NO ONE, directed by Guillaume Canet, starring Francois Cluzet and Kristin Scott Thomas, and based on the novel by uh Harlan Coben, debuts in NYC and Los Angeles on July 2nd and then starts making it way around to select heaters all over the country.
Stephen Holden raved in today’s NEW YORK TIMES: “Guillaume Canet’s delicious contemporary thriller TELL NO ONE is Vertigo meets The Fugitive by way of The Big Sleep. That is meant as high praise… Tell No One is pure, nasty fun. I watched it twice. It was even better the second time.”
Read the whole review at:
And in today’s LOS ANGELES TIMES Kenneth Turren wrote: “Tell everyone about TELL NO ONE…. Author Coben, who says he is a fan of 'stories that move you, that grab hold of your heart and do not let it go,' has gotten a film that does exactly that.”
Read the whole review at:
To see the trailer – and for those who are observant, try to spot Harlan in it – visit www.harlancoben.com
For a full listing of where it will be playing, click:
www.TellNoOneMovie.com and then click Screenings.
No word on DVD release.
Nominated for 9 Cesar Awards (French Oscan) and winning four as well as winning the Lumiere Award (French Golden Globe) for Best Movie, TELL NO ONE was one of the top grossing films in Europe and the UK and now after debuting in New York and Los Angeles on July 2nd, it finally comes here!
I had a blast viewing Wanted, the new big screen action flick starring Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy. I’d ignored the mediocre reviews the film had garnered, and simply accepted I was going in to see two hours of mindless action and violence where stuff blew up really good and substituted for any semblance of plot or characterization. As a result I was delighted by a well directed, intense, movie with a plot that holds together long enough to get you out of the theatre, surprising twists and turns (that make sense in the context of the world the film creates), and perfomances from McAvoy and Jolie perfectly suited to theme and setting – nobody, with the possible exception of Uma Thurman, does tough chick like Angelina.
Oh, yeah, and a bunch of stuff blows up good!
Russian director Timur Bekmambetov (whose two prior efforts were the head-trippy vampire opus Night Watch and it’s sequel Day Watch) gives us a film filled with obsessive European craft and zingy American energy, which is more powerful than any since the dawn of Luc Besson. Based on a graphic novel with something less than rock-steady literary or logical foundations, Wanted is slam-bam, bloody, feisty and mean entertainment. It is easily the most ferocious action film of the year – surprisingly more resonant of Fight Club than The Matrix – especially in it’s final pull-the-rug-out statement from McAvoy’s character..
There is also a lot of the Bourne films in Wanted’s DNA, except the frenetic action here is shot and edited in a manner to allow the viewer to actually see what is going on. There are strains of ugliness and even cruelty that Wanted embraces with relish. It's got Angelina Jolie shooting guns while hanging out of sports cars (she looks great in black leather), a train tumbling slowly from a tunnel into an abyss, bullets curving around obstacles and smashing into other bullets in super-slo-mo, knife fights, beatings, Morgan Freeman in full Mr. Cool mode, and other outre goodies.
The story concerns meek, hobbled Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy), a cubicle critter with a shrewish boss, a cheating girlfriend, no money, no family and no hope. One night he's out buying meds for his panic attacks when – kablooey – he finds his jitters are about to increase exponentially: There beside him stands Angelina Jolie, who utters the picture’s equivalent of “Come with me if you want to live”only with a twinkle of amusement, as if the whole gazillion-dollar movie were her little toy. Suuddenly, McAvoy’s Wesley is involved in a terrifying shoot-out, a terrifying (and way cool) car chase, and is whisked off to a fortress, where, under the pretext of operating a textile factory, an ancient cabal of assassins known as the Fraternity is based.
Turns out that Wesley was born to this order of killers but doesn't know it because his dad, one of the best assassins of all time, left home when he was a baby. Under the tutelage of Jolie, Freeman and some other fellows, he learns the ways of the Fraternity (which include wax baths that heal wounds, and bombs made out of rats), and he sets himself to avenge his father's death at the hands of a rogue assassin.
The premise itself isn’t world-shattering: Wanted is the standard summer-thriller mishmash of blockbusters past, from The Matrix (obviously), to The Terminator ,to Star Wars, to Harry Potter, all with a bit of Bourne thrown in for ballast. All feature protagonists who suddenly discover their specialness (“Your long-awaited destiny…,” etc.) along with latent powers they must learn to control (“Let your instincts guide you …,” etc.), a journey that becomes a metaphor for growing up, achieving autonomy, etc.
But while a lot of this is quite silly, Bekmambetov manages to give it depth as he revs it up furiously and unleashes one bit of hyperactive, dazzling invention after another. The result is a strained premise wrapped up in the coolest packaging imaginable, which is acres better than the opposite. It is really cool!
Along with every other hyperbolic critical adjective, the term state-of-the-art has been devalued by overuse, so let’s move the boundary posts and proclaim Wanted state-of-the-art state-of-the-art. Assassins propel themselves through space, distend time, bend bullets like Beckham, and live both dangerously and parabolically: Yoweeee! What a ride on the cyber-whoosh rapids! It takes about an hour after it’s over for the heart to slow, the brain to recalibrate, and the nonsensicalness of the thing to sink in: I fell for that? By then, you’ll have already babbled to a few dozen friends and strangers, “You gotta see this movie!”
The deft script (by Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, and Chris Morgan) ends up inverting many of the Matrix tropes it appropriates. (The denouement is a triumph of rug pulling.) Bekmambetov is a killer when it comes to mixing fast and slow motion in ways that screw up your biorhythms: You feel as if you’re riding on the back of those curving bullets as they hit their targets with a satisfying splat. Wanted is the kind of irresistible movie just made for summer. I had a blast. So will you.
It was 71 years ago today that aviator Amelia Earhart, along with navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared over the Pacific, never to be found. It was Earhart’s second attempt at flying around the world.
The disappearance of the celebrated flier remains perhaps the most tantalizing unsolved mystery in aviation history. In the age of Charles Lindbergh and other daredevil fliers, Amelia Earhart became a household name in 1928, after becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. True, it was as a passenger with a male pilot and copilot, but she soloed across the Atlantic in 1932.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
AMAZING BICYCLE STUNT RIDER!
Here is a lady, filmed in Germany, who rides around doing crazy bicycle stunts all day. So the next time you’re feeling a little overworked and stressed out, just think about this lady standing on the seat of her bike while riding circles in front of an auditorium full of people.
A tip of the fedora to www.onemansblog.com
WALL-E is a sort of mobile trash compactor – his name is an acronym for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class – and he's the last robot left on a desolate, crumbling Earth, 800 years in the future. WALL-E has a squat yellow metal body and sturdy pincers for hands. He doesn't say much. but his eyes, two lenses perched atop a virtually nonexistent head like a set of binoculars, suggest the all-too-human anxiety he suffers: He has the perpetually worried look of the young Woody Allen.
Although there are no humans left to avail themselves of his services, WALL-E still dutifully goes about the business he was built to do, scooping up scraps of trash and metal, forming them into solid, compact cubes, and stacking them high: He's surrounded by faux skyscrapers made of these blocks, as if they were comforting artifacts for this lonely little robot, mementos from a time when he was surrounded by life.
As WALL-E roams this forlorn landscape, doing his job simply because he has no idea what else to do, he picks up small treasures, bits and bobs that he thinks (if robots can think) might one day come in handy, and brings them back to his lair: The mishmash includes a Rubik's cube, strings of Christmas lights.
WALL-E has one friend – an elegant-looking art-deco-style cockroach who communicates mostly by clicking and cocking his antennae – but we can see he longs for something more. Stashed in his cave is a talisman that WALL-E values more than anything else in his possession, an object that he goes back to obsessively, hoping to unlock his secrets. It's a scratchy videotape of "Hello, Dolly," although only small portions of the tape appear to be functional.
And so WALL-E spends his evenings trying to parse the secrets of human connection through musical numbers like "Put On Your Sunday Clothes" and "It Only Takes a Moment." He's bewitched by these fragments of pop art. For him, they're mysterious primers on what it means to dance, or to hold someone's hand. When the music kicks in, it's shaky and faint like a cue beamed in from a far-away galaxy, a place where people used to understand the pleasure of one another's company, or even just the joy that could be found in a throwaway musical number.
There's very little dialogue in the early part of WALL-E, and that section's near-silence only enhances its aura of mournful obsessiveness: Scraps of pop culture that are expendable to us (who ever even thinks about "Hello, Dolly" anymore?) are precious to WALL-E, and they begin to have even greater potential meaning when a lovely girl robot named Eve -- shaped like a sleek white bullet, she resembles a cocktail shaker from a '70s bachelor pad -- comes to Earth on a mission of her own.
However, there's more to WALL-E than just a love story, and therein lies the movie’s biggest problem. If Michael Moore or Oliver Stone had crafted a feature film that was a thinly disguised political broadside portraying Americans as recumbent tubbos who moved around on sliding barcaloungers with built-in video screens and soft drinks always at the ready, WALL-E could not be more blatant.
It’s as if the writer’s didn’t know how to resolve the love story and in desperation resort to dragging in AL Gore-ish environmental scare tactics to give the film a wrap up and a message: The same message we’ve seen before in such message films as Happy Feet and Bee Season – all humans are fat and stupid and don’t care about the environment, so very sensitive penguins, bees, or robots (who are all victims of the mean humans) have to teach us a lesson.
This is all well and good, but it’s not the reason I went to see WALL-E. If I decide to go and see An Inconvenient Truth I know exactly what to expect on the screen. But WALL-E’s trailers promise of clever humor and an evening’s entertainment is false advertising at its worst.
WALL-E takes a surprisingly firm stance on the uselessness and unlikability of humankind, showing us a future world in which humans -- fed largely on junk food -- have become so fat they look like old-fashioned rubber dollies bloated to obscene proportions. They're obese partly because they're lazy: Instead of walking, they've gotten used to coasting along on floating chaise lounges, and robots cater to their every whim. Instead of talking to each other face-to-face, they chat with their friends on computer screens that appear to be permanently affixed just a few inches from their faces – even when their friends are sailing along right next to them.
WALL-E also takes on corporate greed and political corruption: The president of the multinational megacorporation that's largely responsible for the demise of humankind is also the president of the whole world. He's played by Fred Willard, who appears as a hologram spreading false optimism and lies.
WALL-E, however, ultimately backs away from both its romanticism and its bitterness; its ending feels like a tacked-on remnant of manufactured hope and goodwill. There's plenty of antic action in the middle, including a chase sequence involving a bunch of rogue robots. But the action doesn't feel integral to the plot – it's more like a forced effort to make sure the kiddies don't get bored, which they inevitably do.
Toward the end of WALL-E, the movie tries to circle back and recapture some of the wistful magic of the early scenes, but the spell doesn't take. WALL-E gives us a hero who, by culling through the masses of junk that we so casually throw away, becomes a repository for human memories, a living (though not breathing) creature who has more feeling than actual humans do. Then it shows us actual humans – lazy, fat, brainless ones who have squandered and abused their free will – and asks us to forgive their foibles. The gloss of preachiness that washes over WALL-E overwhelms the haunting, delicate spirit of its first 30 minutes. This clearly isn't a movie made by a robot; the drag is that it ends up feeling so programmed.
Here’s the blub from AMC Prisoner blog:
AMC announced today that acclaimed film actors Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ, The Thin Red Line) and Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, The Da Vinci Code) have signed on for the network's reinterpretation of the highly influential 1960s cult classic, The Prisoner. AMC is co-producing the six-part mini-series with ITV Productions and Granada International, with a worldwide premiere slated for 2009. The Prisoner, AMC's second original mini-series, combines a wide range of genres, including espionage, thriller and scifi, into a unique and compelling drama, and expands upon the network's distinctive cinematic approach to creating high-quality programming.
Caviezel will play the title role of "Number Six," a part that was originally made famous when played by Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan also served as the creator, producer, writer and director of the 1960s series, which has become widely regarded as one of the most famous and intriguing cult TV series ever created, permanently altering the scope of the fantasy genre. Two-time Oscar nominee Ian McKellen will co-star playing the role of "Number Two."
"Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen bring an incredible level of talent to the project, and we're honored they are taking on these important roles. We look forward to this production revitalizing a classic and bringing Patrick McGoohan's brilliant and captivating story to an entirely new generation of viewers," stated Charlie Collier, AMC's general manager and executive vice president. "The caliber of Hollywood talent AMC is attracting further validates our programming vision and our successful strategy of producing quality cinematic originals that stand alongside our library of iconic movies."
"For those of us who were watching grown-up TV in the 60s, The Prisoner was dangerous, exciting and challenging TV. For those of us who were too young to stay up to watch the series, it casts a long shadow. You don't embark on something this iconic without the best team around to do it justice for a whole new era. With Bill Gallagher as writer, Trevor Hopkins as Producer, Michele Buck, Damien Timmer and Rebecca Keane as the UK Execs, AMC as production partners, ITV as UK Commissioners, and Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen leading the cast, we have that team on board. I can't wait," said John Whiston, Director of ITV Productions.
"Bill Gallagher's new version of The Prisoner is an enthralling commentary on modern culture. It is witty, intelligent and disturbing. I am very excited to be involved," said Ian McKellan.
While the original series, which debuted in 1967, was a riff on Cold War politics, AMC's reinterpretation will reflect 21st Century concerns and anxieties, such as liberty, security, and surveillance, yet also showcase the same key elements of paranoia, tense action and socio-political commentary seen in McGoohan's enigmatic original.
"The Prisoner spawned an enormous group of zealous fans who thrived on each week's psychological twists and turns. AMC's version brings The Prisoner back to primetime, and we're tempted to discuss more details, but in the spirit of the series, what you DO know, may hurt you," said Christina Wayne, SVP of scripted original programming.
The Prisoner mini-series is a co-production of AMC and ITV Productions; the deal was brokered by Granada International, which holds international distribution rights. Bill Gallagher (Conviction, Clocking Off, Lark Rise To Candleford) serves as writer and executive producer, along with Michele Buck, Damien Timmer, Rebecca Keane, and AMC's Charlie Collier, Christina Wayne and Vlad Wolynetz. It is produced by Trevor Hopkins (Dracula, Poirot), and directed by Jon Jones (Northanger Abbey, Cold Feet). Jim Caviezel's deal was coordinated by ICM. Creative Artists Agency orchestrated the deal on behalf of Ian McKellen.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Here's the official Quantum of solace plot synopsis:
Betrayed by Vesper, the woman he loved, 007 fights the urge to make his latest mission personal. Pursuing his determination to uncover the truth, Bond and M (JUDI DENCH) interrogate Mr White (JESPER CHRISTENSEN) who reveals the organization which blackmailed Vesper is far more complex and dangerous than anyone had imagined.
Forensic intelligence links an Mi6 traitor to a bank account in Haiti where a case of mistaken identity introduces Bond to the beautiful but feisty Camille (OLGA KURYLENKO), a woman who has her own vendetta. Camille leads Bond straight to Dominic Greene (MATHIEU AMALRIC), a ruthless business man and major force within the mysterious organization.
On a mission that leads him to Austria, Italy and South America, Bond discovers that Greene, conspiring to take total control of one of the world's most important natural resources, is forging a deal with the exiled General Medrano (JOAQUIN COSIO). Using his associates in the organization, and manipulating his powerful contacts within the CIA and the British government, Greene promises to overthrow the existing regime in a Latin American country, giving the General control of the country in exchange for a seemingly barren piece of land.
In a minefield of treachery, murder and deceit, Bond allies with old friends in a battle to uncover the truth. As he gets closer to finding the man responsible for the betrayal of Vesper, 007 must keep one step ahead of the CIA, the terrorists and even M, to unravel Greene's sinister plan and stop his organisation.
Focusing on mystery, crime, suspense, fantasy, spec fic; and featuring neo noir pulp inspired art.
Thrilling, Exciting, Mysterious, and Smart – It's Mysterical E!
A Word From the Editor
The Muse Contest Winners
Ati by Scott Robinson
Burning Questions by Kevn Tipple
Laddie by Frank Zafiro
Malice Archaeological by Sarah Wisseman
Pastures of Heaven by Martha Reed
Il Ballotino by Tom Rynard
Cold Storage by Daniel Stephens
Six Minutes by Kaye Sebastian
St. Joe's by Chris Laing
The Blue Goose by Kim Smith
The Hot Seat by Fleur Bradley
Jack Best and the Line in the Sand by Steve Olley
Death of a President by Montiese Mckenzie
Thin Ice by Anita Page
Gunfight at the So-So Corral by Barry Ergang
The Collector by John Whitehouse
Night Sounds by Curt Jeffreys
Death of the Malevolent Muse by S.M. Harding
Retransformation by Kaye George
Whacked at the Conference by Robert S. Ruehrdanz
Laddie by Frank Zafiro
Ati by Scott Hove
Jack Best and the Line in the Sand by Steve Olley
COLUMNS AND MORE
Mysterical-Eye on TV and Film by Gerald So
Author Snapshot by Christine Verstraete
Of the Moment by Nicholas Fuller
The Hell You Say by Byron McAllister
I Like 'Em Tough by Jim Doherty
Author Interview: Lori L. Lake
Author Interview: Charlaine Harris
Author Interview: Simon Wood
Author Interview: G.M. Malliet
Click here for the summer issue.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
MILLIONS OF BOOKS TO CHOOSE FROM – YOURS WILL TAKE ONLY MINUTES TO PRINT
Arifa Akbar, Arts Correspondent – THE INDEPENDENT
Blackwell bookshop announced yesterday that it is to install an "Espresso Book Machine" that will allow customers to print out a novel in just seven minutes.
The self-service machine, which will eventually be installed in 50 stores across the country, offers a choice of around one million titles. The fully-bound books are printed to library quality, including a front cover.
A more sophisticated version of the machine is smaller and prints books in just three minutes. The older version has already been installed in 11 sites worldwide and Blackwell hopes to eventually have the faster machine in its stores.
Britain's book industry has hailed the machine's arrival as potentially revolutionary. It means high street bookshops can offer a range of books that will compete for the first time with online stores such as Amazon.
Blackwell is leasing the book-making machine from its American owner, On Demand Books, according to The Bookseller. Vince Gunn, chief executive of Blackwell, described the technology as "trailblazing".
"From a retailer's point of view, this is a fantastic opportunity," he said. "When I first read about the Espresso Book Machine, I was very keen to see it in action. I was really pleased with its performance when I saw it last year."
He said the machine was meant to enhance the choice in a book store, but that they would still retain a vast amount of titles on their shelves. "I'm a real advocate of books and I think they are here to stay. I don't think the book is dead but this is a great invention that will give more choice to readers," he said.
Alison Flood, news editor of The Bookseller, said: "Imagine going into a book store and getting an obscure title while you wait. It could be a way for street chains to compete with the range that is offered online. The novelty for readers will also be exciting and it could be a great thing for the high street."
On Demand has been in talks with other British retailers about stocking the Espresso. Blackwell is the first chain in Europe to place an order for the machine and the largest commercial retailer in the world to do so.
www.comics.igm.com has posted the following review of the three issue Man With No Name comic mini-series.
“For the latest in their long line of comic books starring licensed properties, Dynamite Entertainment brings Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name to the comics world with writer Christos Gage and artist Wellington Dias' The Good, The Bad and the Uglier series. Now I'm a huge fan of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns and his Man with No Name trilogy in particular, but before opening this book, I questioned just how successfully one could capture the essence of Leone's vision without his unique camera work, spacious landscapes and, of course, trademark soundtrack. The very first pages of Gage and Dias' debut issue attempts to directly address those concerns with a sequence of silent shots of desolate western locations and a fast-paced, interestingly framed gun fight, but it's still impossible not to feel like there's a lot missing from this adaptation.”
For more click here
Mattel is coming out with a new Barbie doll from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 horror film The Birds!
It’s not yet available, but when it comes out, it’ll be an instant classic!