Entertainment Today and Beyond

Never Met a Zombi I Didn’t Like…

DEXTER kills in ratings for Season 4 premiere

dexter-season-4-posterThe fourth season premiere of Dexter on Showtime scored with its best ratings yet and the highest in the history of the pay cable network. Its 1.5 million viewership was also 25% better than last year’s premiere. This episode, titled “Living the Dream”, has the blood splatter expert/serial killer Dexter now married and the sleep deprived father of an infant son. The episode wasted no time introducing the great veteran actor John Lithgow as this season’s nemesis. He plays a character known as The Trinity killer, a near mythic serial killer who’s been on the loose for three decades. Lithgow’s debut on the show accompanies a pretty disturbing murder scene when he offs a victim in a bathtub.

In the four year history of this terrific program, this was the most disturbing scene they have ever shot and that’s saying a lot. It is hard to get out of my head even as I write this. It was also good to see Keith Carradine return as FBI Agent Lundy. This is a really cool character that Carradine has nailed. The one thing the writers of Dexter do very well is produce really interesting supporting characters and Lundy is just one of them.

I can’t say enough about the program’s star, Michael C. Hall, as I can’t imagine another actor who could play the title character more brilliantly than he does. Hopefully sooner than later an Emmy will wind up in his trophy case. Given his last eclectic role in Six Feet Under and the relish with which he plays Dexter, it’s entirely possible that he’s just legitimately crazy. Even so, I loved when he said to himself “I have to be careful, I have a son, so I’m killing for two now”. That is just a brilliant line and extremely effective coming out of this fascinating actor’s mouth.

The episode ended with a really nifty cliffhanger that shows that Dexter’s life with wife and son will not be easy on his double life. I can’t wait for this season to unravel. Do yourself a favor and watch Dexter!

September 30, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | , | Leave a comment

Re-make of A Nightmare on Elm Street trailer

nightmare_on_elm_street POSTERWes Craven’s 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the greatest horror films ever produced. That is a fact. While it’s hard for me to imagine anyone other than Robert Englund playing the role of Freddy Kruger, I believe that Jackie Earle Haley will do a respectable job, although his much shorter height could appear somewhat glaring.

What also made the 1984 original a classic was actress Heather Langenkamp’s performance as the movie’s heroine, Nancy. She was terrific. One has to wonder if actress Rooney Mara will be in her league. Still the trailer does look pretty good and I must admit I’m really excited to see it when it opens April 27, 2010. Of all the horror remakes of late I think this one has the most box-office potential. Take a LOOK

September 29, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , | Leave a comment

This Week – Will Zombieland score at box-office, Neve back for more Scream, Another Lost Boys on DVD and TV roundup

Zombieland- This horror comedy starring Woody Harrelson and Jessie Eisenberg is getting such terrific advance buzz that it will be interesting to see if it can break the $59,020,957 overall box-office take of Zach Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead back in 2004.

Scream 4- Variety is reporting that Neve Campbell has come to her senses and signed on to join Courtney Cox and David Arquette in the fourth entry of the very popular horror franchise. Considering Campbell’s career trajectory since the last Scream film back in 2000, how in the world do you say no to a paycheck that has to be between three and five million dollars.

Edgar Frog - Lost Boys

Edgar Frog - Lost Boys

Lost Boys 3- This week Warner Bros announced a second direct to DVD sequel to the terrific 1987 original will go into production shortly, starring Cory Feldman as Edgar Frog. Apparently WB remains clueless about the true potential of this franchise. With everything vampire related hot as a pistol (Twilight, True Blood) the studio should have produced a new, high quality, Lost Boys for the big screen. These second rate DVD entries are an insult to fans of the original and a missed opportunity for the studio.

Flash Forward- The highly hyped new ABC show attracted 12.4 million viewers on Thursday night. I really liked the premise and, while the overall scope was held down by the confines of television, I will definitely be tuning in every week. Will this be the new LOST for viewers who like to think? I hope so. 

Taylor Schilling - Mercy

Taylor Schilling - Mercy

Mercy- This new series on NBC attracted a modest audience of 8.5 million on Tuesday night. Overall I really enjoyed this new medical drama which focuses primarily on a complicated nurse played by unknown actress Taylor Schilling. Whether this show lasts or not, Taylor is sure to keep working. She has an interesting presence and holds her own,  making for a very solid lead. This is a program well worth watching and deserves an audience.

A Beautiful Life- This new CW show produced by Ashton Kutcher is the first program of the new fall season to get cancelled. The show featured former O.C. star, and current Hollywood train wreck, Marsha Barton. Attracting an anemic one million viewers for episode number two prompted the network to pull the plug quickly.

Fringe- I’ve been perplexed since the network decided to move this terrific sc-fi head turner into the ultra competitive Thursday Night at 9 PM timeslot opposite powerhouses Grey’s Anatomy and CSI. This season’s second episode pulled in a viewership of less than six million people, a series low. While Fringe pulled in 57% higher ratings than anything else Fox had in that time period last year, I still wish the network let it piggyback behind House as its lead in on Monday nights this season. I’d hate to see another great show cancelled due to poor judgment at the studio.

Grey’s Anatomy- I think Shondra Rhimes has lost her mind! How else do you explain some of the outright ridiculous dialogue in the season opener Thursday night which had the cast members laughing during George O’Malley’s funeral. It felt like a payback to actor T.R Knight who decided to leave the hit show when his part was reduced significantly last season. Over all this left a bad taste in my mouth and I felt embarrassed for all involved.

Cougar Town- The new Courtney Cox ABC sitcom pulled in a solid audience of 12.4 million Thursday night and the show itself was very funny. I would argue that this was the ballsiest pieces of television a network has aired in quite some time. It almost felt like I was watching the FX channel. Cox is a talent and looks amazing at 44 years of age!

Heroes- Is anyone still watching? I quit two season’s ago!

September 26, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News, Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

David Cronenberg to remake his masterpiece: The Fly

flyAccording to The Hollywood Reporter, director David Cronenberg is said to be developing a remake of his 1986 sci-fi horror classic The Fly as a vehicle he would most likely write and direct himself for 20th Century Fox. While some may argue that advanced effects technology would be a reason for Cronenberg to want to go this route I’m not a fan of the idea.

I’ve said many times on this site that I think Cronenberg’s 1986 masterpiece about a scientist who accidentally fuses himself with a housefly during a teleportation experiment was one of the very best films of the 1980’s. Jeff Goldblum has never been better in this fascinating look into a life gone horribly wrong. Equal parts sci-fi, horror and tragic love story, The Fly is a sad but fasinating tale.

I honestly don’t think Cronenberg’s The Fly, which was itself a re-telling of the 1958 film of the same name co-starring Vincent Price, could be made any better. The one effect that they can not recapture or improve on is actor Jeff Goldblum. Goldblum, who elevated movies like Jurrasic Park and Independence Day to great heights with his quirky one of a kind persona, gave a brilliant performance as Seth Brundle. Personally I can’t imagine another actor in the role. This will certainly be a new twist on the remake explosion in Hollywood.

September 25, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , | Leave a comment

Gordon Gekko resurfaces two decades later

wall_street_money_never_sleeps_michael_douglas_gordon_gecko_01This is the first photo of Michael Douglas reprising his Oscar winning role of Gordon Gekko in the now filming Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. Production has been underway in NYC for the last two weeks under the direction of Oliver Stone. The director has no excuse with all of Wall Street hijicks over the last few years not to hit this one out of the park. If he doesn’t it will be a big disappointment.

This is the film’s storyline: The film is set nearly two decades after the first film, with Gekko, having spent 14-years in prison for insider trading and security fraud, now making the lecture circuit as a published financial author. Frank Langella plays Lewis Zabel, an old-time broker who mentors Jacob Moore, a character played by Shia LaBeouf. Gekko befriends Jacob in hopes to reconnect with his daughter Winnie (Carrey Mulligan), Jacob’s wife.

Josh Brolin will play the film’s villain, a hedge fund mogul named Bretton James and Charlie Sheen will return for a cameo reprising his role of Bud Fox. Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps hits theaters April 26, 2010.

September 25, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Harry Brown Trailer

Is MICHEAL CAINE pulling a Charles Bronson?

harry-brown-michael-caine-eThis is one of those trailers that practically came out of nowhere. After watching it I can’t wait to see the film simply because I have always loved the revenge genre and this one stars acting legend Michael Caine. With Clint Eastwood and Liam Neeson kicking ass at the box-office in Gran Torino and Taken this past year it’s kind of cool to see another of the silver screen’s most respected actors taking on this genre, especially at 76!

Other films in this genre that I enjoy – Charles Bronson’s Death Wish series, especially the 1974 original and the 1985 wildly over the Exterminator_ver1top but very entertaining third entry, Death Wish 3. The Exterminator from 1980 is strictly B-movie fare and I haven’t seen it in quite some time but it worked in its time. It starred an actor named Robert Ginty. There was also a sequel. I’m also a fan of a 1982 movie called Fighting Back that starred Tom Skerritt. It’s actually a pretty good movie but not available on DVD. Kevin Bacon’s Death Sentence (2007) works well for its first half but goes off the rails big time in its ridiculous second half.

The CBS Television series The Equalizer which ran from 1985 to 1989, starring the late Edward Woodward, was a terrific piece of television that is must see TV. That property has been optioned as a big screen motion picture.

Take a LOOK at the trailer to Harry Brown.

September 22, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | , | Leave a comment

JENNIFER’S BODY Review

jennifersbody-finalposter-fJennifer’s Body is literally 100 minutes of mediocrity. It’s not scary enough to work as a horror movie and it’s not funny enough to be a comedy. Whatever digest is displayed on screen is a pointless exercise that’s of little interest in any way. Actually if this was not written by the Oscar winning screenwriter of Juno (a movie I really liked), Diablo Cody, I don’t think it would have been greenlit in the first place (way to paint by numbers) and I have no doubt this will vaporize from multiplexes very quickly.

Megan Fox stars as Jennifer, a narcissistic high school sexpot cheerleader. Her life takes a strange turn when she and her unlikely best friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried wearing glassing and an unflattering hairstyle to downplay her good looks), go to a roadside bar and listen to a rock group named Low Shoulder. Before there’s any real chance for much character development to take place (all you know is that Jennifer is stuck up and boys still like her), the bar burns down and Jennifer goes along for a car ride with the group.

Jennifers-Body-1Little does she know that the band’s leader (Adam Brody) is a Satanist who mistakenly thinks Jennifer is a virgin and decides to sacrifice her to ensure his future prosperity. Before one can say “is she dead”? Jennifer turns up at Needy’s house, covered in blood, belching black goo. She is now literally turned into a man-eating demon with her male classmates soon to become an ample smorgasbord. That’s pretty much the extent of the story other than one final question – will Needy stop Jennifer before her boyfriend (Johnny Simmons) becomes dinner?

While Fox is certainly adequate in her role, there was never a time I didn’t think of her current celebrity status and what she has become in terms of a media magnet. To me she was always Megan Fox here and not really a character; although maybe that’s one and the same. Now there’s something that could hurt her movie future. As for Seyfried (Mamma Mia) as the nerdy and somewhat insecure Needy, she’s quite good (considering the underwritten script) and continues to prove that she should be a fixture in movies for a long time to come.

Personally I’m not a big fan of horror comedies as many more misfire than really work and Jennifer’s Body is no exception to that fact. The film just doesn’t know what it’s trying to achieve. While I admit there were a few inventive lines with Diablo’s quirky dialogue ( I enjoyed Fox’s delivery of the line where she tells a guy to Move On .org) there wasn’t enough, and there is absolutely no suspense or fright factor anywhere to be found. The only really disturbing sequence in this movie is a makeout scene between Fox and Seyfried that literally comes out of nowhere and makes no sense other than to titillate. This and so much of this movie just seemed juvenile and amateurish.

In a recent interview, Diablo Cody said she is a big fan of 80’s horror. If that’s the case why didn’t she and director Karyn Kusama (Girl Fight) just make a straight horror movie instead of this ill-conceived concoction. Not scary at all and just not funny enough, Jennifer’s Body is a major disappointment which left me unimpressed and bored. 1 ½ Zombies out of 5.

September 21, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEN Movies to watch on a rainy day

These are ten of my favorite movies that I can watch anytime and never get tired of. They all play beautifully on a repeat viewing and all make for a great watch on a rainy day when you stay home and put on a movie for the sole purpose of pure enjoyment.

Total_recall10. Total Recall (1990) – The first half of this film is perhaps the quickest paced film this genre has ever seen. Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been more likeable on screen playing Doug Quaid, a man of the future who may or may not have had a memory implantation. Paul Verhoven directs the film with an intensity that rarely lets up and his violent style is evident throughout. Michael Ironside (the poor man’s Jack Nicholson) is fun hamming it up as one of the villains who continually chases Arnold throughout the movie. Arnold’s “Consider that a divorce” line is classic! In an interesting footnote, both Patrick Swayze and Richard Dreyfuss were considered for the film’s lead. Amazingly, an unnecessary remake has been announced.The_Blob_poster

9. The Blob (1958) – This was always one of my favorite films when I was a young kid – I would watch it every time it came on TV. Steve McQueen, billed as Steven, was a solid center in his first movie, playing a teen who meets up with a Jell-O like substance from outer space which is eating his fellow townfolk. 50 years after its release this movie holds up beautifully, capturing a time and place that really makes this material work! I’ll always remember the scene at the end where the Blob engulfs the diner. A true CULT classic!

The-Omega-Man-Poster8. The Omega Man (1971) – The second film version of Richard Matheson’s popular novel “I am Legend” is my favorite of the three. Charlton Heston plays Robert Neville, one of a handful of human survivors after a biological war. Anthony Zerbe is terrific as the film’s protagonist, a mutant like survivor named Mathias, the leader of a deranged group known as “the family”. B-Movie fun at its best!

7. The Dead Zone (1983) – After the tragic death of Natalie Wood, Christopher Walken threw himself into the role of The_Dead_ZoneJohnny Smith, a man who wakes up from a five year coma with the ability to see the future of anyone he comes in contact with. Director David Cronenberg does a skillfull job, keeping the story simple yet absorbing, in this terrific character study of a man gifted and cursed at the same time. Martin Sheen also stands out in the supporting role of the insane politician Greg Stillson. If you’re a Chris Walken fan this is a MUST see!

6. Scarface (1983) – The poster child for the term cult classic’. Scarface was NOT a big box-office hit on initial release (I saw it Scarfacetwice in a theater) but it has emerged as a must see fan favorite that will probably have staying power until the end of time. It’s one of those films that opened to mixed reviews but has deservingly gained respect and a huge following over time. It’s real solid storytelling by Brian DePalma. “Say Hello to my little friend” –Al Pacino’s Tony Montana.

5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) – Phillip Kaufman’s brilliantly realized remake of the 1956 classic about a group of people who discover that the population is being replaced by clones of Invasion_of_the_body_snatchemotionless aliens is easily one of the very best films of the 1970’s. Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy, are all top notch. Kaufman paces the film (set in San Francisco) perfectly until its bleak and stunning ending. A truly great movie.

4. The Rock (1996) – Anyone who says Michael Bay hasn’t made a great film (Im not defending Transformers 2 in any way) hasn’t seen The Rock, an adrenaline fueled movie loaded with great action and characters. Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery make for a great screen team. Their chemistry is terrific in this story about terrorists who take over Alcatraz prison and threaten to launch a nuclear warhead. The_Rock_Ed Harris makes for a really interesting villain with his complicated ex-military character. I wish Cage would return to reprise his role of Stanley Goodspeed in a sequel! Connery is just amazing as always.

3. Die Hard (1988) – A textbook example of a perfect action adventure film as the movie works on every level. In an era where action heros were mostly invincible, Bruce Willis’ John McClain showed a vulnerability that movie going audiences could relate to, giving us a real rooting interest. Based on a novel titled “Nothing Lasts Forever”, the story has a great concept: a NYC cop comes to LA to visit his die_hard_01estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) on Christmas Eve and gets trapped in a high rise office building (filmed at the Fox Plaza in LA) that has been taken over by terrorists. Willis, who was mostly known as the star of the ABC hit TV show, Moonlighting, proved to be a standout hero and Alan Rickman was equally good as the film’s villain, Hans Gruber. Geat story, great direction, great characters and pulse pounding action (the film’s highlight has Willis’ McClain jumping off the roof of the building with a fire hose tied around his waist) make Die Hard my all time favorite action film. An incredible crowd pleaser! I saw this ten times in a theater! In those days I had a lot of time on my hands. LOL

2. Dawn of the Dead (1978) – To this day I still stand in awe of what George Romero accomplished with this second film in his Zombie franchise. It’s truly an amazing achievement of story and dawn-of-the-dead-cool-picimagination, especially on a budget of less than $1,000,000. If there’s such a thing as movie magic, Dawn of the Dead has it. The cast, which included mostly unknowns like Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross, all worked well together to create well-rounded, memorable, characters, despite a grueling schedule of overnight shooting. The film’s concept of four people who hide out in a shopping mall during a massive zombie outbreak is one of pure fantasy that audiences really get involved in. Dawn became a mainstay of the midnight movie going experience and the film would ultimately grossposeidon_adventure_ver4 more than $55,000,000.. By the time Dawn of the Dead is over, you feel like you have undergone a complete experience, totally connecting with the four characters. Of the three versions avaliable on DVD, I like the extended cut the best.

1. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) – I can’t totally explain why I love this movie so much but I think it has to do with the fact that its probably the greatest film about moving forward ever devised. I had the pleasure of seeing The Poseidon Adventure on the big screen once again in January 2009 at a revival theater in NYC and it was a really fun experience. Gene Hackman’s rebellious Rev Scott character remains a totally compelling movie character. I still argue that his sacrifice at the films conclusion is as powerful a moment as anything I’ve ever seen in cinema. “In the water I’m a very skinny Lady”- Shelly Winters’ Belle Rosen.

September 20, 2009 Posted by | And Beyond - Trailers & News | | Leave a comment