Saturday, January 29, 2011

Movie Review: The Rite

Anthony Hopkins had a solid career before his iconic role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Every since then, we love to see Sir Anthony do something ‘creepy.’ It’s as if that career that came before (complete with performances of Shakespeare and Ibsen) just went ‘poof’ and disappeared. It seems as if all we know or want from Hopkins is the old ‘creepy guy’ thing.

And we are treated to creepy Hopkins in The Rite. Loosely based on a ‘true story’, Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue) is the son of a creepy mortician (Rutger Hauer) who enters the priesthood to avoid a creepy future in the family business. Four years later and poised to graduate from seminary, Michael attempts to quit when he’s convinced to study exorcisms at the Vatican.

In Italy, sensing his lack of faith and his unorthodox views, one of the priest sends Michael to spend time with Father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins), a local exorcist. He observes an on-going exorcism of a pregnant teen and gets to know the priest. Things get complicated however when Father Trevant becomes the host for a powerful demon. Of course, it’s Michael who’s tasked with exorcising the good father’s demon.

To paraphrase a quote from a more famous exorcism movie, “The power of The Rite did not compel me.” In fact, it had a hard time keeping my interest. Colin O’Donoghue had absolutely no leading man charisma whether he was playing against Hopkins or potential love interest (if it wasn’t for the whole priest thing), Angelina Braga. She played a journalist taking the exorcism course for a story.

The best part of The Rite was when the actual exorcism rite was being performed on Father Trevant; everything before and after that seemed to just middle along. Most of the movie lacked any kind of real energy or potent scares.

The Rite, unfortunately, got most of it wrong.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

American Idol: Why? Because I Want To

I'm an American Idol fan. I've been a fan since Season 1. A lot of people expect me to hide it like a secret shame or the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. Others assume that all these years of Idoldom have cost me some brain cells ... but I'm still pretty smart, thank you very much.

I didn't want to blog too much about Idol when it occured to me. This is my blog and I can post about whatever I like! So here goes.

Last night were the Mikwaukee auditions and while most people are talking about Chris Medina who had the last audition and most tragic story of the evening (see it here), I'm all worked up about something else.

Tiwan Strong, a 28-year old Chicago native, had an excellent audition and it was clear from the time he started singing that he'd make it through.When he did, he exited the door to a waiting family. After trying to act disappointed, he pulled out that golden ticket and the fam went wild.

This was Tiwan's moment ... that was until his sister/cousin/friend/ tried to make it all about her. Apparently, she gave herself a charlie horse while jumping up and down cheering. If that wasn't enough, she started yelling, "Charley Horse" like a damn fool.

See for yourself. The part I like is when Tiwan looks at her like the damn fool she appeared to be.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A New Office Mate

Ferrell joins Carell at The Office.
That rhymed!
With Steve Carell leaving The Office at the end of the season, we've had months to speculate on who will replace him. No word yet on who will be taking over Michael Scott's desk, there has been a delicious bit of casting. Will Ferrell has been tapped to tape a multi-episode arc on the show.

According to, he'll play a branch manager from the home office who is as tactless at the office as Michael is. His stint will begin before this season is out, but at least one of his episodes will air next season.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Noms are Here!

It’s Oscar time! The nominations were released today, led by The King’s Speech with 12 nominations (and True Grit hot on it’s royal tale with 10) there were a few notable omissions. How was Christopher Nolan not nominated for Best Director for Inception?

Here are the top categories, with my choices in bold.

I'd be more comfortable if they
let me wear pants.
Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Best Director
"Black Swan" Darren Aronofsky
"The Fighter" David O. Russell
"The King's Speech" Tom Hooper
"The Social Network" David Fincher
"True Grit" Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Best Actor
Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"
Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
James Franco in "127 Hours"

Best Actress
Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine"

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner in "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams in "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"

Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom"

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Epitome of Sexy

Halle Berry as Catwoman.
She's a kitten with a whip! Meow!
Catwoman is sexy. From Eartha Kitt to Lee Meriwether to Michelle Pfeiffer to Halle Berry … Catwoman is the epitome of sexy.

Anne Hathaway? She’s cute. She’s pretty. Maybe she’s sexy. The question is, is she sexy enough to don the catsuit and become the iconic Catwoman? I don’t think so, but she’s been tappeed to play the Feline Femme Fatale in the next Batman installment.

Hmmm. This does not excite me. In the end however, I’ll have to put my trust in director Christopher Nolan. After all, I second guessed his decision to cast Heath Ledger as the Joker and look how that turned out.

Expect The Dark Knight Rises in theaters July 2012.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Simon Who?

For me, American Idol has never been about the judges, it’s about the contestants and the talent. Even still, I was nervous when I realized that Simon wasn’t coming back. He arrived in the first season of American Idol, an unknown to American audiences and left the show an institution.

People proclaimed all kinds of calamity for the show without the presence of Simon and with the announcement of the new judges, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, many more got nervous (including me). Jenny from the Block has a serious diva reputation and Steven Tyler? Well, he’s a living example of that old, this-is-your-brain-on-drugs commercial with the fried egg (watch it here).

But I have watched two of the audition rounds and so far, so good. I found myself actually asking, “Simon who?” All three have had turns giving good advice and being goofy and the decision to focus on the better auditions have made some good TV watching.

But we really won’t know how good they are until we get to the live performance shows where they won’t have the benefit of extensive editing.

They might want to institute a 7 second delay for Tyler though. He’s a loose cannon, not to mention, a bit of a dirty old man!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Television Review: Harry's Law

Cast of Harry's Law (left to right): Brittany
Snow, Kathy Bates, Nate Corddry, Aml Ameen.
I’ve been a fan of Kathy Bates every since she broken James Caan’s ankles in Misery. So I’ve been looking forward to Harry’s Law for just that reason. I think she’d be perfect for a David E. Kelley series since he goes for that mix of quirky and dramatic.

So I went into Harry’s Law with high hopes, but were those hopes dashed? Before I answer that question, let me give you the premise of the show. Harriet “Harry” Korn is an accomplished patent attorney but not for long. As she leans back in her chair in her cluttered office, smoking a joint, a frustrated partner comes into her office and asks what’s happened to her. She replies that she’s bored and with that she’s fired.

Then we veer into quirky Kelley territory. While walking out of the office, she breaks the fall of a young man attempting suicide (Aml Ameen). Miraculously, she survives virtually injury free. Once again, Harry’s walking (through a rough neighborhood) when she sees a shoe store for rent. She’s so taken by it that she starts walking across the street toward it when she’s hit by a car. Of course, not just any car but the car of a young lawyer who idolizes her Adam Branch (played by Nate Corddry). Once again, she emerges unscathed.

She buys the shoe store and keeps the shoes. She also gets to keep her perky assistant Jenna (played by Brittany Snow). Soon, partly out of guilt and partly out of a desire to work with a legal legend, the lawyer who hit Harry takes a leave of absence to come work for her while she gets her new practice off the ground.

On the legal front, the suicide victim seeks her help on a drug charge and a neighborhood thug who offers his protection for Harry’s business soon find he needs her help as a client.

In promotional interviews, Bates has described the character of Harry Korn as a curmudgeon, a crabby older woman who speaks her mind. And Harriet Korn is that but you can tell that the woman is much more than that. She has layers and I can’t wait to see more of them in coming episodes.

My hopes were not dashed. However, while I enjoyed Harry’s Law, I am worried that it could take an Ally McBeal-esque turn and become too quirky for its own good.

Monday, January 17, 2011

News for the Gleeks!

New episodes of Glee don’t start until February (with the first one airing immediately after the Superbowl), but I have a bit of new Glee scoop to tide you over.

On the Valentine’s Day show, Darren Criss (Blaine) has hinted that there might be some movement on the Blaine Kurt front. He told E! News, "There's going to be some fun things. Every day Chris (Colfer) and I are both equally curious to see what's going to happen between the two of those guys." He continued, "We're definitely going to start seeing some layers to the two of them. The pink elephant in the room will finally be addressed, let's put it that way."

Actress Anne Hathaway (most recently of Love and Other Drugs) is on board to play Kurt’s long-lost lesbian aunt. On Jimmy Fallon back in November she said, “In my head, I’ve cast myself on ‘Glee’ and I know what song I’d sing. I would play Kurt’s long-lost aunt, his mother’s sister who is also gay, who comes back to help him deal with his sexuality, and I would sing, ‘You Are Not Alone’ from Stephen Sondheim’s epic show Into the Woods.”

Ryan Murphy said they’d probably shoot her episode later in the spring. No word yet on whether she’ll get to sing her song choice.

Congratulations to the show for picking up 3 Golden Globes last night!

What to Watch

It’s January. In other words, the first half of the 2010 – 2011 television season is over. What do we have to show for it? The nuttiness of Raising Hope, the critical acclaim of Boardwalk Empire, Blue Bloods and inexplicably Sh*t My Dad Says. Gone are Lonestar (I’m still mad about that), Outlaw, The Whole Truth and the unfunny Running Wilde was finally run off the schedule. (Click here for a list of shows debuting in Janary).

Surprisingly, there isn’t a lot of new shows I’m looking forward to. Really there is only one!

Harry’s Law: Kathy Bates comes to TV in a legal dramedy from the king of legal dramedies, David E. Kelley (L.A. Law, The Practice, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal). This one premieres tonight. Expect my review tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. Monday’s, 10:00 PM (NBC)

American Idol: I’m curious about a post-Simon Idol. Besides I never watched it for the judges, I’ve always watched it for the talent and the competition.

What I’m Passing On
Off the Map: Medicine in the jungles of a South American jungle. This one is brought to us by Shonda Rhimes who has given us hot docs on Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. I apologize, I should have reviewed this but I didn’t. Here’s the micro review: Didn’t like it. Take that Twitter. I review in just 14 characters! Wednesdays, 10:00 PM (ABC)

The Cape: This started last week and I’ll be honest I didn’t watch it. The Cape? Seriously? I’d be more interested if it was The Louboutins? Think about it, would you rather see a crime fighter in fabulous heels or a dude in a cape?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Movie Review: The Dilemma

As I’ve said repeatedly, January is like a movie graveyard. It’s where bad movies go to be released. It’s as far away as you can get from awards season; people are burnt out from the holidays and aren’t seeing too many flicks; and, everything really worth season is being saved for summer (or nowadays even spring) or fall as the ramp of for awards seasons begin. As such, forgettable movies come out in January.

I went into The Dilemma with the requisite low expectations, and I came out pleasantly surprised. I actually kind of liked The Dilemma. Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) play best friends who run a business building hybrid car engines. They are sort of a dynamic duo with Ronny being the fast-talking salesman and Nick being the brains behind the scenes. It isn’t surprising that Ronny, the fast-talker, is slow to commit to his sous chef girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly), or that Nick, the stable one, is happily married to the beautiful Geneva (Winona Ryder). In Hollywood, the average guy always ends up with the hot wife. However, I digress.

Things get complicated when planning a proposal for Beth, Ronny sees Geneva with the truly hot Channing Tatum playing a hottie named Zip. Now Ronny has quite the dilemma: to tell or not to tell? And then, how to tell and when to tell? While figuring all of this out, his dilemma gets even more complicated when he realizes that even the innocent party isn’t as innocent as he seems.

The Dilemma takes a real dilemma which, if you have a best friend (and I have several) makes you wonder what you would do and how would you do it. Unfortunately, as a comedy, the dilemma The Dilemma faces is making this scenario funny. There were a few laugh out moments in my audience (one lady laughed VERY loud), but to me there should have been more of those. Queen Latifah has a few funny moments as the executive from Dodge who is working with them on a big partnership opportunity. Still I wanted more.

Directed by Ron Howard, there are a few scenes that might have packed a greater punch if they had been a little shorter. There is a painfully long ‘toast’ Ronny does at Beth’s parents 40th anniversary that focuses on the importance of honesty in a marriage. We got it. Ronny made his point but it just kept going on and on. As did the fight scene between Ronny and Zip, call ‘cut’ already!

If your dilemma is whether or not to see The Dilemma, I’ll make it easy for you. If you really want to see it, make it a matinee. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Told Ya!

So I stopped by Rotten Tomatoes to check out my theory about January releases. Here are the ratings of some of the 'major' January releases so far (the higher the percentage, the better). I've also included some of the more colorful excerpts from the reviews.

Season of the Witch (Nicholas Cage) 4%
"Season of the Witch is as bloodless as a starved vampire. Instead of a review, it deserves a stake in the heart."
Pete Travers, Rolling Stone

"It's The Seventh Seal meets Get Him to the Greek meets Lord of the Rings as if filtered through Uwe Boll's hack-tastic brain. "
Jen Yamato,

"Did they really say "I've saved your ass" in medieval Europe?"
Allan Hunter, Daily Express

The Green Hornet (Seth Rogen) 44%
"At least Seth Rogen has the good sense to wear a mask for much of The Green Hornet. If I'd made this movie, I'd want to hide my face too."
Kevin Williamson, Jam Movies

"A big, sloppy, loud, grating mess of a movie."
Adam Graham, Detroit News

"Here's a 3-D movie that should have been shot in Zero-D."
Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

The best part about reviewing bad movies is writing the reviews. It's actually fun ... which kind of makes up for the pain of having to sit through two hours of horrific drivel in the first place.

So tomorrow, I will be seeing The Dilemma with Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and Winona Ryder. Right now, it's at 24% on Rotten Tomatoes. With any luck, I'll be adding my (hopefully) witty two cents to such rave reviews as...

"This isn't a date movie... unless it's a blind date that you realized you didn't like during dinner and want to ensure there will be no second date."
Kevin Carr, 7M Pictures

"A very poor effort from a talented group of people, this is a terrible movie wrapped in a glossy package."
Leremy Legel,

Come back tomorrow and see what I thought about The Dilemma.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

ABC Gives Six Shows the Nod

ABC’s gone ahead and gave six shows the good news early … they are being renewed for next season! Grey’s Anatomy, Castle (a fave of mine), Modern Family, Cougartown, The Middle and Private Practice will all be back in the fall. Desperate Housewives will probably be back but since several contracts are up for renewal it might take a minute.

TV Review: Bob's Burgers

I loved King of the Hill. I still watch it almost daily now that it's in syndication. As much as I loved KOTH, I hated The Cleveland Show. Hated It! When I heard the opening notes of the annoying theme song (“My name is Cleveland Brown…”) I knew it was time to take a shower or a bath, walk the dog or do something other than watch that damn show!

So I was curious about Bob’s Burgers, the show that was taking The Cleveland Show’s post-Simpsons spot. I watched it for about 10 minutes. Didn’t laugh. Didn’t like it. 8:30 PM on Sunday is still prime showering and dog-walking time.

First off, I didn’t like the animation. Something about it felt off to me. Secondly, I didn’t think it was funny at all. Here's one joke: the burger of the day was The Child Molester. It was funny because it came with candy! Get it? See, child molesters often use candy to lure children. If you didn’t get that, one of Bob’s kid was there to explain it. Ha!

I’ll pass.

Monday, January 10, 2011

You've Been Warned!

Two kinds of movies are released in January. The good ones came out in limited release in December, in time for awards consideration and the rest, well, … they suck. On the slate for January: The Dilemma or Season of the Witch or The Green Hornet, but trust me, after reviewing movies for half a decade, January is where bad movies go to die.
On the bright side, I get to write some scathing reviews, which is always fun. But for you, my budget-conscience movie-goer, this is a great month to see what you missed at the $2.00 movie (if you are fortunate enough to have one. Otherwise, Red Box it, Netflix it or, if you’re old school, pick something up at Blockbuster.

If you absolutely must see a January release do it at an early matinee. You can thank me for it later. ;)

Having read my warning … are there any movies you want to take a risk on coming out this month?