Archive for May, 2011

J.Lo’s Ex-Husband Allowed To Release Video Footage

Saturday, May 28th, 2011


Jennifer Lopez is not going to be happy about this.

A judge has allowed her ex-husband Ojani Noa to release intimate home videos of her to the public.

Even though Jennifer's legal team had originally won a battle to keep the videos from being release, Ojani found a loophole to win in the end. By selling the footage to his current girlfriend, Claudia Vazquez, the judge ruled the confidentiality agreement that Ojani signed could not block this release.

Claudia is said to be "meeting with video distributors" next week to make a deal.

There haven't been specific details about what exactly is on those tapes, but Jennifer is fighting to keep them private so there's obviously something on there she doesn't want people to see.

What a shady, shady guy.

A Wonderfully Unexpected Adventure

Friday, May 27th, 2011
SONOMA, Calif., May 27, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- What could be more unexpected than sparkling wine from a food truck? Joining the exciting mobile food revolution, Freixenet USA announces the launch of the Freixenet Tastings & Tapas Truck this June. The "Black Bottle Bubbly" will visit five east coast cities to introduce the first food truck created to share the beauty and versatility of cava, Spain's sparkling wine, one glass of Freixenet at a time. As the first sparkling wine to go mobile, Freixenet recognizes that the food truck culture provides a unique and perfectly matched showcase to make sparkling wine accessible for everyday enjoyment, to highlight its fondness for food, and share Spain's love of nightlife.

The Worldwide Teaser Debut for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Friday, May 27th, 2011
BURBANK, Calif., May 27, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Columbia Pictures & Metro Goldwyn Mayer present The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

HeadsUp Entertainment and World Poker Showdown Partner to Target Lucrative United States and International Poker Markets

Friday, May 27th, 2011
CALGARY, Alberta, May 27, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- HeadsUp Entertainment International Inc. (Pink Sheets:HDUP) operators of the Canadian Poker Tour, Canadian Poker Player Magazine and the Canadian Poker Player Television Network today announced they have entered into an agreement with the World Poker Showdown (WPS) to expand their operations into the United States and abroad.

Photo Release — Free “OC Kids Day” Carnival With Special Guest From Nickelodeon’s “iCarly”

Friday, May 27th, 2011
LAGUNA HILLS, Calif., May 27, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Everyone is invited to bring their families to the "OC Kids Day" at Crossline Church on Saturday, June 18th, 2011 for a FREE carnival catered to families with kids from toddlers to teens.

Ty’s weekend movie picks for Friday, 5/27/11

Friday, May 27th, 2011

kuroneko.jpgThe weekend's best movie -- well, certainly the most interesting -- is "The Tree of Life," but you'll have to drive to New York to see it, since it doesn't come to Boston until next Friday. Still, how often do we get a new Terrence Malick film? Make the trip.

If Hollywood had its way, of course, everyone would go see "The Hangover Part II." And maybe everyone will, in the same way that everyone gets sunburned the first weekend of summer. The movie's pretty bad -- ugly and smug and predictable -- but it's pre-sold and it will make many millions. You do not have to participate to be a functioning member of the culture.

There's not much overlap on the Venn diagram between "Hangover II" and the other new sequel, "Kung Fu Panda 2". Janice Page's review nicely points out that, if you're an adopted kid, the scene at the end where Po's birth father vows to find his son will probably screw you up for life.

And there's a new Woody Allen movie in town. One of the good ones, too, although at this point in the director's career the phrase "good one" means "light, charming, not actively painful to the senses." "Midnight in Paris" is in fact quite lovely until you start thinking about it. So I would suggest you not think about it.

For the truly adventurous and/or heat-afflicted, there's a dandy weekend-long series devoted to the "Masterworks of Kaneto Shindo" at the Harvard Film Archive, so if you want to get your black-and-white Japanese anti-war art-horror freak on (that's a still from "Kuroneko" above), you know where to go.

50/50 – Trailer

Friday, May 27th, 2011
  50/50 - Trailer
Inspired by personal experiences, 50/50 is an original story about friendship, love, survival and finding humor in unlikely places. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen star as best friends whose lives are changed by a cancer diagnosis. Rogen also serves as producer, along with Evan Goldberg and Ben Karlin. Jonathan Levine directs from a script by Will Reiser. "We worked with Will on Da Ali G show, and it was shortly after that we learned he was sick." Rogen recalls. "As shocking, sad, confusing and generally screwed up as it was; we couldn't ignore that because we were so ill-equipped to deal with the situation, funny things kept happening. Will got better, and when he did, we thought the best way to pull something good out of the situation was to get him to write a screenplay. Ideally we wanted to make a film that would be as funny, sad, and hopefully as honest as the experience we went through. As soon as the script was completed, it quickly became a passion project for all of us. It helped us come to terms with Will's struggle as well as our own experiences." 50/50 is the story of a guy's transformative and, yes, sometimes funny journey to health. 50/50 draws its emotional core from Will Reiser's own experience with cancer and reminds us that friendship and love, no matter what bizarre turns they take, are the greatest healers.
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston

The Perfect Host – Clip

Friday, May 27th, 2011
  The Perfect Host - Clip
Warwick Wilson is the consummate host. He carefully prepares for a dinner party, the table impeccably set and the duck perfectly timed for 8:30 p.m. John Taylor is a career criminal. He's just robbed a bank and needs to get off the streets. He finds himself on Warwick's doorstep posing as a friend of a friend, new to Los Angeles, who's been mugged and lost his luggage. As the wine flows and the evening progresses, we become deeply intertwined in the lives of these two men and discover just how deceiving appearances can be. With outstanding performances by David Hyde Pierce and Clayne Crawford, cowriter/director Nick Tomnay takes us on a suspense-filled ride where nothing is as it seems. THE PERFECT HOST is a slippery psychological thriller that exposes true human nature and reveals just how far we're willing to go to satisfy our needs.
Directed by: Nick Tomnay
Starring: David Hyde Pierce, Clayne Crawford, Nathaniel Parker

Kung Fu Panda 2

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

It might seem like damning with faint praise to say that Kung Fu Panda 2 plays and feels like a "real movie." But in truth, I am using that phrase in the context of how most adult audiences will view the film. In a world where a sequel is only seen as an extension of its more respected predecessor and any animated film is viewed primarily as fodder for young children (Pixar's masterworks notwithstanding), it is doubly hard for a non-Toy Story animated sequel to attain creative independence and reach a critical mass.

But like its silly, bumbling, unlikely hero, Kung Fu Panda 2 succeeds against all odds. It feels like a standalone movie. Here is a sequel that not only far surpasses the funny and entertaining 2008 original, but goes so magnificently above and beyond that it renders its predecessor nearly obsolete. If it weren't for the stigma that comes along with being a sequel -- to a film about a hungry, farting, kung fu bear, no less -- Kung Fu Panda 2 would be a near shoo-in for next year's Best Animated Feature Oscar. It is that special.

As it stands, another unlikely hero -- Rango -- will probably take home the Oscar, and not undeservingly. But oddly enough, Kung Fu Panda 2 shares some of the central themes of that otherwise very different film, most specifically the very human struggle to reconcile one's identity with one's past. Whereas Rango charted a more nebulous path in its search for an answer to the "Who Am I?" question, Kung Fu Panda 2 treads a more conventional path to cinematic enlightenment. But it finds the heart in its characters, which unlocks the magic in its storytelling. The film is compelling and emotional and exciting in the most wonderful of Big Summer Movie ways. It is a roundhouse kick to the giddy, fun-loving movie lover that lies dormant in even the most cynical critic.

Jack Black returns as Po, who rose from humble (and hungry) beginnings to become the mythical "Dragon Warrior" in the first movie. But Po's story really only begins with this film, which doesn't rest on the laurels of cutesy comedy and recognizable characters. Kung Fu Panda 2 tells the story of Po's journey to achieve "inner peace," a theme the screenplay shrewdly weaves throughout the film, and one that may seem ironic in a movie full of such ebullient energy. Inner peace, however, doesn't seem in the cards for Po, who has grown curious about his true origins, and whose new foe, the evil albino peacock Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman), may hold the key to unlocking those origins. While struggling to uncover his past, Po -- working with Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie) and the rest of the "Furious Five" -- must also neutralize Shen's allegedly unstoppable doomsday weapon, which the evil one will presumably use to enact that most nefarious of movie-movie plans: take over the world.

The film's only reasonable ambitions should be to inject a few chuckles at the expense of its mugging hero and mount a few creative action set pieces. But director Jennifer Yuh and returning screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger go far beyond what seems conceivable for a presumably silly lark of a film. The focus on character is so surprisingly sharp that the conflict seamlessly fuses with the rest of the material, becoming accessible to everyone in the audience.

And the magic doesn't stop at the story and character level. Kung Fu Panda 2 is gorgeous to look at, a markedly more impressive visual experience than its forebear. Bright colors still permeate every scene, but the level of detail -- from the scruff of Po's fur to the glint in Tigress's eye to the visceral power of each unique action set piece -- is remarkable. Those action sequences, by the way, are creative marvels on every level. Not only are they beautifully rendered on a technical scale, but they are mounted with a cinematic clarity most live-action kung fu films strain to achieve. Filmic references are woven into every frame, from samurai epics to chop-socky grindhouse flicks to the expressive visceral emotion of Japanese anime. Each set piece is its own cultural melting pot, and the filmmakers still find the right beats to inject the film's trademark humor throughout.

Kung Fu Panda 2 fully realizes the understood goal of every sequel: it raises the emotional stakes, reaches for bigger laughs, and stages its action on a much larger scale. But apart from the spectacle, the film's most impressive upgrade is the richness of its emotion, which elevates every other element to create a near-perfect summer movie experience. "Animated" and "sequel" labels be damned, Kung Fu Panda 2 stands on its own, a "real" movie with real appeal for everyone.

The Tree of Life

Thursday, May 26th, 2011
Life begins and ends in the opening moments of Terrence Malick's hypnotic The Tree of Life, and then it begins and ends again. The universe, imagined here in peerless CGI compositions and landscape shots of such distinct clarity as to turn the makers of Planet Earth green with envy, is in a constant state of dithering and delighting, expanding and exploding, rising and relenting. The notoriously reclusive Malick uses these images, accompanied by pieces by Bach, Mahler and Holst, as a mere overture. A raptor spares the life of a young, weak brachylophosaurus while cells divide, collide, and coalesce into human life, which takes on the shape of the O'Brien clan, a family of five living in a suburb of Waco, Texas in the fifties, where a fog of DDT and the sight of a slender beauty's nightgown become totems of the transcendentally unsettling adolescence of the eldest O'Brien child, Jack (Hunter McCracken).

Shards of the O'Briens' lives, most pointedly the loss of one of their three boys at the age of 19, preface Malick's symphony of time and light and climax in the now, with the brief introduction of Jack, fully grown and embodied by Sean Penn. Jack as a man lives and works in new towers of light, glass, metal, and stone. These buildings are cathedrals meant to defy time, and Malick's film very well may do the same as it heads off into the ages. This has certainly been the case for the writer and director's past films, which have come in at an excruciating pace that averages out to about one a decade. Malick's quiet, poetic sense of cinema, however, is such that the five films he has completed have put him in the same class of working American filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and Frederick Wiseman. His debut, Badlands, remains one of the key American works of the 1970s.

His subsequent features are, among other things, masterpieces of tonal precision, with the arguable exception of The New World, which is, at the very least, a very beautiful film. Malick's personal sense of style molds and looms over all of these works but The Tree of Life is, as has been widely noted, his most personal film by quite some margin. His father worked for a large petroleum company as a geologist, a career at least tangentially akin to Mr. O'Brien (a phenomenal Brad Pitt, who also serves as producer here), an engineer perpetually frustrated by his failings as an inventor. Indeed, Malick himself here seems in the ethereal between the familiar mechanics of cinema as a form and the inventiveness of liberated art, though it's hard to imagine his outlook being anything as tough and bleak as the future that Jack's father sees for his sons. Mr. O'Brien is a strict, domineering presence in his home, with the disposition of a summit of dark clouds pregnant with thunder, whereas his wife (the utterly enchanting Jessica Chastain), with her hair the color of orange marmalade, is a nurturing, open and forgiving influence on her children.

Words are spoken by these characters, but they are also whispered in voiceover, appearing suddenly out of the dense thicket of sound that supervising sound designer and editor Craig Berkey has woven, mixing a Gorecki sonata with the implacable hum of a sweet summer night and an unassuming, magnificent chorus of boys' laughter and shouts. As much as Tree of Life may be an essential piece of cinema, its true meaning impossible to pinpoint and its mysteries doubling over on themselves within a single shot, it is also a minefield of dichotomies, not the least of which is Berkey's ocean of percolating, nuanced noise, topped off by Alexandre Desplat's towering score, and Malick's astounding collaborative work with the great cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who worked on The New World as well. The visual schema is just as ravishingly mixed as the sound, especially in its stunning use of effects, crafting moments of moving transcendent grace, the most memorable of which features Mrs. O'Brien floating, twirling, rolling in the air as dusk settles in on her neighborhood.

That moment of aerial ballet is tied as much to Jack's memory as it is to the vibrant balance Malick strikes between metaphysics and nature, adolescence and adulthood, celestial masses and earthbound landscapes, fathers and mothers, light and darkness, life and death. The director's ambitions are innumerable and ultimately insurmountable -- which is why, despite my great appreciation and love for the film, I cannot say that it is a masterpiece on par with Malick's first three works. Whether it may be an optimist's response to 2001: A Space Odyssey or a Christian fable relocated to the American south and played out with operatic grandeur, The Tree of Life is nevertheless an event, not to mention a stunning reminder of the power of the big screen in the age of VOD. To truly give into Malick's film, which some may find impossible or unreasonable, one must be overwhelmed by its images and its inherent mysteries; like all of Malick's films, it outright demands multiple viewings. And even if The Tree of Life, fresh off its Palme d'Or win at Cannes, is a textbook example of style-over-substance, as many of its detractors have argued, it is a tremendous exercise in style, anchored by the finest performance Brad Pitt has given to date. For this reviewer, however, witnessing Malick's vision of eternal life obliterated me almost immediately, only to eventually return me to a corporeal state, just in time for the closing credits.