Tag Archives: Entertainment

The LOVE Isn’t Just BIG, It’s Getting Epic

The following is by new contributing writer, Sarah Carbiener. She obsesses about TV as much as I do and will start providing regular coverage of it. I’m happy to have her extra pair of eyes since there are so many shows and I can’t watch them all.—PCN

During the first season of Big Love, I couldn’t help but be fascinated by the polygamous family, their world, the politics, and…be completely bored by the plots. It felt like the creators were too protective of their main characters, not wanting to put them in any real trouble and, gosh darn it, they really wanted us to love and root for the central family. Well, it was pretty hard to do that when they were in so little trouble for so long. This certainly wasn’t a problem in the third season, however, and it seems it won’t be in the fourth either. **Spoilers ahead!**

In the third season finale, Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) brings to the Henrickson household the daughter she abandoned when she left her first husband J.J.; Bill’s brother Joey (Shawn Doyle) kills Roman (Harry Dean Stanton), the prophet of Juniper Creek, to avenge the murder of his second wife-to-be; and after falling feet first through a barn loft and hitting his head, Bill (Bill Paxton) decides to follow Roman’s example and start his own church. (This is only a fifth of what happens in the finale. Like every episode last season, it was packed with plot developments.)

The fourth season picks up six weeks later with the FBI mysteriously still searching for the long-dead Roman. It isn’t until Nicki’s mother’s large walk-in freezer loses power that we discover where Roman’s been hiding.

Panicked, Adaleen (Mary Kay Place) calls Nicki, and because she is one of my favorite characters to hate, it was awesome to finally get to see her come apart at the seams. This is the woman who hired a man to approach her son Alby (Matt Ross) for sex in a truck stop and then murder him, and when he confronted her about it, she not only didn’t deny her actions, but she wasn’t at all remorseful. It doesn’t get much colder than that.

But in this opening episode, when she’s begging her daughter to go into the walk-in freezer and get some bacon because she doesn’t know how else to tell Nicki that her father’s dead, we finally get to see her as desperate and frantic and crazed as she makes everyone else.

After the discovery of the body, the episode becomes a much darker version of Weekend at Bernie’s as the Juniper Creek gang and the Henricksons keep trying to dump the body in the others’ backyard. Unfortunately for Bill, he forgot the one rule about revenge. (My father taught me this in the second grade, and it has served me well ever since.)

If someone picks on you, never get them back right away because you will always be the person who gets caught. Wait a few days and get them when they’re not expecting it. Bill drags Roman’s thawing corpse straight back to Juniper Creek when it shows up in the lot where he’s building the casino and, based on the end of this first episode, it looks like he’s getting caught.**End spoilers**

The rest of the episode includes some light conflict between Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and the Native Americans they’re running the casino with, and a hilarious storyline between Bill’s homicidal parents (Bruce Dern, Grace Zabriskie). The septuagenarians’ fighting, complete with exclamations like, “Ow, my hip,” had me laughing so hard I was crying. Overall, a very strong start for what’s sure to be another intense season of our favorite polygamists. With Bill basically naming himself the next prophet, this may be the most literally epic season yet.

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CHUCK’s Back!

Did you catch the Chuck season three premiere last night? Talk about two satisfying hours of television. I’ve always enjoyed this show, but now that Chuck (Zachary Levi) has downloaded the Intersect v.2 into his head, giving him access to skills like kung fu and flamenco-guitar playing, the fun factor has ratcheted up a few notches.

This doesn’t mean our Buy More nerd is James Bond. He’s too emotional for the Intersect to work properly so his klutziness is alive and well. He’s also still in love with Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), the tension between them as thick as ever, if not more so because of something we see in flashback. Though I feel for their predicament (“Spies don’t fall in love,” she tells him), I kinda hope they never get together because the show will be over.

It might end anyway after this season if ratings don’t pick up. It baffles me why a well-written romantic action comedy like this (what other show does all that?) can’t find a bigger audience. I hope recurring guest stars Brandon “Superman” Routh and Kristin “Lana Lang” Kreuk will be able to help.

If you missed the premiere last night, you can watch it at nbc.com and another fresh episode airs tonight at 8 p.m. Any other fans out there?

Nerd verdict: Chuck yourself

Movie Review: LEAP YEAR

by Eric Edwards

You’d think a romantic comedy named after an event that occurs only once every four years would be something special. Well, Leap Year (opening today) isn’t.

Anna (Amy Adams) and Jeremy (Adam Scott) are a seemingly perfect, upwardly mobile couple. They are both attractive, great at their jobs and have bright futures. What they aren’t is married and Jeremy doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to propose.

Thus, when business takes Jeremy to Ireland, Anna decides to follow him and take advantage of a popular Irish custom in which women propose to men on February 29. Due to inclement weather, one of her connecting flights is canceled and everything goes awry as she tries to make it to Dublin before leap-year day is over. Severely strapped for cash, hot innkeeper Declan (Matthew Goode) agrees to drive her to Dublin for a fee. Though they encounter endless mishaps along the way, I think you can figure out what happens.

From L.: Goode, Scott, AdamsThis film suffers from severe formula-itis. Yes, we’ve seen it all before, but director Anand Tucker (2005’s fine Shopgirl) doesn’t even try to give a fresh spin to the screenplay by Harry Elfont (who is also responsible for the equally forgettable Made of Honor). It is so obvious Anna and Jeremy do not belong together that the whole initial setup of the story lacks credibility.

By the time Anna meets Declan, I was wondering if maybe I should have gone to see Up In The Air for a second time. That said, it isn’t the worst thing currently playing at the box office and Newton Thomas Sigel’s breathtaking cinematography of the Irish countryside had me checking flights for the Emerald Isle as soon as I got home.

THE SING-OFF

Anybody watched this show? I abhor reality shows (except American Idol and Project Runway) but tuned in to NBC’s The Sing-Off because it was advertised as real-life Glee and you know I love me some of that. The four-night competition is between a capella groups made up of non-pro singers hoping to land a Sony recording contract. Guess what? The Glee comparison wasn’t completely off base! It was like watching sectionals, except some of the singers are older than school age.

The groups are quite talented and one in particular, the Socals, reminded me the most of our beloved New Directions. They even sang “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Somebody to Love.” Another bunch of preppy school kids, The Beelzebubs, sang “Sweet Caroline,” though Puck’s rendition was much, well, sweeter. The ‘Bubs are well-liked by the crowd but they turn me off with their cheesy smugness. My prediction for the win is Nota, an all-guy group which manages to put some spicy flavor into every song.

If you missed the three episodes which aired this past Monday through Wednesday, you can watch full episodes on NBC.com or Hulu. Then you can still vote for your favorite group (on NBC.com only; voting closes Sunday, Dec. 20) and the winners will be revealed on Monday’s show.

Check it out, tell me which group(s) you like best, and help some folks get a recording contract for Christmas!

67th Annual Golden Globe Nominations

In case you haven’t seen them yet, here’s the full list. Film highlights (if a title is underlined, click on it to read my review):

Best Picture, Drama
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
Up in the Air

I haven’t seen Avatar but unless it’s awesome, I’m rooting for Up in the Air.

Best Picture, Musical/Comedy
500 Days of Summer
The Hangover
It’s Complicated
Julie & Julia
Nine

Haven’t seen The Hangover. So excited to see (500) Days in there! It’s a charming little film you need to rent when it comes out Dec. 22. As long as the winner isn’t Nine, I’m good.

Best Actor, Drama
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Tobey Maguire, Brothers

Haven’t seen Invictus or Crazy Heart. Nice surprise to see Maguire nominated; he’s quite good in Brothers. I’d love to see Clooney take this, though.

Best Actress, Drama
Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

This category is a tough one; I like all these. I’d narrow it down to Blunt vs. Sidibe.

Best Actor, Musical/Comedy
Matt Damon, The Informant!
Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine
Robert Downey, Jr., Sherlock Holmes
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 500 Days of Summer
Michael Stuhlbarg, A Serious Man

Another tough one to call. Might as well do eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Best Actress, Musical/Comedy
Sandra Bullock, The Proposal
Marion Cotillard, Nine
Julia Roberts, Duplicity
Meryl Streep, It’s Complicated
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Streep deserves it for Julia & Julia but if she cancels herself out, Cotillard should take it. I like Roberts and Duplicity just fine, but her inclusion here has got to be the biggest shocker.

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

This one’s easy: Christoph Waltz.

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo’Nique, Precious
Julianne Moore, A Single Man

Another easy one: Mo’Nique all the way, baby!

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Clint Eastwood, Invictus
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

I’m on Team Reitman but Lee Daniels was robbed for Precious.

Best Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Nancy Meyers, It’s Complicated
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Rooting for Reitman & Turner. And wha…?! Precious snubbed again? No matter. I’m still certain it’ll be Oscar nominated in this category.

Best Score
Up
The Informant!
Avatar
A Single Man
Where the Wild Things Are

Michael Giacchino has had an amazing year and will win for Up (he also scores Lost, Fringe and Star Trek). Up‘s theme is the only one I can still hum and I saw it back in May.

Best Song
“Cinema Italiano,” Nine
“I Want to Come Home,” Everybody’s Fine
“I Will See You,” Avatar
“The Weary Kind,” Crazy Heart
“Winter,” Brothers

The prestige song here is “Winter,” by a socially conscious band about a serious subject (our military personnel). But I came out of Nine singing “Cinema Italiano,” and I didn’t even like the movie that much.

Best Animated Film
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess & The Frog
Up

No contest: Up is tops in my book!

Best Foreign Language Film
Baria
Broken Embraces
The Maid
A Prophet
The White Ribbon

No clue here. Haven’t seen any of them. If I had to guess, I’d say Ribbon.

What did you think of the noms? Who are you rooting for? I think I’m most excited about Ricky Gervais as host!

Movie Review: NINE

Nine (and the movie 8 ½, on which it’s based) is about a writer/director who has a hard time coming up with a story for his latest film. It’s ironic, then, that Nine, written by Michael Tolkin and the late Anthony Minghella, also seems to be lacking a plot of its own.

Daniel Day-Lewis plays the auteur, Guido Contini, who’s having a breakdown since his movie Italia is supposed to go into production within days but he still hasn’t written one word. His leading actress, international star Claudia (Nicole Kidman), is getting impatient and demanding to see a script. He’s haunted by memories of the women in his life, including his mother (Sophie Loren) and a prostitute he knew when he was a boy (Fergie). In the real world, he continues his dalliance with mistress Carla (Penélope Cruz) despite telling his long-suffering wife, Luisa (Marion Cotillard) the affair is over.

Rob Marshall said during the post-Variety-screening Q & A that he thought long and hard about how to integrate the musical numbers into the movie. On that level, he succeeded; the songs are interwoven well and don’t really disrupt the story’s pacing.

Trouble is, there’s not much plot to interrupt. It’s mostly about what’s going on in Guido’s head and since he comes across as a self-absorbed, lying, cheating bastard, I couldn’t sympathize with him. He hasn’t earned the self-pity because his misery is of his own doing. It’s not Day-Lewis’s fault; he gives a consummate performance as usual. His Italian accent is spot-on and his singing robust (is there anything he can’t do?). The problem lies more with the character and this was partly why I also disliked Fellini’s film: Guido is a whiny little boy.

As for the all-star female lineup, Cotillard, Cruz and Dench come through most spectacularly. Cotillard is wistful and heartbreaking at first then busts out the sexy in “Take It All,” doing a striptease and letting Guido know she’s done being the accommodating little wife. Cruz scorches the screen in her “A Call from the Vatican” number, with her, um, gymnastic moves. She’s also emotionally flexible, going from vixen to little girl lost, and somehow manages to make me feel sorry for her adulterous Carla. And Dench, as Guido’s confidante Lilli, displays a fun side and hearty voice along with her usual gravitas.

Kate Hudson also knocked my socks off, singing and dancing with abandon in the movie’s catchiest number, “Cinema Italiano,” but her Vogue reporter is otherwise given nothing to do. Likewise Fergie’s Saraghina. Although this character was in Fellini’s movie and Fergie attacks “Be Italian” with impressive ferocity, the prostitute from Guido’s past has no usefulness here. Kidman looks great but this version of Claudia could have easily been played by any other beautiful actress with a passable singing voice.

The costumes are dazzling, the dancing and singing energetic, but I’m afraid I’m not in love with this Cinema Marshalliano.

Nerd verdict: Nine‘s a 6 on scale of 1 to 10

All photos by David James © The Weinstein Co.

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Movie Review: THE LOVELY BONES

© DreamWorks Studios

Just came out of a screening of Peter Jackson’s of The Lovely Bones (opening Dec. 11) and I’m about as confused as the movie is. So, my movie partner, Eric Edwards, and I had the following discussion to help process our thoughts. [Possible mild spoilers.]

PCN: Oh, man, what happened? The trailer was intense but the movie felt like one long yoga/meditation video.

EE: I think my biggest struggle was I kept thinking I should like it more than I do.

PCN: Why do you feel you have to like it?

EE: Because the message they’re trying to put out is very deep and Zen. It was all about the big picture and trusting that the universe will take care of things in its own time. But it took soooo long for payback to happen.

PCN: And when it did, I felt no real closure, which begs the question: Are we impatient, bloodthirsty people? In real life, sometimes comeuppance doesn’t happen at all and you have to find a way to move past the grief.

EE: But this is a movie and I think most moviegoers want to see some kind of reckoning for a bad deed.

PCN: There was reckoning, just not in a way we expected. I feel the same ambivalence toward the movie as I did toward Alice Sebold’s book. It’s internal and meditative and more about a process than a story. I get it—Susie’s family is grieving; it’s not going to be action-packed. So Peter Jackson fills up the in-between with eye candy to amuse us. Look, there’s a waterfall! And Susie frolicking among flowers! A random giant beach ball! And that music sounded like something from a sleep machine. I thought maybe Enya would show up to sing.

EE: That score was pretentious. I did enjoy the book, though. I think this was just bad handling of source material.

PCN: Do you think this has a chance at any awards? The cinematography is gorgeous–

EE: It’s beautiful.

PCN:–but I don’t think the movie deserves anything else. Even Stanley Tucci’s performance is off. He’s really creepy but I was distracted by the blond rug, blue contacts, prosthetic teeth and slightly slurred speech. It’s a little too much. Wouldn’t it be interesting to have a perfectly normal-looking guy turn out to be the creepiest one of all?

EE: I don’t think Jackson allowed Tucci to let the full creepiness out.

PCN: What?! He’s super creepy! During the scene where Mr. Harvey lures Susie down into the hatch, you were cringing like a girl, you were so scared.

EE: I wasn’t cringing, I was merely showing disapproval. Tucci kept shaking and acting nervous. Jackson should’ve just let Tucci stare at Susie and let the suspense build before making his move. Would’ve been a lot more explosive.

PCN: Oh, it was plenty explosive enough for me. I was sick inside, knowing what would happen to her. I was grateful most of it happened off camera.

EE: But you were projecting your feelings due to prior knowledge. Would it be as creepy for viewers who haven’t read the book?

© DreamWorks Studios

PCN: A grown man preparing to murder a 14-year-old girl? Yeah, I’d say that’s creepy for anyone. What’d you think of Saoirse Ronan’s performance?

EE: The biggest problem for me was her narration, which made the movie so melodramatic, especially when accompanied by Brian Eno’s overwrought score.

PCN: I had no problem with her! I actually liked her as Susie much more than I liked her as that little brat in Atonement. Here, she’s vibrant and shows more range. She also handled the American accent quite well.

EE: I’m not talking about her acting, strictly the narration. Otherwise, she was fine. I liked Rose McIver, who plays Susie’s sister. She made an impression on me.

PCN: Same here. She had spunk. She’s a New Zealander who also nailed the American accent.

© DreamWorks Studios

EE: What’d you think of Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz?

PCN: They’re okay but their best work is elsewhere. Susan Sarandon looks like she had fun as the boozy, chain-smoking grandma, but the role isn’t significant enough to register come awards time.

Nerd verdicts—PCN: Weak Bones. EE: Bones is lifeless.