We have very sad news to report from The New York Times: Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock for almost 50 years, has died. Nimoy’s wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, told the Times the cause of death was “end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” The beloved actor and director was 83 years old.
The first reviews of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ are out and most are pretty mixed on the film and whether or not it delivers on the white-hot sexuality of the original novel. But here is one film that absolutely brings the raw animal magnetism: ‘Fifty Shades of Buscemi,’ a mashup that inserts the great star of ‘Boardwalk Empire,’ ‘Fargo,’ and so many more into new film opposite star Dakota Johnson.
It’s great when a movie understands exactly what it is. ‘Magic Mike’ was an intelligently made Steven Soderbergh movie about life in Great Recession America. But it became a huge surprise hit in the summer of 2012—grossing $167 million worldwide against a budget of just $7 million—because it had Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, and an assortment of the finest man-candy in Hollywood bumping and grinding with their shirts off. The marketing for ‘Magic Mike XXL’ seems to have an innate sense of this. The first poster is a picture of Tatum with his shirt off, pointing at his crotch where the word “Coming” is suggestively placed. And this teaser trailer is basically Channing Tatum (and the rest of his team of shredded male strippers) dancing, stripping, and then dancing with their shirts off. I smell box-office gold. Wait, no, that’s baby oil and Muscle Milk. But those things smell a lot like box-office gold when they’re in ‘Magic Mike XXL.’
If you haven’t watched Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s ‘The Interview’ yet, either because you’re too cheap to spend $6 to rent it online, or you were worried North Korean hackers would catch you buying it and share your private emails slagging your boss with the world (I’m sorry Mike! When I called you “a giant goober,” I meant that in an affectionate way, like Goobers candy! Which everyone loves!) you are in luck. As part of their quarterly letter to shareholders, Netflix announced that they will “exclusively” offer the comedy to its U.S. and Canadian customers starting this Saturday, January 24. Sorry Netflix Netherlands! You’re out of luck for now.
A sequel to Ben Stiller’s ‘Zoolander’ has been a long time coming. The original movie, which followed the hilariously dumb misadventures of a male model named Derek Zoolander (Stiller), opened in the fall of 2001. 13 years later, work is finally starting to ramp up on the follow-up. Actor and writer Justin Theroux will direct ‘Zoolander 2’ (which should be called ‘2lander,’ for obvious reasons), and Stiller will reprise his role as Zoolander, along with Owen Wilson as his model buddy Hansel and Will Ferrell as the world’s most evil fashion designer Mugatu. Deadline says that the returning cast now has its first new addition in the form of the lovely Penelope Cruz.
“I’ll be back,” is no longer just Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most famous movie quote and catchphase. It’s now his main business model. While doing a Q&A in England last weekend, Schwarzenegger announced there was another potential sequel in his future: ‘The Running Man,’ his 1987 sci-fi thriller based on a novel by Stephen King about a dark future where criminals compete for their lives on reality television (that dark future, apparently, was the year 2014).
'The Hangover' giveth and 'The Hangover' taketh away.
The first 'Hangover' made Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and especially Zach Galifianakis stars, and it elevated Todd Phillips from middling Hollywood director to name-brand comic auteur. But in the film industry, success that surprising and enormous demands more success; the beast must be fed. But as 'The Hangover Part II' and especially the new 'Hangover Part III' prove, it is very hard to make a good sequel to a truly original idea. 'Part II' went the rehash route, recycling the plot of the first movie so brazenly you almost had to admire its chutzpah. 'Part III' finally breaks with the formula a little (SPOILER ALERT: there is no hangover), but still doesn't produce anything even remotely worthy of the first film.
My grandmother, Rhoda Singer, died earlier this year. She lived much of her life in Brooklyn and was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Her favorite player was Pee Wee Reese, the Dodgers' scrappy white shortstop who famously silenced a racist Cincinnati crowd by putting his arm around his black teammate Jackie Robinson during pre-game warmups.
I thought about my grandmother a lot while watching '42,' the new biopic of Jackie Robinson and his quest to break the color barrier in baseball. On an intellectual level, I can tell you a dozen things wrong with the movie, from its excessively preachy dialogue to its bloated length. But on an emotional level, I have to admit that this movie bypassed my brain and grabbed my heart, pulling each and every string contained therein firmly and repeatedly. It's a pretty good tribute to a great man. And when Pee-Wee and Jackie embraced on that field in Cincinnati I cried.
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