Friday, February 26, 2010

(Sh) Utterly Satisified

Breaking news. Martin Scorsese has done it again. Since the first "Shutter Island" preview sparked in 2009, I've been excited to see this film. Director Martin Scorsese takes you to a creepy island full of crazies in a movie that will keep you guessing until the credits roll. By now, everyone knows that Paramount decided to push this movie back due to economy problems/marketing/budgets/etc. The Studios did a nice job of moving it into a weekend in February where nobody else would bother it. "Shutter" was the only mainstream release on its opening weekend, and with "Cop Out" and "The Crazies" opening up this weekend, I think it's a safe bet that it could win the box office again.

The movie is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane. In recent years, his books "Mystic River" and "Gone Baby Gone" have been adapted to screenplays. I didn't read the book so I was went into the screening guessing from the very beginning. The film starts with an investigation after a high security patient escapes from the maximum security facility known as Shutter Island. The cast in the film fits like a perfectly round peg. Everyone knows Leonardo DiCaprio and Scorsese are a safe bet, but the other members are what makes the movie fulfilling. Sir Ben Kingsley plays the doctor that's in control of the island. What makes his character so great in this film is that he can take an average sentence/description/detail and make it creepy to the tenth degree! Mark Ruffalo also stars as Leo's partner, Chuck. Ruffalo does a great job of stirring the pot as the detectives continue to investigate the mystery. The rest of the cast includes Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer, and Ted Levine.

"Shutter Island" grabs you from the opening scene and drags you (like a patient) through an unknown,dark, and frightening world. You find yourself paying attention to every little detail (Sorry, no spoilers here) which makes movies like these worth the price of admission. Scorsese does an excellent job of lighting the film with the perfect tint of eerie grey. When the credits hit, you find yourself going back through all the little pieces and making sure they fit correctly. The pieces DO a round wooden peg! Is this my favorite Scorsese film, probably not. It's hard to argue with "Goodfellas" and "The Departed," but in a world where we continue to see directors stay in their comfort zones, it's so refreshing to see Scorsese step behind the 3-point line and sink a winning shot.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spring Film Preview

While Winter weather seems to have a grip on our nation, it seems to have hit the theaters as well. Movies like The Crazies, Dear John, and Valentine's Day have kept movies lovers in a state of static while waiting for noteworthy movies to hit the big screen. Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes a slew of movies than can finally bring the heat.

March brings Alice in Wonderland in IMAX 3D. This film has the dynamic Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. As the stills from this movie show, Tim Burton doesn't disappoint visually. The art direction of what has been seen so far is very interesting and many movie lovers should be truly looking forward to seeing how this films play out. We all know how the story ends, but as with all Tim Burton films, it's the journey! This movies isn't for kids though, because it does hold a PG rating for the caterpillar smoking. So those with sensitive eyes should be warned (does sarcasm translate here successfully?). Check out some clips before tea time on March 5th.

With April showers, bring Clash of the Titans (that's how it goes, right?). Opening April 2nd, Sam Worthington stars in this reboot of the 1981 classic. The hype for this movie has been long lived and the original made some staggering advances on film making of the day, including the unique make-up and the stop motion techniques used to create the monsters in the film. With the remake, we can expect some great visual effects from director, Louis Leterrier, known for The Incredible Hulk and The Transporter and it's sequel. Leterrier knows how to create some great action sequences and if the trailer says anything about we have in store, we all might need to bring a change of pants to this one.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, also opening in April, has not only an original to live up to, but an entire franchise. Jackie Earle Haley starring as everyone's favorite boogieman should totally take over this film. His small stature shouldn't keep him from terrifying audience when this film opens on the 30th.

Also in April, comedy greats Tina Fay and Steve Carrell bring us Date Night. This film has a extremely exciting cast which includes James Franco, Mark Wahlberg, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo and Mila Kunis (along with many others). This movie should be yet another hilarious movie from Fay and Carrell.

There are many other movies opening during these fair weather months, but these films have me excited about Spring has in store. These movies should help us all defrost from the dreary, cold winter-weather movies and forget about enjoying the outdoors. Get to the theaters and spring for the extra large popcorn for twenty-five cents more, because this recession isn't going to fix itself.

What movies are you most excited about?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The PopSnap Review: "The Wolfman"

Before I begin this review of the new movie "The Wolfman," let me first say that I like Benecio Del Toro. I think he's a very talented actor--but "The Wolfman" was a great disappointment for me.
So what was wrong you ask? It's a problem many movies face these days, you have a great idea, a solid cast, but the problem here, as is so often the case, is the script.
It's certainly no secret that "The Wolfman" had its share of production problems, and the opening date was pushed back at least 4 times (never a good sign). Still, I wanted to see it. I'm a big Anthony Hopkins fan, and I also think Hugo Weaving does good solid work. In the cast, it's Benecio Del Toro who is the weakest link. His delivery comes off as flat and wooden, providing a protagonist you really don't care about at all (And I didn't).
The makeup was great--The main problem here is the script (or lack of one). It seemed like entire chunks of backstory had been eliminated to 'hurry up and get to the scenes with the wolfman.' Adding insult to injury is Danny Elfman's awful score, which only serves to telegraph the audience that something scary is about to happen.
Here's a typical scene: Close up shot of Benecio Del Toro walking through a creepy location at night, carrying a lantern. Haunting music in the background, the music swells, and LOOK OUT!!! Music sting! The "gotcha" moment.
I kept waiting for a certain character (I won't say who) to transform into a wolf, but they never did, even though the ENTIRE FILM hinted that this would happen.
And the ending is just, well...terrible. Hints at a sequel, or does it?? Let's just hope that never happens.
Joe Johnston ("Jurassic Park III), directed this, so I just have to ask, what happened Joe???
I can't even recommend this one to watch on home video.
So, I came up with another variation on the same theme. One of my favorite movies in recent years with the same type of storyline (yet in a more modern setting) is the Jack Nicholson movie, "Wolf," with James Spader. Also starring Michelle Pfeiffer and directed by Mike Nichols, this film is a much better telling of the same sort of tale, and it also has some wicked funny scenes.
So, if you have to see a movie about a man turning into a wolf, go for "Wolf," instead of "The Wolfman."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lala Gives Music Back to the People

Since we talked about Bonaroo on our most recent podcast, it got me thinking about how great it is to find a new artist or a new song to obsess over.

Lala, a music sharing site that brags over eight million licensed songs available for play and download, allows users to upload their already existing music libraries (think iTunes and Windows Media Player) to their site, but why would someone want to do this? While studying at school or visiting grandma, users can access their music, advertisement free, just by logging on to lala. Along with uploading music to the site, a user can even bring along existing playlists that they've created. While iTunes can create playlists from music you already own, this site can let you explore new music.

Find a great song? Purchasing is less expensive than iTunes will ever be; get a web song for ten cents, or download the full song for around eighty-nine cents. I had already been using Lala after iTunes raised their some of their prices to an absurd one-dollar and twenty-nine cents in April of 2009 and I know this sounds like a commercial here, but this site has impressed me from the beginning.

Now awaiting approval from the Apple, Lala has an iPhone app waiting in the wings. I have tested the beta and it will prove to be an amazing app to those who take advantage of uploading their music to lala, because a users' entire music library can be access through the app using 3G or Wi-Fi.

Lala is a site made to be shared with friends. Many users link their Lala music profile to their facebook profile to share with their friends the new music are listening to and purchasing. New members even get fifty free web songs just for joining.

Give Lala a listen, enjoy the fifty free songs, and you can thank me later.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Unofficial National Holiday

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of all ages...Super Bowl weekend is upon us all! It's no secret that I love football, music, and quality entertainment and the Super Bowl has plenty of that. It's one of the few times of the year that you will see actors, musicians, and other celebs come together to show their support for the most watched sporting event of the year. The Super Bowl is a mash up of our favorite athletes, music, movies, and TV shows all thrown into 5 hours of quality television programming. It's the ONLY time of the year that you will actually go to the bathroom during programming instead of the commercial break.

Over the past 15 years or so, the commercials have become as much a part of Super Sunday as the opening kickoff. Companies plan all year how they will market their product on Super Sunday. Sometimes a simple 30 second spot during the Super Bowl can turn into millions of dollars for future investments. On Monday morning, there will be as much buzz about the best commercial as there will be about the game winning touchdown. As for me, I can't wait to see what kind of movie teasers we will have Sunday night. Looking back through the years, I can remember blockbuster Summer movies being seen first during a Super Bowl spot. I'm hoping we get a little more taste of "Iron Man 2" this year!

Another great thing about Super Sunday is the music. Over the past five years, the networks have gone back to their roots by selecting some of the best artists of all-time. I'd much rather see Springsteen rocking out during a football game than Britney Spears. In recent years, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band have helped give us a mini rock concert on the biggest Sunday of the year. Be sure to tune in Sunday night when The Who rock the stage at halftime in Miami.

You don't have to care about football to enjoy Super Bowl Sunday. I have many friends that aren't football fans, but they have just as much fun as anyone else. It's about a nation coming together for a few hours to forget their worries and enjoy something that makes us all an American. I hope you all are able to get together with family, friends, relatives, co-workers, whoever, and enjoy Super Bowl XLIV. As far as I'm concerned, the Super Bowl is the unofficial national holiday!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's Yours!

Super Bowl week is always packed full of pop culture goodness. The Super Bowl isn't just about football, it's a mashup of sports, music, and entertainment all thrown into one of the most watched spectacles in the world. More on the "Unofficial National Holiday" later this week. I'm excited to learn that Johnny Depp himself will be doing a documentary on Keith. Most avid Stones fans call him Keith, but he's known as Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones.
The Rolling Stones are my favorite music group of all-time. Their songs have shaped my past, present, and hopefully my future. I get it from my Dad. He is the biggest Stones fan that I know. I've been "rocking out" to the Stones since before I stopped wearing a diaper. Martin Scorsese's "Shine A Light" was a great concert movie about the personal and professional side of being a Stone. I caught the film on the IMAX screen in Nashville (Yes, Keith Richard's head was huge), but it was worth every penny (and wrinkle).
Johnny Depp has gone on record a number of times saying how much he adores Keith. Most fans know that Keith played a big role is his motivation for Captain Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of The Caribbean" films. So Depp already has plenty of Keith research under his belt. I'm excited to see what Depp can do with one of the greatest guitar players ever. As Keith Richards says to Buddy Guy in "Shine A Light,"..."It's yours!"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn is what's popping in the world of pop culture. It's like someone just popped a fresh batch of popcorn -- and the smell is too good to pass up!

"The envelope, please." The 2010 Oscar Nominations have been released.

"LOST" is back with a bang tonight on ABC.

Speaking of "LOST," Matthew Fox says he is done with TV...again.

For a complete list of Grammy winners, click here.

Catch The Who during the Super Bowl XLIV Halftime show this Sunday on CBS.