Friday, April 18, 2008

20 GREATEST FIGHT SCENES OF ALL TIME!


20 GREATEST FIGHT SCENES OF ALL TIME!

The Rotten Tomatoes web site has gathered a series of videos showing the twenty greatest movie fist fights of all time. Yes, my personal favorite from Roadhouse starring Patrick Swazey made the list at number 20, and my other favorite in From Russia With Love made it in as number nieteen.

You’ll have a blast checking this out!

This week, The Forbidden Kingdom, the long-awaited pairing of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, hits theaters. These two action legends have participated in many a fight over the years, so Rotten Tomatoes figured it was a good time to count down some of the greatest movie brawls of all time.

With so many noteworthy celluloid scuffles to choose from, they felt they had to lay down some ground rules: no weapons allowed, and they were looking for relatively even matches; They promise to cover the greatest beatdowns another time. These clips are often not for the squeamish, and some contain a good deal of profanity, so they’ve tagged those as NSFW (or not safe for work, for those of you not up on the latest techno-speak).

Without further ado, go to this link for 20 of the greatest fight scenes of all time!





Tip of the fedora to www.billcrider.blogspot.com.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

FRANK SINATRA ISSUE - JAZZ IMPROV MAGAZINE!

FRANK SINATRA ISSUE - JAZZ IMPROV MAGAZINE!

The new Spring 2008 quarterly issue of Jazz Improv® Magazine, 224 pages, plus enhanced companion CD and featuring Frank Sinatra on the cover is now shipping to paid-up subscribers.

The 40-page spectacular on Sinatra includes Dan Bilwsky's in-depth piece entitled "Capitol Improvements" on Sinatra's recordings for Capitol and Reprise Records in the 1950s and 1960s.

This issue also features detailed interviews with a number of the most intriguing brass players including Arturo Sandoval, Jimmy Owens, Wayne Bergeron, Rich Wetzel, and Gerald Wilson, more well known for his 60 year career as an arranger for film, TV Ellington, Ray Charles and others. You'll also get a chance to get up close and personal with vocalists Giacomo Gates, Roseanna Vitro, Amanda Carr, Nicole Pasternak, Katie Bull and others.

The companion CD features 14 tracks including new music by Avery Sharpe, Bobby Broom, Arturo Sandoval, "Conan" trumpeter Mark Pender, Moutin Reunion, Mark Weinstein, Rich Wetzel Groovin' Higher Jazz Orchestra.

Current subscribers will be receiving their issue in the next few days.

(Single copies of this issue of Jazz Improv are available, while remaining supplies last, as the first subscription issue for new subscribers. After May 15, new subscriptions will begin with the next issue, Vol. 8, No. 2, of Jazz Improv Magazine.)

CLICK HERE for more information about how to subscribe to Jazz Improv Magazine, and to obtain the Frank Sinatra issue.


CAPITOL IMPROVEMENTS: THE CAREER REBIRTH OF FRANK SINATRA

[Excerpt from the 40 Page feature, entitled Capitol Improvements: The Career Rebirth of Frank SInatra, by Dan Bilawsky in Jazz Improv Magazine, Vol. 8, No. 1]

Frank Sinatra was now free and clear of Capitol Records, stepped into the studio in November of 1961, with a new arranger-as-partner on hand, to record Sinatra & Strings. Don Costa, born in Massachusetts in 1925, worked with Paul Anka, Vic Damone and Sammy Davis Jr., in addition to his work with Sinatra, during his career as an arranger. On Sinatra & Strings, Costa does a wonderful job with some classic material that was chosen for this project. The album begins with the gentle caress of I Hadn’t Anyone Till You. From the first notes of this song, it’s clear that Sinatra’s voice is in excellent shape here. Night And Day begins with Costa’s wonderful orchestrations behind Sinatra’s statement of the verse. The subtle rhythmic motion on this track, far less overt than other recordings of this song, makes this one unique. Misty is simply beautiful in Sinatra’s hands and the version of Stardust on this album might be the most unique vocal rendition of this classic in existence....

In early 1962, Sinatra began filming what would become, along with From Here To Eternity, one of a small group of films, that Sinatra was in, which are considered undisputed classics in cinema. The Manchurian Candidate, dealing with communism, brainwashing and an assassination plot, is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made....

Click here to read the complete excerpt from Capitol Improvements: The Career Rebirth of Frank Sinatra.

THE ANDREWS BROTHERS!

THE ANDREWS BROTHERS!

Forever Plaid has always been one of our favorite musicals (seeing it 15+ times qualifies it as such), so I was delighted with the news the creator of The Marvelous Wonderettes (another FUN musical comedy romp) is premiering The Andrews Brothers starring three of the original actors from Forever Plaid.

In The Andrews Brothers, mistaken identities, madcap comedy, and the greatest music of the 1940s fill the sweet and hilarious show. Three soldiers find themselves giving the performance of a lifetime when a certain singing trio of siblings fail to arrive at their USO gig. “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Slow Boat To China,” "Shoo Shoo Baby", "Stuff Like That There" and “Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree” are some of the favorites in this valentine to the heroes of World War II.

Starring:
Stan Chandler
David Engel
Larry Raben
and Darcie Roberts




From the original cast of the hit Off-Broadway show
Forever Plaid (from left: Larry Raben, Stan Chandler and David Engel).


Below is a recent photo of the boys from The Andrews Brothers.

Featuring these great 40s tunes...
Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree
On a Slow Boat to China
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive
Stuff Like That There
The Hut Sut Song
and many more!

April 18-May 4, 2008

Carpenter Performing Arts Center

6200 Atherton Street, Long Beach, CA 90815

TICKETS: (562) 856-1999 ext. 4

www.musical.org

Use the code "Chipmunk"

FRENCH FARCE – OSS 117!


FRENCH FARCE – OSS 117!

Our blog buddy Tanner at www.doubleosection.blogspot.com is on top of all things espionage as usual.

Eurospy films are a particular favorite of Tanner’s, and he is giving two thumbs up to the current comic French Eurospy revival OSS 117: Cairo Nest Of Spies. Set in the 1950s the retro spy flick – described as a clever, loving parody – will debut May 9 in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles (yea!).

French actor Jean Dujardin (looking suitably Connery-ish thanks in part to Guillaume Schiffman's Sixties-style photography) plays an impossibly self-assured, pompous French secret agent who gives all Westerners a bad name in jet-age Cairo. Press material describes the film as "a blithe and witty send-up not only of spy films of the era and the suave secret agent figure, but also neo-colonialism, ethnocentrism and the very idea of Western covert action in the Middle East."

According to Tanner, that's a pretty good description of this farce, which manages the neat trick of being both smart and slapstick at the same time. Read Tanner’s full review here: OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies

There's even a pretty fabulous American website set up, complete with trailer, stills, games and a brief history of Jean Bruce's literary creation, OSS 117!


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

SATIN DOLLZ @ THE MINT!

'NUFF SAID! BE THERE!

REAL HOLLYWOOD TOUGH GUYS!


REAL HOLLYWOOD TOUGH GUYS!

In response to my earlier post regarding the horrifying trend in ‘badass geeks,’ I proffer the below link saluting the twenty toughest characters you’d want next to you in a fight.

One of the best things about Hollywood movies is the tough guys. The glitz and gloss of Hollywood are known the world over, but the brooding, hard-as-nails tough guy is one of Hollywood’s most admired exports. Whether heroes, anti-heroes, morally-ambiguous loners or downright villains, we all recognize and admire the roles these men played; as boys we looked up to them as role models and tried to emulate them, and as men we find them reminders of what it means to be a real man in a world sodden with political correctness, feminism, and new sexual politics.

The list is here.

A tip of the fedora to http://www.billcrider.blogspot.com/

JONNY BLU @ CHOCOLAT!

JONNY BLU @ CHOCOLAT!

DON’T MISS JONNY'S LAST SHOW IN LA BEFORE HE LEAVES FOR EUROPE!!!

JONNY ALWAYS PUTS ON A TERIFFIC SHOW BACKED BY A CREW OF HOT MUSICIANS, SO DON’T MISS OUT!

APRIL, 26 2008
8:30 PM
CHOCOLAT
8155 MELROSE AVENUE
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90046
(323) 651-2111 --CALL ASAP!
COST : $10 AND PLAN ON HAVING SOME DINNER OR DRINKS

WEB: http://www.chocolatrestaurant.com/

CHECK OUT JONNY’S NEW WEBSITE:
http://www.jonnyblumusic.com/

"CHOCOLAT" IS ONE OF THE LA’S HIPPEST MUSIC RESTAURANTS LOCATED ON TRENDY MELROSE AVENUE, JUST EAST OF BEVERLY HILLS. THIS WILL BE JONNY'S FINAL LOS ANGELES SHOW BEFORE HE LEAVES FOR EUROPE SO DON’T MISS IT!!!

(323) 651-2111 CALL ASAP

BADASS GEEKS!

BADASS GEEKS!

First, yesterday morning http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com/ gives us a tip to a byline-free Telegraph story heralded the arrival of the Geek Action Hero, a Hollywood phenomenon probably linked on some level to the current movie trend in romantic galumphs (slackers who somehow manage to win over hardbodied chicks who wouldn’t give the rest of us the time of day).

In the case of geek heroes, instead of studly musclebound machismo figures who can beat up and outshoot any bad guys who come their way (like the Arnold, Sly, Bruce, Mel and Jean Claude paradigms of the '80s), "the new breed of action star is more likely to be skinny, awkward and studious-looking." The story coes on to mention Shia LaBeouf, Emile Hirsch, James McAvoy and the as-yet unknown Ben Barnes...Read More

Then, last night, I spotted a posting over at
www.neatorama.com linking to an Always Watching blog post referencing The 10 Most Badass Geeks in Film and TV. Link

This is a trend to scare the heck outta any red blooded action film fan.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ZOMBIE DAILY!

ZOMBIE DAILY!

Rob Sacchetto of Zombie Portraits fame has ripped and torn his way through over 400 of his custom zombie portraits in just over a year. However, creating at least one zombie portrait a day was not enough for Sacchetto as he has now launched Zombie Daily, a blog featuring a daily zombie illustration. Some are bare-bone sketches, some are full-blown masterpieces. Some are scary, most are whimsical and hilarious.

It’s certainly not to be missed.


JUDY WEXLER @ CATALINA JAZZ CLUB!

JUDY WEXLER @ CATALINA JAZZ CLUB!

One of our favorite local chanteuses (is that a cool word or what?), Judy Wexler, is about to celebrate the release of her new CD, Dreams & Shadows with a great show at Catalina Bar & Grill. Judy will have a killer band with her and promises a great show.

JUDY WEXLER
Wednesday, April 16th
8:30pm

CATALINA BAR & GRILL
6725 W. Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, CA
(323) 466-2210
(resv. a really good idea!)
$20 cover

Judy Wexler, vocals
Jeff Colella, piano
Chris Colangelo, bass
Steve Hass, drums
Bob Sheppard, tenor, alto & soprano saxes, bass clarinet
Steve Huffsteter, trumpet

Dreams & Shadows is available for purchase (and listening!) on Judy’s web site: www.judywexler.com

Listen to NPR Weekend Edition interview with Susan Stamberg: Listen

DOUBLE OR DIE NOW AVAILABLE IN U.S.!

DOUBLE OR DIE NOW AVAILABLE IN U.S.!

The third Young Bond book by Charles Higson is finally available in an American hardcover edition. Published in Britain in January 2007, Double or Die has taken it’s time to travel across the pond. The fourth book in the series, Hurricane Gold, has already been published in Britain, and the fifth (and possibly final) novel By Royal Command is due out soon.

It is really a shame these novels are not getting the same push in America as Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider novels. While both series deal with teenagers becoming involved in espionage, the characters are very different and yet both enjoyable in their own ways.

The Young Bond books have progressed to become an excellent series, getting better with each book. I've read through Hurricane Gold, the fourth book in the series – more of an all out adventure novel -- but Double or Die remains my favorite.

I still think the Alex Rider books are more sheer fun, and certainly more like the movie Bond, but the Young Bond series is more literate and definitely gives us a character who you can accept growing into the Bond of Fleming's books.

For in-depth coverage on all things Young Bond, check out the Young Bond Dossier.

Monday, April 14, 2008

LIFETIME CAPTURES PATRICIA CORNWELL!


LIFETIME CAPTURES PATRICIA CORNWELL!

While I’m far from a Cornwell fan, I wish her success with this new venture.

According to
www.zap2it.com, Lifetime has made a deal with best-selling author Patricia Cornwell to adapt two of her novels, including one yet to be released, into movies.

The agreement marks the first time any of Cornwell's novels will be adapted for the screen. The author will serve as an executive producer of the telefilms.

"As we continuously reinvent our popular Lifetime original movies, we're expanding the genres and including more works by America's leading women writers," Tanya Lopez, who oversees original movies at the cable network, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Patricia Cornwell is in a class by herself."

The two novels, "At Risk" and its sequel "The Front" (which hits stores in May), center on Win Garano, an investigator for the state of Massachusetts, and the politically ambitious district he works for, Monique Lamont. Garano's eccentric grandmother also plays a prominent role.

Casting has yet to begin; no writer or director is attached yet either. Cornwell will executive produce the adaptations with Stanley M. Brooks and Jim Head, who produced Lifetime Movie Network's miniseries "The Capture of the Green River Killer."

LAST MEAL ON THE TITANIC!


LAST MEAL ON THE TITANIC!

This one is for my Titanic fanatic daughter-in-law.

96 years ago today, April 14th, 1912, the last meal was served aboard the Titanic. First class passengers were served a ten-course masterpiece. Later that night, the ship collided with an iceberg. 1517 people died when the ship sank; 723 were rescued. Cooking Monster takes a detailed look at the menu that night and how the dishes were prepared.

10 BEST HITMEN: WHY THE SCREEN LOVES A DEADLY ASSASSIN!


10 BEST HITMEN: WHY THE SCREEN LOVES A DEADLY ASSASSIN!

From The Jackal to Nikita, the screen loves a deadly assassin. The London Times’ Kevin Maher gets the Top Ten movie hitmen in his sights – plus clips.

It’s not the most obvious profession. Yet when the heroes of the new comedy thriller In Bruges – Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) – are introduced as hitmen we accept this completely. They go about their business, hiding out in the titular Belgian town after a botched kill. They drink beer, joke and meet women. And then, eventually, Ralph Fiennes arrives as Harry, the hitman-in-chief. And still, we never once say, ‘Hang on! How many hitmen are there in the world?’ This is because movies are so en-amoured by hitmen that, somehow, we are too. We love their deadly authority and their glamour, In short, we love the thrill of power.

http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article3712372.ece

THE BANK JOB / FLAWLESS

THE BANK JOB / FLAWLESS!

Two recent caper films, Flawless (starring Demi Moore and Michael Caine) and The Bank Job (starring Jason Statham) are evidence the genre is still alive and viable – even though neither film brings anything new to the heist/caper film canon. It is interesting, however, that both films are set in 1960/70s London bringing a retro-atmosphere to their execution.

The Bank Shot takes its cue from a notorious unsolved bank heist with ties to the British Intelligence agencies MI6 and MI6 (counterparts to the FBI and CIA). The film is all rumor an innuendo, but the hypothesis extracted from all the speculation surrounding the real life heist is mostly plausible and, in the end, entertaining.

Statham plays Terry, a car dealer with a dodgy past and new family. He has never been involved in a major league blag, but he always has an eye for the main chance – especially as he is currently feeling pressure from the local loan shark. When Martine (actress Saffron Burrows – a name escaped from a Bond film), a beautiful bit-of-all-right from Terry’s old neighborhood, offers him a lead on a foolproof bank hit on London's Baker Street, he and his hapless mates recognize the opportunity of a lifetime.

The target is a vault full of safe-deposit boxes worth millions in cash and jewelry. What Terry and his crew don't realize, is Martine is being controlled by a puppet master whose true target is the treasure trove of dirty secrets contained in one particular box. It is these secrets, and a number of others unexpectedly uncovered that thrust them into a deadly web of corruption and illicit scandal spanning London's criminal underworld, the highest echelons of the British government, and the Royal Family itself.
It is the hidden agenda, the heist gone wrong in all the right ways, which drives the action as Terry and Co. quickly find themselves out of their depth.

While this is the strong point of the film it is also its weakness. So much attention is paid to all the points of the heist’s aftermath, the heist itself gets short shrift. The gathering of the gang, the planning of the caper, and the actual execution of the crime are rushed along with little attention paid to the details or the process. No tension is allowed to build. It’s as if the director and the writers figured everyone should know the gang gets away with the bank break-in, and they can’t wait to get on with the really clever part of the film – the speculative aftermath.

All of this unfortunately leaves the viewer without any kind of emotional investment in the outcome. The crosses and double crosses of the film’s third act all play out in a satisfactory manner – especially with Statham’s leading man energy – but it is too little to late. When Statham finally gets to hit someone in the finale, you want him to revert to his Transporter persona and take out the director, screenwriter, and the entire film crew you know is surrounding the set.

The Bank Job is not a bad film. I didn’t feel as if I’d wasted my time or money. I was mildly entertained. The period is lovingly invoked, and the aftermath of the heist is almost as clever as the filmmakers think it is. However, it is the type of film with so much missed potential, you want to send it back for another draft.

Flawless, on the other hand, comes very close to living up to it’s title. This is a small budget film currently getting a far more limited release than The Bank Job, yet is much more sophisticated and involving. Flawless actually is as clever as The Bank Job thinks it is.

Flawless is a neat diamond-heist thriller set in 1960 London just before the uptight three-piece-suits, rolled umbrellas, and bolwer hats were knocked a kilter by the swinging scene . Demi Moore plays Laura Quinn, the bright, driven, beautiful, and only female executive at the London Diamond Corporation. Life is not all flash and dazzle, however, as she is constantly passed over for promotion in favor of less capable male executives despite her greater experience. I’m not especially a fan of Moore, but here she is perfectly cast and I’ve had to revise my estimate of her talents.

The always pitch perfect Michael Caine effortlessly embodies Hobbs, the nighttime janitor at London Diamond – who is virtually invisible to the executives who work there. Over the years, he has amassed a startling amount of knowledge about how the company runs. Hobbs has his own bone to pick with London Diamond and, observing Laura's frustration, convinces her to help him execute an ingenious plan to steal a hefty sum in diamonds.

Unbeknownst to Laura, however, Hobbs plans go even further than he's let on, and together they set in motion a thrilling heist of dizzying proportions, the likes of which London has never seen – and will never be allowed to see if the London Diamond Corporation can avoid it.

Some people may find the pace of the film slow going, but I appreciated the focus on the agonizing decision making process Moore’s intelligent character experiences, and her later fear, remorse, and determination. Her character is allowed to reveal exactly why and how she would carve out a position as the only female executive at the diamond exchange, and why she is worth caring about.

The heist is ingenious, but it is even more ingenious once the plot point driving the second act is revealed. The viewer has been sucked into thinking this is a simple routine, sordid little heist, carried out by sordid, bitter people – and then wham!

At this point, I was loving this film. It had caught me unawares and I had no idea how it was going to be resolved – and best of all, when all was done, I wanted to believe every bit of it, especially the final twist in the tale.

Flawless has not been a critical darling, but it’s been my favorite film of the year so far. This isn’t saying much at this point, since the first quarter of the year rarely sees the debut of any film worth its budget, but for me Flawless will remain a real gem.