Saturday, April 26, 2008

WHO KNEW SHE COULD SING!


WHO KNEW SHE COULD SING!

I thought Scarlett Johansson was just nice to look at, but apparently she can also carry a tune. Her debut album,
Anywhere I Lay My Head , is due out May 20th. It was recorded at Dockside Studio in Louisiana's Cajun country and features her interpretations of ten songs by legendary singer-songwriter Tom Waits.



For those unfamiliar with Waits, he’s an acquired taste. My favorite Waits’ album is his seminal Rain Dogs from 1985. It’s much more accessible than many of his other recordings, and it’s one of the cuts from this album that has become the title track for Johansson’s CD.


There is also an original track on the CD, Song For Jo, which Johansson co-wrote with David Andrew Sitek, who produced the album and lent his instrumental skills throughout. David Bowie adds backing vocals on two tracks, Falling Down and Fannin Street, and the disc also features the talents of Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner and multi-instrumentalist Sean Antanaitis from Celebration, among others.

I’ve listen to most of the cuts from the CD via Amazon, but I’ll reserve final judgment until I’ve had the chance to listen to the actual CD several times. From what I can tell right now, the production is good, but I’m not sure Johansson’s singing will ever be more than a hobby for her – I might pay to WATCH her sing, but I’m not sure I’d pay to HEAR her sing.

On the other hand, Johansson has a cut of Summertime available on Rhapsody:

www.rhapsody.com/scarlettjohansson

It's from a compilation CD Unexpected Dreams: Songs from the Stars . It’s not good enough to replace Renee Olstead in my heart, but I still enjoyed it better than the cuts I listened to from her CD.

HANCOCK!

FINALLY, A REAL SUPERHERO FOR OUR TIMES!

I’m looking forward to Ironman, but I have to say I’m really rooting for Will Smith in this tale of a homeless, alcoholic superhero named Hancock to be the hit of the summer!

CAN THROWING!

FIRST UP: A BUNCH OF FRENCH GUYS WITH AMAZING CAN THROWING SKILLS.



NEXT: A BUNCH OF FRENCH GUYS WITH AMAZING CAN THROWING SKILLS MAKE A COMMERCIAL.



‘NUFF SAID!

Friday, April 25, 2008

CELEBRITY QUICK PICKS!

What are the rich and famous reading? Let’s take a click!

HILLARY CLINTON
"I had no idea books like this existed. No longer will I ‘misspeak.’ Misspeaking can be as dangerous as sniper fire. This book will change your life … and save my campaign."


ROGER CLEMENS
A fun read for fans of Bigfoot, UFOs and Atlantis — as long as you accept the fact that the subject matter is a complete myth."






MILEY RAY CYRUS
"My dad and I have always been close. After reading this book together, I think we’re even closer."




PAUL MCCARTNEY
"Why am I only now finding out about this book?"






CHUCK NORRIS
"I’m only halfway through reading this, but so far, it’s fantastic. Don’t tell me how it ends."





HILLARY CLINTON

"I had no idea books like this existed. It will change your life … and save my campaign."



A tip of the fedora to www.bookgasm.com for this laugh!

RAMBO - FIRST BLOOD!

RAMBO – FIRST BLOOD!

This is the first and the best of all the Rambo films (although, Rambo III came close to matching this outing). First Blood, the book by David Morrell was a fantastic read, and this original film really did the book justice until the ending ... Rambo has to die! It's the only way to give the book it's proper ending and impact! But, in the movie, Rambo has to live! There's more money to be made from the franchise! No you'll have a chance to see it both ways!


See the film that started it all…back in movie theatres for a One Night Event!

Don’t miss First Blood in select theatres nationwide on May 15th at 7:30 p.m. Following the film, see the alternate ending (where Rambo dies!) for the first time ever in theatres (it's been on the deluxe DVD for awhile now). Plus - this one night event will include an exclusive, never-before-seen interview with Sylvester Stallone on First Blood, the new film and the iconic Rambo series.

Movie Synopsis: Academy Award® nominee Sylvester Stallone stars as war hero John Rambo. An ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam, he was once the perfect killing machine. Now he's searching for peace, but finds instead an over-zealous, small-town sheriff who's spoiling for a fight. All hell breaks loose when an unjustly imprisoned Rambo escapes and becomes the target of a massive manhunt. Now he must use all his cunning, combat skills and weapons training to stay alive and outwit his pursuers.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FORBIDDEN KINGDOM!


FORBIDDEN KINGDOM!

While this movie will not make any top ten list for the year, it won’t be on any ten worst lists either. This lightweight martial arts fantasy is mostly notable for fans of the genre due to Jackie Chan and Jet Li facing off against each other on screen for the first time. If you don’t recognize either of those names then this film is not the place to start your martial arts film education -- immediately go and rent Hero, House of Flying Daggers, or Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. While these three films may not be what turns hardcore fans on, they are a thrilling introduction to the genre.

Forbidden Kingdom, on the other hand, plays best if you have a t least a passing familiarity with the genre stereotypes and touchstones. You also have to have a willing disbelief, common in this style of story telling, that exceptional kung-fu skills can be obtained through four or five vigorous training sessions, a willingness to go through ‘the gate of no gate,’ and listening to a variety of existential or mystical homilies – oh, you also gotta want it real, real bad.

The plot of the film is simple – while hunting down bootleg kung fu DVDs in a Chinatown pawnshop, Jason Tripitikas (Michael Angarano), a kung-fu obsessed American teen, discovers an ancient fighting staff, the possession of which hurtles him back in time to ancient China. There, Jason is charged with a monumental task: He must free the fabled warrior the Monkey King, who has been imprisoned by the powerful Jade Warlord. Jason is joined in his quest by wise kung fu master Lu (Chan) and a band of misfit warriors including Silent Monk (Li). But only by learning the true precepts of kung fu can Jason hope to succeed--and find a way to get back home.

For all it’s silliness, the film has a very sweet center. There is a gentle sense of humor on display, one of Jackie Chan’s strengths, that keeps the film moving from scene to scene. The fights when they come at predictable intervals are stylistic, enthralling, joyous, and exhilarating – well worth the price of admission. And the face off between Li and Chan, which serves as the second act climax, is breathtaking, especially knowing these scene was shot with little rehearsal beyond an explanation from the director and some specific stage blocking.

Bottom line: I had fun watching Forbidden Kingdom and look forward to seeing it again after the inevitable DVD release.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ELVIS MADE SECRET VISIT TO BRITAIN!


ELVIS MADE SECRET VISIT TO BRITAIN!

ROCK'n'Roll legend Elvis Presley did in fact visit Britain, it was revealed yesterday, with a secret visit to London accompanied by another rocker.

For more than half a century it was generally accepted the "King" only made a fleeting transit visit to Scotland in 1960 - much to the disappointment of his legion of UK fans.

But theatre producer Bill Kenwright has revealed in a radio interview that Presley, then 23, managed to go sightseeing in London with Cockney singer Tommy Steele.

The pair's trip, understood to have taken place in 1958, included visits to the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, Kenwright said.

Presley did not perform.

Kenwright, who has known Steele for decades, inadvertently revealed the secret trip in a pre-recorded Radio 2 interview on Ken Bruce's show Tracks Of My Years.

A tip of the fedora to www.billcrider.blgspot.com

PENIS THEFT PANIC HITS CITY!


ALL I CAN SAY IS I’M GLAD I’M NOT INVESTIGATING THIS CASE!
PENIS THEFT PANIC HITS CITY!

By Joe Bavier -- Exclusive to Reuters

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.
Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke," Oleko said.

"But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'," he said.
Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.

"It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny," said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.

BAMBOO LOUNGE EXTRAVAGANZA!


THE ANDREWS BROTHERS - REVIEWED!

THE 'WONDERETTES' FORMULA IS REWORKED FOR THE ENTERTAINING 'THE ANDREWS BROTHERS!'

By F. Kathleen Foley, Special to The Times

Never underestimate the power of drag. From pantos to Python, men have donned women's garb for laughs. The impulse seems atavistic. It wouldn't be surprising if archaeologists were to find cave drawings of Neanderthals in peekaboo saber-toothed skins.

Certainly, Roger Bean understands that drag still packs a punch. That's clear in the West Coast premiere of "The Andrews Brothers," the musical revue presented by Musical Theatre West at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach.

Bean, who created the show, is also the brainchild behind "The Marvelous Wonderettes," now wrapping up a long run at the El Portal before a planned move to off-Broadway. His formula is simple: Concoct a flimsy but workmanlike story, assemble a small cast of terrific singers and set them loose on vintage songs, famous and obscure, of a particular period.

In "Brothers," the time frame is World War II, and the lush, big band numbers from that era are perfect fodder for a crowd-pleasing jukebox musical that is heavy on harmonies and light on subject matter.

The organically simple "Wonderettes" treated the fortunes of four young women, first seen at their high school prom and later at their 10-year reunion. "Brothers" is far more contrived. Patrick, Max and Lawrence Andrews (twists on Patty, Maxene and LaVerne, get it?) are brothers who have all, for non-life-threatening reasons, been deemed 4-F. Unable to serve in the military, the guys have been doing their bit as stagehands with the USO. Now in the South Pacific, they're awaiting the arrival of the Andrews Sisters, who are scheduled to perform before the fighting men on the base are shipped off to parts and fates unknown.

For backup singer Peggy Jones (Darcie Roberts), a popular pinup girl, it's a chance to prove she's got real talent. Ditto for the brothers, who are also dying for a chance to get onstage. When the Andrews Sisters are quarantined with chicken pox, the show must go on -- with the Andrews Brothers masquerading as . . . the Andrews Sisters.

That far-fetched premise is so intrinsically specious, it makes a Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney movie seem Shakespearean. Yet, if you are not averse to lighter-than-air entertainment without the ballast of plot, you are likely to have plenty of fun.

Director Nick DeGruccio, musical director John Glaudini and choreographer Roger Castellano orchestrate the prevalent inanity with appropriately military efficiency. Roberts has a dream voice and a sultry stage presence that nicely counterbalance the slapstick, performed with no-holds-barred goofiness by Larry Raben, David Engel and Stan Chandler, who play Patrick, Max and Lawrence, respectively. Consummate professionals all, the cast sells this insubstantial diversion like they are hawking war bonds.

Vintage cartoons and footage, ranging from Kate Smith singing "God Bless America" to a Bugs Bunny cartoon, play before the show and at intermission. But producers missed an obvious bet by not including a snippet of Bugs in drag. That would have jibed perfectly with this antic, cross-dressing, pleasingly silly amusement.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

THE SPIRIT – FRANK MILLER’S NEW HERO!

THE SPIRIT – FRANK MILLER’S NEW HERO!

Billboards have been popping up around town way, way, way in advance of next years highly anticipated filmic version of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. The billboard advertisements are pushing the depression era feel of the original tales, but I’m not sure they’re going to work – the art is all a little too bleak and unfinished to have much impact. Still, with comic book legend Frank Miller, famous for his involvement in such celluloid extravaganzas as Sin City and 300, at the helm of The Spirit (based on the vintage newspaper strip of the same name) good things might be anticipated in the long run.

For the uninitiated, The Spirit, centers on a rookie cop who returns from the dead to fight crime in Central City from the shadows. There is also much off-beat humor involved. The strip and its creator, Will Eisner, have long been revered, but it is definitely an acquired taste.


Frank Miller wrote and directed the upcoming film adaptation, which stars Gabriel Macht as The Spirit and Samuel L. Jackson as his nemesis, The Octopus. Scarlett Johansson is Silken Floss, a femme fatale secretary and accomplice to the Octopus and sexy Eva Mendes stars as the sexy Sand Saref.
According to our blog buddy at www.hemmingwayslounge.blogspot.com (who tipped us to this info), Miller says the film's namesake will be involved in a love triangle with Sand Saref and Ellen Dolan, the daughter of Central City's Police Commissioner Dolan. According to Miller, "The character has a terrifying side to him. This is a man who’s died and came back to life. So it twists into fantasy. And of course there are tons of women in it. There have to be — it’s The Spirit. They’re all in love with him, and he’s in love with all of them."

Filming began in October 2007, with release scheduled for Jan. 16, 2009.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY!


FOR YOUR EYES ONLY!

The Times On-Line has a terrific interactive tour of the For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond exhibition. The page also includes links to all their Bond articles and Top 10 lists. Click here.

A tip of the fedora to www.billcrider.blogspot.com for the link.

LOST JAMES BOND THEME!

LOST JAMES BOND THEME!

Our blog buddy Chris Mills (www.atomic-pulp.blogspot.com) has a post today pointing to Tim Lucas' Video Watchblog site, where Lucas has a fascinating post about the original, unused theme song for the independently-produced 1983 James Bond film, Never Say Never Again, which featured Sean Connery reprising his immortal role of Agent 007.

Like Chris, I've always liked NSNA and consider it far superior to any of the Roger Moore enteries into the Bond Saga. I also agree with Chris that NSNA’s biggest weakness is the insipid musical score by Michel Legrande – possibly the weakest of all Bond scores.

The ‘lost’ theme song, which is very cool, was composed by Stephen Forsyth and Jim Ryan and performed by Phyllis Hyman. You can hear it here.


Lucas' blog explains why this theme was replaced in the finished film by an inferior song by NSNA composer Legrande and singer Lani Hall.

Monday, April 21, 2008

JAMES BOND FILM CAR PLUNGES INTO LAKE GARDA!


JAMES BOND FILM CAR PLUNGES INTO LAKE GARDA!

The car being used in the latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, plunged into a lake in northern Italy while being driven to the set.

Producers say the driver of the Aston Martin was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. James Bond's iconic car was being delivered to the filming unit in heavy rain on Saturday morning when it went off the road on a narrow curve and plunged into Lake Garda.

Italian state TV has shown footage of the smashed, black car being hoisted out of the water.

RICHARD CHOPPING – R.I.P.

RICHARD CHOPPING – R.I.P.

Best known for designing and illustrating the moriginal first editions of Ina Flemings James Bond novels, Richard Chopping past away last Thursday, April 17, 2008.

Painter Francis Bacon first reccomended Chopping to Ian Fleming and he went on to illustrated his first 007 cover From Russia With Love in 1957 based on an original design by Fleming himself.

Chopping eventually illustrated ten Bond covers, including the first Bond continuation novel by John Gardner 1981.

 From Russia with Love (1957)
 Goldfinger (1958)
 For Your Eyes Only (1960)
 Thunderball (1961)
 The Spy Who Loved Me (1962)
 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963)
 You Only Live Twice (1964)
 The Man with the Golden Gun (1965)
 Octopussy & The Living Daylights (1966)
 Licence Renewed (1981)

FEMME NOIR VS. KOLCHAK?

FEMME NOIR VS. KOLCHAK?

Blog buddy Chris Mills is continuing to hit it out of the comic park with his latest Femme Noir and Kolchak Tales titles. Here’s what he has to say about his upcoming releases.

The May Edition of Diamond Comics Distribution's PREVIEWS catalog will be in stores this Wednesday, April 23rd, and will contain the solicitation for the second issue of the Femme Noir: Dark City Diaries miniseries from Ape Entertainment.

As with the first issue, #2 will feature two variant covers: the "A"cover by Joe Staton and Alfredo Lopez, Jr., and a guest cover by Matt Haley (Ghost, Birds of Prey, G.I. Spy). Each version has its own order code (see below) so you can choose in advance which version you want to get.

Here's a brief synopsis of issue #2, "Dead Man's Hand:" A husband's bad luck at cards results in a violent, twisted web of lies, blackmail, murder, and an explosive climax at sea with Port Nocturne's beautiful and deadly protector.

And here's what "Mistah Z" at Project Fanboy had to say about this issue:
This story continues the compelling crime/noir feel that was initiated with the first issue. While archetypical to the genre, I found the story to still manage to be fresh and compelling, giving some pulpy nods to its inspirations. The sub-plotting introduces and develops some "lesser" (for now, at least) characters, drives the main plot, and continues the mystery of "who is Femme Noir?" by trotting out all the possible suspects just long enough to keep you wondering. Joe Staton's art continues to be top notch and, once again, really ties the whole crime/noir vibe together. I'm looking forward to seeing how this mini-series develops.

The Diamond Item Code is MAY083591. (Staton & Lopez)
The Diamond Item Code is MAY083592. (Haley)

Remember, if you can pre-order it from your local comics shop, please do. Every pre-order helps a lot, and shows the store owner that there is interest in the book, which may lead him to order a few more copies for the shelves. Not sure where your closest comic shop is? Try the Comic Shop Locator Service or call 1-888-COMICBOOK.

But if you're unable to do so, the series will also be available from various online retailers, including the Discount Comic Book Service. I've used them myself, and they're a very reliable dealer with good prices.

Also appearing in the May PREVIEWS is the solicitation for the third and final issue of my Kolchak Tales: Night Stalker of the Living Dead miniseries, published by Moonstone Books.


Here's the Solicitation Copy:
KOLCHAK TALES: NIGHT STALKER OF THE LIVING DEAD #3 - Coming in July! by Christopher Mills & Tim Hamilton This is it, Kolchak fans! One more small town that thought "it couldn't happen here" is overrun with the animated corpses of men — and pigs? Hey, zombies are zombies, and they're everywhere! Carl Kolchak just wants to finish his story before lunch, especially since he's on the menu! Just what is the terrible secret behind this little farm town? 32 pages, Full Color, $3.99
The Diamond Item Code is MAY084041.

The first issue has generated some pretty good reviews and fan mail, and I think that Tim Hamilton's art just gets better with every issue. Ditto the colors by Ian Sokolowiski and covers by Dave Aikins.

As far as I can recall, this is the first time I've had more than one comic listed in the PREVIEWS catalog the same month. Here's hoping it's the first of many....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

QUANTUM OF SOLACE U.S. COVER ART!




QUANTUM OF SOLACE U.S. COVER ART!

Amazon.com has added the cover art for the U.S. release of Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories. The collection is set to debut to coincide with the release of the newest James Bond film later this year.

To me the model for the artwork looks suspiciously like Scarlett Johansson...


or Charlize Theron ...