Wednesday, October 15, 2008

David Cook to Perform on SNL

I called it! David Cook announces in this video that he will perform on SNL on November 1.

Okay, it wasn't a hard call to say he'd be a musical guest--he's the winner of American Idol and his album is out on November 18--it's a no-brainer. The real question is whether he will not just be the musical guest but participate in a sketch--in my first post about him, I argued they really ought to.

As much as I want to see him act I really want to hear him sing something off of the new album. This is the tough part for me giving up TV--there are still some clips Hulu and never feature on their site and musical guests from SNL are one of them. Here's to hoping they start doing so, otherwise I may have to resort to YouTube.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

State by State

I heard about this book, State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America, last week on the radio and have been meaning to get it from our library: each of the fifty states is visited and described by a different writer, including Dave Eggers, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anthony Bourdain, Susan Orlean, John Hodgeman and David Rakoff.

If I were to buy this book, I may have to get it from Powell's, rather than Amazon, because they started an interesting program---f you buy from Powell's you can get a 38-minute DVD featuring 19 of the book's 50 authors. Last year, Powell's started Out of the Book films, which were meant to promote both their store and their books--clips would be shown on YouTube, and while full screenings of the short films would be shown at local bookstores.

Other than the sheer joy of reading an anthology of some of the best writers in America talk about either their own home state or a state about which they can write with detached objectivity, there are two reasons I want to read this book. One is that one of the co-editors is Sean Wilsey, who I've adored ever since I read his tell-all book Oh The Glory of It All about his eccentric mother, millionaire father, and evil stepmother. It was his first and last book as a writer, though Wilsey has gone on to become an editor, most notably of McSweeney's.

The second reason is to find out what someone will write about my favorite state, Hawaii. I've not heard of the author who was chosen before, but her name is Tara Bray Smith and she was born and raised in Hawaii. Having found an article about how she was raised by a heroin addict mother for seven years before being taken in by her dad and sent to Dartmouth, I doubt that this is a chapter full of palm trees and hula girls.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Funniest Movie Reviewers on the Web

It's the end of the era: Rogert Ebert has retired from At the Movies and in September, the show relaunched without him (or Richard Roeper, but who cares about that a-hole). While you can still enjoy Ebert as a columnist, and you can go to Rotten Tomatoes to figure out what critics all over the country collectively recommend, I watched At The Movies for the entertaining fights as much as for their recommendations.

So who is going to fill the void of critic as entertainer? Here's my list of the five funniest movie reviewers on the internet.

Best in Print

Hometown, San Francisco, CA
Have you ever seen a movie trailer and pretty much got the gist of the entire movie? That's what this site is about. It's like reading a book report of a third grader who hasn't discovered Cliffs Notes. For instance, here is one complete review: "The Forbidden Kingdom is a kung-fu movie starring the two biggest kung-fu stars of the last 30 years: Jackie Chan and Jet Li. It is about how some people got the opportunity to make a kung-fu movie starring the two biggest kung-fu stars of the last 30 years, and said “Hey you know who should be the star? This guy!” If, like the reviewers at this site, you never plan to see "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." or Transsiberian, it might be worth a visit. Unfortunately, it's primary contributor just committed suicide after actually paying money to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

Hometown: NYC, NY
Todd Rosenberg is best known for his Flash cartoon series "Laid Off" about his adventures after the dot-com bubble burst, but he's also a pretty funny writer. Every weekend he posts a review of the movie, rating it on a scale of zero to five cookies. He will usually start his reviews with a description of the snacks he snuck into the theater that night (wasabi peas and Twizzlers) and sometimes the review ends up being more about a general review of the night--how the line was too long or about crazy people bringing babies to the midnight show of The Dark Knight. But my favorite "reviews" are when he doesn't review the movie at all, as with The Incredible Hulk or I Am Legend, which are better enjoyed after you see the movie.

Best in Video

Hometown: LA, CA
The closest thing to old-school Siskel & Ebert-type banter are the debates between octogenarian Hollywood insiders Marcia Nasatir and Lorenzo Semple Jr. talking about the movies enjoyed by today's youth. Here's their introduction and review of Superbad.

Most of the time, as you might expect, they talk about how they had to trudge to the Paramount lot in the snow, uphill, both ways. Marcia is offended by crass language, violence, and perceived sexism but she is hip to the actors of today. Lorenzo is more apologetic toward recent films but is a huge name dropper--of course someone who has half a century in the biz deserves to. They usually agree on movies they hate (Sex in the City and Iron Man) or like (Pineapple Express and Juno). When they don't agree on a movie, as is the case of the Superbad review, they bicker like a married couple. While I often disagree with their reviews, they are refreshingly immune to hype. If you are entertained by your grandparents arguing at Thanksgiving, or are a grandparent yourself, Reel Geezers are for you.

2. That Guy With The Glasses
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Doug Darien Walker used to be one of the most popular comedians on YouTube. This twentysomething was posting "5-Second Movies" which summarized the plot of popular films (like Rocky). However, one of the studios thought this was a copyright violation and forced YouTube to pull Walker's accounts. Walker, however, quit his job and established his own website,, where he regularly reviews both old eighties and nineties films and cartoons under the persona of The Nostalgia Critic, as well as more recent films as Chester A. Bum.

Chester is not much of a critic in that he has only one level of rating which is "Oh My God, this is the greatest movie I've ever seen in my life!" He then proceeds to act out the entire movie and wonders if the ludicrous plot was all just a drug-induced hallucination. Here's his review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

More consistently funny are Walker's reviews as The Nostalgia Critic, which are over-the-top rants on the films and cartoons of his youth--it's like VH1's I Love the Eighties and Mystery Science Theater 3000. The Critic can best be described as a walking cartoon, as a human Daffy Duck. His tirades aren't dirty minded, but Marcia might find his language salty. The worse the movie, the funnier his reviews, which are mostly of cartoons or movies based on cartoons, such as the He-Man movie, Masters of the Universe:

Unfortunately, most movie critics review recent films, which Walker will do occasionally as The Critic but when he does, the results are hilarious (Pokemon and Cloverfield). If his Nostalgia persona ever reviewed more recent films, he could easily have a spot on a show like Best Week Ever.

1. The Spill Crew
Hometown: Austin, TX
I just found these guys today, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are the funniest movie reviewers on the internet--they just happen to be animated. Korey Coleman had a cable access show in Austin called The Reel Deal for ten years before he made a deal with marketing company MIVA to take his show online at His co-hosts took the pseudonyms of Cyrus, Leon, Carlyle and Co-Host 3000 so as to keep ownership of their names and likenesses, but Korey stayed Korey. They express real opinions about the films (Their motto is "If it's crap, we'll tell you") while being absolutely hilarious--it's like your favorite morning DJs mashed up with Family Guy. Again, Marcia would probably find some of their jokes and visuals offensive, but I was laughing out loud at this review of Nights in Rodanthe.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Most Bizarre Rock Opera You'll Ever See

Where fans of Buffy, Phantom of the Opera, Saw and The Simple Life come together

A few months ago I cam across this viral video of Paris Hilton called "Repo! The Genetic Opera: Zydrate Anatomy"

Yes, I scratched my head, too. Was this like Hilton's other cinematic gems, like House of Wax and The Hottie and the Nottie?

Well, not exactly. I just saw the trailer today:

In case you don't recognize any of the other names, Hilton is singing with some folks with real pipes. Anthony Stewart Head is from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and proved he could sing in it's famous musical episode (he's also the brother of Murray Head, famous for that 80's hit One Night in Bangkok, from the musical Chess). And even more impressive is that they snagged Sarah Brightman, who originated the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.

From the trailer, it looks like a combination of Jekyll and Hyde, Sweeney Todd, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Blade Runner. And it's all directed by the guy who brought you the movie Saw, so expect some gore if you decide to check it out. The few scenes I've seen at the website looks so strange I may just have to rent this in November
Copyright 2008