The folks at Harmonix, the makers of Rock Band is going to put The Who‘s upcoming Superbowl Mashup on XBLA for 160 points ($1.99). The band recorded a special version of their upcoming half time show just for us Plastic Instrument players. Frankly it’s a pretty terrible release. It didn’t say if it’s coming to the PS3 or exactly when this song will be or exactly what the mashup is going to be – but you can pretty much guess it’ll be combination of “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Eminence Front,” “Going Mobile,” “Leaving Here,” “Magic Bus,” “My Generation,” and “Real Good Looking Boy.” The main takeaway is, you’ll be able to play The Who’s Super Bowl performance. How cool is that?
Even though it was filmed before the global economy went south, Confessions of a Shopaholic is – however accidentally – definitely a metaphor for the recession on a personal level – and Jerry Bruckheimer’s anti-Bruckheimer film [the only explosions are those of an emotional nature] is a solid romantic comedy that nears, but doesn’t quite reach, screwball proportions.
Rebecca Bloomwood [Isla Fisher] loves to shop. When she shops, the world seems better, brighter somehow. Unfortunately, that feeling wears off and she has to shop again. Her life becomes complicated by a series of events: she loses her job; someone named Derek Smeath [Robert Stanton] is hounding her for payment on one of her twelve credit cards]; and she has to, somehow, feign glee at the bridesmaid dress she must wear to her best friend and roommate’s wedding.
A chance encounter at a hot dog vendor gives her her first lesson in finance and features a “meet cute” with Luke Brandon [Hugh Dancy], who will turn out to be very important in her transformation from credit goose to worthwhile swan. Brandon’s Successful Saving magazine will be Rebecca’s first stop on the journey from unemployment to celebrated columnist for the ultimate fashion magazine, Alette. Surprisingly, she turns out to have a knack for putting financial concepts into metaphors that make the subject fun – boosting Successful Saving’s impact, prestige and [it would seem] circulation.
At first, nothing seems to be able to stop Rebecca from shopping – not even attending Shopaholics Anonymous meetings. Like the money men on Wall Street, who kept spending as indicators grew telling them to stop, Rebecca carries on – until she gets precisely what she deserves in the most inconvenient manner possible. It’s here that the metaphor splinters a bit – because, even as we wait for the Wall Street folks to become responsible, Rebecca does indeed learn her lesson [the hows and whys of which you will not learn here].
There are two main plotlines to Confessions: Rebecca’s having to deal with her finances and the girl-meets-boy, girl-screws-things-up-with-boy, girl-gets-boy plot. For Confessions, the surprises don’t arise from the results as much as they do from the events that take place along the way [as when Rebecca has to decide between a stylish dress for a TV appearance and her bridesmaid’s dress].
The script [by Tracey Jackson, Tim Firth and Kayla Alpert] is light and breezy, for the most part, but knows just when to hit an emotional note. P.J. Hogan’s [Muriel’s Wedding] direction is best described as deft. He has a good instinct not just for laughs, but for secondary and even tertiary bits that support rather than detract from the film – and he gets just the right performances from his cast.
Speaking of the cast: Isla Fisher is marvelous as Rebecca; Hugh Dancy is the second coming of Hugh Grant as Luke, and Krysten Ritter is delightfully odd as Rebecca’s best friend, Suze. John Goodman and Joan Cusack are equally terrific as Rebecca’s supportive parents, and the members of the Shopaholics Anonymous group more than hold up their sections of the film – especially ex-NBA star John Salley’s D. Freak, and Wendy Malik’s [Just Shoot Me] Miss Korch.
Confessions of a Shopaholic may have started out as a standard, if well done, romantic comedy but has become – however inadvertently – a metaphor. It succeeds on both levels. Admirably.
Final Grade: B+
As the stunning [in more ways than one] and deadly Fiona in USA’s Burn Notice, Gabrielle Anwar finds herself playing a character whose first response to problems is to shoot them, or blow them up. During a teleconference call earlier today, she got a chance to talk about Fiona’s penchant for violence and… shall we say unusual… relationship with burnt spy, Michael Weston [Jeffrey Donovan].
When I scored a pass to see My Bloody Valentine 3-D, I wasn’t sure it was a good thing – but since I went into theater with absolutely no expectation, I was pleasantly surprised. I never saw the original, but this new version – written by Todd Farmer [from a story by Stephen Miller and the original screenplay by John Beaird] and directed by Patrick Lussier – contains all the elements of a classic horror movie: gore, mutilations, laughs, a genuine mystery and some gratuitous nudity.
More than twenty years ago, a miner named Harry Warden survived a mine collapse by killing the other miners trapped with him in order to make what little oxygen remained last until he could be rescued. Even so, he came out of the mine in a coma. A year later, he came out of the coma and when on a killing spree – first at the hospital, then back at the mine where a bunch of teenagers were partying in the closed tunnel. Only four of the teens survived: Tom Hanniger [Jensen Ackles], whose father owned the mine and who left town right afterward; Sarah [Jaime King], Tom’s girlfriend who winds up married to Axel Palmer [Kerr Smith], who is now sheriff, and Irene [Betsy Rue], who now has a thing for truck drivers [and provides the aforementioned gratuitous nudity]. Warden is reported dead – killed by then Sheriff Burke [Tom Atkins].
Now, ten years later, Tom has finally returned to town to sell his share in the mine’s ownership and everyone is unhappy about that because if the mine closes, the town dies. And the killings begin again. Since unreported details are accurate, the townsfolk begin to suspect that Warden is back. As the killing mount, we’re given scenes that implicate former miners, Tom and even Sheriff Palmer.
Director Lussier keeps things moving along at a fast enough clip that any plotholes are skimmed over before we can recognize them as such. The 3-D effects are frequently dazzling right from the second the Lionsgate logo appears [when the audience oohs and ahhs over the studio logo/introduction, you know the effects are special] and are used in ways both subtle and sledgehammer obvious [it’s the mix that makes the more obvious effects work.
The entire cast is better than average, which gives the film just enough humanity to make the horror work, and the resolution is shrewdly realized. Both Ackles and Smith are given more to do than they usually display [or in Smith’s case, got to do] on their hit TV series and they tackle their roles with enthusiasm.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D is one of the better horror movies of the last several years because it knows what it is and isn’t afraid to be just that. In that regard, it shares a lot with some of the great horror films of the seventies and eighties. It may not be the groundbreaker that Halloween and Friday the 13th were, but it’s better than most of the raft of imitators that followed them. In short, it’s good, bloody, sexy fun.
Final Grade: B-
Lauren Conrad, star of MTV’s highest-rated series “The Hills,” and an emerging talent in the world of fashion design, has partnered with College Tonight, Inc., an online community and networking platform for the college market, founded to promote social activity in the real world, away from the computer. Lauren Conrad’s popularity and influence are evidenced by the demand for her endorsements by companies like College Tonight and her work as spokesperson for mark., the youth-oriented cosmetics line from Avon. Conrad is excited to be a part of College Tonight’s directive to its student and young alumni members — “Get On, Get Up, Get Out” – and feels that it is a natural fit for her, both on screen and off.
On “The Hills,” Conrad knows that viewers follow her and her friends through their highly social lives. Off-camera, however Conrad is a student at The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles and recently launched the The Lauren Conrad Collection for which she is head designer.