January 31, 2011

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena laughs at your high culture TV

"Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" is a show of glorious contradictions. It is jam packed of geysers of blood and insane violence but on the other hand it shows the toll that violence does on a persons psyche. It's full of graphic nudity and borderline pornographic sex but has some of the most developed romantic relationships on TV. It's plot-lines, while rooted in something borderline campy like "gladiators" are rich with deception, intrigue, and mystery. The characters, who are certainly act larger than life (see above) all have strong motivations and plot-lines both in each episode and the greater season. And finally all these things combine to create something that while you may feel slightly guilty you enjoy it, you cannot wait for each episode air.

"Gods of the Arena" is the prequel to "Blood and Sand" and yes, I know those titles sound bananas but hey it's about Gladiators, so relax huh? Tragically, "Gods of the Arena"  was originally to provide time for "Blood and Sand" star Andy Whitfield to recover from cancer. Unfortunately he hasn't recovered and has since been replaced by Liam McIntyre. It still isn't clear if any version of the titular character will appear in "Gods of the Arena," but I expect him to make a cameo.

Besides everything I mentioned in the first paragraph, the Spartacus shows on Starz (and streaming on netflix) represent a new kind of entertainment. It's bold entertainment that wears no disguise as it appeals to people's lust for violence, sex, and mayhem. It's the kind of entertainment that doesn't care if you think it's trashy, it knows that you'll love it either way.

January 27, 2011

Because I'm Not At Sundance Let's Talk About Action Movies

Between all the parties and Kevin Smith meltdowns the Sundance film festival sounds like a great time. There is lots of fresh buzz coming out of the festival regarding films like "Take Shelter," "Homework," and "Martha May Marcy Marlene" and chilling in a mountain town watching movies sounds like a good time. Alas, I'm confident I'll be chilling with Jeremiah Johnson soon, but in the meantime let's take a look at the world of action movies to see what's going on.

Opening on Friday is the Jason Statham / Ben Foster action remake called "The Mechanic" and now this isn't a "Fast and the Furious" spin off, it's an action movie where the two dudes above regulate on lots and lots of bad dudes. That being said, in a recent interview, Foster was asked by the Playlist blog why he took the role, his response: 

“I just got a call saying, ‘Do you want to blow up stuff with Jason Statham?’” says Foster of the being offered the somewhat unlikely part. “It sounded like a really good idea.”

Yes! I wish all actors would be this forthcoming. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be an action movie star. Yeah go stand over there, we're gonna blow up some shit behind you and then you get to make out with this hot babe. Uhhh, ok, sounds great. But anyway, The Mechanic comes out tomorrow and I may or may not go see it, depends on my need for violence and lack of plot on Saturday.

In other action news, everyone is sending me this clip from this zany Bollywood film about a cyber who can become a snake/ball/robot/clone/wall/and everything else. Check it out below

This clip comes from the film "Enthiran" which is the biggest blockbuster in Indian film history. I gotta say the raw imagination in this film blows every American film out of the water recently. Cameron, nice you have created a fictional world with blue people, this director S. Shankar is doing things wayyyyyy more wild than you, get your robot game up for Avatar 2 and 3.

That's all I have for now, in the meantime I'll be here, counting down the days til DRIVE ANGRY 3D

January 24, 2011

Stream On: Fearless (1993)

I'm introducing a new feature here on THISLALIFE called "Stream On." Here I will be highlighting films that available on NETFLIX Instant Streaming which if you don't' have it, is an incredible service. No, Netflix is not paying me to write these reviews, I just want to let you know what's out there at the push of button.

Director Peter Weir is not a household name for people of my generation. Even though he directed "The Truman Show," and he has been nominated for an Oscar five times, his name is not as common place as other directors. With his new film "The Way Back" in theaters now, I was encouraged to seek his film "Fearless" as an example of his talents. And man, was I surprised.

The central even of the film is a plane crash where Bridges survives and help many people escape the fiery wreckage. Because he accepted his own mortality on the plane, his life post crash is marred by a bizarre grief infused enlightenment.  His new attitude takes a tole on his relationships with his family, business partners, and himself. While this does allow Bridges to do some of his trademark dude/chill/man act, he is actually way more layered here, particularly in his scenes with fellow crash survivors.

Not many films these days really examine the concept of mortality (unless you're dealing with dreams man!) and the films courageous exploration is admirable and succeeds. The plane crash is also one of the most terrifying and beautiful shot sequences I have ever seen, but that's all I'll say about that. A bonus highlight is the strong supporting cast that surrounds Bridges, including Rosie Perez and a young Benecio Del Toro.

I encourage you to seek the film if you want a film that explores that life, death, and how it effects us all. It's also got a hell of a performance from Bridges. Stream on!

January 21, 2011

Antoine Dodson Magically Takes You Into The Weekend

Thanks to thislalife reader Brandon for the tip!

Racing Turtles In This LA Life

Don't worry, I haven't become a seedy underworld mexican cock fighting addict. That being said these turtle races I went to last night were addicting. Turtle racing? What? Yeah you heard me. I'm taking a break from bringing you that cutting edge entertainment news to talk about an aspect of THIS LA LIFE that I've frequently heard of, but never experienced, until now.

Located on the seminal classic road of Lincoln blvd, the races take place at a bar called Brennan's Pub in Santa Monica/Venice/Marina Del Rey (aka, it's close to the ocean). Upon arrival to the joint you're assaulted with the sounds of a band ripping on 80's cover songs, which isn't a bad thing (Van Halen is the shit!). However, that's not the main draw, that would be the turtle racing syndicate in the back.

Basically the crowd gathers around the circle seen above. People can bring their own turtles or rent them from the establishment. Then each owner has to put the turtle in the white circle which has temporary pen around it (note the bar/drunk male patrons encourage women to put the turtles in the circle without bending their knees....figure this out). The pen is lifted and the turtles scramble for the ooze, I mean the outside of the circle, and yes some turtles move with mutant like speed.

Sounds....ok? I left one key detail out, if anyone points at the turtle, they get fined (with a max fine of $50 for repeat pointers). A point means the restart to the race, and let's just say some turtles that may be getting all Leonardo beast mode suddenly become nerdy ass Donatello's that don't want to move. You never know what you're gonna get with these four legged shelled frogs. All in all it's a great and addicting LA experience and a memorable part of THIS LA LIFE

January 19, 2011


Found this via Aint It Cool. Space....

Breaking News Alert: Anne Hathaway is Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, Tom Hardy aka Bronson is Bane

Massive news dropping this morning via /film. Anne Hathaway will be playing Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in "The Dark Knight Rises" and Tom Hardy will be playing Bane as well. Both villains have been on the screen before and both are follow the "grounded in reality" theme that the Nolan Batman films follow. Hit the hyper links for more information on each character

January 18, 2011

Looking Past the Silly Costumes in X:Men First Class

While you may have never guessed it, besides "Thor," "Captain America," and to some extent "Green Lantern" there is another major super hero movie this summer: "X-Men:First Class." Yes it's about the X-Men, and no, at this point in time Wolverine will not be in it.  And yes it's a prequel/reboot/redo. Did you know about that?

The film which for some reason wasn't at Comic Con last year takes places in the groovy 60s and focuses on the relationship between Magneto (Michael Fassbender on the left) and Professor X (James McAvoy on the right). Needless to say they aren't pals at the end of the film. Other mutants make appearances with Beast and Mystique in their younger forms appearing in the film.

Now before you write the film off for it's silly costumes keep in mind the original X-Men film in 2000 had a memorable prologue that showed a young Magneto during the Holocaust. In my opinion the films never lived up to this opening and this prequel could be that chance. Let's just hope that we don't miss Wolverine too much.

Now we have 3 new pictures from the film courtesy of scoop machine Geoff Boucher at Hero Complex at the LA TIMES (All photos belong to LA TIMES)
Xavier and Magneto
Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw (Look em up on Wikipedia)
The Team and some killer coats

January 14, 2011

Getting Buck In The Kitchen With Epic Meal Time (Featuring Special Guest Blogger KBEEZEATS

When it comes to cooking, I'm a master of quesadillas, nachos, and spaghettios. This summer I added pesto to my arsenal, but honestly my weapon supply is nowhere needed Ahnuld levels (Great video there). However, the fellows over at EPIC MEAL TIME have enough culinary firepower to bust open the worlds guts. My brother, the legendary Joe Francis tipped me off to these guys, and as far as I can tell they are a rare breed.

Now I don't watch culinary shows (I'd rather just it food yo) and I don't consider myself to be a foodie, I mean I know when food is good, but when it comes down to the minutia I'm clueless. Luckily my friend Kaelin, an operation managers at BlackboardEats and the editor of Hungry LA: 10th Anniversay Edition is a foodie and really knows her stuff. When I directed her to the cooking video above, she dropped this culinary knowledge:
EpicMealTime is like a top chef supermarket challenge, Man v. Food,
and a instructional video for thisiswhyyourefat.com that was shot in
the rich-boy frat house on campus where Four Loko is served with every
meal. While the aggro music, overuse of pork products, and single
volume (read: loud) of its host gives the video a macho feel, the
attention to detail with the bacon trough and cup (A for
presentation), the use of Miss Vickie's japaleno chips as breading for
the mozzarella sticks and the fact the he actually cooked chili,
belies his actual culinary interest. I'm excited (and disgusted) to
see what this guy comes up with next.

The Chili Four Loko is not the only insane concoction that is featured on the youtube page. Believe me there are more, and most of them involve bacon. That's right hipsters who worship bacon, time to get your bacon game up. These guys promise to "make your dreams come true and then eat them" and I believe them. It's like they are aliens from another universe where the aliens worship Julia Child and Miss Dash (CHI CITY MENG!). Sounds like a tasty planet.

"This one is for you Queen Julia"

January 13, 2011

First Picture Of Andrew Garfield As SPIDERMAN

This has a very "Batman Begins" vibe to it (Via Deadline)

Can The RZA Save Russell Crowe?

Man, I remember the first time I saw Gladiator like the first time I had chicken nuggets. Now while I used to live quite a lavish life with the deez, ultimately I turned away from them. Russell Crowe is no different. The dude was literally 100,000% badass in "Gladiator" and since then he has fallen from the throne. Sure "Robin Hood" was dope, but shooting arrows through people's throats is child's play compared to chopping off a dude's head off scissor style, fighting tigers (and men with silver tigers on their heads) and saving the empire. His most recent film, "The Next 3 Days" had him playing marshmallowed professor who tries to bust his wife out of the slammer. I take it there were no chariot battles with sword flips or bad guys getting diced up in that film.

Now I'm not sure exactly what happened to the man who was Maximus. Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times thinks he's downfall as an action star is a reflection of the times. Looking at his most recent films, perhaps he just made some choices. Either way he's in a rough spot. However, could one man save him? Could one dude, so flipping cool simply turn his career around? And is that a man a rapper, producer, chess player, author, and Shaolin assassin known as the RZA?

The RZA may be known to some of my readers from his epic past with the rap group The Wu-Tang Clan. He is one the key producers and creative forces in the group, but he also is an actor, appearing in numerous films from auteurs like Tony Scott, Judd Apatow, and Jim Jarmusch. And now he can add "directing" to his list of talents. He is currently shooting "The Man With The Iron Fist" in China and Crowe is appearing in the film. Whaaaaaaat? Yeah, that's right, Crowe is going Kung Fu and I'm excited. Not super pumped, but excited.

The RZA is clearly cooler custom made coca cola popsicles and if anyone is going to put the max volume back in Maximus, it's going to be him. Here's hoping that Crowe gets back to slicing up bad guys, and since this is a kung fu joint, maybe he wont' even need swords. He'll use his hands, cause that would be "Gladiator" level badass.

January 11, 2011

Bond is Back! November 2012 Release Date Set!

In a very welcome announcement, MGM has revealed that the next Bond film will come out (with everything else) in 2012, with a Nov. 12th date being targeted. The new film will be directed by Sam Mendes, yes the same Sam Mendes that made "American Beauty," but also the same director that has worked with Bond actor Daniel Craig in "Road To Perdition," a film with some bruising action scenes.

While I famously stated that "Quantum of Solace" will be as good as "The Dark Knight" before it came out (I was wayyyy wrong), I still have high hopes for these Bond films. Craig always brings that dangerous intensity to the role and I actually prefer the brutal bond over the suave Bond. Perhaps that's just me projecting how much I miss Jack Bauer, jesus, I miss 24.

Anyway, there were reports of Frieda Pinto and Oliva Wilde being considered as Bond girls, so we will have to see if those rumors come together. But for now, welcome back Mr. Bond!

January 10, 2011

Showtime's Shameless & The Romanticism of Poverty

Last night, the new Showtime series "Shameless" premiered on flat screen TV's all across America. The show which is based on a British series of similar format and title tells the story of a Chicago family struggling to get by. Characters work multiple jobs, water down their milk, and turn their clothes inside out when they are dirty. It's clear they are poor. But why then is the life they lead so romanticized?

The initial episode which aired last night was shot over a year ago, but it's airing could not have been more timely. In his recent article in the New York Times, film critic A.O. Scott argued the entertainment is now more conscious of "class" more than ever before. Films like "The Fighter," "Winter's Bone," and to some extent "The Social Network" are about characters stuck in a lower class and battling it. "Shameless" fits this mold as well, the characters do not live in a mansion, nor do they in a tent, yet they are a far cry away from the typical affluence portrayed in family dramas on television.

By all accounts the show is great. The actors from the littlest baby with his confused stare to William H. Macy's drunken ramblings,  all do great work, and the show's stylized directions works great with it's funny, yet touching story lines. My one gripe of the show is the characters at least at this point don't seem that frustrated with their situation. The rarely express disdain with their lives and they seem content to just party their problems away, as they do in the finale of the episode. If this is the new American family, stuck in middle class, away from the shiny kitchen, they why aren't they all struggling to get up, and get get out to a better life. Isn't that America is all about? Whoah, that's a question for another post.

January 7, 2011

Arnold This Weekend

Arnold, verb - To partake in merriment so hard you feel able to fight alien bounty hunters, military dictators, or Sinbad the comedian.

The Quiet Savagery of "Never Let Me Go"

Sometimes a film can sneak up on you and before you know it, you are left a psychologically drained mess questioning your own existence. "Never Let Me Go" is a film like that. Based on the book by Kazuo Ishiguro, the film was released in theaters last year and has silently faded away. Even though it has two Academy Award nominated actresses with Kiera Knightley and Carey Muligan, and rising star and Spiderman to be Andrew Garfield, it doesn't seem to have any heat in the awards race either. It's really a shame because the film is a well written, expertly acted, moving morality tale.

Explaining the film is tough without spoiling it, but basically the film is about three young people (mentioned above) and how they cope with the reality of their existence. What is that reality? Basically they are clones who's organs will be harvested before they're 30. Yeah, I know, it's not exactly an uplifting tale like "The Fighter" or "The King's Speech," but it definitely made me examine my own personal views regarding medical science, faith, and what it really means to be human. In other words, this is one heady ass movie.

And I know what you're saying, every movie that isn't "Piranha 3D" is heady to you TPG. But seriously, while other movies like "Inception" and "Black Swan" might blow you mind to pieces, "Never Let Me Go" will rattle your soul. This soul rattling is probably the reason that the film has pretty much already been forgotten. The questions the film presents are thought provoking but ultimately extremely uncomfortable.

How far would you go to stay healthy?
Are stem cells conscious?
Where do you stand on cloning for medical gain?
What is medical gain?

These are only a mere sampling of the questions the film presents. I encourage you to track the film down when it comes out on DVD in February. Just be ready to be floored, and you might wanna have something happy planned for after. Like what, I don't know, maybe Piranha 3D.

January 6, 2011

Life The Movie: Pentagon Official's Body in Landfill

In the midst of reports of birds falling out of the sky, fish dying en masse, an incredible homeless radio announcer, and the LOST numbers almost winning the lottery an very interesting story has surfaced. According to reports, John P. Wheeler, a Pentagon official was found dead, but it's not like he was dead in his apartment. His body was recovered in a landfill in Delaware.

While I don't want to discredit Mr. Wheeler's legacy or speak ill will of him during his family's grievance this story sounds like it's straight out of a movie.  Mr Wheeler worked with Mitre Corp, a private corporation with military contracts and was a huge supporter of the Vietnam war memorial. According to this report his behavior at the end of the his life was increasingly erratic. Bodies in landfill's are usually clear signs that someone didn't want it to get found. Check out this classic scene from the Departed.

Fitzy: I spent all fucking night dragging the poor bastard in there. Tell me how they find him so fast? Somebody walking a fucking dog ? What fucking size a dog is that? Has to be a big fucking dog, man. I spent all night doing it man. 
[pause, Frank stares at him] 
Fitzy: I'm embarrassed. I still don't believe he was a cop, I don't believe it. 
Frank Costello: The COPS... are saying he's a cop... so I won't look for the cop. Are you soft, Fitz? When I tell you... to dump a body in the marsh, you dump him *IN* the marsh. Not where some guy from John Hancock goes every Thursday

Sounds too me like someone in The Pentagon / Mitre Corp is having a Frank Costello moment. And if someone is having a Costello moment then some ambitious young aide is starting to put the pieces together and ask questions. Chances are people are telling that young aide that the answers to his questions are a little bit above his "pay grade." There also might be a trip to Columbia, why Columbia? Clearly you haven't seen the underrated Clear and Present Danger. Either way, the death of Mr. Wheeler is ripped from the pages of a Hollywood thriller, and just goes to show that, life is a movie.

January 4, 2011

First Peter Parker Pictures Drop

The first photos (via Geektyrant) of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have leaked from the set of Spider-Man. After watching the superb "Never Let Me Go" and relating to Garfield's character in "The Social Network," I'm thrilled that he is tackling a mega super-hero and this looks pretty accurate for Peter Parker. Nevertheless here is a pic from the comic (nerds will recognize this image). Does he match up to the comics? Does it matter?

Amazing Radio Voice Guy in Columbus

Wow, that's all I gotta say, someone get this dude a job right away.

January 3, 2011

RIP Pete Postlethwaite

Tough news to start of 2011. Pete Postlethwaite, a legendary actor in my book passed away yesterday. Audiences may not know him by name, but you may recognize his face. Damn, this sucks.

I first became aware of him in 1996 childhood classic "DragonHeart." For those of you that don't remember this film involves Pete, Dennis Quaid as a Knight, a dragon voiced by Sean Connery, and an evil prince/king played by David Thewlis (aka Professor Lupin). He then followed that up with the memorable role of the king of the hunters in "Jurassic Park: The Lost World." These two movies both involved massive lizards and Postlethwaite, but he was more than that.

 He tore it up in "The Usual Suspects" and more recently played key roles in "Inception" and "The Town." His great talent will be missed.