Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Calamity Song: Parks and Rec - Infinte Jest - Decemberists Collide

If bacon and limited government are what motivate Ron Swanson, it's fair to say that Parks and Recreation showrunner Mike Schur is equally passionate about two things of his own: David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and the indie-rock group the Decemberists. 

 "It is literally my favorite book and they are literally my favorite band," Schur told Vulture, channeling a bit of Chris Traeger. Schur is such a Jest fanboy that when the feature rights to the novel came up for sale a year ago, he snatched them. And when a rep for the group called in search of a music-video director who was a fan of both the group and Wallace's novel, "I was literally frothing at the mouth trying to not seem too desperate," Schur says. Thankfully, Schur got the gig, and the resulting video for "Calamity Song" — which brings to life Eschaton, a tennislike game described in Wallace's novel. Despite having directed a handful of Parks episodes, Schur says this experience was "very different." [New York Magazine]

Colin Meloy stated I wrote “Calamity Song” shortly after I’d finished reading David Foster Wallace’s epic Infinite Jest. The book didn’t so much inspire the song itself, but Wallace’s irreverent and brilliant humor definitely wound its way into the thing. And I had this funny idea that a good video for the song would be a re-creation of the Enfield Tennis Academy’s round of Eschaton — basically, a global thermonuclear crisis re-created on a tennis court — that’s played about a third of the way into the book. Thankfully, after having a good many people balk at the idea, I found a kindred spirit in Michael Schur, a man with an even greater enthusiasm for Wallace’s work than my own. With much adoration and respect to this seminal, genius book, this is what we’ve come up with. I can only hope DFW would be proud.[All Songs Considered NPR.org]

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brighton Rock

Rowan Joffe is making his debut as a feature director with the film noir “Brighton Rock,” which opened Friday. It's based on Graham Greene’s acclaimed 1938 book, which was adapted into a 1947 classic gangster film of the same name starring a young Richard Attenborough. 

The new “Brighton Rock” stars Sam Riley as Pinkie, a vicious young hoodlum trying to make a name for himself among the mobs in Brighton circa 1964. Andrea Riseborough plays Rose, a naive young woman who works as a waitress and becomes involved with Pinkie. Oscar winner Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Andy Serkis also star in the film, which played the Toronto Film Festival last September and was released theatrically in England in February.

Joffe, whose mother is Tony Award-winning actress Jane Lapotaire (“Piaf”), wrote several TV movies in England, as well as the 2007 feature, “28 Weeks Later” and last year’s George Clooney thriller, “The American.” He wrote and directed the 2008 British TV movie “The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall,” which won the British Academy of Film and Television Award for best single drama.

Joffe's father, Roland Joffe, made a big splash internationally, earning best director Oscar nominations for 1984’s “The Killing Fields” and 1985’s “The Mission.” His latest film,  “There Be Dragons,” came out this year.

The Artist: A Silent Film

 The Artist is set in 1920s Hollywood as a swashbuckling fading star (Jean Dujardin) resists the advance of talkies while flirting with a pretty girl (Berenice Bejo) who becomes a superstar of the new medium. It's directed by celebrated French helmer Michel Hazanavicius, whose "OSS" spy movie parodies featured Dujardin. The Artist is itself a silent movie filmed in black-and-white, and in the long-abandoned 1:33 aspect ratio. It reaped huzzahs at Cannes, including best actor laurels for Jean Dujardin.

The Artist is a heart-tugging riff on A Star Is Born. The trailer sums up the plot in a nutshell: Hollywood's most famous leading man of the twenties, played by French star Jean Dujardin, hits hard times and is saved by the love of a good woman and his cute dog.

There's also John Goodman and James Cromwell, lest any turned-off theatergoers think this is too French. The Artist is due in the theaters November 23

Britney Spears: I Wanna Go

Britney Spears' "I Wanna Go" video is, like some of her past clips, an all-out affront to the pesky paparazzi that follow her every move. But, unlike any video she's done previously, this one tackles the issue with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

See, "Go" is essentially one long dream sequence — instigated by the rote questions Spears is forced to endure by members of the media — and, as such, it's packed with pop-culture nods to film and television and whistling dogs too. And that fact not only makes it pretty funny, but it sets it apart from most of Brit's other work. [James Montgomery: MTV.com]
MTV's "I Wanna Go" pop-culture cheat sheet: 

"Crossroads": Epically bad 2002 coming-of-age flick starring Spears herself written, interestingly enough, by "Grey's Anatomy" mastermind Shonda Rhimes. In a rare self-effacing moment, the supposed sequel — "Crossroads 2: Cross Harder" — is teased on a theater marquee in "I Wanna Go." 

E*Trade Baby: Lippy, fiscally savvy infant who stars in an ongoing series of commercials for the financial company. In "I Wanna Go," there's a baby too, and while he doesn't dispense any trading tips, he does whistle, using the same creepy, CGIed mouth effects the E*Trade ads do. 

"Half Baked": Cult 1998 stoner comedy starring Dave Chappelle as a weed-obsessed "master of the custodial arts" and a weed-addled rapper named Sir Smoke-a-lot, who runs with an appropriately stony crew. Said crew includes actor Guillermo Diaz, who quits his crappy fast-food job in truly epic fashion. The scene is replayed verbatim at the beginning of "I Wanna Go," only with Britney delivering the "F--- you, f--- you, f--- you, you're cool and f--- you ... I'm out!" line. As an added bonus, Diaz also co-stars in the video. Truly the most inexplicably awesome part of the entire production. 

"Kill Bill": Ultra-gory 2003 revenge flick written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, it stars Uma Thurman as Beatrix Kiddo, a bride out to avenge her wedding-day massacre. She battles several baddies throughout, including Gogo Yubari, a sadistic 17-year-old who wields a meteor hammer. In "I Wanna Go," Britney uses a microphone in much the same fashion — namely, to bash those pesky paparazzi. 

"The Mickey Mouse Club": Oft-revived Disney variety show/ teen-sploitation factory that famously featured young stars like Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling (!) and, of course, Britney. She pays homage to her Mouseketeer days in "I Wanna Go" by wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a Mickey Mouse skull. 

Seashells: Hard, protective exoskeletons created by sea-dwelling creatures. In "I Wanna Go," Diaz's character gives Britney a handful of them, and since the majority of the clip takes place in her daydream, we're going to get deep here: In dreams, seashells represent security or protection. 

"Terminator 2: Judgment Day": The 1991 sci-fi blockbuster featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular Terminator, sent back in time to protect a young John Connor from the nefarious T-1000. Arnie suffers severe battle damage throughout, including one scene where half his face is blasted off, revealing a glowing cyborg eye beneath his skin. That same scene is shown in "I Wanna Go," though it's the paparazzi who are revealed to be robotic killing machines. 

"Thriller": Iconic 1984 Michael Jackson mini-movie that may very well be the greatest music video ever made. It concludes with a famous freeze frame (and subsequent zoom-in) of MJ with glowing eyes and Vincent Price's legendary cackle. Britney pays tribute to the scene at the ending of "I Wanna Go," though it's Diaz's eyes that are glowing. We're not sure who provides the cackle.

Britney Spears: VMAs Lifetime Achievement Award

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Oops, she did it again! In case you needed another reason to tune into the MTV Video Music Awards this year, the Queen of Pop herself – Britney Spears- will be receiving her lifetime achievement award! No stranger to the VMA stage, Spears single-handedly brought us some of the most memorable VMA performances to date! In addition to receiving this prestigious award, viewers can look forward to a special Britney Spears Tribute which will feature some of today’s biggest pop stars!

2001 MTV Video Music Awards: Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

You don’t want to miss this! Singers confirmed to take the stage for the Britney Spears tribute include: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, and Janet Jackson! From Catholic school girl to seductive flight attendant to sultry ringleader – Spears has created many iconic music videos over the past 12 years. I can’t even begin to imagine the costumes, dance moves, and songs that will come together for this legendary collaboration! Spears is also up for two Moonmen this year with “Till the World Ends” putting her in the running for Best Pop Video and Best Choreography.

Be sure to catch the epic tribute on August 28th at 9/8c on MTV. To hold you over until then, check out the video below showcasing some of Spears’ greatest performances! There’s no question about it, I think the crowd will be saying “gimme, gimme more!”
Note: This post is a re-blog of Christen Andrews' MTV To Honor Britney Spears At The VMAs With Lifetime Achievement Award on 923now.radio.com

Jo Calderone Returns

Returning to the scene is Gaga's male alter-ego Jo Calderone, who is looking bad-ass with her Bob Dylan—styled image while smoking a cigarette. [Note: Gaga's alter-ego has also been describe as Danny Zuko-esque and as Al Pacino-like]

“You will never find what you are looking for in love, if you don’t love yourself,” she tweeted along with the cover picture.

Jo Calderone popped up last year when Lady Gaga posed for a series of photos for renowned photographer Nick Knight. The photos appeared in a men’s fashion editorial for the September issue of Vogue Hommes Japan. [Mindrelaxingideas]

Meanwhile, Lady GaGa is currently facing copyright infringement allegation over her single "Judas". Rebecca Francescatti accused the 25-year-old pop star of ripping off her 1999 track 'Juda'.

Lady Gaga: You and I

Earlier this month Lady Gaga made a promise to her Little Monsters on Twitter, and she delivered. On August 2nd she tweeted, "The Music Video for Yoü and I will be my 1000th Tweet," exciting fans all over the world. 

Gaga was originally supposed to premiere the video for her latest single off "Born This Way" on MTV Thursday night, August 18, but after the video was leaked and quickly taken down Tuesday, Gaga took matters into her own hands. 

Delivering on her promise, the 25-year-old superstar used tweets 997, 998 and 999 to say "F*CK. THURS. DAY." Making the link her 1000th tweet with the words, "You must love all + every part of me, as must I, for this complex + incomprehensible force to be true." [Huffington Post]

Yoü and I is the fourth video off of Gaga's chart-topping Born This Way. Shot by VMA-winning choreographer and creative director Laurieann Gibson, the video sees Gaga dressed as her male alter-ego Jo Calderone and a mermaid named Yuyi.

Gaga tweeted back in June regarding Yuyi: A reincarnation of my birth+artistic spirit. Incubation, awaiting a human lover to save her. YUYI THE MERMAID: tinyurl.com/3fbaadx coming

"You And I comes off like a combo of cheesy romance, cutting room floor footage from some lost John Waters flick and the Nebraska Chainsaw Massacre." [Chart Rigger]

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Florence + the Machine – What the Water Gave Me

The new Florence + the Machine single, What the Water Gave Me was released earlier this week. The complete album will be released in November.

With a title taken from a Frida Kahlo painting and a lyric referencing Virginia Woolf, it's a lofty premise for a pop song – Welch mixing images of suicide with declarations of undying love over fluttering harp and robust guitar. 

Co-written by Francis White, whose past credits include Adele's Chasing Pavements and Will Young's Leave Right Now, it also has enough melody to stop it from collapsing under the weight of its own drama. This delicate balance gives the song its edge. [Michael Cragg - guardian.co.uk ]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Underworld: Awaking

Kate Beckinsale and form-fitting leather go together perfectly, which is why any heterosexual male with a healthy sex drive is eagerly anticipating directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein’s Underworld 4: Awaking. [Beyond Hollywood.com]

Kate Beckinsale, star of the first two films, returns in her lead role as the vampire warrioress Selene, who escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species.

Release Date: January 20, 2012 (3D/2D theaters)
Studio: Screen Gems (Sony)
Måns Mårlind, Björn Stein
Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, Allison Burnett, J. Michael Straczynski
Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Eisley, Charles Dance
MPAA Rating:
Not Available
Official Website:

Atlantic City - HBO Faux Vintage Posters

HBO’s prohibition set drama, Boardwalk Empire is set to premiere September 25th [September 19 was Season 1 premier date]. The hit series will debut 12 new episodes showcasing the heated rivalry brewing in Atlantic City and Chicago.

The Women of Boardwalk Empire

As is pictured here, the series also has no shortage of female talent: Paz de la Huerta steals every scene she’s in as Nucky’s loudmouthed sometime girlfriend; stunning Gretchen Mol plays a local showgirl who shares a long history with Thompson; Aleksa Palladino is the girlfriend of Thompson’s troublemaking former protégé; and Kelly Macdonald is an uncut diamond whom Nucky rescues from her abusive husband [Babes in Mobland By Peter Biskind]

As HBO breathes new life into the Atlantic City of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, Ellen Von Unwerth photographs a beauteous new breed of Jersey molls.

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire the epic HBO series starring Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, and Kelly Macdonald returns this September. The pilot episode was written by Terence Winter (The Sopranos) and directed by Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island). 

The series is based on Nelson Johnson’s Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City.

Through most of the 20th century, Atlantic City was controlled by a powerful partnership of local politicians and racketeers. Funded by payoffs from gambling rooms, bars, and brothels, this corrupt alliance reached full bloom during the reign of Enoch “Nucky” Johnson — the second of three bosses to head the Republican machine that dominated city politics and society.

Boardwalk Empire with 18 Emmy nominations is a critic’s darling having already notched major Golden Globe and SAG Awards. The series is nominated for Best Drama, while Steve Buscemi received a nomination for Best Actor, drama, and Kelly McDonald received the nomination for Best Supporting Actress, drama.