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And so, at last, we arrive at my final Best of 2013 list!  I hope you all enjoyed the rest of my lists.  Click here for part one of The Top 15 Movies of 2013, and here for part two and here for part three.  Click here for part one of The Top 10 Episodes of TV of 2013, and here for part two.  Click here for part one of The Top 15 Comic Book Series of 2013, and here for part two.

And now, without any further delay, let’s dive into my list of the Top Ten DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2013:

10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower Had I seen this film in 2012 when it was released, it surely would have made it onto my Best Movies of 2012 list.  Since I missed including this touching, heartbreaking film on that list last year, I sort of had to find a way to cheat and include it on one of my Best of 2013 lists!  This film has stuck with me deeply since I saw it.  It’s surely one of the greatest coming-of-age stories I have ever seen, masterfully adapted for the screen by Steven Chbosky, based on his own novel of the same name (which I now desperately need to read).  Each one of the kids in the film is portrayed by a phenomenal actor/actress: Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson, Mae Whitman, and a score of others, not to mention some great adults in supporting roles such as Paul Rudd, Joan Cusack, Dylan McDermott, and Kate Walsh.  No child should have to go through what Charlie has to go through in this story, but should god forbid that happen, I hope he/she is blessed with friends as wonderful as Sam, Patrick, and their gang.  And while I referred to “cheating” a moment ago by including this film on this DVD list, the blu-ray is in fact phenomenal, with some great behind-the-scenes stuff and two magnificent commentaries, one by Mr. Chbosky alone and one by Chbosky and all the kids.  (Click here for my original review.)

9. The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 & The Flashpoint Paradox These two direct-to-DVD animated DCU projects were both very strong.  At the start of the year we got the second half of the animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s Batman masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns.  Published in 1986, this dark, psychological tale is the seminal “Last Batman Story,” in which an aged Bruce Wayne once again dons the cape and cowl in an attempt to reclaim a Gotham City without hope.  Mr. Miller’s work has been heavily mined for inspiration by … [continued]

 

This is fantastic: Tom Hiddleston (who played Loki in both Thor movies and The Avengers) doing a phneomenal impression of Owen Wilson, had Owen been cast as Loki.  Check this out.

West Wing fans!  Did you see this clip of Allison Janney performing The Jackal on The Arsenio Hall Show?  This is an obscure reference, but one that any die-hard West Wing fan will appreciate:

This blog from Kevin Smith gives an intriguing update on his fast-developed, absolutely bonkers weird-sounding new movie, Tusk.  Click here for even more info.  Despite being an enormous fan of Kevin Smith, I still haven’t seen Red State.  I want to see it, for sure, since I can’t imagine not having seen one of Mr. Smith’s films, but it just doesn’t interest me that much.  So far, I am bummed to say that Tusk is trending the same way, but it’s such a loony concept that I am intrigued.  It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

This is a great short little retrospective of Jim Henson’s life and work.  I very much want to read Brian Jay Jones’ biography of Jim Henson, it sounds like a really fascinating book.

OK, this is a very geeky link, but I loved this.  An enterprising photoshopper has created images showing how awesome the Star Trek: The Next Generation cast would have looked in Original Series uniforms.  So great.

There are a lot of stories cropping up about behind-the-scenes issues on the pre-production of Star Wars: Episode VII.  Seems Disney is pushing for that 2015 release date, come hell or high water.  More info here.  I hope it’s all just talk.  I don’t have much hope that I will ever again in my lifetime see a great Star Wars film, but that little ember of hope does still exist, deep inside me.  Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe!

Chris Claremont is, I would argue, single-handedly responsible for the incredible popularity of the X-Men today.  Mr. Claremont wrote The Uncanny X-Men comic book, and a truck-load of spinoffs and mini-series and annuals and other special events, for a jaw-dropping seventeen years, from the ’70s into the ’90s.  (In one of the great injustices of the medium’s history, he was sort of pushed off of the series when his work began to be overshadowed by the popularity of the superstar artists working at Marvel in those days.)  A new documentary about his career — focusing on that incredible seventeen year run on the X-Men — has just been released, and I am dying to see it.  This is a fantastic article about a recent screening of the film, followed by a Q & A [continued]

 

And so, at last, we arrive at my final Best of 2012 list!  I hope you enjoyed the rest of my lists.  You can follow these links to see my Top 15 Movies of 2012: click here for part one, here for part two, and here for part three.  Click here for part one of my Top 15 Comic Book Series of 2012, and here for part two.  And finally, you can click here for part one of my Top 10 Episodes of TV of 2012, and here for part two.

And now, my final list: the Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2012!

10. Great documentaries for not-so-great films: Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises Both of these films disappointed me when I saw them.  The Dark Knight is an extremely well-made film and a great super-hero epic, but it’s a big let-down after the magnificence that was The Dark Knight.  And Prometheus was just a catastrophe.  Nevertheless, the blu-rays of both films contained terrific feature-length documentaries.  Prometheus’ special features are particularly compelling — the 220-minute documentary “Furious Gods: The Making of Prometheus” (directed by Charles de Lauzirika) is extraordinary.  Is it crazy to be so interested in the behind-the-scenes stories of two films that ultimately disappointed me?  Maybe, but I loved these glimpses behind the curtains.

9. Jay and Silent Bob Get Old: Tea-Bagging in the UK Every few years, Kevin Smith releases a DVD collection of some of his Q&A  sessions, and I always gobble them up.  None have topped the original An Evening With Kevin Smith DVD from 2002, but Mr. Smith’s skill as a spinner-of-yarns is unparalleled, and I adore listening to his lengthy, raunchy, hilarious answers to the audience’s questions about his life, his film-making, and all sorts of other details of his personal life.  (I even saw Mr. Smith live, in Boston, a few years ago!)  This latest DVD is a recording of some of the “Smodcast” podcasts that Mr. Smith recorded with his “hetero life-mate” Jason Mewes, on tour in England.  These shows are nowhere near as great as some of the previous Q&A DVDs — I like Jason Mewes, but I think Mr. Smith is much funnier solo — but these shows are still a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the frank, friendly interplay between Mr. Smith and Mr. Mewes.

8. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 – This animated adaptation of Frank Miller’s seminal comic book from 1986 is one of the best of Bruce Timm’s recent direct-to-DVD animated films.  With solid (though not spectacular) animation and a phenomenal voice cast, I was very impressed … [continued]

 

The Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2011!

Click here for my list of the Top 15 Movies of 2011: part one, part two, and part three, and here for my list of the Top 15 Comic Book Series of 2011: part one, and part two.

Now let’s dig into my list of the Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2011!

10.  The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: Series One As a huge fan of Arrested Development, this six-episode IFC series that reunited Will Arnett (Gob Bluth) and David Cross (Tobias Funke) was something of a disappointment.  More agonizingly awkward than actually funny, it’s on this list because that fact that this weird, short little series exists at all on DVD is one of the reasons that I love this format!  I had missed this series when it aired on IFC, so I was so pleased that it was released on DVD.  The show isn’t without merit, but it’s nowhere near the genius of the late, great (and now possible resurrected!) Arrested Development.

9.  Marvel’s super-hero movie blu-rays: Thor, Captain America: The First Adventure, and X-Men: First Class I praised these three Marvel super-hero movies in my list of the Top 10 Movies of 2011, and I was equally taken by their blu-ray releases.  Not only do all three films look absolutely gorgeous on blu-ray, but all three are accompanied by some fairly in-depth featurettes exploring all aspects of the films’ production.  None of these are super-elaborate special editions, and I do wish that, for all of these films, the featurettes had been edited together into one longer, comprehensive making-of documentary.  But these are very, very solid releases, with a lot for fans of these films to dig into.  Extra props for the wonderful “Marvel One-Shot” shorts included on the Thor and Captain America discs, that further connect the Marvel films leading up to The Avengers.

8.  Louie: Season 1 I’d been reading about this show for a while, and having now finally watched the season one set I can say that this show deserves all the praise it’s been getting, and more.  In it’s structure, the show resembles Seinfeld: clips of Louie C. K. performing stand-up are intercut with vignettes of his life.  But in other respects the show is the exact opposite of Seinfeld.  Whereas on Seinfeld all of the story-lines would wind up beautifully dovetailing by the end, on Louie the individual scenes on the show often have little or nothing to do with one another.  We’ll watch a seven-minute sequence of Louie and his buddies playing poker, and then after some more stand-up we’ll shift to an entirely different scene … [continued]

 

The Worst Movie Endings of All Time

A few days ago, Devin Faraci wrote a great piece over on Badassdigest.com (a really phenomenal site that I can’t recommend highly enough) about the terrible ending of the classic Bill Murray film, Stripes.

Mr. Faraci is right on the nose — the last 30 or so minutes of Stripes are really quite terrible.  Now, I must admit that I’m not a huge fan of the first two-thirds of Stripes, either.  I think I saw the film way too late in life to really connect with it the way other children of the eighties did.  Despite my long-held love for Bill Murray’s movies of the 1980′s (epitomized by my near fanatical worship of Ghostbusters), somehow I missed Stripes throughout my childhood — I only finally saw it when I was in college, and by then I just didn’t find it all that funny.

But Mr. Faraci’s article got me thinking about other good films undone by their endings… and wondering if there any films, as Mr. Faraci asks, whose first two-thirds are so good that I forgive their weak ending?

(Let me state that, obviously, SPOILERS LIE AHEAD for the films under discussion!!)

Let’s begin with some films that start off strong but are, in my opinion, completely ruined by their terrible endings:

No Country for Old Men — I was totally engrossed in this tense, beautiful film for much of its run-time, but the ending totally sunk my enjoyment.  After following the character of Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) throughout the film, and totally investing in him, I couldn’t believe how that character was completely abandoned and ignored in the final few minutes of the movie.  The film’s title — No Country for Old Men — and the way the end of the film focuses on Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) indicates to me that the Coen Brothers intended the film to be the Sheriff’s story, not Llewelyn’s.  But the movie never earns that.  It never shows us the message given by its title, and Tommy Lee Jones’ monologue in the last scene.  What was it about the death of Llewelyn Moss that so affected Sheriff Bell?  For a man who had clearly been involved in other cases that involved murder and death, what was it about this particular event that shook the Sheriff so deeply?  We’re never told, and ultimately, as a viewer, I didn’t care too much about Sheriff Bell — I was invested in Llewelyn!  And having the end of his story be cut off by the finale really disappointed me.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence — Not that the first two-thirds of this film were so perfect to begin with, but had the movie ended … [continued]

 

My friend Ethan e-mailed me this terrific article from Salon.com, entitled “Will Future Generations Understand The Simpsons?” It’s a great piece analyzing how pop-culture references might date once-great shows like The Simpsons, Seinfeld, etc., rendering them incomprehensible only a few years later.  I’m not sure I entirely agree, but it’s a really interesting read.

As regular readers of this site might recall, I read the first four books of Stephe King’s magnificent magnum opus the Dark Tower series earlier this year.  I’ve taken a little break to read some other things, but I’m eager to begin book five some-time soon.  I thought I only had three books left in the series but now, to my delight, it looks like I have four!  That’s because Stephen King has just announced that he’s written a new Dark Tower novel, to be published next year!  Very exciting news.

I have written before, many times, about Mike Mignola’s amazing comic book series Hellboy, and also about the phenomenal spin-off series B.P.R.D.  So I was shocked to learn that long-time B.P.R.D. artist Guy Davis is departing the series!!  Very sad news.  Mr. Davis is one of the greatest comic book artists working today, and his idiosyncratic style has defined the B.P.R.D. series for almost a decade.  To honor his departure, the fine folks at comicbookresources.com have assembled seven great moments from Mr. Davis’ B.P.R.D. run.  Take a look.

Have you, like me, been reading about the phenomenal events every year at the Paley Center for Media, jealously wishing that you could be there?  (Want an example?  How about the recent Undeclared reunion panel, followed by a Freaks and Geeks reunion panel??)  Well, huzza!  The Center has FINALLY begun to make DVDs available of some of their panels!  There are many great panels that remain unavailable, but 44 popular panels are now available on DVD.  I will definitely be ordering some of these!

There’s a HUGE interview up with Kevin Smith at The Examiner that is a terrific read, if you have a chunk of time.

Have you seen the glorious new trailer for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Spielberg-homage film, Super 8? Check it out here.  That’s a terrific trailer.  I am VERY intrigued and excited for this film.  How fun is it to finally see that Amblin logo again??

Have you seen Conan O’Brien’s idea for a replacement for the color-coded National Alert system?  It would be the Nic Cage Terror Alert System.… [continued]

 

The Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2010 — Part One!

Earlier this week I posted my list of my Top 10 Movies of 2010!  (Click here for part one and here for part two.)  Here now is my list of my Top 10 DVDs/Blu-Rays of 2010:

First, the DVDs that might have made this list had I had the time to watch them.  My to-watch DVD shelf has been getting a bit backed-up lately.  As a result, there are several DVDs and DVD sets that I am really excited about, but that I haven’t had a chance to watch.  These include: The Red Riding Trilogy, the new edition of The Bridge on the River Kwai, the Criterion Collection edition of Guillermo del Toro’s film Cronos, the Criterion Collection edition of The Thin Red Line, and Parks and Recreation Season 2 (which I watched when it aired but I’m eager to revisit!).  OK, now on to my list:

10. Scott Pilgrim vs the World (Blu-Ray) – This was my favorite film of 2010, and the Blu-Ray release rocked pretty hard as well.  First of all, it’s an absolutely GORGEOUS presentation of the film.  Second, the DVD is totally awash in incredible special features.  I’m a nut for DVD special features, but this disc tested even my endurance (in the best possible way).  There’s a phenomenal, in-depth making-of documentary, but there are also a ton of deleted and extended scenes, bloopers, featurettes spotlighting the film’s music, visual effects, casting, fight-training, pre-production, and so-much more.  It’s a magnificent presentation of a magnificent film.  (Click here for my original review of the film.)

9. Clerks (Blu-Ray) — This is a great film and it looks great on Blu-Ray, but the reason it’s on this list is because this disc includes the 2004 documentary film Oh, What a Lovely Tea Party.  I’ve been reading about this documentary for years, but it’s never been released on any home-video format, until now.  It’s a funny and fascinating fly-on-the-wall look at the making of Kevin Smith’s film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.  Now, you might be asking yourself, what is a documentary about Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back doing on the Blu-Ray of Clerks? Well, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, which is why this disc is in the bottom half of my top ten list, rather than the top half.

8. The Pacific (Blu-Ray) — This was a gift from my brother and his wife, and what a gift!  I consider Band of Brothers to be one of the finest television series ever created, so obviously I was eagerly anticipating Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s take on the war in the Pacific.  In many ways, … [continued]

 

News Around the Net!

December 28th, 2010
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I’m a big, big fan of Adywan’s fan-edit of the original Star Wars, so much-so that I consider it to be the definitive version of that film.  I am chomping at the bit for the release of his upcoming edit of The Empire Strikes Back! Here’s a fascinating interview with this dedicated fan.

Cars is my least-favorite Pixar film, so I don’t have an enormous amount of excitement for the upcoming Cars 2 (despite Pixar’s being on an incredible winning streak).  However, this recent announcement has raised my anticipation level significantly!

Speaking of Pixar, these posters promoting Toy Story 3 for consideration for a Best Picture Oscar are pretty freakin’ phenomenal.

This is a fascinating read: A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I’m an Atheist.

It’s nice to see that Ira Steven Behr, one of the key creative masterminds between Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (my favorite of the Trek series) is still getting work as a show-runner (even if this new show Alphas doesn’t interest me that much).

New trailers!  Here’s a glimpse at Terrence Malick’s long-in-the-making new film, The Tree of Life. I don’t know quite WHAT to make of the film based on that trailer, but I am definitely intrigued.  Here’s a trailer for a new film called Hanna starring Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, and Saoirse Ronan.  I’d never hear of it before seeing this trailer posted on Hitfix, but it looks interesting.  Lastly, here’s a trailer for Kevin Smith’s new Horror film Red State.  That’s right, I said Kevin Smith’s new HORROR film.  I have NO IDEA whether this is going to be any good, but I’m certainly interested, and happy that Mr. Smith is moving beyond his familiar brand of talky raunchy comedies.  Not that I have any problem with his talky, raunchy comedies, mind you!!

I am really loving the new web-site Badassdigest, and articles like this piece by Devin Faraci called Can We Ever Love Jack Black Again? are one reason why.

Speaking of bad-ass, here’s a funny piece from JoBlo called 10 Bad Ass Villains Who really Weren’t.

OK, one last trailer for you: Simon Pegg & Nick Frost’s new film Paul.  Can’t wait.… [continued]

 

An Evening with Kevin Smith at the House of Blues in Boston!

December 3rd, 2010
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I’m a big, big fan of Kevin Smith.  I love the man’s flicks (Chasing Amy and Dogma are my favorites, but I’m also very partial to the lunacy of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), but some of my favorite of his projects are not actually his films.  I hold great, enormous amounts of love for the six-episode Clerks cartoon, and I think the commentary tracks for Mallrats and Chasing Amy are pretty much two of my favorite things ever — to say that they are endlessly entertaining is to undersell their greatness.  But probably my favorite thing that Mr. Smith has ever been involved with is An Evening with Kevin Smith.

This two-DVD set was released back in 2002, and contains lengthy excerpts from a series of six Q & A sessions that Mr. Smith conducted at a variety of colleges.  Kids ask questions, and Smith answers.  That’s it.  Those were the shows, and that’s the DVD.  That might sound like it could be dry, but I can’t put into words just how fascinating and insightful and hilarious the result is.  Smith reveals himself on the DVD as one of the best tellers of ripping yarns on planet Earth.  He’ll take what sounds like a simple question and turn it into an extended anecdote that will have you on your knees with laughter.  I have watched An Evening with Kevin Smith through many, many times, and at one point or another I’ve made pretty much everyone I know listen to Smith’s Superman Returns and Prince stories.  So funny.  (Chaka mad?  Chaka REAL mad!)

I also, of course, devoured the two DVD follow-ups that presented later Q & A sessions — the very cleverly titled An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, and A Threevening with Kevin Smith.  (Click here to read my review of the Threevening DVD.)  When I read that Mr. Smith was coming to Boston to conduct one of these Q & A sessions, I immediately snapped up tickets to go!

The show — held this past Thursday night at the House of Blues in Boston — was as phenomenal as I’d hoped.  Things started off really well, when Smith took a fan’s simple question about whether the criteria by which he judges his success has changed at all over the years and launched into a very funny forty-minute monologue of anecdotes within anecdotes in which he discussed his current obsession with pot, the time he smoked pot with Seth Rogen after finishing up Zach and Miri Make a Porno, a recent pot experience with his wife Jen, and the very first disastrous time that he and Jen smoked pot … [continued]

 

Documenting Kevin Smith

April 26th, 2010

I’m a big Kevin Smith fan, and I have enormous, unabashed love for his first five films (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).  His more recent installments have been a bit shakier – Jersey Girl didn’t work for me (though admittedly I haven’t seen it again since my disappointing first viewing in theatres when it came out), Clerks II and Zach & Miri Make a Porno both had some truly hilarious moments but also some unfortunate left-turns into schmaltz, and I skipped Cop Out (which Mr. Smith directed but didn’t write).

But not only are his early films phenomenal, they also boast some of the very best DVDs ever produced. Over the years Mr. Smith (working with the various studios involved) has released dynamite special editions of his films that are filled-to-overflowing with deleted scenes, gag reels, all sorts of making-of featurettes, and some of the funniest group commentary tracks ever recorded.  I’m telling you, these commentaries are a scream, whether one is listening to the snoring of a passed-out-drunk Jason Mewes on the Clerks commentary (I’m not kidding) or to Ben Affleck’s spot-on impersonation of Denzel Washington in Malcolm X on the Chasing Amy commentary.

As often as I like to pop in one of Mr. Smith’s films to re-watch for the umpteenth time, I also often find myself sitting down to re-watch some of the marvelous special features.The recent blu-ray release of Clerks and Chasing Amy prompted me to check out several of the amazing making-of documentaries found on these discs.

First up was The Snowball Effect, a documentary about the seat-of-the-pants making of Clerks.

(This doc was first released on the Clerks X tenth anniversary DVD.)There are a lot of famous legends about the way Kevin Smith maxed out all of his credit cards to make Clerks with his friends in the convenience store where he worked.This doc covers all of those stories, but also goes a lot deeper into exploring just what prompted young Mr. Smith to decide that he was going to make a movie, and how this dude working in a convenience store went about making his dream a reality.It’s a pretty incredible story, made all the more incredible by this documentary’s in-depth recounting of all of the hurdles, large and small, that Smith (working with a tight group of co-conspirators including the man who would become his long-time producer, Scott Mosier) had to overcome.The documentary includes interviews with pretty much anyone and everyone involved in the making of Clerks, and doesn’t shy away from the juicy stories when all wasn’t quite well amongst Smith & the … [continued]

 

More Goodness From Comic-Con!

Battlestar Galactica vets Hamie Bamber (Lee Apollo) and Tahmoh Penikett (Helo) will be together again on the season 2 premiere of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse! Click here for more details.

Speaking of Dollhouse, any interview with Mr. Whedon is always worth a look, and this piece contains some tantalizing glimpses at the unaired Dollhouse episode “Epitah 1″ (which screened at Comic-Con and sounds super-cool) as well as hints at a sequel to Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (one of my favoritest things ever)!!

So wow, Capone over at AICN has a report from Peter Jackson covering about 10,000 upcoming projects, all of them enormously exciting!!  Click here to get an update on The Hobbit, District 9, The Lovely Bones, Tintin, and more!

The Sci-Fi channel (urg, I really don’t want to call it Sy-Fy) has posted video from all of its Comic-Con panels.  Perhaps, like me, you couldn’t care less to watch video of people talking about Stargate: Universe — but be sure to check out the full hour-long panel about Battlestar Galactica: The Plan and Caprica!

Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill will be lending their vocal talents to The Simpsons?  Awesome!  Here’s some additional info that came to light at Comic-Con on the season’s upcoming 20th (20 years!  Unbelievable!!) season.

I am disappointed, but not terribly surprised, to read that Kevin Smith might have to change the title of his upcoming buddy cop movie (starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan), A Couple of Dicks.

By all accounts, the Iron Man 2 panel was pretty awesome.  (Click here for a description.)  Why can’t some of this footage be found on-line??  Grrr.  But here’s another interesting tidbit of Marvel movie news: some hints about the line-up for the upcoming Avengers movie!  Some interesting choices.  I really hope that they use Millar/Hitch’s magnificent Ultimates series (which I reviewed here) as the basis for this film.

Since Comic-Con is also a place for news about, you know, comics, I’ll close with a piece of comic-book news that should get any true comic fan very excited:  Planetary #27 is finally being released in October!!!  Can it possibly live-up to the hype generated by the years-long delay?  We’ll see!… [continued]

 

OK, here we are with my final “Best-of” list, the Top 10 DVDs of 2008!  To be included on this list, the DVD in question had to contain a high-quality TV show, movie, or special and also a great presentation on DVD, with lots of cool special features.  Behold my list:

10.  Mystery Science Theatre 3000:  20th Anniversary Edition — I adore this show, and this 20th anniversary celebration of its existence just rocked.  On this set, the gang haves fun with four great/terrible films: First Spaceship on Venus (1960), Laserblast (1978), Werewolf (1996) and Future War (1997).  Even better is the inclusion of an in-depth 3-part documentary on the making of the show, from its creation through to its end.  The icing on the cake was the neat tin case that included fun stuff like a little model of Crowe T. Robot, which now sits proudly on my desk.

9.  John, Paul, Tom & Ringo: The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder — This DVD contains three lengthy, rare interviews that Tom Synder conducted with Paul McCartney (in 1979), Ringo Starr (in 1981), and John Lennon (in 1975).  The Lennon interview is the last televised interview that John gave before his death.  Snyder is an engaging interviewer, and these lengthy conversations with 3 of the 4 Beatles are a real find.

8.  The Office: The Complete Fourth Season and 30 Rock: The Complete Second Season — Complete season sets of these two NBC shows at the top of their game were released in ’08, I can’t tell you how many hours of enjoyment I got out of these DVDs.  In the fourth season of The Office, Ryan the temp is promoted, moves to New York City, and falls to pieces; Andy begins dating Angela; Stanley finally loses it with Michael (“did I stutter?”), Michael is deposed in Jan’s case against Dunder Mifflin; the gang creates an ad to run on local television and participates in Michael’s “fun run” towards a cure for rabies; Toby finally leaves for Costa Rica; and of course Michael and Jan invite Jim and Pam over for a dinner party.  Over on 30 Rock, Jack launches a new reality series called  MILF Island; Tracy and Jenna feud over Liz’s attentions; Liz adopts a hippie writer (played by Carrie Fisher) as her mentor; Devon Banks (Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett) feuds with Jack over the top spot at GE; Jerry Seinfeld discovers Jack’s plan to digitally insert him into all of NBC’s new fall shows; Jack falls in love with a Democratic Congresswoman from Vermont (Edie Falco); and while Liz Lemon faces a pregnancy scare, Jack takes a job working in the Bush Administration along … [continued]

 

Spend a Threevening with Kevin Smith & Robot Chicken!

I’ve seen some very funny movies in the theatres lately, but let me tell you about the two best pieces of entertainment that I’ve seen this week:

Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith — Back in 2002, film-maker Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, etc…) released a two-DVD compilation of the best moments of five lengthy Q & A sessions he had held at various college campuses.  This little slice of comic genius was called An Evening With Kevin Smith.  It is a raucous, profane, and relentlessly entertaining four hours spent learning FAR more than you probably ever wanted to know about Kevin Smith’s life, career, show-biz interactions, and sexual habits.  The kids ask Smith questions on all sorts of topics, and he answers with surprising honesty and brilliant humor.  The man is a spectacular story-teller.  There are so many gems to be found on this DVD set (one of the most-watched in my large DVD collection), but my two favorites concern Smith’s experiences filming documentary footage for Prince (“Chaka mad?  Chaka real mad!”), and his lengthy tale of the year he spent, in the late 90′s, working on a Superman movie script for Warner Brothers.  In addition to being one of the funniest stories I have ever heard (as Smith goes into painful, hilarious detail of the ins and outs of trying to get the relaunch made in crazy Hollywoodland), that tale also serves to explain (to me, at least) why so many big-budget Hollywood movies wind up being so awful.  Oh, and the epilogue to the story, about Smith’s public fight with Tim Burton, is a classic as well.  Oh, OK, and I must also mention the tale of Smith’s first hook-up with the woman who would become his wife.  This story might sound innocuous, but it has to be heard to be believed.  (Remember what I wrote before about Smith’s honesty?  Let’s just say that it is on full display here.)

In 2006, Smith released An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder.  While bearing a phenomenal title, this set contained footage from just two Q & A shows, and as a result it was a bit weaker.  (There was less material to draw from.)  However, that’s not to say that there’s not a lot of fun to be had.  The discussion of Jason Mewes’ “half-half-whole” technique (which I will not explain any further here) in particular is a winner, and left me anticipating the hopeful future release of a third DVD set.

Which brings us to Threevening.  This double-DVD contains footage from just one show, but it’s a doozy: Kevin Smith’s celebration of his 37th birthday with an almost … [continued]

 

Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen Make a Pretty Great Movie

November 19th, 2008
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In the new comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno, we witness the interesting collision of two comedy worlds.

Kevin Smith has been making raunchy comedies since his black-and-white, made-for-no-money-whatsoever debut film Clerks.  Although his subsequent films (Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl, and Clerks II) have varied somewhat in tone (as well as quality), Kevin Smith has established a distinctive (and, for those of us who love his work, tremendously enjoyable) style to his films.  He has an ensemble of actors who have appeared regularly (Jason Mewes, Ben Affleck, Jeff Anderson, and many other familiar faces), and there’s a distinct cadence to his wonderful dialogue, which can be counted on to be chock full of obscure pop culture references, vulgarity and frank discussions of all-things sexual.  

It might not be so apparent, but Kevin Smith’s dialogue-focused films, featuring a lot of young people having one gloriously off-color conversation after another, were once quite ground-breaking.  (I can’t think of any movie, before Clerks, that had anything remotely similar to the famous “how many dicks did you suck” conversation.)  But in recent years it has been the films coming out from the Judd Apatow troupe (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, etc.) that have been taking up all of the comedy limelight, and pushing the envelope forward.  (Clerks is raunchy, but to me at least, Superbad is WAY raunchier.  Go ahead and re-watch the first five minutes of that movie and tell me I’m wrong.)

While everyone (myself included) has been singing the praises of Judd Apatow and everyone else involved in this recent wave of highly successful comedies, I don’t think quite enough attention has been paid to just how influenced these films have been by Kevin Smith’s work.  And so, as one watches Zack and Miri Make a Porno unfold, there is a lot of enjoyment to be found from the comedy circle completing itself, as we find so many familiar faces from the Apatow movies now starring in Kevin Smith’s latest film.  

The two headliners are, of course, Seth Rogen (who appeared in both Apatow TV series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, had a supporting role in The 40 Year Old Virgin, starred in Knocked Up, and co-wrote and co-starred in Superbad), and Elizabeth Banks (the “junk in the trunk” girl from The 40 Year Old Virgin who has been all over the place this year, most recently in W. and Role Models).  While several Smith regulars also appear in Zack and Miri, such as Jason Mewes (finally playing a character other than Jay) and Jeff Anderson (Randall from Clerks and … [continued]

 

News Around the Net

September 16th, 2008
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There’s a great, in-depth interview with Jon Favreau on his plans for Iron Man 2 (and 3!) to be found here.  Some really interesting tid-bits to be had.  I have a lot of faith in Favreau and am really excited to see what he and his team cook up over the next two years.

I love movie posters, and here’s one I think you might enjoy as well:  Kevin Smith has posted the new poster for Zach and Miri Make a Porno, his upcoming movie starring Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks.  If you follow that link, be sure to also scroll down a bit to see the poster design that the MPAA rejected.  Pretty funny, the both of them!

This is old news, but I’ve mean meaning to mention it:  Don LaFontaine passed away earlier this month.  Don’t recognize his name?  Well I guarantee you’d recognize his voice.  He’s the famed “trailer guy,” whose deep tones graced the narration of so many movie trailers over the years.  A fascinating trip-down-memory-lane sampling of his work can be found here.  

Hope to see everyone back here tomorrow!… [continued]