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News Around the Net

I am still saddened by the death, a few weeks ago, of Rene Auberjonois, who played Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Mr. Auberjonois was an amazing actor.  Deep Space Nine is my favorite of all the Star Trek series, and Odo was one of the best characters.  Coming so soon after the death of Aron Eisenberg, who played Nog, this is such sad news.  Here’s Mr. Auberjonois’ obituary from The Washington Post.  And here’s a beautiful remembrance, written by his co-star (and on-screen soul-mate) Nana Visitor.

This first trailer for Wonder Woman: 1984 looks great!!

I dig the nineteen-eighties vibe! The action looks terrific.  Gal Gadot seems spectacular as always.  I can’t wait to see more of Kirsten Wiig’s character.  I’m intrigued by the hints as to how they brought Steve Trevor back.  (I’m assuming he’ll die again at the end, right?)  It’s going to be a long wait until summer for this one…!

And here’s a great new trailer for Jason Reitman’s new Ghostbusters film:

Wow, when that “call it fate…” line from the original 1984 film plays, I got chills.  OK, I must admit, I’m intrigued!  I wish we’d gotten another movie with the great all-female cast Paul Feig assembled for his version — if only to stick it to all the misogynistic haters.  But, failing that, this sounds like an interesting approach to take with a sequel.  Jason Reitman is a terrific director, and seeing as his father, Ivan Reitman, directed the first two Ghostbusters films, Mr. Reitman feels like the right person to help a new one!  I’m eager to see what he’s put together!  Here’s more interesting new info on Jason Reitman’s upcoming film.

Here’s our first look at Christopher Nolan’s next film, Tenet:

I don’t know what the heck the film is about, but a new Christopher Nolan film always has my interest.

Here’s an energetic first look at the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights:

That looks great!  I never saw the show, but I’m excited for this film version.

There is no world in which I will be seeing the Cats movie.  But I am fascinated by the studio’s decision to replace the version that was released to theaters with a new version of the film with updated/fixed visual effects.  Has that ever before happened?  Read the story here.

Buckle up and set aside some time to enjoy this amazing Party Down reunion.  I adore that little-seen show.  (Click here for my review of season one, and here for my review of season two.)  If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and remedy that immediately.  You won’t be disappointed, … [continued]

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News Around the Net!

Let’s kick the day off with a wonderful analysis on AICN about Why Star Trek II Works So Well.  The piece is a wonderful love-letter to Star Trek II (which happens to be one of my very favorite films of all time), and it’s a very thoughtful analysis of why the film is so ridiculously awesome, even thirty years later.  (THIRTY years!  That’s crazy, right??)

Speaking of Star Trek, I’m starting to get excited about the high-def upgrade of Next Gen for blu-ray.  This before/after comparison video is pretty staggering.  (Follow the site’s advice and expand the video to full screen, so you can get the full effect.)  If Farpoint looks that good, I can’t wait for the later seasons.  (And Deep Space Nine!!!)

Did you know there was an alternative, rejected main song for Quantum of Solace? And it was sung by Shirley Bassey??  Give this a listen:

That is a fun case of cinematic might-have-been.  “Where is the solace that I crave?”  That makes me laugh and laugh.

I love movie posters.  I have quite a few hanging in my home!  So I really enjoyed this look at the top ten movie posters of 2011.

Speaking of cinematic might-have beens… I enjoyed the first six-episode season of The Walking Dead, but for some reason all of the season two episodes are still sitting unwatched in my DVR.  Maybe show-runner Frank Darabont’s outster the news of all the apparent behind-the-scenes turmoil has cooled my interest.  This detailed letter from Mr. Darabont to AICN reveals a major story that Mr. Darabont was planning that will now never come to be, and it’s a damn shame.

Is there a possibility that there might actually be a Party Down movie???  I highly doubt it, but man would that be great.  Click here for my reviews of season one and season two of this brilliant, tragically cancelled-before-its-time TV show.… [continued]

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From the DVD Shelf: Party Down Season Two!

Last month I wrote about the terrific first season of Party Down. I wasted little time in devouring the show’s second season, as well.  Sadly, these two short seasons represent the entire run of the show, but I can’t recommend them highly enough to you.

To re-cap, Party Down focuses on the sad-sack employees of Party Down, a small Hollywood catering business.  Pretty much every single one of the Party Down staff are wannabe actors, hoping for their big break while toiling away at a menial job they detest.  The genius of the show’s structure is that every episode is set at a different Party Down event/party.  So each episode becomes its own self-contained little movie, with totally different locations and guest-stars.  It’s a brilliant structure for a TV show, and one that could have provided endless story-telling opportunities.  Sadly that was not to be.

Season two of Party Down begins a few months after the end of season one.  Ron (Ken Marino)’s Soup R Crackers franchise has failed, and he slinks back to Party Down as a depressed, angry slacker.  With Henry (Adam Scott) now team leader, the first few episodes of the season revels in the reversal-of-roles.  (Now Ron is the difficult one, and Henry is the exasperated boss trying to keep him and the rest of their motley crew in line.)

The only major cast change is that Jane Lynch had left the series (to appear in Glee), so season two introduces us to a new character Lydia (Megan Mullally).  Ms. Mullally is phenomenal as the loopily deranged Hollywood mom, trying to guide her pre-teen daughter to super-stardom.  The show’s creators wisely chose to create an entirely different character from Lynch’s Constance.  While I missed Jane Lynch, of course, Megan Mullally is so entertaining that I quickly accepted her addition to the cast.

Season two of Party Down again blesses us with some terrific guest-stars.  J.K. Simmons, Joey Lauren Adams, and Kristen Bell all return from season one.  Dave (Gruber) Allen (guidance counselor Jeff Rosso on Freaks and Geeks) gives a memorable turn as a sci-fi author having a brush with Hollywood.  But the season’s best guest star, and the star of arguably the season’s best episode, is Steve Guttenberg.  That’s right, Police Academy’s Steve Guttenberg.  In the episode “Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday,” Mr. Guttenberg hires the Party Down crew to cater his birthday.  But his friends throw him a surprise party the day before, and he forgets to cancel the booking.  So when Party Down shows up at his house, Mr. Guttenberg (playing himself) decides to invite the gang into his house to have a party with him.  It’s a crazy premise, but the half-hour … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Party Down (Season One)!

Wow!  Add this series to the list of brilliant, cancelled-before-their-time TV shows!

I don’t think I even heard of Party Down during the two seasons it was on the air, on Starz, in 2009-10.  But every now and then, since it’s cancellation, I’d hear or read a mention of it, mostly in connection to being a prior great role of Adam Scott’s, who I’ve been so enjoying as Ben Dywer on the terrific Parks and Recreation.  A sale on Amazon lead me to buy the first season on DVD, and I was blown away!  I’m already almost finished with season two, and deep in mourning that there are no more episodes of this fantastic show!

The series focuses on Party Down, a fairly low-quality Hollywood catering company, staffed primarily by out-of-work actors and actresses.  The show is a true ensemble, but if I had to identify a lead character it would be Adam Scott as Henry.  Henry was once a struggling actor whose big break came on a commercial, saying the catch phrase “Are we having fun yet?”.  Sadly, that break-out role also destroyed his career, forever type-casting him as the “are we having fun yet?” guy.  His dreams pretty much crushed, Henry is fairly rudderless when we first meet him, having sworn off acting, but not sure what he should do with his life instead of that.

He’s hired to work with Party Down by an old friend, Ron, played by Ken Marino.  The two used to party together, back in the day, but Ron partied too hard and too long.  He’s sworn off all booze and drugs now, and he sees his job as Party Down team leader as a stepping-stone towards his dream of one day owning a Soup ‘R Crackers franchise.  While everyone else treats their gigs catering with Party Down with apathy or downright loathing, Ron takes things totally seriously, leading to a lot of (very funny) butting heads with his team of misfits.  Ron is so sincere, he’s pretty impossible not to love.

The only part of working for Party Down that is remotely appealing for Henry is the presence of Casey, played by Lizzy Caplan.  Although Casey is married when we first meet her in the pilot, the show wisely avoids any prolonged will-they-or-won’t-they Ross/Rachel tension by immediately getting the two together.  Casey is struggling mightily to succeed as a stand-up comic, and though she’s been pretty beaten down by rejection she sees right through Henry’s “I don’t care anymore” attitude.  Lizzy Caplan had a very small role in Freaks and Geeks, but I recognized her most from her role as Marlena in Cloverfield.  She’s absolutely dynamite here, tough and … [continued]