Friday, July 31, 2009

TGIF Special Feature: A Must-Read Before Hitting the Movie Theater This Weekend!

So you met up with friends before the movie and had some beers? Or maybe you're underage and drank a huge soda during the coming attractions? With this summer's hottest movies -- such as Funny People, Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen, and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince -- running 2 and 1/2 hours or more, how do you plan on making it through without taking a bathroom break? And how do you guess when it's a good time to take that break without missing the crucial action? Well, worry no more.

Dan Florio, creator of the Web site, has sat through the movies and jotted down notes and times -- all so you can slip out of the theater for a few minutes and slip back into your seat without missing anything important. And this month, Apple introduced the 99-cent RunPee application for its iPhone. Just click on the image above to download it from iTunes, and check your relief times in the theater. There's even a built-in timer that lets you know how long you've got until the next designated break!

And think about it -- this service is not only great for those bladder emergencies, but other reasons as well. Maybe you finally got a babysitter for the kids, but just can't fully relax until you check in? Or maybe you received a text message on your phone from your boss and have to follow-up, but don't want to disrupt those around you with a reply? Well now you know when's a good time to walk out to make a quick call or send a text. And let's not forget that you may not have had time to stand on a long line at the concession stand before the movie started. Now you know when you can get up to satisfy your cravings. So go...enjoy a nice long movie this weekend!


  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews -- whether they be long films or short!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Movie Review: FUNNY PEOPLE

Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish) is back in a semi-dramatic role in this new comedy from writer/director/producer Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up). Sandler plays George, a very successful yet self-involved stand-up comedian and movie actor who learns that he has a life-threatening disease. He befriends Ira (Seth Rogen), a struggling up-and-coming comedian who works at a deli and has yet to perfect his onstage persona. Friendless George hires Ira to be his personal assistant and writer -- and indirectly, to be his friend.

George and Ira form a close bond as George teaches Ira how to win over a crowd and Ira helps the dying George find closure in his legacy. Too bad the movie didn't concentrate fully on this budding friendship. Because it is here, thanks to fine acting by Rogen (the saving grace of both Observe and Report, Monsters vs. Aliens), that the movie is at its best. But instead, Apatow complicates things with the side stories, including one with his real-life wife Leslie Mann and their two daughters. Mann plays Laura, an old flame now married to Australian hunk, Clarke (Eric Bana). Will love rekindle between George and Laura? And, if so, where does that leave Laura and Clarke's two kids (Maude and Iris Apatow)? None of what transpires here works -- nor is there much entertainment in the scenes with Ira's other friends, played by Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman.

I'm not quite sure which target market Apatow was trying to reach with this movie. I'm sure 13 year-old boys will love the endless penis references (I lost count at about 100), but 13 year-olds shouldn't be viewing an R-rated movie. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of good comedy here for adults -- and some great cameos from the likes of Eminem and Ray Romano among others. And there are a few touching dramatic scenes as well. But it's all a bit schizo in its presentation. On the set last year, Apatow pointed out that "this is a hard movie to talk about. It's a lot of different movies in one." Unfortunately, that's the problem. Apatow tried to make a raunchy comedy, a romantic comedy, a drama, a buddy film, etc. -- all rolled into one. And for the most part, he failed to make it work. After sitting through the overlong two-and-a-half hour film, I really didn't care if George lived or died. [Rated R; Opens Friday]

Grade: B-


Monday, July 27, 2009

MusicMonday: Concert Updates

Last week, The Beastie Boys announced the cancellation of a slew of summer dates and the delay of their forthcoming album due to Adam Yauch being diagnosed with cancer. Replacements have been made for two upcoming festivals:

  • Jay-Z will make his festival debut as the new headliner on the first night of All Points West in Jersey City, NJ -- this Friday, July 31.
  • The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have joined the Lollapalooza festival line-up as the headliners for Saturday night, August 8 in Chicago.

Meanwhile, the end of October is shaping up to be a big concert period. In fact, so much live music is happening, Halloween weekend needs to start early! If you're a baseball AND concert fan, you have some decisions to make. MLB has scheduled the World Series a week later than usual this year, so these dates are game nights. Details:

25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concerts - a pair of massive concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden will trace the entire history of rock. Proceeds go to the endowment for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

  • October 29 - performances will include Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Stevie Wonder, Simon & Garfunkel, and Crosby, Stills & Nash
  • October 30 - performances will include U2, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton and Metallica
  • Ticket information: American Express cardholders can get advance tickets starting today through August 2 on Tickets will be available to the general public starting August 9 at 9am ET. Information on VIP ticket packages:

Festival 8 with Phish - the jam band is headed to the Coachella Valley for a three-day music festival all its own. The Vermont-based group announced the location of its first big event since reuniting earlier this year. It will take place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA, home of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

  • The band teased the October 30 to November 1 gig on its Website for weeks with this cryptic message: "Save the Date."
  • Festival 8 will see two Phish traditions: enormous outdoor festivals featuring marathon sets, and Halloween shows during which they put on a musical "costume" - playing an entire album by another band.
  • Ticket information: Tickets go on sale today at 1pm ET via the band's Website:

Pearl Jam Closes Down the Spectrum - After 42 years, Philadelphia's sports and concert arena will be demolished later this year to make room for a new entertainment complex. Sports teams the 76ers and Flyers have long moved over to a sister venue, but a ton of bands have decided to make stops at the Spectrum to say goodbye. The Dead, who played the Spectrum more than any other band (50+ times), visited this spring. And another frequent guest, Bruce Springsteen, will play his final shows there October 13, 14, 19 and 20. But it's Pearl Jam who will close the Spectrum down with two late October shows on a brief tour to introduce its 9th studio album, Backspacer (due out September 20).

  • Ticket information: the October 28 and 30 shows are sold out. Yours truly is lucky to be holding tickets to both nights!
  • Rumor mill: stay tuned for news on the possible one or two shows that could be added.
  • Learn more about the Spectrum's history here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Movie Reviews: Two Sundance Festival Hits

(500) Days of Summer

Eight years after starring together in Manic, Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt re-team in this offbeat romantic comedy/drama about a woman who doesn't believe true love exists and the young man who falls for her. Let me cut right to the chase -- this is one of my favorite movies so far this summer. It's everything those usually weak romantic comedies (see The Ugly Truth below) are not. It's smart, it's unpredictable, it's enjoyable. I had a smile on my face from the opening narrative -- when a voice-over proclaims, "this is a story of boy meets girl...but it's not a love story."

The film moves in a non-linear fashion from the perspective of greeting card designer Tom (Gordon-Levitt) who falls for his new co-worker, Summer (Deschanel). Over the span of 500 days of their relationship, Tom goes from ecstatic giddiness one moment (even indulging in a classic fantasy song and dance sequence at one point) to crippling depression the next. The question is -- will everything work out and end neatly wrapped-up as most Hollywood endings do? I highly recommend you see for yourself.

Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin) proves once again that he has mastered the uneasy transition from child star to adult roles. And Deschanel (so wooden in The Happening) is growing on me -- her quirkiness is definitely better suited for comedies than straight-up drama. But I was most amazed to learn that this is director Marc Webb's first motion picture. Webb, a music video and short film director, does a masterful job in this lyrical portrait of why and how we try so hard to make sense of love. [Rated PG-13; opening wider today]

Grade: A-


Like (500) Days of Summer, this other comedy-drama from Sundance explores a unconventional relationship between two people finding their way in life. Adam (Hugh Dancy) is a sheltered young man with Asperger syndrome -- a higher-functioning form of autism. He has difficulties communicating and interacting with others and likes to escape into his love of space exploration. When Beth (Rose Byrne), a school teacher, moves into the apartment above him, he is pulled more into the outside world.

Dancy (Confessions of a Shopaholic) and Byrne (Knowing) both shine in very nuanced performances. But the inexperience of writer/director Max Mayer (who's only other motion picture credit is 1998's Better Living), is apparent. Instead of focusing entirely on the leads, Mayer diverts our attention to a subplot that seems a bit tacked on. Peter Gallagher and Amy Irving play Beth's parents -- in the side story that mostly detracts from rather than enhances the heart of the main story.

Overall, Adam is a good movie with very good acting by its two leads -- but you can't help but feel there was great potential that fell short. Although it's supposed to be about an implausible relationship, I found parts of the story too unbelievable. Still, it's funny, touching and better than so much of what's in theaters during the summer. [Rated PG-13; opens July 29]

Grade: B


  • Click the Adam movie poster image above to learn more about Asperger Syndrome.
  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Movie Review: The Ugly Truth

Here we go again...another romantic comedy. Let's take out our checklists, shall we? Good looking stars (✓ -- Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler), predictable plot (✓), a feeling like you've seen it all before (✓). So what makes this film any different? The only thing I can think of is the R rating. Seems like the producers wanted to set this movie apart from the rest of the romantic comedies by throwing in some stronger curse words here and there to achieve the more adult rating. Too bad director Robert Luketic (Monster in Law, Legally Blonde) didn't spice things up in better ways.

Abby, a morning show producer (Heigl), endures a series of outrageous tests by her male chauvinist correspondent, Mike (Butler), to prove his theories on relationships. His clever ploys, however, lead to the totally expected results -- she finds love at the same time that he falls in love with her. But is she really in love with her new neighbor Colin (Eric Winter) -- or with Mike? I'm pretty confident you already know the answer.

Heigl is that rare actress who is finding success in both movies (Knocked Up, 27 Dresses) and TV (Grey's Anatomy). But are we really supposed to believe that someone this beautiful is relationship-challenged? The ugly truth is that this film, despite a few laughs, is not very good. If you're still set on seeing a romantic comedy this summer, I suggest you see The Proposal -- a slightly better film in the weak genre. [Rated R; opens tomorrow]

Grade: C+

Note: Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CONTEST: Enter to Win a Watchmen Prize!

It's Comic-Con week! And to celebrate not only the comic convention but the recent release of Watchmen on Blu-Ray and DVD, EntertainmentBlogger is sponsoring a contest to win a copy of the film's stylish companion book.

A complex, multi-layered mystery adventure, Watchmen is set in an alternate 1985 in which costumed super heroes are part of the fabric of everyday American society. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the masked vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present super heroes. Their mission is to watch over humanity… but who is watching the Watchmen?

Watchmen - The Film Companion is the essential guide to the hit film. Featuring interviews with the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes secrets, in-depth background material relating to the world of the Watchmen, and scores of stunning photos, this is the comprehensive guide to the film. And here's how you can win it...


The winner was announced on August 12 -- details here.

Check back for more contests from EntertainmentBlogger!


  • Only ONE tweet entry per Twitter account.
  • Contest ends on August 11, 2009 at 5:00pm PM EDT 11:59 PM EDT (extended to cover time loss due to recent Twitter outages).
  • One (1) winner will be randomly chosen from all qualified entries.
  • Read full detailed rules here or by clicking on the Watchmen image above.

Monday, July 20, 2009

MusicMonday: British Invasion Redux


  • The band is surely milking the success of its Viva La Vida album. The new video for "Strawberry Swing" premieres today (view it here: The groundbreaking short film was directed by visual artists Shynola and features Chris Martin as an animated superhero in a chalk-drawn world (with a killer squirrel).

  • As a tie-in, you can win a very rare promo CD single of "Strawberry Swing," which will be signed by the entire band. If you'd like a chance to win it, then simply send your name and address to before Tuesday, July 28. One entry per person please. Note: This contest is brought to you via the Coldplay e-newsletter and is not sponsored by EntertainmentBlogger.

Paul McCartney

  • Forty-five years ago, the Beatles invaded New York City -- and the U.S. -- with a debut on The Ed Sullivan Show followed by a concert at the home of the New York Mets, Shea Stadium.

  • Today, Sir Paul is back in New York to play three concerts at the new home of the New York Mets, Citi Field. Two of those concerts were held over the weekend -- and the final show is tomorrow night. But McCartney's return last week to the Ed Sullivan Theater, current home of the Late Show with David Letterman, is getting most of the buzz.

  • McCartney shared some playful banter with Letterman, clarified his damaged relationship with Michael Jackson and recalled rumors of his own early death (click here to view).

  • The highlight of the appearance was McCartney's mini concert performance from the top of the theater marquee. Those on the sidewalks and streets below were treated to Beatles, Wings and solo McCartney hits. Not all the performances made the telecast, so here they are for your viewing pleasure: Band on the Run, Helter Skelter, Coming Up, Let Me Roll It, Back in the USSR

Friday, July 17, 2009

RIP, Walter Cronkite

Back when Walter Cronkite was an anchorman, news was not entertainment -- and entertainment was not news. They were distinct and different entities. There were no 24-hour news channels -- and people weren't online tweeting and blogging and IMing breaking news to each other. Instead, the public turned in each night to get the real news -- from a real source.

Since Cronkite left the anchor desk at CBS Evening News in 1981, there has been a blending of news and entertainment -- and that's not for the better.

Cronkite was known as the most trusted man in America - when he spoke, people listened -- and believed. Flash forward to today, and our breaking news is coming from the likes of TMZ instead. Enough said.

If you're too young to remember -- take a look at this video of Cronkite announcing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. You will hear him get choked up a bit, but he managed to keep it together for the sake of the nation. He was so real. So human. And that's why he was so trusted. Not like so many of the fake talking heads of today's entertainment news.

Walter Cronkite, legendary newsman -- and a class act of a human being, died today at 92. Sadly, the news will never be the same again. And that's the way it is.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Poll Results: Where Are They?

UPDATE -- now poll results after this date can be found in the archive by clicking the SURVEY SAYS image at left.

So you've participated in some EntertainmentBlogger polls and want to see the final results? Well for the most part, results will remain in the left sidebar for at least a week. Then the results will move to the original article posting. For example, poll results related to Michael Jackson can now be found here. Remember, you can reach the archived stories on the left sidebar area, too.

Sometimes, polls occur without a main story tie-in. In those rare cases, a separate post will be made for those results. That was the case with a recent poll on the Academy Awards. Here is that poll and results:

What do you think about the Academy Awards' decision to double the number of best picture nominees from 5 to 10?
  • Like it -- the more the merrier = 15 (38%)
  • Hate it -- should keep it at 5 = 24 (61%)
Total votes: 39

Thanks again for voting! And keep on the lookout for more polls. New polls are posted in the left sidebar each week.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

It seems like just yesterday when we were introduced to the wizard kids in training Harry Potter (Danielle Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). But boy have they've grown up as we enter the sixth installment of J.K. Rowling's epic story. And for the most part, that's a good thing because the evil Lord Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizard worlds -- and fighting the Death Eaters is no child's play.

Harry wants nothing more than to enjoy his waning days of summer break, but Professor Dumbledore (Sir Michael Gambon) has other plans for him -- and is more intent than ever before in preparing the chosen one for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they must work to find the key to unlock Voldemort's defenses, but first Dumbledore must convince his old friend and colleague to come back to Hogwarts. The retired Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) is not only an expert on potions, he has an invaluable connection to Voldemort -- and maybe even with the mysterious half-blood prince -- which could lead to unearthing crucial information.

Of course, along the way we must revisit (and sometimes endure) all the magic that has worked before -- must we sit through yet another Quidditch match? And the movie almost risks veering into complete 90210 territory as the teenage students wrestle with their hormones, and much time is spent on various blossoming romances and infatuations. But luckily, director David Yates keeps things on track as he concentrates on the darker side of the real task at hand.

The chemistry amongst the key players has only grown stronger and more magical with time -- and though the film is nearly two-and-a-half hours, you may actually wish you had longer to spend with them. The great cast also includes the return of supporting stars Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Dame Maggie Smith and Julie Walters. [Rated PG; opens tomorrow]

Grade: B


  • Unlike the last film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will not be simultaneously released in IMAX theaters due to an exclusive commitment with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The film will instead be released in IMAX on July 29, two weeks after its original release.
  • The final chapter of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be split into two films. Part one is scheduled for release on November 19, 2010 and part two will follow on July 15, 2011. Once again, Yates returns to the helm for the conclusion.
  • So out of the infamous trio of adolescent wizards, who is your favorite? Here are the results of the recent poll -- looks like J.K. should consider a series on Hermione now:
    Who is your favorite adolescent wizard?

    Harry Potter = 69 (40%)
    Ron Weasley = 23 (13%)
    Hermione Granger = 80 (46%)

    Total votes = 172

Monday, July 13, 2009

Introducing the New Weekly Feature: MusicMonday

To coincide with the hot Twitter trending topic, EntertainmentBlogger has added a new weekly feature: MusicMonday -- where you'll receive industry updates and access to free music.

For this debut article, we take a look at next month's return of the Lollapalooza festival to Grant Park in Chicago. This year's festival includes Depeche Mode, Tool, Beastie Boys, Jane's Addiction, The Killers, Vampire Weekend and Kings of Leon (click here for full lineup).

Beyond the main headliners, there are dozens of other participating bands that you may not be familiar with. For a limited time, you can access a FREE digital sampler from iTunes featuring 15 artists from this year's lineup. Click here for the free music!

Chicago is such a great town -- why not make a 3-day trip out there next month for one of the biggest and best summer musical festivals around. Click here for ticket information.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Movie Reviews: The Bonds Between Men


After much time apart, two college buddies -- who couldn't seem more different -- reunite, but will they still connect? Ben (Mark Duplass) is settling into his newly-married lifestyle when Andrew (Joshua Leonard), a free spirit who travels the world in search of adventure, unexpectedly shows up for a visit. On a strange dare at an unconventional party, the heterosexual friends decide to make a gay porno and submit it to the HUMP! film festival, the annual gathering in Seattle that showcases home-movie erotica and amateur pornography.

Every once a while an indie film comes along with no big-name actors to distract you. You only see the characters, not the real-life personalities that often get in the way and make the storytelling somewhat unbelievable. They may not be newcomers -- Leonard was in the 1999 hit, The Blair Witch Project -- but I certainly don't know much about these actors. So I was able to enjoy the exploration of the buddies' different personalities and how they are tested. Maybe Ben isn't so conservative. Maybe Andrew isn't such a huge risk-taker. Maybe none of us are so easy to define and categorize.

For a while, I was completely drawn to the dialogue between the two actors -- as it felt so fresh and unscripted. Too bad the same could not be said of the scenes where Ben's wife Anna (Alycia Delmore) appears. Some of her actions and reactions seem so implausible. Will she find out about the dare? Will the friends follow through? Or chicken out? Too bad the humor stops abruptly, the suspense drags out and the final outcome falls flat. [Rated R, opens July 10]

Grade: B-


Written, directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather trilogy), Tetro marks the Academy Award winner's first original screenplay since 1974's The Conversation. Though fictional, Coppola drew much from his personal life to tell the story of multiple generations of an artistic Italian immigrant family -- troubled by creative differences and strained relationships.

17-year-old Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich) travels to Buenos Aires to find his long-estranged, much older brother Tetro (Vincent Gallo), a once-promising writer who is now a remnant of his former self. In the course of staying with Tetro and his girlfriend Miranda (Maribel VerdĂș), the two brothers grapple with the haunting experiences of their shared past. During his stay, Bennie's discovery of his brother's near-finished play might hold the answer to understanding their family history and renewing their bond.

I was actually distracted by the huge age difference between these siblings -- would it be explained? At times, the storytelling felt uneven and sidetracked by the bizarre. But on a visual level, Coppola excels. The cinematography is stunning. Coppola masterfully uses black and white in the present -- and splashes of colored flashbacks -- to grab our attention and draw us into the unraveling mysteries. The beautiful-looking drama is also strengthened by great performances by the always-compelling Gallo, and Ehrenreich -- who is reminiscent of a young Leonardo DiCaprio. Klaus Maria Brandauer portrays the family patriarch, a world-famous symphony conductor. [Unrated; in limited release now]

Grade: B

Note: Click on the movie image above to read a letter from Coppola.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

LAST DAY for Two HOT Twitter Contests

1) To celebrate Moonfruit's 10th birthday, the do-it-yourself web building site is giving away 10 new release Apple MacbookPros -- and today is the last day to win! Click here for details.

2) There's still time to enter another hot Twitter contest brought to you by Squarespace. Timed well with the release of the newest iPhone model, the software publisher is giving away $199 Apple certificates -- one a day through today. Click here for details.


  1. EntertainmentBlogger will be running its own contests! Check back often!
  2. Poll Results: If you won a $199 Apple certificate in the Squarespace Twitter contest, you would ...
  • buy the new 3GS model iPhone 24 (44%)
  • buy two of the 3G iPhones 4 (7%)
  • buy an iPod 12 (22%)
  • put it towards my Macbook purchase 11 (20%)
  • buy some other Apple accessories 3 (5%)
Total votes: 54