Monday, August 31, 2009

MusicMonday: Benefit Concerts

As we say good-bye to August and the big summer music festivals, it's time to turn our attention to concerts that are coming up in the months ahead. Two big benefit concerts were formalized today:
  • JAY-Z will play a concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City on September 11 that will also air exclusively in HD and commercial-free live on Fuse. All proceeds will go towards the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, the organization that has been helping New York City families of fallen first responders for over 25 years. "Answer the Call" will be held on the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks -- and happens to fall on the same day JAY-Z's 11th studio album, The Blueprint 3 is released. Click here for ticket information from

  • On October 13, Keith Urban (right) and Vince Gill (left) will co-host an all-star concert to raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, with guests including Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and Faith Hill. Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum are also scheduled to perform, with more acts expected to be announced. The all-star show is part of the museum's "All for the Hall" fundraising initiative created and led by Gill since 2005. The concert, to be held at Nashville's Sommet Center, will open with a one-hour set by Urban and his band. Then, Gill will join Urban and an all-star band to bring out special guests. Tickets are only $25 and go on sale this Wednesday at 10:30 AM via, all Ticketmaster locations and the Sommet Center Box Office. Tickets may also be charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Click here for more information.


  • Take a moment to remember DJ AM in a great collaboration with Travis Barker here.
  • And there's still time to view Pearl Jam's new video here -- and share your thoughts by voting in the poll at left.
  • Lastly, the MusicMonday column will not appear next week in honor of the Labor Day holiday.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Top 10 at Weekend Box Office

  • Reviews of some movies can be found here.
  • Click on the chart to enlarge.
  • All figures are industry estimates. Actual figures are released on Monday.
  • Sources: Nielsen EDI,

Friday, August 28, 2009

DJ AM Found Dead -- Eerily Timed with Release of The Final Destination

Philadelphia-born Adam Goldstein, known to most by his stage name of DJ AM, was found dead in his bed today in New York City. According to some early reports, drug paraphernalia was allegedly found at the scene. He was 36.

DJ AM (above, left) barely escaped death in a 2008 plane crash involving him and fellow musician Travis Barker (right). Their plane crashed after aborting takeoff, killing four other people. Goldstein was badly burned in the crash. Barker, who was also injured, recently reunited with his Blink-182 bandmates and is currently back on tour.

Goldstein's death opens up the debate on whether or not we can cheat death. In the movie, Final Destination (2000), a group of teenagers believe they have cheated death by avoiding a plane crash. But soon after their escape, they begin dying one-by-one in mysterious freak accidents. Just today, the newest installment in the series, The Final Destination, opened in theaters. Eerie timing indeed.

Click on the video below -- to view a collaboration between Travis Barker and DJ AM -- RIP.

Movie Review: Is Taking Woodstock Worth the Trip?

Taking Woodstock

I was looking forward to Taking Woodstock for so many reasons. First of all, I've always been a bit obsessed with Woodstock -- and bummed that my birth wasn't better timed so that I could have been a part of such a defining moment. And secondly, I have such high expectations for movies by director Ang Lee. I still believe that The Ice Storm was a very powerful portrait of life in the 1970s -- and one of the most under-appreciated films of the 1990s. And then there's his crowning achievements from this decade: the captivating Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and his Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain, which will forever be remembered as the gay cowboy movie -- but actually is a great love story period. Unfortunately, Taking Woodstock doesn't quite match the quality of these earlier successes.

Set in the summer of 1969, the film follows the true story of Elliot Teichberg (Demetri Martin), an aspiring Greenwich Village interior designer whose parents owned a tiny dilapidated motel in upstate New York. He held a musical festival permit for the town of Bethel and offered it and accommodations at the Catskills motel to the organizers of Woodstock. With a mix of comedy and drama, Lee does capture some of what made the event so memorable -- the huge crowd, the rain, the mud, the drugs, the free love, etc. But if you're expecting to hear the actual music of the festival, you'll be sadly disappointed.

It was not Lee's intent to do a documentary of the music. Rather, the film is a character study focusing on Teichberg and his internal struggles to help his wacky parents (Imelda Staunton, Henry Goodman) manage their lives while longing to have a life of his own. Martin (best known for his work on TV's Comedy Central) impressed me with a quiet, conflicted performance. Conversely, Staunton and Goodman are a bit over-the-top and too-consuming. So we're left wanting more of the supporting characters that are never fully fleshed out -- that of a festival organizer (Jonathon Groff), and a transvestite (Liev Schreiber), and a Vietnam vet (Emile Hirsch), and even Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy) -- who's nearby farm becomes the site of the concert. Still, there's plenty to like about the film -- especially if you're interested in a period piece. Let's face it, that summer was arguably one of the most compelling periods in history. But just like the Woodstock organizers correctly believed 40 years ago, maybe some music would have helped make things so much better. [Rated R; opens today]

Grade: B

  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews.
  • Woodstock was just one of the major happenings in the summer of 1969 -- which included man's first landing on the moon, the Manson murders and top-of-mind this week, the Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick incident. Take a trip back to the most eventful summer ever here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

View Pearl Jam's New Video -- Directed by Cameron Crowe!

As an addendum to yesterday's MusicMonday post on Pearl Jam, we now have the band’s latest video. It features a live performance, directed by a guy who has something of a soft spot for rock & roll, Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous). The video is for the song “The Fixer," a track off their upcoming album Backspacer, which they performed live at a secret show at Seattle’s Showbox in May.

  • First, watch below -- and yes, the dizzying effects are on purpose!
  • Then vote in the poll at upper left!

Monday, August 24, 2009

MusicMonday - Pearl Jam Updates, More Free Downloads

It's no secret that Pearl Jam is my favorite band, so here are two special treats from the group:

  • Click here for a 10-minute short film on the making of the band's forthcoming album, Backspacer, due out September 20.

  • Last week at a London concert, the band introduced the new song, "Supersonic." Click on the CD's artwork above to view the video!

These waning summer weeks are flying by! Well here is this Monday's list of FREE and LEGAL music downloads to ease you into a new week. Once again, there's something for everyone.
  • When it comes to protecting the planet, it's all about decreasing waste and increasing efficiency. The Dave Matthews Band is on board, are you? All you have to do is pledge to doing something environmental to help our planet, and you can download the band's So Much to Save album for free. Click here for details.

  • Click here for a free download of the hit single "Fifteen" from Taylor Swift.

  • From Steven Rushton comes "Everything I Want" from the Hannah Montana: The Movie soundtrack. Click here for the free download.

  • Looking to get up off the couch and work out? How about some free music to help? Bally Total Fitness has a free megamix dowload to get you moving. Click here for free music from RuPaul, Jocelyn Brown and Muriel Fowler.

  • Now looking for something relaxing after that workout? You can download six free David Lyndon Huff tracks on the Spa Moments sampler here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Movie Review: Will Cold Souls Leave You Cold?

Cold Souls

Writer/director Sophie Barthes admits that the idea for Cold Souls came to her in a dream -- which is ironic because there were times that I found myself on the verge of falling asleep while watching this movie. Not that she made an awful film. It's actually quite a unique concept -- but it moves a little too slowly and risks leaving you a bit cold.

Barthes claims that her dream starred Woody Allen -- which is not too far-fetched because she just watched him in Sleeper. But something tells me she probably also watched Being John Malkovich the same night. That is the most likely explanation for why here, Paul Giamatti stars as a fictionalized version of himself -- an overwhelmed actor who is basically paralyzed by anxiety.

David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) co-stars as a doctor who manages a facility that may have a solution for him: to temporarily extract and deep freeze the soul that is weighing him down. Unfortunately, complications ensue when his soul gets lost in an Russian trafficking scheme which has taken it to St. Petersburg. The film then follows Giamatti desperately trying to find his soul -- that's right, some soul searching.

I was bummed that we saw so little of supporting players Lauren Ambrose (HBO's Six Feet Under) and Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves) in the film. Barthes should have found a way to give both these great actresses more screen time. But Dina Korzun is intriguing in a meatier role as the soul-trafficking "mule." And there is no denying that Giamatti (Sideways) is an accomplished actor. He is so good, that his facial expressions alone will make you laugh. Billed as a comedy, I just wish the script was more playful and had more laughs. Maybe that would have kept me more attentive and focused on the unique concept. I ordinarily would never recommend even legal drugs -- but if you still want to see this movie, load up on caffeine first. [Rated PG-13; opens wider today]

Grade: B-

  • In her own words, learn more about Barthes' dream by clicking on the poster image above.
  • Is your soul weighing you down? Check out details on the fictional Soul Storage Company here.
  • Did you view the Avatar trailer yet? Take a look at the post below this one -- and don't forget to vote in the poll at upper left as well.
  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews - including last week's big openings, District 9 and The Time Traveler's Wife.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Teaser Trailer for AVATAR is Here!

Tomorrow night's 15-minute sneak preview of Avatar, James Cameron's new scifi film, is SOLD OUT. And you'll have to wait all the way til December 18 to see the full movie. But this morning, the new 2-minute teaser trailer was released! Just click the screen below to play. So what do you think? Take the poll at upper left.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's Not Tuesday, But Another Hot Twitter Contest is Underway!

Here's an addendum to the usual TwitterTuesday roundup of contests. Live Nation is running a Twitter contest today for your chance to win a 2010 lawn season pass! Click on the Live Nation image above for all the details.

  • And for more fun contests, check yesterday's full TwitterTuesday post below. All of these contests are still valid except for the first one for Swagbucks -- which is Tuesday-specific.
  • If you're not yet registered with Swagbucks, what are you waiting for? Click here for more details on how you can win great prizes -- just by searching the Web.

Monday, August 17, 2009

MusicMonday: Tons of Free Downloads!

Mondays can be so tough, but here is a list of FREE and LEGAL music downloads to ease you into a new week:

  • Radiohead has offered a new song titled “These Are My Twisted Words” for free download through the band’s official site. Click here or the band image to download now!
  • From Stootsi Music: Eric James, frontrunner of The Early Hours, has given us a free copy of his hit title track "Come Take My Hand" from the band's new EP, Falling Elevators. Click here.
  • FuseTV has graciously shared a lot of free music from Lollapalooza artists and others. Tracks from Dinosaur Jr., Moby, The Black Crowes and many more can be downloaded here.
  • has a free summer compilation of 14 tracks from various artists. Click here for the download.
  • A 7-track ESL World Music Sampler from can be downloaded here.
  • Also from, a free gospel album: The Sounds Of Soweto Gospel Choir. Click here for the download.
  • People Magazine has seven country songs to share from artists including Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. Click here for the free offer.
  • Lastly, there is a free download available of the Lily Allen remix album. It appears that the site is a bit overwhelmed today, but keep checking here.

Register to See a 15-Minute Preview of AVATAR!

Avatar is the highly-anticipated 3D science fiction epic film directed by James Cameron, due to hit theaters on December 18. This Friday, 20th Century Fox is showing a 15-minute preview of the film at IMAX theaters.

To register for a FREE pass for two, click on the movie poster image. Tickets are available for theaters in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St Paul, New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington DC.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Top 10 at Weekend Box Office

Source: Nielsen EDI
  • Reviews for all of the above except G-Force and G.I. Joe can be found here.
  • The weekend's other big debut, the teen rock 'n' roll tale Bandslam, tanked at #13 with just $2.3 million.
  • All figures are industry estimates. Actual figures are released on Monday.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Weekend Roundup: Movies, Movies, Movies

There were a lot of new releases this weekend. Are you going to run out to see one? Or do you like to rent instead? Or maybe look for freebies online? Well no matter what mood you're in, there is a little something for every movie lover in this weekend's roundup...

  • Reviews of new releases District 9, The Time Traveler's Wife, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard and Ponyo can be found here.

  • Two other movies were released yesterday as well -- Bandslam for the teenage set, and Ashton Kutcher's new racy film, Spread. The latter was not even made available for EntertainmentBlogger to preview -- so that's not a good sign. It received mostly poor reviews from other reliable sources. Sorry, Ashton! Well, the good news for him -- most of his 3 million+ Twitter followers are too young to see an R-rated film anyway.

  • Out of these new releases, which one were you most eager to see? Take the poll at left to cast your vote!

  • And remember to check back here or follow EntertainmentBlogger on Twitter (@Entertainment2u) -- where every Sunday, you'll get the box office sales update.

  • Trying to save money this weekend? Why not watch a classic movie online -- for free?! This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the hit, Ghostbusters. Starring Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, the film was the highest-grossing comedy of the 1980s. And to honor the anniversary, the producers have made it available online for free. So grab some popcorn, get comfortable, click the movie poster at right and enjoy.

  • As reported last week, competition is heating up in the DVD rental arena (see here). And as predicted, more codes for FREE movies are being made available to consumers. Redbox and Blockbuster are not the only players in the rental kiosk business. MovieCube is available in some states -- and now through August 27, you can obtain a free rental with this code: ETUX9A8 -- so click here to see if there is a MovieCube kiosk near you!

  • Sadly, we lost the talented movie writer, director and producer John Hughes suddenly last week at the age of 59. Thanks to all who voted in the related poll at left. If you're not familiar with his comedy classics from the 1980s, I recommend that you rent a few -- like The Breakfast Club (at right). The aforementioned rental kiosks don't usually hold older titles, so I suggest you add some to your Netflix que -- or make a point of visiting your local video store.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Movie Reviews: Should You Believe the Hype?

District 9

There is a lot of buzz for the new sci-fi film District 9 -- even though it has no big-name stars, was made for relatively little money ($30 million) and is directed by a young South African-born director whom few have ever heard of, Neill Blomkamp. It doesn't hurt that Lord of the Rings genius Peter Jackson serves as executive producer. But should you believe all the hype that this is a great, completely original movie? I think that would be a bit of an overstatement, but YES this is a very good movie. And yes, I recommend that all sci-fi fans see it -- those of age of course; it is deservedly rated R for its graphic violence.

The movie opens in documentary fashion with the background that decades earlier, a spaceship parked over Johannesburg, South Africa. It turns out the alien occupants fled their planet -- and are now leaderless. So what does the South African government do? Well officials corral them into a huge barbed-wire ghetto shantytown, effectively separating the tall shrimp-looking creatures from the human population. Yep, it's no accident that this movie is set in South Africa -- the apartheid similarities are purposefully clear.

Moving forward to present day, the aliens' camp is now being overseen by a contract company, Multi-National United (MNU). After years of alien population growth and increasing public frustration from the city's humans, Wikus van de Merwe (new-comer Sharlto Copley), is assigned the task of relocating the camp's occupants to a remote and even more-confining location (yes, more societal commentary). Unbeknownst to the field operative, MNU stands to receive tremendous profits if they can make the aliens' advanced weaponry work. But meanwhile, African warlords also occupy the camp -- and have their own plans to control the weaponry (still more societal commentary).

Copley, a long-time friend of Blomkamp's and fellow South African, is excellent in the role. For once we are not distracted by a well-known leading man whose celebrity status detracts from the storytelling. As conflict breaks out, you will be amazed as you witness the character's evolution from being an oppressor to one of the oppressed. Most of the special effects are top-notch, although some bloody scenes seemed obviously fake to me. And not all the political allegories are fully fleshed out. But still, it's an intelligent film that will make you ponder discrimination -- all while enjoying some exciting action at the same time. [Rated R, opens tomorrow]

Grade: B+


  • District 9 is based on Alive in Joburg (2005), a short film directed by Blomkamp and starring Copley.


Released last summer in Japan, writer and director Hayao Miyazaki's latest animated adventure went on to win the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. The film has now been dubbed by English-speaking stars for release by Disney. So it's no suprise that the two main voices are by Disney actors -- and younger siblings of bigger Disney stars -- Noah Cyrus (sister of Miley) and Frankie Jonas (brother of the Jonas Brothers).

The plot is centered on a goldfish who lives in an aquarium inside her father's submarine. Ponyo (Cyrus) is driven by a desire to see more of the world, but she has a close call by a dredger and ends up trapped inside a glass bottle. She is rescued by Sōsuke (Jonas), a young boy who lives a quiet life on an oceanside cliff. He soon learns that Ponyo is no ordinary fish -- she is the daughter of a underworld mystic and a sea goddess. Ponyo uses her father's magic to transform herself into a young girl and quickly falls in love with Sōsuke, but the use of such powerful magic causes a stormy imbalance in the world. Will Ponyo be able to fulfill her dream to become a human girl -- or will that cause the end of the world?

There is something completely fascinating with Miyazaki's work. The animation is mostly flat and simple, but it's what he does with it at times that makes it so visually impressive (for example, this ocean adventure has no ordinary waves). But is it up to par with his Oscar-winning Spirited Away? I actually found this story pretty slow and lacking in intrigue. I am not even sure a 5-year-old would have the attention span to stick with it. Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett and Liam Neeson lend their voices to the parental roles -- but none seem just right. It's veterans Betty White (The Proposal), Cloris Leachman and Lily Tomlin who are a better fit -- voicing the roles of three nursing home patients who add some comic relief. Overall though, there are only a few laughs. So I'd say the film is still worth seeing -- but only for the animation alone. [Rated G; opens tomorrow]

Grade: B

  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews.

Movie Review: Do Time Travel and Romance Mix?

The Time Traveler's Wife

Full disclosure: I am a huge time travel fan. I cannot get enough of it. Even on tv, where Lost is my favorite current show -- and where I still mourn the absence of the short-lived Journeyman. But I never did read the novel of the same name in which this film is based. Maybe because I am not a huge fan of romance. And therein lies my dilemma. Is it really possible for time travel and romance to mix? I still recall enjoying the 1980 movie Somewhere in Time -- it wasn't a great movie, but it was an interesting concept. Well now travel if you will nearly 30 years later to this generation's version of love complicated by one partner's inability to control skipping through time. And again, it's not a great movie -- but it's still enjoyable.

Directed by Robert Schwentke (Flightplan), the fantasy drama stars Rachel McAdams in the title role. It's smart casting for romance fans -- as McAdams was also the female lead in arguably the most popular book-to-film romance this decade, The Notebook. She plays Clare, an artist, who has been in love with Henry (Eric Bana) ever since she was a little girl. Even though he was then an adult and she much younger, she always believed they were destined to be together. Problem is, she never knows when they will be separated and for how long since Henry, a librarian, is a time traveler -- cursed with a rare genetic anomaly that causes him to live his life on a shifting timeline.

Finally meeting at a time when they are about the same age, Henry and Clare try desperately to build a life together. But jumping back and forth through his lifespan with no control or warning sure complicates things. Can then find a cure for his rare genetic disorder in time to salvage a relationship? Or will they be doomed to spend their complicated lives apart? The appeal of Bana (Funny People, Star Trek) and McAdams helped keep my interest as we find out. There definitely are some scratch-your-head moments as time travel often does lead to confusion. And some of the plot sinks into downright silliness. But it's definitely worth a look, romance fans. Oh -- and for you time travel fans with a soft spot, too. Also stars Arliss Howard and Ron Livingston. [Rated PG-13; opens tomorrow]

Grade: B

  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews.

Movie Review: Is The Goods Any Good?

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard

Jeremy Piven, best known for his hilarious portrayal of Hollywood agent Ari Gold on HBO's Entourage, has finally achieved leading man status after nearly a quarter century in film. Too bad he didn't get a better role. Piven plays used-car liquidator Don Ready, whose group is hired by a failing auto dealer (James Brolin) in a last-ditch effort to turn a profit or be forced to sell to a competitor (Alan Thicke). The team has three days to sell over 200 cars, but Don gets distracted as he quickly falls for the dealer's daughter -- which may totally compromise the mission.

Like the low-end lot they're on, very little shines in this movie by director Neal Brennan (in his feature debut). Piven and most of the cast seem to be going through the motions as they try to work with a weak script. Even a cameo by producer Will Ferrell falls flat. Wasted are Charles Napier and Kathryn Hahn who deservedly get most of the few laughs.

In recent interviews, Piven tries to make a comparison between this comedy and the OTHER wildly successful R-rated comedy of the summer, The Hangover. The only comparison is that both movies share supporting stars Ed Helms, Ken Jeong and Rob Riggle. Whereas The Hangover was a smart, funny movie, The Goods is a dumb, mostly unfunny one. On hand at my screening, Piven even encouraged Twitter users in the audience to help spread the word on the movie. What he failed to realize is that spreading bad word will not help a movie (maybe Piven should have Googled, "Twitter reviews hurt Brüno box office"). As word spreads, this film will be a hard sell. Frankly, The Goods is really not that good. [Rated R; opens tomorrow]

Grade: C


  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Contest Winner Revealed!!

Congrats goes out to SUSAN S. of QUINCY, FL!! Susan had the winning tweet in the first EntertainmentBlogger contest -- and will receive the beautiful companion book to this year's hit movie, Watchmen. Click here for more details on the prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered -- and remember to follow EntertainmentBlogger on Twitter (@Entertainment2u) -- and check the blog often for more contests!

Monday, August 10, 2009

MusicMonday News

  • As the summer winds down, so too do the big musical festivals. Lollapalooza started off as a sogfest Friday in Chicago, but the rains cleared for the remainder of the weekend. Click here for a brief CNN clip with Perry Farrell speaking about the 130-band event -- and here for official photos of all the action.

  • Speaking of big summer music festivals -- this coming weekend marks the 40th (wow) anniversary of the granddaddy of them all, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. Scheduled for release on August 28, Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's new movie Taking Woodstock follows the life of Elliot Tiber, who in 1969, held the only musical festival permit in Bethel, NY and enabled the festival to occur. Click the Woodstock poster above to view the trailer!

  • Pearl Jam announced five more tour dates today: September 25 - Vancouver, BC; September 26 - Portland, OR; September 28 - Salt Lake, UT; October 27, 31 - Philadelphia, PA. Tickts for the Philly shows will go on sale August 14 via The Portland tix will also go on sale August 14, with the other west coast dates available for purchase on August 15 -- all through
  • The King of Pop will get a royal send-off in Vienna. Events promoter World Awards Media GmbH confirmed today that members of Michael Jackson's family and a "high-profile lineup of international stars" are planning a tribute concert to be held September 26. The venue will be the sculpted and sprawling grounds of Vienna's former imperial Schoenbrunn Palace, where an outdoor stage shaped like a crown will be built. Jackson's brother Jermaine said recently that Vienna was a special place for Michael, who "loved castles." Tickets will go on sale August 20. Details here.
  • Also today, a judge approved a major movie deal among Michael Jackson's estate, concert promoter AEG Live and Columbia Pictures for a film that will feature footage of Jackson's final rehearsals for a planned series of London comeback concerts. The film, which opens October 30, could also include videos prepared for display during the "This is It" shows.
  • Jay Leno's new prime-time series is going to kick off with a performance by Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West. NBC said the three singers will perform together on "Run This Town," a tune from Jay-Z's new album, on the September 14 debut of "The Jay Leno Show."

  • The network and Leno have also said that there will be fewer musical acts on his new show ("at least once or twice a week"), but that they'll feature interesting combinations of performers. The series will air weeknights at 10 pm EDT.
  • And in other tv music news, looks like most of you will miss the wackiness of Paula Abdul on "American Idol." Abdul used Twitter last week to announce she will not be returning to judge the 9th season of the show -- and the news was later confirmed by FOX. TMZ is still reporting that it could all be a major publicity ploy and she may be back. But will you miss Paula if she doesn't? If you haven't voted yet -- check out the poll at left.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blockbuster vs. Redbox = More Free Codes for DVD Rentals!

It always seems to take Blockbuster a while to catch on to trends. First, they sat back and watched Netflix dominate the market for ordering DVD rentals online -- before offering the same. And then they watched Redbox amass around 18,000 rental kiosks in supermarkets, drug stores and other high-traffic retailers across the country.

Finally, Blockbuster recently began rolling out its own kiosks. As with Redbox, Blockbuster Express DVD rentals are available for $1 a night and with no membership sign-up required. Late last month, Blockbuster and Publix announced a relationship in which kiosks would be rolled out in the grocery chain's 425 stores. That's a start -- and Blockbuster hopes to find other partners as its goal is to have 10,000 U.S. kiosks by the end of 2010. Of course, Redbox is not just going to sit back and watch all that competitive growth. In fact, just this week Redbox and Kroger announced the expansion of Redbox kiosks into over 2,600 Kroger grocery stores in the U.S.

And as the competition heats up, that's good news for consumers. As they fight for your business, you'll be rewarded with free rental codes! Here are some now:

BLOCKBUSTER: one-time use only with B1WX9X8 code (expires August 10). Click here for a list of Blockbuster Express locations.

REDBOX: one-time use only with BREAKROOM, DVDONME, 7SD4BWL8 (Stop & Shop only) and DVDATWAG (Walgreen's only) codes. Click here to find a location near you.

  • Redbox issues a free code on the first Monday of each month. And EntertainmentBlogger always posts it. So check back!
  • New DVD releases for this Tuesday, August 11, include 17 Again and I Love You, Man. Click on the movie titles for mini reviews.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Movie Review: A Perfect Getaway

Written and directed by David Twohy (Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick), this thriller may make you think twice about taking a trip to paradise. Cliff (Steve Zahn) and Cydney (Milla Jovovich) are an adventurous young couple celebrating their honeymoon by backpacking to one of the most beautiful and remote beaches in Hawaii. Along the way, they meet up with two other couples -- Nick (Timothy Olyphant) and Gina (Kiele Sanchez), the offbeat Southerners -- and the mysterious Kale (Chris Hemsworth) and Cleo (Marley Shelton). But how can anyone enjoy the great scenery with news that murderers are on the lam -- and may have jumped over from another island? Could one of these couples possibly be responsible for such a horrific crime? And are they ready to strike again?

If you're looking for a thrill-ride, you'll need some patience. It takes nearly an hour before the real action kicks in. But once it does, you'll definitely be entertained with the twists and turns. And even if you figure things out on your own -- you'll surely look back and appreciate the slow build-up to the exciting conclusion. It may not be 'perfect,' but it's a smart thriller -- which is often hard to find. And it doesn't hurt that the acting is surprisingly good by all -- including Zahn, who usually is cast in more comedic roles (Sunshine Cleaning). [Rated R, opens today]

Grade: B


  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews - including Adam which goes into wider release today -- and Julie & Julia, opening today as well.
  • Contest: Purchase a ticket to see A Perfect Getaway via by August 9 -- and you could win 10 annual trips to Hawaii for four people OR a check for $100,000! This is a contest -- and is not sponsored by EntertainmentBlogger. Click here for details.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

EntertainmentBlogger Polls Predict Winners!

Just a quick note about EntertainmentBlogger polls. Although the polls represent small samples -- and the results are completely unscientific -- they have become great predictors. Our polls have accurately predicted the winners of two FOX reality competition shows -- both "American Idol" in the spring and "So You Think You Can Dance," which completed its summer season tonight.

First, many believed Adam Lambert would beat Kris Allen (below) to become the 8th "American Idol" -- but our poll results showed otherwise. And we were therefore not surprised that Allen was the ultimate victor (see results here).

Next, Brandon Bryant seemed destined to win over Jeanine Mason on the 5th season of "So You Think You Can Dance." But our poll showed that Mason (above) was actually heavily favored (see results at left). And win she did as the results were announced in tonight's finale. Earlier in the program, Kayla Radomski was revealed as the least popular among the remaining four. A few minutes later, Evan Kasprzak got the news that he had placed third. Therefore, all four finished in the exact order as in our poll.

So, if you've voted in these polls -- thanks! And if not, maybe next time you should take a look at how voting is going before you place your bets with your bookie!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Movie Reviews: Women Directors Shine!

The Hurt Locker

Not all films are made available to me as advance screenings, so I have to make sure I get to the theater for some movies that have great buzz -- before they finish their runs. And I recommend you do the same with The Hurt Locker, from director Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break). The film is a war movie -- but not a typical one with large combat scenes. Instead, it's a more intimate window into the world of modern day war. Set a few years back, the film focuses on a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit as it works to defuse a series of improvised explosive devices (IED) in the streets of Iraq.

Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner) is a fearless warrior -- who actually craves the feeling of mortal danger that he experiences while defusing bombs. His team members Sergeant JT Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge couldn't be more different, but they must learn to work together as a unit. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) is more by-the-book and Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) is a less confident, more fearful participant. Here is where Bigelow could have slipped into war movie stereotypes, but she prevents that from happening. As the group's tour of duty drags on, each member suffers visibly from the psychological strain of war -- and displays a wide range of feelings ranging from helplessness to guilt to desires of revenge. And as the unit deals with one explosive device after another, I was totally absorbed into the suspense of the unpredictability and uniqueness of each situation.

Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, David Morse and Evageline Lilly appear in smaller roles. But the film is carried by Renner, Mackie and Geraghty who are all excellent. In fact, Renner and Mackie were both deservedly nominated for Independent Spirit Awards earlier this year. It's a rare instance where the eligibility for those awards do not match up with the Academy Awards. With the Academy extending its field of best picture nominations from five to ten films for next year's awards show, I think we have our first front-runner for a slot. [Rated R; in theaters now]

Grade: A-


  • According to Variety, Bigelow and writer Mark Boal, the team behind The Hurt Locker, will work together again on Triple Frontier. The action-adventure film will be set in the border area shared by Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. Production will likely begin next year.

Julie & Julia

Writer/director Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle) creates a gem of a film depicting events in the lives of two women -- famed chef Julia Child and one of her biggest fans, Julie Powell, a blogger. The plot follows almost parallel lives between the two women -- even though their stories play out more than 50 years apart and thousands of miles away. In so doing, we are treated to two films in one -- as we travel between 1940s France to watch Child learn to cook and New York City, shortly after 9-11, as Powell aspires to cook all 524 recipes from Child's best-selling book.

The movie begins with Child (Meryl Streep) and Powell (Amy Adams) as secretaries, frustrated in their jobs. They instead switch gears and find happiness as they pursue their true passions -- cooking and writing. Ephron nearly seamlessly bounces us back and forth between the two women. With comic turns and dramatic flashes, we enjoy both their ups and downs -- as each tries to reach her goal. And we learn that both stand the best chance of succeeding thanks to their supportive husbands -- Paul Child (Stanley Tucci) and Eric Powell (Chris Messina).

Streep, who recently turned 60, plays Child in her late 30s. Odd, yes -- but who else has the range and acting expertise to portray Child? Streep is great once again (is she ever not?). And Adams (Sunshine Cleaning, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) continues to impress -- is she this generation's Streep? My only real complaint is that the movie felt a big longer than its two hours -- but it's not easy to breezily pull off two films in one. Ephron's screenplay is adapted from two books: My Life in France, Child's autobiography, written with Alex Prud'homme, and a memoir by Powell. [Rated PG-13; opens Friday]

Grade: A-


  • Is there anyone that Streep cannot play? She even starred as writer/director Ephron's semi-autobiographical self in 1986's Heartburn!
  • Dan Akroyd's hilarious 1978 portrayal of Child on Saturday Night Live makes its way into the film! To view the SNL skit, click here.
  • My screening was attended by the real Julie Powell - who admitted that she was far less sweet than Amy Adams. I concur.
  • Receive a free song download, a bonus track to the Julie & Julia soundtrack, by signing up for a Sony Pictures Entertainment newsletter here.
  • Another female director, Lynn Shelton, is making headlines with the recent release of her film, Humpday. She also wrote and produced the movie.
  • Click here for an alphabetical archive of all movie reviews.

Monday, August 3, 2009

MusicMonday: Free and Legal Downloads

There's a lot of free music to download online -- but keep in mind that most of it is illegal. For this first MusicMonday of the month, here is a list of source links for free and verfied LEGAL downloads. Enjoy!

  • Vans Warped Tour -- now through August 31, you can download 10 tracks from the current music tour here.

  • Coldplay -- even after all this time, the Grammy-winning band is still sharing its free live Left Right Left Right Left album on its website here.
  • MTV -- you sure don't hear a lot of music on MTV nowadays, but the network offers up some select free tracks on its website (click here).

  • Standford University -- before summer comes to a close (actually, September 30), you can find a special summer music mix of 30 songs here.
  • -- the Web's largest retailer continually updates its huge inventory of free downloads here.
  • Walmart -- speaking of large retailers, the big chain store's site lists a free song of the week -- and sometimes even more free selections -- click here for details.
  • Urban Outfitters -- more freebies from a retailer -- if you like what you hear while you're shopping, check out the hip store's website here for free downloads.
  • Johnson & Johnson's -- and if you're a sleep-deprived parent, here are 5 lullabies to help your baby fall asleep - so you can finally get some sleep yourself.