There's a shift going on in movie and video watching. DVDs are facing heavy competition from places like Hulu, Amazon and Netflix, who are streaming content and there's also movies On Demand - all of which mean people are deciding between paying $20 a month to watch nearly all the new movies that are also out on DVD with a much wider range of content or paying $20-$99 a piece for a single-DVD or box set. But these are five of the ones that we have kept;
The Muppets/Sesame Street
As the parent of a young child, I have around 30 or more of these that my wife and I have kept to play in heavy rotation. Fortunately, they are much less expensive than movie DVDs - costing around $5 as opposed to costing $20. Since my child loves nearly everything Jim Henson-related (alas, I cannot get him into Fraggle Rock), I also own plenty of Muppet movies and The Muppet Show. The Pros: I keep my son occupied while working and also relive my younger days when I watched Sesame Street too. These include the Sesame Street Old School DVDs which have episodes from the '70s, when I was growing up. Cons: If I hear "Can You Tell Me How To Get..." ONE MORE TIME, I may plunge something sharp into my eardrums. We may or may not also be seeing the Wiggles in concert in October.
All Six Star Wars Movies
Yes, I even own The Phantom Menace because I'm such a completionist. Of course, I'm a sucker for the original trilogy - I saw A New Hope when it first came out in the theater. (We called it Star Wars then because...well...The Empire Strikes Back hadn't come out yet.) We forget how groundbreaking they were in this day and age of super special effects. These movies are ones that I can watch over and over and over. I'm saving room for when the seventh movie comes out. The Indiana Jones Trilogy + 1
Like I said in a previous piece, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull NEVER HAPPENED. Just to prove my point I bought that one on DVD at a deep discount during a store chain going out of business. The rest I got in a box set. I can watch any of them at any time. Yes, even Temple of Doom, though I do tend to mute the Kate Capshaw parts. Harrison Ford is lucky that he's getting my DVD income in both Star Wars and this. Scrubs
I own nearly every Scrubs set. I just don't have the final season, the one where Zach Braff had left the show and not even John C. McGinley and Donald Faison could save it. It was one of the best-written and funny shows that I have ever seen, with some of the most human characters too. Dr. Perry Cox is one of my favorite characters of all time. The Princess Bride
This is a case of saving the best for last. In my mind, it's the greatest movie of all time - the funniest and most quotable movie of all time with the greatest characters too. C'mon. Don't lie. You know that if you're flipping through the channels and you see that it's on, you're going to sit down and re-visit with Westley, Buttercup, Inigo Montoya, Fezzik and Vizzini all over again. It's inconceivable that you wouldn't.
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That high-pitched whine you currently have reverberating in your ears and threatening to make your brain bleed is the sound of approximately a quadrillion teenaged girls wailing across the globe. Because Mr. Zayn Malik (20), one fifth of the boy band One Direction, is now fianced. A label rep confirmed the news to People, "Zayn and Perrie are engaged, but any further detail regarding their relationship is private."
Malik's now-fiancée is 20-year-old Perrie Edwards, a fellow former X Factor contestant and member of the British girl group Little Mix. She arrived at Monday's London premiere of the One Direction documentary This Is Us with a bit of bling on a particular finger, prompting the rumors of an engagement and Wednesday's confirmation.
While many Directioners proved to be mature individuals who took the news in stride, tweeting words of support for the couple and causing the coupname (that's short for "couple nickname") Zerrie to trend, others were distraught. Overcome, hysterical, mournful. See below.
ZAYN GIRLS HAVE IT THE WORST ZAYN IS NEVER ONLINE WE BARELY SEE HIM OUTSIDE AND NOW HE'S ENGAGED DONT TELL US TO BE CALM
— addie (@zaynatomy) August 21, 2013
You're sad because you missed harrys tweeting spree but im sad and crying over zayn being engaged
— :( (@zarryshearts) August 21, 2013
but zayn is engaged :( pic.twitter.com/wzOa6xdY8n
— glazed donut (@carboniall) August 21, 2013
PERRIES MOM CONFIRMED SHE AND ZAYN ARE ENGAGED OH MY GOD IM SOBBING I CANT http://t.co/icRO2gH08C
— CONGRATS ZAYN (@coldshire) August 21, 2013
So I cried when I found out Zayn and Perrie are engaged. Then I cried again when I found out that Perrie's brother confirmed it
— 07/03/13❤ (@wewantthe1Dxx) August 21, 2013
Zayn is engaged BRB SOBBING
— Abriah aka bye (@xiamsherlocked) August 21, 2013
I'm okay with zayn being engaged and all but every time someone mentions it I feel like someone just punched me in the throat.
— Mona♛ (@mxo_42) August 21, 2013
Follow Abbey on Twitter @abbeystone
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Friday Night... Fights?: Minka Kelly is a TV cheerleader no more. The Friday Night Lights vet is returning to her Charlie's Angels roots (sort of) in J.J. Abrams' much abuzzed, but still untitled, new pilot. It's a futuristic buddy-cop show where all LAPD officers are partnered up with androids, but sorry pervs — she's an actual living cop. To get specific, she's a "uniformed cop with a strong moral compass who believes the best of people." Sounds great! [Deadline]
Josh Lucas and Lynn Collins Get Witchy: After a long, complicated casting process, Josh Lucas and Lynn Collins have been cast as the leads in A&E's drama pilot The Occult. The pilot has a fancy pedigree: it will be produced by Michael Bay and written by X-Files alum James Wong, and focus on an X-Files/Fringe hybrid FBI duo that solves cases rooted in the occult. [Deadline]
No Rest For The Wicked: Good news, Pretty Little Liars fans — the hiatus between seasons 3 and 4 of this immensely popular show will only be a couple of months long. Liars will wrap up its third year next Tuesday, March 19, then return this summer on Tuesday, June 11 for Season 4. [TVLine]
Martin Mull is a New Dad!: On TV! Sitcom vet Martin Mull has landed one of the leads in Seth MacFarlane's new Fox comedy show, Dads. The show, which has already received a six-episode order, will feature two successful video game entrepreneurs whose "nightmare" fathers suddenly move in with them. Mull will (duh) play one of those nightmares. [TVLine]
Mr. and Mrs. Bing To Go On: Ring ring — it's the '90s calling. Just to let you know, we're never, ever going away — and now, we're reuniting former Friends lovers Chandler Bing and Monica Gellar-Bing (err, Matthew Perry and Courteney Cox) on Perry's new NBC-com Go On. Because, let's face it, your heart for '90s nostalgia will always go on. The pair will go on a set-up date on the April 2 ep of the series. It has not yet been confirmed whether Lisa Kudrow will provide acoustic entertainment. [TVLine]
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: Giulio Marcocchi/Sipa USA/AP Photo]
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It’s just been a few days since news first broke that J.J. Abrams will be directing Star Wars: Episode VII but fans of that Galaxy Far, Far Away everywhere are still mulling over what exactly it means for the beloved franchise.
Not to mention that it’s still a shock that Abrams, who relaunched that other fountainhead of geek culture, Star Trek, in 2009, is going to be involved at all, given his repeated denials that he’d ever be at the helm. So what are the fans thinking? We asked three of the biggest names in all of Star Wars fandom.
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“Half of me thought, ‘Of course,’” says Eric Geller, an editor at Star Wars fansite TheForce.Net, about when he heard the Abrams news. “And the other half thought, ‘But he already said no!’ And then the first half of me shouted down the second half because misdirection is as old as time in the movie business.”
Tracy Duncan, the editor and webmaster of Club Jade, a site devoted more to female Star Wars fans, agrees. “I was a little surprised when word about Abrams came down,” Duncan says. “The man was involved with Star Trek, has who-knows-what-else on his plate, and most importantly, had denied it twice!”
TheForce.Net and Club Jade are possibly the two best known of all Star Wars fansites and are repositories of geeky wit and insight.
Want to learn the latest scoop about anything related to the saga? Go to TheForce.Net and Club Jade. Want to take the instant temperature of Star Wars fans about how they feel regarding, say, Abrams being hired to helm Episode VII? Club Jade and TheForce.Net have you covered.
But for a real Lucasfilm insider’s take, you have to turn to Bonnie Burton. A senior editor and social media manager of Lucasfilm until last year, Burton is a massive force, pun intended, in Star Wars fandom. And she was decidedly less shocked that Abrams, whose Star Trek Into Darkness launches in May, would be trading Roddenberry for Lucas.
“I’ve interviewed him many times for StarWars.com, and he always told me how much he loved Star Wars, and was inspired by the films as both a writer and director,” Burton says.“In fact, when J.J. first met Damon Lindelof — who was wearing a Bantha Tracks t-shirt — he knew they would get along famously because he was part of the original Star Wars fan club. His work on Lost alone should leave no doubts of his appreciation for Star Wars and its impact on so many generations.” (We concur and have rounded up 10 Star Wars-inspired moments we’ve discovered on Lost.)
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Once the initial surprise of Abrams’ involvement has passed, the next big question becomes, “What can the man who created Alias and Lost and rebooted Star Trek bring to Star Wars?”
If you ask Duncan, it seems pretty clear. “Super 8 showed that Abrams has a handle on the '70s/'80s Spielberg aesthetic — I recall him actually being criticized for it a bit — that I think will serve Star Wars quite well,” Duncan says. “He's not a director that's ever looked down on making popcorn movies, which Star Wars very definitely is.
And he certainly seems to have a rapport with actors, which is something that this franchise has often lacked. Plus, Star Trek showed he's no slouch at action!” Star Trek and Star Wars used to be the matter and anti-matter of the geek world.
Combine them in any way and a rupture in the space-time continuum would surely result. Now Abrams’ Star Trek films are going to be scrutinized more than ever for how they might hint at the direction his Star Wars might take.
“If you look at how he handled the classic Trek characters in the 2009 reboot, they were pretty true to their 1960s depictions,” Geller says. “I think that bodes well for whatever involvement the Big Three [Luke, Han, and Leia] and their Original Trilogy friends have in Episode VII. And I liked the way Abrams made Kirk's family history a prominent part of the reboot. If the Skywalkers or Solos have kids and send them out on a mission in Episode VII, there's probably going to be an excellent parent-child dynamic to set up that action.”
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Abrams may also have the ability to expand Star Wars further beyond the boundary of the big screen. Lost was one of the first shows to extensively promote via social media and fake, Easter Egg-heavy tie-in websites. “He really understands transmedia, using the Internet as a way to create viral videos and interesting interactive content,” Burton says. “When I interviewed him around the time Fringe first started, I asked him what he’d do online to add to the Star Wars experience, and he said, ‘Online is the perfect place to have something like an interactive Senate where fans could represent different worlds and debate in character. I could see a giant Star Wars debate team tackle all the issues that the prequels dealt with and having characters from the movie moderate the discussion.”
Along with his puzzle-piece storytelling, Easter Eggs, emphasis on intricate plots about family relationships, and, yes, his prominent use of lens flares, Abrams’ defining aesthetic characteristic may be his ability to write and direct strong, empowered women. Star Wars has been criticized for not having as many kick-ass female characters as males.
“There have been some rumors about Episode VII having a female protagonist — something that’s long due — and Abrams is definitely a director who won’t shy away from that,” Duncan says. “I’d really like to see a Star Wars movie with more than one female lead character…And no metal bikinis!”
Burton takes a more generous view of the franchise’s representation of female characters. “Star Wars has always been full of strong female characters,” she says. “Princess Leia isn’t a wallflower. She manages to kill Jabba the Hutt with a chain all while wearing the most uncomfortable and draftiest costume ever created for a woman.”
But Burton also agrees that Abrams’ affinity for women will fit perfectly: “J.J. completely understands that Star Wars isn't an Old Jedi Boys Club, but full of opportunities to show women as warriors, leaders and a hell of a lot more than girlfriends and wives.
The women in J.J.'s previous projects like Sydney Bristow in Alias, Olivia Dunham in Fringe, and the women of Lost were all strong, savvy, brave and intelligent characters who refuse to buckle under pressure.”
Since fan speculation about Star Wars is an eternal pursuit, it’s not too early to begin thinking about who could direct other films beyond Episode VII — unless Abrams ends up directing the whole trilogy. Hey, if it's not too early to start thinking about 2016's presidential contenders, it's not too soon to think about who'll direct Episode VIII.
Considering possible also-ran contenders for the new movie, Duncan says, “I found the early Brad Bird rumors pretty hopeful, but there are several directors I could have lived with: Matthew Vaughn, Jon Favreau, maybe even David Fincher.”
As for Burton, Abrams was always her top candidate for the job, but she says she would like to have seen what Joss Whedon and Guillermo del Toro could have done with the House that Lucas Built. “On a side note, I would be thrilled if John Waters decided to do a sequel to the Star Wars Holiday Special. If anyone can redefine sci-fi camp, it’s Waters.”
See? Every Star Wars fan wants to see something a little different. Just maybe not that different.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
And also follow:
Eric Geller @ericgeller
Tracy Duncan @clubjade
Bonnie Burton @bonniegrrl
[Photo Credit: Scott Kirkland/INFphoto]
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With each outing in his evolving filmmaking career actor-turned-director Ben Affleck has amped up the scope. Gone Baby Gone was a character drama woven into a hard-boiled mystery. The Town saw Affleck dabble in action pulling off bank heists many compared to the expertise of Heat. In Argo the director pulls off his most daring effort melding one part caper comedy and two parts edge-of-your-seat political thriller into an exhilarating theatrical experience.
At the height of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 anti-Shah militants stormed the U.S. embassy and captured 52 American hostages. Six managed to escape the raid finding refuge in the Canadian ambassador's home. Within hours the militants began a search for the missing Americans sifting through shredded paperwork for even the smallest bit of evidence. Under pressure by the ticking clock the CIA worked quickly to formulate a plan to covertly rescue the six embassy workers. Despite a lengthy list of possibilities only Tony Mendez (Affleck) had a plan just enticing enough to unsuspecting Iranian officials to work: the CIA would fake a Hollywood movie shoot.
There's nothing in Argo or Affleck's portrayal of Mendez that would tell you the technical operations officer has the imagination to conjure his master plan — Affleck perhaps to differentiate himself from the past plays his character with so much restraint he looks dead in the eyes — but when the Hollywood hijinks swing into full motion so does Argo. Mendez hooks up with Planet of the Apes makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) and producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to convince all of Hollywood that their sci-fi blockbuster "Argo " is readying for production. With enough promotional material concept art and press coverage Mendez and his team can convince the Iranian government they're a legit operation. A location scout in Tehran will be their method of extracting the bunkered down escapees.
Without an interesting lead to draw us in Affleck lets his eclectic ensemble do the heavy lifting. For the most part it works. Argo is basically two movies — Goodman and Arkin lead the Ocean's 11-esque half and Affleck takes the reigns when its time to get the six — another who's who of character actors including Tate Donovan Clea Duvall Scoot McNairy and Rory Cochrane — through the terrifying security of the Iranian airport. Arkin steals the show as a fast talking Hollywood type complete with year-winning catchphrase ("ArGo f**k yourself!) while McNairy adds a little more humanity to the spy mission when his character butts heads with Mendez. The split lessens the impact of each section but the tension in the escape is so high so taut that there's never a moment to check out.
Reality is on Affleck's side his camera floating through crowds of protestors and the streets of Tehran — a warscape where anything can happen. Each angle he chooses heightens the terror which starts to close in on the covert escape as they drift further and further from their homebase. Argo is a complete package with the '70s production design knowing when to play goofy (the fake movie's wild sci-fi designs) and when to remind us that problems took eight more steps to fix then they do today. Alexandre Desplat's score finds balance in haunting melodies and energetic pulses.
Part of Argo's charm is just how unreal the entire operation really was. To see the men and women involved go through with a plan they know could result in death. It's a suspenseful adventure and while there's not much in the way of character to cling to the visceral experience tends to be enough.
Though ostensibly successful 2009’s The Final Destination represented to many a horror franchise on its last hackneyed legs. Rote uninspired and humorless it scored a (modest) hit only by virtue of the novelty -- and added ticket price -- of its 3D transfer. Two years later Final Destination 5 arrives with a slightly tweaked formula a beefed-up storyline actors you might actually recognize and genuine honest-to-goodness 3D. It’s still schlock mind you -- but artful schlock and a marked improvement over the preceding entry.
The story begins in familiar fashion with a cursory introduction to the characters followed by a grisly premonition that sees them perish wholesale. An assortment of cubicle-dwellers at a paper factory are being bused to a corporate retreat when one of them Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto perpetually bug-eyed) dreams of a massive bridge collapse in which he and his co-workers are impaled beheaded bisected crushed by cars singed by tar -- however many ways a suspension bridge can kill a person the film’s opening set-piece explores it gruesome detail. Sam awakens duly horrified and demands the bus be evacuated. Seconds later the employees watch in horror from the sidelines as Sam’s vision comes to fruition.
You know what happens next. One-by-one death stalks the survivors who meet their fate in a series of elaborately-staged incidents. Some are relatively straightforward; others involve fiendish head-fakes and red herrings. The range of victims is older and more colorful than in previous Final Destination films in which death preyed exclusively on attractive nubile teenagers but the end result is invariably the same. (Not to give anything away but those considering acupuncture or laser eye surgery would be wise to avoid the film entirely.) As death’s scheme becomes achingly evident Sam his lachrymose girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell) and his increasingly unhinged buddy Peter (Miles Fisher) become increasingly desperate. Enter the ever-ominous Tony Todd returning to the franchise after (wisely) taking the previous film off offering a potential way out. But is it genuine or just another of death’s cruel tricks?
Director Steven Quale a James Cameron protege hired principally for his 3D expertise takes full advantage of the added dimension delivering some of the most vivid and immersive 3D sequences in recent memory. Unlike The Final Destination which seemed little more than a amalgam of crude one-liners Final Destination 5 feels like a real movie one with a discernible plot an element of suspense and a handful characters who are more than just punchlines. Most of the actors are surprisingly competent save for Fisher a credible doppelganger for Tom Cruise (he parodied him 2008’s Superhero Movie) who imbues every line with couch-jumping intensity.
Final Destination 5 ends with a twist that while genuinely unexpected feels like a Hail Mary for a franchise that can’t forestall its inexorable descent into stale irrelevance despite the best of efforts from Quale. Its trademark formula has simply lost its potency -- a problem no amount of cosmetic upgrades however welcome can fix. That the film is bracketed by two pointless and time-consuming montages -- the first an animated sequence that hurtles various hazardous objects at the audience the second a greatest hits compilation of memorable kills from previous Final Destination films -- is a telltale sign that the saga’s creativity is on life support. Perhaps it’s time to pull the plug.