Friday, April 30, 2010

Save the Date: Official Date Set for "Dark Knight" Follow-Up

I guess i know where I will be July 20th, 2012.

Warner Bros. has set July 20, 2012, as the official release date for the third Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movie.

The studio has barely begun the process of developing the movie; Nolan is in postproduction on “Inception,” but is hammering out a story with David Goyer.

There is no title as this point and no start date.

July is becoming Nolan’s month. “The Dark Knight” opened on July 18, 2008, and “Inception” debuts July 16.

With Batman 3 on the docket, summer 2012 is shaping up to be one of the greater geek movie seasons. Marvel’s “The Avengers” is slated to come out May 4, board game adaptation “Battleship” leaves port May 25, the “Star Trek” sequel beams up June 29, and the rebooted “Spider-Man” swings into theaters on July 3.

Although all that is known about the film now is the release date, I'm glad that things are finally headed into the right direction. Even though it's over two years away, this is the movie that I'm going to be looking forward to the most. Mark down your calendars fans, the Batman is back.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Classic Album Review, N.E.R.D., "In Search Of..."

Any smart hip-hop fan knows who Pharrell Williams is. The uber-producer is one of the most popular beat makers in the industry.

With Chad Hugo, his partner in The Neptunes, he has crafted some of the most well known beats for artists such as Puff Daddy, Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Lupe Fiasco over the years.

While he has had the most success as a producer, any intelligent hip-hop fan knows about Williams’ other affiliation: N.E.R.D. (No One Ever Really Dies). Comprised of Williams, Hugo and rapper Shay Haley, the group formed in 2001 and has released three albums to date.

Their debut album, “In Search Of…” is easily their best piece of work, and for the group it was a labor of love. The album was initially made with sampled beats and released in Europe first, but N.E.R.D. was unhappy with the results, so they decided to re-record it with mostly live instruments. A pretty rare move in the industry, but N.E.R.D. isn’t your run-of-the-mill hip-hop group.

The new version of the album replaces their signature techno grooves with rock guitars, drums, pianos, and other jazzy instruments and makes the album sound dynamic and alive. The American version was critically acclaimed, but it didn’t sell too many copies. Chalk that up to the release date, which was on September 28th, 2001, only a few weeks after 9/11.

The debut album from the group is an eclectic mix of hip-hop, funk and rock and is some of the most unique and original sounding music in the industry. The album touches on some interesting topics, including shady adolescents (“Bobby James”), desperate drug dealers (“Provider”) and dudes who like to videotape their girlfriends during sex (“Tape You”).

Pharrell raps with a tone of youthful exuberance and irony that makes each track even better. The way he can mesh sex, humor, the teenage mindset and cockiness is an art form in itself. From top to bottom, all twelve tracks are solid, with “Run to the Sun”, “Stay Together”, “Truth or Dare” and “Am I High” standing out as the best.

The first track “Lapdance” is easily the most party-friendly track, coming in hard with a percussion heavy beat that continues until the last second of the song.

Pharrell comments on American culture not-so-subtly as he raps into the chorus: “It's how I feel/It's this society/That makes a nigga wanna kill/I'm just straight ill/Ridin' my motorcycle down the streets/While the government is soundin' like strippers to me/Oooh baby you want me?/Well you can get this lap dance here for free.”

“Run to the Sun” is a heartbreaker and is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It starts on with a smooth keyboard that sets the stage for the funky guitar and bass. It’s an apology song at its core, detailing the end of an affair.

You can hear the truthfulness and hurt in Pharrell’s voice as he raps: “Girl I want to leave you with this line/It goes while you're here/I wanna tell you something/It's that I love you girl/Yeah, and I wish we could run to the sun/And never come back.”

“Am I High”, which features Malice (from Clipse) is my favorite track on the album. The piano heavy, drug themed ballad sounds like it’s coming straight from a high school melodrama, with the background vocals providing a great compliment to the lyrics.

It’s clear the drugs can’t heal Pharrell’s pain as he raps: “I think I've loved you since our high school/But you only wanted friends of mine/So when they replied, her, she's cool/Only then you gave our friendship time.”

Malice has one of the best and catchiest verses on the album as he raps with ferocity: “It's the kinda high that got me leaning/120 speeding in the rain/Meaning of a hydroplane/Play both sides of the field/See I know pain/Keep 'em high like Kurt Cobain/Listen,I'm known for speaking my mind/Known for fleeing from the scene of a crime/Eyes redder than the beam of my nine/Eyes redder than the scene of that crime/All for the love of the lime/I'm so high.”

“Bobby James” is the most underrated track on the album. The soft percussion and the opening verse sets the stage for this nearly six-minute teenage epic perfectly as Pharrell bellows: “Hi I'm 17 and my name is Bobby James/Everyday in school all my classmates call me names/And so this pusher introduced me to this thing/He said it makes you forget pain but makes you sing.”

Throughout the whole album Pharrell raps with a naïve attitude, and it’s never more prevalent than on this track. The chorus is equally painful as he raps: “Hey there mister give me some cash/I'm high as hell and I'm ready to blast/I'm just one hit away from being passed out/Young and assed out.”

N.E.R.D. doesn’t waste a single second on this album, and each track has something to offer, which is a rarity in hip-hop these days. The singing is flawless, the beats are bold and the album displays how talented The Neptunes really are. It’s a unique and stylish and is easily one of the most intriguing and classic hip-hop albums of the past decade.

Check out the original column at

TNT renews "Southland" for third season

Finally, after weeks of waiting, the news is in. "Southland" will be back for a third season.

TNT announced yesterday that they have ordered 10 new episodes, slated to air in January 2011.

Says Michael Wright, head of TNT, tbs and TCM programming: "Southland is a challenging, visceral show that engages viewers with its immersive style, provocative storylines, and complex characters. These qualities have made "Southland" a favorite among critics and appointment viewing for an extremely loyal audience."

"Southland" is an expensive show to produce, so the decision from TNT to renew the series came as a bit of a surprise, but boy am I glad they made it.

Even though Southland has pulled in only moderate ratings since starting its run on TNT, the network was quick to point out that the series gains about 50% more viewers with DVR numbers and averaged about 2.7 million viewers for the season once time-shifting numbers were added.

The John Wells-produced cop-drama focuses on a police unit in Los Angeles. It stars Ben McKenzie (The O.C.), Tom Everett Scott (TNT's Saved), Michael Cudlitz (Band of Brothers) and Regina King (24).

Can't wait to see what they have in store for season 3.

"Dog Day" Scribe Pens "17 Days"

Frank Pierson ("Dog Day Afternoon," "Cool Hand Luke") will pen the script for the 3D Korean War epic "17 Days of Winter" for Madmedia Entertainment says Variety.

The story follows the pivotal 1950 battle of Chosin Reservoir, in which 12,000 American troops fought a 120,000-man Chinese force in sub-zero temperatures.

Pierson served in the Pacific during the second World War and fought against the Japanese in New Guinea and the Philippines.

Eric Brevig ("Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D") directs with filming to take place in South Korea and New Zealand in time for a 2012 release.

Both "Dog Day Afternoon," and "Cool Hand Luke" are classic films, so it will be interesting to see how the script looks once Pierson is done with it.

Brevig and Charlotte Huggins will produce.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What A Week

What a week it's been. There has almost been too much good stuff to watch on TV this week.

Whether it's the NBA playoffs (congrats on a first career playoff win Mr. Durant), the NHL playoffs (peace Devils!), the NFL Draft (Tebow a Bronco!? Clausen and McCoy still waiting?!), awesome shows like "Lost" and "Fringe", the possibilities were endless.

On top of that "South Park" put on arguably its most controversial episode in a while, which we now find out was partly censored by Comedy Central. Obviously they were looking out out for the safety of their employees, but I still think they totally bitched out.

It was also another strong and fantastic week on "The Daily Show", which had Jon Stewart defending his fellow Comedy Central brethren Matt and Trey on last nights episode. Stewart brought out the choir once again, and trust me, it's worth a watch, especially if you are a fan of "South Park".

Of course there was a ton of stuff out there I forgot to mention, "Community", "Justified" and of course "The Office", which made great use of the Cookie Monster, as well as a perfectly timed reference to "When Harry Met Sally" by Michael while out to lunch with Erin.

So as this Friday comes to a close, there's a lot on people's minds, but I know what Mel Kieper Jr. is thinking: When the hell is Jimmy coming off the board?

If you've been watching any draft coverage you know one thing, Kieper is HIGH on Clausen and very LOW on Tebow. Guess the draft is as big a crapshoot as anything. We'll see where he falls later tonight.

...and finallly, it's the weekend.

Monday, April 19, 2010

NFL Draft 2010

As we all know from ESPN's commercials, the draft is in PRIMETIME this year.

Three days of football loving glory coming to NYC. What does your team need, who are they going to get? Who do you want your team to get?

Only time will tell, but if I were drafting high, I'd take the man with the best name in the draft: Ndamukong Suh.

...and get used to seeing those two faces (above) a lot over the week.

Garrett Hedlund Goes "On the Road"

Rising star Garrett Hedlund ("Troy," "Tron: Legacy") is in talks to play one of the two lead roles in "On the Road" says Production Weekly.

Walter Salles directs this long-gestating adaptation of Jack Kerouac's acclaimed 1951 novel about his years traveling all over North America with his friend Neal Cassady on a "cross-country bohemian odyssey".

Hedlund would play Dean Moriarty, the character based on Cassady. The role of Sal Paradise (Kerouac's alter-ego) has yet to be cast though Sam Riley ("Control") has previously been rumored. Shooting kicks off this Summer.

"On the Road" is one of the most classic novels ever written, so I am always weary of adaptations like that, but with Hedlund and Salles involved things might be different.

Salles is considered a quality filmmaker, and with material like this, I think he will do great. Hedlund is a a rising star who I think will break out fully later this year with "Tron Legacy".

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chris Rock Takes on Kurosawa

It seems that Chris Rock has really been into remakes lately.

In the same week that his film Death at a Funeral (adapted from the British film of the same name) is set for release, Rock was hired to write the script for the US adaptation of High & Low.

According to BlackVoices Rock will be rewriting David Mamet's script that was commissioned way back in 1999, while Mike Nichols (The Graduate) will direct.

The film is a remake of Akira Kurosawa's acclaimed 1963 detective thriller High and Low, which itself is based on Evan Hunter's novel "King's Ransom".

The story follows a wealthy corporate executive whose son has been kidnapped. He's prepared to pay the ransom using funds he needs for a critical corporate buyout, but before he can send the payment though, he realizes the kidnappers have mistakenly abducted the child of his chauffeur and thus the decision becomes much more complicated.

Suddenly, he's not so eager to part with his money and as the title suggests, Kurosawa's film opens up to explore the class issues of the era while still retaining turning the dials of the plot.

I have always felt that Chris Rock is one of the funniest, most talented actors in Hollywood, and by taking on this project, it shows that Rock can do a lot more besides make people laugh. If you remember his role in New Jack City back in the day, he proved he can take on a dramatic role and perform just as well as he does in stand up.

Kurosawa is considered one of the best filmmakers of all-time, so you know the material will be good, but only time will tell one how Rock shapes the story to fit his style, as well as adding in aspects of American culture to it.

The project would mark the fourth remake Rock has been involved in script-wise starting with 2007's I Think I Love My Wife and this week's Death at a Funeral.

Check out the article on

Classic Album Review, Eminem, "The Marshall Mathers LP"

Over the year’s there hasn't been another rapper striked fear in the hearts of parents everywhere like Eminem.

When Eminem first exploded onto the scene in 1999 with the release of his debut album “The Slim Shady LP”, he injected a shot of adrenaline to hip-hop. Along with having some truly graphic lyrics, the album went triple platinum and solidified Eminem as one of the most controversial and popular artists in the game.

To follow up his controversial debut, Eminem released “The Marshall Mathers LP”, considered by many to be one of the best hip-hop albums of all-time and is Eminem’s magnum opus, his defining work. The album is more introspective in its lyrics and focuses less on the Slim Shady persona, instead shining some attention on Eminem’s personal life, and takes a serious look at his rise to fame.

Eminem takes on a great deal of personal and controversial topics on this album including his childhood, violence, drug abuse, and the Columbine massacre. Although his lyrics can be vulgar and offensive, they hold much more meaning than just being for shock value. He also does an excellent job (as he has in his whole career) of mixing in a humorous tone and witty punch lines throughout his lyrics, commenting on the industry and society.

On “Kill You” and “Marshall Mathers” he raps about his family issues, mostly involving his mother, while on “Kim” he looks back on the relationship struggles with his wife. He also intelligently and accurately raps about American society and the youth culture in our country on the tracks “The Way I Am”, “Criminal”, and “Who Knew”.

“The Way I Am” was the second single released from the album, and is much darker in tone and style from the first single, the very catchy, “The Real Slim Shady.” Eminem truly makes some intelligent commentary when he raps: "And they blame it on Marilyn/And the heroin/Where were the parents at?/And look where it's at/Middle America, now it's a tragedy/Now it's so sad to see/An upper-class city/having this happening."

While there are a lot of great tracks on this album, “Stan” may be the most genius and most controversial. The track is a unique one, and tells the story of a fan that is obsessed with Eminem and writes to him without receiving a reply.

The first three verses are delivered by Eminem as Stan, while the fourth verse is Eminem attempting to write to Stan, only to realize that he had already heard about Stan's death on the news. The style and content of the track is like no other, and you can feel the raw emotion coming from Eminem as he raps: “And what's this shit about us meant to be together?/That type of shit'll make me not want us to meet each other/I really think you and your girlfriend need each other/Or maybe you just need to treat her better”.

''I'm Back' is my personal favorite track on the album. Although I think Eminem is at his best when he raps in a serious manner, I personally enjoy this track for it’s humorous tone, and especially catchy chorus.

Eminem shows off his supreme lyrical skills as he starts off the track, rapping: “I murder a rhyme one word at a time/You never, heard of a mind as perverted as mine/You better, get rid of that nine, it ain't gonna help/What good's it gonna do against a man that strangles himself?”

While “The Marshall Mathers LP” may not be the most morally responsible album, it is raw, intelligent and supremely dope. You can all it one of the most controversial albums of all-time, you can call it one of the best albums of all time, just make sure you call it a classic.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sebastian Stan Still In "Captain America"

Though he missed out on playing the titular hero, hunky actor Sebastian Stan (TV's "Kings," "Gossip Girl") will still be involved with Marvel Studios' "The First Avenger: Captain America" film.

According to Several sources report that Stan has signed a multi-picture deal to play Bucky Barnes, a sidekick from the early days of the comic who became the Soviet assassin Winter Soldier, and later briefly the Captain himself after the death of Steve Rogers.

Initially, Barnes was an orphan who discovered Captain America's true identity and partners up with him to fight the Nazis during World War II. He was seemingly killed in the same plane explosion that hurled Rogers into the North Atlantic sea where his body was frozen and then revived decades later.

In 2005, Barnes returned--the character having been rescued from the sea by the Soviets. Struck with amnesia and now sporting a bionic arm to replace the one lost in the explosion, he becomes a ruthless assassin for them.

Stan's deal is expected to include not just the "Captain America" film but "The Avengers" and other Marvel titles.

The news came just as Marvel Studios issued a press release officially confirming Chris Evans will star as Steve Rogers/Captain America.

I don’t know much about Stan, but I’m glad that casting for this film is shaping up. I really think what Marvel has done the past few years with “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk” and their upcoming slate of films is truly brilliant. The actual Marvel comic books and characters have always shared the same ‘world,’ so why not their movie characters too?

If “Captain America” and “Thor” are successful, “The Avengers” may end up being one of the highest grossing films ever.

Filming on “The First Avenger: Captain America” kicks off this summer in Europe.

Third "XXX" Film Goes To Paramount

"XXX: The Return of Xander Cage," the third film in the spy action franchise started in 2002, has left Sony Pictures and has re-emerged over at Paramount, which is in negotiations to finance, produce and release the film.

According to Deadline NY: John Brancato and Michael Ferris ("Terminator Salvation") penned the script which involves Xander Cage, the extreme sports athlete-turned-government operative from the first film, returning to the National Security Agency after an eight-year absence to work on a dangerous assignment only he can pull off.

As previously reported, Vin Diesel is reprising the role of Cage, Samuel L. Jackson will return as his handler Agent Augustus Gibbons, and the first film's director Rob Cohen will helm.

It wasn't immediately clear why Columbia dropped out, but the studio’s last film with Cohen, the 2005 action film "Stealth," was a costly failure for the studio that grossed just $32 million domestically. Cohen rebounded with "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," which grossed $401 million worldwide, but that was for Universal.

Diesel will star in the film right after he completes another installment of "The Fast and the Furious," which Universal Pictures will release June 10, 2011. Paramount expects to distribute the film six months or so later.

I kind of hate to say it, but I kind of liked the original “XXX.” I’m not saying it was a good movie, but it was enjoyable. Honestly, even the sequel which starred Ice Cube had some decent action moments, but he isn’t returning so it doesn’t really matter anyway. This has potential to be a good action film, but chances are it will be all flash and no substance.

Cohen plans to shoot the film with 3D cameras and a late 2011 or early 2012 release date is being targeted.

Ryan Reynolds to Star in "R.I.P.D."

Ryan Reynolds will star in yet another comic adaptation, this time the supernatural buddy action/comedy "R.I.P.D."

According to Collider: Reynolds will play a young cop murdered in the line of duty who agrees to enlist in "God's police force" for a chance to catch his killer. The action follows a regular day in the life of him and his partner, a gunslinger who himself has been dead for centuries.

Reynolds has quickly found himself as the go-to guy for comic book adaptations. He played "Deadpool" in "X Men Origins: Wolverine," which is also set to get a spinoff film, and he will play Hal Jordan in the upcoming "Green Lantern."

Neal Moritz will produce the PG-13 feature and filming commences in January after Reynolds wraps the R-rated body-swap comedy "The Change-Up," which starts filming in October.

Doug Liman Helms "The Three Musketeers"

Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity," "Go," "Jumper") is in talks to direct "The Three Musketeers" for Warner Bros. Pictures, one of two adaptations of Alexandre Dumas' classic story currently in the works.

According to Heat Vision: Liman was one of several helmers on Warners’ shortlist as a possible director for the latest Hollywood take on the Alexandre Dumas novel. The list is also known to have included David Frankel, the director of “The Devil Wears Prada.”

The project is in a race with Summit’s Musketeers movie, which helmer Paul W.S. Anderson has been working on since September. Anderson’s project, which will be in 3D, is in the casting stage.

Peter Straughan ("The Men Who Stare At Goats") adapted the script following the very familiar story of young D'Artagnan enlisting the help of three disgraced veteran musketeers to stop the duplicitous Cardinal Richelieu.

"Sherlock Holmes" producer Lionel Wigram aims to do a period-set but modern sensibility take on the tale, much like the recent Holmes adaptation.

Liman recently wrapped production on “Fair Game,” the true story of Valerie Plame, the CIA agent whose status was leaked to the public by the White House. The film stars Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

This project could have great potential, especially with Liman at the helm. The Musketeers is such a classic story it will be interesting to see how Liman tackles it. I have much more faith in him and this version rather than Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptation.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sarah Palin, Please Shut the F**k Up About Nuclear Weapons

As she should before she says anything, Sarah Palin really needs to shut the f**k up.

Earlier this week Palin criticized President Obama over his administration's proposal to limit the use of nuclear weapons.

At a rally on Wednesday, Palin told Fox News that the White House's vow to limit future use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states made the U.S. less safe. The former Republican vice presidential candidate compared the move to "a school kid asking to be hit."

Here's what she said:

Palin: "No administration in America's history would I think ever have considered such a step that we just found out that President Obama is supporting today. You know that's kinda like getting out there on the playground, a bunch of kids ready to fight and one of the kids saying 'Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.'"

First off before I say anything, stop using lame and completely ridiculous metaphors to describe real problems in this country. We're talking about nuclear weapons here, not some school yard fight. I get it, you're from Alaska, and you're a 'small town gal'. But these are real issues.

Thankfully President Obama dismissed these criticisms (and rightly so), when he spoke to ABC's George Stephanopoulos pointing to Palin's lack of expertise on the policy surrounding nuclear weapons, and he brushed off Palin's claims that the move would make the U.S. more vulnerable.

Said President Obama: "I really have no response. Because last I checked, Sarah Palin's not much of an expert on nuclear issues. If the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I'm probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin."

Honestly, what's wrong with trying to limit nuclear arms anyway? Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where you knew there were no bombs out there that could completely obliterate our cities and homes?

By the way Mrs. Palin, you said: "No administration in America's history would I think ever have considered such a step that we just found out that President Obama is supporting today." Well maybe you should take a look at this video of President Ronald Reagan, who many conservatives mention constantly when trying to criticize the current administration, as well as the "fair and balanced" bunch at Fox News.

If you don't have time to check out the video I'll give you the cliff notes version. Ronald Reagan, at a podium, giving a speech, uttering something like: "One day I would like to live in a world where there are no nuclear arms."

So no administration his history would ever fathom taking such a step? Point for Stewart and Obama. And honestly, what's so bad about trying to limit nuclear arms anyway? We're only setting ourselves up for a mutually assured destruction if we ever get into a nuclear battle with anyone.

Now I'm not saying I'm more of an expert than Palin, but I think that Obama may be slightly more intelligent with the subject matter. I think I'll stick with his side.

So Sarah, next time you want to talk about nuclear arms, just do us all a favor and STFU.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Business As Usual

Jon Stewart is always funny on "The Daily Show" but this week he went above and beyond. Actually, I have to chalk it up to Comedy Central in general this week. Stewart, "The Colbert Report, and "South Park" this week were all hilarious.

"South Park" took on Facebook, Jim Cramer and Chatroulette all in one episode, while Stewart and Colbert riffed on Michael Steele, (turning him into a puppet, literally), the Catholic Church and John McCain. Also, Stewart had the always fantastic Steve Carell on the show last night, and the interview was just hilarious.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lost: The Final Season

Only five more episodes to go until television's most complex and literary show comes to an end. Last night's episode was arguably one of the best yet, although we didn't get much action on the island.

But, if you're a fan of Desmond and his centric, time-bending episodes, than "Happily Ever After" was the perfect episode for you.

As always with "Lost", there are still many questions and not many answers. But one thing we do know, is that Desmond is special, he has always been. I'm hoping he gets a lot more screen time as the season comes to a close.

Analysis of this episode is endless, so here are some links to help clear things up:
-From a recap of the episode which lists 15 things we learned from "Happily Ever After".
-From a quick article detailing some interesting references and theories about the episode.
-Check later today for Doc Jensen's recap, which is always interesting, long and detailed. If you want to know what was going on last night, Jensen's your man.

Only five more episodes left, next week we get "Everybody Loves Hugo", which I'm guessing will follow everyone's favorite ghost talking castaway.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Classic Album Review, Lupe Fiasco, "Food & Liquor"

The latest entry in my weekly column at Refined Hype. This week: Lupe Fiasco, and his genre-bending debut, "Food & Liquor".

Hip-hop fans can get so engrossed with geography - east coast, west coast, dirty south - they often forget to look at their maps and remember that there is a place with no ‘coast’ that produces some damn good hip-hop too; the Midwest.

It’s almost out of the question to write a column about Lupe Fiasco without mentioning Kanye West, so I’m just going to do it right away and say that both hail from that often overlooked city in the Midwest, Chicago. But there’s much more to the connection than just location.

On top of the fact that West featured Fiasco on his 2006 track, “Touch the Sky”, both rappers released debut albums that brought on an original, diverse style to hip-hop. On “The College Dropout” in 2004, West rapped about themes such as career pressure, academic discontent, and surgical procedures; not your usual hip-hop banter. This type of thought and culture change paved the way for a rapper like Lupe Fiasco to break out. He did just that with “Food and Liquor” in September 2006.

Although it was released only a few years ago, Fiasco’s album is one of the most eclectic and profound rap albums of the past decade. Lupe is nothing like a traditional rap star, and “Food and Liquor” is nothing like a traditional rap album. Without making much use of the usual imagery that finds it way into hip-hop, Fiasco reflects on the personal and the political, and reminds fans of everything hip-hop can be.

There are so many solid tracks on this album, including "Sunshine", “Kick Push” "The Cool" and, “Daydreamin’”, that it’s nearly impossible to figure which is the best.

On its face, the first single “Kick Push”, is a track about skateboarding, but below the surface, Fiasco deals with themes of adolescence that makes it truly unique. Over smooth, jazzy horn samples, Fiasco tells the story of a kid learning to ride a skateboard as a metaphor for struggling to find one's way in life and love. You can feel the raw and personal emotion and Lupe’s love for skating as he raps: “He said, 'I would marry you/But I'm engaged to these aerials and varials/And I don't think this board is strong enough to carry two'".

Fiasco worked with producer’s such as Jay-Z, The Neptunes, Kanye West, and Mike Shinoda on the album, so it’s no wonder why so many of the beats are fantastic. “I Gotcha”, produced by Pharrell Williams has the best beat on the album, and some of Lupe’s cleverest lines. Pharrell drops in the perfect mix of percussion, piano and electric pop as Fiasco raps: They call me Lupe, I'll be your new day/They wanna smell like me they want My bouquet/But they can’t they, they accented like the UK/Turn that dude Lupe to Pepe Le Peu spray.”

“Daydreamin’”, which featured singer Jill Scott, won a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Song, and is my personal favorite track on the album. The beat is mostly a loop of tripped out sounds, but Scott shows off her wide range of vocal skills throughout. Scott has one of the most underrated singing voices around, and she is the perfect compliment to Fiasco’s ferocious rhymes on the track.

As shown on “Touch the Sky”, Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West have great chemistry, and the duo proves it once again on, “The Cool”. Produced by West, the track is easily the strangest on the album, but also one of the most inventive.

Fiasco uses the clichéd thug-life tale, but turns it on its head by instilling a satirical awareness to the story about a gangster who rises from the grave, zombied out, to take revenge on a world that put him in a premature grave. Fiasco plays narrator as he raps: “Suit jacket pocket held his baby daughter's picture/Right next to it one of his man's stuck a swisher/He had a notion as he laid there soaking/Saw that the latch was broken, he kicked his casket open.”

If Chicago is the little brother to New York, then we’ll call Lupe Fiasco the sharp-tongued cousin. Either way, “Food and Liquor” is album like no other, and is definitely a classic.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oliver Stone To Direct "Travis McGee"

Oliver Stone is set to develop and possibly direct the detective thriller "Travis McGee" for 20th Century Fox says The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the Hollywood Reporter: Fresh off directing “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” for Fox, Oliver Stone is in talks to helm “Travis McGee” for the studio. Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to star as the lit-based title character.

John D. MacDonald's character creation is a beach bum and scrappy private dick who lives on a houseboat in Florida and takes random cases.

The McGee film, penned by Dana Stevens, is based on the first book in the series "The Deep Blue Goodbye". The novel tracks the Florida-based “salvage consultant” as he reluctantly leaves his houseboat to go in search of a treasure hidden by a soldier after World War II.

Leonardo Di Caprio, Peter Chernin, Amy Robinson and Jennifer Davisson Killoran are set to produce.

Anything DiCaprio is attached to will generate some headlines, but the pairing of Stone and the leading man is almost too good to be true. Let's hope this film goes down as planned.

Ryan Reynolds Tackles Undead In "R.I.P.D."

Ryan Reynolds will star in yet another comic adaptation, this time the supernatural buddy action/comedy "R.I.P.D." says Collider .

According to Collider: Reynolds will be starring in R.I.P.D. feature film adaptation of the graphic novel R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department).

Reynolds will play a young cop murdered in the line of duty who agrees to enlist in "God's police force" for a chance to catch his killer. The action follows a regular day in the life of him and his partner, a gunslinger who himself has been dead for centuries.

Reynolds has quickly found himself as the go-to guy for comic book adaptations. He played "Deadpool" in "X Men Origins: Wolverine", who is also set to get a spinoff film, and he will play Hal Jordan in the upcoming "Green Lantern".

Neal Moritz will produce the PG-13 feature and filming commences in January after Reynolds wraps the R-rated body-swap comedy "The Change-Up" which starts filming in October.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Steven Spielberg Does Jackie Kennedy Onassis Feature

Steven Spielberg will produce and is helping to push around "Jackie," a film script about the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

According to the LA Times: Two iconic American names, Steven Spielberg and the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis, are linked together in a new project.

The story looks at the days immediately following the assassination of John F. Kennedy from the First Lady's point-of-view.

Journalist/author Noah Oppenheim penned the script and HBO is said to be the leading contender to buy the script and develop it as a film that could air on its network.

Spielberg has a long relationship with HBO--the premium cable channel is currently airing the WWII epic "The Pacific," which Spielberg executive-produced.

The life and death of JFK have been frequently visited on television with projects such as the 1983 NBC miniseries "Kennedy," starring Martin Sheen. And three years ago, Emilio Estevez took on the aftermath of the events surrounding the RFK assassination at the Ambassador Hotel. A film from Jackie's point of view, however, would be more rare.

In any case, I’m glad that someone like Speilberg would get behind a project like this. When it comes to historical films and accuracy, you know exactly what you are going to get from Speilberg. Think about “Saving Private Ryan,” “Schindler’s List” and the already mentioned “The Pacific.” Even though he will only be producing this, it’s still just a great thing that he’s involved.

The Kennedys possess such an American story, and if even half of the research and money that got put into “The Pacific” goes into this, it will be good.

There should be more news on this in the coming weeks.

Hank Azaria Voicing Gargamel In "Smurfs"

Hank Azaria is set to voice the evil sorcerer Gargamel in "The Smurfs" film adaptation for Sony Pictures.

According to EW: This Smurfs movie is coming together quickly — and with some top-notch voice talent to boot. Hank Azaria — best known for the numerous hilarious characters he voices on The Simpsons, like Moe the bartender and Apu the Kwik-E-Mart owner, will lend his voice to the character of Gargamel, the evil sorcerer and arch-nemesis of the Smurfs.

Furthermore, pop star Katy Perry will voice Smurfette, while George Lopez and Alan Cumming will play two of the other little blue guys.

The film, directed by Raja Gosnell (Beverly Hills Chihuahua), centers on a happy expectant couple’s lives being turned upside-down upon meeting these blue creatures.

Jayma Mays, who plays guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury on Glee, will play the pregnant wife to Neil Patrick Harris’ character.

I have loved “The Smurfs” ever since I was a kid, so I’m hoping that this adaptation is a good one. Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious, and adding the voice talents of Azaria and Perry will make the Smurfs sound even better. Azaria has shown on “The Simpsons” that he is a master of voicing characters, and Perry is a singer, so I’m sure she will be comfortable. I think she has just the right amount of spunk to play Smurfette.

The movie will take place in New York City’s Central Park and is set to begin production next month.

McG and Seyfried Con The "Ivy League"

Amanda Seyfried will star in "The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League."

According to /Film: The latest project to fall into the laps of Amanda Seyfried and McG is a movie based upon Sabrina Rudin Erdely’s Rolling Stone article, "The Girl Who Conned the Ivy League."

The story follows habitual identity thief Esther Reed, who enrolled as a student at Columbia University under the name of a missing girl, Brooke Henson.

Detectives looking for the real Brooke Henson track the fake Brooke down, but before they can nab her, she hits the road and vanishes. At this point, police detective Jon Campbell takes on the hunt as easily his biggest case to date--and the chase is on.

Lorene Scafaria ("Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist") pitched the adaptation, which "Terminator Salvation" director McG will likely helm.

I had such high hopes for McG on “Terminator Salvation” and he let me down big time. I mean, I suppose I shouldn’t have had such high hopes from the director of “Charlie’s Angels,” anyway, but from the way things began, it looked as if it was going to be great. Nevertheless, I’m hoping that this film is a chance for him to redeem himself.

Look for the film to shoot later this year.

Paul Thomas Anderson's Religious Film, "The Master," Seeks Funding

"There Will Be Blood" and "Magnolia" writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson is in talks with River Road Entertainment to lock down $35 million worth of financing on his new religion-based film, "The Master."

According to Deadline NY: Paul Thomas Anderson’s new drama, “The Master,” was dropped by Universal because of its $35 million budget, but there are serious talks for Bill Pohlad’s River Road to fully finance the film.

Set in the 1950s, the film stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic intellectual who hatches a faith-based organization that begins to catch on. Jeremy Renner of "The Hurt Locker" is circling the role of a young drifter who becomes his right hand man but begins to question his mentor and the whole belief thing.

Universal Pictures was attached to produce and distribute the feature but has dropped out. If River Road does come onboard, it's quite possible that prestige indie distributor Apparition could release the film, as Bill Pohlad owns River Road and co-founded Apparition.

It’s crazy that a filmmaker with a body of work like Paul Thomas Anderson can’t get the financing he needs. I understand that his films mostly aren’t huge box office smashes, but with his quality of work, his next film could easily be the next Best Picture winner.

I hope things will work out for him because Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jeremy Renner are two of my favorite actors, and the thought of them pairing with Anderson gets me excited.

Look for “The Master” to get the money it needs and start shooting this year.

Tim Burton Making "Addams Family 3D"

"Alice in Wonderland 3D" and "Sweeney Todd" helmer Tim Burton is doing yet another remake with a 3D stop-motion animated version of "The Addams Family."

According to Deadline NY: This new version however will not be related to the classic TV comedy or the 90s films, but rather the original Charles Addams drawings that appeared in New Yorker magazine and inspired the show. This version will likely have a more adult and witty tone in line with the original drawings.

Burton’s experience in animated film is extensive. He last directed "The Corpse Bride," and is making a feature version of "Frankenweenie," the 1984 30-minute short film Burton made about a boy who reanimates his dead dog. Burton recently produced "9," as well as the classic stop-motion animated "The Nightmare Before Christmas," for which he wrote the story.

I thought “Alice in Wonderland” was a bit overrated, but I think Burton is still a brilliant filmmaker. This project sounds perfect for him, especially due to the fact that it’s based on the original cartoons rather than the more recent films.

The project will hire a writer soon.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"The Hangover" Sequel Ready To Go

After months of negotiations, things look ready for "The Hangover" sequel to head into production over at Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures says Deadline Hollywood.

According to Deadline Hollywood: The original film's three key stars Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms are each set to be paid around $5 million against 4% of first dollar gross. Director/producer Todd Phillips will also be paid around $10 million against 10% along with bonuses should the sequel prove as popular as the original.

The salary jump is huge, the three stars earned less than $1 million combined for their roles in the original which has become the biggest grossing R-rated comedy in history. Because the studios didn't think the raunchy comedy would turn out to be a hit let alone such a major one, they didn't have sequel option deals in place with the stars.

This allowed for some tough and drawn out negotiating which dragged on for several months. Now it seems, everything is in place, with an October start of shooting being targeted depending upon Ed Helms "The Office" production schedule.

The fourth and mostly missing cast member Justin Bartha is also set to return, and the studio is already targeting a Memorial Day 2011 release. Hell yes.

Fincher Set For "Dragon Tattoo" Remake

The American remake of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is now set to be the next film of David Fincher ("Se7en," "Fight Club") reports The Playlist.

According to the Playlist: The American remake of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is David Fincher's next film.

The first in the "Millennium" trilogy based on late Swedish author Stieg Larsson's international bestsellers, the story follows disgraced journalist Mikael Blomqvist and misunderstood rebellious female hacker Lisbeth Salander investigating the 40-year-old disappearance of a industrialist's niece on a remote island. Their investigations uncover religious killings, Nazism, rape, child abuse and murder.

All three books have already been adapted into a Swedish language film trilogy with the first, 'Dragon Tattoo', having hit theaters in the US, UK and Australia in recent weeks to very good reviews and strong sales for a non-English language film. The next two films are scheduled for release later in the year.

Carey Mulligan has been tipped for the Salander role but the actress herself claims no-one has been in contact. Fincher apparently wants an unknown for the very complex Salander character. Scott Rudin will produce and Steve Zaillian ("Schindler's List," "American Gangster") will pen the script with shooting to kick off around October once Fincher wraps press for his upcoming drama "The Social Network".

Earlier this month there was talk Fincher was to helm the 1970s-set chess drama "Pawn Sacrifice" with Tobey Maguire, however its now been revealed Fincher only met with the filmmakers to advise them rather than take on a directorial capacity.