Entries from February 2008 ↓

Harder Than Steel: The New Iron Man Trailer

Iron Man. Out May 2, 2008

No lie: My eyes literally watered when I watched this: the second full, 2 1/2-minute trailer from the upcoming summer blockbuster-in-waiting, Iron Man. (When I say second, I’m not including the incredible Super Bowl commercial, by the way. This new piece is currently the featured trailer on MySpace’s Trailer Park section. Special thanks to the folks at FirstShowing.net for dropping the bomb.)

Based on the long-time Marvel superhero comic, Iron Man stars Robert Downey Jr. as billionaire weapons designer and manufacturer Tony Stark; features Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, and Jeff Bridges; and is directed by John Favreau (Made, Elf, Zathura). This is literally Paramount’s game to lose, if mounting fanboy excitement—and my own, doggone it—is any indication. Out May 2, 2008.

Straight Outta Palestine

VIBE March 2008That’s the title of a piece I recently wrote about hip-hop in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel for VIBE. It’s in their March 2008 “Hollywood” issue, the one with Robert DeNiro and 50 Cent on the cover, as seen at left.

The narrative focuses on the completion of Palestinian-American artist/director Jackie Salloum’s new doc, Slingshot Hip-Hop, and the experiences of her film’s subjects, especially the Palestinian crew DAM, within the setting of Israeli occupation of the aforementioned territories.

It was one of the hardest articles I’ve ever written, not only due to the fractal-like, almost never-ending complexity of the subject, but even more due to my initial lack of familiarity with virtually every major detail around it. One of the first questions I asked Salloum: Why is it called “the West Bank” when it’s in the eastern part of the Occupied Territories? A member of her team kindly answered: It’s on the west bank of the Jordan River.

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“I Didn’t Notice It Was You”: How the Oscars Walked Right Past Whoopi

Whiteface: Whoopi as Queen Elizabeth, 1999 OscarsIf you’re an adult Black person, you’ve probably had the following experience more than once:

You’re walking down the street, or a supermarket aisle, or an office hallway, when you recognize a white friend or colleague—someone with whom you’ve had fairly regular or even recent contact—coming towards you from the opposite direction. Your face warms expectantly as you get closer to them, only to have them go right past you, often after glancing directly at you in your face.

You then turn around and call out their name. They stop, look at you, then burst into smiles and recognition. “I didn’t notice it was you!”, they apologize.

Sound familiar?

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Toys Tough Enough to Terrorize Your Pet Beagle

Ripley pitchesWhy didn’t the recent DirecTV commercial, featuring Sigourney Weaver as “Ellen Ripley” in James Cameron’s 1986 movie, Aliens, get more amore?

You’ve seen the original: At the film’s geekalicious climax, Ripley takes on the villainous Alien Queen with an “anthropomorphic exoskeletal” Caterpillar P-5000 Powered Work Loader. (Weaver got a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for her performance.)

DirecTV, as they’d done with well-known flicks from the ‘80s and ‘90s (Star Trek: Generations, Major League, Back to the Future), remixed the scene into an ad pitching the virtues of satellite over cable. Their digital fx hoo-haa even lip-synced Ripley’s 22-year-old footage to new script. (Hey: If we all yell and stamp our feet loud enough, maybe they’ll sign Pacino to remake the climactic “Sigh ay-low to mah lee’l frah!” bloodbath from Scarface.)

Yet, if you’re even a tiny bit like me, even a quarter-century in, there’s still no such thing as too much Aliens. If so, wrap your head around this: Hot Toys‘ 1/6-scale, 21″ high, fully articulated Power Loader model kit.

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What’s with this Rampant TV Commercial Disclaimer Crap?

Talking Stain: Say Hello to Tide

You know the “My Talking Stain” commercial for Tide-to-Go that ran during the Super Bowl, and has been widely circulated since?

In it, a guy is interviewing for a job, but while answering questions, a stain on his shirt—it looks like java—sprouts a mouth and starts talking gibberish. It does this so incessantly that it overwhelms the prospective employer’s attention and completely drowns out the interviewee.

This funny ad urges consumers to buy Tide’s portable stain removing pen and not let the messes on their clothes send an unintended message. In fact, the spot’s so good, I only noticed on, maybe, the third viewing, a little bit of disclaimer text, right at the end:

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You “Forgot” to Put “White People” on the List.

Feel the wave!If you convinced about two hundred people to make the background noise of an excited TV studio audience, then yelled this set of otherwise unassociated nouns at one of your closest friends…

Farmers Markets!

Standing Still at Concerts!

Japan!

Arrested Development!

Awareness!

Hating their parents!

Marathons

Mos Def!

…passing Plutonians could be forgiven for thinking they’d tuned into the latest edition of the new and recapitalized $1,000,000 Pyramid.

But they wouldn’t have. They’d just be hearing someone reading from Christian Lander’s hilarious new blog, StuffWhitePeopleLike (SWPL). (Thanks to writer Robert Morales for sending the link.)

Each of its (thus far) seventy-six entries, starting with “Coffee,” and going, apparently in no particular order, to “Bottles of Water,” captures some aspect of the dominant culture’s fascinating peccadilloes, lightly narrating the reasons why white people can’t get enough of living by the water (#51), snowboarding (#31), Michel Gondry (#68), or, sigh, difficult breakups (#70):

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Awesome!

AWESOME!

It’s redundant for Michael Bay to send up his image, as he does in this Verizon FiOS commercial. It’s even superfluous to make the observation.

Two things I love about this piece, though:

1) The framed picture of a fiery explosion on the living room wall behind him.

2) That, on the detonation right after he says, “Awesome barbecue!”, hardened Michael Bay, director of Armageddon, Bad Boys 1 & 2, Pearl Harbor, The Rock, and Transformers—the Prince of Powder Kegs, who brushes his teeth with gunpowder, and uses lit dynamite for romantic candles—Michael Bay, on that detonation, succumbs to the fireball’s startling, concussive force, can’t help it, and blinks.

Bulging Boobs of Booze

The WineRack™ stuffs a polyurethane bladder, holding 25 oz. of your preferred liquidBra in use refreshment, underneath a black, sports bra-shaped harness. By covertly sucking from a connected tube, as shown at right, users can replenish dry gullets at sporting events, on subways, or even during long walks on the beach. It comes in small (32A thru 36A) and medium (34D thru 38B).

If you’re a woman, your kindest thought upon hearing about something like this might be, “That really doesn’t sound very comfortable,” especially for toting iced tea, though I’m only guessing here. Most males, on the other hand, would probably be awestruck by the sheer genius of reuniting breasts, liquid nourishment, and sporting events in one easy access, otherwise undetectable, over-the-shoulder-Bordeaux-holder.

Does it make me less of a man, however, that my first ruminations, when seeing this, were on terrorism? Given the difficulties the American public has been having getting liquids onto planes since the alleged 2006 transatlantic airliner plot, does this device do an end run around those obstacles?

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Coolest Teaser Poster Out.

Harold & Kumar NPH

There’s just something gloriously arch about a radiant Neal Patrick Harris on a unicorn, wouldn’t you agree?

Get it at my favorite poster shop, MoviePoster.com.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay is out April 28, 2008.

Is Gustavo All That Great?

Is Gustavo Dudamel all that?

The Feb. 17 edition of 60 Minutes practically water-slided down the hunky, 27-year-old Venezuelan, and principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden. (He takes over as music director for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in September 2009.)

But is he really as great as they say he is?

Gustavo's Mahler 5 I have absolutely no idea. From the looks of all the smart white people whose eyes light up when his name is uttered, I’m sure, to quote Lorraine Baines from Back to the Future, he’s an absolute dream.

I was fascinated by the fact—and this seems to be the default mode when talking about hot-to-trot, European classical music conductors—that the way they conveyed how talented he is is by how wildly and hard he shakes and swings his baton when conducting.

Is that all there is to it? I mean, there was one part in the 60 Minutes piece where, Dudamel, trying to express the way a particular musician should play a part, used the idea of softly, gently kissing a woman’s neck to make correct technique clear.

But, for the most part, whenever these TV newsmagazines want to tell you that there’s a hot new conductor, or pianist, or violinist, that’s gonna change the world, the fast ball always seems to be that “They’re craaazzzyyy, man!! Craaaazzzyyy!!!“, followed by some footage of the artist doing something bordering illegal with their instrument, or that, at least, we all have a common understanding is inappropriate.

So what? I mean, is this the best that great European classical music can do?

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