Saturday, February 8, 2014

THE LAST WALTZ:  To say farewell to Late Night, Jimmy Fallon was joined by the Muppets to sing The Weight.  (I am interested in the prominence of Walter both in this and in the marketing for Muppets Most Wanted--maybe he tests really well with kids?)

Friday, February 7, 2014

BUILDING BLOCKS OF A FRANCHISE:  Based on response from the earlier thread and the probably 80% full screening I went to on the Upper West Side this afternoon, I think a spoiler thread for The LEGO Movie is in order.  I found it a delight, but three spoiler-y discussion points after the break:

SOWHAT?  The thing that's struck me about all the hype for the Sochi Games is that  it seems to be completely centered around the host city and the spectacle of the Olympic Games, and not nearly as much as usual about the athletes competing. Is it because of the dearth of American medal hopes in figure skating, and that I don't care about any of the flippity-flip "extreme" sports?

Are you excited for the Games?  If so, for what?  Or will you just turn on NBC every night, and whatever's on, that'll entertain you enough?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

MATT, HOW DID YOU LIKE THEM APPLES?  The George Clooney-Matt Damon prank war ropes in Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
ALL THESE BREWERIES ARE YOURS, EXCEPT ANCHOR.  ATTEMPT NO DRINKING THERE:  Given the East Coast focus of our audience, I thought I'd share with you folks the good news that Sierra Nevada is opening a brewery in Mills River, North Carolina and Lagunitas is opening one in Chicago.  Sierra Nevada's Porter is one of my all time favorite beers.
TRIPLE AXEL TRIPLE LOOP .... TRIPLEAXELTRIPLELOOP! During Olympic season, we always welcome Gretchen's ALOTT5MA Award-winning coverage of the figure skating competition. We may not receive her commentary as often this year, but we are delighted to run it when we can:
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Skating Fans, the day is finally here! Yes, it's time for spangles, nude stockings, triple axels, twizzles, judging scandals, and thrillingly, the Return of Plushenko. There's lots of good stuff to watch for these Olympics, including the new team competition, the ice dance rivalry between Virtue & Moir and Davis & White, Jason Brown and his charismatic Riverdance program, and the lingering questions about whether Ashley Wagner deserves her place on the Olympic team. (For the record, I think she does.)

But today, I'm writing not to celebrate ice skating, but to gripe. As everyone knows, the old 6.0 scoring system was replaced by a code of points after the Salt Lake City vote-trading debacle. Each skating program now earns points on a rubric. If you have the most points, you win. Simple, right?

HOW MANY CHINS? In honor of Jay Leno's second "last ever Tonight Show," let's look back at the Dancing Itos!  Share your favorite memories below (if you have any).
BLOCK OUT SOME TIME THIS WEEKEND:I don't know if I've ever been more pleasantly surprised by early reviews for a movie than I am for this weekend's The Lego Movie, currently sitting at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a fair number of those positive reviews being out and out raves.  As one of my friends observed, the film's description can sound like hanging out at one of Stefon's "New York's hottest clubs!" since it seems to have everything--a robot pilot named Metalbeard (voiced by Nick Offerman, naturally), a unicorn kitten, major members of the Justice League, a song called "Everything Is Awesome!," and Abraham Lincoln.  Who else is pumped?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

FOOTBALL NIGHT DONE RIGHT?  So, CBS has decided to spend a lot of money and bring Thursday Night Football onto its schedule for next season.  I'm fascinated by the scheduling challenge this creates for them--CBS has a fairly dominant Thursday lineup, which is all going to have to be shuffled about.  Do they just wait and launch after the football games end (it's only 8 weeks)? 
CRIMES: "These are serious allegations and they should absolutely be taken seriously."  Molly Lambert wrote that Tuesday about the horrific criminal actions Woody Allen is alleged to have committed against his seven-year-old daughter, and it's that seriousness which has both chilled me against writing about them—both because we tend to be profoundly anti-serious here and because I don't know that I can write as thoughtfully and completely as these allegations require—but also compel me, as a longtime Allen fan and as a father, not to stay silent.

My liberalism tugs at me here in opposite directions: a commitment to the presumption of innocence and due process rights of the accused, but also a recognition of the profound legal and psychological barriers which victims of sexual violence face in seeking justice. We see it in the viciousness of the attacks already being launched against the victim's mother, though the core theory of Allen's defense is plausible, and supported by one of her siblings. It's certainly possible that while Allen's behavior was (at a minimum) creepy as to his now-wife, it was never criminal towards his daughter, and that he has no way to ever prove his innocence.

But it's also certainly possible that he is factually and morally guilty, regardless of what the criminal justice system has (not) done. It's more than possible. It is indefensible to deny that possibility; indeed, Allen's own films have explored the lives of those who escape accountability for horrible crimes. I don't believe his staunchest defenders, or his supporters for that matter, can say anything stronger than "more likely than not."

What does this mean? I can only speak personally here; I have no moral authority or special insight on how anyone else should respond. But I think it's incumbent on Allen to speak publicly and completely, and for his supporters to speak with more compassion for his daughter and all potential victims of sexual violence. This is not a topic about which one can be glib, or handle in 140-character snippets, and I suspect there is little we will learn from here on out which can resolve our doubts satisfactorily. As far as the whole "can you separate the art from the artist?" stuff, I'm not inclined to make any broad pronouncements here other than that I can't envision letting Lucy see Take the Money and Run or any of his other films, though she's surely ready. It may be deeply unfair to Allen to take these renewed allegations seriously, but it's even more unfair to his daughter to not take them seriously, no matter how entertaining we find him to be. Some things matter more than laughter.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

WHERE'S SHERLOCK HEMLOCK?  Benedict Cumberbatch visits Sesame Street.  (Also, feel free to use this thread to discuss Sherlock, which had another solid series, including, for the first time, an "Episode 2" that wasn't a substantial weak link.)

Monday, February 3, 2014

WHAT I'VE GOT, YOU'VE GOT TO GET AND PUT IT IN YOU:  I think we can safely call that an above-average halftime show -- especially given that the Super Bowl's average is somewhere around Gloria Estefan -- but would it have killed Flea to plug in his guitar and actually play it?
COMEDY IS SUCH A CLEAR THING—PEOPLE EITHER LAUGH OR THEY DON'T LAUGH:  Lorne Michaels talks to Vulture about all the plates he's spinning, his schedule, the late night scene (and whether there will be one in thirty years), when someone should leave SNL, and much more.

It's a worthy read in many respects, but at one point he notes:
I don’t think there are that many people who think that their time here wasn’t one of the best periods of their life. It’s hard, and it’s competitive, but, as Dana Carvey says, “Show me one person who was funnier after SNL.”
Here's three: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman. Robert Downey Jr?
12TH MAN TEAM SCORES TWICE AT 0:12 INTO EACH HALF:  Seattle won the game, Budweiser won the Ad Meter, Quentin the Quahog squirted left (and was immediately eaten), and while TPE correctly called "Seattle will score a safety before a FG or a TD," the winner of our annual pool has to be Seattle native Isaac Spaceman, whose prediction of Seattle winning "infinity to negative three" with the backup RBs coming in was more accurate than anything else on the board.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

THE ONLY TRUE CURRENCY IN THIS BANKRUPT WORLD IS WHAT WE SHARE WITH SOMEONE ELSE WHEN WE'RE UNCOOL: The WSJ is reporting that Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his NYC apartment this afternoon, and other reports suggest that it may have been the product of his ongoing addiction issues. I didn't like every movie he made, but he invariably delivered interesting performances, be it in an indie or a blockbuster, as a flawed hero or a strangely sympathetic villain.
OKAY, CAMPERS, RISE AND SHINE, AND DON'T FORGET YOUR BOOTIES 'CAUSE IT'S COOOOOOLD OUT THERE TODAY: It's February 2, so it's time to talk about the movie again. Do you buy the whole Buddhist thing, or should we just quote lines for a while and generally discuss its awesomeness?

Participate in this thread, or it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life.