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Two multi-faceted entertainers; darlings to two different ends of a scene. Jenny Lewis and Zooey Deschanel have endeared themselves to millions, and have broken the hearts of just about the same number. Hypothetically speaking- like if I were an artist/entertainer with extraordinary talent and had a chance with either of these women, we can safely say nothing would come of it. Never mind their current relationship statuses- a one-night stand with either would terminate right there.

She may be a little older, but don't let that stop you

So you should be left to make a choice. Sure you could go for both and add two notches in your belt, but that just makes you look like an indiscriminate manwhore. And while prostitution is indeed a noble, even heroic profession, I cannot make an outright endorsement for the sake of actually posting something on this blog. Read the rest of this entry »

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Might as well put Pets.com's logo up here

Because the economy is stable enough that investors are willing to put their money in, at heart, utterly frivolous enterprises; and because Americans are eager to repeat the sterling success that was the booming web economy of the late 90s, legal internet TV host and Google antithesis Hulu is readying for a fall IPO of $2 billion, according to the New York Times.

The article’s mentioning that the site’s revenue is virtually stagnant this year probably doesn’t look good, and the mentioning that viewership dropped “to 24 million in June from 43.5 million in May” has to have a two-pronged basis. On the one hand, Hulu could justify to investors that the majority of the shows it streams completed their seasons in May which left them with little new content for the month. On the other hand, the site’s announcement of a $9.99 monthly subscription service for the privilege of watching a show’s season in its entirety, as opposed to watching only the five latest episodes of a show for free (which is already offered for “The Office”, etc.) likely didn’t excite the masses as much as they hoped. If one could pay $9.99/month for complete libraries of shows then maybe…

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In the footsteps of our earlier post about Justin Bieber failing to understand what German means, Deadline.com has confirmed a director for an impending biopic of the Biebs, slated to be released in 3D on Valentines Day weekend.

The project, with the complex title character being played by Bieber himself, will be helmed by John Chu. The prestigious director joins this project fresh off of “Step Up 2 the Streets” and “Step Up 3D” and back in his avant-garde days (2002) was cinematographer of a little something called “Killing Babies”. The latter part had nothing to do with his selection, though. Apparently it was adequate use of 3D cameras earlier in the year that got him in.

Justin Bieber is stone cold ghetto.

Chu, excited to direct Bieber’s “true underdog story”, intends to do so with “honesty and heart”. Let’s see here…

Using Bieber’s Wikipedia (yes we’ll call this a legit source), he was born to a single mother at 18 (good for a film producing standpoint). Yet He maintains contact with his father (bad). His mother worked a series of low-paying office jobs (mixed), while meanwhile her son taught himself to play four instruments (good, with exceptions). His cover of a Ne-Yo song was posted by his mom on Youtube in 2007 and after a series of these videos were posted he was discovered by the questionably named Scooter Braun (will be exploited for all its uniqueness). His mother was reluctant to release her son into Braun’s hands, reportedly wanting “a Christian man, a Christian label” but relented after encouragement from church elders (will be subdued beyond every inner layer of the Earth). This clearance led Biebs and his mom to Atlanta when he was 13, placing this roughly around 2007/8, where he was then signed by Usher and his life remains a blank spot until his incomprehensible success late last year. Amid this life story, footage of concerts from Nashville leading up to his August 31st show in Madison Square Garden will appear. But using this very limited biography of the Biebs, we can probably expect some details to be, um, embellished.

Admittedly, I’ve never seen any installments of the “Step Up” franchise, but directing an international pop star is quite a leap from directing guys who got turned away from the Jabbawockeez audition. In my opinion, this subject would be better off in the hands of the original director, Davis Guggenheim, the man who made Al Gore look good in “An Inconvenient Truth”. Granted, directing that ex-vice president direct your attention to graphs and animations in a simply designed auditorium is the flipside of directing an international pop star who is on the same career trajectory as Tiffany. But if I wanted to see Bieber play himself in his life story to his fullest potential, there is no one else I’d trust to motivate him more than Guggenheim. Or a brick.

Oh just damn it all. Happy weekend. Imma go listen to some music now..

Marc

Anyone who watches “Entourage” knows the career of Vincent Chase as well as any other actor. “Head On”, “Queens Boulevard”, “Aquaman”, “Medellin”, et al are classic films of the last decade loyal viewers practically know by heart. If only we had actually seen them.

I’ve heard enough people say they actually want to “see” a Vincent Chase movie. Not Adrian Grenier, but Hollywood’s biggest star himself. But no production company would pick up the rights to something like “Gatsby” or resume production on “Smokejumpers”. No, it takes too much initiative.

"Fuck commerce!" -Billy Walsh

So to ease the burden, I decided to humor everyone and amuse myself temporarily by speculating (this isn’t fan fiction, dammit) what to expect from the film that launched Vinnie into superstardom, “Queens Boulevard”. I used limited clues from the show itself as well as other bits of inferred information, so it could be completely wrong. Or it hits the nail on the head. See how it compares to your own vision. But first let’s review…

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If you’ve been following OK Confucius through its early stages, you know much of our output has concentrated on sports and art. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before we were writing about an intersection of the two…

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If you found yourself wondering why Saito was much older than Cobb in the final dream level, or perhaps if you were just looking for some other peoples opinions about the end of Inception then give this site a look as they delve into the riddles and attempt to crack any and all of our questions.

Inception Explained: Unraveling The Dream Within The Dream

Christopher Nolan returns after giving us the greatest comic book movie adaption of all time, The Dark Knight, with his new film Inception. This is a movie that has been building hype like a tidal wave for months, and it has finally crashed. The movie we have been anticipating has exceeded the unreachable hype that was cast over it. Leonardo DiCaprio takes us on an emotional, beautiful thriller that enters a world that we all know–our dreams.


Nolan is most prominently known for reviving the Batman franchise as well as his psychological thriller Memento that was released in 2000. This was around the same time that Nolan began working on his screenplay for his newest tour de force, Inception. This was a project that has been in the works for around ten years, and after seeing the film I understand why. Inception is a beautiful labyrinth of a story that gives us a layered puzzle to follow and put together. Read the rest of this entry »

After seeing “Toy Story 3”, I felt completely satisfied as far as the series is concerned. The 11 year gap, mostly thanks to the Eisner-Jobs War, is probably the greatest blessing afforded to the franchise, because the kids like me who grew up with it can relate to the theme of moving on just as much as the new generation will be excited by its prison-break plot. An ingenious move, even if by accident. Nonetheless, the third installment as a stand-alone film leaves me feeling more could be done, if that’s even possible.

How are these toys 15 years old now?!?

Don’t get me wrong this film is excellent. “Toy Story” is very much Generation Y’s version of “Star Wars” in the sense that we all grew up with it and is quite simply required viewing for membership in the human race, so it was very important Pixar absolutely nailed it. New characters come in with strong back stories, and the plot’s catalyst of Andy shipping off to college builds to a satisfactory denouement.  Closure is achieved, and as a viewer you probably couldn’t want it to end any other way.

Being a sequel and being a film, however, are on two different planes. And considering Pixar’s trajectory to this point, it feels like a step sideways.

They will never do wrong. Ever

If you haven’t noticed, every Pixar release is like whenever Bob Dylan puts out a new album: they can do no wrong and mounds of critical praise are a contractual obligation. And rightfully so. Everything from the first “Toy Story” way back in 1995 up to 2004’s “The Incredibles” were fantastic family films, the ones Disney themselves used to make with strong stories and likeable characters, and they made boatloads of money.

But like any other good artist, Pixar needed to transcend its boundaries. 2006’s “Cars” was a step back, but it was necessary. Its vague preachy call for building preservation and gentrifying old towns, ironically enough made by automobiles, was feeble enough. But next year’s “Ratatouille”, which clicked on all cylinders for a human-rat interaction story and brought more mature themes to the fore than ever, served as the redeemer.

Then there was “Wall-E”. The anti-consumerism and the emotion through lack of emotion was a ballsy move for what’d be marketed as a kids movie and everyone still saw it. So when “Up”’s release successfully commercialized the adult themes of loss and growing old, it marked the third film in a row where Pixar completely outdid itself. It was damn near perfect, it made a bunch of people across all age groups cry and was Pixar’s second-highest grossing release. Whatever comes next should assassinate the consensus pick for greatest movie ever!

And yet “Toy Story 3” didn’t have the perfect aim. It’ll resonate with a lot of people yes, but for a franchise as beloved as this it just doesn’t outdo “Up” the way it should have. A certain romance between Buzz and Jessie feels far-fetched and unnecessary after the obvious Barbie/Ken pairing. The final plot conflict before the resolution feels overly dark, over-wrought and out of place with the rest of the story. Yeah it’s nitpicking, but a product from a studio as perfectionist as Pixar demands that.

So does this mean Pixar has reached a  film-making plateau? It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Toy Story 3 may be a step sideways, but it’ll still be one of the best films released this year. And with the studio’s next release a sequel to “Cars”, that film will be judged on two different levels as well to further complicate expectations. I have no doubt they’ll remain the most consistent producer of entertainment and animation in the industry, butt their continued evolution as story-tellers remains to be seen.

Marc

When I found out M Night Shyamalan was going to be directing “The Last Airbender” I immediately had mixed feelings. His best film, “The Sixth Sense”, came out in the 20th century. Here Shyamalan introduced us to his formula for movies: 1) get a talented actor to play the lead, 2) create a plot that centers around the mystical/inconceivable/incredibly gorgeous (ok, maybe that was just “The Happening”),and 3) end with a twist. Unfortunately this formula does not work like a Dan Brown novel- those remain entertaining despite predictable, leaving M Night releasing some truly incomprehensible stuff.

He followed “The Sixth Sense” with “Unbreakable”, a movie that I have yet to see, received favorable reviews and has Samuel L Jackson in it (needless to say, if he says any variation of the word fuck, I’ll enjoy the movie. See: “Snakes on a Plane”, “Lakeview Terrace”). This movie was most likely a success because it paired Jackson with Bruce Willis, meaning that any movie which stars anybody from “Pulp Fiction” together will be entertaining.

M Night combined with Joaquin Phoenix and Mel Gibson to produce “Signs”. Out of all of his movies, this is the one I enjoyed the most. The camerawork was superb and the plot had an excellent pacing. For a movie that contains very little action, the buildup was anything but boring. It never felt like M Night was holding too many details away from the audience, while at the same time keeping certain important ones. For me, this is where M Night set the bar way too high for himself. Roger Ebert put it best, writing “M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’ is the work of a born filmmaker, able to summon apprehension out of thin air. When it is over, we think not how little has been decided, but how much has been experienced.”

The rest of M Night’s recent history has been well played upon. He came out with “The Village” which was bad but not altogether terrible. If it was released after “The Happening” people would have appreciated it a lot more, but it had to follow “Signs”. He then released one of the worst movies I have ever seen (definite top 5) with “Lady In The Water”. I would try and describe it but you would be better off youtubing an interview with the director/writer/producer (as he loves to remind us) himself.

Then perhaps the biggest joke of his career was “The Happening”. After this movie released M Night’s career, much like the movie itself was a walking joke. Mark Walhberg was never the greatest actor, though he does deliver some of the more hilarious lines in the movie.

Plastic. I’m talking to a plastic plant. I’m still doing it.

So when M Night signed on to take “The Last Airbender” I was more than skeptical. I reasoned his movies always looked good; it was just the plots that recently drove his movies off cliffs. How can we expect the actors to work with terrible scripts? With “The Last Airbender”, M Night couldn’t possibly screw up the story of Aang, could he?

Wrong.

The first real controversy was over M Night’s casting decisions. The Last Airbender consists of 4 nations- Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. The Fire nation draws massive parallels to the Japanese Empire, Air Nomads to Tibetan Monks, Earth Kingdoms to Korea, and Water Tribes to Inuit/Native Americans. Rather than embrace these obvious parallels, M Night first choose to cast Jesse McCartney as Fire Nation’s Prince Zuko, with three Caucasians playing the other leads, Aang, Katara and Sokka. The McCartney controversy made the Jake Gyllenhaal/”Prince of Persia” story look like a small dispute. After intense pressure, M Night opted to replace McCartney with Dev Patel, the Slumdog. Perhaps after this decision he choose to make the entire Fire Nation resemble a Bollywood film.

Not even a comparison

The truth is that the script ultimately undermined whatever chances the actors had of delivering. Sokka and Katara were criminally underdeveloped. As an avid fan, I can only imagine what someone who knew nothing about the characters reaction would be to the movie. M Night never gives the audience any reason to care about the siblings. They are simply placed into these static roles—Katara cares a lot, and Sokka is one serious dude. There is no element of comedy throughout the whole film, which was one of the things that made the cartoon awesome. It is literally the only PG film I have ever seen without a second of comedic value. M Night pretty much planned this as he didn’t even give Momo his name, flying Lemur.

Despite M Night casting Iroh a little too skinny for my liking, you have to give credit where it is due. Shaun Toab gives a great performance and was one of the few characters who lived up the show. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his nephew, Prince Zuko. Again, I blame M Night. The director spends too much time trying to make Zuko likeable. In truth, Zuko needs to be a bad guy here and it never feels like M Night tries to make us hate Zuko. M Night was obviously trying to set up Zuko’s character development over the course of three movies, but he fails to see how he robs the audience of Zuko’s story. In the show we begin to feel sorry for Zuko as more details come up about his family life—his attachment to his mother, his deadly sister, and his quest to be validated in his father’s eyes. In the mov-

ie, Zuko is relegated to being a spoiled brat who wants his entitlement back, a narrow distinction between trying to live up to your father, but one that changes the character.

Slumdog Prince?

He instead focuses on making Commander/Admiral Zhao the film’s bad guy. Unfortunately, he appears to be nothing more than a lackey to the Fire Lord. This is from the character (Zhao) who was directly based off of Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese Admiral who planned a little thing called Pearl Harbor. A live-action film needs a true villain, and Shaymalon never delivers one.

The character development was always going to be a struggle as Shyamalan had to take nearly 10 hours of material and condense it into 2. The result is a disjointed journey that includes certain characters (Haru) at the expense of seemingly more important ones (notably the previous Avatar Roku, King Bumi). Appah is non-existent, because once again, the Director/Writer/Producer opts to make the movie a miserable affair.

Beyond the poor character development and mazy plot there is the action itself. I really did enjoy the CGI bending and thought it looked as realistic as one could expect. It is to be noted M Night probably had little to do with this part of the movie. I did enjoy M Night making the adoption that Firebenders usually require a source of fire from which to bend. It always seemed unfair in the TV series that all of the other benders needed their element to physically be there. They are called benders and not creators after all. The sets were well done though there just seemed to be something missing.

The final issue I have with the film is the pronunciation of the names. Shyamalan changed the way Iroh, Aang, and Sokka because they were “pronounced wrong” in the show. I did my best to find out whether those three names were traditional Indian names as M Night claimed and failed to find any proof of that statement. It is ironic that M Night chose to change the pronunciations—something that inevitably confused and upset fans, yet he was willing to cast three Caucasians as leads in a film based off a show that is clearly Asian influenced. Shyamalon clearly misses the point of the universe he is trying to show you—Avatar preaches the message that despite our differences (in the show, literally the four nations), we are fundamentally the same. Culture is to be respected but not to be placed above others. In this case, Shyamalan imports his own culture and considers it superior to the culture of the show.

If you had to sum up M Night’s flaws in this movie they would be 1) maintaining no element of comedy, 2) focusing on character development in Zuko over telling a compelling story, and 3) not developing the context of the war and supporting characters—he basically expects the audience to just get it. This movie was never going to be like “Signs” where you can hold details from the audience. It was hilarious how similar the build-up of the battle was to the large battle in “The Two Towers”. Master Pakku even resembled King Theoden.

Conclusion: If you are a fan of the show I would still recommend that you see it because while mediocre at best, it is entertaining at times. It was not unwatchable, as the adaptation of Eragon was. To all you non-fans, do yourself a favor and avoid it. Go watch the television show instead, it would be a much better use of your time. Also of note is that the film was shot using 2-D cameras. After the success of the other Avatar, they hastily converted it to 3-D. AT NO POINT in the movie besides the beginning does it feel like a 3-D movie. It was a cash grab by Nickelodeon trying to bank off of the success of 3-D entertainment. While it has been fun watching M Night Shyamalon’s career fall below Joaquin Pheonix’s rap endeavors, I am upset that this time he chose to bring his excessive hubris to a project that I love. The creators of the show, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, were not a part of the creative process at all. Instead of choosing a faithful reinterpretation he chooses one that reflects his view of himself—altogether too serious.

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