Stay safe out on those roads everyone! UPDATE, 4 p.m.: The Pocono Beer Club has postponed its meeting at Pocono Brewing Company to next Monday. So yeah, it’s slick out there.
The problem with this blog is that I’ve got a pretty good groove going, and the end of the week is taken up. Thursdays are for the preview to Sunday’s column in the paper, Fridays are for the Weekend Fun Guide. So when something major happens in the world of pop culture late Wednesday, like, oh, I don’t know, naming a surprising a director for the new Star Wars movie, I usually don’t get a chance to do anything with it here until Monday. Soooooo JJ Abrams, huh? How ’bout it! I’m on board with it from a theoretical perspective. He’s probably the best guy for the job, and if he’s not, he’s certainly in the top 5. From the standpoint of the future of the Star Wars universe, you have no choice but to believe the franchise is in good hands for the next 10 years as long as he sticks around that long. What bugs me is the public posturing that now seems like nothing more than a hard-balling for a bigger payday. In December, Abrams said he was too much of a fan of the movies to be the one making them. He wanted to be in the theater with the rest of the fans, a noble reasoning that obviously not only was understandable, but certainly curried favor with those same fans that worship at his altar. But the people who are in charge of this franchise are no dummies. Before this whole thing was announced in October, they probably already had a road map for how to go about casting, what the budget would be, where it would film and who they wanted to direct it. If they didn’t have JJ Abrams at the top of that list, they were insane. They most likely made overtures to him in October or even earlier, letting him know they were interested. Abrams had some time to think about it, saw that big-name possible directors were dropping like flies, so once they got back to him, he knew the pickings were pretty slim. So he came up with his fan quote, which the people at Disney had to read and just say, “fffffffuuuuuu …” You know the rest. At that point, Abrams was pretty much saying, “I’ll do it, but only for the GDP of at least three African nations.” Disney balked at first, but smartly decided to pull a Teddy KGB and say, “Pay him. Pay that man hees mahnee.” Two months later, the franchise has a direction with a captain that has proven he can restart a ship once thought to be sunk. Should we even care what it took to get there? No, we shouldn’t. My gripes are somewhere between “nitpicking” and “cranky old man talk,” probably leaning closer to the latter.
The other interesting thing that came out of the announcement is that the release could be pushed back from the summer 2015 release date to accommodate Abrams’s schedule. That’s a perfectly understandable reasoning seeing as Abrams always seems to have about 50 TV shows on the air, another 250 in development and 30 more movie projects he’s juggling. Part of that posturing had to be, “I’ll do it, but I’ll do it when I feel like doing it.” I don’t think anyone had to twist Disney’s arm, though. It’s already got Avengers 2 coming in May 2015 and Pirates of the Caribbean in July 2015, so why would it want to push through its other most valuable tentpole to take possible money away from those movies? There is no way Star Wars 7 comes out in the summer of 2015.
Is the Oscar race becoming a bit more clear after the Screen Actors Guild Awards last night? Argo got its second big win in January after winning at the Golden Globes, and there aren’t many other awards shows before the Feb. 24 Oscars. Right now Argo is looking more like the favorite, though the whole “Affleck wasn’t nominated for best director” thing is a legitimate worry. Actor (Daniel Day Lewis), supporting actor (Tommy Lee Jones) and supporting actress (Anne Hathaway) are looking more like lock city now, but everything else is probably up for grabs.
Looks like it’s going to be Oscar bait and little else at the theaters for a while after a p!ss-poor box office weekend. The only good news out of it is that Silver Linings Playbook is finally, rightfully, gathering some steam as it keeps expanding to more theaters, including finally getting into Monroe County. Saw it this weekend after multiple thwarted attempts, and damn if I didn’t see my favorite movie of the year. I still have about five or six movies I want to see, but I’ve notched off everything on my list of movies in theaters and can concentrate on DVDs for the next couple weeks before the Oscars. I won’t be seeing Life of Pi, Les Miserables or Amour, but will have seen the other six best pic nominees. I’ve had to start cutting movies from my top 20 that I liked a good deal — Bernie and best documentary nominee Searching for Sugar Man lost out on the chopping block — and that’s a good sign that we’ve had some good movies this year. Right now competing for my my top 5 movies, in some order, are Silver Linings, Zero Dark Thirty, Avengers, Django, the shockingly good Norwegian movie Oslo, August 31 and Take This Waltz. And I still need to see Argo, Flight, End of Watch, Seven Psychopaths, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Skyfall and The Sessions. So I’m feeling pretty good about my top 20, actually it’s the best I’ve felt about it in a couple years. I don’t think there’s going to be anything on my list that I wouldn’t hesitate to get the Blu-ray. I think I might throw a bunch of random reviews of movies and some new TV shows into Wednesday’s blog.
Well who needs ya anyway! That’s what I say to Steve Carell since he won’t be back for these last couple episodes of The Office. As much as I don’t like it, Carell is probably right. Why bother? His story was brought to a complete end, so why bother throwing off the rhythm of the show now? Granted, it’s not much of a rhythm. But still, you’ll probably be angering a bunch of your friends in the cast who have been holding down the fort since you’ve been gone as they watch you hijack the finale when you haven’t been around for two years. Michael’s ending was about as perfect as a character departure can be, let’s not eff with it.
I’m not going to worry about the next X-Men movie and how they’re going to pull the whole thing off. It hurts my brain to think of, especially since this pipe dream of reuniting the old cast in the movie timeline’s future is becoming more of a reality every day. What’s even more weird is that they keep bringing in characters who weren’t in the reboot!Actually, other than Professor X and Magneto, there aren’t that many characters that were in both. Let’s see what happens when Kelsey Grammer is added to the cast, then I’ll really need to pop a couple Tylenol.
Girls got a third-season order, because it’s the kind of show HBO loves, one that will keep it in the headlines of hipster review sites like AV Club and Vulture. but the news wasn’t as good for a couple other shows, as both Fox’s Ben and Kate and TBS’s Wedding Band were canceled. I liked Ben and Kate, but only watched the first two episodes. Back in October I predicted it would fall of my radar, and sure enough, it did. As for Wedding Band, I’ll pretty much run screaming from anything when Brian Austin Green is prominently involved, so I never even bothered watching.