The Pop Blitz for 9/3/11

Welcome to the last extended weekend of Summer and your first edition of Pop Bitez for September 2011! With any luck the temperatures will begin to drop in the next few weeks and that wonderful crisp Fall air will soon be wafting through our windows, for me it can’t come soon enough!

Today I’ve got everything from a new Disney animated special premiering on ABC this Christmas to a new tune that is a collaboration between Insane Clown Posse, Jack White and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart…..yeah, you read that last one right.

We’ve got a lot of Pop ground to cover today so, without further yada, yada, yada, let’s get this party started!

• 2011 Toronto International Film Festival 9/8-18

The 2011 Toronto International Film Festival is coming up next week and I thought today would be a perfect time to take a look at a few of the films premiering this year at the fest that will also be coming soon to a theatre near you in the not too distant future.

When it comes to film festivals, Toronto’s has really become one of the most important in the world. For industry insiders it is included in that very short list of “must attends” along with Sundance in Utah and Cannes in the South of France.

TIFF began in 1976 as the “Festival of Festivals”, collecting the best films from other film festivals around the world and showing them to eager audiences in Toronto. That first year, 35,000 enthusiasts watched 127 films from 30 countries. By 2009, those numbers have grown to feature 336 films from 64 countries, enjoyed by 500,000 people.

Here’s a brief look at a few of the titles in this year’s fest that have caught my attention.

♦ Killer Joe

Tracy Letts, playwright, screenwriter and company member of Chicago’s world renown Steppenwolf Theater Company and director William Friedkin (The Exorcist) have teamed up once again to bring another of Letts’ stage plays to the big screen. Their first collaboration was the haunting and dark indie Bug in 2006.

When a debt puts a young man’s life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.

Killer Joe stars Matthew McConaughey ( The Lincoln Lawyer), Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) and Thomas Haden Church (Sideways).

The dark comedy is expected to open nationally this Fall.

Here’s a quick clip for you. I have to admit, I’m definitely intrigued.

♦ Twixt

Val Kilmer is back, albeit with a few extra pounds. I’m not really sure why Kilmer doesn’t work more often, I’m certain there’s a reason but, outside of the catty speculations, I haven’t heard a reasonable explanation. Could Twixt be his comeback? Maybe. It doesn’t hurt that the new thriller was written, produced and directed by another Hollywood legend who is also due for a return to form, Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now).

The breakdown is as follows: “A writer with a declining career arrives in a small town as part of his book tour and gets caught up in a murder mystery involving a young girl. That night in a dream, he is approached by a mysterious young ghost named V. He’s unsure of her connection to the murder in the town, but is grateful for the story being handed to him. Ultimately he is led to the truth of the story, surprised to find that the ending has more to do with his own life than he could ever have anticipated.

The trailer starts out mildly unimpressive but, at about the midway point, you might find your curiosity growing, mine sure did. Check it out.

♦ The Flying Machine

The Flying Machine is a 3D live action/animation feature film about a stressed out business-woman, Georgie (played by Heather Graham), who takes her two children to see the animated film “Magic Piano“, which is being performed live by world famous pianist Lang Lang. A magical event occurs and Georgie’s kids get transported inside the animated world, and Georgie has to pursue them, with a little help from Maestro Lang Lang. The “Magic Piano” which is a stop-motion animation tells a story of Anna, a girl whose dad had to leave Poland to work in London. Anna and her cousin Chip Chip find a broken piano which magically transforms into a flying machine and takes them across the Europe. The girl hopes to meet her longing dad.

This one looks like it may be a nice respite from the usual, big studio 3D animated trash that’s been filling the multiplexes lately.

♦ Dark Horse

Here’s your obligatory, quirky romantic indie for Fall of 2011.

Romance blooms between two thirty-somethings in arrested development: an avid toy collector and a woman who is the dark horse of her family.

This teaser doesn’t offer much but, I have to admit, I appreciate the slow, quiet build up to the one line in this clip. I laughed therefore I hope.

♦ Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty is a haunting portrait of Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.

Director Jane Campion (The Piano), mistress of the dark chick-flick, produced this one so, right out of the gate, you pretty much know what you should be expecting. Sensuality, female empowerment and a plot that will no doubt send you walking to your car in stunned silence shortly after the credits have rolled.

The trailer is kinda hot but it’s also equally disturbing. I’m not sure what to make of this one but it’s definitely got my attention.

♦ Think of Me

As things unravel for a struggling single mother in Las Vegas, she must decide what she’s willing to give up to get by.

I can’t tell you much about this one, the trailer does a pretty good job of keeping whatever deep, dark secret is lurking in this flick. I have my guesses, but I’m actually hoping I’m wrong.

One thing’s for sure, this is NOT going to be the feel-good family film of the holiday season.

Think of Me stars Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) and Dylan Baker (Happiness) and is the feature directorial debut of Bryan Wizemann

♦ A Monster in Paris

Here’s yet another promising 3D animated feature coming from outside the usual Hollywood loop. Since Pixar decided to take themselves out of the award season running by insulting and assaulting us all with the miserable Cars 2, it’s possible the Oscar for Best Animated Feature could go to one of these flicks premiering in Toronto next week.

This one takes place in Paris in 1910. Emile, a shy movie projectionist, and Raoul, a colorful inventor, find themselves on the hunt for a monster terrorizing citizens. They join forces with Lucille, the big-hearted star of the Bird of Paradise cabaret, an eccentric scientist and his irascible monkey to save the monster, who turns out to be an oversized but harmless flea.

♦ The Last Dogs of Winter

Ground breaking documentaries are an established staple of the film festival circuit. In truth, the best movies I saw at the last film festival I attended, earlier this year, were documentaries. This is one I’m anxious to check out.

One man, 150 Canadian Eskimo dogs, and lots of polar bears. All of them living on the edge, and the last of their kind.

• Prep and Landing: Naughty Vs. Nice

There really is no other time of the year I love as much as Christmas. I love the lights, the music, the food and the often frosty chill in the air. I also love the Christmas specials, particularly the animated classics.

It simply wouldn’t be Christmas without my private holiday film festival that includes the classics Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas and, of course, Dr. Suess’s The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Through the years I’ve found it more than a little odd that, after all this time, no one had really been able to even come close to adding a new title to this short list of perennial favorites. Yes, the Claymation people gave it their best shot and, sure, Dreamworks choked out yet another 22 minutes of Shrek (ugh) but still, nothing had really tapped into that mysterious pop culture zeitgeist the way those earlier Christmas classics did. That was until 2009 and the premiere of Disney’s Prep and Landing.

It was about five minutes into my first viewing of Disney’s instant hit when I knew, without a doubt, a new holiday classic had finally arrived. One that I’m predicting will be televised, right along with Frosty, Rudolph and the Grinch, for many, many years to come.

If, like me, you’re a fan of Prep and Landing, you’ll be happy to know a brand new sequel will be premiering on ABC this holiday season and the buzz, from those that saw it at Disney’s D23 Convention last week, is very strong. I can’t wait to check this one out!

Here’s your first look at Prep and Landing: Naughty vs. Nice, enjoy!

• Why the Chinese Suck #1

This week I’m adding a new feature to Pop Bitez titled, “Why the Chinese Suck“, because, let’s be honest, aside from the food, they really do.

I feel no guilt because, through the years, they have more than earned our disrespect. The Chinese government have been telling their citizens why America sucks for the last 100 plus years and I simply believe it’s high time we start returning the favor. No, I’m not going to make fun of the way they talk and look, (that’s so 1972), instead I think it’s best if we just focus on their lame attempts to contribute, and often co-opt, our pop culture world.

Today’s example is worth a thousand words, thankfully none of which I need to type.

• Why George Lucas Sucks #111

As long as we’re talking suckage today, I couldn’t help but include the news about the new Blu-ray release of the Star Wars series.

How can I love the original Star Wars trilogy as much as I do and still, equally, hate George Lucas? That’s easy, it’s because I love the original films as much as I do that I find myself wishing Lucas would just……well, I’m not going to wish death on anyone but….is it too much to hope that he would be abducted by aliens, taken to another galaxy far, far away and spend the rest of his days being anally probed, sans lubrication? At the very least I might consider wishing Alzheimer’s on the man but, again, that might be taking this all a bit too far and besides, I’m not 100 % convinced he doesn’t already have it. Is it wrong for me to suspect the man is suffering from some kind of mental dysfunction? No, on the contrary, I actually think it’s wrong for any of us to assume, these days, the man is of a sound mind. The fact that his family has yet to have had him committed is not only disappointing, it seems sadly neglectful on their part. Seriously, Lucas clan, don’t you think it’s time you put crazy George away?

With every new format, VHS, Laser Disc, DVD, Blu-ray, Lucas has felt compelled in an almost compulsively devious way to fuck with the classics that made him a billionaire, despite the collective and unanimous negative reactions from those of us who built his legend and his empire with our precious and selective entertainment dollars. The man who taught us all about the power of “the force” surrendered to “the dark side” a long time ago and our only response, this time around, should be a loud and resounding “Noooooooooo!“, which brings me to George’s latest example of creative retardation, the insert of Darth’s bellowing as he throws the Emperor to his death. One would have to assume this is meant to mirror the awful Frankenstein moment from Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, when Vader is raised from his slab and offers an equally melodramatic and unconvincing exclamation. Here’s the clip from the new Blu-ray version, if it’s been awhile since you’ve seen it keep in mind, in the original film Vader committed this dramatic act in silence and it freakin’ WORKED!

The CGI added to the theatrical re-release of the original trilogy was a disgrace and for the last freakin’ time HAN SHOT FIRST!

It amazes me that, though his “updates” have NEVER been met with anything but a negative reaction, Lucas still feels compelled to make these useless changes. It’s more than clear, after all of these years, George Lucas has a deep contempt for his fans. If you are a true fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, and you have any self respect, you will leave this new Blu-ray collection on the shelf to collect dust at your local Best Buy.

And don’t even get me started on Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls…..

• Jack White + Insane Clown Posse + Mozart?

Here’s the press release from Third Man Records explaining this new collaboration: “Back in ’82, ahem, 1782, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote a piece that’s been left out of the spotlight ever since. The title of the piece is “Leck Mich Im Arsch” or literally translated to English as “Lick me in the arse”. Understandably this piece has figuratively been swept under the rug. So who better to give this piece it’s due respect than the wildly successful, much misunderstood, and divisive Southwest Detroit rappers Insane Clown Posse?

Leck mich im Arsch ( “Lick me in the arse”) is a canon in B-flat major composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with lyrics in German. It was one of a set of at least six canons probably written in Vienna in 1782.Sung by six voices as a three-part round, it is thought to be a party piece for his friends.

Jack White produces the track with musical backing from Nashville’s Jeff the Brotherhood.

The 7-inch single and iTunes download of the song will be available September 13. Though why you would actually want to own this crap is beyond me. For the record, I much prefer Nigel Tufnel’s far superior, “Lick My Love Pump“.

If you must, just click the pic to hear it.

• Captain Planet is Back!

The horribly awful animated series, Captain Planet, which featured the artistically challenged Tom Cruise voicing no ones favorite super hero, is rumored to be “in development” as a live action feature which, I can almost guarantee, will make no box office money outside of San Francisco and Portland.

Recently, Funny or Die and actor Don Cheadle got together to give us a brief taste of what we might expect from the big screen adaptation.

Actually, come to think of it, if the adaptation were 90 minutes of this, I might be the first in line. If they’re dumb enough to try and do it with a straight face however, you’re going to see the biggest flop since George Lucas’ Howard the Duck (I’m still thinking about that last story, I hate you George!)

Enjoy, Captain Planet!

Alright Popsters that’ll do it for this week. What do you think? Was I more bitchy than usual this week?! Probably. What can I say? I live in Arizona, the average temperature for the last three weeks has been 113, it’s a miracle I haven’t become a serial killer at this point but, honestly, I haven’t got the energy to bury the bodies. Have a great holiday weekend, eat, drink and be safe! See ya next week with all the news that’s fit to POP! Cheers!- Scott

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