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Oh, let's ease into 2018, shall we?   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, January 02, 2018 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: The Last Jedi threpeats atop the chart with 52.7MM on a decent 26 percent drop, consdering the lofty heights from which it started. Despite less enthusiasm from some, Episode VIII became the largest grosser of 2017, crossed 500MM domestic and 1 Billion worldwide. The first three Disneymade installments have paid for the company's acquisition of Lucasfilm.  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle placed with a perhaps surprisiongly close 50MM on a 38 percent increase over the prior frame; it will likely break 200MM domestic next weekend. Pitch Perfect 3 shows with 16.8MM on a 16 percent drop; underwhelming overall, but perhaps not enough to kill the franchise. The Greatest Showman may be the biggest winner of another long weekend, making 15.6MM on a 77 percent increase over last weekend... but it still seems like a bit of an uphill climb to profit on the big screen.  Ferdinand also benefitted from the extra time for family movie dates, and rounded out the Top Five with 11.4 MM on a 56 percent increase from the last frame.  Below the fold, Oscars bait also tended to get a boost from the holdays, while Downsizing and Father Figures continued to flop.

TIME'S UP: Driven by outrage and a resolve to correct a power imbalance that seemed intractable just months ago, 300 prominent actresses and female agents, writers, directors, producers and entertainment executives have formed an ambitious, sprawling initiative to fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces nationwide.

YOUNG HAN SOLO will get at least a theme from composer John Williams.

MARIA MENOUNOS and Keven Undergaro, who have been together for 20 years, got hitched on live TV.

JESSICA ALBA and Cash Warren are now a family of five.

MEGHAN MARKLE could have been a Bond Girl.

AMANDA BYNES has big plans for 2018.

More tomorrow, most likely.

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You got Mallomars, the greatest cookie of all time...   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, December 29, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with THE BEAT FARMERS!  Making a tradition of this more sober than usual, professionally-shot, early BF gig recorded at Universal Studios, including "There She Goes Again" (VU); "Road to Ruin," "Bigger Fool," "Reason to Believe" (Springsteen), "Powderfinger" (N. Young), "Happy Boy," "Big Ugly Wheels," "Bigger Stones," "Gun Sale at the Church," "Dallas Blues," "I Wanna Be Free," "Lakeside Trailer Park," "Death Train," and "Seven Year Itch."  If you're new to the band, my picks would be "Bigger Stones," "Happy Boy" and the cover of your choice.  BONUS:  Now how much would you pay?  But wait... there's more!  If you really want to see someone put the "bar" in "bar band," watch these NSFW clips from Houston, TX of the late Country Dick Montana leading the band through "Lucille" (K. Rogers) -- complete with his favorite beer bottle stunts -- followed by "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Wino," "Are You Drinkin' With Me, Jesus?" and "Mondo."  SUPER-SPECIAL BONUS: Country Dick rolls out "California Kid" and "Anarchy in the UK" (Language warning).

WFUV'S HOLIDAY CHEER includes mini-sets from Lo Moon, Jeff Tweedy, Randy Newman, and Aimee Mann.

JD McPHERSON stops by WFUV's Studio A.

FRIGHTENED RABBIT shares "No Real Life."

JAMES BLAKE covers Don McLean's "Vincent."

SONDRE LERCHE covers Selena Gomez's "Bad Liar."

U2: Crushingly obvious, I know

NICK CAVE & SHANE MacGOWAN: "What a Wonderful World."

ABBA wishes you a "Happy New Year,"  but it doesn't sound anywhere as celebratory as "Take A Chance On Me." 

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS perform "This Year" at the M-Shop in Ames, IA.

OTIS & CARLA have a "New Year's Resolution."

CLAUDE PATE: Don't forget you can stream "New Year" on the Tube, with comments from a member of The Eclectics and Friend of Pate Ken King.

JOE JACKSON: Pate frequently attempted "One More Time" to often hilarious effect, so today I stick with Joe's early material, including "Sunday Papers" live on the OGWT, "Kinda Kute" on the Kenny Everett Video Show, and a Beat Crazy-era run of "On Your Radio."  The Rock Goes To College show provides live takes on "It's Different For Girls,"  "I'm The Man," and this pulsing version of his signature "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"  BONUS: The appropos finale, "Got The Time?

FLUXBLOG's 2017 Survey Mix.

PASTE's best albums and songs of 2017.

SPIN's best albums and overlooked albums of 2017.

MOJO's Top 50 Albums of 2017

NOISEY's best albums and songs of 2017. And their overlooked LPs.

THE AVALANCHE OF ROCK 'N' ROLL DEATH: Want to feel old? Everyone — well, every man — died.

THE ZOMBIES: "This Will Be Our Year."

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD is this weekend's wide release, currently scoring 80 percent on the ol' Tomatometer.  Molly's Game hits 271 screens, scoring 79 percent.

THE LAST JEDI: A guide to the creatures and how they were made.

HOLLYWOOD is banking on big franchises (again) in 2018.

THE BEST MOVIES of 2017, according to the New York Times' critics.

THE BEST MOVIES of 2017, according to Uproxx's critics.

THE 10 (OR SO) BEST FILMS of 2017, according to Sonny Bunch.

ROBIN WRIGHT is spending the holidays skiing with a handsome new beau, Clement Giraudet.

MILEY CYRUS & LIAM HEMSWORTH "consider themselves married" and have no plans for an actual ceremony.

A LARGE MYSTERY FISH caught on camera in the Chicago River. I presume it has three eyes.

MISSING FOR 10 YEARS, a cat finds his way back to his family after the California wildfires.

AND THERE WAS LOBSTER all over the highway.

A HOUSE with a giant shark in the roof is set to be made a national treasure (by the same council that wanted it demolished).

1589 Reads

The Interim Holiday "News" Drought Continues. But Things!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, December 28, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


DAVID BOWIE: Rare footage of "The Jean Genie" from a 1973 performance on Top of the Pops.

SARA WATKINS (Nickel creek) plays the Mountain Stage.

THE THISTLE & SHAMROCK: Fiona's Holiday Celebration.

THE KRONOS QUARTET reimagined some familiar tunes for NPR Music's 10th anniversary concert. With a special guest.


THE OVERCOATS shared a video for "I Don't Believe In Us."

DAVID BAZAN talks to Stereogum about resurrecting Pedro The Lion.

BROOKLYN VEGAN's Top 50 Albums of 2017.

THE TOP 10 MUSIC BOOKS of 2017, according to The Current's Jay Gabler.

HOLLY ANDERSON, a poet and designer who worked with Mission of Burma, has died of cancer linked to her relief work on the World Trade Center site. She was 62.


DUSTIN HOFFMAN's accusers thanked John Oliver for sticking his neck out for them.


ALFIE CURTIS, who played Dr. Evazan in Star Wars, died at 87.  (The role was played by Michael Smiley in Rogue One).

LAURA DERN & BARON DAVIS were caught canoodling on camera.

JANE FONDA says she never thought she'd live to 30.

RIDLEY SCOTT talks to Vulture about reshooting All the Money in the World, still making a big-budget film nearly every year at 80 years old, and more.


THE AUSTRALIAN LYREBIRD makes Star Wars noises.

THE SWARM: Bees attacked Brazilian cops in a sting gone wrong.

A CONNECTICUT STATE POLICE BLOODHOUND, missing since last Wednesday, was found safe at about 10:30 a.m. Friday after a massive search near the New York border.

A PAIR OF KOALAS held up traffic with vicious wrestling match.

1608 Reads

Man, the Interim Holiday "News" Cycle is Dead. But Things!   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


JON PRATT: Pate's frontman plays "Days So True," which he wrote for a prior Pate reunion, while blogging his thoughts about a future one.

RIK & THE PIGS stream their three-song 7″ EP called Blue Jean Queen.

BOOJI BOYS stream their hardcore-ish Weekend Rocker LP.

HAIRCUT is streaming their hardcore-ish Shutting Down EP.

WORLD CAFE is streaming Encore Week perfomances from 2017.


THE BANGLES: This rawkin' version of their cover of "Hazy Shade of Winter" has resurfaced on the Tube, but the first linked version is better quality.

PRIESTS: Katie Alice Greer talks to The Record about why she thinks labels like "political art" can hinder more important conversations about what actions count as political, what place art deserves in society and what it takes to identify as an artist.

THE JUGGALOS lost their appeal to be declassified as a gang by FBI.

THE BEST ALBUMS of 2017, according to The Guardian.

THE BEST ALBUMS of 2017, according to KCRW.


THE ROOM, Tommy Wiseau's passion project that went on to become a cult classic for being known as the worst movie ever made, will finally, 14 years after it first opened in just two theaters in Los Angeles, get a wide theatrical release Jan. 10.

MEGHAN MARKLE is being fully embraced by the Royal Family, months before she gets hitched to Prince Harry.

OCEAN'S 8 has a trailer online.

LANDO CALRISSIAN was almost in The Last Jedi.

MAD ABOUT YOU may return to NBC.

JAMIE LYNN SPEARS is pregnant again.

DICK ENBERG, the legendary broadcaster who provided play-by-play coverage for almost 60 years, died Thursday morning in La Jolla, Calif. He was 82.

HEATHER MENZIES-URICH, best known for portraying Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound of Music, died Sunday night. She was 68.

BOB GIVENS, an animator who helped design Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, has died at age 99.


GET A CLOSEUP LOOK at some of the beautiful and obscure small wildcats.

COYOTES ARE COLONIZING CITIES: Step Forward the Urban Hunter.

THIS FUNGUS has 20000 genders.

BIRDS used cigarette butts to fumigate their nests.

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(Figurative) Post-Holiday Hangover Edition.   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


GIVEN THE SLOW NEWS CYCLE, let's ease back into the week lightly:

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  The Last Jedi easily repeated atop the holiday chart with 101MM.  That's a 54 percent drop from its debut; the three-day drop was an eyebrow-raising 69 percent, but Christmas Eve is a terrible movie day and Christmas is a great one.  The "final" estimate is significantly below some heading into the weekend (I saw one four-day estimate of 118MM last week).  Nevertheless, Episode VIII is roughly in the range most expected.  The Force Awakens had grossed 540MM domestic after its 10th day, but no one expected the sort of numbers for TLJ, which has 2 years of pent-up demand for Luke & Leia, not 30.  Rogue One, last year's standalone, grossed 286MM in its first 10 days (also ending on Christmas).  So TLJ's 397MM is 27 percent behind or 38 percent ahead and maybe that's not shocking.  It's less shocking when you see that Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle placed with a strong 52.2MM (and 68.8MM since its release last week), supposedly against a 90MM budget (thou that seems like a lowball estmate for a vfx-heavy move with this ensemble cast; I'd guess it's at least 100MM, which is still economical).  The Deadline account of how this reboot / sequel finally got greenlit is interestiing.  Pitch Perfect 3 showed with 25.6MM against a 45MM budget.  I think people were thinking of this as the last of this franchise, but perhaps not with this showing, despite bad reviews.  The Greatest Showman debuted in the fourth-greated spot on the chart with 14MM (18.6MM since its release).  The studio is struggling with marketing Hugh Jackman's passion project after it's "the songwriter of La La Land" pitch ran into mixed reviews and few awards nominations until the Golden Globes stepped in.  Ferdinand rounded out the Top Five with 9.7MM on a 28 percent drop.  With Coco close behind at sixth, this Christmas the box office tilted heavily toward the family fare and away from the more mature offerings.

DARKEST HOUR is one of thiose in the latter category, detailing the opening weeks of Winston Churchill's Prime Ministership as continental Europe falls swiftly under Nazi domination.  It's possible to see this as a companion to Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, which focused almost entirely on the fighting, while this one focuses on the politcal drama unfolding in the UK, though both wind up being about the character of the island nation.  To that degree, while Darkest Hour makes for decent drama, it's not all that slavish about historical accuracy, and particularly shortchanges Churchill to give him more of a character arc.  I generally am not overly prickly about historical accuracy in movies, but this is a case where the actual history was arguably more dramatic.  Nevertheless, this is very solid entertainment, mostly due to Gary Oldman'sshould-be-Oscar-winning turn as Churchill (as written).  His prosthetics man also deserves an award for creating an uncanny resemblance outside of Oldman's eyes.  The supporting performances from Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ben Mendelsohn and Kristin Scott-Thomas are also strong. I usually like Joe Wright's direction (Atonement, Prode and Prejudice) and the meat of it is fine, tho I could have done with a few less overhead shots. The team is also ultimately telling the story of -- as one characcter puts it -- how Churchill mobilized the English languageand sent it into battle.  The script structurally serves this theme well, turning around three of Churchill's key speeches within this short window of time.  But that theme might have been clearer and stronger had they not weakened the man himself.  Darkest Hour is a movie worth seeing, but if you also want a more accurate portrait of the man and his marriage, I recommend tracking down The Gathering Storm, with Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave (which appears to be streaming on Amazon as I write this).

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