We have very sad news to report from The New York Times: Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock for almost 50 years, has died. Nimoy’s wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, told the Times the cause of death was “end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.” The beloved actor and director was 83 years old.
This Sunday’s Oscars will be the 87th annual Academy Awards. In nearly a century of honoring Hollywood’s best, the Academy has sometimes has made some bold choices, and some dumb choices. This gallery has them all; the complete history of nine decades of Best Picture winners in pictures. Some are classics, still watched to this day. A few are almost totally forgotten to history. (Cavalcade, anyone?) But they all won. Even Crash, somehow.
So Sony and director Paul Feig have found their new Ghostbusters: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. This whole idea of an all-female ‘Ghostbusters’ reboot came together after the passing of original series star and co-writer Harold Ramis, when director Ivan Reitman relinquished the franchise’s director’s chair and everyone involved finally gave up on trying to convince stubborn (and probably very wise) Bill Murray to make a second sequel to the original film.
I wonder if Chris Kyle was a Clint Eastwood fan. ‘American Sniper’’s marketing materials describe Kyle as “the most lethal sniper in U.S. history,” but before his military career, Kyle was a cowboy. He wore a hat and boots, and even carried a six-shooter. Eventually, he gave up the cowboy life and decided to serve his country. He was a gifted marksman and trained to be a Navy SEAL. But even as a soldier, Kyle never lost that cowboy swagger—or that sense that someone has to venture out into the frontier and protect the American way of life. That’s what Kyle learned from his father—who raised him to be a “sheepdog,” a watchful protector in a world of sheep and wolves—and from watching violent Westerns like the ones that made Eastwood a major Hollywood star.
Jeremy Renner would not make a very good spy. The guy can’t keep his mouth shut! If you’re doing something secretive, you’re supposed to keep quiet about it. But earlier today Renner teased something he’s doing for Marvel as Hawkeye, the master archer of the Avenger. And, really, Renner should know better because he works for S.H.I.E.L.D. (and as Jason Bourne’s replacement in ‘The Bourne Legacy’!)
Full details are still forthcoming, but it looks like ‘The Interview’—Seth Rogen’s ultra-controversial comedy about an American assassination attempt on North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un—will open on Christmas after all. Sony initially cancelled their planned December 25 release after hackers threatened theaters that dared to show ‘The Interview’ with terrorist attacks, and many of the biggest exhibitor chains in the country (including Regal and AMC) subsequently decided not to run the film.
I know one reaction I’ve had to the (allegedly) North Korean hackers and their attack on Sony and their movie ‘The Interview’ is “Why now?” Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are not the first American filmmakers to make fun of North Korea, or even its real-life leaders. ‘Team America: World Police,’ for example, featured a marionette-version of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, who wants to destroy Western Civilization (but is also very lonely); the 2012 ‘Red Dawn’ remake actually changed its Asian invaders from Chinese to North Koreans in post-production because at the time that seemed like the more politically and financially safe choice. That’s not going to happen again anytime soon.
The whole Marvel Cinematic Universe is based around the fact that the strongest power in the universe are these magical Infinity Stones, gems of incredible power over time and space. When Ronan the Accuser combines an Infinity Stone with his hammer in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ he becomes nigh-invulnerable and almost unbeatable. The only things left to stop him from destroying the universe are the Guardians… and dance moves. Sweet hot funky dance moves.
'White House Down' has the disadvantage of being the second 'Die Hard'-in-the-White-House movie of 2013 after 'Olympus Has Fallen,' and the advantage of being superior to its predecessor in every conceivable way. It's better directed, better written, and better acted. The action is better, with more impressive special effects; the production design is better, with a much more convincing replica of the White House; the camerawork is better; with clear, lucid images. Where 'Olympus Has Fallen' was grim and stern, 'White House Down' actually embraces the silliness of its premise. It's more exciting and more faithful to the 'Die Hard' formula. This is still basically a shameless ripoff popcorn movie, but it's a shameless ripoff popcorn movie popped to near-perfection.
College is not an obvious setting for a Pixar movie. For all the vaunted animation studio's reputation for producing mature, adult children's films, college lends itself to a more immature brand of adult humor -- the kind with lots of nudity, profanity, and outrageous drunken antics. Sure enough, Pixar's 'Monsters University' brings new meaning to the phrase "safe school" -- this G-rated riff on 'Revenge of the Nerds' and 'Animal House' (they probably thought about calling it 'Monster House' at some point, right? They had to) doesn't push any envelopes in terms of content or humor. It's basically a formula college comedy, minus the raunch, in the world of 'Monsters Inc.' Nevertheless, it's a formula executed by some very talented animators, who've produced a lively, if mostly forgettable, movie.
The term "product placement" feels insufficient to describe the role of Google in 'The Internship.' This is not so much product placement in a movie as movie placement in a product. For two hours, viewers are treated to a series of bright, high-energy sales pitches for the San Francisco search engine and its vast array of products and services -- Google Play, Google Drive, Google Helpline, Google Maps and, of course, plain-old Googley Google -- plus, occasional attempts at comedy from Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson while they stand in front of giant Google logos. Shameless? Absolutely. But that wouldn't be such a problem if 'The Internship' wasn't so mirthless, as well.
This is the way the world ends; not with a whimper but with an extended improv session featuring Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and a fleet of other popular young comics. On an ordinary night in Los Angeles, the straight-up-biblical apocalypse begins. After the Rapture, our six heroes board themselves up in Franco's Hollywood mansion and wait for a rescue. It never comes. Supplies dwindle. Tensions mount. 'This Is the End.'
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