Mortal Combat

... and on top of all this, he's missing his storiesThis is a very, very slow week for home-video, so my latest Sympatico/MSN DVD column gets a-mulling on two new Fox titles, “12 Rounds” and “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li”, mostly because it can be nice to watch things explode in the summertime. Not always, though.

And remember, I like the first “Street Fighter”. I even picked up the Blu-ray disc last week … though now I’m kind of scared to watch it, in case I’ve been wrong all along.

Don’t you hate when that happens?


Martyred by the fourth estate?This has been coming for a week or so now, but I was hoping it wouldn’t happen — that the right people would realize their mistake and reverse themselves, restoring balance and sanity to the universe.

Dan Froomkin, author of the Washington Post’s excellent online column White House Watch, has been dumped.

Glenn Greenwald broke the story over at, and has stayed on top of it ever since — he seems to think the firing is the result of Froomkin’s refusal to stop discussing the Bush-era torture revelations, which has offended the Post’s current management. Certainly, it’s not about what they say it’s about, which is that the column isn’t “working”.

For his part, Froomkin has refrained from speaking out on the situation, and he signed off in Friday’s column as the mensch he is:

I wish The Washington Post well. I’m proud to have been associated with it for 12 years (I was a producer and editor at the Web site before starting the column.) I remain a big believer in the “traditional media,” especially when it sticks to traditional journalistic values. The Post was, is and will always be a great newspaper, and I have confidence that it will rise to the challenges ahead.

I’m not so sure, myself; it sounds to me like they just failed a pretty big one.

Anyway, my blogroll link to Froomkin’s columns will stay up as long as it remains functional. If you aren’t a regular reader, take a few minutes and see what real reporting looks like in our age of political stenography.

It’s Not About Quality

THIS IS YOUR GODI guess it was inevitable: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” grossed $201.2 million in its first five days of release. That’s an opening second only to the $203.8 million pulled in by “The Dark Knight” last summer.

Brace yourselves, folks. We’re going to get more of these. Lots more.

I don’t know about you, but I’m suddenly very tired.

Hey, Everybody, Let’s Go Kill All the Humans!

Global warming, they said. WARMING.Worn out by all the Michael Jackson eulogies? Pissed that now you can’t pick up that remastered 25th-anniversary edition of “Thriller” you’d been meaning to buy since last fall without looking like a dick?

Well, I can’t help you with that, but I can offer a distraction — check out my latest Sympatico/MSN movie gallery, which picks up Megatron’s gauntlet to list eight movies in which life on our little blue marble is at risk of being snuffed out forever.

Help us, Bruce Willis, you’re our only hope!

Conflicting Value Systems

Her priorities are not your prioritiesIt’s supposed to be a hot, sticky weekend. If you don’t fancy sweating your way through Pride, you’re not interested in the giant robot movie and you’ve already seen “Summer Hours“, here’s what else is opening.

“Cheri”: They were advertising the crap out of this in the London Underground last month. It’s the reunion of Michelle Pfeiffer with her “Dangerous Liaisons” director Stephen Frears and screenwriter Christopher Hampton. That was two decades ago; the North American ads are going out of the way to emphasize the Frears-Hampton connection without quite dragging Pfeiffer into it. That might make her look old, you see. Susan and Jason respect the effort without quite tipping over into endorsing it.

The Girlfriend Experience“: In which Steven Soderbergh turns porn star Sasha Grey into a respectable actor — or lets us understand she’s been acting all along. Soderbergh’s short, stark and semi-experimental deconstruction of expectations is very good, and you should see it.

“My Sister’s Keeper”: Nick Cassavetes’ new film has something to do with parents who conceive a sibling in the hopes of saving their ailing child. I think. Deirdre says it’s effective, but seems to feel dirty about it.

“Tokyo Sonata”: Kiyoshi Kurosawa started the J-horror movement with his brilliant “Cure”, and spent a decade refining genre filmmaking. Now, he’s put that all aside to tell a simple story of a splintering Japanese family, and it’s a stunner. Andrew and Adam agree.

Whatever Works“: Woody Allen uses Larry David as a mouthpiece to rant about the stupidity of his fellow humans, the pointlessness of existence and the redemptive power of boinking a worldly older guy — whomever you might be. I think I speak for all of us when I say: Ick.

And speaking of ick: Michael Jackson has died. I expect the sordid stories to start leaking out over the weekend, once his former friends and associates fully understand that libel law no longer applies and start jockeying for bookings on “Larry King Live”.

“You’ll Relieve Yourself in Your Seat with a Savage Joy.”

Hang on, I need a minute… yeah, let’s see them put that on the poster.

Charlie Jane Anders reviews “Transformers: Rise of the Fallen” for io9. Perhaps the single best piece of film criticism you will read this year.

My review — nowhere near as good, but the one with my name on it — hasn’t gone up yet. (There seems to be something amiss with NOW’s site.) I’ll put up the link as soon as I can. UPDATE: Here it is!

Depressing Thoughts

Reynolds has actually lived this very moment beforeAlthough it’s practically unwatchable, “The Proposal” enjoyed a $34.1 million opening over the weekend, which means Sandra Bullock will keep on cranking out vile romantic comedies well into her forties, the poor thing. I mean, I guess it’s nice that Ryan Reynolds finally has a hit on his resume; I just wish he’d landed his breakout role in something that was actually respectable. His part could have been played by anyone in a nice shirt, really.

But this sucks more: Variety is reporting that Sony Pictures has abruptly shut down Steven Soderbergh’s new film, “Moneyball”, which was to start shooting today in Arizona. Script concerns, apparently.

As someone who believes that Soderbergh is one of the most interesting filmmakers of his generation, and should be allowed to follow his interests wherever they lead — even if that results in intriguing failures like “The Good German” and “Che” — I am saddened by this turn of events. I mean, “Moneyball” is a baseball movie with Brad Pitt in the starring role, so it’ll probably find a home at another studio.

Soderbergh has a pretty good relationship with Warner, so here’s hoping everything works out. But still. That’s got to hurt.

It’s Gallery Time!

Normal people don't do this with their faces, everSchedules being what they are, I’ve got a couple of Sympatico/MSN pieces to share with you today instead of just one.

First, there’s a look at bad movie marriages, to tie into the horrror of Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds’ impending nuptials in “The Proposal”.

And with “Away We Go” slowly expanding across the country, here’s a gallery of other road movies that similarly do the whole emotional-journey thing.

See? I can totally be contextual!

… by the way, please don’t see “The Proposal”. It’s really awful. I’m actually begging you here.