Monthly Archives

May 2009

Jim Kelly's DEATH WORE WHITE Has Dark Edges

I love a good locked-room mystery and that’s essentially what Jim Kelly’s Death Wore White (out June 9) is, except it takes place outdoors. One winter evening during a blizzard, eight drivers are trapped after taking a detour down a small road surrounded by a wide ditch on one side and marshland on the other. A felled pine tree lies across the road, making it impassable, and the last car in line somehow gets stuck sideways, preventing the drivers from backing out. And of course, they’re in a black hole with no cell signal.

When the police arrive about three hours later, they find a corpse behind the wheel of the lead vehicle. No one at the scene saw the murder and there are no incriminating footprints in the snow surrounding the truck. How can this be? Furthermore, the viciousness of the stabbing would have resulted in a lot of blood in the truck and on the killer, but there’s none on any of the other drivers and only a small amount in the cab, implying the man was killed elsewhere. What the hell?!

Detective Inspector Peter Shaw (Scotland Yard’s youngest DI) and his partner, George Valentine, catch the case on the same night they find the corpse of another man washed up on a nearby beach. Before they can get to the bottom of either mystery, more bodies pile up and the puzzle becomes more puzzling. Shaw and Valentine are also dealing with unspoken tension between them resulting from a twelve-year-old case involving a murdered boy which Valentine worked with Shaw’s father, Jack. Valentine and the senior Shaw were accused of planting evidence in that case and Jack eventually died of heartbreak from disappointment. While dealing with all the murders happening on his watch, Peter is also re-investigating the cold case to maybe clear his father’s name.

Death Wore White is interesting in that it reads like an old Agatha Christie novel but the detectives text-message each other and the story is very much a contemporary one. Jim Kelly piles on a lot of subplots and many twists but he deftly juggles them and resolves everything by the end. Except for one subplot, which sets up the next novel featuring Shaw and Valentine. I normally get annoyed when all mysteries aren’t cleared up but in this case, it makes me really eager to see what happens next in this new series.

Nerd verdict: White will suit most mystery fans


Wolverine and James Bond on Broadway

It’s raining hot men on Broadway this fall when Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig team up to do Keith Huff’s play, A Steady Rain. The New York Post reports they’ll be playing two cops whose friendship takes a hit when they get embroiled in a domestic conflict in a poor neighborhood. Dang, I’ll dial 911 right now if they want to get all up in my domestic business.

I think we’ve all heard about Jackman’s Tony-winning role as Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz but this will be Craig’s Broadway debut (he’s done theater in England). Rain will be conveniently produced by Craig’s Bond producer, Barbara Broccoli.

Will you buy tickets for this?


Giveaway: Free Tickets to Bookstock 2009

Do you live in the San Francisco area and are looking for something cool to do next weekend? Check out Bookstock 2009, a music, art and music festival held next Saturday, June 6, at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The cost is $15 per person but I have 5 pairs of tickets to give away. Read on for more info.

The following is a description from the event website:

“Attendees will enjoy a night of live music provided by top Bay Area bands including Stroke 9, Eoin Harrington, the Monophonics; a live art show featuring 25 renowned artists; and an advanced screening of Logan and Noah Miller’s film Touching Home, starring 4-time Academy Award nominee Ed Harris, the movie that inspired it all! Plus, the book release and signing of the Miller brother’s exhilarating memoir Either You’re In or You’re in The Way, published by HarperCollins April 28.”

I’ve read the Miller brothers’ book and it’s fantastic. It’s a funny, inspiring story of how they made a movie about their lives with their late father (played by Harris) without any money, experience or industry contacts.

If you want to attend (or know someone who does) and would like a pair of free tickets, you just have to do two things: 1) Be a subscriber to my blog (see upper right corner of page) and 2) leave me a comment here telling me why you’d like to go. All interested parties will be entered in a random drawing this Friday and 5 winners will receive two tickets each in the mail. Good luck!


Best of Cannes 2009

By now, you’ve probably heard about the winners from the 62nd Cannes film festival. Austrian director/writer Michael Haneke won the Palme d’Or for his black and white movie, The White Ribbon, which explores strange events taking place in a rural German village right before the start of World War I.

Christoph Waltz won Best Actor for his portrayal of the Nazi “Jew Hunter” in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds and French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg won Best Actress for playing a bereaved mother in Lars von Trier’s controversial Antichrist.

For more official festival winners, click here for Variety‘s round-up. To see who won my Nerdes d’Or for Best Dressed, read on.

robin wright pennShortly after Robin Wright Penn appeared at at the Up premiere looking fabulous in this Elie Saab gown, her divorce from Sean Penn was called off. Coincidence?

m yeohNot only is the color stunning, look at the fit of this gown on Michelle Yeoh‘s body. Perfection.

shuqiContinuing the beautiful color trend is this pink column gown on Shu Qi, one of the festival’s judges. Love the necklace, too.

e banks up premiereHow fabulous does Elizabeth Banks look in this Armani Prive´gown? If I looked that good, my smile would be that big, too.

d aoki yellow cavalliI have no love for Devon Aoki‘s acting but she looks like royalty in yellow Roberto Cavalli at a Chopard party.

angelina in versaceI’m not a fan of beige (I read somewhere this was actually rose-colored) but the way this Versace drapes over Angelina Jolie‘s body is magnificent. It looks soft, comfy and sexy as hell. Love the siren-red lipstick, too.

diane krugerBrad Pitt’s Inglorious Basterds co-star, Diane Kruger (in Marchesa), gave Angelina fierce competition for most radiant woman at the premiere.

z frontzz back

I usually find metallics boring but Zhang Ziyi looks the sexiest I’ve ever seen her look in this gown. Yowza!

Aishwarya_Rai_elie saabAishwarya Rai Bachchan looks like Venus rising out of her clamshell in this seafoam blue gown.

shu qi blue roberto cavalliRoberto Cavalli seems to be MVP at this year’s festival, designing so many of my favorite gowns, including this one on Shu Qi. Love the rich blue hue, asymmetry and leather belt details.
d aokiDevon Aiki again, this time in lilac Alberta Ferretti, but once again with impeccable hair and Chopard jewelry. Aoki should stop venturing into acting and stay a model because she sure knows how to wear clothes.

tildaFinally, I have to give a shout out to Tilda Swinton, who looks stunning in this burgundy ensemble. Her style is so unique that her outfits usually leave me confused but in this, she is awe-inspiring in the best way.

What do you think? Which ones are your faves?


The First Reviews of Heath Ledger's Last Movie

Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus screened at Cannes and the reviews are out. Here’s Entertainment Weekly‘s, Variety‘s and the Hollywood Reporter‘s. Heath Ledger died while working on this (Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in to finish his role) and apparently the first time you see him in the movie is as a corpse. Yikes.

The plot sounds intriguing but also confusing. I’m not a huge fan of Gilliam’s oeuvre and the movie doesn’t have a U.S. release date yet but I’ll probably see it when it does arrive so I can pay tribute to Ledger’s work. Will you?


AMERICAN IDOL Season 8 Finale–The New Idol Is Crowned

I can’t believe Kris won! Whoo-hoo! I don’t think I’ve been this pleasantly surprised in the eight years I’ve followed this show. I’d accepted that Adam would win since everyone keeps saying he would—the judges, Entertainment Weekly, his vocal fan base, many of my friends, etc. That, and the fact I only had time to vote for Kris 10 times last night made feel like he’d have to settle for second place. But I kept my fingers crossed, just maybe…

And the impossible happened! When the confetti rained down, it was Kris who was the new American Idol. He even received a little trophy in the shape of a microphone, which is a new thing this year. Only drawback to winning was he had to sing that lame song, “No Boundaries,” but he sounded much better than last night.

This result is rather shocking because I didn’t think much of Kris at all for much of the early competition. I couldn’t even remember his name since his shy, unassuming ways made him blend into the background. But as the fat started getting trimmed from the competition, this quiet boy gained confidence and started making such daring, innovative choices (“Falling Slowly,” “She Works Hard for the Money,” “Heartless”) that I had to take notice. I’m glad he won because I love an underdog story and it made for good TV!

The show was better than I thought it would be. I let the DVR get ahead an hour and 20 minutes before I tuned in ’cause I figured I’d have to fast-forward through lots of filler but ended up watching and enjoying much of it.

I liked the Kris and Keith Urban duet, “Kiss a Girl.” When they first announced Urban, I thought, “Oh no, country music,” which I do not like. But the song was upbeat, their styles blended well and the duet sounded cohesive. It was a performance that seemed rehearsed instead of thrown together at the last minute.

Other things I enjoyed: seeing Alexis Grace again, Jason Mraz, the Lionel Richie/Danny Gokey pairing, Allison and Cyndi Lauper doing “Time After Time,” Steve Martin playing the banjo while Megan Joy and Michael Sarver sang Martin’s song, “Pretty Flowers” (though Megan sounded a little wobbly), Rod Stewart doing “Maggie May” (with his 1978 hairdo intact!), and Adam and Kris dueting with Queen on “We Are the Champions.”

Moments I thought were awkward, embarrasing or downright disgusting: The Golden Idols, which wasted time on obnoxious, talentless people desperate for attention (I refuse to mention them by name); the Lil Rounds/Queen Latifah duet of “Cue the Rain,” which was a huge mess; and most of the group sing-alongs, especially “So What.” They need to brush up on their dancing and choreography skills before they start the tour.

What I Both Liked and Hated: Kara getting to show her singing prowess (she’s awesome!) and hot bod (did you see those abs?!) but having to share the stage with that skanky, porny girl.

What were the highlights for you? How do you feel about Kris winning? Whose album will you be buying? Will you be seeing the top 10 on tour?



I’ve been waiting for this trailer. Not only am I a deep-rooted Sherlock Holmes fan (devoured all the stories, short and long, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the summer before 7th grade), I think Robert Downey Jr. is one of the best actors currently alive. One’s playing the other? I hyperventilated when I heard the news.

sherlock_holmes_posterAnd now the trailer is here. You have to tell me your first impressions because I’m not sure what to think. It’s all over the place for me. Some of it looks good—the on-location scenery, some of the action, Downey and Jude Law (as Dr. Watson) and Rachel McAdams—but some of it is questionable. Downey’s British accent seems uneven to me and so does the tone. Is it a dark, gothic action thriller or Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as indicated by the nude scenario at the end? (Update: Read review here.)



AMERICAN IDOL Season 8: Final Competition Night

This is gonna be a tough call. I thought both Adam and Kris performed well, but neither was perfect and they have such different styles it’s like comparing bears and chickens.

Each performer had to sing 3 songs. The first would be their favorite from the season; second would be chosen by the show’s creator, Simon Fuller; and third would be the “winner single,” co-written by Kara.

Adam went first and sang “Mad World.” I liked it, as I usually do when he shows some restraint. He gave the song a haunting lilt. Kris sang “Ain’t No Sunshine,” accompanying himself on piano. It was a heartfelt performance and both are off to a strong start.

Fuller chose Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” for Adam’s next song and Adam put on his shiny suit to sing it. He hit every note and was technically perfect but I didn’t get real soulfulness from him, more like affected anguish.

Kris updated Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” and while I appreciated his Jack Johnson-esque take, I like the smooth groove of the original melody so much I don’t think it needed all the changes. So, both did well again but neither performance was eye-opening.

Then came the dreaded “winner single,” which is cheesy and tedious every year. If I were one of the two finalists, I’d almost want to throw the competition just so I wouldn’t have to record it. This year’s song, called “No Boundaries,” was no different and was written by Kara, Cathy Dennis and Mitch Allen.

Adam went first and the song seemed to be in the right key for him. But when he got to the chorus, I couldn’t understand what he was singing because he went for the volume and blew the words into oblivion. Not that I cared, since the lyrics to these singles are always insipid.

Kris didn’t do any better. The key was way too high for him, he strained through most of the song to hit the notes and didn’t always succeed. His face at the end showed that he knew he didn’t do as well as he’d hoped.

Based on the final performances, I think Adam’s got the edge and will win. But whatever happens, these two will most likely get recording contracts, make completely different albums for their separate fan bases and no one will have to argue again over who’s the better performer.

Who do you think will be crowned the eighth idol tomorrow night?


Jack Reacher Will Not Be GONE TOMORROW

The title of Lee Child’s 13th Jack Reacher novel, Gone Tomorrow (out today), is misleading since Reacher ain’t going anywhere any time soon. He’s back, this time in New York City, kicking asses like always and kicking them hard.

Reacher, a former military cop who’s now just a traveling man, finds himself on the subway at 2 a.m. as the story opens. He sees a woman who shows all the outward signs of being a suicide bomber. Reacher approaches her and attempts to diffuse the situation but instead sets off a shocking series of events that escalate faster than the train on tracks.

The web of intrigue ensnares a former Delta Force major now running for the Senate, a pair of Ukrainian women who may not be what they seem, a human resources clerk in the Pentagon and lots of guys in suits who won’t show ID. Reacher becomes both hunter and prey in the urban jungle, trying to stay one step ahead of deadly opponents who match him in fighting and survival skills but whose hearts are pure evil.

I’m a huge fan of all Reacher novels but I particular like the ones written in first person, as this one is. Reacher is so clever and meticulous that it’s fun to be inside his head when he’s figuring out how to get himself out of a bad situation. I never really want a magician to show me his secrets but with Reacher, I think, Aha! I’ll remember that next time two guys come at me while I’m walking down the street.

Actually, I’m more likely to walk away from a fight or talk myself out of a conflict. But when reading the Reacher books, I always want him to put some serious hurt into the bad guys. This is a testament to Child’s writing skills. A protagonist can only be as heroic as the villains are evil, and Child gives Reacher enemies so hideous that only the Reacher brand of justice will satisfy.

Nerd verdict: Grab Tomorrow today


ABC Picks Up Rupert, TED and V Remake (Review Included)

Back in March, I wrote about MI-5‘s Rupert Penry-Jones doing a Jerry Bruckheimer pilot, which had me excited at the prospect of seeing this fine British thespian every week on my TV. The Hollywood Reporter now reports that it’s official! ABC has picked up the pilot, called The Forgotten, which also stars Reiko Aylesworth (whom I enjoyed on 24), Rochelle Aytes, Anthony Carrigan, Michelle Borth, and Bob Stephenson. Penry-Jones plays a former cop whose child was kidnapped so he leads a team of amateur sleuths in solving cases involving unidentified victims. I’m predicting (hoping?) Penry-Jones will be huge here in America. I mean, he looks like that and he’s a good, classically-trained actor. (Alas, bad news update here.)

ABC is also picking up V, the remake of the 1980s mini-series -turned-series about reptilian aliens, dubbed the Visitors, who come to Earth in human form pretending to be friendly and in need of help. They soon start killing people, revealing their real intention of stealing Earth’s resources for their dying planet.

vbackontvI was interested in the remake because I really liked the original mini-series. I got to see the pilot (see clip below), which still uses the striking red “V” logo, and think it’s well done. It’s suspenseful, with good acting, high production values and one decent fight scene between humans and aliens.

Lost‘s Elizabeth Mitchell brings her usual intelligence and competence to Homeland Security agent Erica Evans, Scott Wolf makes a good replacement for Marc Singer in the baccarinreporter role, and Morena Baccarin is perfectly cast as Anna, the alien leader. Jane Badler’s performance as Diana in the original is very memorable but Baccarin puts her own stamp on the role with her smiling-but-slighly-menacing presence. She also sports a close-cropped hairdo which goes well with her sleek alien wardrobe (silver, not red). Others in the cast include Baccarin’s Firefly co-star Alan Tudyk, Morris Chestnut, Lourdes Benedicto, Laura Vandervoort and Joel Gretsch.

Variety reports that ABC will present V as a “limited event series,” which suits me just fine because it’s better when the story isn’t dragged out. When they turned the mini-series into a series back in the mid-’80s, it lost its juice.

Other good news included ABC’s renewal of Better Off Ted; that show is hilarious but suffered from anemic ratings. Cheers to the network for giving it another season to find an audience.

Are you excited about any of these news? Any other V fans out there?


Want the New Live Coldplay Album for Free?

Has the recession hit you so hard you can barely afford to buy CDs, much less attend rock concerts? Well, Coldplay understands your plight so they’re giving away free downloads of their new live album, LeftRightLeftRightLeft. Not only are you getting a free album (plus cover art for your iPod) with no strings attached, the live recordings make you feel like you’re at one of their concerts without having to leave your living room.

The download is available until September 19, 2009 so click here, switch on your iPhone lighter app and enjoy.


NINE Trailer with Day-Lewis, Kidman, Cruz and More

From L: Dench, Cruz, Cotillard, Loren, Ferguson (in front), Kidman, Hudson

I seriously dislike musicals and didn’t like Fellini’s 8 1/2 much, either. But Nine, the musical version of that Italian film coming out this November, is one of the movies I’m most eagerly anticipating this year. Why? First off, Daniel Day-Lewis is in it. That man can do anything and he’ll apparently be singing and dancing here. Can’t wait to see that.

As extra incentive, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson and Fergie, er, Stacy Ferguson also show up to display their jazz hands. The title of the movie might as well stand for how many Oscar winners are in the cast.

And they’re all being directed by Rob Marshall, which excites me because I really enjoyed Chicago despite my aforementioned lack of love for the musical. This man turned the usually wooden Richard Gere into a dashing musical performer—imagine what he can do with Day-Lewis—and got Catherine Zeta-Jones an Oscar. Since most cast members this time are already Oscar-winners, how high can they go?

From what I hazily remember about the original, the story is about a director who’s experiencing a creative block while directing his ninth film (8 1/2 because he only co-directed one of the films). Compounding this problem are personal issues he has with the many women in his lives, some in the present and some in the past. And there were a bunch of confusing dream sequences.

Anyway, check out the trailer below and tell me what you think. Fergie’s doing the singing, Kidman’s doing the kissing, Hudson’s doing the booty-shaking and Cruz is doing that really flexible thing with her leg. (UPDATE: See new trailer and hear Kate Hudson & Marion Cotillard sing here.)