Plush of the Month! -- Oh my, oh my, I want ONE OF EVERYTHING made by Magic Yam!
Just when you thought I'd never go to the movies again...how wrong you are. TAI presents the "It's a Big Bad World Out There, Kid" Edition of TicketStub:

* Miami Vice -- Can the stars of the 80's ever grow up? Can adolescent favorites make the transition to a future era? On the basis of Michael Mann's "revival" of the classic pastel cop drama, the answer is no -- better to leave the past in the past. The movie sets identical characters in today's Miami, still steamy and drug-addled and oddly empty, fighting the same old Sisyphean war on drugs against a coalition of assorted brown baddies. Mann's consistency is his strength, because we still somehow care about Crockett and Tubbs despite the choppy plot, absent dialogue, and generally grim tone. Jamie Foxx manages to throw off more sparks by himself than with his partner Colin Farrell, who looks like a catfish stuffed into a deconstructed suit jacket. The visual atmosphere is everything, from the sparkling seas to the graphite sky above a stakeout, the humid colors of a tropical slum to the frankness of skin under fluorescent light (nobody looks good in closeup in this movie), the surfaces are what count. The camera moves and weaves and floats, keeping us engaged and mixing up the gritty reality of drug enforcement with the fantasy of undercover life. It's a moody, macho nocturne, but it doesn't really hold up without a viewer's fondness for the original. Points off for casting hatchet-faced Gong Li as the babe, I still can't decide if she was canny or terrible, and she was certainly incomprehensible. (C+)

* Hollywoodland -- Look, up in the sky! It's Ben Affleck, and he's acting! Excellent choice for a "turnaround" flick, he steps effortlessly into the cape of George Reeves, TV's Superman who met a tawdry mortal end in 50's Hollywood. An episodic docudrama, the film adds a fictional gumshoe, Adrian Brody, to the investigation of Reeves' death by gunshot at the early sunset of his career. Was he accidentally murdered by his shrewish fiancee, the tart and taunting Robin Tunney? Depressed into suicide by his fading hopes of stardom? Or rubbed out by his jealous lover's mobbed up husband? Juicy possibilities, and each is played out on screen in slow, golden pans so neatly copied from LA Confidential and Chinatown it seems more expected than unoriginal. Brody is game to play the twitchy P.I., and he shows vulnerability and menace in that whelpy face, but his character just gets in the way. A fine, snappy romance blooms between Reeves and Toni Mannix, an older dame perfectly played by Diane Lane -- why the movie doesn't revolve strictly on them is the real mystery. Extraneous scenes pile up like sandbags toward the end, perhaps because the director is used to The Sopranos' neverending story arc. Despite great bit parts all around, it would be considerably improved by a ruthless 25 minute edit; what starts as a collage winds up a dissipated epic. Major extra points for Bob Hoskins as the tough bastard studio boss with an open marriage, and Jeffrey DeMunn as Reeves' nebbishy agent. (B+)

* The Devil Wears Prada -- Ooooh, ah, FASHION! Last year's chick-lit bauble comes to the big screen, gussied up with Meryl Streep of all people, but still a simplistic trifle, despite great set dressing. Gawky overachiever stumbles into underling job at glossy fashion mag, put upon by bitchy "clackers" in stilettos and firebreathing boss, but steadied by down-to-earth friends and of course, a witty gay mentor -- oh, Stanley Tucci, I've seen you naked but was not prepared for you in that glen plaid suit! She struggles to prove herself by putting on the emperor's duds, falls out with her earnest Renaissance Youth boyfriend, blah blah, but then sees the cutthroat biz for what it is, blah blah, winds up in "real" journalism after all, symbolized by dull corduroys. Anne Hathaway brings the right youthful credulity to the role, and somehow stays believable under all that Chanel. Streep is a mama lion toying with a three-legged mouse here, delighting in pouring ice water all over everyone with the chilliest sotto voce this side of Michael Corleone. She plays the one "behind the mask" scene perfectly, letting the faintest shade of regret flutter by before snapping her game face shut. It's a fine afternoon diversion, despite the dopey incidental music and whiff of Garry Marshall about it. Extra points for the makeup artist responsible for Emily Blunt's monumental eyeshadow. (B-)

* The Last Kiss -- Dubbed "Garden State five years later," this one had surprising legs. Neither a date flick nor a true chuck flick, it blends elements of each to more closely resemble a really good episode of thirtysomething, somewhat oversold with a bigscreen soundtrack. Zach Braff goes back into post-adolescent zombie mode as Michael, 29 y.o., ambivalent about everything even as he's having a baby with his gorgeous, loving girlfriend. Too mild and well-bred to flagrantly cheat on her, he instead shrugs and grins his way into the pants of The O.C.'s Rachel Bilson, a painfully starry-eyed college girl. That's just one relationship falling apart -- Michael's gang of guy friends are all going through one version or another of, to quote Charlie in High Fidelity, "the What Does It All Mean thing," plus his quasi-inlaws separate over an old infidelity, and so on. It all shakes out and some couples reunite, etc., but Tom Wilkinson as the unflappable dad encapsulates the theme of "Grow up already, asshole!" a little more gently: "You have to do whatever it takes" to stay in love. Surprisingly decent supporting cast, including Casey Affleck (2006 is treating that family well!), makes enough of the somewhat flyaway plot to keep you intrigued. Jacinda Barrett shines as the wronged Jenna, believably freaking out over Braff's halfbaked cuckoldery. Mostly authentic, but with strange small flaws: would a guy really run off to Tierra Del Fuego rather than meet a new flame's parents? Would Blythe Danner's faculty wife actually wear a white leather duster coat in Madison, WI? Is Snow Patrol the made-for-TV Coldplay? Who cares? (B)
"The News Before It Happens." -- Finally, the media gives the people what they want. If they want fake news via the British version of The Onion, that is. Viva Newsbiscuit! My favorite headline: "Bottle of Tabasco Sauce Finished."
"Secure the oil. Build your empire. Fund & fight terrorism." -- This explains everything. Clearly Cheney & Co. have gotten their mitts on War On Terror: The Boardgame. Order now for Christmas delivery!
"Yes. No. YES! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" -- If you, like me, think back fondly to the days of "Even Stevphen" on The Daily Show, you could watch this clip restrospective over and over and over.


"If Dawson's Creek had been about warlocks, it would look like this." -- Junky teen flick The Covenant scores a mere (and rare) 3% rating on RottenTomatoes, ouch! I love it when movie critics save their best lines for stuff like this...read on for some gems.


...into that dirty night. -- Behold the reverse-graffiti artist, who scrubs off urban grime to spread his message. Sort of like those "GO PATS" messages on trucks around here, but prettier.
Follow...follow follow follow follow follow... -- It's that time of year folks, back to school, back to real work and the dreaded End of the Fiscal Year, all kinds of things brewing all over the place. And also, Nat has his foot in a cast, ouch. So things are a little sloooow on the TAI front, but fear not, the world is still full of procrastinatory phenomena, like SuperGoose. Hang in there...


AAIIIIEEEEEEE, Congratulations!! -- Huzzahs are in order today for my new bro-in-law Jon and his lovely bride-to-be, Bobbi, who are now officially affianced! No word yet on costuming or theme possibilities for their nuptials, but since they attended DragonCon and collected the blessings of assorted sf celebs (including Darth Vader and Mr. Sulu!!) on their union, it should be a rockin' good time. Hooray!
Yesterday was Night of the Roadside Bicycles in Boston -- I witnessed/almost collided with the following, between 2 pm and 8pm in the greater metro area:

1. A guy riding a bike with his large pit bull on a chain galloping beside him.
2. A guy riding a bike while "towing" another bike with his left hand.
3. A guy riding a bike with a homemade trailer made out of a blue recycling bin.
4. A gal riding a bike with 3 or 4 large rolls of blueprint paper sticking out of her backpack.
5. Shirtless dude riding a bike with iPod headphone in one ear and cellphone on the other.
Bruce Springsteen and “the old weird America -- Interesting review of The Boss' latest record and how it's part of a trend to reintroduce jaded, terrorized Americans to their basic musical roots. See also Bob, Jeff, and even Jack & Meg.
Any Democrat For Governor -- We're gearing up for the gubernatorial primary here in the Commonwealth, only 11 days to go and the Democrats are still in a wobbly 3-legged race. Or maybe not, since last night's dismal, didactic performance by AG (and my former Watertown neighbor) Tom Reilly. He has left me cold so far, though I have no great love for Chris Gabrieli, and I think Deval Patrick is a sort of Romney-Obama hybrid with his eye trained on Washington. Sigh...at least I have 11 days to decide on the greater of three lesser evils, or something...


Summer's Over -- and The Scream Is Back! -- Just in time for Labor Day, and a cloudy rainy cool holiday weekend (not to mention my 32nd birthday), Edvard Munch's existential angst-o-riffic masterpiece was recovered by Norwegian police. Could the offer of a 2 Million Dark Chocolate M&M reward have turned the tide? I think I'm eat some over the weekend and think about it...
"Do Not Disturb: MOO" -- That's the sign hanging on the corporate cublicle of a working mom who pumps breast milk, a tricky scheme under the best of circumstances. Great NYT article on the growing gap between professional moms who get support (or at least privacy) to pump at work, and moms working at casinos, factories, or Starbucks who struggle and must give it up. Unbelievably jerky bosses who humiliate the nursing moms (or dress up like a breast pump!) make it hard on those who can't just shut their office door or pop into the corporate lactation room. Remind me again how this reflects America's "family values"?