December 7, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
BIG RELEASE: World War Z (June 21)
BIG PICTURE: The good news? The world's nations have learned to stop fighting each other. The bad news? Our Third World War is against the undead. TV's Walking Dead has set the bar unfairly high for zombie movies by essentially offering a 12-hour film with rich character development each season. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt & Co. only have two hours to adapt a brilliant novel by Max Brooks, which offers a geo-political portrait of how our world might suffer through -- and overcome -- a "real" zombie virus. That's 120 minutes for Pitt to furrow his brow, kill a few zombies, run from a few zombies, criss-cross the world, find the origin of the virus and deliver a potential cure to mankind. I have no idea how he's going to do it (unless the twist is he's Santa Claus). I'm hoping for a cameo by Ocean's Eleven to buy Pitt time by mesmerizing the zombie hordes with charm, one-liners -- and by tossing them Matt Damon. Mireille Enos, brilliant on AMC's The Killing, plays Pitt's wife, trying to keep their kids safe as he embarks the international backpacking trip from hell.
FORECAST: Zombie fans and "those who daydream of Brad Pitt saving them from the apocalypse (we've all been there)" will find this war worth fighting through. But fans of the book will be sorely disappointed. The novel's strength was grounded in a realistic, fictional "interviews" with the global survivors of World War Z - from doctors and generals to politicians to average Joe heroes. The scariest thing about this movie might be the over $200-million price tag, production delays and script rewrites. Zombies may be the "it" thing in pop culture, but WWZ can't afford for any of the genre's fans to stay away.
HONOURABLE MENTION: Monsters University (June 21). Billy Crystal and John Goodman reprise their roles as the voices for monsters Mike and Sulley. This animated sequel tells the tale of the how the two became unlikely friends during monster school, while learning how to hide under a bed, say "boo," stake out a kid's closet -- and other skills essential to creatures of the night. I believe Dick Cheney, Simon Cowell and Sen. Mike Duffy are all graduates.
BIG EVENT: Devious Maids (June 23, Lifetime, 9 p.m.
BIG PICTURE: Straight from the magical land of Clich©, this baby is delivered by Marc Cherry, the maker of Desperate Housewives. First, ABC's Mistresses and new Devious Maids? TV executives must already be running out of titles. This fall, keep an eye out for Sexy Women Who Make Dramatic Mistakes, Regret Them, Complain About Them, And Then Forget the Lessons They've Learned Just In Time for the Next Episode. Ana Ortiz, Judy Reyes, Dania Ramirez and Roselyn Sanchez star as the group of Latino maids in Beverly Hills. Expect sex. And then more sex. And then murder. And then post-sex murder. I'm hoping for a spinoff called Bodacious Butlers inexplicably starring Scott Baio (Charles in Charge), Joey Lawrence (Blossom) Luke Perry (90210) and Matthew Perry (Friends and all his other random, cancelled sitcoms).
FORECAST: It's like Desperate Housewives meets the board game Clue, only every character is Mrs. White. Featuring dialogue such as "If you don't stop screwing my husband, I'm going to have you deported" and "Never fall in love with the help" and "You'll have to forgive my wife, she's drunk -- and evil." Yup. Seriously.
BIG RELEASE ON JUNE 18: Kanye West (Yeezus)
BIG PICTURE: We always knew Kanye West had a God complex, but now he's gone one step further. In recent interviews, he has cited Yeezus as his "God name." Yup. Seriously. The album Yeezus is shrouded in mystery with almost zero promotion or pre-release details. We can only hope the album features 12 guest-star "apostles of Yeezus." I'm hoping for Drake, girlfriend Kim Kardashian, Hologram Tupac, Hologram Stephen Harper (even more human than the real thing!), Scott Baio (simply because he needs work before my butler idea takes off) and Weird Al Yankovic. (Real Yeezus collaborators include Daft Punk, Frank Ocean, John Legend, Tyler the Creator and Skrillex). With tracks such as New Slaves and Black Skinhead, early word is this album is darker than typical Kanye and delves into a few socio-political themes. Crazy Yeezus.
FORECAST: Who knew dating a Kardashian would bring out West's serious side? Maybe all the great songwriters need a Kardashian for a muse. I sense wedding bells for Bob Dylan and Khloe Kardashian in 2014. (On a side note: In case you were wondering, my "God name" is Herculackner.)
HONOURABLE MENTION: Austra (Olympia). This Toronto indie electro-pop act has been universally loved (at least by critics and the hipster crowd) since debuting with Feel It Break in 2011. Frontwoman Katie Stelmanis can move you with her lyrics -- and move you to dance at the same time. The new album was apparently influenced by early house music when a live band typically performed. Imagine that? A live band? Dance songs without any computerized tinkering or auto-tune to disguise their mediocrity? Now that's something to celebrate! (In honour of our Olympic team, I give this Olympia a bronze medal.)
"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," but these days,
a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop-culture offerings is just what we need.
With that in mind, here is what's on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 16, 2013 ??65525