Monthly Archives: March 2014

Meow Wow

Tips to turn your kitty-cat into an online sensation  

How To Make Your Cat An Internet Celebrity

How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity

By Patricia Carlin

Photography by Dustin Fenstermacher

Softcover $12.95 (Quirk Books) / Kindle edition $9.99

Anyone with a computer knows that cats rule the Internet these days. So why not capitalize on the kitty craze? This humorous how-to manual shows you how to turn your feline into an online hit—and potential financial fur ball—with step-by-step instructions on picking out a “stage name,” setting up photos, shooting a viral video, selecting costumes and other props, and determining your cat’s purr-sonality (e.g., sweet baby, lazy bum, daredevil, moron, crazy). Don’t have a cat? Don’t worry—you’ll still howl at the outrageously funny photos and go-for-it advice.

 —Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Wild Weekend

De Niro, Freeman headline all-star, over-the-hill ‘Hangover’

Last Vegas

Last Vegas

Blu-ray + DVD + Digital $40.99 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline play grown-up childhood chums who reunite for a Vegas bachelor party weekend in honor of their last single pal (Michael Douglas). Will the wild, wanton ways of Sin City do these 60-somethings in, or can a wise, lovely lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen) keep them on the straight and narrow? Friendships are tested, Viagra jokes fly, smart-aleck young pups get their comedic comeuppance from old dogs, and Morgan Freeman pops some serious moves on the dance floor. Extras include several behind-the-scenes features.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Everything is Awesome

Sharp, smart writing, gonzo wit and the pursuit of special-ness

LEGO

The Lego Movie

Starring the voices of Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman & Elizabeth Banks

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

PG-13, 100 min.

Since their introduction in Denmark in 1949, Lego construction toys have spread all over the world, across multiple generations and throughout the reaches of pop culture. In addition to almost endless varieties of play sets, characters and components, there are also Lego videogames, Lego clothes, Lego competitions, and Lego amusement parks in Europe, North America and Asia.

Now there’s a Lego movie—and more people have seen it than any other film in America since it opened earlier this year.

Clearly, Legos are immensely popular playthings. But The Lego Movie is also an exceptionally well-done, wildly entertaining piece of family-friendly fare, a rare piece of work that engages both grownups and kids with a sharp, smart writing, gonzo wit and a story that bridges cross-generational audiences.

000048.0027807.tifBrilliant digital animation creates a teeming, brick-by-brick Lego world—several of them, in fact—and a sprawling cast of Lego characters: Emmet (Chris Pratt), a everyday, by-the-book construction worker nubbin who may—or may not—be the fulfillment of a long-ago prophesy foretold by Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman), a blind seer; Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks), a beautiful female resistance fighter; Metal Beard (Nick Offerman), a walking maritime junkyard of a pirate; Batman (Will Arnett), Superman (Channing Tatum) and the Green Lantern (Jonah Hill); Lord Business (Will Farrell), an evil control freak who wants to micro-manage everything and everyone; and Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), a literally two-faced law-enforcement officer.

Co-directors and writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, whose growing collaborative résumé includes the movies 21 Jump Street and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and TV’s How I Met Your Mother and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, weave themes of creativity, independence and cooperation into a story that runs on a crazy rail of nearly nonstop pop-cultural riffs and satirical references, understated comedic nuance as well as explosively absurd visual magic, and just the right tones of subversive cool for a movie that needs to appeal to children as well as parents.

LEGO

Early in the movie, Emmet gets in his Lego car, turns on the radio and hears a song, “Everything is Awesome.” It’s meant to be a big supersonic joke, an ironic mantra-like jab about conformity in a place where being mindlessly happy is mandatory. But it’s infectious as all get-out, and it becomes the movie’s theme. (It’s performed by the Canadian indie duo Tegan and Sara and the comedy-rap group the Lonely Island, and produced by Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh.)

And like the interlocking pieces of the gazillions of Legos it would have taken to make this movie if it weren’t for the digital magic of computer animation, the song just fits. Yep, in this joyous, joke-filled parable about the joy of making stuff, the power of imagination and the pursuit of special-ness, everything pretty much is awesome.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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The Disappearing Doggie

Can you locate the well-concealed canine?

Find Momo

Find Momo

By Andrew Knapp

Softcover, $14.95 (Quirk Books)

Also available for Kindle, $10.49

 

A few years ago, the author-photographer discovered how much his border collie, Momo, loved playing hide-and-seek. After Knapp began posting photos online of his adorable pooch peeking out from all kinds of settings, Momo soon was an Internet sensation with more than 100,000 Instagram followers (@ #findmomo). Now Momo’s got his own book, with even more delightful, artfully created challenges for dog lovers to find the canny canine in New York City’s Central Park, snow banks, lake waters, a roadside wood pile, the diorama of an outdoor shop, and dozens of other colorful Where’s Waldo?-esque locations.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Who’s Hungry?

‘Catching Fire’ sequel quenches ‘Hunger Games’ appetites

Hunger Games_Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Blu-ray $39.99, DVD $29.95 (Lionsgate Home Video)

Things are pretty bleak for young folks who have to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. But on the bright side: The sci-fi trilogy’s second blockbuster movie, the No.1 box-office hit of 2013, is well on its way to cracking the billion-dollar mark in sales. So don’t feel too bad for Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, or Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland, all of whom reprise their original parts (plus an appearance by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, in what would become one of his final roles). Bonus features include a nine-part behind-the-scenes documentary, commentary from director Francis Lawrence, and deleted scenes.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Honoring Bob Dylan

Re-release recalls all-star 1992 concert event

Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert

Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration, Deluxe Edition

Blu-ray, $24.98 / DVD $21.98 (Columbia/Legacy)

In 1992, superstar musicians of every stripe streamed into New York City’s Madison Square Garden to fête Bob Dylan on the 30th anniversary of his first album for Columbia Records and stage a concert in his honor. This music documentary, previously available only on VHS, features performances of Dylan classics by a parade of the era’s leading acts, including John Mellencamp, Johnny Cash and June Carter, Lou Reid, Johnny Winter, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, the O’Jays, The Band, Stevie Wonder, and former Beatle George Harrison. A feast for fans of one of America’s most iconic, enduring and ever-evolving singer-songwriters, now 72, it also includes 40 minutes of interviews, rehearsal footage, and other behind-the-scenes goodies.

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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Texts on a Plane

Liam Neeson kicks butt at 30,000 feet

Photography By Myles Aronowitz

Non-Stop

Starring Liam Neeson & Julianne Moore

Directed by Juane Collet-Serra

PG-13

His name may not have the same action-hero ring as “Willis,” “Norris” or “Stallone,” but 61-year-old Liam Neeson has carved a pretty successful niche for himself a one-man kick-butt machine.

Those other stars might have more brawn, but the “everyman” personas of Neeson’s characters, pushed to their limits physically and psychologically but always finding ways to overcome, connected with audiences in movies like the 2008 revenge thriller Taken, its sequel, and Unknown.

5688_FPT_00074R.JPG_cmykNow, working again with Unknown director Juane Collet-Serra, Neeson stars in Non-Stop as a stressed-out federal air marshal on a six-hour transatlantic flight, once more a rumpled, crumpled underdog, this time grappling with a plane-full of life-or-death stakes high above the clouds. Just after take-off, his character, Bill Marks, gets a cryptic cell-phone message: Unless he arranges for an immediate transfer of $150 million dollars, people on the plane will begin to die, one at a time.

And eventually, something even more catastrophic will happen—and it’s all been rigged to look like Marks did it.

Who sent the message, and others that follow, taunting Marks, spelling out the devious details? It’s obviously someone else on the flight, someone who knows him—and the heavy emotional baggage he’s carrying. Everyone becomes a suspect, and the guessing game is part of what keeps the movie—otherwise contained in the closed, confined space of the airliner—moving along at a brisk, breathless clip.

Non-Stop

Lupita N’yongo, who received a supporting actress Oscar for her role in “12 Years a Slave,” plays a flight attendant.

No one is above suspicion, including Marks’ overly (?) friendly seatmate (Julianne Moore); two flight attendants (Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary Crawley on  Downton Abbey, and Oscar-winning Lupita N’Yongo from 12 Years a Slave); a Middle Eastern-looking doctor who practically has “TERRORIST” stamped on his kafi; a mild-mannered school teacher (Scoot McNairy); and a computer programmer (Nate Parker).

There are twists, turns, some cheesy laughs, a serious tussle in the lavatory, a murder by improvised peashooter, and a rip-roarin’ finish that had one woman seated behind me whooping, gasping and hollering “Save the baby!!!”

The specter of 9/11 hangs over the plot in more ways than one, but this isn’t a movie with much of an agenda beyond being a high-flying, B-grade thrill ride that takes you up, shakes you up and sets you back down when it’s over.

So don’t’ buy a ticket to Non-Stop looking for award-winning performances or a profound message (although it clumsily, hurriedly tries to tag one on at the end). As the captain tells Marks at one point, just sit back, buckle up and “Enjoy your flight”!

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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