Sunday, January 31, 2010

Huntington Beach surfer and Labrador fun...

There's nothing we like better than going out and about with our Labrador Cooper whenever we can. This weekend we decided to venture down to Huntington Dog Beach again to throw a few tennis balls and tire out our twenty-one month old pup along the sandy shore.
Huntington Dog Beach Cooper
After the glut of blog entries about movies and billboards around L.A. I thought it would be nice to round out the month with some pictures of Cooper at play for all his admirers.
Huntington Beach pup and surfers
Being the New Year and also almost two years since we've been living in California (oh, how time flies), I thought it was about time I mastered driving on the scary L.A. freeways.
Huntington Dog Beach Happy Labrador
As a recap to any newcomers, before I moved here I relied on public transport to get around in London, but learnt to drive out of necessity when I moved to Los Angeles.
Huntington Dog Beach high tide
Up until now I've avoided traveling about on the crazy freeways and so the good news is we survived the journey there and back (unless you wouldn't be reading this), and surprisingly I felt more confident behind the wheel than I thought I'd be.
Huntington Dog Beach surf pup
Anyway, so intent were we on going to the beach that we didn't factor in the high tide at this Orange County beach, as usually our most pressing concern is getting on the road early before it gets too busy.
Huntington Beach surfer
Cooper pretty much pulled us down to the beach in his excitement and it may not have been as sunny as our last visit, but it's January and we were at the beach, so no complaints here.
Huntington Beach surfer wipe out
In addition to chasing his tennis balls and frisbee, Cooper was also bemused by all the surfers and tried on several occasions to follow them into the ocean.
Racing along Huntington Dog Beach
As the tide was so high we couldn't walk along the mile-long off-leash stretch of sand like last time and there seemed to be much more debris on the shore, maybe from the recent stormy weather.
Huntington Dog Beach
Regardless of all that, Cooper still had great fun racing about the beach.
Huntington Beach racing Labrador
The waves were also very impressive and it's no wonder that it's a favourite with local surfers as well as dog lovers in the area.
Huntington Dog Beach waves
The current certainly looked a bit too strong for dogs to be swimming safely, but that didn't stop Cooper from splashing through the surf to cool off.
Huntington Dog Beach frisbee fun
Our pup didn't mind not being able to swim too much, as he still had the opportunity to try out some new toys he'd received for Christmas. Plus he managed to find and lose equal numbers of tennis balls along the shore all morning.
FRisbee fun Huntington Dog Beach
After playtime was over we decided to make the most of the day and drive to lunch at Aroma Cafe in Studio City and joined everyone else getting some sunshine in the outdoors after all the recent rain.

Then in the evening, whilst our exhausted pup slept we ventured out for dinner with a friend to Taste on Melrose. So all in all, a fun-filled day to round out the month.
Huntington Beach tired Labrador
And finally for January for those of you who don't follow my updates on Twitter on facebook fan page, I did have two celebrity sightings this month.

First up was pop star Miley Cyrus (of Hannah Montana fame) last Sunday 24th January at a clothes boutique along Melrose Avenue (just off Robertson Blvd) and secondly Scottish actor Kevin MicKidd, who plays Dr. Owen Hunt in Grey's Anatomy and was Lucius Vorenus in Rome, at the end of his walk with three spaniels at Runyon Canyon on Tuesday 26th January.
Huntington Beach ocean fun
Sadly no paparazzi pictures, bit hopefully February will be more eventful.

Maybe someone famous will be at The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown L.A. today when we enjoy the Beethoven concert...

Friday, January 29, 2010

More cool film, TV and fashion billboards around L.A. in January 2010...

Earlier this month I mentioned that there were a lot of new billboards popping up around L.A. for January compared to last year, so as I promised, here is that second batch of movie, TV show and fashion advertising for you to enjoy.

Movie billboards
Johnny Depp Alice in Wonderland billboard
I do like this quirky billboard along Sunset Boulevard for Disney's new Alice in Wonderland movie and it really does stand out from a distance.

What I do wonder though is if Tim Burton's take on Lewis Carroll's world (with one of his favourite collaborators, Johnny Depp as 'The Mad Hatter') will have a broad enough appeal, as Burton's movies do tend to have a niche appeal.
Nine musical movie billboard
There wasn't much publicity for the musical movie Nine amidst the skies of L.A., which may have contributed to its failure at the box office. It's a shame as it may have its flaws but it is an enjoyable film, with a smattering of leading ladies, but I suppose it's not as familiar a musical as Chicago or Mamma Mia (which are still playing on Broadway and London's West End).
Tooth Fairy film billboard
Tooth Fairy may not be for everyone, but this billboard with a winged Dwayne Johnson certainly does catch your eye are you drive past.
Valentine's Day movie billboard
Looking ahead to February, Valentine's Day seems to have a plethora of famous faces, with storytelling reminiscent of Love Actually. The trailer looks OK, but this is the type of movie which could be great or could go horribly wrong I fear. let's wait and see.

Fashion billboards
Calvin Klein Jeans body billboard
January saw another execution of the Calvin Klein Jeans 'Body' campaign featuring actress Eva Mendes and male model Jamie Dornan. They are certainly getting their monies worth out of this shoot, but I wonder how many more creatives they have before there's wear out for this particular set of images.

TV Billboards
Damages TV billboard
I love this simple, yet striking billboard for the third season of Damages, especially framed by that dramatic cloudy sky.
Temple Grandin TV billboard
Claire Danes radiant smile can't help but catch your eye in this billboard for biographical story of autistic Temple Grandin.
SHHH Santa adult swim billboard
Christmas may be over, but this fun festive billboard for Adult Swim stuck around for most of January. Usually I'm quite unforgiving of seasonal ads that outstay their welcome, but I quite like this quirky billboard, although I do hope it's replaced with something new soon.
Shear Genius Bravo TV billboard
And finally for TV is this clever billboard for the new season of the haircutting show, Shear Genius, on Bravo. The series doesn't have the same gravitas Project Runway or Top Chef, but it has the same reality competition formula and is fun to watch.

If you like these eye-catching billboards be sure to visit my new blog that celebrates the creativity and spectacle of billboard advertising every day at Daily Billboard.

But don't worry you'll still be able to enjoy a round-up of the best billboards around L.A. every month here at Jason in Hollywood...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Taking Extraordinary Measures not to cry...

You know when you go see Extraordinary Measures that you're not going to watch an Avatar. It doesn't have any big explosions or blue-skinned aliens, and it's a far cry from the adventuring days of Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and Brendan Fraser in The Mummy, but what it does have is heart.

It's a sweet, engaging movie that makes you feel-good, even though the subject matter may not be so cheerful. But I'm always a sucker for dying kids to pull on my heart strings, so this tale about the father of two children with a rare genetic disorder, who does everything he can to keep them alive beyond their short expected lifespan does bring a tear to the eye at times.
Extraordinary Measures film poster
Brendan Fraser is highly watchable as the loving father who sacrifices everything to find a life-saving treatment for his young kids (even though he's piled on the pounds since his George of the Jungle days, I've always liked him as an actor since his great performance in Gods and Monsters opposite Ian McKellen).

Harrison Ford isn't the most likable character as the crotchety scientist with a possible cure, but after all this really isn't his story.

The movie isn't any great work of art or cinematic masterpiece, but it has a story and characters that draw you in and make you want to learn the fate of the family. Based on a true story, I always wonder how real the details and also how embellished the circumstances are.
Extraordinary Measures movie poster
It's really not a movie you need to go see at the cinema, but if you want to see a film about ordinary people triumphing over adversity, emotion overcoming corporate greed and hope defeating disease, all wrapped up with a happily ever after, Extraordinary Measures is for you.

I give the movie a watchable three *** stars. It's not overly taxing, it's a bit sentimental and may make you shed a tear, but sometimes it's nice to watch something heart-warming for a change.

Go see it with someone you love and don't be afraid to cry...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Does the Tooth Fairy count as an angel sighting...?

I know that technically speaking the mythical Tooth Fairy may not be an actual angel, but as people familiar with my Angel Quest around the affectionately titled City of Angels will know, I look for any angelic imagery on the streets of L.A. and a guy with a pair of feathered wings on his back looks like an angel to me.
Tooth Fairy movie billboard
This is a advertising billboard for Dwayne Johnson's new Tooth Fairy comedy and it's the second movie billboard this month to feature an impressive set of wings. The first was the fantastic billboard for the not so marvelous movie Legion.
Tooth Fairy film poster
Anyway, now that the rain has started to subside here in Los Angeles I shall keep my eyes open on my travels for more 'official' angel sightings.

Onwards and upwards...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Screen Actors Guild Award winners...

It's award season here in Hollywoodland and both the Golden Globe Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards are good indicators of who is in the running to pick up an Oscar later this year.
16th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards billboard
Here are the worthy winners from last night's 16th annual SAG Awards...

Inglourious Basterds movie poster
Winner: Inglourious Basterds
Fellow nominees: An Education, The Hurt Locker, Nine and Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

Crazy Heart film poster
Winner: Jeff Bridges (Bad Blake in Crazy Heart)
Fellow nominees: George Clooney (Ryan Bingham in Up in the Air), Colin Firth (George Falconer in A Single Man), Morgan Freeman (Nelson Mandela in Invictus) and Jeremy Renner (Staff Sgt. Wiliam James in The Hurt Locker).

The Blind Side film poster
Winner: Sandra Bullock (Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side)
Fellow nominees: Helen Mirren (Sofya in The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (Jenny in An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious in Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire) and Meryl Steep (Julia Child in Julie & Julia).

Inglourious Basterds Christoph Waltz poster
Winner: Christoph Waltz (Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds)
Fellow nominees: Matt Damon (Francois Pienaar in Invictus), Woody Harrelson (Captain Tony Stone in The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station) and Stanley Tucci (George Harvey in The Lovely Bones).

Precious movie billboard
Winner: Mo'Nique (Mary in Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire)
Fellow nominees: Penelope Cruz (Carla in Nine), Vera Farmiga (Alex Goran in Up in the Air), Anna Kendrick (Natalie Keener in Up in the Air) and Diane Kruger (Bridget von Hammersmark in Inglourious Basterds).

Mad Men season 3 TV billboard
Winner: Mad Men
Fellow nominees: The Closer, Dexter, The Good Wife and True Blood.

Glee season 1 TV billboard
Winner: Glee
Fellow nominees: 30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Modern Family and The Office.

Dexter TV billboard
Winner: Michael C. Hall (Dexter Morgan in Dexter)
Fellow nominees: Simon Baker (The Mentalist), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and Hugh Laurie (House).

The Good Wife TV poster
Winner: Julianna Margulies (Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife)
Fellow nominees: Patricia Arquette (Medium), Glenn Close (Damages), Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order) and Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer).

30 Rock TV poster
Winner: Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy in 30 Rock)
Fellow nominees: Steve Carrell (The Office), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men).

30 Rock season 1 TV poster
Winner: Tina Fey (Liz Lemon in 30 Rock)
Fellow nominees: Christina Applegate (Samantha Who?), Toni Collette (United States of Tara), Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (The New Adventures of Old Christine).

Taking Chance TV movie poster
Winner: Kevin Bacon (Lt. Col. Michael R. Strobl in Taking Chance)
Fellow nominees: Cuba Gooding Jr. (Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story), Jeremy Irons (Georgia O'Keeffe), Kevin Kline (Great Performances: Cyrano de Bergerac) and Tom Wilkinson (A Number).

Grey Gardens TV Movie poster
Winner: Drew Barrymore (Little Edie in Grey Gardens)
Fellow nominees: Joan Allen (Georgia O'Keeffe), Ruby Dee (America), Jessica Lange (Grey Gardens) and Sigourney Weaver (Prayers for Bobby).

Star Trek movie billboard
Winner: Star Trek
Fellow nominees: Public Enemies and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

24 TV poster
Winner: 24
Fellow nominees: The Closer, Dexter, Heroes and The Unit.

Let's see if some of the recipients above can repeat their Golden Globe and SAG Award success at the 82nd Academy Awards on Sunday 7th March...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Legion of reasons not to rush and see this film at the cinema...

Great advertising campaign, shame about the movie though.
Legion film poster
Once again it's one of those films where the trailer has all the excitement and there's not much else in the movie to entertain you for the entire 100 minutes.
Legion movie billboard
You can just see the pitch at the studio now. God has grown weary of humanity's ills and summons the apocalypse, sending a horde of angels to exterminate mankind.

Only one hope remains, an archangel who's cast from heaven for refusing to kill humanity's unborn savior. He and a diner full of misfits at Paradise Falls are all that remain to protect the future from Armageddon.
Legion movie posters
That's the synopsis and that's basically what you get on screen. Nothing more, nothing less. There really isn't that much more depth to it. Sadly it has a weak plot, barely any story, forgettable characters and questionable acting.

Even the lead, Paul Bettany, makes for an unremarkable action hero in the form of fallen archangel, Michael.
Legion film billboards
As alway the case in Hollywood film genres seem cyclical, and at the moment there are a few faith based movies knocking about on the big screen. I have to say though, I'd take the post-apocalyptic Book of Eli over Legion's fantasy-horror apocalypse.
Legion Charlie film poster
Anyway with this movie aside from a few surprises in the form of scary wall-crawling geriatric grannies and surreal visuals like long-legged ice-cream van drivers, it's the same old horror fare really.
Legion Tyrese Gibson film poster
Instead of zombies there are possessed humans, which look like demons (but are really angels), and some recycled concepts like flesh-eating children and profanity spouting old ladies. None of it seems particularly original.
Legion film posters
Even the wings of the angels like a bit cheap at times, which is a shame as they make for such a striking visual. But mostly they look like Brian Blessed's Prince Vultan's wings from the camp 1980 sci-fi movie Flash Gordon.
Legion Archangel Gabriel poster
Even the slew of familiar actors can't help the movie. Dennis Quaid, Charle S. Dutton, Tyrese Gibson are watchable but ultimately just disposable cannon fodder to deliver a few lines of dialogue before being killed off.
Legion Dennis Quaid film poster
Kate Walsh who plays Addison in TV's 'Private Practice' must have loved the part, as she gets to play quite an unsympathetic character, rather than being the one to save the day every time.

However I'm sorry to say that Lucas Black who plays nice-but-dim 'Jeep Hanson' in the movie is terribly miscast and doesn't seem to be able to act. He may have been great as a child actor in TV's 'American Gothic', but he's almost painful to watch in this.
Legion Jeep film poster
So in a nut-shell Legion doesn't have many new ideas and is only worth two ** stars at best. The emphasize my point simply watch the ending, which is a rip-off of Sarah Connor driving into an uncertain future in The Terminator, to illustrate just how lazy the filmmakers are.

I'd wait for this movie to come out on DVD rather than rush to watch it at the cinema. In the meantime for some really exciting angel and demon action doing battle to stave off the end of the world, watch the Winchester brothers in the intriguing TV show Supernatural.

One out of four films isn't a good average for 2010 new cinema releases, let's hope my next visit to the movies is more spectacular...

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