Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cool TV, movie and lifestyle billboards around L.A. in March 2011...

There really have been an eclectic mix of billboards around L.A. this month for me to drive all over and photograph (dodging all the rain). Here's what March had to offer in terms of film, television, drinks, health and other billboards.

Sunset Boulevard billboards
Sunset Strip billboards
Bill Maher got some face time for his TV show on this prime location along Sunset Boulevard, whilst in the foreground you can also see the debut of the new Svedka Vodka campaign, featuring their oddly sexy robot.

Drinks billboards
Absolut Vodka Wild Tea billboards
Another alcohol billboard campaign that caught my eye was this trio of exotic beauties for Absolut Vodka's new Wild Tea variant, featuring the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O.
Tropicana OJ billboard
On the other end of the spectrum, I found this orange juice billboard for Tropicana bright and eye-catching, but slightly lazy in execution. Really, is that all you can come up with? An orange juice bottle sitting atop an orange, emulating the sun. This is all about shifting product. Where's the fun, where's the whimsy Tropicana?

Movie billboards
Lincoln Lawyer movie billboard
The Summer movie-fest hasn't kicked off yet, but there's been a few good billboards to catch my attention. I really like this creative for The Lincoln Lawyer featuring Matthew McConaughey. I have to say I never pictured him as the titular character when I read Michael Connelly's book, but I've heard complimentary things from friends who've seen it.
Sucker Punch billboard
The sequel to Diary of a Wimpy Kid may have trashed Zack Snyder's latest film at the box office, but the billboards for Sucker Punch really captured my imagination this month and I enjoyed the movie.

Be sure to check out these original costumes and props from Sucker Punch on display.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 movie billboard
These bright egg yolk billboards for alien comedy movie, Paul, also stood out this month.
Paul film billboard
Next is this intriguing billboard for a James Franco and Gus Van Sant collaboration, which took the poster site usually reserved for Gucci, which is no small surprise as they seem to have supported the film and exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery.
James Franco Unfinished billboard
Finally for film are these witty billboards for the entertainment industry trade publication, Variety, which is a play on the title of Irving Berlin's song from Annie Get Your Gun, which has have become synonymous with the movie business in pop culture.
Show Business Variety billboardVariety show business billboard
The simple creative comes in different colours, which is clever as they do say variety is the spice of life.

TV billboards
Mildred Pierce TV billboard
There seemed to be a lot of green creatives around this month, from Sucker Punch to shades in The Lincoln Lawyer, and also here for the small screen remake of Mildred Pierce, starring Kate Winslet. I'm a fan, as these green billboards really pop against the blue California sky.
Army Wives season 5 billboard
The fifth season billboard for Army Wives really stood out, instead of blending in, with their glamourous camouflage dresses and heads sticking out above the billboard dimensions.
All About Aubrey billboard
The former lead singer of Danity Kane got this colourful billboard along L.A.'s Sunset Strip this month to relaunch her career and new reality series, All About Aubrey.

Health and Fitness billboards
Live Ripped GNC billboard
There's nothing like a ripped male torso to catch your eye as you drive by, unfortunately the other creative for GNC vitamins and health supplements looks positively morose.
Live Radiantly GNC billboard
'Live Radiantly' seems to be a bit out of character for this billboard, unless I'm missing the point and this is a joke. Is the model supposed to look that miserable and have that awful 'trout pout'?
Mona Lisa HIV test billboard
This free HIV test billboard caught my eye with their use of the enigmatic Mona Lisa and their 'No Questions Asked' slogan.

Technology billboards
Verizon Thunderbolt billboard
Verizon's new Thunderbolt 4G phone appeared like a bolt from the blue (or should I say grey skies this month) to brighten up Sunset Boulevard.

Toy billboards
Barbie and Ken billboard
It's not often you see toy brand billboards, especially this far away from Christmas, but I love this new Barbie and Ken campaign with its witty straplines.

Music billboards
Marco Bosco guitar billboard
Finally for this month, here's a music billboard for Marco Bosco which really stood out for having a bit of drama, usually reserved for likes of Lady Gaga. Obviously it helps that his body is also easy on the eye.

If you missed them, be sure to check out all the fashion billboards for March and visit Daily Billboard every day for new and interesting creatives lining the city skyline.

Until next month's round-up keep your eyes to the skies...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The not so secret life of bees...

Usually it's a plethora of dogs you see every day at Runyon Canyon, so it was a bit of a surprise today when I arrived and saw this bees nest at the entrance on Mulholland Drive.
At first I was thrown by the sign below the nest (but maybe that was just the incorrect punctuation). Then I looked up and it all made sense.
Bees sign
Let's just say I didn't hang around for long. That's not something I want to disturb, especially with an inquisitive Labrador in tow.
Bees nest
It looks like rattlesnakes and coyotes are not the only things to watch out for at Runyon Canyon these days...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stylish fashion billboards around L.A. in March 2011...

You can tell Spring has sprung here in L.A., well from the billboards if not from the weather, as new season fashion campaigns abound across the city skyline. Here's a selection of the most stylish creatives that March had to offer.

Fashion billboards
Alexander Skarsgard Hickey Freeman billboard
First up is True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard looking awfully dashing for suit maker Hickey Freeman. Not only does he look great along Sunset Boulevard, but I swear I saw him in person jogging at Runyon Canyon the other day.
Rafael Nadal Armani Jeans billboard
From one good looking guy to another. Here's tennis ace, Rafa Nadal, baring his powerful back muscles for this sexy Armani Jeans billboard.
Banana Republic Spring 2011 billboard
I'm also loving Banana Republic's Journey in Style new season campaign, especially the billboards feature a whole host of young, beautiful people.
Banana Republic models billboard
Next up is this giant Kate Spade New York billboard which just screams colour and has the added bonus of featuring Bryce Dallas Howard, of The Village, Twilight Eclipse and Spider-man 3 fame.
Kate Spade New York billboard
True Religion's dreamy, sandy shore billboard also caught my eye this month and started me thinking that it'll be beach time soon.
True Religion fashion billboard
This quirky one-man-band John Varvatos billboard also grabbed my attention, although I think the monkey was one of the main reasons.
John Varvatos one man band billboard
Meanwhile these Juicy Couture girls look like they are relaxing into Spring along L.A.'s Sunset Strip.
Juicy Couture fashion billboard
Another billboard which just screamed summertime, was this fantastic poolside creative for Hale Bob Cabana, which just made me want to rush out and lie in the sun, then cool off with a refreshing swim.
Hale Bob Cabana poolside billboard
Next, this mono Calvin Klein One billboard really comes out and cleverly grabs your attention as you drive by.
CK One fashion billboard
This month was a real personal milestone for me as I ran my first ever marathon.
Asics female runner billboard
It seemed like these billboards for Asics sportswear were with me every step of the way, as they lined the course through Hollywood, up Sunset Boulevard and down Santa Monica Boulevard to the finishing line at the ocean.
Asics running billboard
It was fantastic placement, reaching over 20,000 runners, and I just love the inspiring creative which shows words like 'stress, pain and frustration' being shed from the runners.
Asics billboard
The campaign perfectly captures the essence of what running a marathon is like.
Chanel watch billboard
Finally, here's a beautifully simple billboard for Chanel, where the watch is the hero. As it looks like my running watch died in the torrential rain during the L.A. Marathon, it appears I'm in the market for a new timepiece.

Be sure to check out more fashion billboards, sexy female model billboards and hot male model billboards at Daily Billboard and come back soon for a round-up of March's best film, TV and lifestyle billboards around the streets of L.A...

Escape to a kick-ass world of imagination with Sucker Punch...

A film like Sucker Punch is never going to win any Oscars for its acting, but if you forget about all the critics complaints and just enjoy the ride, you'll find the movie is an enjoyable escape from everyday life.
Sucker Punch movie billboard
Overall Zack Snyder's new movie is a fanboy's dream, all skin-tight costumes, gun fights and fantastical scenarios.
It also reminded me a little of Inception with its fantasy worlds within fantasy worlds.

Sucker Punch movie costumes
on display at ArcLight Pasadena cinema
Sucker Punch costume exhibit
The central character, Babydoll, retreats into the fantasy world of her imagination to escape the horrors of the real world - her stepfather, the mental asylum he's had her committed to, the guards and orderlies that torment and abuse her.
Sucker Punch Babydoll billboard
The first level is imagining her prison is a bordello run by a Madam, who trains her 'girls' to dance to entertain the club's gentlemen guests as a front for all other kinds of criminal activities. The next level is when she dances and is transported on missions to worlds of demon samurai, bombed out World War Britain, orcs and dragons, robots and futuristic worlds.

I thought it as clever that zombies are made of steam and the fight lifeless robots, so the girls can shot, hack and slash without fears of copious amounts of blood spurting everywhere over the big screen.

Sucker Punch movie costumes
Sucker Punch really is a visual spectacle and Babydoll and her ragtag group move through fantasy worlds like different levels in a video game, their mission to find five objects to help them escape from the asylum. At first it's all quite formulaic, although great geek fun, until things start to crumble and things get a little more interesting.

Sucker Punch movie props
Unfortunately even though there's some great action, you don't really get a sense of all the characters, their motivations, their connection to one another or why the other girls are in a mental institute (although you could assume for the most part some of them have been wrongfully imprisoned like Babydoll).

Ultimately these girls are all a little one note, but at least Babydoll has motivation to escape -her step-father killed her sister, he had her committed in order to steal her inheritance and she's going to be lobotomised in five days time.
Sucker Punch movie billboard
The movie's orcs and dragons made me remember that recently I rewatched the Lord of the Rings trilogy and how those films have really held up over time. However, that's not just because of the special effects, but because of the quality of the source material, the depth and complexity of the characters. The marketing may describe Sucker Punch as a fantasy-action 'epic', but unlike LOTR, it doesn't really live up to that word.

Sweet Pea, Blondie, Babydoll, Rocket
and Amber costumes from Sucker Punch
Sucker Punch film costumes
It also feels like it should be a movie about 'girl power', but it seems told more through the eyes of a male action fantasy and you never really get the impression these girls get enough retribution for all the abuse and torment they've suffered at the hands of men.

Even though it's inventive, it's lacking substance. Yes, it's enjoyable and entertaining, but overall it's not entirely satisfying.
Sucker Punch film billboard
But, I am one of those geeky fanboys that loves this type of movie and think for pure imagination and escapism it deserves four **** stars, and to hell with the critics.

If you liked the movie, be sure to check out these fantastic costumes and props from Sucker Punch on display.

Here's hoping the superheroics of Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America and X-Men: First Class will have style and substance this Summer...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Official LA Marathon race photos show the pain and the rain...

Sunday March 20, 2011 seems like a lifetime ago now, but it will be one of the defining moments in my life as it's the day I ran my first ever marathon. Not only was it a 26.2 mile course through sprawling Los Angeles, but it was also through a storm-tossed tempest.

Jason in Hollywood running the
26th Annual LA Marathon 2011
Jason at LA Marathon 2011
Who could have guessed that the weather conditions could be so severe in the traditionally sunny City of Angels. Finally though I have my official race photos and these are going to provide some wonderful memories for many years to come. I love these photos as they show my joy, pain and determination.

Running past Echo Park Lake
Jason runs LA Marathon 2011
After previous half marathons where there's always been someone in my way or I'm not looking at the camera, my strategy for this race was to wave and run towards any photographers so that my first marathon would be well documented. I wanted proof that I'd run in those adverse monsoon conditions.

Caught on a walk break
Jason runs LA Marathon 2011
Luckily it didn't rain in our starting corrals at Dodger Stadium, so we weren't wet and miserable from the start, but I remember running through Hollywood, past the likes of Pantages Theater, Capitol Records Tower and Grauman's Chinese Theater, and just laughing at the ridiculousness of the deluge we were running through.

Running down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills
Wet Rodeo Drive LA Marathon 2011
Luckily for the first 21 or so miles I had a great partner-in-crime, Rob, who helped me keep pace and experienced the insanity with me.

Still smiling at Rodeo Drive
LA Marathon 2011 running Rodeo Drive
We may have been soaking wet, but our spirits were high with all the cheering support of the race spectators and at the absurdity of our situation. Around mile 17 we ran down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, sadly with no time to shop, then past the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, made famous in Pretty Woman.

Joining Wilshire Boulevard in the rain
LA Marathon 2011 Wilshire Boulevard
As you can see the downpour was almost continuous and at times my running shoes felt like soggy weights.

Veterans' Administration hill
LA Marathon 2011 wet runners
Around mile 21 we encountered the Veteran's Administration hill that my fellow runners had warned me about, just when you thought all the inclines were over. Fortunately all that training paid off and no amount of hills or ice-cold water running down them was going to get in my way.

Veterans' Administration in Westwood
LA Marathon 2011 wet runner
It was after this point that I looked at my watch and realised that if I didn't go for it and pick up my pace, my dreams of crossing the Finish Line under four hours would be shattered. I left my fellow T2: Team To End AIDS runner, Rob, and raced my heart out.

Sprinting through Brentwood
Sprinting final miles LA Marathon 2011
Rather than abating, the weather continued to get worse the closer to the ocean we ran. I didn't mind the cold rain so much, as I was hot from running and my legs burning from fatigue, it was the strong winds that really chilled to the bone.

Victoriously crossing the Finish Line in Santa Monica
LA Marathon 2011 finish line
With about four minutes to go I reached Ocean Drive in Santa Monica and sprinted for the Finish Line, which I couldn't even see in all the rain. In fact I'm not sure how much I saw of much of the course as i had my head down for the majority of it.

Official race time 3:58:13
Finish Line LA Marathon 2011
Time was ticking away and I didn't think I was going to make it, but the cheers of the crowds calling my name (it was on my race bib) and the psychological boost of passing fellow runners in that last mad dash gave me that extra strength to power across with almost two minutes to spare.

Freezing cold conditions after the Finish Line
Jason after LA Marathon 2011
I felt invincible crossing that finish line and a huge sense of accomplishment.

Unfortunately this soon turned to utter misery and I've never felt wetter or colder in my life. I could hardly breathe at first, my legs were seizing up and the winds were blowing and I couldn't wrap my foil blanket around myself.

Official breakdown of my first marathon
LA Marathon race result
There were people trying to take our photos, friends and family congratulating the runners around us and all I wanted to do was get somewhere warm.

A well deserved L.A. Marathon medal
After LA Marathon 2011
It wasn't long before I did and was reunited with Charlie and Cooper. I managed to bump into a few of my Team To End AIDS friends, but no one wanted to wait around in those conditions when you're soaking wet and freezing cold. That's one of the things I regretted, not being able to cheer home my teammates as they crossed that Finish Line.

Luckily I have these fantastic photos to remind me of my wet and wild achievement, just like the 19,743 other finishers.

Next up is Bay to Breakers in San Francisco in May, a mere 7.4 miles, and then the Disneyland Half Marathon in September.

And now I've run a marathon, that doesn't feel that far at all...