HOLLYWOOD JOURNALISTS IN VERBAL DUEL
A full-blown Hollywood blog war has broken out between journalists Nikki Finke, an apparent supporter of the Screen Actors Guild's bargaining strategy with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, and Sharon Waxman, who has criticized it. At issue is Waxman's recent report that SAG officials recently held secret meetings with high-profile actors in a successful effort to persuade them to support a planned strike-authorization vote. On Wednesday, Finke reported that SAG had denied the story, that the meetings were "imaginary," and that Waxman had removed the story from her blog. Later, however, Waxman insisted that SAG had not denied the story, adding, "Nikki Finke saying the guild denies the story does not make it so." She also insisted that she had not deleted the story but had removed it briefly during the night to reedit it and had now reposted it. Waxman voices the suspicion that Finke's effort to debunk her story was intended to embarrass a fellow journalist and asks, "Is she a mouthpiece for SAG or an independent voice?" Meanwhile Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein, whom Finke once called a "shill" for the producers, has weighed in on the dispute -- on Finke's side.
BLU-RAY PLAYERS TO STREAM HD MOVIES (SORT OF)
Just in time for viewing holiday movies, Samsung Blu-ray players that can connect to the Internet will be updated to make them capable of accessing some 300 movie and TV shows in high definition (720p resolution) via Netflix. Until now, the Samsung models BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 have only been able to display standard-definition titles. (However, those number some 12,000.) Owners of the devices will require a firmware update available online. Samsung said Wednesday that the upgrade will allow Netflix subscribers to stream HD content for the first time. In a statement, Samsung exec Reid Sullivan said that as a result its company's Blu-ray players now represent "the ultimate HD digital entertainment delivery system."
MOVIE REVIEWS: TRANSPORTER 3
Two films at the opposite end of the entertainment spectrum are joining the heavy competition at the box office over the Thanksgiving weekend, the action thriller Transporter 3 and the biopic drama Milk. The Transporter flick is receiving the kind of reviews critics write when they know most people who will go to see it will not read them. Roger Ebert does not waste elaborate prose to describe it. "The movie is not boring," he writes. Claudia Puig in USA Today remarks that the movie "rides on the good looks and charisma of star Jason Statham" (hardly the kind of recommendation that will inspire a great rush to the theaters where it's playing). Manohla Dargis in the New York Times is similarly charmed. "Mr. Statham never looks better than when he's taking aim at a group of men with his bullet head and a suit that ensure he's dressed to kill," she writes. But Kyle Smith in the New York Times takes on the movie with appropriate verve. "Transporter 3, which has James Bond ambitions on the budget of a Fanta commercial," he writes, "is directed by someone called Olivier Megaton. Of course it is. Do you require more information?"
MOVIE REVIEWS: MILK
Some critics have already bestowed an Oscar on Sean Penn for his performance in Milk even before the nominations have been announced. Certainly, with hardly an exception, they have praised his performance in the film about the murdered openly gay San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk. Roger Ebert begins his review in the Chicago Sun-Times with the words "Sean Penn amazes me" and goes on to remark that in this film Penn "creates a character who may seem like an odd bird to mainstream America and makes him completely identifiable." In the Chicago Tribune, Michael Phillips writes, "Penn is superb." AP movie critic Christy Lemire writes that Penn delivers "one of the most glorious performances ever in the actor's long and varied career." Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle comments that Penn plays Milk "as an utterly liberated man, and this liberates Penn as an actor." And Claudia Puig in USA Today calls Penn's work "a magnificent, career-topping performance." As for the movie itself, A.O. Scott's review in the New York Times is typical. Scott writes that the power of the movie "lies in its uncanny balancing of nuance and scale, its ability to be about nearly everything -- love, death, politics, sex, modernity -- without losing sight of the intimate particulars of its story. Harvey Milk was an intriguing, inspiring figure. Milk is a marvel." But Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times is not impressed. "There's nothing terribly wrong with Milk," he writes. "It's just that its celebration of a culture and a neighborhood, its valentine to the early days of gay rights activism, is mostly more conventional than compelling."