Howdy folks. It's been two whole weeks since my last column, but I'm back with a vengeance to tackle the news bits, box office info, new official websites for upcoming movies and new trailers from the past seven days. First lets check out what I watched last week.

WHAT DID GALLAGHER WATCH LAST WEEK?

Yellow

Rosalyn Sanchez stars, produces and even has a story credit in this lackluster dance drama about a young dancer in Puerto Rico who dreams of escaping her slum and dysfunctional family to be a famous dancer. Really flat storytelling here, a terrible ending and even the dance stuff is lame. I think most dancing is lame, but whatever. The two bright spots of the movie are a superb performance by Bill Duke (a.k.a. the big bald black dude from Predator and other flicks) and you can see Sanchez naked a few times here. Seriously, that's about it. CLICK HERE for my full review.

Live Free or Die

This was definitely a delightful surprise of a movie, folks. We get a very diverse cast headed up by the very diverse Aaron Stanford (Pyro in the last two X-Men flicks) and also including Paul Schneider, Michael Rappaport, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Judah Friedlander, Kevin Dunn and Zooey Deschanel. The flick was written and directed by two former Seinfeld writers and this wonderful comedy should get the pair off to a fine film career. Stanford stars as John "Rugged" Rudgate, a hapless loser with delusions of grandeur of being a criminal. Yeah, we've seen these characters before, but Stanford has such a vulnerability with this character that he's almost like the Ratso Rizzo for the 21st Century. The movie takes awhile to pick up steam, but once it does you're in for one hell of a treat, including one of the best endings I've seen this year. CLICK HERE for my full review.

Firehouse Dog

This was also better than I thought it'd be... but still nothing I'm going to add to my collection. It's a cute little flick for the younger demographic this is aimed at, but nothing for anyone that's in high school or higher. Josh Hutcherson and Bruce Greenwood give some fine performances as a father-son duo and the training of the dogs they used is quite something too. The script is better than I thought, storywise, but there is some terrible dialogue and many jokes that fall flat. I'd recommend this for the age group it's aimed at, and they're parents, but really no one else. CLICK HERE for my full review.

Happy Tree Friends, Vol. 3

Those cute little critters that kill each other viciously/hilariously are back with another batch of the funny ultra-violence. Some of this stuff is really damn funny, folks. We get nine more episodes and there are only one or two that weren't that good. These episodes are only five to seven minutes long anyway, but they pack a lot of humor and almost sadistic violence into each little show. This one is definitely NOT for the kids, so don't go switching this disc in the Firehouse Dog case or anything. You'll be paying out the nose for psychiatry for years... CLICK HERE for my full review.

NOTABLES

"Anthony Steward Head Stars in Repo! the Genetic Opera" - Monday, September 10:

It looks like someone's post-Saw future isn't looking so bright. Darren Lynn Bousman, who directed all but the first Saw, is doing a retarded musical about a guy who repossesses organs from people who have had transplants and somehow can't pay for them. That was not a joke. That's what the article says. Anthony Steward Head's name just isn't ringing a bell right now, and I'm sure if he stars in this movie for sure, he won't be ringing a bell in anyone's head forever. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Betty Thomas to Direct Average American Male" - Tuesday, September 11:

I just don't see how this could be any good. It just looks like a fictionalized version of reality TV, done for a movie. As they said in Seinfelf, it's a show about nothing. If it's anything, it's a mockumentary, I suppose. If it's anything else, it's lame because no one will pay money to watch a normal guy do normal things for a few hours. They can just go watch their friends do that stuff for free, so why pay to watch someone else do it on a movie screen? Betty Thomas has a sketchy enough filmography as it is, and I just can't see this being a big hit at all. Worst News of the Week Nominee.

"Edward Norton and Brad Pitt Reteam for State of Play" - Tuesday, September 11:

This is some awesome news folks, and not just for the repairing of Norton and Pitt, although that's the headline-grabber. We also have some great filmmakers behind this as well, with The Last King of Scotland's Kevin MacDonald directing and Matthew Michael Carnahan writing this flick. Matthew is the brother of Joe Carnahan and the writer behind two very big upcoming projects: The Kingdom and Lions for Lambs. This project is based off a British mini-series and has Norton starring as a rising politician whose mistress was killed and Pitt as a journalist who develops a relationship with Norton's wife. This sounds like an outstanding project for all involved and I hope they fast-track the crap out of this one. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Ricky Gervais to Star in This Side of the Truth" - Thursday, September 13:

This sounds like a wonderful starring vehicle for Gervais, along with his feature directing debut. The story revolves around a contemporary world where no one has ever told a lie and Gervais tells the first one and realizes the power behind lying. Gervais has been a busy boy with his TV projects, but it's nice to see him sink his teeth into a film like this, writing, directing and starring here. This could really be a big step for him on the silver screen and, from what I've heard so far, it surely sounds like a winner to me. Best News of the Week Nominee.

"Terry Zwigoff to Direct $40,000" - Thursday, September 13:

Two words: AWESOME NEWS! I haven't seen Zwigoff's latest offering, Art School Confidential, but I've just loved his other works and he sounds like the spot-on choice to direct this flick. I was a fan of this project from the second I read about it: an astronaut/hero is severely injured in a car wreck and the government decides to rebuild him as a bionic man... only they have just a $40,000 budget to do it with. Zwigoff is rewriting the script with his cohort Daniel Clowes, who has worked with Zwigoff on both Ghost World (which they were both nominated for a Screenplay Oscar for) and Art School Confidential. This is another one I hope they fast-track the crap out of! Best News of the Week Nominee.

BOX OFFICE CORNER

The September doldrums continue at the box office as this weekend's winner didn't win that much at all. The Brave One (i.e. Death Sentence + Jodie Foster - Kevin Bacon) took the top spot this weekend, earning a mundane $13.4 million in its opening weekend. It had the highest rollout of the newbies at 2,755 theaters, but could only muster a $4,889 per-screen average. The critics weren't too receptive to this vigilante flick, with just a 44% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Of course, they didn't release budget figures for The Brave One, but I'm guessing they won't be making too much off this movie, with this opening number.

There were two more newbies this weekend in wide release, and one in very limited release that had probably the best weekend of all the flicks. Mr. Woodcock took the bronze medal in 3rd place this weekend, taking in a bland $8.7 million in its debut weekend. The Seann William Scott/Billy Bob Thornton laffer didn't get a great rollout with 2,231 theaters and they could only muster a $3,927 per-screen average. The critics didn't help matters much either, as it received a dismal 14% "Fresh" rating from the RT critics. Of course, budget figures weren't released for that one either, but I'm sure this fell well below expectations. Dragon Wars (D-War), a movie I had literally never heard of until I saw it in my local movie listing, came in 5th place with just over $5 million. It was released in 2,275 theaters and performed dismally, with just a $2,215 per-screen average.

Don't let this next flick's 21st place this weekend fool you. It was the big winner of the weekend. David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises took in just over $547,000 this weekend... in only 15 theaters. That's a splendid $36,472 per-screen average, folks. With those dandy numbers, I would have to hope that this movie should expand significantly in the coming weeks. Actually, from the looks of the marvelous trailer, I really HOPE it does.

GOING LIVE

Things We Lost in the Fire: (ThingsWeLostintheFire.com)

A fairly simple site here folks. About the Film just gives us a brief synopsis, Videos just has one video, the trailer, Gallery has a decent selection of photos to peruse, Downloads has a nice selection of wallpapers, AIM Icons and banners to download and Letting Go is a nice little addition where you can type in something you want to let go of and have it displayed on a big floating wall with entries from all over the world. A nice touch at the end there, but they really need some more stuff here. Things We Lost in the Fire opens on October 19.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets: (NationalTreasure.com)

For the big spiffy intro to this site, there really isn't a whole lot here. We get the trailer and some TV spots and some clips in Video, About gives us a nice synopsis along with a boring Cast and Crew list, Gallery has just 6D pictures with their Behind the Scenes pics coming soon, Downloads has some wallpapers, AIM Icons and screensavers to download and then there are the Games. There are three games here, but only one is actually there, with the other two "coming soon." The one you can play is the Gates Challenge which is a little trivia challenge thing where you have to fill in the blanks before the time runs out. Kinda fun, I guess. I got 295 on it. Anyway, this is a fairly disappointing site. I thought there'd be a lot more here, and hopefully there will be before the flick comes out on December 21.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: (AlvinandtheChipmunksmovie.com)

The site is as lame as the trailer is. All we get here is said lame trailer, a very very brief synopsis and a link to register for updates. Oh, the gallery is coming soon. Whoop de doo! Alvin and the Chipmunks opens on December 14, much to my chagrin.

TRAILER PARK

John Rambo

I'm usually not a big fan of teaser trailers, but this has to be one of the coolest teasers I've EVER seen! Yes, I know. I've been ripping on this movie from time to time because Sly is, what, 874 years old or something. I did the same thing with Rocky Balboa and I had to eat those words heartily. It looks like I've served up another fine meal for myself, because if the movie lives up to the action in this wonderful teaser, it looks like it'll be a pretty damn good movie. John Rambo opens on January 25, 2008.

Iron Man

They say this one is a teaser, but it really isn't. It's just a DAMN good trailer for the flick that will kick off the summer movie season next year, and should kick it off in grand fashion. This should also be the movie that sends Robert Downey Jr. into the acting stratosphere, because he looks to deliver a knockout performance as Tony Stark, eccentric billionaire-turned-superhero. This just looks like a good old-fashioned awesome summer movie, folks. P.S. Yes, the classic Black Sabbath song does play in the trailer... and it ROCKS! I'm just not going to watch anymore trailers this week because these two were just so awesome I don't want to be let down by anything else. Iron Man opens on May 2, 2008.

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Wow. We had some GREAT news items this past week, but I have to pick one, and I'm going with Norton and Pitt adding an amazing cast to an amazing crew mainly because the main foundation of the movie, all around, is completely awesome. True, Matthew Michael Carnahan's first movie, The Kingdom hasn't even opened yet, but from the amazing things I've been hearing so far, this guy is gonna be huge, I think, as far as writers go anyway. With Carnahan scribing, Kevin MacDonald (whose direction in The Last King of Scotland was underrated, in my opinion) directing and big-timers Edward Norton Jr. and Brad Pitt side by side, just like the good ol' Fight Club days? Let me tell you something right now: I am Jack's ear-to-ear smile right now, folks.

WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK

I'm going with Betty Thomas helming another retarded project for my Worst News of the Week. I haven't seen many of Thomas' movies, but I've been unimpressed with them. Even that aside, I can't believe something this moronic would be made into a movie. The article says this is a YouTube sensation, but that this is also based off a book, so now I'm even more confused. Apparently, the movie just follows this guy around who has a regular job, plays video games and has a girlfriend and we get to hear his thoughts about stuff. s;jlfl;se;jfoj Oh, sorry. I fell asleep at the keyboard just now...

That's all for this week. Surf on by next week for more box office goodies, new official sites for upcoming flicks, new trailers and, of course, the best and worst news of the week. Take care folks and always remember: if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free. Peace in. Gallagher out!

Cinemark Movie Club