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Jason Statham “Blitz”-es DVD shelves August 23

Jason Statham “Blitz”-es DVD shelves August 23 (photo)

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Though Maxim once famously compiled “The Many Expressions of Jason Statham,” there is one definitive Jason Statham Face, and he does it in every Jason Statham movie. If you’ve seen any of the man’s work, you know it: head down, cocked to one side, squinting eyes looking back over his shoulder, lips curling into a menacing smile. He does it at least three our for times in every movie. Sure enough, check out this publicity still from his upcoming movie “Blitz:”

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Damn. Even by Jason Statham standards, that’s good Jason Statham Face.

I’m not sure why any movie starring Statham — pound-for-pound one of the most dependable actor working in film today — goes straight-to-DVD, but that’s what’s happening to “Blitz.” The film already opened in the UK, but despite the fact that it’s written by Nathan Parker, the screenwriter of Duncan Jones’ “Moon,” and co-stars Paddy Considine and Aidan Gillen, it’s going direct to home video shelves here in the states, where it will premiere on August 23. A miscarriage of justice! People we need to treat Statham better, lest he decide he no longer wishes to bless us with his sublimely manly action movies. You shouldn’t need a trailer to convince you to see this, but here it is anyway.

Granted, it does look like a pretty formulaic thriller. As a general rule, Statham always plays “the man who breaks all the rules.” But, on the plus side, he’s Jason Statham.

Also, I’m sharing another still from the film that came attached to its press release. I can’t stop staring at it. It’s Aidan Gillen wearing… well, see for yourself.

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Carcetti, no! I have a strange hunch that he’s the villain of the movie. Action Movie Rule #428b: Action heroes are not allowed to wear cheap neon green sunglasses. Or be that pale.

Look for “Blitz” on DVD and Blu-ray on August 23 from Millenium Entertainment, the same company who announced earlier today that they’re releasing Richard Linklater’s new film, “Bernie” starring Jack Black. He’s good, but he’s no Statham.

What’s your favorite Jason Statham movie? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter! And, yes, “All of them” is an acceptable answer.

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Face Melting Cameos

The 10 Most Metal Pop Culture Cameos

Glenn Danzig drops by Portlandia tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Glenn Danzig rocks harder than granite. In his 60 years, he’s mastered punk with The Misfits, slayed metal with the eponymous Danzig, and generally melted faces with the force of his voice. And thanks to Fred and Carrie, he’s now stopping by tonight’s brand new Portlandia so we can finally get to see what “Evil Elvis” is like when he hits the beach. To celebrate his appearance, we put together our favorite metal moments from pop culture, from the sublime to the absurd.

10. Cannibal Corpse meets Ace Ventura

Back in the ’90s,  Cannibal Corpse was just a small time band from Upstate New York, plying their death metal wares wherever they could find a crowd, when a call from Jim Carry transformed their lives. Turns out the actor was a fan, and wanted them for a cameo in his new movie, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The band had a European tour coming up, and were wary of being made fun of, so they turned it down. Thankfully, the rubber-faced In Living Color vet wouldn’t take no for an answer, proving that you don’t need to have a lot of fans, just the right ones.


9. AC/DC in Private Parts

Howard Stern’s autobiographical film, based on his book of the same name, followed his rise in the world of radio and pop culture. For a man surrounded by naked ladies and adoring fans, it’s hard to track the exact moment he made it. But rocking out with AC/DC in the middle of Central Park, as throngs of fans clamor to get a piece of you, seems like it comes pretty close. You can actually see Stern go from hit host to radio god in this clip, as “You Shook Me All Night Long” blasts in the background.


8. Judas Priest meets The Simpsons

When you want to blast a bunch of peace-loving hippies out on their asses, you’re going to need some death metal. At least, that’s what the folks at The Simpsons thought when they set up this cameo from the metal gods. Unfortunately, thanks to a hearty online backlash, the writers of the classic series were soon informed that Judas Priest, while many things, are not in fact “death metal.” This led to the most Simpson-esque apology ever. Rock on, Bartman. Rock on.


7. Anthrax on Married…With Children

What do you get when Married…with Children spoofs My Dinner With Andre, substituting the erudite playwrights for a band so metal they piss rust? Well, for starters, a lot of headbanging, property destruction and blown eardrums. And much like everything else in life, Al seems to have missed the fun.


6. Motorhead rocks out on The Young Ones

The Young Ones didn’t just premiere on BBC2 in 1982 — it kicked the doors down to a new way of doing comedy. A full-on assault on the staid state of sitcoms, the show brought a punk rock vibe to the tired format, and in the process helped jumpstart a comedy revolution. For instance, where an old sitcom would just cut from one scene to the next, The Young Ones choose to have Lemmy and his crew deliver a raw version of “Ace of Spades.” The general attitude seemed to be, you don’t like this? Well, then F— you!


5. Red and Kitty Meet Kiss on That ’70s Show

Carsey-Werner Productions

Carsey-Werner Productions

Long before they were banished to playing arena football games, Kiss was the hottest ticket in rock. The gang from That ’70s Show got to live out every ’70s teen’s dream when they were set loose backstage at a Kiss concert, taking full advantage of groupies, ganja and hard rock.


4. Ronnie James Dio in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (NSFW, people!)

What does a young boy do when he was born to rock, and the world won’t let him? What tight compadre does he pray to for guidance and some sweet licks? If you’re a young Jables, half of “the world’s most awesome band,” you bow your head to Ronnie James Dio, aka the guy who freaking taught the world how to do the “Metal Horns.” Never before has a rock god been so literal than in this clip that turns it up to eleven.


3. Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat

It’s hard to tell if Ozzy was trying his hardest here, or just didn’t give a flying f–k. What is clear is that, either way, it doesn’t really matter. Ozzy’s approach to acting seems to lean more heavily on Jack Daniels than sense memory, and yet seeing the slurry English rocker play a sex-obsessed televangelist is so ridiculous, he gets a free pass. Taking part in the cult horror Trick or Treat, Ozzy proves that he makes things better just by showing up. Because that’s exactly what he did here. Showed up. And it rocks.


2. Glenn Danzig on Portlandia

Danzig seems to be coming out of a self imposed exile these days. He just signed with a record company, and his appearance on Portlandia is reminding everyone how kick ass he truly is. Who else but “The Other Man in Black” could help Portland’s resident goths figure out what to wear to the beach? Carrie Brownstein called Danzig “amazing,” and he called Fred “a genius,” so this was a rare love fest for the progenitor of horror punk.


1. Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World

It’s surprising, sure, but for a scene that contains no music whatsoever, it’s probably the most famous metal moment in the history of film. When Alice Cooper informed Wayne and Garth that Milwaukee is actually pronounced “Milly-way-kay” back in 1992, he created one of the most famous scenes in comedy history. What’s more metal than that? Much like Wayne and Garth, we truly are not worthy.

We wash our hands of the “Contagion” of spoiler trailers

We wash our hands of the “Contagion” of spoiler trailers (photo)

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On behalf of germophobes everywhere, I’d like to give a big Bronx cheer to Steven Soderbergh for his upcoming film “Contagion,” an all-too-convincing disease thriller about a highly contagious flu that threatens to destroy all of human civilization. Looks like I won’t be sleeping ever again, thanks Steven.

Before you lather up with Purel and dive in though, a word of warning: this trailer contains what some would qualify as a pretty big SPOILER, in that it contains the death of what one would assume to be a major character in the story. We’ll discuss that fact after the trailer, but like a man who touches a doorknob right after a guy with a cold you should proceed from here at your own risk.

So, yes, the big SPOILER is that Gwyneth Paltrow bites the big one. Or is it a spoiler at all? Even people who are extremely sensitive to spoilers typically acknowledge that anything contained in a movie’s trailer is fair game for discussion. By that definition, Paltrow’s passing in the trailer cannot be a spoiler.

Still, it’s a pretty unusual move to reveal a movie star’s death in a trailer. Sometimes studios go to great lengths to disguise the fact that a big-name actor dies early in a film. Charlize Theron’s character in “The Road” — SPOILER ALERT — kills herself before the events of the movie really begin, and she’s only seen in occasional flashbacks. But that film’s trailer uses some sneaky editing to make it seem like she is a part of the core group of characters throughout the entire narrative. Take a look:

The trailer for “Executive Decision” — SPOILER ALERT — basically shows you the moment where Steven Seagal’s character dies shockingly early in the film, but it’s portrayed as just another dramatic action beat. It doesn’t really qualify as a spoiler until you actually see the film.

The degree to which a trailer should or should not reveal the story of a film is an ongoing debate amongst filmmakers and critics. Some — like director Robert Zemeckis — believe that audiences are actually more interested in films when they know the ending, so trailers for his films (like “Cast Away” and “What Lies Beneath”) routinely reveal exactly where the story goes. I’ve always hated that attitude; why pay for the cow if I’ve already had the milk for free? On the other hand, marketing like “The Road” trailer is borderline deceptive, no? What if you knew nothing about the film except what the trailer told you and you went to see it only because you love Charlize Theron? You might be pretty disappointed.

It is a bummer that the “Contagion” trailer does kind of a ruin this major plot point of the film. I assume that Paltrow must die relatively early on (in the trailer, she looks like the first identified victim of the new disease) and Warner Brothers decided in this case to sacrifice surprise for suspense. They’re telling you Paltrow dies not to ruin that story beat but to suggest that no one is safe in this movie. If Soderbergh’ll bump off Goop, he’ll bump off anyone. Maybe even everyone, from the look of that trailer.

Do you think you-know-who’s death in the trailer of “Contagion” is a spoiler? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

Our current star rating systems might deserve zero stars

Our current star rating systems might deserve zero stars (photo)

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Those five star ratings systems on websites like Netflix and iTunes have turned us all into a nation of critics (sucks for me, I used to feel special). But is a five star ratings system really the best way to determine whether something is good or not? According to a couple of researchers from MIT, maybe not.

As spotted by the tech site GigaOM, a new paper by Devavrat Shah of MIT’s Laboratory of Information and Decisions Systems argues that online ratings systems “should instead ask users to compare products in pairs, not as stand-alone items.” In other words:

“…the kind of star rating systems that are the status quo on the web today are flawed because, well, humans are flawed. ‘If my mood is bad today, I might give four stars, but tomorrow I’d give five stars. But if you ask me to compare two movies, most likely I will remain true to that for a while,’ Shah says in an article published this week on MIT’s news site. ‘Your three stars might be my five stars, or vice versa. For that reason, I strongly believe that comparison is the right way to capture this.'”

Shah and his team believe that these “pairwise rankings” create a more accurate recommendation model than the five stars (they boast that their algorithm “accurately predict shoppers’ preferences with 20 percent greater accuracy than the kinds of formulas most often in use today”). In other other words, assigning a score to a single movie is a less reliable method of ranking films or television shows than selecting a preference between multiple films or television shows.

This is all tremendously nerdy stuff, so nerdy it’s giving my pocket protector sympathy pains. But it is pretty important, too. Any time you pay any attention to the star ratings on a website before you rent a movie on VOD, or purchase an album, or decide to make a reservation at a restaurant, you are validating those star ratings. And if they’re inaccurate, imagine the impact those inaccuracies have on your choices. If customers are being swayed by what those stars tell them, those stars damn well better be accurate.

Granted, I didn’t go to MIT and I can’t even spell algorithm much less make one of my own. I’m sure their research is sound and well thought-out. But my question would be this: how do they ensure people take pairwise rankings any more seriously than they do five star rankings? If web users, secure in their Internet anonymity, will give a movie one star just because they had a bad burrito for lunch, who’s to say they won’t react similarly when offered the choice of deciding between “Star Wars” and “Battlefield Earth?” How do we know they won’t use that same anarchic impulse to screw with those recommendations too? I’m not sure we do, but maybe there’s some sort of behavioral study that says that they won’t.

The other problem with comparative rankings is something I’ve found through my own casual use of the website Flickchart, where you repeatedly rank pairs of movies in order to create a list of your favorite movies. The site’s a lot of fun to play with, but the comparisons it proposes are often totally absurd. Comparing a thing you love to a thing you hate is easy: when Flickchart throws up “Almost Famous” and “Bad Boys 2″ it’s not too hard to pick a winner. But comparing between things you love can very, very tricky.

If Flickchart gave you the comparison of movies above — “L.A. Confidential” and “Chinatown” — you’d have something to choose between. They’re both neo-noirs set in Los Angeles, they have similar tones and themes and ideas. It’s a hard pick, because they’re both phenomenal movies, but there are obvious commonalities. But if Flickchart asks you to compare between, “L.A. Confidential” and, say, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” which do you select? Personally, I’m more likely to watch “L.A. Confidential” if given the choice between the two, but can I really argue “L.A. Confidential” is a “better” movie than “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?” “Snow White” is a watershed film in the history of cinema. “L.A. Confidential” is just a very well-acted and well-written crime story. So which one do I pick? And not only which one do I pick, but which one do other people pick? Some might choose according to their taste, some by a quasiobjective system of importance or cultural impact. The room for variation seems almost as large as with five star ratings.

I agree that five star ratings can be very flawed; there’s too much room for human error and not enough nuance. And I’m curious to hear and see more of this pairwise ranking in action. But if you gave me a pairwise ranking of these two options right now, I’m not sure what I would pick.

Your turn for some pairwise rankings: do you like five star ratings or comparative rankings? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter and Facebook!

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