He Left. He Did Nothing. He Returned: Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9 Finally Gets A Release Date (and Trailer)

The day of reckoning is upon us. LD, the social assassin, my caucasian, is back. Well… almost. After months of gentle teasing (mostly by LD’s gorgeous daughter Cazzie David), HBO has finally announced that Curb Your Enthusiasm will make its long-awaited return this October 1.

It’s been six years, and personally, I can’t wait. The “trailer” doesn’t give much away, but just hearing Luciano Michelini’s “Frolic” again is enough – I say again, but it’s my ringtone, really.

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Can’t Handcuff the Wind – Mindhorn and Julian Barratt, Comin’ At Ya This Friday

One thing the world definitely needs more of is Julian Barratt. And luckily for us, the former pioneering Mighty Boosh jazz maverick’s back, in hilarious-looking new big-screen comedy caper Mindhorn.

Barratt plays washed up actor Richard Thorncroft, who ruled the ’80s as ass-kicking, moustachioed TV detective Bruce Mindhorn. But fast forward 25 years and Thorncroft’s balding, overweight and all but forgotten. That is, until a deranged serial killer refuses to speak to anyone but Mindhorn, who he believes is totally real.

On top of that, Barratt has gone full Howard Moon and dropped a magically cheesy ’80s power ballad as Richard Thorncroft, titled “You Can’t Handcuff the Wind.” Oh yeah. Mindhorn is out this Friday, May 5. Just check out the trailer…

Bad Santa 2: Triple the Filth, None of the Charm

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Perhaps there is a point to Bad Santa 2: it proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that some films just weren’t made for sequels. The truth is, the original 2003 comedy was a low-cost, high-return box office smash-hit, watched every December alongside cult classics like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Die Hard and Home Alone. So a sequel was always a possibility.

Throw in a 13-year, nostalgia-boosting gap between films and even I was excited when the posters for part two went up. But in the end, Lorelai Gilmore, aka Lauren Graham, isn’t the only thing missing. Bad Santa 2‘s got no heart.

It doesn’t help that the original movie’s two biggest personalities, John Ritter and Bernie Mac, both died between filming. Then again, that’s not Bad Santa 2‘s biggest problem. The truth is it’s lazy. Painfully so. It’s got the same soundtrack. Fine. It’s Christmas. But the gags are all the same, only darker and less sincere, without any of the same charm and personality.

Sure, Bad Santa is dark and twisted, but essentially, it’s about three lonely, broken people who find each other and form a bizarre, unlikely family unit. They stand up for each other and give each others’ lives meaning.

And while some fans thought Graham’s uncharacteristically adult turn as sexy love interest “Sue” cheapened the memory of sweet, virtuous Lorelai Gilmore, I disagree. She’s just as likable and endearing, and her touching interactions with sweet-but-simple kid of the family, Thurman Merman – played by Canadian part-timer Brett Kelly – help tick the feelgood “Christmas movie” box. In contrast, part two has none of the same emotional depth. There are no layers. There is no magic. Just a score.

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Thurman’s role is sadder this time around as well. In the first film he’s a clueless eight-year-old that gets taught a few tricks by his reluctant, alcoholic new dad Willie T. Soke (Billy Bob Thornton). And by the end, he’s well on his way to becoming a better, more functional human being. But instead, he seems to have regressed since part one, and you can only imagine how horrible and miserable his life has been for the past 13 years – with no one to make sandwiches for.

Even Bad Santa 2‘s heist is uninspiring. It’s lazily written and a poor excuse to bring back the world’s worst mall Santa and his double-crossing elf henchman Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox). In fact, everything about Bad Santa 2 feels forced and painfully unfunny. Everyone’s SO ugly and mean to each other, and all attempts to recreate the redeemingly sentimental feel of the first film fall flat. Bad Santa is an anomaly. A dark, black comedy that starts out filthy yet, somehow, turns into a sweet, redemption-championing Christmas classic. No matter what he does in the original, you like Willie. This time, you couldn’t care less.

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The biggest shock, however, is Mad Men‘s Christina Hendricks’ turn as sexy love interest 2.0 “Diane.” Whereas Graham’s sex scenes are natural, alluring and cute, Hendricks’ seem forced and awkward, and they’re so sudden you can’t quite believe what you’re seeing. In fact, her character is so 0.5 dimensional you can only imagine the paycheck it must have taken to get Hendricks to sign on.

Finally, Kathy Bates is flat-out vile as Willie’s ironically named mother Sunny, and Cox’s zombie-eyed, rehashed performance sums Bad Santa 2 up perfectly. In short, it’s a bad, bad movie and a massive disappointment. I’ll probably still watch Bad Santa next Christmas, even though its memory has been tarnished, but I’ll never watch Bad Santa 2 again. Instead, I’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist.

Better Call Saul Season 3: Gus Fring Gets In the Ring

Damn, I totally missed the Better Call Saul season three hype. To be honest, though, I was kind of letting it linger on purpose. Waiting for that big surprise when I turn on Netflix one day and bang, there it is, season three, all ready to go.

Then I saw a touching Aaron Paul Instagram tribute to Jonathan Banks, aka Mike Ehrmantraut, and thought, “Shit, I hope he’s not dead.” Turns out he isn’t. And there’s more good news as well; Better Call Saul is back this April 10. And guess who’s in it. Gus Fring, that’s who…

Of course, rumors are also rife that Walter White himself, Bryan Cranston, is going to make a cameo appearance, or at least direct an episode – depending on who you talk to. Either way, I can’t wait. I love Better Call Saul. Possibly, dare I say it, even more than Breaking Bad.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – Who Is the Last Jedi?

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I think I’m the only person in the galaxy that didn’t really like Rogue One. It was okay. Pretty… pretty good. But mostly, it felt like one long battle scene. Saving Private Erso. Or as one reviewer wrote, “Rogue One puts the ‘war’ in Star Wars.” So for me, yesterday’s Episode VIII teaser was particularly exciting. A nice little reminder that the main story, the one I grew up with, is back this December.

All they did, really, was announce the name of the film – The Last Jedi – with an accompanying title credits logo. But it’s impossible not to notice that the logo is ominously, and insidiously, Sith coloured. “Whoopty do. What does it all mean, Basil?”

The movie’s not likely to have anything to do with Jude Watson’s book series Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi, which is set between Episode III and Episode IV. So who is the last Jedi. Luke? Rey? Kylo Ren? Surely not the last one. And most likely, the middle one… Stay tuned.

Aziz Ansari’s Beautiful Post-Trump SNL Monologue – Clever Brown Guy Making Fun

Aziz Ansari‘s eloqeuently awesome post-Trump inauguration monologue on SNL yesterday. “I think Trump should make a speech. A real speech, denouncing the lower case KKK. Don’t tweet about me being lame. Or the show being lame. Write a speech. A REAL speech.”

*responding to Ansari’s hilarious joke that Donald Trump is the “Chris Brown of politics,” Brown shared a photo of the comedian on Instagram and wrote, “Somebody tell ALADDIN HOP OFF MY DICK!” Can you believe it, a racist comeback to such an eloquent call for peace, unity and stability. In fact, all Brown did is prove Ansari right. Because who else responds like that on Twitter, missing the bigger picture and exposing their own ridiculousness? Donald Trump, that’s who..

LD Crashes HBO’s Last Week Tonight Season 4 Trailer – Pretty Good

Damn, I got excited. I saw this clip on Instagram and thought it was a teaser for Curb Your Enthusiasm season 9. Well, it is, kind of… But mainly, it’s a tongue-in-cheek, HBO-spanning teaser for the new season of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, featuring a show-stealing cameo by the one, the only Larry David. Look out for him at 1:00. Pretty. Pretty. Pretty good HBO…

10 Cloverfield Lane – It’s the End of the World, Or Is It?

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I saw the 10 Cloverfield Lane trailer when it was on at the movies. I saw the DVD cover in Sainsbury’s checkout aisles when it wasn’t. And I knew the film had something to do with producer J.J. Abrams’ 2008 first-person monster blockbuster Cloverfield. But other than that, I deliberately avoided finding out any more, knowing that, one day, I’d get round to watching it. And that day, my friends, was yesterday, when I realised it had been added to Sky Cinema.

Unlike Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane is not a frantic, found-footage, motion-sickness-inducing roller coaster ride. Still, it doesn’t waste any time getting going. And before you know it, lead character Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is white-knuckling her way through rural Louisiana like she’s caught in a Hitchcock movie. There’s a fiancΓ©, Ben, that she’s running from, but Michelle only has eyes for the horizon. Until she’s run off the road and wakes up chained to a wall in a small room, with a mattress, an IV drip and a massive headache.

An intimidating-looking man with a gun, played by John Goodman, enters the room. Eventually, in the creepiest way possible, he explains that his name is Howard, there’s been some kind of nuclear or Martian attack and everyone outside the bunker they’re holed up in is dead. He says the fallout will take about two years to clear and that they have to stay underground ’til then. Howard, you see, has been stockpiling for the apocalypse and has built a puzzle, jukebox and ’80s lounge suite-filled bunker straight out of Blast from the Past – or Doomsday Preppers.

Howard and Michelle are joined by Emmett (John Gallagher), who says he snuck in as Howard was closing the door. It all sounds a bit fishy, and straight away, Howard’s intensity and Emmett’s aloofness set up a kind of Stephen King Misery atmosphere, with Goodman in the deranged Kathy Bates role. Yet, as creepy as Goodman plays it – and he does make a great creepy captor – the film’s Cloverfield connection also suggests Howard might not be lying. That his disturbing behaviour is, in fact, all a ruse, meant to convince you that he’s delusional and insane, until a massive amorphic Godzilla alien pops the lid off the bunker and inhales everyone whole.

10 Cloverfield Lane plays off this dynamic relentlessly. Back and forth. There are good times. Family dinners. Movie nights. Board games. And laughter. Then something happens and Michelle and Emmett are suddenly desperate to escape. Until they’re sucked right back in. It’s an incredibly clever way to make a sequel, if that’s what it is. In fact, essentially, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the complete opposite of Cloverfield. There are three actors, performing on a contained, stage-like set, and the thrills are subtle, psychological and nuanced.

In many ways, despite its blockbuster connection, 10 Cloverfield Lane is an old-fashioned low-key suspense film. Part Hitchcock, part Stephen King and part J.J. Abrams. And without giving it all away, I’ll just say that it’s definitely worth a watch. I was sucked right in and left guessing. Although I did have my suspicions early on. Interestingly, 10 Cloverfield Lane is based on a low-budget speculative screenplay written by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken called The Cellar. Eventually, the story was rewritten by Whiplash director Damien Chazelle and went on to become what Abrams calls a Cloverfield “blood relative,” or “spiritual successor.”