Monday, February 14, 2011

“Movie Review: 'Blue Valentine' is complicated, like real life - Florida Times-Union” plus 1 more

“Movie Review: 'Blue Valentine' is complicated, like real life - Florida Times-Union” plus 1 more


Movie Review: 'Blue Valentine' is complicated, like real life - Florida Times-Union

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"Blue Valentine" states its theme right up front, as Ryan Gosling goofs around in front of Michelle Williams, strumming an out-of-tune ukulele and singing an old standard, "You Always Hurt the One You Love."

OK, so the topic matter doesn't make it the greatest date movie if you're in those early, stars-in-the-eyes stages of a relationship. But "Blue Valentine" is well-worth watching for fans of serious-minded films. Featuring a deserved Oscar-nominated performance by Williams, "Blue Valentine" is an astonishingly intimate look at a marriage that's falling apart.

It's not as big a downer as it might sound, though: You go through lows of the relationship but also experience the giddy — and fragile — high points. Which of course makes the sadness even more affecting. It's complicated, like real life. The movie opened last week at Regal Beach Boulevard and is now at the 5 Points Theatre as well.

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Movie themes strong as New York Toy Fair kicks off - Chicago Tribune

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By Dhanya Skariachan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - From Mattel's sweet-talking boyfriend Ken doll to Hasbro's Kre-O building sets based on Transformers characters, toy makers lined up an impressive array of hi-tech and movie-themed playthings to win sales in 2011, which some say will be a better year for the industry.

The mood on the opening day of the American International Toy Fair in New York was rather upbeat as manufacturers like Mattel, MEGA Brands and Spin Master tried to woo potential buyers from across the globe.

"I have become increasingly optimistic as we have gotten into the year," Carter Keithley, president of the Toy Industry Association, said in an interview on Sunday. "We are at this show right now, completely sold out of space."


"What we are seeing here is great new product and I think that is going to drive demand over the course of the year," he said.

The U.S. toy industry is hoping to rebound from a lackluster holiday sales season in which demand petered out after a strong start.

Still, U.S. toy retail sales rose 2 percent in 2010 after declines in 2009 and 2008, with sales in the recent holiday quarter up 3 percent over the prior-year period, according to market research firm NPD Group.

"It is going to be a stronger sales year for the toy business," said Jim Silver, a toy analyst at Timetoplaymag.com.

"This year, in 2011, is by far the most and strongest movie lineup associated with toys I have seen in 25 years," Silver said.

Toy retailer Toys R Us unveiled its first-ever collection of wood vehicles, track and playsets based on the Disney Pixar movie "Cars." Mattel, Lego, Spin Master all hold licenses for the "Cars 2" toy line. Hasbro's entertainment lineup includes toys based on "Transformers -- Dark of the Moon."

Hasbro is also making toys tied to "Thor" and "Star Wars," while Jakks Pacific is betting on upcoming movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" and "Real Steel." Mattel will carry toys tied to Warner Bros' "Green Lantern."

Toymaker Lego Group is betting big on a new toyline called Ninjago, which features ninjas who use an ancient martial art to battle an evil lord. The line combines construction blocks with online and trading card games.

CHILDREN OF A DIGITAL AGE

The 2011 toy lineup also showed how manufacturers are increasingly drawing inspiration from newer technology and even iPhone apps while designing new toys.

One of Mattel's bets for 2011 is the "Angry Birds Knock On Wood" game, a tabletop version of the current No. 1 paid game app for Apple's iPhone.

Inspired by 2010's top-selling music iPhone app, Jakks touted a microphone that auto-tunes what you sing into it, making you sound like rapper T-Pain. Wowwee, which won praise for its electric guitar made of cardboard called "Paper Jamz" last year, also launched a microphone with similar technology.

Even classic brands are getting a facelift in the form of a hi-tech attachment or a social network avatar or an iPhone app as manufacturers try to win tech-savvy kids, who like to play on their parents' smartphones or spend more time online.

"They realize that they are competing against all forms of entertainment," Jim Silver said.

Celebrating Ken's 50th anniversary, Mattel launched the $20 "Sweet Talkin' Ken" doll with a built-in microphone that lets kids record whatever they want Ken to say. Hasbro's $25 Jigazo puzzle is powered with advanced software, while the new Hot Wheels Videoracer cars sport video cameras.

Even preschoolers can have their dose of technology with a battery-powered "Let's Rock Elmo," featuring a microphone, a tambourine and a drum set.

(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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