The Priority Report: A Look at Entertainment in July

By Jeannine Stanley

jeannine@nobomagazine.com

We’re finally into the lazy, hazy days of summer. With extensive coverage of the upcoming National Sand Sculpting Festival including our first print edition, July is certainly going to be a busy month. You know there will be days where you’ll need to “beat the heat”, and the NoBo Priority Report is here to guide you to everything in entertainment for the month of July.

This month, we have two great comic book blockbusters with both Spiderman and Batman flying into a theater near you. In music, a handful of R&B choices as well as a luscious album from Passion Pit and a new release from country music’s Zac Brown Band.  There’s no shortage of good beach reads, including a fictionalized account following two cyclists over a decade and a new sci-fi book in the same vein as The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  If you’re simply curling up on the couch,  keep cool with a new documentary on post-tsunami Japan, Lisa Kudrow’s new season of Web Therapy, the 2012 London Olympic Games, and the return a NoBo favorite, AMC’s Breaking Bad.

So sit back, relax, and let NoBo Magazine guide you to the best in this week’s entertainment!

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The Amazing Spider-Man

Now playing in theaters worldwide

This is the fourth Columbia pictures Spider Man film, but its actually a reboot and follows a different version of the comic we’ve come to know and love.  The Toby Maguire days of web slinging are over, and Andrew Garfield takes on the iconic character, He’s treated it not as a static character like Harry Potter, but more like James Bond, where dozens of reincarnations of the same person are common.   This Peter Parker is an outcast, deeper than the previous, with more emotion.   This time around, the love interest is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) instead of Mary Jane, and The Lizard (Rhys Ifans) the new villain, a friend of Parker’s dad who was working on limb replacement when he made a horrible discovery that drives the action in this film.  The first great blockbuster of July and obviously available in 3D, check it out!

Katy Perry: Part of Me

In theaters on Wed. July 4

You would think that the world knows all that they need to know about Katy Perry.  Bubblegum colored hair, ridiculous outfits, songs about love and double entandras.  However, this isn’t just your little sisters Katy Perry.  Touted as “a backstage pass, a front row seat and an intimate look at the fun, glamourous, heartbreaking, inspiring, crazy, magical, passionate and honest mad diary of Katy”, although it does touch on, in surprising detail, the crumbling relationship of Perry and Russell Brand.  Available in 3D as well, you too can feel like your part of her and her world on July 4th.

Savages

In theaters on Friday, July 6

Directed by Oliver Stone, starting an ensemble cast with the likes of John Travolta, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Benicio del Toro and others, this is the story of two marijuana growing buddies whose girlfriend (Lively) is kidnapped by a Mexican cartel run by Elena La Reina (played by Salma Hayek) because she wants to control their crop.  The friends decide to wage war, along with an inept DEA agent.  This intriguing film is based on the book by Don Winslow, whose prequel The Kings of Cool is reviewed in this month’s literature selection.  Check out both books, and this edgy, piercingly funny film this month!

The Dark Knight Rises

In theaters on Friday, July 20

The third and final installment in the Christopher Nolan directed series; this Batman brings us 8 film years and 4 moviegoer years into the future after The Dark Knight.  Bruce Wayne has gone underground after taking the rap for Harvey Dent’s crimes so that Gotham City can have a proper villain to blame.  He comes back to the surface to find two new criminals, cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman) and a more menacing villain, a mysterious bane, played by Tom Hardy from Inception.  In fact, several of the cast from that puzzle of a movie make an appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a cop, Marion Cotillard as a Wayne Enterprises possible love interest, and of course writer Christopher Nolan, also the writer of Inception.  If that movies success, and the first two predecessors of this Dark Knight franchise are any indication, this film is sure to be dark and twisty, perfect for a hot July night out at the theaters.

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Web Therapy

Season 2 now airing on Mondays at 11PM on Showtime

Lisa Kudrow has come along way from Phoebe Buffay!  In the second season of her Showtime series, Kudrow plays Fiona Wallace, a therapist who decides that traditional “50 minute hours” of therapy are overrated and designs a quicker, colder, (and funnier) web-chat with her clients from her home.  Drastically different from HBO’s more dramatic therapist-centered In Treatment, Kudrow invites guests stars as patients from all previous endeavors, including Courtney Cox and David Schwimmer from Friends, Allan Cumming from Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, and Meryl Streep, who is a fellow Vassar College Grad.  Therapy has never been so hysterical!  Check it out on Monday night, or on Showtime On-Demand anytime after.

Breaking Bad

Season premiere on Sun. July 15 at 10PM on AMC

Season 5, split into two airings, will be the last for this amazing, ground breaking and award winning show.  It’s hard to know what we will miss more, the mind boggling personal connections between characters, the ridiculous and engaging storylines or the depth of the characters.  Not since Lost has there been such a debate on the moral ambiguity of television characters.  With very few exceptions, there are no “good guys” and “bad guys” in this show, but multifascetted, layered, flawed and complicated individuals whose moral compasses seem to be malfunctioning.  At the center of this drama is one of the best characters in television, chemistry teacher, meth empire builder and father Walter White.  What started as an innocent premise (a dying father uses years of chemistry skills to produce meth and provide financial ground for his wife, ailing son and newborn daughter) and turned it on it’s head.  It’s hard to tell when Walter White “broke bad” and there may be no specific pinpoint when this quick job turned into an empire, but all of the characters have been on a slide towards moral ambiguity for some time.  Aaron Paul’s Jesse may be the only one going in reverse from bad to good, unless something drastic changes.  Wife Skylar is in on the action this time, cooking the books and using her savvy ways to get Walt out of many a predicament.  Brother-in-law/DEA agent Hank is getting closer to finding out that Walt is at the center of his departments investigation.  This season has (seemingly) killed off what was the best “villain” thus far, Giancarlo Esposito’s elusive, suave and charming Gus.  Who will be the top dog in season 5?  Tune in to find out.  And, if you haven’t seen breaking bad, you have two weeks before the premiere, get on Itunes, Netflix, Video-On-Demand or the AMC website and catch up!

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Monday, July 16 at 10pm on HBO

The icon of the cherry blossom in Japan is supposed to symbolize the transient nature of life, as they come for mere weeks in the spring, only to die and return the following year.  When contrasted to the devastating effects of the 2011 Tsunami on the Japanese people, this documentary paints an elegant and lasting picture on the courage and determination of the Japanese people who are rebuilding their lives as cherry blossom season begins.  This documentary is available starting July 16 on HBO On-Demand as well.

The 2012 Summer Olympics

Opening ceremony on Fri. July 27 at 7:30PM on NBC

Who will light the torch?  Will it be Britain’s David Beckham, a 5-1 shot, or will it be rower Steve Redgrave, or possibly runner Roger Bannister, the first four-minute mile?  Whoever is poised to start the 2012 London Games, they should be astonishing.  Costing over $42 million dollars just for the ceremony, director Danny Boyle is reserved about the details, but it has been released that there will be four concerts to kick of the games for each of the four parts of the UK: Duran Duran from England, Snow Patrol from Northern Ireland, Stereophonics from Wales and Paolo Nutini from Scotland.  Tune in to NBC or any of its many Olympic affiliates at 7:30 and watch the pageantry begin.

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Chris Brown: Fortune

Now available for purchase & download

For all intents and purposes, Chris Brown is a performer.  Riddled with opinions and brawls, photographic evidence of his rage and musical evidence of his talent, the world sometimes doesn’t know where they stand with Brown’s fame.  This is his 5th album, and his influences are as erratic as his behavior.  Jumping from ballads (like the aptly titled “Don’t Judge Me”) to pop, to house, R&B, reggae and dubstep, Brown sings, raps and moans about bottle service, feeling sorry for past mistakes, turning up music, and doing a variety of things to girls he meets in clubs.  Will Chris Brown ever find what he is looking for?  That remains to be seen, but on this newest album, I’m not sure his fans will find what they’re looking for either.

Flo Rida: Wild Ones

Available now for purchase & download

Having dozens of hit producers to digitize your voice into oblivion has seemingly been the way to pop stardom as of late, and Flo Rida is no exception.  He has ridden the coattails of several already large stars to get where he is, and thrown his gravely voice on the chorus of tracks of many of this summer and last’s greatest hits (“Whistle”, “Good Feeling”, “Wild Ones”) and countless remixes of these should keep the club bumping all summer, but nothing original comes out of this.  He doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, so we should be blowing Whistles and Feeling Good throughout this summer and next, so check it out.  I would say buy it, but really, if you have a radio in your car, you’ll hear Flo Rida about three times an hour until at least September.

Zac Brown Band: Uncaged

Available on Tuesday, July 10

Switching gears totally from rap and R&B to country, Zac Brown and his amazing band, who seemingly have been on tour forever, release their 3rd studio album on July 10th.  a real culmination of “the power of living, traveling and working as a band”, this 11 song release features special guests including Jason Mraz, Amos Lee, Trombone Shorty and Sonia Leigh.  First single “The Wind” is already available online, and is said to have harmonious and a bluesy feel.  This should be a welcome reprieve for the hot days of summer, or perhaps the soundtrack to your backyard BBQ!

Passion Pit: Gossamer

Available on Tuesday, July 24

Featuring a gorgeous album cover and full bodied, layered harmony with a beat and a meaning, Passion Pit is seemingly the band everybody’s heard but nobody is talking about.  The first single, Take a Walk is seemingly ready for any internet commercial or gen-Y advertising campaign, while making you think with lyrics like “We had taxes, we had bills, we had a lifestyle of fun, But I swear tonight I’ll come home and we’ll make love like we’re young” are the words of someone who has seen the excesses of fame and come back to see what’s important.  This third album, following 2010’s wild year with both Chunk of Change and Manners, this Passion Pit is smarter and wiser.  Follow them in their quest for the new American dream, and you will be glad you did.

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Gold by Chris Cleave

E-reader & print editions now available!

Given our national (and international) obsession with the 2012 Olympic games, its only fitting that this wonderful new release by Chris Cleave touches (albet fictionally) on that very topic.  Kate and Zoe first met at 19 when they both were chosen for the national training program in track cycling.  Thirteen years later, both women desperately are chasing the gold in 2012 and are in very diferent situations.  Kate’s eight year old daughter Sophie is battling a recurring leukemia, and Zoe has spent the last decade pushing people away on her quest for perfection.  Who will win the elusive gold medal?  Check this new release out before the Games officially start to find out!

The King of Cool by Don Winslow

E-reader & print editions now available!

Upon the release of the wild, fast and urgent new release Savages on July 6, author of the book by the same name has released The King of Cool, a prequel to the story that will soon take over box offices.  We know about Ben, Chon and O, the best friends who get into a great deal of trouble with Mexican drug lords in Savages, but how did they become the people they are?  The three amigos, when starting their business, uncover how their individual families are inextricably intertwined in this drug culture in a book that spans from 1960’s Los Angeles to present day.  Read both Savages and The King of Cool before heading to the movies to see what all the fuss is about!

Year Zero by Rob Reid

Available on Tuesday, July 10

The title winks at a historical and gigantic milestone concerning American music, but not to our planet.  Year Zero (also known as 1977) is when American music reached the galaxy, and we’ve been addicting aliens since.  They’ve now become unhappy due to copyright violations, and seek out the advice of a lower level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter (amusingly given the same name as the infamous Backstreet Boy) to help right the wrongs we’ve done to music in recent years.  This book has been compared heavily to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and hopefully this book will measure up to that amazing piece of literature and passible film.

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