The Israeli-made sociopolitical thriller Walk on Water neatly summarizes the theme of forgiving without forgetting at the root of the Middle East conflict between Israel and its neighbors.
A Week From Now We’ll Be on Xmas Break, Dosed on Egg Nog and Any Other Celebratory Substances We Can Get Our Hands On
Ho, ho, ho, oh, no... It's the time of the season for office Christmas parties, where the participants get a little bit too sloshed and talk a little bit too much. The fun is followed upon awakening the following morning by profound embarrassment and regret, the sort of feeling that two or three Tylenols won't get rid of. This naturally leads us to the fact that HITS employees past and present had an unofficial office party Thursday night, and it'll be several hours before the extent of the damage is ascertained, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. 

Friday, Dec. 9th
LADWP Holiday Light Festival @ Griffith Park

Live 105's Not So Silent Night @ Bill Graham Civic Center, San Francisco, featuring Coheed and Cambria, The White Stripes, Hot Hot Heat, Death Cab for Cutie and more.

Bon Jovi w/ Damone @ TD Bank north Garden, Boston
Against Me! @ Opera House, Toronto

Memoirs of a Geisha: Don’t wait to see this one; I’m thinking this movie could be one of the best of the year!!!

The Dan Band w/ DJ Daniel @ House of Blues, Anaheim

Pat Green @ House of Blues on Sunset

Saturday, Dec. 10th
Build-Your-Own Gingerbread House Party @ Silverleaf Tavern (43 E. 38th St., New York): In this town, it's never too early to educate your young ones about the real estate market. Pint-sized developers can express their Trump-sized ambitions at this seasonal shindig.

KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas (Night One) @ Gibson Amphitheatre, Universal City, featuring System of a Down, Nine Inch Nails, Fall Out Boy, Thrice, Rise Against, Avenged Sevenfold

Suns @ Clippers: This has the makings of an all out war. With first place up for grabs in the Pacific Division, the Clippers will look to make a statement at home against the suddenly red-hot Suns led by last season’s MVP, Steve Nash.

Socialburn @ Lillian's, Lakeland, CA
Bauhaus @ Majestic Ventura Theater, Ventura, CA
Rob Thomas w/ Anna Nalick @ Masonic Temple Theater, Detroit

Sunday, Dec 11th
Raider vs. Jets (CBS): Is this the end of the Kerry Collins era? Gee, I sure hope so. It has been announced that Marquis Tuiasosopo will be starting in place of Collins for this game, and all I have to say is why couldn’t Norv have done this earlier. The awful Raiders will head into New York to battle the more awful Jets in a game the silver and black should win. Look for Lamont Jordan to have a big day against his former teammates.

The Chronicles of Narnia @ The El Capitan in Hollywood. Take the kids to this incredible movie at an awesome theater.

Hot Chocolate Soup Shoppe: It’s that fabulous time of the year, ladies, when you can actually justify shopping! Come sip mimosas, spend away and mingle with other extraordinary women! There will be three different and wonderful jewelry designers: Belle, Tami Morrissey and Constanza Little. You’ll also have vintage inspired lingerie by Lucy B (www.lucyblingerie.com). From Sparklehead! you'll get holiday cards, kids' and adult tees, and artwork all featuring characters viewable at www.sparklehead.com. Feed your handbag addiction with Daily Candy’s favorites, Cheap Chic, a company that specializes in 100% real runway, limited-edition handbags from all your favorite designers: Chloe, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Bottega, Chanel and all up to 70% less than retail price! Grab handknit accessories by twirp nits. My Punk Baby has your alternative to the pink and powder-blue baby, (www.mypunkbaby.com). You art lovers can procure a coveted piece of Robert Palacios' one-of-a-kind humorous fine art. Sculpted art as well as paintings, and his work is brilliant. Located at 2037 Ames Street, Los Angeles. For further info, contact Sherri Trahan @ 323-666-3130.

As I Lay Dying w/ Norma Jean, Madball, A Life Once Lost and Inked in Blood @ Quest Club, Minneapolis

KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas (Night Two) @ Gibson Amphitheatre featuring Depeche Mode, Coldplay, White Stripes, Jack Johnson, The Bravery, Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf and more.

Korn @ 4th & B, San Diego

Pistons @ Clippers: The concluding game of a five game home stand against the bad boys of the East. Another big test for the clips!!!

House of Blues New Orleans Reopens: The French Quarter club, which suffered damage due to Hurricane Katrina, is planning to open its doors for business on a limited basis in a demonstration of the company’s commitment to the revitalization of New Orleans. The club will begin serving lunch and dinner on Dec. 12. Late-December shows have been scheduled featuring NOLA-based acts Cowboy Mouth and Dr. John, as well as a two-night New Year’s Eve celebration with Better Than Ezra.

Walk the Line (20th Century Fox):
There are plenty of things to like about James Mangold's faithful-to-the-spirit-of Johnny Cash biopic, especially the performances of Joaquin Phoenix as the Man in Black and his ardent pursuit of performing partner Reese Witherspoon's June Carter to be his wife. Unfortunately, Phoenix's uncanny ability to evoke the stolid, taciturn Cash without looking anything like him isn't nearly as fun to watch as Jamie Foxx's Oscar-winning turn as the twitching, bob-and-weave Ray Charles. But, in some ways, Phoenix's accomplishment is even more impressive, considering he does his own singing, which works within the context of the movie's lovingly reproduced performance scenes, even if it doesn't hold up to close scrutiny compared to Cash's iconic basso profundo. And while the screenplay goes over the same clichés of childhood trauma (losing his older brother), the disapproving first wife, drug addiction, road burnout and infidelity that Ray did, the unfolding romance between Cash and Carter gives the film its narrative momentum, despite, or maybe even because of, their reported on-set antipathy towards one another. Walk the Line's real-life secondary characters, including One Tree Hill's Tyler Hilton as Elvis Presley and Waylon Payne's Jerry Lee Lewis, aren't nearly as strong as Ray, with son Shooter Jennings' turn as his dad Waylon the one brief exception. Still, the film is worth seeing for Phoenix's sleight-of-hand and even more for Witherspoon's sass and drawl, which recalls Sissy Spacek's similar tour de force as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter, and could just ace out her co-star's more celebrated turn for an Oscar nom. —Roy Trakin

1. Eytan Fox’s Walk on Water: Haven’t seen Munich, Syriana or Paradise Now, but this Israeli-made sociopolitical thriller, about an intelligence agent whose wife has just committed suicide assigned to spy on a German student and her visiting gay brother for information about their Nazi grandfather, allegedly in hiding in Berlin, neatly summarizes the theme of forgiving without forgetting at the root of the Middle East conflict between Israel and its neighbors. Great soundtrack that combines Israeli pop with rock classics by Springsteen.

2. Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale: Marvelously observed tale of an ’80s Brooklyn boho family coming apart at the seams, with Jeff Daniels’ Oscar-worthy turn as the displaced patriarch intellectual and Laura Linney as his beleaguered, drifting wife. If Jonathan Lethem’s Fortress of Solitude was made into a movie, this is what it would be like.

3. Bennett Miller’s Capote: Philip Seymour Hoffman is this year’s Jamie Foxx, a certain Oscar nominee and odds-on favorite to win as the slyly effeminate, but steel-willed author who gets his story, reality be damned. But Hoffman isn’t the only thing the film has going for it, with an award-level script by actor Dan Futterman and several Oscar type supporting actor performances from the always-great Catherine Keener as To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee and Bruce Greenwood as Capote’s lover.

4. Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know:  A modern-day fairy tale of urban alienation and hope with Deadwood’s John Hawkes as a shoe salesman who is kicked out of the house by his wife only to attract the attention of a free-spirited performance artist, set against the pangs of sexuality, both adolescent and mature.

5. Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers: The indie cult icon returns with his most accessible work since Stranger Than Paradise, with a deadpan Bill Murray as a broken-down lothario making the rounds of past loves and a possible son set to the tune of a hip soundtrack provided by the always-amusing Jeffrey Wright, with a fantastic femme supporting cast including Julie Delpy, Sharon Stone, Frances Conroy, Jessica Lange, Chloe Sevigny, Tilda Swinton and a career-making turn by young Alexis Dziena as a man-eating Lolita.

6. Fernando MeirellesThe Constant Gardener: Best adaptation of a John le Carre novel since The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, with Ralph Fiennes as the conflicted diplomat and Rachel Weisz as his feisty, politically committed wife. Brazilian City of God director Meirelles makes his English-language debut a taut, enigmatic thriller despite the sometimes-implausible plot. Fiennes is a definite sleeper for a Best Actor nod.

7. Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home: Bob Dylan: The year’s best documentary, even if Scorsese had nothing to do with the unflinching interviews with Bob himself that form the basis of the film, along with the searing performances featuring him and The Band during a U.K. tour that saw them hooted off the stage despite the fire and brimstone coming from the musicians.

8. David DobkinsWedding Crashers: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson shine as a comedy team in the year’s funniest comedy, laugh for laugh. And while the finely tuned buddy-buddy cynicism shifts into a benevolent “chick flick” about three-fourths of the way through, the setup is enough to drive this baby all the way home.

9. Gore Verbinski’s The Weather Man: Who knew the director of The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean was capable of this black comic tale featuring mid-life crisis, dysfunction and a critique of America’s fast-food culture, with a surprisingly tic-free performance by Nicolas Cage and the marvelous Hope Davis playing his put-upon spouse.

10. Alan Ball’s  Six Feet Under (“Everyone’s Waiting”): The finale of this amazing HBO series’ five-year run was worth waiting for, especially the incredible conclusion, where we see everybody in the cast meet their maker, set against the backdrop of Sia’s haunting “Breathe Me.” This episode was better than 99% of the feature films released in theaters during the year.

George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet, Tim Blake Nelson, and Jeffrey Wright
Director Stephen Gaghan follows up Traffic, which he wrote, with this political thriller set in the Cold War era during a global fight for control over the world's oil supply. The stories of a CIA operative, an up-and-coming oil broker, a prince and a corporate lawyer collide as the fighting for the world's most valuable resource heats up.
Thoughts: Finally this movie is opening up nationwide, because all I have to say is wow. I saw this movie with my girlfriend and my parents last weekend and it blew me away, it's super intense and very controversial. The movie is also very relevant to the situation we are in now, and it really opens your eyes to the corruption in the government. With an all-star cast this is definitely one I recommend to those who have yet to see it!!!

Memoirs of a Geisha
Ziyi Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Gong Li, Michelle Yeoh, and Youki Kudoh
Just prior to World War II, a young Japanese girl is taken from her impoverished family to work in a geisha house. Sayuri rises through the ranks to become one of the country's most famous geisha. But all the while she's haunted by memories of a man she met in her youth
Although I never read the book, because I rarely read to begin with, unless it's sports, I still really want to see this movie and plan to be there opening night. I wasn’t a huge fan of Rob Marshall’s Chicago, because there were just too many musical scenes, but then again what can you expect from a musical. However, I thought Chicago was really well done and I’m sure this one will be too!!

The Chronicles of Narnia
Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and Tilda Swinton
Director Andrew Adamson brings C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia to the big screen. The fantasy series tells the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, separated from their parents in London during the German air raids of World War II. They are sent to the country for safety and find a magic wardrobe that transports them to the mystical world of Narnia.
Thoughts: Here we go again with an adaptation of an amazing book collection, which I also never read; thank God they are making all these books into movies so I can actually participate in some amazing stories. I think this movie is going to be a huge success and plan on doing a back to back with my girlfriend at the movies on Friday, with this and Geisha.

Limited Release:
Brokeback Mountain
, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal

Chris Brown: It’s #1 this week, and let me tell you, this album is absolutely amazing. This 16-year-old put together a nice collection of club bangers and ballads to make one of the best R&B CDs of the year.

In stores Jan. 24, the follow-up to their platinum-selling debut completely blows away the first record. It’s a more mature album, and there isn’t one bad song on the entire disc.

Marketshare machers. (10/27a)
Lamar enters the House of Jody. (10/27a)
It's a lock. (10/27a)
Planning for an Election Day hopped up on painkillers. (10/27a)
Vote. Do it now. (10/27a)
Bring your umbrella.
Mulling possible surprises.
Why not wear a mask indoors?
What drugs will help us get there?

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