Blu Tuesday: Gonzo Depp, Fallout Shelters and the Female Woody Allen

It’s another big week for Blu-ray fans, and not because you can finally watch the latest installment of the “Twilight” saga in the comfort of your own home. Though “Breaking Dawn: Part One” was released last Friday, therefore making it eligible for this week’s column, there were fortunately plenty of other great titles to choose from. And because I don’t want to waste another second on that godforsaken franchise, let’s get right to it.

“The Rum Diary”

It’s no secret that Johnny Depp is a big fan of Hunter S. Thompson (in addition to playing a fictional version of him in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” he also narrated “Gonzo,” the 2008 documentary about the writer), and “The Rum Diary” was a project that he had been trying to get made for several years prior to Thompson’s untimely death. Unfortunately, while Depp clearly has a lot of fun channeling the eccentric journalist yet again in this adaptation of the writer’s “lost novel,” the movie is a rambling mess that fails to find any sort of rhythm over the course of its 120 minute runtime. The acting is solid and there are some great set pieces throughout, but it doesn’t really add up to anything of much substance. Having never read any of Thompson’s work, that may have very well been the point, but that doesn’t make the film any more accessible or entertaining.

Blu-ray Highlight: Though fans of Hunter S. Thompson will undoubtedly enjoy “The Rum Diary Back-Story,” a 2002 documentary that features Thompson and many others talking about the publication of the novel and the long road to adapting it for the big screen, I found the much briefer making-of featurette, “A Voice Made of Ink and Rage,” more interesting. In it, Johnny Depp and director Bruce Robinson discuss making the film while still keeping Thompson’s spirit alive on set. (Hint: It involved plenty of rum.)

“Take Shelter”

There always seems to be at least one indie movie that emerges as a potential dark horse in the months leading up to the Oscars, and this year, that film is “Take Shelter.” Although it was overlooked by every major awards show, that hasn’t stopped some cinephiles from insisting that it deserved more recognition. In fact, my own critics group awarded the movie the #3 spot in our annual Top 10 and handed Best Actor honors to star Michael Shannon. But while “Take Shelter” is certainly a good film, I’m not convinced that it’s a great one, even in a year saturated with underwhelming movies. Shannon’s intense performance as a family man suffering from visions of an impending apocalypse has garnered a lot of attention, but it’s really no different from the work that the bug-eyed, off-kilter actor has been consistently delivering for years. Whether or not you actually like the film ultimately comes down to its polarizing ending, however, because it’s about as love-it-or-hate-it as they come.

Blu-ray Highlight: There are actually quite a few good bonus features on the disc – including an audio commentary by writer/director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon, as well as a short but sweet making-of featurette – but the best of the bunch is a surprisingly funny Q&A with Shannon and co-star Shea Whigham where they chat about how they got involved with the project and reveal other anecdotes from the set.

“Tiny Furniture”

I missed out on seeing Lena Dunham’s “Tiny Furniture” when it debuted at SXSW two years ago; it was my first time at the event and I didn’t want to take the chance on a movie I knew nothing about. But after it won the festival’s award for Best Narrative Film, I made a mental note to watch it as soon as it was available on Blu-ray. Although I didn’t fall quite so head-over-heels for the movie as some, “Tiny Furniture” serves as a great showcase for a promising young talent who’s already drawn comparisons as a female Woody Allen. Granted, Dunham still has a ways to go – both behind the screen and in front of it – but the cornerstones are already there in her smart and funny writing. Your mileage will vary depending on how much you can tolerate Dunham’s hopelessly self-involved protagonist, but while “Tiny Furniture” is definitely rough around the edges, it’s worth seeing if only to bear witness to a filmmaker on the verge of a major breakout.

Blu-ray Highlight: Criterion always does a fantastic job with their Blu-ray releases, and “Tiny Furniture” is no exception. In addition to an engaging 30-minute conversation between writer/director/actor Lena Dunham and rom-com guru Nora Ephron, the single-disc effort also includes Dunham’s first feature, “Creative Fiction,” four of her early shorts, and an interview with Paul Schrader. They’re all highlight-worthy extras, but the discussion between Dunham and Ephron is something that any film fan will enjoy.


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Rockport x Barbour Fall 2011 Collaboration Boots

We were lucky enough to test a pair of Rockport x Barbour limited edition collaboration boots in the Break Trail Cap Toe design. The line will launch December 2011 as this is Rockport’s second collaboration with Barbour for footwear (they did their first collaboration last Fall 2010 season) and they expanded their collaboration to include three styles in multiple colorways.

Break Trail Cap Toe in polar/sage colorway (Jake Gyllenhaal was recently pictured wearing the Rockport x Barbour Breaktrail Cap Toe)
Day to Night Buckle Hi Boot in raize/sage and camel/muted tartan colorways

These are great gifts for the style conscious guy this holiday season as they can be worn to parties or outdoors. They are really that versatile! Along with the upscale design, Rockport added adiPRENE by adidas to create a stylish yet completely walkable boot. For this special collection, they also used suede leather from CF Stead which is one of the most respected tanners of suede leather in the world. Get them on your shopping list now as these Rockport x Barbour designs can be found at Bloomingdale’s, Paragon Sports (NY), The Tannery (Boston), and many other specialty retailers around the US.


London in the Fall

Travel to Europe in the summer has gotten to be so expensive that more people are taking advantage of lower fall airfares and enjoying cities like London this time of year.

I’m a huge fan of the Soho area as it’s very eclectic with nightlife as well, and it’s a short walk to Piccadilly Circus.

The shot above is of the Natural History Museum in Kensington. This is a great area to enjoy is you stay in one of the Kensington hotels. The area is elegant with a ton of culture, referred to by some as“London’s Museum Quarter.” In South Kensington you’ll some great museums like the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum.

For something different you can check out the Kings Cross hotels. Here you’ll be centrally located and it’s convenient if you want to explore the whole city.

It gets colder this time of year so make sure to check the weather and pack accordingly, but there’s definitely some charm to being in London this time of year. You’ll also avoid all the crowds, and this can be a great romantic trip as well if you’re looking for something other than your standard tropical fare.


Get your body fit for Fall

With ESPN’s Body Issue getting a lot of publicity, now is a great time to think about your own fitness as we head into fall. Many of us fall into the same patterns. With summer on the horizon, men and women start working out in May with the hope we will look good on the beach or by the pool. Late in the year, the holidays come around, and everyone eats too much at all the parties, and then you wake up on January 2nd looking and feeling bad again.

It’s time to break that cycle. This year, try to be proactive by committing to working out and eating right during the fall and into the holidays. It’s a great time to develop good habits that will stay with you through the year.

Think about starting some new exercises. If you haven’t been doing weight training, then maybe this is a good time to start.

Also, if you’re going to try something like more weight training, then take a look things like protein powder. Protein is important if you’re serious about building muscle, but keep in mind that overall nutrition and eating habits are equally important. Protein powder should supplement your diet. Do your research, read Mike Furci in our Fitness Channel and consult your doctor or a nutritionist, but things like whey protein and fat burners are very popular with people looking to get in shape and look fit.

It’s also a great time to focus on cardio. Many people lose sight of this as the weather gets bad. They stay inside and get less exercise. Now is the time to be consistent and get your cardio in the gym. Find out what works best for you. Some guys like the treadmill, while others like the stationary bike.

The key is whether you want to commit yourself to looking good year-round. It’s all about your mindset. Let things like the body issue and the photo above be motivation. Then, think about your own goals and put together something that works for you.


Suede boots for your fall wardrobe

Fall is here, and it’s a good time to beef up your wardrobe now that the weather has changed and winter is around the corner. Clarks sent us a pair of their new Maguire ankle boots, and I was very impressed with the product. The boots came in brown soft distressed suede with a “plain toe,” meaning that the front toe area of the boot was much darker with a smoother finish. You can see in the photo above that it give the boot a very distinctive and trendier look while retaining a classic feel. The boots look great with jeans, casual slacks and corduroys, so they’re very versatile. Pair them up with a brown leather jacket and you have a great look for the fall.

The comfort of the boots was also impressive. The boots feature a removable OrthoLite® cushioned footbed and soft premium suede surround the foot. I wore these out several times and you can break them in quickly.

The boots retail for $124.99 and also come in brown and black leather. You can find them at and Clarks retail stores nationwide. Overall, the styling of these boots together with the comfort with make the Maguires appealing to most guys.


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