Latest Blog Posts

<p>Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes in &quot;Martha Marcy May Marlene.&quot;</p>

Elizabeth Olsen and John Hawkes in "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Wins for 'The Help,' 'The Artist,' 'Martha Marcy' at Casting Society of America Awards

We're not quite done with 2011's awards contenders yet

Thought you'd seen "The Artist" win its last award? Think again. The Casting Society of America pretty much partied like it was 2011 at last night's Artios Awards -- the premier honor for casting directors in the industry, given the absence of an Oscar category for the discipline. (That absence is often lamented, but let's be honest -- the average Academy member knows even less about casting than he does about sound editing.)

Anyway, while a scattering of early 2012 releases -- "The Hunger Games," "21 Jump Street," "Friends With Kids" -- had cracked the nominee list, the CSA was all about the awards contenders of 2011 when it came to choosing the winners. "The Help" took the prize in the Big-Budget Feature: Drama category, which is hardly surprising, given the number of ensemble awards (culminating in SAG's top honor) the film took down last season.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;CeeLo's Magic Moment&quot;</p>

"CeeLo's Magic Moment"

Credit: Elektra/Atlantic

Review: CeeLo Green's Christmas album 'CeeLo's Magic Moment'

How does 'The Voice' judge do with guests Christina Aguilera, the Muppets and Straight No Chaser?

About a third of CeeLo Green's 14-track Christmas album is pretty solid. This includes consideration that CeeLo's overall approach to singing tends toward the heavy-handed, an attribute absolutely compatible with Christmas records. But the most unnatural elements -- the forced styles outside his comfort zone, clunky duets, uninspired excesses -- are what ultimately causes "CeeLo's Magic Moment" to stumblebum around the season with only a few perfectly packaged gifts. 

Green positively delights over the three-song stretch of tracks 3 to 5, with "This Christmas," "The Christmas Song" and "White Christmas," all the Motown sheen over top Green's smiling consonants and midtempo bops. The mood on either side there is ruined, first, by his duel with powerhouse (and "The Voice" cohort) Christina Aguilera on "Baby, It's Cold Outside," a tune that turned out less conversational than it is two horny people yelling at each other ("YOU'VE REALLY BEEN NICE!..." "I'M THRILLED WHEN YOU TOUCH MY HAIR!"). Green's standing endorsement from the Muppets rallies on hot mess "All I Need Is Love," as it relies whole-cloth on "Mahna Mahna" with sprinkles of the word "Santa," the chosen ad lib over "baby."
 
"Magic Moment" is inflicted with Atlantic labelmates Straight No Chaser on three tracks, especially on novelty "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch," as it's apparent the a capella crew's 15 minutes has extended into four years. Rod Stewart shows up on R&B classic "Merry Christmas Baby" to easy-listening effect, but it and the plain cover of Joni Mitchell's tender "River" lacks the color and heart that gospel choir-backed tracks like "Mary Did You Know." "All I Want for Christmas" and "Silent Night" dynamically are written in two different ways, but ultimately burst with the same bombast and artless backing from the same arranger's desk.
 
Select songs from "Magic Moment" would make such a highly successful EP in many ways, but like most EPs, it wouldn't sell the way a full-length set would, so Green bears what he can here with his wonderful voice. But ain't it just like Christmas, to over-extend?

 

Read Full Post
<p>John&nbsp;Gatins at the New York&nbsp;Film&nbsp;Festival premiere of &quot;Flight&quot;</p>

John Gatins at the New York Film Festival premiere of "Flight"

Credit: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

Interview: John Gatins on wrestling his demons to write 'Flight'

'There are no atheists in foxholes or at 30,000 feet.'

NEW YORK – The day after John Gatins graduated Vassar in 1990 he got into a car and drove to California to be an actor. He was already having borderline "Whip-like issues," he says, referencing Whip Whitaker, the alcoholic airline pilot Denzel Washington plays in "Flight." Part of the decision was an attempt to leave those problems behind a little bit. So, naturally, he became a bartender.

Read Full Post
<p>Colin Firth in &quot;The King's Speech.&quot;</p>

Colin Firth in "The King's Speech."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Roundup: The movies are dead, again

Also: Dressing 'Les Mis' and the new, non-sexist Bond

For a medium we're told nobody cares about, people sure are devoting a lot of column inches to the end of cinema. Michael Cieply joins the long line of writers sounding the artform's death knell, claiming that Hollywood has lost its grip on the public imagination to TV. He points out that even the film of the moment, "Argo," has still attracted fewer viewers over its three-week run than a single episode of "Glee," while the number of specialist films released in US market has dropped by 55% in the last decade. Furthermore, Cieply quotes sources suggesting the Oscars are complicit in this disconnect, citing the recent coronation of the backward-looking "The King's Speech" (to which audiences flocked, mind you) as an example. I think people might be getting a bit dramatic. [New York Times]

Read Full Post
<p>Nicki MInaj's crazy eyes in &quot;Va Va Voom&quot;</p>

Nicki MInaj's crazy eyes in "Va Va Voom"

Watch: Nicki MInaj's 'Va Va Voom' video is a fairytale with no sound magic

Next single from 'Roman Reloaded - The Re-Up' takes from the sugar bowl

As evident on the original release of "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," Nicki Minaj can't help but to oscillate between trash-talking raps and pure, saccharine pop music for her singles, her sides and, apparently, her personalities. For the upcoming "Re-Up" of "Roman," the bonus tracks have been taking turns batting, starting with heady and bratty "The Boys" featuring Cassie, and now with this new cavity "Va Va Voom."

Of course, Minaj can't help but to play the villain sometime in this fairytale-driven narrative, but for the most part is the Queens-bred artist mugging in a variety of false lashes, with her penchant bright colors swimming all around her. I literally laughed out loud when when a dastardly Robin Hood darkens her doorway as she bakes sweets in a cottage (not making this up) and as she idles alongside a unicorn in a creek (still not making this up).

Read Full Post
<p>Cute much?</p>

Cute much?

Credit: Walt Disney Feature Animation

Review: 'Wreck-It Ralph' is a winning new animated delight from Disney

Gamers young and old should find themselves pumping quarters into this one

What is a Disney movie these days?

I know what an animated Disney film was, brand-wise, when I was a kid.  And when Disney reinvented themselves in the post-"Black Cauldron" world as a musical fairy tale factory, that was also a brand that was easy to identify.

But today, Walt Disney Feature Animation has perhaps the most tenuous grasp on identity that I've ever seen from them.  Part of that has to do with all the competition that exists today from Blue Sky Studios and Sony Animation and DreamWorks Animation… basically a bunch of companies that have gotten very good at making movies that play to the audience that was at one point the sole domain of Disney.  Then, of course, there's the in-house issue of Pixar Animation, a powerhouse team of storytellers who have arguably out-Disney'd Disney for the past fifteen years.  It's hard to be the top dog when you no longer are the first pick for animators looking for work, and these days, filmmakers who want to work in animation are probably looking to Pixar the signpost for what it is they want to do.

Read Full Post
<p>Nicholas David of &quot;The Voice&quot;</p>

Nicholas David of "The Voice"

Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Monday - The Knockouts, Part 1

Our East Coast recapper braves Sandy to bring you this report
Welcome to our coverage of the two-night Knockout Round event for “The Voice”. I describe it as an “event” rather than “a quick and dirty way for the show to shrink the still enormous number of contestants left on the show” because I’m a nice guy. As this is the first iteration of this phase in the history of the show, we’ll have to feel things out as we go tonight and tomorrow. From what it seemed in last week’s preview, each coach will pick two singers from his or her respective teams to face off in head-to-head competition. Each contestant will choose a song to perform individually, and the coach will pick a winner.
 
We have twenty of these knockouts to get through over four hours, which means either a series of no-frills, lean-and-mean contests or a combination of lengthy rounds coupled with quick montages. Either way, there are a lot of decisions for Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, and CeeLo Green to make over the next two nights. I’ll try to make this recap as clean as possible, covering each pairing as a whole rather than maintaining a minute-by-minute running diary. I’m sure those will return once we get to the live shows starting next week, but even if this experiment fails, it’ll all be over in 24 hours anyways. Tonight, “The Voice” is focusing on Team Adam and Team CeeLo.
 
(I’ll note up front that I’m covering this from Boston, where Hurricane Sandy is currently pounding down. There might be times in which local coverage trumps the show itself. I’ll do my best.)
 
Read Full Post
"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

'Dancing with the Stars' recap: It's country night! Mostly!

The celebs and pros must put a ballroom twist on country songs
It’s country night on “Dancing with the Stars,” which seems like some pretty brilliant cross promotion (if you’re watching “Nashville” and the CMA Awards this week, BOTH ON ABC, you’ll love “DWTS”!), but I'm not sure if it's the best thing for the show. Yes, country music encompasses many things, but I'm not sure if it's a perfect fit for, say, the cha cha. This isn't a judgment against one or the other, mind you, but they are different animals. Still, Taylor Swift is going to be on the show this week, so let’s focus!
 
The show does not begin with Taylor Swift (she'll be on tomorrow night), but Little Big Town, Big & Rich and Cowboy Troy will all appear tonight. And there will be dancing. What’s with half of the celebs wearing country gear, others looking like they fell out of “Gone with the Wind” and others wearing formal wear and traditional evening gear? I know, country is many things, but this looks a little schizo.
 
Read Full Post
<p>Hugh Jackman sported a familiar haircut today during the online chat about next summer's 'The Wolverine'</p>

Hugh Jackman sported a familiar haircut today during the online chat about next summer's 'The Wolverine'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Five things we learned from today's 'Wolverine' online chat with Hugh Jackman

Sounds like they're pushing the character to a dark place, which could be great news

Film companies continue to push for new ways to reach out to audiences as they figure out when it's okay to start hyping a film.  Summer 2013 movies are already starting to stake their claims and premiere imagery and set visit glimpses and posters.  20th Century Fox has a pretty big stake in "The Wolverine" working, and one of the first big moments for them came last week when Empire magazine revealed some of what James Mangold told them for their upcoming story.  We wrote about that piece, which included a new image of Wolverine with his bone claws extended, last week, and it seemed like one more promising detail in what is shaping up as a very promising entry in the long-running "X-Men" franchise.

Today, James Mangold and Hugh Jackman spoke directly to fans around the world who tuned in for a live online chat that YouTube streamed from Sydney.  It sounds like more and more journalists are arriving in Sydney today for further press events in the days ahead, and according to Mangold and Jackman, they're only a few weeks away from wrapping the film.  I'm guessing there's got to be a trailer soon at this rate.  They've described the film, and now it's time to let people know what it's going to look like in motion, what that world is that they're talking about.  When Mangold references both "The Bicentennial Man" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales" as thematic touchstones, it's probably safe to assume this isn't just going to be another standard-issue superhero movie.

Read Full Post
<p>Tessa Ia in &quot;After Lucia.&quot;</p>

Tessa Ia in "After Lucia."

Credit: Pop Films

Foreign Oscar watch: 'After Lucia' and 'Kauwboy'

Mexico and The Netherlands offer two contrasting portraits of youth in turmoil

While official Academy screenings are already under way for the long roll-call of foreign-language Oscar submissions, I've slowly been wading my own way through the pile. Having now seen in the region of 25 contenders, around two-thirds of the list remains – I'll never get to them all, but I'm still feeling more well-briefed than usual. Meanwhile, the more I see, the more impressed I am by the standard of this year's competition; the threat of “The Intouchables” notwithstanding, Academy voters will really have to go out of their way to make a dud choice. 

Today's double-shot of contenders for discussion haven't been been paired for any reason beyond the fact that I saw them back-to-back at the London Film Festival last weekend. Certainly, at first glance, Mexico's serenely threatening high-school drama “After Lucia” and The Netherlands' gentle slip of a family film “Kauwboy” don't have much more than that in common. On closer inspection, however, some clear dramatic and thematic links belie the gaping tonal and formal differences between them.

Read Full Post
<p>Kelly Clarkson's &quot;Don't Rush&quot;</p>

Kelly Clarkson's "Don't Rush"

Listen: Kelly Clarkson's new song 'Don't Rush' with Vince Gill

There's time to take it slow on dated tune from 'Greatest Hits-Chapter One'

Kelly Clarkson and Vince Gill take a trip back to the early ‘80s with “Don’t Rush,” a duet featured on the “American Idol” champ’s “Greatest Hits- Chapter One” set coming Nov. 19.

With its soft rock, adult contemporary production and Gill’s tasteful guitar lines, the song sounds like it could be on the charts right beside Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream” or Air Supply’s “All Out Of Love.”  There’s even a pause before the key change at the end. It's as different as "Don't You Wanna Stay," her duet with Jason Aldean, could be.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>The Band Perry's &quot;Better Dig Two&quot;</p>

The Band Perry's "Better Dig Two"

Listen: The Band Perry return with haunting 'Better Dig Two'

Rick Rubin-produced track takes marriage very seriously

It’s ‘til death do us part” and beyond for The Band Perry on new single, “Better Dig Two.”

The sibling trio, who struck both pop and country pay dirt last year with “If I Die Young,” released the first single from their sophomore set today, even though the album won’t come out until next Spring.

Produced by Rick Rubin, the track is a dark ballad about a woman, who took a vow to never divorce her husband, so if he goes before her, the gravedigger better “dig two” because she’s following soon after. Listen to it here. We'll embed it as soon as Rolling Stone's exclusive runs out.

“Let the stone say, ‘Here lies a girl whose only crutch was loving a man a little too much’,” Kimberly Perry sings in one of her most-understated, yet best vocals. She never blatantly threatens to kill him, but it’s clear that if his ring should start to slip off, there’s going to be trouble, especially if she sees him "with someone else."  As she hauntingly sings at the end, “I told you on the day we wed, I was going to love you ‘til I was dead.”

The song’s spare production, bolstered by a meaty banjo intro, serves it well and makes it even more spooky, just in time for Halloween. The tune builds in intensity (and instrumentation) as Perry's vocal grows more and more impassioned. It feels like something out of a western. It's a shame it's too late for Kevin Costner's "Hatfield & McCoys." 

The trio, who just wrapped up a tour with Brad Paisley, will debut the song on the CMA Music Awards this Thursday on ABC.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME