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<p>Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater at last night's Berlinale premiere of &quot;Before Midnight.&quot;</p>

Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater at last night's Berlinale premiere of "Before Midnight."

Credit: AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Roundup: Richard Linklater honored with surprise award at Berlinale

Also: The Academy's quirky Best Picture gallery, and R.I.P. Gerry Hambling

With the roundly acclaimed "Before Midnight" playing out of competition at the Berlin Film Festival, Richard Linklater wasn't expecting to leave with any prizes, but he received one anyway before the film's European premiere last night, as he was honored with the Berlinale Camera, traditionally presented to "film personalities or institutions to which [the festival] feels particularly indebted and wishes to express its thanks." It's especially sweet that he should receive it in conjunction with this film, given that "Before Sunrise" won him the fest's Best Director prize way back in 1995. It also leads me to wonder how many other institutions will pick up the meme of acknowledging Linklater's long, diverse career this year, particularly if "Midnight" gathers the awards steam I suspect it will. [Berlinale]

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"The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

 "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' recap: 'Game of Scones'

Lisa hosts a proper tea party and the women still can't behave themselves

This week, Lisa puts on her happy neon pink bra (and under a sheer white shirt, natch), wiggles her nose, and convinces herself that if she thinks happy thoughts and pushes the booze with a side order of man meat, the very civilizing influence of Pimms and a proper British tea party will inspire the hate-spewing harpies on this show to lift their pinkies together over tea sandwiches and make nice. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah… no.

Yes, it's another Extravaganza O' Crazy, and Lisa is unlucky enough to have it all play out at her house. She should be glad that Beverly Hills housewives just bark squeakily at one another like Chihuahuas who've gotten into the Ritalin instead of tossing around tables. That's just a Jersey thing, I guess. 

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<p>Kevin Bacon on &nbsp;Monday's &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Kevin Bacon on  Monday's "The Following"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The Following' - 'Mad Love'

Jacob admits a secret, while the cult strikes close to Ryan
"Mad Love" doesn’t advance any plotlines significantly, which feels a little frustrating after three episodes that are essentially action-packed. Instead we are immersed into backstory for most of the episode, and though we do learn some interesting information about Ryan’s family--and his fraught relationship with Claire--overall the episode feels stagnant, with none of the pulp and gore that drove last week’s "Poet’s Fire." That’s fine, and it’s somewhat interesting in terms of building character, but this is not going to be anyone’s favorite episode of the show. The wacky stuff gets pushed to the outskirts, to the murder-cult house with little Joey, while Ryan’s storyline takes on pretty normal dramatic strokes. The tonal shift is frankly kind of confusing after three episodes of crazy.
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Jim Hill's theory on the real nature of Brad Bird's 'Tomorrowland' seems right on target
Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Jim Hill's theory on the real nature of Brad Bird's 'Tomorrowland' seems right on target

Has a website figured out the real nature of this secretive film?

It doesn't surprise me that Jim Hill is the one who connected some pretty obvious dots on "Tomorrowland," the mysterious new Brad Bird film that was formerly known by its working title, "1952."

After all, if there's anyone out there who has written more about the business of Walt Disney over the years, I'm unaware of them.  Hill's been doing this for years, and he knows more about the parks and the studio and their history than almost anyone.  He has a deep abiding love of Disney's work, but he's also more than willing to be critical of the way the brand has been managed over the years.

In March of 2012, he wrote a piece about an interview with Ward Kimball, one of the legendary animators who helped define the studio.  In that interview, Kimball talked about being approached by the U.S. Air Force which was looking for a Hollywood partner to help them produce a documentary that would help acclimate the United States to the idea that UFOs were real.

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Viola Davis discusses her reimagined 'Beautiful Creatures' role and doing 'Ender's Game' simultaneously

Viola Davis discusses her reimagined 'Beautiful Creatures' role and doing 'Ender's Game' simultaneously

'The Help' star didn't want to play another maid
When Viola Davis was initially cast as sassy, ultra-faithful South Carolina housekeeper Amma in "Beautiful Creatures," I initially had some concerns. Fortunately, so did Davis.
"I didn't want to be in a movie placed in 2013, in the South, where I was a character in servitude. I think that that needs to be redefined," Davis told me when we sat down last weekend.
Fortunately, the Amma in Richard LaGravenese's adaptation of  Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's novel only has vestigial links to the original Amma and ultimately has much more in common with the book's Marian Ashcroft, though she's not exactly Marian either.
"I'm thankful it was a reimagining of a character," the two-time Oscar nominee told me.
When I was on the "Beautiful Creatures" set last summer, Davis wasn't able to talk to the small group of press, a product of a frenzied schedule that had her simultaneously going back and forth between production on "Beautiful Creatures" and "Ender's Game."
In our conversation, Davis remembers that frenzied production pace, discusses the pressures that either do or don't come from being the first actor cast on a movie and talks about going back to her own roots to play this new version of Amma.
Check out the full interview above, especially if you want to hear Viola Davis say "ginormous."
You can also watch my interview with "Beautiful Creatures" co-star Emmy Rossum and stick around over the next few days for a slew of additional interviews from the film.
"Beautiful Creatures" opens on February 14.
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"The Bachelor"

 "The Bachelor"

Credit: ABC

'The Bachelor' recap: Sean takes his final 6 to St. Croix for fun and drama

Will Tierra lose her cool with the girls for the last time?

Wow, in the first minute of montage setting up the show, there's A LOT of crying. A lot. And then there's Tierra, who just pretends to cry. Is it too much to ask that Sean send this lunatic packing this week? Given that Ben not only kept Courtney around until the end, he actually chose her, I no longer trust that any given Bachelor will wise up before he gives a crazy girl jewelry. 

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<p>I'm not sure what RDJ&nbsp;is doing here, but as always, he is having the most fun of anyone in that room.</p>

I'm not sure what RDJ is doing here, but as always, he is having the most fun of anyone in that room.

Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP Photo

Robert Downey Jr. will produce a film based on an episode of Charlie Brooker's 'Black Mirror'

If you know who Charlie Brooker is, that's exciting news, indeed

Charlie Brooker is one of those UK wonders who hasn't made the jump to American audiences yet, and that is a damn shame.

Wildly prolific, Brooker seems to produce about 600 hours of new television every year, shows like "How TV Ruined Your LIfe" and "Them From That Thing" and "10 O'Clock Live" and "Newswipe" and "Screenwipe" and the oh-so-fiendish "Dead Set," and he's the author of the blisteringly funny "Pedophilia" episode of the great "Brass Eye."  Brooker is an astute media critic as well as a wicked wit, and that's a combination that I hoped would have made him much more famous on this side of the Atlantic as well.

He's got a good shot with a deal that was announced today, at least in terms of establishing a beachhead.  Robert Downey Jr. has optioned one of the episodes of "Black Mirror," a show that Brooker created, and if it helps to get the original series (now in its second season) released here in the US, that would be tremendous.  Each of the episodes of the anthology show deals with television as a social force, and Brooker really digs into the dark and horrible side of media consumption.  The first episode, for example, "The National Anthem," looks at the moral dilemma that is created when one of the Royal Family is kidnapped and one demand is made: the Prime Minister has to pork a pig on television to get her back.  No negotiations.  No half-measures.  No time to come up with a CGI option.  Pig.  Sex.  TV.  Go. 

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<p>Sam Rockwell in &quot;A Single Shot.&quot;</p>

Sam Rockwell in "A Single Shot."

Credit: Inferno Entertainment

Review: 'A Single Shot' keeps Sam Rockwell in the dark

Formulaic backwoods thriller is an odd fit for the Berlinale

BERLIN - Some films, like "Gloria," enter Berlin with no profile and leave with their heads held high; others merely shuffle away quietly after a reasonably noisy arrival. David S. Rosenthal's drab backwoods thriller "A Single Shot," a rather surprising inclusion for the festival's more esoteric Forum sidebar, is in the latter group.

One of the few world premieres at the festival to boast a modicum of US star power -- well, to those for whom high-end character actors like Sam Rockwell and William H. Macy are stars, at any rate -- it's the kind of indistinct genre potboiler that might have seemed more at home in the lower reaches of the Sundance programme. Not that this overextended pulp is particularly flattered by the festival circuit to begin with: happened upon at the halfway mark on TV, preferably after a few beers, its identikit premise and logical stumbles may seem more comfortingly expected. 

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<p>Paulina Garcia in &quot;Gloria.&quot;</p>

Paulina Garcia in "Gloria."

Credit: Funny Balloons

Review: Chile's glorious 'Gloria' lights up the Berlinale Competition

Tender, funny character drama could be a real arthouse crowdpleaser

BERLIN - We're roughly at the midway point of the Berlin Film Festival, and should probably tell you how this year's Competition lineup is shaping up. The truth, however, is that I haven't seen enough of it to say, as my schedule for the last couple of days has kept me in the smaller, often more interesting, sections of the vast Berlin programme, meaning I've only seen about five of the films in the running for the Golden Bear.

The festival grapevine, however, suggests I haven't missed that much. Consensus has it that the Competition, with the exception of Ulrich Seidl's excellent "Paradise: Hope," got off to a bit of a slow start, and was only kicked into touch yesterday by Chilean entry "Gloria" -- which I resolved to see at this morning's public screening after hearing glowing reports from multiple trusted colleagues. Good news travels fast in Berlin: I arrived at the city's vast Friedrichpalast theater to find it improbably crowded for a freezing Monday morning.

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<p>I&nbsp;have never been this excited about anything in my entire life.</p>

I have never been this excited about anything in my entire life.

Credit: Walt Disney Studios

The full-length UK trailer for 'Monsters University' promises the company's broadest comedy yet

A sequel may not be the creatively exciting Pixar we want, but it does look hilarious

It's funny to see people talking now about Pixar as if they've toppled in some way over the last few years.  In the lead-up to "Cars 2," they seemed invincible, the golden hit-making machine that somehow managed to pull off quality every time while also making choices that kept racking up ginormous international box-office.

"Cars 2" seemed to shake some people's faith, though, and the general reaction to this summer's "Brave" seemed to be indifference among most people I spoke to.  For the first time, the big brains at Pixar seemed human-scale, and there's been a subtle but genuine shift in the tenor of how people write about them.  Gone is the reverence, and maybe that is, in the end, better for everyone.

After all, being on a pedestal is hard for anyone. It almost guarantees a fall at some point.  The crushing weight of expectation can get into an artist's head, even a team as confident as the storytellers at Pixar, and the yips almost become a self-fulfilling prophecy after a while.  Because it is inevitable everyone eventually screws up, you end up waiting for that moment.

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<p>Chris Butler (left)&nbsp;and Sam&nbsp;Fell (right)&nbsp;at the world premiere of &quot;ParaNorman&quot; in Universal City</p>

Chris Butler (left) and Sam Fell (right) at the world premiere of "ParaNorman" in Universal City

Credit: AP Photo/Todd Williamson

Sam Fell and Chris Butler on the social commentary and hybrid tech of 'ParaNorman'

And how LAIKA is finding its singular identity in the world of animation

It's easy to see why Sam Fell and Chris Butler's "ParaNorman" from the LAIKA animation studio ended up reaping the most critical prizes throughout the film awards season. At a time when the issue of bullying is very much in the social dialogue, the film's themes resonate and elevate it from the ghetto of "mere entertainment" that animated feature films can often struggle to escape.

The idea of what would become "ParaNorman" first came to Butler 16 years ago. It was just the superficial spark of "how cool would it be to make a stop-motion zombie movie for kids?" But the more he mulled over the genre and why it had always been so compelling to him, the more he realized there was a thematic draw there.

"The zombie movies that worked best, and certainly my favorites, are the ones that have social commentary," Butler says, "that use zombies as a metaphor to say something about a human condition.  And so it made sense to me that if I was going to do a zombie movie for kids that I should try and address an issue that affects kids. I think that was like a fundamental part of the movie right from the start. It's part of the fabric of it."

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Blake Shelton's new album, 'Based on a True Story,' comes out March 26

Blake Shelton's new album, 'Based on a True Story,' comes out March 26

Watch the new video for first single, 'Sure Be Cool If You Did,' now

When Blake Shelton released new single “Sure Be Cool If You Did” late last year, it seemed sure that a new album was to follow. And, sure enough, on March 26, “The Voice” mentor will release “Based On A True Story.”

[More after the jump...]

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