Latest Blog Posts

<p>Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year for &quot;A Separation.&quot;</p>

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar this year for "A Separation."

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Iran under pressure to boycott this year's foreign Oscar race

One year after winning for 'A Separation,' the country may not compete this time

The win for "A Separation" in the Best Foreign Language Film category at last February's Academy Awards marked a major breakthrough -- and not just because it marked the first time in donkey's years that the critics' favorite actually took home the prize. More significantly, Asghar Farhadi's searing marital drama made Iran the first Middle Eastern country the win this mostly Eurocentric award. 

Not that all of Farhadi's compatriots appreciated the gesture. The Iranian government has been famously suppressive of its more outspoken artists -- notably in the case of filmmaker Jafar Panahi, placed under house arrest and banned from producing films for 20 years for "making propaganda against the system" -- and "A Separation" had its own share own hurdles to overcome. Initially banned while still in production due to Farhadi's past criticisms of the administration, the film was used by certain factions as a political pawn after its success: Javad Shamaghdari, head of the government's cinema agency, labelled the film's Oscar win an anti-Zionist victory, much to the dismay of its makers.

Read Full Post
<p>Looks a little familiar, no?</p>

Looks a little familiar, no?

Credit: Universal Pictures

'Les Misérables' poster harkens back to Broadway art with young Cosette

Tom Hooper's film is set for release on Christmas Day

Someone asked me today what looks like a Best Picture winner in these early days, with many things seen, a few still to come. With so many having marks against them it's difficult to get a gauge on what could be "the one," and of course, it's silly to be mulling something like that over when the season has so many more secrets to tell. But my knee-jerk reaction was Tom Hooper's "Les Misérables."

Why? Well, it's in the enviable position of still being a bit of a mystery, for starters. Hooper, of course, is coming off his big win for "The King's Speech" in 2010, which made him a commodity in Hollywood. The campaign is taking flight, the early notes revolving around the live singing employed by the film (which, frankly, from a sound mixing standpoint, makes it immediately more interesting in the musical realm than most). But more to the point, there's a lot of tangible thematic resilience in the story that could find the right stride in today's world. Well, let's just say there's a case to be made on that score by a smart campaign, anyway.

Read Full Post
<p>Not too shabby.</p>

Not too shabby.

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar Bait: Tom Hanks sports his 'Saving Mr. Banks' Walt Disney stache at the Emmys

Kicking off a misguided new feature with John Lee Hancock's in-production biopic

I've been hearing more and more about John Lee Hancock's forthcoming "Saving Mr. Banks" ever since Tom Hanks was signed on to play Walt Disney in the film and, therefore, the screenplay review community gobbled it up and dissected it and word got out that it had a heck of a lot of potential. Apparently it's pretty damn good, and it presents a grand opportunity for Hanks, a five-time Oscar nominee who hasn't been recognized by the Academy since 2000's "Cast Away."

Hanks was on hand at the Emmys last night, to collect his trophy for Outstanding Mini-Series or Movie as a producer of HBO's "Game Change." (He's won five of those now, by the way, for "The Pacific," "John Adams," "Band of Brothers" and "From the Earth to the Moon," in addition.) He showed up sporting, it would appear, the mustache he's rocking out as Disney in the new film, and it got me thinking of a spit-ball sort of column we could throw up every once in a while to place unnecessary pressure on upcoming films and performances that, on paper, look like they could be awards contenders. This certainly seems like one of them.

Read Full Post
Brandon Routh

 Brandon Routh

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Brandon Routh talks playing straight and gay on 'Partners'

The former Superman plays a vegan nurse on new show

Superman is coming to TV… sort of. Brandon Routh, who starred in 2006's "Superman Returns" as the Man of Steel, is taking a comedic turn as Wyatt, the boyfriend of Michael Urie's high-strung character Louis on "Partners." The show, which premieres Sept. 24 (CBS, 8:30 p.m.), comes from "Will & Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick, follows the bromance between straight man (literally) Joe and his best friend Louis. Routh's character, a vegan nurse, is the calm to Louis' storm, though in the pilot that seems to mean delivering unintentional punchlines. I spoke to Routh at the TCA press tour this summer about playing a vegan nurse who may or may not have been raised Amish, playing it straight (and gay) and why he never gets sick of "Superman" questions.

Read Full Post
<p>David Krumholtz and Michael Urie in &quot;Partners.&quot;</p>

David Krumholtz and Michael Urie in "Partners."

Credit: CBS

Review: CBS' 'Partners' a tale of best friends gone bad

The 'Will & Grace' guys don't realize how unpleasant one of their stand-ins is

One of the cardinal rules of writing is "write what you know," and one of the easiest ways to do that is to infuse some of your personality into one or more of the characters you write. It's a very old TV tradition to have main characters based on one of the writers, from Rob Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (modeled on Carl Reiner, who was even going to play him at one stage of development) to Andy Sipowicz on "NYPD Blue" (whose demons were shared by David Milch) to Jess Day on "New Girl" (who even wears the same glasses as Liz Meriwether). If the show works, the creator even gets extra credit for being similar to a character the audience has grown to love.

But when an autobiographical show or character doesn't work? Then you have something really ugly, like "Love & War" (where, legend has it, creator Diane English had to fire Susan Dey for being woefully unfunny as a character  English had based on herself), or like CBS' new "Partners."

Read Full Post
<p>Julianne Moore and Tom Hanks both won Emmy Awards last night for &quot;Game Change.&quot;</p>

Julianne Moore and Tom Hanks both won Emmy Awards last night for "Game Change."

Credit: AP Photo/Jordan Strauss

Roundup: The Emmys go to the movies

Plus: 'The Hobbit' meets the Queen, and celebrating Tom Hardy's 'Lawless' knitwear

Last night's Emmy Awards dwarf any movie news today. I didn't watch them myself -- the Oscars may be silly, but at least they can't repeat their mistakes year after year -- but I'm amused at how the TV industry puffs its chest about producing superior entertainment to Hollywood... only to fawn over movie stars (or at least former movie stars) when it comes to dishing out awards. As you've probably heard, Julianne Moore, Jessica Lange, Kevin Costner, Claire Danes and Tom Hanks (as a producer) all took home trophies, many of them deservedly -- though when Maggie Smith's sleepwalking schtick manages to beat out A-grade work by Christina Hendricks that would dazzle on any size of screen, you have to wonder if the voters really know their medium. Anyway, HitFix's resident TV ace has more informed thoughts. [What's Alan Watching]

Read Full Post
<p>Rihanna's &quot;Diamonds&quot; single cover</p>

Rihanna's "Diamonds" single cover

Credit: Def Jam

Mark your calendar for Rihanna's new single, 'Diamonds'

Her perpetual music machine never stops

Rihanna will release her new single, “Diamonds,” on Wednesday at 8 a.m. EDT.

The song is the first single from her seventh studio album, which will come out before the end of 2012.

Rihanna’s dominance at pop radio is due, in part, to her continuous outpouring of music. Most pop artists take some time off between album cycles: not Rihanna. This new album will make her fourth consecutive album released in the fourth quarter since 2009.  The only year she has not released a new album since her 2005 debut was in 2008. Even country artists don't keep up that pace. It used to be that you could set your clock to country to your favorite country artist: they released a new album every year. In part, that was because their fans expected it, but it was also because they tended not to write much of their own material.  A producer would help select the cuts, hire the studio musicians, etc. and the artist would spend a few days or weeks (max) in the studio. However, as country artists started writing more of their own material, they too have spread out their release cycle to every 18-to-24 months.

Not only is Rihanna prolific, but her label tends to release at least four singles from each set. Her six available albums have yielded 30 Hot 100 charting songs. She’s logged 11 No. 1s and a total of 20 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Given the speed of her output, it’s no surprise that she reached that number faster than any other solo artist in the history of the Billboard Hot 100. Only the Beatles landed 20 top 10 singles faster than Rihanna.

“Diamonds” is also the name of Rihanna’s previously announced world tour, which kicks off in Buffalo, N.Y. on March 8.
 

Read Full Post
Fantastic Fest photos: 'Miami Connection's Dragon Sound reunion, karaoke, costumes

Fantastic Fest photos: 'Miami Connection's Dragon Sound reunion, karaoke, costumes

The sound of a band with only two songs

AUSTIN -- Not very many people have seen "Miami Connection," but it basically represents why people come to Fantastic Fest every year. The B-movie -- picked up by Drafthouse films for a 25th anniversary re-release -- is a clunky, hilarious and surprisingly moving film by the end. In it is an inexplicably successful band Dragon Sound, led by the film's writer, director and lead actor Y.K. Kim. This band plays only two songs, and they both are melodically alike, and one is called "Against the Ninja." This gives you some idea what you're up, er, against: the looks, feels and sounds of 1987, through the film filter of a man and his martial arts.

"Miami Connection" didn't exactly blossom in its own time, but was heralded by audiences here at the 2012 festival, an appreciation completed by Dragon Sound's electric drum-laden reunion, complete with a fist-pumping "TAE KWON DO!" chant and a little help from the Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest staff. And, yes, those t-shirts are on sale.

Other weekend highlights included a Monsters' Ball costume contest, seeded in Tim Burton's "Frankenweenie!" premiere earlier in the evening on Thursday.

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;The Mindy Project&quot;&nbsp;&amp;&nbsp;&quot;Ben and Kate.&quot;</p>

"The Mindy Project" & "Ben and Kate."

Credit: FOX

Review: FOX's 'The Mindy Project' & 'Ben and Kate' show comic promise

These are the best new comedies of the fall season
On last week's phenomenal episode of FX's "Louie," director David Lynch played a veteran talk show producer training Louie for a shot at succeeding David Letterman. At one point, Lynch needs proof that Louie is actually funny, and demands that Louie make him laugh on the count of 3. Louie flinches once, then twice, and Lynch warns him that the next countdown will be the last, and Louie wins a reprieve by bursting into a string of falsetto nonsense that in no way resembles his actual comic style, but pleases Lynch. It's not until later in the episode that Louie finally relaxes and gets the confidence to be as funny on-camera as he knows he can be.
Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Homeland&quot;&nbsp;star Damian Lewis was one of the night's more surprising Emmy winners.</p>

"Homeland" star Damian Lewis was one of the night's more surprising Emmy winners.

Credit: AP

Emmys 2012: 'Homeland' and 'Modern Family' dominate

It was a night of unexpected drama winners and repeaters everywhere else
I always say that the easiest way to win an Emmy is to have already won an Emmy, and the 2012 Emmy Awards seemed to be going out of their way to prove me right. Twenty-five awards were handed out over the three-hour ceremony, and only eight of them went to people or shows that hadn't won an Emmy before. The first seven in a row went to past winners, and eight of the first nine.
 
Read Full Post
<p>David Chang and Janette (Kim Dickens)&nbsp;in the &quot;Trem&eacute;&quot;&nbsp;season premiere.</p>

David Chang and Janette (Kim Dickens) in the "Tremé" season premiere.

Credit: HBO

Season premiere review: 'Tremé' - 'Knock With Me - Rock With Me'

The more things change, the more they don't

"Tremé" is back for its third season (and has been renewed for a fourth). I reviewed the season as a whole earlier this week, and in it noted that I'm only going to do brief write-ups of each episode until the finale, mainly providing you folks with a forum to discuss the show, because I've found over time it doesn't lend itself incredibly well to chapter-by-chapter dissections, especially when I've read to the end before you've opened the book. But I have a few specific thoughts on the season premiere coming up just as soon as I get a hairstyle that's, like, not a hairstyle...

Read Full Post
<p>Michael Kenneth Williams as Chalky White in &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Michael Kenneth Williams as Chalky White in "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Spaghetti & Coffee'

Nucky goes to New York, Chalky teaches his daughter a lesson, and Gyp buys some gas

A review of tonight's "Boardwalk Empire" coming up just as soon as I am face to face with paradox...

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME