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Some months back I pondered the idea of the dissolving of TomKat -- and therefore, a flood of fresh Scientology headlines -- adding a little extra leverage to the cause (if you will) for "The Master" this awards season.
The zeitgeist, you see, is a funny thing. It's malleable in some ways. The world is always torn in a million different directions, strife, discovery, politics and the economy all having their day in some fashion. And if any movie were to take the abstract approach, "The Master" is certainly it. Now that many have seen the film, of course, the Scientology angle has been softened. But the idea of putting one's faith and fate in the hands of another -- government, religion, whatever -- is still, and always, relevant.
But sometimes things line up specifically. Sometimes one doesn't have to connect a lot of dots to present that, say, "Moneyball" tells a story of the difficult, painful process of change for the good around the idea that the sum of all parts is greater than one single entity, and that that reflects where we are as a country (even if that's 100% true). Sometimes, like with Ben Affleck's Iran hostage crisis film "Argo," the reflections are much more defined.
With Telluride and Venice behind us, and Toronto winding down, the first, and biggest, wave of the fall festival season is just about over -- but Fantastic Fest, the New York Film Festival and the London equivalent are all still lying in wait. With no major world premiere this year in the vein of previous coups like "Frost/Nixon" and "Fantastic Mr Fox," London won't be competing with the Big Apple (which boasts "Life of Pi" and "Flight") for media attention, but it remains one of the most useful greatest-hits festivals on the circuit.
I was too tangled up in Venice business last week to report on the unveiling of the London lineup, but it's a healthy blend of established festival hits, less celebrated discoveries and archive gems. 200-odd features are in the mix, around 40 of which I've already seen -- affording me plenty of room to explore the farther corners of the programme when my coverage begins next month.
G.O.O.D. Music’s compilation, “Cruel Summer,” which drops as the season ends on Sept. 18, features label head Kanye West with a number of top artists including R. Kelly, John Legend, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, 2 Chainz and The-Dream.
Snippets of the full album are on iTunes, but today we get a full version of opening track “To The World,” performed by West and Kelly. The song is basically a big “F You,” albeit an often clever one,” to you and yours.
[More after the jump...]
Florence Welch, the namesake of Florence + The Machine, is known for her dramatic, over-the-top performances, but for her debut on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” last night, she and the band delivered a breathtakingly spare version of “Spectrum.”
[More after the jump...]
Missy Elliott has got sports on her mind. Earlier this week, she released a snippet of “Ninth Inning.” And now, she’s switched from baseball to basketball. She just revealed the cover to “Triple Threat,” another song on her forthcoming new album.
The cover features someone in a basketball jersey with her name emblazoned across the shoulders and the words, “Triple Threat” where the numbers would be. On the accompanying basketball are the words “feat. Timbaland.” The producer is also on “Ninth Inning.”
We’ll have to wait until Sept. 17 to hear the full songs. That’s when Elliott will host a Ustream listening session to play both songs in their entirety. She will also answer questions from fans about the new album. That sounds like when we’ll hear about a release date and album title.
Christina Aguilera’s new album, “Lotus,” will come out in November, according to “The Voice” judge, who took to Twitter Wednesday to reveal details.
Among the other nuggets the Grammy-winning singer revealed:
*The album, her first since 2010’s “Bionic,” is called “Lotus” because a lotus "represents an unbreakable flower that survives under the hardest conditions and still thrives.”
*The inspiration for the album was "self-expression and freedom," she tweeted. "The album represents a rebirth for me."
*First single, “Your Body,” which leaked a few weeks ago, will be available for purchase on Friday. The single sleeve for the Max Martin-produced song features Aguilera wrapped in a diaphanous pink sheer dress with her arms overhead and lots of blonde extensions.
*A snippet of the music video for “Your Body” will air on “The Voice” on Monday, Sept. 17.
*Aguilera is currently listening to M83 and Frank Ocean.
Aguilera is in her third season as a coach on “The Voice.” At a press conference last month, “The Voice” producer Mark Burnett acknowledged that she and the other coaches, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and Cee Lo Green, may need to rotate out for a season to attend to their careers and touring, especially if the show continues to offer a fall and spring season.
I won't be writing reviews of every new fall show, but I did at least discuss "Guys with Kids" with Dan on today's podcast. We were not fans. For those of you who watched, what did you think? Were you happy to see Vanessa Huxtable back in an NBC family sitcom? Meadow Soprano doing lighter material? Cliff from "Bring It On" being all grown up? Anthony Anderson trying his hardest to earn the paycheck?
More importantly, do you find the idea of men having to take care of their own children as absolutely hi-larious as the "Guys with Kids" writers so obviously do? And will you watch again? Have at it.
One thing is increasingly clear: Terrence Malick is a man on a very specific aesthetic mission.
When I was at Cannes in the summer of 2011, there was no film that was more heavily discussed or anticipated before it screened than "The Tree Of Life." I felt like I was lucky to be there for the film, and there was a sense that everyone had made it their top priority for the festival. The discussions afterwards were intense and ongoing all week, and I dare say no other film was covered quite as extensively during that fest.
Here in Toronto this week, though, I've gotten none of that surrounding the debut of "To The Wonder," Malick's new movie, and in the few conversations I've had with other people, it seems like the notion that he's got two more films coming in the next year or so and another major ongoing one in development has made him "just another filmmaker" as opposed to the figurative Sasquatch of Cinema that he was for so long. I'm thrilled he's suddenly found this new productivity and that he's got a producing team in place who are able to help him realize all of this newfound creative energy, but it does mean that it's less of an event now. There's a reason the world rarely freaks out at the news that there's a Woody Allen film coming out. Something that happens every eleven months or so is not particularly noteworthy, no matter what the final film turns out to be.
So, it's down to the final five, or what I like to call the Quack Pack and Jenn. Not that the Quack Pack is much of an alliance, as everyone except Shane seems to have a final two deal with Dan (and that may have happened and I just missed it), and Dan is eagerly rubbing his hands together in anticipation of stomping on their broken bodies on the way to the finish line. The crazy part is, of course, that every remaining hamster seems likely to smile up at him as he does it. "Gee, Dan, you're really good at cracking ribs! That barely hurt! And not nearly as much as when you stepped on my nose!"