Latest Blog Posts

<p>Dax Shepard and Joy Bryant in &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Dax Shepard and Joy Bryant in "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

Review: 'Parenthood' - 'The Talk'

Some unheralded members of the ensemble get their turn at bat in a terrific episode

A review of tonight's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I report you to the House Un-American Activities Committee...

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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' shoves another celeb to the curb

Will Drew Lachey be in the bottom two again?

While I will say that the dancing is exponentially better this season, there were still a few shaky performances to be singled out from last night -- Joey, Kirstie and Bristol all struggled a bit, though I couldn't say any one of them was bad. Well, Bristol and Kirstie struggled a lot -- but as we well know, that doesn't mean much this season (or any season), as people vote for the personalities they like. Really, there's almost no reason to watch the show, right? Just kidding. 

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<p>Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina in &quot;The Mindy Project.&quot;</p>

Mindy Kaling and Chris Messina in "The Mindy Project."

Credit: FOX

The Evening Round-Up: 'Ben and Kate' & 'The Mindy Project' reviews

One of FOX's new Tuesday sitcoms shows signs of improvement, the other stays the same

Some quick thoughts on tonight's second episodes of "Ben and Kate" and "The Mindy Project" coming up just as soon as I pretend to be 1/4 Inuit to get a very specific marine biology scholarship...

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<p>I'm pretty sure my vote doesn't count, but if it did, Alison Brie would have the job in 'Captain America:&nbsp;The Winter Soldier'</p>

I'm pretty sure my vote doesn't count, but if it did, Alison Brie would have the job in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'

Credit: AP Photo/Peter Kramer

Alison Brie and Emilia Clarke are among the names reportedly testing for 'Captain America' sequel

Will the winner of the bake-off be starring as Sharon Carter?

So are we getting a Sharon Carter in the Marvel Universe?

That's certainly a possibility as we hear reports today that Marvel is screen-testing a list of five actresses to play the female lead in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," which is due to start shooting soon.  The subtitle is our one big clue about what we're seeing in the sequel, and I was sure they were going to be headed in this direction as soon as we saw Bucky's "death" in "Captain America."

I think Joe Johnston did a nice job of setting up enough dangling threads in the first film to leave plenty of room for Joe and Anthony Russo to play in the sequel.  The home video release of "The Avengers" has given us a glimpse at some of the scenes involving Captain America grappling with his lost past that were cut from the film.  While I liked those scenes, I can see how they decided they didn't fit in "The Avengers," but I hope they carry over the same melancholy tone for at least part of the sequel.  There's something interesting they can play with Captain America that isn't true for any of the other Marvel characters onscreen so far.

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Tim Burton

Tim Burton

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Tim Burton talks about why he's revisiting 'Frankenweenie'

The director says this movie is 'funkier' and 'rougher' than 'Corpse Bride'

"Frankenweenie" (opens Oct. 5) may be a new film to most viewers, but for director Tim Burton it was a return trip to familiar territory. He had first directed the story as a live-action short in 1984. Why did he want to take another stab at his Frankenstein-esque story, this time using stop-motion animation? "Obviously it was great to do the live action thing so many years ago, but over the years, kind of going back and looking at the drawings I did for it from the beginning and loving stop motion, and also because it was such a memory piece, I started thinking about other memories I have of other kids at school, the weirdness of certain teachers, and the monster movies and things," Burton said. "For me, with all those elements -- stop motion and black and white;  it just felt like a whole different project for me."

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<p>Cher Lloyd</p>

Cher Lloyd

Credit: Cherlloyd.com

Album Review: 'X Factor's' Cher Lloyd arrives stateside with 'Sticks + Stones'

Can the U.K. teen break through in the U.S.?

Cher Lloyd arrives on U.S. shores today with her debut album, “Sticks + Stones.” Followers of the U.K. version of "The X Factor" will recognize her name from her stint on that show, which led to her signing with  "X Factor" creator Simon Cowell’s Syco label.

Fellow U.S. “X Factor” judge L.A. Reid picked Lloyd up for the U.S. in hopes of having his first true breakthrough act since taking over Epic last summer. Sadly, she’s not going to be it...at least not with this album.

Lloyd is not untalented (and yes, we realize that’s damning her with faint praise), but there are so many hands in the mix here in the desire to genetically engineer a pop star that it’s hard to tell where she ends and the producers’ studio synthetic wizardry begins.  All the A-List studio kings are here, whether it’s Max Martin, Shellback, Red One, Mike Posner or Savan Kotecha.

Producer/writers Shellback and Kotecha are responsible for first single, the stompy “Want U Back,” which has sold more than a million copies in the U.S. The song reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, driven more by sales than radio play.

At various times, she’s either imitating Nicki Minaj (“Behind The Music”) or Avril Lavigne AND Ke$ha  ( “Oath”),  The Spice Girls  (“Swagger Jagger”),   Beyonce AND Rihanna (“End Up Here”) or , in perhaps the biggest stretch, M.I.A. (“With  Ur Love”).  Guess what? They all do themselves better than she does.

The 19-year old has an sassy playfulness, exhibited on the catchy “Superhero” and bouncy, rapping “Grow Up” featuring Busta Rhymes. She can also evoke a Katy Perry-like appeal on ballad “Beautiful People” featuring Carolina Liar’s Chad Wolf. However, overall “Sticks + Stones” feels like a soulless endeavor that’s so manufactured, anyone hoping to discover who Lloyd is as an artist will have to wait until the next album...if there is one. 

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Watch: 'Raising Hope' star Shannon Woodward talks fake orgasms and arachnophobia

Watch: 'Raising Hope' star Shannon Woodward talks fake orgasms and arachnophobia

FOX comedy returns on Tuesday with more Sabrina quirkiness
It isn't often that we discover a love interest on a TV show sleeps with a stocking over her head out of fear of nesting spiders, but in the world of FOX's "Raising Hope," Shannon Woodward's Sabrina is only beginning to rise to the level of eccentricity around her. 
 
Sabrina's growing quirkiness was one of the pleasures of "Raising Hope" both for fans and for Woodward, who tells me that she requested the opportunity to engage in some wackiness of her own. And things are only getting crazier in the third season, which introduces Oscar nominee Melanie Griffith as Sabrina's mother and threatens to take the Jimmy-Sabrina romance to the next level.
 
In our recent sit-down, Woodward and I discussed the very logical reasons why even a normal person would start donning hose before bed, her off-camera relationship with the twins who play Hope and her very enthusiastic "When Harry Met Sally" homage in the premiere.
 
Check out the full interview above...
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<p>Nicole Kidman in &quot;The Paperboy.&quot;</p>

Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy."

Credit: Lionsgate

The Lists: Top 10 Nicole Kidman performances

As the actress is honored at the NYFF, we round up her career highlights

It's a good week to be a fan of Nicole Kidman. First off, her deliciously scuzzy performance in "The Paperboy," Lee Daniels' ripe Southern-Gothic-meets-Southern-Comfort thriller, hits US screens on Friday -- months after hogging the headlines at May's Cannes Film Festival. While checking that out, meanwhile, viewers may be treated to the just-released trailer for another wild-looking genre outing for the actress, "Stoker," from an unlikely director who typifies her off-center taste in collaborators -- South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook.

The icing on the cake, meanwhile, comes tomorrow at the New York Film Festival, where the Oscar-winning actress will be celebrated -- and, of course, interviewed -- in a two-hour Gala Tribute, followed by the US premiere of "The Paperboy." This marks the first year the New York fest have ever done such tributes, which makes the honor all the more distinguished for Kidman, underlining her status as one of the leading actors of her generation. 

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<p>Taylor Swift's &quot;Red&quot; single cover</p>

Taylor Swift's "Red" single cover

Credit: Big Machine

Listen: Taylor Swift goes through 50 shades on new track, 'Red'

Title track from her new album laments a lost love

The drip toward the Oct. 22 release of Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album, “Red,” continues. Today, we get a lyric video for the title track.

“Red” is about —say it with me— a love gone wrong. Musically, it falls closer to the upbeat pop of “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” than the quiet country beauty of ballad “Begin Again.”  In fact, the only thing remotely country about “Red” is the banjo that periodically appears in the tune.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>E.T. took some time out of his busy schedule to hang out with Toshi and Allen at Universal's 'E.T.' press day.</p>

E.T. took some time out of his busy schedule to hang out with Toshi and Allen at Universal's 'E.T.' press day.

Credit: Universal Home Video

Watch: Film Nerd 2.0 revs up for a big October with two special 'E.T.' videos

Universal finds a great way to promote the upcoming Blu-ray of Speilberg's classic

Toshi saw "E.T." when he was too young to process it.

I wasn't the one who showed it to him.  It was while he was away in Argentina with his mom for six months.  There were only six movies at the house where they were staying, and "E.T." dubbed into Spanish was one of them.  And during that six months, while he was going nuts from lack of things to watch, "E.T." became a mainstay.  My wife says it must have been played at least 20 times, but this summer, when we were talking about the film, I realized that he remembers none of it.

Allen also felt like he had a handle on the film, and when I asked him what he knew about the movie, he told me, "That's the movie about the guy who is from outer space and he poops candy."  I feel like that's not entirely accurate.

The Blu-ray showed up here at the house between my trips to Toronto and Austin, and both of the boys were eager to see the movie again.  We haven't done that yet, but it's on the agenda for October.  In the meantime, while I was gone on my second trip, Universal invited us to participate in a special "E.T." press day, and I talked to my wife about her taking the boys since I wouldn't be back in time.

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<p>Teresa Taylor in &quot;Slacker&quot;</p>

Teresa Taylor in "Slacker"

Credit: Orion Classics

Jack Black and Richard Linklater on 'Slacker' and the Bohemia of Austin, Texas

How the 'Bernie' star first responded to his director's early work

Earlier this afternoon I had a quick lunch with "Bernie" director Richard Linklater and star Jack Black. Millennium Entertainment has the duo in town for a few days hitting the east coast post-DVD circuit, trying to ride some of the buzz on the film and particularly Black's performance and find a little room in the season. They could get there, at least with the Independent Spirit Awards and maybe the Golden Globes.

I'll post the full interview in a few days, but in the meantime, a couple of nuggets about this and that. Like, for instance, Black's first exposure to Linklater's work. Like most, it was the director's debut feature film "Slacker," which, along with Steven Soderbergh's "sex, lies and videotape," was a harbinger of the 1990s independent film explosion. The film also celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. For Black, though, it was also revelatory of a whole community that, for a young actor working the audition circuit, seemed like a truly inspiring place.

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<p>Sufjan Stevens' &quot;Silver &amp; Gold&quot;</p>

Sufjan Stevens' "Silver & Gold"

Sufjan Stevens preps new Christmas music boxed set

Listen to 'Christmas Unicorn': it's what you're in for

I'm a sucker for Christmas music. I marvel every year on how holiday album sales go, which songs get a redux from popular artists, how new originals reflect the immediacy of our times. Christmas carols, hymns and songs are not only written with a sense or urgency -- due to the season and any religious connote -- but are frequently performed and delivered with an affecting earnestness, that even the sarcastic odes or parodies are dropped with a sense of projected purpose. Christmas music has weight, and its performers are allowed to indulge.

Sufjan Stevens' first boxed set of Christmas music was five discs long, and was a collection of EPs and long-players intended for dispersal to family and friends from 2001 to 2006. And it sounded that way. Stevens already has this bright-eyed, left-of-center innocence to his voice, and classic anthems on acoustic and banjo is already so divine. His Christian roots also plays into the authentic selection, when he recorded non-Christmas hymns like "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Come Thou Fount" to include instead of non-religious regulars like "Jingle Bell Rock" or its ilk. He, of course, included some obnoxious and cheeky originals like "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!" and "Did I Make You Cry on Christmas? (Well, You Deserved It!)." (You can tell those, by the excess exclamation points.)

The singer-songwriter will be releasing another new set of Christmas albums, a collection of those from 2007-2012, under the boxed name "Silver & Gold: Songs for Christmas, Volumes 6-10." These, too, were originally released to family and friends. Some of the individual titles (and their respective covers) have dipped into the "silly" costume box, including "Christmas Infinity Voyage," "I Am Santa's Helper" and "Christmas Unicorn."

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