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<p>Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace in &quot;Passion.&quot;</p>

Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace in "Passion."

Credit: Integral Film

Review: The devil wears La Perla in De Palma's disappointing 'Passion'

Art-trash master's return to the thriller form plays as sedated self-parody

VENICE -- You can forgive a film for a lot if it passes the essential test of being alive – it’s a more crucial box to tick than any degree of creativity or even competence, and it’s hard to define beyond instinctively listing the haves and have-nots. All great films are alive, as are many rather bad ones: films that make their missteps with purpose and conviction and even a little wit, keenly aiming for an artistic target that may or may not be visible. Brian De Palma has made some bad films in his time, but he’s never made a dead one; his trademark art-trash sensibility has a rudely healthy pulse, even when the balance is as out of whack as it is on an exquisite failure like “Mission to Mars.” 

So when it becomes apparent mere minutes into “Passion” – his long-awaited return to the kinky Venetian-blind thriller territory of “Body Double” and “Femme Fatale” – that the film is not just calendar years away from his best work, there’s still much to hope for. A remake of the late Alain Corneau’s nastily compelling erotic thriller “Love Crime,” itself no jewel of the form, the project seemingly plays to De Palma’s strengths as a hall-of-mirrors cinema fetishist, while allowing him ample room for improvement and simple tarting-up; more Hollywood remakes should hand incompletely realized scripts to directors best qualified to handle them in the first place.

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<p>Kristen Stewart walks the red carpet at the 2012 Toronto International Film&nbsp;Festival to support &quot;On the Road.&quot;</p>

Kristen Stewart walks the red carpet at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival to support "On the Road."

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Kristen Stewart faces the paparazzi to support 'On the Road'

When celebrity news turns into a business story

TORONTO –  Y’know, it hasn’t been the best month or two for Kristen Stewart.

In theory, Stewart should be on top of the world.  The 22-year-old just starred in her first legitimate blockbuster outside of the “Twilight Saga”, June’s “Snow White and the Huntsman.” And in May, she found herself walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival where Walter Salles’ prestige player “On the Road” debuted.  Unfortunately, well, that thing with her “Snow White” director happened.

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"Project Runway"

 "Project Runway"

Credit: Lifetime

'Project Runway' recap: Starving Artist

The designers must team up to sell T-shirts on the streets

Well, after last week's lovey-dovey episode (No one goes home! Everyone hug!), it's back to business as usual at "Project Runway." That means some fighting, maybe some tears, a panic attack or three and, if we're lucky, some ugly-ass clothes. If the mood at Atlas at the beginning of the episode is any indication, we've reached the point in the competition where nerves are frayed and no one's getting enough sleep. The lucky designers are able to fuel themselves with rage and coffee. I'm pretty sure Elena's bloodstream is mostly rage with a little caffeine sprinkled in. I'm not sure about Christopher's caffeine intake, but he's definitely pissed off for his own reasons. He's just appalled they saved Gunnar last week. He wants him to go HOME. Really, he wants everyone to go home, as he's tired of all this competing nonsense and he's ready for Fashion Week. 

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<p>Dan of &quot;Big Brother&quot;</p>

Dan of "Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Big Brother' Thursday - Another double-elimination

How would Ian's Head of Household end?

Britney... Nooooooooooo!!!!

Sorry. I was out of the country and missed all of last week's "Big Brother" drama and I spent much of this afternoon catching up on Dan's Funeral, The Cutest Eviction Showdown in "Big Brother" History, the tragic exit of Britney (NOOOO!!!!), The Return of Jesse, Ian's Bismuth and... well... everything else.

I was only away for a week, so it's hard to believe all that has happened.

So Dan's a brilliant sociopath, suddenly? And Frank's a carrot? And Jenn still thinks she made a big strategic move? How peculiar.

And Thursday (September 6) is a double-elimination episode?

Let's see how things go... After the break...

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<p>Willie Nelson</p>

Willie Nelson

Credit: AP Photo/Mark Duncan

Calling all Best Original Song contenders

Willie Nelson, Katy Perry and The Arcade Fire all in contention

As the season hums to life at the start of the fall festival circuit, it's time to take a look at the Best Original Song race and figure out what we're working with.

Just last week, the Academy announced new rules that will have a considerable impact on how things shake out. First and foremost, the screening event and points system has been done away with and a guaranteed slate of five nominees has been put back in place. Voters will still view songs within the context of their films, though on DVD, and they'll be asked to rank their five favorites.

This should take some of the burden off. Songs won't necessarily have to play well within the context of the narrative, though of course it will still help. Nevertheless, with a wider net from voting members, songs will likely get in on merit more than they did under the previous system.

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<p>Keira Knightley is &quot;Anna Karenina.&quot;</p>

Keira Knightley is "Anna Karenina."

Credit: Focus Features

Joe Wright’s postmodern take on ‘Anna Karenina’ is a visual wonder but will Oscar bite?

The director continues to take big chances

TORONTO – Don’t let anyone ever say Joe Wright is easy on himself. Ever since his acclaimed directorial debut “Pride & Prejudice” he has pushed cinematic boundaries while working within the confines of traditional narrative media.  “Anna Karenina,” which screens at the Toronto International Film Festival tomorrow and just opened in the U.K., finds Wright walking Leo Tolstoy’s classic novel along a fine line of period and postmodernist cinema.  It’s a very dangerous game to play artistically and narratively, but, for the most part, it works.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 147

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 147

Dan and Alan talk 'New Normal,' 'Sons of Anarchy,' 'Parenthood' and the 'Breaking Bad' finale

The

Happy Thursday, Boys & Girls...
 
Monday was a holiday and I was out of the country until last night, so it's time for a special late-week installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
In this podcast, we finally discussed the 2012 finale of "Breaking Bad" and, looking ahead to next week -- expect a Tuesday or Wednesday podcast, so we wanted to get some things done early -- we also reviewed new seasons of "Parenthood" and "Sons of Anarchy," as well as NBC's new comedy "The New Normal."
 
Here's the breakdown:
"The New Normal" (00:03:40 - 00:22:10)
"Parenthood" (00:22:15 - 00:34:30)
"Sons of Anarchy" (00:34:30 - 45:50)
Listener Mail on pilot changes (00:45:55 - 00:56:25)
"Breaking Bad" (00:57:15 - 01:22:45)
 

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 147: 'Breaking Bad' finale, 'The New Normal,' 'Sons of Anarchy' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 147: 'Breaking Bad' finale, 'The New Normal,' 'Sons of Anarchy' & more

Dan and Alan also review the new season of 'Parenthood'

The

It's a late-week Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, thanks to Dan's international travels (which we discuss briefly at the start), in which we start looking ahead to next week's premieres of "The New Normal," "Parenthood" and "Sons of Anarchy" while also looking back to the "Breaking Bad" finale and to pilots that recast performers — not always for the better. As we warn you near the end, the next podcast may also not be on Monday, but we'll get to "Boardwalk Empire" and friends eventually.

(Also, for those wondering, here's this week's theme song, which is damn catchy.) 

The line-up: 

"The New Normal" (00:03:40 - 00:22:10)
"Parenthood" (00:22:15 - 00:34:30)
"Sons of Anarchy" (00:34:30 - 45:50)
Listener Mail on pilot changes (00:45:55 - 00:56:25)
"Breaking Bad" (00:57:15 - 01:22:45)
 
As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>Taylor Swift at the MTV&nbsp;VMAs</p>

Taylor Swift at the MTV VMAs

Credit: AP Photo

Live-blogging the 2012 MTV VMAs

Robert Pattinson, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, others to have some camera face-time

The MTV VMAs have always promised drama and Moonmen, and 2012 will be no exception. Rihanna's performing, but where will Drake and Chris Brown be? Taylor Swift is hitting the stage too. And have you seen Miley's hair?

Follow the bouncing ball through the year's best (or most popular) videos and pop artists with me. I hope you brought a sixer.

The MTV Video Music Awards are broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

---

6:58: Taylor Swift pantsuit. That is all.

7:02: Rihanna opens the show with shades, all-red floor-length number, and what look like Crocs. Of course she's starting it with "Cockiness" because that's the current singl... wait. A$AP Rocky tapped for the remix. On sale now!

7:05: She's actually encouraging that "OOaoooah-oooahhha" sound that college kids make at the bar when they're wasted during "We Found Love." Calvin Harris is laughing all the way to the bank.

7:07: Host Kevin Hart's "security force" is a staff of little people. Because little people are funny.

7:09: "I'm gonna nip this in the bud tonight," Hart addresses Chris Brown and Drake. "...you're arguing over a thrown bottle in a club. Drake is from Canada. Drake loves to recycle..." You see where this is going.

7:10: And now Frank Ocean's turn. "For that I commend you," Hart extols the R&B singer for coming out of the closet. Pan to Andy Samberg for some reason.

7:12: Mention of Kristen Stewart draw screaming from the girls and a string of curses from Hart because if there's something teenaged girls like more than "Twilight," it's foul language.

7:13: Katy Perry presenting "Best Pop Video." Probably wishes it was Katy Perry. In fan-voted contest that involves One Direction and Justin Bieber, there may just be a black hole of popular music that opens up and swallows us whole.

7:14: One Direction wins Best Pop Video for "What Makes You Beautiful"

7:15: Katy Perry literally breaks part of the Moonman award over the heads of one of these pretty dudes.

7:18: Previously filmed segment with Hart and 2 Chainz. The rapper is yet again the featured artist. Get it?

7:24: New Laker Dwight Howard: Taller Than Kevin Hart

7:26: Miley Cyrus' hair is talking. Mac Miller confusing lots of teenaged people.

7:27: Chris Brown is totally gonna cop Pink's 'do, just like Amber Rose was watching Beyonce's baby bump days last year. "Blow Me" is still not a strong enough single for Pink and the dancing lips are evidence.

7:30: My new band name will be Unneeded Trapeze.

7:31: Rita Ora looks like the superhero alter-ego of Demi Lovato

7:32: Oh great, Chris Brown won something. Takes home Best Male Video. That's. Great.

7:38: Zoe Saldana presenting in a bathmat. Perfect makeup, introduces Frank Ocean amid flaming flames. No, really.

7:39: Frank Ocean rocking the "nervous" look. Falsetto faltering but I'm finding it endearing. Backdrop looks like a beachfront bonfire. Kind of in love with the rocks, which look like unmelting glaciers.

7:42: Falsetto somewhat abandoned. But I was thinking 'bout forever. Great presentation of this song.

7:51: Samberg and Rashida Jones from "Celeste and Jesse Forever" present. As much awkward and funny energy as the movie itself. For some reason they're presenting Best Hip-Hop Video presentation.

7:53: Breaking: Drake is black and Jewish

7:54: The whole Young Money gang hits the stage to help Drake with his win for Best Hip-Hop video. The Toronto almost breaks into a story about going to a party and getting made fun of, stops it there, and then dedicates his MTV award to "any kid that's ever had a long walk ohm by yourself." Inexplicably ends the speech with "bitch." And Lill Wayne flashing dem titties.

7:58: One Direction, a popular pop music group beloved by teenaged girls, takes the stage. The stage props are screaming teenaged girls. They are popular. "One Thing" is understandably popular.

8:02: To make sure the viewers get their fill of boy bands, The Wanted present... but don't perform. Favoritism, I call shenanigans. Rebel Wilson is actually more entertaining to look at than these clowns.

8:05: Speaking of clowns, Nicki Minaj wins for Best Female Video ("Starship"), the Song That Samples Twinkle Twinkly Little Star. She speaks normally for 30 seconds, then devolves into an 8-year-old child and peaces out in a trail of her own sequin echoes. It's poetry.

8:12: Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz get the twos up, for rhyming "cameltoe" with "casserole." Love Chainz' flash, and he's had the best sound of anyone all night. "Yuck" is tight.

8:15: Lil Wayne tries to skateboard to the stage, reminding everyone that they don't care about his skateboarding "career." I do care greatly, however, for those crazy pants. Rihanna whooping in her chair, with nuance.

8:17: Killed it, and they know it. 2 Chainz and Weezy have the best performance of the night so far.

8:25: "Gangnam Style," YES, all I needed was the dance and it's like I have new skin.

8:26: Watching Rihanna and Katy Perry whisper to each other make me 1) eager for a duet 2) anxious that they're talking about my prom dress

8:27: "Let Yourself Go" the studio version was posted by Green Day today. And they're performing it now. Thanks internet! It is a significantly better and more fun single than "Oh Love." Crowd surges onto the stage. Billie Joe Armstrong is clearly feeling better, until he catches a communicable disease from one of these fans.

8:31: I just bum-rushed the stage too but just ended up scaring my cats.

8:34: "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" presentation is happening! And there's NO Kristen Stewart! REPEAT, NO KRISTEN STEWART.

8:35: Trailer for "Twilight": "I won't ever let anybody hurt you," says Stewart. You hurt America.

8:37: Ke$ha and Wiz Khalifa presenting Best New Artist, everybody pretending it's not going to One Direction. Ke$ha says all her lines like she's just learning English with an American Accent.

8:38: One Direction earns Best New Artists. Give the mic to Harry.

8:39: Microphone given to Harry

8:44: Women's gymnastics team. U-S-A. Introducing another strong woman, Alicia Keys, with "Girl on Fire," which hopefully will fare better than "New Day."

8:45: Oof. Long notes and slipping in-ear monitors are a nasty pair. But Keys is looking ferocious as Swizz Beats hoists their love-child onto his shoulders.

8:48: Nicki Minaj gets a verse, an Gabby Douglas does a short floor routine to "Girl On Fire." This performance is like the Lunchables (TM) of raucous ladies.

8:52: Remember when Justin Timberlake appeared during the VMAs for the music he made? #troublewiththecurve

8:54: "Pubes on her shirt." I'm glad somebody said the phrase tonight.

8:56: Video Of The Year: the winner is Rihanna for "We Found Love." Rihanna does an end zone dance. Kevin Hart screams like a little girl.

8:57: Drama-free speech. Well said, we're all feeling good.

8:58: Taylor Swift is killing me with the sailor top, black shorts, Wave-Runners and red loafers. Microphone's red. Her album's called "Red." I'm drowning in cute. "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is just over the top adorable.

9:02: Look, the talent show is ending on time, with Swift stage-diving just like Lil Wayne. Pop is dead, long live pop.

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<p>Green Day's &quot;Let Yourself Go&quot;</p>

Green Day's "Let Yourself Go"

Listen: Green Day releases 'Let Yourself Go'; Billie Joe Armstrong out of hospital

'It's hard to sing while you're puking.'

Only a couple of days since frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was hospitalized, Green Day are apparently ready to take the stage during MTV VMAs tonight, and have released another new "¡Uno!" track in the meantime.

"Let Yourself Go" was previewed during the punk-pop band's recent surprise stop at Austin's tiny Red 7, and released as a live performance back at the beginning of August. Now there's the official studio version release, ahead of the Sept. 25 drop of the first in the Green Day trilogy (you can still guess what the other two are named). It's back to the melodic, snotty sound of early Green Day, with some spit shine and a few f-bombs.

Fans may just hear it -- or, more likely, less curse-worthy single "Oh Love" -- at the Video Music Awards. Mike Dirnt told MTV just what was plaguing Armstrong over last weekend that caused him to hit the hospital: the flu.

"Billie came down with heavy, heavy dehydration; it was like severe dehydration, influenza, and it was just a really, really bad situation," Dirnt said. "Let's put it this way, if you're in your hotel room and you're vomiting profusely, it's not fun. So what are you gonna do? It's hard to sing while you're puking."

 

Get More: 2012 VMA, Artists.MTV, Music

 

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"The X Factor"

 "The X Factor"

Credit: Fox

'X Factor' judges Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato talk about hosts and NBC's sneaky move

Cowell calls 'The Voice' scheduling 'mean-spirited'

With the second season of "The X Factor" set to premiere over two nights (Wed. Sept. 12, 8:00 p.m. and Thurs. Sept. 13, 8:00 p.m.), fans may find themselves conflicted. Over on NBC, "The Voice" will be airing its third day of blind auditions on Wednesday -- and Simon Cowell isn't happy about it. "They don't want people to see this first episode," he said in a conference call with journalists and fellow judge Demi Lovato. "It's mean-spirited, and I hope and pray it backfires on them. I am pissed off about it." Cowell and Lovato promised that those who do choose "The X Factor" over the competition will be in for some fun thanks to a "quite mean" Britney Spears, lots of bickering and a backstage pass to the audition process. Cowell, of course, had some strong opinions about, well, just about everything. 

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<p>Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston in a scene from the &quot;Breaking Bad&quot;&nbsp;mid-season finale.</p>

Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston in a scene from the "Breaking Bad" mid-season finale.

Credit: AMC

'Breaking Bad' creator Vince Gilligan on poetry books, time jumps and the end for Walter White

How much do Gilligan and his writers know about the series finale? And was Mike too sloppy?

There have been times when Vince Gilligan has known from the start of a "Breaking Bad" season exactly how it was going to end (the plane crash of season 2), and other times where he and his fellow writers have had to improvise (they realized midway through season 3 that the Cousins were too dangerous to plausibly hang around forever, and as a result killed them off and made Gus into the new big bad).

As Gilligan and his writing staff have begun work  on the final 8 episodes of the AMC drama, they're taking an approach that's a little from Column A and a little from Column B, where they have an idea of what's going to be happen but are open to changing that idea if something better comes along.

I spoke with Gilligan about planning the ending of the series, and also about several of the key developments of the first half of this final season, up through the final images of Sunday's mid-season finale.

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