Latest Blog Posts

<p>Logan Lerman and Emma Watson in &quot;The Perks of Being a Wallflower.&quot;</p>

Logan Lerman and Emma Watson in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Roundup: On 'Perks' and other Oscar wallflowers

Also: Carax on Kylie's 'Holy Motors' number, and Foxx talks slavery in 'Django'

Variety's Jon Weisman has fallen a little bit in love with "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." As have many people, including us here at In Contention. Yet the film isn't even being mentioned as a dark-horse Oscar player in most circles. Why so? Because, Weisman, argues, it wasn't tapped for awards glory sight-unseen. Referring to awards season as being run a bit like a high school clique: "[S]ome pics get a head start and others a hurdle based on little more than their loglines. This is true even though movies don't need to please everyone to reach the Dolby Theater in February." (He points to the recent Best Picture nomination for the poorly received "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" as an example of the latter.) What other gems are fighting to be considered awards material? [The Vote]

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2013 Best Supporting Actor Oscar Contenders: Leonardo DiCaprio and Tommy Lee Jones round out a crowded field

2013 Best Supporting Actor Oscar Contenders: Leonardo DiCaprio and Tommy Lee Jones round out a crowded field

Is it a wide open field or a battle for two slots?

Predictably, awards season begins with almost every major category either being characterized as too competitive or more wide open then you could possibly imagine.  The 2012 best supporting actor field is somehow an intriguing mix of both (at the moment).

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<p>Kurt Sutter and Maggie Siff of &quot;Sons of Anarchy&quot;</p>

Kurt Sutter and Maggie Siff of "Sons of Anarchy"

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' recap: 'Small World'

The body count keeps rising this season on 'Sons of Anarchy'
The body count keeps rising this season on "Sons of Anarchy" and "Small World" was full of "collateral damage."
 
The hour's four violent deaths provide a pretty decent overview of the episode, so let's look at each one:
 
 
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<p>Godspeed You Black Emperor's &quot;Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!&quot;</p>

Godspeed You Black Emperor's "Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!"

Credit: Constellation

Review: Godspeed You! Black Emperor's 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!'

Listen to the album -- the post-rock band's first in 10 years -- in its entirety

Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s new album “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!”  -- for fans in waiting for 10 years – succeeds not in its tightness, but where the bolts are loose and their joints feel flung everywhere. Given the space of five minutes or 20, they fill up the moments with large and small matter, for the listener to apply their own context and analysis as the band grinds, heavy-lidded, through the noise-making they love.

For an instrumental group whose lineup is not complete without a film projectionist, they leave their story-telling generously open to interpretation. The new mystery machine begins with an urgent sound sample, of a man’s voice describing a someone “with his arms outstretched,” over and over again as the emergency gets clouded by guitars. First, it sounds of gulls, then washes of bleating, repeating scales, quarter tone gray matter, and then parting of the clouds into a drum march straight from the Occupy movement (car horns and all). And that’s just the first song.
 
And to looking too deeply for ultimate political or timely thesis is almost contrary to the clamor. The group’s drones of “Their Helicopters Sing” sounds like a Celtic orchestra warming up, the entropy of molecules seeking order, bellowing voices made mechanical, or simply a resting heart-rate exercise to get the to their next 20-minute workout. There isn’t the benefit (or distraction of lyrics), but the element of storytelling is still there in the dozens of electric instruments and their operating conductors. Why would they keep a glockenspiel in the studio anyway, if not to tell the whole story? Or the literal breath exhaling at end of exhaustively titled “Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable?” The Recording Gods even bless the room noise blaring toward the end of 20-minute highlight “We Drift Like Worried Fire,” perhaps only for the reason that it just sounds good there, allelujah.
 
It’s good to know there’s intentionality underneath all of that abstraction and chaos. That way, the infinite becomes immediate, even if you don’t know what the hell it all means.
 
Listen to the whole album below.
 

 

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<p>&nbsp;Tuesday's &quot;The Voice&quot;</p>

 Tuesday's "The Voice"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'The Voice' Tuesday - The Battles Continue

NBC's hit turns in a less-than-thrilling hour
We’re slightly more than halfway through the Battle Rounds on “The Voice”. With only three steals remaining, there isn’t much in the way of strategy left for the four coaches. Then again, “strategy” hasn’t been the name of the game thus far in this phase of the competition. Still, there have been a surprisingly high number of good pairings thus far, with the lesser ones shunted off into montage-form for our benefit. Tonight’s one-hour installment will take us that much closer to The Knockout Rounds. Early favorites in that round already include Trevin Hunte, Amanda Brown, and Nicholas Davis. Will anyone join that upper tier tonight? Only one way to find out. As always, I’ll be recapping the show in real time.
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"Dancing with the Stars"

 "Dancing with the Stars"

Credit: ABC

Recap: 'Dancing with the Stars' eliminates another couple and teams are picked

It's a 'Gangnam Style' guilty pleasure for the celebs next week

Well, it's Tuesday night, and that means it's elimination night. And presidential debate night, in case you're on the East Coast and were planning to watch something else on network television after "Dancing with the Stars." Or hey, you could watch the debates, too. It's a free country. 

First up, Bristol & Mark, Kelly & Val,  Sabrina & Louis, Shawn & Derek are on the block. The package is pretty zippy, but we do get at least one intriguing moment. We see Val kiss Kelly on the sternum before they go on stage. Okay, this has to be dating, right? Or they are just the absolute best of friends.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 154

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 154

Dan and Alan talk 'Emily Owens MD,' 'Hunted,' 'American Horror Story' and more

The

Happy Late Tuesday, Boys & Girls! Time for a later-than-we-were-hoping-for installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We were delayed yesterday by my travel and the sheer quantity of stuff to watch and then time slipped through the cracks today as well.
 
But hopefully this podcast'll make it up before the premiere of "Emily Owens, MD" tonight. Or, at the least, it'll certainly make it up before tonight's premiere of MTV's "Underemployed."
 
That's not saying much. Sorry about the lateness.
 
But we discussed a lot of stuff this week, including HBO's "The Girl," FX's "American Horror Story: Asylum," Cinemax's "Hunted" and this week's episode of "Homeland."
 
Today's breakdown:
"Emily Owens MD" (00:01:00 - 00:08:15)
"Underemployed" (00:08:20 - 00:16:15)
"Suburgatory" (00:16:15 - 00:23:45)
"American Horror Story" (00:23:50 - 00:32:20)
"Hunted" (00:32:25 - 00:44:15)
"The Girl" (00:44:20 - 00:54:40)
Early cancellations (00:54:40 - 01:05:20)
"X Factor" Hosts (01:05:25 - 01:10:35)
"Homeland" (01:10:40 - 01:23:30)

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 154: 'American Horror Story,' 'Suburgatory,' 'Hunted' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 154: 'American Horror Story,' 'Suburgatory,' 'Hunted' & more

Dan and Alan also review 'Emily Owens, M.D.,' 'Underemployed' and 'The Girl'

The

It's a very late in the day installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I talk about shows returning and new, discuss the season's first cancellations and some other moves of note, and continue what's for now been a weekly "Homeland" segment.

The line-up: 

"Emily Owens MD" (00:01:00 - 00:08:15)
"Underemployed" (00:08:20 - 00:16:15)
"Suburgatory" (00:16:15 - 00:23:45)
"American Horror Story" (00:23:50 - 00:32:20)
"Hunted" (00:32:25 - 00:44:15)
"The Girl" (00:44:20 - 00:54:40)
Early cancellations (00:54:40 - 01:05:20)
"X Factor" Hosts (01:05:25 - 01:10:35)
"Homeland" (01:10:40 - 01:23:30)

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's &quot;State of Grace&quot;</p>

Taylor Swift's "State of Grace"

Credit: Big Machine

Listen: Taylor Swift channels U2 on new song, 'State of Grace'

Fifth tune from 'Red' rock out

Hear that sound? That’s the sound of Taylor Swift waving country music goodbye. Today, she released her fifth song from “Red,” her fourth studio album out Oct. 22.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Bon Iver's Justin Vernon</p>

Bon Iver's Justin Vernon

Credit: D.L. Anderson

Watch: Bon Iver's 'Beth/Rest' video, directed and written by Justin Vernon

Heaven is a treehouse

Bon Iver's "Beth/Rest" from last year's self-titled album was songwriter Justin Vernon at his Steve Winwood-iest. The project mastermind has embraced that inner-bygone-era and wrote a treatment that looks just how the song sounds.

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<p>Brandy</p>

Brandy

Interview: Brandy on 'Two Eleven,' working with Chris Brown and Frank Ocean

The R&B superstar also talks about her '5-minute freak outs'

The last time Brandy reached No. 3 on the Billboard R&B chart was in early 2002 with “What About Us,” George Bush was president, the Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City and NASA sent Odyssey to probe Mars’ surface.

It has been a lean chart time for the R&B singer since then, so much so that Brandy wondered if she still had a career in music, but this month the answer came back a resounding “yes.”

“Put It Down,” a a sultry stomp featuring Chris Brown, reached No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B chart earlier this month. The track is from Brandy’s album, “Two Eleven,” out today.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Kelly Clarkson</p>

Kelly Clarkson

Credit: RCA

Watch: Kelly Clarkson's lyric video for 'Catch My Breath'

Practice your reading skills

Now that lyric videos are a necessarily intermediary step between when an artist releases a new single and the “official video,” some artists are using them as a chance to make a video that is much more than simply slapping words up on a screen as a placeholder.

[More after the jump...]

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