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<p>Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in &quot;The Master.&quot;</p>

Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Seductive, elliptical 'The Master' answers to no man

Anderson's latest man-and-boy saga stimulates and mystifies in equal measure

VENICE - How do you break an already broken man? It'd be presumptuous to say that this is one of the questions asked by Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" -- and it certainly asks no end of them, both verbally and otherwise -- but it was the first of many it left me asking. In a film that devotes an abundance of screen time to replicating (though not, contrary to more excitable pre-screening rumours, ridiculing) the Scientological auditing process, an interrogative therapy designed to draw out unconscious truths, the spontaneous personal response is surely not to be distrusted.

Elliptical but hardly indecisive, testy but hardly incendiary, Anderson's exquisitely sculpted film is about more individual-based values and desires than its grabby advance reputation as a Scientology exposé promised: trust, admiration, sex, kinship. "The Master" turns out to be many of the things I expected it to be -- a sharp evaluation of what we are prepared to believe in exchange for self-possession, a richly textured evocation of American social vulnerabilities in the aftermath of WWII, most inevitably of all, another literate chapter in Paul Thomas Anderson's ongoing thesis on the positive and corruptive powers of charismatic leadership. What I had not quite anticipated, however, was a romance -- much less one between two men.

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<p>&quot;The Zero Hour&quot;</p>

"The Zero Hour"

Credit: ABC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'

Anthony Edwards conspiracy drama might be better as a miniseries

[In case you've Forgotten, and as I will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots. I know some people will be all "These are reviews." If you've read me, you've read my reviews and you know this isn't what they look like.]

Show:"The Zero Hour" (ABC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: Horologists, Nazis, Rosicrucians and Goose... Oh my!
Quick Response: In previewing "Do No Harm" last week, I mentioned that it was one of "three or four audaciously weird, wacky and possibly terrible (but possibly terribly addictive) new dramas" premiering at midseason. ABC's "The Zero Hour" is another. Creator Paul T. Scheuring ("Prison Break") is no stranger to seemingly unsustainable premises that may have been better suited to a miniseries format and I guess you could *kinda* argue that "Prison Break" found ways to regularly reinvent itself frequently enough to justify airing for four seasons, rather than for eight episodes as a Limited Series Event. But "Zero Hour," with its tenuous and sometimes foolhardy alternate history involving the secret religious orders and scientific exploration and the Holocaust, is possibly even less suited for a long run and even more suited for a strictly capped episode run. Some stories aren't meant to run for 200 episodes and I get the feeling that with its Rosicrucians, demon babies, underground clockmakers and 12-centric numerology, "The Zero Hour" should maybe run 10 hours, deliver answers and get out while the getting's good. And you know what? I'd watch that miniseries. "The Zero Hour" is a little bit "Indiana Jones," a little bit "Goonies" and a lot "Da Vinci Code" and, with Pierre Morel at the helm, it's handsomely produced and moves at an impressive click given the sheer amount of twisty exposition required in the initial 44 minutes. "Zero Hour" has shades of Morel's "Taken" and as with "Taken," the French director is constantly pushing hard to overcome the clunkiness of the script. As an archetypal Man of Reason Forced Into a Situation That Requires Faith, Anthony Edwards is entirely convincing, even if his workplace -- Modern Skeptic Magazine -- is not. Other people seem to be concerned by the age difference between Edwards and on-screen love Jacinda Barrett of "Real World" fame. I was not. Edwards gets good support from Scott Michael Foster (CAPPY!!!!) and Addison Timlin as kinda a Skeptics Scoobie Gang (not that the "real" Scoobie Gang lacked for skepticism). Charles Dutton and an assortment of creepy Euro-actors provide properly hammy support in a pilot that is never subtle, never intellectually approachable and never boring. If you like conspiracies-for-conspiracy's-sake thrillers and you find your curiosity piqued by dialogue like "12 is a magic number... 12 is divine... 12 is both a beginning and the end of time!" you'll probably be willing to pretend that "The Zero Hour" is better than it actually is.
Desire To Watch Again: Last season, Cappy (Scott Michael Foster!!!) co-starred in "The River," an ambitious ABC drama that sometimes seemed to be capable of fulfilling its creepy goals and sometimes seemed to be adrift without a paddle. "The River" wasn't a miniseries and it concluded with the narrative still very much open, but after ABC cancelled it, that's what it became for futile Emmy purposes. The "Zero Hour" team really should approach this as a one-season game. If they want to toss in a surprise at the end hinting at a second season, that's fine, but there are many questions raised by the pilot and it would be an error not to just steer into answers as quickly as possible. If you told me that after Episode 12, "Zero Hour" would hit an end, I think I'd be happy to watch. The business doesn't work that way, so I have reservations.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Do No Harm'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'The Carrie Diaries'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Malibu Country'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'The New Normal'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Guys with Kids'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'The Mindy Project'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Partners'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Nashville'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Made in Jersey'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Emily Owens, M.D.'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Mob Doctor'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Animal Practice'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'Last Resort'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Vegas'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Beauty & The Beast'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's '666 Park Avenue'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Chicago Fire'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: FOX's 'Ben and Kate'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: CBS' 'Elementary'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: The CW's 'Arrow'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Neighbors'
Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's 'Revolution'
All of last year's Take Me To The Pilots entries

 

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<p>TobyMac's &quot;Eye on It&quot;</p>

TobyMac's "Eye on It"

TobyMac, Slaughterhouse and Alanis Morissette poised for big Billboard 200 debuts

Will Adele's '21' come back into the top 10?

With his fifth solo album, Contemporary Christian performer TobyMac makes it to the summit of the Billboard 200.  “Eye On It” looks poised to sell up to 65,000 copies, giving it a 10,000-unit lead over Slaughterhouse’s “Welcome To Our House,” which will be at No. 2.

The other debut in the Top 10 comes from Alanis Morissette, whose first album in four years, “Havoc and Bright Lights,” will come in at No. 4 with sales of up to 40,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

This week’s No. 1, Trey Songz’ “Chapter V,” will drop to No. 3, as “Now That’s What I Call Music 43,” is No. 5.

Rounding out the top 10, 2 Chainz “Based On a T.R.U. Story” will be No. 6 with sales of 30,000. After falling out of the Top 10 this week for the first time since it debuted on the chart in February 2011, Adele’s “21” rebounds back to No. 7. Fun.’s “Some Nights”  and Maroon 5’s “Overexposed” are locked in a tie for No. 8 with potential sales of up to 21,000. Rounding out the Top 10 will be Rick Ross’s “God Forgives, I Don’t.”

 

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<p>Alice Englert and Elle Fanning in Sally Potter's &quot;Ginger and Rosa.&quot;</p>

Alice Englert and Elle Fanning in Sally Potter's "Ginger and Rosa."

Review: Elle Fanning can't save the soapy mess of 'Ginger and Rosa'

Sally Potter's period drama just doesn't jell

TELLURIDE – Over a small number of films, Elle Fanning has displayed a transcendent range that many would argue has surpassed the talents of her better-known sister Dakota.  In Sally Potter's "Ginger and Rosa," a new drama that premiered Friday at the 39th Telluride Film Festival, the 14-year-old actress once again impresses.  This time she makes a mature leap by enveloping herself in a character thee years her senior.  Unfortunately, the rest of the Potter's endeavor is a ponderous mess that negates the best aspects of Fanning's performance.

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<p>Laura Linney and Bill Murray in &quot;Hyde Park on&nbsp;Hudson&quot;</p>

Laura Linney and Bill Murray in "Hyde Park on Hudson"

Credit: Focus Features

Laura Linney returns to Telluride with stuffy 'Hyde Park on Hudson'

Roger Michell's latest bogs down in problematic romance

TELLURIDE - Actress Laura Linney -- a part-time Telluride resident -- missed the festival last year for the first time in eight years. Well, she's back this year with the film that kept her away in 2011.

However, it was odd to more than a few that the festival decided to plop the world premiere of Roger Michell's "Hyde Park on Hudson" in the Abel Gance outdoor cinema this year. It's happened in the past, of course. But somehow, films like "Into the Wild," "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Paranormal Activity" make more sense than a tiny, stuffy drama about a former president's affair with a distant cousin.

But it is what it is, and the movie is what it is, too: problematic. The above logline aside, the film is also about a visit by the royal family -- King George VI and Queen Consort Elizabeth (recently portrayed by Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech," but here taken on by Samuel West and Olivia Colman) -- to President Franklin Roosevelt's Hyde Park, New York retreat on the eve of war. They'd like a little help, you see, but the young king is struggling with confidence issues, while his strong-willed wife is obsessed with appearances ("They want us to eat hot dogs? What are they trying to say??").

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<p>Spike Lee and one his &quot;Bad 25&quot; interviewees, Mariah Carey.</p>

Spike Lee and one his "Bad 25" interviewees, Mariah Carey.

Credit: Optimum Productions

Spike Lee unveils adoring Michael Jackson doc 'Bad 25' in Venice

Tribute to Jackson's 1987 blockbuster album will air on ABC at Thanksgiving

VENICE - In a strangely programmed day at the Venice Film Festival -- no competition films are premiering, so we're feeling the effects of the slimming-down of the lineup this year -- so Spike Lee is enjoying the plum screening spot with his music documentary "Bad 25." It played for the critics this morning, and had its grand outing this evening, following a ceremony where Lee was presented with the festival's Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory To The Filmmaker Award.

It's the start of what should be a busy publicity trail for the film, a thorough, track-by-track study of the making of Michael Jackson's mega-selling 1987 album "Bad" -- marking, as depressing as this is to contemplate, the 25th anniversary of its release. (How did we ever think we could live so large and get so old?) The film will also play as a Special Presentation at the Toronto Film Festival, and ushers in a lavish reissue of the album itself on September 18, with all manner of bells and whistles. Meanwhile, Lee's two-hour-plus film will be televised by ABC on Thanksgiving in November -- though whether that precludes any form of theatrical distribution in the US, I haven't yet worked out. (It'll surely see the inside of a few more theaters internationally.)

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<p>Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston in &quot;Argo.&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston in "Argo."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Review: Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’ expertly entertains and educates

Alan Arkin is fantastic among a superb ensemble

TELLURIDE – The Iran Hostage Crisis is one of the more defining moments in American history, but it has never received its due course on the big screen.  That changes somewhat in Ben Affleck’s engaging and entertaining new thriller “Argo” which sneaked at the 39th Telluride Film Festival Friday.  

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<p>Prince</p>

Prince

Credit: AP Photo

Prince heads to Chicago for residency at United Center

Stint starts Sept. 24

Prince will begin a series of Chicago concerts  Sept. 24 at the United Center in support of Van JonesRebuild the Dream organization.

A representative tells Hitfix that the number of dates in the Windy City residency will be announced shortly and more details will certainly be revealed by the time tickets go on sale on Sept. 6.

Welcome 2 Chicago”  will mark Prince’s first date at the arena since 2004.  Rebuild the Dream offers entrepreneurs tools that individuals and communities can use to create a fairer economic future for all.

The “Welcome 2...” concept began with Prince’s “Welcome 2 America” New York dates in 2010 and usually involve Prince taking up residency in a city, often for several nights, and tying in with a local charity or organization.

Last spring, as part of "Welcome 2 America: 21 Night Stands," Prince played 21 shows in Los Angeles, the majority of them at The Forum.

 

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<p>Nas</p>

Nas

Watch: Nas relives his divorce from Kelis in new video for 'Bye Baby'

What's that about Johnny Depp and Janis Joplin?

In case you hadn’t heard enough about Nas and Kelis’s 2009 split, he lays it all out for you, from his perspective, in the video for the new song, “Bye Baby.”

The clip features Nas talking into the camera as if he’s addressing Kelis, her wedding dress draped over his leg, as he goes into deep detail about her “trust issues,” why he walked away,  their 50/50 divorce split, and other intimate details.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Backstreet's back: The Backstreet Boys sing on 'Good Morning America'

Watch: Backstreet's back: The Backstreet Boys sing on 'Good Morning America'

Group performs for first time since Kevin Richardson rejoins the band

Backstreet’s back. And there were lots and lots of girls at the reunion party this morning as the band, in its first appearance since Kevin Richardson rejoined the boy group, singing “I Want It That Way” on “Good Morning America” this morning as part of the Summer Concert Series in Central Park.

As the video shows, 13 years after the Grammy-nominated tune ruled the charts, BSB performed it with their same signature dance moves and their stellar harmonies. We admit, some of the solo sections sounded a little rough, but when they all sing together, they still sound great.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Roger Corman</p>

Roger Corman

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Filmmaker Roger Corman to be toasted by the Telluride Film Festival

The maverick filmmaker gets another tribute in the twilight of his career

TELLURIDE - What else can one say about Roger Corman? He may think his influence on the film industry has been "overrated," but when future stars like Jonathan Demme, Curtis Hanson, Jack Nicholson, John Sayles, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone cut their teeth under your wing, your mark on the form is undeniable.

That idea was explored in an interview I conducted with Corman last year on the occasion of the documentary "Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel." It was on the heels of a David O. Selznick award from the PGA in 2006, Honorary Oscar recognition in 2009, a Fantastic Fest fete in 2010 and a Los Angeles Film Festival tribute in 2011. Indeed, it's become rather posh to toast the maverick filmmaker, whose 400+ features may be on the fringes of cinema, but whose impact on some of its most successful artists simply means his fingerprint will always be on the industry.

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<p>'Predator' was one of the best movie surprises of the 80's for me</p>

'Predator' was one of the best movie surprises of the 80's for me

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The Vacation Read: What were your best and worst movie surprises?

Our fifth day of vacation has us thinking about the way movies can sneak up on us

At the start of this week, I mentioned the "Robocop" remake in passing as a way to get to a larger conversation about spoilers for things that are in production or in development.

One of the reasons I feel so protective of "Robocop" is because the original is one of the great movie memories of my life.  When the film came out in 1987, I was working at a theater, and the poster for the film was a source of constant amusement for us.  The tag line was "Part Man, Part Machine, All Cop," and that plus the title was a recipe for cheese.  Or so it seemed.

A few days before the film was released, they screened it at midnight for the employees of the theater, and I was a believer by the time the closing credits rolled.  I was won over completely by the film, and I still think it's a sort of a miracle.  The script, the cast, and Paul Verhoeven's work as director… all of them came together in a way that was magic.  I look at it now, and I still can't believe it exists.  It doesn't feel like other films from the '80s, it doesn't really feel like anything else Verhoeven ever made, and looking at the sequels and the TV series that spun off from the film, it's obvious that even the people who made it weren't able to reproduce the film's appeal.  Even if I didn't hate the script for the new movie, I would still be skeptical just because I know how amazing it is that the film worked in the first place.

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