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<p>Bruce Willis is back making jokes and killing bad guys in 'A Good Day To Die Hard,' the fourth sequel to his 1988 breakout action hit.</p>

Bruce Willis is back making jokes and killing bad guys in 'A Good Day To Die Hard,' the fourth sequel to his 1988 breakout action hit.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Watch: Bruce Willis and son crack wise in the teaser for 'A Good Day To Die Hard'

Will this be the right way to wrap up the action franchise?

Big badda boom.

At this point, the only way to approach the ongoing adventures of John McClane is with a wink, because the very notion of the first film has been undermined by the entirely understandable urge by the studio to turn the character into an ongoing franchise.  What made the first "Die Hard" so great is the exact thing that makes the sequels less interesting.  John McClane was just a normal cop.  That was made very clear in the film, and that's why it was so great to watch this guy take down this elaborate heist.  It was just a case of being in the wrong place at the right time, and he beat Hans Gruber and his merry band of thieves through sheer tenacity.  McClane simply wasn't going to let them win, and as a result, he managed to not only stop the bad guys but he also won back his wife in the process.  Great character arc, great premise, lean and mean and self-contained. 

And while I can roll with the notion of "Die Hard With A Vengeance" because it's about an act of specifically-targeted revenge, a true sequel to the first film, I have more trouble getting my head around the coincidental nature of "Die Hard 2: Die Harder" and "Live Free Or Die Hard," where McClane goes from being a normal cop in extraordinary circumstances to being a lightning rod for elaborate bad guy plots.

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"Grey's Anatomy"

 "Grey's Anatomy"

Credit: ABC

'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Private Practice' mix things up - but is it enough?

The shows kill off favorite characters and now comes the aftermath
As promised, both "Grey's Anatomy" (Thurs. 9:00 p.m.) and "Private Practice" (Tues. 10:00 p.m.) kicked off the 2012 season with some big -time deaths. On "Grey's," we said good-bye, post plane-crash, to Mark "McSteamy" Sloan (Eric Dane, 2006-2012) and Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh, 2007-2012). On that show's spin-off "Practice," it was Dr. Pete Wilder (Tim Daly, 2007-2012) who bit the big one, felled by a heart attack while jogging. 
Of course, whenever a key player makes an untimely (and irreversible) exit, it may close doors for the actor but open them for the series itself. The question is, are they the right doors? At least with "Grey's," we might be getting that answer, or at least part of it, tonight.
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<p>Autumn Reeser of &quot;Last Resort&quot;</p>

Autumn Reeser of "Last Resort"

Credit: ABC

Interview: Autumn Reeser talks 'Last Resort'

Is her character a hero, a villain or a work-in-progress?
Viewers who tuned in to last Thursday's premiere of ABC's "Last Resort" may not have a read yet on Autumn Reeser's Kylie Sinclair. 
I've seen three episodes and I'm not sure I know what to make of her either. As a weapons lobbyist, Kylie's not inherently sympathetic, but she's Manipulative with a capital "M" and it seems like if we want to unravel the "Last Resort" mystery, she's going to be a crucial source of information. So she's a bad guy, but maybe she's going to eventually be a good guy? Or vice versa? 
Of course, I like Kylie. But that's because she's played by Reeser, whose Taylor Townsend was largely responsible for the late-run renaissance of "The O.C." and who also provided quirky humor and energy to ABC's "No Ordinary Family." 
I got on the phone last week to talk with Reeser about her character's dual nature, about the rewards of playing smart women and about the fun of delivering exposition in the middle of a sex scene.
Click through for the full conversation...
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<p>Miguel: Shhh, I'm making out</p>

Miguel: Shhh, I'm making out

Credit: ByStorm/RCA

Watch: Miguel's 'The Thrill' and 'Do You...' confirm ladies love Miguel

Rising R&B star drops two clips in support of 'Kaleidescope Dream'

This week, after he released his album "Kaleidescope Dream" on Tuesday, Miguel dropped two new music videos that confirm that 1) he is good-looking 2) he has good-looking friends.

Not that I'm trying to look for a stronger brand than "good-looking," but the full-length is dynamic, charismatic and fun-filled, which is hardly portrayed in "The Thrill." It's mostly a tour trailer for his tour trailer entourage, all in black and white ('cause he's classy, get it).

The clip for "Do You..." is much more indicative of the song itself. "Do you like drugs / Do you like hugs... I'm gonna do you like drugs tonight" is hardly poetry: it's cheesy and he knows it. That's why he puts on a bit more of a show, inspired by nightclubs circa 1991, and makes out with a girl on a pool table, circa every movie starring Patrick Swayze. The clunky-ass product placement is the only thing to shake you from this boringly pleasant trip with the 25-year-old rising star.

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<p>&quot;Not Fade Away&quot;</p>

"Not Fade Away"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

NYFF entry 'Not Fade Away' from 'Sopranos' creator David Chase gets a poster

The Centerpiece selection premieres Saturday night

Things are clicking right along for the New York Film Festival The "Life of Pi" bow certainly was an event, and with added press screenings on the west coast, the film has very clearly set itself up as a formidable awards season contender.

"Flight" is all ready to close out the fest on October 14, and with it, surely, plenty of opinions as to whether Denzel Washington is a player this year. And in the middle, all of the great programming, restorations and events that have gone into making NYFF a big hit in its 50th anniversary.

One of those big events is a "secret work in progress" screening on Monday night that I'll unfortunately have to miss (as I'll be out of town). "Hugo" got the slot last year and it's anyone's guess what it is this time around. I've been told no on "Les Misérables," "Zero Dark Thirty," "Hitchcock," "Django Unchained" and "Promised Land," but it's possible those working on said film aren't even aware. My money is on "Lincoln," which screens for students in New York just two days later.

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<p>&quot;The Dark&nbsp;Knight&quot;&nbsp;picked up seven nominations in the crafts categories in 2008 (and one win). Will &quot;The&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Knight Rises&quot; hit a similar tally?</p>

"The Dark Knight" picked up seven nominations in the crafts categories in 2008 (and one win). Will "The Dark Knight Rises" hit a similar tally?

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Tech Support: Kicking off 2012's crafts coverage

From 'The Avengers' to 'Zero Dark Thirty,' which films will spark below the line?

Welcome back. Today marks the beginning of the seventh year of Tech Support here at In Contention. If I may compliment Kris, this blog has come a long way in seven years. And if I may toot my own horn for a moment, the “Tech Support” columns have become one of the regular staples of this outlet and I’d like to think that our analysis of the categories that award below-the-line achievements, as well as our interviews with many of the artists in contention in such categories, has resulted in a number of other outlets beefing up their coverage in that arena.

Over the next 10 weeks, each of the “technical” category races will be analyzed: Best Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Score, Original Song, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. We'll move between visual and audio categories to keep things fresh along the way.

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<p>Kevin Spacey's new Netflix series &quot;House of Cards&quot;&nbsp;will debut on February 1 &mdash; all at once.</p>

Kevin Spacey's new Netflix series "House of Cards" will debut on February 1 — all at once.

Credit: AP

Netflix's 'House of Cards' to debut all episodes at once in February

Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright drama is highest-profile streaming series to date

Netflix is trying to present an alternative to the TV production model, and now it's working on an alternative to the TV scheduling model, as well.

Netflix today announced that "House of Cards," its new political drama series produced by David Fincher, adapted from the U.K. series of the same name, and starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as the House Majority Whip and his wife, will debut on February 1, 2013 — and that all 13 episodes of the first season will be available to watch at the same time.

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<p>A scene from &quot;The Imposter,&quot; one of the films voters will be considering for the Best Documentary Oscar.&nbsp;</p>

A scene from "The Imposter," one of the films voters will be considering for the Best Documentary Oscar. 

Credit: Indomina Releasing

Roundup: Are the Academy's new doc rules really democratic?

Also: A kinky year at the movies, and Ramsay to send 'Moby Dick' into space

Earlier this year, the Academy's alteration of the eligibility criteria for Best Documentary contenders -- limiting it to bi-coastal theatrical releases from the calendar year -- was generally hailed as a positive move that would de-ghettoise the category. But as branch voters are now being plied with around 100 Academy screeners, some are wondering if the changes are either workable or fair, particularly now that the discs arrive "with a letter suggesting specific films to focus on." That seems hugely ill-advised to me, and several Academy members too -- while most voters may not have time to see all the eligible films, instructing their viewing in this way surely defeats the very point of the new voting system. Dave Itzkoff looks into the issue. (Meanwhile, I'll be belatedly compiling a Contenders page for the category over the weekend.) [New York Times]

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The Replacements reunite for new EP of cover songs

The Replacements reunite for new EP of cover songs

Sale will benefit ailing former guitarist Slim Dunlap

The Replacements have reunited to record a new EP of cover songs that will come out later this year.

Only 250 copies of the 10-inch vinyl EP will be pressed, and all will be auctioned online, according to Rolling Stone. Sales of the EPs will go to assist Slim Dunlap, who served as the band’s guitarist from 1987-1991. He had a stroke in February.

Singer Paul Westerberg and bassist Tommy Stinson cut the tracks in a Minneapolis studio in late September to cut the tracks. Drummer Chris Mars did not take part: Peter Anderson plays drums on the EP, while Kevin Bowe played guitar. 

Among the tracks the foursome recorded were Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway,” and “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from the Broadway musical “Gypsy.” (?!?!)

Remarkably, after breaking up 20 years ago and being subject to reunion rumors every so often that have been consistently shot down, this time Westerberg says the studio time may actually lead to a more collaboration. “It’s possible,”  Westerberg told Rolling Stone. “After  playing with Tommy last week, I was thinking, ‘All right, let’s crank it up and knock out a record like this.’ I’m closer to it now than I was two years ago, let’s say that.”

Given how quickly they knocked out these songs, which also include a cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Sayin’” and Dunlap’s “Busted Up,” they could record a new album in a day.  “Tommy and I strapped on guitars, not a word was said, and ‘bang’,” says Westerberg. “We still rock like murder.”

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<p>Considering what a psycho he plays in 'Seven Psychopaths,' Woody Harrelson was in a preposterously good mood when we sat down to discuss the movie.</p>

Considering what a psycho he plays in 'Seven Psychopaths,' Woody Harrelson was in a preposterously good mood when we sat down to discuss the movie.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Woody Harrelson discusses playing crazy in 'Seven Psychopaths'

A quick chat with an actor who can play both charming and deadly with ease

"Seven Psychopaths" is one of those films that you can't fully sum up just by describing the plot or the characters, because it seems like it's playing a lot of games with the viewer at all times.

Taken just on the surface, as a plot-driven comedy, it's fun.  In my review of the film from the Toronto Film Festival, where it played as part of the Midnight Madness section, I talked about how it also serves as an "Adaptation"-style deconstruction of the creative process.  That's a hard thing to sell to an audience, though, and it's basically just the gravy.  If the film didn't work as a character comedy first, it wouldn't work at all, and thanks to both the sharp writing and the dizzyingly funny performances, it absolutely works on that level.

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<p>'Lawrence Of Arabia' will be taking noooooooooo prisoners for one night only, and you can see it in a theater near you.</p>

'Lawrence Of Arabia' will be taking noooooooooo prisoners for one night only, and you can see it in a theater near you.

Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Lawrence Of Arabia' debuts its new restoration in a one-night theatrical event

Get a sneak peek at the transfer for the new Blu-ray release

My favorite film of all time is playing theaters Thursday night, and if you've never seen it, or if you've never seen it theatrically, now's your chance.

I know that many people view "Lawrence Of Arabia" as something that sounds like it's going to be homework.  I try to go see the film every time it plays LA in 70MM, and last time I went, I was joined by a friend who had never seen it.  He confessed that he was worried about the homework issue and that the film's length intimidated him.  "Tell you what," I said, "if you still think this is homework by the time the intermission rolls around, you should feel free to leave."  When we reached the intermission, he looked over at me, wide-eyed, and I could tell he wasn't going anywhere.

"Lawrence" is as theatrical a film experience as I can imagine, huge and epic, with scenes that I find almost impossible to imagine anyone actually staging and shooting.  It is a tremendous film both as entertainment and art, and with the Blu-ray arriving in stores on November 13, Sony decided to show off the new restoration, an update on the amazing work done by Robert Harris and his team in 1989, something you need a theatre screen to fully appreciate.

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Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: Philippines' - 'This Isn't a We Game'

Would Team Russell come together to reverse its slide?
Pre-credit sequence. Team Russell returns to camp after another Tribal Council. Castaways describe the experience as "fun" and "interesting." Angie's not happy with Roxy throwing her under the bus, but she thinks that everybody remaining in their tribe trusts her and knows that nothing is happening with her and Malcolm. Well, that would be everybody other than Russell, who worries about Angie and Malcolm as a couple and is determined to sway Denise to his way of thinking.
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