Latest Blog Posts

<p>Blake Lively and Chloe Moretz co-star in 'Hick,' which arrives on home video today.</p>

Blake Lively and Chloe Moretz co-star in 'Hick,' which arrives on home video today.

Credit: Phase 4 Films

'Hick' director Derick Martini joins us for the final 'Motion/Captured Podcast'

A frank conversation about the disconnect between critics and audiences is featured this week

We've had a strange run here at "The Motion/Captured Podcast."

Technical issues, scheduling problems, and any number of bone-headed moves on my part have made the podcast a highly irregular proposition, and considering it is a show that largely works without a regular format, I'm amazed that we had any episodes at all that actually held together.

Scott Swan is, of course, one of my oldest friends in the world and my screenwriting partner.  Having him co-host the show with me made perfect sense because it allowed us to draw on the very real rapport that we have instead of me manufacturing some forced connection with someone else.  Scott knows me as well as anyone in the world does, and I honestly can't imagine having done as many episodes as we've done if he hadn't been part of it.

There are some things about the show that have always bugged me, though, and I figured it's time for us to address those things.  First and foremost for me, the format of the series never quite snapped into focus.  I like keeping things casual and having conversations that just sort of ramble, but for the show to really work, we need to have central idea.

Read Full Post
<p>Brandy in &quot;Put It Down&quot;</p>

Brandy in "Put It Down"

Watch: Brandy and Chris Brown work some moves in 'Put It Down'

Great tune with overalls

Watching Brandy work a room in "Put It Down" is pretty hot. The R&B singer has always had a firework for a voice, and she earned a killer single to put it to use.

As I noted in my review of the track before, I don't have much use for Chris Brown on the single -- not just because I think his name taints the appeal of a Brandy comeback -- but because his overtly processed voice has no place in a track with an emphasis put on a minimal beat and big vocal performance.

And thankfully, he's not in the vid too much.

This is Hype Williams' second video premiere in the last 24 hours, and this one hits much harder than the nauseating "I Wish You Would"/"Cold" from Kanye West, DJ Khaled and friends. This is big splashes of bold colors -- Williams' specialty -- and some fresh moves from Brandy and her merry band of street dancers. Brown, meanwhile, dons his favorite pair of painters overalls and pretends to flirt with Brandy. Their chemistry is like that of a cat to a vacuum cleaner.

Read Full Post
<p>Bruce Springsteen</p>

Bruce Springsteen

Credit: AP Photo

Does length matter when it comes to concerts?

Is Bruce Springsteen's 4-hour show better than Madonna's 2-hour MDNA set?

As many of my fellow rock fans know, a few weeks ago in Finland, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band broke the musical equivalent of the sound barrier when they played a show that surpassed the 4-hour mark, 4:06 to be precise.

As Springsteen gets ready to kick off his U.S. stadium tour tonight at Boston’s Fenway Park, the question remains does length matter when it comes to a concert? If an act plays longer does that inherently make that a better concert than a shorter set? 

Following Springsteen’s July 31 feat, several of my Facebook buddies engaged in lively conversations about that subject, and the E Street fans certain hashed it out for days on the Backstreets.com message boards. One of my colleagues, who is a pop fan through and through, asked if a four-hour Springsteen show intrinsically had more value than a pop show by [fill-in-your favorite pop artist’s name here] that might last only 90 minutes?

It’s a fun debate, but there are way too many factors that come into play here: Firstly, Springsteen is drawing from 40 years worth of material here, so four hours doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the wealth of songs he has in his catalog. It’s a little hard to imagine an upstart like One Direction, or even someone like Katy Perry, trying to cobble together a four-hour long show at this point. Even with all her hits, Madonna’s show is clocking in at around two hours.

Springsteen and the E Street Band also have long songs: The 4-hour show only tallied 33 tunes:  Imagine if the Minutemen or The Ramones, both of whose songs were notoriously short, tried to stretch their material out to pad for time (if, of course, they were still around). Length was never the point with either of them: it was all about short, lightning bolts of intensity.  I recently saw the Beach Boys play a 3-hour show at the Hollywood Bowl and, even with the intermission, they were able to chug through 44 songs since most of their tunes are under three minutes. No one went home feeling cheated.

There’s also a production element to consider: Springsteen’s show, while offering great sound and nice lights, is all about the music. There are no videos, no visuals, no dance numbers, no production changes whatsoever. For someone like Madonna or Britney Spears or Janet Jackson—artists who are changing outfits and themes with virtually every song—trying to put together a four-hour concert is akin to staging a major awards show every night given all the moving parts. The idea of it sounds visually assaulting.

As a major Springsteen fan, do I wish I’d been in Helsinki? Of course, for bragging rights for sure. But also for another reason— for the 62-year old Springsteen and his hardcore fans, playing for four hours meant much  more than hitting some ultimately meaningless number:  Having lost both founding members Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons over the last four years and feeling mortality creeping up, playing for that long, in what was, by all accounts, a vibrant, robust show, was a big old “Fuck You”—to death, to people who claim rock and roll is a young man’s game, and to all the horrible things that happen to you, your family,  and your friends as you grow up that music makes tolerable. Plus, it’s fun.

Regardless of how long a show is, that is the point of all music: for the duration of that artist’s performance, if he or she is masterful enough and the music is powerful enough, it will provide an escape and block out every trouble and worry: Maybe Springsteen fans just need a bit of a longer respite.

Seriously, a few years ago a friend and I were at a show and we decided to leave before it was over. As we walked out, we had quite a lengthy discussion that an artist isn’t necessarily the best judge of how long his or her show should be. We’d gotten our fill and we very satisfied with what we’d seen and we didn’t need any more. It felt right to leave.

Some acts play with the theory of it is always best to leave the audience wanting more. With today’s ticket prices, I don’t buy that. Additionally, I don’t want to hear snippets of hits in a medley, I want the full song (even if it means doing fewer songs). I also don’t want to feel like the artist is phoning it in or that he or she can’t wait to get off the stage. I don’t need a four-hour show, but I do need to feel like the artist has as much invested in being there as I do and that’s something that time can’t measure. 

What do you think?

Read Full Post
<p>The CW's &quot;Oh Sit!&quot;</p>

The CW's "Oh Sit!"

Credit: The CW

Musical Chairs meets 'Wipeout' on the set of The CW's 'Oh Sit!'

The hosts, led by Jamie Kennedy, explain why you want to watch
CULVER CITY - Does anybody have positive memories of a game of Musical Chairs?
 
As childhood party pastimes go, few are barer bones: All you need is "X" number of people, "X-1" number of chairs and music. Then everybody walks in a circle. Occasionally, the music stops and you elbow the person next to you for a seat. It prepared us all poorly for that time later in life when it's explained that in actual social circumstances in which the number of people is "X" and the number of chairs is "X-1," chivalry dictates less elbowing and more gracious yielding.
 
Musical Chairs was a game most frequently played at parties where the parents of the birthday boy/girl were unable or unwilling to procure a clown, a bouncy house, a lane at the bowling alley, use of the roller rink or, in the Midwest, cornhole boards.
 
I can't say for sure if The CW investigated reality competition versions of Bouncy House, Roller Derby or Cornhole, but on Wednesday (August 15) night, The CW raises the ante on Musical Chairs with the series "Oh Sit!"
 
Back in May, on what was officially the last day of the 2011-2012 TV season, I went to the "Oh Sit!" set on the Sony Lot and watched a couple rounds of the competition and joined another reporter in a brief conversation with hosts Jamie Kennedy and Jessi Cruickshank, as well as sideline reporter Tanika Ray.
 
Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Just Tell Me That You Want Me&quot;</p>

"Just Tell Me That You Want Me"

Credit: Hear Music/Concord

Review: Fleetwood Mac tribute, 'Just Tell Me You Love Me' mixes up the formula

MGMT, Lykke Li, Best Coast, and the Kills reinterpret classic tunes

As is usually the case with such endeavors, “Just Tell Me You Love Me,” a tribute to Fleetwood Mac, is a total mixed bag. 

Out today, it’s just the sort of album for which iTunes was invented. Fans of Antony (of Antony & The Johnsons) poignant, faithful rendition of the gentle, lovely “Landslide” may not want the fuzzy version of instrumental “Albatross,” delivered more than capably by Lee Ranaldo Band featuring J Mascis.

As a whole, the 17-song tribute breaks down into two specific camps: fans of the ubiquitous hits from “Fleetwood Mac” and “Rumours” will gravitate toward the songs they grew up with while followers of the band’s earlier bluesier, pre- Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham incarnation  will dig the more experimental material provided by folks like ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and his swampy take on “Oh Well” or MGMT’s nine-minute trippy version of “Future Games.”

This collection was curated for Concord by the same folks who put together the “Rave On Buddy Holly” last year and it is squarely aimed at the Pitchfork crowd with such artists as  Lykke Li, on a  haunting “Silver Springs,” and Karen Elson, who provides an echo-y, spare take on “Gold Dust Woman.” To their credit, it feels like the producers allowed the artists free rein to interpret these songs as they wished.

Some acts take the originals and turn them into their own creations: The Kills twist “Dreams” into a harder, darker, much more menacing tune than the original; Best Coast gives “Rhiannon” a sunshiny bounce; The New Pornographers reinvent “Think About Me” as a power pop tune via Cheap Trick; Gardens & Villas’ spaced-out, dreamy take on “Gypsy” works better than it should; The Crystal Ark find a nice work around to the marching band on “Tusk” that still provided a full-bodied sound.

There are few flat-out disasters here, but, sadly, there are just as few home runs that make this collection feel like a must-have.  It will appeal more to fans of the acts featured here who will want to see how their favorite artist reinterpret a track rather than to Fleetwood Mac fans. For them, this collection will just send them scurrying back to the originals.

Read Full Post
<p>Kanye West in &quot;I Wish You Would.&quot;&nbsp;Really.</p>

Kanye West in "I Wish You Would." Really.

Kanye West tackles 'I Wish You Would'/'Cold' vid with Rick Ross, DJ Khaled... and Kim Kardashian

Combined songs for Hype Williams seizure

I'd recommend you take seizure inhibitors before checking out the music video to DJ Khaled's "I Wish You Would" combined with Kanye West's "Cold," but, actually, the clip itself is the seizure. It may comfort you to know that Hype Williams probably earned a pretty penny for shooting Ye, Khaled, Rick Ross and (for a moment only) Kim Kardashian in a dank brick tunnel with a shake-cam.

But then again, it's Hype Williams: dude generally gets a pass.

The tracks together are less of a combination and more a pair of convenience. Kanye West takes up most of the screen time, while Khaled still seems to suffer from Little Brother Syndrome, which pushes him upfront for some quick catch-phrase and then back literally into the shadows. Rick Ross -- still eager to never retire his "M-M-Maybach Music" tag -- delivers his lines about making it rain and buying nice watches, while West brings his next level rhymes about his South Side Chicago neighborhood, drug testing at work and countering his most violent tendencies with the feeling of responsibility. Looks like one of the two phoned it in, I'll let you guess which.

Read Full Post
"The Glee Project"

"The Glee Project"

Credit: Oxygen

HitFix Interview: 'Glee Project''s Ali, Aylin, Abraham and Shanna talk challenges, stinky meat

It wasn't all fun and games during season two

"The Glee Project" wraps up tonight as finalists Ali, Aylin and Blake do their best to win over "Glee" mastermind Ryan Murphy in the season two finale. The good news is that they'll be joined by all their eliminated castmates for the final video assignment, in which the GleePros go to prom. I had a chance to talk to a few finalists and a few of those returning for the finale during TCAs. Ali, Shanna, Aylin and Abraham were happy to talk about some low points (think meat dress), high points (almost everything else) and why they all became besties instead of rivals.

Read Full Post
<p>Green Day</p>

Green Day

Green Day go disco on new single 'Kill the DJ'

'Uno!' single takes aim at radio in more ways than one

Have Green Day gone disco?

The have always made an effort to reinvent their sound every few years, with varying degrees of success. But, their latest single -- the aptly titled "Kill the DJ" -- may be their biggest stylistic departure yet. 

A steady four-on-the-floor beat and angular post-punk guitars anchor this ditty about planning the cold-blooded murder of a poor ol' disc jockey (even with corporate terrestrial radio largely becoming a thing of the past, it seems like people still want to hang the DJ). There's certainly some "Sandanista!"-era Clash inspiration in there, but whereas the Clash were experimenting with then-new sounds from allover the music world, Green Day seems to be simply mining the past, and it ends up sounding more like an all-male take on The Ting Tings. 


Hear the song here:



It's another stylistic left turn for the Bay Area punk-poppers, and even with the incessant dance beat and clean guitars, it's still recognizably Green Day, mostly due to singer Billie Joe Armstrong's patented nasal whine. But just who is this version of Green Day for? Have they jumped on the dance-rock revival bandwagon a decade or so too late? Will longtime fans more used to their punkier tunes be turned off? Will Katy Perry fans give it a listen? It will be interesting to see how fans respond. 

"Kill the DJ" was one of the new songs the trio unveiled at a secret show at L.A.'s small venue The Echoplex to 600 or so hardcore fans. They're releasing three full-length albums over the next few months, with "Uno!" arriving first on September 25. "Duo!" and "Tre!" will follow. 

What do you think of "Kill the DJ"? Give it a grade at the top and sound off in the comments section.

Read Full Post
<p>Holliday&nbsp;Grainger and Jeremy&nbsp;Irvine in &quot;Great Expectations&quot;</p>

Holliday Grainger and Jeremy Irvine in "Great Expectations"

Credit: BBC Films

Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes dig into 'Great Expectations' in international trailer

Jeremy Irvine and Holliday Grainger also star in the upcoming TIFF player

When I got married in March, we chose, as many couples do, to offer up readings meant to shed light on our feelings for one another. Mine was a brief but potent (to me) excerpt from Charles Dickens's "Great Expectations." It was the final line, in fact, which has a long story of its own (Dickens offered up three versions and settled on one that carries a delicious sort of ambiguity).

It's my favorite book ever since I cheated and read the Cliff's Notes in the 9th grade (of course I've read it in full since). I love what it says about connectivity, about love, about passion and obsession and about finding one's way in the world. And like many, I always felt there was little to add to David Lean's cinematic interpretation from 1946. Nevertheless, I must say I even enjoyed Alfonso Cuarón's embattled modernization in 1998. (That film's poster hangs framed on my kitchen wall in Los Angeles.)

Read Full Post
<p>The crazy part? This is an actual photo of Carnahan during a recent pitch meeting at Fox.&nbsp; That's how into this movie he was.</p>

The crazy part? This is an actual photo of Carnahan during a recent pitch meeting at Fox.  That's how into this movie he was.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Joe Carnahan appears to be done with 'Daredevil' reboot

A few Tweets make it look like the director is moving on

And just like that, the promise of Joe Carnahan's gritty '70s-based take on "Daredevil" appears to be a thing of the past.

Word recently leaked about a proposed deal between Fox and Marvel that would have extended the life of the "Daredevil" option for Fox in exchange for them allowing Marvel to use some of the characters that are included in the various rights packages that Fox has under option, specifically Galactus, who is still bundled in with the "Fantastic Four" property.

It appears that will no longer be the case.

If you check out Carnahan's Twitter timeline, you can see the conversations he's been having for the last few days, and it certainly seemed like Daredevil was on his mind.  At one point, he told a fan "DD fans would be very pleased if they saw the things I've seen of late.  Very, VERY pleased…"  He also discussed some of his own feelings about how to portray the character.  "You have to deal with the fact that he IS blind," he told one person who brought up the idea of Daredevil's other senses being supercharged to such a degree that his blindness didn't matter.  "He can't be super-charged and seeing 'sound' through walls. That's bulls**t."

Read Full Post
<p>Taylor Swift</p>

Taylor Swift

Credit: AP Photo

Review: Taylor Swift's body count continues on 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'

Watch the cute lyric video

Taylor Swift seems so nice in person (and is), but as she’s shown over the course of her short, but extraordinarily successful, career, if you date her and cross her (or she perceives you do), she will come after you in song.

Has there been any pop artist who has chronicled her love life so directly since Alanis Morissette on “Jagged Little Pill?” Certainly not one whose albums consistently have such a high body count.   On “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” a pop stomp that blends Hot Chelle Rae crossed with Pink and Katy Perry, the boy in question has done the push-me/pull-me act one too many times and she’s finally really ready to give him the heave-ho.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Vanessa Redgrave in &quot;Song for Marion.&quot;</p>

Vanessa Redgrave in "Song for Marion."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Could Toronto closer 'Song for Marion' be one to watch?

Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp headline feelgood Weinstein acquisition

If the opening night slot at any major festival is a high-pressure position -- one under which many a film has collapsed -- the closing night is in an even less enviable position: at least everyone bothers to see the opening film. Knowing that many journalists will already have flown the coop by the last day, festival programmers rarely leave something truly tasty to the very end, often handing the slight to something eminently skippable and/or low-profile.

Cannes has particular form in this area -- barely a word was breathed about this year's closer, "Therese D," even if it was the late Claude Miller's final film -- and Toronto tends to take a similar approach, the festival's recent closing selections having included "Stone of Destiny" (no, I don't remember either) and last year's "Page Eight," a dreary Rachel Weisz-starring spy drama that had already premiered on British TV.

Still, there have been notable exceptions to the closing-night curse: Venice picked a winner last year with Whit Stillman's "Damsels in Distress," just the tonic jaded critics needed after 10 days of heavyweight viewing, and I wonder if Toronto has been a little savvier this year with the selection of "Song for Marion," a feelgood British dramedy that has already been picked up for US distribution by The Weinstein Company.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME