Latest Blog Posts

<p>Sheri Moon Zombie does strong work as the lead in Rob Zombie's new film 'The Lords Of Salem'</p>

Sheri Moon Zombie does strong work as the lead in Rob Zombie's new film 'The Lords Of Salem'

Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Review: Rob Zombie's 'Lords Of Salem' surprises and scares at midnight

Rebounding from the 'Halloween' remake, Zombie delivers his strongest film yet

If you had told me before the beginning of this year's Toronto Film Festival that I would prefer Rob Zombie's film to Terrence Malick's film, I would have laughed in your face.

And I would have been wrong.

One thing that is important to remember when looking at ratings on my reviews is that each film exists in a vacuum.  The letter grade I give has to do with how well I feel the filmmakers have accomplished their goal with the film.  At the end of the year, my top ten favorite list might not be the list of the films that had the highest letter grades for the year because I love flawed films sometimes despite their flaws, and I've seen technically "perfect" movies that didn't do much for me on an emotional basis.  So while I think Malick's film is perhaps much more accomplished on a technical level (there's no arguing with the luminous quality of Emmanuel Lubezki's photography), it left me cold in many ways, and that has to count for something.  Beyond that, it feels to me like Malick is starting to settle into his style to the point where it's almost becoming a straightjacket for him.

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Watch: 'The Mob Doctor' star Jordana Spiro discusses going dark places for FOX

Watch: 'The Mob Doctor' star Jordana Spiro discusses going dark places for FOX

What made the 'My Boys' star gravitate towards drama this year?
You can't pigeon-hole Jordana Spiro.
 
Between her tomboy sportswriter on TBS' "My Boys," her scene-stealing airhead in "Must Love Dogs," her Doomsday-loving cult groupie on "Dexter" and her gangster-treating MD on FOX's "The Mob Doctor," the only commonality is the actress playing the parts.
 
Last week, I sat down with Spiro to discuss "Mob Doctor" and Grace Devlin, who is self-explanatorily balancing her obligations as a doctor and her debt to the mob. We chatted about why she targeted a drama pilot this development season, how morally and ethnically compromised Spiro wants to see Grace become and, because I was distracted by the prayer-tinged poster behind her, the show's particular approach to faith.
 
"The Mob Doctor" premieres on Monday, September 17 at 9 p.m. on FOX.
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<p>Ben Folds with a Fraggle</p>

Ben Folds with a Fraggle

Watch: Anna Kendrick, 'Fraggle Rock,' Rob Corddry join Ben Folds Five video

'Do It Anyway' has the trio and the Henson puppets in reunion mode

"It's like a double reunion," Ben Folds says in the making-of video for "Do It Anyway." He's describing the sensation of his band putting out their first album in 13 years, and of "Fraggle Rock" coming back together for their 30th anniversary to help promote the set.

"Do It Anyway," as the rock group said, has a bounce like Muppets composer Paul Williams, so it works here for the video, which also features comedian Rob Corddry as a studio engineer and Anna Kendrick as the front desk ditz.

But, yeah. It's mostly Fraggles, and the imagination of Nerdist's Chris Hardwick. "We're making a Fraggle rock video," he enthuses.

Is this the sign of more Fraggly things to come? If the franchise is on the cusp of 30 years, we certainly hope so: just check out the reaction of all the musicians and actors to the theme song at the end of the clip.

"Do It Anyway" is off of "The Sound of the Life of the Mind," out tomorrow (Sept. 18). Do you like the track? Does the video give your heart much joy? Where's your Boy George tat?

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<p>Amy&nbsp;Adams and Clint Eastwood in &quot;Trouble with the Curve&quot;</p>

Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood in "Trouble with the Curve"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Amy Adams stands out opposite Clint Eastwood and Justin Timberlake in 'Trouble with the Curve'

How will it play for the Academy?

I guess I'm a little bit confused. After being told up one side and down the other to beware Robert Lorenz's "Trouble with the Curve," I found myself liking it just fine. It's a bit unruly in spots and amateurly conceived in others, but never to detriment. And even Clint Eastwood's grizzled performance, threatening to make good on the promise of "Gran Torino" (i.e. that he'll be in the self-parody business from here on out) didn't strike the sour chord I expected it to.

Then as the movie went along, I realized the framing -- my framing -- was all wrong. This isn't Clint Eastwood's movie. This is Amy Adams's movie. And she's great. Coupled with "The Master," her work here further shows a dynamic range for the actress, who by the way landed three Oscar nominations in just six years, for those keeping score at home. And if you're still not convinced, have a look at "On the Road," where she shows up out of nowhere and gives a unique if brief take opposite Viggo Mortensen.

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<p>Tim McGraw in &quot;Truck Yeah&quot;</p>

Tim McGraw in "Truck Yeah"

Watch: Tim McGraw's 'Truck Yeah' video

Does it rev your engine?

Tim McGraw’s new video for his current single, “Truck Yeah,” came out today and let’s start with the positive. First off, the clip could have featured a truckload of scantily-clad country cuties in Daisy Dukes bent salaciously over their men’s trucks and the video does not (I know that is a detriment to some). Instead, the lone female in the video is driving herself, she’s dressed sexily but not tackily, and is in complete control. Yeah, girls drive trucks too...

Secondly, though Chevrolet does get a little more branding than the rest, McGraw displays equal love for Chevy, Ford, and Dodge trucks. We’re sure there’s a commercial tie-in coming down the road, but this isn’t it.

Third, as always, McGraw looks hot.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Tom Holland and Naomi Watts struggle to keep each other alive in Juan Antonio Bayona's new drama 'The Impossible'</p>

Tom Holland and Naomi Watts struggle to keep each other alive in Juan Antonio Bayona's new drama 'The Impossible'

Credit: Lionsgate/Summit

Review: Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts struggle to survive 'The Impossible'

A remarkable recreation of a real disaster leaves our reviewer shaken

One of the hardest experiences of the Toronto Film Festival for me was an afternoon screening of "The Impossible," a remarkably well-made movie about an English family living in Japan who head to Thailand for the Christmas holidays, where they are caught in a sudden tsunami that is devastating, terrifying, an awesome display of nature's greatest wrath.  The family is separated and the majority of the film is made up of their efforts to reunite in the middle of a mind-boggling crisis.

"The Impossible" is by Juan Antonio Bayona, working from a script by Sergio Sanchez, and it is an impressive, muscular production that more than pays off the promise of "The Orphanage."  I liked that film, but didn't love it.  I admire the way it's made more than the particular details of the story.  It's fine.  It's solid.  Bayona and Sanchez both have aimed higher in their second collaboration, and "The Impossible" is so aggressive about what it's doing that it shook me up.  I had a near-physical reaction to some of the film's most difficult imagery, and there's a lot of it.  This is not an easy film to digest.  I would compare it to "Black Hawk Down" in that there's not a lot of larger dramatic plotting going on in addition to the survival tale.  The whole point is to put the audience in danger, to make us feel what these characters feel in a very immersive and physical manner.  Survival is the story here, as well as the reunification of the family.  It is hard to imagine anyone arguing against the skill on display in the way the film is brought to life.

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<p>Tahar Rahim and Emilie Dequenne in &quot;Our Children,&quot; Belgium's official Oscar submission.</p>

Tahar Rahim and Emilie Dequenne in "Our Children," Belgium's official Oscar submission.

Credit: Peccadillo Pictures

'Our Children' and 'Pietà' among latest additions to foreign Oscar longlist

Portugal opts for 'Blood of My Blood' over critics' favorite 'Tabu'

It's been a few days since I've updated the longlist of submissions for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar -- and, with the deadline exactly two weeks away, a few days amounts to a tall pile of new entries. I haven't yet had time to investigate the finer points of such exotic-sounding submissions as Croatia's "Cannibal Vegetarian" -- cursory research tells me it's less about cannibals than junkie gynaecologists -- but a few higher-profile possibilities have entered along with the probable filler.

Before I get to those, however: I figured that with the submissions count up to 28 (expect that to double in the next fortnight), we have enough films to begin playing with some predictions. So you'll find a highly malleable top five on the right-hand sidebar, drawn the pool of entries so far, with further rankings on the relevant Contenders page. None of it is to be taken too seriously, of course -- least of all in this eternally confounding category. 

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<p>Soundgarden's &quot;King Animal&quot;</p>

Soundgarden's "King Animal"

Watch Soundgarden's artsy trailer for 'King Animal'

Maybe Stonehenge wasn't available

It’s four seasons in one day in the video trailer for “King Animal,” Soundgarden’s first album of new material in 15 years.

The cover art for the set, which comes out Nov. 13, shows a snow-covered field, with trees covered in frost. In the middle is a collection of animal skulls, artfully arranged  with horns and bones all perfectly aligned.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Frank Ocean in &quot;Pyramids&quot;</p>

Frank Ocean in "Pyramids"

Watch: Frank Ocean conjures up strippers and world wonders in 'Pyramids' video

Is it all a dream?

Frank Ocean isn’t exactly known for his coherent music videos, he’s worn a panda mask in one, for goodness’s sake. Add one more to the WTF pile with the nearly 8-minute clip for “Pyramids,” the newest single from "Channel Orange." 

The Nabil-directed video opens with Ocean shooting up a bar (though we never understand why). He then hops on his motorcycle and rides through the rain. Then, just like that, he’s in the desert and it’s the next day and it’s sunny.  He’s flashes back to a strip club, The Pyramid, where the girl he has just spent the night with works.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>(l-r)&nbsp;Ben Affleck in &quot;Argo,&quot;&nbsp;Philip Seymour Hoffman in &quot;The Master&quot;&nbsp;and Bradley Cooper in &quot;Silver Linings Playbook&quot;</p>

(l-r) Ben Affleck in "Argo," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master" and Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/The Weinstein Company

Off the Carpet: Three to start the season

'Argo,' 'The Master' and 'Silver Linings Playbook' get us going

Ben Affleck's "Argo," Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook." With Venice, Telluride and Toronto in the rear view, those are the three films with the early stranglehold on the 2012-2013 Oscar season.

In the case of Affleck's thrilling true story, an impressive ensemble carries the load and the zeitgeist has been unexpectedly tapped in very direct ways. In the case of Anderson's artful Rorschach, a pair of compelling performances reflects a vibrant thematic treatise that is sure to court the cinephile vote this year. And in the case of Russell's Toronto Audience Award-winning dip back into the world of quirk and comedy, an apparent (it's the one I've yet to see) return to form for a veteran actor matched with a sure-fire Best Actress contender -- and a lead with his fair share of praise -- reflects a filmmaker keeping an impressive stride.

I mention the performances of each because the actors branch -- the largest of the Academy -- is sure to find plenty to appreciate in this trio. And that will be key, as always. This even in the case of "Argo," which doesn't have a single stand-out, though Alan Arkin will surely land his share of votes.

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<p>Six seasons and an Emmy?&nbsp;&quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;has a shot at the latter thanks to &quot;Remedial Chaos Theory.&quot;</p>

Six seasons and an Emmy? "Community" has a shot at the latter thanks to "Remedial Chaos Theory."

Credit: NBC

Emmys 2012 Predictions: Outstanding Writing for Comedy & Drama

Will 'Mad Men' beat 'Downton'? And which great comedy script will win?

It's time to talk about writing as Dan and I make our picks for who should and will win Emmys on Sunday night. As always, I should warn you that my prognostication skills are terrible. This time, we're doing the comedy and drama writing categories.

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<p>Kelly Macdonald and Steve Buscemi in &quot;Boardwalk Empire.&quot;</p>

Kelly Macdonald and Steve Buscemi in "Boardwalk Empire."

Credit: HBO

Season premiere review: 'Boardwalk Empire' - 'Resolution'

Nucky and friends usher in the new year with the same old lies

"Boardwalk Empire" is back for its third season. I reviewed the first half of season 3 as a whole earlier in the week, and I have specific thoughts on the premiere coming up just as soon as I go to the flea circus...

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