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<p>A scene from &quot;Argo&quot;</p>

A scene from "Argo"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Does WB have an Oscar thoroughbred on its hands with Ben Affleck's 'Argo?'

Signs point to 'Yes'

TELLURIDE - Like my colleague Greg Ellwood, I attended yesterday afternoon's "Sneak Preview" premiere of Ben Affleck's "Argo." Last year the spot -- an unannounced screening for patrons of the festival and invited press -- went to "The Descendants," the year before, "Chico & Rita." It's not a typical spot for Oscar bait to bow, it just happened to fall that way the last couple of years. And it was a big winner this time around.

I found the film to be yet another step up for Affleck, who continues to grow as a filmmaker and surprise not just formally but with his adeptness at handling ensembles as well. And that's what "Argo" is: an organic, finely tuned ensemble where no one really stands out from the pack. And that's not a bad thing, particularly for a film that is very much about the efforts of the many.

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<p>Karen Gillan and Matt Smith in &quot;Doctor Who.&quot;</p>

Karen Gillan and Matt Smith in "Doctor Who."

Credit: BBC

Season premiere review: 'Doctor Who' - 'Asylum of the Daleks'

The Doctor, Rory and Amy reunite to take on a familiar set of foes

"Doctor Who" is back for a new season, and I have a review of the premiere, "Asylum of the Daleks," coming up just as soon as I have an escape plan where I survive 4 seconds longer...

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<p>Marion Cotillard at the New&nbsp;York premiere of &quot;The&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Knight Rises&quot;&nbsp;in July</p>

Marion Cotillard at the New York premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in July

Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

'Dark Knight Rises' and 'Rust & Bone' star Marion Cotillard honored in Telluride

The still-rising starlet receives the second tribute of the festival this year

TELLURIDE - Actress Marion Cotillard didn't really explode onto the domestic film stage until "La Vie en Rose," but what a coming out it was. She managed to win an Oscar that few (ahem) saw coming and transformed that newfound respect and goodwill into a thriving Hollywood career, but it was hardly an overnight success story.

Cotillard had already seen plenty of success in her native France before that 2007 explosion. She starred in Arnaud Desplechin's "My Sex Life... or How I Got Into an Argument," Pierre Grimblat's "Lisa" and the "Taxi" action comedy trilogy -- earning plenty of recognition for each -- before breaking out in Yann Samuel's romantic comedy "Love Me If You Dare" (in which she co-starred with eventual husband Guillaume Canet) in 2003. She also eventually landed a prime role in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's "A Very Long Engagement," which brought her a César Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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<p>Greta Gerwig, Michael Zegman and Adam Driver in &quot;Frances Ha.&quot;</p>

Greta Gerwig, Michael Zegman and Adam Driver in "Frances Ha."

Review: Greta Gerwig is superb on both sides of the camera in 'Frances Ha'

Noah Baumbach's latest is a gem about the breaking point for twentysomethings

TELLURIDE – There is a moment in the new Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig collaboration “Frances Ha” where you begin to think, “Oh, no.  This seems way too much like Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls.’”  And during the picture’s opening act, the tone and hipster Brooklyn setting makes that a very valid concern.  Thankfully, and somewhat remarkably, “Ha” transforms into something all its own.  

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<p>&quot;1600 Penn&quot;</p>

"1600 Penn"

Credit: NBC

Take Me To The Pilots '12: NBC's '1600 Penn'

'West Wing'/'Modern Family' hybrid has potential, but a mediocre pilot

[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:"1600 Penn" (NBC) [Midseason]
The Pitch: "It's 'The West Wing' meets 'Modern Family.'" I suspect that's probably what the actual pitch was.
Quick Response: I sometimes liked the pilot for "1600 Penn," but I also kinda wish NBC didn't have to air it, because the pilot is probably broader and more narratively flabby than the creative Forces That Be want the show to eventually become. Or maybe that's what what *I* hope the Forces That Be want? Maybe I just see upside in Bill Pullman's dry near-deadpan delivery in returning to the White House for the first time since "Independence Day"? And in Josh Gad's flailing, childlike glee, which keeps me believing in Josh Gad, even when I almost never find that the reality of Josh Gad lives up to the potential of Josh Gad (having never seen "Book of Mormon")? And in Jenna Elfman, who I think remains a sitcom star even if "Accidentally on Purpose" and "Courting Alex" have clouded those waters? And in Martha MacIsaac, who totally held her own in "Superbad" back in the day, but never got the career bump she deserved? It's entirely possible that "1600 Penn" just feels like a show that I would like to like and because I didn't hate the pilot, I've latched on to an idealized way that it could gel, even if the pilot doesn't necessarily give any indication that its aspirations are anything more than a "West Wing" version of "Tommy Boy" with Gad standing in for the late Chris Farley? There are punchlines in "1600 Penn" that landed solidly for me and produced the desired chuckles, but even more than your typical pilot, this feels like a rough draft and coming from director Jason Winer, whose "Modern Family" pilot is one of the great recent examples of a series arriving fully realized from the opening episode, that's a disappointment. There are too many moments of easy ethnic humor or easy physical humor or easy broadness that could lay a template for a lazy show that I'd find unbearable. Then again, there are better moments, like Gad's character recording a wonderfully inept fire safety PSA, that blend wordplay with those broader instincts in a totally effective way. So we'll see. I actually like the simplicity of the hypothetical pitch that I referenced above and I think that with the elements in place, there's a best case scenario for "1600 Penn" that I'd really like. It's not there yet. It probably won't go there. The pilot suggests a lack of interest in anything resembling actual politics and while it's not like I want a wonkish attention to detail, Wesley Snipes once taught me that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is an address that changes all the rules, but "1600 Penn" isn't a comedy that's interested in breaking any new ground.
Desire To Watch Again: Obviously I'm prepared to give this a few more episodes. If it doesn't go down a fruitful path? Oh well. Such is life.

 

Take Me To The Pilots '12: ABC's 'The Zero Hour'
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>By the time 'The Phantom Menace' arrived in theaters in 1999, I felt like I'd already seen every frame of the film.</p>

By the time 'The Phantom Menace' arrived in theaters in 1999, I felt like I'd already seen every frame of the film.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm

The Vacation Read: Which do you prefer, anticipation or total spoilers?

We wrap up our week away with a look at how we prefer to learn about films

Wow… has it been a week already?  I'm probably curled into a fetal position right now, weeping about the fact that I'm already done with my vacation.  A week sounds like it's going to be a long time, but then when it actually happens, it's over as soon as it starts.

Today, I want to wrap up this week of conversations by talking about anticipation.  I think modern movie marketing is so pumped up and aggressive that much of the joy of waiting for a film to be released has been diminished.  For me, unfortunately, the process has been completely distorted because of the way we cover trailers and set visits and editing room visits and early cuts and more.  By the time a film comes out these days, I feel like I've already had the experience, and it's harder and harder for me to have anything approaching a "normal" experience.

I grew up loving the anticipation.  The wait between the release of "Star Wars" and "The Empire Strikes Back" may have only been three years, but it felt like forever, and every single day of those three years, I was manic for information about what was coming.  I spent that time in a constant fog of daydreaming about what might happen, what could happen, what should happen.  I loved it.

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<p>A police sketch from the trial of Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam</p>

A police sketch from the trial of Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam

Credit: Sundance Selects

'Central Park Five' is a crushing indictment of mob mentality and miscarried justice

Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon's doc holds a mirror up to society

TELLURIDE - "I hope this film makes you angry," filmmaker Sarah Burns said by way of introduction to this morning's screening of "The Central Park Five." She co-directed the film with her father, Ken Burns (a Telluride staple -- as is Sarah: this is her 20th fest) and husband David McMahon. And angry is a good way to put it.

Maddening, gut-wrenching, deflating, these are all words I would use to describe the film, which tells the story of five black and Latino youths who were wrongfully convicted of the vicious rape of a female jogger in New York's Central Park in April of 1989. Films like the "Paradise Lost" trilogy and "West of Memphis" have recently depicted miscarriages of justice in similarly infuriating ways, but few have been such a thorough and profound indictment of mob mentality as this. It's a must-see effort analyzing an ugly and dark hour for society.

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<p>Nina Hoss in &quot;Barbara.&quot;</p>

Nina Hoss in "Barbara."

Credit: Adopt Films

Germany selects Berlinale winner 'Barbara' for the foreign-language Oscar race

Christian Petzold's superb Stasi-era drama is playing Telluride this weekend

A little over a week ago, I mentioned that Germany had announced a shortlist of eight possibilities for their official submission in this year's Best Foreign Language Film race -- and had evidently ceded Michael Haneke's French-Austrian-German co-production "Amour" to Austria this time, after beating their neighboring state in the tussle to submit "The White Ribbon" three years ago.

I had only seen one of the options on the list, but still found it hard to imagine they could make a better choice than "Barbara," Christian Petzold's excellent, broadly acclaimed Cold War drama about a female doctor in rural East Germany circa 1980, wrestling with her conscience over whether or not to defect to the West.

Happily, that's exactly what they've chosen -- giving Telluride audiences an extra reason to check "Barbara" out as it has its North American premiere there this weekend, before travelling on to both the Toronto and New York festivals. The film already has a US distributor in newish indie outfit Adopt Films, so Petzold's team can now just bask in the further kudos they're likely to receive on the fall festival track.

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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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