A review of the "Suburgatory" season finale coming up just as soon as I club a stuffed seal...
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A review of the "Suburgatory" season finale coming up just as soon as I club a stuffed seal...
CANNES - We all pick up scars as we move through life, some visible, others not, and it is how we deal with these physical and emotional traumas that defines who we are.
Jacques Audiard has been steadily putting out small films of enormous power for the past decade or so, and I first tuned into his work with "Read My Lips" in 2001. "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" came next, and for many people, "A Prophet" was the moment they realized just how strong a clear a voice he has as a filmmaker. Because of that film's international success, there was much expectation focused on the 8:30 AM screening of his new film today at Cannes, and based on the trailer I'd seen for it, I walked in expecting one film. Instead, I got something much richer, more prickly, and more deeply felt than I expected, and I am once again convinced that Audiard is a major voice, an artist of note, and a gifted humanist filmmaker.
CANNES -Well-intentioned, unfortunately, is not enough for a film to work. If it were, then most films would be great and that's simply not the case.
Yousry Nasrallah's new film, "After The Battle," has huge ambition, and on that level, I can certainly empathize with the film's goals. Set during the Arab Spring of last year, the film tells the story of Reem (Menna Chalaby), an Egyptian woman who works in television commercials, who is incredibly passionate about the possibility of a new democracy in Egypt. She's tired of dealing with the way women are treated in Egyptian society, and she believes that the revolution has a chance to change things. Her beliefs are challenged when she meets Mahmoud (Bassem Samra), a horseman who was part of the "Battle of the Camels," where armed camel and horse riders swept into Tahrir square to attack anyone who was staging anti-Mubarak demonstrations. Very quickly, the protestors turned the horsemen away, attacking and injuring many of them, including Mahmoud, whose image ends up on YouTube, a symbol of the way the country is rejecting old values.
Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” featuring Kimbra continues its residence atop the Billboard Hot 100, logging its fifth week at the top.
Its run gives the song the longest reign by a solo male since Eminem’s “Love The Way You Lie” featuring Rihanna spent seven weeks at No. 1 in 2010, according to BIllboard.
Maroon 5’s “Payphone” featuring Wiz Khalifa flips spaces with fun’s “We Are Young” featuring Janelle Monae, with the Adam Levine-led group rising one spot to No. 2.
"Let me see your phone..." Gotta love Nicki Minaj's gall to have a verse about checking her boyfriend's cell phone in a song that features Chris Brown.
The Young Money would-be pop-star and rapper combined with Brown for "Right By My Side," another cut from "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded." In addition to the socially repugnant pop star, Minaj also tapped another super-talent for the track, or at least the video: Nas.
The music video seemingly set up shop in the 1990s era of R&B, with Minaj's slo-mo'ed long blonde locks and wack lounge wear, and the ever-lovely Nas sporting eyeglasses like he's Nate from Boyz II Men (of course he was the cute one). Oh, a new car! Oh, a make-out session on a park bench! Kelis is somewhere, weeping and sharpening a blade.
This clip is thankfully much more cohesive than Nicki's last, neon eyesore "Starships." Where I take issue here, though, is that she spends about 75% of the time doing capital-S Serious acting for the VH1 crowd, and the rest of it goofing off. It's one kind of comedy to watch Brown try to lip-sync to his auto-tuned solo, it's another to perpetually act like its the end of a long day. The tail-end of the vid hints at a "Thriller"-like sequel, but I don't feel like dancing.
CANNES - It's not often that a filmmaker's cheerleaders and detractors alike can agree upon a single convenient adjective. But for better and for worse, "precious" has been a defining term for Wes Anderson's unapologetically affected filmography ever since "Rushmore" dressed up the grainy funk of "Bottle Rocket" into something a little more preppily composed.
From any perspective, "precious" covers the thematic and aesthetic delicacy of his films, their exactingly designed construction and perennially nostalgic gaze. Whether that degree of refinement is something cherishable or enervating, however, is in the eye of the beholder. To say, then, that "Moonrise Kingdom" -- a neurotically designed and almost exhaustingly cute return to the pre-adult concerns of 1998's "Rushmore" -- is Anderson's most precious film to date scarcely qualifies as a value judgment. But it is, and you can attach to it what value you will.
Now things are about to get interesting.
Last week, we dispatched Hollie Cavanagh, which was sad for Joshua Ledet, but pretty straight-forward for America. Leaving aside the only briefly relevant question of whether or not Colton Dixon would be able to ride in-song prayer to an "Idol" crown, we've worked our way down to what probably should have been the Top 3 from the very beginning of the season. Joshua, Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips belong here.
But who deserves to be singing next Tuesday and Wednesday? That's more of a mystery. For me at least, Joshua is a no-brainer as a deserving finalist. But if you want to have a specific preference between Jessica's preternaturally assured pipes and Phil-Phil's [relative] originality and artistry? I'm understanding of both points of view.
So as we settle in for a three-performance night by each singer -- One they chose themselves, one the judges chose for them and one chosen by Jimmy Iovine -- I'm feeling a bit like Mr. Randy Jackson: Tonight, I would like to see who's in it to win it. Dawg.
Click through for the recap...
Singer: Joshua Ledet
Song: "I'd Rather Go Blind"
My Take: In a long show like this, you don't want to be leading things off. With three performances apiece, the pimp slot probably isn't necessary, but with this much talent, it can't hurt to be the last thing viewers remember. The first round is the Judges' Choice, not that Randy knew the name of the Etta James track he allegedly picked. Looking dapper with a red shirt and a matching rose in his lapel and crooning into a retro mic, Josh is right in his wheelhouse. It's yet another glorious showcase for Joshua's straight-into-the-studio voice, with jazzy grace notes and church-y touches aplenty. You could plunk him a booth right now and record this and it would be a huge hit. If this were 1966. And even today? I'm just happy listening. For me, Joshua is like a perfect blend of Melinda Doolittle and his idol Fantasia Barrino. He's a technician. He's an artist. And he sounds like nobody else. [Please recall how much I disliked Joshua's Josh Groban cover last week before you complain I'm in the tank for the guy. I don't think he can do no wrong, but when he does right, I'm a big fan.]
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: The judges start the night on their feet. "This is another Joshua moment," Steven Tyler raves, saying he sang like the American Idol. "You are such a throwback and I love that about you," Jennifer Lopez cheers. "You're such a classic stylist. This fits you so like a glove," Randy says, hoping Joshua can bring his touch to modern times.
Singer: Jessica Sanchez
Song: "My All"
My Take: The judges want Jessica to sing Mariah Carey. Because heaven knows we haven't heard her do The Great Divas this season. There's a weird conflict in stage presentation. The guitarist sitting on the edge of the stage suggests an intimacy and warmth. Jessica's rigid presence atop a platform surrounded by fog in her prom dress suggests the exact opposite. Her stage presence is aloof. The song is, interestingly, too range-y for her, particularly on her less impressive lower register. When she's high, it's beautiful. When she's low, it's mumbly and breathless. She barely stays on any note for a second. It's all trills and vibrato and runs. If you love that sort of thing, you'll like the performance. But if you honestly compare it to Jessica's best performances? That wasn't anywhere near.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: "That was absolutely beautiful," Randy says, name-dropping Randy. He goes so far as to call it one of the best times a Mariah song has been performed on TV. J-Lo says the song is hard. Steven calls it over-the-top as a compliment and I think he called her the winner or something.
Singer: Phillip Phillips
My Take: Steven Tyler wanted Phil-Phil to show off a bit more of his melodic side, so naturally he's detoured this sound around its familiar melody. Naturally. This is a better piece of singing than we've seen Phil-Phil do for a while. On songs like this, he tends to get stuck in his nasally head-voice, but this has song dynamic range and he's definitely having some fun, controlling the stage musically and maintaining audience energy in a way he sometimes forgets to do. Round One goes to Joshua, with Phil-Phil right behind.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: "You catch a groove in a song that's all yours and you just ride it all the way home," J-Lo says. "It's so beautiful to watch you unfold here," Tyler says. "When you're facing the sun, the shadows fall behind you," Tyler says before comparing Phil-Phil to THE BOSS?!?!? "You are so in the zone and you've been in the zone since Day One," Randy says. "You are who you are and we love it," Randy cheers. The judges only gave one standing ovation in the first round, Randy hesitates before kinda giving Joshua the edge. J-Lo clearly leans towards Phil-Phil. And Tyler waffles.
Singer: Joshua Ledet
My Take: Sorry. I'm not recapping the visits home. Joshua got a church-heavy edit. He also kissed babies and got the obligatory high school assembly and fireworks. For his own song choice, Joshua decided to go with the John Lennon favorite that very nearly lifted Little David Archuleta to the "Idol" crown. I like Josh when he doesn't need to over-emphasize how earnest and heartfelt everything is. That's why I didn't like his Groban and that's why this is way too predictable and easy for me. It's mostly stripped down and, relatively speaking, not weighted down with Joshua affectations. I'm not questioning that he's doing this well, but I don't get the same joy from it as I do when Joshua dips into the Motown songbook. He's talented, though. We know this. The boy can sing and this is note-perfect, without surprising.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Steven thinks he's sat there and watched Joshua learn to sing. I suspect this is not true. "It was a pulled back and controlled performance for you," J-Lo says. It sounds like she's moving into an insult, but really she's just saying that Joshua has courage to dig deep into the material. Randy wants everything Josh sings to touch him and calls this particular performance "stellar."
Singer: Jessica Sanchez
Song: "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing"
My Take: Jessica flew to San Diego in a helicopter? That's kinda crazy. She landed in the middle of the outfield at Petco Park. That's bananas. She performed for sailors on the USS Midway. Yeah, Jessica got perks Joshua didn't come close to getting, sentiment-wise. Song-wise, Jessica has chosen to Mariah-ize an Aerosmith song for Steven Tyler, who leers approvingly throughout. Going more contemporary was a good choice for Jessica, whose best chance to beat Joshua is by proving that she's more "2012" and more marketable, which is probably true. This song has been performed to death on "Idol" and this definitely one of the better versions we've heard, even with a last note that wavers and trembles in really un-Jessica fashion. I almost like that imperfection. When Jessica messes up, she seems more human than when she's doing a perfectly mimicked Xerox.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say:Tyler gives Jessica a standing ovation and tells her she made a great song better. J-Lo claims Tyler's hesitant to rave about people singing his songs and she loved Jessica's last note. Randy thought it started a little slow, but he felt she delivered on the big moment at the end.
Singer: Phillip Phillips
My Take: People back in Georgia like Phil-Phil. The clip package is full of nice humanizing moment like Phillip talking to a stuffed turkey and Phil-Phil's father's heartfelt tribute. And one key thing: Teenage girls love them some Phil-Phil in ways they didn't appear to love Jessica or Joshua. That's not insignificant. Do I know this Matchbox 20 song Phil-Phil has chosen for himself? Kinda, because it sounds like nearly every Matchbox 20 song. Phil-Phil loves finding ways to get the jazz sax player on stage with him. Do we think something's going on there? You can't undersell how much Phil-Phil's musicality improves his every performance. With his guitar, he unifies all of the disparate elements on-stage with him, compared to Jessica's awkward alienation and Josh's hit-and-miss connection. Put Phil-Phil on stage with a bongo player and the jazz sax and it comes together as a full musical number. Like Jessica, Phil-Phil is emphasizing his currency. You could write for this guy and market him. In 2012. Another solid performance, though probably less interesting than Phil-Phil's first solo. I'm not sure I want to give Round 2 to anybody. They were all OK-ish.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: J-Lo thought it wasn't a "Wow" performance, but it was "good." Damning. Tyler didn't think it was over-the-top. Randy didn't like it and make a big deal of patting himself on the back for not loving everything.
Singer: Joshua Ledet
Song: "No More Drama"
My Take: Jimmy Iovine picked a Mary J. Blige song for Joshua because he wanted Joshua to go over the top. And who is Joshua to say "No"? It's not a good piece of stagecraft. Joshua's jacket with the rhinestone shoulders is silly, as are the zombie backup singers. This song is simultaneously perfect and probably proves exactly the thing Jimmy didn't want it to: If this is what songwriters are going to think matches Joshua, he can't possibly sell into today's marketplace and who would think to match this song, at least on the page, with a male artist in the first place? He's going to require too much nurturing and care to get right. In that respect, Joshua is basically the Adam Lambert of this season. After starting subdued, Joshua works himself up into a marvelously frantic state, selling the performance as best he can. It still feels just a bit off, even if he couldn't have done it better. The jacket-toss and the earpiece-cast-aside are vintage Joshua.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Randy though the performance was the performance of a great artist. In the audience, Hollie Cavanagh agrees. "You have this perfect marriage of knowing exactly what you're doing and letting completely go at the same time," J-Lo says. Tyler says he watched Joshua and felt the last 40 years of the music business.
Singer: Jessica Sanchez
Song: "It'll Be There"
My Take: Yawn. So Jimmy gave Jessica a Jackson Five song that's basically her second Mariah Carey song of the night. We get the point. The girl can sing Mariah Carey. Surely there was a different Jackson Five song that Jimmy could have picked for her if what he wanted to showcase was her youth, rather than her Mariah-esque tendencies. The slightly odd thing is that she's singing the Jackson arrangement like Mariah, so it isn't as -- to use the Steven Tyler parlance -- over-the-top as it could be. Maybe Jessica could have used a little genuine over-the-top as a final performance for the night? All three of Jessica's performances tonight have been interchangeable, though I like that this one at least included a smile. Mostly, she did what we knew she could do.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: "Perfect song, perfect voice, you nailed it," Steve says. J-Lo thought it was a good choice and that she killed it in the end. "I liked it OK. I didn't love it," Randy says. "There was never a Moment moment," Randy says. He's correct in this case.
Singer: Phillip Phillips
Song: "We've Got Tonight"
My Take: The AT&T branding on these song selections is hilarious. Jimmy's choice? A little Bob Seger. It's a song that strips Phil-Phil of his guitar. It's just Phil-Phil on a stool singing. Even he looks perplexed. He keeps rubbing his thigh with his left hand, not knowing what to do with it at all. Maybe this was the wrong week to drop him into this deep end. The audience apparently hates Phil-Phil, because they begin clapping along to the song both inappropriately and off-rhythm. [Note: The audience doesn't really hate Phil-Phil. They love him. They're just idiots who hate music and like to destroy it.] But accompanied by a string ensemble, Phil-Phil delivers exactly what Jimmy wanted. If you ever said to yourself, "But can Phil-Phil actually sell a song on his voice alone?" The answer, it turns out, is a resounding yes. It's sentimental, passionate and... it's singing, without embellishment.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: "The perfect song at the perfect time and your best performance on the show ever," Randy says, calling this a Moment. "This boy here is in it to win it," Randy says. FIRST!!!! First "In it to win it" of the season. J-Lo says that women around the country will love the performance. "You just showed you've got all that passion wrapped up inside you," Tyler says, calling a performance "beautiful" and "over the top" for fifth or sixth time tonight.
OVERALL: Jessica showed only one color tonight. She did it well, but she did it thrice. Both Phil-Phil and Joshua showed they have a variety of tools in their kit. My instinct is that that musical diversity, plus the "Idol" audience's preference for male contestants will lead to Jessica's elimination, but I could be totally off-base.
What do you think?
Golden Globe nominee Pierce Brosnan will head to the Mediterranean Sea for the "All You Need Is Love," from Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier.
Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all North American rights to the film from TrustNordisk.
In a change of pace for Bier, "Love" is a romantic comedy set in Sorrento, Italy. There, a group of lonely hearts deal with romance, jealousy and loneliness, while trying to make significant changes in their lives. It also stars Trine Dyrholm and Paprika Steen.
“Susanne Bier's latest screenplay is intelligent, brave and so much fun. Audiences will really embrace this film. It is great to have Susanne, Sisse, Peter, Rikke and everyone at Trust Nordisk back in the Sony Classics family where they belong,” said Sony Pictures Classics in a release.
TrustNordisk's Rikke Ennis adds, “Sony Classics is family and it makes so much sense that Susanne Bier’s new film is with them. They did a tremendous job on 'In a Better World' and we are looking very much forward to the reaction of the American audience on 'Love is All You Need."
Bier's "In a Better World" picked up the foreign language Oscar in 2010. Her last English-language film was 2007's "Things We Lost in the Fire," starring Benicio del Toro and Halle Berry and John Carroll Lynch.
Brosnan was recently seen in "Remember Me," "I Don't Know How She Does It" and on A&E's Stephen King adaptation "Bag of Bones." He was nominated for a Golden Globe for 2005's "The Matador," and received critical kudos for his work in Roman Polanski's "The Ghost Writer," opposite Ewan McGregor.
Nine months ago I was standing on the Sunset Strip. It was in Florida.
That is, the set for the movie make of musical "Rock of Ages" was built in Miami, Fla., note-for-note of the famed rocker row circa the mid '80s. There's choppers and crimped hair on the extras, and it's all very dirty.
So is Tom Cruise, who plays man-child music star Stacee Jaxx in the Adam Shankman-directed flick. His locks are worn long and he's positively brimming tattoos and shabby furs. He'll be centerstage of a ensemble that includes co-leads Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, plus Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Shankman guided me and some other journalists through some Stacee footage last year in a trailer off the strip, of the 49-year-old actor playing an early 30s-something sex god with microphone. I am skeptical of "Rock of Ages," partly because I enjoyed the Broadway show and I'm leery of the scale of this project; I'm also weary of co-opting the music of my youth to force into caricature.
But I will say this: watching tape of Tom Cruise sing in the scene for Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me"? We were all fanning ourselves, more than a little bit.
I'll be publishing more on the visit to Los Angeles-by-way-of-Miami next week about this same time. Meanwhile, Cruise has been showing up on the pages of W and Playboy this week in promoting his image. Below check out a clip of Cruise's Stacee Jaxx sing some "Sugar":
My Chemical Romance, which will headline this weekend’s Bamboozle Festival in New Jersey on May 19, are headed back into the studio in a few weeks to begin recording the group’s fifth album.
Guitarist Frank Iero told The Aquarian Weekly that the group was in Los Angeles writing away in preparation to start recording in June with producer Doug McKean.
As we previously reported, MCR is stepping in at the last minute at Bamboozle to replace Blink-182 who had to drop out following drummer Travis Barker’s emergency tonsillectomy. The gig is breaking the band’s writing flow, but Iero says they are happy to play in their native New Jersey. “We love to play shows, and we’re glad to help out,” he said. “Especially in the NJ. We are in writing-mode right now and weren’t going to consider playing any shows, actually, but then stuff happened with Blink and we got the call. Plus I get to see Foo Fighters.”
The new album is the follow up to 2010’ “Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.” Iero wouldn’t reveal much, other than that the writing sessions are going “really well, actually. I’m really excited. I can’t wait to start tracking. I think we’re maybe a month away from the record button lighting up.”
He would reveal that touring drummer Jarrod Alexander, who began playing with the band last fall, would play at Bamboozle, but didn’t confirm that he will play on the new album. However, it sounds like he most likely will be in the studio with the rest of the band next month given this endorsement from Iero: “Jarrod is a rad guy and a fantastic player. It’s been really fun making music with him these past few months. He loves coffee and hitting drums super-hard… and the fact that he’s not a thieving piece of garbage is a breath of fresh air.” Alexander replaced former touring drummer Michael Pedicone.
It hasn’t looked good for drummer Bill Ward to play with his Black Sabbath bandmates ever since February when he brought up that he would not participate in the band’s mini-reunion tour unless he received a “signable contract.” He put the final nail in his participation in the reunion coffin with an emotional new missive on his website, posted Wednesday and addressed to “Sabbath Fans and Fellow Musicians.”
“I sincerely regret to inform you that after a final effort to participate in the upcoming Sabbath shows a failure to agree has continued,” Ward writes.
The tour starts this Saturday, May 19 in Birmingham, England and includes gigs at the Download Festival in Donington Park, England, on June 10 and Lollapalooza in Chicago on Aug. 3. The band, which includes original members Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, and Tony Iommi, who is well enough to play after being diagnosed with lymphoma, initially announced a new album and tour last November. The group planned to play Coachella, but had to pull out while Iommi was receiving treatment. Then, in February, Ward brought up needing a contract and it looks like the negotiations proceeded in fits and starts before the clock ran out last week.
Ward further writes that he was offered the opportunity to only play three songs at the Download festival, while another drummer played the rest of the set, and that, communication between him and the rest of the band, is so bad that he only found out about the Birmingham gig through an Internet ad.
Ward’s participation had been in doubt for months after he insisted upon a contract. That had lead to fractious, on-and-off-again negotiations, which his website letter indicates went right up until May 10. The band’s rep asked him to come to the U.K. and play the Birmingham show for free and “see how the first show goes.” He adds that he was willing to play for free, but that the doubt that he would play the Download and Lollapalooza festivals was too upsetting for him to agree.
“I hold no malice or resentment towards the other band members,” writes Ward in the heartfelt letter. “I love them; I'm tolerant of them; I'm frustrated with them, as they may be with me. My fight has never been with them. I'll love them forever. In my opinion, nobody wins this time; the band doesn't win; the fans for an original lineup don't win. Nobody wins, nobody. Even the ones who thought they did. I didn't want to make this decision, but I have to be honest and transparent. This is the statement I didn't want to write; it's the last thing I wanted to do. But, I have written it, and now it can go into the universe."