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<p>Chris Langham in &quot;Black Pond.&quot;</p>

Chris Langham in "Black Pond."

Credit: Entertainment One

Karlovy Vary: Variety celebrates the European directors of the future

10 Euro Directors To Watch sidebar includes 'Wrinkles' and 'Black Pond'

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic - As I mentioned in a previous dispatch, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, though reasonably august itself in its 47th year, has a reputation as one of the “youngest” festivals on the scene in terms of its audience and programming focus. That’s easy enough to see on the ground here: where the lofty likes of Cannes are largely inaccessible to movie fans, hordes of students and backpackers descend on the dainty Czech spa town during the weeks of the festival to do some serious film-watching.

Allowing ticketless chancers to queue outside the cinemas for last-minute access, meanwhile, ensures I haven’t been to one screening here that wasn’t packed to capacity, with many particularly keen cinephiles content to sit in the aisles when seats run out. (Overseeing staff, not nearly as paranoid about fire regulations as their US and UK counterparts, blithely take a more-the-merrier policy.) That level of enthusiasm is heartening enough for hot Cannes repeats like “Holy Motors” and “Amour.” That the kids are also cramming in for Dan Sallitt’s sober, star-free incest drama “The Unspeakable Act,” to name one crowded screening I attended this afternoon, should make Karlovy Vary the envy of many more high-profile festivals.  

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<p>&quot;The Amazing Spider-Man&quot;</p>

"The Amazing Spider-Man"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

The web slinger reboot hits theaters this holiday

The reactions to "The Amazing Spider-Man" have been kind of schizophrenic. I haven't seen it, mind you. A) Wasn't invited. B) Probably wouldn't have been able to drum up the interest if I had been. Surely these decisions, what gets made, what doesn't, they have to mean more than money. Right? Right? I guess the wheel keeps on turning, but the holiday just doesn't feel all that exciting to me at the multiplex. Anyway, I'll save all of that until after I finally DO see it (whenever that might be). For now, though, I imagine many of you have seen it or will, so offer up your thoughts in the comments section below if/when you do.

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<p>Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and John Travolta all managed to stay civilized long enough to discuss their work in Oliver Stone's new film 'Savages'</p>

Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, and John Travolta all managed to stay civilized long enough to discuss their work in Oliver Stone's new film 'Savages'

Credit: HitFix

John Travolta, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson discuss being 'Savages' for Oliver Stone

Plus the most memorable Film Nerd 2.0 encounter yet

I would be the first to admit that this job comes with some pretty great built-in perks.

For the most part, those perks mean nothing to me.  When it comes to meeting people, there's a momentary pleasure if their work is important to me, but I've met so many people at this point that I can't really claim that it's a thrill.  But for my sons, there is still something magical about getting to meet the people they watch on a movie screen, especially if it's a movie that means something special to them.

I've written at length in my Film Nerd 2.0 series about the movies that have become signposts in the relationship I'm building with my sons and in the relationship that they're building with the outside world.  These movies we screen are more than just a way to pass a few hours at a time.  These movies are their cultural education, and the movies they really love end up getting spun over and over.

I'm not the only one who can pass along a movie to the boys, of course.  Their mother has her own list of significant films that she wants to share with them.  In one case, there's a film that she has probably seen a hundred times that she has very successfully passed along, and I think it is safe to say that Toshi is a full-blown fan of the movie "Grease."  When he had just learned to walk and he was still months away from anything resembling real conversational speech, his mom would turn on "Grease," and Toshi would spend the entire movie up in front of the TV, dancing along to every musical number.

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<p>The Zac Brown Band get animated by Mike Judge in the new music video for &quot;The Wind.&quot;</p>

The Zac Brown Band get animated by Mike Judge in the new music video for "The Wind."

Credit: Atlantic Records

Watch: Mike Judge directs animated clip for Zac Brown Band's 'The Wind'

Does Boomhauer make a cameo?

Hank Hill is nowhere to be found and there’s not a stapler in sight, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had in the new video for Zac Brown Band’s “The Wind.” Directed by “King of The Hill”  and “Office Space’s” Mike Judge, the animated clip is little bit wacky.

“Robo Redneck AKA The Six Million Dollar Honky” features a cartoon Brown out four-wheeling with his buddies when he gets accidentally shot by a hunter’s errant bullet.

Modern medicine and science step in and he’s reconstructed as a musical Iron Man, with skills far beyond playing the guitar.  That bionic hand comes in quite handy for more than popping a beer top.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Katy Mixon and Danny McBride are going to explore what happens after the happy ending in a fourth season of 'Eastbound and Down' on HBO.</p>

Katy Mixon and Danny McBride are going to explore what happens after the happy ending in a fourth season of 'Eastbound and Down' on HBO.

Credit: HBO

Exclusive: Danny McBride explains what to expect from 'Eastbound and Down' season four

What story is left for Jody Hill and his cast to tell in a fourth season?

I am never playing poker with Danny McBride.

I was just in New Orleans for a quick visit to the set of "End Of The World," a truly deranged comedy written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and while I was there, I saw Danny, and we talked for a moment about the final season of "Eastbound and Down."  At that point, nothing he said or did indicated that he was considering returning for another season, and I walked away secure in the knowledge that I had said goodbye to Kenny Powers.

But that just plain isn't true, is it?

This morning, because of yesterday's announcement that there will be another season of the show, I got on the phone to talk to Danny again and to ask him what motivated the decision.  Also, I just plain wanted to yell at him for playing coy less than 15 days ago, which made him laugh and laugh.

"Yeah, it looks like the fans are going to get a bonus round with Kenny Powers," he said, entertained at my obvious exasperation.

I told him that when I was being sent episodes of season three by HBO and I put up reviews of what I kept calling "the final season," HBO repeatedly asked me to de-emphasize that idea, that they were keeping all options open, and that they wanted more from the guys. 

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<p>Kanye West at the 2012 BET&nbsp;Awards</p>

Kanye West at the 2012 BET Awards

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kanye West and Pusha T drop 'New God Flow' in full

Should this show up on the G.O.O.D. Music comp?

Kanye West gave us a little taste of "New God Flow" the other night at the BET Awards. His verse was missing the (literal) beat, for sure, but it was also lacking the track's other voice, Pusha T.

The track's lifted up with the Ghostface Killah sample from "Mighty Healthy" and sunk with Ye's penchance for a little (OK, a lot) of darkness. I love the production, and it's fitting for the GOOD crew.

But the combo feels forced. Pusha seems to be lofting some disses at Young Money and rapping about his prowess at pushing dope, while Kanye's legitimizing his "God"-like status from a different planet, where Biggie Smalls, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rodney King meet. He talks about the issues of his hometown Chicago. They're not the easiest, "coolest" rhymes compared to Pusha, but there's a level above the normal rap game.

We might not hear this one around as much as "Mercy," but it's another angle on the "G.O.O.D." Music compilation, if it does indeed end up on it.

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<p>Tim McGraw</p>

Tim McGraw

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Tim McGraw's new single, 'Truck Yeah'

Does it get any better than the horrible title suggests?

Tim McGraw’s new single, “Truck Yeah,” lost me at the very first line: “Got Lil Wayne poppin on my iPod.”  If you’re “Hillbilly proud” or have a “little redneck blood,” as the lyrics spout, shouldn’t you be cranking Hank, Merle, or Waylon?

McGraw’s 20-year career has careened all over the place from the truly horrific early hit, “Indian Outlaw,” to the sassy sexiness of “I Like It, I Love It” and “Real Good Man”  to the deeply poignant “Angry All The Time,” “Red Rag Top” or “My Next 30 Years.”   This song barely rates above “Indian Outlaw.” And I say this as a big McGraw fan.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Anna Paquin in &quot;Margaret&quot;</p>

Anna Paquin in "Margaret"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Margaret': an interactive study guide to the poem that inspired the film

The home entertainment marketing blitz brings things full circle

"Little kids grow up discovering the world that's shown to them, and then when you become a teenager, it kind of shrinks a little bit. I think when you get past that point, one of the important things is that you see there is more to the world than yourself. Elaine May had seen an early cut of the film and she said to me, 'Only a teenager could think that she could have that much affect on the world,' which I thought was very interesting and apt and kind of touching and sad."

That was Kenneth Lonergan last year discussing not only his embattled film "Margaret" in a nutshell, but the impact Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem "Spring and Fall" had on him when conceiving the film during our lengthy interview at the height of #teammargaret. And with the DVD/Blu-ray release of the film right around the corner, things are coming full circle in the home video marketing as Fox and the folks at ThinkJam have cooked up an interactive study guide to explain all of the intricacies and connections of the film's plot to the poem.

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<p>Tom Cruise sure is well-dressed as 'Jack Reacher'</p>

Tom Cruise sure is well-dressed as 'Jack Reacher'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tom Cruise kicks butt and drives real fast, but is he 'Jack Reacher'?

The first trailer raises many questions about how they're handing the Lee Childs character

One of things I was sorry to have missed at CinemaCon this spring was the Paramount presentation for "Jack Reacher," if only because I wanted to see for myself what's being done with one of my favorite ongoing characters in current fiction.

After all, I've written several times already about my hesitations involving Tom Cruise playing the role of Jack Reacher.  First and foremost, he's just plain physically wrong for the character as he exists in the books.  Reacher is an ape, a huge guy, well over six feet tall, and in almost every book that Lee Child has written about him, there's at least one moment where Reacher's size plays a part in the handling of a situation.  I spent at least a year stumping for Dwayne Johnson to play the part, and I think Joseph Manganiello would also have made a logical and interesting choice.

But let's set aside questions of scale.  Can Tom Cruise step in and play the character anyway?  Based on the trailer that Paramount released today, I think that question no longer matters, because whatever the movie is… and it could end up being a lot of fun… it's not the Jack Reacher that exists on the page.  Two minutes of footage proved conclusively that they've refigured the character so much that it's just not the same thing anymore.  This is "Tom Cruise, moral crusader with a hot car," and I have ever confidence the film will be entertaining.

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<p>Christina Hendricks and Jon Hamm in &quot;Mad Men.&quot;</p>

Christina Hendricks and Jon Hamm in "Mad Men."

Credit: AMC

If I had an Emmy ballot 2012: Outstanding Drama Series

What shows join "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" on Alan's final list?

And now we've come to the end of our trip through this year's Emmy nominations ballot. Actual ballots were due last Thursday, but the point of this exercise isn't about trying to influence the vote, but simply talking about whom Dan expects to be nominated (ranking potential nominees from most likely to least), and whom I would pick if I had a ballot. And, as always, we are working off of the actual Emmy ballot, so we can't consider shows that didn't submit themselves, nor can we reassign one to a more suitable or easier category.

Our last category is Outstanding Drama Series. Dan's predictions are here, and my picks are coming right up...

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<p>Michael&nbsp;Curtiz accepts his Oscar for Best Director of &quot;Casablanca&quot;&nbsp;at the 16th annual Academy Awards.</p>

Michael Curtiz accepts his Oscar for Best Director of "Casablanca" at the 16th annual Academy Awards.

Credit: AMPAS

Michael Curtiz's 'Casablanca' Oscar and original 'Metropolis' poster hit the auction block

Got any money burning a hole in your Caymans account?

Attention movie memorabilia collectors with massive wallets. There are a pair of items on the auction block that you might be interested in.

First up, the Best Director Oscar Michael Curtiz won for "Casablanca" in 1942. Actually, the auction for this one at Nate D. Sanders apparently closed already but I never heard anything else about it after the initial  news (which I've been meaning to mention for a few days now). It was expected to fetch upwards of $3 million. Wowsers. And apparently David Copperfied previously owned it, having paid $230,000 for it in 2003. Um, my guess is he made a profit when he sold it to whoever owned it prior to last week's auction.

That's a pretty key piece of Academy history, indeed, of film history. I'd say it's on the top tier, with things like Orson Welles's "Citizen Kane" prize and the like. But again, no word yet on who the winning bidder may have been.

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<p>Andy Griffith</p>

Andy Griffith

Credit: AP Photo

Reflections on growing up with Andy Griffith in North Carolina

What he meant to this girl from Raleigh

I grew up in Raleigh, N.C., or The Big City, as it was referred to on “The Andy Griffith Show.”  

When I heard of Andy Griffith’s death this morning, it felt like I’d lost an uncle. I never met him, but for anyone in North Carolina who was raised watching “The Andy Griffith Show” whether in real time or in its continual reruns, Griffith was the closest thing we had to a human god who wasn’t famous for throwing a ball or was named Billy Graham. (Read Alan Sepinwall's fine appreciation here).

 Though Griffith played Andy Taylor, the sheriff of Mayberry, and I’m quite sure his jurisdiction did not extend beyond the city limits, it felt like his avuncular, benevolent presence watched over all of us.  Not only did the widowed father take care of his boy, Opie (with the help of Aunt Bee, or “Aint” Bee, as everyone on the show pronounced it), he saw to it that none of Mayberry’s fine denizens came to any harm.

Mayberry may have been a fictional town that stood in for Griffith’s real hometown of Mt. Airy, N.C., but it felt very real. “The Andy Griffith Show” was the first television series that I had knowledge of being set in North Carolina and every time someone mentioned Raleigh in an episode, this little girl’s heart would swell with pride that all over the country people were hearing the name of my home town. I felt like it put us on the map. Plus, Raleigh was seen as a thriving metropolis and destination on the show: Deputy Barney Fife frequently talked about coming to Raleigh on vacation, staying at the YMCA, and taking in a picture show.

Nothing ever happened in Mayberry that Andy couldn’t fix within an half-hour episode, whether it was someone stealing Aunt Bee’s pie recipe or Opie lying or Otis needing to sleep one off in the drunk tank...again. And heaven help those big city folks (usually from the North, if I recall correctly) who came through Mayberry thinking they could pull one over on the local rubes. Well, Andy would sit right down and set them straight with his sly, homespun wisdom. He’d send those city slickers packing. No pie for them.

Even better was when someone would come through Mayberry (an inordinate number of cars seemed to breakdown there), who just happened to have superior musical skills, like Flatt & Scruggs or The Dillards (as The Darlings). There was always time to sit and pick for a spell, often with Andy on guitar.

Yes, it was an idealized version of southern country life, but it didn’t feel that farfetched, perhaps because Griffith knew the area so well and threw in so many aspects of his own childhood. Even though there were broad characterizations, Griffith never made fun of his own and understood the difference between a stereotype and a caricature. Oh sure, it was fine for Floyd the Barber to poke fun at service station attendants Gomer or Goober, but they’d circle the wagons right fast if an outsider tried to do so.  My father traveled the state a great deal for work when I was growing up. I occasionally accompanied him to smalls towns just like Mayberry  where nobody knew a stranger, everybody was your friend and there was always a cold soft drink (usually a Sun Drop in a glass bottle) waiting for Walt’s daughter.

I never saw an episode of “Matlock,” Griffith’s detective series from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and I don’t remember him at all as the federal prosecutor in the made-for-TV movie “Fatal Vision,” which told the story of Jeffrey McDonald, a Green Beret stationed at Ft. Bragg accused of killing his wife and children (As a kid growing up 75 minutes from Ft. Bragg and having a father who served in the National Guard there, the memories of those deaths,  McDonald’s assertion that a bunch of “hippies” killed his family, and the subsequent trials in Raleigh are my equivalent of the Manson murders). He remained Andy Taylor to me.

I had grown up and long left North Carolina before I discovered Elia Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd” in the mid-to-late ‘90s. Released in 1957, it starred Griffith, in his first movie role, as Lonesome Rhodes, one of the most craven, charismatic characters ever committed to the big or small screen. I watched the movie slackjawed, incredulous that Sheriff Taylor could be so duplicitous, evil, and, dare I admit it, sexy. Griffith brilliantly plays an Arkansas ne’er-do-well discovered singing in jail by a radio producer, played by Patricia Neal. He becomes a national folk hero, seemingly speaking truth to power, all the while hiding his nearly sociopathic ambitions. If there had been true justice, the role would have catapulted Griffith to the ranks of a top movie star. I don’t know why it didn’t, but if it had, we never would have gotten Sheriff Taylor. (Note: TCM will run “A Face in the Crowd” in a daylong salute to Griffith on July 18).

For a long time, I thought that Mayberry was only special to people from North Carolina, but I came to realize that what Griffith had created resonated with most southern folks and almost anyone from a small town; He  was seen as a national treasure and we were happy to share him.  Country music embraced the values that Sheriff Taylor stood for and considered Griffith one of their own.  “The Andy Griffith” show was immortalized in a number of country songs and in 2008 Griffith starred in Brad Paisley’s stirring video for  “Waitin’ on a Woman.” Paisley talks about working with Griffith here  and his death in this touching LA Times piece. (Griffith himself won a Grammy for his gospel recordings in 1996).

North Carolinians loved Griffith for representing them so well and for never abandoning them. He came back to live in N.C. more than 20 years ago and seemed to love his later years there, lending his voice and name to causes he supported. In 2002, TV Land donated a statue of Griffith to Pullen Park, the local Raleigh park my mom took me and my older sister, Jeannie, to when we were little to ride the train and the merry-go-round. It’s a statue of Griffith as Sheriff Taylor with Opie as they head for their fishing hole, just like in the show’s credits. My friend Debbie and I went to see it on one of my trips back home several years ago and it brought back a rush of childhood memories. I have no doubt that today that statue is covered in flowers and is serving as a meeting place for Griffith’s fans, just like Strawberry Fields served for John Lennon’s fans. I don’t know if Gov. Perdue has called for the N.C. flag to be flown at half-mast in Griffith’s honor, but it feels appropriate if she has. Griffith may be gone, but Andy Taylor will live forever.  I’m heading to Raleigh later this week. A trip to the statue, and maybe even a drive by the YMCA, may be in order. 

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