Latest Blog Posts

<p>Kelsey Grammer as Mayor Tom Kane in &quot;Boss.&quot;</p>

Kelsey Grammer as Mayor Tom Kane in "Boss."

Credit: Starz

Review: Kelsey Grammer and 'Boss' return to Starz for season 2

Grammer's fantastic, but the show remains easier to admire than like

As Starz's "Boss" enters its second season Friday night at 10, the political drama remains a show I find much easier to admire than to enjoy.

Read Full Post
Joel Edgerton finds magic in 'Odd Life' before keeping secrets in 'Zero Dark Thirty'

Joel Edgerton finds magic in 'Odd Life' before keeping secrets in 'Zero Dark Thirty'

What can he tell us about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden thriller?

My interview with Joel Edgerton was mostly about his new Disney family flick "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," but When the cameras weren't rolling it was clear that there was one movie the "Warrior"-star really excited about and that's "Wish You Were Here." The 2012 Sundance Film Festival thriller is finally hitting theaters in the U.S. this January and the home-based production is close to the Aussie's heart.  So much so, he brought it up twice during the five minutes or so we had to chat. And considering the indie has a tough road ahead of itself on the art house circuit, you can't blame him for making sure we in the media don't forget about it. Mission accomplished Mr. Edgerton.

Read Full Post
<p>'I just want to talk to you about your nitpicks of the film. My friends are just here because they're curious. Seriously... a friendly chat. Come on...'</p>

'I just want to talk to you about your nitpicks of the film. My friends are just here because they're curious. Seriously... a friendly chat. Come on...'

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

A second look at 'The Dark Knight Rises' attempts to dismantle Chris Nolan's magic trick

It may not be everyone's Batman, but was it ever meant to be?

Every single time I've sat down to finish this article, I am struck anew by just how complicated any conversation about "The Dark Knight Rises" has become for reasons that have nothing to do with the movie itself.

And once I sat down to finish it, it quickly turned into an unwieldy and completely disorganized collection of thoughts that I couldn't quite get my arms around.

I originally planned to publish this the week after the film opened, but it has stymied me for the last two weeks because of what happened in that theater in Aurora, Colorado.  I don't believe the film had anything to do with the actions of that deranged piece of garbage, but I think the media has worked overtime to make sure they connect the two with a near non-stop assault.  I just saw that a BBC3 documentary is being rushed through production called "The Batman Shootings," a disgusting title, and sure to be a classless piece of sensational garbage.

One publication I've seen made the editorial decision to only refer to what happened as "The 'Dark Knight Rises' shooting" in every single headline they've run, as many as four or five a day so far, and it turns my stomach every single time.  It feels gross for anyone to take this film that represents the conclusion of six years worth of storytelling involving one of the biggest characters in pop culture and permanently saddle it with what that lunatic did.  And if it seems like I'm going out of my way not to say his name, it's because I refuse to play into his agenda in any way.  He wanted to tie himself to something huge and unavoidable, just like someone deciding to shoot John Lennon, and if you give him the gift of celebrity, doesn't that mean it worked?

Read Full Post
<p>If today's reports are to be believed, we can look forward to a whole lot more of this in the sequel to 'Snow White and the Huntsman'</p>

If today's reports are to be believed, we can look forward to a whole lot more of this in the sequel to 'Snow White and the Huntsman'

Credit: Universal Pictures

A full day of 'Snow White' speculation reveals the tabloid appetites of Hollywood press

Facts are fun but in short supply as people pile on to a speculative story

You can't be fired from a job that doesn't exist.

Today has been a long day of hysterical headlines and wild overreaction to what basically amounts to a non-story, a re-confirmed detail that has been combined with one new piece of information, slathered in rumor, and then served up in a mixture that is designed to outrage and drive page views, but which seems to me to point out one of the fundamental flaws of entertainment "news" as a whole.

David Koepp was hired to write a sequel to "Snow White and the Huntsman."  That's true.  David Koepp is now moving on, presumably to some other high-profile job, as Universal tries to decide what, if anything, they're going to do with the script.

Let's imagine we lived in a world where "Snow White and the Huntsman" was a giant megahit and people were genuinely asking for a sequel.  Let's imagine that in that version of the film, Kristen Stewart felt like an organic piece of the overall world and not a momentarily hot actress shoehorned into a franchise role that ill fits her.  Let's imagine that there's a scandal involving her and the filmmaker and the studio decided to fire her as a way of scolding her for her sexual indiscretion while they reward the filmmaker with another job.  That would be a situation worth reporting on, and it would be a fairly damning course of action by Universal Studios.

Read Full Post
"The Glee Project"

"The Glee Project"

Credit: Oxygen

'The Glee Project' recap: 'Glee-ality'

It's the big finale - which one of the final three will make the cut?

It's the big finale, and our final three will be competing for a chance at getting a character arc of seven episodes on "Glee." Considering that "The Glee Project" has been a lot  more entertaining than "Glee" lately, I'm not sure if this is the big reward it used to be, but everyone seems excited about it nonetheless.

Read Full Post
<p>Tommy Lee Jones as Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Peter Webber's &quot;Emperor.&quot;</p>

Tommy Lee Jones as Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Peter Webber's "Emperor."

New films from Nick Cassavetes, Ed Burns and Peter Webber join Toronto Film Festival 2012 lineup

'The Master,' 'The Paperboy' and 'On the Road' will also screen

The Toronto International Film Festival announced more special galas and its contemporary world cinema slate today expanding the film's impressive cinematic roster.

As expected, a number of pictures debuting at the Venice Film Festival will have their second screenings at Toronto including Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," Brian De Palma's "Passion," Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" and Spike Lee's "Bad 25."  A number of movies that debuted at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival will also be shown including Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" and Walter Salles' "On the Road." Additionally, Sundance selections "Middle of Nowhere" and "Smashed" will join the previously announced Fox Searchlight pickup "The Sessions" in continuing their long journeys from Park City to theaters with a stopover in Toronto.

More intriguing are the world premieres the festival added to the schedule. These include Paul Andrew Williams' "Song for Marion" (which In Contention's Guy Lodge chimes in on here), Peter Webber's "Emperor" which features Tommy Lee Jones as Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Nick Cassavetes' "Yellow" which features an impressive ensemble including Sienna Miller, Gena Rowlands, Ray Liotta, David Morse, Lucy Punch, Riley Keoug and the little seen Melanie Griffith.

Read Full Post
<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
BLOGS BY NAME