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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 129: 'Community,' 'House,' 'Avengers' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 129: 'Community,' 'House,' 'Avengers' & more

Dan and Alan also review TBS' 'Men at Work' and announce their summer rewatch

The

A very busy, very long Firewall & Iceberg Podcast this week deals with finales, firings, a forgettable new TBS sitcom, a metaphorical Marvel Team-Up between Don Draper and Joan Harris, a more literal Marvel team-up between the members of The Avengers, and the announcement of this week's summer re-watch. 

The line-up: 

Tessa's Mom Candidates (00:01:30 - 00:05:00)
"Men at Work" (00:05:00 - 00:10:45)
"Community" finale/Dan Harmon (00:10:45 - 00:28:00)
"Grey's Anatomy"/"Scandal" finales (00:28:10 - 00:45:45)
"House" finale (00:45:45 - 00:58:45)
Listener Mail - "Breaking Bad" premiere (00:59:00 - 01:03:45)
"Mad Men" (01:03:50 - 01:20:00)
"Avengers" (01:20:10 - 01:36:00)
Our Summer Re-Watch Announcement (01:36:10 - 01:39:25)
 
As we discuss towards the end of the show, there may or may not be a podcast next week, due to Dan's travel schedule, but there will definitely not be a podcast on Monday, due to the Memorial Day holiday.

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>Michael Jackson</p>

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's 'Bad' celebrates its 25th anniversary in a very good way

A 3-CD set with plenty of goodies arrives in September

Who’s bad? Michael Jackson, that’s who.  To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the King of Pop’s mega-million-selling 1987 set, “Bad,” Eplc/Legacy will release a 3-CD box set on Sept. 18.

The collection will include the remastered original album, a CD of unreleased demos recorded around the same time, and the audio from Jackson’s July 16, 1988 performance at London’s Wembley Stadium, according to Billboard.

[More after the jump...]

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Album Review: 'American Idol' Kris Allen's 'Thank You Camellia'

Album Review: 'American Idol' Kris Allen's 'Thank You Camellia'

Does his sophomore set show growth?

Though it’s totally coincidental, Kris Allen has picked the perfect time to release his second album, “Thank You Camellia.”

A lot has changed at radio since the “American Idol” season 8 winner released his debut in 2009. Back then, his soft- rock, The Fray-type gentle pop ramblings were out of favor with what was happening at Top 40 (although he managed to have a very nice-sized AC hit with “Live Like We’re Dying.”)  This time, we are in a full-blown pop revival, so it should help him, especially on the album’s opening tune, the peppy “Better With You, “ which sounds like it could be straight off of One Direction’s current album, “Up All Night.” "Thank You Camellia" comes out today.

Allen’s music is non-challenging and perfectly pleasant and, depending upon what you want from your music, that’s either just fine or the worst indictment anyone could write. But regardless of how you feel, there’s no denying that he is one artist who does not seem to be trying to be anything other than who he is: A straight-down-the-middle pop singer, who has a love and knack for a simple melody. There's a loping sincerity to everything he touches and an extreme likeability.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Chang as Chow Yun-Fat, Britta as Mrs. Mia Wallace and a blood-splattered Shirley were three memorable moments of the Dan Harmon era.</p>

Chang as Chow Yun-Fat, Britta as Mrs. Mia Wallace and a blood-splattered Shirley were three memorable moments of the Dan Harmon era.

Credit: NBC

Saying goodbye to the Dan Harmon era of 'Community'

Here are 10 episodes that defined the mad genius of the show's ousted creator

The news that Dan Harmon was fired as "Community" showrunner still feels like a cruel joke — like fans of the show wished for a fourth season on a monkey's paw, only to discover that the fourth season would air on Fridays after "Whitney" and not involve the man whose mad genius made "Community" what it was.

Over the weekend, the cast and many of the show's top writers paid homage to Harmon on Twitter, thanking him for the opportunity and fun that came with his creation. We have no idea what the show will look like under new bosses Moses Port and David Guarascio, but they definitely have a tough, if not impossible, act to follow.

Before we move forward on whatever "Community" is about to become, I first wanted to look back at 10 episodes from the Harmon era — not necessarily the 10 best, but 10 that represent the depth, breadth and insanity of what the show was under his watch.

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<p>Rick Baker with his &quot;Men in&nbsp;Black III&quot;&nbsp;creations</p>

Rick Baker with his "Men in Black III" creations

Credit: Columbia Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 Rick Baker contributions to the movies

With 'Men in Black III' on the way, we look at the legendary makeup artist's career

Hitting theaters this weekend is "Men in Black III," the latest installment of a sci-fi comedy franchise that has been box office gold the world over. This one has been mired in whispers of behind-the-scenes crises and near shut-downs, but what matters is what's on screen. And what's on screen is another showcase from film makeup designer Rick Baker.

Baker is seemingly the face of film makeup, his rockstar look and landmark-laden portfolio adding to the mythic image of one of the medium's top tier talents. But Baker is a fan like the rest. His accomplishments in the industry stretch back to second unit work in "Star Wars" (post-production additions on the famous Cantina scene being his big moment) and further.

Oh, and he has 12 Oscar nominations and seven wins to show for himself. Naturally, then, there's plenty of fodder for a new installment of the lists!

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<p>Red Hot Chili Peppers</p>

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys and Jack White headline Austin City Limits Festival

Why yes, the headliner slate is very similar to Lollapalooza

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, and Jack White are among the artists who will headline the Austin City Limits Festival, which takes place in the Texas capital Oct. 12-14.

If that lineup sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it looks a lot like the roster for Lollapalooza, which takes place in Chicago:  The RHCP, Black Keys and Jack White are all playing the Aug. 3-5 festival as well.

Among the other acts the two festivals will share are Florence + The Machine, The Shins,  Avicii, Bassnectar, M83, Childish Gambino, Alabama Shakes, Delta Spirit, and Kopecky Family Band.  That’s bound to happen when both events feature more than 120 acts, but we don’t remember ever seeing this many big names playing both in the same year.

Among the other acts performing at ACL’s Zilker Park will by Gotye, The Afghan Whigs, The Civil Wars, Patterson Hood, Big K.R.I.T., Kimbra, The Avett Bros., and Iggy & The Stooges.

Tickets are on  sale now at www.aclfestival.com

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<p>Director Pablo Larrain (center) and stars Alfredo Castro and Gael Garcia Bernal arrives for the Cannes premiere of &quot;No.&quot;</p>

Director Pablo Larrain (center) and stars Alfredo Castro and Gael Garcia Bernal arrives for the Cannes premiere of "No."

Credit: AP Photo/Francois Mori

Sony Classics says yes to 'No' at Cannes

Festival standout finds home with top foreign-language distributor

In the mid-Cannes checkup piece I posted yesterday, I wrote that the festival sidebars (Un Certain Regard, Directors' Fortnight and Critics' Week, plus a handful of stray special selections) haven't produced much in the way of a word-of-mouth sensation. The clear exception I noted was Chilean director Pablo Larrain's "No" -- my own favourite film of the festival thus far -- which I saw on the third day of the festival and was far from alone in admiring. (When even self-confessed sidebar sceptic Jeff Wells has checked it out and is singing its praises, you know word has officially got round.)

So I'm thrilled to hear that the positive buzz for "No" has paid off handsomely in the distribution racket, as the US rights to the film have been picked up by arthouse major Sony Pictures Classics, whose record of shepherding foreign-language fare Stateside currently stands second to none. (For starters, they've been behind five of the last six winners of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.) That's a major profile boost for Larrain, whose last two films, "Tony Manero" and "Post Mortem" (with which "No" forms a thematically-linked trilogy), were distributed in the US by the far lower-profile outfit Kino Lorber. ("Post Mortem" hit theaters only last month on a highly limited release.)

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<p>Britt Daniel of Spoon</p>

Britt Daniel of Spoon

Credit: AP Photo

Spoon's Britt Daniel forms Divine Fits with members of Wolf Parade and New Bomb Turks

New group will release album on Merge later this year

Get ready for another indie rock supergroup.

Spoon's Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade's Dan Boeckner and former New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown are joining forces to become Divine Fits.

The group's as yet untitled debut album will be released later this year on Merge Records, longtime home to Spoon, Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, Fucked Up and numerous other bands. Post-punk production guru Nick Launay (Gang of Four, PiL, Kate Bush) recorded the album.

There's little information available about the album or any touring plans. Keep up-to-date at the band's web site here. Divine Fits should have an interesting sound, since all three band members' other projects have been distinctively different; Spoon purveys sparse, soulful pop while New Bomb Turks played upbeat punk-pop and Wolf Parade eyed '80s new wave as inspiration and often featured keyboards and dancier sounds.

Spoon's last studio album, "Transference," hit No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in 2010. Wolf Parade, whose last album was also released in 2010, recently announced that they're on hiatus. The New Bomb Turks, meanwhile, haven't played together since 2005.

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<p>Hugh Laurie in the &quot;House&quot;&nbsp;series finale.</p>

Hugh Laurie in the "House" series finale.

Credit: FOX

Series finale review: 'House' - 'Everybody Dies'

House confronts his greatest foe — himself — and solves one final problem

A review of the "House" series finale coming up just as soon as I say that Pascal's Wager is facile...

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<p>Public Image Ltd.</p>

Public Image Ltd.

Credit: Paul Heartfield

Interview: John Lydon on PiL, Sex Pistols, Green Day and the Olympics

Johnny Rotten's Public Image Ltd. 20-year return, Jah Wobble and lousy surfing

John Lydon -- aka Johnny Rotten -- speaks in stanzas, with grand pauses. He’d finish a thought, I’d give him a few seconds, I’d start to speak but then he’d start in on another thought on the same subject, sometimes in third person. He was full of sharp declarations and axioms like they were print-ready for badges and t-shirts. Perhaps its because many were badges and t-shirts.  

It’s been 20 years since Lydon’s Public Image Ltd. has released new music, but the frontman contends that PiL was never really gone. Listeners can hear the band’s influence in contemporary artists today, and that his parade of rotating members have gone on to initiate other bands bearing PiL’s mark. You should and could say the same about the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten’s other heavily influential band. Along with guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook, the group has performed on and off as the Sex Pistols live, and this month the “God Save the Queen” single is getting a vinyl reissue and the Pistols’ album “Never Mind the Bollocks” will drop as a 35th anniversary reissue.
 
PiL’s resurgence started in 2009 when guitarist Lu Edmonds, and drummer Bruce Smith and new blood Scott Firth on bass hit the road. They circled up, ultimately, at Steve Winwood’s studio in Cotswolds, England and bashed out “This is PiL,” out next Tuesday (May 29) via PiL's own label with distro from Redeye. The entire album is available to stream, and has been for two months.
 
Last month, Johnny Rotten was on the phone from California, his adoptive home for more than two decades. Despite what I was warned, there wasn’t too much sass, barely any spit and the 56-year-old was willing to talk about just about anything, from his contentious relationship to ex-bassist Jah Wobble, to the passing of his step-daughter Ari Up (of the Slits) to his money troubles in starting another PiL album again.
 
Despite past troubles, Lydon seemed at peace in many ways. He was also in a good mood. We spoke for 50 minutes, fits and starts and all. When he picked up the phone, I think I heard the toilet flush.
 
 
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<p>Brad Pitt in &quot;Killing Them Softly.&quot;</p>

Brad Pitt in "Killing Them Softly."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Stylish, strutting 'Killing Them Softly' too tough for subtext

Andrew Dominik's latest brings latter-day capitalist concerns to 1970s homage

CANNES - "I like to kill them softly," Brad Pitt rumbles midway through Andrew Dominik's efficiently blood-dampened thriller, his thumb and forefinger taking a rare vacation from the trigger to indulge in some hitman-Zen chin-stroking. "From a distance, too far away for feelings." It's the most immediately quotable line in a screenplay knotted with knowingly flavorful dialogue, and not just because it inadvertently supplies the film with its title, changed late in the game from "Cogan's Trade" -- the well-regarded 1974 pulp novel by George V. Higgins at its source. 

Rather, it's the line that most neatly encapsulates the poised pop poetry and, thanks especially to its eventual eponymic status, the on-the-nose emphases of "Killing Them Softly" as a whole, its musical connotations handily underlining the film's scuffed-suede 1970s textures into the bargain. (Make no mistake: Dominik may have ostensibly updated Higgins's story to the present -- or rather, the not-yet-unpacked period of 2008 -- but his melancholic-chic tone here, modulated to just the desired degree of rawness, is all Roberta Flack and no Lauryn Hill.) What it doesn't evoke, however, is the filmmaking itself. Nothing in this coldly enjoyable and relentlessly classy genre trip is killed softly at all: not the broken-bone crunch of the sound design, not the uproariously ripe work of its dream supporting ensemble and certainly not Dominik's bewilderingly literal makeover of Higgins's genre runaround into a portentous essay on capitalist failings in cusp-of-Obama America.  

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<p>Rick Baker, even after all his ups and downs with modern Hollywood, still seems to be in touch with that little kid who first fell in love with monster make-up all those years ago.</p>

Rick Baker, even after all his ups and downs with modern Hollywood, still seems to be in touch with that little kid who first fell in love with monster make-up all those years ago.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Rick Baker discusses his work on 'Men In Black 3' and much more

We take a little time with one of Hollywood's living legends

Rick Baker is one of my heroes, artistically speaking.

I fell in love with his work when I was young, and for most of my life, I've been watching his creations come to life onscreen and I've felt lucky to be witnessing them.  When I saw "An American Werewolf In London" in 1981, the way he (along with John Landis and David Naughton) made a transformation from man to beast feel like a tactile, physical process involving heat and pain seemed miraculous.  He has made the fantastic seem not only possible but absolutely probable for his whole career, and he has a shelf full of Academy Awards to show for it.

However, he's also seen the industry change around him, and whereas he was once the hot new alternative to the special effects of a bygone era, today computer effects have shifted the landscape around Rick to the point that he is now the one considered quaint and old-fashioned by Hollywood.  It's not true, of course, and I would strongly urge filmmakers to reconsider their push to do everything with ones and zeros instead of creating something tangible.  I've seen things he created thirty years ago that still exist, that you can still touch with your own hands, and that could, with just a little bit of touch-up work, still be put in front of a camera and filmed.

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