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<p>Eva Mendes on the set of &quot;Holy Motors.&quot;</p>

Eva Mendes on the set of "Holy Motors."

Credit: Les Films du Losange

Cannes Check: Leos Carax's 'Holy Motors'

Continuing our series of Cannes competition previews

The auteur: Leos Carax (French, 51 years old)

The talent: There are a couple of eclectic ensembles to be found in this year's Cannes lineup, but surely none weirder than this one. That weatherbeaten French character actor (and longtime Carax associate) Denis Lavant ("Beau Travail") takes the lead role here is hardly a surprise. Gallic veterans Michel Piccoli (most recently seen in "We Have a Pope") and Edith Scob ("Summer Hours") also make sense. But who would have expected them to share the bill with Eva Mendes and, wait for it, Australian pop pixie Kylie Minogue? The mind reels.

Carax wrote the script on his own. Below the line, Bruno Dumont's favorite DP Yves Cape (who hit a career high with Claire Denis on "White Material") is one of two cinematographers on the project; the other, Caroline Champetier, recently won a Cesar for "Of Gods and Men." Editor Nelly Quettier (who also has some Claire Denis credits on her CV) has worked with Carax since 1986's "The Night is Young"; production designer Florian Sanson is a relative newcomer, but recently did some impressive work on "Black Venus." The score, apparently, is by British semi-novelty band The Divine Comedy, because, well, obviously

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<p>Beach Boys at the 2012 Grammys</p>

Beach Boys at the 2012 Grammys

Credit: AP Photo

UPDATE: Listen to all of Beach Boys 'That's Why God Made the Radio?'

Watch the reunited group's video promo: new album out on June 5

The Beach Boys have promised a new album this summer, and will make good on that promise on June 5.

The band has posted a new promo video in support of the as-yet-untitled set, featuring much of what will be the album's first single "That's Why God Made the Radio."

But will this mash note to radio prove moot? Pop radio's elders have stacked their harmonies like old times, yes, but the melody and style may still make it an uphill battle for any commercial play, particularly when A/C radio is so loath on new adds.

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Nas sets release date for 'Life is Good'; first new album in four years
Credit: Island Def Jam

Nas sets release date for 'Life is Good'; first new album in four years

Video for current single, 'The Don,' debuts on Friday, April 27

Rapper Nas returns with his first album in four years, “Life is Good,” on July 17.

Second track, “The Don,” which was produced by Da Internz, Salaam Remi and the late Heavy D, is at radio now, while fans heard an earlier track, “Nasty,” last summer.  A third track, “Daughters,” (not the John Mayer song, we’re sure), goes for sale on iTunes on May 1. The video for “The Don”  premieres on MTV and Vevo on Friday, April 27.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Cee Lo with Goodie Mobb on &quot;The Voice&quot;</p>
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Cee Lo with Goodie Mobb on "The Voice"


Credit: NBC

Watch: Cee Lo and reunited Goodie Mob debut 'Fight to Win' on 'The Voice'

First song in eight years from formerly hip-hop group

Who replaced Goodie Mob with the Black Eyed Peas?

Below is the performance of new song "Fight to Win" from the reunited group on "The Voice" last night, led by show host and man-about-town Cee Lo Green. It's the Atlanta crew's first new song in eight years, and will be featured in NBA promo spots (on top of, undoubtedly, many election year rallies). The track is likely to be included in the quartet's next album, "Age Against the Machine," release TBA.

I'm not saying the hip-hop group was never pop, but I don't know exactly what to call this except three minutes of Cee Lo yelling a chorus.

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: AP Photo

Justin Bieber writes new 'Believe' song about his paternity lawsuit

No word on if song about Mariah Yeager makes the cut

If Taylor Swift can write songs about relationships  she had with famous men, why can’t Justin Bieber write a song about a relationship he did not have with a now infamous woman?

Bieber, who, heretofore, has been almost preternaturally mature, is lashing out at Mariah Yeater, whom you will recall accused him last November of fathering her child. He maintained that the two never met. She filed legal action and then withdrew the suit.

Over the weekend, Bieber opened up what seemed to be a completely closed chapter in his life by tweeting about Yeater: “Dear Mariah Yeeter (sic)...we have never met...so from my heart, I just wanted to say...” (and then the link to Sasha Baron Cohen’s Borat character taunting “You will never get this...”  (Although at the end of Borat's speech, the person does break into the animal’s cage and “get this...” hmmm).

Then, as reported by Billboard, Monday night Bieber confirmed to reporters in London that he has written a song about Yeater for “Believe,” which comes out June 19.  “There’s a song about that girl --Mariah Yeater--that said she was gonna have my baby....There are songs about things I’m going through. I wrote songs about different situations.”

However, the BBC reports that Bieber has recorded 40 songs for “Believe,” so no word on whether Yeater's tune  will make the cut and go down in recorded history.

And speaking of Swift, she is one of his collaborators on “Believe,” as well as Drake, Kanye West, and Ludacris.



 

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<p>John&nbsp;Cusack as Edgar Allan&nbsp;Poe in &quot;The Raven&quot;</p>

John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in "The Raven"

Credit: Relativity Media

‘The Raven,’ the death impulse and harmony

‘There is nothing more fascinating in the world than a beautiful woman dying.’

This weekend “The Raven,” director James McTeigue’s imagined version of horror master Edgar Allan Poe’s final days, makes its way into theaters. A predictable thriller with uneven attempts to elevate itself beyond the confines of a formula while still satisfying the demands of the middle ground, I cannot say that I wholeheartedly recommend it.

However, I find the film's subject matter and the ideas that inspire it to be somewhat intrinsically intriguing. I do not believe that "The Raven" captures Poe's tone or essence; it is a bit too shallow for that, lacking the density of those who really wish to engage with his work. There are moments in the film that were awkward to the point of being nearly painful to behold and others that felt like they struck the balance between naturalism and suspense/fantasy. But it is what "The Raven" points to in the broader context of the genre that has been, and is, of interest to me.

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<p>Jack White, &quot;Blunderbuss&quot;</p>

Jack White, "Blunderbuss"

Credit: Third Man/Warner Bros.

Review: Jack White's solo debut 'Blunderbuss'

What it sounds like to fight

It’s a struggle to evaluate Jack White’s album output independent of what he’s done with his storied music career thus far. His former flame The White Stripes have now dissolved, evidently from bandmate/ex-wife Meg White’s reluctance of the lifestyle. He continues playing in on- and off-again brotherhood in the Raconteurs, and barks back at The Kills’ Alison Mosshart in Dead Weather. Aside from his bands, he’s built a Nashville-based vinyl/singles mini-empire and produced for a bevy of new and veteran artists – from Loretta Lynn to the Black Belles, Wanda Jackson to another ex-, Karen Elson. Of his contemporaries in influence and confluence of skill, White champions more women than most, and to electrifying effect.

One could even say that White’s output has been dependent or at least informed by whom he’s working with -- or against. White explained in the guitarist doc “It Might Get Loud” that he opts to play difficult guitars he has to fight.
 
White in solo debut “Blunderbuss,” however, opts more for piano/Wurlitzer (played by Brooke Waggoner) than guitar to fill in spaces or take the lead on lines. So, instead, he has-it-out in his lyrics and with his voice. White battles an invisible “other” in many circumstances, most frequently the lovers that burn him or whom he likes to burn in his songs. And it’s worth noting that he sings like a woman some of the time.
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<p>Brad Pitt in &quot;Killing Them&nbsp;Softly&quot;</p>

Brad Pitt in "Killing Them Softly"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

The Lists: Top 10 most anticipated films of Cannes 2012

From 'The Paperboy' to 'Amour,' the films I can't wait to see on the Croisette

With the rosters for both Critics' Week and the Directors' Fortnight both having been unveiled this week -- more on those later -- the lineup for this year's Cannes Film Festival is essentially complete, though festival director Thierry Fremaux has promised that there are one or two additions still to come. (Don't hold your breath for Malick or Paul Thomas Anderson -- a title like Cate Shortland's well-buzzed "Lore," on the other hand, may be a more realistic wish.)

When people ask me if I'm excited about this year's Cannes crop, the only sensible answer is yes: what cinephile worth his salt would feign indifference to the prospect of seeing new films from Jacques Audiard, David Cronenberg, Michael Haneke, Michel Gondry, Raul Ruiz and so on? Cannes is never not exciting in that respect, as this week's list makes pretty clear. Yet I still think this year's lineup, and the Competition strand in particular, falls short in some respects. Not for lack of big names, but rather for lack of smaller, more surprising ones. With no female directors or debut features in the running for the Palme, the Competition also isn't as global as it might be: Asia gets just two of the 22 slots, Africa one, South America zero.

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<p>Cassie Steele in &quot;The L.A. Complex.&quot;</p>

Cassie Steele in "The L.A. Complex."

Credit: CW

Review: 'The L.A. Complex' moves from Canada to the CW

Import drama about showbiz wannabes feels retro, yet better than many real CW shows
Watching "The L.A. Complex," the Canadian drama that the CW will begin airing tonight at 9, reminded me of an exchange from the classic "How I Met Your Mother" episode "Slap Bet." The gang has just discovered that Robin was a one-hit wonder as a teenager in Canada, and as they watch the video for "Let's Go To The Mall," Marshall observes, "This is the '90s. Why does it look like 1986?"
 
Robin, sheepish about the whole thing already, shrugs and explains, "The '80s didn't come to Canada 'til, like, '93."
 
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<p>General Aladeen loves competitive sports, especially when his opponents end up dead.</p>

General Aladeen loves competitive sports, especially when his opponents end up dead.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Sacha Baron Cohen brings special 'Dictator' screening to Las Vegas

The first screening of the film proves to be shockingly dirty and very funny

LAS VEGAS, NV - I drove four-and-a-half hours today to see a 75 minute movie.

I regret nothing.

The 11:00 PM screening of "The Dictator" started late, but the capacity audience seemed happy about it when Sacha Baron Cohen arrived in character as General Aladeen, the dictator of the small country of Wadiya, flanked by two armed guards and some preposterously hot bodyguards.

Evidently, Cohen made a similar appearance at the Caesars Palace Colliseum during the Paramount presentation earlier in the evening.  I wasn't there to see that, and I'm leaving Vegas again fairly early tomorrow morning.  I've got a lot to do this week in Los Angeles, and I figure we'll see much of this material soon anyway.  But the chance to see the first finished screening of the latest collaboration between director Larry Charles and Cohen as a new outrageous, larger-than-life character seemed to justify a quick overnight trip.

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<p>Jewel Staite of &quot;L.A. Complex&quot;</p>
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Jewel Staite of "L.A. Complex"

Credit: The CW

HitFix Interview: Jewel Staite talks 'L.A. Complex'

'Firefly' vet explains why her new character is ruthless, not evil
In the new Canadian-transplanted CW drama "L.A. Complex," Jewel Staite plays actress Raquel Westbrook.
 
A decade earlier, Raquel was the star of "Teenage Wasteland," a cult drama that she has to keep telling adoring fans "had a bad time slot." Now, she's living in an apartment complex populated by fresh-faced Hollywood wannabes doing anything in her power to prove that her best days aren't behind her.
 
It was only nearly a decade ago that Staite was the star of a cult drama that "had a bad time slot" and that still has fans eagerly approaching her to express their support. 
 
In real life, "Teenage Wasteland" is no "Firefly" and Raquel Westbrook is no Jewel Staite, whose pre-Whedon resume included shows like "Higher Ground" and "Da Vinci's Inquest" and who has been seen guest-starring on FOX's "Wonderfalls," as a regular on "Stargate: Atlantis" and in the recent Sundance Midnight Movie, "The Pact." Yes, Staite is Kaylee Frye, but she's many other characters as well.
 
Perhaps that's why Raquel is scheming, manipulative and occasionally desperate, while Staite is entirely grounded, good-humored and comfortable with her professional life. Staite's also a really good interview. I'd be scared to interview Raquel.
 
I chatted with Staite last week about "L.A. Complex," playing an "aging" actress and about why Raquel absolutely, positively isn't evil.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
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<p>If I told Gina Carano she is the cutest killing machine around, would she slap me silly?&nbsp; More importantly, would I mind?</p>

If I told Gina Carano she is the cutest killing machine around, would she slap me silly?  More importantly, would I mind?

Credit: Relativity Media

Gina Carano in talks to join the team for 'Fast Six' in 2013

Is Vin Diesel prepared to have his butt kicked by a girl?

Gina Carano may be joining Dwayne Johnson's team for "Fast Six."

In related news, "Fast Six" is going to be awwwwwwwwesome.

Perhaps the single thing I most regret about missing this year's ActionFest in Asheville, North Carolina, aside from not getting to spend time with my parents who live in Asheville, was that Gina Carano attended this year to pick up the "Chick" Norris award.  I really dug "Haywire" when it came out earlier this year, and I just rewatched it when the Blu-ray was sent for review.

I also really liked "Fast Five," which I think is the single best distillation of what they've tried to do with the "Fast and the Furious" franchise overall.  In particular, adding Dwayne Johnson in the Tommy Lee Jones/"Fugitive" role was a stroke of genius, and it brought a brand-new energy to the fifth film in the series.

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