I'll be honest with you: sometimes we put up these posts as a formality. In this case, however, I couldn't be more curious to know what you make of Lee Daniels' deranged, divisive and rather delicious adaptation of Pete Dexter's bayou thriller, a crispy-coated trash pastiche that is at once knowing and brazenly heedless, and features outstanding performances from Nicole Kidman (who career we celebrated in Top 10 form this week) and Macy Gray. It received a critical drubbing at Cannes, where I was one of its few defenders, but is unsurprisingly gaining in stature after being marked in some quarters as a future cult item: Roger Ebert is a fan, while A.O. Scott calls a "hot mess," and means it as a compliment. Go see where you land, then rate the film and share your thoughts in the comments.
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"30 Rock" is back for its final season, and I have a review of the premiere coming up just as soon as I spend a full hour with Gary Sinise's band...
The American Film Institute announced this morning that Oscar-winning all-rounder Mel Brooks will receive the institution's Life Achievement Award next June, at a gala tribute event to be aired on TNT. The 86 year-old actor-writer-director-producer was actually honored by the Academy at the earliest opportunity, winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for his 1968 debut feature "The Producers," before 1970s streak of genre-pastiche comedies including "Blazing Saddles," "Young Frankenstein," "High Anxiety" and "Silent Movie." AFI chairman Howard Stringer says, "Mel Brooks is America's long-reigning king of comedy... a master of an art form that rarely gets the respect it deserves." [LA Times]
Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell in one room together promises to be a whole lot of energy to try to manage during an interview.
Of course, neither of these men is easily summed up by their onscreen personas, and Rockwell in particular is a guy who I think comes across very different in a face-to-face situation than he does onscreen. He is one of our great oddballs on film, and it is one of cinema's unbreakable rules that any film where Rockwell dances is automatically better because he dances.
Walken is also a remarkable dancer, of course, as any fan of "Pennies From Heaven" or the Fatboy Slim "Weapon Of Choice" video can attest, but he's also a tremendous actor who has managed to become a larger-than-life figure. Some films trade openly on that idea and cast him to play "Christopher Walken," and some films cast him for his considerable chops and his ability to create memorable characters. "Seven Psychopaths" is a little bit of both. While there is dialogue that absolutely sounds like it was crafted to trip off his tongue with his trademark pauses to punctuate things, he's also enormously touching in the way he gives life to what could have been a cartoon in lesser hands.
"Glee" has pushed all sorts of emotional buttons for me in the past, so why did "The Break-Up" leave me dry-eyed and irritated? Am I grumpy? Heartless? Horrible?
I'm also frustrated by the feeling that we've seen this all before, that it won't mean much in the long run, that the powers that be are only messing with fans who have invested a lot of time in and developed affection for relationships that didn't need to be simultaneously blown apart in an hour long episode of break-up porn.
Sometimes break-ups are necessary, and that hurts. But "The Break-Up" wasn't necessary, it was nonsensical.
Oh my Lord & Taylor, we're down to the final five. Where has the time gone? I think they need to have a little montage of designers who have gone before and fallen at the hands of Heidi's auf-ing, sort of like something out of the Hunger Games, but less violent. Remember Elena? Remember Ven? Remember that old lady who snuck out before she could get eliminated? Oh, those were the days!
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I eat racist salad...
A review of tonight's "Last Resort" coming up just as soon as I call off the Cold War for an hour...
On Wednesday, "The X Factor" said farewell to a bunch of people who weren't really very good and whose presence in Miami wasted FOX and Simon Cowell's money.
I don't pity Simon Cowell or FOX for losing a couple thousand dollars on hotel rooms for people like Dehydrated Trevor or That Awful Girl Who Sang Annie, but I do pity myself for having to dedicate an hour to pretending that said people were ever going to advance particularly far on "The X Factor."
Let's see what excitement will ensue in Thursday's episode!
For Tim Burton, his movie "Frankenweenie" is a labor of love -- right down to the stars he cast to voice the animated characters in it. Both Martin Short ("Mars Attacks") and Catherine O'Hara ("Beetlejuice") have worked with the director before, and were happy to work with him again -- even if that didn't leave a ton of time for prep work. "It's not even a meet, you go right to the studio," O'Hara says. "They'e got the drawings up on easels and walk your through the characters and tell you about the story."
It'll be a few days yet before the Academy officially announces the longlist -- the odd last-minute addition, switch or disqualification is par for the course at this stage -- but with the official deadline for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submissions having passed on Friday, we can effectively size up the playing field. And with 68 films having been entered for consideration, it's a crowded one: indeed, if they're all approved, it'll stand as a record number.
I've mentioned before that this is looking like an unusually competitive year for nominations in this category. There have been fewer controversial submissions than usual: only Portugal really raised eyebrows by opting for family melodrama "Blood of My Blood" ahead of swoony critical sensation "Tabu," and even then, they might have made the more Academy-friendly choice. (The same goes for France, who were always going to plump for commercial phenomenon "The Intouchables" over more broadly acclaimed fare.) By and large, however, countries largely submitted what everyone thought they would (and should); it's a field stacked with festival hits and bracing auteur works, and the executive committee will have their work cut out for them when they choose just three films to rescue after the initial vote.
With “Skyfall,” Adele and co-writer Paul Epworth have created a classic James Bond theme that honors the tradition of Bond and pays homage to the musical themes of the past. How appropriate given this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film.
The majestic ballad opens with only a heavy piano and very ominous warning from Adele: “This is the end/hold your breath and count to 10.”
Slowly, strings come in, but there’s no change in tempo, which remains steady and stately throughout. Instead, Adele and co-writer/producer Paul Epworth, layer on orchestration —the song was recorded with a 77-piece orchestra— to create a tremendous sense of foreboding as the song progresses and builds. The tension from the arrangement keeps the song from being a little, dare we say it, plodding.
Perhaps appropriately, given the golden anniversary, Adele and Epworth incorporate the heavy strings from the first Bond film, “Dr. No,” which became the theme most associated with Bond. Sadly, for Adele, the Oscar rules disqualify any song that includes non-original elements, so deserving as the tune may be, it can’t be nominated. Happily for the rest of us, its usage grounds the song with a certain gravitas from which her vocals can soar.
The lyrics in the sweeping chorus, which is more grandly impressive than anything you’ll be singing to yourself in the checkout line, presents a unified front: “Let the sky fall/when it crumbles/we will stand tall or face it all together,” she sings, as the strings collide as if the world really may be ending.
The second verse begins and there’s an audible change in the directness of Adele’s delivery. It’s possible that she’s channeling Bond as she sings: “You may have my number/you can take my name/but you’ll never have my heart.”
However, by the third verse, love reigns supreme again: “Where you go I go/what you see I see/I know I’ll never be without the security of your loving arms to keep me from harm/Put your hand in my hand and we’ll stand.
[More after the jump...]