Latest Blog Posts

<p>Holliday Grainger, Robert Pattinson and Christina Ricci in &quot;Bel Ami.&quot;</p>

Holliday Grainger, Robert Pattinson and Christina Ricci in "Bel Ami."

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Tech Support: 'Bel Ami,' all dressed up with nowhere to go

Could the period dud's duds earn the annual 'WTF' slot in Best Costume Design?

Rather like that dully nice party guest whose name refuses to stick in the memory, "Bel Ami" is a film of which I have had to be reminded more than once this year. I saw it back in February, in the wilting days of the Berlin Film Festival, and even then a colleague had to wheedle me into accompanying him. The film evaporated from memory within days, only to crash it once more as London bus banners bedecked with Robert Pattinson's face flashed past my living-room window, announcing the film's March release in the UK. It swiftly exited consciousness again, in a fug of limp reviews and indifferent box office, only to resurface this week, with a fresh round of critical sighs signalling the film's arrival in US screens on Friday. 

I meant to review "Bel Ami" out of Berlin, but somehow kept putting it off until the film slipped my mind altogether. Nearly four months later, I still think my tweet review pretty much suffices. The film is a harmless would-be prestige picture whose only real prestige lies in the pilfered genius of Guy de Maupassant -- the 19th-century French author's sly society satire, concerning a dim Parisian cad ascending the political ladder on the backs of his mistresses, here simplified into a ruffled bed-hopping soap, preoccupied principally with getting Pattinson and the attractive female ensemble into tasteful states of undress.

Read Full Post
<p>There's always been a sense of romance to the drive-in theater, and not just because 80% of those cars are full of people who are doing it, either.</p>

There's always been a sense of romance to the drive-in theater, and not just because 80% of those cars are full of people who are doing it, either.

Credit: LIFE Magazine

What makes June 6 a special date for movie-lovers?

And how would you like to join us for a special outing to a drive-in theater?

Want to go to the drive-in with me?

That's not a hypothetical question, either.  I'm genuinely curious how many of you in the Southern California area would want to participate if I organized an outing to the three different drive-in theaters that are currently playing new releases within about an hour's drive from where I live.

Today, if you go to Google's front page, you'll see the latest of their themed Google Doodles, an actual animated film saluting the opening of the first drive-in theater in America on June 6, 1933.  79 years ago.  And while the theaters did not endure in great number, it gives me a smile to know that right now, I can go see movies in three different drive-in theaters, and that my kids are going to be able to have that experience.

The appeal of the drive-in is the sense of community when you attend with friends, I believe.  Everyone goes and pulls their cars in and sort of camps together… and it's great fun.  I did it a few times when I was at Ain't It Cool, always with the assistance of the great Jack Morrissey, a fellow movie theater nerd with a real love of classic Americana regarding where and how we watch films.  I don't just remember the movies I saw as a kid… I remember where I saw many of them, and I remember the greatest screens I saw movies on.  The actual physical experience of seeing the films that influenced me were often part of the impact the films had on me.

Read Full Post
<p>Grizzly Bear</p>

Grizzly Bear

Credit: Warp

Listen: Grizzly Bear announce new album with 'Sleeping Ute'

Brooklyn band sets international tour dates

Grizzly Bear is back, with a growl and a whimper.

The Brooklyn-based crew has released a fresh song "Sleeping Ute" ahead of the Sept. 18 drop of their as-yet-untitled new album for Warp.

The track unfolds in segments, starting with a sort of calculated, forceful opening with long vowels and embattled acoustic guitars, an unsettling rock breakdown with drums thisclose to your face. It deelops into an "admission," where our singer gently admits to his "countless empty days." "I live to see your faces / and I hate to see you go..." The riffs get ripped apart like paper, and the drop with flurry of a flemenco-inspired notes. It's pretty.

This new full-length effort is the follow-up to "Veckatimest" from 2009.

Read Full Post
<p>Captain America's ready to get back into action now that the Russo Bros. are close to signing their deals to direct the sequel.</p>

Captain America's ready to get back into action now that the Russo Bros. are close to signing their deals to direct the sequel.

Credit: Marvel Studios

'Captain America 2' recruits Russo Bros. to direct

Because when you think superhero action, you think 'You, Me & Dupree'

Did not see that coming.

This morning, Hollywood Reporter wrote that the Russo Brothers are in final negotiations as directors for "Captain America 2."  HitFix sources can confirm that is the case, making this one of the most unexpected choices Marvel has made on any of these films so far.

The Russos are known for comedy before anything else, and while I am a big fan of "Community," I would not have expected it to serve as an audition for a sprawling action adventure movie.  More than that, after "You, Me & Dupree," it felt like Hollywood put the Russos in director's jail.  They've done a ton of TV in the five years since that film came out, but returning to the world of features with a highly-anticipated Marvel sequel?

Sounds like they must have made one hell of a pitch.

Read Full Post
<p>Kenny Chesney and friend in &quot;Come Over&quot;</p>

Kenny Chesney and friend in "Come Over"

Kenny Chesney asserts his baller status in sexy 'Come Over' video

Right in time for CMT Music Awards and major summer tour kickoff

Kenny Chesney's music video for "Come Over" asserts that Kenny Chesney is very rich, very straight and is in very good shape.

The Shaun Silva-directed clip was shot in Miami, featuring what looks like Chesney's own 60-foot yacht chugging around Miami. It co-stars a beautiful young woman who suffers from poverty, as she appears to own no clothes besides lingerie and bikinis.

Read Full Post
<p>Michael Fassbender in &quot;Prometheus.&quot;&nbsp;Does he make it onto our list?</p>

Michael Fassbender in "Prometheus." Does he make it onto our list?

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The Lists: Top 10 performances in Ridley Scott's sci-fi trio

With 'Prometheus' on the way, we look at his work with actors in the genre

Science-fiction fans have been looking forward to “Prometheus,” Ridley Scott’s return to the genre, for over a year. The film has already opened in Europe after its London premiere last Thursday and comes to U.S. theatres this weekend. Scott has long been renowned for his contributions in the field -- “Blade Runner” and “Alien" -- as both films have shaped the genre's visual and thematic aesthetic in a broad context.

The grittier feel of the futuristic depictions became the norm rather than the exception in the wake of “Alien”’s immediate success and “Blade Runner”’s long-term impact, as did the genre blending Scott employed in each (sci-fi/horror in “Alien” and sci-fi/noir in “Blade Runner”). Scott gave himself a mandate to discover a new way to approach and refresh the genre with “Prometheus.” One of the ways he’s done so is to evolve and expand upon artist H.G. Giger’s original imagery, depicting the primordial integrated with the technological.

Read Full Post
<p>Michael Shanks is a tuxedo-clad wandering spirit in &quot;Saving Hope.&quot;</p>

Michael Shanks is a tuxedo-clad wandering spirit in "Saving Hope."

Credit: NBC

Review: NBC's 'Saving Hope' mixes medical drama with metaphysics

Michael Shanks wasted as a doctor-turned-phantom, and Erica Durance wasted without him

It's been more than 50 years since the premieres of ABC's "Dr. Kildare" and "Ben Casey," two of the earliest successful hospital dramas on television. That is a very long time for any one genre, even with the advances in both medical science and TV storytelling over those 50 years, and the longer it's been around, the more that modern doctor shows have had to find new twists on the same old stories. "ER" was the hospital drama as action movie. "Grey's Anatomy" mixed "ER" with "Friends" and "Sex and the City," while "House" mashed up Sherlock Holmes, "CSI" and lupus.

So I can't exactly blame the creative team behind "Saving Hope" — a new Canadian-produced hospital drama that will begin airing on NBC tomorrow night at 9 — for deciding that their new way into this familiar territory was to add some metaphysics to their medicine.

Read Full Post
From Will Smith to John Boyega, who could play Marvel's 'Black Panther'?

From Will Smith to John Boyega, who could play Marvel's 'Black Panther'?

We put together a gallery of some intriguing potential players

Casting any superhero film can be tricky.

After all, you've got rabid fans who have deep, meaningful relationship with the characters, and they've got strong opinions.  You've got the financiers, and especially with international money driving so much of the conversation today, that becomes a very tricky minefield to navigate.  You've got studio people who have relationships they have to service, as well as personal history with many of the eligible names.

With the modern era of superhero films, one of the things that I've noticed is how tricky it is when race becomes an issue of any sort.  I'm still somewhat rattled by the firestorm of fury that erupted over Michael Clarke Duncan's casting in "Daredevil" or Idris Elba's casting in "Thor," and more than anything, it's convinced me that we need more race-blind casting in these films, not less.  Yes, I know people get attached to a visual representation of a character, but I also think there is a tendency to get hung up on the least important details about a character.

Read Full Post
<p>If Warner Bros. does figure out how to make a 'Justice League' movie work, it could be the most important business move they make in the next five years, and if they don't, exactly no one will be surprised.</p>

If Warner Bros. does figure out how to make a 'Justice League' movie work, it could be the most important business move they make in the next five years, and if they don't, exactly no one will be surprised.

Credit: Warner Animation Studios

Warner starts to assemble their 'Justice League' by hiring a screenwriter

The studio's betting on the 'Gangster Squad' scribe in a big way

It can be a double-edged sword for a screenwriter to find themselves suddenly "hot," because with that heat comes a certain degree of expectation, and considering how little control writers really have over the end result of their labors, you can do everything right and still end up with your head on the chopping block once a film is actually finished.

Take Will Beall, for example.  So far, that first trailer for "Gangster Squad" is fairly persuasive, and the script garnered enough buzz that every young actor in Hollywood was fighting to get cast in the ensemble period piece.  Warner Bros. obviously had a good experience with Beall overall because they hired him to write their "Lethal Weapon" reboot, and they also have him hard at work trying to finally solve "Logan's Run" for Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling.  Beall's been annointed by the studio, so it is little wonder that they have turned to him to help figure out a project that may well be the single most important in-development project at Warner Bros. right now.

Read Full Post
<p>Adapting 'Days Of Future Past' is probably better than my plan for an 'X-Men' sequel, which would have been two hours of Jennifer Lawrence like this.</p>

Adapting 'Days Of Future Past' is probably better than my plan for an 'X-Men' sequel, which would have been two hours of Jennifer Lawrence like this.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Matthew Vaughn's 'X-Men' are heading to 'Days Of Future Past'

Could Fox be prepping for the ultimate X-Men story?

Matthew Vaughn is hard at work prepping his next film in Fox's successfully reinvigorated "X-Men" franchise, and thanks to someone sending in a tip to Ain't It Cool News, we now have some idea of where they're headed.

I called the MPAA's Title Registration Bureau today to double-check the tip, and it is indeed true.  Fox recently locked down "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" as a title, and for anyone who is a longtime fan of the comics, that is very, very interesting news.

It seems strange to look back at some of what are considered the biggest and most significant storylines in comics weren't originally published as mega-events like we see from Marvel and DC today.  When they publish something like "Civil War" or "House Of M" or "Flashpoint" or the various "Crisis" events, they make those huge deals, with multiple authors, with dozens of comics involved, with tons of hype, and those events drive the entire publishing year for the companies.

Read Full Post
Album Review: 'Rock of Ages' soundtrack strikes a mixed chord
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Album Review: 'Rock of Ages' soundtrack strikes a mixed chord

How does Tom Cruise sound?

The success of “American Idol” and “Glee” has created a major market for collections of cover songs that would have been unthinkable even a decade ago.

For a long time, people (i.e. me) wondered why would anyone want the equivalent of karaoke versions (albeit very well-produced ones) of songs rather than the usually far superior original. A legion of “Gleeks” proved they do.

Therefore, there would seem to be a built-in audience for the soundtrack for “Rock Of Ages,” out today, June 5. which features the same executive music producer, Adam Anders, as "Glee."  The movie, adapted from the long-running Broadway musical, opens June 15.

If you’ve given much thought to how Tom Cruise would sound as an Axl Rose/Joe Elliott-type lead singer or if Alec Baldwin’s estimable talents extend to warbling (we’ll go ahead and tell you “no” on that one), this album gives you the answer.

As with most ventures of this sort, some tracks work better than others. Similar to the Broadway cast album, five of the tracks are mash-ups of two or more songs and the result can be a train wreck. Add up to six different actors/singers vying for space on the same song and it creates quite the pile-up, such as on Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” which features five different singers trading lines.

We’ll get the obvious out of the way: any track that features Mary J. Blige, who plays strip club owner Justice, is a pretty safe bet given that she has more vocal chops than all the other singers put together. On a mash-up of “Shadows of the Night/Harden My Heart” she and Julianne Hough’s voices have a nice contrast: Hough’s voice, in general, is sweet and thin, and the way the duet plays out in the movie as they first meet works on record as well. Sadly, Blige has no songs of her own on here, but, then again, there’s no shortage of those in real life.

Diego Boneta, who plays the young male lead, Drew, is second to Blige in vocal talent.  He’s a strong singer who has already released two solo albums. His straight-up pop rock voice makes him a natural on both his tender tunes, such as “Waiting For a Girl Like You” with Hough or on thumping “I Wanna Rock.”

So how is Cruise? Better than anyone could have expected. As you probably know, he studied with Axl Rose’s vocal coach to learn to sing and while he never sounds like he’s totally comfortable (or looks it, in the movie), he does a fine job. His best numbers are the rockers, such as on, not surprisingly, “Paradise City,” since he’s mimicking Rose (which can’t be easy) and Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me,”  although he and Malin Akerman pull off a decent version of “I Want To Know What Love Is.” His absolute commitment is commendable.

There are a few missteps: Hough’s and Cruise’s take on the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” is one of two cringeworthy moment. It’s an unfair fight to begin with: few could ever equal Klaus Meine’s full-throated vocals, but they have taken a dull knife to a gunfight.  Same with Catherine Zeta-Jones’ cover of Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” As she showed in “Chicago,” Zeta-Jones can sing, but her performance here is so mannered and awkward that it’s offputting.

The audience for the album  will be those who see the movie and the staunchest fans of each of the participating acts--anyone who’s that crazy about these ‘80s hits will want the originals. There’s not a likely single on here that radio would play, though, remember, that’s not unheard of: Huey Lewis and Gwyneth Paltrow had a No. 1 adult contemporary hit with their cover of Smokey Robinson’s “Cruisin” from “Duets” more than a decade ago. 


Read Full Post
<p>Black Panther is well-established as a member of the animated 'Avengers' team, so it's a safe bet Marvel will want him to be onboard by the time they make 'The Avengers 2' for 2015.</p>

Black Panther is well-established as a member of the animated 'Avengers' team, so it's a safe bet Marvel will want him to be onboard by the time they make 'The Avengers 2' for 2015.

Credit: Walt Disney Company/Marvel

'Black Panther' now rumored as next Marvel stand-alone movie

Who would wear the suit as T'challa?

One of the most anticipated announcements of the year will most likely take place at this year's San Diego Comic-Con when Marvel is expected to confirm which of their properties will be the source for their next original superhero title.  Obviously "Iron Man 3" just began production (you can see the first still from the film here), and they're casting bad guys for "Thor 2," and chances are they're going to get really serious about "The Avengers 2" sometime soon.

But what of the rest of the Marvel Universe?  Edgar Wright has been working towards making "Ant-Man" based on a script he's co-writing with Joe Cornish, but with the word that he's going to be shooting the final film in his Cornetto trilogy this fall, it seems less likely that "Ant-Man" is coming next.  Marvel poobah Kevin Feige has spoken many times about how much he wants to figure out "Doctor Strange" for the big-screen, but there hasn't been any word on when or if that will happen.

Today, El Mayimbe at Latino Review is reporting that he knows which movie is scheduled next, and if he's right, we're about to meet a new Avenger.

Read Full Post