Latest Blog Posts

<p>Denzel&nbsp;Washington in &quot;Flight&quot;</p>

Denzel Washington in "Flight"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Robert Zemeckis is back in live action territory with Denzel Washington in the trailer for 'Flight'

Could the film be an under-the-radar Oscar prospect?

One more trailer today -- a sneaky one. If you take a look at the slate of films Paramount Pictures has for this year's Oscar season, you'll find that the studio might want to go shopping on the fall festival circuit. But for a company that isn't huge on acquisitions, particularly for awards product, you can bet that's not likely to happen.

What you're left with are two films: the animated "Rise of the Guardians" out of DreamWorks and Robert Zemeckis's first live action film in over a decade. The latter is "Flight," starring Denzel Washington as an embattled airplane pilot in legal hot water following his crash-landing a commercial flight -- and saving many lives in the process.

The smart play for Paramount this year might just be to focus on a smaller slice rather than split its focus across a wide spectrum. Indeed, the last few (post-Vantage) years have seen collectives like "Star Trek"/"Up in the Air," "The Fighter"/"Shutter Island"/"True Grit" and "Hugo"/"Super 8"/"Young Adult" chew up that focus (not that they haven't come out with plenty to show -- four Best Picture nods in those three years, after all).

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<p>Leonardo&nbsp;DiCaprio in &quot;Django Unchained&quot;</p>

Leonardo DiCaprio in "Django Unchained"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' trailer promises an assured romp with lush production values

"The 'D' is silent."

The Weinstein Company is bursting at the seams with possibilities for this year's awards season, as I'll detail further when I write up the year's first Off the Carpet column next week. One of those films is Quentin Tarantino's hotly anticipated "Django Unchained," which gets a nice, shiny trailer today on the heels of some footage that debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last month.

It looks like an exciting western romp, as we might have expected. Leonardo DiCaprio appears to be having a blast. Everyone does, really. There are lots of immaculately crafted frames throughout, proving what we already figured: the material is a showcase for lenser Robert Richardson. Indeed, all the design elements in the film appear to be top notch.

I like that Tarantino is stretching his work into the realm of period with this and "Inglourious Basterds" before it. And I have rather high hopes that the western genre will get a healthy injection by the box office success this is sure to have (a nice compliment to the success of "True Grit" two years ago).

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<p>Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx co-star in Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' this Christmas, and the first trailer is online now.</p>

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx co-star in Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' this Christmas, and the first trailer is online now.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

First trailer for Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' blasts its way online

Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonard Di Caprio, and a fistful of bullets

When I was at the Cannes Film Festival this year, I attended the special presentation thrown by The Weinstein Company to premiere footage from Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" and Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained."  I did my best to transcribe those clips as completely as possible for you, trying to share some impressions of those short glimpses at two of this year's most highly anticipated films.

Now the first official trailer for the film is here and it seems like a much tighter version of that clip package we saw with a few new shots thrown in for good measure.  It uses both the Johnny Cash and James Brown cues that we heard, it's got that great Franco Nero appearance right at the end, and it also adds the awesome new tagline, "Life, Liberty And the Pursuit Of Vengeance." 

Oh, hell, yes, Quentin.

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<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.

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<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.

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<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.

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<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.

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<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.

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<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.

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<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.

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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.

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<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.

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