Cyrus Spencer, the 22-year-old animator/robotics dancer currently competing on "So You Think You Can Dance," has been a lightning rod for viewers this season. While some viewers have grumbled about his lack of dance skill, his adoring fan base continues to vote him through week after week. Tonight, fans will get a chance to speak (or not) for Cyrus again during the show's double-barreled competition/elimination episode starting at 8:00 p.m. on Fox. I had the chance to speak with Cyrus during the TCAs, and we hashed over why he doesn't read his own reviews, what he's hoping to convince the judges to say about him, and the good thing he wants to do once the show ends.
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I'll admit it. I couldn't listen to the entirety of "Settle Down," No Doubt's first new single from their comeback album "Push and Shove." I endured it pieces, sort of like I would one of those "Underworld" movies: bits at a time, then relax and check out something that doesn't feel like an assault on the senses.
The title track from No Doubt's album arrived today via Ryan Seacrest's show, and hits much closer to the hit mark. Despite a Jamaican rap that seemed forced into the mix, it's got the patented Gwen Stefani whine-sing that excited fans in the first place. The chorus is gummy and it's well-produced on the whole with Diplo behind the decks. Feeling the cool Shakira-bop beat to carry it.
On the other hand, No Doubt member Tony Kanal called "Push and Shove" their "Bohemian Rhapsody." That statement makes no sense and should be stricken from history.
"Push and Shove" the album is due on Sept. 25.
I hope you guys are having fun with this week's posts. I'm probably at a museum with the boys this morning, and I always enjoy those moments when I help broaden their horizons in ways that aren't about movies. Sure, I consider Film Nerd 2.0 a major part of what I do here at HitFix, but if I've ever given you the impression that all I talk to them about is movies, that would be wrong.
Sports, for example, are a big part of Toshi's world right now, and we're just gearing up for the fall baseball season. Both of the kids also really love anything that has to do with science, and I love watching them attack a new topic, desperate to learn. That appetite for education is something that life tends to beat out of people at some point, but in kids, it is undimmed, vibrant, essential.
One of the things that Toshi is most curious about as we watch movies these days is the music that is created for films. I went to a scoring session last week, and I wish I'd been able to bring him along. He's fascinated by the scores that he owns, and he plays them every time we're in the car. The "Star Wars" scores are big ones, of course, and he's almost completely worn his "Empire Strikes Back" CD smooth from replaying "The Imperial March." As I've mentioned here before, he also loves "Grease" and "Singin' In The Rain" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and he has no trouble buying into the reality of a movie musical. I love that he and his little brother walk around the house singing the "Godzilla" theme, happy as can be. Movie music means something to them. It resonates with them.
But I know people who barely even hear movie music. My own parents often tell me that they can't "hear" a score. They're aware there is music in a film, but they don't hear it as a discrete part of the process. It's background. It's just wallpaper to them. And while I can't imagine that, I can't fault them for it, either. To them, discussion of movie music is like having a conversation about the color in a movie.
Here's my question for you today: how aware are you of movie music, and what movie music would you describe as important or essential to you? If you have specific memories of the music in films, I'd love to hear those memories. If you work in film composition, I'd love to know what inspired you and got you to pursue that as a craft. And if you're one of those people who barely register a film's score, can you explain to me what you hear when you're watching a film?
I look forward to reading your responses to this and all the other topics this week, and I'm thanking you in advance for participating, even if you don't normally participate. If you guys don't respond, this is going to be a very slow week here on the blog. I'm counting on you, and I hope that by the time I return next Monday, I'll know a lot more about you, and that I can use your answers to help make Motion/Captured even better.
VENICE - I haven't got my Peanuts archives to hand at the moment, unfortunately, but I think it was that pint-sized sage Linus Van Pelt who once opined that "there is no heavier burden than good intentions." Mira Nair's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," a commendably argumentative but airlessly diagrammatic plea for parity in the still-ragged post-9/11 dialogue between Islam and the West, feels that strain more than most. A somewhat speciously juiced-up adaptation of Mohsin Hamid's acclaimed 2007 novel, adding a shrill hostage-thriller framework to an otherwise theory-based study of mutable cultural and spiritual identity, it would be typical book-club cinema even without a noble literary source: distributors might want to consider handing a bulleted printout of Points For Discussion to patrons as they leave the cinema.
In a nutshell -- and the film is rather fond of nutshells -- "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" tells the story of Changez (Riz Ahmed), a young, whip-smart Pakistani immigrant whose vertiginous ascent up the Wall Street ladder begins to stall when the grim events of September 2001 raise external barriers of xenophobic American paranoia, not to mention internal concerns of cultural betrayal. It's material that seems tailor-made for the touch of Mira Nair, the maddeningly inconsistent Indian-American director, many of whose best films to date have focused on brittle clashes between Eastern and Western social and political mores, sometimes within a single character.
Despite mixed reaction at Cannes, one of the films I've been most looking forward to all year has been Walter Salles's "On the Road." It's set to play Toronto next month, and I have heard that Tom Luddy -- one of the Telluride Film Festival co-founders and co-directors -- is high on the film, so it could pop up there, too (fingers crossed). But as it turns out, it won't be the version seen on the Croisette in May.
Indiewire's Jay Fernandez sat down with IFC Films president Jonathan Sehring recently, and amid a bunch of talk about the film being "an opportunity [he] couldn't pass up" and apparently loving it just the way it is ("for us it's a step up"), it seems Salles went back to the cutting room and came out with a new cut. According to Sehring, this was the filmmaker's decision, as he took a lot of the summer reactions to heart.
The new cut "is about 15 minutes shorter," Sehring tells Fernandez. "It’s a little over two hours now. He’s added certain things that weren’t in the cut that was in Cannes. He has been in New York and Rio and L.A. working on it the past couple of months, and it’s going to be very wet when it gets to Toronto. We’re locked, but they’re finishing the mix up right now."
Calvin Harris has a bevy of guest vocalists lined up for his next full-length effort and singles, and Florence Welch is among them.
The Florence + The Machine singer has teamed back up with the dance producer for a new banger, "Sweet Nothing." The track premiered today on BBC's Radio 1 -- hence the radio rip. "I'm living on such sweet nothing," she explains in a big, descending, '90s style refrain, repeated as the fours hit the floor.
Welch's huge voice has met its beat match, and though she doesn't have that traditional diva vibe when it comes to the groove, it is extremely catchy. Love, meet desparation.
Harris and Welch previously worked together on a remix of "Spectrum," which certain
God knows, the members of Matchbox 20 have had a tough time in love in some of their songs, including most recent single, “She’s So Mean,” but with new single, “Overjoyed,” there’s nothing but sweet love going on, man, so don’t go trying to stir up trouble.
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OneRepublic may have been making hits before any of us ever heard of Florence + The Machine, but the group’s new single (and video) “Feel Again,” takes a page directly out of Flo’s handbook with the hand claps and same tribal drum pattern as any number of F+TM songs. You can even imagine Florence Welch singing the song instead of Ryan Tedder...and we’d like to.
The song sounds like a smash. But back to the video, which premiered today. Tedder is able to “feel again,” in part, because he picks up a magical orb, as one does, that leads him to the lowest-key rave ever, where he’ joins his band mates. There are strings of neon lights and acoustic instruments that light up, and when Tedder sings, strings of light come out of his mouth. It’s Las Vegas crossed with Bonnaroo with just the slightest hit of Ecstasy thrown in: check out the lighted badminton rackets.
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I guess technically speaking the Motion/Captured Podcast didn't die. But we are restarting it today with a whole new attitude and focus, and I'm hoping that as we settle into the new format, we're going to end up with something that features the best elements of the old podcast but plenty of things that are brand new to this format.
This is the ongoing series that takes the place of "The Essentials" or "The Basics" or "The Motion/Captured Must-See" or any other ongoing list. This is the collection of conversations about the rest of the great films out there. This is the ongoing curation of films I feel should be part of any film fan's life.
Earlier this year, I picked number one through number twenty as a response to the Sight & Sound poll that was ongoing at the time. I wrote about those, and I'm really pleased with the shape of that list. Those are all films that mean something special to me. Those are the films that I've watched to the point of absorption. But I wasn't kidding when I said that after those 20, there's a tie between about 2500 films that I consider my "essentials." Leave it to Scott Swan to ask me as soon as I was done with the list, "Well, what's number 21?"
"Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" (Wed. 10 p.m. on TLC) is, weirdly enough, becoming the kind of addictive TV that gets thoroughly discussed at both the real water cooler and the virtual one known as the good old Interwebs. This week, June "Mama" and her brood head to the water park, an outing that's a big hit with the kids and perhaps less exciting to Mama, who isn't so sure her 300-plus pounds will make it down the slide. We'd tell you what happened, but really, it's better to watch the clip below.
Anybody who knows the Wu-Tang Clan knows the connections with kung fu and martial arts films. RZA has taken his love of the artform to the next level and is directing and starring in his fighting movie, "The Man With The Iron Fists," co-written by Eli Roth, as a Quentin Tarantino presentation.
And with a guy who has that has so many music world connections, one would expect a spectacular backing soundtrack. And it looks like RZA's delivering. Not only is collaborating with the Black Keys on a new track "The Baddest Man Alive," but he's looped in fresh tracks from other artists like Kanye West, Wu-Tang and Wu-Tang cohorts like Ghostface Killah, rap steady Talib Kweli, soul troupe the Revelations with Tre Williams and more.
West has been busy with his own label's September release, G.O.O.D. Music's "Cruel Summer," but had time to pump out something called "White Dress." Another G.O.O.D.-y Pusha T combines with Raekwon to cook "Tick Tock, and Method Man, Freddie Gibbs & StreetLife released their funky contribution "Built For This" over the weekend. Check that out below: it contains stills and concept art for the film to whet your whistle.
Jonathan Banks has had a long, varied career, but he's never had a better role. He's done drama. He's done comedy. He's played good guys (most notably as FBI Agent Frank McPike on "Wiseguy") and heavies. But he's never had a role as nuanced, as memorable, as his gig on "Breaking Bad" as cop-turned-fixer Mike Ehrmantraut.
(Spoilers coming up immediately if you haven't seen this week's episode.)