Latest Blog Posts

<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

Watch: John Mayer takes us on a trip through his 'Shadow Days' on new video

Roll the windows down and enjoy the scenery

Pack your bags, we’re riding shotgun on a road trip with John Mayer. In the video for “Shadow Days,” he takes us on a triptych across the West and Southwest-- from California to Idaho and Arizona and beyond. He’s traveling solo, but there are stops along the way: a diner,  a convenience story, a guitar shop.

The shaggy-haired Mayer is sporting a hat much like the kind producer Don Was, who helmed  Mayer's new album, “Born & Raised,” sports, as well as a few days’ scruff so we’re thinking Was definitely rubbed off on him not only musically, but fashion-wise. And he certainly got a beautifully nuanced guitar performance out of him on "Shadow Days." 

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Brit Marling in &quot;Sound of My Voice&quot;</p>

Brit Marling in "Sound of My Voice"

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Interview: ‘Sound of My Voice’ co-writer and star Brit Marling on the seductive power of cults

The actress reflects on faith and metaphysics in Los Angeles

This weekend the science-fiction meditation on faith, time travel and the human desire to subjugate oneself to something “greater,” Zal Batmanglij's “Sound of My Voice,” opens in theaters. And the film is in part the result of actress Brit Marling’s (“Another Earth”) desire to create interesting roles for herself.

Marling found that the types of characters she wanted to play simply were not available to her, and so she and Batmanglij, a college friend and long-time creative collaborator, chose to invent one. The film follows a Los Angeles couple, Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) as they attempt to uncover the truth about a cult leader (Marling) who claims to be from the future.

Those are the broad strokes of the plot. But what the film is really looking at is faith, a culture in which a sense of community has become painfully fragmented and the seductive and potentially dangerous power of a person who purports to have the answers so many are seeking.

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<p>Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart</p>

Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart

Credit: AP Photos

Exclusive: 'AI's' Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams combining on new song

When will we hear the new collaboration?

As fans will see for themselves when they hear Haley Reinhart’s debut album, “Listen Up,” out May 22, the  “American Idol” season 10 contestant has really come into her own. Her sultry voice wrapping around the album's  jazzy and soulful pop melodies recalls Amy Winehouse, Dusty Springfield, and Regina Spektor.

Though her fellow Season 10 contestant and buddy Casey Abrams does not appear on her album, it sounds like she might guest on his forthcoming Concord album, set for release this summer. The two released a spirited version of "Baby It's Cold Outside" as a Christmas gift to their fans and have reunited for more.

We interviewed Reinhart yesterday about the new album, but also asked if the pair had recorded anything new. “Yes, we actually just had something in the mix and I’ll let him talk about that; it’s nothing that I’ll give away," Reinhart said. "But yes, we are getting together and doing more stuff...We could never leave each other in that way. We have to continue to do stuff together.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Nas' &quot;Daughters&quot;</p>

Nas' "Daughters"

Credit: Def Jam

Listen: Nas talks parenthood on 'Daughters'

Daddy's princess Instagramming condoms: beauty and the thug

It's refreshing to hear Nas -- one of hip-hop's most esteemed, lasting voices -- taking on more than swagger and girls in his latest song. Or, rather, he's rhyming about girls, but more specifically his own "little" girl, who is now 17.

"Daughters" is another new track to arrive from Nas' "Life Is Good" album, due on July 17. "Daughters" goes on sale in the usual spots on May 1.

Among Nas' temptations is to blaze through another elder-statesman "I'm still top of the game" kind of jam, but this super-specific track touches on a tender topic oft-ignored (or undercooked) by hip-hop on the whole. Raising a daughter and rapping aren't mutually exclusive, and Nas tackles his own daugther Destiny's parenting head-on. He addresses the fact that his little princess posted a photo of condoms on her bedside table to Twitter, and that she's already fielding numerous calls from, erm, suitors.

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<p>&quot;The Simpsons&quot;&nbsp;have another vacation that goes awry in Sunday's episode.</p>

"The Simpsons" have another vacation that goes awry in Sunday's episode.

Credit: FOX

Review: On 'The Simpsons,' Bart takes the family on a sea cruise

Sunday's episode is a reminder of the pleasures of latter-day 'Simpsons'

I've written a lot about "The Simpsons" this season, between the two-year renewal, a wave of nostalgia before the airing of the 500th episode, and my feeling that this is one of the stronger overall seasons of the last 10-plus years, and a good example of why I'm glad the show continues to churn out new episodes after all this time.

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<p>Nicki Minaj</p>

Nicki Minaj

Watch this awful Nicki Minaj music video

'Starships' is the visual essence of unknowing

As I said in my review of Nicki Minaj's "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," the star's output has suffered from her and her label's attempt to throw just about anything at the wall in hopes something sticks. In her music video for hopeless radio bait "Starships," they use the same method, only this time with Dayglo paint and bikinis.

Minaj is seen emerging from the water, a beam from a "starship" of manufactured Girldom, the centerpiece of every cheap beach rave and Vicky's Secret cliche you can think of. Certainly, Minaj looks beautiful, bound inside of strappy and stringy two pieces and body glitter on the beaches of Hawaii. But she doesn't look comfortable. Signalling that Minaj's dance moves are still unready for primetime, she's a bumbling, posturing siren in a sea of hippie-trippies and professional hoofers (in bowler hats, to boot).

For everything wrong with this video and this type of video, just fast forward to the final scenes, where the party jumps around and Minaj has to literally hold onto her bouncing bountiful breasts: is it to mirror very similar actions that everyday party-going girls have to endure or a true reflection of the waste and half-baked madness Barbz must endure? Either way: it requires endruance to get through this mess.

Cash Money has got to quit trying to make Minaj into Rihanna With Raps. She's got too much savage personality to fit into a sweetheart mold, too much talent as a rapper to squander and not enough know-how to navigate this kind of generic pop pageantry. It's like watching "Toddlers & Tiaras" -- she's not ready, which makes "Starships" well-meaning but completely off-course.

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<p>No, seriously... that's Thor.&nbsp; YOU&nbsp;HAVE&nbsp;THOR&nbsp;IN&nbsp;YOUR&nbsp;MOVIE, PEOPLE.&nbsp; Own it, celebrate it, but above all else, release it.&nbsp; THOR! RIGHT&nbsp;THERE!</p>

No, seriously... that's Thor.  YOU HAVE THOR IN YOUR MOVIE, PEOPLE.  Own it, celebrate it, but above all else, release it.  THOR! RIGHT THERE!

Credit: Lionsgate

'Cabin In The Woods' heads straight to DVD in Australia and NZ

'Cherynobl Diaries' also gets the bum's rush with the news

Hello, Village Roadshow.

This evening, I was working on a review for a film and occasionally looking over at the Twitter feed on another screen, and I saw Garth Franklin send a single Tweet.  "Roadshow have confirmed - both "Cabin In The Woods" and Chernobyl Diaries" will go direct to DVD in Australia. Dates to be announced."

Could I ask you to reconsider that decision?

You've got time.  You haven't announced any dates yet, so you haven't tied yourself to anything that you'd then have to retract.  You are in a position right now to simply reverse course and make a whole lot of potential customers very very happy.

"But we've gone over the numbers and we've discussed it and we're pretty sure this is the right decision."  I'm sure you have any number of very smart professional people working for your company who have spent real time and energy putting together the plan that Garth was referring to tonight.  I'm sure there is sound reasoning behind the decision.

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<p>Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Chris Pratt, and Alison Brie all star in the new comedy 'The Five-Year Engagement'</p>

Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Chris Pratt, and Alison Brie all star in the new comedy 'The Five-Year Engagement'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: Segel and Blunt make 'Five Year Engagement' both funny and painful

Nicholas Stoller's latest is messy but alive and filled with charming moments

Nicholas Stoller's films are frequently lumped in under the broader umbrella of "Judd Apatow movies," but I think that's not fair.  Yes, Apatow helped usher in a certain style of studio comedy that is now a major part of the landscape, but he doesn't write and direct every movie that he produces.  Stoller's movies, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall, "Get Him To The Greek," and this week's new release "The Five-Year Engagement," have their own identity, their own unruly voice, and I think he's doing a nice job of honing that identity from film to film.

Working with Jason Segel, it seems to me that Stoller is fascinated by just how far he can push a character or characters before they break.  In "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Segel played wounded very well, and the gradual way he mended his heart was charted with honesty even though it was also packed with laughs.  "Greek" was all about testing the character played by Jonah Hill and seeing just how much he was willing to put up with from someone he idolized.  Now, with this film, Stoller and Segel are once again writing about something real, wrapping up some painful truth in some big comedy set piece moments, and if the film has a major flaw, it is inherent to the premise itself.

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<p>Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd in &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd in "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

'Parks and Recreation' - 'The Debate': Pain don't hurt

Amy Poehler writes, directs and stars in a Leslie Knope tour de force

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I love it when you're needlessly disgusting...

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<p>Nicole Kidman in &quot;The Paperboy.&quot;</p>

Nicole Kidman in "The Paperboy."

Credit: Millennium Films

Cannes Check: Lee Daniels' 'The Paperboy'

Continuing our series of Cannes competition previews

The director: Lee Daniels (American, 52 years old)

The talent: Thought Robert Pattinson was the unlikeliest name you'd see leading a Competition title at Cannes? Try Zac Efron out for size. The "High School Musical" teen idol takes on his first fully adult dramatic lead in this thriller, with several more experienced star names to back him up: Matthew McConaughey (in the first of his two Competition film appearances this year), Nick Nolte, John Cusack, Scott Glenn and, generating the most pre-premiere chatter about her performance, Nicole Kidman.

Meanwhile, sandpaper-voiced soul singer Macy Gray narrates. If you enjoyed her performance in Daniels' debut feature "Shadowboxer" and often find yourself wondering how she'd have fared in Mo'Nique's role in "Precious" -- in other words, if you're me -- this is very good news indeed.

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<p>Sissy Spacek at the Country Music Awards in 2010.</p>

Sissy Spacek at the Country Music Awards in 2010.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Sissy Spacek and William Friedkin to be feted by Seattle fest

Meanwhile, Friedkin is also set to screen 'Killer Joe'

The Seattle International Film Festival has announced that it will recognize Oscar-winning actress Sissy Spacek and director William Friedkin as 2012 tribute honorees. Sissy Spacek will receive the festival’s award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting on June 7 and William Friedkin will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award on June 9.

“Sissy Spacek and William Friedkin have captivated audiences repeatedly throughout their careers with critically acclaimed works that boast multigenerational appeal,” said SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence via press release.

Spacek has a particularly special place in my heart. Her first firm step onto the world stage was in “Badlands,” the debut film of one of my favorite director’s, Terrence Malick. But it was her Academy Award-winning turn as country singer Loretta Lynn in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” that really left an indelible mark.

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<p>On &quot;Community,&quot;&nbsp;Abed (Danny Pudi)&nbsp;and Troy (Donald Glover)&nbsp;get their &quot;Law &amp;&nbsp;Order&quot;&nbsp;on.</p>

On "Community," Abed (Danny Pudi) and Troy (Donald Glover) get their "Law & Order" on.

Credit: NBC

'Community' - 'Basic Lupine Urology': Law & Order: Special Biology Unit

The Greendale gang pay homage to an NBC classic

A review of tonight's "Community" coming up just as soon as I honor the pinky swear of a degenerate...

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