Latest Blog Posts

<p>The giant squid attack is maybe the most iconic moment in Disney's '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,' but is it really the point of the film?</p>

The giant squid attack is maybe the most iconic moment in Disney's '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea,' but is it really the point of the film?

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Film Nerd 2.0: An evening of '20,000 Leagues' and Mickey Mouse cartoons

Are Disney movies automatically 'for kids'?

Walt Disney is a major force in the lives of modern kids, whether you like it or not.

Their brand is so omnipresent, so in your face, that it seems like they absorb it almost by osmosis.  For example, why do kids love Mickey Mouse?  How often do you actually see Mickey Mouse cartoons these days?  How many kids have actually seen anything with Mickey in it aside from clips?  When you go to any Disney park, obviously Mickey is a huge presence, and mouse ears are probably the single highest-selling piece of merchandise at the parks, with kids thrilled to wear them.  But… why?

I've noticed it in my own kids.  On Allen's third birthday, we took him to Disneyland for his first trip there.  The whole ride down to Anaheim, Toshi worked to get Allen hyped up, telling him how cool Mickey's house was, and by the time we hit the parking garage, Allen was basically hovering a foot above his chair, like a hummingbird, superexcited, and when he saw the posts in the garage that you use to find your car later, he pointed and started to bellow "IT'S MICKEY! I SEE MICKEY! LOOK! THERE'S MICKEY! MIIIIICKKKEEEEEEEY!"

This is a kid who's never seen a single scene that Mickey Mouse even appears in, and yet he's acting like it's Shea Stadium 1964 and the Beatles just hit the stage.

Read Full Post
<p>Sam Worthington in &quot;Wrath of the Titans.&quot;</p>

Sam Worthington in "Wrath of the Titans."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Cinejabber: Fighting the Tomatometer

Open thread. The floor is yours.

A day late -- for which, you know, apologies -- but welcome to Cinejabber, your weekend Sunday space to kick around any stray movie-related thoughts you might have on your mind. (Or perhaps not movie-related. Hold forth. We're not here to judge.)

For my part, I'm feeling frustrated once more by the internet's dispiriting rush to brand new releases with Rotten Tomatoes numbers, letting mere mathematical averages divide success from failure. Regular readers know this is a routine gripe on my part, and I've been reminded of it largely because others keep reminding me that I'm against the Tomatometer, as it were, on the week's two major multiplex releases. (One person, amusingly, suggested my two reviews amounted to an early April Fools' gambit.) Among so-called Top Critics, it's just me, Richard Corliss and Andrew Barker interrupting the inevitable avalanche of pans for "Wrath of the Titans"; "Mirror Mirror" has more defenders -- here's a particularly cogent rave from the excellent Stephanie Zacharek -- but the growing majority seem to be immune to its impish charms. Oh well. 

Read Full Post
<p>Jonas of &quot;Survivor: One World&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Jonas of "Survivor: One World"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Jonas Otsuji talks 'Survivor: One World'

The latest bootee talks Colton, Tarzan and 'Survivor' cooking
You can't accuse Jonas Otsuji of being unaware of the cause for both his "Survivor" undoing and for the way he's viewed by fans of the CBS competition show.
 
"I just wish that I didn't play the Colton's B**** Game and that I'd sacked up and gone for the big move," Jonas tells me. 
 
Some audience members do as well. 
 
For the early portion of the game, Jonas seemed like an unassuming, funny and likable player flying under the radar. Then, he became Colton's B**** and spent several weeks meekly following one of the most disliked players in "Survivor" history, speaking nary a contrary word as Colton Cumbie badgered and bullied his way through a series of power-plays before exiting the game with a bacteria infection.
 
The original Jonas returned on this week's episode, in large part because unlike his relationship with Colton, he was willing to stand up to the increasing unsteady man calling himself "Tarzan." Naturally, because Jonas had no real enemies and everybody kinda liked him and because he used his skills as a sushi chef to make castaway cooking palatable, he was viewed as a threat and was voted out of the game. 
 
In this week's exit interview, Colton discusses his ties with Colton, the women who brainwashed his alliance and the "Survivor" culinary concoction he'd eat in his everyday life.
 
Click through...
 
Read Full Post
<p>The cover of Madonna's 'MDNA&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

The cover of Madonna's 'MDNA"

Madonna's 'MDNA' dances its way to No. 1 on Billboard 200

Lionel Richie, Shinedown and The Used also get victory dances

Madonna reaches the summit again as “MDNA” will be a lock to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week.

The dance thumper will sell up to 350,000 copies, according to Hits Daily Double. (read our review here). That means it would have a stronger opening week than her last studio album, 2008's "Hard Candy," not an easy feat in this age of declining sales. That title sold 280,000 in its first frame. Madge's first No. 1 album was "Like a Virgin," 27 (gasp!!) years ago, according to Billboard.

She’s not the only veteran making big noise on the charts: Lionel Richie scores his first top 2 album in more than 20 years with “Tuskegee,” a collection of his songs reimagined as duets with some of country’s biggest names. The title will sell around 175,000. (read our review here).

The two are among the four debuts in the Top 10. Joining them will be Shinedown’s “Amaryllis,” most likely at No. 4 with sales of 95,000, and The Used’s “Vulnerable,” which looks good for No. 9 with up to 30,000 copies.

Of course, Adele’s “21” continues to sell strongly more than a year after its release: “21” will drop one spot to No. 3, but still handily sell more than 100,000 copies.  This week’s No. 1 title, “The Hunger Games” soundtrack, will slide to No. 5, with sales of 75,000.

Several other recent No. 1 albums slip, but stay in the Top 10: One Direction’s “Up All Night” falls from No. 4 to No 6; Bruce Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” slips from No. 6-8.

Katy Perry’s former No. 1, “Teenage Dream,” bounces back into the Top 10 in the reconstituted deluxe version, “Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection,” which includes the former No. 1 single, “Part of Me.”  The set will likely sell 35,000, enough for No. 7.

Rounding out the top 10, “Now That’s What I Call Music 41” hangs on at the bottom spot with sales of around 28,000 copies.

 

Read Full Post
<p>A scene from Friday's &quot;Fringe&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

A scene from Friday's "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'Nothing as It Seems'

A few unfortunate narrative developments cloud some of the season's strongest emotional work
The first fifteen minutes of “Fringe” sent me on a rollercoaster of emotions. On one hand, I couldn’t believe they were finally going to tell a “Lost” Sideways tale in this fourth season. Given the conceit of this year, it’s hard to believe it’s taken them this long. But while I was semi-intrigued about how that type of story might play out, the show seemed to be restaging one of the first season’s least exciting episodes. However, most of my worries washed away when the show unleashed its best scene of the season: Walter giving Peter all the gifts he bought for his thought-dead son. I don’t like the overall structure of this season, but Lord in heaven that was a simple, powerful, evocative moment.
 
Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

 

Watch: Jonathan Liebesman talks 'Wrath of the Titans' and 'Ninja Turtles'

'Wrath' director discusses improved 3D and reassures 'TMNT' fans
New York, NY - HitFix's Drew McWeeny and Guy Lodge agree: "Wrath of the Titans" is the rare sequel that improves on the original source material. Were I to write a review, I'd also salute the improvements from 2010's "Clash of the Titans."
 
Last weekend, I sat down with director Jonathan Liebesman to discuss his approach to storytelling on the big budget sequel. 
 
One of the particular goals for the "Battle Los Angeles" and "Darkness Falls" director, as you will hear, was overhauling the 3D, which was a much maligned afterthought on "Clash," but became a central concern in planning and producing "Wrath."
 
Liebesman also discusses finding the proper balance between spectacle and the father-son story at the center of "Wrath."
 
And, finally, because it couldn't go undiscussed, Liebesman talks about the "Ninja Turtles" movie he's going to be directing down the road, a project that has generated quite a bit of controversy in recent weeks, at least in certain circles. 
 
"Wrath of the Titans" is now in theaters.
Read Full Post
<p>Dirty Projectors</p>

Dirty Projectors

Listen: Dirty Projectors release new track 'Gun Has No Trigger'

Bjork had an effect on her 'Orca' collaborators

Bjork and the DPs collaborated on "Mount Wittenberg Orca" and now, more than ever, the Icelandic star's influence on frontman Dave Longstreth's voice is heard like never before on new track "Gun Has No Trigger." I enjoy the boldness of his biggest notes here, and that cold, surreal phrasing. I also continue to applaud the return of his backing singers Amber Coffman, Haley Dekle and Angel Deradoorian who sing like the women that they are (as opposed to sounding like little girls).

But don't look for the hooky, boppy arrangement like those that were all over 2009's "Bitte Orca." This is a much sadder, simpler track.Longstreth told SPIN to expect as much.

Read Full Post
<p>Wayne Coyne with some heady fwends</p>

Wayne Coyne with some heady fwends

Credit: Warner Bros.

Interview: Flaming Lips frontman talks 'Heady Fwends,' recording for Ke$ha

Wayne Coyne talks about Beck and Jimmy Page, Billie Joe Armstrong and McDonald's

The Flaming Lips tapped into some seriously weird talent for their forthcoming collaborative album “The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends” -- weird, not just in type, but the breadth. The Oklahoma-based rock band put their heads together with noise rockers Lightning Bolt for something called “ I'm Working At NASA On Acid,” but then flipped a cover of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” with Erykah Badu. Other big names like Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Yoko Ono and Nick Cave grace the track list of “Fwends,” but it was Ke$ha that surprised Lips frontman Wayne Coyne the most.

“She’s a f*cking freak,” he told me in our interview this week. “She is so much fun and so creative and she just goes for it.”
 
The pop singer is actually a huge fan of the band, and called Coyne herself to make the connection. After months of back and forth, he went to her house, they banged out apocalyptically inclined “2012” (“It’s what you’d think it’d sound like”) and even got to work on three or four “other ideas” over a day and a night, stuff for the Lips and stuff that may potentially make the cut for Ke$ha’s next album. They already have another session lined up.
 
“I wouldn’t really approach people just based on ‘You’re a big pop star.’ And I’m not saying I want to be a producer. We’re just gonna get together again just before Easter and probably do three or four more ideas. And then I’ll take those to my people and we’ll f*ck with them. I don’t know if anything ends up on her record, I just loved working with her, she gave it her all.”
 
Turns out that almost everybody who contributed songs to “Fwends” put at least little bit of themselves into the album… literally. As widely reported last week, each contributing artists’ blood will be incorporated into extremely limited edition releases, dispersed into “the middle of the record.”
 
Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Usher</p>

 Usher

Credit: AP Photo

Usher turns reflective on new album, 'Looking For Myself'

New set streets June 12

Usher will release his seventh studio album, “Looking For Myself,” on June 12.

The album, which will be available in standard and deluxe versions,  was preceded by first single, “Climax,” a smooth R&B, sexy jam that sits at No. 40 this week on the Billboard Hot 100. Producers on the album include Swedish mastermind and Britney Spears' collaborator Max Martin, Diplo, who produced "Climax"; Salaam Remi, Rico Love and Jim Jonsin.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>&nbsp;Jennifer Lopez</p>

 Jennifer Lopez

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull percolate on 'Dance Again'

Will it match the success of 'On the Floor?'

We’ve been getting snippets of Jennifer Lopez’s “Dance Again” featuring Pitbull all week and today we get the full song. And it lives up to its title:  You'll want to put on your dancing shoes and dance again.

The song isn’t as interesting musically as the pair’s  previous hit collaboration, “On the Floor” but it is more consistent in its commitment to being a full-on dance twirler—it percolates in a pleasing pop way, as opposed to throbs —It’s totally charming, especially the "woo..ooh" background singing.

Both Pitbull and  Lopez want the same things: to dance and love because if this were the perfect world they long for, we would all be able to go straight from the dance floor  to the bedroom— and look as awesome as she does doing it without our mascara running.

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Jack (Alec Baldwin)&nbsp;interrupts Liz (Tina Fey)&nbsp;in mid-meditation on &quot;30 Rock.&quot;</p>

Jack (Alec Baldwin) interrupts Liz (Tina Fey) in mid-meditation on "30 Rock."

Credit: NBC

'30 Rock' - 'The Shower Principle': 30 Rock already did it!

Liz realizes her life never changes, while Jack finds salvation in sofas

A review of last night's "30 Rock" coming up just as soon as I pants Deepak Chopra while Craig T. Nelson tapes it...

Read Full Post
<p>Julia Roberts and Nathan Lane in &quot;Mirror Mirror.&quot;</p>

Julia Roberts and Nathan Lane in "Mirror Mirror."

Credit: Relativity Media

Review: Delightful 'Mirror Mirror' restores magic to fairytale revisionism

Tarsem's latest opens in theaters today

"I bet you think you know this story. You don't -- the real one's much more gory." With this crisp opening couplet, Roald Dahl announced his imminent desanctification of the Grimm Brothers' "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves," one of six done-to-death fairytales given a black-comic makeover in his 1982 bestseller "Revolting Rhymes."

Dahl's book was itself a tangy kid-lit response to Angela Carter's ingenious adult sexualization of that dusty literary canon in her essential 1979 volume "The Bloody Chamber"; working at opposite ends of the scale, both writers were making a concerted effort to reclaim these darkly symbolic stories, originally targeted to grown-ups, from their sweetened, child-oriented colonization by Disney. Bar the occasional valiant but underseen effort, however -- Neil Jordan's Carter adaptation "The Company of Wolves" among them -- it was a while before Hollywood arrived at a similarly subversive memo, particularly as Disney revived their commercial fortunes at the end of the 1980s by returning to the pages of Andersen and Perrault, their traditionalist approach interrupted only by happier endings.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME