Latest Blog Posts

<p>The indestructible Bondurant brothers go to war with a deranged special agent trying to shut down their bootlegging operation in John Hillcoat's Cannes entry 'Lawless'</p>

The indestructible Bondurant brothers go to war with a deranged special agent trying to shut down their bootlegging operation in John Hillcoat's Cannes entry 'Lawless'

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: Hillcoat's 'Lawless' makes great use of Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf

Prohibition-era hillbilly mythmaking at its finest

CANNES - John Hillcoat has carved out a very strong presence in world cinema with just a few films, and while I respect both "The Proposition" and "The Road," I would have a hard time claiming to love either of them. His new film, "Lawless," made its debut at Cannes first thing Saturday morning, and the most striking thing about it at first glance is that Hillcoat seems to have learned some new shades as a filmmaker, and for the first time in his career, it feels like he's actually having some fun.  It helps that he's got Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeaouf, and Guy Pearce heading a strong ensemble cast, and that the based-on-a-true-story script by Nick Cave is a rowdy bit of hillbilly mythmaking, a purely American tale written in blood and bullet casings.

Matt Bondurant's book, "The Wettest County In The Word," tells the story of his family's role in the bootlegging trade of the '30s in Franklin County, Virginia.  Forrest (Tom Hardy) is the hard-boiled center of the family, the balancing point between the wild, untamed lunacy of big brother Howard (Jason Clarke) and the hesitant, good-natured Jack (Shia LaBeouf).  They each have their skills, and they all help perpetuate the legend that Bondurant boys are invincible, a story that began when Howard was the only member of his platoon to return home after World War I. 

Read Full Post
<p>A scene from &quot;Battleship&quot;</p>

A scene from "Battleship"

Credit: Universal Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'Battleship'

The film takes aim at theaters this weekend

Oh yeah, Peter Berg's big ticket board game production (shoot me) hit theaters this weekend, too. I totally forgot (honest). Guy saw the film when it opened in the UK last month and was none too high on it in his Variety assessment. Anyway, if you have something to say about "Battleship," again, hit the comments section below.

Read Full Post
<p>Hushpuppy afloat in her Daddy's boat in the big wide world of The Bathtub in the remarkable 'Beasts&nbsp;of the Southern Wild'</p>

Hushpuppy afloat in her Daddy's boat in the big wide world of The Bathtub in the remarkable 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

Credit: Fox Searchlight

Review: 'Beasts Of The Southern Wild' a haunting, beautiful American fairy tale

Sundance sensation lives up to the hype at its Cannes debut

CANNES - Fiercely original, richly imagined, and blessed with one of the great child performances, "Beasts Of The Southern Wild" may have made its premiere at Sundance this year, but it was embraced wholeheartedly by crowds at Friday's Cannes Film Festival, and for good reason.  Horribly beautiful and deeply felt, the film is a spectacular example of how much more important imagination is than budget, and it may be the first great new fairy tale on film since "City Of Lost Children."

How do you even begin to capture something as delicate, ethereal, and feral as the performance of Quvenzhane Wallis, who stars as Hushpuppy, the film's main character and narrator?  It's one thing to imagine a world of washed-out beauty like The Bathtub, but it's quite another to make it such a tangible and well-realized place that it feels like you just stumbled across it and set up cameras there.  Director Benh Zeitlin and his entire crew deserve accolades for finding a way to create such a carefully detailed world on what looks like a very tight budget, and for sticking to an ambition that feels totally uncompromised in execution.  It would be impressive enough if it was just a case of great art design, but then to populate the world with this iconic, fascinating people struggling to survive in a world that wants them to disappear is nothing less than humbling to behold.

Read Full Post
<p>Adam Lambert</p>

Adam Lambert

Credit: Kristen Winter/AP

Adam Lambert trespasses into the top spot on the Billboard 200

Who else enters the Top 10 next week?

Adam Lambert will likely land his first No. 1 album next week as “Trespassing” enters at the top spot on the Billboard 200. His previous set, "For Your Entertainment," peaked at No. 3. Read our review here.

The “American Idol” season 8 runner up does so with one of the lower opening tallies of the year for a charttopper as his sophomore 19/RCA is set to sell around 75,000 copies. (We’ll see how the season 8 champ, Kris Allen, fares in a two weeks: his second set, “Thank You Camellia,” drops on Tuesday, May 22.

The only other bows in the Top 10 belongs to Jack Black and Kyle Gass’s Tenacious D, whose new album, “Rize of the Fenix” comes in at No. 5 and “Glee Cast: The Graduation” at No. 6, with sales of around 45,000, according to Hits Daily Double.

Adele’s “21” is at No. 2 with up to 65,000 copies sold, while Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” drops to No. 3 after two weeks at the summit. “Now That’s What I Call Music 42” looks good for No. 4, although it and “Fenix” may flip flop by the time the chart closes on Sunday night.

Lionel Richie’s “Tuskegee” continue to have staying power at No. 7, with Norah Jones’  “Little Broken Hearts” at No. 8, One Direction’s “Up All Night” at No. 9 and the “Smash” cast album at No. 10.

Barely missing a top 10 bow are Beach House’s “Bloom” at No. 11. Garbage’s “Not Your Kind of People” at No. 14.


 

Read Full Post
<p>Ken Jeong of &quot;Community&quot;</p>

Ken Jeong of "Community"

Credit: NBC

Dan Harmon is out as 'Community' showrunner, David Guarascio and Moses Port are in

The long-expected bad news for 'Community' fans came on Friday night
The other shoe has dropped for NBC's "Community," its creative team and its fans.
 
One week after the co-mingled good news/bad news proposition of NBC ordering 13 additional episodes for the low-rated comedy while rumors swirled that showrunner Dan Harmon wouldn't be returning, it has been officially revealed that Harmon is out at "Community," confirmation that broke only a day after the three-episode finale that left many (most?) fans rhapsodic. 
 
In a traditional Friday news dump, word of Harmon's exit -- you can call it "firing" or just "Sony Pictures TV opting not to renew his deal" -- hit the Internet late evening Eastern Time along with the added information that "Happy Endings" and "Aliens in America" veterans David Guarascio and Moses Port will take over as showrunners for next season. 
 
Read Full Post
<p>Gael Garcia Bernal (left) in &quot;No.&quot;</p>

Gael Garcia Bernal (left) in "No."

Credit: Fabula/Canana Films

Review: 'No' and 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

Chilean auteur Pablo Larrain delivers the film of the fest so far

CANNES - With this year's Competition still searching for that unifying critical and audience hit -- though the two biggest hitters thus far, Jacques Audiard's "Rust and Bone" and Cristian Mungiu's "Beyond the Hills," have proven excitingly and necessarily divisive -- the longest and loudest rounds of applause appear to have been heard in the sidebars. Two of the four films I saw today elicited that kind of response, with audience members cheering and reprise-clapping at odd points in the closing credits in the manner that comfortably exceeds required festival politeness and firmly establishes that they like you, they really like you.

One of these successes, an Un Certain Regard selection that had already slayed the Sundance crowds a few months back, was to be expected; the other, from the lower-profile Directors' Fortnight selection, was more of a surprise. Chilean director Pablo Larrain hasn't, until now, been the kind of filmmaker to court such all-round approval: his cold-blooded political comedies "Tony Manero" and "Post Mortem" are something of an acquired taste even to those not alienated by their contextually non-transferrable Pinochet-rule milieu. Indeed, following its Venice premiere two years ago, I remember the closing credits of "Post Mortem" being greeted by nothing noisier than the stunned shuffle of footsteps as viewers made a beeline for the nearest stiff drink.

Read Full Post
<p>Afghan Whigs</p>

Afghan Whigs

Afghan Whigs debut first new song in five years, 'See and Don't See'

Download the track for free: worth waiting for a cover?

"The only way I can get through the day..." is to check out this new song from the reunited Afghan Whigs.

"See and Don't See" is a damned bummer of a cover, but great news for fans of the band -- which hasn't performed together live in 13 years. This track is their first new one in five, after in 2007 they dropped "Unbreakable: A Retrospective 1990-2006" which contained two new tracks recorded when the Greg Dulli-led band reunited temporarily to record "I'm a Soldier" and "Magazine."

The band officially split in 2001 and last released their album "1965" in 1998. Next week, though, they'll take the stage once again on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on May 22 and will play New York's Bowery Ballroom on May 23. They have 28 dates on slate; stops include Lollapalooza, plus at All Tomorrow's Parties' New Jersey edition, which Dulli is curating for a night.

Read Full Post
Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 129
Credit: NBC

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 129

Dan and Alan talk CBS and CW upfronts, plus spring finales

The

Happy Friday, Boys & Girls.
 
As promised, it's a bonus installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We start with CBS & The CW's upfronts and the news associated with that, then we answered a pilot of upfronts-related mail and then delved into a slew of finales, including "How I Met Your Mother" and "Smash."
 
In order to fit the "House" finale into our next podcast, we'll be waiting til Tuesday. But with two podcasts this week, we're sure you can wait that extra day. 
 
Oh and we didn't mention it on this week's podcast, but next week we're going to announce our Summer Rewatch. So GET EXCITED!!!!
 
Friday's breakdown:
Upfronts - CBS and The CW (00:00:50 - 00:25:30)
Upfronts-themed Letters (00:25:50 - 00:39:40)
"Parks and Recreation" finale (00:39:45 - 00:46:15)
"How I Met Your Mother" finale (00:46:20 - 00:54:00)
"Smash" finale (00:54:00 - 01:03:00)
"Suburgatory" (01:03:00 - 01:14:30)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

Read Full Post
Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 128: Upfronts 2012, Part 2: CBS/CW

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 128: Upfronts 2012, Part 2: CBS/CW

Dan and Alan also start reviewing season finales with 'Parks and Rec,' 'Smash' and more

The

It's Upfront Week, part 2, which means you get a bonus podcast from us in which we break down the CBS and CW schedules and answer a few upfront-related letters before we start moving on to discussing some notable season finales. More of that to come next week (likely on Tuesday instead of Monday), along with the announcement of this summer's rewatch.

The line-up: 

Upfronts - CBS and The CW (00:00:50 - 00:25:30)
Upfronts-themed Letters (00:25:50 - 00:39:40)
"Parks and Recreation" finale (00:39:45 - 00:46:15)
"How I Met Your Mother" finale (00:46:20 - 00:54:00)
"Smash" finale (00:54:00 - 01:03:00)
"Suburgatory" finale (01:03:00 - 01:14:30)
 
As we discuss towards the end of the show, we will likely have two podcasts next week, but also probably not on Monday. It will be catch as catch can. Follow our blogs, iTunes, the RSS feed, Twitter, etc., to have some sense of when a new podcast has been published.

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
Read Full Post
<p>Sacha Baron Cohen in&nbsp;&quot;The&nbsp;Dictator&quot;</p>

Sacha Baron Cohen in "The Dictator"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tell us what you thought of 'The Dictator'

Sacha Baron Cohen's latest hits theaters today

I haven't caught up with Sacha Baron Cohen's latest shenanigans in "The Dictator" yet but the wife thinks it looks funny so maybe we'll make it out this weekend. I do get the sense that things are running a bit thin and hope Cohen can jump into this Freddy Mercury thing ASAP for a nice shift (not that collaborations with Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese haven't been refreshing). Anyway, I imagine many of you will be seeing it, too, so when/if you do, head on back here with your thoughts.

Read Full Post
<p>Bill Murray as FDR in &quot;Hyde Park on&nbsp;Hudson&quot;</p>

Bill Murray as FDR in "Hyde Park on Hudson"

Credit: Focus Features

Bill Murray takes on FDR in the trailer for 'Hyde Park on Hudson'

Could the esteemed cast garner awards consideration at year's end?

Focus Features has an interesting little slate of films to pitch this season. There's Wes Anderson's latest, "Moonrise Kingdom," which opened Cannes earlier this week to mostly favorable reviews. Indeed, I found it to be one of his best, a charming mark of maturation for the filmmaker. There's also Joe Wright's big adaptation "Anna Karenina," which looks to be the heavyweight in the stable.

Then there's "Hyde Park on Hudson," director Roger Michell's latest. From the official synopsis: "In June 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor host the King and Queen of England for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson, in upstate New York – the first-ever visit of a reigning English monarch to America. With Britain facing imminent war with Germany, the Royals are desperately looking to FDR for support.

"But international affairs must be juggled with the complexities of FDR’s domestic establishment, as wife, mother, and mistresses all conspire to make the royal weekend an unforgettable one. Seen through the eyes of Daisy, Franklin’s neighbor and intimate, the weekend will produce not only a special relationship between two great nations, but, for Daisy – and through her, for us all – a deeper understanding of the mysteries of love and friendship."

Read Full Post
<p>Reggie Watts</p>

Reggie Watts

Interview: Reggie Watts talks 'Central Park,' Adele, Jon Hamm and Radiohead

'Comedy Bang! Bang!', touring and... Steel Dan is an ugly band

Reggie Watts kicked off a headlining tour this week, but it wouldn’t be fair to say that the stint is in support of one single thing.

The musician/comedian/musical comedian dropped “Reggie Watts: A Live In Central Park” on CD/DVD on Tuesday, with airings having ramped up the week before on Comedy Central. He’ll be featured in each episode of new IFC show “Comedy Bang! Bang,” which debuts on June 8 (you can get a taste of him collaborating with Jon Hamm on the theme of “Taxi” here). He’s warming up for festival season with stop-offs like Bonnaroo and Electric Forest this summer, and he’s dropped off everywhere from SF Sketchfest to Sasquatch! to Fun Fun Fun. He continues to work with Louis C.K. on his show “Louie,” writing incidental music, and made his own score to Ridley Scott's "Legend."

The Williamsburg, Brooklyn resident opened for Conan O’Brien on his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour” last year and gained rep online through the word-of-mouth success of “Why Sh*t So Crazy?” from 2010 (featuring “F*ck Sh*t Stack”) and his CollegeHumor “Blowjobs” bit. He also held down a high-profile gig singing with LCD Soundsystem at their last show at Madison Square Garden in 2011, a performance captured in “Shut Up and Play the Hits.”

Watts is mesmerizing to watch, as he blends pre-planned comedy bits and banter with himself in with improvised music composition, beat boxing, experimental motifs and rapping. He looks like a crazy person. He can make himself sound like Chaka Khan and Fred Rogers in the same breath.  

Below, we talk about “Central Park,” Jack White, lazy pop production, All Tomorrow’s Parties and just how ugly Steely Dan are.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME