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<p>Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur co-star in the largely inert new film 'Beyond The Hills,' one of the most disappointing films of this year's Cannes Film Festival.</p>

Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur co-star in the largely inert new film 'Beyond The Hills,' one of the most disappointing films of this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Credit: Sundance Selects/Wild Bunch

Review: 'Beyond The Hills' wants to incite but only manages to bore

Cristian Mungiu's new film simply can't connect the dots

CANNES - Cristian Mungiu arrives at Cannes this year as a sort of conquering hero, finally bringing a full-length follow-up to his breakthrough hit, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days," which won the 2007 Palme d'Or.  This is only his third film, and all three have been invited to the festival, which certainly makes it seem like this is a home for him and for what it is he has to say as a filmmaker.  Considering it's taken him five years to make his third film, it's safe to say that expectations were running high when "Beyond The Hills" made its debut two days ago.

It is, then, no fun to report that "Beyond The Hills" feels like a pretty serious misstep, overthought and overwrought, with some big ideas buried beneath a leaden approach and a cast that simply can't enliven material that never manages to lurch to life.  I don't fault him for ambition, and I can certainly see how the film's core idea could be a springboard for great drama.  It just doesn't feel like the execution pays off any of the material's potential.

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<p>Mick Jagger and some musical friends on &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot;</p>

Mick Jagger and some musical friends on "Saturday Night Live"

Credit: NBC

Recap: 'Saturday Night Live' - Mick Jagger

Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters and other guests close the 'SNL' season
Here we are at the end of another season of “Saturday Night Live,” aka “the latest season that just proved for most people the show isn’t what it used to be, even though that particular version of the show only lives in selective, imperfect memory in the first place.” Pulling double duty tonight is host/musical guest Mick Jagger. Accompanying Jagger musically will be Jeff Beck, The Foo Fighters and Arcade Fire. That’s like “The Avengers” of guitar-based rock. And yes, I just saw “The Avengers” tonight for the second time, so I might accuse a lot of sketches tonight of lacking conviction. Just thought I’d preface that up front.
 
Once more unto the recapping breach!
 
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<p>Bono</p>

Bono

Credit: Marion Curtis/AP

Music Power Rankings: Taylor Swift, Bono, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber

How does String Cheese incident make the list?

1. Bono: As if he weren’t rich enough, with the Facebook IPO, the U2 frontman becomes a billionaire, and the world's richest musician. If he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for, we’re sure he can buy it now.

2. Taylor Swift: Swifty donates $4 million to the Country Music Hall of Fame, the largest ever by an artist. In perhaps a  sign of the times, Eonline.com’s headline about the generous gift?: “Taylor Swift Grabs Dinner with Dianna Agron, Donates $4 Million to Country Music Hall of Fame.” If she had made the donation in a bikini would that have been enough to top Agron?

3. Jay-Z: As if being a new dad weren’t enough, he gives birth to his own event, the Budweiser Made In America festival, to be held over, appropriately enough, Labor Day.

4).Britney Spears: She confirmed her position as a judge for “The X Factor” for a reportedly $15 million. Simon Cowell continues to go after the youth audience by also enlisting teenager Demi Lovato, who’s not a girl, not yet a woman.

5. One Direction: The British band is about to start on its sold-out summer tour in the U.S. Also sold out? The group’s US summer tour is already sold out and the band just sold out a dozen shows at London’s 02 Arena.The only direction this boy band knows is up.

6. String Cheese Incident: The jam band, who is feuding with TicketMaster, gave 50 fans (presumably very trusted ones) $20,000 to buy tickets , which the band will now sale through its website at face value so fans don’t have to turn to scalpers. That’s how you have a loyal following without ever having a huge radio audience.

7. American Idol: For all the word about the show losing its prominence, it’s about to have back-to-back No. 1s on the Billboard 200 as Adam Lambert’s “Trespassing” gets ready to take the place of Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” on the Billboard 200.

8. Amanda Palmer: We were raving about her a few weeks ago when she’d raised nearly $400,000 through Kickstarter, now she’s passed $750,000.  That’s quite the recording budget...or the equivalent of what Dr. Dre has spent per month on "Detox." 

9. Justin Bieber:
The teen titan invests in Spotify. Is he the next Sean Parker?

10. Donna Summer:
She took her last dance on May 17, but her music will live on forever.

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<p>Melvil Poupaud in &quot;Laurence Anyways.&quot;</p>

Melvil Poupaud in "Laurence Anyways."

Credit: MK2 Productions

Review: Entering the exquisite void of 'Laurence Anyways'

Canadian director Xavier Dolan brings his third film to Cannes aged just 23

CANNES - Three feature films into his career, I rather imagine that high-haired Québécois wunderkind Xavier Dolan is getting a little tired of hearing the word "precocious" directed at his work -- though one rather has to accept this occupational hazard when you not only make your debut feature at the age of 19, but get to premiere it at Cannes Directors' Fortnight rather than in your mom's living room.

Having now reached the ripe old age of 23, Dolan is a known quantity these days, his signature confident and identifiable, his reach expanding within reason. A notably young auteur as opposed to a mere upstart, he can probably shed the label any time he chooses to stop making films that are so very, very precocious -- though "Laurence Anyways," his sporadically rapturous and less sporadically maddening new effort, suggests precocity is a quality than can actually increase with age.  

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<p>Caleb Landry Jones stars in Brandon Cronenberg's decidedly icky 'Antiviral'</p>

Caleb Landry Jones stars in Brandon Cronenberg's decidedly icky 'Antiviral'

Credit: Alliance Films

Review: 'Antiviral' is promising first film from second generation director

Brandon Cronenberg is most definitely his father's son

CANNES - Well, as the old saying goes, the diseased and throbbing apple does not fall far from the penis-shaped flesh tree.  Or at least, that's a variation on the old saying that seems applicable when you're talking about the debut film from Brandon Cronenberg, son of the king of body horror, David Cronenberg.

"Antiviral" is playing here as part of the Un Certain Regard section of the festival, and I walked into it knowing nothing aside from Cronenberg's parentage. I wasn't even sure if it was in the same general realm as the work that made his father a legend in horror.  After watching a steady stream of people bolt for the exits during the film's screening, I think it's safe to say that he has inherited his father's knack for making people deeply uncomfortable about topics that are personal to the point of feeling invasive.  I don't think he's just imitating his father, either.  While there may be some thematic similarity, Brandon Cronenberg has made a darkly comic, deeply unpleasant first film that deserves to be considered on its own merits.

Caleb Landry Jones, last seen on movie screens as Banshee in "X-Men: First Class," stars here as Syd March, a guy who works for a company that specializes in selling celebrity diseases to people.  Yes, you read that right.  Celebrities make exclusive deals with biotech firms which harvest their various illnesses, distill them, and then inject them into regular people who want to share something in common with their favorite movie star or model.  Hannah Geist (Sarah Gadon) is one of the most important of the clients that are signed by the company that Syd works for, and as the film opens, we see him infecting a fan named Edward Porris (Douglas Smith) with Hannah's herpes, right where he would have caught it if she kissed him.

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<p>Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain in &quot;Lawless.&quot;</p>

Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain in "Lawless."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Review: 'Lawless' is a rollicking tale of blood, booze and cardigans

The first American film in Competition is a subtext-laden genre treat

CANNES - It might sound the most backhanded of compliments to begin a film review with praise for its hairdressing, but here goes: John Hillcoat's brisk, bloody and sharply appointed Prohibition thriller "Lawless" is the most immaculately barbered film in recent memory. From the pragmatically shaved planes of Tom Hardy's short-back-and-sides to Shia LaBeouf's dandily pomaded undercut to Guy Pearce's unforgivingly skunky centre-right parting, no tonsorial decision in this robust period piece has been idly or accidentally made, every style revealing something of the wearer's designs, demographic and disposition.

One of many well-tended details in a handsomely burnished production, this would be little more than an incidental virtue in most films, not least ones shooting straight for the multiplex crowd. In "Lawless," however, it's indicative of a second, subversive, perhaps even subliminal agenda, one that trumps its proficient, slightly over-simplified qualities as genre storytelling. I'm writing of its cool preoccupation with masculine presentation, how it can inform and sometimes disguise brackets of class and age -- evident as much in the ratty shit-colored cardigans worn by Hardy's stolidly rural moonshine merchant as in the newly acquired tailoring of LaBeouf as Hardy's younger, more aspirational brother.

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<p>Alison Brie and &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;creator Dan Harmon at the show's recent PaleyFest panel, which was Harmon's last public appearance as showrunner.</p>

Alison Brie and "Community" creator Dan Harmon at the show's recent PaleyFest panel, which was Harmon's last public appearance as showrunner.

Credit: The Paley Center for Media

Can 'Community' work without Dan Harmon?

History suggests the NBC comedy can't easily replace its creator's distinctive voice

Television shows have many minds contributing to them, but the best shows tend to speak with one voice. It's usually the voice of whoever created the show, and almost always the voice of whoever is running it. And when that person leaves — especially if that person has a voice that doesn't sound like the one you hear on any other show — it can be a huge challenge for the series to overcome.

It's a challenge that "Community" is going to have to deal with now that we know creator Dan Harmon won't be continuing as showrunner.

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<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. 

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<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.

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<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.

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<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.


 

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<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. 
 
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