Latest Blog Posts

<p>Sinead O'Connor's new album is a strong reminder of just what a good and angry writer she is, and how her voice remains one of the strongest in pop music</p>

Sinead O'Connor's new album is a strong reminder of just what a good and angry writer she is, and how her voice remains one of the strongest in pop music

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

One Thing I Love Today: 'Queen Of Denmark' is potent reminder of Sinead O'Connor's gifts

Ready for a little good old-fashioned rage? Well, O'Connor's got it for you.

One of the uncomfortable truths of being an artist working in any media is that many times, you have an "expired by" date on your work, whether you like it or not.  It is far more common for someone to have a brief period where they are productive and part of the larger cultural conversation and then that period ends and they drop off the face of the earth than it is for someone to have a career that lasts for decades and decades and decades with them always successfully producing work and reaching their audience.

When Sinead O'Connor released her first few albums, I was as onboard as a person could be.  I still think "The Lion and the Cobra" and "I Do Not What What I Haven't Got" are two of the best records from my teenage years, and I've worn out or lost more copies of both than I can count.  There was a time when I was far more attuned to what was going on in music, and I've had to make my peace with never going to see live music in LA because I have a mortgage and am not prepared to pay scalper prices for every single thing I want to see.  Back in the '90s, I saw Sinead play a few times, and she was always impressive live, with pipes that were as good as they were on her albums if not better.

Read Full Post
"Top Chef"

 "Top Chef"

Credit: Bravo

Reality TV Roundup: 'Survivor' gets airheaded and 'The Bachelor' is an idiot

It's been a busy week, so get all your reality news here, now

Welcome to Reality TV Roundup -- a quick look at some of the reality TV-centric stories that have recently popped up across the fine, old Interwebs. Click away, my couch potato friends. But before you do...

 

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! One more time: SPOILER ALERT. If you watch "The X Factor," "Survivor," "Top Chef," "Project Runway," "Celebrity Apprentice" or any other competition shows, the latest elimination for each show is probably revealed in the text below. The hope is that, if you missed this week's program and would rather clear out your DVR than watch the episode, you can get a quick hit here. But don't come crying to me if you find out something you didn't want to know. You've been warned. Also note: lots of non-competition reality info lurks below, too. 

 

COMPETITION REALITY SHOWS 

 

SURVIVOR

 

Sabrina must manage the airheads, but it's Nina who gets the boot

 

Nina explains why Kat was just as destructive as she said she was. 

 

"Survivor Africa" winner Ethan Zohn gets his second stem cell transplant as part of his treatment for a recurrence of cancer. 

 

DANCING WITH THE STARS
 

Melissa Gilbert! Jack Wagner! Sherri Shepherd! And other semi-famous people may be joining the cast. Allegedly. 

 

THE AMAZING RACE

 

We hardly got the chance to know Missy and Maiya, the sisters from Hawaii, but they're gone no, so no biggie. 

 

The cause of death for the freelance producer who died in Uganda may have been poisoning or may have been a cocaine overdose. All that's clear right now is that nothing is clear. 

 

THE VOICE

 

Take a look at how the teams are shaping up in the fourth blind audition

 

THE BACHELOR

 

It seems like it's been Courtney's time to go for ages, but somehow Kacie B gets tossed off the show. And yes, Ben is an idiot. 

 

Well, maybe not a total idiot. He apparently did the show to plug his wine. That's just good marketing!

 

THE BIGGEST LOSER

 

When contestants learn that a twist will bring back those previously eliminated, they mutiny. In other news, trainer Bob Harper says most of the contestants are "mean" and "bullies," so no great loss. 

 

AMERICAN IDOL

 

We're introduced to 14 of the final 24, then the next 10, plus one extra, just to keep you on your toes. Don't get too used to anyone!

 

The show's vocal coach, Debra Byrd, is out so Jimmy Iovine can bring in his "own people." 

 

THE X FACTOR

 

Simon Cowell won't say whether Whitney Houston was definitely in the running to join the show, but he will say that you can expect two new hosts -- a guy and a girl. 

 

TOP CHEF

 

In a decidedly weird elimination challenge (it's hot, it's cold, it's lukewarm!), Lindsay is told to pack her knives and go. One mean girl still remains, however. 

 

PROJECT RUNWAY ALL STARS

 

Mila's schizoid dress earns her a one way ticket home. Guess it might have been a good idea to ask another designer for an opinion, but it would have involved being nice. 

 

 

NON-COMPETITION REALITY TV SHOWS

 

 

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY

 

Gretchen and Tamra just made up, but already the cracks are showing in their new, fragile friendship. Oh, and already new girl Heather is not so well-liked.

 

THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA

 

It's official - Marlo is horrible. The other housewives aren't so great, either. Discuss amongst yourselves. 

 

MISC.

 

Newark does not want the "Jersey Shore" spin-off. So there. 

 

Another sign we can't get rid of Tyra Banks, no matter how much we might want to -- another season of "America's Next Top Model" is in the works

 

Kate Gosselin is lonely. Um, okay. 

Read Full Post
<p>The gang's all smiles with the Best Feature award for &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

The gang's all smiles with the Best Feature award for "The Artist."

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

'The Artist' triumphs at 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards

The French silent wins four while 'The Descendants' nabs two

I was really irritated sitting there in the tent on the beach in Santa Monica this year watching the Independent Spirit Awards unfold.

Things started out great, though. Seth Rogen's opening monologue killed, even though a number of the people in there apparently weren't equipped to grasp the humor. I was happy to see Christopher Plummer, however expected, take yet another supporting actor trophy for his performance in "Beginners."

Even though I called it, I was nevertheless stoked for Will Reiser surprising with a win in the Best First Screenplay category for "50/50." And even though I'd have much preferred seeing Jessica Chastain get the good will, it was hard not to be happy for Shailene Woodley, who won Best Supporting Female after she was snubbed by the Academy. Then things took a different turn. "The Artist" just started winning everything. Everyone just bowed down. Couldn't we have this one moment of solace away from that steamroller? Apparently not.

Read Full Post
<p>B&eacute;r&eacute;nice Bejo in &quot;The Artist.&quot;</p>

Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Why it should be 'The Artist'

Ignore the backlash: this season has got it right

Okay, I'll level with you. One fairly major reason I want "The Artist" to win Best Picture at tomorrow's Academy Awards ceremony has nothing whatsoever to do with its lithe charms as a Hollywood fable, its glistening appropriation of a long-dormant screen style, the quicksilver star turn of its leading man or even its eminently adoptable Jack Russell.

It has nothing to do with the film being a silent-cinema gateway for less informed audiences, an all-too-rare foreign crossover, or a witty marker of the distance the medium has traveled in 80-odd years.

It has nothing to do with my relative feelings about its rival nominees, or with the disproportionate critical backlash its success has inspired. Not that these aren't all factors worthy of consideration, but this reason has nothing to do with the movie at all.

It's because I have money on it.

Read Full Post
<p>Tristan Halilaj stars in 'Forgiveness of Blood' as Nik, a young man who finds himself trapped in his house and stir-crazy thanks to Albanian blood feud law</p>

Tristan Halilaj stars in 'Forgiveness of Blood' as Nik, a young man who finds himself trapped in his house and stir-crazy thanks to Albanian blood feud law

Credit: IFC Films

Review: 'Maria Full Of Grace' director returns with sad and angry 'Forgiveness of Blood'

Albanian blood feud drama paints a difficult picture of a country trapped in time

Making a second film can be more difficult than making a first film in many cases, and for reasons that are almost exclusively different in each case.  With a first film, you're trying to prove yourself in general.  You're simply making the case that you can, indeed, finish a film.  You can wrestle something up onto the screen.  Good, bad, whatever it is, you can do it.

If you are able to make that first film, getting it seen is a second fight, something almost totally separate from the making of the thing.  If you are fortunate enough to not only make your film but also get it seen, that's a win no matter what the film is.  And if you get it made, get it seen, and it's actually good?  Well, the world's your oyster at that point, right?

Not necessarily.  Sometimes, you set up expectations, and those expectations become a trap, and sometimes you find yourself either living up to something or living it down, but either way, you're struggling against something that can lead to real frustration, both for you and for the people you're asking to spend money on your films.  With Marston, I'm not sure what happened.  He made his breakthrough feature "Maria Full Of Grace" in 2004, and then worked a few times for TV and made another couple of shorts and did a little more TV, but It's taken until now for him to get a second feature made.  What's apparent from this second film of his is that he has a real voice and a very particular sensibility and we would certainly be better off if he was working more often.

Read Full Post
<p>Maggie Smith does not need to worry</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Maggie Smith does not need to worry

Credit: PBS

What impact will 'Downton Abbey' shifting Emmy categories have?

If 'Downton' is no longer a miniseries, how will its hopes be impacted?
In a move that's almost shocking in its logic and truthfulness, PBS' "Downton Abbey" will reportedly depart the miniseries category for this fall's Emmys and move into the far more appropriate and competitive drama field.
 
The news first broke on GoldDerby.com, which got this somewhat confusing quote from TV Academy awards chief John Leverence.
 
"After starting out as a miniseries, 'Downton Abbey' caught fire and so now it moves over to drama series category as it plans for future TV seasons," Leverence tells Gold Derby. "It follows the trajectory of previous shows like 'The Starter Wife' that started out as a miniseries and then became a regular series."
 
Leverence's quote makes the confusing assertion that it was success that made "Downton Abbey" into a worthy entrant for the series field, rather than "Downton Abbey" simply being a TV series that was miscategorized last year and then moved into the correct category this year. 
 
It would be too much, presumably, for Leverence to say, "Yeah, British TV shows confuse us." After all, does the shift of "Downton Abbey" to the correct category mean that the TV Academy will also stop calling "Luther" a miniseries? And will this enforce a ripple effect that will cause the Golden Globes and the various guilds to also stop calling "Downton Abbey" (and "Luther" and "The Hour") a movie/miniseries or will it exist only in isolation?
 
The big question, and the reason I'm writing this as blog post rather than as a news story, is what impact moving "Downton Abbey" into the drama field will have on various category races that are already the most heated on Emmy night.
 
[More after the break...]
 
Read Full Post
<p>Gene Kelly in &quot;Singin' in the Rain&quot;</p>

Gene Kelly in "Singin' in the Rain"

Credit: MGM

Oscar's big miss: 'Singin' in the Rain'

A look at one of the Academy's most glaring snubs

It seemed an easy task when I told Guy and Gerard to follow Roth's lead and help me turn the idea of "Oscar's big miss" into a quick mini-series at the end of the season. Roth's pick was undeniable. Gerard's was inspired. Guy's was well-spotted. What would I spring for?

Look, the truth is there are a lot of movies the Academy hasn't properly recognized over the last 84 years, and they go all the way to near the beginning. "Metropolis," "The Passion of Joan of Arc," "City Lights," "King Kong," "Modern Times," "Sullivan's Travels," "Paths of Glory," "The Last Temptation of Christ," "The Fountain," "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Another Year" and if not genre filmmaking in general, the entirety of the western genre surely all made for compelling picks. But what equates to a "big miss" anyway? What does it mean?

Read Full Post
<p>Hunter McCracken (left)&nbsp;and Brad Pitt in&nbsp;&quot;The&nbsp;Tree of Life&quot;</p>

Hunter McCracken (left) and Brad Pitt in "The Tree of Life"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar Guide 2011: Best Picture

A big slate of nine films square off

(The Oscar Guide has been your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with today's Best Picture finale being the cherry on top.)

And here we are. The 2011 Oscar Guide has finally reached its destination: the nine-film Best Picture category, which saw its biggest surprise in the very fact that it stretched to that many nominees. It became somewhat obvious down the stretch that five films were assured a spot, with another highly likely. The extraneous possibilities seemed to number no more than three or four, but two of them got in.

The question, though, is did the alteration in the Best Picture voting process really do all that much? Did it really breed the suspense it so clearly aimed for? Would it have mattered all that much if a full slate of 10 had remained in place? Well, to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" or "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," perhaps. At the end of the day, though, the constant tinkering with the process has done little more than keep people considering it and talking about it. Maybe that was the goal and the joke's on us.

The nominees are…

Read Full Post
<p>Former host John&nbsp;Waters presents at last year's 2011 Independent Spirit Awards.</p>

Former host John Waters presents at last year's 2011 Independent Spirit Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris PIzzello

Film Independent's co-chairmen Sean McManus and Josh Welsh on their first year behind the Spirit Awards

Plus: Can we convince them to change the nominating process?

In less than 24 hours, the 27th Independent Spirit Awards will be handed out at the beach in Santa Monica, CA and the independent film world will celebrate yet another year of artistic achievement.  What many also don't know is that the Spirit Awards are the biggest yearly fundraiser for Film Independent, a non-profit organization which runs the Spirits, numerous educational and industry events across the country as well as the annual LA Film Festival.

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

Nina of "Survivor: One World"

Credit: CBS

HitFix Interview: Nina Acosta talks 'Survivor: One World'

The latest 'Survivor' castoff explains, again, why the Women blew it
Because Kourtney Moon's elimination in Week 1 was an injury-based decision, on Wednesday (Feb. 22) night, the women of "Survivor: One World" were required to vote somebody out for the first time.
 
The dysfunctional women of Salani, seemingly incapable of winning any kind of challenge, faced a choice: Either vote out giggling, farting, sheltered Kat, who almost single-handedly cost them the episode's Immunity Challenge,  or Nina, 51-year-old former police officer whose exact skills within the game had yet to be tested.
 
In the end, it apparently wasn't a hard decision. Kat had been part of a majority alliance of younger women established on the hike to camp, while Nina was on the outside trying to desperately to get anybody to listen to her plea that the tribe would be weaker with Kat remaining. Alliance trumped logic and Nina was sent packing.
 
In this week's "Survivor" exit interview, Nina Acosta talks more about Kat's liabilities, explains why Men vs. Women was her biggest nightmare and breaks down why only luck will prevent her former tribe from getting routed.
 
Click through for the full interview...
 
Read Full Post
<p>Adele</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Adele

Credit: Jonathan Short/AP

Adele and Whitney Houston continue to surge on Billboard 200

Tyga looks promising, although recall clouds figures

If projections are right, Adele will sell 1 million copies of “21” in two weeks.

As we previously reported, Adele sold 730,000 copies this week, following her Grammy sweep in “21’s” one-year anniversary on the Billboard 200.  Now it looks like she’ll sell up to another 300,000 copies by the time the chart closes on Sunday.

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

Joshua Jackson in a scene from Friday's "Fringe"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Fringe' - 'The End of All Things'

The show doubles down on its season-long arc heading into its winter hiatus
I’ve been watching TV all of my life. Growing up, we had a TV in every single room of the house that wasn’t a bathroom. Poor parenting? More like preparation for a life in TV criticism, I say! In terms of writing about the medium, that started about six years ago. In that time, I’ve tried to not only get better at what I do, but also constantly try to reevaluate the medium itself and what about it appeals to me. I look back at articles written three or four years ago in horror, but also fascination. Horror because Lordy, some of those essays were atrocious. Fascination because it often sounds like someone that no longer shares the same tastes as I do now.
 
Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME