Latest Blog Posts

<p>Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy in &quot;Lawless.&quot;</p>

Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy in "Lawless."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Cannes lineup heavy on U.S. fare as Twi-hards prepare to mob fest

Cronenberg, Salles, Daniels, Hillcoat, Dominik and Nichols all in Competition

What do Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Zac Efron and Shia LaBeouf all have in common? Speak up, I can't hear you above all that high-pitched screaming. If what you're trying to say is that they're all set to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival next month as their new films premiere in Competition, then you'd be right. Cue every Cannes-bound journalist throwing a set of earplugs into their luggage.

Of course, it's not as if those august Cannes selectors have acquiesced to the Twilight generation. All of them are appearing in the kind of grown-up, semi-arthouse fare that is par for the course at Cannes: Pattinson in David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis," Stewart in Walter Salles's "On the Road," Efron in Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy," LaBeouf in John Hillcoat's "Lawless" (formerly "The Wettest County in the World").

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'Sound of My Voice's' Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij admit they know the truth about Maggie

'Sound of My Voice's' Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij admit they know the truth about Maggie

Is the cult leader from the future or not?

Besides the buzz around "Bully," the art house scene has been pretty quiet since the long string of Oscar players died out at the beginning of March. That will all change next Friday when Zal Batmanglij's "Sound of My Voice" finally hits theaters.

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<p>Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg's &quot;Cosmopolis&quot;</p>

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis"

Credit: Alfama Films/Prospero Pictures

Robert Pattinson leaves 'Twilight' for Cronenberg in the first 'Cosmopolis' trailer

The film is confirmed as an official Cannes selection

Some time tomorrow the line-up of films for the 65th annual Cannes International Film Festival will be unveiled. Guy will have plenty to say on that as he'll be covering things from the Croisette yet again, but while speculation about this or that has kept the guessing game lively, we know a few things.

Earlier today it was revealed that a nearly four-and-a-half hour cut of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America" will debut at the fest. And ahead of the official announcement, the first trailer for David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" follow-up "Cosmopolis," adapted from the Don DeLillo novel, reveals that it is an official selection for this year's program.

I was personally no fan of Cronenberg's last film, which hit the fall festival circuit. At all. But with this trailer it looks like he's back in the pocket I like. I mean, it's about a rich dude (Robert Pattinson) taking his limo across town to get a haircut.

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<p>Jeff Probst played auctioneer on Wednesday's &quot;Survivor&quot;</p>
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Jeff Probst played auctioneer on Wednesday's "Survivor"

Credit: CBS

Recap: 'Survivor: One World' - 'I'm No Dummy'

It's Eight versus Troyzan, but will that be enough?
Pre-credit sequence. Jay is gone and Troyzan returns to Tikiano camp aware that he's almost certainly next in line. "It is what it is. Nothing personal," Sabrina tells Troyzan. "Take it as a compliment," Christina tells him. Troyzan tries stirring up aggravation around the fire and ends up in a shouting match with Alicia. "I don't see why he's upset with me. I didn't vote for him," Alicia says truthfully, albeit with a caveat. "I'm totally pissed off," Troyzan says, vowing that when he gets pissed off, he gets fired up and he vows to win every Immunity from now on. "This is just Troyzan versus everybody else," he announces. 
 
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<p>Mark Ruffalo puts on his best Brando to get a laugh out of co-star Scarlett Johansson during an interview about their new film 'The Avengers'</p>

Mark Ruffalo puts on his best Brando to get a laugh out of co-star Scarlett Johansson during an interview about their new film 'The Avengers'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: 'Avengers' stars Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson share a laugh

The Hulk and the Black Widow go head to head to discuss their new film

In 1994, I had my first play produced as part of a one-act theater festival here in Los Angeles at the Met Theater.  The festival was cast by Risa Bramon Garcia, who was one of the biggest casting agents in the business at the time, and one of the other plays that was produced as part of the festival was "Betrayal By Everyone," by Kenneth Lonergan.  That was eventually expanded into "This Is Our Youth," and the play put both Lonergan and Mark Ruffalo on the map.

During the festival, I made time to see the play that Ruffalo was in several times, and he earned a nickname among the people working on the fest:  Baby Brando.  There was a crazy intensity to his work that had people talking about him, and it didn't surprise me at all to see him continue to work with Lonergan in the years that followed.

When we sat down to talk about his work in "The Avengers" the other day, he was paired with the lovely Scarlett Johansson, and when I brought up the Act One festival, he was excited to talk about that time.  The nickname, though, was news to him, and Johansson took visible pleasure in being able to use that as ammunition in the teasing that seems to be a constant between the cast members of this film.  He did a Brando impression for her even as she started busting his chops about his work in the "thea-tah," and by the time we rolled tape, they were both laughing and kidding around.

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<p>Channing Tatum in&nbsp;&quot;Magic Mike&quot;</p>

Channing Tatum in "Magic Mike"

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The trailer for Soderbergh's 'Magic Mike' with Channing Tatum promises unexpected rom com

This is not the movie I envisioned, which isn't a bad thing

When I first came to understand that with his latest film, “Magic Mike,” director Steven Soderbergh was embarking on a journey to capture the essence of Channing Tatum’s real life experience as a male stripper in Florida, I was, quite simply, delighted. The whole endeavor sounded just absurd enough to be, well, magically delicious.

I happen to be a huge fan of the bizarre bits of life that exist all around us and I enjoy how Soderbergh finds the elements of the extraordinary, unique and strange that are real and present and builds films around them. He did so with MMA fighter Gina Carano in “Haywire” and with porn star Sasha Grey in “The Girlfriend Experiment” quite recently.

When he decided to move forward with a film that explored the singular world of male stripping I believe I was envisioning whatever the Steven Soderbergh version of a broad comedy is, strange and expansive encounters between eccentric and shirtless men. The film follows Tatum's titular character as he guides and mentors an upstart (Alex Pettyfer, who viewers may or may not know from such offerings as “I Am Number Four” and “Beastly”) through the go-go world of bachelorette parties and, well…more bachelorette parties, we imagine.

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<p>&quot;In Living Color&quot;&nbsp;was one of many FOX&nbsp;successes that the other networks likely wouldn't have tried. </p>

"In Living Color" was one of many FOX successes that the other networks likely wouldn't have tried.

Credit: FOX

FOX at 25: A quarter-century of risk-taking

Not every experiment works, but this is the network that gave us 'The Simpsons,' 'The X-Files' and a lot more
Television has changed so much in the 25 years since the FOX network launched in primetime — an anniversary(*) being celebrated with a primetime special on Sunday night — that it's hard to convey to someone under 30 what a big deal it was for a fourth network to not only debut, but endure.
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<p>Alfred Hitchcock (left)&nbsp;and Anthony&nbsp;Hopkins as the famed director</p>

Alfred Hitchcock (left) and Anthony Hopkins as the famed director

Credit: People.com

Anthony Hopkins cuts a mean profile as Alfred 'Hitchcock'

"Good evening."

Principle photography on Sacha Gervasi's Alfred Hitchcok biopic creatively titled "Hitchcock" began last Friday in Los Angeles. The film will star Anthony Hopkins as Hitch with Helen Mirren as his wife Alma Reville.

Well, I guess it's not a true "biopic." Based on the book "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho" by Stephen Rebello, the film will tell the behind-the-scenes story of Hitchcock's brilliant thriller. James D'Arcy has been tapped to play "Psycho" star Anthony Perkins while Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel will play actresses Janet Leigh and Vera Miles, respectively.

Really, I prefer this kind of a glimpse at a person. The "greatest hits" approach to biopics is tired and rarely profound, but slices of someone's life such as this can be plumbed thematically to give a rich portrait of who they were. The chance to slow down and focus rather than breeze through the highlights for a quick fix more akin to an Encyclopedia entry than a film isn't appreciated nearly enough.

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<p>Spiritualized's &quot;Sweet Heart, Sweet Light&quot;: really?</p>

Spiritualized's "Sweet Heart, Sweet Light": really?

Review: Spiritualized, 'Sweet Heart, Sweet Light'

Can Jason Pierce find new converts or is he preaching to and with the choir?

Spiritualized’s head pastor Jason Pierce, after 20 years of album-making, has forced himself into re-working well-trod scripture and reiterated motifs. Because it’s not broken, he doesn’t fix it. It’s hard for these new tunes on “Sweet Heart, Sweet Light” to not sound like something that’s been made before. 

The group boasts the same confluence of influences from the ‘60s and ‘70s into a pop pickled in psychedelia. Sonically skronky songs like “Headin’ for the Top Now” and Dr. John co-penned “I Am What I Am” drone into musical wallpaper, sitting instrumentally on top of a single note or oscillating between two as J Spaceman (Pierce’s other name) slides off-key up and down his easy melodies, a pack of wild cheerleaders leading the way. On single “Hey Jane” and “Get What You Deserve,” he again gives way humping Lou Reed’s grave even before the Velvets’ main man is even dead (something to which Mr. Reed may not be all that averse) with climactic bursts of blissed-out white noise.
 
And I don’t mean the sexual metaphor purely provocatively: violence and pleasure, death and life and borrowing and taking are among Pierce’s favorite lyrical themes, with a couple cameos from recurring character Jesus, on whom Pierce places some of his most despairing and simple lyrics. These sometimes border on false profundity, like on woozy “Freedom” and sing-song ballad “Too Late” (which is a perfect partner with “Baby I’m Just a Fool” from 2008’s “Songs in A&E”).
 
All these are good for collectors to hear, but it’s the clincher – album closer “So Long You Pretty Thing” – that could make new converts. The track’s epic proportion still feels familiar, with Spaceman’s inviting vocals paired with his instrumental kindred in a plonky-plonk banjo, the slow-burn swelling into a choir of “help me Lords” and schemes that put rhyming bedfellows radio/souls/and rock ‘n’ roll together.
 
This current Spiritualized devolution of genre is still blurry, but bright, tied together with cacophony and clarity. Pierce’s ability to write lasting songs is still skillful and strong, and will doubtless keep his patrons coming back.

 

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<p>A new picture of the same &quot;American Idol&quot; Top 7</p>
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A new picture of the same "American Idol" Top 7

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'American Idol' Top 7 Performances - Take Two

After last Thursday's Save, the 'Idol' singers tackle two songs apiece

It's a night of Doubt Deja Vu on FOX's "American Idol."

For the second straight week, we're getting performances from this season's Top 7, following last week's shocking elimination and not-so-shocking save of Jessica Sanchez. And after we hear performances from the Top 7, we're gonna turn right around and hear another set of performances from the Top 7.

Yup. "Idol" is figuring we're gonna fit in 14 performances tonight. 

Could be crazy. 

Click through...

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Dick Clark in 1959
Dick Clark in 1959
Credit: AP Photo

Reflections on a childhood spent with Dick Clark and his unforgettable advice

Memories of "American Bandstand" and more

My childhood had two DJs: Casey Kasem and Dick Clark.

Long before I started to develop my own musical taste, it was dictated to me weekly by these musical titans: Clark through my weekly dose of “American Bandstand” on TV and Kasem via “American Top 40” on radio, which started at noon on Sundays (which meant I inevitably missed hearing Nos 40-36 since we wouldn’t be home from church yet when the countdown started, but that’s a story for another time).

When word came down of Clark’s passing today from a massive heart attack at 82, my memory immediately turned to Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. in my living room in our house in Raleigh, N.C.  My older sister, Jeannie,  and I would plunk down in front of the TV and watch Dick Clark and his long white microphone.  We knew all the star dancers by name (I vaguely remember a Louis and a Karen), and wondered if they were couples off-screen. We’d ooh and aah as they gyrated in a very G-rated fashion—unlike on “Soul Train”— in their polyester prints (this was the ‘70s, after all). The boys/men all had their hair parted in the middle, with their shirts unbuttoned down their chests, and the girls’ hair was straight as a stick, until “Charlie’s Angels” debuted, and then imitating Farrah Fawcett’s feathered locks became all the rage—for both the guys and girls. When The Village People craze began, there were  cowboy and construction worker wanna bes strutting their stuff on “AB.”  As much as “American Bandstand” set trends, it picked up on them just as quickly, especially during the “Saturday Night Fever” days.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>A scene from &quot;Once Upon a Time in America.&quot;</p>

A scene from "Once Upon a Time in America."

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

269-minute 'redux cut' of Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in America' to premiere at Cannes

'Thérèse D.,' the late Claude Miller's final film, will close the festival

Tomorrow, at last, will bring the months of Cannes speculation to an end, as artistic director Thierry Frémaux announces this year's official festival lineup. Anybody with at least half an ear to the ground has some idea what to expect: Walter Salles's "On the Road" and Michael Haneke's "Love" (predictably picked up yesterday by Sony Pictures Classics) are among the inevitabilities, but we can hope for a few wild cards too. Last year shook up the formula slightly by adding two debut features to the Competition lineup: reaction was mixed (and neither film won a thing), but will Frémaux  and company take a similar chance this year?

Whatever aces they may have up their sleeves, the festival may well have stolen tomorrow's thunder with one of today's announcements. The news that an extended, 269-minute "redux cut' of Sergio Leone's compromised 1984 masterpiece (no, I don't use that term lightly) "Once Upon a Time in America" is to premiere on the Croisette this year rather dwarfs the Competition conversation. Indeed, it'll be a remarkable lineup indeed if any one of the contemporary selections tops the restoration of Leone's gangster saga, which premiered at the same festival 28 years ago.

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