Latest Blog Posts

<p>The gang from &quot;The Artist&quot; at this year's Academy Awards</p>

The gang from "The Artist" at this year's Academy Awards

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Oscars set key 2013 dates, setting up a longer-than-usual phase two

Prospective nominees, prepare to be on the circuit a while

The Academy has just announced via Twitter key dates in next year's Oscar season, and it looks like the next batch of Oscar nominees will be spending a little extra time on the circuit than normal.

The nominations announcement will happen on Tuesday, January 15, according to AMPAS. That immediately caught my eye. Given the usual order of things, you'd have expected the announcement to land on 1/22 or even 1/29 instead. The last four years the nominees have been unveiled on 1/24 (2012), 1/25 (2011), 2/2 (2010) and 1/22 (2009, an unusual Thursday announcement).

Why does this matter? Well, given that the Oscars will be held on February 24 of next year, a typical date, that makes for nearly six weeks of phase two action. Usually it's closer to five.

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<p>Santigold performs at Fader Fort today</p>

Santigold performs at Fader Fort today

Credit: Katie Hasty

SXSW Music Day 1, Wednesday: Tennis, Reggie Watts, Future of the Left

Recommended, even if you're not there: Jimmy Cliff, Mux Mool, Bear Hands, Zola Jesus...

Take your antacid and grab a water bottle: SXSW Music programming officially kicks off today, Wednesday, March 14.

Below I've outlined some more artists to watch, Some shows will overlap, some are a haul, but... you paid extra for the SXSW Teleport, didn't you? Check out shows form Tennis, Fiona Apple, Santigold, Reggie Watts, Machine Gun Kelly, Future of the Left, Bear Hands, Jimmy Cliff and more...

Thank you again to Unofficial SXSW, for having a nearly-perfect accuracy and navigable scheduling interface.

Day shows sometimes require badges or RSVP -- check the links where applicable.

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<p>Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos in &quot;The Killing.&quot;</p>

Joel Kinnaman and Mireille Enos in "The Killing."

Credit: AMC

'The Killing,' social media, and the problems mysteries have in a Twitter age

Can Twitter ruin all surprises? And should Veena Sud be reading online feedback?

You may recall that when "The Killing" finale aired, I didn't mince words in my review, saying that "This will be the last review I write of 'The Killing,' because this will be the last time I watch 'The Killing.'"

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<p>Schmidt (Max Greenfield)&nbsp;tries on a new persona on &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Schmidt (Max Greenfield) tries on a new persona on "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

'New Girl' - 'Control': The little-nipped drummer boy

Jess gets Schmidt to relax, with disastrous consequences

A review of last night's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I reinstate my ban on high-waisted shorts...

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<p>&quot;Mad Men&quot;&nbsp;star Jon Hamm looking sheepish next to January Jones at PaleyFest.</p>

"Mad Men" star Jon Hamm looking sheepish next to January Jones at PaleyFest.

Credit: The Paley Center for Media

'Mad Men' comes to PaleyFest to talk happiness, douchebags and the endgame

Few hints about season 5, but lots of reflection on what's come before

"Mad Men" finally returns to television next Sunday, March 25 at 9 p.m., but because creator Matthew Weiner is so paranoid about spoilers (and has a much broader definition of the concept than almost any other showrunner), the "Mad Men" panel at PaleyFest spent virtually the entire time looking back, not forward. Fans got to watch last season's finale, "Tomorrowland," and though moderator Elvis Mitchell tried to prod Weiner for a few details about the upcoming season, the biggest tidbit the show's creator revealed is that (spoiler alert!) Lane Pryce will become a Mets fan.

But with almost the full cast on-hand (Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks had other commitments), there was plenty of time to reflect on where we left the characters when "Tomorrowland" aired 17 months ago, to learn a bit about how the actors see their Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce alter egos, and to get a few amusing anecdotes along the way. Among the highlights:

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<p>Becky (Dreama Walker) finds herself trapped in a waking nightmare in Craig Zobel's harrowing new film 'Compliance,' based on true story</p>

Becky (Dreama Walker) finds herself trapped in a waking nightmare in Craig Zobel's harrowing new film 'Compliance,' based on true story

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Review: Craig Zobel's 'Compliance' disturbs with clinical precision

A true-life story that reveals one of the darkest truths of human behavior

Craig Zobel's first feature film, "Great World Of Sound," was a low-key charmer that I enjoyed enormously.  It's got a great unique voice, and I don't think it easily fits any single genre description.  Now, with his new drama "Compliance," Zobel's made an aggressively unpleasant film, but with intent.  The film asks hard questions about basic human psychology, and it is a harrowing experience that closely follows the details of the real-life story that inspired it.  I can't say I liked sitting through "Compliance," but I can say that I think it's significant, and that it cements Zobel's place as a serious filmmaker with an important voice.

"Compliance" tells the story of one horrifying day at a fast-food chicken place, where Sandra (Ann Dowd) starts out off-balance because of an overnight freezer mishap.  Sandra's an older woman who has no real rapport with her young staff, no matter how hard she tries, and she's not particularly good at the business of managing people.  She might be good with the daily details of running the restaurant, but she's awkward and tries way too hard when she's talking to Becky (Dreama Walker) or Kevin (Philip Ettinger) or Marti (Ashlie Atkinson). 

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"Fashion Star"

 "Fashion Star"

Credit: NBC

Is 'Fashion Star' too much of a good thing? Or just a hot mess?

While you might be able to buy a cute outfit from it, the show is a fashion disaster

You know that very famous Coco Chanel quote about how a woman should look in the mirror before leaving the house, then take off one accessory? You know, so she looks elegant and not like a crazy homeless person? Someone should have dropped that hint to NBC, because "Fashion Star" is one hot, over-accessorized mess.

The approach to building this TV show seemed to be, if an element worked on another show ("Project Runway," "Biggest Loser"), cram it in! Add a lot of loud music! And some go-go dancers! And some recognizable names! And shopping! And sad stories! And fighting! This show is sort of like a turducken or that "SNL" Taco Town skit (it's 15 great tastes rolled into one!). While it's the American way to want too much of a good thing, this is just a stomachache waiting to happen. 

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<p>Jamie Chung and Matt O'Leary co-star in the SXSW Award winner 'Eden'</p>

Jamie Chung and Matt O'Leary co-star in the SXSW Award winner 'Eden'

Credit: SXSW

The 2012 SXSW Film Awards celebrate 'Eden,' 'Bernie,' and 'Mr. Baker'

A full slate of awards celebrates an eclectic line-up

I love that the SXSW awards are announced at this point in the festival because it means I can use the second half of the festival to catch up.  In some cases, I'm surprised that something I've seen is on here, and pleased because I'm having a good festival overall.  They've programmed the hell out of SXSW this year, and I'm really enjoying the surprises I've seen.

Some statistics they sent over to put these awards in perspective:  "The 2012 SXSW Film Festival hosted a total of 132 features, consisting of 74 World Premieres, 17 North American Premieres and 11 U.S. Premieres, with 58 films from first-time directors. 138 shorts will screen as part of 12 overall shorts programs. The nearly 275 films were selected from a record number of overall submissions, over 5,300, comprised of approximately 2,000 features and 3,300 shorts. This was a 7% increase over 2011 despite moving submission deadlines a month earlier than in previous years."

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<p>I&nbsp;think it is safe to say that Ed Helms, star of both 'Jeff Who Lives At Home' and 'The Lorax,' is a very, very busy man.</p>

I think it is safe to say that Ed Helms, star of both 'Jeff Who Lives At Home' and 'The Lorax,' is a very, very busy man.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Ed Helms and Jason Segel discuss brotherly love in 'Jeff Who Lives At Home'

Plus Ed Helms talks about his time as The Once-ler in 'The Lorax'

I feel like there are certain people I've interviewed to the point of familiarity, and in each case, I'm glad it's these people that are the ones I see over and over.  

It becomes easier and easier to just pick up the conversation where we left off and talk about the new thing and talk about their craft, and it's better, I think, for you as the reader.  You're going to see a more relaxed version of this person, and that's going to mean you'll get something more genuine out of them.

Case in point, there's this set of interviews from "Jeff Who Lives At Home," the new film from the Duplass Brothers.  It's weird how omnipresent they seem at this moment.  For example, today, I went to a SXSW screening of their film "The Do-Deca Pentathalon," and then I got out and started writing up these interviews for their other film "Jeff Who Lives At Home," which I've been writing about since Toronto last year.  Mark was also in "Your Sister's Sister" and "Safety Not Guaranteed" at Sundance, and we talked to him about all of those.

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<p>On &quot;Justified,&quot;&nbsp;Boyd (Walton Goggins)&nbsp;wants YOU&nbsp;to join the Army. Or something like that.</p>

On "Justified," Boyd (Walton Goggins) wants YOU to join the Army. Or something like that.

Credit: FX

'Justified' - 'Loose Ends': Mine over matter

Raylan goes Quarles hunting, Boyd gives a speech and Ava ponders a career change

A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I invite you up here to discuss the sociology of baked goods...

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<p>Donald Sutherland arrived at the press day for 'Hunger Games' wearing an eyepatch and full of passion for the film adaptation of the popular novels.</p>

Donald Sutherland arrived at the press day for 'Hunger Games' wearing an eyepatch and full of passion for the film adaptation of the popular novels.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Donald Sutherland enjoys the chess behind 'The Hunger Games'

Veteran actor talks about waking young people up to social conscience

Donald Sutherland is a titan, and it is a genuine pleasure to get a chance to engage him in conversation.

Sure, I wish it had been in circumstances other than the sort of forced five-minute intimacy of a press junket, but for a guy like this, you take what's offered.  His career has been filled with so many remarkable and eccentric high points that it's hard to even know where to start complimenting him or how to even dig into his body of work.

His presence as President Snow in "The Hunger Games" is crucial.  Although Snow plays a key role in the trilogy as a whole, he's really not a figure of any weight in the first book.  In adapting it, Gary Ross has built Snow into the film organically, and I think he is an important part of the film as a whole.  He has to be.  If you're going to really make the final film pay off, you need to introduce Snow as early as possible.

It also helps that they cast Sutherland, because he's a smart actor who brings this real weight of experience to the table.  I think one of the things that made him such a popular presence in films is that laser-sharp intelligence of his.  He was the perfect Hawkeye in "M*A*S*H*" because it seemed impossible that he could ever lose any verbal joust.  He's drawn from the tradition of a Groucho Marx or a Bugs Bunny.  He not only enjoys the contest that good repartee can be, he is also unquestionably great at it.

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<p>Christa Miller and Sarah Chalke reunited on &quot;Cougar Town.&quot;</p>

Christa Miller and Sarah Chalke reunited on "Cougar Town."

Credit: ABC

'Cougar Town' - 'A One Story Town': The kiss the girl gambit

Half the 'Scrubs' cast reunites, and the rest of the episode's terrific, too

A review of tonight's "Cougar Town" coming up just as soon as part of my fantasy involves bragging...

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