Latest Blog Posts

<p>Shia LaBeouf in Sigur Ros' &quot;Fjogur piano&quot;</p>

Shia LaBeouf in Sigur Ros' "Fjogur piano"

Watch: Shia LaBeouf stars in serious and NSFW Sigur Ros music vid

'Fjögur píanó' next in line for experimental short film series

You've probably never seen actor Shia LaBeouf like this.

The "Transformers" star co-leads the music video to Sigur Ros' new "Fjögur píanó," the third song to get an experimental music video treatment from their album "Valtari." LaBeouf and actress/dancer Denna Thompson perform as “a man and woman locked in a never-ending cycle of addiction and desire,” forcing them through some high-stress, abstract dream sequences during which both stars appearing completely in the nude.

It is emotional and also very beautiful. I found it kind of hard to watch more than once, with all its lacerations and breaking glass and the weirdo car scene -- with the actors kidnapped and licking insect-filled lollipops -- with all its sharks. But the performances are worth while and the styling is absolutely breathtaking. The track didn't stand out much from the album for me, but now it doesn't seem as interstitial.

Also, Shia should stick to the ponytail. It's kinda working for me. Reminds me of Milo Ventimiglia on Fergie's "Good Girls Don't Cry" music video.

Oh, the things I'm finding myself say today.

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<p>Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg play two different versions of the same character in the most successful of the multiple storylines in Woody Allen's new anthology film 'To Rome With Love'</p>

Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg play two different versions of the same character in the most successful of the multiple storylines in Woody Allen's new anthology film 'To Rome With Love'

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: 'To Rome With Love' is Woody Allen on automatic pilot

Is that necessarily a bad thing, though?

"To Rome With Love" is the 11,000th motion picture by writer/director Woody Allen, and he deserves congratulations for the sheer volume of work he's produced, if nothing else.

Perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but I do find myself often pleased by the mere existence of a new Allen film because of the place it occupies in the natural order of things.  A new Allen film every year.  That's federal law at this point, right?  And when people talk about what distinguishes Allen's work, you'll hear them talking about dialogue rhythms or the font he uses for his titles or his soundtracks, but those are mere gravy on the actual meat of what it is he does, and I think he's fascinating for the way he basically found his own approach to storytelling and he's worked variations in that same form ever since.

He's taken steps away from his main approach a few times, but he always eventually finds his way back, and it's been true from the jokes he wrote as a stand-up to the short pieces he collected in books like "Without Feathers" and continued directly into his filmmaking career, one of the richest and most fully explored of any American director, now or in the past.  Woody Allen worships at the altar of the high concept.  He loves to imagine a mundane world where one crucial detail is tweaked to comic effect.  Sometimes, those high concepts are super high concept, like "The Purple Rose Of Cairo" or "Midnight In Paris" or "Zelig." 

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<p>Ariane Labed in &quot;Alps.&quot;</p>

Ariane Labed in "Alps."

Credit: Kino Lorber

'Alps' wins big in Sydney, but 'Lore' is the one making waves

Dogtooth' director's latest beats such films as 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

"Alps," the follow-up feature from "Dogtooth" helmer Yorgos Lanthimos, didn't get quite the push it deserved out of last autumn's festival season. Well-received by critics upon its debut at Venice, where the Best Screenplay prize it eventually took was the very least it deserved, Lanthimos's glassily menacing comedy of extreme appropriated identity went on to provoke and perplex festival audiences at Toronto and London. Somehow, however, it acquired a reputation as more of a niche proposition than the already gruelling, yet astonishingly Oscar-nominated, "Dogtooth" -- a shame, really, since it's no less accomplished, and arguably more ambitious, an achievement. 

New York cinephiles have only until mid-July to wait for the film, which you may or may not remember cracked the top five of my Best of 2011 list. (It's not the last title on that list awaiting US release, either.) Thanks to its tough-sell status, the rest of us may have to be very patient indeed -- here in the UK, a release date has yet to be confirmed.

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<p>Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring on &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring on "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

If I had an Emmy ballot 2012: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

The toughest category on the whole ballot, with more than two dozen worthy performers

Okay, it's part 3 of our look at the Emmy nominations process for 2012. As always, Fienberg and I are going to approach things in two ways. I'll pretend that I have an Emmy ballot and make my picks for the six actors or shows I would put on my ballot, while Dan will rank the potential nominees from most likely to least. And, as always, we are working off of the actual Emmy ballot, so we can't consider people who didn't submit themselves, nor can we reassign anyone to a more suitable or easier category.

This time up, we're dealing with the candidates for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Dan's predictions are here, and my picks are coming right up...

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Jacqueline Laurita in 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'

Jacqueline Laurita in 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'

Credit: Andrei Jackamets/Bravo

Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: 'Best Friends for Never

Teresa accuses Jacqueline of turning into 'Hekyll and Jyde'

In the world of Real Housewives, this qualifies as a can't miss episode. No more fun and games, bratty kids, gay weddings or passive aggressive catfights. This hour is all about the big inevitable showdown between Jacqueline and Teresa. And Caroline's inner timebomb finally goes off.

This involves a lot of screaming, yelling, petty accusations and even tears (mostly from Jacqueline). It's exactly what "Housewives" fans love to see, and exactly why so many people can't stand the show.

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<p>Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is forced to learn some unconventional definitions of the word courage over the course of the new Pixar film 'Brave'</p>

Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is forced to learn some unconventional definitions of the word courage over the course of the new Pixar film 'Brave'

Credit: Walt Disney Company/Pixar

Review: 'Brave' takes Pixar in some new directions by embracing some old forms

The trailers may not tell the whole story, but Pixar's not playing games

Pixar finds themselves at a particularly vulnerable moment in the mythology that surrounds the studio.  Since the release of the first "Toy Story," they have released a string of movies that have been nothing less than dazzling, a series of films that have both commercial and critical hits.  Last year's release of "Cars 2" was the first moment where they seemed to be operating like any other Hollywood studio, putting commerce ahead of their craft, and for many fans of their work, it was a moment that rattled their faith.

Since we live in an age where each and every decision during the production of a motion picture can be scrutinized, often free of the context that led to the decision, much has been written about the process by which "Brave" emerged from what was originally known as "The Bow and the Bear."  Brenda Chapman was the first director on the picture, and she still gets a co-director credit as well as a "story by" in the credits.  She was set to be the first female filmmaker to direct a feature for Pixar, and she absolutely deserves credit for getting this original fairy tale from her first idea to the final film that is about to open.  But it's hard to get upset about the process when we have no idea what happened that resulted in Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell getting co-director credits with her.  After all, Andrews has been kicking around the business for years, working on the storyboard department for "The Iron Giant," working as head of story for "Osmosis Jones," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille," and directing the short film "One Man Band."  Purcell has paid his dues as well, creating the popular "Sam and Max" computer game series and working as one of the many screenwriters on the original "Cars."  Chapman put in years as an animator, working on TV shows like "The Real Ghost Busters" and "Heathcliff" before working in the story department on films like "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," and "Chicken Run."  She was one of the directors of the very ambitious "The Prince Of Egypt," and that was a milestone at the time, making her one of the few women to ever reach that sort of position on a major studio animated movie.

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<p>Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams in a scene from the &quot;Girls&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams in a scene from the "Girls" season finale.

Credit: HBO

'Girls' producers Lena Dunham & Jenni Konner finale interview, part 2

An extra-long interview concludes with talk of the season's high and low points

So it turns out there sometimes are word limits even on the internet, and a 9000-word interview with "Girls" producers Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner was too much to try to squeeze into a single post. So you can read the first half here, and after the jump, the two women continue to talk about the first season — including more on James Franco, and how fellow producer Judd Apatow predicted every stage of the show's public and critical reaction — coming up just as soon as I drink some expired Milanta...

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<p>Linden (Mireille Enos)&nbsp;had time to watch a movie in &quot;The Killing&quot;&nbsp;finale.</p>

Linden (Mireille Enos) had time to watch a movie in "The Killing" finale.

Credit: AMC

Season finale review: 'The Killing' - 'What I Know'

The series finally reveals Rosie Larsen's killer, but was the long wait worth it? Nah.

A review of "The Killing" finale coming up just as soon as I smoke in a garage...

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<p>Lena Dunham directing a scene in the &quot;Girls&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Lena Dunham directing a scene in the "Girls" season finale.

Credit: HBO

'Girls' producers Lena Dunham & Jenni Konner talk finale, backlash, Judd Apatow and more

What did they learn making season 1 of the HBO comedy? And how do they feel about James Franco, TV critic?
Even by the standards of a national approach to popular culture where we build people up quickly only to tear them down just as quickly, the roller coaster of good and bad hype for Lena Dunham and "Girls" was pretty extreme. Before the show premiere, TV critics were falling over themselves to come up with new superlatives for it. (Mine was "it may, in fact, be the best new HBO comedy since 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'") Almost immediately after it debuted, there was a backlash to the show (and to the reviews), then a backlash to the backlash, a backlash to the backlash to the backlash, etc.
 
The praise and pans kept flying back and forth, back and forth, and all the while Dunham and showrunning partner Jenni Konner just kept working on the show, first finishing up the 10 episodes of season 1, then seguing almost immediately to production on season 2. And because the two of them in general — and Dunham in particular, who co-writes every episode, stars in all of them and directs many of them — are so busy making "Girls," they were able to exist in a bubble about the feedback — but only to a point. Dunahm says she tries to do "half press avoidance," but can only avoid so much — especially since her mother likes to forward her press clippings.
 
So when I sat down with Dunham and Konner for a bookend to the interview we did before the season, it was in the context of me having seen the entire first season (here's my review of the season finale), and of them being aware of most, if not all, of the good and bad things people had been saying about it. Over a long lunch — I should warn you, this transcript clocks in at close to 9,000 words, so I've broken it up into sections for those who want to read it piecemeal — we talked about the reaction to the series, about the ways the show and their working relationship evolved, lessons learned that will be applied to season 2, Dunham's weight loss (thanks to better eating habits and a daily spin class, she's noticeably slimmer than when the first season was filmed), and more, all coming up just as soon as I'm wearing two plaids...
 
UPDATE: It turned out this interview may have been the point at which word limits actually do matter on the Internet, as it keeps being cut off before the end. So I'm splitting it up into two parts, with the first three sections down below, and the next two here. Sorry for the confusion.
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<p>Lena Dunham and Adam Driver in &quot;Girls.&quot;</p>

Lena Dunham and Adam Driver in "Girls."

Credit: HBO

Season finale review: 'Girls' - 'She Did'

A surprise announcement from Jessa throws the girls into turmoil

"Girls" has wrapped up its first season. I did a long interview with Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner again to bookend the pre-season chat we had, and I have a review of the finale coming up just as soon as I blog from a tortilla soup contest...

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<p>Edie Falco and Bobby Cannavale in &quot;Nurse Jackie.&quot;</p>

Edie Falco and Bobby Cannavale in "Nurse Jackie."

Credit: Showtime

Season finale review: 'Nurse Jackie' - 'Handle Your Scandal'

A consequence-heavy season comes to a strong conclusion

A review of the "Nurse Jackie" season finale coming up just as soon as security comes to escort me from the building...

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<p>Few film series have the iconic weight of the James Bond series, but today we explain a more personal reason for this year-long exploration of every film in the franchise.</p>

Few film series have the iconic weight of the James Bond series, but today we explain a more personal reason for this year-long exploration of every film in the franchise.

Credit: EON/MGM/UA

James Bond Declassified: Father's Day Dossier

A look back, a look ahead, and when you can read the rest of the series

It is the 50th anniversary of James Bond's first theatrical feature film this year.

That alone would be justification enough to write my special series in which we review each and every film in the official James Bond franchise so far, but I must confess a more personal motivation at work here.

1977 was a big year for me in terms of figuring out my tastes as a filmgoer.  It was obviously the year that "Star Wars" was released, and that film was like a lightning bolt someone fired directly into the top of my head.  It was also the year that "Smokey and the Bandit" was released, and in some ways, that film was like my dad's "Star Wars," a movie that seemed to be almost specifically engineered for his pleasure.  It made a huge impression on me, seeing him laugh like that, seeing how completely he handed himself over to it.  My dad is cut from that same sort of pure cowboy cloth as Sam Elliott, and growing up, his stoicism was one of the things that defined my idea of manhood.  Watching him laugh so hard he cried was uncommon, but it did happen on occasion, and I made careful note of what did it to him.

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