Latest Blog Posts

<p>Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen in &quot;Burn Notice.&quot;</p>

Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen in "Burn Notice."

Credit: USA

Season premiere review: 'Burn Notice' - 'Scorched Earth'

What did everybody think of Michael Westen and friends' return?

When "Burn Noticewrapped up its previous season back in December, I wrote that while I still enjoyed the show as a summer diversion, it had been telling the same kinds of stories for so long that I'd run out of new things to say about it, and had lot some emotional investment along the way. So unless this new season presents an unexpected masterpiece at some point, I'm going to be watching but not writing.

But since I got to see the season premiere in advance, I wanted to at least take the temperature of the room on where the show is right now. Many of you agreed with me on last season's finale — not that the show had gone awry, but that we'd seen it all before, many times. Did the seven months away rekindle your passion for Michael, Sam and Fi, or are you still feeling the same ennui I am? How did you feel about the way the Anson and Fiona stories played out in the premiere? Do you buy that Michael would be this reckless for the sake of Fi? Were you happy to see the return of an old face? How did you feel about the introductory narration finally including Jesse? 

Have at it, folks. Again, barring something special, I'll be back around mid-season finale time.

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<p>Lynn Shelton and Mark Duplass may have been punchy from exhaustion by the time we sat down with them at Sundance, but it still turned out to be a great conversation.</p>

Lynn Shelton and Mark Duplass may have been punchy from exhaustion by the time we sat down with them at Sundance, but it still turned out to be a great conversation.

Credit: HitFix

'Your Sister's Sister' star Mark Duplass and director Lynn Shelton on building a great movie relationship

A particularly genial sit-down with the creative team behind the great new film

When I sat down with Mark Duplass and Lynn Shelton to discuss their film "Your Sister's Sister" at Sundance this year, I was well aware of just how tight time was for everyone.  I was working to juggle interviews and screenings, and Duplass was there representing two movies of his own and supporting his wife, Katie Aselton, who was there with her film "Black Rock."  He was so stretched thin that I saw him napping in a chair between interviews.

Even so, once we all sat down together, our allotted interview time ended up stretching a bit because the conversation was going well.  I've gotten to know Mark and his brother Jay on a professional basis over the last few years, and I think it's been a genuine pleasure watching them develop their voice from film to film, expanding their audience while maintaining their own sensibilities.

I saw Shelton's "Humpday" at Sundance a few years ago, and I admired the way it navigated a potentially gross joke to create something smart and heartfelt and funny.  I was excited for "Your Sister's Sister," but unprepared for what a jump Shelton seemed to make from one film to the next.

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<p>Tom Cruise in &quot;Rock of Ages.&quot;</p>

Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages."

Credit: New Line Cinema

Why 'Rock of Ages' reveals Tom Cruise as one of the last real movie stars

The actor wickedly plays himself by way of Frank T.J. Mackey

This isn't going to be a review of "Rock of Ages." That's partly because I already wrote one in short form for Time Out and the film doesn't much benefit from extended analysis, and partly because I'd only end up repeating much of Andrew O'Hehir's bang-on piece for Salon, which rightly celebrates Adam Shankman's gleefully (with emphasis on the 'glee') silly hair-metal musical for the very ersatz quality for which many other critics are punishing it. As if hair metal was ever about authenticity in the first place. Suffice to say the film aims no higher than it can hit, and as two hours of quippy, gaudily decorated Hollywood karaoke, it hits pretty squarely. I more or less loved it.

More interesting than the film, however, and more worthy of considered conversation, is Tom Cruise's fascinating central performance in it -- a turn that earns the "central" tag despite its essentially supporting status, and not just because it reduces kewpie-doll leads Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta to sparkly wallpaper whenever he deigns to show up. (You can practically feel the film cowering as he makes his dimly lit entrance. We're trembling ourselves.) 

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<p>&nbsp;Glen Campbell</p>

 Glen Campbell

Watch: Josh Homme helps Glen Campbell say goodbye in 'A Better Place' video

The Queens of the Stone Age singer plays a bartender in farewell clip

Queens of the Stone Age singer/guitarist Josh Homme helps pay tribute to Glen Campbell in the legend’s farewell video, “A Better Place.”

The song, featured on Campbell’s final album, last year’s excellent “Ghost on the Canvas” (and my album of the year), addresses his Alzheimer’s Disease diagnosis on the song, singing “Some days I’m so confused, Lord/My past gets in the way/I need the ones I love, Lord/More and more each day.” The album also includes contributions from Jakob Dylan and Paul Westerberg.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Green Day unveils album cover for '¡Uno!'

Watch: Green Day unveils album cover for '¡Uno!'

First album in trilogy comes out in September

As you know, Green Day plans to drop three albums between September and January. Today, we got the cover art for “Uno,”  the first release in the trilogy.

The below trailer doesn’t give away much, but at least we get to hear a little music, which is more than we got to hear in this other teaser when the trio talked about the trio of sets and run down their past album titles.  Green Day has also announced that one of its few 2012 live dates will be at New Orleans' Voodoo Music Experience in October.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Carly Rae Jepsen</p>

Carly Rae Jepsen

Here's that 'Call Me Maybe' and 'Walking on Broken Glass' mash-up you wanted

Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij puts Carly Rae Jepsen's and Annie Lennox together

I don't need any more "Call Me Maybe" covers. But a mash-up with Annie Lennox's "Walking on Broken Glass?" Definitely.

Carly Rae Jepsen's No. 1 smash summer hit has been successfully melded with Lennox's 1992 hit by Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, and posted on his Tumblr as "Call Me on Broken Glass."

"This one is strictly for the lulz," Batmanglij posted. And here I thought it was for a Grammy.

Jepsen's track has also been mashed-up with other big pop tracks with equally sunny dispositions, like Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life."

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<p>Best Coast</p>

Best Coast

Watch: Best Coast hit the coast in 'The Only Place' video

Exactly what you'd think a Best Coast music video would look like

For the budget of hamburgers, three dozen bottles of hot sauce, watermelons, a broken drum kit, a gorgeous car rental and some pastel wear, Best Coast completed the video to their new track "The Only Place."

Much like the sound of Best Coast, the clip is harmlessly mischievous, adorable, bright and all about the drive.

"The Only Place" is culled from the band's latest album by the same name, released on May 15 via Mexican Summer.  They're currently on tour with dates below the vid, including their stops at Metallica's Orion Music + More festival and Bumbershoot.

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<p>Cover art for &quot;The Dark Knight Rises&quot;&nbsp;soundtrack</p>

Cover art for "The Dark Knight Rises" soundtrack

Credit: WaterTower Music

Listen to samples of Hans Zimmer's score for 'The Dark Knight Rises'

The music of the third film seems to call back to 'Batman Begins' a lot

Can you feel that? It's the swelling of anticipation for "The Dark Knight Rises" reaching a fever pitch. Pretty soon, the thing is gonna pop and all 165 minutes of the film will be unleashed and some may just faint with that "it's finally here!" ecstasy.

Tickets for IMAX screenings went on sale Monday, and most of the midnight screenings were pretty much zapped instantly. This after select theaters put theirs on sale back in January and, yep, sold out. Insanity. Here's hoping there's something really special underneath all that hype. (I'm sure there is.)

Christopher Nolan's Batman series has largely been defined, I think, by the work James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer have done with the music. Unfortunately, neither "Batman Begins" nor "The Dark Knight" were nominated by the Academy (the latter stirring quite the controversy in 2008, with Zimmer even going before the Academy to state his case when eligibility came into question). But that's to be expected with that branch.

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<p>David Byrne &amp; St. Vincent's &quot;Love This Giant&quot;</p>

David Byrne & St. Vincent's "Love This Giant"

Credit: 4AD/Todo Mundo

Listen: David Byrne and St. Vincent combine for 'Who' and a new album

Jagged and melodic, for 'Love This Giant'

It was "in-the-works" for two-and-a-half years, but now it's confirmed today that St. Vincent and former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne will release an entire collaborative album, "Love This Giant." The 4AD/Todo Mundo effort will drop on Sept. 11, and has been preceded by the first song to arrive, "Who."

This jagged and melodic number bumps around with polyrhythms and unusual harmonies -- a la Dirty Projectors and tUnE-yArDs -- with a lot of belting from Byrne and angelic refrains from St. Vincent (aka vocalist and guitarist Annie Clark). The brass does a lot of carrying here, which I love: the horns give it some emotional weight to all the whimsy and 1,000-yard staring.

There will apparently be a lot of horns on the album overall, with help from the guys in Antibalas and The Dap-Kings helping out. Engineer and songwriter John Congleton of moody rock outfit The Paper Chase also lends a hand on programmed drums. Ten of the album's 12 tracks were co-written by Byrne and Clark, and each writing one individually.

And with a snap of your fingers, a new album has likely entered into the top 10 of NPR's year-end list.

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<p>Bryan Cranston from &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Bryan Cranston from "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

Bryan Cranston to host the 2012 Television Critics Association Awards

'Breaking Bad' star is also up for a TCA Award

Last year, the Television Critics Association Awards were hosted by Ron Effing Swanson himself, Nick Offerman. So perhaps the only way to top that in terms of finding someone capable of making very dangerous things was to recruit Bryan Cranston from "Breaking Bad" to emcee this year's awards.

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<p>In my ideal world, Jim Rash from &quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;would be up for an Emmy to go on the shelf next to his Oscar.</p>

In my ideal world, Jim Rash from "Community" would be up for an Emmy to go on the shelf next to his Oscar.

Credit: NBC

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

The men of 'Parks and Recreation' and 'Community' dominate the first stage of our annual exercise

It's Emmy nominating time once again, which means it's time for Fienberg and I to resume our annual tradition of predicting the people and shows we either wish will be nominated (me) or think will be (Dan). I pretend that I have an Emmy ballot and pick the six performers/shows per category that I'd be happiest to see nominated, while Dan runs down the contenders in each category, starting with the locks, then moving to the contenders and then the ridiculous longshots.

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<p>The first reveal of the Dolby Theatre marquee at a special event Monday</p>

The first reveal of the Dolby Theatre marquee at a special event Monday

Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision for Dolby

Tech Support: Dolby Atmos ready for its close-up with the premiere of Pixar's 'Brave'

The heavily touted surround-sound tech marks an industry forever anxious to lure audiences to theaters

Next week Walt Disney Pictures will be premiering Pixar's "Brave" in conjunction with the Los Angeles Film Festival at the newly named Dolby Theatre (formerly the Kodak) in Hollywood. But while it promises to be a fun time for the event at hand, the fact that it's the grand re-opening of the space is what has me a little bit more excited.

See, I've never actually been in that room. No concerts, no Cirque du Soleil, no Academy Awards (I've never sought Oscar night credentials). So I'm happy to finally case the joint, as it were. But Dolby taking over the naming rights of the facility has also brought in the added attraction of its aural upgrades, namely the company's new Dolby Atmos technology, which was first revealed at CinemaCon in April.

Touted by Dolby as "the most significant development in audio since the arrival of surround sound," the promise of Atmos is an important one: keeping the theatrical experience unique and superior to what can be accomplished at home.

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