For whatever reason, I didn't know that Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams were teaming up to write and arrange the musical accompaniment to Sunday's Oscar ceremony. (Is that partly why Zimmer withdrew himself from consideration for "Rango?") If this had happened in last year's "we're young and hip -- honest!" ceremony, you know we'd have been reminded of the N.E.R.D. beatsmith's involvement ad nauseum. As it stands, it comes as a pleasant surprise: while I somehow doubt these musical interludes will be as memorable as the pair suggest in this interview ("We're going crazy!" Zimmer boasts, showing off the synths and drum machines that will sit amid the traditional Oscar orchestra), it's a pleasingly inventive step for telecast -- and with the nixing of the Best Original Song performances, the only aural fix we'll get all evening. [LA Times]
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Reviews of last night's "30 Rock" and "The Office" coming up just as soon as I write lyrics to the song the cantina band plays in "Star Wars"...
Hollywood's alternative to the Academy Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, used to be the edgy, unexpected, fly by the seat of your pants awards show. Over 25 years later, the Spirits have become much more established (shh, don't tell anyone) even if the show still takes place in a large tent on a parking lot right next to the beach in Santa Monica, CA. As the meaning and distribution of independent film has changed over the past 15 years or so the show's nominees have become more and more familiar to mainstream moviegoers. This past two year's best feature nominees, for instance, all were wide release films at some point in their theatrical lives.
There are very few TV shows from the '90s that have had as big an impact on film comedy today as "The State," which is kind of amazing considering how much of a cult item that was when it was still on the air. Almost everyone from that show has gone on to have a healthy career playing parts in comedies, both mainstream studio fare and edgier indie material. David Wain has been able to carve out a career for himself starting with the well-liked "Wet Hot American Summer," and his last film, "Role Models," was a charming low-key gem.
One of the things that bugs me most in a comedy is that moment that occurs when the laughs stop and the plot kicks in, and "Wanderlust" is guilty of that in a big way. It's a shame, too, because there's a lot of the film that is genuinely funny. The film tells the story of George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston), a married couple who are just taking the big step of buying their first apartment in New York City, and they manage to do so just as the bottom drops out of things. When George loses his job and Linda can't sell her documentary, they begin to suspect they've got to come up with a plan B, and unfortunately, that involves George's psychotically competitive brother Rick (Ken Marino) in Atlanta. As they're driving down to move in with him, they have to stop for the night, and that's how they find Elysium, a commune that's a holdover from the '60s.
After many weeks of so-so designs, Kara got the boot last week -- not that everyone agreed with that decision. Austin declares to Kenley that Kara had more reason to be on the show than either Mila or Jerell. Though I suspect that Austin feels that way largely because he liked Kara, I can't really say I disagree. With a few notable exceptions, both Jerell and Mila have pumped out some pretty awful stuff. With only six designers left, it's a little shocking to realize more than a few of these All Stars are taste challenged. Sleep deprived and cranky, fine, but taste challenged? For shame! Then again, they can't all be Mondo, I suppose.
Daniel O'Malley's debut novel covers some familiar ground, but the reason I'm picking it as today's OTILT is because it manages to wring something new from that familiar ground, and the result is an exciting fantasy thriller that mixes the modern espionage genre with the sort of magical world posited by the "Harry Potter" books. It's an intriguing collision of genre, and it works far better than I would have guessed just from reading the synopsis.
From the very beginning, the book takes a fresh perspective to tell the story, with Myfanwy Thomas "waking up" inside her body, completely unaware of who she is or how she's gotten into the situation where she finds herself, surrounded by dead bodies in a park in London. It's not quite a "Bourne Identity" situation, since the Myfanwy that wakes up is not the same person who was attacked, and she has to figure out how she ended up in this body. Thankfully, the old Myfanwy (pronounced "Miffany," according to the narrator) knew that something cataclysmic was coming, and so she wrote herself a series of notes so her new inhabitant could pretend to be her and solve the mystery of how this identity exchange took place.
What she learns is that she is a Rook, and she works for an organization that handles any and all supernatural invasions or disturbances in England. There are two Rooks in the organization, and a handful of other positions, and as many agendas in play as there are other employees. The other Rook is a four-bodied identity named Gestalt, for example, and Myfanwy finds herself hard-pressed to maintain the illusion that she is this person who she never met.
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as we talk minimum acceptable thread count for sheets...
When Kris asked me to contribute a piece to our mini-series on all-time favorite Oscar wins, I wasn't quite sure where to begin. However often they get it wrong, over 83 years, the Academy has made more than enough good decisions, and honored more than enough good movies -- even handing Best Picture to my favorite film of all time -- to make selecting just one a tortuous process.
How to judge the value of Robert De Niro's Best Actor win for "Raging Bull" against, say, Sven Nykvist's Best Cinematography win for "Cries and Whispers?" I'm glad both came to pass, but we're not comparing apples and oranges so much as apples and hotdogs.
I decided to limit my search to winners from 1990, the year I actually started watching the Oscars, onwards: as satisfying as it is the learn of deserved wins in the history books, nothing compares to the in-the-moment thrill of watching your favorite nominee triumph before your own eyes.
I wasn't a big fan of the remake of "Clash Of The Titans," but I do like the genre that it represents. We need more giant monsters in our movies. I'd argue we need more giant monsters in all movies, regardless of what they're about. "The King's Speech" without monsters, for example, might have won Best Picture of 2010, but "The King's Speech" WITH giant monsters? That would win Best Picture of All Time. You see the difference?
Even though I didn't really care about anyone or anything in "Clash Of The Titans," they've pretty much guaranteed that I'm excited to see the sequel, "Wrath Of The Titans" because the new trailer that just arrived appears to be wall-to-wall giant monsters, and there ain't nothing wrong with that, philosophically speaking.
We talked to Sam Worthington about what he considers a big fat do-over, and how that gives him a chance to get this one right since he feels like he didn't get it right the first time. The same was true inside Legendary, which is a shame because I know how much the original "Clash of The Titans" meant to the executives there. This was not a case of cynically remaking something because of some spreadsheet, but rather a case of someone intensely trying to recapture a feeling they had when they saw something and falling short.
We officially have only three of these Why I Miss "Community" posts still to go, now that NBC has announced that the show will be returning to its old timeslot on Thursday, March 15. Not sure what I'll do for the other two yet, but the choice this week seemed obvious, as it's both one of the most celebratory moments(*) in the entire series and one that marks a departure from the Darkest Timeline: the final scene of "Remedial Chaos Theory."
On Wednesday night, "American Idol" revealed the first 14 members of this season's Top 24.
It took two hours.
On Thursday (Feb. 23), "American Idol" will knock out the remaining 10 singers in the Top 24 in what is sure to be a relatively brisk hour.
Then, next week, "Idol" will finally begin the business of seeing if America cares enough to vote for a winner this season.
Click through to learn the identities of No.15-24...
"Admiral General Aladeen will deliver a formal response tomorrow morning to being banned from the Oscars by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Zionists."
So reads the statement released today by "Aladeen" via the "Republic of Wadiya"'s official website, in response to news yesterday that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had banned the fictional Middle East despot (a.k.a. Sacha Baron Cohen) from the Oscar ceremony on Sunday in order to keep "The Dictator" star from walking the red carpet (though it turns out Deadline's original report on the matter jumped the gun a bit, as Cohen has not yet officially had his tickets pulled).
The publicity stunt is a masterstroke on the part of Cohen and distributor Paramount. By floating the proposal to have Cohen walk the red carpet as Aladeen, the studio knew they were creating a "win-win" situation for themselves. If the Academy accepted their request, the film would receive a ton of free publicity on Hollywood's biggest night. If the Academy denied their request, they would arguably benefit even more.
In any case, we look forward to seeing what shape this "formal" response will take tomorrow morning.
"The Dictator" hits theaters on March 11th.
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