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<p>AIR at New York's Museum of Modern Art</p>
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AIR at New York's Museum of Modern Art

Credit: EMI

AIR talks 'Le Voyage Dans La Lune' with New York film fans

What did the French composers have to say about their Méliès landmark material?

For fans of the French electronic duo AIR, a trip to the moon is fairly routine.

 “All our music from the last 15 years has been inspired by the moon,” said one-half of the pair Nicolas Godin at New York’s Museum of Modern Art last night (Jan. 17).
His partner Jean-Benoit Dunckel concluded, that in this latest case: “People are going to be tired of it… but we had no choice.”
He’s referring to AIR’s new album and soundtrack experience “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” (“A Trip to the Moon”) out via Astralwerks on Feb. 7. Originally conceived as a 15-minute modernist score and “narrative structure” to the Georges Méliès’ 1902 film of the same name, the themes are expanded into a full, standalone album, informed by the craggy lands, creepy moon creatures and strong-headed space explorers of that trailblazing silent film.
AIR was approached to participate after almost two decades of work had gone into restoring an original, hand-painted reel of the film; as documented in Martin Scorsese’s recent “Hugo” (and the book that yielded it) Méliès’ did a knock-up job in nearly destroying all of his works himself, but eight months ago at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, “La Lune” made a return to the big screen, more than a century after it was created.
And AIR only had one month before its premiere to create its soundtrack.
The result is in the film and on the full-length album: 11 playful, daunting and sometimes psychedelic tracks include guest contributions from Victoria Legrand from Beach House and Au Revoir Simone. In the film, those voices help to build tension or to bring a human element to the otherwise spacey instrumental landscapes.
When it comes to this particular space journey, human nature is a problem, said the duo. While Méliès’ original vision of “La Lune” was a comedy – what was then considered to be a “blockbuster” feature-length film– the musical duo brought conflict and drama to the soundtrack due to the “colonialism” in the film. Dunckel said he “felt sorry for the moon,” with the rocket in his eye. Godin said “La Lune” even makes him sad, because the space travelers’ “colonial mentality” reminded him of Conquistadors, as they came and eliminated the moon men and even took one captive.
Check out a clip from the film and exclusive tracks on Air’s website.
A bridge between what Godin called “funny and darkness”: that’s why he incorporated in some braying farm animals into the score as the astronomers sat bickering over their trip, “always doing some stupid noise.” Au Revoir’s contribution was a nod to Roman Polansky’s “Rosemary’s Baby,” while the bickering sounds at the film’s beginning hearkens back to “Planet of the Apes.” Both are films, notably, about invasion.
I had a chance to ask the duo about their desire working specifically in soundtracks, considering they previously released their score to Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides” (2000). Godin described the music in “La Lune” as the dialogue (considering it was a silent film), and that it didn’t serve the same function as a traditional Hollywood soundtrack.
But furthermore, their joy in crafting this particular music was that there were no cooks in the kitchen lengthening or shortening scenes, that the final edit was in front of them, with no possibility or their hard-fought conceptions would be wasted due to post-production.
“It was from 1902, there was no chance it would be longer or shorter. I said ‘Look, you can give me the sh*ttiest cut of the movie you want but I want one thing. I want the final edit,” Godin said. “So we knew what we were going to do will stay forever.”


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Credit: AP Photo

Adele makes it sweet 16 on the Billboard 200 with '21'

Both David Crowder Band and Snow Patrol debut high

Adele’s “21” turns Sweet 16 as the title spends its 16th non-consecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Her tally gives the unsinkable album that longest weeks at No. 1 since the “Titanic” soundtrack which ruled for that long a period in 1997-1998.  In the SoundScan era, which began in 1991, only five albums have spent 16 weeks or more at No. 1 and the album to beat remains the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard,” which logged 20 weeks at the top. So in order to set the record, “21” needs to spend, somewhat poetically, 21 weeks at No. 1.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Bullhead&quot;</p>

A scene from "Bullhead"

Credit: Drafthouse Films

'Bullhead,' 'Pina,' 'A Separation' included on foreign language shortlist

France's 'Declaration of War' and Mexico's 'Miss Bala' snubbed

The biggest surprise about the nine-film shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is, well, how unsurprising it is. Seven of the titles I predicted yesterday are on it; the two films I didn't, Morocco's "Omar Killed Me" and Taiwan's "Warriors of the Rainbow," are the kind of could-have-been-anything choices that we know to expect (or not to expect, as it were) by now. Presumed frontrunner "A Separation" naturally made the cut and festival favorites "Pina" and "Bullhead" are present and correct -- as is the semi-obligatory annual Holocaust drama, in the shape of Agnieszka Holland's "In Darkness." Check, check, check.

The general predictability of the list makes it harder than usual to speculate what three films may have been rescued by the executive committee. There's nothing as outwardly subversive as "Dogtooth" or "Confessions" in the group, which suggests to me that the committee may have had their hands full saving consensus critical favorites: if they really did have to come to the rescue of a film like "A Separation," as has been rumored, that narrows the window for a truly "difficult" film like "The Turin Horse" to slide in.

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<p>LL Cool J</p>

LL Cool J

Credit: AP Photo

LL Cool J named host of the 54th annual Grammy Awards

'NCIs Los Angeles' star is first host in seven years

LL Cool J will host the 54th annual Grammy Awards, marking the first time the music awards show has featured a host in seven years.

The move makes sense for several reasons:  LL Cool J has hosted The Grammy Nominations Concert Live since its inception three years ago; he’s a two-time Grammy winner himself, and then, of course, The Grammys air  on CBS and LL Cool J stars in “NCIS Los Angeles,” which runs on CBS. Plus, he’s a fun and genial host with a broad appeal.

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<p>I&nbsp;didn't get to review this week's &quot;How I&nbsp;Met Your Mother,&quot;&nbsp;but you could have still discussed it on our new message boards.</p>

I didn't get to review this week's "How I Met Your Mother," but you could have still discussed it on our new message boards.

Credit: CBS

How I met our HitFix boards

Now you can talk about even more shows than I have time to cover

I obviously don't write about every interesting show on television, nor do I write about every episode of every show that I cover.(*) Not remotely enough hours in the day for that. Sometimes, my taste will overlap exactly with some of you, and other times there will be shows you love that I never write about, or even watch. On occasion on the old blog, I'd do open threads for people to discuss whatever shows they liked that I wasn't writing about, but they tended to get unwieldy, and at times turn into extensive, detailed discussions of shows I (and others) hadn't seen yet but intended to at some point. So I stopped doing them after a while.

(*) People keep asking me, for instance, when my review of this week's "How I Met Your Mother" is going up, and the answer is that it's not. I took a couple of days off post-press tour, with all but one post over the last two days (the "Cougar Town" premiere, which I wrote in 10 minutes while my son was napping next to me) being something I'd written in advance. I liked the episode well enough (it was very broad but still felt "HIMYM"-y enough to work) but I'm just going to jump ahead to reviewing the next new episode when it airs.

My favorite thing about this blog, both at the old location and this one, has been the community that developed around it. I'm not writing just to hear myself talk, but to start a conversation that you guys have kept going so smartly for so long. But that conversation is always limited to whatever it is I'm watching. (Or to the shows being covered by Fienberg, Liane and on Monkeys as Critics.) There hasn't been an avenue for this great collection of TV fans to talk about a show if it's not on my radar...

...until now.

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"Absolutely Fabulous"
Credit: BBC America

'Absolutely Fabulous' 20th anniversary special to make U.S. premiere

Logo will air the latest exploits of Patsy and Edina in February

Sweetie darling, it's time for yet another "Absolutely Fabulous" special to make its U.S. premiere on Logo (Mon. Feb. 6, 10:30 p.m.). Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the series, the special will pick up where the last left off, as Patsy and Edina lumbered into the 21st century.

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<p>MIke Posner</p>

MIke Posner

Bamboozle Festival adds 60 new acts, including Mike Posner and Kreayshawn

New crop Join headliners Foo Fighters, Bon Jovi and Skrillex

The Bamboozle 2012 added 60 new performers to the May 18-19 line-up. Among the new additions are Jimmy Eat World, PJ Pauly D, Andrew Dice Clay, All American Rejects, ASAP Rocky and the reunited The Promise Ring.

They join a list for the 3-day North Beach Asbury Park, N.J.-festival that includes headliners Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, Skrillex, Blink-182 and Incubus. This marks the first time the 10-year Live Nation-produced Bamboozle has been held in Asbury Park since 2005.

Also new to the bill are Mike Posner, Kreayshawn, Treos, Patent Pending, We Came As Romans, Motion City Soundtrack, NeverShoutNEver, Bayside, and Bouncing Souls.

Bamboozle also revealed the schedule:  Skrillex, Incubus and Mac Miller will headline May 18; Foo Fighters and Blink-182, May 19; Bon Jovi, May 20. There is still a special guest to be announced who will also headline on May 20.

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<p>Michelle Williams in one of the images from her recent GQ photo shoot.</p>

Michelle Williams in one of the images from her recent GQ photo shoot.

Credit: GQ/Michael Thompson

Round-up: Williams takes her Marilyn Monroe impression to GQ

Also: Mourning Colman's BAFTA snub, and Gervais steps down

Michelle Williams is someone who seems to have planned her entire career in contravention of Hollywood's usual code for beautiful young actresses: from her taste in offbeat indie projects to her shy public demeanor and pixie-ish styling, she's pretty much the anti-ingenue, and the last person you'd expect to be the subject of a raunchy lad's-mag photo shoot. Which is partly why her casting as a publicity-fed sex symbol like Marilyn Monroe is so counter-intuitively effective, as is this eye-opening QG profile, in which she further channels the star by stripping down to her underwear and posing up a storm. An ingenious ploy by Harvey Weinstein? Her own initiative? Either way, it's getting the Best Actress hopeful attention at just the right time, and for those who do read the accompanying interview, she comes off as smart and engaging. Well played. [GQ

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<p>Max Greenfield and Zooey Deschanel on &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Max Greenfield and Zooey Deschanel on "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

The Morning Round-Up: 'New Girl' & 'Raising Hope'

Jess throws Schmidt a party, while the Chances pull an educational caper

A good night last night for both "New Girl" and "Raising Hope," with reviews coming up just as soon as I get smart by watching NBC comedies...

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<p>Courtney Ford and Dax Shepard on &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>
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Courtney Ford and Dax Shepard on "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

'Parenthood' - 'It Is What It Is': Seller's remorse

Everybody has trouble giving something up

A quick review of last night's "Parenthood" coming up just as soon as I pretend not to be bored in exchange for ice cream...

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<p>This is just what happened when Channing Tatum accidentally sat in Gina Carano's chair on the set of 'Haywire,' so imagine how much pain she inflicts in the actual movie.</p>

This is just what happened when Channing Tatum accidentally sat in Gina Carano's chair on the set of 'Haywire,' so imagine how much pain she inflicts in the actual movie.

Credit: Relativity Media

Review: 'Haywire' is bone-breaking, genre-bending fun

Steven Soderbergh and MMA Gina Carano make sweet music together

The last time Steven Soderbergh and Lem Dobbs collaborated, the result was "The Limey," one of my favorite of Soderbergh's films overall.  It's a tough-minded, broken-hearted little revenge thriller, and Terrence Stamp is awesome in it.  It's got style to spare, and it's really lean.  Gets in, gets it done, and then gets out.

When I first heard about "Haywire" and heard that the film was created specifically to showcase Gina Carano, a well-regarded MMA fighter in real life, I admit that I sort of wrote the film off immediately as "lesser" Soderbergh.  The last film he made where he built a film around a real-life personality was "The Girlfriend Experience," an only slightly successful movie that is more experiment than experience, so I admit my hopes were not especially high.

I would argue that part of why "Haywire" works so well is because Lem Dobbs is the screenwriter, and he approached this with a wicked pulp spy movie sensibility that pays off in a film that works first as a spy film, second as an action film, and then also as a drama.  It's genuinely well-written.  It's clever.  And while there's plenty of room in the film for Carano to snap into her own skill-set and start beating holy hell out of anyone within arm's reach, which she does in spectacular fashion several times, those moments are character punctuation.  There's not a single unmotivated or gratuitous action beat in the film.

In other words, forget what your calendar tells you.  "Haywire" is no mere January movie.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Wings&quot;</p>

A scene from "Wings"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Paramount unveils newly restored 'Wings' at the Academy

AMPAS president Tom Sherak, Paramount CEO Brad Grey and the family of William A. Wellman toast the first-ever Best Picture winner's 85th anniversary

It was a nice change of pace interlude this evening, even if it was ultimately awards related in some way.

"War Horse" may be the World War I film currently in cinemas stirring awards talk throughout the season, and "The Artist" might be the black and white silent film leading the charge in this year's Best Picture race, but for two evenings at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, William A. Wellman is stealing some of Steven Spielberg and Michel Hazanavicius' spotlight.

Wellman's silent, black and white, 1927 Best Picture-winning WWI epic "Wings" has been fully restored in a partnership between Paramount Pictures (this year celebrating its 100th anniversary), the Academy's Film Archive and Technicolor. It was unveiled this evening at the Academy in the first of two screenings this week as part of the studio's centenary and the film's (as well as the Academy's) 85th anniversary in advance of a January 24 Blu-ray release.

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