Latest Blog Posts

<p>Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar)&nbsp;prepares for a big bust on &quot;Sons of Anarchy.&quot;</p>

Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar) prepares for a big bust on "Sons of Anarchy."

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' - 'To Be, Act 2': House of the rising Son

The season ends in an intriguing place, but takes many silly steps to get there

A review of the "Sons of Anarchy" season finale coming up just as soon as I empty out this duffel bag full of sex toys...

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<p>Trouty Mouth! Back on &quot;Glee&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Trouty Mouth! Back on "Glee"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'Glee' - 'Hold On To Sixteen'

Sectionals doesn't push the show forward so much as hit a huge reset button
So here we are, near the end of the Fall run for “Glee.” Next week is the holiday episode, which pretty much exists out of continuity. Well, continuity as far as this show goes. It’s a stop-gap episode filled with holiday sweaters and Artie’s Magic Legs. But let’s not worry about that now, because we have before us the task of analyzing what went down at Sectionals. In the first season of “Glee,” Sectionals provided the majority of the narrative thrust, given every episode some overall context as New Directions tried to get its act together in order to eventually compete. Now? Sectionals is something that “Glee” tries to get through as opposed to strive for. If it could avoid actually having to go through these motions, it probably would.
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<p>Ryan Gosling in &quot;Drive,&quot; one of the films in my Sight &amp; Sound top five.</p>

Ryan Gosling in "Drive," one of the films in my Sight & Sound top five.

Credit: Film District

Top 10 season is upon us

Best-of-the-year lists already coming thick and fast

The crowded carousel of critics' awards and industry precursors makes up just one half of the year-end accolades: I find it just as interesting to monitor the flood of individual critics' (and others') Top 10 lists, where films far outside the Oscar race can pop up with refreshing frequency. One-man lists have for more capacity to surprise, delight and sometimes infuriate than middle-skewing collectives.

Today, for example, I've enjoyed wallowing in the full results of Sight & Sound's critics' poll, the overall Top 10 of which I posted last week. It was a fine list, but the individual top-five lists of the 101 critics surveyed inevitably paint a far broader picture of the year in film. My own contribution is here: as if to illustrate what a generous cinematic year it's been, not one of my five choices made the magazine's final list. (Incidentally, my top five is already out of date, having been submitted in early November; expect some shifting when I post my formal Top 10 later this month.)

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<p>Jess (Zooey Deschanel)&nbsp;and Paul (Justin Long)&nbsp;in &quot;New Girl.&quot;</p>

Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Paul (Justin Long) in "New Girl."

Credit: FOX

'New Girl' - 'Bad in Bed': The internet is for porn

The show again fails to get laughs out of Jess' sex life

A quick review of tonight's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I tell you my whole plan like a Bond villain...

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<p>Grace Potter</p>

Grace Potter

Credit: Katie Hasty

New SXSW Music lineups announced: Magnetic Fields, Grace Potter, Metric

More to come: Who else will be seeing Bruce Springsteen around town?

Three rounds of musical performers at next year's South By Southwest music conference have been announced, with plenty of rock to go 'round.

Bruce Springsteen may be the keynote speaker, but acts like Built to Spill, Metric, the Magnetic Fields, Against Me!, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Talib Kweli, Oh Land and Thomas Dolby will be among the week's music-playing headliners.

The music portion at the Austin, Texas-based conference runs March 13-18 next year, preceded by the Interactive and Film conferences.

Stars, the Expressions, Delta Spirit, Grimes, The Big Pink, Screaming Females, Dan Mangan, Gross Magic, Ganglians, Daughter, The War on Drugs, Blood Orange, Bleached, Suckers, Spector, Miracles of Modern Science, Ear Pwr, Beach Fossils, Prince Rama, Zeus and Zorch were among the other newly announced artists added today. Check out the 2012 SXSW site for all the confirmed performers thus far.

I'll be particularly interested to see what the yield is from the Magnetic Fields set -- what the lineup will be, and if new songs will be introduced (or, if time is good, supported): I feel like Stephen Merritt's last "Realism" was released rather quietly, though his previous output "Distortion" was fairly loud, by his standards.

Metric has also been on the steady rise for more than a half dozen years. They opened for Muse just a couple years ago, but it seems now that they'd be the obvious headliner at any venue in Austin. Perhaps they'll be previewing new cuts, too.

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Album Review: Amy Winehouse's 'Lioness: Hidden Treasures'

Is it a fitting finale to her sad story?

In what has become a depressing rite of passage, we can almost always count on a posthumous album or two (or 200, if you’re Tupac) within months of an artist’s death.

This time, sadly, it’s Amy Winehouse’s turn. Winehouse died July 23 of alcohol poisoning. Out today, “Lioness: Hidden Treasures,” compiles 12 previously unreleased songs, alternative versions and a few cover tunes recorded over the past nine years, including her last recording session with Tony Bennett on “Body & Soul.” So the question is which of these tunes are treasures and which should have remained hidden?

The album opens with Winehouse’s 2002 reggae-tinged version of Ruby & The Romantics‘ 1963 hit “Our Day Will Comes,” and with good reason. It’s the track where Winehouse sounds most coherent. It’s a lively, jaunty remake that showcases Winehouse’s love and connection to the singers from the ‘50s and ‘60s and her uncanny intuitiveness when it comes to capturing the sassiness and longing so prevalent in the female pioneers.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Rob Lowe and Amy Poehler in a scene from this week's &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot;&nbsp;Christmas episode.</p>

Rob Lowe and Amy Poehler in a scene from this week's "Parks and Recreation" Christmas episode.

Credit: NBC

HitFix First Look: A 'Parks and Recreation' gift-giving dilemma

What can Leslie's friends get her to equal what she gives them?

It's Christmas in Pawnee on this week's "Parks and Recreation," in what may be my favorite episode of the season so far. They've done a bunch of episodes that have been insanely funny ("Ron & Tammys," "The Treaty") and many that have been incredibly sweet ("End of the World," last week's "The Trial of Leslie Knope"), but Thursday's "Citizen Knope" comes at you hard with both barrels.

Without giving too much away, the episode deals with what both Leslie and Ben are up to professionally in the wake of what happened at the end of last week's episode, while the rest of her friends and co-workers are struggling with a tricky holiday question: what do you get for the woman who, year after year, gets you the most creative, thoughtful, awesome Christmas presents?

It's an outstanding half-hour, and representative of everything that's made me love "Parks and Rec" so much this year. You'll all get to enjoy it Thursday night at 8:30, but to whet your appetites, here's an early scene - exclusive to HitFix for the evening - from the Christmas gift subplot, as we see just how high a bar Leslie sets in terms of gift-giving. All her selections are fantastic, but April's present is probably my favorite. Enjoy.

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<p>Justin Bieber</p>

Justin Bieber

Credit: Vevo

Watch: Christmas roundup with Justin Bieber, Kelly Clarkson, MMJ and more

Plus your daily dose of Bah! Humbug! from Diamond Rugs and Sunny Sweeney

Admit it. You wanted a Santa Claus who knows how to pop and lock for Christmas, didn’t you? Well, look no further, because everyone’s favorite holiday elf, Justin Bieber, has just delivered one to your internet stocking. In his new video for “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” the toys, Santa’s helpers, and Kris Kringle himself are all breaking into head spins.

The only one who looks like he isn’t having a good time is Mr. Under the Mistletoe himself. In his 8,000th holiday video this week, Bieber seems very concerned and intense about Santa Claus’s arrival or maybe the steampunk glove he’s wearing is just a little too tight.

The live action video, embedded below, is the second from Bieber for “Santa Claus is Coming To Town”; the first was an animated clip to accompany “Arthur Christmas.” Arthur makes a few very unobtrusive drop in for this video, but otherwise, knows to stay the hell out of the kitchen. Given that this arrangement follows the Jacksons’ version, there is a very sweet little homage to the group. See if you can figure it out.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Ed Helms is the voice of the Once-ler in the new animated feature film version of 'The Lorax'</p>

Ed Helms is the voice of the Once-ler in the new animated feature film version of 'The Lorax'

Credit: Universal/Illumination

New trailer for animated 'Lorax' is looking a lot like Seuss

Can an expanded version of the story pack the same punch as the original story?

When my wife told me we were expecting our first son, my first response seemed entirely rational to me.  I went to a bookstore, and I bought a giant collection of Dr. Seuss stories.

Why not?  When I think about the things I want helping shape the world view of my kids, the work of Theodor Geisel is high on that list.  Like Jim Henson, there is a decency and an expansive kindness that is central to his work, and if filmmakers hope to capture what works in the stories he created, they have to aim high.

When I went to the offices of Illumination Entertainment recently to check in on what they were doing with "The Lorax," I was very curious.  One of the most overt of Seuss's books, "The Lorax" comes with a built-in environmental message that was upsetting 50 years ago but which is positively terrifying now considering how little we seem to have learned in that time.

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<p>Michael Barker (left)&nbsp;with &quot;Midnight in&nbsp;Paris&quot;&nbsp;producer Letty Aronson and star Owen&nbsp;Wilson at the Hollywood Film&nbsp;Awards in&nbsp;October</p>

Michael Barker (left) with "Midnight in Paris" producer Letty Aronson and star Owen Wilson at the Hollywood Film Awards in October

Credit: AP Photo/Kristian Dowling

Interview: Michael Barker talks 'Midnight in Paris,' 'Take Shelter' and 20 years of Sony Classics

The co-president has a long list of memories and looks to make more this season

"It's an exciting day," Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker says by phone the day his company's films racked up eight Independent Spirit Award nominations last week. "I'm really happy for 'Take Shelter.' If ever there was a movie that justified the Independent Spirit Awards, it's a movie like 'Take Shelter.'"

Indeed, Jeff Nichols' stripped-down focus on a father and a husband's descent into paranoia was a modest affair, and the intimacy of the production, actor Michael Shannon said in advance of the film's release, is what drove the characters and the relationships on the screen. And it's most heartening, Barker says, that Shannon is getting recognition.

"I’m really thrilled that the guy’s finally getting his dues," he says. "My partner [Sony Classics co-president Tom Bernard] and I, I mean, we think this is like the greatest actor going right now. We saw him in this play off Broadway and he knocked our socks off, which helped cause us to make an offer on the movie before we’d even seen it. And then 'Boardwalk Empire' this year, this season he’s just amazing."

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Anna Paquin in Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret"
Anna Paquin in Kenneth Lonergan's "Margaret"
Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Team 'Margaret' makes headway

In wake of film's surprise UK success, perhaps critics are good for something after all

I won't lie to you, there are many nice things about being a film critic: the free advance screenings, the year-end screeners, the trips to festivals, the freedom to spend some mornings drinking tea in your pajamas while you duck out of seeing "New Year's Eve." But along with the money, an overriding sense of usefulness isn't one of them. Some hands heal the sick, some hands build bridges and some hands warn people off spending money on seeing "W.E." They're all services, true, but the world wouldn't exactly spin off its axis if the last group of hands remained idle. 

The discussion about what purpose critics serve in an age when social media and the blogosphere increasingly blur the lines of "qualified" opinion -- some of the most engaging film writers I currently read don't practice professionally -- while the notion of films being "critic-proof" dates back much, much further. Even before I became one myself, I found critics less useful for helping me decide what films to see than for feeding my post-viewing thoughts. I'm always delighted when someone tells me one of my reviews encouraged them to see a film, but somewhat surprised as well. There are enough critically adored films that approximately no one goes to see to support the idea that most critics have little audience to speak of.

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<p>David Yates directed four 'Harry Potter' films and has his pick of projects at this point. &nbsp;OF&nbsp;COURSE&nbsp;he's smiling like that.</p>

David Yates directed four 'Harry Potter' films and has his pick of projects at this point.  OF COURSE he's smiling like that.

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Director David Yates talks about steering the 'Potter' franchise home

We chat with the man who directed more Potter films than anyone else

My favorite thing about that photo of Yates, taken as the sun was going down in Orlando at the end of a long day spent at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, is the way the silhouette behind him isn't a backdrop.  Those are the actual spires of Hogwarts, part of the incredibly effective illusion created when you're actually there in person.

When you visit Islands of Adventure, the park is divided into different "worlds," and it's designed so that when you stand in each one, it's all you can see, and you're meant to be immersed in those worlds.  The theme park aspects of the Los Angeles Universal park have always felt like an afterthought to me, wedged into the corners of a working studio property, but the Orlando park is a proper theme park, and you can tell it has been carefully designed and executed to give guests a very particular experience.

With The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, they've built it so that when you walk into Hogsmeade, it immediately feels like you've stepped into the world of the movies, and the effect is very impressive.  There are familiar shops and restaurants all around you, and you can eat at The Leaky Cauldron or go shopping at Mr. Olivander's Wand Shop as you work your way past the stands selling Butterbeer or the twin dragon roller coasters, Hogwarts stands above all of it, a fantastic example of real-life forced perspective in environmental design.

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