Latest Blog Posts

<p>Michelle Williams and Simon Curtis on the set of &quot;My Week with&nbsp;Marilyn&quot;</p>

Michelle Williams and Simon Curtis on the set of "My Week with Marilyn"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Interview: Simon Curtis on the indelible Marilyn Monroe and the role as Hamlet for an actress

The ‘My Week with Marilyn’ director talks Michelle Williams and capturing an icon

Next August marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death. Half a century after her passing we find that Monroe remains an enduring figure in our collective consciousness. Director Simon Curtis hopes that the release of his film, “My Week with Marilyn,” will provide audiences with fresh insights into the complex nature of the cinematic icon. Indeed the film's star, Michelle Williams, is receiving consistent Oscar buzz for what many feel is a revelatory, nuanced portrayal of Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe represents both more, and less, than an actress of repute or a captivating movie star in our cultural lexicon. Marilyn, Norma Jean, the human being is often distilled to an image, a representation of an ideal, a desire, or a figurehead. Monroe herself quipped about her status as a sex symbol in her final interview: “A symbol? I always thought those were the things you clashed together.” She laughed with the journalist but went on to explore essential quagmire of being Marilyn Monroe. “See that’s the trouble is a sex symbol becomes a thing," she said. "And you just hate to be a thing.”

Read Full Post
<p>Asa Butterfield takes Chloe Grace Moretz to see her very first movie in a magical moment from the magical new Martin Scorsese film 'Hugo'</p>

Asa Butterfield takes Chloe Grace Moretz to see her very first movie in a magical moment from the magical new Martin Scorsese film 'Hugo'

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' is a rapturous lesson in the value of art

The year's smartest kid's film may be the best 3D movie ever

As always, Martin Scorsese says it better than I ever could.

Little by little, I've started to feel like Film Nerd 2.0 is one of the most significant things I've done since I've started writing about film online in 1995, and it's part of a bigger plan I have.  I eventually plan to get involved in creating and implementing some very real educational reform involving media education that runs K-12, so that kids are given a media literacy on par with any print literacy that is taught.  I think we have a responsibility, given the omnipresence of media in the lives of modern children, to not only encourage them with choices about what to watch, but also to teach them how to watch.  Without context, how do you expect them to navigate the ocean of choice available to them at all times these days?

Martin Scorsese has spoken at length in the press about wanting to make a movie that his 12-year-old daughter could see, and how much he loved 3D in the '50s, and how this movie serves as, in some ways, autobiography because of his own childhood spent trapped by asthma in a private world, cut off from other kids.  All of that is true, but the moment you start putting labels like "kid's film" on a movie like "Hugo," you are being reductive in your thinking, and that's missing the point entirely.  In its own way, this is "Film Nerd 2.0: The Movie," and perhaps the most head-over-heels-in-love movie about movies since "Cinema Paradiso."

Read Full Post
<p>Big Otto (Kurt Sutter)&nbsp;ponders his dealings with Linc Potter (Ray McKinnon)&nbsp;on &quot;Sons of Anarchy.&quot;</p>

Big Otto (Kurt Sutter) ponders his dealings with Linc Potter (Ray McKinnon) on "Sons of Anarchy."

Credit: FX

'Sons of Anarchy' - 'Burnt and Purged Away': He's making a list

Opie and Otto both seek vengeance, and Jax tries to keep everybody happy

A review of tonight's "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I have you around to translate the Catholic...

Read Full Post
<p>Jason Segel and new Muppet Walter took some time to try and explain how much it means to them to co-star in the new film 'The Muppets'</p>

Jason Segel and new Muppet Walter took some time to try and explain how much it means to them to co-star in the new film 'The Muppets'

Credit: HitFix

Watch: Jason Segel and Walter talk about joining 'The Muppets'

A lifelong dream comes true for two people... or one person and a puppet

On Toshi's third birthday, I took him to a very unusual puppet show, unusual because it wasn't being staged for a real audience.  It was on one of the soundstages at Paramount in Hollywood, and it was a musical called "A Taste Of Love," with all the puppets by the Henson Studios.  The only people witnessing take after take of the big finale of this show were extras, hired for the day, and the crew of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."  If you've seen the film, you remember the moment, the big wrap-up for the character played by Jason Segel.  This is his life's ambition realized, and watching Segel and his co-star Bill Hader actually operate their custom-created Muppets for a full day of shooting was one of those great random glad-I-was-there moments.

Toshi had no idea what was going on, but he enjoyed the noise and the energy and the puppets, and at one point, I had a conversation with Segel about his training with the Henson performers, and how that was the fulfillment of his own life-long dream.  He confessed his Muppet love to me at that point, and talked a bit about how he'd very much like to one day figure out a way to make a movie with the Muppets.  It was the first time he'd mentioned anything like that, but seeing him work with his Dracula puppet all day, I could see how firmly the idea had hold of him.

Read Full Post
<p>Astro of &quot;The X Factor&quot;</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Astro of "The X Factor"

Credit: FOX

Recap: 'The X Factor' - Top 9 Performances Live-Blog

It's a Giving Thanks theme week, whatever the heck that means

If you love stuffing and you love apologies, Tuesday (November) night's Very Special "The X Factor" is a two-hour block made just for you.

The "stuffing" is going to come from the show's Pre-Thanksgiving theme of "Giving Thanks," which is sure to be as efficiently adhered to as last week's Rock-n-Roll debacle. But "stuffing" is also relevant because Tuesday's show will cram nine performances into two hours, as the field keeps dwindling, but the programming block remains the same. 

And as for "apologies"? Well, if self-flagellation involving teenagers doesn't make you uncomfortable, you're gonna love watching Poor Li'l' Astro throw himself at the mercy of Simon Cowell and company begging their forgiveness for last week's lapse of positive mental attitude. With a double elimination pending on Wednesday, how many times will Astro have to say "I'm sorry" in order to avoid packing his bags? 

Let's find out!

Read Full Post
<p>David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen on the set of &quot;A Dangerous Method.&quot;</p>

David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen on the set of "A Dangerous Method."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Interview: David Cronenberg on 'A Dangerous Method,' psychoanalysis and being an adjective

Veteran director gets intellectual as his Freud-Jung drama hits screens

If auteur theory has brought us to the point where directors’ surnames become definite articles describing their films (oh, if one had a dollar for every unironic reference to “The Haneke” or “The Polanski” overheard at any major film festival), the apex of auteurist achievement must be the conversion of a surname into an all-purpose adjective, used not only to describe that director’s films, but others as well.

Few of these ungainly adjectives are quite as evocative, or eagerly repeated by critics, as “Cronenbergian,” a term generally loaded with promises of physical and psychological penetration, a vague entry point into an oeuvre critic Tim Robey aptly described, referencing Cronenberg's debut feature, as the director’s “own Academy for Erotic Enquiry.”

“It can be a mixed blessing, obviously, and you could put yourself in the position of railing against your own adjectival success,” Cronenberg says with a dry lilt, his voice genially Canadian where one might expect it to sound, well, perhaps a little more Cronenbergian. “The good part is that it suggests you have a real voice in cinema that didn’t exist before, and that is a major achievement. I mean, Fellini films get called Felliniesque, so why complain? But it can also be a trap that encourages audiences to put you in a box, to the point where people might say ‘A Dangerous Method’ is not a ‘Cronenbergian’ film. And at that point, you bristle, because it’s like typecasting.”

Read Full Post
<p>Kid Cudi</p>

Kid Cudi

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Kid Cudi's new project WZRD lets go of the 'Brake'

Cudi collabs with Cleveland cohort Dot da Genius: more rock to come?

Kid Cudi has behaved erratically over the last couple of years, to say the least. After the much-acclaimed release of 2009's "Man on the Moon: The End of Days," Cudi hemmed and hawed about his next collaborations and the name of his second album (eventually settling on "Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager" in 2010). He's told the press he wasn't going to guest on any more records. And then he guested on everybody's record this year (including Wale, who used a boost from quite a few rappers). He slowly been melding more rock into his sets, he dissolved his old record label and started a new one and even got arrested.

Dude is busy. Good thing he's talented, and it shows on "Brake."

"Brake" is the second third fourth third-and-a-half song to arrive from his collaboration with producer Dot da Genius, also from his home town of Cleveland. The duo operated under two different names over the last year but now seem to have settled on WZRD.

The first track from now-WZRD was "No One Believes Me" (heh), but under Cudi's name. Follow? The video was cool, the music an even bigger indication of what was to come, the rock-centric "Brake."

Read Full Post
Listen: 'Show Me the Place' from Leonard Cohen's first new album in 8 years
Credit: AP Photos/Chris Pizzelo

Listen: 'Show Me the Place' from Leonard Cohen's first new album in 8 years

'Old Ideas,' out Jan. 31, explores love, sexuality, loss and death

Need a moment to center yourself before this crazy holiday season takes off? Take a few minutes to listen to “Show Me The Place,” a new song streaming on Leonard Cohen’s website and embedded below.

The tune is our first peek at “Old Ideas,” the legendary singer/songwriter’s first studio album in eight years. Out Jan. 31, the 10-song collection addresses transcendence, love, sexuality, loss and death. A statement from his label, Columbia, heralds it as “arguably the most overtly spiritual” of Cohen’s albums.” 

If “Show Me the Place” is any indication, it is a reverential, compassionate examination of faith. In his gravelly, beaten-down baritone, the 77-year old asks Jesus to show him the place “where you want your slave to go.”  Bolstered by an elegant, simple piano — and later strings — the song has a feeling of a great gospel tune, although we’re not sure about the background vocals.  No matter what your belief, it’s worth listening just to hear his sense of supplication before something greater than himself and intention.

[More after the jump...]


Cohen revealed more about the album early this year when he received  a prize in literature in Spain in October: “As I grew older, I understood that instructions came with this voice. And the instructions were these...Never to lament casually. And if one is to express the great inevitable defeat that awaits us all, it must be done within the strict confines of dignity & beauty."

Patrick Leonard, Anjani Thomas, Ed Sanders and Dino Soldo produced the album, which includes guest vocals from Dana Glover, Sharon Robinson, The Webb Sisters, and Jennifer Warnes.
 

OLD IDEAS TRACK LISTING:
Going Home
Amen
Show Me The Place
The Darkness
Anyhow
Crazy To Love You
Come Healing
Banjo
Lullaby
Different Sides

Read Full Post
<p>From Fleet Foxes' &quot;The Shrine/An Argument&quot;</p>

From Fleet Foxes' "The Shrine/An Argument"

Watch: Fleet Foxes' beautiful animated clip for 'The Shrine/An Argument'

Talk about tension

Fleet Foxes' latest album "Helplessness Blues" has been out for a while, but they've been saving up at least one particular goodie for this, the end of the year.

Frontman Robin Pecknold's brother Sean directed animated clip for the band, for "The Shrine/An Argument," which the brother animated together. It featuring myth, monsters and as much plot tension as the song's audio provides. I woke up still thinking about it. I'd recommend giving it a go.

Sean Pecknold also helped out on Fleet Foxes' "Mykonos" and "White Winter Hymnal," and on Pearly Gate Music's "Rejoice," which I love. PGM's Zach Tillman (brother of Fleet Foxes' J. Tillman) put out a damn good album last year, as previously reported.

Read Full Post
<p>Meryl Streep at a photocall for the official UK poster for &quot;The Iron Lady&quot;&nbsp;on Nov. 6.</p>

Meryl Streep at a photocall for the official UK poster for "The Iron Lady" on Nov. 6.

Credit: AP Photo/Jonathan Short

No joke: Meryl Streep may finally break her Oscar losing streak as 'The Iron Lady'

The legendary actress delivers big time as Margaret Thatcher

Let's be frank, ever since it was announced Meryl Streep would portray highly controversial UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the new biopic "The Iron Lady" it was assumed she would be nominated once again for best actress.  The role was too Oscar friendly for her not to be.  When this occurs, it will be her 17th Academy Award nomination overall and her 13th in a row since winning her second Oscar almost 29 years ago for "Sophie's Choice."  No, that's not a typing error.  The 84th Academy Awards will mark 29 years since Streep last graced the Academy stage to accept an Oscar.  

Read Full Post
<p>Chris Daughtry</p>
<div id="myEventWatcherDiv" style="display:none;">&nbsp;</div>

Chris Daughtry

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Interview: Chris Daughtry on twins, Aerosmith and new album

How the band 'unshackled' themselves to create something new

Think making an album is hard? It’s nothing compared to trying to raise twins, just ask Daughtry’s Chris Daughtry who began cutting his band’s new album, “Break the Spell” when his twins were only a few months old.

“Between raising twins and recording a record, recording a record is a vacation,” he tells HitFix with a laugh. 

He and his bandmates, guitarist Josh Steely, drummer Robin Diaz, guitarist Brian Craddock and bassist Josh Paul, as well as assorted outside songwriters, gathered at Daughtry’s newly-minted home studio in Greensboro, N.C. to write for the project.

The plan was to record in N.C. and L.A. with producer Howard Benson, who helmed the first two Daughtry albums. But the team soon hightailed it to L.A.  and “just a small fraction” of what was created in N.C. made the album as Daughtry realized that recording at home, and bringing in all the required extra equipment, “would have been a nightmare with the twins and my wife trying to home school the teenagers.”

[More after the jump...]

Read Full Post
<p>Asa Butterfield&nbsp;(left)&nbsp;and Chlo&euml; Grace Moretz in &quot;Hugo&quot;</p>

Asa Butterfield (left) and Chloë Grace Moretz in "Hugo"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

'The Artist' isn't the only film celebrating Hollywood's Golden Age this year

Mr. Hazanavicius, meet Mr. Scorsese and Mr. Spielberg

Okay, I've been a bit down on "The Artist" since day one. And I took another shot this morning. Well, allow me to take one more.

Really, I don't want to be a wet blanket. I appreciate that people are discovering and loving the movie on the festival circuit. I think it's a thin sort of satisfaction, though, and oddly enough, some of the same people who took "The King's Speech" to task for being (in their view) a trifle against the STAGGERING density of "The Social Network" last year are glomming onto Michel Hazanavicius's film like it were a blast of freshness. It's not. It's novel. And charming. And yes, it celebrates Hollywood's Golden Age, which is delightful.

The thing is, when I see a runaway locomotive narrative getting out of hand like the idea that "we should award 'The Artist' because it celebrates film history" or what have you, I feel like I have to step in. Especially since that narrative isn't at all unique to "The Artist" this season, or even this weekend, for that matter.

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME