Latest Blog Posts

<p>Florence Welch in &quot;No Light, No Light&quot;</p>

Florence Welch in "No Light, No Light"

Watch: Florence + The Machine 'pin' Christianity against Voodoo in 'Light' video

This heavy and melodramtic clip is anything but 'Light'

Florence + The Machine tried to make more than just a beautiful -- though, somewhat disturbing -- music video for "No Light No Light." There seems to be a fable here, or a classic battle between good and evil.

The melodramatic clip literally pins Florence Welch against a contortionist/Voodoo priest and his minions (?), as she's tortured by a Voodoo doll, falls from a skyscraper, runs from danger, writhes in pain. She ultimately, baptismally falls through a stained-glass window through the top of a church (?) and into the arms of an all-boys choir. The priest falls to the ground, dying it seems, and Florence is comforted safely by the boys and by the cutey pie she's been singing about all along.

It's actually kind of startling when you consider the symbolism, pairing classic Christian imagery against an exotic -- and, yes, dark-skinned -- "other." I'm not sure if Welch intended commentary on spiritual matters, or was just playing with themes, but she returns, once again, to the symbol of immersion (water and otherwise) with the clip.

At the end of the day, it's a bit too much to watch. I like the rality of her running scared, and the dancers who cause her pain are impossible not to watch. It's just so... so.

"No Light No Light" is off of Florence + the Machine's latest "Ceremonials," already out this fall.

What do you think?

Read Full Post
<p>Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi in &quot;A Separation.&quot;</p>

Leila Hatami and Peyman Moaadi in "A Separation."

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

'A Separation' wins BBC World Cinema Award

Iran's Oscar entry beats 'The Skin I Live In,' among others, to the prize

If you were still in any doubt that Asghar Farhadi's superb Iranian marital drama "A Separation" is this year's Chosen One on the world cinema circuit, there was further confirmation this week, as the film scooped the annual BBC Four World Cinema Award, handed annually by rotating jury of film and arts luminaries to what they perceive as the standout non-English-language film of the year.

The award itself is a modest one, but it has a habit of going to consensus critical champions. Previous winners include "The White Ribbon," "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and "Pan's Labyrinth." Juries here clearly aren't encouraged to surprise with against-the-grain choices, nor should they be.

"A Separation" is clearly, and deservedly, now in that elevated league of approval, despite its lesser-known auteur and more modest origins: it's the first winner of the award since "Downfall" in 2006 not to have debuted at Cannes. (If the success of Farhadi's film has taught us anything this year, it's that people should pay closer attention to the Berlinale in February.) An Oscar nomination is expected -- should the general branch members not vote it in, there'll be critical hell to pay if the executive committee doesn't save it -- though I'm still not counting on the soft-centered voting contingent giving this thorny moral study the win.

Read Full Post
Oscar Talk: Ep. 70 -- 'Tintin,' Governors Awards, 'Iron Lady' and Gervais back for more

Oscar Talk: Ep. 70 -- 'Tintin,' Governors Awards, 'Iron Lady' and Gervais back for more

Also: Though it's unrelated to Oscar, 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1'

Welcome to Oscar Talk.

In case you're new to the site and/or the podcast, Oscar Talk is a weekly kudocast, your one-stop awards chat shop between yours truly and Anne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood. The podcast is weekly, every Friday throughout the season, charting the ups and downs of contenders along the way. Plenty of things change en route to Oscar's stage and we're here to address it all as it unfolds.

Though I've been away most of the week, it's been a busy one. Academy events, movie premieres, news items, all kinds of things to discuss. So now that I'm back in town and have already hit the ground running, let's see what's on the docket today...

Read Full Post
Director Dee Rees on the set of her film "Pariah"
Director Dee Rees on the set of her film "Pariah"
Credit: Focus Features

Oscarweb Round-up: THR and sexism

Also: Gervais says this is his Globes swan song and 'War Horse' tracks hit the net

So The Hollywood Reporter held its directors round table and didn't invite any women. Then the outlet's editor Stephen Galloway was condescending toward the profile of female-directed films this year, asking the filmmakers to "name a female director who made a major film this year." This made Melissa Silverstein hit the roof, and I think she speaks truth. "'The Whistleblower' was a major movie that actually made the UN stand up and look at how peacekeepers are acting around the world,' she says. 'Circumstance' was a major movie that brought us into Iranian culture from the perspective of two teenage girls. 'Pariah' is a major film about an African American girls dealing with sexuality...It matters that the Hollywood Reporter doesn't think a woman made a major movie this year." [Women and Hollywood]

Read Full Post
<p>Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are back as Edward and Bella as the 'Twilight Saga' franchise enters the home stretch with 'Breaking Dawn, Part I'</p>

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are back as Edward and Bella as the 'Twilight Saga' franchise enters the home stretch with 'Breaking Dawn, Part I'

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Review: 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I' is beautiful but hard to watch

A slicker surface hides an even more rancid center as the franchise starts to wrap up

If you're already onboard and dying to see "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I," then just go.  Enjoy the movie.  Have fun, and don't bother reading this review.  There's no point.  And I don't begrudge you that at all.  If you love the books and you just want to see the film version of the story you already know, I'm sure you'll be delighted, and if you haven't liked the films so far, I don't think this is going to radically change your mind.

For the rest of you, here's what I wrote at the end of my review for "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse":

I find myself in an interesting position as we face down the prospect of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn," because I like and respect Bill Condon as a filmmaker.  I think he's got good taste.  I think he's made really strong films so far as a director.  I think he's worth paying attention to, and I think he's got a real taste for genre material that he hasn't really indulged since he went mainstream.  He's a smart guy, a writer first, and I think he knows how to shape difficult material for the screen.  And yet, I truly believe that "Twilight" is worthless as source material.  I do not believe there is a filmmaker alive who could manage the impossible feat of creating a faithful adaptation of Meyer's book and also making a good movie.  Going into the home stretch, I think this is one of the worst blockbuster franchises of all time, inept from start to finish, and getting worse as they go.  There will come a time when we look back on these films and wonder what sort of mob insanity drove their success, and we will laugh and shake our heads and pretend they were never really that popular.

I will say this for the new film… you cannot accuse it of being all tease and no delivery (pun fully intended), which was one of the main dramatic issues with both "New Moon" and "Eclipse."  This is a movie that begins with a big event, ends with a big event, and which expends tons of energy trying to convince us that every single thing that happens in-between is also a VERY BIG EVENT.  This is almost too rushed, a breakneck ride that doesn't feel like any of the other films.

Read Full Post
"Private Practice"

 "Private Practice"

Credit: ABC

'Private Practice''s very special episode aims high but falls short

Amelia's battle with drug addiction gets drowned in soapy melodrama

I've always considered "Private Practice" to be a guilty pleasure show, a soapy indulgence that occasionally tugs heartstrings but mostly features a lot of bed hopping. So why do I so often feel let down when the show aims to be more than that? 

Take Thursday night's two hour "life changing" episode (to quote ABC's promo). Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) has been on a slow, ugly descent to the bottom of her drug addiction, and the evening's episode was to be devoted to her intervention and subsequent dive into rehab. The episode started out with promise -- a cryptic, beautifully shot flashback followed by Amelia bouncing into the office, brightly trying to convince her co-workers she's clean and sober. Scorsone turns in a nuanced and pitch perfect performance, which is what we get, really, from all of the cast. 

Read Full Post
Listen: Rihanna' streams 'Talk That Talk' on her Facebook page
Credit: Def Jam Records

Listen: Rihanna' streams 'Talk That Talk' on her Facebook page

What do you think of her new album?

You can’t buy it until Monday, but you can stream Rihanna’s new album, “Talk That Talk” via her Facebook page now. All you have to do is “like” her.

It’s the latest move in a marketing campaign that has engaged fans throughout the promotional process by having them “unlock” certain steps to reveal songs, the album cover, and other elements of the project.

Read Full Post
<p>Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes in 2009</p>

Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes in 2009

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Gervais to Hollywood: 'Be afraid. Be very afraid.'

Welcome to the third annual tinsel town roast

Are you surprised? Well, if you’ve been reading the site, then perhaps not. In Contention informed of Ricky Gervais’s imminent return to Golden Globes hosting duties (read: indiscriminate razing of Hollywood’s collective egos) in August and then again earlier this month. Still, given the recent Oscarcast shake-up, today’s official announcement could be interpreted as the Globes, in essence, sticking their tongue out and saying, "Suck it Oscars. The Globes aren't afraid of a live wire."

Gervais Tweeted his intentions clearly: “It's gonna be biblical.” Anyone familiar with the Brit comedian’s view on religion knows that “biblical” (in Gervais speak) may well mean full of epically scaled exaggeration, fancy and lies. (TO BE CLEAR – that is not my take on the bible so please release the caps lock button.) It is simply my best estimation of the comedian’s implications. It could also denote a grandiose disaster that only the animals will survive…if anyone.

Read Full Post
"Project Accessory"

 "Project Accessory"

Credit: Lifetime Television

Recap: 'Project Accessory' - 'It's in the Bag'

The designers must please picky clients for a handbag challenge

It's time for "Project Accessory," so grab a double espresso so that you don't doze off (or, conversely, if you have problems with insomnia, skip the espresso and make sure you're located somewhere comfortable). "Project Accessory" eliminated one likable contestant last week and, more importantly, a raving nut job. Nicolina was cray-cray, but she was fun and she could be counted on to say something outrageous every few minutes, and while this show and its much better parent "Project Runway" are built around skill instead of drama, "Project Accessory" needs a shot of adrenaline any way we can get it. 

Read Full Post
<p>Leslie (Amy Poehler)&nbsp;tries to get Chris (Rob Lowe)&nbsp;to keep her close to&nbsp;Ben (Adam Scott)&nbsp;on &quot;Parks and Recreation.&quot;</p>

Leslie (Amy Poehler) tries to get Chris (Rob Lowe) to keep her close to Ben (Adam Scott) on "Parks and Recreation."

Credit: NBC

'Parks and Recreation' - 'Smallest Park': Man, I'm steamroller

Leslie pushes Ben too far, Tom and Jerry team up, and Andy goes back to school

A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I get competitive with Martin Luther King...

Read Full Post
<p>Charlize Theron at last week's BAFTA 'A Life in Pictures' tribute.</p>

Charlize Theron at last week's BAFTA 'A Life in Pictures' tribute.

Credit: BAFTA/Jamie Simonds

BAFTA pays tribute to Kenneth Branagh and Charlize Theron

Potential 2011 nominees latest to be celebrated in 'A Life in Pictures' series

For whatever reason, I always find myself forgetting about BAFTA's series of 'A Life in Pictures' tributes, wherein assorted big-name actors and directors speak about their work to a public audience at the British Academy's headquarters. (It's a little like the James Lipton treatment, if a mite less toadying.) Previous honorees run the gamut from Will Ferrell to Jean-Pierre Jeunet, so it's not particularly an awards-related deal, but it just so happens that BAFTA's two most recent selections for the series are currently on the campaign trail: "Young Adult" star Charlize Theron was up last week, while "My Week With Marilyn" hopeful Kenneth Branagh has his turn on Saturday. It certainly won't hurt their visibility with voters.

I didn't even know Theron was being celebrated the very next day when I reflected on the South African's early career highlights on Friday. In retrospect, it all ties in rather nicely -- even if it still seems a tad early for the 30-something star to be given the this-is-your-life treatment. (A BAFTA, incidentally, is one award Theron hasn't won: nominated for "Monster" the year after her Oscar win due to release-date discrepancy, she wound up losing to Imelda Staunton.)

Read Full Post
<p>&quot;Community&quot;&nbsp;Dean Pelton (Jim Rash)&nbsp;came face to face with Greendale alum Luis Guzman.</p>

"Community" Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) came face to face with Greendale alum Luis Guzman.

Credit: NBC

'Community' - 'Documentary Filmmaking: Redux': Heart of darkness

Dean Pelton drives the entire campus to madness while filming a Greendale commercial

A review of tonight's "Community" - and further thoughts on recent scheduling/ratings developments - coming up just as soon as I fight the power with my hugs...

Read Full Post
BLOGS BY NAME